GTD Simplicity

I never thought of using it before, but now I am in love! Google Tasks within Gmail makes organizing my tasks super easy by simply just listing them! <BOOM> Mind blown!!!

I used to think I needed really sophisticated and featureful software to manage my todo’s and projects, but the reality is that putting all the work into managing the tasks takes away from the energy and the effort to actually get the task done!

One thing I am taking advantage of is the Google Tasks extension, which is pretty much an iFrame of the same Google Tasks list in the Gmail window. That keeps things simple, but much more accessible too.

The goal now is just to do tasks in the order that they come in without worrying too much about which task to do and delaying everything that is on my list! Unless of course something absolutely critical comes up, then I’ll have to re-prioritize, but on a typical day my new GTD strategy will just be “Start from the top”.

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The Google Test

I feel as though one of the reasons I always run back to Apple is because I never fully detach myself from them. I love my @me.com email address and whenever I use another cloud service provider I instantly setup iCloud to forward to said @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @outlook.com address and then in turn I configure said service send email as my @me.com addy. In addition to that I manually setup my calendars using CalDAV and my contacts I have to do a quick check between the two to make sure there are no discrepancies.

One thing I never blogged about after my Windows 10 testing was jumping to the Post-PC era. I successfully used an iPad as a replacement for my laptop for an entire week! I never thought that I could do it, but was very surprised when I did.

I believe the iPad test was very successful for two reasons:

  1. All of the apps I needed to carry out my job were available and worked really well.
  2. My iCloud account took care of all my personal items.

This meant, just like my MacBook Pro, that I had the best of both worlds on a single device.

My next Post-PC challenge will be to use my Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 as my primary device, but in order for me to make the most out of it I will need to get everything working on my personal Google account.

This will not be too difficult, but this time around I don’t want to go through the whole reconfiguration process. I want to use the device as it is fully intended to be, so that I can get the most accurate feel for how it all works together under the Google ecosystem.

Call me bat shit crazy, but…

I hate spam email, so I have tried a few things to try and combat it.

The first thing I tried was setting up an alias within my primary iCloud email account, but I have grown to like my alias so much that I don’t really want to use it for spam (spam includes those mandatory accounts that you have to create even if you are using the service just once! Grr, those things bug me!!!).

I then setup a Gmail account, which I currently use with all of my social media accounts as well others e.g. Strava, Geocaching, and the like.

However, the Gmail account is in my name and there is nothing about it that hides my true identity. So, here is where the crazy part comes in to play. What if I were to setup a new email account (provider has not been decided as yet) that is setup with a completely nonsensical username that I will forward to my Gmail account, which in turn forwards to my primary email address?

Is that going too far?

Tech ADD

I am 100% convinced that I have Tech ADD, meaning an attention deficit disorder for all things technology! One minute I am all about this browser, that OS, those plugins, these add-ons, this cloud service etc. I just can’t frigging decide, which ones I want to stick to!

Lately I have been on a cloud service binge and have once again switched from iCloud as my primary email, contacts, calendar provider to Gmail and then recently over to Outlook.com. I love Outlook.com, but I know there will be a point where Apple or Google or maybe some brand new provider suddenly does something spectacular that makes me go “Oooooh! I want to use that service now!”. As a result of all of these changes I then change my email address, swearing to all those affected by having to update their contacts list, that this will be the last time I make a change.

Well, a very good friend of mine made a very good suggestion to cure (at least for those affected) this need to switch up providers and change my email address every other week. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (no, I’m not friends with Lord Voldemort) recommended that I purchase my own private domain and use the email address associated with my domain as my permanent email address. Then, forward emails aimed at my@domain.com address to the cloud service of my choice. Magnifique! I never did this before because I didn’t want to fork out the dollars for a domain, well, when I finally found the domain I wanted it is a mere $12.99, which is not exactly breaking the bank! So for the sake of my sanity (and those around me) spending those dollars will give me one email address that I can use for all of my online accounts and doesn’t tie me into a single ecosystem should I, scratch that, when I decide to switch platforms again.

Also, I have plans to utilize my domain for a private blog that my family can follow. I will also utilize my domain to create an authentication system whereby my family will have an @domain.com login to utilize, so that they can login to the private blog and eventually some private repository of photo’s etc.

I Have My Knickers in a Twist

I just can’t decide! Less than two weeks after switching to Gmail services, as a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 purchase was imminent, I am now lusting over Outlook.com again!

The reason being, and this probably comes from my Apple ways, is that I just like nicely done and well finished products. Google has all the features I need on a daily basis: Email, Contacts, Calendars, Online Storage to name a few, but to use them they’re just so “meh!”.

Outlook.com on the other hand is very tidy with it’s simplistic design, even better than iCloud.com in my opinion. I think iCloud.com has gone too far (I’m sure Jony Ive would disagree) and there is just too much white space for my liking. I see parts of iOS 7 are the same too, it just feels so empty.

I’m not going to make a brash switch to Outlook.com just yet, as I want to do some more research and planning to see how switching to Outlook.com affects me for the other things I use e.g. mobile devices and Linux.

In other news I have decided to start using Firefox again in conjunction with Xmarks for bookmark syncing. The reason for this decision is based on being able to use Xmarks across any browser without having to worry about syncing my bookmarks specifically with Gmail or iCloud based on whether I use Chrome or Safari, and in this case where it works really well, a completely different browser that has no ties to Google or Apple.

Lastly, I have been running Windows 8.1 Preview natively on my HP Pavilion dm4 this week and so far I really like it, especially the ability to snap two “metro” apps side-by-side, which comes in handy. They have also brought back the Start button, which doesn’t act like the Start button from Windows 7 and older versions. It works the same way as hitting the Windows key on your keyboard, but apparently a lot of people were very upset with Microsoft over it’s removal as it wasn’t so obvious on how you could get back to “metro” mode, which is no longer called metro due to some lawsuit, so forgive me…

What I use

I just got back from a long weekend trip by the coast. The lodge that we stayed in was very nice, but the WiFi was so slow that I think a carrier pigeon would have been a more effective way of communicating to the outside world. 

It was so bad in fact that I left my laptop in my bag and decided to use my iPhone and the Verizon 3G network. This was OK, but certain social networking apps were still really slow and the native mail client was pretty dismal. 

What I ended up doing was installing Google’s native apps for Search, Gmail, Chrome and Drive. I already had Google Maps installed, which as of late has completely replaced my Magellan car GPS device. 

For some reason the Google apps over 3G were far more responsive than the native iOS mail app, SkyDrive, and the Firefox Home browser sync app, which I used in conjunction with the Safari browser.

Perhaps Google has some special QoS deal with Verizon or maybe Google’s technology and services is just far more superior than anything else out there? Who knows… Whatever the case, using Google’s services provided a much more optimal experience in these diabolical low bandwidth situations. 

Fortunately, I still had my notes file on my Google Drive folder, which contained a number of things we did the last time we were in the area over a year ago. Searching with the Google app and browsing with Chrome made looking up reviews of restaurants and places to go so much easier. My bookmarks were somewhat outdated, as I have been using Firefox for some time now, but for the most part all of my most important bookmarked items were still synced via my Gmail account. 

As you can imagine, this was a turning point. A full 180 degrees, and without having to repeat myself again I will refer you to a previous blog post of mine on April 24th called Google the Great!

The only differences now are:

Desktop OS = Mac OS X 10.8.3 Moutain Lion
Mobile OS = iOS 6.1.3
Mail, Contacts, and Calendars = Google
Tasks / To-do’s = Google
Online Storage = Google Drive
Browser = Google Chrome
Bookmark Sync = Google Chrome

 

I’ve been bitten by the PAT bug again!

So much for NFP syndrome! I guess it’s in my nature to never stick to just one thing, as in one device, one set of software, or a single platform.

I have continued to use Windows 8 on a daily basis at work on a dedicated PC with a quad-core i7, 8GB’s or RAM, and a 21″ monitor. This is the setup that I use all day and rarely ever touch my MacBook Pro.

When I am home I use the MacBook Pro with OS X, as the symbiotic relationship between the hardware and software results in uber battery life. It is unbelievably superior compared to running Windows 8 in power saver mode on both the same MacBook Pro or on an HP Pavilion laptop.

The fact that I am now switching between Mac@Home and PC@Work has rekindled my desire to continue the pursuit for PAT bliss!

This time I am taking a different approach with an emphasis on separating work and play. How do I plan to do this? Read on…

Whether I am on Windows 8 or Mac OS X I have specifically chosen a set of applications that can be used for both work or personal use on the same machine, so if I don’t happen to have my MacBook Pro at hand I can still look up any relevant personal information on my work PC. Here is the breakdown:

Browser:
Work = Google Chrome
Home = Firefox
Mobile = Firefox Home
Both Chrome & Firefox support decent bookmark syncing that works cross platform. As for Firefox Home on iPhone, this is being used purely to sync open tabs and history etc. However, as it is not a fully fledged browser I have configured it to launch Safari when I do select a bookmark that I want to open.

File sharing:
Work = Box
Home = SkyDrive

Mail, Contacts, and Calendars:
Work = Outlook 2010, Mail.app, and Gmail.com
Home = Outlook.com
The reason I have chosen Outlook.com for home use is because it ties in so beautifully with SkyDrive, which is something I can simply not give up!

GTD:
Work = Pen and Paper (literally!)
Home = Reminders
Yes, I kid you not! For work I have gone back to the traditional use of a biro and piece of tree shaving. As for using Reminders, which is strictly an iOS app, the reason I can get away with using this for now is that my iPhone is always within arms reach and doubles up as a really friggin’ awesome PDA! Because it syncs with my Outlook.com calendar I can view my reminders via the Outlook.com website if I really needed to, but for the most part that will not be necessary.