Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another Bump in the Technology Road for Yours Truly

In my travels around the blogosphere I ran into Disqus (pronounced discuss). And like so many of my technology adventures go, I ran over a nail and now have to pull over for repairs. I'll explain first what I was after. The idea of Disqus, so far as I understand it is that comments from your various blogging interactions on your own blog and where you leave comments elsewhere all end up in one place. The idea is that hypothetically someone could click the little Disqus badge in the comments section and see how you are commenting on other blogs, and see all the other folks commenting on Awareness * Connection all in one easy place, without having to go to each article and click the comments link at the bottom.

At any rate, the buttons on the settings at Disqus that say to keep all the comments you already have on your blog did not work as expected. So for now, and possibly forever, those first comments have disappeared into the ether. The upside is that the comments feature is now working (it appears). I'm done messing with html templates for now so I think I'll just leave it as is for now. I always hope that I'm on my way to getting that stuff, but it so often turns out like this. When will I learn and just accept my inner luddite, or get weathy enough that I can hire a blogging consultant to do all html grunt work?

By the way, in my efforts to increase my "web presence" and get traffic to Enjoy Parenting Again as well as to Awareness * Connection, in part so I don't need to pay Google for Adwords so people can find me when they search "Parenting" or "Counseling" and "Portland", I've begun a sister site over at Tumblr. It will have a lot of overlapping content, but will include some more informal things. I may start posting the recipes over there in the interest of keeping Awareness * Connection lean and mean in its mission.

So far I would recommend Tumblr. It is free site. It is very straightforward and requires a lot less work than a more traditional blog like this. I was up and running with a few initial tidbits, right off the bat. It has preformatted, easy to use entry forms for photos, quotes, articles, links and more. Anyway, my overall purpose seems to be working so far. Folks are now finding me on their own, and Google doesn't get to skim $90 plus a month off my earnings.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Who's in Charge Around Here? You or the Clutter?

A frequent theme on Awareness * Connection is productivity and organization in service of making life simpler and reducing the spillover from work, bills, home and car maintenance, etc into the truly important areas of our life, our relationships and our passions. The Getting Things Done approach is fantastic for managing all those areas that like to take over, so that they can be dealt with effectively and efficiently. One potential problem though is that we can begin to put all sorts of things on our next action lists that involve maintaining and organizing all manner of things that are essentially clutter—miscellaneous crap that subtracts from the quality of our lives. The phrase the more you own, the more you are owned comes to mind, and seems to be true on multiple levels. So without taking a look at the clutter issue, we can end up being really effective and efficient with a bunch of junk that gets in the way of living a more fulfilling and rewarding life. This reminds me of Stephen Covey's quip about making sure that before you start getting all excited about how quickly you are scurrying up the ladder, you might want to check to ensure it is against the correct building.

I've got a couple of other books on the docket before It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. He's the guy from TLC show Clean Sweep. But I'm definitely looking forward to checking it out and looking a little more closely at this aspect of my life. Merlin Mann of 43Folders has high praise for this book. He's in a good place to talk about it judging from his frequent posting about his own batttle with clutter. This has apparently come to a head in his role as a relatively new father. 

I love this title of one of his posts on this: Clutter War II: Attack of the Giant Baby. Boy, he's hit on a big one here. You'd think raising a baby in our current culture entails needing a Lincoln Navigator and a house that would fit at least a couple other families if we didn't have all the stuff. Notice that in the advertising working to convince us that we need all of it, that everything these days with babies involves a "system"—a stroller system, a carseat system...a diaper bag system?!?. Not that some of the stuff isn't really innovative and cool, but let's reign it in a bit here folks. Is it really a diaper bag system?

So just starting by asking, Do I really need, or even want all this stuff in my life? Is it really helping me live the sort of life I want? seem to me like questions worth asking. I'll close with this post with The Hidden Side of What You Own from Think Simple Now. It's a very worthwhile crash course on the same topic as Walsh's book, and a nice place to stimulate a few ideas.

What kinds of things are clutter magnets for you?

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

An iPhone 2.0 Day of Ups & Downs for Me

Up: New version of iTunes is here. Here we go.
Up: The app store is now open. Check all this out.
Up: Lots of free apps.
Down: No scrabble for iPhone.
Up: I just bought some apps. Esp the OmniFocus app I've been craving to sync with my iPhone. The desktop version is the all time greatest GTD app by a mile. Synchage could be amazing.
Down: No iPhone 2.0 yet.
Down: No midnight release.
Down: No 1 am release.
Friday Morning
Down: I am tired.
Way Up: Oh here it is, iPhone 2.0!
Up: Loading of 2.0 going fine.
Up: It's done! Here we go.
Down: Not activating. iTunes error -4. Try again later. How about now? Two seconds is later.
Down: More -4 errors
Repeat 146 times like a lab mouse tapping a bar for electrical brain stimulation, minus the pleasure quotient.
Go to the gym.
Get back from the gym.
Down: !@$#@, more of the -4.
Repeat 23 times.
Up: I read a blog entry on a sure fire way to get through. Hope running high.
Down: Doesn't work.
Down: Lots more reading. More -4 error. !@$#
Friday Mid Day
Up: Another suggestion on a blog.
Way up: It actuall worked, see previous post! iPhone 2.0 is up and running.
Up: Testing out apps.
Up: Email multiple delete! This is awesome. Didn't realize how nice this could be.
Up: SplashID password storage for iPhone.
Up: Free voice notes with Jott or Evernote.
Down: I can barely hear the recorded message. The iPhone (1st gen) speaker phone is an achilles heel, always has been.
Up: I'm keeping my 1st gen iPhone anyways. Steve Jobs doesn't get another influx of money from me yet.
Up: FileMagnet to read word docs, pdfs and more on iphone. Does it enable using iPhone as a disk?
Up: Cool desktop counterpart to the iPhone app to upload files. Syncs effortlessly.
Down: FileMagnet doesn’t have a landscape feature. Hard to read docs. Okay for looking for text you already know is in there. I suggest landscape to developer.
Up: Developer assures me it is in demand and is coming.
Up: PocketPedia. I can look up and store info on an pics of books.
Down: Doesn't sync.
Up: Multiple home screen function that was introduced a while back is very handy with all these new apps.
Up: OmniFocus very cool on the iPhone. Can't wait to get it synced to my Mac. Location aware contexts could be huge change for civilization, well maybe for GTDers.
Down: Can't get OmniFocus to Sync.
Down: Lots of reading about how to do it.
Down: More reading.
Down: Had to buy space on BingoDisk server that I wouldn't otherwise want.
Down: Lots of time setting up.
Down: More time setting up.
Friday Close to Midnight
Up: I have achieved synchage. Woohoo. My primary purpose fulfilled.
Up: Playing around with possibilities.
Down: Uh Oh. Entries (next actions) missing from OmniFocus (OF) on Mac.
Up: Looks like I've got it corrected.
Down: Nope. More entries missing. 
Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down
Big down: No synching that works for me. I'm not a techie. Even the friendly helpful folks at Omni haven't gotten me through it.
Up: Beginning to accept that synching aint gonna happen until their Mac software is no longer in apha. Sigh. This hasn't exactly been an example of getting things done, has it?

Big downs: Way too much time fiddling around with software, on forums asking questions, getting my hopes up for a yet another new solution, only to find it wouldn't work, trying out options that lead to dead ends. This drives me nuts about computers and technology. Computers are fantastic when they are working smoothly. Incredible. But too damn often they aren't. At their best they save time, enhance creativity and planning, and generally make things beautiful. Other days they are a giant time suck, doing exactly the opposite of what we've created them to do. And then there are days like iPhone 2.0 day. Up and down. Too much down. I'm tired now. I should convert back to paper and pen. Where is my Moleskine notebook?

Pretty big ups: Multiple email delete! Separate calendars in iCal. Search in Contacts. Separate contacts app so you don't have to open the phone and go to contacts. Finally possible ways to synch notes, though I haven't found the one I like yet. OF-iPhone is pretty cool, potential to be off-the-charts cool when it syncs, and within a few weeks I think it may work for non techies like me. App store is up and running, very promising. Apps update easily through iTunes, so initial kinks could be worked out pretty quickly. It will be interesting to see how the prices, which are now all over the map, shake out.

If you can't afford OmniFocus for your mac, do get the iPhone version. At $20, if it is your primary version of OF, it is a deal. When it syncs properly it will be a steal and will be an unbeatable productivity combo. I look forward to it.

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