[video] Roll your own "flix" queue

[Watch "Create your own 'flix' queue" on YouTube; running time 3:34]

I'm a big fan of Netflix streaming video, but there are also other groovy things on the Internet that I might want to watch sometime, "sometime" being "later, not now while I'm busy trying to stop procrastinating with these other five things and get back to work."

As I say in the video, I used to just save videos to my delicious bookmarks, but I'd find myself forgetting to go there and look for stuff in the heat of the video moment. And because I lurve how easy and delightful it is to create nice-looking, well-behaved drop-down bookmark folders in Chrome, I experimented with storing them there, and found it made much more sense. I mean, I'm there, at the computer, usually about to be four feet away, doing Nei Kung or ten feet away, making lunch, and why not just have that stuff at the super-ready.

So if you cannot bear to watch video (I sympathize and empathize), here's the drill:

  1. Create a folder in your bookmarks bar labeled something you'll remember.
  2. Bookmark the video you want to save for later.
  3. Edit the title that propagates the bar (I like to have 00:xx first, then a spacer, then something just brief enough to quickly parse)
  4. If desired, get Virgo on that shit and drag your movie bookmark into ascending or descending order, time-wise.

That's it!

Have fun, and if you use and like this (or modify it to like it better), please do let me know.

xxx c

P.S. I know it is a totally crazy nutball thing, but as I was working on this video, Netflix went down. I KNOW.

* * * * *

Various & sundry:

If you're a professional photographer, you should definitely get your shutterbug ass to Chicago for next week's Midwest tour stop of Strictly Business 3, the outstanding biannual conference put on by the American Society of Media Photographers. Insane quantities of high-quality workshops, sessions and talks, including mine (mine...MINE!!!), "How to Make People Love You Madly: Selling Yourself in the Postmodern Marketplace." April 1-3, the Allerton Hotel (tip-top-tap, old-timers!), Chicago.

As a past speaker at the Creative Freelancer Conference, I have a (not very) secret code to get you an additional $50 off the early bird registration, for a total of $80 off: CCW11. The CFC is back in Chicago, which is a lovely place for a conference, and if you're a creative type who's self-employed, I encourage you to take a look. Lots of great relationships have been born and blossomed at the previous three CFCs, and the information and personal attention is top-notch. (I make nothing on that link, baby, it's all you.)

Finally, I'm DELIGHTED to be performing at this Sunday's Tongue And Groove, Conrad Romo's outstanding spoken-word showcase at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., 90028. Six bucks, cheap; starts PROMPTLY at 6pm, and we've got a hard out at 7:30. OLD PEOPLE NIGHT. (Just kidding, I'm sure you'll go out clubbing all night afterward.) The rest of the lineup: James Brown (This River), Jo Scott-Coe (teacher at Point Blank), Alan Berman, J. Keith van Straaten, with musical guest Juli Crocket and the Evangenitals (my new-favorite band name).

Show me yer rig! (Gmail tags edition)

Show me yer rig! (Gmail labels edition) from communicatrix on Vimeo.

This week's edition is a followup to the screencast on using filters in Gmail: showing a bit of where I'm filtering those tags to, in other words, taxonomy.

Because I didn't want to make the video overly long, I'm including screencaps of the bulk of my tags in gmail, along with some of my rules and reasoning behind them.

Here are the prized, above-the-fold tags:

screencap of gmail UI

Here are the tags just under the fold:

screencap of gmail UI

And here are the tags just below them:

screencap of gmail UI

There are a few more below that, but they're really just variations on a theme. Basically, I keep the stuff I don't want to see but want to keep at the very bottom of my long list of tags by using a system of more or les 'x's and colons. (Did I say "semi-colons" in the video? Enh. You know what I mean.)

I have a feeling this might be on the outside edge of usefulness for someone who reads this blog, but hey, I'm still kinda-sorta trying stuff out in these videos. So let me know what you think: good, bad, ugly.

And hey! At least they're getting shorter, right?


P.S. New newsletter went out today. You're subscribed, right?

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?

Clearing my (psychic) clutter, Day 16: iTunes clutter (video)

I've somewhat neglected the removal of digital clutter thus far in my quest, as I'm home amongst the physical stuff for now and will be removed from it for 2+ weeks while I'm on the road.

I did take some putter-y, relaxation time to declutter my music files over the past weekend, though, and as I was combing through things, sorting and deleting, it occurred to me that there might be some utility in sharing my methods for taming the electronic hydra that is my iTunes folder. This screencast runs down a bunch of tools and tricks I've gathered over the years and includes stuff like

  • using tags to create playlists
  • the kinds of playlists (and playlist groups) I've found useful and fun
  • setting up a master playlist so that you can let iTunes deejay your whole collection without having that pesky podcast, screaming guitar or Christmas song jump in and stomp on your audio buzz

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

Remember, if you click the little button in the bottom-right corner of the player, you can watch it in full-screen mode. And if you click through to Vimeo, you should be able to watch it in high-def, very helpful with all that teensy type. Also, I've enlarged the mouse pointer thingy this time, which may help with legibility.

Not strictly about decluttering, although it gets one thing off my to-do list!

Please let me know what you think in the comments!


Referral Friday: TextExpander for the Mac


If you're like me, you type the same stuff over and over again, without even knowing it.

  • Your name.
  • Your address(es).
  • Your (too many, and growing list of) phone numbers.
  • Etcetera.

I've written before of my awesome and abiding love for TextExpander, the text expansion program for the Mac. After mere hours of use, I wrote about it so glowingly that they used my quote as a testimonial (and an awesome and abiding, albeit virtual, friendship with Smile On My Mac's evangelist, Jean MacDonald, was born). Other people, Merlin Mann, from whom I learned of it (and many other Tools and Practices of Goodness), and Gina Trapani, of Lifehacker and many other flavors of worthwhile celebrity, have done a better job than I've the time or brain cells to pull off (especially since my brain feels like it's permanently expanded, and in the bad way, in this heat.)

Still, I'll share what have become my favorite uses for TextExpander snippet storage:

  • Email signatures (I have many!)
  • Amazon affiliate links
  • Evergreen frequently-linked-to stuff (my newsletter signup page, my filthy motivational song, etc.)
  • Evanescent linked-to stuff (PresentationCamp, the workshop I did with Pam Slim, etc.)
  • Etcetera (biggest category, always thinking of new uses)

Bonus screencast of TextExpander in action, communicatrix-style

Regular readers have likely noted (I hope) that at the top of most posts, I use a carefully chosen photo from the Creative Commons Attribution-Only pool on Flickr to illustrate my posts. Extra-careful readers have probably also noted that there's a line tucked into the bottom of those posts that looks like this:

Image by CrazyFlickrName via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

That's two links and a bunch of italicized text every time. Or, it's three keystrokes, f-f-l (without the dashes), that invokes all this data:

<em><a href="%|">Image by  via Flickr</a>, used under <a href="">a Creative Commons license</a></em>.

The super-magical part, as Merlin explains in his post, is that there are some nifty shortcuts built into TextExpander itself, like the "%|", which is a command for the cursor to travel back from the period at the end of whatever your long text thread is to the place where the "%|" resides.

Here's a little screencast I put together to show you how it works:

In case the video doesn't play, you can click here to watch it. Also, you might want to embiggen it via the button with the four arrows in the lower right-hand corner, since it's all about the minute details. Still working on the encoding and such, but this is at least legible.

Let me know what you think of the video, okay? And TextExpander, if you buy it!


UPDATE (5/27/10): If you have to suffer through a second computer running on the Windows platform, check out Breevy, by Patrick McCann: it also invokes text via self-designated shortcuts, and you can import your TextExpander snippets directly or via Dropbox. And let me know how you like it, okay?

*For any of you especially hawkeyed viewers, that long-ass link is not an affiliate link, but it is the one they sent me in the email this week. As someone who obsesses over my own stats, I can totally appreciate this desire to know from whence come the links. But no, not making an effing dime off of it.

**Ditto on this long-ass link. Also, it takes you straight to the iTunes store, don't freak out! Just breathe!