2022.01.31.

Portable thoughts is a website built using a single HTML file.

It simply uses URL #fragments and the :target CSS selector to show and hide “pages”. The result is a self-contained website, digital book, interactive document, or whatever you want to call it.

So, you have a single HTML file that contains everything and is easily navigable without any JavaScript by just showing and hiding sections via CSS. This is smart.

I don’t know what I’m going to use this idea yet, but it will be useful one day.

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.

2022.01.30.

2022.01.24.

2022.01.16.

Refactoring my GTD system – part 5: the Mobile inbox

I’m using GTD for almost ten years now. I consider myself an advanced user, but I want to simplify my system, my tools and return to the basics to get better at the end. I started refactoring every aspect of my GTD system—digital and analog as well. This is a series about how I did it and why.


Paper is still with us, and we have to be prepared to keep it somewhere temporarily until we process it. GTD says that we have to keep a physical inbox at home and the office, but what about those times when I’m on the road?

The best way to manage incoming, paper-based material when away from my inbox is to keep a folder in my bag: it is my mobile inbox where I can collect stuff when I’m out for multiple days or going to a meeting where I expect to receive papers. I can park notes from my Capture Wallet, contracts, quotes, reference documents, invoices, contact cards, etc.

Following David Allen’s advice, my mobile inbox is a plastic manila folder. I use a plastic one because it’s more durable—a paper folder would quickly fall apart in my bag. I like the manila style because it’s easy to throw stuff into it, which is one of its disadvantages too: I have to be a bit more careful when I lift it because things can slip out.

For some reason, manila folders are not very popular in Europe. I couldn’t find plastic ones in A4 size, so I had to order a couple of them from Amazon. Smead is a US-based company that makes excellent quality manila folders, although these are letter-sized ones. In my opinion, the difference between letter size and A4 is negligible for a folder that I use to hold papers temporarily.

It is vital to treat the mobile inbox the same way as I do my other inboxes. When I arrive back at my desk, I unload the contents of my mobile inbox into my physical one for later processing. When I’m on the road, the folder is my physical inbox, so I process stuff directly from it.

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.

2021.12.23.

2021.12.22.

Today is my last workday for this year. I finished so many cool Rails projects this year at Nearcut.

Now I can play.

Using an old MacBook Air for a home server

I just assembled this temporary home server “rack” with my 2018 MacBook Air on top.

MacBook Air server on a self

It does the following things:

I plan to get a proper Mac mini after we moved into our new house, but for now, this is more than sufficient.

A deep dive into an NSO zero-click iMessage exploit: Remote Code Execution

The whole thing is fascinating, but this part just blows my mind. Very smart and really terrifying.

JBIG2 doesn’t have scripting capabilities, but when combined with a vulnerability, it does have the ability to emulate circuits of arbitrary logic gates operating on arbitrary memory. So why not just use that to build your own computer architecture and script that!? That’s exactly what this exploit does. Using over 70,000 segment commands defining logical bit operations, they define a small computer architecture with features such as registers and a full 64-bit adder and comparator which they use to search memory and perform arithmetic operations. It’s not as fast as Javascript, but it’s fundamentally computationally equivalent.

The bootstrapping operations for the sandbox escape exploit are written to run on this logic circuit and the whole thing runs in this weird, emulated environment created out of a single decompression pass through a JBIG2 stream. It’s pretty incredible, and at the same time, pretty terrifying.

2021.12.21.

So this is my workflow for blogging from Craft at the moment. It is fine, but I’m eager to write an extension that does this automatically, maybe with post formats and image uploads too.

Reply to hheJhsbjkJb8hhsj:

I’ve never understood why people use high/low energy contexts. For myself, what constitutes a high energy task can change from day to day. Some days I’m in the mood for creative work like mindmapping and brainstorming, and digging into financial spreadsheets can seem like heavy work. Other days Im in the mood for procedural work and creative thinking requires more brain power.

Me neither.

I don’t even understand how you can get an objective filter on being in a “high level” or “low level” state. It’s too black and white, I usually somewhere in the middle.

When I feel tired, I don’t even remember that I use GTD and have a menu of options to pick something from. Even when I do remember to review appropriate context lists, I don’t start to think about energy levels. I’m tired, I just naturally pick something easy from my Computer or my Home list, or just don’t give a damn and watch something from my Read/Watch list (or start scrolling RSS/Twitter/Reddit)

My GTD contexts

I mostly use the default contexts list. It’s not a coincidence that David Allen still recommends these. Sure, you have to remix them to your liking, but you also have to define clear edges for each of them so you’ll know which one to use at which time.

Here are mine:

  • Nearcut: my day job, which is mainly development. These tasks require a different mindset, so it makes sense to group them.
  • Freelance: yet another computer context. I have a bunch of freelance projects that I do as a side job.
  • Decoding: I write a blog, record podcasts, and such. Next actions that require a deep work mindset, but not related to work, go here.
  • Computer: I can do general things (admin, web browsing etc.) at my MacBook Pro or my iPad Pro. Sometimes I have specific next actions for a specific device, but it’s rare.
  • Crafting: next actions related to keeping a Zettelkasten system maintained (kinda like my Budget context). These actions usually link to notes (and sometimes project plans, mindmaps) that I want to develop further and add it to my slipbox which I keep in Craft.
  • Budget: a helpful one when I’m doing YNAB, or I have to do something on my bank’s web app.
  • Calls: calls (and sometimes messages).
  • Home: to have something to do when I’m not at any of my computers.
  • Errands: well, errands to run.
  • Groceries: a shared groceries list with my wife.
  • Agendas: I keep people and meeting related agendas here.
  • Waiting for: Stuff I’m waiting on from people. I add the date as well to each of these reminders and review them every other day.

I also keep a list of lists that collects all of my next actions list, my Read/Review lists, my video, and audio-related lists as well (Apple TV, Netflix, Prime Video, Podcasts). Why do I have this? Because I want to keep track of which list is for what, so I keep clean edges in my system (and easily create posts like this).

2021.12.10.

11 of my favourite tips for Safari

  1. If you have bookmarks on the Favourites Bar, you can quickly open one by pressing ⌥⌘-1 through ⌥⌘-9 where the number corresponds to the number of the bookmark.
  2. You can do the same thing for tabs by pressing ⌘-1 through ⌘-9 and Safari will switch to the corresponding tab.
  3. If you do a Google search and go deep into a result, you can pick Search Results SnapBack from the History menu which instatly goes back to your Google results.
  4. You can reopen your recently closed tabs by long-pressing on the plus button in the top right.
  5. If you quickly want to switch to a different tab from your keyboard, you can go into the Address Bar with ⌘L and then type the title of the desired tab. Safari will show you search results in the Switch to Tab section. This even works across tab groups and iCloud Tabs.
  6. If you search for a video on YouTube, Safari will remember that. Next time you can type “youtube whatever you want to search for” into the Address Bar, and Safari will give you an option to search YouTube directly. This works with a bunch of websites, like Amazon, Wikipedia (with autocomplete) DuckDuckGo (with autocomplete).
  7. You can quickly switch your default search engine by going into the Address Bar, pressing Space, then picking another search engine from the list.
  8. If you want to keep and eye on a long-running download, open the Downloads popover from the toolbar, then detach it by dragging the popover off the main window. This will keep the Downloads window open until you close it or quit Safari.
  9. To disable auto-play on a website (like YouTube), go to the site, Control-click on the Address Bar and pick “Settings for website.com”. This will bring up a popover, where you can disable auto-play for videos.
  10. In the same popover, you can turn on “Use Reader when Available”, which will automatically bring up the Reader view on the website when you open an article. Useful for cluttered news sites.
  11. If you regularly want to quickly open the current tab in Chrome or Firefox, you can enable the Develop menu in the Advanced preferences, which will give you an option to “Open Page With” any browser installed on your Mac.

2021.11.16.

2021.11.08.

2021.10.28.

Using Shortcuts to remind me to charge my iPhone

I ran into the issue a couple of times where my iPhone ran out of battery, and I forgot to charge it. In the morning, it was completely dead when I needed it.

To avoid this problem, I created two Shortcuts automation, which makes sure that I won’t forget to charge my iPhone.

When my iPhone battery is below 15%, Shortcuts creates a new reminder 5 minutes into the future to remind me to charge my phone.

When I’m sitting at my Mac, Reminders will ping me to charge my iPhone. I can grab my phone and plug it in.

The other automation runs when I plug my phone in. It finds all reminders created by the previous automation and marks them as completed.

This automated reminder requires no work from my side, but it saved my bacon a couple of times.

2021.10.27.

Apparently, you can change the mouse pointer’s color and outline in macOS Monterey. Go to System Preferences/Accessibility/Display/Pointer and pick your colors.

Screen Shot 2021 10 27 at 14 47 45

2021.08.14.

Where to go after 1Password 8?

After this week’s news on 1Password forcing users to the crappy experience of being an Electron app, I started to look for alternatives. I haven’t decided yet, but I’m considering the following options.

  1. Elpass: subscription-based, native iOS and macOS apps, looks good.
  2. Secrets: one-time payment, native iOS, and macOS apps, also look good.
  3. iCloud Keychain: free, built-in to iOS and macOS; also, it will have a couple of new features this autumn, like two-factor authentication.
  4. Update on 2021-08-14: Minimalist: I got this recommended in the comments, looks pretty cool as well.

I’m leaning toward iCloud Keychain because, nowadays, I like to use the built-in tools of the Apple ecosystem.

The only question I have with iCloud Keychain is where to store passwords of my servers and a couple of app licenses? I think the built-in Keychain app on macOS will be OK for this. It can store arbitrary username/password pairs (great for servers), and it has secure notes which can hold the small number of serial numbers I have.

Right now, the next step is to clean out my old passwords from my 1Password and iCloud Keychain databases before starting the migration process.

2021.08.07.

Just to have a different opinion about Safari’s new compact tab-style: I like them.

Testing app subscriptions on the long-term

Many people don’t like app subscriptions, but it provides a way to test these apps long-term.

When I see a potential tool that I’ll likely use long-term, after the initial trial, I subscribe to its monthly plan, and I keep testing it for 2-4 months. While the initial testing phase is happening, I create a new category in my budget and save money for the yearly subscription plan. Usually, annual subscriptions are cheaper than paying every month for a year, so it makes sense to subscribe to them with an app that I will use for a long time.

When I conclude my testing and decide that I’m going to use the app, I’ll have the yearly subscription price already collected in my budget. This way, I can switch my monthly subscription to the annual plan without any problem. I also keep saving money each month for next year’s payment. I use YNAB for keeping a budget which makes this process easier with its Targets feature.

If I decide that I’m not going to use the app, I cancel my monthly subscription, and I move the money I saved for the yearly plan into a different budget category.

By using this system, although I’m going to pay more for the subscription in the first 2-4 months during the testing phase, in the long-term, I’ll save money because I’ll subscribe to apps and services that I actually use.

2021.08.06.

Refactoring my GTD system – part 4: using Apple Watch as a safety net for capturing

I’m using GTD for almost ten years now. I consider myself an advanced user, but last December, I wanted to simplify my system, my tools and return to the basics to get better at the end. I started refactoring every aspect of my GTD system—digital and analog as well. This is a series about how I did it and why.


I already talked about the various capture tools I use in my GTD practice. I wanted to expand upon my Apple Watch usage a little bit more.

Since I have my Apple Watch with me (almost) all the time, it makes sense to use it as a secondary capture tool. I have two watch faces set up so that when my primary capture tools are not with me, I can still easily have a mechanism for capturing.

It’s best to use the Apple Watch for dictation or writing with its Scribble feature, but these methods are not made for lengthy talking/writing—although I never had a problem with that. I usually jot down or dictate a couple of quick thoughts here and there.

I use Drafts at night by capturing my notes with Scribble and Voice Memos for dictation when driving or walking. Each of these contexts has a corresponding watch face set up: a red Modular face with a Drafts complication used during the night, and an X-Large watch face which has a big, easy-to-tap Voice Memos icon in the middle for driving and walking.

I try to automate when these watch faces should show up. When my Apple Watch switches into sleep mode, Shortcuts changes my active watch face to the red Modular one. I also get a notification to change my watch face to the Voice Memos button when I leave home.

When I don’t have my phone or my notepad with me, the Apple Watch still can be used as a safety net for capturing. Like the old saying of “the best camera is the one that’s with you,” I can also say that the best capture tool is the one that’s with you.

2021.07.18.

Refactoring my GTD system – part 3: keeping capture tools everywhere

I’m using GTD for almost ten years now. I consider myself an advanced user, but last December, I wanted to simplify my system, my tools and return to the basics to get better at the end. I started refactoring every aspect of my GTD system—digital and analog as well. This is a series about how I did it and why.


I have to prepare because I’ll run into things through the day which has a potential meaning to capture either via writing or dictation. Therefore, I have to keep capture tools in those places where I frequently show up.

By default, my preferred ubiquitous capture tool is the Capture Wallet, but there are contexts where I can use tools that are more appropriate and convenient.

At my desk

I can take notes slower and easier at my desk, so I use a Baron Fig Confidant notebook. I use a journal format: each day gets a header, I keep everything in a list annotated via Patrick Rhone’s Dash Plus method. I can capture ideas, track my time using timestamps, write down what I did; sometimes, I even use it as a regular journal.

My Baron Fig Confidant is a versatile tool. Since it has pages with a dotted grid, I can use it for mind-mapping, diagramming, and wire-framing. I can keep the digital noise away by using an analog tool for thinking.

In the car

It’s essential to use a capture tool that is quick and doesn’t need much attention while I’m driving. I found that the easiest to use capture tool is my Apple Watch and the Voice Memos app.

I also keep a notepad here to capture ideas (sometimes even groceries lists). When I’m driving, I’m asking the person sitting next to me (usually my wife) to write stuff down for me. The notepad is shared, so my wife can capture her stuff as well. Since we’re frequently discussing agenda items in the car together—which always triggers new stuff to capture—it’s convenient to keep a shared notepad at hand.

In the bed at night

I can have ideas in the bed in three contexts:

  1. Before sleep, when the lights are still on, and we’re talking about something with my wife (or I’m reading).
  2. In the dark when I wake up in the middle of the night.
  3. In the morning when I’m reading.

I keep a small notepad next to the bed, which I use when the light is still on or in the morning. I wear my Apple Watch during sleep for sleep tracking, so it’s natural to take notes using Drafts digitally. I use the Scribble feature to write in the dark: usually, I capture no more than just a couple of words to remember the idea next time.

On rare occasions when something still bugs me, and I wake up because of it in the middle of the night, I have to grab my iPad to write down longer forms of thinking. Usually, I can sleep well after I captured what was on my mind, but it’s more important to capture these things during the day, so I can go to bed with a clear mind and sleep well.

Keeping a checklist of capture tools

I have a pretty extensive set of capture tools, and it can be dangerous if I forget to dump stuff I collected into my inbox. Before I start to process my inboxes, I go through a checklist of these tools to make sure I gathered everything into one place to continue to process them.

Habits are also essential to form: I do drop things into my inbox on my own from my more frequently used capture tools like my wallet or Drafts. But I still use a safety net in the form of a checklist, so nothing lays around unprocessed at the end.

2021.05.10.

Weirdly, I do this “interstitial journaling” for years now, without calling it anything. Although I don’t track tasks in it, just for the current session; those get captured in my GTD system.

What I don’t do habitually yet is the mindfulness journaling aspect, which could be another excellent use for Craft in an outline format. I like how Roam formats daily notes, which can be reproduced in Craft as well, but Day One and Drafts are so much quicker for capturing quick posts. I could look into how Craft can be automated, but I kinda like that Day One stores the location, weather, and so much more enhancing my journal.


Seems like this a recurring idea of mine.

2021.05.09.

Drafts is a digital Hipster PDA

  1. Drafts is an app optimized for taking quick notes and sending them to other places instead of storing them in the long term.
  2. Each Drafts note has a unique ID which can be understood as a digital index card linkable from anywhere.
  3. These notes are temporary, so I’m not keeping them in the system. After I processed one, it can be thrown away.
  4. Notes in Drafts don’t need much organization; everything is on a simple list. When I’m done with a note, it can be trashed or archived.