2022.12.24.

Sometimes I forget how superb Micro.blog is. I can interact with Mastodon users but can also post directly to my blog.

2022.12.23.

  • I added ActivityPub integration to the blog, so you can follow me via Mastodon (or any other similar application that uses ActivityPub) by searching for my profile (zsbenke@decoding.io) from your instance.

Blogging with Bike

  • I had this short post from a couple of years ago, where Dave Winer showed how he could blog from an outliner in a video. Basically, he edits an OPML file that gets synced to his blog—the website also looks like an outline.

  • I still like this outline-based blogging approach. It is so easy to change and publish. I wanted to have this for myself too.

  • Jesse Grosjean (the guy who did TaskPaper) recently released an outliner app called Bike, which I often use. Since Bike is just using HTML behind the scenes, it occurred to me that if I feed that into a Ruby script, I could create something similar to what Dave has.

  • So, I created two scripts.

    • One is called publish_from_bike.rb, which accepts a Bike file and pushes changes to my blog.

    • The other is a simple AppleScript which starts the Ruby part, saves post permalinks into the Bike outline, and does some general housekeeping.

  • I have a small system to publish from my blogging outline. I use the following format.

    • 2022-12-23

      • 10:40

        • Posts with a timestamp are a published.

      • DRAFT

        • I can create drafts by marking them as DRAFT (or IDEA).

      • SKIP

        • I can also add notes or just bullets which will be skipped with the publishing script.

  • Here’s a video in action.

  • Plans

    • I want to have a proper toggles for these outline type posts, like Bike does.

    • It would be nice to mark them with a custom icon, like my other post formats has.

    • I may release these scripts if there is a need and they are well tested.

2022.12.19.

2022.10.31.

2022.09.16.

2022.09.03.

2022.07.04.

Answering follow-up questions about the Process perspective

I linked yesterday’s post on the Process perspectives in a bunch of places and generated a bit more negative feedback than I expected. I was confused because I still think this is a cool trick to have in your toolbox. As “cornchip” said it on the MPU forums:

This is a nice tactic to add to the swiss army knife of tools needed to break up a stagnant list.

I see great questions emerging in the discussion around this trick, which I wanted to answer here to provide a bit more logic.

Should I replace this with the GTD Clarify and Organize step?

Don’t use a remixed version until you are confident that all the habits around GTD are wired into your brain. Afterward, you can use this perspective to enhance your existing inbox emptying habit progressively.

Do I have to tag everything that goes into OmniFocus?

No, but you can. There is a setting in OmniFocus called “Clean up inbox items which have” which controls when OmniFocus should remove items from your inbox on clean-up. Mine is set to projects; otherwise, the Process perspective won’t show actions grouped by project.

Kourosh mentioned that this could lead to untagged/unprocessed items leaking into the system from the inbox, which is technically accurate, but don’t forget if you use this trick:

  • a: the Process perspective always shows unprocessed items which you can clean up,
  • b: if you do Weekly Reviews properly, you should trust your system, but more importantly, you’ll review everything again and catch these items.

Do you still use the OmniFocus Inbox?

Yes. As I mentioned, this perspective is great for breaking down a long list of unknown stuff, but sometimes I straight use the Inbox because it’s easier.

Isn’t it an unnecessary step?

It depends. I wouldn’t call it “productivity p0rn” because it genuinely helps to clarify the unknown.

Imagine you have to clean up a messy kitchen. First, you start to pre-organize: collect the dishes, throw away junk into a trash bag, etc. Then, you wash the dishes, clean the kitchen table’s surface, and get the trash out; sooner than later, you end up with a clean kitchen.

We do the same thing here: we’re pre-organizing a long list of stuff, so we can make sense of how much cleaning we have to do, then we clean each item in context with their related entities. This way, we keep our attention a bit more focused and keep support material easily reachable (especially if you link associated things in the notes field of your projects).

The point is to reduce the unknown and add structure to the inbox processing habit. You don’t need to do this all the time, but after, let’s say, 20 unprocessed items, this can be a beneficial step.

Don’t you keep too much stuff in your OmniFocus Inbox?

As David Allen says, I keep everything in the inbox which is “potentially meaningful” to me. Maybe, in the end, I only save 10% and throw away 90%, but the point of using an inbox (and GTD, for the matter) is to empty our head, and keep it that way.

There is an excellent video about this topic from the Next Action Associates called “What’s The Difference Between An Input And An Inbox?“.

Why do you need access to projects when you process your inbox?

It’s simple. Because I have support materials linked to projects in their notes field. I need to access them via links (and Hook) to store future actions, notes, etc. Having a list of items grouped by projects lets me easily select the project in the list, invoke Hook, or click on the links in the notes.


I hope this post answers your questions about the Process perspective and makes you reconsider adding it to your OmniFocus toolbox.

2022.07.02.

Reduce context switches in the OmniFocus Inbox using a Process perspective

I watched a video from Cal Newport on how he uses a simple text file for the sense-making of a bunch of new information. He mentioned that instead of processing his emails one by one, he captures the essence of every email into his text file, then starts to categorize it, organize it by projects, etc. This gave me an idea about solving a similar problem I had with my GTD inbox for a while now.

GTD recommends that we process our stuff in the inbox sequentially, without grouping beforehand. The problem with this approach is that many items related to different projects are scattered in our inbox, so we’re jumping in and out of projects while processing our inbox. This constant context switching drains energy from our brain.

If we want to spare our attention, it is a good idea to group our unprocessed inbox items by project, so we can reduce the context switching when we process them. Using this approach for the GTD Process and Organize steps will ensure that we clean things related to each project in one go, not randomly.

I will show you how to do this inside OmniFocus, but you can also steal this approach for Things using a similar “Process” tag.

Why is this a problem?

The point is to add a temporary structure to information in the inbox. I usually do some form of project planning and next action creation when I’m emptying my inbox. The problem is that I constantly switch thoughts about many different things as I go through each item. It would be nice to have them batched and grouped by their project. This can reduce the attention switching to different topics/projects.

Let’s say we have an inbox like this:

  • Item 1 (could be about Project X)
  • Item 2 (could be about Project Y)
  • Item 3 (could be about Project Z)
  • Item 4 (could be about Project X) ← This is where I will have to return to “Project X” again. This item can even be connected to “Item 1” somehow.

I hate when I have to switch my current context (not my GTD context, but the current mindset that I’m in) and go back to a project I already thought about and assigned a next action to; possibly, I even closed its support material since then.

Having new information pre-organized by projects (or topics) can reduce the load of thinking about a project twice or more in an inbox processing session.

Using the Process workflow

  1. The first step is to create a new perspective in OmniFocus called Process with the rules shown on the screenshot above. You’ll use this perspective to process things instead of the standard OmniFocus Inbox.
  2. It’s essential to have everything corralled into the OmniFocus Inbox, so you can stop jumping around different inboxes, but more importantly, have everything pre-organized by the project. Go through your inboxes (email, Slack, DEVONthink, etc.) and link a new action to all unprocessed items in OmniFocus. The Hook app can help a lot with this step.
  3. Open the Process perspective, where you’ll see your unorganized stuff sitting in the Inbox waiting to be pre-organized. You must quickly go through each item and assign it to an existing or new project (don’t assign tags). You don’t have to come up with the final name for a new project. Set whatever comes to your mind; the important thing is to pre-organize unprocessed items in this step. If you don’t know where to assign it, just skip it, or move it into a singular action list related to an area.
  4. When you have pre-organized everything, you can click the clean-up button (or press Command-K) to see all of your unprocessed items grouped by project. Now you can go through each item and deal with them in the context of its project instead of having them all over the place.

Why having a pre-organized inbox is better than a flat list of unknown stuff

I always get annoyed when I deal with something related to a big project in my inbox, and then 5 minutes later, another thing pops into my view about the same subject. I have to open the project and its support material again, get into the same mindset, and maybe even reconsider everything I figured out 5 minutes ago. It is a dumb way to plan things.

I’ve been pre-organizing inbox actions by the project for about a month now, and I can assure you that having unprocessed stuff grouped by the project can make a big difference. I can process my OmniFocus Inbox about 15-20% faster than before, but more importantly, I don’t feel tired after doing it. I stopped switching contexts for every item; instead, I’m spending more time at the project level and dealing with new things from this perspective.


I wrote a follow-up post to this one answering reader questions about this workflow.

2022.06.24.

2022.06.14.

2022.06.07.

2022.05.05.

Can paper still be a storage format?

I watched a video from Patrick Rhone where he mentioned that paper is still the best medium to store text-based information in the long run. We have books from thousands of years ago still available. Nobody knows how long the best digital medium will last, but we have already seen how durable paper can be.

Classics are survived hundreds of years. Of course, it was reprinted and stored in multiple places, but digital information nowadays is too tied to its format. For example, what will this blog look like in 20-30-40 years?

I try to use open standards when it comes to archive things, but still, sometimes it’s not enough. I lost the early music I made, photos, and blog posts (although I found some on archive.org) because I wasn’t paying attention to back them up, or it was easy to delete them accidentally.

Meanwhile, stuff I printed years ago is still okay. My parents even have old family photos, which are existing since at least I was born 35 years ago.

Paper can be a long-standing format to store information (or at least be a tertiary backup) if we don’t use it actively. Almost all digital storage formats are rotting away quickly (except some forms of optical media and tape), which means that we, a computer, or time will corrupt them. On top of that, we can accidentally delete anything from it, or ransomware could encrypt it, so we have to back them up. I use optical disks (more precisely 25 GB archival grade BD-R discs) to archive information because it’s made for cold storage. However, I still have to keep a reader around, which is an already a fading technology.

On the other hand, paper is a simple, free-form medium that can store limited types of information. I can print text and photos on it, and that’s it. If I want to keep it long-term, I can store it inside hanging folders or simple boxes which protect and organize it.

Sure, it can be damaged, but any other digital storage can be. If we take good care of it, it can give us a nice warm feeling when we stumble into an old notebook or a photo.

2022.04.09.

Today’s notetakers be like:

Hello, [[this]] is [[my]] [[Zettelkasten]] which I use [[for]] [[writing]] all kinds of [[articles]] for the [[web]] about [[my]] [[Zettelkasten]].

2022.04.04.

2022.04.03.

2022.03.21.

2022.03.10.

Reply to @gklka:

Milyen automatizációid vannak? Érdekelne.

  • Pick Date: megjelenít egy date pickert, kiválasztok egy dátumot és azt a clipboardra másolja YYYY-MM-dd formátumban.
  • Podcast Note: leállítja az adott podcast lejátszást, bekér egy szöveget, beírom, elmenti, majd folytatja a podcast lejátszását.
  • Take a Nap: beállít egy ébresztőt 25 perccel későbbre és bekapcsolja a “Hagyjál békén” fókuszt szintén 25 perce.
  • Archive: bezippeli a kijelölt doksit, mappát és elteszi az Archive lemezemre.
  • Archive to Disk Image: hasonló mint az előző, csak DMG-t készít.
  • Track in Tyme: (time tracking), a kijelöt Things to-do projektjét elkezdi trackelni a Tyme-ban.
  • Weekly Log: lementi az adott héten történt eseményeket, elvégzett tennivalókat egy listaként a Day One-ba.
  • Quick Share: feltölti a blogom szerverére a kijelölt fájlt és visszatér egy linkkel.
  • Post to Decoding: gyors státusz posztolása a blogomra.
  • Respond: adott weblapot tudok lájlolni, bookmarkolni, kommentelni a blogommal és egy kis Indie Web magic-kel.
  • Search Live Video of Current Song: az éppen Musicban játszott zene live verziójára rákeres YouTube-on.
  • Translate to (Hungarian|English): kijelölt szöveget lefordítja a Google Translate-tel egy pici pop-up ablakban.
  • Export OTP XLS to YNAB: az új OTP netbankról letöltött XLS-t kiexportálja Numbersből és átalakítja olyan CSV formátumba, amit be tudok egyből importálni a YNAB-be.
  • Make Monthly Invoice Project: létrehozza a havi számlázási projekteket Thingsben külön minden ügyfélre.
  • Show (Radar|Cloud Cover): letölti az Időképről a radar vagy felhőképet és betölti egy kis QuickLook ablakban.

2022.03.08.

2022.03.04.

2022.02.23.

Bookmarked “Winnie Lim » this website as a learning and reflection tool“:

This website is essentially a repository of my memories, lessons I’ve learnt, insights I’ve discovered, a changelog of my previous selves. Most people build a map of things they have learnt, I am building a map of how I have come to be, in case I may get lost again. Maybe someone else interested in a similar lonely path will feel less alone with my documented footprints. Maybe that someone else would be me in the future. Maybe all of this would be interesting when I am dead, assuming I find a way to keep this site alive.

Archive Hook bookmarks with DEVONthink

I was in a Tinderbox Meetup last week, which was more about Hook than Tinderbox. I’m not a Tinderbox user, but I’m interested in how other people use their tools.

In the middle of the call, somebody had a question about Hook bookmarks. More specifically, can Hook archive its bookmarks as archive.org does with websites in general? Well there is no feature like that in Hook, and to be honest, doesn’t even need to be, because Hook has great Apple Script integration, so we can query bookmarks from its database.

In conjunction with DEVONthink, we can archive our bookmarks from Hook and save them as Pinboard does. I made a script for this a while back and it’s really helpful. It runs once a week, archives all websites from my Hook database into DEVONthink.

Setting up the script

First, download the script from here.

The scripts collect everything into one group in DEVONthink, so you have to create one where the archive can be stored. I would advise a new database even if you don’t have something similar already.

Open the script you downloaded. You’ll see two lines at the top of the file.

set webArchiveDatabaseUUID to "databaseUUID"
set hookedWebsitesGroupUUID to "groupdUUID"

You have to replace the databaseUUID and the groupdUUID part with the UUID of the database and group from DEVONthink. To do this, open DEVONthink, ⌃click on the database in the sidebar, and pick “Copy Item Link”.

Now, replace databaseUUID, with the link you copied. You’ll see something like this.

set webArchiveDatabaseUUID to "x-devonthink-item://CA3A9072-0650-4AF3-A608-1786F9D1A98D"
set hookedWebsitesGroupUUID to "groupdUUID"

Now, remove the x-devonthink-item:// part, so the top of the script should look like this.

set webArchiveDatabaseUUID to "CA3A9072-0650-4AF3-A608-1786F9D1A98D"
set hookedWebsitesGroupUUID to "groupdUUID"

Go back to DEVONthink and copy the group’s link from the same database (it is important to keep the group in the same database) by ⌃clicking on it and picking “Copy Item Link” again.

Replace groupdUUID with the copied link in the script again.

set webArchiveDatabaseUUID to "CA3A9072-0650-4AF3-A608-1786F9D1A98D"
set hookedWebsitesGroupUUID to "x-devonthink-item://B6C2C659-5682-45B5-8D59-107A641F8C2D"

Remove the x-devonthink-item:// part and then save your changes. The top of the script should look something like this now.

set webArchiveDatabaseUUID to "CA3A9072-0650-4AF3-A608-1786F9D1A98D"
set hookedWebsitesGroupUUID to "B6C2C659-5682-45B5-8D59-107A641F8C2D"

Now comes the fun part. You can run the script and DEVONthink will start downloading your Hook bookmarks into the group you choose.

The first run can take a while depending on the size of your Hook database. Subsequent runs should be faster since the script downloads only newly added bookmarks.

It is important to know that the script doesn’t sync Hook and DEVONthink, deleted bookmarks from Hook will still be present in DEVONthink.

Also good to know, if you want to archive sites behind a login, you have to sign-in in DEVONthink before you run the script.

Triggers

I keep this script in the ~/Libary/Scripts/Applications/DEVONthink 3 folder, so it’s available from the script menu in macOS – or in my case, from FastScripts. This way, you can run the script manually from DEVONthink.

You can even make it run automatically. If you use FastScripts, you can create a new DEVONthink reminder on the group you created to store Hook’s bookmarks and set it to run an Apple Script like this every week.

on performReminder(theRecord)
	tell application "FastScripts"
		set scriptItem to first script item whose name is "Archive Hook Bookmarks"
		tell scriptItem to invoke
	end tell
end performReminder

If you want to run it outside of DEVONthink, you can use for example Lingon, which makes it possible to run any Apple Script in the background daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever interval you want.

2022.02.01.