Categories
Apps

Twitter is changing my timeline preferences

Recently I wrote about how I reduced the noise on my Twitter timeline by changing the default timeline preference from top tweets to the latest tweets.

Since then I noticed that from time to time my timeline preference is falling back to top tweets without my intervention. But I wasn’t totally sure because I did not think Twitter may be overriding my preferences. Today I realized it is indeed the case!

As shown in the following screenshot of the iOS app on my phone, Twitter is overzealously overriding my timeline preference to what it wants me to see.

Twitter screenshot showing its overzealousness with changing my preferences.
Twitter is changing my preference 🙁

Every time Twitter does this to me, I have to tap the star icon at the top right and change the preference to latest tweets.

This is my first-hand experience of a social network’s aggressiveness towards its users. I still stand Twitter because I often find useful information on it via the cool people I follow. But when the time comes, I don’t think twice to leave the platform. Until then, I will put up with this nuisance.

Categories
Journal Tech Tips

How to quickly add tasks to your to-do app

The usual workflow to add tasks to any to-do app involves loosely a few steps:

  • Find the app on the computer
  • Open the app
  • Find the Inbox folder
  • Click the Add task button
  • Type the task name
  • Hit Enter to add task

These manual steps of adding tasks are way better than not having a to-do system in the first place. But the problem with manually adding tasks is the number of steps it involves. The six steps I listed above don’t even include deciding the project of the task, priority, due date, labels et al. The basic six manual steps are hard to do (and hence easier to skip) especially when we are busy doing other things. This often meant, I missed adding some tasks or had to distract myself from my current task and take a detour to my to-do app just to add the tasks.

This has been my biggest problem with how I used Wunderlist. Until I discovered Zapier early last year.

Zapier is a tool that allows you to connect apps you use every day to automate tasks and save time.

After seeing some of my colleagues use Zapier for automating some work tasks, I got curious and started exploring it. This lead me to learn about zaps.

A Zap is a specific link between two services you’ve connected on Zapier.

Zapier provides a ton of app integration ideas. You can start from here: https://zapier.com/apps/integrations/ and explore some integration ideas depending on the apps and services you use.

My recent move from Wunderlist to Todoist wasn’t complete until I have also moved some Todoist zaps on which I rely a lot for work and personal life.

For work I use the following Zaps:

  1. Add new starred emails to Todoist as tasks (so when I just star a Gmail, it appears as a task in my Todoist with the link to the email for the context)
  2. Add new starred Slack messages to Todoist as tasks (so I just star a Slack message, and the message would appear in my Todoist with the link to the Slack message)
  3. I use Alfred a lot. So I setup Zapier for Alfred workflow which allows me to add tasks to my Todoist from the Alfred window.
  4. Unrelated to Todoist, but I also set up an Alfred workflow to add events to my work calendar right from the Alfred window, through a Zap in the background.

I also have a version of all the above zaps (except the Slack to Todoist zap) to work with my personal email, calendar and Todoist lists.

All these zaps allow me to add tasks to Todoist or calendars without having to stop what I am doing and without leaving the keyboard.

Regardless of which apps you use, there are a ton of zaps and Alfred workflows that offer myriad options. But a word of caution though: too many options means often we end up using none! After experiencing this for a long time, I optimized my workflows for simplicity and inexpensiveness in terms of both my money and cognitive energy. This means, I use Zapier’s Free plan which allows me to have only 5 zaps, and each of those zaps can only connect two apps. And I can use only 100 tasks per month. This seems to be sufficient for my needs and is working pretty well for me.

Likewise, if you use Alfred, you will find many sophisticated workflows that allow you to set tasks labels, priorities and other details right from Alfred window. While these options are good, it also means I need to learn those options and remember them. This often requires mental bandwidth and energy. This mostly lead me to stress and confusion and as a result, uselessness. So again, I optimized for simplicity and just use a basic workflow that sends whatever I write in Alfred window to Todoist’s Inbox from where I will triage later, so I don’t have to remember much or leave what I am doing. This works well for me rather than trying to use complicated workflows that require me to learn and remember their options.

Categories
Journal Tech Tips

Alfred workflow for managing windows in Mac

I am constantly looking for better workflows and today I stumbled upon this useful workflow to manage the app windows in Mac using Alfred.

I set it up and used a few times. I loved using it!

Thanks for making and sharing it, Paweł.

I am also on the lookout for better Space Manager apps and ideas. But more on that later, when I find a solution that I love.

Categories
Apps Journal

Itsycal

I found this list of 25 free macOS apps every Mac user should have, which I found on my twitter feed, interesting.

I already use some apps like Wunderlist, Slack and VLC mentioned in that list. But one app that I felt I could use is Itsycal. It shows the calendar from the menu bar; something I wish the default time date / time app on Mac showed. Itsycal also connected to the calendar app on the Mac and synched all the events. I am no longer using the default time app on the menu bar. Now my calendar is just Ctrl + I away.

Try Itsycal!

Categories
Thoughts Tips

Example of a nagging app

Only yesterday I blogged about apps and their tricks to grab our precious attention by making us  install them on our phones in the pretense of helping us.

This morning I wanted to check the menu of a local cafe. I googled and clicked on one of the search results. It’s a Zomato link that looked like what I wanted:

I click on it and get this:

When I click on SEE MENU link, I get this:

If I think a bit about this…

What I wanted to do: check the cafe menu.

What Zomato wanted me to: install their app.

If Zomato’s aim is to help me, it will get out of my way and provide the info I need as soon as possible without any friction. But it seems Zomato’s aim is to make me install their app and advance its interests.

These are exactly the kind of apps and services I should avoid.

Categories
Journal Thoughts

Apps and attention

I started reading Raptitude from last year and it quickly became one of my favorite blogs.

The recent post, How Billionaires Stole My Mind, opened up my mind to how social media companies compete for our attention first thing in the morning and succeed in distracting us.

After reading this post, I also deleted Tweetbot app from my iPhone. Twitter now joins the ranks of Facebook, Instagram and other social apps that have no place on my iPhone.

And despite Outlook’s frequent nagging, its notifications remain turned off. The only three apps I allow notifications are: WordPress, Slack and WhatsApp. These three apps are important to me.

I urge you to reconsider and be deliberate about which apps and notifications you allow on your phone. Just because your phone has a lot of space (mine has 128 GB) doesn’t mean you need to install lot of apps and worse still, scroll through their feeds unconsciously.