Friday, 26 June 2009

Getting Organised #3

Time passes at the same rate for each of us, one precious second at a time. Most of us wish we had more time to do the things we want to do. So it makes sense to do the stuff that we have to do in as little time as possible.

For most of us, each day includes hundreds of tasks. Gaining a better understanding of how to deal with them can pay huge dividends.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I stumble downstairs and turn Kermit (my lime green espresso machine) on. While that is warming up, I put milk in a cup, and get the coffee pod ready (immediately returning the milk to the fridge, and putting the coffee pod wrapper in the bin, natch).

If the coffee machine is still not up to temperature, I put away cutlery that I washed up the night before, sort out recycling bins, tidy the worktop... until it is. I then add espresso to the cup, and put the cup in the microwave for 50 seconds. During that time I remove and bin the spent coffee pod, flush the machine through with fresh water, top up Kermit's water reservoir and get a protein bar from the cupboard.

If this is all painfully obvious to you, I'm really sorry. However, I know that a lot of people don't use the 'dead times' that occur during other tasks. By exploiting these times, things stay 'tidy' and 'done', the 'where is that...?' moments are avoided, and the extended tidying sessions are reduced.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Snow Leopard explained

Short answer: Snow Leopard...

– is the next incarnation of the Macintosh operating system
– will be available September 2009
– will be faster, leaner and wizzier™ than Leopard
– will only work on Intel-based machines

and Leopard users will be able to upgrade for $29 (UK pricing TBA)

Long answer

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Free font - Moo!

Fábio Duarte Martins has made MOO! available for free download.

It is a particularly well-drawn example of an ultra-fat geometric, in the tradition of Baby Teeth & Sinaloa, and comes with an inventive range of diacritical marks.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Rip it up...

I love magazines. I buy and read a lot of them. There was a time when, after reading them, I would carefully store them in date order so I could refer to them later.

However, a few years ago, I realised that Google was replacing my magazines as a major form of reference. So I applied my Getting Organised #1 principles, and bagged and dated a stack of them. Sure enough, I didn't miss them. In fact, I realised that once a magazine had been read, I hardly EVER picked it up again.

More than that (and this may well be an age thing), the following scenario became more common. I'd read a magazine. I would see an article I wanted to show someone else or refer to later. Or a review of a CD I wanted to buy. I'd finish reading the magazine, and promptly forget about them. Later in the day/week something would jog my memory, by which point I had completely forgotten where the article/review was.

So I have started doing something that goes against my upbringing. When I come across an article/review that I want to refer to later, I check the other side of the page to make sure there isn't something even more important on it, and then (gulp... sorry mum) tear the relevant section out.

At the end of reading the article I have a number of sheets that (like the cards I carry around with me) act as a visual reminder to act on them. When acted on, they can be consigned to the recycling bin.

When the next issue of the magazine arrives, the gutted version is consigned to toilet reading, and then the recycling bin.

Two final thoughts:

1. It is probably best to avoid doing this when impressionable 'young'uns' are around.

2. Once this becomes a habit, cultivate a mental check that the magazine you're about to gut belongs to you.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

iPhone 3G S review

Engadget has published one of the first reviews of the iPhone 3G S.

Conclusion: [edited]:

"For current [iPhone] users the iPhone 3G S is a solid spec bump to a phone you already own... but it is, at its core, a phone you already own."

"At this stage, we wouldn't recommend anything but the 3G S for newcomers planning on getting into Apple's game."

"It's tough to argue with the package Apple has put together (a stellar device with just enough new to make it nearly perfect), we couldn't help feeling a bit let down by the 3G S. We're not saying it's time to jump ship, but we've come to expect a bit more pedal to the floor from Apple - you've raised the bar guys, now it's time to jump over it."

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Alphabet drawers

Kent and London reports: [edited]

Inspired by vintage printing blocks, this beautifully finished chest of 26 drawers is made from solid oak - the perfect place to file everything from A-Z.

H800mm x W1200mm x D300mm, £2700

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Convergence continues

If you own an iPhone and are contemplating purchasing a satnav device, or an in-car charger/bracket, you might want to wait a while.

TomTom are releasing a turn-by-turn navigation app for iPhone including IQ Routes and latest maps from Tele Atlas to coincide with the release of Apple’s OS 3.0 operating system.

The TomTom car kit for iPhone, a specially developed car kit for docking, enhanced GPS performance, voice instructions, hands-free calling and in-car charging will (inexplicably) be available 'later this summer'.

Prices haven't been announced, but for more information, and a lo-res video presentation click here.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

iPhone 3G S announced

Apple have announced an upgraded version of their cash-cow.

– It's faster
– It does video
– It edits video
– Its camera has gained a megapixel
– It has voice control
– It has a compass (?)
– It cuts/copies/pastes
– It has MMS
– It has Spotlight
– You can use it as a modem

For a guided tour click here.

Monday, 8 June 2009

5-minute jobs

Most weekday mornings I get up at 5.00am, make myself a cup of coffee, read a portion of Scripture, brush my teeth, (occasionally) shave, and get ready to drive to the gym for my morning workout.

The gym opens about 6.25 am. The journey to the gym takes about 22 minutes. I'm generally ready to alarm and lock my house by 6.00 am. However, sometimes I'm ready by 5.55 am. I could sit down and read for a few minutes. Or sit in the gym car park listening to my iPod. Or, I could do something more useful.

I've discovered that you can get a surprising amount of work done in 5 minutes, it can help 'break the back' of a lot of the repetitive chores that are a part of most of our lives.

Here are a few '5 minute jobs':

- wash up and dry some crockery, cutlery and glassware

- refuel your vehicle

- vacuum a room

- transfer recycled refuse to the relevant bins

- check and delete a number of SMS messages on your mobile phone

- load up the washing machine

- check/organise your fridge/cupboard contents

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Feeling drowsy?

It doesn't matter how much sleep I get, if I've been sat in the same place for more than an hour, I become lethargic and sleepy. This is all the more pronounced mid-afternoon. From anecdotal evidence, it seems to be a common experience.

Stimulants like caffeine and sugar give you a temporary energy boost, but the subsequent 'crash' leaves you feeling sick and even more sluggish.

The best solution I've found is to move about a bit. Get up out of your chair and stretch, and if possible go for a brief stroll.

If you're still feeling tired then a timed nap can do wonders (yes, I know, I know, tricky in a working situation). Set your alarm clock/ phone/ watch to wake you up in 10-15 minutes (any longer than this and you'll enter deep sleep, which makes it much more difficult to wake up).

Be prepared to feel rubbish when the alarm does go off, but get up anyway and within 10 minutes you should be feeling a lot better.

If you're still feeling drowsy, you might be ill. Or genetically bone-idle.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Get up!

Author/playwright Jean Kerr is quoted as saying:

"The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible."

The web is full of advice on why this is the case, including:

- lack of sleep

- too much light/noise in the room

- going to bed too early/too late

- wrong mattress

- wrong room temperature

- too much alcohol

- too much food

- irregular sleep patterns

All of these factors probably play a part. But from the anecdotal evidence of many people, I don't know of anyone who bounds out of bed in the morning, raring to face another day!

The two main reasons for this are:

1. Our metabolism has slowed to a crawl, and we have been without food for as much as half a day. When we wake up, our body is on a 'go-slow'.

2. Bed is a 'safe place'. While we are in bed, we don't have to face up to the responsibilities of the day.

I have learned not to trust my feelings when I first wake up. I often feel a bit 'under the weather'. The tasks ahead of me often seem much more dificult than they are. I never feel like getting up and going to the gym. I always feel like 'just a few more minutes sleep' would be a good idea.

So, I tell the little red cartoon devil on my shoulder that I know he is a liar, that I've tried his tactics, and they really don't work. Then I haul myself out of my rack, make myself a coffee, eat a protein bar, brush my teeth, pull on my sweatshirt and baggies, and drive to the gym.

On weekends/days off/holidays, I get up, make myself some breakfast, and do some light manual tasks like tidying the kitchen, putting clothes in the washing machine or going for a brisk walk.

After about an hour (assuming you really aren't unwell), your body will have 'defrosted', and you're as ready as you'll ever be to face a new day.