Viva la Pencil!

Pencil Revolution is all about pencils. And wooden wisdom.
Great blog, makes me wanna start using a pencil again.

Playing around with the Sony PSP browser

I have updated my PSP to firmware 2.0, and have been playing around with the new built-in browser ever since. I think it works surprisingly good, even though graphic intensive webpages can give "out of memory" error. The PSP has also locked up a couple of times. I have also found that there is a big speed difference if you set the WiFi power-save off or on. When off the browser is much faster, but batterytime is shortened. The only thing that is really annoying is that the browser almost grind to a halt when it's downloadin a webpage. Since you can have up to three tabs, I would be great if you could scroll one webpage while another is loading.

My favourite website when browsing on the PSP is Bloglines. Their mobile version works perfectly, and I can get my RSS fix anytime without having to open my laptop. When it comes to productivity I found that Backpacks mobile version is fully functional. The only that is not working (as far as I can see) is creation of new pages and sections.

My wish for future versions is a more streamlined and faster code, and if Sony could possible squeeze Java and/or Flash support into it.


Hacking my circadian rythm

When I read Steve Pavlinas post "How to Become an Early Riser" something clicked inside. I recognized the pattern he described with an uneven sleep pattern. His solution to stay productive but still sleep enough each night to regain full strength is very logical.

The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.

I get up early every morning five days a week to get to work, so why not get up early on Saturday and Sunday too? I've decided to give this method a month, and I started August 1st. So far I'm very pleased, those hour on weekend mornings can be very productive. I'll get back with a report next week.


METER: Methodical Approach

In his latest blog, J Wynia talks about METER - Measure, Evaluate, Test, Evaluate, Repeat as a method for evaluating and improving situations or solving problems. While reading Getting Things Done, The Money or Your Life, Hackers Diet or even Purpose Driven Life I have noticed that they all boil down to the same basic steps:
Collect information, Analyze it, Use the result, Feedback

What it all says is really: You should repeatedly take time to analyze areas of your life that need improvement, collect information and make smart decision based on these.

Combine the METER method with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal setting and you have two very powerful tools in your lifehack utility belt.

Screenshot to Sony PSP using AutoHotkey

In my earlier post, Google Maps on Sony PSP, I described the steps for placing a screenshot of a Google Map on Sony PSP memorystick. What I basicly do is take a screenshot of the currently active (focused) window, paste it into IrfanView and save it to the memorystick.
A couple of days ago I realized I could automate the process using AutoHotkey. AutoHotkey is a free mouse and keyboard macro program with hotkeys.

My AutoHotkey script is activated when you press Win+Alt+G, and it takes a screenshot (Alt+Prtscr), starts IrfanView, paste the screenshot and saves it on the MemoryStick as a .JPG image with a unique timestamp. Zoom! All with one single hotkey.

If you decide to use the script you will have to edit the path to your PSP/Memorystick. I have a subfolder in PSP\Photos called Screenshot. You may also have to edit the path to the IrfanView executable.

Download the script here -> psp.ahk


Stop juggling and catch the important ball

Have you ever heard someone say that they "juggle" several projects/responsibilities at the same time? Some people see this as a proof of their efficiency at work. The analogy with juggling is very good, but maybe not in the way they think.

I can juggle with three balls and I am childishly proud of the few tricks I can do. Juggling is also relaxing (unless you are learning, then it is frustrating) and gives your upper body a good workout. When you juggle each ball is in your hand for just a fraction of a second. You have to throw it quickly and in the right direction so you can catch the next ball. This means that most of the time the balls are in the air, out of your control and your view.

I believe that the situation is the same when you "juggle" projects/responsibilities at work. You can only regard each for a short time before you have to take care of next. Most of the time your projects are "in the air" out of your control. Wouldn't it be better to have just two balls, one in each hand? As long as they are in your hands you control them to 100%.

Most methods for personal organizing is all about identifying the important balls and let the less important fall to the floor. You know where they are and can pick them up later, when you are finished with the more important ones.

So stop juggling, identify the most important balls and let the others rest. Since you can work more efficiently with each project in turn, the amount of effort is the same or even less then if you try "juggle" them all simultaneously.

Pens! Who need them?

When you decide to start using a Hipster PDA there is one big problem.
Where do you keep your pen? You can easily put the index cards in your back pocket, but the pen? It's hard and pointy and you can hurt yourself with it when sitting down.
My solution? Recently I stopped carrying a pen at all times. I realized that I am surrounded by pens. There is a pile of them on my office desk, at least two different places on each floor at home, and a couple in my car and in my bag. So I have almost always a pen somewhere in my vicinity. Unless you are very particular about always using the same pen in your hPDA, this is a workable solution.


Eat that Frog

You may have noticed that "Eat that Frog" as showed up in my list of books (look right, a bit down). I have just started reading it, and so far I'm satisfied. It is list making (oh, how we all love making lists!), and prioritizing the tasks based on future goals. Full report when I'm finished of course.


Don't touch that laptop!

D. Keith Robinson over at To-Done blog has a short article about taking notes by hand instead of using a laptop.

Over the last year or so, when I attend conferences (or meetings, or anything I want to make sure I remember something) I leave my laptop either in it’s bag during sessions, or I don’t bring it at all.

I have used a laptop during a few meetings, but realized quickly that it is ineffective and a distraction not only for yourself but also for the other people in the meeting. A couple of times visiting consultants have done their notes on their laptop, and I have found it immensly irritating.
You don't know if the person that hides behind the laptop (thats how it feels) is listening to you, fiddling with the software or just playing Minesweeper.

Next time a consultant uses a laptop during a meeting I will politly ask them to put it away and give them a notebook and a pencil.


Revisited: Sony PSP and the death of the PDA

I have received a few comments on my rant Sony PSP and the death of the PDA. No, I don't think that the PSP is the best device to use for your wireless online needs, the point I wanted to make was:
  • Adding PDA like applications to the PSP would be a waste of time and money by Sony. The only applicationt they should invest resources in is the browser.
  • What device we use to access our online information should be irrelevant. Smartphone, PDA, laptop, Sony PSP, as long as they have a standards compliant browser.
I also predicted PSP formatted web services, check this out: WinPSPortal


Google Maps on Sony PSP

Inspired by Ian Meyer's Google Maps on iPod Photo, I decided to do the same on Sony PSP. While the iPod Photo's screen resolution is a measly 220 x 176 pixels, the PSP has a excellent 480 x 272 widescreen LCD. Ian Meyer downsized the Google Map for the iPod Photo's screen, but the Sony PSP has not only a bigger screen, but also an excellent image pan and zoom function.

UPDATE: I have automated the below process with the aid of AutoHotkey. Read all about it!

So I decided to do the opposite, make the Map as big as possible and pan and zoom it on the PSP. To do this I use Firefox and IrfanView (freeware). IrfanView is an excellent image browser and converter. The steps are simply these:
  • When you have the map you want in Google Maps (I use Google's JFK to Empire State Building example) make the browser window as large as possible. Use Firefox's full screen function by pressing F11.
  • Press PrtScr, this will place a screenshot in clip memory.
  • Open Irfanview and paste the screenshot with ctrl-V.
  • Save the image to the Sony PSP as a JPEG image.
  • Done
The (simulated) PSP screengrabs below show what you will see (click on images):

Full view

50% zoom


Using the analog joypad you can pan the map.

With the PSP in portrait mode you can also read the driving instructions.

Thats it.


Sony PSP and the death of the PDA

Sony PSP is a great little machine that I have lots of fun with. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the PSP doesn't have any PDA like functionality. No calendar, no phonebook, no To Do lists, not even an alarm clock. Not that important, but it would have made the little handheld even more useful.

Recently I realized that it is not important at all, in fact, leaving the PDA functionality out of the PSP is a great idea. The machine already has wi-fi, and after the 2.0 firmware upgrade the PSP has a built-in browser with full Javascript support. QWERTY keyboard add-ons are already announced.

With wireless hot-spots all over the place, and growing with leaps and bounds, I can imagine using the PSP to access my calendar, phonebook, To Do lists, e-mail and newsfeed over the internet. Why lock the information into a specific handheld hardware, and into a properiety fileformat (and fiddle with synchronization problems) when I can access the same information on my PSP, cellphone or computer? And if all these devices break down I can go to the nearest Internet Café or use the business service at the hotel.

I predict that the age of the PDA is soon coming to an end, instead we will keep our information on the Internet. I also predict that we will in the near time see more services on the web that offers PSP formatted webpages. And finally, I am pretty sure that Google already has it all figured out, Gmail is only a small beginning...


Let the left brain tickle the right brain

In a previous post I talked about the rising interest in paper and pen as a replacement/complement to computers and PDAs. The idea was that it is tangible things in a world thats has gone more and more virtual.

Today I found another explanation that could be even better. I stumbled across a webpage called "Abacus and the Right Brain", in there Dr. Toshio Hayashi says:

The left brain is also referred to as the digital brain. It controls reading and writing, calculation, and logical thinking. The right brain is referred to as the analog brain. It controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic senses. These two work together to allow us to function as humans.

I think that we, by using computers and PDAs, doesn't use the right brain as much. The machines take care of most of the creative stuff. By using paper and pencil for keeping the To Do lists, the Calender and making notes the right brain gets stimulated, and thats why we think it's more fun but can't quite explain why.

This may also be the reason why it is so fun to create Hipster PDAs, personal hPDA clones (like the Zipster) or GTD Templates. Our right brain loves the creativity that goes into it, and the left brain gets its share of logical thinking.

Come to think of it, a understimulated right brain can be the source of the unconscious doodling that I mentioned previously.

So, keep your right brain stimulated by having paper and pencil at hand by the computer! As Dr. Toshio Hayashi says, "These two work together to allow us to function as humans."


Carry your lists on your Sony PSP

When I was in Chicago I bought myself a Sony PSP. Apart from gaming I use it to watch downloaded videos and listen to podcasts. But from time to time I have wondered if the PSP can be used for other, more GTD like tasks. The PSP doesn't have any PDA like applikations like calendar or notebook (I think there is a good reason for this. More on this subject in a future article).

My GTD related PSP hack is to put your lists ready and readable on the PSP. The solution is simply to print to a JPEG image and store that image on the PSPs memory card.

In the above image is the @Groceries lists from GTDTiddlyWiki.
The software I used is PaperlessPrinter that is free for noncommercial use. I printed to standard A6 papersize. I have not made any changes in GTDTiddlyWikis CSS file, although I think that increasing the size of the typeface could be an improvement.

Above is the @Research list from GTDTiddlyWiki in PSPs portrait mode. When printing you can set the destination folder to the PSP when it is connected with USB. In Firefox I set all printing margins to zero.

I also tried printing from Backpack, and it worked like a charm:

Of course images work just as good:

The above image is zoomed in 50% on the PSP. Backpack's text is still fully readable.

Those of you who keep your lists in regular textfiles can have a look at JPEGbook (available for Mac OS and Windows, scroll down to find download links) that exports to JPEG specifically for reading on the PSP.

Now, is this really useful? Well, maybe. Printing on a paper and putting in your pocket is properbly easier, but when you don't have a printer available this can be an alternative (oh, you need a Sony PSP though). Is it geeky? Right on!