Mastered

Finally it’s done and I’ve finished my Master of Arts in Design.

I got good and positive feedback for “Articles”, but also some good critics that mentioned some interesting things I have to think about.

Now I can say that I want to continue working on my tool and I hope that one day it can be made public to anybody, and maybe not only based on the Android-plattform.

But finishing my Master Degree also means that I have to continue working on my project with a different priority: In the next couple of days I’m going to move to Vienna and start an internship at Strukt.com!

You will hear from me : )

Backup Routine

I guess you could find something like a working backup-routine for yourself. If not, do something and let you inspire by some of my ideas.

Maybe you do not care about backups. It’s so easy to transfer photos of your digital camera or cellphone on your computer. Not comparable to all that effort we had back in the days of analogue film. Maybe you think backing up that files is too complicated. If you think so, continue reading.

Or you care a little bit about your digital life and you use a memory stick or external hard drive to copy your files regularly on it. That’s the best you can do with little afford, at least if you do that regularly. You could install yourself a routine to stick to a regular plan to do so. Use the calendar or todo list on your mobile to be notified for the next backup. Backup your files every few days, every second week or every month, but do it regularly.

If you are a little bit more advanced you may use a software like Apple TimeMachine, Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost. Most of these solutions provide you incremental backups, so you can jump back in time to restore different versions of the same document.

Real backup-Pros also make use of an offshore-backup. A second backup is been stored in a different location, so that in case of a fire at home or in your office, you still got a copy of your important files somewhere else. I really have to push myself to do an offshore-backup, because it takes a lot of effort for a little effect.

Getting Things Done

I remember the time, it was in January or February 2008, when it came to my mind that I need a notebook. I started writing down a lot of notes, what I wanted to buy, what I wanted check out on the Internet and all actions I had to do for several projects.

But soon I realized that a regular notebook didn’t satisfy all my needs: I couldn’t develop an effective organizing-system, but the biggest disadvantage was the lack of a possibility to schedule actions and give them a due date.
I discovered Omni Focus and Things for Mac. Often I acquire new techniques by using new tools and that’s how I have discovered David Allen’s Getting Things Done. You don’t need to use these tools, you can just use any pen & paper or other system, but let’s have a look on GTD-basic rules:

  • -Whatever comes to your mind, write it down into a Inbox.
  • -If YOU don’t have to do it, trash it.
  • -Try to keep your Inbox empty, otherwise you stop believing in your system.
  • -Whenever the new task only needs 2 minutes to finish, do it now.
  • -If it’s not important, put it into the Someday-Inbox.
  • -Whenever you can split a thought or action into smaller actions, do it.
  • -If you can group several actions to a big one, organize it into projects.

In the first few days you’ll fill your Inbox with many new actions, but that’s not sad. It only helps you to free your brain for new activities and thoughts. Then, soon you start to organize all these actions and recognize, that a lot of them you don’t have to do, some you want to do someday, and some you can organize after each other.

The positive aspects of the GTD-technique are:

  • -You free your brain for other things, you do not always have to rethink of something. You’re able to forget it, because you have written it down.
  • -Because you scan through your organized GTD-sytem, you always have an overview of what has to be done, you feel like having much more control of your future activities.

I already showed this technique to some friends of mine. It wasn’t useful for all, but maybe you can tryout for yourself. Give it a try : )

Some links:

http://culturedcode.com/things/screencast.html – Also great for general understanding

http://www.davidco.com/

My second brain

I am using DEVONthink for some months now. I use this tool on my computer to safe fragments of pure text in a database. As a result I am able to navigate, search and browse through my saved notes.

There are alternatives for other plattforms like Windows. My flatmate is using Microsoft OneNote to do similar things. You even do not need a special tool for that, since modern Operating Systems index every file so that one can do a fullterm-search on the computer within some seconds. But for now  it is just important that the reader gets the idea of the principle.

DEVONthink is document management tool with the already mentioned associative search engine. I think it was a book by Steve Johnson who mentioned in a book that he was using DEVONthink. (In the past) authors used slip box systems while they did their reasearch for a book. Every information they could find was written down on a index card and categorized. After they did their research, they outlined everything, ordered their notes and finally, they started to write out their notes.

I use this technique to outline thoughts and categorize them with tags. I started to write down cites (‘I’m a fruitarian and I will only eat leaves picked by virgins in the moonlight’ – Steve Jobs). I save my own howtos, eg. how i configured thinks on computers and in tools, how I have to crop images for my web page and so on.

Hopefully this inspires you to write down stuff, thoughts and notes that you have saved in your primary brain. As soon as you start to write down these things, you can use your real brain for other important things : ) Another positive fact is that you can start to see your thoughts and notes from a different point of view. Then you can combine your new notes with older ones, that you already had forgotten in the past.

Organize frequently visited websites to individual workdays

I am organizing interesting blogs and web pages in folders for individual work days, instead of putting them all into my Rss-Feed reader. The positive site of that habit is, that the page’s content is not shrinked down to a one-liner. News items and blog-entries seem to make more sense in the context of its original web page. Continue reading Organize frequently visited websites to individual workdays

WIP: Visualizing Wikipedia now on Android!

Currently I am working on some interactive Wikipedia visualizations for my Master Degree in Design and the final product seems to get closer and closer (like the deadline ; ) ). The user is able to type in any Wikipedia-article to get a graphical representation of that topic in form of a TagCloud. The interface is able to visualize annotations like organizations, people or dates that are mentioned in an article. Finally, the article can be compared to a another article, so that one can compare those two articles by their annotations. Continue reading WIP: Visualizing Wikipedia now on Android!