Rocu.de

Love, caffeine and omlette

Month: July 2013

Changing your life — there's an app for that

I try to get rid of bad habits and to introduce benefitial behaviors. On a stressfull day however, it's hard to stick to all my resolutions. 2 months ago I have found a solution that works really well for me: Lift.

The basic idea

You start by feeding all youre good resolutions into Lift. Every day you check off all the one's that you achieved. This makes it very transparent, what you did and help's you to not forget your commitments to yourself.

Gamification

Lift has the concepts of streaks. If I did something for 5 days for example this is a 5 day streak.

For me this works great. I would not think about breaking my 66 day Lumosity streak for example.

Friends

On Lift you get support ("props") from other people. There are some pretty remarkable guys on Lift, that get a ton of stuff done every day.

This got even better, when my colleagues joined in. It's amazing to work on habits together and receive positive energy all the time. My colleageus and I also founded a group to work on some habits together.

Conclusion

Lift is the most important app in my life. It helps me to transforming myself.

I have over 30 commitments to myself in Lift. Common wisdom says that this is totally bananas. The amazing thing however is that, on a normal day, I finish most of them.

I am really grateful for this app. I think you should give it a try as well.

If you like Lift — and I am sure you will — become my friend!

The awesomeness tool-chain

I have an awesomeness tool-chain — command line tools, that increase my productivity dramatically. In this blog post I want to introduce you to these powerful tools.

Cowsay

$>  echo "I love strawberries" | cowsay
  _____________________
 < I love strawberries >
  ---------------------
             ^__^
             (oo)_______
              (__)       )/
                  ||----w |
                  ||     ||

Ponysay

If you like ponies and colors more - I understand. Depends on the use case really. I found ponies way more effective if you want to communicate something that could trigger bad feelings.

sl - The ls for pros

I often mistype ls. Gone are the days were this was boring. I just lean back and enjoy the show. Steam Locomotives are a big part of being awesome.

Fortune

If you are as new to programming as me you need help, when someone asks you for you're opinion.

Fortune produces profound answers to all kind of questions you did not even ask.

$ fortune
I am the mother of all things, and all things should wear a sweater.

$ fortune
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
    -- Andy Finkel, computer guy

Conclusion

Being awesome requires a special tool-chain. Having ponies and quotes at your disposal is essential. I think you should give this a try.

My personal dashboard

I am collecting quite a lot of data on a continual basis:

  • Blood pressure
  • Steps
  • Weight
  • Tracked habits
  • GitHub commits
  • Follower counts
  • RSVP's for the events we host at Gutefrage.net

That's why I decided to visualize it on a personal dashboard. This weekend, I invested a few hours and came up with this:

I created a GeckoBoard, because that's what we use at the Helpster Team at Gutefrage.

All the widgets including Meetup.com, Twitter and FitBit are available on GeckoBoard already. The only widget that I had to populate myself was the Lift.do indicator.

Conclusion

Is the GeckoBoard worth 19$'s a month? I don't know.

Probably I will switch to something like Panic's Statusboard - but this requires a little more effort — I am not sure to invest this time until I know that a personal dashboard makes a difference.

Did you guy's try something similar? Then please tell me in the comments below.

Fighting bad habits with technology

I keep a list of stuff to improve. Whenever I catch something stupid it lands in there.

I try to get rid of these bad habits.

Often I find myself unable to solve the problem with willpower alone. Then I search for a solution that assists me. Maybe a little "barrier" or some kind of reminder. Let me show you, what I mean with this..

Looking at the keys all the time

When I started to program 5 years ago I looked onto my keyboard all the time. Sure - typing faster does not make you a better programmer - but typing with 2 fingers is not ergonomic.

I found a nice solution for my problem.

I bought a keyboard without letters. I was so bad to hit the proper keys, that nudged me towards learning it right. I have to admit though that I still have problems with some special keys 😉

Not moving enough during work

Like most people I had the problem that I did not take enough breaks. This was hard to change.

I started to work in Pomodoros (25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break). Unfortunately I still did not leave my working space often enough.

So I took another iteration and added added a little AppleScript to my Pomodoro App..

After each Pomodoro my Pomodoro timer executes a little script that locks my Mac 😉

Surfing the web all the time

Unfortunately I am addicted to the internet. I am pretty OK with it most of the time — but not, when I want to be productive.

That's why i wrote a little script that blocks my internet access.

#!/bin/bash
echo "Enough of this filthy internet" | cowsay -s
sudo route -n delete default &> /dev/null

If I need to be more specific with the site I need to block, I use a program called SelfControl.

This works great! Of course as a computer guy I could circumvent this — but I do not want to.

Force pushing to master

It happened frequently that I forced pushed to master. This was really annoying for me.


Image Source: Flickr / Pascal (CC BY 2.0)

My colleague Nikolay proposed to fix it with a script. That's just what I did.

I have not force pushed to master since. This script is now also in use at some of my colleagues.

Checking working email at home

I checked working email at home. I love my work to much to let my fingers from it - but I realize that I need time of it in order to rest.


Image Source: Flickr / Tama Leaver (CC BY 2.0)

There's a simple remedy for not reading work related emails at home: Delete the freaking email account on your computers at home. It's baffling how often you will look into your empty email-client thereafter..

Checking Twitter really often

There's so much chatter at Twitter. I checked Twitter hourly. Here's what I did:

  • Remove people that write to much
  • Add a URL block-filter
  • Delete Twitter from my iPhone

    This works really well for me.

Not using arrow keys in VIM

Another stupid habit of mine was, that I used the arrow keys in order to move in VIM.

This was pretty simple to fix: I disabled them!

 not use the arrow keys any more
 nnoremap <up>    <nop>
 nnoremap <down>  <nop>
 nnoremap <left>  <nop>
 nnoremap <right> <nop>
 inoremap <up>    <nop>
 inoremap <down>  <nop>
 inoremap <left>  <nop>
 inoremap <right> <nop>

It took only a week until I was not trying to hit them any more 😉

Being to digital

Another problem of me is, that I use all my electronic devices to much. Here is what I build to prevent this: Productivity Protector 2000.

It works.

Conclusion

What is my point to show you this little collection of personal hacks?

Do not be a victim of you're bad habits.

As Nerd we have superpowers: We analyze problems. We solve them. All day long. Start applying these skills to the rest of your life!

Save a file as root in vim

I often edit files without having the right permissions in VIM.

VIM can not safe a file

I changed the file and when VIM told me that I did not have the proper permissions to save it, I quit VIM and entered sudo !! to try it again.

This was of course stupid of me. Currently I try to be more mindful about this kind of problems and to fix them.

Here's the lines that I just added to my .vimrc

" Use :w!! to save as root!
cmap w!! w !sudo tee % >/dev/null

When I enter :w!! now VIM saves the file as root.

I hope I will not encounter this problem again.

How to not use the arrow keys any more in vim

I try to wrap my head around the VIM editor since a few months. Unfortunately I do not have enough discipline to use h-j-k-l as my movement keys. But there is a solution that will teach me..

I found it deep inside the .vimrc of my colleague Fabian.

nnoremap <up>    <nop>  
nnoremap <down>  <nop>  
nnoremap <left>  <nop>  
nnoremap <right> <nop>  
inoremap <up>    <nop>  
inoremap <down>  <nop>  
inoremap <left>  <nop>  
inoremap <right> <nop>  

This turns off the arrow keys. A really obvious way of doing it 😉

I will add this to my .vimrc right away!

Wish me luck!

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