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.


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.

Review: iPod Nano, 2GB

Product Image: iPod Nano, 2 GB

iPod Nano, 2 GB

While I don’t really “move” much except to place orders for food delivery or to occasionally evacuate my bladder, my girlfriend runs a lot and for long distances. She loves to have music with her but hates lugging the deck-of-cards-sized 40 Gig iPod I bought a couple years ago (for, I don’t know—like, $1800 or something). She has an iPod Shuffle, but it recently started acting really squirrely plus it never had quite the capacity she’d have liked. But, friends, the iPod Nano I got her for her birthday has been an especially huge hit. Big time. And now I want one, too.

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MailTemplate is back!


This is terrific news. One of my must-have Mac tools has been MailTemplate which gives you a huge amount of flexibility in creating template/boilerplate responses to frequent email messages. Frankly, I use about 30 or so templates that cover 80% of my repeat mail issues, and I simply couldn't get through the day without it.

Unfortunately MailTemplate languished a bit while its talented developer wrangled some legal stuff. Well, now it's been acquired, it's back, and you should shoot straight over and download yourself a copy. Available for both Mail.app and Entourage. $14.95. Licenses start selling on 10/14.

Review: 'Kinkless GTD' for automated, elegant OS X task management

Kinkless GTD 0.61

Kinkless GTD

I think Ethan J. A. Schoonover may have struck a wonderful balance of power, simplicity, automation, and low-key good looks with his “Kinkless GTD” System.

By combining the stupendous OmniOutliner Pro with a bit of Applescript and pixie dust, KGTD provides a sensible way to manage Projects and Next Actions in one very clever little document. For those of you not already using and loving OO, this is a beautiful chance to see it in action.

The heart of the app lies in dedicated views (top-level outline rows for OO fans) for your Projects and their daughter Actions. Project view shows all related Next Actions, and Action view shows those NAs by customizable context (@home, @shopping, etc.). Additional views for periodic Reviews, Trigger Lists, Someday-Maybe, etc., make this a true GTD implementation—not just a tarted-up To-do list.

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Textpander: An end at last to email from 'Melrin'

Peter Maurer [Textpander]

It took me about 5 seconds to fall hopelessly in love with Textpander.

Like so many wonderful things in the world (*waves to Unix apps*) it does exactly one thing: it replaces text you type with other text (or images). So, how would you use this? God, how wouldn’t you? Here’s the bullets from the Textpander page:

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nextaction: GTD task-tracking app


Finally took a few minutes last night to catch up on the zeitgeist and had a look at nextaction, a very clever, javascript-based app for running your GTD system.

Like the popular GTDTiddlyWiki (earlier on 43F) it runs offline and in your own browser (Firefox, please; no likey Safari). Where it differs is in its task-centric approach which is, in some respects, a truer GTD-based approach than the TiddlyWiki implementation.

Tasks, Contexts, and Projects are entered and tracked in a handy “dashboard,” so it’s very quick and easy to see which tasks can be accomplished at a given time. One addition I love is the ability to have parent contexts. So, an entry into my “@printer” context is also automagically included in “@mac” etc. Overall, just a great feature set for such a young application.

Since the comparisons with GTDTidddlyWiki are unavoidable, it’s worth mentioning that these are two very different approaches that you’ll want to consider based upon your own needs in a tool.

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Index Card Printer Review: Canon Pixma iP3000

The Hipster PDA has been extended and improved beyond my wildest dreams thanks to things like GTDTiddlyWiki, Douglas Johnston’s DIY Planner, and John Norris’s very creative templates. With this growth and interest have come a lot of requests from readers for the best, cheapest, and most Mac-friendly printer for printing directly to ordinary index cards. I’ve shared this interest since, frankly, I’ve been buffaloed as well—crippled by the crappiness of my old Epson and unsure what to try next. So I did what I always do: I asked for help.

Even as I started asking for reader advice on inexpensive printers that handle standard index cards well, I had a feeling this was going to be a tough post to put together. This was borne out by the very wide range of suggestions you all submitted—over 30 different models by most all the major companies were mentioned (although only 4 got mentioned more than once)—as well as the plain fact it’s virtually impossible to give meaningful advice on a product you’ve never used. Duh, right?

Anyhow, to put this together, I’ve adopted a blended approach. First, I took everyone’s suggestions (and warnings), compiled a tally count, and then did a bit of extra research on CNET, Epinions, etc. (including a couple phone calls to sales support and some assorted friends).

But, in the end, I decided to put my real-life money where my mouth theoretically should be: I popped in to CompUSA on Saturday morning and bought the recommended model that looked best to me—the Canon Pixma iP3000—and then spent the rest of the weekend testing it out. See how much I love you guys?

The Winner: Canon Pixma iP3000 Photo Printer

This sexy little number looks like a toaster oven from 2001 and has an awful lot of cool features given its sub-$100 price tag. Most importantly for our purposes, it takes a big pile of regular old, drug-store index cards and prints whatever you want onto them at a clip of about 10 seconds per card. It also has a 150-sheet, cassette-loading paper drawer (similar to those on the old LaserWriters). This means that you can load up the tray with plain printer paper without removing your blank cards from the top loader —no juggling, and no disruption to your “normal printing.”

It’s a great photo printer and a fast, middle-quality text printer, but if you’re looking for a cheap way to print index cards from your Mac, I think this is a great choice.

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Mail Act-On: Invoke Mail.app rules with custom commands

Mail Act-On 1.3 - Key Stroke Plugin for Apple Mail.App

If you’re using Tiger and Mail.app, you need to have a look at Mail Act-On, a free plugin developed by Scott Morrison and Jonathan Paisley that lets you assign keyboard commands that are bound to custom “Rules” you set in your Preferences. This is (very cleverly) accomplished by naming the rule according to the CTRL key you want to assign to it.

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Review: Scott Berkun's 'The Art of Project Management'

oreilly.com — Online Catalog: The Art of Project Management

O’Reilly recently sent me a review copy of Scott Berkun’s The Art of Project Management. I’ve read a couple chapters through, and—as the author himself has recommended—have grazed through a bunch of the sections that looked especially interesting to me. See, I have a marker for a non-fiction book that’s really connecting with me—as I’m reading it, I find myself repeatedly cursing the fact that it didn’t exist earlier. I’m definitely feeling that with this one.

Where so many Project Management books fetishize GANTT charts, waterfalls, and abstract planning methods, most of Berkun’s book lives much further down in the trenches—where misunderstandings happen, dates slip, and bad decisions threaten to derail your project. The book is full of really practical advice on handling these challenges in the real world. And, yes, I really wish it had existed 7 or 8 years ago. As it is, many of my bouncer skills were primitively self-taught.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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