Headlines for Thursday:
- On social networks 08:30
- MIE1407F: Engineering Psychology and Human Performance 13:59
- Research interest: social information systems? 14:05
- Personalized personal information management systems 22:05
- Social software 22:23
- Planning reflection 23:07
- What's this? I've been fooled! 23:31
|A||X||E-mail name and student number to Paul Milgram regarding ECFPC account (mie1407f)|
|A||X||Add CCNet/20059/mie448h1f/ to my daily bookmarks (mie1407f)|
|A||X||@1100 Attend class at MP134 (mie1407f)|
|A||X||Get textbook: Engineering Psychology and Human Performance (mie1407f)|
|A||X||Print revised copy of syllabus with dates (teaching)|
|A||X||Q1 Get door access for MIE lab (teaching)|
|A||X||Q1 Find out where to get projector (teaching)|
|A||X||Follow up with Jess license (teaching)|
|A||X||Check if new version of weka is installed (teaching)|
|B||X||Log on to CCNet and set my password : E-Mail from Peter Shepard (teaching)|
|B||X||Tell Alvin and Annie about blogging server and how to modify it : E-Mail from Annie Xu (research)|
|A||X||Think of an interface for weekly planning|
|A||X||@1800 Attend grad house orientation|
|B||X||Write note to Byron : E-Mail from Byron Richard Uy (social)|
|B||X||Reply to Irene Becker about coaching : E-Mail from Irene Becker (2005.09.08 social coaching)|
1. On social networks
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
3. Research interest: social information systems?
4. Personalized personal information management systems
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.
5. Social software
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.
6. Planning reflection
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.
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 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!
I don't have any stickers handy. =( I should go out and get a pack of nice stickers tomorrow.
I'd love to hear about any questions, comments, suggestions or links that you might have. Your comments will not be posted on this website immediately, but will be e-mailed to me first. You can use this form to get in touch with me, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .