Tip - Subscribing to Twitter Accounts in Google Reader

NOTE: As of October 16, 2012 the official Twitter API turned off RSS options per this article.  What I wrote here doesn't work anymore.

I personally like keeping track of some Twitter accounts (especially security related ones) using Google Reader.  Unfortunately, I've found lately though that Twitter keeps messing with RSS urls, and getting subscribed without errors can be hit and miss.

Here is my understanding of the current format as of this posting ...

If you have a Twitter account like @johnswayer that you want to follow in Google Reader.  Then take the following main URL (twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/) and add <twittername>+.rss -- for example:

"https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/" + "johnhsawyer.rss"

Becomes:

 "https://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/johnhsawyer.rss"

And use that for the subscribe url.  I usually use a text editor to this (Notepad+ on Windows or TextWrangler on Mac).

Did I get this right? Did Twitter change this already? Is there a better way?  Leave a comment or send me email and I'll update this post.

 


Simple AppleScript to Open A URL From A List In Text File

One of the reasons I've always liked using an Apple Macintosh is AppleScript.  I know there is PowerShell on Windows but I don't find it as easy to just solve a problem as seamlessly with AppleScript.  

Here is an example ...

I have been subscribed to an email feed from DefenseLink that gives you pictures taken by DOD photographers.  However, the links get messed up (BLOCKED) by the anti-malware software on the mail servers at work.

So I take the messed up URLs and save them to a text file.   Then I run this script when I want to review the pictures:

property myURL : ""

tell application "TextWrangler"

activate

select line 1 of window 1

set myURL to contents of selection

delete line 1 of window 1

end tell

tell application "Google Chrome"

activate

set myTab to make new tab at end of tabs of window 1

set URL of myTab to myURL

end tell

Pretty easy.  Meets my needs. Solves a problem.  Good deal.


Reducing Drag - SD-CF II Card Adapter

I recently purchased a Compact Flash (CF) adapter that holds an SD card.  The one I got was: SD-CF II: SD to CF Type II Adapter (Supports SDHC MMC) from Amazon for under $20.

Extreme-CF-adapterThe reason I got this was to reduce some drag that was holding me back from taking my camera when I went out over the last couple of months.  Before the adapter, I had a standard CF Type II card that worked great, but I had created a work flow issue when I moved to my current workspace location at home.

Moving to the new space gave me an opportunity to set up my computer with no USB hub, card readers, etc. (ie. much cleaner and less cluttered).  However, now to get pictures off the camera I had to get out the adapter and hook up several USB cables.  Ugh.

But then I realized my main system has a built-in SD card slot so the adapter streamlines getting the pictures to my computer.  Pop the card out of the camera, take out the SD card, and then put it in my computer for upload.  Simple.  Less drag.

Here is a picture (also on Flickr in a larger format) that I wouldn't have taken without this tweak: 

Cactus

Anyone else have any other tweaks or gear recommendations that have reduced drags in their systems?  Let me know if you do!


Ambient Information Display with Google Chrome

For a while I've been doing a little bit of ambient information testing DIY style by loading up webpages that I want to see information from and then automatically moving through the tabs after ~20 seconds.  

These sites are loaded on an external display and then running in the "ambient" background most of the day.  I have been accomplishing this using Firefox and an add-on called Tab Slideshow.

Ambient-device-displays

Ambient information displays and displaying information in a meaningful way seems to be a growing area of interest within new products and computer science research circles.  The new version of Windows 8 is going to have some of these features that Microsoft has already brought to Windows Phone.  

There is also a company called Ambient Devices making alarm clock size devices that show you what you want in a very customizable way.  Another major player in this market is chumby with a complete line of options including support for Android.

Today, I was wonder what options were available for replicating this DIY browser approach with Google Chrome. In Firefox, I've been using the feature Full Screen after launching Tab Slideshow. There is a similar feature called Enter Presentation Mode in Chrome which seems to do a better job IMHO of getting more of the computer out of the display.  

To get the tabs you want to autmoatically cycle through there appears to be three plugins to check out for Chrome:

I think I'm going to start with Resolver - Tabs and see how it works.  Anyone have any other suggestions?!?

 


Getting PDF Feeds Automatically On Your iPad

With the release of Apple's iTunes 9.2 and the iBook 1.1 application release for the iPad (this also works reportedly on any iPhone or iPod Touch with iBook 1.1), you can now get PDF files automatically downloaded into the iBook application.

RSS-to-iBook 

Here is how I was able to get it done:

  1. Subscribe to a RSS feed in iTunes that provides you PDF content.  For me that was Make Magazine, Beatweek magazine, and premium content from Manager Tools.
  2. Then hook your iPad to your computer and do a Sync.  After the sync is done, go to the iPad icon in iTunes and select the Podcasts tab and make sure your iPad is syncing to the RSS feed content. If the feed like Beatweek is selected in the Podcasts tab you won't see anything in the Episode list since a PDF isn't according to Apple a media format like MP3 or MOV.
  3. Now go to the the Books tab on the iPad and check Sync Books.  Depending on your preference you can select All Books or Select Books to sync.  I used Select Books and then checked the books I wanted.
  4. Then you can do a Sync and your PDF's will be in the iBooks applications on the iPad.

I did notice two "bugs" or "issues".  The first, only PDFs that appear to be listed in the Books Selection area in iTunes are PDFs that have been downloaded since iTunes 9.2 was released.  I haven't been able to seamless get older PDFs to load in this manner. The second, the feeds now show up in your Podcast list in iTunes.  If you go to a podcast feed with PDF files, the PDFs are listed there (--:--), and if you click on them the screen goes blank trying to play them like an audio or video file.  Just tap once and you should be able to exit out.

Before this option, I have been successfully using GoodReader for PDFs reading, but this new iBook method is pretty compelling as it can be setup to be automatic.  These two bugs are pretty distracting though, and hopefully they will get addressed soon.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know!


Recommended - Introduction to Snow Leopard's Automator & Services

Macbreak-auto-servMacBreak Weekly #235 (Part 1) starts off a great informative series (Part 1 of 4) to introduce the new features found in Automator and Services in Snow Leopard.

There are additional videos: #236 (Part 2), #237 (Part 3), and #238 (Part 4). More information can also be found at: www.macosxautomation.com

My GTD Weekly Review Dashboard

Picture 1 There was a recent tweet on Twitter #GTD from Emily Wilska (@OrganizedLifeSF) asking for a "status report" template that one might fill out after completing a David Allen GTD Weekly Review

While I don't have a status report template, I do have a personal Weekly Review dashboard hosted up on Google Docs.

Here is a link to my GTD Weekly Review Dashboard Google Doc spreadsheet that I created. [NOTE: Conditional coloring of fields & fonts may not transfer if you export to Excel or other spreadsheets.]

The basic idea is to track when you do the individual items of a review by placing the date in "Last Completed" column. The spreadsheet will then make a calculation based on today's date, and give you a GREEN, YELLOW, or RED status.  Most of the items are on a weekly (7 day) schedule, but some of them are on a monthly (30 day) schedule.  Here are some links for more information on how to implement conditional coloring of fields for Excel, Numbers, and Google Docs.  Feel free to customize to your own needs.

I started using this dashboard last summer when things were really getting out of hand at work.  I was finding my timing for reviewing Weekly Review items to be sporadic with some items being reviewed several times a day to some slipping a couple of weeks or even a month between reviews.  To keep sane, I adopted this dashboard for Weekly reviews (which I look at everyday) and also David Allen's My World Mindmap (which will be a post for another day). 

The key for me is knowing what I am doing and not doing, otherwise I turn into a crazy maker.

(7/15/2012) - Updated to fix broken link to Google docs.


Summary - Doing A GTD Weekly Review Via Twitter

I wasn't able to attend this event but I thought it was important to capture and share.

Kelly Forrister at the David Allen Company recently did an innovative event on Twitter (#GTD #Tweekly).  It was an interactive Getting Things Done Weekly Review.  Here is the sequence via 29 tweets that she posted:

  1. Hello everyone! Ready? We'll do this in 3 parts/11 steps
  2. PART ONE: GET CLEAR. Collect loose paper and materials. Gather everything that's loose into an Inbox, Tray or folder.
  3. You have 5 minutes for this step. Go...
  4. You all have one more minute on step one: Collect loose papers and materials.
  5. PART ONE-STEP TWO-GET CLEAR: Get In to Zero. Choose the inbox that can good progress on in 5 min--email? paper? VM? Go!
  6. a good way to process in is 4D's: Delete it, Do it (under 2 mins), Delegate it, Defer it (onto a list)
  7. PART ONE-STEP THREE-GET CLEAR: Empty your head. Open a Word doc, or grab and pad and clear your head for 5 minutes. Go.
  8. STEP THREE - SOME MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Family, health, meetings you've had, meetings you're going to have...
  9. SOME MORE MINDSWEEP TRIGGERS: Your direct reports, finances, 401k, the dog, your car, health appts you've been putting off...
  10. PART TWO, STEP FOUR-GET CURRENT: Review your Action lists (or maybe you call them Tasks or To Do's.)5 minutes start now. Go!
  11. 2 more minutes to review action lists--are they current? anything to mark done? anything trigger you to add?
  12. PART TWO-STEP 5-Review previous calendar info. Any triggers?
  13. Many times reviewing your old calendar (go back about 3 wks) catches things you meant to do. 3 more mins left
  14. PART TWO-STEP 6-REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR DATA - anything you should start getting ready for? Go!
  15. REVIEW UPCOMING CALENDAR TIP: if you find something you need to process, you can add to your mindsweep for now.
  16. if you don't get anything on reviewing your calendar, try going further out. Recurring Tasks are great for calendar.
  17. PART TWO-STEP 7-REVIEW WAITING FOR - if you've got a list review it. If you don't have one, what are you waiting on?
  18. WAITING FOR TIP: Review your email Sent folder. Usually some waiting for's hiding in there.
  19. PART TWO-STEP 8-REVIEW PROJECT LISTS. Projects are your outcomes that require more than one action step. Go!
  20. PROJECT TIP: Projects are typically completed within 18 mos. If you can NEVER mark it done, it's likely an Area of Focus.
  21. PROJECT TIP: Most people we coach have 30-100 current personal & professional projects. Don't be surprised!
  22. PROJECT TIP: If you are not willing to take any next action on a current project, are you sure it's not Someday/Maybe?
  23. PART 2-STEP 9 - REVIEW CHECKLISTS - birthday checklists? travel checklists? home mntce? Go!
  24. CHECKLIST TIP: Maybe you want to CREATE a checklist? Anything recurring that would be good? What to always pack for vacation?
  25. PART 3-GET CREATIVE!-STEP 10-REVIEW SOMEDAY/MAYBE: If you have one, update it. If you don't have one, create it!
  26. SOMEDAY /MAYBE TIP: S/M is not just a "fantasy wish" list. It can be a fantastic place to stage "not yet" projects.
  27. SOMEDAY TIP: You'll trust S/M list(s) more if you know you're actually going to review them again. Otherwise they'll die.
  28. PART 3-STEP 11-BE CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS! Any new thought-provoking, creative, risk taking ideas to add to your system?
  29. CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS TIP: What's REALLY got your attention in your job, family, environment? This is the last step!

It is my understanding from the GTD Virtual Study Group which did a quick review at the very beginning of their latest podcast is that the timing for this weekly review was limited to 1 hour with all the major items (11 steps) taking approximately 5 minutes each.  The big take away from many of the participants was that they were  amazed at what they accomplished in 1 hour.

Other recommended resources during the Twitter session were:

I've listened to the Weekly Review CDs and I personally recommend them.  The guides are excellent also, and I use them when I need references during GTD processing.


Moleskine DIY Hack - Repositional Glue Stick

Glue-stick2 One of my co-workers recently came up with this handy DIY Moleskine (or other journaling notebook) hack to let you easily put in and remove productivity templates from DIYPlanner.com.

Find the template you want to put in your moleskine, print it out, cut to size, and then use 'repositionable' glue to secure it in the moleskine.  I added a 'shopping list' to one of the back pages of my moleskine.   Now I can use this for a couple of weeks, and then pull it out & add another fresh one without messing with a list of old items permanently in my moleskine.

Another reason, I like this is because it is sort of like creating your own post-it notes, but having control of the content, color, and size of the note.  The index card size ones at DIYPlanner.com seem to be ideal for the Moleskine.


Making Coffee Better - Some Recommendations ...

Back in late 2007, Kevin Devin and I traded some emails and resources related to coffee storage recommendations and I summarized them in this blog post.

Now a recent article was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune written by Jennifer Goodwin entitled "How do I brew a great cup of coffee?"

The article is worth a read if you have the time, but here is my main next step for getting the best cup of coffee -- "brew between 175 to 190 degrees" with the brew time between "3.5 to 4.5 minutes."

The recommendations to do this include (links to Amazon):

I think I'm going to start with the French Press option and see what difference I can notice.