There was a 10K race taking place in London yesterday. Like the London Marathon and other road races, they close the streets to traffic and erect barriers down the side of the road. I was in town for other reasons and I ended up having to cross the route in a couple of places. It can be very tricky, because the flow of runners never stops and there don’t tend to be big gaps between runners. You really don’t want to get in the way of the runners as you cross! In some places you’re not allowed to cross at all, and you have to walk along the route until a gap opens up in the barriers. These kinds of events do pose a problem for pedestrians getting around the city. While traffic gets diverted, there aren’t usually any special provisions made for those on foot.
This is probably one of those “solution looking for a problem” ideas. I seem to have a lot of those! Anyway, here’s the idea. This tool would allow you to set up a sequence of timed events. Each event has a title, a duration, and a sound to play when the event starts. You can also set the text and background colours for the events. All the events are played in sequence from start to finish. You’d create a timer sequence by dragging new events onto a kind of timeline, and you could drag them around to rearrange them, and edit their properties.
This is an idea for an alternative, much simpler, type of navigation tool for smartphones and tablets. Instead of the usual system where you have a map showing your current location and your destination, this would just have an arrow and a display of the distance.
In one section of Peopleware, they talk about how destructive interruptions are to the state of flow, and how important uninterrupted time is for getting work done. They describe what happened at one of their client sites after they started measuring the ratio of uninterrupted hours to time spent in the office (what they call the “E-Factor”):
…there was a nearly organic phenomenon of red bandannas on dowels suddenly sprouting from the desks after a few weeks of E-Factor data collection. No one in power had ever suggested that device as an official Do Not Disturb signal; it just happened by consensus. But everyone soon learned its significance and respected it. Continue reading
One of the first things I install whenever I find myself in front of a new Windows PC is PureText. It basically gives you a shortcut keyboard combination for “Paste Special -> Unformatted Text” which is something I find myself doing quite a lot. I hate pasting from one application into another and having all the formatting come with the text, and PureText solves that problem really easily. I now use it just about every time I paste. I think of paste as Windows-V now, instead of Ctrl-V. I felt a bit lost when I got Windows 8 at work and PureText didn’t work at first (it’s been updated now!)
PureText works by modifying the contents of the clipboard before pasting. This got me thinking about how else you could manipulate the clipboard when pasting. I thought it might be useful to have a utility which allowed you to set up a list of items. Each time you paste, the next item from the list would be placed into the clipboard ready for the next paste. Instead of lists, you could also set up expressions which the tool uses to create the next item, with some useful variables available, such as the index (the number of pastes you’ve done so far). Continue reading