Monday, October 11, 2004

Buzz words, sexy computers, and killer appz

Apparently I have just one linguistic nerve left and "getting the job done--" along with every other buzzword people slip into their conversations -- was just swinging off it like Tarzan on crack. Ergo, this is about buzz words, computers, and one really kick ass app.

Am I the only person in America that refuses to use buzzwords like "get the job done?" It was, apparently, Bob Costa's favorite new buzzword at the summer Olympics. During one evening's events, between Costas and the color commentators, I counted that phrase over 36 times in three hours. (That's 11 times an hour more than a human can bear. I get images of piping buzzwords into rat cages to see if it induces canniblism.) I thought I would have to bite my tongue in half trying to keep my mouth shut about it. By the third day they were all saying it, including Katie Couric. [Yes, I know I said I seldom watch TV but I always watch the swimming and gymnastics summer events and skijumping & luge in winter.]

I am currently reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. It is a vast repository of buzzwords. [I am so glad I am not in the private sector and in management, I don't think I could survive the coffee breaks without throttling someone.] Buzzwords spill out everywhere to boggle my pointy little head. There is the classic "paradigm shift," "Maxing output while minimizing input," "garbage in and garbage out," and the tired and worn out "leverage this" and "leveraging that." You know what I mean. The book was a best seller in the business community two years ago. Apparently it takes two years to get trickle-down from management to geeks in the trenches. Suddenly, everything is Tuscany! [That's my sardonic response to the latest greatest fad de jour.... remember when everyone had to have white cotton and terra cotta pots scattered around everywhere?]

Back to the book. I am only one chapter into it, yet I can see one major flaw in his "bottom up" approach: there is no way to prioritize an item via importance (in terms of both context and in urgency.) Now that's one seriously major flaw if you ask me. [Hey, did your paradigm just shift? No? Maybe it's all done with smoke and mirrors.] I am going to give it a solid read; I hope the remainder of the book can address this fundamental flaw.

On to sexy computers. [Marvelous segue, yes?]

One of the things I used to hear a lot of was some pencil-necked geek saying a computer was "sexy." My response was to sorrowfully shake my head and say, "you really do need to get laid more." My twin sister and I were talking about the new G5 dually 2.5's, they are sleek and beautiful, inside and outside. (I just set up three of them, 2.5 GHz, 1 GB ram, 250 GB hds, and superdrives in an AV lab at work.) The only thing I don't like is the plastic CD tray. Apple apparently bought the cheapest possible plastic trays available anywhere in the world. Adjectives like flimsy, carpola, junk, and flaming smacktard leap to mind. One bump should shatter it. Note bene: I said shatter not break. The plastic looks as flimsy and brittle as the kind Sony first used on their incredibly overpriced laptops. I have more confidence in a Styrofoam cup, which is a shame since the case is made of brushed aluminum and the door to the bay drops down inside the front, sort of very Agent 99!

I called my twin sister last night, you can find her here The Evil Twin, [insert wicked evil grin here,] and mentioned that I thought they new G5s were about the only machine I ever saw that I thought was sexy. Long pause (I could hear her wicked-evil grin over the phone,) and she said, mournfully, "You really need to get laid more." So you see, is it any wonder I don't discuss operating systems or politics with her? (Hey, they aren't as incongruent as you think on first glance. Think about it.)

And that takes me into the killer app. [Yet another free and marvelous segue! Hell, if Mirc$oft can trademark "double-clicking [tm]" I don't see why I can trademark "marvelous-segue (tm)!" Can you believe they allow verbs to be trademarked? The true apogee of stupidity.]

If you are an OSX variety MacHead, go check this app out: DevonThink. Check out the DevonAgent too, they are powerful by themselves, yet combined they can "leverage" your researching needs "to the next level" [recognize any annoying buzzword?] It's fairly solid and can crawl the internet with far greater accuracy than Goggle and even Dogpile (my search engine of choice.) While it's loading and crawling, you can examine any hits in a preview pane which resembles Simple text but offers highlighted keywords based on your search terms. You can also click on any link and DT's internal browser will leap into life. I started using the demo of both and got hooked, they are excellent for someone like me that works in educational technology.

DevonThink is your new brain, honest... trust me. Its a freeform database, an outliner, browser, and organizer all rolled into one $40.00 application. It can handle simpletext, Word docs, rtf, pdfs, images, QT movies, and sound files. About the only thing it doesn't support is Excel. Site-sucking? Yep, you could, if you had a large enough hard drive and massive bandwidth, probably suck up the entire internet [which was, as we all know, invented by Al Gore.] Now I am running OSX 10.2.8 because this is an older G3 laptop (firewire.) I can go to 10.3 but it just doesn't seem prudent to force an older machine, one that is the bottom-feeder and at the bare minimum on list of requirements, to jump up to Panther. Still, I have say DT to be remarkably stable, and hung on me only once -- and that was when I accidently send my entire user library/application support folder into DT at one go, lol. (I am on the Pro beta version that has remarkable stability for a beta release, it's only crashed in one week of heavy use & abuse!)

Did I mention this software is "intelligent?" It learns your category habits, and will classify based on how you sorted, what keywords you used. In a short time the process is automatic, just drag the file into the DT (mine is sitting pretty in my dock, snuggled between Photoshop and InDesign and that's saying a lot,) and it will organize it for you. The first couple of days it mismatched a lot, but now its rock solid.

I keep a massive archive of pdfs, and the files themselves are huge, I think it is currently in the neighborhood of 2.5 gbs and another 3 gbs on a LaCie firewire HD for holding and backup.) Everything from a manual for Unix to Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX tutorials (with templates,) weather data charts (for fly fishing and figuring out the hatches.) I think I have around 3 gb worth of pdf's already loaded. One of my taskings at work is to keep abreast of instructional applications and know everything about them, so I have a ton of pdfs on both laptops. [That's probably why people call me "the big giant head." I can, via Safari Services and some handy DT scripts, send entire page into DT with a click of a mouse, either whole sites, one page or just the url.

I am working with some fairly simple categories: work, web, home, play, projects etc. I am using a lot of nested folders within each broad category. I can't recommend it enough. The work folder has sub-folders based on either scriptiing or software documenation. I am also using it in conjunction with AquaMinds Note Taker software. I wanted to use NT for blogging and backing up my blog as per Kevin's website. He is using ecto and NT to post his blog. It's an impressive combination. I am still on the NT trial, but I ordered the software last week (I love an educator's discount!)

PS.. eventually an "enterprise" version will be released.

[Why all the braces? Consider it a sarcastic/sardonic alert!]

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