Google Keep Tip - Getting Things Done (GTD) Workflow Lists Via Colors

For the last couple of years I have had my personal* implementation of David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) deployed in Google Keep.  

Google continues making very useful updates to Google Keep: Self Organizing Notes (via Tech Times), Diagrams (via The Verge), and Improved Labels (via Google). These have made doing GTD (Wikipedia) in Google Keep even easier.

Here is how I am doing the major GTD Workflow Lists using the Color feature in Google Keep (great support site) for items:

image from sholden.typepad.com

It would be great if you could rename the colors but that currently isn't a current feature.  So I created above categorization, and through the course of using them this way I've been able to remember them by color and position.  I also printed and laminated the above graphic, and have it positioned easy to read in my desk area.

The Google Keep search function lets you search by color (just two clicks on my Chromebook, tap-slide-tap on Android) so I can see all my Next Actions by searching on RED.  Or all my Projects by searching on BLUE. 

These are all pretty standard workflow list categories.  The one that I've added that might not be familiar to you is Dashboard (YELLOW).  This concept also came David Allen from a conversation that he had on a podcast when he was writing his Making It All Work book that came after the Getting Things Done book.

In that podcast, David described a MindMap he was using called his Dashboard that was anchoring him to his big ticket items for any given moment.  Since things were moving very fast for him at the time it was a great way to stay focus and prioritize his attention.  I've used this concept at work for years with my work* MindMap/Outlook system, and just moved it to Google Keep isn't it really isn't MindMap specific.

So I check my Dashboard regularly.  These change day-to-day and sometimes by the hour. The top part of the YELLOW search are notes that I want to see on a very regular basis and the items that are archived are actually my Dashboard references:

GTD-Archive-Graphic

I also created a Label called "+colors" and have made this handy reference that is always one click away via Label selection or search:

GTD-Color-System-Graphic

 If you have any questions or comments then please let me know: @sholden on Twitter.

*Yes, I have two separate systems which is not recommended by David Allen but works for me.  One is for work using only work resources (computers, software, etc.). And one for home/personal that uses my own personal resources.  When I need to bridge them I usually use email.

 


If You Can Do One Thing In San Diego ...

1st Draft Posted: April 6, 2016 - 2113 PT

Lajollashoressunset

Motivation: One of my favorite bands Chvrches is coming to San Diego next week (April 14, 2015 - SOLD OUT) and this is a gift to them. If they have time and have a good experience doing any of these, then I've paid them back just a little bit for the joy I've gotten from their music and how they treat their fans.  If you have other suggestions, questions, thoughts, etc. ... then leave a comment or let me know on Twitter @ sholden.

Thrill Ride

Burger & Fries*

Walk On The Beach

Pizza & Beer

Hike

Brewery

Neighborhood

Something New

Really Good Mexican Food + View To Die For + Great Place To Camp

The Best Mexican Food

Books

Seafood

Ice Cream

*I really like burgers & fries at In-N-Out and Five Guys.  These are worth experiencing if you haven't.  Picking one is hard.


Recipe: No-bake Breakfast Cookies

IMG_20160215_093833-01

I recently made the following no-bake breakfast cookies, but I had to substitute honey with Log Cabin Syrup and flaked cereal with Cheerios. They turned out awesome (my serving size ended up being eight).

Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey (or light corn syrup)
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk (instant)
1/2 cup raisins (or chopped dates)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flaked cereal (coarsely crushed)

Directions:

  1. Heat honey and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until blended.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in dry milk.
  3. Fold in cereal and raisins. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto waxed paper to form mounds.
  4. Cool to room temperature.
  5. Store in refrigerator.

Nutritional values per serving (makes about 12 servings): 160 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 110 mg sodium.

Originally posted by Montana State University Extension, Nutrition Education Programs via What's Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl


Photo Tip - Try Black and White (B&W)

I am not an expert in photography but here is a tip that has been useful for me.  

When I get a picture that has some sort of issue like to much light or not completely in focus, I do a conversion to black and white (B&W) to see what I get.

Here is a recent example (using Picasa 3 on Windows) that looks pretty good to me:

Carson's Birthday Party

Do you have any other suggestions for situations like this?


Fixing Our Pool Pump and Leak On The Cheap

Over the last couple of years, slowly and surely there has been an air leak into our pool pumping system.  Everything seem to point to the old metal pipes underground with the line pulling water out of the pool to the pump more probable than line pumping the water back in the pool.

This last month things got significantly worse and we'd need to do something.  There was just too much air in the line to pull water through the system to keep the pool clean.

We got a couple of quotes to dig up the old pipes and replace them.  You know you are in trouble when both quotes came back in the same large ballpark called "Unaffordable."  

I was curious of what type of portable pumping options there might be out there to keep things going until we could decide what to do.  So I started Googling. And then it hit me as I'm looking at these portable pumps -- I had all the pieces they had.  I just needed  to run the pipping where the leak was over ground.  It couldn't be that easy could it? Well, it turn out to be significantly easier and less expensive that expected.

Fixing-pump

My friend Gary listened to my plan and agreed to help.  I got all the parts and pieces at Home Depot for under $40; and Gary was able to take my plan and make it work in just under 2 hours.  We capped off the old pipe, hooked up a new line from the pump into the pool, tested it for any leaks, and even created a DIY safety lid out of spare wood.

The "re-mastered" system is working great, and I believe it will work long enough for us to figure out what we really want to do in the pool area and budget accordingly.  Thanks Gary!

 


TIP - Outlook 2013 Workaround for IMAP Test Account Feature

I ran into a "blocking function" in getting IMAP working with Outlook 2013 recently.  There is a feature in Outlook 2013 that requires you to Test Account Settings ... before an IMAP email account will be created the first time.  The testing is mandatory with no apparent way to turn it off.

It turns out that the IMAP server I was trying to connect to has a digital certificate issue that prompts via GUI a user acknowledgement to agree to use the certificate.  However, when you are doing a Test Account Settings  ... setup the first time the certificate dialog never comes up and the testing fails. A failed test means the account won't be created.

The work around I found was to create a working IMAP connection using my GMAIL account, and then re-editing the IMAP settings for the server that I wanted to connect to.  And in that case you can turn off the Test Account Settings option.


Recipe - Healthy Corn Dogs

Carson-steve-corndogs1

A while back (just after Christmas) Carson and I made our own version of the following corn dog recipe from the Skinny Fork called "Baked Whole Wheat Corn Dogs.".

We basically kept the main parts of the recipe but didn't do the following:

  • No Brown Sugar
  • No Paprika
  • No Cayenne
  • No Chili Powder
  • No Poppy Seeds

We also did half the recipe getting 6 turkey corn dogs and not the 10-12 turkey corn dogs if you follow the recipe.

They turned out great, but they did need a good helping of either ketchup or mustard depending on your taste.  Making them very plain and then seeing what we could do with them in the future was our plan.  

I think adding the spices/flavors would be good for anyone without picky kids. I also think these would be great with Hebrew National hot dogs or a pre-cooked sausage.

By the way, the picture above was the 2nd picture.  Here is the 1st picture with an expert photo bomb from Conrad --

Carson-steve-corndog2

 


How I Studied For & Passed The CISSP

I got asked the other day at work on how I studied to pass the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) back in Dec 2011. While I was relaying my experience, I made a few notes, and I figured it would be good to document the endeavor in a blog post.

AFC79C51-1617-4C5A-85ED-C70FE57E43BF

I think my main advantage was that I was able to get access to SANS Management 414 class via their self-study content using training dollars from work [direct link for more info].  While expensive, the 'do it on your own time' offering was much better for me than going to a class (which can also be expensive). 

One of the other key features that I liked about the self-study offering was there were seperate MP3s of all the sessions plus the online course review material.  This allowed me to binge listen to the audio content during my daily exercise, drives in the car, and while on travel (which happend about 5 times during my prep time before the test). The only bad news about all this 'listening' is that when I have a CISSP related nightmare I still hear Dr. Eric Cole's voice.

The package included printed slides for all the material (sync'd online to the audio feed): [Domain 1 - Information Security Governance & Risk Management; Domain 2 - Access Controls; Domain 3 - Cryptography; Domain 4 - Physical Security; Domain 5 - Systems Architecture & Design; Domain 6 - Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning; Domain 7 - Telecommunications & Network Security; Domain 8 - Application Security; Domain 9 - Operations Security; Domain 10 - Legal, Regulations, Compliance, & Investigation], and a copy of the following book - "CISSP Study Guide" by Eric Conrad, Seth Misenar, Joshua Feldman. Also included was a series of pre-tests both online and paper and then a full practice test that was online.

Other books I used for reference included:

Once I went through all the material one time via MP3/Slides, I then deteremined when there was a class about 16 weeks/4 mouths in the future and signed up for that one.  I found it very useful to have a target date on the calendar to motivate me to block out time for studying.  I then spent every Off-Friday from work and ~4 hours each Saturday and Sunday studying the material up to the test week.  The test was on Tuesday and I pretty much studied full time Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the test.  If my math is correct that was about ~250 hours of studying (not including the MP3 material listening which I continued doing during my exercise, driving, etc times up to the test).

In addition to the study reference material above, I also took a great deal of practice tests.  If there was a test I could take I took it. My prevous experience getting a Windows OS certification and Security+ was that there was a ton on of value in reviewing as many questions as possible. This turned into a a pretty detailed stats tracking on how I was doing and where I needed extra focus.  Here is the "final" view of my spreadsheet tracker I setup in Google Docs:

Cissp-test-tracking-1Cissp-test-tracking-2

The other thing I did that really helped was that any question I missed during any of the tests I took and turned it into a 3x5 study card.  I also kept the cards organized by the 10 major topic areas of CISSP.  This helped me really focus on studying the areas that needed the most work.  By the end I'm pretty sure I had 400 cards, and on the day of the text all I did before the test was drill through those cards.

What about the actual test?  Yes, it was very hard. Definitely the hardest test I've ever taken. I was the last one to leave taking up all but the last 5 minutes before the scheduled end time.  I don't know how well I did other than I passed.  And since that was the goal -- mission accomplished!

If you have any additional questions, comments, etc. then please let me know.

[Originally written on 2/24/2012 but updated 2/23/3014]


Can you get a Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M to work with Windows?

Fujitsu-scansnap-s510mThe short answer is "Yes."

I was able to get a S510M that is marketed towards to Apple Mac users to work on Windows 7 by loading the latest ScanSnap software for Fujitsu for the S510.  Once loaded and patched to the latest version, hook up via USB to the Windows 7 computer.

When I did this I got an error that no driver was available, but I went to Computer > Manage > System Tools > Device Manager and right mouse clicked on the Unknown device for the scanner. Choose Properties and then the Driver tab.  Click Update Driver ... and then manually select the Fujitsu S510 driver to apply to this device.  You should get a warning message saying it might not work but say OK.

Once that drive was applied to the Device the S510M (with S510 driver) showed up in the Imaging device area and scanning worked without any issues.


Quote from John Brown's Body poem by Stephen Vincent Benet

My friend Mark Horstman readily shares that his favorite part of John Brown's Body (Poem) by Stephen Vincent Benet is ...

If you take a flat map

And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,

The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.

The science of war is moving live men like blocks.

And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.

But it takes time to mold your men into blocks

And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies

Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,

They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,

And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.

It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,

But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow

To move, when they start they take too long on the way -

The General loses his stars, and the block-men die

In unstrategic defiance of martial law

Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

Very powerful, thoughtful, and meaningful words that have now become one of my favorites also.

I recently noticed that Mark (who is co-host of Manager-Tools.com) read this part of the poem in a Career Tools podcast entitled How Not To Multi-Task (Part 2).

I took the liberty to edit a version of just the poem from the podcast.  It is going in my Monday motivational playlists and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.