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


TaskPaper 1.0 adds new features (and "fiddling" isn't one of them)

Hog Bay Software's TaskPaper was recently released in a completed 1.0 version (previously), and if you're the sort of person who casts about for a simple way to manage projects and tasks from a Mac, this just may be your app.

But, even more significantly, if you're not looking for a simple action management system -- if you're that particularly pathetic sort of character who's convinced that features like tagging, syncing, collaboration, graph paper generation, and the introduction of an onboard artisanal breadmaker are all that stands between you and getting your stuff done -- well, you may need TaskPaper more than anybody. Because, friends, TaskPaper is just about fiddle-proof, and, frankly, I know a lot of people who could benefit from that today.

Here's what a simple document looks like in TaskPaper:

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TaskPaper: Simple, text-based task management


Jesse Grosjean from Hog Bay Software has just begun sharing the first releases of a new task-tracking app which adopts a refreshingly stripped-down approach to managing action on a Mac. TaskPaper starts with the simplicity of text files then adds just a bit of Mac magic to make it both smarter and prettier, but without giving up portability and ease of use. Jesse says:

TaskPaper makes it easy to create a list of your projects and their tasks so that you always know what needs to be done. It's simple to reorganize the list, create new items, mark items as done, and delete items that your finished with. You can also assign contexts (such as "home", "office", or "car") to your tasks so that you can later generate lists of all tasks assigned to a specific context.

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Pick of the Week: Plain Text Wiki bundle for TextMate

plain text wiki (20 May 2007, Interconnected)

TextMate users in search of a simple wiki should check out Matt Webb's new plain text wiki bundle. He's made it very easy to quickly generate new "pages" and links using nothing but TextMate, the Finder, and CamelCase words:

This is exactly what I need: A bunch of text documents that I'll be able to read at any point in the future, in a wiki structure that will be simple to implement in most extensible text editors.

I'd also note that Matt's bundle works handsomely with Quicksilver's venerable prepend/append and new file functionalities, so, once you've taken the requisite 45 seconds to set this up, you don't necessarily need to even be in TextMate to make additions. You gotta love text.

Nice work, Matt.

Edit 2007-05-22 17:36:17 Forever confusing my British Matts; This bundle is by Matt Webb not the also-wonderfully-talented-and-funny Matt Jones. Many thanks to jjg for the correction. 43 Folders regrets the error.

My txt setup

The explications continue.

It's been a while since I talked about how I'm using text files, and my post a while ago on Quicksilver appending reminded me of a few little changes I've made over the past year or so that my fellow text geeks might find interesting.

Reviewing: Why text?

Like a lot of geeks and aspirational geeks, I do as many things as possible in plain text files. I've endlessly sung the praises of text on 43F, but in a nutshell, they're portable, efficient, tiny, and almost endlessly mungible. They're the lingua franca of Unix and most of the civilized world.

As you'll see, I use text files for any variety of things, although my favorite use is for making and maintaining lists. The aforementioned append functionality lets me quickly add items to any file with nothing but muscle memory and a few keystrokes. Best thing ever.

I also write in text files as well as store large amounts of reference information. Text is very easy to swap into HTML (I keep almost everything in Markdown format), and text is wonderfully searchable, whether using Spotlight, Find & Replace, or just via incremental search from within the editor.

Point being: I use applications like OmniOutliner, iCal, and (formerly) Entourage to organize the relationships between silos in my life; but text files are the living repositories for as much of the actual information as I can manage.

Getting a system

Like everything, this text system benefits from a loose organizational framework that lets me quickly create and change files without having to worry too much about what it's called, where it goes, and how I'll find it again. So here's a few high points from my text world.

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Textmate: Recent enhancements

TextMate: The Missing Editor for OS X

It's been a while since I've checked in on Textmate--my steady date this last year for most text editing work.

The updates have been coming fast and furious lately, and have included tons of tiny features I love. In the last couple days, we've gotten a cool little menu bar that lets you change code highlighting language or run bundle-based commands, macros, and snippets (how I love you, snippets).

The lack of polish that a lot of people ragged in the app's early days keeps being corrected with smart, good-looking little tweaks. It's still a lean and mean geek app, but I like where it's headed. Might be worth having another look at if it's been a while for you.

(Also, here's the appcasting RSS feed of the changelog. Yes, thanks, I am a huge dork.)

Life inside one big text file

Giles takes one of the biggest, geekiest leaps you can, moving all of his stuff into a single big-ass plain text file.

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How does a geek hack GTD?

MytxtsetupProductivity programs like Getting Things Done obviously have been developed around the needs of managers, sales people, and entrepreneurs. This makes sense given that those are largely the people who are buying the books, listening to the CDs, and attending the seminars (or certainly represent the largest market share of potential customers).

But, one of my main goals with this site was to discuss the way that productivity plans and methods designed for the business world can be reframed in a context that's useful for developers, programmers, and garden-variety geeks. This is not to say that geeks don't fill many or all of these managerial roles in their work, but they also tend to have work styles, deliverables, and skillsets that are markedly different from the average, notional GTD user.

The prime example: "@computer." Man, geeks don't just use a computer for occasional work or to "look something up on 'The Interweb.'" They live on their laptop and take it anywhere they'd bring their wallet. They eat wireless like potato chips and crank out code for a living. They have an IM window and an IRC channel running all day. They're streaming conferences in and live-blogging conferences out. In short, if they follow the stock GTD setup, they will have a very, very long "@computer" list.

So I wanted to start a conversation about how geeks handle their lists, their projects, and their agendas--not so much in terms of the tool they use to store the information, although that's fair game--as with how they segment the information and decide when to break it into pieces. I'll start by providing the setup used by a San Francisco web developer who spends a lot of time on his PowerBook: me.

(Please note: since I'd love to see a lot of discussion about this, please post your response on your own site and just send a single trackback ping to this post (hit: http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/1128456). Comments below are ok for short responses or for posting links to your non-tracback-able site, but please try to limit yourself to a paragraph or so. Thanks.)

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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