08 July 2006

... One Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Typing is moving!

... One Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Typing will be moving to a new address: ie http://www.pascalvenier.com/blog/ and will now be powered by Wordpress and hosted by BlueHost.

I have transfered all the posts and comments which can now be viewed there.

Do not forget to update your bookmarks or feeds.

Blogged with Flock

06 July 2006

Foldera: the new free virtual office

Although I still have not received my own credential for a beta account (hint! hint!), I nevertheless have been able to take a good look at the way Foldera works, having been given this week the opportunity to use an existing account. This is thanks to Marc Orchant, who has recently very kindly invited me to become a member of the virtual advisory board, which he is currently setting up for his new endeavour, ClassFolders, Foldera’s proposed education vertical solution.

The Foldera vision is a simple but very powerful one: organizing the user's work instantly. According to a blurb:
"Foldera is a new way to access and manage your applications, teams, activities and information, sorted by project, from wherever you are in the world. Using Foldera, you can instantly share, organize and archive your information and data."
A, or rather the, key feature in Foldera is the Activity Folder. Activity Folders allow for the automatic sorting and filing of information and documents. Once an Activity folder has been created, each email message, IM, but also documents created in other applications are accessed from within the folder in question. I have found Foldera surprisingly easy to use and managed to do everything I wanted to do quasi-instinctively. It is only later, when I decided to prepare this post, that I took a good look at the online manual, which is unusually clear and helpful.

Screen shot of a Foldera Activity Folder

Foldera is great for group collaboration and working on a common project, as it makes exchanging documents and making comments about them very easy, but it would undoubtedly benefit from including a wiki capability, which is unfortunately missing at the moment. As the concept of automatically filing documents is so central to Foldera, I did find paradoxical that there is currently no possibility to actually archive email messages. The gmail message archiving function has become so central to the way I process emails and get to an empty in-box by the end of each day, that I was disapointed not to find something similar here.

As someone working across platforms (MacOS/Windows) and from two different places (home office/office at the university), I can fully appreciate the advantages using Foldera would have for myself. It could also benefit friends: tongue in cheek, I would venture in saying that using Foldera, my friend Chris Brogan, of Lifehack fame, would no longer be loosing his USB memory sticks! ;^) I was initially seduced by ContactOffice, which I find very useful. However, Foldera really seems to have the potential to take things to a whole new dimension. It seems clear that the Huntington Beach folks are going in the right direction: talks of the integration of applications and possible mash ups are in this respect most encouraging. Now, could it bring about a real paradigm shift? It is perhaps early days to tell, but it seems to be a real possibility.

Coming soon: an interview with Marc Orchant on Foldera and Getting Things Done.

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Blogged with Flock

05 July 2006

Flock Browser Beta

I am taking the opportunity of the summer break to try and blog more regularly.

As no detailed blog post seems to have been published on Foldera since the release of the Beta on 19 June 2006, I have decided to prepare one of my own which should be posted later this week. For the time being, here are my first impressions on the new Flock browser.

I have been trying the Flock Browser Beta 1 (v. 0.7) for Mac OS X since yesterday and must say that I was so impressed that it was pretty much an immediate adoption. I would therefore very strongly recommend it to anyone. Two of my favourite features, besides the favorites toolbar à la Safari, are:

  • Flock's Photobar which allows you to view online photos from a Flickr account (yours or a friends) at the top of the browser,
  • The built-in blog editor, which allows you to write and edit blog posts and which I am using to write this post. It is really user friendly and so easy to use. The way it creates very simply technorati tags is really cool.

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Blogged with Flock

An interesting business model for book publishing

I was listening this morning in my car to the French state-owned radio France-Inter, which had a good programme on La Révolution internet, de l'e-commerce à l'e-citoyenneté (The Internet Revolution, from e-commerce to e-citizenship). One of the guests was Joel de Rosnay who has published earlier this year a book entitled, La révolte du pronétariat (The Revolt of Pronetariat). I did find the pun on proletariat/pronetariat rather amusing. The new concepts created by Rosnay are those of "pronétaires" (English "Pronetarians") and pronétarians (Eng. "Pronetariat"), which he defines in the following way in the introduction of the book (my translation): "I call "pronetarians" (from the grec pro, ahead, before, but also favorable to something, and the English net [...] a new class of digital networks users capable of producing, diffusing, selling non-proprietary digital content, by implementing the principles of the "new New Economy".

What did really get my attention is the business-model the author described for the marketing of the book which really did got my attention. He explained how the book published by one of Paris' leading publishing house, Fayard, was initially released in a traditional way through bookshops in February 2006. About six months later, it was then made available online for free download, under a Creative Commons licence. The book sold very well the first time round, but the release of the free online version resulted in a second wave of purchase of the print version of the book, as people like to own their own copy. It seems to be a good win-win strategy which allow to combine making knowledge freely available online (a principle Rosnay advocates in the book) and profitability for the printed book.

Also of interest is the fact that the book is available online in three different versions. The originality here is that it is not only available as as html and as pdf, but also as a podcast. The technology used for creating this audio version is the ReadSpeaker.

I really much like the idea. So much so that I intend not only to have a good look at the ReadSpeaker technology, but to contact the publishing house which published my first book, back in 1997, with a view to emulating Joel de Rosnay's idea.

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Blogged with Flock

04 July 2006

Lars Plougmann on "When and where should be free information"

Writing about current devates on regulations governing the internet, Lars Plougmann, over at Mind this has written a very interesting post on When and where should be free information:

He writes: "This weekend I learned about two government follies. One is a lesson from history, the other is a current example. Both are about restricting access to information, limiting freedom and economic activity", and elaborates on the facts that "in 1797 the English parliament decided to impose a tax on personal timepieces" and that "in Russia today, civilians are not allowed to use GPS. The government is afraid that decentralised mapping threatens national security. This makes it difficult for organisations to record locations of their assets and use of car navigation systems is almost unheard of."

I, of course agree with his overall argument. I nevertheless would like to add that the regulations mentionned about GPS in Russia do sound rather odd, probably pointless, and most definitelly anachronisticly reminiscent of the spirit of the Cold War, one needs to bear in mind that whislt widely used by civilians, GPS remains a military technology. It was set up by the US DoD and is managed by the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base. Let us bear in mind that historically, as French Geographer Yves Lacoste famously once put it, "La Géographie, ça sert d'abord à faire la guerre", "Geography's prime purpose is war".

The Russians incidently maintain their own global system, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and the European Union is developping its own, Galileo, which should be up and running (Sorry about the lousy pun!) in 2010.

More in the wikipedia article on Global Positioning System

22 June 2006

Breaking News: Tom Raftery's Mac Crashed!

Astonishing news from Tom Raftery IT's blog: his Mac crashed!.

16 June 2006

Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood

The Christian Monitor carried yesterday a most fascinating article on It's all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood. I came accross the article in the Slacker Manager's link fest. I could not agree more and I speak from experience.

14 June 2006

A few thoughts on Improv after the Life Hack podcast

Matt Cornell commented on my earlier post on by telling me that he is finishing the book now and that it is neat.

I must say that after listening to the new Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org, I really feel like trying and getting hold of the book, if it is available in Britain. What I have heard about the book in this podcast has inspired a number of comments I would like to make. Here they are.

I must say that the thought which came to my mind, whilst listening to the podcast, is that what I perceived as having been some of the best lectures I ever gave at the university were those when I had forgotten my lecture notes at home, or the time when the university network was down a few years ago and when I could not use the powerpoint presentation I had prepared, and had to speak from the top of my head, after spending a couple of minutes drawing a very basic mind map.

I also sometimes, when I have difficulties writting a paper and I feel really stuck resort to using a digital dictation system, and improvising a 15 minutes lecture. Transcribing what I said may take time but it is a very good way to get un-stucked

When it comes to actually delivering papers at academic conferences, I have in the last 4 years increasingly resorted to separate the text of the actual paper, which is destined to be published, and the actual "talk" I give. I have usually used either powerpoint presentations or a series of OmniGraffle showed as pdf files. My key idea, is to improvise on the spot, summarizing the argument of the paper which would be much longer, and which most of the participants would either have read before or will read after the conference anyway. This form of improv can be scary at times, but it does get the adrenaline pumping and on the whole seems to be a much more effective form of delivery. This is especially so when the visuals used in the slide presentation do play a reinforcing role.

Thinking of it, there is nothing more sad and depressing, than someone reading a paper, never lifting one's head from one's notes. Very few university teachers would get away with it in the lecture hall. It is however not so uncommon to hear colleagues doing just that at academic conferences. I have done it in the past but I have since realised that it was not a good way to go about things. The less so when you try and read a paper which is not written in your mother tongue.

My advice to younger colleagues I meet at academic conferences is always to tell them: be yourself! Ignore the fact that you will be addressing colleagues who are a lot more senior than you are! Try and speak in the same way you would normally speak to you students in the lecture hall! Most paradoxically, easy does it!

Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org

Friend Chris Brogan is announcing the new Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org:

"The Life Hack podcast covers weekly productivity tips, insights into how to speed up your life, interviews with people who can help you develop yourself, and highlights from our community platform. Lifehack.org is the creation of Leon Ho."

I have just finished listening to Episod one, which consists of an interview of Patricia Ryan Madson, the author of Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up. This sounds like a fascinating book, which really seems worth reading.

12 June 2006


One of my daughters has recently acquired a DVD of The Man of the House, staring Tommy Lee Jones as Texas Ranger Roland Sharp. This is very light entertainment but there is there a wonderful one liner from the main character which will surely appeal to all university teachers, the more so if they have had to deal with plagiarism.

... and yes! The internet does make plagiarism easier ... to detect!

It is so much easier to uncover plagiarists who lift stuff from the internet than from a book!

Thank you Google!

The quotation from the character is :

"Plagiarism is an academic crime. It is punishable by academic death."

11 June 2006

GTD® on MindManager Template

My GTD® on MindManager template is now available for download as a zip file. Update: Please follow this link to the most recent version.

All feedback most welcomed.

For more information on Getting Things Done ® visit the website of the David Allen Company, read his books and attend his seminars.

There were problems with the file download earlier, but it now seems to be solved. If not please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

GTD on MindManager screenshot

Coming soon: GTD® on MindManager Template

A few words to announce that I am currently putting the finishing hand to my Getting Things Done on MindManager Template, which I hope to post on this blog later today. I am preparing it using the all singing, all dancing Mind Manager for Mac OS.
... Watch this space!

09 June 2006

OmniGraffle and MindManager

Commenting on a recent post on the new MindManager for Mac OS, Eric from Organisation et méthode, the French GTD blog, asked: "Have you tried to use OmniGraffle for mindmapping?
Using the automatic layout and the outline functions, building the map is as fast and easy as with any specific mindmapping application. And the graphic possibilities are much richer. You can also go back and forth between OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle.

I have indeed tried OmniGraffle, which I use for two main things:

It is nice for creating simple mind-maps.

MindManager seems largely superior for mindmapping for several reasons:

  • Branches can collapse. This is essential to manage very complex maps (for instance, the MindManager mindmap I use for my implementation of GTD).
  • MindManager is both available for Mac OS and Windows, and my other computer, at the University of Salford is a wintel machine! :-(

Before MindManager for Mac OS, I was using Freemind which is a brilliant open source software.

03 June 2006

The time of the day

19 May 2006

Map the Mac

In a comment to an earlier post on Mind Mapping, Anonymous drew my attention to www.mapthemac.com. Thanks Anonynous

14 May 2006

Présentation de GTD® en français

Je viens tout juste de découvrir cette présentation de GTD® en français, qui offre une excellente synthèse de la méthode. Elle est disponible sous forme de fichier pdf: GTD: organisé ... et branché, les recettes de l'organisation remise au goût du jour
Etrangement, le livre n'a toujours pas été traduit en français.

Presentation of GTD® in French

I have just come accross this presentation of GTD® in French, which offers a very good synthesis of the method. It is available as a pdf file: GTD: organisé ... et branché, les recettes de l'organisation remise au goût du jour
Strangely, the book has still to be be translated into French.

06 May 2006

Towards a going-back to basics open-source generic productivity system?

A few words inspired by my exchange with Jason Alan Moore about his post on Getting the right things done. I think that Jason's idea of comparing, and when relevant combining, different systems is indeed very worthy. Matt Cornell has also been writing very interesting posts by looking the same aspect of different productivity or time-management systems. See for instance: How to process stuff - A comparison of TRAF, the "Four Ds", and GTD's workflow diagram. Such exegesis of productivity system is indeed very enlightening.
My intention in my previous post was simply to point out to what I see as a major dimention of GTD®.
I must say that it took me a very long time to actually become involved in the process of looking at this dimension of the system, about 16 months of trying to implement GTD®. It is only when I started using mind mapping to implement the system, but after listening to the Getting Things Done Fast CDs, that I started to "get it".
When I first went through the process of brainstorming the branches of my mind-map using the three top-levels of "The Six-Level Model" (ie 50,000+ feet, 40,000 feet, 20,000 feet), that reminded me a my reading of Covey's 7 habits five years earlier, and especially the idea of writing a mission statement. GTD® is perhaps more pragmatic than Covey's 7 habits, but aspects of both can be combined to good effect. I also later copied in this section of the mind-map a inspirational quote from Peter F. Drucker, found on a blog, which is "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." Following for about six weeks Matt Cornell idea's of a Productivity Master, I did a lot of reading on productivity in the late winter. My general impression is that the more you read books about productivity, the more you have the impression that the core of most systems revolves around a set of basic principles which are often very similar.
It could, perhaps, be an idea for productivity bloggers, to explore further something along the lines of a "going-back to basics open-source no-frill generic productivity system", which will combine the best productivity principles, which have been around for decades and decades.

04 May 2006

GTD®'s The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work

A thought provoking post on Jason's rantings on the theme of Getting the Right Things Done, which does makes one reflect on one's own implementation of GTD®.
I however have some reservations about part of Jason's interpretation, especially when he writes: "To me, there is no forward look as to where we are heading - it is focused on getting the items right in front of us processed, categorized, and completed. We never stop to think that we have the "ladder against the right wall".
I would like to believe that it is what the "The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work" (ie 50,000+ feet, 40,000 feet, 20,000 feet, 10,000 feet, and runway) is there for (see GTD, chapter 9, pp. 200-209). Whilst Covey works from the top-down, Allen is working from the bottom up.
In the chapter about "Reviewing keeping your system functional", David Allen has a section on "The 'Bigger Picture' Reviews", in which he writes: "Yes, at some point you must clarify the larger outcomes, the long-term goals, the visions and the principles that ultimately drive and test your decisions." Later he also make plain that "The explicit focus of this book is not at those "30,000-" to "50,000+ -foot levels. Urging you to operate from a higher perspective is, however, its implicit purpose - to assist you in making your total life expression more fulfilling and better aligned with the bigger game we're all about.
At a practical level, using mindmapping for my current implementation of GTD® proves very effective. I started by using a Freemind for my implementation, but I am currently using MindManager, as I am beta-testing MindManager for the Mac.
He are a few screenshots of my implementation using Freemind: A larger version of each is available on www.flick.com. Please click on the picture to see it.

GTD and Freemind

GTD and Freemind

GTD and Freemind

GTD and Freemind

03 May 2006

The Failed States Index Map

A fascinating map: The Failed States Index Map by Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace.

The Failed States Index Map