Headlines for Thursday:



Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AXE-mail name and student number to Paul Milgram regarding ECFPC account (mie1407f)
AXAdd CCNet/20059/mie448h1f/ to my daily bookmarks (mie1407f)
AX@1100 Attend class at MP134 (mie1407f)
AXGet textbook: Engineering Psychology and Human Performance (mie1407f)
Teaching assistant
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AXPrint revised copy of syllabus with dates (teaching)
AXQ1 Get door access for MIE lab (teaching)
AXQ1 Find out where to get projector (teaching)
AXFollow up with Jess license (teaching)
AXCheck if new version of weka is installed (teaching)
BXLog on to CCNet and set my password : E-Mail from Peter Shepard (teaching)
Research assistant
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
BXTell Alvin and Annie about blogging server and how to modify it : E-Mail from Annie Xu (research)
Planner maintainer
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AXThink of an interface for weekly planning
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
AX@1800 Attend grad house orientation
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
BXWrite note to Byron : E-Mail from Byron Richard Uy (social)
BXReply to Irene Becker about coaching : E-Mail from Irene Becker (2005.09.08 social coaching)


1. On social networks

Categories: None -- Permalink
Jared Spool of UIE is trying out LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network.

Here's what I like about LinkedIn.

- Discovering people who are in my area. For example, I've found a

number of personal coaches in Toronto who are connected to me some way or another. Isn't that nifty?

- Referring people to others. Big win. Great fun.

- Learning about the companies people work for. I don't often hear

about someone's employment history unless I happen to stumble upon a relevant question, but seeing people's backgrounds lets me go, "Hey! Travis! You work for a game company?!"

- Keeping up to date with people's changing e-mail addresses. Better

than having a separate address book web app, which might be more spammy.

2. MIE1407F: Engineering Psychology and Human Performance

Categories: mie1407f#1 -- Permalink
Paul Milgram talked about the course mechanics and gave us a whirlwind tour of incredibly complex systems that are out there. I've heard this course is a lot of work, but it'll teach me a lot. I'm going to need to work on statistics and experiment design, as I don't have much background in that.

3. Research interest: social information systems?

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As I think about what I'd like to spend the next two years studying, I find myself going between personal information management and something (new? old?) that for lack of a better term I will call <b>social information management</b>. Blogging, social bookmarking and social networking aren't quite personal-information-management topics, but they aren't quite groupware either. These tools support weak ties with people outside your usual circles, and I'm fascinated by how much we gain when we share information with strangers.

4. Personalized personal information management systems

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Don Marti quotes an e-mail from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: <blockquote> The productivity software we have today is designed for everyone, but it doesn't really map to the specific kinds of jobs people have. </blockquote>

Sophisticated, feature-packed personal information managers are out there, but most people use a fraction of the functionality, or even throw their hands up in despair and stick with e-mail as their task-manager and calendar all in one. We're moving towards simplification. 37signals.com's big win is that they make web-based task managers that are simple enough to do just what people want and not more.

I think that the biggest win in terms of personal information management comes when we customize software to the kind of data people work with--and more importantly, the _way_ they work with that data. The ultracustomizable Planner showed me that even something as small as task sort order could be incredibly individualized. For example, today I tried sorting my tasks by role and then by my usual stuff. Other times I've sorted it by combinations of categories. Other people have written code to sort it by importance and urgency, following Dr. Stephen Covey's suggestions, and yet others sort by more sophisticated rules. All of that from something that traditional PIMs would limit to predefined table headings like "Due date" or "Category"!

How would this kind of tailoring scale? Boxed software products aim to satisfy the majority and make their profits on economies of scale. Customized software takes advantage of the economies of niches, of the long tail effect of the Web.

When it comes to Planner, I don't mind spending time writing code for just one person. Chances are, other people will find that code useful too. Besides, most tweaks are created and shared by the community, and that's ubercool. I learn _so_ much from them, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help tailor Planner to become _their_ personal information manager.

Looking at all the Web 2.0 stuff coming out, I think that kind of customization is going to be even more important. User-centered design is front and center. Users take an active role in shaping the features of an application. Software is turning into a conversation.

That's cool.

5. Social software

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Ethan Zuckerman writes about how a large volunteer effort was quickly mobilized on the Net. The software support was crude: wikis, databases, data chunks for manual entry by a massively parallel array of humans. The end result: fantastic. Read it and start thinking about ways to make things better.

Ethan also points out <b>the power of posses.</b> Amen, brother! One of my greatest treasures is the group of friends I can call on for a cause or an emergency. Social software extends that beyond the small group of people in my address book to anyone who cares to read my blog, and it makes it easier for people passing the call on to _other_ posses, other cliques, other groups through their own blogs. Very good stuff.

Link from Don Marti's post on "Genetically Engineered Cash Cow"

6. Planning reflection

Categories: planner#14 -- Permalink
I haven't posted a planning reflection in a while. I thought I'd think out loud again after rereading Covey's _First Things First_ and the Merrills' _Life Matters._ This isn't _the_ way to use Planner. In fact, I like thinking out loud about my planning style because I love getting suggestions and advice from others. (This community is amazing!)

Today I experimented with dividing my tasks according to roles. It's a little like planner-trunk.el, but I added the labels manually. This lets me make sure I'm doing something useful in the roles I wanted to concentrate on. I would like to eventually move to doing weekly role-based planning, but I haven't quite figured out a nice way to do a week plan.

Here are my thoughts on my planning method so far:


Bunching my tasks according to roles makes it easier for me to concentrate and prioritize. You can use planner-trunk to do that too, or just rearrange your tasks and add blank lines between them. Blank lines don't automatically get carried forward, though.

Weekly planning

The main reason I have a paper planner (8.5" x 11": weekly calendar + todo list + notes) is have that week-at-a-glance view. I like iCal's interface for planning tasks on a weekly basis, but I'm not entirely sure how to map that onto Emacs, and I like my daily notes and my day-view task list.

So now I'm trying to figure out how to do exactly what was discussed on the mailing list a week or two ago: good week planning. I don't think I've ever come across an Emacs PIM that made me go aha, yes, that's the way to do it, although howm's searching comes close and org's outlining can sort of do the trick. Well, so can Planner with new plan pages, I suppose.

As I was trying to figure out how to do weekly planning, I realized I didn't know a nice, easy Emacs function for finding the current week number. Would anyone happen to have that handy? Alternatively, I could use something like Week.2005.09.05 to signify the week starting on 2005.09.05 (depending on calendar-week-start-day).

Maybe I could vertically divide the screen between a week view, with tasks indicating my priorities, and a day view that shows the actual goods. Then I can use planner-multi to schedule tasks from the week view, and page forward and backward on the day view to check my load.

With planner-cyclic and planner-deadline in place, that would actually be better than my paper planner. =)

I keep wondering whether we should do what everyone else does and store a task once and only once. I don't know how to hack that so that it will let me manipulate the tasks as plain text, though. I like adding blank lines in the middle of things, or changing the sorting order, or doing other weird stuff. So I guess duplicated text works better for me.

Undated tasks

Undated tasks tend to get forgotten, but the sacha/planner-schedule-next-task code I had in my config was a bit annoying. When I caught myself unscheduling a task even before properly reading it, I turned that off in my config.

I think it's because I need to rearrange the tasks in my plan pages so that the important ones come out first. I've already tweaked sacha/planner-schedule-next-task to add a new task only when I've finished all scheduled tasks on that page for that particular project, but it seems that after I finish a sublist of tasks, I feel like changing contexts.

Maybe I can make a next-actions function that goes through a list of projects and tells me what the next action is. When I have unexpectedly free time, I can hit a shortcut to call that function, and it will list the most important task (and perhaps the least important as well? ;) ) in various pages.

Hey, that would be a low-cost thing to implement. We already have the pieces for that...


One of the side-benefits of publishing your task list is that occasionally people will go and do the tasks for you. For example, one of my TODOs was to write the speaker at a recent convention. I liked his talk and I wanted to learn more about personal coaching. Because I've been busy these past few days (my mom's visiting, school's starting, etc.), I kept putting it off...

... until I got a note from him saying he searched for his name, found my TODO, and decided to write to me. ^_^ Yay!

7. What's this? I've been fooled!

Categories: None -- Permalink
My stationery envelope doesn't have any adhesive! It's not a lick-and-seal envelope! I've been fooled!

I don't have any stickers handy. =( I should go out and get a pack of nice stickers tomorrow.