Archive for the 'Tuesday’s Tools' Category

Tuesday’s Tools: I, Rearrangement Servant

February 19, 2008

For what might be the most random and unpractical Tool ever, I present Wordsmith.org’s Internet Anagram Server (or “I, Rearrangement Servant”). I suppose this would come in handy when you needed to be witty, or if you had a character in your novel who loved anagrams, or if you were a blogger trying to come up with intelligent things to talk about (did you know “New York Times” can be anagrammed to “Timeworn Keys?”)…but really this is mostly a timewaster if I ever saw one.  The page has recently been updated to display anagrams in title case caps (The Quick Brown Fox…) rather than all caps (WHICH IS REALLY ANNOYING) so, props to the anagram folks.

(More: Washington Post ->Hating Now Stops. Los Angeles Times -> Elegant Semi Loss. Fitting, no?)

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Tuesday’s Tools: Remember The Milk & Gmail

February 12, 2008

ss_gmail.png
Click to enlarge the screenshot. From Rememberthemilk.com
One more organization system: A Firefox plugin that integrates Remember the Milk, the online task-management service, and Gmail. It has some nifty features: You can automatically create tasks by adding tags to messages (for example: every mail tagged To Do can become a task with that e-mail’s subject line) or manually add them. It can listen to your Google Calendar and create tasks like “Mail present 4 days before Fred’s birthday” assuming Fred’s birthday is listed on your calendar. What it doesn’t do, is it doesn’t talk back to your calendar, though–and since I can’t function without a visual representation of what I’ve got going on, Google Calendar is still king in my world.

If someone could invent a way to combine Remember The Milk’s powers to manage non-time-sensitive tasks and Google Calendar for everything else, I’d be golden. Not even Things does this. Le sigh.

Anyway, get it here.

Tuesday’s Tools: “Things” (Mac Only)

January 29, 2008

I’m on an organization kick lately. The most recent of my experiments has been Things, a Mac-only organizer program. It’s in alpha right now, and is free for testing (though the final version will not be free), so go sign up and grab it.

What you’ll get for your payment of $0 is a fairly intuitive interface where you can enter a list of things to do, group them by project or due date, and tag them as you see fit. For now, your Things fit into: “Things to do today,” “things to do next,” “things to do someday,” and “postponed.” I’m not sure what the difference is between someday and postponed, and I’d love to see a bucket for “This week” or something, but mostly it’s so fast to enter tasks that I don’t mind the minor things. (And yes, it IS in alpha.)

The final version will have a feature I’m excited about: delegation. You’ll be able to add People to delegate tasks to, and through some magical process I don’t quite understand, the program will tell the other people that they’ve been assigned such-and-such. This whole thing is much like Remember The Milk except prettier.

So give it a try. I like it, and think y’all will too.

Tuesday’s Tools: the Slingshot Organizer

January 22, 2008

Well, it’s not a Moleskine. But for Christmas my sister went to an indie book shop and picked up the 2008 Slingshot Organizer, a move that I had previously thought was “so not her.” (Go sis!) The thing is printed by an all-volunteer collective in Berkeley and is just a tetch more interesting than your usual day planner…let’s just say that the “this day in history” messages marked on every date wouldn’t make Rush Limbaugh happy.

It looks like each page is printed with hand-drawn designs. Also, each month looks slightly different from the next, as if each was designed by a different artist. It’s just the right mixture of wacky and left-wing wacky that I can appreciate.

I’m experimenting with new organizational systems in the new year and so far I can wholeheartedly endorse the Slingshot. (If you want to BUY it, well, that’s tougher. Here’s a partial list of bookstores that carry it—though by now they may be sold out—and at the bottom of this page is a list of online retailers. And if you do make a purchase? The silver ink on black paper—the colors of the cover I own—look WAY cooler.

Tuesday’s Tools: an oldie but goodie

January 15, 2008

If you’re not familiar with Roy Peter Clark’s “50 Tools for Writers” you ought to be. These tools aren’t literal hammers and nails (pens and pencils), or even pieces of software. Rather, these tools are rules and guidelines for crafting a sentence, a paragraph, a story. They range from the overarching (“Work from a plan”) to the nitty-gritty (“Begin sentences with subjects and verbs”). There are now podcasts for each of the 50 tools–neato!–and a book. For me, I just tape a printout of this page over my desk and I’m good to go.