43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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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.


Kati Kim's life-saving ingenuity

I swear, if my family and I are ever in a situation like the Kims went through, I hope to God that one person in our group has the clear thinking, make-do ingenuity, and life-saving cleverness of Kati Kim:

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Open Thread: Doodle & your favorite simple web tools

Doodle: Scheduling meetings

This has been mentioned here before (just in comments, I think), but I have to repeat: I can't say enough good things about Doodle. It takes the idiotically over-complicated problem of figuring out when all of n people are available to do something, and in the simplest way conceivable, polls all the participants to find the optimal time and date.

I'm always thrilled when colleagues send a meeting invite in the form of a Doodle email; it requires zero fiddling on my part and pleasantly skirts the need for the endless email threads that most people rely on to get a group of people extant in one time-space unit.

I'm risking the indignity of a double-post on an "old" link for a good reason: with all the foam and fuss over "Web 2.0," and the ever higher (Ever! Higher!) technology we shovel to solve stupid human problems, it's refreshing to see adoption of a tool that ends up being no more complicated than a white board with electrical-tape columns.

I wish stuff like Doodle would inspire more developers to start with the Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work. No Arial Rounded, no whizzy AJAX, and no angel-round-attracting gradients. Just a modest solution to a single dumb problem. That is a life hack, defined.

What's your favorite idiotically simple web tool right now?

LifeClever: Dot Mac needs more than a paint job

Apple finally revamps .Mac webmail, but does anyone care? » LifeClever

I have to admit, I'm solidly in LifeClever's corner on this one. They write:

The hatred for .Mac is not new in the [sic] amongst the Mac community. For me, .Mac is slowly becoming less and less valuable -- certainly less interesting -- as free services from Google, Flickr, and Delicious duplicate or nullify many of .Mac’s offerings. Of course, some things to like include .Mac’s ability to sync certain system preferences between computers. Still, it doesn’t seem quite worth the hundred bucks a year.

A few years ago, things like WebDAV were a novelty that was awesome but hard to find and setup, even on most shared server accounts -- I have four, and only one currently supports it out of the box -- but it's certainly not enough goods for the average user, even when you look at the other pieces of the .Mac offering. Not for that kind of dough.

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Life Clever: Secrets of the Tidy Desk

10 tips for keeping your desk clean and tidy

I linked to this very swell Life Clever article via del.icio.us the other day, but there's so much savory goodness in here, I feel like revisiting it.

Like a lot of good stuff, this article is about more than it first seems, since a tidy desk can be a MacGuffin; this is ultimately about a tidy approach, or, if you prefer, a tidy mind.

It means that you can create a physical workspace that supports your style of thinking and your approach to action, rather than having it be a purely aesthetic artifact of, say, your OCD or your secret fetish to work in an operating theater. Most importantly, you know where stuff goes because you know where your brain will want to look for it at the right time later on, right? And, as you eventually learn, if you can't immediately grok whether a given piece of paper is trash, actionable, or just for reference, you will be, as Walter Sobchak says, "entering a world of pain."

Like Martin Ternouth's excellent paper-based system, Chanpory's tips encourage you to build fences between projects and tall walls between statuses. For example, think about how a frequent usage of an "Incubate Box" might change the chaotic state of your thinking (as expressed in the mystery-meat piles on your desk):

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What does your inbox say about you?

Salt Lake Tribune - Your e-mail inbox is a metaphor for your life

Jeffrey Zaslow rang me up a while back for a quote that made it into his WSJ article (mirrored many places, including here) on what your email style says about you, your habits, and your "mental health." It's a fun piece, and I was happy to contribute, but I'm not altogether on-board with the thesis.

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BumpTop: Nice for anything...but my Desktop

BumpTop Prototype - HoneyBrown.ca

Don't get me wrong -- like apparently everyone this week, I think the BumpTop demo is right purty. The little interface widgets are beautiful and functional, and the physics of the motion seem realistic. It looks lovely. But would I ever, in a million years, seek this out as a Desktop replacement? You bet your butt I wouldn't, and I'll tell you why (as well as what it would be great for).

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David Sedaris, and the stuff we do and don't buy ourselves

Another, as usual, hilarious New Yorker essay from David Sedaris. Mentioned here, first, because of his opening paragraph, which reveals David's personal method for "ubiquitous capture":

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Happy Birthday, Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott

I learned via the Writer's Almanac that today is the birthday of the Bay Area novelist and non-fiction writer, Anne Lamott.

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Dr. Johnson on reminders

This morning I've been starting to put together a little "Introduction to Mindfulness" post, and I ran across this quote that's been attributed to Dr. Samuel Johnson:

"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed."

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pigeonA few things I've learned I don't need to know about the second they happen:

  • a new comment has been added to a 43 Folders post
  • a friend of mine has posted a new photo to Flickr
  • a very long message from a mailing list I never read has been delivered to my inbox
  • someone on LiveJournal is still disappointed with their (job|love life|roommate|hair|lunch|other)
  • Technorati reports a new post somewhere in the world tagged "web 2.0"
  • the temperature in San Francisco has dropped one degree Farenheit
  • my FedEx package is still in Memphis

And, yet these are all things that I used to monitor manually via my RSS reader. Refresh all. Refresh all. Refresh all. Refresh all. Refresh all. Madness.

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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.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »