About Productivity, Social Networks and everything else I'm interested in

Category: Google reader

Three Third Party Evernote Apps for iOS


Evernote is constantly improving and it is one of the first things I recommend to anyone looking for a general capture tool. I use it enough that I’m always interested in making it do more. Here are some apps that add some unique features to the mix.

EverClip does one job: It runs in the background and grabs anything put on the pasteboard and uploads it to Evernote. Given that Evernote is available everywhere, EverClip actually makes a pretty good multi-platform clipboard tool. Unfortunately, I think $9 is a little much for such a basic set of apps.

EverClip for iPhone | $3

EverClip for iPad | $6

Clever for Evernote is an attractive alternative to the Evernote iOS application. There are some nice visual effects and well done sounds effects. I really love the timeline indicator during scrolling. Best of all, it’s much fast to get in and add a photo note than the Evernote app.

Clever has other top-notch features, like multiple accounts, customizable time stamps, an option to not save camera snaps to the iOS camera roll and a very thorough URL Scheme with built in documentation.1

Clever is certainly a good competitor for the default Evernote iOS app. It’s fast and elegant. I like the interface better too. But it comes at a pretty steep price point. $9 total to get Clever on the iPhone and iPad. That’s a tough sell against the free Evernote offering. Personally, I think it’s worth it if you use Evernote a lot.

Clever for iPhone | $4

Clever HD for iPad | $5

QuickEver is a quick entry note app for Evernote. There are a couple of nice features like swipe to move cursor, TextExpander support, custom time stamp format. It’s similar to the terrific Drafts app but more deeply integrated with Evernote. For example, access to Evernote tags and notebooks.

There’s also an interesting little feature that posts to notification center at a set duration. Tapping on the notification opens QuickEver. It’s using Notification Center as a launcher. Feels weird. The developer page is in a language I can’t read and the app hasn’t been updated in many months. It’s still nice.

QuickEver | Universal | $2

  1. Seriously, why don’t more developers put their URL Scheme in their apps. Clever even allows you to tap and copy the URL for each action in the documentation. Genius. 

via Macdrifter http://www.macdrifter.com/2013/04/three-third-party-evernote-apps-for-ios.html

Why Google killed off Google Reader: It was self-defense


It’s not a huge surprise that Google is dropping Google Reader, the blog reader it operated since 2005. After all, they’d let it go for some time now (not that I’m complaining – it was after all, a free service, a fine product, and a boon for the overall ecosystem of blogging, podcasts and RSS).

The reality, though, is that Google operates at vast scale, and a niche consumer product like Reader just doesn’t move the needle. As crazy as it may sound, today even a billion-dollar business is simply a distraction to Google (unless, of course, it’s well on the way to becoming a five-billion-dollar business).

So all those who are signing petitions to Google  (and even one to The White House!) are missing the bigger point: that this is a victim of the company’s DNA, one that’s accelerated under Larry Page’s management. Some companies specialize in keeping the status quo, others specialize in moving forward. Google is the latter. If the company maintained every niche product with N thousand fans, even paying ones, it’d become the very bungling bureaucracy we love to hate. For a company with Google’s ethos and standing, any such dead-end, non-revenue-producing product that’s retained is holding others back, and prevents the company from moving forward and making true innovations instead of incremental improvements.

Open standards just a means to an end

While Google is giving up on Reader, I believe the company will still embrace subscriptions in a big way, just without RSS (by which I mean RSS, Atom, PubSubHubbub, etc.) Sure, they may continue to lean on RSS as part of their technical infrastructure – e.g. Googlebot will still be crawling external RSS feeds to identify fresh content – but users won’t see those three letters or the shiny feed icon that accompanies them.

To understand why Google’s walking away from RSS, look at Google’s relationship with open standards over the past decade. Google has experimented with various open technologies and found it difficult to win over Google-scale audiences and developers. The list of casualties would include OpenSocial (present in Orkut but not Plus), Activity Streams (present in Buzz, but not Plus, though certainly an inspiration), Social Graph API (no longer available) and RSS (not just Reader, but Feedburner is fading out and podcast app Listen was killed months ago).

Furthermore, Android has been a stonking success for the company, and while it may be open source, with a relatively open store policy, it’s not particularly based on open standards in the way that ChromeOS, WebOS, and now Firefox OS are.

So overall, Google’s lesson has been to lead with a compelling user experience first and then build an API from there, an API which may be based on open standards, but only if it’s a means to an end. Developers are much more attracted to a big market than a glorious proclamation of Open. It’s this philosophy that explains why Google has been so cautious with the Google Plus API.

Doubling down on media

Google isn’t giving up on blogs and media. Far from it. They already have Google News, Google Currents, and Google Now. And on Plus, they have vibrant product pages and communities. The Economist, Time, and ESPN all have over 2 million followers, for example.

This comes at a time when Facebook has been facing a backlash from journalists, with people saying that unless you’re paying for sponsored posts, it doesn’t show up in streams. Facebook’s recent design aims to fix this with a separate Subscriptions area, but as discussed on this week’s TWIT, it’s looking more like they experimented with subscriptions, that it wasn’t core to their business of connecting individuals, and now it’s off to the side.

So Google has an opportunity to win over media brands right now, and I believe they’ll be placing an emphasis on this in their own apps like Currents, as well as on Google Plus proper. In many respects, Currents is exactly what you’d expect from Google in 2013. It’s pretty, mobile-native, and “just works” without anyone having to learn the details of RSS.

Looking further ahead, Google has a vision heavily influenced by machine learning. The company has long known that the best search is the one you didn’t have to make, and this always-on attitude is now coming to fruition with Google Now. Google Now anticipates what users might be interested in at any time, and that includes the kind of articles people might presently be discovering on Google Plus.

Reader’s demise is understandably a sad moment for many, but I believe in time, it will be a positive for the overall ecosystem. Google simply wasn’t innovating on Reader, and as people shift over to services like Feedly or Newsblur (and new ones are popping up as I write), those companies will have extra incentive to innovate and extra resources to do so. Meanwhile, Google will continue to work on what it does best: boiling oceans and shooting for the moon.

Michael Mahemoff previously worked at Google and is founder of cloud podcasting service player.fm. Follow him on Twitter @mahemoff.

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via Filter RSS feeds http://gigaom.com/2013/03/16/why-google-killed-off-google-reader-it-was-self-defense/

Frictionless Freelancing

http://i.toolsandtoys.net.s3.amazonaws.com/img/2013-02-16-frictionless.jpg myWPEditImage Image

Aaron Mahnke has written a book to help dealing with everything from productivity and business practices to client relations and billing.

The $14 ebook bundle of Frictionless Freelancing (DRM-free copies in multiple formats with bonus material) is $9.99 this weekend and today with coupon code ‘SNOWBALLS.’ The paperback is available for $19.

via Tools and Toys http://toolsandtoys.net/frictionless-freelancing/?utmsource=feedburner&utmmedium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+toolsandtoys+%28Tools+and+Toys%29

The Ultimate OmniFocus Project Template Script


The output of Chris Sauve is nothing short of amazing. Just days after his extremely useful script to retrieve ‘Waiting For’ tasks based on senders of selected Mail.app messages he releases another gem.

This one will excite the template affictionatos amongst the OmniFocus users.

In short, the script looks for a template folder and offers to do all the heavy lifting of creating a new instance of the template.

What it does is:

  1. Look for a ‘Template’ folder in OmniFocus
  2. Offer the project templates in that folder for selection
  3. Create an active instance of the selected project template in any folder you select in your OmniFocus structure
  4. Ask you to fill any variables (such as ‘$Name’) you used in the original template project – whether you use them in project, task title or notes

It becomes hard to keep up with Chris and his valuable work.


via SimplicityBliss http://pxldot.com/blog/2013/omnifocus-templates?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+simplicityisbliss+%28SimplicityBliss%29

handyLock alpha 5 is available


I just posted alpha 5 of handyLock. The application is getting much better. Still lot of work but it is working pretty good for me.

You can grab a copy from the application main page:

Download handyLock alpha


Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 4.15.08 PM


Here is a list of the fixes since alpha 1 was posted:


– Much better implementation of screen sleep. Screen saver still not implemented. Will work on this next. Should be easier now that screen sleep is implemented. Was not easy to figure out.


– Partial fix for sleeping monitor not working when handyLock is locking the screen. Need more work but partially resolved.

– Fix for logic as to when the screen will be unlocked. It was unlocking too fast before. Now it will only unlock when you are in the “near” range and will only lock when you are in the “far” range. Still need heavy signal tuning algorithms but the basic stuff is getting better.


– Fix for flawed logic in when to lock/unlock screen.


– Fix for ON/OFF switch not having effect.


via Netputing http://netputing.com/2013/01/13/handylock-alpha-5-is-available/

Logging Done OmniFocus Tasks to Day One with Hazel


From the depth of the OmniFocus forums and the capable coding hands of Rob Trew comes a script that will offer some excitement to some of my nerd friends: Logging your completed tasks from OmniFocus in DayOne using a shell script and Hazel.

Note that you need to have the DayOne CLI tool installed to make this work.


via SimplicityBliss https://github.com/RobTrew/tree-tools/blob/master/OmniFocus%20scripts/Shell%20scripts%20for%20Geektool%20or%20logging/2012-12-10-omnifocus-done-to-DayOne-shellscript.md?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+simplicityisbliss+%28SimplicityBliss%29

Keyboard Maestro as OmniFocus’s Little Helper



OmniFocus to me still is the task manager on the Mac. Even if I’m increasingly having trouble finding an intended purpose for contexts, just like Gabe Weatherhead from Macdrifter who has recently started a series were he is looking for a worthy alternative to OmniFocus.

Although, I moved a good part of my task out of OmniFocus into TaskPaper, I’m not a hundred percent there yet and OmniFocus is still functioning as main brain for my custom GTD system.

Since I use it daily I thought it would be appropriate to enhance it with a little bit of Keyboard Maestro’s magic. Here is my tool belt for making the marriage between these two work:

1. The Perspective Switcher


What you are looking at here is a typical Keyboard Maestro palette1 which I trigger via one of my rather rare global working hotkeys (here: ctrl-opt-`). It allows me to choose an OmniFocus perspective of my choice and directly switch to it no matter what application I’m currently in. So let us start.

For the palette hotkey open Keyboard Maestro and choose “add group” from the leftmost column. Use the following settings:


The structure of the individual macros is as simple as could be. As an example here’s what my “Now perspective” looks like:

  1. Triggers are all zeros on my keyboard (= also those on the number pad).
  2. If OmniFocus isn’t open then it will be opened by the macro, followed by a small 0.5 second breather before the last step of the macro.
  3. The menu entry from the choosen perspective gets selected and activated.

This is what my perspective palette looks like:


Those of you who don’t want to do the handwork don’t worry – I got you covered and put my macros on GitHub. You still need to change the names to fit your own perspectives and choose a shortcut that makes sense to you.

2. The Tool Belt

The so-called tool belt is also a palette; in this one are all the AppleScripts which I need to access most of the time when operating inside of OmniFocus – be it the daily or weekly review, organizing tasks or exporting lists.

Since I only need those scripts inside OmniFocus, the settings of the palette look like this:


After the call (here ctrl-`) this hud opens:


For simplicities sake I uploaded the collection of scripts also on my GitHub. But since I didn’t came up with all those brilliant ideas by myself you’ll find a list of references to the sources here where you can find the original scripts.2


Move to Top/Bottom

Script by The Omni Group Forums member ptone: go to this thread and download it.

Postponing Tasks

Dan Byler has a great OmniFocus AppleScript collection – everything one could wish for:

  • “Clear dates” removes the start and due dates from selected tasks.
  • “Defer” your selected tasks. The start and due date will changed by a choosen amount of days.
  • “Snooze” is not only my favorite in the morning when I’m dealing with my alarm clock, but also in OmniFocus. It postpones start dates from selected tasks by the amount of days you choose. There you are!
  • “Today” sets the start date to today.
  • “Tomorrow” sets the start date to tomorrow
  • “This Weekend” sets the start date to the weekend.

For a detailed description visit Dan’s site. All of his scripts are easy to customize for instance if you like due dates better than start dates, Dan gots you covered.

Clear All Flags

Curt Clifton has put this nifty script on his GitHub page… and there is more.

Stagger Tasks

The website of Ryan Davis is also full of useful scripts, I only use these two:

  • “Stagger dates”

Stagger Dates takes the selected tasks and redistributes them one weekday at a time. For example, if it is Monday and you select 5 tasks and hit Stagger Dates, you’ll have one task on each day of the week. If it is Tuesday, then you’ll have 4 for this week and 1 on next Monday.

  • “Stagger times”

Stagger Times does the same thing as Stagger Dates, but for a single day. It takes the selected tasks and reschedules each task to start at the end of the previous task based on the previous due time and the estimated time of the task.

This lets me throw everything to a single day (which will use the default due time) and then spread them out throughout the day. If the tasks go too late, I know I’ve bit off more than I can chew for that day.

Send Tasks Via Email

Copy Tasks as Plain Text

Copy a Task URL

A pretty useful script for getting a link to an OmniFocus task. If the task is relevant I use the URL in my some of my nvALT, TaskPaper and Evernote notes. I found it via a famous search engine on a japanese blog.

Send Tasks to DueApp

Sean Korzdorfer has provided this script – and it is one of my absolute favorites since Due syncs to iOS and I get bothered every minute with an alarm if I choose to ignore it (which is often times my default mode).

Go to his GitHub page and download the version that works best for you there.

Export as OPML

To be completly honest. I don’t exactly know where I got this script from, but the handwriting screams RobTrew to me. So what I’m going to do is give you this link and let you search the forums by yourself – it’s a goldmine anyway.

  1. The best explanation for how to make these palettes is available here at Macdrifter – also read the comment section where other alternatives are pointed out.

  2. Considering OmniFocus 2 is soon to be released there is a good chance that some of the scripts won’t work properly after you’ve upgraded. In that case just visit the sources. Probably the popular ones will already be updated.

via RocketINK http://rocketink.net/2013/01/keyboard-maestro-as-omnifocus%27s-little-helper.html

Jeff Bezos on Leading for the Long-Term at Amazon


An interview with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. For more, see The 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World.

Download this podcast

A written transcript will be available by January 10.

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2013/01/jeff-bezos-on-leading-for-the.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

A new “Introduction to SNA” short course soon!


Peru2008_BorrowersI am going to give another one-day workshop on Introduction to Social Network Analysis  in a couple of weeks time -more precisely on Monday, 14th January, at the University of Greenwich, London, as part of a Winter School for researchers and PhD students in social science, management and economics, dedicated to Analytical Software.

The rationale is pretty much the same as usual. I have stressed many times how the recent rise of online social networking services (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) has drawn massive attention to the field of study of social network analysis (SNA). Yet social networks have always existed and are in fact a constant of human experience  – whether in the family, with friends, at school or on the workplace, to name but a few examples. Likewise, SNA already has a respectable history and has been successfully applied to study a wide variety of social contexts.

The workshop is aimed at those who are new to the field, and would like to betterIndia2009_Borrowers understand whether and how they can use it to enhance their own scholarly practice (whether it is research, teaching or consultancy). All social science backgrounds are welcome, and participants are assumed not to have any previous  knowledge of SNA (or statistics or software use, programming etc.). The goal of the workshop is to provide attendees with basic insight into what social network analysis is, and how it can be used in social science research, together with some hands-on experience of how to use network data and how to graphically represent networks, calculate key metrics, and perform some elementary analyses with Gephi, a powerful, though user-friendly, open-source software for visualizing and analyzing networks graphs.

More specifically, I will start with the fundamental principles of social network analysis and their grounding in social theories – including social science classics – moving then on to the broad range of their possible applications, with examples drawn from the literature. I will particularly insist on the substantial change of mindset that the network perspective requires with respect to standard social science approaches, due to its emphasis on relationships rather than attributes. I will also highlight uses of network-based reasoning to draw business and social policy recommendations.

India2009_LendersI will then present network data, distinguishing type (ego and whole networks), format (edgelist, matrix), collection method (name generators and name interpreters, rosters, archives), and properties (one-mode, two-mode). I will focus on similarities and differences with respect to standard social science data, and discuss some of the opportunities and challenges arising from increasing availability of social network data from the web. I will illustrate the use of visualisation tools, showing how they can support network data interpretation, but also pointing to the limitations of graphs for analytical (rather than just descriptive) purposes.

I will then introduce basic measures of network composition and structure (density, centrality etc.), how they can be used to uncover important aspects of the social phenomenon under study, and how they can be represented graphically. I will briefly mention (but not detail) more complex statistical models of networks (ERGM, Siena).

I will use abundant examples from the literature, and will use my own research as an example, to enable participants to get a concrete sense of how SNA can be fruitfully integrated into social science research.Throughout the workshop, we will do exercises with test data sets in Gephi so that participants get a secure sense of their ability to handle data and derive conclusions from them. I will also provide references to key books, articles, software, websites and other resources for future use. There will be ample opportunities for questions and answers.

More information and registration forms are available from the Workshop website.

via Paola Tubaro's Blog http://paolatubaro.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/introduction-to-sna-short-course-2/

How to Innovate with an Executive Sponsor


Meaningful innovation requires sponsorship. It always has.

In 1959, one of the most important economists you’ve never heard of — Edith Penrose — pointed out as much by chronicling the nature of firm evolution. Penrose explained that all things equal, a firm’s history determines its future. We seed our organizations with resources — people, capital, and equipment — and those resources have productive value in certain areas. Maximizing their value will naturally lead us to make the next decision and the next decision and so on.

At its core, Penrose’s idea is the reason innovation requires sponsorship. Without the foresight and intervention of senior leadership, the firm will simply concentrate on the opportunities that it was destined to concentrate on. Middle managers with limited resources and set evaluation metrics will simply operate in a predictable fashion. It’s why Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma is so difficult to overcome. Firms naturally preserve their margins and satisfy their existing customers, steering away from disruptive opportunities. It’s why Howard Yu’s Deep Dive concept is so sensible. Without a senior executive taking an active role in a project to overcome organizational antibodies, even the most thought-through plans can fail.

Unfortunately, while we in the field of innovation are happy to acknowledge the need for executive sponsorship, we rarely talk about when that sponsorship is needed. We rarely talk about how that sponsorship should occur. And we almost never talk about the consequences of bringing too much sponsorship on, too early.

The difficult truth is that sponsorship as it’s traditionally considered inside of large organizations is a double-edged sword. Sponsorship overcomes organizational roadblocks but often comes with a set of inherent limitations. Senior executives focus on big issues every day, when they turn to innovation they need their novel solutions to be equally as large. That’s because nominally, the execs that matter inside of large organizations are used to moving the needle. So when it comes to innovation, executives are trained to value acquisitions, high profile product launches, and anything else they might use to surprise their analysts; without such surprises they can’t generate unforeseen growth and placate investors.

The problem with this is that many of the most meaningful innovations — the disruptive products, the step-out innovations, the discontinuous changes — have their seeds in very small experiments, rather than large initiatives. As Eric Ries and Steve Blank are so quick to point out, innovation requires iteration. In the process of experimentation and iteration, companies will expose how products and services can come together more effectively. They can develop a better understanding of their value proposition and tailor the business models of innovative offerings before wide-scale launches. Small victories point us in the right direction, and small failures tell us how to change.

But small victories are just that — they’re small. No one notices them initially. They’re generally difficult to explain to investors. They’re often not even statistically significant. So even though small victories are necessary, even though big organizations need small victories (and failures) to get to the large ones, they’re just not interesting to the people who would need to sponsor them.

So the challenge becomes, how can you make your small victories interesting? How can you garner sponsorship but avoid being steered toward experimenting in such a large, public, fashion that failure results in shuttering the innovation effort?

1) Have a grand vision, but a simple plan.
In any situation, getting sponsorship requires the potential to move the organization. What it doesn’t always require is the immediate promise of results. Too often, innovators will try to solicit sponsorship through the promise of a grand vision alone. Executives think they’re buying into that future, and don’t always see the long, arduous path to get there. That’s not the sponsor’s fault.

Innovators hoping to solicit sponsorship and still allow themselves room to pursue small victories need to come forward with a simple way to articulate how their small experiments fit into the larger puzzle. Innovators need a step-by-step plan, in simple language. Playing ‘hide the ball’ does no good for anyone. It simply backs innovators into a corner, forced to pursue the large wins when they’re not quite certain about the opportunity.

2) Don’t pilot, “mini-test.”
When I was at BCG, a mentor of mine used to call small experiments mini-tests. He was adamant that in all materials, we referred to any sort of experimental initiative as mini-tests and nothing else. For years this confused me. Everything we were doing was equivalent to traditional pilot endeavors. We would roll out an experimental system, measure, iterate, and experiment again. But we would never say we were piloting or prototyping anything, we were only mini-testing.

It’s taken me six years and a sustained study of innovation to understand Brian’s genius. By changing the jargon, Brian changed people’s preconceived notions about the test. By mini-testing and not prototyping, releasing betas, or piloting, people didn’t know what to expect. He could experiment and fail and change scale and that was okay.

Managers not only need a simple, manageable plan to get to their grand vision, they also need a way of changing reference points so the types of failures that would normally draw unhelpful attention draw none.

Oh, it also keeps innovators from sticking their feet in their mouths when their hypotheses are wrong. If you end up being incorrect in your assumptions, the small experiments aren’t so public that everyone in the organization realizes it. It adds a bit of humility to the process.

3) Measure, validate, repeat.
Small victories are important in informing innovators how to move forward. But inside of large organizations they’re also vital in getting key stakeholders on board. For intrapreneurs, the information gleaned from small victories can serve as the ammunition for the uphill battle that comes as any group tries to scale a new product inside of a large organization.

The key is understanding what matters to key stakeholders. What information is likely to get them interested in your project? If innovators know what that is, they can experiment, measure results, validate the importance of the initiative, and repeat. That way, when the group tries to scale, it has irrefutable evidence of its importance — protecting the executive sponsor and helping to garner additional sponsors.

These are by no means comprehensive. But hopefully they are helpful.

What do you think? Have any ideas we should include on harnessing the power of small victories inside of large organizations?

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/how_to_innovate_with_an_execut.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29