Archive for reference

Reddit

This week I signed up for reddit. My Google Reader had accumulated 5 or 6 subreddits, so I was pretty much using the site already. The same thing happened with Twitter – I was following 6 or 7 people through Reader and finally decided it was time to give back.

The site is basically a much better, more filtered version of Digg. It’s not as good-looking, but it’s way more functional. You subscribe to different topics you are interested in and the main page aggregates all these “subreddits” on the main page, so the articles that show up should at least be relevant. You are able to vote articles up or down and comment. You can also submit new articles, or submit a general question for fellow redditors to use. There are 5 tabs on the top of each reddit: what’s hot, new, controversial (voted equally up and down), top (best of), saved (your bookmarks in that reddit). These can lead to really cool hive mind things, like a list of best TED talks.

My reddit subscriptions are mostly for tech stuff: reddit.com, politics, technology, programming (proggit), science, linux, cogsci, Python, javascript, Ubuntu, hardware, compsci, cyberlaws, tedtalks, java, PHP. If you join up, I’m JaimieMurdock.

Because reddit is not responsible for lost productivity, I’ve set a 20 minute limit for every 6 hours in LeechBlock, which is in effect all day every day. It takes some enforced self-control not to be consumed 😉

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Firefox Extension Mania!

This month I discovered Firefox extensions! I really hate bogging down my browser, but these are incredibly useful. Know any others? Link it in the comments!

LeechBlock (extension)
This is the best productivity extension ever. It allows you to list a few domains to block (twitter.com, facebook.com, youtube.com, reader.google.com, …) and set up a time period to block them. BUT it also has an option to allow limited access. I have it set up to allow me on my sites for 10 minutes an hour. This keeps me on task, but allows reasonable distractions to clear the mind. It is important to check the “Actively block these sites” option, as that will redirect any already open tabs to these timesinks. I like redirecting to this undistraction page.

GreaseMonkey (extension)
GreaseMonkey is one plugin that I’ve actually stopped using, because it does tend to slow down browsing and can be used maliciously. However, some people may find FB Purity useful. It hides all the annoying quiz applications from showing up in your Facebook newsfeed!

KeyConfig (extension)
KeyConfig is a small extension that allows you to rebind and create new keyboard shortcuts. Things I have done:

  • full screen to F2 – much more convenient placement
  • Evernote Web Clipper to Ctrl+E – much quicker note-taking, see more on Evernote below
    Add new key with this code:
    evernote_addSelectionToEn3(null);

  • bit.ly sidebar to Ctrl+B – quick distribution of cool sites through Twitter
    Add new key with this code:
    content.location = “javascript:var%20e=document.createElement(‘script’);e.setAttribute(‘language’,’javascript’);e.setAttribute(‘src’,’http://bit.ly/bookmarklet/load.js’);document.body.appendChild(e);void(0);”

  • any bookmarklet can be added with:
    content.location = “(bookmarklet code)”

Since I got my netbook, my cloud computing presence has grown exponentially. Syncing between the Sweetness and Little-guy just takes too long to set up and introduces an administrative task I don’t want to deal with. The following extensions increase the utility of the cloud exponentially.

Delicious (extension) (official site)
Delicious replaces my bookmarks menu with an easy to use tagging infrastructure and note taking system accessible through Ctrl+D. By putting my bookmarks on the cloud, I can access them from any computer (useful for continuing research projects in the library). The social networking aspect didn’t seem like a big deal to me, until I started actually using it. Typically our friends share our interests, so it’s not surprising that we would find their bookmarks interesting.

Finally, the Delicious plugin allows you to sync quicksearches across computers (tag things with shortcut:). I have a quicksearch setup to search my delicious bookmarks and to bring up my bookmarks by tag, dramatically increasing the utility of my bookmarks by limiting my search domain to sites I have already flagged as useful. (my quicksearches – feel free to save the interesting ones to your Delicious 🙂 )

Evernote (extension) (official site)
OneNote is a program that Microsoft just got right. Unfortunately, it’s Microsoft and I’ve switched to the Linux world. OneNote was integrated into every part of my computng life – anytime I would put a note into a little text file, it would get tossed into my OneNote instead (phone numbers, quotes, observations, guitar tabs, letter drafting, etc.). Win+N (new note) became my most used shortcut. It is sorely missed – but Evernote has done a respectable job of replacing it.

Evernote is like Onenote in a lot of ways, but it uses a tagging system in lieu of tabbed notebooks and is more ubiquitous, with native clients on almost every platform (Win, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Web). Unfortunately, there is no native Linux client (the Wine version works, but it’s got some ugly buttons). How is it useful to have evernote on your phone? Notes on the go, recording song ideas for later use, taking pictures of receipts or things you want to reference later – the uses are legion.

Back to Firefox though – the web clipper is an awesome extension, as you can highlight any section of a site, click the elephant, and voila! it’s been added to your notebook with a link to the original source. Great for compiling research.

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Master Subscription List

This is a master list of my RSS subscriptions for use with Google Reader or other feed aggregators, along with some notes. Smaller text means the feed has been unsubscribed to. Links go directly to the feed, although I may change that to have just the icon point to the feed. New to RSS or Google Reader? How I Do Google Reader

General News
Boston Globe: The Big Picture – The best photojournalism, about 3-4 slideshows a week.
Astronomy Picture of the Day – excellent images from NASA that truly inspire discovery
Yahoo! News Top Stories – aggregate of AP, Reuters and AFP headlines. Feed just prints leading sentence and picture. Gives a good overview of what the mass media is talking about. High volume, low clickthrough.

Humor – mostly webcomics
Calvin & Hobbes – Bill Waterson’s genius, delivered daily 🙂
chainsawsuit – awesome one-off jokes
Dinosaur Comics – philosophical quandries involving dinosaurs
Hark! A Vagrant! – Kate Beaton writes comics about history
Nedroid Picture Diary – reginald and beartato!!!
Overcompensating – fairly classic, not-so-classy.
PhD Comics – adventures in academia
pictures for sad children – “this comic makes me happy, but then it makes me sad”
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – often perverse one-off jokes
T-Rex is Lonely – spinoff of Dinosaur Comics and Garfield Minus Garfield
Thinkin Lincoln – the adventures of Lincoln’s disembodied head. After all, Space Trips are only A Question of Science in the Two-Party System 🙂 [bonus win]
xkcd – geeky jokes
Something Awful – good long-form humor
Apokalips – I like this comic. It is fairly new to the scene.
passive-agressive notes – Saw this site at NACAP two weeks ago during the Facebook Forum. If you like this kind of thing, you should subscribe.
Zero Punctuation – Yahtzee, the British-born Australia-based video game reviewer, is an unending source of comedy gold: Sims 3 review

Notes: For more humor blogs check out posts by my friends Banjaloupe and Carlo Angiuli.

IU – local awareness
IU General News – feed from the Indiana.edu homepage
Indiana Daily Student – mostly for lulz
IU Cognitive Science News – announcements for IU CogSci undergrads
IU Computer Science Department – funnily enough, this has very little traffic. The CS website really could use an update.
IU School of Informatics
Bloomington VeloNews – Bloomington cycling news and information
The Robin – student-run satire magazine

Politics – for the obsessed
First Read – MSNBC’s political analysis blog, lots of volume. Good feel for what’s going on in Washington right now.
Five Thirty Eight – amazing analysis by Nate Silver. Started as an election prediction site, but has evolved into a lot more.
David Brooks – the only sane conservative columnist
Paul Krugman Blog – one of the most influential economists of our times. His daily political musings are interesting and often turn me to other cool resources.
Paul Krugman – his New York Times opeds
The Economist: InternationalThe Economist is one of my favorite print magazines, and the international section is the best part of it.
The Economist: The world this week – Worth subscribing to regardless of interest in politics, as it provides an excellent summary of the world each week.
GOOD transparency – great section of an online magazine with infographs (example: first 100 days of the presidency from Roosevelt to Obama )
Glenn Greenwald – great investigative reporter for Salon, currently investigating Obama’s civil liberties policy. Always eye opening.

Tech
Ars Technica – moderate volume, high quality. Great articles on everything technology
AnAndTech – hardware reviews and industry reports
Wired Top News – Fills the void in tech reporting that Ars Technica doesn’t cover. Great general geeky science stuff.
reddit in general

Products – these are just for updates on interesting products and companies.
Google Blog
Facebook Blog
Evernote Blog
bit.ly Blog

Weather
Atlantic Hurricanes – because hurricanes are freakin awesome
Indiana – Monroe/INZ062 – local watches and warnings
Kentucky – Calloway/KYZ009 – watches and warnings from back home
Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog – Weather articles from Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist and storm chaser.
Note: NOAA watch/warning information can be found by state or by county. Click on the XML button on the far right of your state’s row and then find your county.

CogSci
Mind Hacks – AMAZING blog about all things to do with the mind. They have a post every other week entitled “Brain Spikes” that just link to a ton of interesting articles.
Cognitive Daily – low-volume blog on random topics in cognition.
Neuroantrhopology – Fascinating articles on brain and body. The Wednesday Round-Ups are an overload of awesome articles.
Neurophilosophy – good blog on the brain and philosophy from Science Blogs.
TED Blog – Blog from TED Talks with more information on talks and generally cool stuff

Productivity
The Art of Nonconformity – This guy is awesome, and wants everyone else to be awesome too. I agree. Chris has some unconventional ideas on how to be awesome, but that’s because awesomeness is unconventional. His life-manifesto “A Brief Guide for World Domination” is definitely worth reading. He also travels a bit. Start with the articles listed on his writings page, they’re pretty cool.
Soul Shelter – Great blog about connecting with others in the modern, technological world. Required reading: In Defense of Solitude (Part 1, Part 2)
The Simple Dollar – Great blog on personal finances. Make sure to check out his free eBook – “Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on Just One Page”
Study Hacks – good blog on becoming a better student, following many of the principles established by the rest of my Productivity section: doing less is more (to an extent)
Zen Habits – Excellent productivity blog which spawned the Zen to Done (ZTD) system, a more practical version of Getting Things Done (GTD). See how I’ve implemented part of it: Doin Thangs.
LifeHacker – High volume blog filled with cool programs and ideas to help boost productivity

Jaimie Murdock
Shared Items
The Long Cut

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