ETech – Life Hacks Live

Danny O’Brien, Merlin Mann (43Folders fame)

Introduction. Hackers love storing their information in text. You can search easily, you can jam information in easily. ~/bin was where hackers put their stuff (their home directory). What is a life hack? It’s a patch you apply to something to help make things better.

Some of his predictions from last year. What happened with Email search in the last year? Gmail, LookOut, Tiger Spotlight makes it easer to work with mail dynamically. Social filesharing for everyone: Flickr, Novell iFolder, Groove. Easy webscraping: the idea was to convert web pages people thought were important into RSS feeds. This hasn’t really popped up yet. Keyboard macros for Win/Linux. QuickSilver does this on the Mac side.

Things that have caught on at 43Folders. Getting things done–a framework for making progress on the projects that are important to you. Get things you want done into atomic activities that you can more easily track. This is one of the things people come to 43Folders for. “I have these challenges in my life and this is how I choose to form the solutions.” Example, Hipster PDA–old fashion note cards to track things. Talked about really positive feedack about a Linux app Remind. A terminal based app? Yes! Cool to think a modest little calendar app might make people start to learn to use the terminal.

Three mysteries that Danny saw transfer over but why. Why the keyboard (keyboard shortcuts)? Speeds you up. Increases your flow. Mentioned MS research on task switching done by Mary Czerwinski. Why do geeks like big monitors? Allows them to context switch very easily–switch to another window without interrupting your flow.

The dark secret of life hacks: how to be really productive in your life–turn off internet, email, instant messenger. People are being drowned by distractions. We have to find a technical solution to this. Ideas to solve: eliminate navigation; put things into the background; eliminating distractions warnings (“do you really want to keep looking at the web 15 minute warming”).

Danny’s predictions for the next life hacks for 2005: Google Suggest type apps; the rise of passive performers (like OS X Dashboard) apps that don’t interrupt you, you can switch in and out with ease; a unified notification UI (e.g. Growl); wasn’t sure whether desktop search was a solution to context switching (making it easier to search without interrupting what you’re doing too much.