Category Archives: technology

The Answer to “Where Has the Time Gone?”

So if you are like me you’ve seen it many times before, you probably saw it today, and will most likely see it tomorrow.

On any given day as you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed you’ll see that photo of the child or grandchild’s birthday, the anniversary photo, or the special occasion that was celebrated years ago. I love that part. I enjoy learning about my friends and family through their photos. The photos are obviously important to them so I take a few moments to look, read, and learn from the memories they shared. I celebrate from afar and hope that they are enjoying the memories as they recall the good times.

Yet, more often than not I also find myself cringing anytime I read that all too familiar caption of “Where has the time gone?”. I know, it may sound a bit harsh to dislike a caption of someone’s memories but it is the truth. In fact, I think there are many sayings, phrases, statements, and questions we overuse or simply use because we don’t take the time to really think of anything else to say. Or better yet, I don’t think most of us really think about the answer to such a question.

So for the question, “Where has the time gone?” I ask you, where does your time go?

I don’t think our parents, at least not mine, or my grandparents would have been able to truly answer that question in detail. Sure, they could have broken down their life in decades or seasons of life like I did in my previous three posts. But, they could have never told you how many hours they spent in front of a TV, or in the car, or in a classroom, or how many miles they drove in any give month. The only way they could have done any of that was if they were meticulous record keepers. I don’t know about your parents or grandparents but I know none of mine were. And the truth is most of us today are no better.

What we do have today are all of our internet connected devices that help us keep those metrics. That includes everything from the smartphone in your pocket, to the step tracker & heart rate monitor on your wrist, to the small device you have plugged into your car to track mileage and the engine health of your vehicle.

Wait, what? You don’t have all of those smart gadgets? You will. If, today, all you have is a smartphone then you are light years ahead of anything your parents had. But how are those gadgets telling us where the time has gone? Well if you haven’t used any of the native applications that use the data collected from those gadgets then here is one I use that helps aggregate all that data providing me a much better answer to the question, “where does all my time go?”

But first, a little background. A couple of years ago I followed a blogger that shared how he kept his own data analytics that he shared on his website. Since this blogger, Jamie Todd Rubin, is also skilled in software code he created his own open analytics page. As I read about Jamie’s page I somehow found and started to follow Anand Sharma who also shared his daily analytics but at a whole different level. His beautiful site at aprilzero.com really had me drooling to be able to do the same. Unfortunately, for me, I can’t write a piece of code if my life depended on it. Things changed when Anand started developing Gyrosco.pe which offers similar functionality as his personal site. I started to follow Anand on Twitter and soon I found myself as a beta user and then eventually as a Pro user. Today I enjoy the online dashboard, the iOS app, and most recently the Chrome extension that all present in various ways where my time goes. The site of course also displays my sleep patterns, the miles I drive, my heartbeat, and much more.

So, where does my time go? For now, I’ll share a quick screenshot of how things break down and then in the future I’ll provide a more detailed overview of the Gyrosco.pe dashboard and app.

Gyroscope Dashboard

At a quick glance you can see that in September I drove 69 hours, walked 11 hours, spent about 137 hours at the two office buildings, and that’s just the beginning. With the help of a little bit of technology, it is easy to see “where the time goes”. And that doesn’t even include the breakdown of the activities at work, or home. All of which is also being captured so I can continue to audit myself and really figure out where my time goes.

So? Do you know “where your time goes?”

How to Sync Windows Live Writer 2012 64bit with DropBox

As I continue to study the best practices of successful on-line bloggers such as Michael Hyatt and Crystal Paine I discover and re-discover some of what they have shared in how they blog. Crystal mentioned in one of her Periscopes that she organizes her blog ideas in her Google Calendar. Michael, on the other hand, captures everything in Evernote and has gone as far as creating a template to help his blog writing process. As a matter of fact, I decided to use his template to write this post. I imagine over time I’ll tweak it to suit my writing style but until I have a writing style of my own I’ll use what works for Mr. Hyatt.

One thing I am unable to duplicate exactly in Michael’s process, at least not entirely, is the use of MarsEdit. Michael uses it to add metadata to the blog post before publishing it to his WordPress site. Since MarsEdit is a Mac only application I did a little bit of research and found that the free Microsoft Windows Live Writer is a common favorite for those that work in a Windows only environment. One such blogger, Scott Hanselman, also provided a pro tip to sync the Windows Live Writer drafts & recent posts folders with DropBox; allowing you to switch between Windows machines running Windows Live Writer and always have the latest version of your blog post drafts.

Awhile back, during one of my earlier attempts to launch a blog, I completed the pro tip on my Windows 7 x32 machine. Since then I’ve acquired a Microsoft Surface running Windows 10 x64. When I tried to apply the registry change that Scott Hanselman offered I learned it was not correct for the 64 bit installation of Windows Live Writer so after some research I found How to change the Drafts and Recent Posts folder in Windows Live Writer 2011. This blog post offered a slight variation to the registry change that did prove to work for my setup.

Before proceeding with the following changes please be sure to visit the original how to posts for reference (and always be cautious when working in the Registry Editor) but here is a quick run down of how to configure Windows Live Writer on a Windows x64 machine to use DropBox to sync the Drafts and Recent Posts folders:

  1. Open the Registry Editor from the Start Menu
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer
  3. Right click on Writer on the left and select New > String Value
  4. Name the value PostsDirectory and then right click on it to edit
  5. Insert the path to a folder in your DropBox folder (i.e. C:\Users\<username>\Dropbox\Windows Live Writer)
  6. Open Windows Live Writer and create and save a test post
  7. Confirm the test post is in the drafts folder in DropBox
  8. Close the Registry Editor

PostsDirectory

Once all of your Windows computers are updated to use DropBox to sync the Windows Live Writer (2012) Drafts and Recent Posts folders you’ll be able to quickly start your blog on one machine and finish the publishing process on another. I plan to use both Evernote and Windows Live Writer, similar to how Michael Hyatt uses Evernote and MarsEdit, for at least a few months. I’m sure over time I’ll develop a process I prefer but for now I plan to heed the advice of the experts.

Drafts folder

 Question: What software or process do you use to help you blog? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Quickly Search your Evernote Notes from your iPhone

I have a friend and former coworker that recently dubbed me with a new moniker; Victor “Third Party App” Nava. After 5 years of not working together we have reunited and found ourselves working on the same project. We essentially picked up where we left off years ago when I’d learn of a new app and he’d appease me and let me talk his ear off about the latest technology. Earlier today he asked me a question and just like old times my response included an app as part of the solution.

While we worked together at our former company I’d read Lifehacker religiously. Like many others I found myself downloading and testing many of the apps and services the site recommended. Much of what I learned about phone apps and productivity tools I initially learned form Lifehacker. I’d read the posts and then made feeble attempts to share what I learned on Twitter or Facebook. It was the early years of social media and I had no clue what I was doing nor did my audience care.

Today I’m making another attempt at sharing about technology. Let’s hope I’m a little better this time around.

First, I’m an Evernote user. I’ve been a user since 2008 and I’m pretty sure it was Lifehacker that introduced me to Evernote. I hope by now you’ve heard of and use Evernote. If you aren’t familiar with Evernote think of it as your digital brain where you can store essentially any type of digital content. The real power is that at any time you can later find any note you store in Evernote via powerful word and context searches from basically any device (computer, phone, tablet) or platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android).

Earlier today I learned of a new Evernote search tip that offers a way to search your Evernote notes without even opening the application. This is of course is assuming you already have Evernote installed on your iPhone with notes previously saved to your account.

On your iPhone (I have not confirmed but I assume the same is true from an iPad) swipe and pull down on the Home Screen to display the Spotlight search field. Enter your search criteria and immediately your search should produce notes that match the search criteria. From there you can tap and open your note without having to open the app to execute the search. Think of how powerful this is as you’re looking for that medical record, to-do list, or letter from your child’s school.

Screenshot of Evernote Spotlight Search

I believe technology should be used to resolve an issue or help increase productivity. This new search tip helps eliminate 2 or 3 extra steps before reaching the search field within the Evernote app. Any chance I can eliminate extra steps in an effort to save me time in my day I’m all for it.

I hope this quick tip also helps you. If you find think this might help any of your friends be sure to share.

 

 

I Enjoy SmugMug, You Will Too!

I’ve been using SmugMug.com to share and archive my digital photos since 2007 and love it.

Yes, there are free online services with Google, iCloud, and flikr but I love that SmugMug is a small family business and that they are very customer focused. I’ve never had an issue with their service and will be soon updating to one of their new galleries with intent to better integrate my blog and photo archive.

SmugMug is offering various promotions for existing customers and 20% off for new users that sign up with a referral link.

If you are interested in taking better control of your online photos I suggest having a  look at SmugMug!