March 17, 2005

ETech day 4: Life hacks

  • Plain text rules
  • Geeks have one or two apps that they feel comfortable with – Mail, RSS reader or whatever – and the rest of it is hand-rolled scripts.
  • Sharing everything is a useful strategy to help organisation – let other people help to tag and categorise and annotate your work

So what tools add most value?

  • Decent email search: GMail, LookOut, Tiger SpotLight
  • Social file sharing for everyone – share files with friends, family or even just yourself in different places or contexts – Flickr, Novell iFolder (open source?), Groove
  • Easy web scraping to convert important pages into RSS feeds
  • Keyboard macros – QuickSilver for OS X

Think of the simplest possible solution to the problem (paper?).

Alt-tab has no muscle memory because apps move around in the order, so it can't be done unconsciously. Apps like QuickSilver allow muscle memory to operate during context switching.

Top tip: Turn off the computer, the internet, the email, the IM.

Geeks like the web because they have short attention spans, and the web lets you not just find something relevant and important, but a ton of irrelevant, distracting, enticing things too.

Google Suggest is an early example of a new class of application which are helping to eliminate navigation.

Desktop search requires you to context switch to it, and it has no pagerank, so the cognitive effort of evaluating the results list is high.


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