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Merlin Mann | Dec 12 2005
The explications continue.
It's been a while since I talked about how I'm using text files, and my post a while ago on Quicksilver appending reminded me of a few little changes I've made over the past year or so that my fellow text geeks might find interesting.
Reviewing: Why text?
Like a lot of geeks and aspirational geeks, I do as many things as possible in plain text files. I've endlessly sung the praises of text on 43F, but in a nutshell, they're portable, efficient, tiny, and almost endlessly mungible. They're the lingua franca of Unix and most of the civilized world.
As you'll see, I use text files for any variety of things, although my favorite use is for making and maintaining lists. The aforementioned append functionality lets me quickly add items to any file with nothing but muscle memory and a few keystrokes. Best thing ever.
I also write in text files as well as store large amounts of reference information. Text is very easy to swap into HTML (I keep almost everything in Markdown format), and text is wonderfully searchable, whether using Spotlight, Find & Replace, or just via incremental search from within the editor.
Point being: I use applications like OmniOutliner, iCal, and (formerly) Entourage to organize the relationships between silos in my life; but text files are the living repositories for as much of the actual information as I can manage.
Getting a system
Like everything, this text system benefits from a loose organizational framework that lets me quickly create and change files without having to worry too much about what it's called, where it goes, and how I'll find it again. So here's a few high points from my text world.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 29 2005
ButtUgly: Main_blogentry_231105_1 [The Iteration List]
A very clever and satisfyingly lo-fi way to find the best date for an event based on several people's schedules. By passing around emails with an ASCII, monotype text representation of the possible dates and times, each person uses a symbol to indicate their preference and availability. Very clever stuff.
[ Thanks, Brian ]
Merlin Mann | Nov 21 2005
If you're a beginning meditator, you may share my distraction of sometimes wondering "How long have I been doing this?" It's easy (and desirable) to lose track of time, but it can be worrisome if you need to be someplace later and are nervous about falling sleep or the like.
Commentor Ruth recently pointed us to Zencast, a site that does podcasts on Meditation, including an introduction to meditation series. Haven't listened to any of these yet, but I was pleased to notice that their first three shows of the podcast are just "timers" for meditating.
Each is an MP3 of 10, 20, or 30 minutes in length, and they each consist of a "Music for Airports"-like wash of ambient music at the beginning and end of the session and just silence in-between. The 20- and 30-minute versions also feature unobtrusive tones at 10 and 15 minutes respectively. Handy way to get time off your mind (a meditation hack?).
Both the mediation timers and the Dash tune are clever ways of having alarms without actually having alarms.
Merlin Mann | Nov 16 2005
Merlin Mann | Nov 15 2005
I forget where, but someone once mentioned that you could probably emulate fullscreen mode in most OS X apps by using the "Universal Access" PreferencePane (if I'm stealing this idea from you uncredited, send the link and I'll correct the error with my thanks).
Anyhow, this rules. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty fast to set up, and if you're as easily distracted as I am, it's a handy way to minimize distractions and force yourself into focusing on just one thing.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 15 2005
I know I'm not the only timer nerd here -- check out three Mac-friendly ways to time your activities and make sure you stay on track.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 9 2005
Gina nails it in her overview of how she evaluates and chooses tools.read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 3 2005
There's any of a dozen reasons for all these, but I suspect there's commonality.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 31 2005
Steven Johnson on battling the email and interruption avalanches with smarter technology. He also cites the King's College study suggesting that multitasking makes you less productive than if you'd been doing bong hits.read more »
Merlin Mann | Oct 28 2005
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