A while back, I wrote about how I was using Zapier and IFTTT to filter all of my social media notifications through Evernote, so that I didn't have to actually visit those sites on a regular basis. I'm now a month into it, and I figured it was time to post my findings.
In reality, how well it works depends on what my mind is focused on that day (or that hour). The good news is that it does indeed capture my social media interactions exactly like I wanted it to. The bad news is, it didn't magically immediately change my habits, which is what is needed to actually make it useful.
Bottom line: the system does work when I use it. It doesn't prevent me from still checking social media sites occasionally. For that.... I've got a secret weapon, called StayFocusd.
This program is a Chrome browser plug-in that allows me to limit how much time I can spend on certain websites. I can tell it certain times of the day (or days of the week) to track it, and I can even have it lock those sites out if I reach my limit. Obviously this is an extreme measure, but the reality is, how else am I going to enforce it? My ADD won't allow me to not think about it. So the alternative is to manage that information, skim it in a usable way (with Evernote) and then discourage myself from going around the method.
So going forward, this week I'm going to start using StayFocusd to enforce my Social Media information management.
Artificial means are a necessary way for people like me to get things done. Artificial deadlines, artificial schedules, artificial website blackouts: I use whatever works. It can apply to writing, working, social media, recreation time, or whatever.
Recently, Zapier announced that they would be rolling out a new feature: multi-step automated internet functions they call "zaps." Now, I've written about IfTTT and Zapier before, and if you're plugged into the internet at all, it's possible they can help you automate things that take up your precious time. I'm currently using these programs to auto-generate task lists every morning, and send myself reminders to update the list during the day. I also have an ongoing" to-do list, for things that are long-term projects. If I add an item to my Google tasks, it's automatically added to my Evernote list. If someone follows me on Twitter, they're automatically added to my contact list in Evernote. The goal is to centralize my information input: to conglomerate everything to one portal, where I can look through all the information I need in one place. It could be Google Docs/Keep, or Evernote, or Office 360, or whatever information management program you like. But it should be something that's accessible anywhere, and is flexible enough to manage any kind of information.
But automation is a mixed blessing for me. It opens up a world of possibilities, and I usually spend more time playing with it than actually getting things done. This is especially true when playing with apps like Tasker, Evernote, and AutoKey.
I'm actually a big fan of Evernote, if you hadn't heard. However, I haven't been using it much lately. Partly, that's because I made the mistake of using it (on my tablet) at work, and for some inexplicable reason, Evernote massively multiplied the photos I had uploaded, which maxed out my free account monthly bandwidth in about 10 minutes. I thought I had fixed it and deleted the offending notes, but alas, as soon as my limit reset, it promptly locked me out again for another month.
After a few tries, I managed to delete (really delete) the posts causing it, and everything returned to normal. By then, however, I had gotten out of the habit of using it!
Now I've decided to get back into it. Especially with it being Tax Season in the States, there will be plenty of paperwork and things to keep track of. So how do I get back in the swing? I guess I have to start with some things I have lying around, ready to be filed. The program is free, so the only thing it requires is some planning and a little time.
There are currently only four viable options if you want to use Evernote on your Linux computer (that I know of).
- Evernote for Windows client in an emulator
- Evernote web client in a browser
I'm working on integrating services like Evernote into my daily routine to help manage all the projects and things that I do. Even with the recent security breach, they are one of the best solutions for managing your documents and information across multiple platforms seamlessly.
However, like most companies, they don't offer anything for Linux. Since I've used Wine to install the Windows version, I can report that it works perfectly. Just download the Windows Desktop version, run it with Wine (which is available on almost any Linux distro), follow the instructions, and it just works.
A great article by Jamie Todd Rubin enlightened me to the possibility of using auto-fill programs to extend Evernote's capabilities, and I have to say, it's a pretty exciting idea I hadn't thought of. Mr. Rubin of course doesn't use Linux, so I had to improvise!
Ubuntu comes with a hotkey/autofill program called AutoKey, so I installed it from the Ubuntu repositories and gave it a shot... and it failed miserably. After fiddling with settings for a while, I got it to sort of work, but it still wouldn't auto-type the shift key in Evernote. Worked okay in everything else, so I figured it was a problem with Wine.
I did some more poking on AutoKey's site and discovered that this was a known bug with older versions of AutoKey, but had been fixed since version 0.80. Current version on their site is 0.90! And wonder of all wonders, the Ubuntu 12.04 repos had version 0.72?? Really?? (This isn't an issue with Ubuntu 13.04, it has the latest version)
I downloaded the current version of AutoKey, and followed the instructions for creating a .deb package. When I went to install it, it prompted that it needed a package called python-pyinotify, so I installed that, tried again, and it finally worked.
I did a quick test of it in Evernote, and had success.
Now, once we've gotten it working, there's the issue of creating auto-fill scripts to use in Evernote. With AutoKey, there's two options: Phrases and Scripts. Phrases are basically text replacement; you can use any number of trigger keys or shortcuts for them.