Archive for lifehacker

DIY Lightbox

Posted in DIY, Inspiration, People, Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by blakejohnson

I wish I had teachers do cool, simple stuff like then when I was in school. Not only is it cheap and gets the job done, but it’s something the teacher took the effort and initiative to do outside of the classroom in order to teach more adequately the material to their students. In general, I think creative, crafty teachers are some of the best kind, and maybe it’s overkill to applaud them, but after the last year of making fruitless tuition payments, I applaud them whole-heartedly. Way to go, bigtreehouse!

The goal was to make a light box for my students to use that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Went to the second-hand store and found a florescent light… ($4.99 with 50% off) then noticed a suitcase/briefcase ($3.99 with 50% off). I got them both and started thinking of ways to put them together.

Instructables via Lifehacker.

Fast Food Reality

Posted in Health with tags , , , , , , , on April 18, 2009 by blakejohnson

I laughed a bit when I saw this. Disgusting, I know, but funny nonetheless.

WVSR via Lifehacker.

Lifehacker Code

Posted in Coding, Computers, Productivity, Resources, Web with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by blakejohnson

A cool little list of Lifehacker’s homegrown Firefox addons and standalone apps.  Some cool little useful stuff.  There are some other things I remember them making that aren’t on this list, but this is a vote on the best 5 I think, so maybe that’s why they didn’t include them all.

Some of the unmentioned ones:

Productivity Hobbyist

Posted in Get Meta!, Life, Productivity, Web with tags , , , , on July 6, 2008 by blakejohnson

A while back I tried a week of productivity blogging, keeping on track all week long, recording each day’s progress, and analyzing what worked and didn’t about each day. It was fun, but I wouldn’t want to run my entire life that way. I like to read and hear about productivity hacks and the habit-formers who go about changing their lifestyles to get things done in a more efficient way, thus one of my favorite blogs is Lifehacker. But I never really thought about my interest in productivity as a hobby instead of another habit-former. (I never really thought about my interest in the subject more than that week of productivity posts). But I found this article this morning (yes, on Lifehacker) and it has a good point.

You can get mired in Bible verses without being a Christian, you can watch The Biggest Loser while putting on weight, and you can consume loads of information without gaining knowledge. It’s also possible to practice the productivity hobby without developing the productivity habit. The former isn’t bad, but it’s important to remain cognizant of the hobby versus habit distinction.

It’s a good point, and one that’s a good thing to know about yourself and your interest in any topic. Just because you’re interested, you read about it, and you consume its related reading material doesn’t mean you’re actually contributing to the group of people who are creating that material. If you actively take part in a habit or activity, then you’re more of a contributor, since you’re going through the motions as well. It’s the age-old walk-the-walk theory. Basically, just know what your level of interest is, and you’re good. I’m a hobbyist, definitely, though I like to try to act on that interest from time to time. But I’m fine with being a hobbyist and I’m content to know that from now on whenever I read more about the subject. I guess it comes down to knowing yourself, just to clear up any misconceptions or false-glorification you might have created in your mind.

Have fun, hobbyist or not :).

Hobbies are great. Having fun is, in my opinion, much more important than being productive.

Know thyself.”

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!

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!