Archive for the 'General' Category

the three-item sticky note

February 27th, 2008

So recently, in a catastrophic meta-failure of Not Getting Things Done, I resigned myself to accept the fact I may never ever actually read through the copy of “Getting Things Done” that have had sitting on my nightstand for almost a year, and instead (at my girlfriend’s wise suggestion), just skim through the Wikipedia entry on it instead. Which, actually, turns out, is a fine alternative. I get the gist of it: Do it, Delegate it, Defer it, or Drop it. Don’t let things sit around. I totally get that.

However, what’s really helped me in the past month has been my adoption of a new, very easy to remember mini-GTD method, which I call the “Three-item sticky note.” What it is: a sticky note with three things I hope to accomplish during the day. That’s it. For a working person, I think three items is just about right — too many more, and you’ll be running around like a fool, and any less than three is, let’s face it, underachieving. For longer term planning, I put stuff on an online ta-da list that I can add or subtract to from anywhere.

But ironically, the low-tech nature of the Three-item sticky note is its biggest asset; after I write the three items on the sticky, I stash it in my pocket and it sits there bugging the hell out of me and I can’t wait to throw it out — but I can’t throw it out until I do the items! — so you best believe those things get done.

So this trick has been working for me for a couple months now, but there are other ways to be effective and Get Things Done; what’s yours?


bay road photo screensaver

May 21st, 2007

I’ve really been enjoying Laura Merwin’s photo series on her new MassLive blog, Bay Road Photo. Her pictures are crisp, bursting with color, each with a effortless sense of whimsy. In fact, I liked her photos so much that I have made them into my Windows screen saver. How is this done?:

  1. First, install Google’s free “Google Photos” screen saver available here. The screen saver is part of the “Google Pack” which puts some other very useful software on your PC too, but what we’re interested in here is the screen saver.
  2. Second, after the install is complete, right-click on your desktop, choose “Displays” and “Screen Saver” and then chose the new “Google Photos” screen saver (this step might be a little different if you’re running Windows Vista, but essentially, you want to get to the “Displays” control panel).

  3. Finally, after the “Google Photos” screen saver is selected and activated, go to “Settings” and then “Configure” next to “Photo Feeds”. Add this entry into the photo feeds:

    That’s the location of the RSS feed that holds Laura’s pictures published on MassLive. Once you activate that, you’ll get a fresh new picture of Laura’s added to your screen saver every day!

NOTE: I’m not aware of any Mac OS X or Linux screen savers that allow you to use RSS photo feeds as your source of graphics, but I’ll check into it. If anyone else knows of them, let me know.


disposable credit cards

March 7th, 2007


Imagine I want to buy something from a less than big-name retailer online. Could be anything from a custom piece of electronics, to a custom set of mittens. I’m not comfortable giving them my real email address, but for some reason, I hand out my credit card number, expiration date, and security code. If they cared to, they could commit some fun-time credit-fraud, and I just gave them the gun to shoot me.

Why haven’t banks embraced the use of one-time-use credit card numbers? Think about it. You go to your online banking page, request a temporary number, paste it into the retailer’s site. The number works only one time, and could even be keyed to the vendor’s domain. The banks get a great tool for not only preventing fraud, but tracking fraud that may be attempted.

We know they can roll out changes like this to vendors with comparative ease. They implemented widespread use of the ccv code with little noticeable trouble. They could even create a new format for the numbers, and require a new entry field for vendors.

I hear you out there saying, “But Tucker, what you’re recommending means Visa/MC/Amex/Discover have to get together with the various banks distributing their cards and the vendors as well to coordinate this whole thing!” That’s true. But think of the billions of dollars the industry loses to fraud every year. And think of the public relations benefits. I know I would move to a credit card vendor that gave me this feature in a heartbeat.

UPDATE: Apparently, I’m just using the wrong credit cards. Sounds like some banks do offer this, on selected cards.

snakes on an audience

August 22nd, 2006


This is not a review of snakes on a plane. It’s not. Sorry. There are lots of those.

This is a review of the audience. I was at the 10 pm Saturday showing at the Metreon. I held out from the very tempting 8:10, because I wanted to see it in DLP. There was hissing in the previews, one drunk fellow in the front who had good effort and rubber snake, but clearly wasn’t ready to be the star of this audience. His only solid contribution was shouting “Skanks on a Plane!” when the about to be dead whore headed off to be bit. (Note: this isn’t a spoiler. The whore always dies.)

There was a smattering of hissing through the film, a solid bit of cheering in appropriate places, laughter at the especially campy aspects of the dialog, (“Time is Tissue!” – Snake Expert) and an entertaining round of trivia with the helping girls behind me trying to figure out just what movie that Adam Sandler was in (It was “Punch Drunk Love”).

Now I know it was a Saturday night. But I really thought that they would be more audience enthusiasm. Where were the rocky freaks?

diet coke and mentos

July 28th, 2006


202 liters of Diet Coke and 523 Mentos, to be precise.

Oh, and with great music by Audio Body.

riding the core revolution

July 28th, 2006

It's just like horseback riding

Saddle up, kids. Now you can buck common sense, all logic AND your hips at the same time. Don’t forget to “see it in action” – group scenes of the elderly and out of shape rockin’ and tiltin’ their pelvises always promises to be a good time.

You know, I would actually be interested in this if one minor adjustment were made to it. A well-placed saddle horn, if ya get my drift.

And I think you do.


June 22nd, 2006

This looks very cool — someone please keep it away from Steve Jobs’ sight because it all certainly makes for a cool demo — but I would imagine in practice this user interface would just be another fancy way for users to crud up their desktops.

I treat my desktop like a shelf. Life for files on my desktop is nasty, brutish and short — as far as I’m concerned, the desktop is an exceptionally temporary place to plunk what I’m currently working on, work on it, and after that, I group all the assets together in one semi-intelligently named folder and file it in the “Documents” folder of my home directory. This technique works pretty well — other people work in other ways, as evidenced by their perpetually crunked up desktops, but certainly metadata search like Spotlight* or trigger launchers like Quicksilver in Mac OS X or Deskbar in Gnome or Launchy in Windows make the “file janitor” paradigm of projects like this largely obsolete. Cool mouse gestures though.


* check this out — it makes Spotlight genuinely useable. I curse the lame-ass, totally broken “live update” of the Mac OS X Spotlight search window, I curse it, I curse it, I curse it.

quickie movie review of prairie home companion (and cars)

June 11th, 2006

A word about my movie-laden Saturday:

I went to a showing of “A Prairie Home Companion.” The reviews (I admit it. I like to read movie reviews.) were mixed at best. People seemed to knock it just for being a Robert Altman film, and for on top of that, capturing the feel of a radio program displaced in the modern world.
The way I see it, the reviewers are faulting the movie for doing what it does best. No, it doesn’t have a clear, driven plot-line; rather it is a series of interactions, that broadly captures the Prairie Home experience.

It’s pretty simple. If you like Prairie Home Companion, you’ll like the movie. If you don’t (or haven’t heard of it), you’re missing out. My recommendation: go listen to Prairie Home Companion right now. Then go see the movie. You’ll be better for it.

Oh, and Cars: It’s good. It’s Pixar. The Car Talk boys are in it (it was an NPR kind of day) ‘nuff said.

new aqua backgrounds

June 10th, 2006

I’ve always liked the abstract desktop backgrounds that have come with Mac OS X — I find photo desktop backgrounds distracting — but the choice of just bright Aqua Blue or muted Aqua Graphite is a little stingy. For the sake of variety, I’ve fired up Photoshop and made myself a couple different highly fashionable Aqua backgrounds based on the original “Aqua Blue” desktop in Mac OS X 10.4:

  • Aqua Turquoise, a darker greenish tint (my favorite). Looks great with Aluminum PowerBooks/MacBookPros.
  • Aqua Fresh, a variant of Aqua Turquoise, bright like toothpaste.
  • Aqua Ubuntu Orange, a orange/brown desktop tinted to match the “Human” theme introduced in Ubuntu 6.06 “Dapper Drake”.
  • Aqua Lime, a bright green desktop which should look adorable on the white iBooks/MacBooks.
  • Aqua Negative, a dark desktop that should look pretty cool on the new black MacBooks.


headphone recommendations?

June 5th, 2006


For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, or god forbid have social lives and more important things to do, has gone live with their pretty new CSS design. It’s shiny.

How did they come to this design? They asked the Slashdot horde to do it for free, and they complied. This gave me an idea.

A drunken friend of mine recently attempted to use my glovebox to turn my iPod headphones into a cubist dissection of iPod headphones. He succeeded, and shaved off the stupid third-dimension I didn’t really want them to have anyway. Wait for it…… they sound flat!! Ha! *wipes tear from corner of eye*

But now I’m in need of replacing headphones I never really liked anyway. I’m thinking inner ear headphones, and I have a $100 coupon for J & R burning a hole in my pocket. So, loyal readers, what should I get?

breve 2.4

May 18th, 2006

In accordance with’s strict self-promotion disclosure policy: this post is a piece of shameless self-promotion.

If you like robots, artificial intelligence, virtual worlds, or–I don’t know–just blinking lights, then you really truly should have a look at breve 2.4.

free calls via skype

May 16th, 2006

Sure, I’m not the sharpest tool in the drawer — but I’m not dumb as paint either, and it still took me a couple tries to figure out how to make a regular “old-school” phone call via Skype. It works like this:

  1. Download Skype.
  2. Run through the setup wizard.
  3. Format your outgoing number like this: plus sign, 1, area code, then the phone number (dashes are optional), then hit “Call”:

…and prestoli, free phone call! I’m not entirely convinced Skype is the way to go (vs. other, more open SIP-based voice-over-IP providers) but they do currently have the slickest VoIP software implementation, and their latest announcement of free outgoing calls to the US* sure makes hardware like this outrageously expensive Netgear/Skype wifi phone more attractive.


* Here’s my theory why Skype is doing this: they have a non-standard voice-over-IP protocol, and they want enough of an installed use base up and running before other SIP software packages (I’m looking at you, Gizmo Project and Ekiga) get slicker and other SIP hardware options come to market. They want to be the AOL of the VoIP market.

hope you like rain

May 12th, 2006



nintendo wii

April 27th, 2006

UGH; the Nintendo Revolution is now named the Nintendo Wii

…”Nintendo Wii”? Like, how do you even say that out loud? Has Nintendo been getting name suggestions from open-source developers? I guess the thing to keep in mind is that I thought “iPod” was a dumb name when I first heard it, and these days, people name their newborn children “iPod mini”, so what do I know.


hope neil young will remember

April 19th, 2006

So Neil Young’s new album is an old-school protest album. Good for him — but too bad he was so damn into the Patriot Act a couple years ago:

People for the American Way… gave Neil Young its Spirit of Liberty award at a December 11 Beverly Hills banquet. Young used the occasion to proclaim his support of the USA/Patriot Act, which became law on October 26. “To protect our freedoms,” Young said, “it seems we’re going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time.”

…which pains me to point out, because I’ve always really liked Neil Young. The first “big concert” I ever went to was a Social Distortion/Sonic Youth/Neil Young triple bill at the now-rubble Hartford Civic Center in scenic Hartford, CT. They all rocked.