Notes to an adventure.

Day 1 of #48Days

Before you embark on an adventure, get a notebook, preferably one small enough to tuck into your back pocket. There is a sense of commitment in writing things down, almost like having a pact with one’s self.

I have several digital note-taking devices and services like Google Docs, Evernote and OneNote synced to the digital ether called the “cloud” and replicated on my phones, computers and laptop.

But digital, no matter how omnipresent and accessible, seems so fleeting, so deletable.

A recent study shows that people remember notes better if these are taken by hand rather than with digital tools.

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BASDAKO. One of my most memorable runs was the one from Hale Manna in Basdako, Moalboal to the Poblacion and back. Basdako is a beautiful place for running. You can then end your run with a dip in its gorgeous beach and clear waters teeming with marine life.

1st 30-Day Challenge completed: run at least 5K daily

I just completed a 30-day challenge to run at least 5 kilometers a day. I failed at my attempt to blog daily. One out of 2 isn’t bad for my first month.

The idea behind the 30-Day Challenge is that 30 days, according to Google engineer Matt Cutts, are “just about the right time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.” Cutts popularized the idea of taking on a 30-Day Challenge after he gave a TED talk on the topic.

For June, I decided to taken on 2 challenges: 1) run at least 5 kilometers a day and 2) blog daily. I completed the daily running part; I failed at the daily blogging right in the first week. Continue reading →

RUNKEEPER. The app for iOS and Android not only allows you to keep track of the distance of your run via GPS, it also serves as training log, resource and social network.

Day 1

I’m setting 30-day challenges this month. Today is day 1. The challenges I chose are meant to help me improve my writing and fitness:

  • Run at least 5 kilometers every day
  • Blog every day

To start the month, I just finished a 21K run today, my first long run for a long time. One thing I realized that I really missed in running is the meditative state you are in when running longer distances. I used to be able to think out and outline column pieces during long slow distance (LSD) runs. In my solo run tonight, I was able to come up with several ideas for new projects as well as improvements on current ones.

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notebook-fetish

In the time of the cloud, paper notebooks

notebook-fetish

I love paper notebooks. I have several at a time: the reporters’ favorite Green Apple steno small enough to fit in your pocket, a pair of Moleskine plain cahier journals and OhYeah Moleskine knockoffs (see photo). When I’m in the bookstore, I never fail to stop by the notebooks section, often going there first. I go over the items one by one, the notebooks I checked just last week.

I panic when I don’t have one: notwithstanding the fact that my phone has Evernote and Simplenote, which are both connected to an online account and syncs to all my devices.

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INBOX ZERO. Merlin Mann, who cooked up Inbox Zero, said, "Just remember that every email you read, re-read, and re-re-re-re-re-read as it sits in that big dumb pile is actually incurring mental debt on your behalf. The interest you pay on email you're reluctant to deal with is compounded every day and, in all likelihood, it's what's led you to feeling like such a useless slacker today."

Tabula rasa

What better way to start the year than with a clean e-mail slate?

I went through my e-mail accounts on New Year’s Day to process it back to Inbox Zero – the state it was in weeks ago, which I wrote about in a blog post here.

INBOX ZERO. Merlin Mann, who cooked up Inbox Zero, said, "Just remember that every email you read, re-read, and re-re-re-re-re-read as it sits in that big dumb pile is actually incurring mental debt on your behalf. The interest you pay on email you're reluctant to deal with is compounded every day and, in all likelihood, it's what's led you to feeling like such a useless slacker today."

INBOX ZERO. Merlin Mann, who cooked up Inbox Zero, said, “Just remember that every email you read, re-read, and re-re-re-re-re-read as it sits in that big dumb pile is actually incurring mental debt on your behalf. The interest you pay on email you’re reluctant to deal with is compounded every day and, in all likelihood, it’s what’s led you to feeling like such a useless slacker today.”

It took me less than a day to process the e-mails that had accumulated in December. It took much less time because I had done the grunt work in September. For weeks after that initial work, I was able to maintain the Inbox Zero state of my main e-mail account with regular reviews.

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Inbox zero

IT took two long weekends but I finally got to inbox zero and that state of bliss you find yourself in after having processed all pending e-mails and seeing an empty inbox.

Like many people, I felt that I’ve lost control of my e-mail. My inbox was full of messages that needed to be replied to or dealt with. Instead of immediately acting on an e-mail by sending a short reply, I’d put off sending a response until I had the time to send a fuller e-mail. My e-mail even served as a digital filing cabinet for documents, contact details and event invitations. And that was how the messages piled up.

It was Sisyphean. I’d clear a few messages only to get so much more and by the end of each day, my inbox kept growing.

Heading to the two long weekends last month, I decided to revisit the Inbox Zero philosophy of dealing with e-mails. It was started by writer Merlin Mann of 43Folders, a blog “about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.” Mann, in turn, said he got inspiration from the getting things done philosophy espoused by David Allen.

The best resource on the topic is a video of Mann during a Google Tech Talk last July 23, 2007. That video can be accessed at the Inbox Zero website.

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MANAGING TASKS. From the clipboard to phones and tablets, task management has gone digital. Above, my Galaxy Tab displays active tasks that I have to do right away. The clipboard, on the other hand, lists routine daily tasks related to my business section responsibilities.

My phone’s a slave driver

It was a gentle buzz at first, “You free? Time to finish TechNotes column.” I just glanced at the reminder on the phone while in a meeting last week in a coffee shop. The reminder was repeated on the tablet. I chose “snooze” in both devices and told the app, Astrid, to remind me again in three hours.

Then the reminders came in torrents and with more pressing urgency, “It’s time (urgent task here)” and “No more snoozing! (another urgent task here)” as my phone and tablet laid out a long list of things I was supposed to do and tasks that were nearing deadline. The klaxon of notifications (my alert tone is the sound of a modem initiating and completing a connection) provided me with the push to end the meeting on schedule.

From being a device to call people and later to send messages, the phone has increasingly become our main computer.

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In the cloud? What if it all goes up in smoke? The case of my missing phone numbers

LAST Thursday, I got the phone number of an elementary school friend I haven’t had contact with in more than a decade. After saving the contact info in the cellphone I am currently testing, a Nokia 5800, I immediately synchronized my phonebook with Zyb.

Zyb is a web-based service that stores your contact data. It has social networking features that plug into such sites as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

But Zyb’s core function is to make sure you have an updated (and backed up) copy of all your contact details. It is a very useful service especially when you get a new phone or use several units.

To make sure you always have the latest contact details of people, Zyb regularly reminds you to synchronize your phone book with its servers.

Synchronizing with Zyb
SYNCHRONIZING WITH ZYB. Zyb holds the latest copy of my phone contacts. The service regularly reminds you to synchronize your phonebook to make sure you have the latest copy of your phone contacts.

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Tweak Firefox, hack your mind

Do you believe binaural beats can influence the state of your mind in such a way that you are able to relax, focus, meditate, or boost your brain power?

I have a nagging suspicion this is a monumental joke worthy of Belbo, Diotallevi and Casaubon in Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum—that all these talks on the effect of binaural beats on the mind are as true as the existence of the Tres was to the Diabolicals.

Still, I’ve been getting by with two hours less of sleep since I started listening to it. I am able to sleep “on demand” by playing the relaxation mp3 clip in my player. I’ve been able to power-nap better by playing any of the mp3 clips while sitting on the newsroom lounge.

I’m not sure if it really works. Maybe the improvements I am experiencing right now are the result of the confluence of different life hacks: more time in the gym, better eating, less time in front of the TV etc. Or it could be the adrenalin rush unstopped by my being pumped up over projects I’m doing right now. But then again, maybe not.

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Using a TiddlyWiki: a video guide

I am a long-time user of TiddlyWikis and its various adaptations. Before a catastrophic accident involving the synchronization of various offline files wiped out my tasks list, I was an extensive user of GTDTiddlyWiki. After the accident, I moved to a server-side TiddlyWiki, alternating between Serversidewiki.com and ZiddlyWiki before finally settling with TiddlySpot.

I am also a long-time TiddlyWiki “evangelist.” Any chance I get to introduce TiddlyWiki, I’d show it off.

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