Category Archives: appquest

Web Widget Wednesday: Joe’s Goals

I’ve blogged about this earlier, but I thought Joe’s Goals deserved more comment and made a worthy beginning to my new and continuing (I hope) Wednesday blog topic.

Due to my trip to Florida, I have fallen away from using it. But I will get back in the saddle soon because I have found it very helpful.

Joe’s Goals allows you to set positive and negative goals for yourself and track your fidelity to your decisions to do or avoid doing certain things. You simply check the box when you do an action on a daily or weekly basis. If you have listed the activity as positive, you score a point and if you have listed it as negative you lose one.

What I have found works best is to open a logbook under most of my goals. Rather than the point system, Joe’s Goals allows you to actually keep a daily journal entry. Typically for each activity (“read fiction,” “eat after supper,” or “publish heresy on the web”), I have a logbook on the same topic. While each new category appears on the bottom of your list, a control panel is provided for re-ordering them. That way, I can list what exercise I actually did as well as checking off the box.

I think Joe’s Goals looks like a great way to undertake disciplines and follow through on commitments.

How I became a spammer: A morality tale in 5 lessons

Whatever else you come away with from this post: I hope I didn’t mean to! and I hope to stop being stupid some day! top your list.

LESSON THE FIRST: never import your address book

Someone invited me to Shelfari and I joined. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that they nicely asked me which address book I wanted to import and, though I hesitated a moment, I went ahead and opted in with my google account.

Perhaps, joining Jott has softened me up (note: Jott is excellent and never gave me this kind of grief).

LESSON THE SECOND: uncheck everything

I was presented with a screen that started with the names of two people in my address book who were already Shelfari members. Beneath their names was an invite button. Underneath the button was a long long list of names, each with a box beside it that was checked. This was every single person I had ever for any reason saved in my google contacts list. I didn’t want to spend time deselecting loads of people, and I didn’t think I needed to. There was another invite button underneath this list. Two lists and two buttons. I figured I would invite the top two into the latest cyber-relationship that all the kids are doing these days and move on with my work day.

I could consider who to invite new to Shelfari later, when I had decided if it was worth it. I was perfectly safe clicking that button for the two that were already members. Right.

LESSON THE THIRD: truth takes time

As my mind restlessly rushes around searching for a scapegoat to blame for my own bone-headed mistake, GTD comes to mind. I try to keep my email in-basket as empty as possible. I didn’t plan to spend much time with Shelfari at that moment. I just wanted to have something to bookmark for later and to get rid of an email. So was I being rational in my assumptions about the two buttons? Were their warnings I ignored? I don’t remember but probably. I’m sure if I complain to the entrepreneurs at Shelfari that they will have a counter-accusation ready at hand. if I complain, they will probably blame my own stupidity. And I can’t completely deny that charge!

I should not have rushed.

LESSON THE FOURTH: it is never over in cyberspace

As you have already figured out, both buttons did the same thing and I ended up spamming every single google contact I had. That was bad enough. But then this morning I was told an email address was not available and that “my” email had bounced. Why didn’t this happen earlier? Because this was not dealing with the original email! Shelfari in their inscrutable wisdom has decided that they should repeatedly bother the people who don’t respond to their gracious invitation.

Why not? After all, they weren’t the official sender, even though I never authorized any haranguing. No, the email apparently came from me. And when a potential client I had been in touch with a few months ago–and with whom I still had hopes of nurturing a relationship–decided to bounce the annoying emails, it was my email address that he blocked.

As far as I know, everyone in my email list is going to be asked to join Shelfari until Judgment Day or a nuclear pulse ends the web, whichever comes first.

LESSON THE FIFTH: your gaming identity is probably not an appropriate generic handle

Then I got an email this morning from a nice lady whose church I had preached at, asking me who “Commonpreyr” was. At one time, by universal web handle was the much more savory sounding “Presbytermark.” But, for some reason I obviously did not think about very much, I grew tired of that name and reverted to my favorite handle from Halo. Well, if you like sardonic Anglican humor thrown in your face as I pick you off with a pistol or run you down in a Warthog, Commonpreyr works just fine (back in the nineties when I first started in online gaming with Team Fortress, my handle was Bookofcommonpreyer and Preyerbookworship, but Halo only allows a limited number of characters in a name).

But it is not a good generic name that one can send at random to anyone in one’s address book and expect a favorable response. In my defense, I use it mostly for web apps that I am not sharing with anyone, so the only consideration is that I remember it. But that put me in the habit of using it all the time without realizing the difference it makes to be joining a web 2.0 contraption.

Basically, every single contact I had got an email from someone who sounded like a stalker.



Jim commented:

After reading this blog I decided to take a look at the task tools you mentioned. I’m looking a Nozbe now, but TaskToy — what is it? The Tasktoy website is just a signup page, with no information as to what in the heck Tasktoy is, or even what it looks like. No FAQ, no screenshots, and a Google Group that has absolutely no real posts — all spam posts. Apparently no one is managing the group at all.Anytime I see a service-oriented web site that wants me to sign up completely sight unseen, I usually steer clear of it!

Good instincts–but in this case, misleading. For reviews and screenshots take a look at the google searches I did.

I’ve been using Tasktoy as my start page for a couple of years now. It provides a window on the left side of the screen for tasks, todos, or “next actions” in GTD nomenclature. On the right it has two windows, one of projects and the other of whatever links you think are handy.

It is ideal for those with different work and home environments since different computers can save different settings and see different groups of projects according to context (i.e. home, or office). It will email reminders if you want them and also repeat tasks. It allows for extensive notes.

It is free with some relatively muted advertising (unlike, say, this blog).

Always happy to win a convert!

Hey Mark, thank you for your recommendation that I take the plunge into the Mac world. I have had my Mac for two months now and I continue to grow in my appreciation of it. I had been a PC man for 15 years and the idea of crossing over initially frightened me. But you were right when you told me that Macs runs themselves and it wouldn’t be long before I learned the ropes. It is the first time in 15 years that I have felt like my computer works for me instead of me having to work around my computer. Thanks again.

I love getting this kind of feedback. Believe it or not, I’m not really a machead. If you’re looking for a bargain for your desktop, you can consider pcs and still be rational.

But when someone tells me (as this PCA pastor did) they are looking for a laptop. I simply have not found anything that compares to an apple. In terms of size, weight, and battery life alone, they are amazing. (My iBook also has great sound but someone told me that they were surprised to find the macbook was not quit as good.)

If you are looking for a laptop, you should certainly consider making the switch. Now, with google docs ready to open Office docs for you, I’m not even sure you will need to buy Microsoft Office right away.

GTD Application Sevice Provider: Nozbe

For those of you interested (or in need) of GTD (despite the deep weird), The GTD Wannabe blog has posted a review of the online gtd app, Nozbe. I’ve noticed Nozbe before, and think it is the right direction to go. I am more and more inclined to prefer online services to downloading new programs, when possible.

(Part of the reason that preference stems from my utter frustration with the mac dashboard. I got used to widgets and then frustrated as it took longer and longer to open them. So now I have book marks for my timers and calculators and everything else I need. There are a few rare times when I am without broadband, but not nearly often enough to deal with the frustration of using my own resources on a regular basis. In fact, I no longer use any computer email client or calendar app, preferring to stick with 30boxes and Gmail. Whenever I’m going on a trip where I know I might need these, and that I will be out of range of broadband, I simply download my reminders and email into my iCal and Mail apps and then delete it all when I come back home… But I digress)

In any case, even though I like application services through my browser, I am really stingy about paying for them. So I’ve left Nozbe alone and made do with other organizational tools like TaskToy. If I had money to burn I would not only experiment with it and write my own review, but I’d buy the latest toy to use it with.

So I appreciate this review of Nozbe’s GTD services from GTD Wanabe. It is not that positive:

Unfortunately, although it uses all of the right buzz words, I didn’t like it. Now, remember that I’m not evaluating software here for general use, but for my use. Therefore, my tastes weigh heavily in my evaluation.

To his credit, he actually has his “tastes” all charted out, which is more than I have ever done. So you might find that you want to try it out anyway.

You can find Nozbe tutorials at YouTube. Here is the first one:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Remember the Milk and the solution to to-do lists

The Republic of Geektronica has a short but useful entry on “the trouble with to-do lists.” The trouble with these lists is, in short, that if you have everything on them you get really intimidated and try to avoid looking at them. Geektronica suggests some work-arounds utilizing Remember the Milk. Since I’m in need of some serious GTD recovery, perhaps I will give it a shot.

The only reason I haven’t done so already is I have an aversion to cute cartoon cows.

Do hippies need fatherly approval?

In keeping with my observation on the Kevin MD post about Google and their health advisors, I notice this observation regarding the iPhone:

It is in some ways astonishing that AT&T and Apple are partners at all. AT&T is the oldest of the old school—the most ancient major high-tech firm in the United States, founded in 1878. Unfazed by spending the last 23 years in suspended animation (after the great breakup of 1984), AT&T is back to its classic business model: own the largest networks and everything on them. Apple, meanwhile, is the original hippie computer company, a child of the 1970s, not the 1870s. At least in its origins, Apple is an ideological foe of IBM and AT&T. (Remember that 1984 ad?) Considering that these firms were born on the opposite sides of the tech Kulturkampf, the iPhone cannot help but be a little strange.

Is it strange or is it ubiquitous? The revolutionary envisions a new society and marginalizes himself in the old one to advocate the new. But, whatever his vision, personal eschatology trumps the cosmic. He can envision no better vindication for himself than to have the approval and acceptance of the ancien regime.

That said, I’m still hoping that AT&T will truly want Apple to change them and/or that the Slate writer’s optimistic scenario is true:

If you’re an optimist, the more intriguing possibility is that Apple’s iPhone is a Trojan Horse. The iPhone is fatally attractive to AT&T, since it gives the firm a chance to steal tens of thousands of new customers from rivals like Verizon. But Apple may be betting that, once it has its customers, they’ll be more loyal to Apple than AT&T. With its foothold in the wireless world, Apple may be planning to slowly but inexorably demand more room. If iPhone 2.0 is a 3G phone that works with any carrier and supports third-party apps, then industry power will begin to move away from the carrier oligopoly and toward Apple and other Silicon Valley firms. Now, that would be a revolution.

(Hat tip: Reformed Chicks Blabbing)