Work on blog post ideas with Wridea

I seldom finish a blog post in one session in front of the computer. My typical blogging day starts with reading news feeds to check on updates on topics that interest me. Sometimes I get a blog post idea while reading RSS feed items and I’d write a note in my personal wiki about the topic.

I’d then work on the post in the office, right before the newsroom goes into overdrive chasing page deadlines and after I’ve finished my pages and while waiting for pages assigned to me for line-reading. I’d then publish the post at home, after my early morning meal–that’s dinner for all you morning people.

Most of the time, however, I’m working on several projects that can generate several blog posts. These projects are experiments on content management systems, blogging, wikis and anything that might be of use in a newsroom environment, particularly that of a small community newspaper.

I keep my technical notes on these experiments and my to-do lists in various personal wikis, including a txt file in my K750i. But for blog post ideas, I may have found the best notes repository, for me, in Wridea. (Click on photo to view larger image)

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Printable CEO goes online: Color-code and assign points to your tasks

David Seah’s Printable CEO is an effective productivity tool. It allows you to focus on important tasks based on your hierarchy of values. The color-coding and the assignment of points make it easy to decide which tasks to prioritize. The accompanying tasks tracker helps you keep tab on the things you’ve done and the points you’ve earned.

I’ve long wanted to implement online the concept behind the Printable CEO. I’m not very good at doing things on paper, despite the fact that I work for a newspaper. I’ve frequently lost notebooks and pieces of paper containing jottings, notes, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The longest paper-based organizer I’ve kept is my Pocketmod “Sony” edition. I keep a lot of blank Pocketmods in case I need to brainstorm when I’m away from the desk.

I already keep my notes online through ZiddlyWiki and it doesn’t make sense, at least for me, to depend on a paper-based task tracker.
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Punk’s not dead, it has gone jogging

Or at least I did. I jogged four rounds at the Cebu City Sports Center oval today and walked another round, with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes and Ramones threatening to bust my eardrums.

I have an eclectic taste in music and my playlist leaves people I know bewildered. Bob Dylan gets mixed with Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Guitar Duo, Guns and Roses, Nina Simone, Celtic Awakening, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Coldplay, The Beatles, David Bowie and Bedroom Radio episodes.

But jogging is serious business and you can’t just listen to any song while running. Bob Dylan and jogging don’t mix. Bob Dylan songs, as with Beatles songs, are songs you listen to while writing an article that should have been submitted last week. These are songs you listen to while smoking, with a glass of Tanduay on the other hand, and discussing with friends how you can change the world.
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Wiki on a K750i? A txt file will do

I’m a huge fan of TiddlyWiki, a standalone web page that you can edit through a browser for just about anything: to-do lists, notes or any other text data. I’m an extensive user of one of its derivatives: the Zope server-based ZiddlyWiki but before that, I used GTDTiddlyWiki, a version that incorporates a getting things done menu and is formatted for easy printing on index cards.

ZiddlyWiki fits my need for a server-side notes taking and archiving solution that is accessible anywhere. I host my ZiddlyWiki on a free Zope hosting account with Objectis. I needed a server-side solution because I wiped out a lot of notes trying to synchronize the GTDTiddlyWiki in my home PC and in my office PC last year.

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Meditation increases attention span, sharpens focus and improves memory

Researchers using advanced brainscanning technology “are beginning to show that meditation directly affects the function and structure of the brain, changing it in ways that appear to increase attention span, sharpen focus and improve memory,” Time reported.

The magazine also reported that “one recent study found evidence that the daily practice of meditation thickened the parts of the brain’s cerebral cortex responsible for decision making, attention and memory.”

“The forms of meditation (scientists) are studying involve focusing on an image or sound or on one’s breathing. Though deceptively simple, the practice seems to exercise the parts of the brain that help us pay attention.”

Ive been trying out meditation breaks for a couple of weeks now and I find that it helps me deal with stress better. What I do is I listen to MP3 files from Zencast and follow its instructions. A couple of times I tried listening to Bedroom Radio, which has a great selection of songs, but its not a podcast for meditation, there are parts that can be distracting (in a not-for-meditation way), to put it mildly.

Starting the year with a massive traffic spike

The start of the year saw a massive (for me) traffic spike for this blog. My previous post on using the Xinha Here plugin to color code tasks using The Printable CEO as guide was featured in life hacks portal For a while, it was even on the popular page of The post was also linked to by the Backpack blog.
Before I found a way to use color coding in my tasks, I relied solely on to keep track of things I should be doing. But after more than a week of using the Backpackit plus The Printable CEO system, I find that I am able to prioritize my tasks better.

The install link of version 0.5 of Xinha Here, however, is broken (as of this writing) . The Mozilla addons page for the extension is still at version 0.3. Version 0.5 offers options on themes and plugins for the what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editor.

Color code your tasks using The Printable CEO as guide

David Seah’s printable CEO is an excellent guide on which tasks to tackle first and which distractions to deal with later. It lists various answers to the question: When is something worth doing? The answers are color coded and come with points, ranked based on their importance to your goals. Seah uses it to track his tasks using a printable progress chart that he fills up.

I use Seah’s printable CEO as guide but I do not keep track of the scores of my tasks. Instead, I use it as guide on which tasks to perform first. I organize tasks by topics and use color code, based on the printable CEO, to prioritize.

I then implemented this in BackPackIt using the Firefox extension Xinha Here, which launches a visual HTML editor for any text entry area (screenshots below). I edited the main page of my free BackPackIt account and used it as dashboard. For the body text, I entered my version of The Printable CEO and used color coding.

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The art, and science, of power naps

I’ve long wanted to try taking programmed naps or power naps. Studies have indicated that there are health benefits to taking regular naps. The National Institutes of Health in the United States said “evidence is mounting that sleep – even a nap – appears to enhance information processing and learning.”

I don’t get a lot of sleep because of my work hours. Daytime sleep isn’t as satisfying and refreshing as normal overnight sleep. The noise during the day makes its way into your dreams. I once dreamt of being chased by people out to kill me and woke up to shouts of “Patya na!” (Kill him!). It was my neighbor’s teenage son shouting at the top of his voice to egg on Manny Pacquiao in his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

The remaining days of my vacation might be a good chance to try taking regular 20-minute naps.

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I’ve been seeing a lot of links to meditation (Amazon link) how-tos and articles in but I haven’t read them until now. I’m thinking of trying meditation to release stress (my current stress buster is table tennis) and clear my mind.

Discovery Health says “meditation is the perfect antidote for the constant intrusion of technology in our lives. In fact, recent research has shown that meditating twice per day for about 20 minutes can actually reduce blockages in your blood vessels, significantly lowering the risk of sudden death by heart attack or stroke.”

One of the tips is to recite a mantra. Maybe I should recite one of the phrases in Gerbil Mantras by–“eeeeeeeeeeaaaaatttttt shhhhiiiiiiiiit annddd ddddddddie.”

The network is my computer

Early this year I experimented with having all my essential work related data online. I wanted things I needed for my section, my copy desk job and columns centralized on free online accounts and accessible anywhere.

I wanted to be able to work on things anywhere – office, home or an Internet cafe – if I wanted or needed to. I used several free services in my attempt to make the Internet my computer. I am listing the services below in the hope that if you know of a better one, you’d leave a note so that I can transfer to it.

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