Monthly Archives: March 2007

Google 24/7

Back in May of last year I decided to relinquish the email account I’d been maintaining for more than 10 years and to rely solely on Gmail as my email server of choice. That choice saved me $21.95 per month that I was foolishly spending with an ISP just to keep that email address alive, and with the freed up money from that, I began spending $6.00 less per month for a web hosting plan with Dreamhost, which hosts this blog and a couple of others and which has enough space for many more projects. It was a wise choice that I should have made much earlier.

Over the last year, as Google has added more and more services and improved the ones they had introduced previously, I’ve experimented with them and begun to use them regularly. In this post I’d like to review some of the services that I’ve found to be of value to me and introduce you to them if you haven’t discovered them already. The screen shots below are thumbnails that you can click on to see a larger image as you read my comments about them below.

Gmail application The recently discovered “notebook” feature A listing of the various services I’m using with this account. My RSS reader of choice nowadays

Google Analytics is set of stats about website activity. My personalized Google page, with one of the newly-added skins. The docs & spreadsheets feature that permits sharing such items with a small or with the world. Google Calendar which like the other applications can be shared with others.

Since this is going to be a long post, I’ll put the explanation of these various screen shots below the “Read More” break, just to keep the front page of my blog from being overwhelmed by this one post.

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My thoughts about Shutdown Day

As I indicated I was going to do, I didn’t turn on my computer at all on Saturday the 24th, and by so doing I observed Shutdown Day 2007. In general, I’d have to say that the day was very pleasant, quite productive and surprisingly easy to do. Some of you who commented on my interest in this day didn’t see what the point was. For me, it was to see what kind of reaction I had to the self-imposed restriction not to use of my computer for one day. After awaking at 5:07 AM and going strong until about 11:30 PM, I can say that the event impressed me enough that I may just make it a regular monthly practice.

I won’t bore you with the details unless you are really interested, so I’ll put a “read more” break in this account at this point. You can safely stop reading here if you aren’t interested in the specifics of my day. For photos of some of the events of the day, see this set on Flickr.

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Testing ground

My blog has always been just a place for me to test whether I could put things on the Internet and a way for me to comment on things I find interesting as I surf and experiment with them. Although I’ve been blogging now for about 5 years, I’ve never added advertising to this blog to make money from it because I didn’t anticipate having much of a readership. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have gained more readers than I would have ever thought possible. And those readers are gradually becoming accustomed to commenting here occasionally. For that, I’m grateful.

So this morning I’ve added a plug-in called Simple coComments that permits readers who are using the coComment service to do so on my blog more easily. If you haven’t yet checked out coComment, you might find it interesting. I did, and I’ve signed up to use it for a while to see whether I find it worthwhile. You don’t have to be a blogger to use it. You only need to have an interest in participating in and following the conversations that are going on. But if you are a blogger, this service has some interesting tools to offer you which you can learn more about at their site.

CoComment facilitates keeping up with the comments you have made around the blogosphere and seeing what comments others are making to the same posts that you’ve commented on. There is a Firefox extension for it, and it is compatible with services like Flickr, Digg, and a variety of blogging platforms. Since most people agree that blogging is about having conversations with readers, not just talking at them like newspaper articles have traditionally done, this plug-in makes it easier for me to track what I’ve said on other people’s blogs and to follow those conversations without having to return to the same post over and over just to see what has been said subsequent to my comment. I would also expect that having this mechanism available to me may affect my behavior of commenting, making it more likely that I’ll leave comments on other people’s blogs. That, I think, would be desirable.

As a part of the process of creating my account on coComment, I need to post this link to my Technorati Profile.

Two-hour trial run

Today at 9:30 AM I turned off the computer with the intent of leaving it off for two hours. Actually, however, I left it off for 2 and a half hours. It wasn’t so bad. I didn’t get the shakes or suffer severe anxiety. I’m sure that I’ll be able to manage the 24 hour shutdown on Saturday; in fact, I’m looking forward to it.

Further thoughts on Shutdown Day

I visited with my son Mike last night, as I always do on Tuesdays when he is working late, and he noted that when he read my post about Shutdown Day he thought to himself that I might had better try a few shorter, trial runs at this thing before going entirely cold turkey for a whole day on the 24th. I suppose he thought that the shock to my system might be too much for me, much as a doctor would advise a man my age to come in for a checkup before initiating any serious exercise program, lest I precipitate a coronary. I think he said it mostly in jest, but in some ways I think he has a good idea.

Though I doubt I’d have a heart attack as a result of techno-withdrawal, I do believe it’s possible to use something you enjoy doing to reward yourself for doing something that you have been postponing or avoiding. “I won’t play golf until I’ve done my taxes” is an example of the idea. So I’m going to give some serious consideration to Mike’s idea.

I’ve long had a bad habit of thinking of a “to do” list as a “to do later” list, so whether it is written or only contemplated, my “to do later” list becomes a burden on me, a weight I carry around and both dread and feel guilty about for not having gotten it done. I don’t recommend making a “to do later” list. And I think most so-called time management experts would agree with me. I used to make to do lists that became to do later lists because I’d make them so long and so involved that they would appear to be unachievable and dispiriting. That eventually led to my decision to stop making to do lists.

(The last sentence of that paragraph reminds me of the Henny Youngman line in which he says something to the effect “I read that drinking wasn’t good for you so I gave up reading.” The link to Henny Youngman in that previous sentence is worth following. I discovered several things in it about him that I did not know previously.)

There is a fairly popular meme on the Internet that a lot of people swear by as a result of a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. It is referred to simply by the three letter acronym GTD. This blog post provides some background and an approach to how it works, in case you’re interested. Personally, I don’t think I’m yet ready to reorganize my life that completely. But it would be nice to get some things that I need to do done occasionally.