I frequently let my inbox get out of control and that was especially true over vacation. After reading a Lifehacker guide to setting up Gmail keystrokes for Outlook, I decided to set those up and add some of my own. It makes handling email in Outlook a whole lot easier.
I have tried to use my inbox as a todo list by leaving email in there that needs action. That has lead to a bloated inbox. My new solution is to drop email into one of three folders: Follow Up, Read Later and Deleted Items. I added simple keystrokes to Outlook using the techniques from the Lifehacker article so I both move an email to one of those folders and set a reminder at the same time. This seems to be working very well so far. I should mention that I also filter all email not sent directly to me into a “CCmail” folder. That becomes a second priority after my inbox.
Here are my additions to Gmail keys:
“0″, zero, shortcut key to leave an item in the inbox and set a reminder for 4pm today.
“1″ shortcut to move an item to the Follow Up folder and set a reminder for tomorrow morning
“2″ shortcut to move an item to the Follow Up folder and set a remider for Friday morning.
“s” shortcut to move an item to the Read Later folder. These emails seem to have important information I should know. I may get to these someday. “s” is like the Gmail “star” shortcut.
I have also set up “e” and “#” to delete email. I never flush my deleted folder. It is my entire archive. I frequently search it for old email. With good search tools like Xobni, Google Desktop, and Microsoft Search, a must have addon for Outlook search, there is no reason to store email in multiple archive folders.
Let me know if you would like my version of the config file. It uses AutoHotKey to automate keystrokes in Outlook. My biggest annoyance is AutoHotKey doesn’t seem able to use these keystrokes in an open email. This works only when viewing the main Outlook window. But it is still worth the effort.
The New York Times had an article about the results of a study on various diets and their effectiveness. The surprising results are … <drum roll> …
“people lose weight if they lower calories, but it does not matter how.”
Wow. The formula for weight gain/loss is very simple: calories in – calories burned = weight gain/loss. It is as simple as that. Eat more calories than you burn and you will gain weight. Most of the popular diets are a distraction for people. They give people a set of rules to follow and that helps many people in the short term. What we really need is an emphasis on counting calories. Track the foods you eat on a daily basis and it will be immediately obvious how to lose weight.
I recommend The Daily Plate for this.
I have installed a lot of the free apps on my iPhone but usually end of deleting them. Only a handful are still on there. I use only a few on a regular basis and they are my favorites by far. They are all free. Here they are in order:
1. Melodis Dialer (iTunes link). This is a great app that makes phone calls much easier. I put it just above my phone icon on the main screen. Start the app, say a name, and it finds the contact for you. Very simple and very accurate. Free.
2. Instapaper. This ingenious little app is kind of like sending a web page from my PC to my iPhone. Put a “read later” button on your browser tool bar. Click it when you find an article you want to read later. Viola! It is now on your iPhone. I usually have five or ten articles on my phone for when I have a few minutes to kill. Free.
3. Public Radio (iTunes link). I often listen to NPR in my car on the way to the Metro. This app lets me keep listening to it all the way to work. Surprisingly, the iPhone app is about a second ahead of the radio station!!! Go figure. Free.
4. DC Traffic Cam. Sure, Google Maps has live traffic but it is horribly inaccurate. If you want to see what is really happing on your commute, try this app. It is a live traffic feed to your iPhone. They support many other cities in the US as well. Free.
5. WeatherBug (iTunes link). I have tried a lot of weather apps to find my favorite. I like an easy to read forecast and live radar. This one has both. While the PC version of WeatherBug is downright annoying, the iPhone version is simple, clean and functional. Free.
It really is amazing how many great free apps are out there. Please let me know which are your favorites.
I was looking for a good game or two to play over the holidays. I don’t have a very fast computer or the latest graphics. In fact, I don’t think it is worth paying money for a game given the lackluster performance of my computer. So I went looking for some old versions and free stuff. I was amazed with the quality, quantity and selection. There is some really good stuff available for free.
* Let’s start with a game I have blogged before, LineRider. It is very addicting. All you can do is draw a sledding hill. Once your hill is drawn, send your sled down. See how many jumps and tricks you can make the sled do by changing the hill. Here is my last attempt
* Desktop Tower of Defense comes next. I play this a year or two ago. My kids loved watching me play this and it is a lot of fun. Creeps come in from two sides and try to make it out the other sides. Set up your towers and other Medieval defenses to destroy the creeps before the escape.
* Robokill. Very simple and lots of fun. You can play the first level for free. This is a fast action robot shoot-em-up.
* If you want to try a recent game, there are plenty of free demos online. A good resource is Game Demos at NZone. A couple of other good resources deserve a mention. Top 5 best (free) open source games. I am getting ready to try UFO: Alien Invasion from this list. Also, the motherload of open source games is on Wikipedia, List of open source games. This list has classics like NetHack (1987) to Freeciv, a clone of Civilization II. 1up.com has a pretty good list of the 101 Free Games 2008.
Leave me a comment if you know of other good free games I should try.
I did it! I can do 100 sit ups in a row without stopping…kind of. I really did 100 in a row but the last 20 were pretty slow. I started on week 4 of the program, performed week 5 twice and had to do week six twice as well. This program is really tough for sit ups. It may be a little too hard to get through it straight without repeating a week or two. But it sure does work!
I thought day 2 and 3 of week 5 were not very hard. It turns out I was doing them wrong. I didn’t notice there are two extra sets I didn’t complete. I have restarted week 5 to try again. Day 1, which was torture before, wasn’t too bad today.
In truth, I looked at week 6 with sets of 60,56,45,42,40,56 sit ups and don’t see how I could get through it. I need more time before taking it on.
Meanwhile, LeeAnne, my wife, looked at day 1 of week 5 and decided to do all 167 sit ups in a row. She was going strong when she counted 210 and got bored. Wow. That’s what doing 100 in a row EVERY DAY can do for you.
I completed week 4 of the program and started on week 5. I did the test two days later to find which column of week 5 to execute. That was too soon. I was still sore and not at full strength. I could only complete 50 sit ups in a row which is about the same as before. Anyway, to my dismay, it is still enough to qualify for the hardest column of week 5. It is a very big jump in difficulty with sets of 40,32,30,25, and 40 sit ups. That is 167 sit ups!!! I couldn’t finish it the first time through. So I repeated day 1 today and made it. I thought my stomach muscles were going to rip apart. The rest of the week will be a breeze.
I’ve been reading a number of fitness blogs this year to help educate and motivate myself. A bunch of the bloggers have taken up the One Hundred Pushups program. It is a six week program designed to take you from very few to 100 pushups in a row. I was tempted to take on the program. But I was already pretty good at pushups and was focusing on increasing my upper body strength with bench press and incline press among other exercises. I found out last week that I have torn some cartilage in my shoulder and need to stop these exercises for a while.
I’ve decided to use the pushup program for sit ups. It looks like a nice progression; not too fast, not too slow. I am going to take a bit of a short cut with the program by skipping ahead to week 4. You see, I can already do 50 situps in a row. It seems silly to start at the beginning where it would have me doing sets of 10.
Today was my second day of week four at the highest level. I did sets of 27, 21, 21, 18, and 30. That’s a total of 117! Not bad but it was a struggle. My stomach is still sore from my first day two days ago.
I have found it helps me stay with it when I have a fitness goal. I currently have a weight, % body fat, and now one hundred sit ups goal.
I had been saving the link to this story for months and finally got around to reading it today. It is a great true story of the salvage of the Cougar Ace, a cargo ship full of Mazda cars. It is the story of the salvage company who went in to save the ship. The clock was ticking for the salvage company as the ship was sinking and drifting toward the rocky shoals of the Aleutian Islands. The prospect of losing a few hundred million dollars and creating an environmental nightmare were just days away. Exciting stuff.
I remember hearing about the story on Digg or somewhere like that. Even though the ship was successfully saved, Mazda decided to destroy all the cars to avoid potential warranty and legal problems down the road. The cars had been sitting at a 60 degree angle for two weeks.
This is a story that is begging to be told in a movie. I hope it happens.