OmniFocus outside of the GTD box

Hilton Lipschitz:

I do not use OmniFocus the GTD way (at least I do not think I do given that I have not read the book). I do use OmniFocus the way that works best for me.

So many great ideas in one post. One of my favorites:

Chase tasks are special tasks to remind me to chase people for information or deliverables.

OS X Shell Tricks

Brett Terpstra and Ryan Irelan are two of my favorite people on the internet, and when I found out they came together to make a course on OS X Shell Tricks on Mijingo.com, I couldn't resist. I got a lot out of this course considering that I was pretty weak on Shell commands coming into it. The section on files and directories alone was worth it to me.

As someone who makes a lot of educational video myself, I have a lot of respect for the quality of Mijingo's products. Another thing I'm realizing more and more: When it comes to any form of online education, I usually can't afford the time cost of "free." Give me a reasonably priced video course with high production values over wasted hours of YouTube searching any day.

Twice the gender, twice the sales

If you interpret the 1970s Lego parent letter as anything other than a sales tactic, you’re giving Lego too much credit. If I'm handing out a medal for the most gender-progressive company of the 20th century, I'm extending a hand to Slinky first. Beginning in the late 1960s, they jingled it clear for decades: this industrial spring is fun for a girl and a boy.

I will say, however, that my son and daughter enjoy Legos equally, and until today, I hadn't given it much thought. Maybe that in itself is the greatest sign of progress.

All data go to hell

Forbes describes how Fitbit data are being used in a personal injury case:

The young woman in question was injured in an accident four years ago. Back then, Fitbits weren’t even on the market, but given that she was a personal trainer, her lawyers at McLeod Law believe they can say with confidence that she led an active lifestyle. A week from now, they will start processing data from her Fitbit to show that her activity levels are now under a baseline for someone of her age and profession.

In this case, the data are being used in a way that's beneficial to the individual on which the data were collected. But that's just this case.

This is such a perfect example of something that I preach to anyone who doesn't seem to care about data privacy. The mindset goes something like this: "I don't care if the government or Big Company X has my data. I haven't done anything wrong."

It's fine if you don't care about privacy, but if you use the innocent-today-therefore-innocent-forever logic to arrive at your apathy, you've gone way astray. You can't possibly anticipate how today's data will be used to implicate you in the future.

You can't possibly foresee how the fact that you went to lunch at a cafe on Broad Street at 11:43 AM on a Wednesday morning in July will become relevant and subpoenaed in a court case involving people you don't even know. You can't possibly be certain that a pattern of perfectly innocuous web searches you did in 2009 will raise suspicion in light of an accusation someone makes in 2021. You can't be sure that future laws will err more on maintaining civil liberties than ensnaring enemies of the state.

In his 1954 book How to Lie With Statistics, Darrell Huff famously said "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything." I would offer a 21st century version: We're all guilty given enough database unions.

via FlowingData

RegexOne

I've always known I'd be better off if I knew how to write regular expressions, but for some reason I never had the patience to teach myself through web searches and online manuals.

Thankfully I just came across RegexOne, a site with interactive tutorials and practical examples using regular expressions. Now I finally know how to write simple regular expressions and know enough to figure out more complex regular expressions when the need arises.

I really like sites that teach with real-time feedback. RegexOne's teaching model is great.

Clink and sync

Gabe Weatherhead and Bradley Chambers. . .

Two guys with demanding day jobs. Two guys with families. Two guys that find the time to make amazing things by mixing some spare time with their passions.

Two guys that inspire me to do more.

And two guys with two very different new products. . .

Bradley wrote another book in his Learning to Love series: Learning to Love Google Drive (available in the iBookstore and outside of it). And thanks to Gabe's new app, TapCellar, beer journaling is a thing in my life.

Now join me in drinking and reading to both. Here's to the crazy ones, especially the ones that ship.

All thumbs

Yuvi likes writing on his iPhone 6 Plus:

I originally thought the iPad would be a perfect writing device but I never found the right keyboard solution. The iPad keyboard is too big for me to happily thumb type on, and I also never enjoyed 10 finger typing on it (doable but uncomfortable). And carrying around an external keyboard started to make me want to just go with the laptop.

The portrait keyboard on the iPhone 6 Plus is just right for me. It works great for fast, two-handed thumb typing, which suits my creative writing pace.

I totally agree, even though I'm using an itty-bitty iPhone 6. It's logical to expect the iPad to be superior to the iPhone for writing because the iPad's keyboard is larger. In practice, the opposite is true.

A few reasons why. . .

Body position matters for the iPad, not the iPhone.

Typing landscape on an iPad is optimal only when sitting in a traditional "laptop" position, ideally at a table or desk. It's maddeningly frustrating in any other body position—especially positions that you really wish it worked in. For example, trying to type on an iPad in your lap while sitting on a sofa seems like a good idea, but that's only if you enjoy being punched in the balls by autocorrect every four seconds.

The position of my body is practically irrelevant when I type on an iPhone. I can stand, sit, or even lay on my back. In every case, the iPhone is in the same orientation with the same degree of thumb accessibility.

I'm sure Yuvi would agree that an iPad just doesn't work in his "sweet setup" for writing—the toilet.

If I can't touch type, just let me have my thumbs.

I can type on an iPhone in portrait orientation with two thumbs just as fast as I can touch type on an iPad in landscape. Even when sitting in a traditional typing position with an iPad, I'm not creating more words per minute.

My iPhone is with me all the time; my iPad isn't.

My iPad is with me about as often as a laptop is with me. My iPhone, on the other hand, might as well be grafted to my skin. Even if the time spent per typing session is less on an iPhone compared to an iPad or laptop, there are way more iPhone sessions.

My iPhone typing speed promotes a more discerning type of typing.

This is really more of a comparison to laptop typing, I guess. I think it's also what Yuvi meant when he said the iPhone "suits his creative writing pace." I couldn't agree more. I just type too damn fast at a "real" keyboard. My emails sometimes read like they were written by a third-grader vomiting words into the IMAP sewer that is unedited, high-volume work email.

When I type on an iPhone, I usually write fewer and richer sentences. I make fewer typos, too.

It's not that I don't use my iPad a lot.

I just don't use it much for writing. My iPad time is almost entirely spent reading technical papers, books, or watching Netflix. For me, my iPad is a natural extension of my Mac's screen when working, and it provides the best experience for reading text—just not creating it.

Read Later is dead

I think Read Later was always a fantasy. The Read Later app genre definitely sustained that fantasy in my mind far longer than it should have.

By waking up from the Read Later dream, I've made more time for reading (usually better) things. If I have time at the end of the day to read, I'd rather spend that time reading text written before Read Later was even a problem that needed solving.

Killing Read Later also means I killed the shittiest of shitty side effects of a Read Later workflow—unread counts. I permanently deleted an entire inbox. I stopped spamming myself.

Today my rule for reading internet text is essentially this: read now or not at all.

In cases where I need to act on a URL later, I use a simple OmniFocus bookmarklet to put it in my OmniFocus inbox along with other things I need to act on. In other words, reading something important is at parity with doing something important.

URLs that I can't read now and don't need to act on in the near future go into a flat Pinboard archive. An article that I may need to look at in the future isn't something I need to read later. It's something I may need to read later. It's just a piece of reference material. A simple search returns it on a whim.

Don't get me wrong. To waste time is to very much be a human being. I'll never be able to completely clockwork orange myself off of the empty calories dripping out of the "social" web. But I can get better at not putting them in a to-go box. Putting Read Later in the trash is just one way.