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[ L ] LifeHacks // Best practice in infoorg

Самый лучший тренд-лист. Обязательно к изучению всеми и каждым, кто имеет отношение к информационным задачам (все культурные люди входят в этот список).

Notes from Danny O'Brien's NotCon Recap of Life Hacks

Cory Doctorow

June 6, 2004
Imperial College, London

Everyone in Silicon Valley has heads up displays, WiFi Hands, they're the borg.

I walked onto stage with 220 index cards and got a cheap laugh.

But index cards are the inspiration for Life Hacks.

I went to PARC and saw Kent Beck, founder of Extreme Programming, whose improv approach is quite admirable.

  • The nugget of Extreme Programming is index cards
  • He read from the cards and then threw them like shuriken into the audience
    • PARC audiences are like Statler and Waldorf
      • "I hate drop-down menus and I wish I'd never invented them"
  • A person in the center of the paperless office with paper
    • "Look on your works ye mighty and despair"
    • Paper is the way forward
  • I'm an average programmer with great habits, learned from masters like Ward Cunningham

I was the world's most disorganized person, and I resolved to adapt the habits of the world's most organized and prolific geeks and become a Charles Atlas of organization

I emailed and contacted 70 technologists, asked 100 questions and got 14 replies back

I got a bunch of screenshots, habits, code, anaecdotes

  • JWZ -- Netscape hacker, sells beer, hangs out with goth chicks
  • Gnat Torkington -- Perl hacker
  • Brad Templeton -- Chairman of EFF
  • Guido van Rossom -- Invented Python
  • ESR -- Gun toting nice man, author of Cathedral and Bazaar
  • Ann Mitchell -- Antispam lawyer
  • Morbus Iff -- Amphetadesk, prefers dialup to broadband
  • Paul Ford -- ftrain.com
  • Dan Egnor -- Sweetcode.org
  • Edd Dumbill -- XML.com
  • Cory Doctorow -- Writer
  • Simon Cozens -- Perl Hacker
  • Tim Bray -- W3C
  • Piers Beckley -- LA Scriptwriter (meant to get a perl scriptwriter, got an LA scriptwriter -- we'll call him "the control")



  • Rather dull
    • A lot of shells (Brad)
    • A big shell
    • Shells (Paul Ford)
    • Shells and incoming hate-mail (JWZ)
    • Shells
    • emacs
    • Dan Egnor -- wins geek prize -- Google employee so lots is masked out, shells, shells, two shells, "shelly", browser, shells
    • Piers uses Outlook, bless 'im

Conclusion: people use shells

  • Not necessarily for efficiency
  • Respondents are geeks -- people who can read NTK in courier with no linebreaks love shells
  • The prolific people Danny knows are involved on the public net
    • Most shells are to remote computers
    • Shells are good for connecting to a public computer on which your public stuff lives
  • Shells don't hamper efficiency

Conclusion: People use todo.txt (Ford's is 27,000 lines long)

  • Don't use complicated apps
  • Use Word, BBEdit, Notepad, emacs, vi, whatever
  • Why?
    • If you want to organize yourself, take the stuff you're going to forget quickly and dump it just as quickly -- if it's in your short-term memory, you have to put it somewhere
    • You need to be able to find and enter text fast
      • Can cut, paste and find text fast
      • XML Guy: "Not interested in tagging my behavior with metadata -- just want to find stuff. Google shows that text can be found quick"
      • Text editors have incremental search (Mozilla: type slash and begin typing for your search string) -- quick way to lock-in on your desired text
        • In Moz, Panther, Launchbar, Quicksilver, etc
  • Text can be trusted
    • Power users trust software as far as they've thrown them in the past
    • Power users know that the bigger an app, the flakier it is
    • They've upgraded and crossgraded a lot, which means that they need text, which can run on every platform
  • Cory: I use mail for everything, it's got access, version and metadata control
  • JWZ: Every app expands to handle mail
    • Some bits of life are too short to learn another app
  • Joel on Software: Uses Excel for everything
  • Clients send website designs in PowerPoint
  • Don Lancaster sees the world in PostScript -- he imprinted like a chick on that app.

Conclusion: We'll have private blogs

  • People use blogs all the time
  • They'll just use their blogs for everything, project mgmt etc
  • LiveJournal: 4% of posts are private -- people talking to themselves

Conclusion: We'll have private RSS feeds

  • People suck lots of data into RSS
  • Sysadmins publish all status reports as private RSS feeds

Conclusion: Geeks use secret scripts

  • Thrown together
  • Shoddy
  • Embarassingly coded
  • Often forgotten
  • Universal scripts
    • Random sig generators
      • Linux Torvald's first Usenet post is trying to get pipes to work in his random sig generator
      • Netscape killer -- kills whatever app hangs most often
      • ssh foo: tunneling into and out of firewalls
      • mail wrangling
  • Sync
    • A way of making files mirror to another devices (Cory backs up to spare powerbook, HDD, remote server, and iPod)
    • Complex and personal
      • People don't trust existing sync apps
      • Write their own rsync stuff
  • Boilerplate
    • Letters and projects
      • Screenwriting template
      • Form responses to common email
  • Mungers and viewers
    • Ward Cunningham has a thing that counts how many files were changed on a given date -- a quick way to find files that are related to one another
    • KDE app shows you files that are low-down on your dir tree that are taking up all your disk space (Danny found half a gig of filed-away virii)
  • Not much cross-app automation
    • This was everyone's big dream for scripts -- AppleScript would pick up your mail and turn it into a GIF with Photoshop and put it on a webserver
    • No one does this -- even though you can
    • They're too brittle -- it's like remote objects
    • Unix pipes might be as complicated as you can get
    • Longhorn will test this -- an OO shell interface between apps
  • Loads of webscraping
    • Make your own RSS
    • Worth the brittleness
    • Download your banking info and graph it
  • Lots of making public
    • RSS and syncing
    • "We write these things so we can upload them to webservers"
    • This is all to tidy things up so that it's fit for public viewing
    • Ideas rot if you don't do something with them. I used to try to hoard them, but they rotted. Now I just blog them or tell people about them. Sometimes they still rot, but sometimes someone finds them useful in one way or another" -- Edd Dumbill
    • Publishing is like your mum coming over -- you have to clean it up and make it presentable
    • This not only makes you appear more prolific -- it actually makes you more prolific

Here's a killer app that exploits all of this:

  • Decent email search (bastards at Google!) -- this is what makes gmail good, even cypherpunks will put all their mail in Google and their friends in Orkut
  • Easy webscraping -- select a page, select stuff, turn it into RSS, learns when it breaks (with your feedback), and improves (spike ebay auctions, track airports, etc)
  • Keyboard macros for Windows/Linux
  • Filepile for everyone -- Suppose hypothetically that there was a site that let you share pix etc with your friends. The idea is to have a dir on your desktop that synch the files you drag into it with your friends.

Recommended books

  • Getting Things Done: David Allen
  • Home Comforts: Cheryl Mendelson (20 pages on dishwashing!)
  • Test Driven Development: Kent Beck

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