Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
“…I prefer the well used books that were held by hands of a traveler. Travelers who, for instance, had their worn copy of Baedeker’s Northern Italy open while they gazed upon the Roman Colosseum and then notated the margins…
Merlin Mann’s new episode of the Merlin Show posted yesterday teaches very powerful Quicksilver-Fu, enabling you to access the menu items of any application, as well as introducing the concept of proxies. These techniques belie the mistaken impression that Quicksilver is “merely” a program launcher — it is an application master. ;)
What isn’t clear in the ‘cast is the settings, downloads, and brand of incense you need to burn in order to make all of that happen. I’m pretty sure the below covers everything, but let me know if I missed something.
To start, you’ll likely need to have “Enable Advanced Features” turned on in the latest-greatest version of Quicksilver.
First, to enable proxies in QS preferences… Under Catalog > Quicksilver, turn on “Proxy Objects”, “Internal Commands”, and “Internal Objects”.
To access menu items (and enable the Show Menu Items action), go under Plug-ins > All Plug Ins and scroll down to turn on “User Interface Access (+)”.
In System Preferences
Then go under your Mac’s System Preferences, to Universal Access, and turn on “Enable access for assistive devices” at the bottom.
I occasionally try using a plaintext todo master file, using tags a la Giles Turnbull’s article Living in text files. Previously, I’ve tried out various combinations of plaintext files, OmniOutliner documents, HPDA, regular paper-based lists, etc., but come back to plaintext every so often. Adding in the tagging mechanism mentioned in Giles’s article enables some complex sorting and filtering using common CLI tools that are very handy — and powerful.
The last time I experimented with a single text file, I tried making a few changes to my Mac OS X work environment in order to reduce distractions even more than before, experimenting with various combinations of informational Widgets and window sizing, as well a sedate overall color scheme.
Here’s a brief outline on how it all fit together.
All todo items get funneled to this file.
Someday+Maybe gets its own .txt file.
Waiting items are prefixed with zzz so they both stand out visually and sort to the bottom, out of the way.
Date-sensitive items get initial date (a la 08-16) in todo.txt along with todos or events in iCal.
iCal items have alarms attached, most of which are set to go off at 7AM the day of, so that I get a list first thing in the morning, but not the constant interruption all day.
Email, RSS, and IM notifications are turned off, both popups and sound as possible; new items are noticed whenever Dock is revealed or command-tab app-switching occurs, or when I have a moment to spare — in other words when I’m available.
Dock is hidden; keyboard app-switching and document opening as much as possible (using combination of Quicksilver and Tiger Spotlight).
Most programs are hidden out of the way until needed and brought to the fore by a Quicksilver-issued command.
Carrying an HPDA for various uses (including reference), but mostly for todo items and notes that are funneled into the master todo.txt at the earliest convenience.
Meeting and project notes I’m still putting into VoodooPad.
Grayed out the interface as much as possible to reduce visual noise — important items in color and current work stand out much better.
The idea here is to reduce friction — getting items into and out of the queue as easily as possible. I have a bunch of different tools (Terminal, TextWrangler, Quicksilver, etc.) to put info in and to manipulate it once it’s there.
Thanks to the fuzzy nature of the tagging, I can randomly access all of my, for example, cooking todos with a simple keyword search for “cooking” — without worrying about navigating to a particular section of an outliner document, or trying to remember if my todo item to buy a salad spinner is in “to_buy.txt” file or “cooking.oo3″ or “personal.xls”. Like Spotlight, this is not a permanent hierarchical system requiring rigid maintenance and adherence. It is random-access, with both flexibility and solidity as need be.