Getting Things Done

For about 2 months now I’ve been following David Alans Getting Things Done (GTD) program, and here are my thoughts.

While writing everything down worked for a week or so, I have now slipped into a kind of inbox zero way of processing tasks, if it can be done now with no or minimal effort then do it else I add it to my lost of things to do.

Now the software I use is Things on both Mac and iPhone and it works perfectly with the way I now manage my tasks. Not only does it allow me to do scheduled but repeating tasks like sync the to clients at the end of everyday. The apps are very simple yet powerful enough to manage entire projects with hundreds of tasks each. I’ll be posting a full detailed review of Things for Mac and iPhone in the coming weeks.

Does GTD give me more time and less stress? Well that’s 2 questions so let’s start with the latter.

I didn’t have that much stress to start with but for some of my big projects I having been getting stressed as much as normal and meeting deadlines is getting less and less of a problem.

Time, yes I defiantly have more of that, much more. I’ve started taking on bigger projects while also having time to sit down and watch TV not sort of watch it while working on something.

Smugmug

I recently started using Smugmug to host my photos and videos in one place where the full resolution files can be accessed in case I ever want them back. The other reason was I wanted one place I can send people to get everything.

I choose Smugmug because it offers full 1080p video uploads and the gallery designs look great without any effort needed to change them.

At first I didn’t think I took enough photos and video to really take advantages of Smugmug’s offering. But once I started the 14 day trial I started taking more and more photos of everything.

The only thing I would like from them is the ability to embed a HD video instead of just the web and DVD versions.

They also offer plugins for a selection of photo managers on both Windows and Mac as well as desktop uploaders for both platforms. Of course they have a browser based uploader, ideal for uploading at work and using business level internet speeds.

They also have an iPhone app for uploading them images of random things you see on the go.

The video quality is outstanding even at the web quality (DVD below) and the HD is stunning.

The service is fast for both uploading and viewing which is a major tick box for me. I want users to be able the use the services as fast as possible without taking forever to add new content

Before I used Picasa Web Albums for photos and Vimeo for video but now having one place that makes everything look beautiful makes my life easier and simple.

And as bonus if you signup using KaxUuEHSdZTDM in the ‘Email / Coupon’ field you will save $5, I know not much but it’s something.

Update: Sign up via the iPhone app and get 50% off your first year.

Google AdWords Review

Google AdWordsI have been using Google AdWords for some time now and as I promisted here is my full review.

I started using the service back in June and when Google sent me a letter with a £50 credit if I signed up so I thought Why not it’s free. Well apart from the minimum of £10 I had to deposit to cover a £5 administration fee.

The ads started to show up within minutes of completing the account activation.

You get 2 options to make payments postpay or prepay, I went to prepay to keep control and so when the £60 credit runs out the ads will stop showing up.

There are also two account types, standard and starter, the starter account is where I started. It allows you simple control over your ads and lets you advertise one product/service.  Both accounts are free and if you start on the starter you can upgrade to the startard later for no extra fee.

So does advertising drive traffic, yes. But does that traffic then drive more revenue, yes and no. I did notice a small rise in money been generated but it’s no where near enough to cover the cost of the AdWords campaign. However I don’t run this site to make money if I make half the cost of hosting back I’m lucky.

Each click costs around £0.15 when biding is set to auto with a monthly budget of £20.

My final thoughts on this matter are yes advertising works, but I knew that already, and in order to make it effective you have to be selling a product, but I also knew that.

I didn’t tryout AdWords to make more money or drive traffic I just wanted to play around and make the mistakes before I want to start a real advertising campaign

Review: MarsEdit

MarsEdit.pngMarsEdit is a popular desktop blog creation tool on Mac (Similar to Windows Live Writer on Windows). The advantages of using a desktop editor are mostly the ability to work offline and use the full power of the desktop environment.

While they don’t do everything the web interface of your blog does they do the main thing, writing posts, very well.

MarsEdit Screen.pngSo what does MarsEdit do to make it so popular, well for a start its fast, cheap and powerful through the extensive support for AppleScript. It also ties into Flickr so you can include pictures from (and upload to) your library instantly. They also allow you to browse media you’ve uploaded to your server so you don’t need to upload duplicates. And yet there’s more because it’s on the desktop it will do both spelling and grammar checking as you type, easy most modern browsers will do this for you but hey.

MarsEdit Preview.pngBut if you really want to use it to unleash the full power of desktop publishing you should take time to build a template that matches your site and the live preview really comes into its own if you have a big enough screen.

The thing that makes MarsEdit special for me is its one of the few desktop publishers that I’ve tried that supports the blogging platforms tags as well as Technorati’s.

I do especially like the way it handles multiple blogs arranging them like mail boxes allowing me to quickly and easily switch back and forth.

MarsEdit Post.pngMy only real criticism is that everything needs to be wrote in HTML. This is not a problem for me as a web developer but for a basic user this isn’t good.

Will I continue to use it? Yes, for the rest of my 30 day trial I definitely will, but after that I’m not sure.

There’s no doubt for straight forward publishing its perfect for the job. I’ve got some more testing to do with some more advanced stuff before I decide if it’s worth putting down the $30 for it or if the web interface will serve just as good for my use.

Backblaze Online Backup

backblaze-logoBackblaze is a simple service really, a small none intrusive application you install on Mac or Windows that uploads all your files to their data centre for one flat fee $5 per month per computer (or $50 (≈ £30) per year per computer).

I’ve been using it on Windows for a few days and I haven’t noticed it there and thats a good thing. In fact I’ve only been checking it to see how it’s getting on during the initial backup, for me it found 112,000 files to backup totaling 134GB.

backblaze_control-pannelNow heres my problem and its not with Backblaze themselves, on my connection I can upload around 2.5GB in 24 hours so I’ll need to leave my computer on all day and night for around 2 months although Backblaze does allow you to switch off your computer and it will continue from where it left off but this will take even longer.

This is the main reason why I have avoided online backup services before, that and the fact you’ll have to download everything to recover from a major systems crash but I desided to give Backblaze a try because when I need to restore they will ship me a backblaze_settingshard drive with my data overnight.

So far I have backed up around 4GB (30,000 files) to the service and even though I’m backing up online I’m still going to be backing up to a 1TB external hard drive. You can never have to many backups.

My Internet connection has slowed a little but not to the point where it becomes unusable and if it does Backblaze offers the ability to throttle itself.

They will give you a 15 day free trial and don’t even ask for a credit card until your ready to buy.

Yes, there are other services out there that do the same thing for around the same price, but I haven’t tried them.

Backblaze Online Backup from $5/month