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'Productivity' Archive

Letting my geek flag fly.

Make Email Easier with Greasemonkey

greasemonkey-gmail.jpgI’m a fan of the email signature. It’s a great way to supply the people you talk to with your contact info, and once you set it you can forget it. One of my favorite things about desktop email programs (like Entourage) is the ability to have multiple signatures that you can select for the appropriate message. For example, the long signature with all your contact details isn’t necessary for inter-office mail. I even picked up the habit from my old employer to automatically add “Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns” to the signature used to interact with clients.

I use Gmail as my primary email tool and love everything about it. My favorite feature is the integration of multiple email accounts. The drawback has always been that Gmail only supports a single signature. This is a problem. My default email signature looks like this:

Justin Dickinson // [email protected]
visit AllMyLiesAreWishes, my personal blog:

That’s all well and good for the majority of my emails. But I also have the How I Met Your Mother blog and an email address associated with that. When I email those readers I don’t want to link back here to AMLAW and I want to have the correct info. The only thing to do is remember to delete the default sig before hitting send. For a long time this was how I did it. I’d occasionally forget and in general it seemed like there should be a better way.

I installed Greasemonkey this morning. When looking through the available scripts I found the Gmail HTML Signatures plugin. This script adds the exact functionality to Gmail that I’d been missing. Now when I write to friends or readers from Have You Met Ted it automatically adds the appropriate signature. It even works on replies and forwards. Awesome!

I don’t take advantage of the HTML part because I think that big, colorful, or image-ful signatures are almost always obnoxious. It is just nice that Gmail is finally smart enough to append the appropriate sig based on what account I’m emailing from. Check out the script, and for that matter Greasemonkey, today.

While we’re on the topic, any recommendations for other must-have Greasemonkey scripts?


Google Toolbar Bug: AutoFill

Google ToolbarI love the Google Toolbar addon for Firefox. It makes all my surfing a lot faster. One of my favorite features is the ‘AutoFill’ button. For those who don’t use it, it’s a one-click form auto fill. You save all your common info (name, address, phone, email, even credit card info if you want) and any text field that the toolbar thinks it can fill in becomes highlighted in yellow. Click the button and all the fields are filled out. Very nice.

The other day I commented on a half dozen or so blogs (visit these in the new sidebar section –>). Imagine my surprise when I returned to these posts the next day to find my comments missing. If it had just been one I would’ve assumed it was a fluke, but it was all of them, and on different sites.

I emailed Ryan at Employee Evolution and he let me know that all my comments had come in as spam. I just commented on a post there tonight and my comment appeared immediately. The difference? I didn’t use AutoFill this time. Maybe there’s something that happens when the browser fills in the name and email fields automatically that triggers the spam filter on certain blogging software. I’m not positive what the details of the problem are, but I’ll be typing in my info manually from now on. Other Google Toolbar users, you’ve been warned.

For those of you who don’t use it, this is the only bug I’ve found, and it’s a small one. It’s an indispensable addon, if not only for it’s auto spell checker in text fields. I’m an awful speller so this really helps. Although, it doesn’t have “dialogue” in it’s dictionary for some reason.

Download the toolbar here.


Self Motivation the Mathematical Way

Problogger recently posted on a technique to maintain personal productivity through a daily point system. I love this idea. I do think that the system detailed there is a bit ambitious for a novice blogger. Here’s my modified system. In true Justin style, it’s probably more complicated than necessary.

Aim for 25 points a day during the week and 75 points over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) for a week long total of 200. In this system, you can do 20 points one day and 30 the next. Each week it restarts though, this aren’t cell minutes.

  • 10 points for a “real” blog post. That means one that is not a linking post (like this one), is at least a page long, and is based on some research or a couple drafts.
  • 10 points for starting or continuing a pet project or personal experiment (new recipe if you’re a chef, a widget or something similar for us digital cooks)
  • 10 points for completing a project ahead of schedule.
  • 10 points on going out with friends you haven’t seen in at least a week (real life going out. not electronic)
  • 5 points for a linking or other short blog post.
  • 5 points for new networking
  • 5 points for completing a project on time
  • 3 points for each blog draft outline (more than just bullet points, a decent rough draft)
  • 3 points for each old friend or colleague you reconnect with (email, phone, facebook, linkedin). Try to have a good back and forth conversation, not just a ‘hey there’
  • 3 points for contacting a fellow blogger or professional in your industry
  • 2 points each for commenting on blogs in your industry
  • 1 point for commenting on your own blog (this counts for other author’s posts if you contribute to a group blog like I do)
  • 1 point for each industry-specific article you read (and bookmark to I mean really read, like, you could summarize it in conversation over dinner.
  • 1 point for each term, historical event, new technology, etc you research with intent to incorporate into a blog post.
  • 1 point for every great idea you write down
  • 1 point for completing a task on your to-do list that doesn’t fall into any category above (smaller, miscellaneous tasks)

I’m sure I’ve missed some. What else? Am I totally whacked? Have I missed something important?


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