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If I Complete A Digression, Did I Get Anything Done?

Published July 20th, 2007

I’m drowning in ideas I have no time to pursue…! I think this is what some people mean when they complain of “information overload.” In my case, it’s more like “idea overload.”

I recently tried some of the “getting things done” software tools I’ve downloaded in an attempt to get my idea-log under control… but none of them really helped. I’m leaning to iGTD since it’s free, full-featured, and actively under development, but honestly, the work of compiling my list of projects and trying to prioritize and schedule them, etc., merely made me even more aware of how swamped I am, and how far behind I am in the things I want to be doing!

I will certainly be getting some of these “things” done eventually, but it sure is harder as the projects pile up. And my wife keeps wondering why I’m killing myself over work I don’t even get paid for…! Now, there’s a conundrum that simply could not have existed before the web came along. Questions keep flying past me as I ponder my situation:

  • Am I having more ideas for interesting projects now because there’s a potential audience that might be likewise intrigued?
  • Or is my “idea center” being overstimulated by the vast number of other fascinating projects now so readily at my disposal?
  • And is ADD merely a byproduct of living with the web? That is, are we more distractible today because web browsing can lead us onto so many irresistable, multi-nested, looping digressions?
  • If I complete a project that arose as a digression from one I still haven’t completed, did I get anything done?

Heck, with so many interesting avenues to pursue, no wonder so many of us have trouble getting anything done! :-)

Still, hope springs eternal, as they say, so I tried doing a GTD list. However, once I had finished, the exercise merely confirmed precisely why I’m feeling so overwhelmed. And my preliminary list only includes the large projects, not the routine ones that consume so much of my day. The irony of this situation is that all of these are projects that have sprung from this blossoming well of creativity I seem to have fallen into, which I would normally view as pure “fun.”

Having new ideas is great, but only if you have more brains to explore them with. Sadly, I still have only the one that came with my Martian birth.

Just for fun—and because I haven’t got anything else done today—I thought I’d jot down the ongoing projects I’d love to finish, as recorded in my GTD list:

  Classic 45s Site

Enhance Classic 45s Features

Better search, customization options, etc. Numerous ideas from way back.

Enhance Classic 45s Interface

Convert from tables to CSS, add Ajax improvements to UI.

Update Classic 45s core software

E-Commerce package in use is old code, hack-prone. Need better reporting and stock-management tools.


Finish crystal clear

Try to get it working in Leopard in addition to finishing planned features.

Update Crystal Albook

Need a whole raft of icons for apps, and I’d like to add some for documents and file types too.

  Musings from Mars: Articles

Article on Best Software

I’ve long planned my own take on the “essential Mac software list” category, but I keep waiting in vain for me to finish my software inventory…

Article on CSS 3.0

Did the first part of it (yay!), but I need to finish the job…

Update Ajax/DHTML article

At one time, this was the most popular article on Mars, but I haven’t updated the info there since September 2006. I did a little updating earlier in the year, but I haven’t published it yet…

Update PC/Mac Price article

This article from May 2005 was prescient, but I’d dearly love to analyze for myself what the relative prices look like today.

Write second half of the “Why buy a Mac” article already… the first half is almost 2 years old now!

I’ve shied away from this because I get so hammered every time I bad-mouth Microsoft. Not that I don’t think it’s worthwhile… I just don’t think any of the walking brain-dead who actually need to listen to why Microsoft doesn’t deserve their dollars, will in fact listen.

SAM article

This is one of the top priorities right now, and it’s a topic several readers have been asking for. SAM is my acronym for “single application mode,” a method of managing your Mac desktop and application windows that I’ve found highly effective at eliminating window clutter. It’s also one of the best ways to get the most out of a transparent theme like Crystal Clear.

  Musings from Mars: Site Development

Finish ajax_post.php

I’ve got this function about half written, if I recall correctly. It’s one of my Ajax experiments.

Finish article archives

I finally got the archives done and eliminated that horrible month list, but I now want to let readers view the articles by category as well as month.

Finish updating heatmaps

The category/tag system on Mars has gotten way out of hand… I started on a fix some time ago but need to finish it. Unfortunately, it’s all tied up with separating out the Software Addicts site (a separate project).

Fix slow code on Mars

This is an ongoing effort that will never end…

Fix Comment form and block spam

This has been waiting in the wings for aeons… I tried one spam solution late last year, but though it’s certainly eliminated spam, it also made submitting comments to Mars a more-than-frustrating experience for readers. That wasn’t my intent. Since removing that roadblock a few weeks ago, I’ve been having to wade through 150-200 spam messages a day, with only about 1 message a day that could be approved. I finally put up a new spam filter and some Ajax interactions to the comment form today. Fingers tightly crossed.


Adapt Crystal Clear to Uno Install

I’d like to make Crystal Clear available to folks who don’t have or want to have ShapeShifter. This takes on an increasing urgency as I look ahead to Leopard…

Finish Classic 45s Jukebox widget

I’ve got this widget about 60% done… I just need to devote a day or two to wrapping it up!

Learn Cocoa

I’m in the midst of this rather huge project right now, which is the main reason I haven’t been writing much lately. Objective C and Cocoa are both more complex programming tools/frameworks/environments than I’ve ever encountered before, and I’m trying to do this with books and code rather than lectures and teachers. It’s the way I learned Perl, HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and PHP, but there’s just so much more to it!

Modify SetAlphaValue for background colors

I’m also working on this one, which I think is a really exciting enhancement to Crystal Clear. Again, the changes in Leopard are spoiling my party a bit…

Research CoreUI

CoreUI is the new user interface framework Apple is building for Leopard. It looks really cool, but it’s hell trying to figure it out without any documentation…

  Software Addicts: Site Development

Review Demo Software folders

I’ve stopped adding demo software to Mars because my backload is already so daunting. The list already on Mars shows 319 software titles-in-waiting. Yet that’s not even all of the ones I’ve got in my Demo Software folder over here. I know this can’t be right, but one of my file inventory tools shows 778 applications in my Demo folder. I desperately need to get this under control before I go further… !

Review existing Applications directory

Same is true with my “approved” applications. I need to know what I’ve got and get rid of what I don’t need.

Software Taxonomy

While I’m doing the above two things, I need to figure out what my naming system is going to be. I keep calling a category “Developer tools” one place and “Programming tools” another. I’ve got a taxonomy in draft form, which I spent a couple of days on a few months back. But it needs to be tested in practice—such as by organizing my applications and demos!

  Software Addicts: Reviews

Add to Ongoing Software “Roundups”

Roundups to continue:

  • PIM
  • Personal Organizers
  • Personal Finance
  • Spreadsheets

Write roundup reviews

Roundups that could be written include:

  • Image Management/Previewing
  • Programmers Text Editors
  • Synch software
  • RSS readers
  • Email clients

Write software reviews

Focus on software I’ve purchased licenses for and those I’ve clearly rejected. Probably 10 or more software packages in the “Maybe” category have already been approved, but I haven’t had time to write up my review and pros/cons list.

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