Archive for the Work Category

Quick! Close my Windows!

Posted in Computers, Humor, Work with tags , , , on June 29, 2008 by blakejohnson

I found this today in my newsletter and had to chuckle. Where is the Geekologie entry poking fun at this little gadget?

Now you can be sneaky... and fast!Just in case you want to super-quickly close a window (you know, like when you’re visiting those site you get that special thrill out of visiting at work), you just tap your foot and it’s gone. Voila!

What I want to know is, what happens when it fails? Or when it doesn’t work so well? Do you jump up and down on the pedal? Do you have to actually use your hand (which is presumably already on the mouse) to minimize a window!?

Now I’m back off to looking at those sites I get excited about visiting at school (yes, school, since I don’t have the luxury of a job or an income).

iTunes Tricksies

Posted in Computers, Inspiration, Music, Productivity, Work with tags , , , , , , , on February 22, 2008 by blakejohnson

Check out this article from Lifehacker. I’ve been taking advantage of this feature and really, it’s very, very nice. The way I’ve got it set up is that I have a folder called “Rules,” which basically is a bunch of smart playlists in iTunes that ask for all music classified by certain genres to be put into that particular playlist (so there’s one for Metal, one for Instrumentals, one for Classical, one for Rock, one for Soundtracks, etc.). Then that folder is collapsed, so I don’t use those unless I want to add another subcategory to one of the lists (like Industrial to Electronic, for example). Then, I have another folder called “Shufflers,” which is basically a list of the same playlists, only these ones only have two simple rules:

1. Playlist .. is … “Metal” (for example), and
2. Last Played … is not in the last … “1” … weeks

closeup iTunes

(Click on the above image to see a fullscreen view of my setup)

So when I click on a playlist (named after the genre it represents) in the “Shufflers” folder, and hit enter (or the “Play” button on my Mac keyboard), it begins playing all songs by the genres specified in the “Rules” playlist that haven’t been played in the last week… one at a time, of course. For especially long lists (like Metal, for example…I like my metal), the number of weeks can be increased, so I can listen to my entire library or metal before repeating any songs over again (mine’s huge). Each playlist is set to shuffle, so I don’t hear the same artist back to back (extremely rare, iTunes is very good at shuffling). And finally, I use this plugin, called DeskTunes, for Quicksilver that puts a little bit of imagery on my desktop (usually just the album art, song and artist name and a rating grid for rating each song as it plays) that I can conveniently see just below the edge of any program window I have open (designer’s genius? I wonder…), and I can take a brief second to rate the song currently playing as I’m listening to it and going about my business on the computer. It’s actually quite a nice setup… heh, and I’m enjoying it pretty well. I’ve been thinking about adding new genre playlists recently, but I suppose I’ll try to listen to everything, then see what hasn’t been played fully yet, and then make a playlist for those songs and see how that one goes. My thought it it’ll be just fine :).

Hope this is helpful and even fun for some of you out there, I know I enjoyed discovering that I didn’t have to listen to straight artists and be disappointed when their music ended and I only had a little of it and then something completely different began… that was a weird feeling to go from As Tall As Lions Amon Amarth sometimes. It’s cool to learn you can shuffle a lot of artists and still enjoy the music listening experience. In a way I almost enjoy it more. I get to discover all this new music I knew I had but had never listened to before… it’s a fun thing to do. So for all you music and iTunes junkies out there, enjoy the trick, and let me know how your setup goes in the comments below!

The Big Move

Posted in Family, Friends, Get Meta!, Inspiration, Life, News, People, Realtionships, School, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2008 by blakejohnson

Well, here it is.  I’m sitting in the airport on my way to LA, then Seattle, then Vancouver for my long-awaited move away from home.  This is the first time I’m going to be living outside of my parent’s house, and it’s really kind of interesting how I feel about it.  I’m not excited.  I’m not dreading it.  I find myself thinking of it as just another day that happens to be taking place in a different state, and eventually, country.  Everybody keeps coming up to me saying things like “Oh, I bet you can’t wait,” or “You must be excited,” and really, honestly, I don’t feel different.

I’ve heard it doesn’t hit you until you’re there, without your parents, and you think “When are they coming to pick me up?” and the inevitable response pops into your head and you think “Oh, right.”  I guess that might be what’ll happen to me.  Maybe it’s a sort of feeling that nothing in insurmountable.  Maybe it’s just that I’m not afraid.  Whatever it is, I feel absolutely normal.  Except I’m in the airport.

It’s going to be a good move though.  New people, new places, I’m glad to finally be getting away from the tiny-town Vermont.  I wrote in an email to a friend a day or two ago:

In my room, I can stand up straight, just normally, and flat-footed I can touch the palms of my hands to my ceiling. I like to think that’s how it is living in Vermont. I can touch the ceiling with no effort, but I can’t push beyond it to do what I want to do. A bigger city might have higher ceilings, but it’s definitely going to have more potential. So that’s what I’m really moving for the most.

Overall, I’m obviously looking forward to the move, and I’m looking forward to being closer to my brother who lives in Seattle.  I’m staying with him for a week or two before getting up to Vancouver, and that should be fun, since I rarely see him more than once a year.  But now, being closer, I should be seeing him more often.  In addition to that, I’ve got the opportunities abounding from the new city, the new people, and the new things I’ll learn and do when I’m out there.  If you can’t tell, I can get myself excited about the move, but I’m not overly zealous about the whole thing.

So I’m going to sit back, relax in the airport and enjoy my nice soygurt (just joshin’, I’m hardcore, I go for the real stuff) and wait for the plane to be ready to bear me on my journey through the heavens… err, the clouds anyway.  It’s gonna be a long day of traveling, but it should be fun in the end.

Time Tracking & Management

Posted in DIY, Health, Inspiration, Life, Productivity, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by blakejohnson

I’ve been working on managing my time recently, a little, trying to be productive and whatnot while maintaining a healthy lifestyle too.  I recently discovered a number of posts at Lifehacker (duh) that were pretty helpful in pointing in the right direction.  Through them I found both Tick and RescueTime, the latter of which being the most interesting.

Tick is a project-management webapp that basically allows you to list your projects, keep track of individual tasks on each of them and define how many hours each should take, essentially all in an effort to get you to meet your “time budget.”  Tick is unfortunately a trial and only allows you to have one project listed and open (currently being worked on) at a time, with the paid upgrade of somewhere around what I believe was $10.  I currently use Anxiety, though, so I’m probably going to cancel my membership with Tick.

Anxiety is a lightweight, free task management app that is… well… a task manager that integrates beautifully with Apple’s Mail and iCal, giving yo all the benefits of different calendars and events within those calendars, separating your work, personal, bigger ideas.  It hovers over all applications with the option to hide it and each tasks even have handy little check boxes on the side so that once you’re done, you just check it off, and it’s immediately updated as one less to-do in Mail and iCal.  It’s a very useful tool, and its constant visual presence on the screen I find is a reminder of the things I should be doing when I’m doing things like aimless internet surfing or on a YouTube binge.

I really just wanted to post on the blog because of the email verification I got from downloading this app.  There’s a required registration for it, but the email was nice enough of a surprise and the app sounds like it’s going to do a great job, so I’m aiming to keep it.  From the little I found out about it, it tracks what you do while on the computer and send you a weekly report of how you spent your time, as well as offering a range of full-featured graphs and tools to see how distracted you were when you should have been working.  Yup, something I can definitely make use of ;).  Here’s a screenshot of part of the confirmation email:


I thought that was a great change of pace from the typical “Hello, thank you, go to our site, goodbye” messages.  I was glad to receive something like that from what it essentially makes out to be three guys goofing around with their program for the good of others.

So, three programs that can help you (and me) get things done.  The two I use so far work great, though I’ve only had about an hour’s worth of experience with RescueTime running in the background, so really it’s that I love Anxiety.  That mixed with Quicksilver and the built-in Mail and iCal on Mac are a wonderful workflow.  How do you manage your time and your projects?  Let me know!

Punk Rock Film School

Posted in Art, DIY, Film, Inspiration, Music, Reviews, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2007 by blakejohnson

I watched this documentary tonight called Punk Rock Film School which was basically about making a music video from no money, a garage, a band, and something to play the music back from. For those of you who don’t already know, I run the AnimiVirtus Productions group and blog about it over here. It’s basically a no-budget, high-standards filmmaking group that believes in self-dependency, efficiency and making something with nothing, which is a lot of what this short documentary was about. It was a cool thing to have going in the background as I looked up LightScribe media prices (have you freaking seen this!?) and Linux installers and other random things I like to peek into late at night.

Anyway… it was a good thing to watch, a bit reassuring that making video out of seemingly nothing but potential is still possible, and it’s not just an advocated joy of the past that’s now been overcome by fancy but cheap production equipment and lighting and rig setups for “pro” results. Sometimes making something from nothing just blows people away, and that’s why it’s so fun to make. It’s also just harder to get people with power involved, because there’s no money involved in the project at all. That’s really annoying. Anyway, enjoy the link; hopefully it’s interesting and even helpful to somebody out there.

Review Day #5

Posted in DIY, Family, Inspiration, Life, People, Productivity, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2007 by blakejohnson

How’d it go?
Pretty horrifically.  I didn’t get any work done on any of the projects I’d planned to make progress on.  Out of the entire week, I’d say that today was really the only failure to be productive.  In my defense, however, I did have a morning rush to bring my dad to an appointment, then to get to work 3 hours late because of that (someone covered my shift, but still not something I like to make into a habit), then to be there for 4 hours straight without a break (no big deal) and then t have to call the late list and have a lady get mad at her $30 in late fees and tell me to close her account.  On the one hand, that doesn’t make sense, to close an account because you had 4 movies out for 5 days – and then be surprised that you owed a bunch of money!  But on the other hand, I could have offered a deal to her if she came into the store and acted politely to the staff on hand at the time.  Anyway… so that, along with constant pestering by my impatient and in pain dad this morning and then discussing some family matters with my mom after work, it all just added up to quite a non-productive but nonetheless not-depressing day.

Final Notes
Well firstly I’d like to get some work done, otherwise I’m going to have to say no for now.  It was an alright day, and I’m hungry at the moment, so I’m going to get some food in me and settle down to a nice Australian drama film.  I just finished watching the futuristic sci-fi action movie The Last Sentinel and was quite pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the film – highly recommended to any low-budget action filmmaker out there… or any filmmaker, for that matter.  It was a great watch.

Hello, Blacktree

Posted in Computers, Resources, Work on December 7, 2007 by blakejohnson

(Mac only) This is a freaking awesome group of freeware programmers. Quicksilver for Mac OS X Leopard rocks my freaking socks off, as does Nocturne. They’ve got an iTunes-LAME utility as well as some other little freebies on their site… which has an awesome design to it as well, by the way.

Quicksilver is a fantastic keystroke-based, “unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music and other data,” as they put it on their site. It allows you to search for and open within seconds any application or file on your computer simply by using keystrokes… yes, that’s right, without even touching your mouse. It’s the ultimate in allowing you to “Act without doing.”

Next is Nocturne, their freeware utility to inverse or otherwise colorize your monitor at the click of a button (or by using only your keyboard if you’ve already been a champ and gotten Quicksilver installed) to your liking, usually accommodating the more sensitive eyes, changing the brightness of the screen, the color scheme of the entire Mac OS X interface, and generally the feel of the thing. Mine’s basically just inverted as of right now, though I had a preset earlier and accidentally hit the ‘esc’ key which reset the colors for m. Yea, how nice. So be careful about that ‘esc’ key while you’ve got the Preferences window open for Nocturne.

Awesome tools… OK, I’m not even going to try to cover that one, they’re awesome toys. So go check them out! The site’s linked to below, and here’s a quickstart guide from the wonderful people over at Lifehacker about Quicksilver, your new favorite toy (only for Macs).