43 Folders

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Apple, Macs & OS X

Quicksilver B30 introduces triggers and content searching

New features continue to move app beyond its modest roots.

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OSX inventories, tips & hack collections

I love hearing how other people have set up their OSX Macs and learning about which programs they like to use for various tasks. I’m putting together a (very long and growing) profile of my own, but until that’s finished, I wanted to point to a few folks I’ve bookmarked who have posted great software and setup inventories as well as smart tips for workflow and productivity hacks. Here’s a few I like.

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Remap modifier keys, shut off 'Caps Lock'

Kill 'caps lock' and make your life livable again, at last.

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43F Interview: Alcor, Developer of Quicksilver

Our first 43 Folders interview is with Alcor, the developer behind our favorite productivity app, the mighty Quicksilver.

Vox43 Folders: What initially made you want to build Quicksilver? Has your interest or focus changed since you started, and how?

Alcor: Quicksilver started out as a module based applescript for OS 9 using a healthy dose of AKUA Sweets. It basically supported drag and drop and performing of some basic actions and scripts on the dropped items or the finder selection. It launched stuff too, but was an unwieldy dialog of applications you had to sift through. The initial point of it was to speed up day to day tasks like emailing and file manipulation. It sometimes took longer to do stuff using it than by hand, but was mostly a fun toy. The idea behind it was sound, and that is what made it through to the OS X incarnation. The focus has not changed since the beginning, but the implementation has become far more flexible (though perhaps less reliable.)

43 Folders: Were there particular things that weren’t happening with the other launchers that made you want to take a crack at it?

Alcor: The main thing that OS X seemed lacking was OS 9’s ability to drill down into folders with astounding speed by typing portions of the names of each folder and opening them. 9 let you navigate a well organized hierarchy of directories almost completely blind just using keys. The column view in X was nice, but wasn’t nearly as snappy. Dealing with files X was just a lot less fun. LB was a huge help for a while, but back then still didn’t allow sub searching within directory contents and still required the mouse to move files about. In the hopes of bringing back the quick file system drilling and manipulation, Quicksilver was given a Cocoa transfusion and came sputtering back to life.

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Drop the text file, and step away from the Powerbook

MacBreakZ - Your Personal Ergonomic Assistant

Designer, gentleman, and Vice-President of my Personal Board of Directors™, Doug Bowman, recently told me about this cool OSX app for reminding yourself to take frequent breaks.

MacBreakZ is a personal ergonomic assistant that monitors our keyboard and mouse use and helps us structure our computer use in a healthy and constructive manner, thus preventing computer-related injuries from developing.

I’ve long suspected that I will eventually have a hunch and a couple glass eyes from my execrable ergonomic habits, and this seems like a smart solution for reminding myself what my brain often neglects: sometimes it’s nice to stand up and walk around.

Apparently, you can even set it to lock up your box until you’ve successfully completed your break. Might be a bit much for most folks, but I’ll bet it’s a sure way to save your eyes and wrists from some hard mileage.

Calling all Terminal nerds

When you find a web resource that would be helpful to a new OSX Terminal user, post it to del.cio.us with the tag, “OSXCLI”. It's a project or something.

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Full keyboard access and Finder shortcuts

Simple System Preference changes yield sexy results

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Quicksilver: moving around and training yourself

Most people pick up Quicksilver as an application launcher—a virtual valet that shortens the path to your desired application using a couple of intuitive moves. It’s powerful stuff, that, and it’s reason enough to use something like Quicksilver in your workflow. But, the sexy stuff comes when you learn what you can do to stuff with Quicksilver. Let’s start with some baby steps, then look at the advantages of making yourself use Quicksilver as much as possible.

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My GTD txt template

As a kind of addendum to the previous post on hacking Getting Things Done , I thought I’d share my Hamburger Helper template for a new GTD list. It’s pretty underwhelming, I have to admit, but it has a few features that are kind of neat.


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How does a geek hack GTD?

MytxtsetupProductivity programs like Getting Things Done obviously have been developed around the needs of managers, sales people, and entrepreneurs. This makes sense given that those are largely the people who are buying the books, listening to the CDs, and attending the seminars (or certainly represent the largest market share of potential customers).

But, one of my main goals with this site was to discuss the way that productivity plans and methods designed for the business world can be reframed in a context that's useful for developers, programmers, and garden-variety geeks. This is not to say that geeks don't fill many or all of these managerial roles in their work, but they also tend to have work styles, deliverables, and skillsets that are markedly different from the average, notional GTD user.

The prime example: "@computer." Man, geeks don't just use a computer for occasional work or to "look something up on 'The Interweb.'" They live on their laptop and take it anywhere they'd bring their wallet. They eat wireless like potato chips and crank out code for a living. They have an IM window and an IRC channel running all day. They're streaming conferences in and live-blogging conferences out. In short, if they follow the stock GTD setup, they will have a very, very long "@computer" list.

So I wanted to start a conversation about how geeks handle their lists, their projects, and their agendas--not so much in terms of the tool they use to store the information, although that's fair game--as with how they segment the information and decide when to break it into pieces. I'll start by providing the setup used by a San Francisco web developer who spends a lot of time on his PowerBook: me.

(Please note: since I'd love to see a lot of discussion about this, please post your response on your own site and just send a single trackback ping to this post (hit: http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/1128456). Comments below are ok for short responses or for posting links to your non-tracback-able site, but please try to limit yourself to a paragraph or so. Thanks.)

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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