Freedom meets Awareness by Robert Orzanna

Simple Gmail Todo List Task Planner

Finding the personal workflow to organise your tasks and projects can be daunting and might require a lot experimentation with different tools and methods. I am a heavy user of email using Gmail and finally settled with a simple, yet effective todo list method.

  1. Create a new Gmail contact. Name it Task and give the email <yourGmailAdress>+task@gmail.com. If you do not know what the +task appendix means, read here.
  2. Create a new Gmail filter to star all incoming emails that are sent to <yourGmailAdress>+task@gmail.com.
  3. Send a new email to Task with the task subject in Subject and an (optional) description in Body. You will immediately receive this email in your inbox. Wherever you have access to your inbox - Outlook, Thunderbird, Gmail web interface, iPad, smartphone - you will be able to keep track of your daily open tasks.
  4. Once you fulfilled your task, simply archive the email from your inbox.

Sending Gmail Emails from the Linux Command Line

I send Gmail emails from the command line to quickly create new tasks as outlined in the post Simple Gmail Todo List Task Planner. The following steps describe how to configure a Linux system to send emails from the command line using the Gmail backend.

Software requirements

  • msmtp
  • s-nail
  • ca-certificates
  • ca-certificates-mozilla

Configuration

__________
~/.msmtprc
__________
#
# Gmail account
#

defaults
logfile ~/.msmtp.log

account gmail
auth on
host smtp.gmail.com
from <username>@gmail.com
auth on
tls on
tls_trust_file /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
user <username>@gmail.com
password <password>
port 587

account default : gmail
__________
~/.mailrc
__________
set sendmail="/usr/bin/msmtp"
set message-sendmail-extra-arguments="-a gmail"

File and Folder Naming Principles

I am trying to bring consistency into the naming of my files and folders. My file naming principles underlie the following objectives: * Usability in terms of easiness to type the name of folder, file or script * Natural human readability without obscure characters * Quick retrieval when performing a search * Compability with Linux command line interfaces

Folders

  • Folder
  • FolderLongName

General files

  • file.extension
  • fileLongName.extension

Files with date importance

  • file04122014.extension

Photos

  • photo100x100.jpg

Scripts, Aliases & Functions

  • script.sh
  • scriptDoingSomething.sh

What are your file naming principles?

Mozilla Firefox & Thunderbird Add-ons Review

I rely on a large number of Add-ons for Mozilla's Firefox and Thunderbird. Many of them are inevitable to fulfil my personal workflow. I want to use this post to express my gratitude to the developers for their hard work and to regularly update my reviews of these add-ons based on personal experience with recent versions of Firefox and Thunderbird.

Auto Select Latest Message (restartless) 1.0

  • Compatibility: Thunderbird 31.3.0
  • Download: addons.mozilla.org
  • Usage: Provides a solution to not having automatically selected a message from the message pane. Selects the latest message when switching between folders.
  • Obstacles: Does not select the latest message when archiving the last message of a folder list.

Autohide Folders panel 0.6

  • Compatibility: Thunderbird 31.3.0
  • Download: addons.mozilla.org
  • Usage: Provides a solution of not enough vertical space on small screens. Hides the folder pane on the left side of the screen. Displays the pane on mouseover at the edge of the screen.

Automatic Dictionary 1.6.0

  • Compatibility: Thunderbird 31.3.0
  • Download: Github
  • Usage: Automatically switches the spell-check dictionary when composing a new email based on the recipient.
  • Obstacles: Sometimes does not recognise a previously stored recipient's dictionary preference.

Cleanest Addon Manager 7.0

  • Compatibility: Thunderbird 31.3.0, Firefox 34.0.5
  • Download: addons.mozilla.org
  • Usage: Shrinks the about:addons page and reduces the necessity to scroll a long list with a large number of installed Add-ons.

Compact Header 2.0.9

  • Compatibility: Thunderbird 31.3.0
  • Download: addons.mozilla.org
  • Usage: Allows for comprehensive customisation of the email header of a message. For example, add or remove new icons.
  • Obstacles: Does not display the Forward select message icon correctly.

Simple TTS 0.7.2.rev36

  • Compatibility: Firefox 34.0.5
  • Download: addons.mozilla.org
  • Usage: Select text from a website, use right-click context menu to read aloud the text selection. Uses the ispeech engine which provides an excellent listening experience and supports a wide range of words.
  • Obstacles: English text only. The add-on does not provide any visual feedback on the state of text processing. It misses a menu to stop/pause/continue the audio playback.

Zotero vs. Mendeley: Productivity over Open Source

I used to use Zotero as my academic reference manager and strictly disregarded Mendeley for its closed source. Zotero on the other side is open source, developed by researchers of George Mason University, built on the solid code base of Firefox, and with a very helpful community around it. Yet, I had continously the feeling that Zotero was not fitting my workflow. Out of curiosity to identify and name these apparent shortcomings with Zotero, I installed Mendeley, and have to admit that Mendeley suits my workflow better in several ways:

  • In contrast to Zotero, Mendeley provides an internal PDF viewer with annotation and text highlighting function
  • Mendeley's search function searches even through PDF documents and not only reference details
  • Mendeley provides a well working feature to keep my entire library synced to a BibTeX file that I can use for Academic Markdown
  • Mendeley provides an internal literature search that allows me to search for journal articles
  • Mendeley imports files much faster and feels more responsive than Zotero
  • Mendeley's reference details fields are more intuitive and easier to understand. Zotero provides me with many specific fields that I often do not need

However, there are also several aspects where Zotero stands out:

  • In contrast to Mendeley, Zotero provides an ISBN search
  • The web importer from Zotero seems superior to Mendeley's
  • Zoteor allows me to use a custom webdav server to sync my library. I will have to see if the 2GB default from Mendeley are enough for my library
  • Zotero provides an automatic sync of the library whereas for Mendeley I have to trigger the sync button manually

Despite its weaknesses, Mendeley's strengths outweigh these. In the end of the day I want to get my work done and with Zotero its vast customisation features often kept me off track, fiddling with details, rather than that they helped me.