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Widescreen Mail.app plug-in

Widescreen Mail.app plug-in
Originally uploaded by merlinmann.

Widescreen Mail.app plugin

As the monitors in my life have gotten wider, I've longed for a Mail.app feature that's baked-in to most other Mac email apps and RSS readers (as well as all the Microsoft email clients I'm aware of): the three-paned, widescreen format.

Prayers apparently have been answered in the affirmative with harnly.net's Widescreen Mail.app plugin. On my 1440x900 MacBook Pro this works great, but it's truly a godsend on my ginormous (and beloved) Dell UltraSharp.

This Mail.app plugin rearranges the interface into three vertical columns -- so the message pane is to the right, rather than below, the message list.

On a widescreen Mac, this gives the email a more pleasing paper-like shape. You'll probably need at least 1280 and perhaps 1440 pixels across for this arrangement to work for you.

Study: Brits blow 2hrs/day on inefficient tech communication

[Misuse of office technology adds more than two hours to the average British working day]

Couldn't track down the source material from the UK productivity study referenced in this press release, but, if they're accurate, some of the data are interesting to say the least.

The misuse of telephones and email at work is hindering workers from doing their jobs, increasing bad habits at work and lengthening the working day...

Two hours, 10 minutes was the amount that people wasted each day at work on average, of which one hour 38 minutes was due to communication technologies not being used to good effect.

Seems conservative to me, but -- you know -- I'm a terrific karmasuck about these things.

Also intriguing are these bullets on "average times wasted each day:"

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Self-help addiction a $8.5B/year business

Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: SHAM Scam -- The Self-Help and Actualization Movement has become an $8.5-billion-a-year business. Does it work?

I remember thinking a lot of these same thoughts during the self-help mini-bubble of the late 80s/early 90s.

The "over and over" part is the key to understanding the "why" of what investigative journalist Steve Salerno calls the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (SHAM). In his recent book Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (Crown Publishing Group, 2005), he explains how the talks and tapes offer a momentary boost of inspiration that fades after a few weeks, turning buyers into repeat customers. While Salerno was a self-help book editor for Rodale Press...extensive market surveys revealed that "the most likely customer for a book on any given topic was someone who had bought a similar book within the preceding eighteen months." The irony of "the eighteen-month rule" for this genre, Salerno says, is this: "If what we sold worked, one would expect lives to improve. One would not expect people to need further help from us--at least not in that same problem area, and certainly not time and time again."

Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault--your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self-help--or at least the same message repackaged into new products. Consider the multiple permutations of John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus -- Mars and Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution -- not to mention the Mars and Venus board game, Broadway play and Club Med getaway.

TOPICS: Books, Links

Evergreen advice on email and voicemail

Managing the Trend Toward Increasing Use of Electronic Messaging Tools

I've been Googling around for good advice on how people deal with "email overload," and I think this 1999 report from the CommCore Consulting Group may contain some of the more sound and evergreen advice out there for not contributing to the noise (cf: "Writing sensible email messages").

It covers etiquette and best practices for both voicemail and email. Some of the best tips on email:

  • Keep e-mail short and focused on one issue, and reflect this issue in the subject heading. Many people are inundated with e-mail. Focusing each e-mail on one issue allows time-crunched recipients to prioritize your e-mail and respond as necessary. Including a sharp, strong subject header can differentiate your e-mail and attract your reader to your message...
  • Don’t use the Reply to All function unless everyone needs to know the information. Copying people on messages unnecessarily can overload systems, annoy readers and waste everyone’s time...
  • Manage your e-mail. Try to keep the number of messages in your in-box at a minimum by cleaning out e-mail in-boxes and message logs frequently. Use the filing system in your e-mail program to save needed messages to the appropriate folder. This clears space in your in-box, but saves the e-mail for future reference...

And on voicemail:

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Matthieu Ricard symposium at UCSF tomorrow

UCSF - Calendar of Events [Symposium on Happiness with Matthieu Ricard]

I’m looking forward to attending this symposium with the Mrs. tomorrow night on the campus of UCSF. Open to the public and maybe worth checking out if you share my interest in mindfulness and exploring Dharma practice.

Join us for a revolutionary look at happiness from one of the world’s most compelling voices on the subject. As a trained scientist and Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard, PhD is uniquely positioned in the dialogue between East and West. Drawing from works of fiction and poetry, contemporary western philosophy, Buddhist thought, current psychological and scientific research and personal experience, Ricard weaves an inspirational and forward looking account of how we can begin to rethink our realities in a fast-moving modern world.

[ More on Matthieu Ricard ]

Richard Kuo: Getting Outlook to clam the heck up

Richard Kuo's Personal Blog : Optimize your life #3 - how to manage e-mail effectively (1/2)

Richard Kuo posts on email efficiency are quite good and cover a few of the best practices for managing your crazy email world (a few of which I covered as well in Inbox Zero). I bring it up here because one of his articles walks you through screengrabs explaining how to shut off noisome auto-check and notifications options in Outlook.

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The Fisher Space Pen: Arglebargle or Fufurah?

The Space Review: The billion-dollar space pen

Knowing I'm such a huge nerd for space pens (previously), it's not surprising that I get a couple emails a month from gloaty people pointing to the high-larious anecdote about how Paul Fisher's write-anywhere pen represents one of the 1960s' greatest boondoggles of government waste and gold-plating.

"Ha!" they note exclamation-pointedly, "these geniuses over at NASA spent [insert boondoggle-y dollar figure of at least $1,000,000] to develop a pen that could write in space. Know what the freakin' Russians used?!? A pencil, dude! A pencil!"

Like I say: hilarious.

Setting aside for a moment whether this disturbing cautionary tale from forty years hence has any bearing on how well the space pen works as advertised for consumers today, the story has its minor failings; it's kind of untrue and not a little misleading.

Apparently, pencils were once used by both sides in the Space Race, but they were reasoned a hazard based on the catastrophic possibilities of tiny broken leads whizzing around in zero gravity. So, as soon as the Space Pen became available and was tested for suitability, it seems the U.S. (as well as, evidently, the Russians) abandoned pencils for good from 1968 on. Anyhow, to my knowledge, any development money for the pen came straight out of Paul Fisher's pocket -- not from NASA nor any other government agency.

I'd known some of this for years, and, of course, have always relished tinkling in readers' bowls of smug by providing the debunking/clarifying Snopes link.

What I didn't know until today was the the whole story behind Paul Fisher's ambitious entry into the space age writing economy. It's a fascinating mix of engineering, marketing, and blatant self-promotion that tangentially involves baloney sandwiches, a diamond ring, and a brassiere:

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TOPICS: Links, Lofi

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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Mindfulness, categories, and the 14 kinds of animals

List of animals (Borges) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I've been enjoying a wonderful book that a reader thoughtfully sent to me a couple weeks ago. It's called Mindfulness, and it presents some fascinating evidence on the ways that we process and parse our world, as well as the peculiarly human things that can happen when we unintentionally (natch) embrace mindlessness.

read more »

Greg Knauss on personal "info-glut"

The Back-Logged Life

Daunted by the rising piles of "info-glut." Greg decides to pare down.

read more »
TOPICS: Life Hacks, Links



An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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