- Getting Things Done (GTD). Stress-free productivity, and an empty inbox.
- The 4-Hour Workweek. Catchy title that puts a lot of “productive” people off, but the efficiency and goal-setting techniques in this book are excellent.
- The Pomodoro Technique (http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/). 25-minute bursts that help stave off interruption. I use this at the “micro” level: when I’m actually doing tasks.
GTD helps organize my life, goals, projects, and actions and determine where and when things get done. 4-hour workweek helps with concepts like eliminating useless tasks, focusing on what’s important, work/life balance, and getting things done quickly. Pomodoro technique helps focus on the task at hand, finish it quickly, and stave off interruptions (almost any interruption can wait 25 minutes or less, and usually doesn’t need to be done once that 25 minutes is up).
See, kept it short so you can go be productive.
Sorry, I know it’s more popular to bash on Apple Maps, but it’s just become my everyday Navigation app. Here’s why.
I need an app that has:
- Accurate maps so that it can guide me when I’m somewhere I don’t know
- Good traffic routing – I need to know the real fastest route, and in California that includes other cars in my way, offramp closures, road closures, carmageddon, etc.
- A good UI
My go-to app before iOS 6 was MotionX Drive. I’d also tried Waze, Garmin, and a few free apps I don’t remember. I didn’t get to try the TomTom app.
I’ve now switched to Apple Maps, because:
- Despite a lot of bad press, I haven’t had a single significant problem with map inaccuracy.
- The navigation screen is clean, clear, and easy to understand when driving.
- It routes around traffic, and does it intelligently with decently accurate time estimates.
- Waze gives really good time estimates, but doesn’t know about ramp closures. Also, its maps are too unreliable. I can’t tell if it’s routing me a weird way because of traffic or because it thinks one freeway doesn’t connect to another.
- MotionX routes around traffic very well, but its estimates on surface streets are overly optimistic. As such, it’ll take you onto surface streets when the freeway with traffic might be faster, and its estimates are far too optimistic to be useful.
- Apple Maps has decent traffic information (although it appears to be delayed by about 15-20 minutes, which led to me sitting in an accident-caused traffic jam last night that Waze had immediately). It routes around bad traffic, but doesn’t send me onto semi-crowded side streets when there’s a section of red on the freeway.
- The voice prompts are incredibly well-timed. I haven’t seen any other system that’s as well timed as Apple Maps.
- Re-routing is instantaneous when I miss a turn.
- I can tell Siri “Give me directions to Weinerschnitzel”, and it’ll find the closest one, switch to maps, and start giving directions.
I’m willing to pay for a good nav app. Apple Maps is free, and is only version 1.0.
Garmin was really nice, but routed me straight through heavy traffic with an option to detour. That made it a FAIL for me – of course I want to detour!
TomTom was too expensive for me to try, and the write-up didn’t convince me that it met the criteria above.
iOS 6 returns some of the features that Apple broke when they took over Siri, my two favorite being:
- “What good movies are playing nearby?”
- “Reserve a table for 2 at 8pm tonight at <insert OpenTable restaurant name here>”
Most voice recognitions I’ve used suffer from the same problem: I can do whatever they can do faster myself. I can launch an app with a couple taps, I can enter something in my calendar very quickly by typing, and I can type an accurate text message far faster than Siri can.
Siri can now do one other thing that’s moderately useful (if you don’t have a better navigation app already): “Give me directions to Taco Bell”. It’ll find the closest matching place, let you select it verbally, and launch the new Maps app in navigation mode to guide you there. It’s questionable as to whether that’s actually useful (e.g. faster) or not, but it worked decently for Taco Bell last night.
People keep asking me about the eye charts I have up at work and at home, the rotating monitor windows, etc. Instead of re-generating this email each time, I’m putting it here.
On Oct 19, 2011 my eyesight was 20/200. Right now (May 31, 2012) I’m reading the 20/30 line on the chart, and can read lower with a bit of effort. I was only fairly consistent with my exercises (and I’m still doing them – I want 20/20).
There are many books/sites/etc on this, most of which boil down to Dr. Bate’s book from the early 1900′s, which (since it’s in the public domain) is available for free here:
The basic exercises are here:
And various eye charts are here:
Some basics if you’re considering doing exercises to correct your vision:
- If you have glasses, you’ll need to stop wearing them – way too hard on your eyes to go back and forth.
- If you haven’t worn glasses, don’t - 30 seconds a day per eye with an eye chart can fix/keep your vision.
- If you have glasses, it takes 30-60 minutes per day of “exercises” (which is really relaxation, not that hard). The payoff for this effort is:
- Convenience – no more losing glasses, dropping contacts, packing contact lens solution, cleaning glasses, etc…
- Cost – no more paying for glasses, contacts, solution, etc
- Better eye health
- Ability to see in bright or dark light (I actually see more clearly in bright light now and it doesn’t hurt. I don’t wear sunglasses (in LA).)
- Supposedly, prevents presbyopia (loss of ability to focus near/far).
Hints and tips:
- Note that your vision changes – on my first day of measuring I could get 20/200 to 20/70 with my left eye, and only 20/200 with my right. 3 days later I could get 20/50 with my right, but it still varied between 20/200 and 20/50. Your glasses prescription (DMV test, etc) will be for the level you can see easily and consistently, so I try to use that as my gauge when measuring my eyesight.
- I’m near-sighted (can’t see objects at a distance), so I don’t record the near-vision card any more (although I should). The book/tools above help with far-sightedness (can see far, not near) also.
Do you think Siri is cool? Then you probably didn’t use the original app, and you probably also never heard of the 60′s program “Eliza”.
I used to be able to ask Siri for actual information, and get real answers. I could ask it to reserve a table for two at Beausejour at 8 o’clock, and it would place the reservation. I could ask it what good movies were playing nearby, and it would show a list of movies ranked high (on rotten tomatoes) that were playing near me with a list of theaters. I could even tap to buy tickets.
But no more. Siri’s become stupid. Like tragic car crash stupid. The kids in school make fun of it (literally). And that’s all it’s good for. If I ask it to make a reservation at a restaurant at 8pm, it’ll respond with “there’s a restaurant named Beausejour near you”. Great, I already knew that. Ask it for movies and it’ll just display a list of theaters. Ask it almost anything else and it’ll say “I don’t understand”. It’s not good at scheduling, texting, or calling; not better than just tapping and typing at least.
Why does it take hackers to try to revive what used to be a great app?
I miss Siri.