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.


Gmail Outage or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love GTD Contexts

My Toot about the Gmail outage

Like thousands of people yesterday, I was annoyed and inconvenienced by Gmail's unexpected 2-hour dirtnap. But, wow. Apparently, it just irrevocably hijacked the whole day for some folks. And even sent a few into a Dark Afternoon of the Soul that most 19th-century Romantic poets would have found a bit histrionic.

Now, as a user, polemicist, and nemesis of Apple's MobileMe problems, I'm not here to criticize the frustration about a broken cloud service; I know that feeling all too well and have the dents in my wall to prove it. But, I do want to talk about some strategies you can choose to employ whenever a change in access to anything unexpectedly rearranges your day. Because things do break, and there's no reason you have to break with them.

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Google Docs Adds Over 300 New Templates

Google Docs Templates

Google Docs recently added over 300 templates for a variety of business documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Need templates for a calendar, a letter, a resume, or even Avery-compatible labels? You're good to go.

My favorites are in the eclectic "Miscellaneous" section, where you'll find templates for athletes, parents, wedding or event planners, wine nerds, screenwriters -- even "animal guardians".

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Philipp Lenssen's excellent AdSense tips

Google AdSense Tips

Having noticed Google's new "Newbie Central" site, Google Blogoscoped's Philipp Lenssen posted a swell pile of his own best tips for improving AdSense performance on your site. Linked here because (at least IMHO) it's depressingly rare to find useful, non-douchey advice about making money with a website.

Typical of the sage stuff from PL:

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Gmail IMAP Settings, Straight from the Google's Mouth

This may not count as a real find since it's on the Google's own support site, but this list of recommended IMAP client settings is interesting in that it differs from many of the Gmail IMAP how-to's I've seen so far.

Regarding Sent mail:

Do NOT save sent messages on the server. If your client is sending mail through Gmail's SMTP server, your sent messages will be automatically copied to the [Gmail]/Sent Mail folder.

...and Junk folders:

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Google releases iPhone-friendly gCal

Updates from Google Docs and Google Calendar

Whoa, check this out:

The Google Calendar team, along with the mobile team, released an upgrade to the Calendar interface on the iPhone. It is now tailored for the iPhone, and you can now see your different calendars in distinctive colors. You can see the new Calendar interface by going to http://calendar.google.com on your iPhone browser.

As an iPhone user and recent convert to gCal: Daddy like.

TOPICS: Apple, gCal, Google, iPhone

gDocs and Apple would taste great together

I've become an ardent Google Documents fan over the past few months -- especially as its support for Safari has improved (didn't say perfect; just improved). I use it for collaborating with clients and 43f guest authors, as well as for managing small projects and keeping various small teams organized. Personally, I find it simpler than a wiki and a lot more powerful than using a static .doc.

My favorite use right now is to use a single shared document as a common space that 4 or 5 people have access to and that they can use to give each other to-dos, ask questions, etc. I know stuff like Basecamp does this better and certainly with more sophisticated features, but I'm really attracted to the simplicity of the one-document approach -- especially for informal, remote teams.

I think my gDocs cincher was the first time that it occurred to me to see if I could even look at my documents on my iPhone; I was gob-smacked to see that it actually worked. Obviously it's not optimal for doing lots of editing, but you can see and perfunctorily edit your documents without a laptop, and that's just pretty mind-blowing to me.

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Free MP3 of Inbox Zero talk

The 43 Folders Podcast

43F Podcast: Inbox Zero - Google Tech Talk

A lot of folks with slower connections (or who just aren't crazy about internet video) have written to request an audio version of the Tech Talk on Inbox Zero I gave at Google last Monday. Google has very kindly permitted me to share that with you, so here you go. Thanks to everyone who wrote to request it.

Grab the MP3, learn more at Odeo.com, or just listen from here:

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Vox Pop: Managing actions from list emails?

Inbox Zero Tech Talk

During the Q&A portion of my Inbox Zero presentation at Google the other day, an audience member stumped me with a question about how to manage action around mailing list distributions (the question starts at about 48:22).

He said he frequently receives email requests and questions that are also distributed to the other 20 people on his team. He describes a "waiting game" in which team members hang back to see if other people will respond first -- at least partly out of not wanting to duplicate effort or flood the sender. I thought it was a really intriguing question, although I said (and still believe) that distributed email would not personally be my first choice to handle this kind of communication.

Well, based on the reaction in the room that day, I gathered that this is a common dilemma for Googlers. Funny thing is that, since the video went up, I've received a lot of email from people outside the Googleplex who share the same problem -- a few of whom were aghast that I wasn't aware what a huge pain this is for knowledge workers. And to an extent, I'll admit those folks were mostly right.

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Google Tech Talk: Today @ 2pm

Google Tech Talk, Today @ 2pm

A reminder to any Googlers out there that I’ll be giving a Tech Talk on Inbox Zero today at 2:00 pm in the Seville room on the Mountain View campus.

Hope I’ll see you there. (And many thanks to Dick Wall for the hook-up!)

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Vox Pop: Google Desktop Day 1?

So far, Google Desktop for the Mac isn't moving me.

I like the idea of it a lot. Integrating my Google and local searches and theoretically improving on Spotlight's UI and indexing foibles are laudable goals and, to my mind, could be useful additions if they're done properly. But, based on, admittedly, just 24 hours' usage, it hasn't provided a lot of new usefulness for my own purposes that isn't better served right now by a combination of Quicksilver and Spotlight.

When people ask me (ad nauseum nauseam [mea culpa]) to explain why they would ever need Quicksilver if they already have Spotlight, I opine that, while the latter does a good job of indexing the contents of your Mac world, the former does an outstanding job of helping you access and manipulate it in theoretically endless ways. They're actually very different things, and although they can and do work together, claiming they're trying to accomplish the same thing suggests a lack of exposure to what Quicksilver can do (as well as a dearth of experience in what Spotlight cannot).

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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. »

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