Category Archives: business

43Folders: Snapshots of a Dream Productivity App

Hooks and more hooks – As I’ve repeated until I’m hoarse, apps like Quicksilver change the way you use
your Mac. Drastically. Ditto for any app that’s open to interaction via (the vastly underutilized) OS X
Services. There are smart ways to provide some kind of access to most any program without switching from
the foreground app and the task at hand. I want ways to append information, create new items, and do any
“capturing” from wherever I am. At the very least, I want a universal “drop box” to which I can
periodically return to process, file, and enrich any kind of productivity app data (reminders, phone
numbers, notes, etc.).

See, Planner’s onto something here.

We’re not very good at ad hoc collections, though.

43 Folders: I Want a Pony: Snapshots of a Dream Productivity App

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Planner poetry

I’m up to here with things to do
  And buried under data
The notes I keep all filed away,
  The tasks—I’ll do them later.


+1 to put things off a day,
  Tomorrow: work ’til all is done,
Today I can relax—but then
  Tomorrow’ll never come.


My webpage looks impressive, sure,
  But check a few days later.
The same tasks appear. I know,
  I’m such a procrastinator.

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Business idea! =)

I’ve never seen a cybercafe that made it easy for people to study
without getting distracted by games or other people talking, perhaps
by giving them desk space and small partitions.

I’ve never seen a cybercafe with programming tools or rates low enough
for people to consider programming or studying in them. I’ve never
seen a cybercafe that had little programming contests—perhaps with
prizes?—or computer tips and trivia.

I’ve never seen a cybercafe that made it easy for students to work on
group projects by letting them use whiteboards, scratch paper,
pencils, Post-It notes (sold at the store) in a semi-private room.

I’ve never seen a cybercafe that helped you focus on your work instead
of your movie download or your chat. I’ve never seen a cybercafe
explicitly devoted to studying, with help just a call or hand-raise away.

I’ve never seen a cybercafe that allowed parents to establish accounts
or lines of credit for their children so that they could be assured
that money was spent on computer access instead of games.

I’ve never seen a cybercafe that made it easy to conduct small
seminars by having some kind of projector, even an OHP—although of
course a digital projector would be much cooler. (This is pushing it,
but only just.)

Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, or maybe there’s a business
opportunity here somewhere. I want to make it easy for people to study
even if they’re only renting bedspace somewhere. I want to make it
easy for people to find other people to study with, to form study
groups, to ask questions if they need help.

This idea lends itself to franchising, too. Computer geeks who would
like an excuse to work on personal projects while making some money
can take care of a lab. Internet all day. An excuse to keep computing
books around. The occasional question, sure, but after you set it up
it’s pretty much self-running.

Hmm. Far future. I hope someone beats me to the punch, because it
looks like something that might be good for students.

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Managing my mail

I use Gnus, one of the many mail/news clients available for Emacs.
The following features help me manage the volume of mail I get each day.

Mail splitting

Yes, yes, the Gmail way is to keep everything in one folder and then
use searches to filter your messages. Still, I like being able to
glance at my screen and see 2 personal messages and 3 planner-related

Topics and group hiding

I use Gnus topics to divide my mail into folders and subfolders.
Mail groups are hidden unless they have mail. Some groups like
mail.misc and mail.planner are generally useful, so I keep them visible
even if they don’t have unread mail.


Gnus allows you to automatically score threads and messages up and
down based on various criteria. You can set it to completely hide
boring messages, show them in a different color, show interesting
messages in a different color, etc.

On most mailing lists and newsgroups, I don’t bother reading message
bodies. I just scan through subjects, hitting k to kill entire threads
I don’t find interesting. Gnus remembers what threads I’ve killed,
marks them as read, and scores them down automatically. It also scores
up messages containing certain keywords, replies to my posts, and
threads I found interesting.

Integration with my contacts

I put interesting people in my BBDB contact database. Gnus indicates
messages from them with a little + beside their name in the message
summary. If someone I know is interested in a thread, I might find it
interesting as well.

Hiding and article washing

I’ve set Gnus up to hide quoted text. This makes browsing through
threads much easier because I can concentrate only on the the new
parts. I can hit a few keys to expose sections of the quoted text if
the replies aren’t immediately obvious from the context.

I can also set it up to remove ads at the bottom of messages,
particularly long signatures, To: lines with more than N recipients,
that sort of thing. I can tell it to strip out HTML, too.

Displaying parent article

Sometimes I’ll jump into the middle of a thread. I can use ^ to get to
the parent message.


I use swish++ to index and search through my personal and
planner-related mail.

Planner hyperlinks

Most of my tasks come in through e-mail. Planner lets me keep track of
my TODOs easily by automatically hyperlinking to the mail message I’m
looking at when I create a task. Dealing with a few items on my TODO
list is much easier than going through a large inbox! =)

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University of Asia and the Pacific: Business talks

Raven said

Hi Sacha! UA&P usually hosts a lot of such talks, ranging from
business writing to power dressing. I’m sure they’d have seminars on
public speaking / giving presentations. I’ll inform you when I
receive such a memo. ^_^

I’d like to share this as well: when I was in undergrad I was a member
of a laboratory where each of us had to deliver a seminar or two about
certain papers related to our research. I thought that that was such a
great training, since we not only get to practice public speaking on a
regular basis, we also got to watch others do it so we knew how a good
(or a bad) presentation looked like.

Amen. I still wince when I watch other people read off the slides.
Students hate it when their teachers do that, but they don’t get
exposed to enough good presentations to learn how to deliver them.
Presentations in other departments are pretty good—I always looked
forward to the Comm presentation during Faculty Day—but people in the
sciences often miss out on presentation skills…

E-Mail from Richi’s server

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Business book: You Can Negotiate Anything

Today I finished reading Herb Cohen’s You Can Negotiate Anything:
How to Get What You Want
. Its main points were:

  • Almost everything is negotiable.
  • Recognize negotiating tactics and deal with them.
  • Be personal.

I liked how the book listed common negotiation ploys. If I recognize
the trick someone’s trying to pull on me, I can laugh it off and turn
the situation to my advantage. I can also try to avoid the bad
negotiation habits I might’ve picked up as a kid. The book had a lot
of good advice.

I think negotiation is a very useful skill that is well worth learning
even for techies. I was never keen on negotiating because I didn’t
like the idea of haggling, but now I see how the process of
negotiation can bring out other win-win scenarios that might not have
been considered in a straight deal. Negotiation isn’t just for project
costs or schedule commitments; it’s for relationships and day-to-day
work as well. Fun stuff.

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