2023.02.01.

My Clearing Out My Work Inbox

We can watch Chris Coyier going for a 13 minutes ride of cleaning newsletters and spam from his work inbox.

I usually try to unsubscribe from these type of emails too.

If I can, it goes into the trash. If I can’t, then it goes into spam. I don’t archive these like Chris does.

2023.01.31.

Replacing Craft with Bike as a thinking tool

The next decade of innovation is ahead of us, which means that the Web 2.0 “r” suffix (Flickr, Tumblr, etc) will be replaced with InsertNameHere AI.

2023.01.30.

The Open in Kaleidoscope Service

The Services menu is getting a well deserved love from the Kaleidoscope blog:

The Services menu, originally part of NeXTSTEP, was introduced to the Mac with the advent of OS X in 2001. Throughout the entire history of OS X (now called macOS), Services never received a lot of love or major updates. Luckily, Services continues to work to this day and can be remarkably helpful.

One of the things I like about LaunchBar is its integration with the Services menu. There is no need to install a bunch of LaunchBar plugins; you can simply reuse already provided system services and share extensions from installed apps.

Add to Kaleidoscope

Posting digital garden seedlings from Bike

  • I added a way to post digital garden seedlings to the blog.

  • What are seedlings?

    • Seedlings are half-done articles/notes kept in a digital garden.

    • They are like drafts, but we keep them public because not every one of them will be finalized.

    • I can also use seedlings to privately reply to people using my blog and send them the link.

    • Seedlings are entirely hidden, but you can find them if you know their URL.

  • The goal

  • Posting seedlings from Bike

    • There are note branches in my Zettelkasten, which can be migrated to a seedling, so I can start working on it.

    • I extract these notes into separate files, naming them using their number from my Zettelkasten.

    • I can invoke a simple Ruby script, which is going to prepare and post to my blog.

    • The script also links them using Hookmark, so I can switch back and forth between writing the post and previewing it.

  • Demo

  • Previously

2023.01.29.

Numbers can be used to store next actions and projects in a GTD system

I was thinking about making a more advanced GTD system in Numbers other than just using Reminders in macOS. This post lays out this idea in more detail.

First, create two tables for lists

We can store next actions of a GTD system in Apple Numbers by creating two tables for “Next Actions” and “Projects”.

  • The Projects list is just a list of projects with a completion checkbox, a title, and an optional due date field.
    • We could add optional notes or a project support field to link notes and other assets or link them using the title field.
  • The Next Actions list contains a completion checkbox, a title, a due date, a context, and an optional project field.
    • The context field can be a drop-down listing of all of our contexts.
    • The project field can be linked using a formula for the projects table title field.

Add groups for contexts

  • Grouping on the next actions table can be used to group next actions by context.
    • Contexts groupings can be folded, depending on where we are and what we want to see.
    • We can create sums for the number of next actions in a group.

Optionally, sync with Reminders

Writing an AppleScript for syncing with Reminders should be possible.

  • The script can create different Reminders lists for each context like Kinless GTD did for iCal back in the day.
  • The due date field should be assigned as a Reminders due date.
  • Next actions can be added to each Reminders list using the following format:
    • ✓ Next action title [Project Title]

Questions

  • Could it be possible to sync changes from Reminders back to Numbers using AppleScript?
  • How would we store task-related notes?
    • A new field can be long, but we can’t have fields under row without merging rows or columns.
  • What would be the benefit of this system other than just using a proper task management app like OmniFocus or Things?
    • I guess the reason is that Numbers is more flexible than Reminders and comes with every Mac.

2023.01.25.

2023.01.20.

I was thinking about installing a new Mastodon instance and creating a new account. Still, this blog is already capable of RSS and ActivityPub, so I’m not sure if I need the social aspect of yet another social network. I simply want to blog. It’s an easy to follow concept, and I have comments open if you want to leave a reply.

There is a way to follow me on Mastodon, though; you can do it by pasting the following handle into Mastodon’s search bar:

@zsbenke@decoding.io

2023.01.16.

2023.01.11.

Re-reading 43folders.com

I recently started making read/review-related GTD projects to be more disciplined about consuming websites and books. I do this because I want to extract information from them and not just read and forget it.

The current one is 43folders.com, which is old, but still contains many valuable tips and tricks regarding Mac productivity. I’m unsure if there is anything like that today like the Mac blogging scene was from 2003-2008 – maybe MPU Talk — when everybody was obsessed with GTD, QuickSilver, Mac OS X, and productivity. Good times!

Anyway… I started to archive interesting articles linked on 43 Folders into DEVONthink. Sadly, many of those blogs are no longer around, but archive.org has them saved.

Screenshot 2023 01 11 at 11 46 54

2022.12.26.

Downloading YouTube videos with DEVONthink

  • How I download YouTube videos into DEVONthink automatically.

    • 1. While browsing YouTube or checking my subscriptions from Reeder, I can save videos to my Decoding playlist.

    • 2. By subscribing to the channel using its hidden RSS feed from DEVONthink, I can get saved videos into my Decoding database.

    • 3. DEVONthink watches this RSS feed via a smart rule and downloads videos using yt-dlp.

    • 4. The script saves videos into my inbox folder at ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink 3/Inbox, which automatically gets imported by DEVONthink.

    • 5. From here, I can organize downloaded videos, start watching them and take notes.

Tweaking workflows

  • I constantly tweak my workflows this time of the year. I usually provide tools for others—that’s what I do for a living—but I also have to keep my knives sharp.

  • This year I’m tweaking two things.

  • Take better notes while watching a video.

  • Moving my Zettelkasten over to Bike.

    • I like to think about my Zettelkasten being a large outline. Keeping it inside Bike could be beneficial.

      • I’m trying to mimic the analog Zettelkasten (or Antinet).

        • I won’t use an analog one since I like the digital one’s benefits better, but I also want ideas from the analog one.

        • I’m a programmer and I use my Zettelkasten to understand coding concepts. I have some code snippets stored in SnippetsLab, so it’s easier to link to those from my Zettelkasten outline than keeping them on paper.

      • I can use the classical Luhmann IDs to add an ID each note.

      • I can nest notes under each other.

        • I can easily link notes together thanks to the Bike and Hook integration.

    • Disadvantages

      • I don’t have backlinks, but I’m not sure I need that inside a Zettelkasten.

2022.12.24.

This is just a test to see if Brid.gy POSSE works from a client.

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.

2022.09.16.

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.

2022.01.31.

I collected my reading notes and highlights from “Digital Zettelkasten: Principles, Methods, & Examples” by David Kadavy.


daunting projects to compete with little dopamine hits

How can I increase the dopamine hit of completing a project?

When you have a digital Zettelkasten, there’s a third option: do small things with small notes, straight from your phone.

When we have a small amount of time, we can do small things with our notes, even on our phone.

A lot of small steps can take us very far.

Yet instead of these tiny actions adding up to essentially nothing, they feed your curiosity in a productive way and drive your projects forward.

GTD takes us closer to our goals with small steps.

We have to set up small next actions when we are tired, so we can do a lot of small things which gives us some form of baseline success.

Instead of using my brain power to try to remember things, I’m using it to write better articles, newsletters, and books. I finally found a bicycle for my mind.

We have to use the brain for doing creative stuff, not remembering things.

Yes, we should rethink educational curricula centered around memorization, but looking things up is at some point a waste of working memory. That’s brain power that could be used to think creatively, rather than to try to grasp a bunch of facts just retrieved.

Instead of looking up information that we have to understand, we can use the energy of the brain for creative things.

Sometimes ignorance is more comfortable than learning, because learning means we have to go through the work of changing.

Learning is harder than ignoring facts.

It’s not so easy it’s boring, and it’s not so hard it’s a slog.

We can create new permanent notes with Craft inline of another note, which can be extracted out into a new note.

Some examples of fleeting notes, from my own Zettelkasten:

Uses of fleeting notes:

  • highlights from books
  • highlights from articles, blog posts
  • our ideas

Yes, Henry Ford’s assembly line went quickly by eliminating waste, but the cars had to be designed first – a process that wasn’t so easy to speed up.

It’s easier to automate a system than invent it. That’s a long and hard process.

As you read, make fleeting notes.

Once you’ve exported your highlights, review them and highlight, once again, the parts of those highlights that are the most interesting.

Look at the highlights of your highlights and re-write the interesting ones in your own words.

I’m taking notes as I read, I don’t rewrite them afterward.

Associative thinking promotes a positive mood, so it shouldn’t be a surprise how fun this task is.

It feels good when we find a connection between two Zettelkasten notes.

Now take only the most interesting ideas from the literature notes, and turn each into individual permanent notes.

Next, I have a link back to the literature note from which I wrote this permanent note. That looks like this:

We can link permanent notes from literature notes, so we can see in backlinks where it’s coming from.

If you try this process and it feels boring to you, it may be because the material you’re reviewing doesn’t feel relevant, doesn’t interest you

It is a warning sign if we are bored while writing our Zettelkasten. It means that we don’t care about the topic, or we know it well already.

The main con of Folgezettel is it’s unnecessary in a digital Zettelkasten. Folgezettel is most advantageous in a paper-based Zettelkasten, because it allows you to easily arrange paper based upon how a sequence of notes follow one another.

Having a series of notes (or outline of notes) can be helpful in a digital Zettelkasten too because we are forced to stop and think about where a new note should fit in the outline.

create keywords based upon patterns you see, which inform theories you’re working on.

Having an index is the same as having “Table of Contents” notes.

2022.01.14.

Tot for iOS is on sale, so I bought it, but I’m not sure if I need it when I’m already using Drafts. Tot almost does the same thing, but I like that is very fast. I used it multiple times today to draft Slack messages, store random pieces of information, keep a bunch of temporary links around for a coding session.

It is a better version of Stickies which syncs with my iPhone and my iPad.

I assigned ⌃⇧T as a global keyboard shortcut for Tot, which opens it from my menubar. Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, I like that I can open each slot via ⌘ paired with its corresponding number key; ⌘1 opens the first slot, ⌘2 opens the second one, etcetera.

Right now, I’m tinkering with Tot. I have Drafts running next to it, and I feel like they overlap too much, but Tot is just better for storing random pieces of bits and blobs.

Maybe at the end each of them will have its place in my tool chain.