Show me yer rig

Show me yer rig! (Gmail filters edition)

See it bigger on Vimeo.

Joining its brethren, the screencasts on Google Reader and gCal, is a little (too long of a) video on one specific thing I really like about gmail, its filters.

Pretty much every email program has filters of some kind built in, but I like how easy gmail makes it to set them up, especially once you start making use of keyboard shortcuts (and a cheat sheet can help with that).

The specific hack I added is a top-level (i.e., above-the-fold) label named, reasonably enough, "add to filter." (I mistakenly call the label a filter in the screencast, but it's definitely a label. You create labels, which you can use to help you with filtering.) When bacn-y email shows up in my inbox and I don't have time to deal with it right then, I grab it and move it to the "add to filter" label. I then clean that out once or twice a month, creating filters for stuff I want to funnel somewhere, or sometimes just unsubscribing to something on the spot. I definitely suffer from eyes-bigger-than-stomach syndrome when it comes to bacn.

You don't even have to watch the video if video ain't your thing. My main point here is to draw attention to the advantage of taking time to do one small thing (automate your email sorting) if it helps free up time and headspace to do big things (work, nap, etc.).

Although if there was enough interest, I could do an additional, longer video or post about gmail workflow, with screen captures on the taxonomy I'm using with labels, which has helped me tame the beast. But maybe not. Email is a really personal thing. Plus, isn't everyone sick of talking about it? And haven't most of you given up on email for anything useful or fun and just gone to Twitter and Facebook?

I know I get enough dang "emails" in Facebook.

As usual, comments, criticisms and observations welcome, especially those that will help me improve. And questions? Of course!


Show me yer rig! (Evernote + Instapaper edition)

[vimeo 12774516 w=475 h=297]

Haven't done one of these how-to screencasts in a while, and this one is reeeeeeally simple, so it's very possible you've thought of it long ago and have been using it for ages and are all, "Gee, Colleen, it must be hard, getting old and losing all that processing power."

However, I stumbled upon this solution for simplifying clipping stuff to Evernote, my fave catch-all/squirreling-away tool. If you're already slick with the mouse, this will likely be more hassle than it's worth, but if you're like me and are not so good with the mouse/trackpad when it comes to highlighting content, you will LURVE it, I swear.

Some notes! Because there are always notes after wrassling with video:

  • It is not a 2-minute video; it's a 2:42-minute video. I recorded this thing no less than SEVEN times trying to get it under 2:00; like a postmodern Blaise Pascal, I just didn't have the time to make the thing any shorter.
  • My numeric dyslexia has spread to independent clauses. At about 1:20 in, I say "I want to save the URL and clip the page, just in case." What I meant was to flip those things: you have to clip the page if you want the content to appear in Evernote; you do not have to have the URL, but I like to keep it, just in case. There's a nifty little arrow button next to the URLs in every Evernote note that will take you straight to the full page in a jiffy. Sweet!
  • Shareaholic really deserves its own shoutout. It's a fantastic social sharing tool for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. browsers that lets you easily clip things to Evernote, as well as share content in an insane number of places. Literally, you'd go insane doing that much sharing. Fortunately, it's customizable: mine has links to gmail, Twitter, Facebook, delicious, Evernote and Tumblr, which is already borderline insane. You can also choose your fave flavor of link-shortening service (I use, mostly), so you can get shortened, trackable links for all the stuff you're sharing, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Ignore what I said about emailing, you can totally leave a comment, and I would love that. I have comment moderation turned on now, so depending on how diligent I'm being with my other work, it may take some time for it to appear, but unless you're being a sh*thead in your comment, it will appear. (And yeah, I do need a clear commenting policy. It's on the list!)

If you hate watching video, here's the tip, in a nutshell: rather than highlighting text and content you want to clip to Evernote, use the Instapaper Text bookmarklet to convert it to clean text before clipping. That's it!

As always, and especially while I'm on the steep, upward curve of this video-learning thing, comments as to what was and wasn't helpful, distracting, fun, evil-ish, are particularly welcome.

And because I'm anticipating the question, no, I haven't made it yet. BECAUSE I SPENT A BAZILLION HOURS TRYING TO GET THIS UNDER 2 MINUTES!

Life is easy; video is hard...


  • Evernote, a Swiss-Army-knife of saving and collecting tools (free; subscribe for extra features)
  • Instapaper, program that strips  and lets you read articles later (free, online and iPhone app; $5 for iPhone app with extra features)
  • Instapaper Text bookmarklet (scroll down to find) Javascript tool that strips visual nuisances from web pages for your reading pleasure; just drag from the page to your browser's toolbar (free!; Mac users, also try Safari Reader, available in Safari 5)
  • Google Chrome Super-fast browser for PC, Mac and Linux.
  • Shareaholic Fantastic social sharing tool for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. browsers.

Show me yer rig! (Google Reader edition)

First off, I'm gonna keep on makin' these things until you tell me to stop, or until I get better at them, or both.

Second,, I'd originally intended to do a screencast on Evernote, my favorite digital scoop-'em-up device, but then Evernote decided to take the site down for a little maintenance right as I was getting ready to roll, so I went with Google Reader instead. (Look for a doodly-wah on Evernote at a later date.)

While I do my my best to be entertaining as all get-out, those of you who are already web-savvy may want to skip this one. There's a bit in there about some tricks I use to keep my GR nice and tidy; you can skip to the last third of the video for that portion, including a visual demo of the excellent Gina Trapani's excellent Better GReader add-on for Firefox.

But if you only ever read this site by actually going to the site, or if you only read sites by subscribing via email, you're in for a treat!

Here's the video. Click on the button with the four arrows to make it BIG, baby:

Show me yer rig! (Google Reader edition) from communicatrix on Vimeo.

At some point, I'll figure out how to actually edit these and make them slick and purdy. Until then (and even after), I'd be most grateful for your feedback. Too long? Too short? Features I'm blipping over?



BONUS TIP: from commenter Claire, to only show the blogs with updates, click on the downward arrow tab next to "Subscriptions" and select "Show Updated." Nifty! Anyone else?