something that has always been attractive to me is productivity stuff.
a site i keep up with, even though i rarely bother implementing any of the ideas is 43 folders, and i’m fond of the idea of improving how stuff gets done to be more efficient and/or less in need of management by a human.
let’s call this stuff (not my phrase!) life hacks.
a “hack”, of course, is a change to a system in order to get results that were not intended by the original creator of that system.
we’re familiar with hacking in the computer world, and we’ve heard stories of hackers since the mid-eighties, when people first started going to jail for it.
there is a growing meme on the intarwebs about hacking real-world stuff, with magazines like readymade and make being at the forefront.
my grandfather’s van is a perfect example of a real-world hack.
it is a late-seventies ford econoline 150 van.
off the top of my head, a few of the things i can recall he’s done to it over years are:
- installed a police search light
- added an electronic, programable horn that plays songs
- airplane landing gear light right in the middle of the grill
- window-mount air conditioner installed
- kitchen added, complete with sink, stove, oven, microwave and fridge
- dining table that converts to bed added
- many many lights of various sizes and colours, with switches filling the dashboard and area above driver
- extended the roof an extra 2 feet or so
all of this was done in an effort to make the van more appropriate for one of granddad and grandmom’s favorite activities: camping.
as i mentioned, i’ve always been interested in what we’ll call life hacks.
i have, through my thirty-one years tried various life hacks, such as planners, palms, notebooks of todo lists and such, and none of them quite work well enough for me. this is likely due to a few factors involving personality, but i lay a lot of the blame at the feet of my ADD, which makes it really tough to develop some of the habits that are required in order to take full advantage of such tools.
what got me started on this just now was thinking about how i might remember a book that i eventually want to buy.
of course, there’s the “wish list” at amazon, but i’m sitting at a starbucks, where the $50 a month tmobile wireless connection is too steep for me to use, so i’m not online.
obviously, i have my computer with me now, but i don’t always have it, seventeen in monster that it is.
even supposing i wanted to store my master list at amazon.com, how do i keep a book idea with me until i get around to going to search for and save it there?
how do i ensure that i’ll have a pencil and paper with me to enter the idea in? or do i use one of those geeky voice recorder things?
how do i ensure that i’ll remember to check my “notes” and “to dos” so that the idea will move from paper to amazon?
even assuming i am capable of doing such a thing in a consistent manner (and this is quite a leap, as anyone who knows me will tell you), do i really want my master book wish-list to be stored at some website?
there’s something tempting about storing such things in plain-text files on my computer.
text files are small in size, they’re mungable by regex, they’re searchable, they can be stored and viewed on my ipod, they can be easily emailed to anyone and i am 100% sure they’ll be able to open them.
but they aren’t pretty.
why does that matter?
i suppose the graphic designer in me, similar to the life hacker wanna-be in me, wants to take information and make it usable.
pretty stuff is more useful than ugly stuff.
a well-designed menu at a restaurant you’ve never been to will be easier for you to use than a poorly designed one at the same place.
so it is with things we use all the time. well designed (pretty) is better than poorly designed (not pretty).
and text files are not pretty.
but, then, neither was granddad’s van, and if i recall correctly, he got over 400,000 miles outta that beast.