Quotidian Quest

Where to put the maybe-someday

Category: personal
#tech #notes #evernote

I felt I needed to unplug so I printed out what is in Omnifocus

Today, I did a review of my projects in OmniFocus. And thought about if I really, really wanted to keep certain things in there. The key to any good productivity system is having trust in that it is working correctly. If I have things in the system that I'm not going to do, then a part of me is going to subconsciencely fight against it.

So, why are things in omnifocus in the first place?

Well, these were things that I wanted to do at some point in time and it has become very easy to add things to the inbox. Anything that I put into reminders1 or send directly from Safari or the mail drop.

When I attempt to get organized, I typically try to use omnifocus because a lot of people in my circle of influence use it when they are feeling overwhelmed. I like it because I'm somewhat familiar with it. Also, when I feel like going back to pencil and paper, I can print out everything to act as a starting point.

So, where am I going to put all this stuff than?

I've been thinking about it a lot recently. For a while, I was keeping a couple text files that would have information about different projects that I would like to do. I'd access them via nvAlt.

A small sample of some of the notes that I keep

This allowed them to be saved in dropbox so that I could access them on different computers. The only problem is that a majority of the things that I was interested in starting would something that I found on the web (an article or how to).

I've thought about moving everything to evernote. It's a service that allows me to connect to my mac and also allows me to use windows as well. In fact, I've been using it more and more this year in order to help me track all the job applications that I submitted to the state government.

With Evernote, I am able to keep track of all the applications I put in so that I can review and follow up.

The reason that I'm not a fan of this is because I don't know what is going to happen with the future of the business. Although I have a premium membership, I don't think the new price is worth it for what I use it for. Nor do I think I can afford it the next time that renewal is up.

This leaves, me with Apple's Notes.app. It has really been making the rounds as far as praise from a lot of the people that I respect and has been fairly easy to use. The only problems that I'm worried about going forward with this the ability to add something to a pre-existing note when the list of notes starts to get longer. I like the fact that everything I put in it gets pushed to the server and is then on my device. I also like the idea of being able to have an easy way of sharing notes with my wife and look forward to more features in the future.

In conclusion, where am I going to put my notes.

I think I'll be giving evernote another chance for being the place that I keep my maybe-someday list for projectsEvernote showing projects that I want to do some day in the future.
Evernote showing projects that I want to do some day in the future.
. Although there is some uncertainty in the future of the service, it still works at this point and I don't imagine that it will be difficult to leave it in the future. I even went back and tried linking some notes together and I think I can come up with some really nice uses for that going forward.

  1. This actually works too well because sometimes, I put geo location and times with the reminders and this doesn't get translated when it makes the move to omnifocus. I think this is just a training issue of me applying that information later on. 

Diagrams in the post

Category: blogging
#pelican #diagrams #plantuml

I thought I would switch gears for a second and see if I could get pelican to make certain diagrams for my blog posts.

Sample sequence diagram

I hope that works.

Opening up on the internet

Category: personal
#blog #slack

I recently spent some time chatting on the internet about some of the problems that I've been having with getting things done since my "fun-employment" the last couple of months. It is very hard for me, because I've been told that I'm smart and have potential all of my life and here I am in my mid 30's and there aren't a line of people knocking on my door to give me money.

When I did this, I felt good.

I felt like I wasn't just someone lost in the wind.

I'm going to stay involved with the community and make it my touch stone as I work towards finding more work.

Why not me?

Category: personal
#starting over #change

We don't get a chance to start our lives over again. Even if we could, there is no garuntee that what we do will be better.

What we can do is move on and change ourselves even by a little to make our lives better. I'm going to do that publicly and you are more than welcome to keep reading along.

Where have I been?

Category: personal

Ok, it is time to get back into writing on my blog. I think I'm going to track my progress with learning swift 3 and my other tutorials that I come across.

Further thoughts on text expander

Category: tech
#text expander #response

Recently, I posted about my thoughts on Text Expander after they announced that they were going to be moving to a subscription. And I got some feedback regarding what I wrote. I've pasted it below because I honestly don't get any feed back regarding any of my writingMost likely because I do not have comments on the site.

  1. I completely agree that they have kind of boxed themselves out of the "casual user" market and are now more focused on "power users" or those that are using this tool on multiple devices (like me)
  2. I think your point is very well written, but would love to see more information about the alternative (AutoHotKey) that you have selected.
  3. Perhaps it would be helpful to mention a couple of things (If any) that could make textexpander that tool for you again.

Great job though. You can definitely tell that you care about the company.

It's just they don't fit in your system anymore (which happens)

I like feedback. At this point, good or bad I'm happy with the fact that someone else is reading and it gives me some motivation to make the writing better. In this case, I'd like to further expand on the last two points in the reverse order.

3. How to make the tool more helpful for me

This is actually a something that needs to happen on my endTo be fair, the application tries its best to help me be as productive as possible.. The people at smile give you a number of examples that you can use right away to save you time.

When I was making this post, I added one more. If anything knowing that I might have to give the application up has sparked new interest in using it. Plus all the the writing that I've been doing.

The application does help in one major way everyday (when I do use it). Most mornings, I do use it to create my grateful journal template1. Here is a brief example of the template that I use:

# Things I'm Grateful for #

# Things I'm Excited about #

# One Thing I'd like to focus on #

By default, the application will monitor what you type and suggest even more snippets that you can add to your collection.

I was kind of shocked by some of the things that I write multiple times and it has the possibility of helping me change some habits.

Maybe, I shouldn't have freaked out when I saw this feature pop up and you can always change the way it works in the preference because it could have been helpful. But it seemed creepy and annoying.

Part of me was getting annoyed with all the notifications on what I could use as a snippet.

If you're feeling adventurous you can even go to the website of one of my heroes Brett Terpstra and check out his page of text expander tools.

Despite all this, I still find that I wasn't using it to the fullestThis was my last usage stat. Take it with a *HUGE* grain of salt because I only have it on my laptop and I do frequent re-installs
This was my last usage stat. Take it with a HUGE grain of salt because I only have it on my laptop and I do frequent re-installs
. Ultimately, we all have to balance what we want versus what we need the money to go to.

2. AutoHotKey

On this topic, I don't have much to say because I no longer have a windows machine to use on a day to day basis. The great thing about this tool was that I was using it to now only fire off extensions but to launch applications and replicate user interactions for testing.

I would often use a keyboard short cut to launch the vnc client because the laptop that was given to employees to use might not be that powerful or we wanted to run a test on another machine that had a faster connection.

For user interactions, I created a script that would type in the keyboard shortcut that would make windows rotate the screen or do a series of mouse clicks to reproduce... something...

1. Updated...

While I was writing this, Smile reduced the price to $20 a year for the software. Which changes the deal significantly. Now I have to think about what the software is going to do for me going forward. Is this going to save me time in the future? Will I save more time than the time that I used writing about it here?

I don't know.

  1. It's an exercise that I do in the morning when I feel a little overwhelmed with life. I'm making it a habit and automating the prompt helps. Although, I do use Keyboard Meastro to do something similar. 

My thoughts on Text Expander

Category: tech
#text expander

TextExpander is a tool that I forget that I have. Actually, TextExpander is a tool that I forget to use. In the last couple of years, I've moved to a workflow that really isn't working for me day to day. I have a laptop, an imac, a couple ipads and all the work computers1 that have been supplied for me to use in the last couple of years.

Recently, the people at Smile software have switch the software to be a subscription model. On one hand, I understand that some companies need to do this to keep their businesses afloat; the monthly revenue is better to budget against versus someone purchasing the software every major release (maybe). On the other hand, this means that as a user I don't "own" the software; I'm leasingIt seems to be the trend nowadays that people pay a fee to use things from homes(rent), cars and music. I do not have a problem with it, but it seems like a lot of money is going to things that we will not be able to get some equity back from. it.

Honestly, I can see why they would do something like that. The company specializes in tools like this and pdfpen and I like the fact that they sponsor a lot of podcasts that I listen to. I wish them well.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be joining them on this experiment. I'm not a power user of the software. Because of the way that I've been living my technical life, I haven't seen myself repeating a lot of text. You can probably see the result of this in the fact that I don't post that often. The header for this posting is stored as a text expander snippet but I find myself having to look it up in order to use it.

I wish them luck and I'm happy to use my current version until it stops working.

  1. On windows, I've switched to using AutoHotKey because I can use text expansion as well as actions such as prepping an email to my wife so I can send her a message telling her that I love her. 

Starting with Hazel

Category: productivity

Initial Creation of Hazel rule I write all of my blog post in markdown and store them in a folder in dropbox. From there, I use pelican to turn the files into a webpage. The steps would be...

  1. Open Byword or MultiMarkdown Composer
  2. Write the post
  3. Remember the textexpander snippet that I created for post headers because I don't post as often as I used to
  4. Save the file
  5. Copy the file to location where I have pelican looking1
  6. Generate the site
  7. Publish the site by copying the generated file to the proper git repository
  8. Push the repository
  9. Check that all the links work

Anyway, I decided that I've already bought tons of productivity tools and should use them for what they are for. I had a couple workflows in the past but not saving them while I switch between betas causes the system to falter.

It's not the complicated rule set, but it certainly a start and makes me happy that I'm actual using the things that I've bought.

Completed rule set for moving my posts to get processed

  1. This is my fault for not setting up pelican to auto publish. I just want to make sure that everything works locally before I send it out to my millions of fans. 

Tufte margin figure and column images

Category: blogging

There are a couple things that I still have to finish for the website theme plugin. They are margin images and images in the main column. It should be to hard and in fact this post that you are reading is an example of me using it.

In fact, I'm going to put a margin image here on the side followed by a small table of what I had for breakfast the last three days.

This is guy keeps getting better!
This is guy keeps getting better!

Day of week Breakfast
Sunday Eggs and fruit
Monday Protein Shake
Tuesday Leftover serial

Wow, wasn't that amazingAlthough this all looks nice, I think this might be the last update to the code for a while. . Now that we got that working we can get the column images working too.

Now to follow up with the column image. I hope that it looks cool in your browser of choice.

This example was lefted directly from the Tufte website. I hope that it works.

Well, until next time!

Finished open graph

Category: coding
#blog #open graph

So, I spent about 3 hours working on getting Open Graph tags to work in the theme that I created. I've got mixed feeling about it because I started off by adding the tags to the base html template using an if statement and it seemed a little clunky.

{% if OPEN_GRAPH %}
<meta property="og:title" content="{{ SITENAME }}"/>
<meta property="og:type" content="website"/>
<meta property="og:description" content="{{ SITE_DESCRIPTION }}"/>
<meta property="og:url" content="{% SITE_URL %}"/>
{% endif OPEN_GRAPH %}

This worked for the site in general but doesn't translate to all the articles and this caused me to go into a some what deep dive into how Pelican and Jinja parses blocks and if statements. I started off with putting all the tags into the base and then doing individual changes to tags that need to be changed for.


So, took a step back and looked into what plugins were already available. And there is was! Pelican-open_graph! I was home free! Or so I thought, until I tried to use it. The plugin has three problems.

It doesn't account for when someone does not have a modified date on their articles.

Luckily, someone had put a solution up. The change was forked about 7 months ago today and it looks like whoever created the open graph plugin has taken a break to work on other things.

It's a year old and hasn't made the changes for pelican regarding summaries of articles.

So, I had to do some debugging to find out that the code needed to be changed in the following way1.

ogtags.append(('og:description', instance.metadata.get('og_description',

It also assumed that every article has some kind of tag.

I've decided to just punt this problem and add the tags to the 6 articles that don't have them, but than I took a second look at the problem because the perfectionist in me doesn't like to leave problems unsolved and I didn't want to track down what the particular articles were.

So, I just wrapped the code in a try block to make sure that I got this particular exception.

        for tag in instance.tags:
            ogtags.append(('article:tag', tag.name))
    except AttributeError:
            ogtags.append(('article:tag', 'untagged'))


Ultimately, I got to learn a little bit more about using pelican and knocked off a major milestone on getting this blog to where I'd like it to be.

  1. I've got to branch and push this fix. I don't know how many other people are using pelican or this plugin but if I can save them or future me some time...