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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.

Personal Productivity

Merlin & the OmniNerds coming to Tekserve in NYC

Very cool announcement to share -- Ken Case, Ethan Schoonover, and I will be doing an after-hours demo of OmniFocus on September 27th at Tekserve in Manhattan:

Not only will you get a sneak peek at the forthcoming OmniFocus software, but Merlin Mann from 43folders.com, a popular site about personal productivity, will be here to lead a discussion on personal organization and life management.

Pete the Tekserve Guy says seats are filling up fast, so be sure to register for free now if you're planning to attend.

This should be really fun -- and we'll all be hanging out after the presentation to talk, hang, and meet you. I'm pumped. It's my first trip to Manhattan since 1989 (and, no, I won't have a tragic mustache and a Meat Puppets shirt this time. Sorry.).

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GrandCentral: For a "life-hackier" phone

I do a lot these days to get pickier about where my time and attention go, and keeping unnecessary phone calls at bay is near the top of the hit list. For years now, I've pled for "Spam Assassin" or something like regular expressions for my phone. GrandCentral may not be that smart yet, but it's years ahead of the options I've seen from landline carriers.

The features of Google's recent acquisition are many and powerful, but a few of my own favorite bits bubble up in this screengrab I took this morning (from a robot UPS phone call, alerting me to a signature-required package that's out on the truck).

UPS and GrandCentral taste great together

I can't imagine going back to typical phone options after having access to:

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Mac "virus"; Normal lenses; Generous Pavarotti; Fake internet star; Kottke's back; Hard truths about meetings

  • alwaysBETA » The Tale of the Mechanical Virus - Fascinating -- Never heard of this happening before. At least now you can accurately announce there's a Mac-only virus spreading at the Google.
  • Gary Voth Photography: The Forgotten Lens - "The 50mm lens is called a 'normal' or 'standard' lens because the way it renders perspective closely matches that of the human eye." Just bought one of these, and I totally love it. Lots to learn, but I'm working on it.
  • Most Useful Mac Software | Tech Magazine - Good collection of Mac apps that non-power-users may not be familiar with. Recommended reading for taking your game to the next level.
  • deadmoviestar: Lucky Luciano - My pal, Steve, recalls a memorable encounter in Miami with the late Mr. Pavarotti.
  • Footnote - The place for original documents online - Share your own knowledge and research about historical documents. Stuff like Footnote makes the internet what it should be -- an affordance for collaborating on stuff you would never in a million years be able to do by yourself. Crowdsourcing at its finest.
  • Jonathan Coulton: Fake Female Me is Busted - JoCo reports on a makebelieve internet sensation who had actually been signed by a label all along. Blechy. "The saddest thing of all is that she could have done this all by herself without the label and avoided all this negative reaction."
  • Back in the saddle - I've missed Mr. Kottke, and it's swell to have him back up on The Wire. Although, I confess, I am also a huge fan of his and Meg's little interruption.
  • Rands In Repose: The Laptop Herring - You and everyone you know needs to read this article twice. Now. "If you have no role in a meeting and stop going, or if you remove someone from a meeting, you’re going to create a conflict with whoever believes that you (or the other someone) should be in that meeting. This is great. This is the discussion you want to have: 'Frank, I’ve been to this meeting 12 times and I’ve no clue what I’m doing here. Please advise.'" - [via Daring Fireball]

Quicksilver demo by Nicholas Jitkoff

Quicksilver: Universal Access and Action

A1c0r demos and discusses Quicksilver at the Google, including a good overview of why he chose to build the app in the way he did.

Alas, the jig is up for poor Nicholas. Now you all know that he does not, in fact, have flippers, and that he is actually astonishingly good-looking.

One reason your boss is so twitchy

Marketplace: Another crazy boss

Stanley Bing on what the crapflood of incoming data is doing to your boss's state of mind.

BING: Well, what that does is that feeds control freaks with a constant, steady stream of stuff that needs to be controlled. That's what's making people more crazy. And what happens is that everybody goes crazy in a different way. In other words, some people get extremely morose. Other people get very paranoid. You know, it's really like a graded scale of pathology. But it all comes from the same root source, which is, you know, basically personalities under too much duress.

I think one of the emerging leadership skills of the next five years will be learning how to do brilliant filtering -- either programatically or by delegating information-sorting to others. To ultimately become someone whose system accounts for incoming data in smart ways and who never has to make excuses about too much stuff.

Yeah, I know smart execs have delegated for centuries. But I can envision a world where sweating over your beepy electronic device starts looking about as "executive" and "pro-active" as sucking on a crack pipe in the break room.

Getting schooled on macros

David Pogue: Be Careful What You Joke About

David Pogue gets an informative response to an offhand remark he'd made about macros. Man, you really don't want to fool around with these EMACS people:

Various packages of “macros” were developed to provide speedier editing, and went by various names ending in “macs,” short for “macros.” TMACS and RMACS had also been popular, but the EMACS package seemed to have the most users. By 1979, EMACS was in version 135, and was maintained mostly by Richard Stallman with help from a few others.

Around 1981-1982, I added the M-$ keystroke bound to the macro “Check Word Spelling,” making EMACS perhaps the first text editor with an integrated spelling corrector.

In my brief time with EMACS, I felt like I was trying to play Rachmaninov with tiny, baby hands. But, brother, when I see what people like Ken and Nelson can do with it, my mind is blown. Makes me want bigger hands.

Gruber on "Rethinking Email"

Rethinking Email

Good insight from Chairman Gruber, related to the email system he's started employing since moving to Mail.app

...I can classify all incoming personal email into three broad categories: (a) messages that are either very important or very interesting; (b) messages that are utterly non-interesting; and (c) those which fall somewhere in-between.

The vast majority of my email falls into the latter category. Under my previous “system”, I let them pile up in my inboxes, under the assumption that some day I’d get around to answering many of them. Under the new system, if I don’t respond immediately after reading them, they go right into my archive. Out of sight, out of mind.

For folks who haven't crossed the line to where this realization really clicks, I understand that this can sound harsh, even uncaring. But once you have gotten into the habit, you realize the amount of bullshit you had been shoveling to yourself -- hoping that all that stuff in your inbox, which you knew in your heart you'd never do anything about, would just...what?...grow wings and fly a response back to its sender? It's daft.

It's so tough to be honest with yourself about your real situation with email, but once you've made the admission, you're weirdly freed up to communicate more authentically, and, in my experience, with a renewed enthusiasm.

Vox Pop: Email via web CRM?

Most businesses and an increasing number of people (including me) are looking for friction-free ways for teams to deal with incoming public email accounts. Whether you're managing a home eBay company, fielding FAQs, or reviewing incoming resumes, it seems like there must be some good, lightweight web apps for teams to use and collaborate around.

Ron Richards just pointed me to Cerberus, and I've previously looked at DayLite, MailTank, and Sugar. I like the trouble-ticket approach in some ways, but I also wish it could be prettied up -- ideally including remote form submission from your own domains.

The Question to You:

Have you found a free or inexpensive web-based app that helps your teams manage incoming email and convert them into assigned tasks? Got one that’s great at template-based responses? Anything with the power of a support ticket app that’s a bit prettier from the user’s standpoint?

edit 2007-08-27 09:17:40: Shoulda mentioned: relevant self-links are okay on this one.

"Perfect" iTunes equalizer setting


I noticed a lot of people are favoriting this screen grab of the "Perfect" iTunes equalizer setting (I posted it to Flickr, so I won't keep forgetting it when I need it).


Ever since I saw this in that Mac OS X Hints article, I've used it as my default equalizer in iTunes -- it seems to give a nice pop to MP3 tracks in particular.

HOWTO and specific settings from the original article:

Open the equalizer, and from the pop-up menu, select "Make Preset." Call it "Perfect," because it is, and set the following levels, from left to right (skip the Preamp section):

db +3, +6, +9, +7, +6, +5, +7, +9, +11, +8 db

Email in the WSJ; Drupal Fastsearch; Getting Things Written; Finding Lunch 2.0; Butt-kickin' Bourne




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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