Tag Archives: tools

Small Victories, or how to build your own website very simply

You need to build a web site? Consider Small Victories. As they say:

Small Victories takes files in a Dropbox folder and turns them into a website.

Best of all, they can help you build a variety of different sites, from a blog to a home page to e-commerce.

The site explains it very well, so visit Small Victories and see how it’s done.

Found via Swiss Miss. Thanks, Tina!

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Tools to help you deal with anxiety, during a pandemic, or otherwise

I think this is a terrible headline, which is too bad, because there is much to take away from this piece:  How to stay sane when the world’s going mad | MIT Technology Review

There are tools and advice in there, including this:

  • Notice when you are worrying, and be kind and compassionate to yourself. This is a difficult time; it makes sense that you might be more anxious.
  • Focus on what’s in your control. Work out what is a hypothetical worry (you cannot do anything about it) and what is a real problem (needs a solution now).
  • Refocus on the present moment. Focus on your breath, or on using your five senses.
  • Engage in activities that you find meaningful and enjoyable. That could include music, walking, reading, baths, household tasks, or calls with friends and family.
  • Notice and limit your worry triggers. If the news is making you anxious, limit your consumption.
  • Practice gratitude. List the things you were grateful for that day: for example, “The sun was shining.”
  • Keep a routine, and stay mentally and physically active.

 

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You may be working from home for awhile. Here are some tools to help you stay focused

This is actually a great looking set of tools to help you work from home: Eight apps to help you stay focused when working from home – The Globe and Mail

Normally when I see such a list — and there have been many — I see the same tools over and over again. Not with this list. Moreover, they are a diverse set of tools to help with various difficulties when you work from home.

Have a look. I’d be surprised if there isn’t one there you could use.

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For MacOS users who need a simple and free stopwatch or timer

 This tool seems pretty good. Using it right now.

Two tools to help you be more productive at work

Spotify

You can use Spotify to listen to music while you work. But sometime music can be distracting. Sometime all you want is to drown out the sounds in your work environment. During those times, a good alternative to music is rain sounds. Spotify has a lot of different rain sounds to choose from. Well worth trying for those noisy work spaces that you need to be productive in.

Flow

 
Another good way to be productive is to use the Flow desktop app for the Mac. I’ve tried many a timer app and I like this one best. It is simple to get started with. It reminds you when to take a break and when to work, but let’s you chose if you want to get back into the flow. It can block out certain apps that might prevent you from being productive, like your browser. Also worth a look.
(Image from pexels.com)
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It’s Monday. You need to do great things. Here’s some great tools to help you.


This is a really good list of apps that will make you life and your work more productive: 17 Great Apps That’ll Make Your Life Easier.

I’ve used a number of them and have found them helpful. You may not use them all, but even adding 2 or 3 to your toolbox will make you better.

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MindMup 2: a good web based mindmapping too

I’m a fan of mindmapping tools in general. One I’ve been using and enjoying lately is MindMup 2. 

Two things I like about it:

  1. It’s simple to modify your mindmaps on the go. You don’t need to do much to add or modify your map.
  2. It’s also simple to export your mindmap into a number of different formats. If you occasionally use mindmaps or you want to start with a mindmap to generate ideas but then you want to do the majority of the work in Word or some other tool, this is a good feature.

Mindmup_2 is a good tool. Go map your thoughts.

You need good work tools to be your best at work. Here’s 11 for you to consider


We all get in ruts where we use the same tools every day for our office work. When that happens, what we need is someone to come along with a new list of tools and what makes them great.

Here is such a list. I didn’t create it, but I have used 3 of the 11 tools here and I can say they are key to making me more productive every day. I plan to use the rest of them too, based on the description of them.

Sure, you can do fine with Microsoft Office tools. This list will help you do better: 11 Most Used Tools & Apps Essential to my Work – DESK Magazine

(Image via pexels.com)

A great tool to help you with any 30-day challenge

is this simple calendar:

A very effective way to motivate yourself to take on a new habit or break an old one.
For more on this, head over to Austin Kleon’s web site and this page: 30-day challenge

How many days until….

Clock
If you want a simple way to determine how many days until a certain date, or have a count down clock on your screen, consider the web site days.to. If you go to that link, you can see all the things you can do with the site. If you want to determine how many dates until a certain date, enter https://days.to/dd-month/year. For example, if you want to know how many days until January 1, 2020, enter: https://days.to/1-january/2020

Great little site!

34 good links on AI, ML, and robots (some taking jobs, some not)

If you are looking to build AI tech, or just learn about it, then you will find these interesting:

  1. Artificial intelligence pioneer says we need to start over – Axios – if Hinton says it, it is worth taking note
  2. Robots Will Take Fast-Food Jobs, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes | Inverse – true. Economists need to stop making such a strong link here.
  3. Artificial Intelligence 101: How to Get Started | HackerEarth Blog – a good 101 piece
  4. Deep Learning Machine Teaches Itself Chess in 72 Hours, Plays at International Master Level – MIT Technology Review – the ability of tech to learn is accelerating.
  5. Now AI Machines Are Learning to Understand Stories – MIT Technology Review – and not just accelerating, but getting deeper.
  6. Robots are coming for your job. That might not be bad news – good alternative insight from Laurie Penny.
  7. Pocket: Physicists Unleash AI to Devise Unthinkable Experiments – not surprisingly, a smart use of AI
  8. AI’s dueling definitions – O’Reilly Media – this highlights one of the problems with AI, and that it is it is a suitcase word (or term) and people fill it with what they want to fill it with
  9. A Neural Network Playground – a very nice tool to start working with AI
  10. Foxconn replaces ‘60,000 factory workers with robots’ – BBC News – there is no doubt in places like Foxconn, robots are taking jobs.
  11. 7 Steps to Mastering Machine Learning With Python – don’t be put off by this site’s design: there is good stuff here
  12. How Amazon Triggered a Robot Arms Race – Bloomberg – Amazon made a smart move with that acquisition and it is paying off
  13. When Police Use Robots to Kill People – Bloomberg this is a real moral quandary and I am certain the police aren’t the only people to be deciding on it. See also: A conversation on the ethics of Dallas police’s bomb robot – The Verge
  14. How to build and run your first deep learning network – O’Reilly Media – more good stuff on ML/DL/AI
  15. This expert thinks robots aren’t going to destroy many jobs. And that’s a problem. | The new new economy – another alternative take on robots and jobs
  16. Neural Evolution – Building a natural selection process with AI – more tutorials
  17. Uber Parking Lot Patrolled By Security Robot | Popular Science – not too long after this, one of these robots drowned in a pool in a mall. Technology: it’s not easy 🙂
  18. A Robot That Harms: When Machines Make Life Or Death Decisions : All Tech Considered : NPR – this is kinda dumb, but worth a quick read.
  19. Mathematics of Machine Learning | Mathematics | MIT OpenCourseWare – if you have the math skills, this looks promising
  20. Small Prolog | Managing organized complexity – I will always remain an AI/Prolog fan, so I am including this link.
  21. TensorKart: self-driving MarioKart with TensorFlow – a very cool application
  22. AI Software Learns to Make AI Software – MIT Technology Review – there is less here than it appears, but still worth reviewing
  23. How to Beat the Robots – The New York Times – meh. I think people need to learn to work with the technology, not try to defeat it. If you disagree, read this.
  24. People want to know: Why are there no good bots? – bot makers, take note.
  25. Noahpinion: Robuts takin’ jerbs
  26. globalinequality: Robotics or fascination with anthropomorphism – everyone is writing about robots and jobs, it seems.
  27. Valohai – more ML tools
  28. Seth’s Blog: 23 things artificially intelligent computers can do better/faster/cheaper than you can – like I said, everyone is writing about AI. Even Seth Godin.
  29. The Six Main Stories, As Identified by a Computer – The Atlantic – again, not a big deal, but interesting.
  30. A poet does TensorFlow – O’Reilly Media – artists will always experiment with new mediums
  31. How to train your own Object Detector with TensorFlow’s Object Detector API – more good tooling.
  32. Rise of the machines – the best – by far! – non-technical piece I have read about AI and robots.
  33. We Trained A Computer To Search For Hidden Spy Planes. This Is What It Found. – I was super impressed what Buzzfeed did here.
  34. The Best Machine Learning Resources – Machine Learning for Humans – Medium – tons of good resources here.

My new productivity tool: E.gg Timer – a simple countdown timer

My new favorite productivity tool is this site: E.gg Timer – a simple countdown timer. Whenever I am procrastinating, I will use it to get myself to focus by starting it for 5, 10, or more minutes and telling myself: I will focus until the timer goes off. I have found this approach very effective, and this site helps me. It also helps because if I find myself going to my browser to mindlessly go on some time wasting site (hello, Twitter!) I will see this and I will remember to focus.

Fans of the pomodoro technique will see there is a special timer just for it.

As a bonus, you can use it to do a high intensity tabata workout.

Great tool. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on using JMeter to do web performance testing

There are many tools to use for web performance testing, but if you want a good tool that does the job, I recommend Jmeter. The good and bad thing about JMeter is that there are alot of different options and features. To make it simpler for you, the good folks at Digital Ocean have a good tutorial on getting it set up, here: How To Use Apache JMeter To Perform Load Testing on a Web Server | DigitalOcean. While this is fine for testing one page, there are test scenarios where you want to have the user perform multiple steps (e.g. go to the home page, login to their account, check their account balance, then logout). If that is the case for you, too, then you want to read this next: How To Use JMeter To Record Test Scenarios | DigitalOcean (I used Firefox for this: if you are going to use JMeter to develop your performance test cases, then download Firefox too.) For any performance testing that follows a sequence, you really want to use the recording feature of JMeter.

Some other thoughts….

On my thread group, I added the following listeners:

  • Response time graph
  • Graph results
  • Aggregate report
  • View results tree (with scroll automatically on)

I also login to the web server and tail -f  the access log (and sometimes the error log).

I do all this because it is easy to run have a lot of errors when you first (and even later) run your test. For example, if you are testing a sequence, you might see good performance, but you might also see 404s in the access log, or you might see other anomalies in the aggregate report (e.g. good response 90% of the time, but bad response on average). Having more data is better and it insures you don’t have false positives (e.g., you think performance is good, but it really isn’t because the application is failing).

As soon as your developers have some code in place, have someone run Jmeter against it. Don’t wait until towards the end of the project. Jmeter is free and anyone can use it.

Back up your test plans often. It is easy to change your test plan, have it go from a successful one to an unsuccessful one because of the change, and then find it hard to go back because you changed a number of variables.

For your test plan, have multiple thread groups. This will allow you to test different test scenarios for different test groups. You can have different test plans too: it’s up to you how you manage it. For example, I recorded a long sequence for one test group, then I copied it and made a simple test group with less steps by removing them.

Do you need tools for a safer PC ?

Of course you do: everyone does. Therefore check this out: Tools for a Safer PC — Krebs on Security.

Want to start a startup? All you need for that is here

And by here, I mean this site: Startup Stash – Curated resources and tools for startups. It is an amazing collection of tools you likely will need, for one thing. Plus, it has a superb user interface that not only groups the tools well, but gives you a sense of all the things you need to think about if you are going to go forward and create your own startup.

If you aren’t seriously thinking about startups, but would like to know about new tools to make you more productive at work, then I recommend you check out this site too.

Kudos to the creator of the site. Well worth a visit.

How to be more efficient online: the very big list

The folks at Buffer have put together a very big list of 100 tools, tips and tricks to work more efficiently online. I have gone over it and there are lots and lots of good tools and tips and other advice to help you be more productive and get the most out of being online. Stop wasting time on social media** and start being more productive by clicking on that link now.

** Reading this blog does not count as wasting time on social media. 🙂

Another tool to help with stress: the Online Meditation Timer

The folks at this site have a number of tools to help with stress, including this: Equanimity Project: Online Meditation Timer.

If you can sit quietly at your desk for awhile, it may just be the thing to help you calm your mind and get back to a more peaceful state before you proceed with your day.

How to be more productive at work? check out what tools other people use

Chances are, if you talk to five different people at work, you will find five tools or techniques they use to be productive that you hadn’t even heard of.

Rather than do your own polling, you can also check out this article: Most Popular Apps Employees Use At Work – Business Insider.

Remember, these are just for work, and yes, Facebook still shows up there. And this is just the cloud / distributed services. (Also, I am wondering Evernote didn’t show up there.)

I  would be surprised if you read it and didn’t adopt at least one of the items on the list by the end of your work day. Good luck.

Are you trying to convert Word documents to HTML?

If so, you know of all the …stuff…Word will add in there. I understand why Microsoft does it, but I would rather not have it. If you are in the same boat, I recommend you check out this site: Convert Word Documents to Clean HTML. It gives you the ability to take snippets of said HTML and clean it up for you.

It has it’s limits, but worth a look. Or to your tool box.

10 ways to get more out of another great tool, Evernote

Yesterday was about ifttt. Today it is all about another great tool I highly depend on: Evernote. Evernote has become my go to tool for capturing information. (Bonus: it works great with ifttt). There are many great ways of using Evernote. If you are using it or planning to, here are at 10 for starters: 10 Tips On How to Use Evernote To Its Fullest « The Solopreneur Life®.

Please share any other tips you have. I find the one key tip I have for users of Evernote is this: the more you use it, the better it gets.

 

My new favourite app for beating procrastination and getting things done (GTD) is 30/30

My new favourite app for beating procrastination is the 30/30 app from the good folks at  binary hammer. I often find I get distracted from the list of things I have to do. With the 30/30 app, I can create a simple list of tasks, each with an amount of time to do them in. Once I start the list, the app shows me how much time I have to complete each item on the list. I can add if I want, or if I finish early, I can check it off (and the task moves down to the Completed section below the line). The result: I am better able to focus on the task list I have to do.

The app works on the iPad and the iPhone. The interface is superb. And it’s free! I highly recommend it.

For more on the app, you can go to the binary hammer web site (link above) or you can go here: 30/30 on the App Store on iTunes

How I blog now (for people interested in comparing notes on blogging)

Blogging is dead (so it is said). But I am still blogging, and happily so. Here’s why, here’s what I think has changed, and here’s what I do now.

I have been blogging a long time (since 2005). Over that time I have had blogs on Blogger, WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr, and on IBM’s hosted sites. I still blog on WordPress and IBM. (Posterous is gone, Tumblr feels less like blogging and more like social media sharing (great stuff, but not for me), and Blogger never could top WordPress for me.)

Blogging had it’s big moment in the early Web 2.0 days, and a number of bloggers went on to great success. Then more and different types of social media appeared, making blogging seemed dated and bloated. Even I dropped off blogging and started doing more with Twitter, Instagram, and more.

I have returned to blogging because it still has something that other social media lacks. It allows me to capture longer ideas, unlike other social media. It lets me go back and see what I was thinking about and doing years ago. Most social media is about the Now and about the Group, but blogging is more than that. Blogging extends in time, and starts (but doesn’t end) with me.

I was also incented by a number of small things. One, my blog traffic was declining, and I thought I would like to see if I could reverse it. I like the idea of people reading my blog, and I thought blogging again could improve the decline. Two, WordPress started paying me monthly for my blog traffic. It is a pittance: less than $6 a month. I have a goal to get it up higher than that. Three, I’d like to reach the goal of having a million views of my blog. I started the blog modestly, and I have been happy to see how it has grown. I’d like to hit that number.

Those are small incentives, though. A bigger incentive/goal is that writing my blog is Writing. Blogging is a good word, but what I really want to do is write and write better and eventually write well. Maintaining the blog helps with that goal.

(If your blog is mainly writing, consider saying you are Writing (not Blogging) when you are adding to your blog. A blog is a web log, but if you are trying to do something more than just log things — and you likely are — why not elevate what you are doing by labelling it with a better label?)

How I blog now:

  1. I use a WordPress plugin with my Chrome browser. That allows me to quickly blog about an interesting web page I come across.
  2. If I don’t want to blog about it now, I use instapaper to save interesting pages for later. Then I will take time and go though the saved pages and either blog about them or save them in delicious (or just get rid of them).
  3. To promote my blog posts, I connect twitter to my WordPress blog: whenever I update my blog, I have a link to it posted on twitter.(After all, I want people to read them, and flagging them on twitter is one way to do that).
  4. If I post a number of posts at the same time, I schedule when they are posted. Otherwise, people on twitter will get flooded with them, and I think that doesn’t help get people to read them (and it is likely annoying).
  5. Besides my web browser, I use Feedly to read other blogs. I have integrated Feedly with my WordPress blog using IFTTT. I have an IFTTT recipe that fires off whenever I save a document in Feedly. The recipe will create a new draft in WordPress for me to work on later.
  6. I process the drafts in WordPress using Firefox and a plugin called ScribeFire. ScribeFire used to work with WordPress, but it doesn’t work for mine now. But I still use it to create more complex blog posts (like this one). Then I go to the admin panel of WordPress and update my blog using copy and paste. (I know, this isn’t exactly *easy*, but I had gotten used to ScribeFire and I haven’t found a tool that I like as much as that.)

Unlike many smart bloggers I follow, I tend not to write long form posts. When I do, I write them in Microsoft Word, mainly because if my machine hangs up or reboots or does any number of stupid things, I will not lose what I have written thanks to Word’s superb autosave feature. Once it is good enough (by my meagre standards), I will copy and paste it into WordPress.