43 Folders

Back to Work

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

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Personal Productivity

TMS: The Mountain Goats' Peter Hughes

011: Interview: Peter Hughes | The Merlin Show

In today's episode, Merlin talks with Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats about the logistics of wired touring, keeping a tour diary on LiveJournal, and why The Mountain Goats don't have a MySpace page.

More links and info in show notes.

read more »

NYT: New data on the problems of "multitasking"

Slow Down, Multitaskers, and Don’t Read in Traffic - New York Times

'The Myth of Multitasking' by timothymorgan on Flickr

Yesterday's New York Times front page ran an article pulling together the results of several recent studies looking at how interruptions and attempts to multitask can affect the quality of work as well as the length of recovery time.

Here's one bit that really grabbed me:

In a recent study, a group of Microsoft workers took, on average, 15 minutes to return to serious mental tasks, like writing reports or computer code, after responding to incoming e-mail or instant messages. They strayed off to reply to other messages or browse news, sports or entertainment Web sites.

“I was surprised by how easily people were distracted and how long it took them to get back to the task,” said Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft research scientist and co-author, with Shamsi Iqbal of the University of Illinois, of a paper on the study that will be presented next month.

And, from a PDF of another of the studies cited ("Isolation of a Central Bottleneck of Information Processing with Time-Resolved fMRI"), here's a telling snippet from the article's abstract (yes, most of the rest of it is well over my head):

read more »

Vox Pop: Want HD video from iTunes and Apple TV?

Since the new TV can handle video up to HD's 720p resolution, there's been a lot of speculation about whether the iTunes store will eventually start selling HD content, such as TV shows and movies. You can bet that the desire for that quality of presentation is theoretically out there (at least it is for this HD TV owner). The problem, as many folks have discussed at length, is that the file size for HD movies, in particular, may be prohibitively large for the garden-variety home broadband user.

As Greg Keene notes, "With simple math, we can extrapolate that a 2-hour movie would be about 3.9 GB." That's not only a substantially lengthy download for, say, a residential DSL subscriber, it also represents the investment of over 10% of the available space on the Apple TV's drive (as well as, it should be noted, an equivalent chunk of space back on your Mac or PC's disk).

read more »

Remaindered links, 2007-03-21

Lower threshold links to stuff I wouldn't want you to miss. It's been quite a while since we've done some shorties, so what the heck.


  • Inquisitor 3. Spotlight for the web. - I tried Inquisitor when it first came out, and, for some reason, it didn't move me. But now, I love its smartypants, mind-reader replacement for Safari's search bar. Sogudi is still my first love for ad hoc location bar searches, but the ability to add custom search engines to Inquisitor is hot hot hot. Free as in beer, too.
  • Picked up one of these Behance notebooks the other day. It is very lovely and well-designed. Not sure if it's a quantum functional improvement over a sheet of printer paper, but it's definitely a classy piece of productivity pr0n. And the Helvetica! Ah the Helvetica.
  • Service Scrubber - I've mentioned before that I think OS X Services are one of the most woefully under-utilized tricks in the current Apple world. But the actual Services menu can, over time get cluttered. This handy little donationware app will shut off Services you don't want to appear in the menu and let you re-map the key bindings of ones you do use. Very handy.
  • 010: Interview: John Vanderslice, Part 2 | The Merlin Show - John Vanderslice on high-volume email: "You can't make sense of all that correspondence. You just can't."
  • On the advice of my pal Katie Spence, I picked up Unstuck, which looks to be a pretty neat little book about generating ideas and then seeing them through into real "stuff." Presented in a "choose your own adventure" style that makes for interactive fun. They also have a website that (with a bit of typo-correction and expansion) could turn into an excellent adjunct to the hardback edition (the book clearly wants to be hypertext).
  • Gizmodo reports on less costly options for hooking up your new Apple TV. My take: A) it's crazy for Apple not to include at least gratis composite cables for a device aimed at the fat part of the media-viewing curve, and B) the charlatans at Monster and their ilk should be horsewhipped for what they're charging media noobs for cables.

Brian Kim: Teach kids time management

Top 5 Things That Should Be Taught In Every School

I enjoyed reading this list and was especially into number five:

#5: Time Management

Speaking of other skills that can be utilized in any job and career is time management. The majority of students never really learn to value their time and mange it while in school. Procrastination is all too rampant (studying right before class, doing homework and essays the day it’s due, partying the night before the exam). This lack of time management often carries over into adulthood, which becomes a major liability.

Learn to make a to do list. Learn to prioritize. Learn to break things down into 30 minute blocks of time. Learn about actionable items. David Allen’s GTD system is your best friend here along with Dan Kennedy’s No B.S Time Management. Again if you’re unfamiliar with these people, Google is your best friend, but I’m sure the majority of readers will know what I’m talking about.

What would you add to the list of skills you think should be taught in school?

[ via: Anarchaia (3/14/07) ]

Robert Daeley on configuring for QS proxies

Enabling Quicksilver proxies and application menus | Celsius1414

Robert Daeley has posted an excellent appendix to yesterday's screencast on Quicksilver proxies.

Because, like most Quicksilver power users, I run the app in full-bore, bleeding-edge mode with all the plug-ins installed, I tend to leave out some of the rubber-chicken-waving that new users need to go through to make advanced features work properly. Robert picks up the slack nicely with this swell tutorial. Many thanks!

Merlin Mann’s new episode of the Merlin Show posted yesterday teaches very powerful Quicksilver-Fu, enabling you to access the menu items of any application, as well as introducing the concept of proxies. These techniques belie the mistaken impression that Quicksilver is “merely” a program launcher — it is an application master. ;)

What isn’t clear in the ‘cast is the settings, downloads, and brand of incense you need to burn in order to make all of that happen. I’m pretty sure the below covers everything, but let me know if I missed something.

Read all of Robert's article.

The Merlin Show: Quicksilver proxies for application menus

008: HOWTO: Quicksilver: Application Menus | The Merlin Show

Many of the most diehard Quicksilver fans don't know "proxy objects" even exist. Proxies are a sexy way to build actions and triggers around abstract QS items such as "Current Application," "Finder Selection," "Album Now Playing," and even meta-stuff like "Last Command" and "Quicksilver Selection."

By making a trigger to "Show Menu Items" in the "Current Application," you can get Quicksilver-based access to almost any pull-down menu in a given OS X app. In today's demo, I show you how to bring this fast access to any of the bajillion drop-down menu items in Macromates' Textmate.

If you enjoy The Merlin Show, please consider subscribing for free via iTunes or Democracy, or just point the "podcatacher" of your choice at http://feeds.themerlinshow.com/TheMerlinShow.

The War of Art, and JoCo on becoming a "true person"

007: Interview: Jonathan Coulton, Part 2 | The Merlin Show

I first heard about The War of Art from David Allen during our GTD podcast series last year. I finally picked up a copy a couple months back and read it in an evening. Like a lot of self-help books, it's longer than it needs to be (and it's not actually very long to begin with), but it does make some great points about what its author calls "resistance."

Resistance can be thought of as anything that pulls us away from doing the work we know is most important to us. It takes many forms (including procrastination, fear, distraction, and negative self-talk), but the effect is often similar: we find or permit all kinds of barriers to keep us from becoming the person we want to be, or from completing the thing we really want to make. Whether that's being a published author, a composer, a playwright, or a painter, our impulse to create constantly battles an impulse to do something else, or to do nothing -- to not upset our weirdly comfy stasis.

This book came up twice in my recent interview with Jonathan Coulton; both in part one and today's recently released part two. Jonathan strikes me as someone who has, so far, succeeded at talking down the resistance he'd faced, and now he's doing what he's great at, and, in his words, he's working hard to become the kind of "true person" that he wants to be for his daughter.

read more »

TMS: Screencast on Quicksilver's "Comma Trick"

006: HOWTO: Quicksilver: The Comma Trick | The Merlin Show

For Quicksilver fans, today's episode of The Merlin Show includes a short screencast on how to do the (still-surprisingly-little-known) Comma Trick.

(Hint: As a Mac OS X screen demo, this is an episode you may prefer to watch at high-resolution)

(Sharp-eyed? How can you tell this wasn't the first take? :-) )




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


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. »