So.. been having lots of fun with Windows 7 this morning. Got hold of a refurb PC for doing some client system testing.
Win7 install completes and there are 3 updates to do. Start the update process and two modal windows open up behind the update window, waiting for me to do something. Have to click on task bar’s flashing icon to bring windows to the front. On Windows. Windows.
Anyway, I give the “OK” for Microsoft Security Essentials to install and it does, then starts to run an update within itself (!). Due (perhaps) to the length of time of this process on this ageing P4, the main MS software updater kicks out another window saying “The application Microsoft Essentials may not have installed correctly.”
I’m sorry. “May“??
Choices are “That’s ok, it installed correctly” or “Reinstall this application”. Except the application is installed and already running an update. Err…? So.. how do I know it has installed correctly? Because it’s running…(?!) (Does the computer not know??!)
With 20 minutes of Windows use this morning, I can’t believe just how bad things are on the other side of the fence. Someone fresh to Windows will see all this flashing icons, hidden windows, alerts, worries… and not have the first clue what to do.
Someone close to me was one of those unfortunate souls. She’d persisted for about a year with her Win7 machine and was constantly anxious with its scaremongering. Hardly a productive environment.
Although Google Chrome is a very fast browser, it lacks one key feature which seems designed to lock users in – any account migration facilities to support moving to other browsers. This post is intended to help you move your saved passwords from Chrome to Firefox.
While following the instructions in that post, take note of these steps below before you close your browser. If you have also set up a separate encryption password for your browser, don’t worry – this method still allows access.
In Chrome settings, as a precation, I disconnected my Google account before closing the browser. Therefore, any changes I could make to this temporary session wouldn’t ever be uploaded back to Google.
Password Exporter allows you to import passwords too, so you can avoid the need to install any third-party workarounds like LastPass (which again require you to upload all your browser data).Firstly, though, using Password Exporter in Firefox (Tools > Add ons … Extensions > Password Exporter > Preferences), we can export a sample CSV file to see how Password Exporter expects its import data. Simply click “Export Passwords” and save the file to your home directory.
NOTE: This requires that at least one password is saved in Firefox already.
Once the fields are mapped, there’s a couple more important steps to undertake.
Firstly, when you come to exporting from your spreadsheet application, make sure you choose to edit the output filter. In the Export Text File dialog, make sure “Quote all text cells” does not have a check (tick) in the box.
For good measure, I also selected ASCII/US in encoding type, as that is the format used by Password Exporter when exporting. I think the importer should handle ISO-8859-1 and/or UTF-8, but your mileage may vary.
Now export it.
Remember seeing the additional header in the exported CSV file? It might have looked something like this:
# Generated by Password Exporter; Export format 1.1; Encrypted: false
In order to tell Password Exporter what format to expect its data in, this heading needs to be added back. However… the best way to do this is via a text editor, not in a spreadsheet program.
Open up GEdit, Emacs, Vi… whatever. Add that line to the top, but remove any trailing commas! It should now look like this:
# Generated by Password Exporter; Export format 1.0.4; Encrypted: false
One more step before you import!
A side-effect of exporting your CSV in LibreOffice is that empty cells are not quoted. In other words, the comma-separated values may appear like this:
Did you see those two commas with nothing between? The Password Exporter won’t like that when trying to import, so do a quick search-and-replace:
Search for ,, and replace with ,””,
Finally, save the file. Again, ENSURE the file type is US/ASCII.
Now open up the Password Exporter dialog from Firefox and click Import Passwords – you should see progress in the dialog shortly.
CAVEAT #1: BUG WHEN IMPORTING v1.2-EXPORTED DATA
There is an import bug when the version header is declared as 1.1. However, you can get around this by “fudging” the import header to an older version (I used 1.0.4). If you have trouble importing, adjust your header in the file to look like this:
If you have a curious bent – and you bought a Chromebook thinking it would be the answer to all problems, then chances are you probably gave up on that notion fairly quickly and installed a variant of GNU/Linux on it.
If so, well done. Thankfully, Daniel Berrange – a Red Hat fellow and Fedora users, posted some instructions on how to get Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) installed on a Samsung series 3 (XE303C12) Chromebook. This is the route I decided to take, having been a Fedora user for many years. But I digress.
If you have GNU/Linux installed on a Series 3 Chromebook, you may want to remap those Google-inspired function keys that run across the top. You know, those keys with the arrows, reload, window-size/position, brightness and volume icons… Yeah. Actually, they’re function keys: F1 to F10.
A good read for how to identify what each key is can be found here, on this askubuntu post which details the xev command. xev displays the numeric keycode of the keyboard key (!) you just pressed.
Keys F1-F10 use the following keycodes:
Using xev, you can remap the function keys to something more appropriate to your environment.
To remap these keys, we now need to identify what extended functionality the XF86 multimedia keyset provides.
.. and why you should consider it, or, “…and how to be more efficient”.
I’m an avid tasker and a fan of the GTD methodology, but when I use tools that have lots (and lots!) of features I tend to slip up easily and do silly things. An example is adding a repeating task to my task list. A repeating task? Why is this an issue?
Google Tasks: Simple. Too simple, for some.
I simplify this slightly, but in David Allen’s approach to task management, anything that is time-related should be put into a calendar. Therefore, if I am allowed to set up a repeating task, this means I need to do something with a certain regularity, which further implies I must actually do it at some point in order for it to warrant the repetition which I have ascribed to it.
In ToodleDo and other “expert” task managers, the ability to manage tasks has advanced to the point where you can essentially control your calendar through your task manager. This approach really suits some people but, to me, this essentially is the tasks-first, time-second approach. It is truly a GTD-esque system and I have had a love/dislike affair with it for several years. I have never “hated” ToodleDo – it’s a great system, but isn’t as integral with my working environment as I would like.
To me, tasks should be lean and mean. I don’t really want to spend my time managing them – I want to be doing them. And various factors always weigh in that can be managed outside of my task list. I become less efficient if I start duplicating events into tasks.Part of me loathes the traditional “Weekly Review” of the GTD system. I have a daily review and the most important things are always the ones that get done – it’s a self-managing approach which I’m happy with and doesn’t require over-thinking. Removing the opportunity to over-manage tasks is A Good ThingTM in my book. All I want to do is store my tasks somewhere and interact with them quickly. Using Tasks in Google will accomplish this.
Yes, but what about contexts, projects (folders), statuses & goals?!
GTDers rejoice! Toodle- Do lets you live the dream!
In defiance of pure GTD-ism, here are my views on these three aspects:
Context In GTD, the context of a task is, broadly, how, when or where you might do it. What I kept finding about my contexts, as I was setting them, were that they kept resembling more basic primary situations. For example, I started with “shopping”, “online”, “errands”, “home”, “phone” and “work”. Except, when I started looking more closely, these contexts could be whittled down – and needed to be, in order not to conflict with my Projects/Folders.”Errands” and “shopping”.. well, I would generally be out and about for both of these, so why not make them simply “out-and-about”? This would mitigate the risk of not running an errand while out shopping. Phone calls would typically be work-related, but not always – so I would either make them during work or in personal time. Realising this, I started to see that all of my activities would be split, broadly, between work and personal time. Therefore, if I was working, I would want to make work phone calls. At home, I would want to catch up with my friends online.With always-connected capability (phone, internet, 3G, etc) my contexts eventually became two things: work or personal. That’s it. With a Google Apps for Business account (work) and a personal GMail account (personal), I can separate my work and personal tasks completely.
Projects/Folders My Folders (“Projects” in GTD parlance) in ToodleDo would typically resemble the types of task I needed to manage. You could argue that this is the wrong way to manage tasks, and instead use Tags for this purpose. While true, Tags are amorphous while Folders are structured and, in ToodleDo, Folders resemble the only way to aggregate tasks into suitably-managed “blocks”.My Folders are things like “cases” (support), “customer/project”, “finance”, “phonecalls” and “systems”. These are unlikely to change as they closely match my general daily activities. Google’s Tasks can accommodate this with top-level lists. Within each list, I can have a task (with indented sub-tasks) which allows enough manageability without overcrowding my senses with due-dates, contexts and estimated duration.
Status This is a real easy one and probably the one thing I disagree with GTD about. The overall status of my tasks is logical: either incomplete, or complete. If I am waiting on somebody, I will already know this. If I am doing my task, I will probably know this too!But what about if I wish to do my task “someday“? Well, shocking as it may sound, but that’s how I view all my tasks. They are things to be done, sooner rather than later, but someday is the best I can plan for. And this is what it’s all about: planning effectively. Therefore, to have a status of “planning” seems idiotic: unless I’m actually doing a thing, I’ll probably planning to do a thing!This is the key: the status of a task in GTD could be mistaken for the status of a person – you. If my status changes, that might mean my ability to do that task is deferred. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, or that the task somehow becomes like me and is also unable to do anything until another time (such as when I am well, or back from a holiday, etc).
Goals …. I include here as a passing reference. One aspect of goal-setting is the ability in ToodleDo to track progress on tasks relative to goals set. In this regard, Google’s Tasks is clearly inferior. But managing goals can exist outside the context of a task management application and, I argue, it should. If goals are important, one’s whole life should be managed into achieving them.
They said it couldn’t be done.
Well, actually, they didn’t really say that. I did. But it’s true – it couldn’t be done, easily, until now. Here’s what you need:
A smartphone capable of running Astrid’s mobile app, installed from your device’s play/app store.*
* I have only used this on Android 4.1 and have set up both of my Google accounts as sync accounts on my phone. As always, your mileage may vary.
Here is the order of my approach – no warranties offered, it just worked for me:
Install the Astrid app on your smartphone.
In the app, navigate to Settings (see pic to the right)
Select Sync & backup
Click on Synchronize now
Authorize the log-in using your destination Google account
Create or Log-in to your astrid account using your desktop web browser, as astrid.com
Still in the Astrid app on your phone, go back to the Sync & backup settings and select Astrid.com – ensure that you can log in using your astrid.com account credentials.
Run a sync on the phone (menu > Sync Now) – this will sync your two task lists (Astrid and Google).
Now, log in to ToodleDo in your desktop browser and navigate to Tools > Import / Export / Backup and select CSV Import / Export. Choose to Export all incomplete tasks. You can also export all completed tasks if you want, but there’s no point syncing them (IMHO).
Back at Astrid.com in your desktop browser, click on your “name menu” at the top-right of the page, then Import Tasks. (see above-right screenshot)
In the next page, use the drop-down to select ToodleDo.
Back on the phone, tap “Sync now” again.
Voila! Your originaltasks are now in Google Tasks!
Someone lucky enough to participate in Jeri Ryan’s hangout!
There was a lot of buzz around it, with hundreds of comments flying around under the Hangout post, updating in real time. It was pretty hard to get a video stream from Google, such were the number of simultaneous subscriptions.
In many ways, this reminded me of the excitement of the early internet, where we learned about things such as bandwidth… The kids today, they have everything!
Still, the excitement wasn’t only in the new broadcast/interaction (intercast?!) method through G+ hangouts, it was the realisation that, should they choose, celebs can now use a nice, safe way of engaging with their fan base. Directly. Over time, this may disarm broadcast controllers and empower people, be they celebrities or fans, into collaboration through constructive, enriching dialogue.
Wil Wheaton, self-confessed geek and well-known actor likewise, was notably impressed with hangouts. It was refreshing to see people observing great netiquette while chatting with Jeri. How much more enjoyable, this, than suffering typically mundane updates as you might in another social networking system.
As Google measures and expands upon functionality in G+, I hope they’ll see fit to bring more interactive tools to the table. I get the feeling that hangouts are just the start of the next revolution. As Android gathers increasing momentum and Google+ apps appear on both major mobile platforms, we could see real-time social networking emerge as the number one communication method.
People, known and unknown to each other, will communicate, partly in mimicry, utilising all tools at their disposal. And, with open source platforms gathering adoption, they will inevitably add both their biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.
Fedora 16 is here. With all GNU/Linux distributions, newer versions generally mean better hardware support, usability and so on. Unfortunately, for users of netbooks, laptops and basically any hardware that contains Realtek’s 8192e wireless chip, things can still be problematic.
I posted, previously, a rather kludgy solution to fixing this in Fedora 14. Then 15 came along, and the fix I was using then no longer worked. This is because my previous solution installed the Linux kernel staging drivers for a kernel version very similar to that running in Fedora 14 (but actually built for Ubuntu).
Now that we are 2 versions of Fedora down the road (12 months, then), is the situation better for the humble RTL8192e_PCI ? Sadly, no. The main problem is that the 8192e driver is still in the Linux driver staging tree rather than in the main code line. In the respected opinion of the Linux kernel developers and testers, this means the code isn’t good enough to be enabled by default. Quite when it will be “ready” to hit the trunk, I’m not sure.
In the meantime, this means you have to install the kernel’s development modules (staging drivers).
I’ve decided to go “old school” with some of my free time this year. For some time, I’ve had (in storage) an Amiga A4000T computer – the top spec with Cyberstorm PPC card, CyberVision graphics card, some SCSI disks, 128MB (remember when you could run an O/S in that??) and so on.
Although the Amiga was always designed to work with analogue video standards (NTSC / PAL), the prevalence of VGA monitors in the 1990s meant that the old “miggy” had to adapt. One of the great features of the CyberVision card was that it could redirect video from the integral AGA graphics chipset and display Workbench (or anything, it would seem) through the video card instead. This was no small feat of engineering and, in my opinion, is partly what made computing in the 1990s so interesting; ingenuity, innovation, invention.
Left: The Amiga’s Kickstart, prompting for a boot disk.
My 4000T has seen better days, granted. Certainly as far as the operating system install and configuration is concerned – the video above shows that I can look forward to the pleasure of installing OS 3.9. Or perhaps I might investigate OS4 which will harness my PowerPC chip, thanks to the hard work at Hyperion Entertainment.
Whichever, I am still surprised that for a 15 year old machine everything seems so, well, reliable! The fact that the phase5/DCE CyberStorm/Vision hardware is operational, and the system starts up acceptably, is really testimony of the longevity of ancient hardware.
I’m really looking forward to exploring this machine again, and seeing what has recently been uploaded to Aminet.
Old habits die hard. Happy New Year 🙂