Archive for the 'productivity' Category

My Productive Practices

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

productive matrix

At this time of year the interwebs get very productive creating blog postings about productivity, and this blog is all about me adding  information to an existing saturation, so here goes:

These two recent articles have some good ideas for a more productive 2013:

Geeks are always keen to approach organizing their lives as an engineering problem.  Hence the obsession with David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a time-management methodology  and the steady flow of ideas that come out of

Here’s what I consider my top five most productive practices:

  1. The OHIO principle for E-Mail: Only Handle It Once.  
    Don’t keep re-reading waiting until you’re ready for a response, choose to handle then or not respond at all (with an exception for the “can’t read this here” problem with mobile devices – but mark it as unread).  I’m not a dogmatic process-to-zero inbox person, but I do work sequentially. I’ll only mark as read when the messages is “no longer my responsibility” and some times that means responding asking for clarity to buy a little time and share the responsibility of transmitting a clear message.
  2. Tasks are important and ubiquitous.
    I think I’m one of the few people who values Microsoft Outlook’s Tasks feature, and there’s all kinds of other task Apps.  The trick for me is having those task synced across all my devices, so that when I have the moment of inspiration or recollection I record it easily.  Tasks (or your calendar) is often an important next step after E-Mail comes in that allows you to “deal” with it at an initial level and mark the message as read.  It’s also worth noting that a project is not a task.

Me and Evernote

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Long ago I promised myself I’d blog about <a href=””>Evernote</a> when I made more than 1000 notes. I broke that record on Friday November 9, 2012 so here’s a quick summary of what Evernote is and what I use it for.

Evernote is intended to help people remember everything. While I haven’t achieved that, I’m a lot closer.

Evernote is a desktop, phone/tablet, browser plugins and a web application that allows you to capture information from anywhere. The application also indexes all entries so that the content can be quickly searched, including any text in pictures – for example: whiteboards.

All these collected notes are synced to client/applications on almost any device that connects to the internet – as a lowest common denominator, there is

Evernote has a provision for tagging notes, but more importantly it lets you start new notebooks and sub-notebooks. I use this to collect notes about the kids, projects at work, my favourite beers and wines, and other notebooks – including some I’ve shared with others.

There’s lots of information on Evernote’s site, so instead I’ll share what I use to for:

At home and around the town:

  • Lists of things to pack, buy, collect and almost anything else.
  • Pictures of the various medicines and other records my kids have taken – both kids have their own notebook.
  • Planing and document projects around the house – including the summer’s minor fence project and last summer’s major patio project and year before that’s nursery project. The notes are important, but the pictures are handy to travel back and forth from Home Deport with.
  • Records and information about the cars and appliances.
  • I transferred my wife’s recipes etc. from an old laptop to all her new devices – I also have access to the this shared notebook and…. don’t use them.

WoPad Android Tablet: 1/4 of the price of an iPad, 1/2 as good

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011


Over four months ago I ordered a WoPad from, so far I’m glad to have the exposure to the Android platform, and for some tasks the larger screen works well. But, the bottom line is it does not replace what any of the Apple iOS devices do.

The Device

The best part about the WoPad is that with express shipping it costs less than $200.00 Canadian. The free Android operating system that Google provides allows seemingly random manufacturers to assemble a collection of hardware, add the Android OS and suddenly have a tablet for sale.

The WoPad offers a capacitive screen or pressure sensitive. I won’t consider anything without a capacitive screen to be a modern tablet, so I ordered the capitative screen so that I wouldn’t look like a cafeteria worker trying to punch-in a trays worth of food into it. That said, the WoPad’s capacitive screen is slow to respond, that or perhaps it’s ability to process touches is very slow, but more on that in a bit.

The WoPad also has an SD card reader, standard headphone jack, standard USB connector for external media, a mini-usb connector so that the WoPad itself can be an external drive. There’s also a micro-HDMI port (I have yet to test) and it’s non-standard power connector – however it will trickle charge off of the mini-USB cable.


The first thing I did when I received my WoPad was ask a colleague to “root it” and install the latest Android ROM that the WoPad would could support.

The ROM he used was based on this thread over at Using these steps

If it weren’t for my keenness to get the latest ROM it would have never needed to be connected to a computer. A challenge Apple’s “peripherals” have yet to overcome.

Work Smart: Conquering Your Email Inbox

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Gina Trapani of / now has a new series of weekly videos and blog posts at called “Work Smart”. If you’re STILL one of those people who feel positively overwhelmed by your E-Mail inbox, or you feel that your iPhone/BlackBerry has made you worse at acting on E-Mails, not better, Gina has some simple advice for you.

Here’s her actual article over at

Interleave Just Got Better

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Toot my own horn.. thanks to me.

I just wanted to toot my own horn and let everyone know that a modification I made to our local Centre for Teaching, Learning and Educational Technologies “Client Relationship Manager” (AKA any other set of words that match CRM) called INTERLEAVE will be incorporated into the next release.

Interleave is a (business) process automation application and what I implemented to track my own work at Brock University. It allows me to stay on top of issues and names, and ultimately be able hand-off issues with some accountability and be able to report on the work I do year-to-year.

Our installation was getting a little slow, and I had tracked it to having a lot of clients and that creating a lot of communication between the web server and the database in certain situations. INTERLEAVE has it’s own caching infrastructure to speed this situations up so I took a look at it and just wrote some simple PHP code around it to have it store the cached items inAPC’s cache instead of the database.

This is an advantage because APC implements shared memory in PHP (among other things) and that allows to be stored between transmission between the web server and the client WITHOUT the need for a database, or the internal communication and overhead that requires. There a number of tools that do this for PHP, but APC is the one that should be included into PHP 6.

How shared memory works

If a web server fronted to a database could be considered a place like the post office, having shared memory copies of things is like walking up to the person at the front desk and asking “Is there any mail in back for me?” and the immediate response from the top of the postmaster’s head being “Your mother says you don’t write enough and Rogers wants you to buy a home phone” — with similar security concerns.