The Rifleman’s Creed – breaking down my systems

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit…

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!

You've probably hear that before, it was written by Major General William H. Rupertus during world war 2 and it forms a part of the basic doctrine of the United States Marine Corps.

I like to improve things, to an over-optimisation fault at times, and a bit of post-taking-care-of-myself inspiration led me to sketch out a "where am I" document of important bits of my life at the moment.

It's not really a list of one type of thing, it's just a list, some of the things have as explanation "this is how I want to do it" and some have "this is how I do it" and other general notes. The list items themselves are subject to a lot of reorganisation and refactoring at times, so take this as a mostly-complete snapshot from memory. I'll edit this in situe later, correcting any grammar / spelling / logic errors as I find them, and probably write a better summary, but for now I wanted to commit to getting this done by making it public as it stands. It's not something I'll continually maintain, just a "showing my working out", mostly as a future point of reference for myself.

Goals

These are time based and are NOT tasks (at least I can't get them to feel right within my workflowy conventions).

  • 3 things to do today
  • 3 things to do this week
  • 3 things to do this month
  • 3 things to do this 6 months
  • 3 things to do this year

I need to:

  • record the goals somewhere
  • record the start and stop of them
  • record whether or not I completed them

Frequency Counting / Event Tracking

I want to track things like how often I drink water, cook my own dinner, or spend money. I can then line this up goals and with stuff from questionaires.

Not sure what to use for this, probably needs to be something accessible on my mobile with a priority on low barrier to use.

Also want to be able to track things like:

  • stuff I want to buy
  • stuff I want to do

So it needs to support tags and filtering / graphing results based on these, also want it to support exporting, and entering bulk data at a later time (import).

Reminders

I cannot remember to do stuff. I can however react quickly enough to things like texts and calls because I normally have my phone with me, so I want a way to setup reminders for things to be delivered by a text or call. And I want to be able to hold myself accountable,  so have a real person who can make sure I do stuff as well, which means I need to be able to have reminders that just remind me, and ones that remind me and check that i did the thing, and if not, remind me again, and at a set number of reminders contact my "sponsor" and let them know to pester me too. Looked at building something like this for myself along with the frequency counter thing (datum or beeminder might work for that though, this I'm not sure) however haven't got the time to invest at the moment.

Tasks

Worflowy! Working in an outline works well for me (though I only use hierarchy for categories not for projects) given my investment in things like org-mode, but org-mode isn't portable enough for me at the moment, so a compromise that works well for me with some modifications of my own is workflowy.

The system is that I have some hierarchical "folders" with tasks in them, and projects are defined as tasks with an ID at the front of them, and I can setup tasks that belong to that project by tagging them with the project ID (as an example, we use jira at work so I'll normally reuse the jira id as my project id, and in my notes, so whatever system I'm using it's easy to find the relevant related information). I have it backed up to my dropbox daily (though I would rather have it version controlled / revisioned / the ability to trigger a dropbox backup on command). I have four levels of priority, important and urgent things, important things, urgent things, and unimportant unurgent things. I use some custom javascript and css to improve my experience with workflowy, adding clear visual seperation between tasks and projects, and allowing me to colour tasks based on their priority, https://gist.github.com/3428960 (subject to lots of change, the bit I'm most happy with is the priority colouring, and the code is only optimised to run in chrome and on my computer.)

The low barrier to use / maintenance is essential to me, and sharing is nice too (though ideally with my system you would need to be able to share a search rather than just one node).

Schedule

Google calendar, I just need to be able to mark down things happening so me and kim can see what's ahead. Should check it more often than I do. We just use one shared calendar rather than maintaining a complex system.

Notes

I've used blade wiki, emacs with deft and org-mode, and at the moment standardised on Evernote. I have some gripes, mostly with the available formatting (I want easier code snippets!) However the ability to store my scanned / photographed notes OCRed alongside my typed notes, and clippings from the web, turns out to be the killer feature for me. My system here is pretty simple, I don't use folders at the moment (maybe later, and only in the same convention as my use of hierarchy in workflowy), I hide everything but the note list and note panel, sort my notes by last updated (following the idea that this should naturally sort my most used items to the top of my search results) and then use the incremental search to drill down, tagging stuff liberally as I go. I use it for everything from work notes, to blog posts, personal journalling, and weekly reviews. I try to keep my individual notes as small as possible, each focused on just one thing. I also create index pages with links to other information to make it easy to find stuff.

I do like to use a pad and pencil a lot too, and for those I like the idea of having a system like this https://gist.github.com/3444793, however I haven't taken the time to decide on a convention yet. Bookmarking I handle seperately through diigo.

Scans

These all go in a dropbox folder called Scanner Uploads and are later sorted into a sub folder of the documents / photos folders in my dropbox.

Some also go in my evernote.

Naming convention for these is YYYY-MM-DD HH.MM.SS KEYWORDS.EXTENSION

Photos

These all go in a dropbox folder called Camera Uploads and are later sorted into a sub folder of the photos / documents folders in my dropbox.

Some also go in my evernote.

Naming convention is the same as for scanned documents above.

Projects

Notes go in my evernote, tasks go in my workflowy, resources go in a sub folder of the projects folder in my dropbox.

The link that ties all these resources together are the IDs I give them (which becomes a tag / keyword in workflowy / evernote). For work related projects, this is a jira ID. Maybe I need a jira system for personal projects too, I don't know, currently I procrastinate too much and do too little work on personal projects. The jira is there as an audit trail. because I delete stuff from workflowy a while after I complete it during spring cleaning raids on it.

For work projects we maintain a project wiki page, which we use as a kind of homepage to keep people up to date and get new people up to speed quickly. I haven't decided yet whether or not I want to maintain a wiki of my own (probably using blade wiki) for my personal projects, or just have them as a page in Evernote. It will most likely be in evernote to keep things simple, however I'll evolve my conventions for that as I put it more into practise.

Email

I need to update my system so it:

  • auto sorts stuff based on whether I am the to recipient or the cc recipient
  • DMZ stuff so I can start using inbox zero
  • sort out my labels, reduce the number of them and use them mostly for archiving

Probably more stuff, need to look at scott hanselmans blog, and stuff from the 43 folders guy who popularized / created inbox zero, I'm pretty bad with email at the moment, however I don't get too much of it that i need to respond to outside of work so it's not caused me too many problems.

Tickler Folders

These are a collection of suspension files labelled 1 to 31 and january to december, they sit in a box to the left of my desk which I try to keep clear. Each morning I look through that days file and resort it back, moving around any of the notes as I need to.

How to sell music online – an idea

Was sat in the Union Chapel on Saturday chatting with a musician called Steve about ways to sell music. And it got me thinking about novel ideas that I might use to do this. One idea which I really like is that when you pay to download a music track you're given, along with the DRM free version, two free copies of the song to share with your friends. You already have the DRM free version so you can share it with whomever you want, however I'm guessing a lot of people don't, so packaging it in the right way this system should motivate you to actually do it.

If you execute well it's great exposure for the music and the marketplace, because you're getting free word of mouth marketing at a much higher rate than you might normally, and if the method of download is tied into the marketplace they purchased through then you are investing more people in your service. Though it's the kind of thing that might only work for an independent-artist / collective / service-catering-to-them, because of the effects of licensing fees; and this is the kind of thing it would be very easy to execute poorly and see little return on I think (luckily I would say it's fairly low risk for most implementers).

Tutoring and Consulting

Aside

I'm considering getting into tutoring and consulting… "Web Developer located in Central London available for tutoring and consulting. Send an email to oscarduignan@gmail.com and we can set up a face to face meeting. I don't require any specific level of knowledge or ability for tutoring, just motivation and application of that motivation."

How to bulk rename photos to the date and time they were taken like dropbox

I like to use dropbox to organise my photos because it makes sharing easy. When you import photos using dropbox it renames all your photos to the date and time they were taken. Now, some photos I don't want to keep in dropbox, and some photos are already on my computer, however I want to use the same naming convention for all my photos. So I need a way to rename any photos to use the same conventions as those imported through dropbox.


IMPORTANT: Back up the photos you want to rename!

1. Download and install the program Bulk Rename Utilitity

2. Open it up and before you do anything open the options menu, then the extract sub menu, and make sure EXIF meta data is selected

3. Find the folder containing the photos you want to rename using the left panel and highlight all the photos you want to rename in the right panel (hold down control or shift while making your selections to select multiple photos)

4. Uncheck everything except:

File (2)

  • Set name to Remove

Auto date (8)

  • Set mode to Prefix
  • Set type to Taken (original)
  • Set format to Custom
  • Set custom to %Y-%m-%d %H.%M.%S (NOTE: if you get this wrong then the previewed new filenames will be blank)

5. OPTIONAL: if you are mixing photos from multiple sources and you want to keep track of where stuff came from then you can add a suffix to the end of the photos

6. Then just check the new filenames (shown in green in the New Name column) are correct and click rename and you are done

 

Do we see ourselves as we are?

Link

During a procrastinatory interlude on Hacker News I stumbled onto an article about an instance of blindsight, where a person is able to unconsciously process visual stimulus but their visual cortex which allows them to consciously see things is damaged, interesting. However the gem for me was the conversation in the comments that the article lead me to, which started with KingMob expanding upon the topic and prompted a question from Ktizo that lead to some thoughts from Stephth on our concept of self!

Here be dragons

"Dragons do not suffer [our human doom.] [As they age] they continue to grow … [and] as their size and knowledge increases ([and old age grips and draws them forward,]?) they begin to slow … When they reach around the age of 100 human generations they move no more than a tree in the wind. Most choosing to find a long forgotten hole in the world and retire into peaceful slumber."

[Edited] straight from the mind of a younger Oscar Duignan. For a few years now I would periodically collect up all the loose paper in my room into plastic bags and then seal and label them with the date, storing them in an increasingly deteriorating carboard box in my closet. I recently transplanted them out of the box and out of my room, and in the process dipped into some of the papers I had just shoved hap hazardly into the box and among the tasks and notes and passwords of old was this little snippet of writing. Undated and with no context I'm not sure where it came from but I rather enjoyed it.

My first gift exchange

I signed myself up for my first gift exchange a few weeks ago, and today my gift arrived in the post! I am well pleased, my secret santa did their research and sent me the book On The Couch by Fleur Britten. I'm curious as to how Fleur's experiences will compare to my own with couchsurfing, especially considering most my engagement has been through groups rather than through hosting or surfing. Now I need to find out if there is a way for me to thank my gifter for the thoughtful gift!
 
 

My development environment

One of my goals here is to document how I'm doing things, and I'm going to start with how I have my development environment setup for building websites (the key tools I use and why I use them, I've deliberately left out language and project specific details).

Emacs

I've recently move to emacs from vim as my main text editor, I'm using evil-mode to recreate the modal editing of vim and I've already been using emacs for org-mode for a while so this wasn't much of a leap of faith. You can find my emacs configuraton on github. I also considered Sublime Text 2, because it does a lot right out of the box. However deft-mode, org-mode, and the good clojure support are conspiring to keep me investing in emacs; though if I'm not able to find usable alternatives to features I need that come as standard in Sublime (see the list below) then I may have to rethink my investment (usable is the key word here, I value my time, I've spent enough of my life configuring text editors).

Stuff I still need to do or find:

  • CFML syntax highlighting, I don't think this is something that I will find very readily in the emacs community (everything available seems abandoned and long outdated.)
  • A fuzzy find file by name in current "project" or folder (think Command-T in vim, or the command + p shortcut in sublime text, NOT the default behavior of IDO mode) Ideally this could search from the current directory or project (basing it off the closest directory with say a .git folder).
  • Find in project / folder with ACK. I need results listed as a selectable list of matches (filename and line number) that when selected will take me to the match source (leaving the results buffer navigable).
  • File Browser (think NERDTree, or any editor with a side panel file browser) because sometimes I need to see a navigatable hierarchical visualisation of my folders before my brain will work. Whatever it is needs to be fast.
  • Evil bindings for faster window management
  • Evil bindings for copy and paste (I need to learn to use registers / rings, but as a start I need to know what I have to do to copy and paste to my system clipboard.)
  • Evil bindings for org-mode (there are things that could be improved)
  • Create a cheat sheet I can print out to help me learn commands

Dropbox

Dropbox, I have a 100gb plan. I switched back from Google Drive because of the lack of official Linux client, and dropboxes unlimited file versioning with pack-rat mode and customer support. (See below for the kind of files I use it to sync.)

dropbox/
	binaryvision/ (work projects)
	notes/ (deft notes in org format)
	mindmaps/ (I use free mind for these)
	projects/ (my projects)
	photos/
	documents/
	calibre/ (library for my ebooks)
	oscar.org

Vagrant

When I have a capable system, Vagrant is my gold standard for maintaining sandboxed working environments for my projects. I don't make use of everything it makes available, however I really appreciate the convenience of a simple vagrant up && vagrant ssh. For reasons of prudence I roll my own base machines with VeeWee, provision them manually, and repackage them; rather than rely on an automated tool like Chef or Puppet.

Ubuntu

I like working on Ubuntu (Unity / Gnome, I'm not picky, so long as I have Dejavu Sans installed.) I feel less distracted on Linux, lots of the tools I like to use are written to "just work" on it, and Pithos is brilliant. I'm going to buy a new laptop soon, which I will dual boot with windows 7, and I'm leaning towards a Sager NP9130 or NP9170, however as of yet I've not found a reseller able to give me the configuration I'm looking for that is located in the UK (http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/ has come closest so far with their 15.6" Vortex III and Vortex III LE systems.)