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.

Mac OS X

Quicksilver's Append: An updated appreciation + Robert's troubleshooter

Append to 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Quicksilver feature that will most dramatically change how you work is probably "Append to..." (or, when you prefer, "Prepend to..."). We first covered this back in the Bronze Age of 43F, and it's come up again repeatedly here, in the podcast, and elsewhere. And with good reason, I think. It's jaw-droppingly useful, and is the single best way I know of to ensure that "ubiquitous capture" can always occur without causing disruption or unnecessary modal change.

To review, for you new kids, Quicksilver, when properly configured (more on that in a minute), will let you add a line of text to any text file on your Mac. As long as it's included in a QS catalog someplace, you're a few fast keystrokes away from capturing your brilliant but ephemeral idea without stopping what you're doing. This is huge, in practice, believe me.

A few uses we have loved?

  • Got some great cookies at work today? Add "milk" to your "groceries.txt" file
  • Found a broken link in a disused site of yours? Append it to "urls to fix.txt"
  • Just had a great idea for Mom's Christmas gift? Add it to "mom xmas ideas.txt"
  • Found a great quotation you don't want to forget? Drop it in "quotes.txt"
  • Just suddenly remembered the name of the girl you had a crush on in kindergarten? That goes in "people to google.txt"
  • Finally thought of a great response to a flame you got? Acidly add it in "l'esprit descalier.txt"

As I said to the Tinderbox group on Saturday -- this approach is the most efficient way I know of to get it all down whenever you're at your Mac:

  • create receptacles for information you want to collect ("name of thing you're collecting.txt")
  • get fast at learning how to Append via Quicksilver
    • It should be pure muscle memory
    • Consider adding QS keyboard triggers for appending to your five most used lists
  • review your collections periodically as needed (daily for "groceries," annually for "good names for notional Marx Brothers")
  • continue through life never worried you're missing something good

This is all partly in the service of bubbling up (and lovingly rehashing) something I adore, but it's also to share some very useful advice from the de facto Vice President of 43 Folders, Mr. Robert Daeley. As Robert notes, there are several problems that can cause QS to barf on your append functionality. Tracking down the exact cause has sometimes driven friends of 43F to the brink -- so much did they crave the Power of Append.

Well, friends, Robert has come to the rescue with this handy guide to finding what the hell is wrong with your setup. Many thanks to him.

read more »

Yahoo! Music Mac Dis

Yahoo! Music Mac Dis
Originally uploaded by Michael Ferguson.

Mr. Ferguson turns up what has to be my favorite Mac nastygram in a while.

You Fiona Apple fans with one of those useless "modern" browsers can pick up a copy of this 8-year-old long-abandoned dinosaur over here.

May I also recommend grabbing an "I like Ike" pin, a T'pau cassingle, and possibly an "Ayatollah Assaholla" t-shirt?

(Try your luck with Yahoo! starting here.)

Update 2005-11-18 15:40:00

Ari wrote:

The Yahoo! music service is indeed stuck in the dark ages with respect to Mac support. Fortunately, there's a Greasemonkey script called pkLaunch that lets Firefox users open these videos in an external program -- even if they're on a Mac or Linux. The script is updated frequently, which is an unfortunate necessity, since Yahoo! constantly changes things to try to break it.

Thanks, Ari.

Faking fullscreen mode on your Mac

Faking Fullscreen Mode

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.

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Three OS X Timers

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.

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KGTD keeps getting better

Kinkless (Home)
Kinkless GTD 0.69 [Salt Water] (Download)

KGTD & QuicksilverYesterday afternoon at about 15:00 Pacific standard time, I realized that I officially had way too much going on. Too many scattered low-depth projects, countless "waiting ons," and a situation where seemingly infinite scintillas of work here and there were needed to keep two dozen plates spinning. It almost makes me understand what it's like for you people with jobs. Almost.

I'd already been meaning to have another look at the Omni Outliner-based Kinkless GTD, which -- after my heartfelt infatuation a month ago -- fell off my radar screen in a frenzy of air traffic that sent me into Extreme Tool-Reduction Mode™. Yesterday I realized the time was right and that KGTD would be perfect for this particular blizzard. Well, jeez Louise: I returned to find an already amazing project had actually gotten much better. I mean, damn, man.

The marquee feature for us Quicksilver flying monkeys is the addition of an Applescript for adding to a KGTD inbox from anywhere. I swear by these sorts of scripts (and currently use about 7 of them to generate Category-based Tasks in Entourage). Note that in the image above, you're seeing where I've created a Quicksilver trigger (F8) for the script plus its action via "KGTD Inbox > Process Text..." For what it's worth, this is a bit like putting your steroids on steroids.

The QS stuff alone is worth a look, because it frees you from the agony of the modal change, but I'm also intrigued by a bunch of other little finials in the latest editions:

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Disk maintenance small boost to productivity?

Whenever I run DiskWarrior (starting-up from a CD), do an Applejack repair, or otherwise cause some event that renders my PowerBook temporarily unusable, I often find a few things happen:

  1. I'm initially stressed-out, although I soon move to feeling kind of relaxed -- like someone called a snow day on the morning of the Chemistry final.
  2. I'm drawn to several small (truly neglected) chores related to my immediate physical area -- cleaning off my desk, returning file folders, or taking out the recycling.
  3. Forced to write in either a notebook or at my girlfriend's Mac, I often end up drafting something quickly, easily, and occasionally in a style I don't think I write in.
  4. I don't miss the computer that much after 2 minutes; but I do get itchy after a couple hours.

There's any of a dozen reasons for all these, but I suspect there's commonality.

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Vote: alt or option?

Vote: alt or option?, originally uploaded by merlinmann.

An eagle-eyed reader took me to task for calling this the "option" key. The reader found this vexing and thinks it should always be called the more agnostic "alt" key.

Got an opinion?

(Vote in Flickr comments.)

10.4.3 update; Getting into “that backup habit”

macosxhints - 10.4: OS X 10.4.3 update released

MacOSXHints covers a few of the 500+ 10.4.3 updates that are worth not missing. Two that popped out for me:

  • If you use Mail, you can now set your own font family and size for the mailbox list. My message list and mailbox list are finally in the same font!
  • Also in Mail, when you forward or reply to a message, they got rid of some of the extra blank lines (though they left the one at the top, above the quoted text)

I'll take all the Mail.app updates I can get. Now will someone please make MailEnhancer work again!

Paranoia, Part I

I have, I must admit, become one of those people who waits a week before running OS X updates. I used to be "that excited guy" until I learned a) new cuts of Safari almost always break one or more of my (and Pimp My Safari's) must-have plugins (Saft, SafariStand, PithHelmet); b) there's nearly always at least one deal-killer booger that sends me into two days of hair-pulling kernel panics, restarts, font removals, DiskWarrior runs etc. (Yes, thanks, I actually have modded almost every aspect of my setup in incredibly haphazard ways.)

As ever, kids: do yourself a favor and run a Safety Backup using SuperDuper. If anything goes kerflooey, you can do a perfect rollback to the snapshot of your disk before updating, then you're back to work with almost zero downtime. Seriously, just get in the SuperDuper habit just in general.

Paranoia, Part II

A propos of nothing, here's my current backup and SuperDuper schedule:

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Helpy page; Writing apps on the web; Collaboration everywhere?

I want to - a page of utilities that help you do stuff you want to

Man, I have a warm spot for old-school pages like this. Just a bunch of links to tools and apps, organized by what you want to do. Feels like 1995 again. snif

All of the topics and most of the sites will be familiar to you as they were to me (sharing photos, sending large files, creating to-do lists), but it was worth the visit just to be reminded of This to That -- the canonical place to to learn how to glue anything to anything.

[ via del.icio.us/popular ]

Looking at that page, I'm reminded of a couple apps I've been meaning to mention that both do an impressive job of putting collaborative word processing on the web.

Firefox users: do check out Writely. Feels surprisingly like -- well -- a web version of MS Word, to be honest. Haven't used it in battlefield conditions, but it is a feature-rich, intuitive app, given the medium.

If you like this kinda thing but want something a bit lighter (and Safari-friendly), definitely have a look at Writeboard, a beautiful, stripped down chunk of func from the less is good geniuses at 37 Signals.

I would also, at this juncture, like to renew my annual request to the gods that somebody on the OS X team please (Please!) steal the collaborative editing functionality of SubEthaEdit and put it into any app that supports text editing. That functionality should be like printing; a baked-in service that's ubiquitous and configurable once from the System Preferences, then portable anywhere that the router has the correct holes punched. I'd so kill for that.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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