Category Archives: Productivity

Setting up the ultimate console

If you’ve been coding for any time, chances are you’ve become acquainted with the command line. While some love it and some hate it I think it’s wonderful for getting things done quickly. Unfortunately, the windows command line is crap. With that said I finally got fed up and asked that most important programmer question of “How do I get a better command line”?

That search led me to an open source application called appropriately enough: Console. When I first opened it up and started playing around I have to admit my first reaction was “meh”. Then I asked that import question again, “How can this be made better”? A little Googling and experimentation later I got things working to my satisfaction.

So, here for your one-stop quick-reference is how to setup the ultimate console for Windows…


  • You access the console for all different platforms (not just Windows)
  • You already have putty and its utilities downloaded – and are familiar with their use
  • You already have installed cygwin – and are familiar with its use


  1. Download Console and extract the contents to the folder of your choice
  2. Download ANSICON and extract the following files to the same directory you extracted Console to.
    • ANSI32.dll
    • ANSI64.dll
    • ansicon.exe

Great, now you have Console installed, but this is the configuration I use to make it really rock.


These can all be found under “Edit -> Settings”

  • Appearance
    • Custom color: Change it to an awsome green
  • Appearance -> More…
    • Uncheck “Show toolbar”
    • Select “Alpha” under “Window transparency” and set “Active window” to 25 and “Inactive window” to 40
  • Behavior
    • Check “Copy on select”
    • Uncheck “Clear selection on copy”
  • Hotkeys
    • Set “New Tab 1” to “Ctrl+T”
    • Set “Copy selection” to “Ctrl+C”
    • Set “Paste” to “Ctrl+V”
  • Hotkeys -> Mouse
    • Set “Copy/clear selection” to “None”
    • Set “Select text” to “Left”
    • Set “Paste text” to “Right”
    • Set “Context menu” to “Middle”

Tab Configuration

Now that you have your console looking pretty and being functional, lets hook it into putty and cygwin. You can do this configuration under “Edit -> Settings -> Tabs”. Obviously, the directories you’ve chosen for things will be different (change to your values).

Cygwin: Add a tab and set the shell to:

C:\cygwin\bin\bash.exe --login -i

Putty: Add a tab and set the shell to:

C:\apps\Console2\ansicon.exe "C:\apps\Putty\plink.exe" -load "aSavedSessionName"




Google Chrome Keyboard Shortcuts for Tabs

So I hope by now everyone knows that Ctrl+T opens a new tab in Chrome, but I always forget these shortcuts so hope they help trigger your memory too…

  • Ctrl+T = Open a new tab
  • Ctrl+W = Close the current tab
  • Ctrl+1 through Ctrl+8 = Go to the tab at the specified position in the window
  • Ctrl+9 = Go to the last tab in the window
  • Ctrl+Tab = Go to the next tab in the window
  • Ctrl+Shirt+Tab = Go to the previous tab in the window

Note: Yes, these all appear to work in FireFox too. I’m just partial to Chrome.

Inbox Zero – How I do it

Why is it that when I mention I have no email in my inbox or that I just delete email I get these looks and comments of complete disbelief? Probably my two favorite comments are “How can you possibly do that?” and “You must not do anything.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do it and that you can actually get stuff done. While there are a ton of ways to do this and you might want to tweak your implementation a little bit, I’m going to give you a run down of how I do it.

Ok, so how do you go about implementing inbox zero? First, create a new folder (Outlook) or label (Gmail) called “_oldCrapCloggingMyInbox”. Second, move all the email in your inbox into “_oldCrapCloggingMyInbox”. There, don’t you feel better already?

Now, repeat after me…

  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Do
  • Defer
  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Do
  • Defer
  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Do
  • Defer

Got it yet? No? One more time then…

  • Delete
  • Delegate
  • Do
  • Defer

Ok, those are the 4 questions you need to ask yourself (in that order) for every email. Now you’re going to start honing your “deleteability”. Seriously, don’t be afraid of deleting email (if you’re really paranoid, replace delete with archive”).

Can I just delete this? If so, delete it. It’s liberating isn’t it?

If you can’t delete it, can or should someone else be doing it? If so, send it on its way and delete it.

If it’s something you have to do you have a decision to make. If it’s something you can do in 2 minutes or less – do it! Then delete it! If you can’t do it in 2 minutes or less either put it on a task list or move it to a “Read Review” folder/label. Naturally, if you put it on a task list – delete it.

Doesn’t that feel so much better?

Now, this may feel a little weird and it will take some getting used to, but practice it over the next few weeks and see if it doesn’t feel great to have an empty inbox.

You might also want to watch the original presentation by Merlin Mann.

Questions? Still think I’m crazy? Sound off in the comments.

How I manage my social media intake

Every now and then, people ask how I knew something or how I can keep up on the things I do.  Rather than go over it a bunch of times I’d like to try and share it once.

First and foremost, the most important thing is managing the “noise” you do listen to.  Specifically, I do not watch or read the “news” unless an event somewhere else triggers the need/desire to check things out.  Second, in social media you need to learn how the tools work, and by that I mean using things like lists, or hiding individual noise makers (for example, if less than 1 in 3 of your posts has anything useful and you’re not immediate family there’s a good chance you’re getting blocked).

So on to the specifics…  The way I make this work is with a few tools:

  • Feedly – For subscribing to RSS feeds
  • Social Media – Take your choice.  Mine are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
  • Flipboard – For viewing social media and RSS feeds
  • Pocket – For reading the things that may actually be useful
  • Evernote – For storing the things that actually were useful

Step 1 – Setup your Inputs

In this step, you would subscribe to the feeds you’re interested in via Google Reader, setup social media profiles on the network(s) of your choice, connect with the people you want to on those networks, and create your VIP lists.

On Twitter I have a private “VIP” list I maintain of people I most respect and that post useful content.  This list has less than 20 members.

On Facebook, because of their ridiculous “news feed”, I don’t pay attention to most posts and a lot of people wind up getting hidden.  I also have a VIP list for immediate family.

No matter what network I strongly recommend setting up a “VIP” list (actually call it that) so you can easily get at the people and content you’re most interested in without all the other noise.

Step 2 – Setup Flipboard

This is my platform of choice for being able to quickly scan inputs at a glance and decide which things may be worth my time.  For example, you can have a board for your Google Reader feed, social media feeds, or even specific lists on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

You’ll also want to setup the “read it later” service of your choice, which for me is Pocket.  Once you’ve done this, as you’re flipping through the posts on any “board” you can simply long press and choose “Read Later” to have the article saved without all the ads and garbage for easy reading later.

This is where the “triage” is done multiple times a day. When I have a spare minute I’ll flip through a given board or boards marking articles of interest to read later.

Step 3 – Read

After things have been saved to Pocket, when I have more than a quick minute I’ll read the articles I’m interested in.  Pocket is great because it has apps for iPhone and Android as well as a web app for reading on a larger screen.

Step 4 – Archive

If I find something I really like, Pocket makes it very easy to save the article to Evernote for future reference (except for on the web platform).  Once in Evernote I can get at any article from anywhere since they have an app for just about every platform under the sun.  Personally, I have an “Article Ref” notebook that everything gets shoved into.

So there you have it.  My personal method for managing my social media intake.  Hope you find it useful and learned something you hadn’t known before.