2011 (old posts, page 3)

Links for July 1st through July 2nd

My shared links for July 1st through July 2nd:

Links for June 30th through July 1st

My shared links for June 30th to July 1st:

Links for June 29th through June 30th

My shared links for June 29th through June 30th:

Email Workflow

Last week, Chuq van Rospach had a tear of great posts about email and online communication in general. I already linked to his first two, about the value (and certain doom) of an email charter here. He then went on to discuss what he's learned about how to manage email without first trying to change other people's behavior, in two parts titled "Avoiding email bankruptcy" Part 1 and Part 2. Both are well worth a full read, but I'll also summarize a bit here.

His Part 1 says in effect "email takes real time, so budget that time." His points about never catching up if you try to just fit it in during an otherwise busy day ring especially true. I'd add that any reputation benefit you get from fast turnaround is lost by being that guy who is checking email during meetings.

His Part 2 goes into detail on his email workflow. I was pleased to see that my own workflow is similar - I don't get nearly as much mail as he does (sending 225 and reading 400 messages a day? Ouch), so it's nice to see that my approach could scale.

The high points we have in common are

  • Separate work and home email accounts. Very important. I couldn't agree more, and people who want unified inboxes in a mail client baffle me.
  • try to decide what to do with an email the first time you read it, then archive it right away
  • no filing, just one big Archive.
  • filter lists out of the inbox ( I only do this for high-traffic lists, but my idea of "high" is not that high. )
  • simple filtering - I don't try to use filters to pick out "important" emails - my goal is to read every mail. If I can't, I need to reduce the incoming flow, not tweak my mail client setup.

One difference is that he says he uses his inbox as a to-do list, where I prefer to move things to OmniFocus as soon as I understand what the task is. But it's possible we're just calling the same thing by different names.

He also does more manual management of his archive folder than I do - but maybe this is because there are less than 10,000 emails in there right now. I imagine his archives are bigger. Mail.app doesn't have much trouble with mine.

Also my archive is a local folder - so it never has to sync with IMAP. This is due to a server mailbox size limit, and it's not ideal. It'd be nice if I could see my archive on my phone, but hey, it's only 2011.

Blog archives and old times

As far as I can tell, I've lost my personal backup of my blog from 2001 until about December 2005. I went looking on the wayback machine, and it last crawled my site in 2003. I wonder if there's a way to slurp those pages into my wordpress blog without a ton of work. It saved a link to a backup tarball of the blosxom data files, but not the actual file, sadly.

I noticed something about those old posts: lots more comments. I really liked blogging back then. It had a real water cooler feeling to it. These days busy people have moved to twitter and comments are harder to manage, so those old blog conversations don't seem to happen anymore.

Yep, feeling old this morning. I also miss modem connection sounds and the Mac4theMind FirstClass BBS in Pittsburgh. Now get off my lawn.

Link: The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?

From the National Academies:

The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?.

A nice, thorough explanation of the current challenges in computing performance, ranging from transistor-level power vs. speed problems, up to how to program the circuits we're likely to end up with.

Also includes a bonus reprint of two classic papers, Gordon Moore's "Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits" from 1965 - that's the paper you might expect it is, and Robert Dennard's "Design of Ion-Implanted MOSFET’s with Very Small Physical Dimensions", which I was less familiar with.

Email Charters & Lists as Parties

Chuq van Rospach shares some insight on the long battle to make email work better socially: In part one, he argues that any attempt to codify good behavior will fail to create utopia, but may influence future tools and enough people to be worth trying. In part two, he says the only real way to fix problems in email is with tools, not by trying to influence behavior, if only because there are too many people using email for any lasting consensus on how to use it.

In the comments to Chuq's post, there's a link to a really interesting proposal to make mailing lists easier to use - Luis Villa: "Mailing lists are parties. Or the should be." The idea here is that the tools should help us give and receive some of the social cues that make parties successful where mailing lists aren't, like politely showing someone that they're boring or annoying you (by leaving the conversation), or quickly finding the interesting conversations (by seeing who and how many people are paying attention to it).

I really like Luis' suggestions, because you could do this with mailing list software today.