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Sci/Tech

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2014-04: my technology list on Twitter

I’m dipping my toes into lists on Twitter again. I have one set up for Technology, and so far it’s been reasonably useful.

In one sense, a Twitter list can be a sort of grouping of RSS feeds into a single page. I can page through a day’s worth in rather short order, getting only headlines with a few featured images along the way.

Bug #1: mobile app support

Of course, there are some downsides. For whatever reason, the default behavior for the mobile client on Android makes lists rather useless, there. Updating a list does not show everything since last time, instead taking the most recent X updates.

In one sense this is a UI problem: in the main feed, it is possible to have a “Load more Tweets” dialog that comes up to load all the items since the last time you had viewed the stream. For whatever reason, that’s not enabled for the lists mechanism. My guess is that their API is split off and they are trying to reduce the number of requests to that service.

Bug #2: mobile web support

Failing with the app, the next thing to try is the mobile website. Sadly, loading this in a mobile browser redirects to mobile.twitter.com, which does not have any of this loaded.

My crazy fix for this is to “request desktop site” before loading that link, which is a bit janky but gets the content loaded.

Final words

For a company with the engineering team as big as they are, it seems odd there are as many bugs with this system. To me, it indicates that they’re trying to get away from lists, and it would surprise me all that much if they deprecated it in the near future.

With that said, it’s fairly useful, and given that it only takes a few noisy feeds to totally wreck my chances of ever getting through my Twitter feed, I hope they keep lists around, and I invite you to check out my attempt. If you have thoughts for other additions, too, do holler out.

Evernote: One place

It’s easy to slip with following GTD principles, and for me, my capture list became one, then two, then many places over the course of a year.

It’s worth reading through the GTD book to get at more of the system, though the basic idea behind capturing is that it’s important to have some simple, universal place to put ideas down so that you can free up your mind and memory for other tasks.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been using Evernote as my primary capture system, and it’s been working wonderfully. What’s most important about Evernote is that it can function quite well as one system for most everything you want to organize.

Reminders to the Rescue

I do still have my calendar for events that are happening, though the advent of Reminders makes it the best tool for any kind of scheduling.

At first, it may seem a bit awkward that Reminders are mostly a collection of Notes without any body text or description. What’s nice about that, though, is that the next action or anything relating to that task can be included in the same place, without any need for cross-referencing.

Don’t pin yourself into a corner

An important tenant from GTD is to not put a date to a thing unless it absolutely must be done by that time. In those cases, a reminder date is helpful, though reminders do not need dates, so the same function can work as a general to-do list.

Also, after something is done or planned or sorted out, don’t hesitate to delete the note to get it out of the way. There are things you may want to remember forever, though it’s less likely you’ll care about exactly when you got that bag of almonds two years ago.

A separate calendar can also serve as an archive of past events, as the point here is more about doing the next thing rather than running down rabbit holes.

Then again, a separate Evernote Notebook can also help shuffle away these details, and Notebooks can even be grouped in Stacks to isolate whatever you need. My “Stuff” Stack holds Notebooks for Receipts, details and manuals for things I’ve Bought, then another for those Selling/Sold.

Cloudnymous

Here’s a quick one: check out Cloudnymous when you get a chance. I just signed up, and I quickly gave them $50. Until December 2nd, this actually generates $100 in credit.

I don’t actually end up using VPN services all that often, but what makes this particular company unique is the very dynamic way in which it allows you to pay for service. You can pay by the day, by the month, or by the amount of traffic you want to transmit. These different scales are all tied to different servers, so you can keep the profiles configured and connect as you see fit. On mobile, for instance, you can set yourself up with a traffic paid server, while keeping others on a monthly or daily plan.

The other side to this service is that there’s a free tier, too. You can connect up to one hour per day, and while these servers are a lower tier without the same promise of bandwidth as the others, I was able to get plenty of throughput in some rather aggressive bandwidth tests.

If nothing else, it’s a good thing to have in your tech tool belt, for when you’re stuck with a public WiFi connection or a friend’s not-very-well-managed network.

Krulwich: Drying Bodies

Born Wet, Human Babies Are 75 Percent Water. Then Comes Drying. Mind-blowing, in a way. We start mostly as water, and death in a sense is about us drying up in the end. Definitely makes me think of Dune.

Weather tracking bliss: Sky Motion+Yahoo! Weather

I wouldn’t categorize myself as someone who cares too much about the weather, nor do I track it all that often, though I have recently found a pretty good combination that works for most all my needs.

First up is Sky Motion, which is quite simple: it has one, five, or fifteen minute intervals at which it can tell you whether it will rain or not in your precise location over the course of the next two hours. It’s quite accurate, and is super useful for deciding how important it is to wear a jacket / bring an umbrella / etc. when dashing between transit methods.

Next is Yahoo! Weather, which is both the best looking and the most functional weather app I’ve seen to date. Everything is in one spot, in the order I would choose, with a very slick design. It even has sunrise and sunset, wind speeds, barometric pressure, and a map view.

Planet Money #407: Luca Pacioli

A Mathematician, The Last Supper And The Birth Of Accounting. Very neat podcast about the life a rather important person.

Hövding: Invisible Bike Helmets

Airbag for Cyclists. Great idea. It’s an inflatable collar that you wear instead of a helmet. The idea was also proposed in Snow Crash, a book published in 1992, and it’s wild to see that it’s coming to fruition.