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Craig Pilcher

Craig Pilcher

The Internet as a Megaphone

3 min read

We live in exciting, sometimes terrifying times. It has become fashionable to carry a device on your person at all times with more computing power than NASA's Apollo command center. Products raise millions of dollars to essentially communicate with that smart device from several feet away. The most popular uses of of these mobile devices are to shoot round birds with a slingshot at makeshift towers built by pigs, and to broadcast any minute detail that pops up in the ol' brain bucket. Broad new horizons.

However, users of these devices (and the services they enable) bring with them horizons that are neither broad nor new. Certain , previously ignored and subsequently rendered powerless, now have the means to broadcast globally and connect like-minded individuals regardless of geographic location. This message amplification has the ability to force society to progress with great strides, as with the LGBT community. But for some reason, the net-positive effect does not happen with everyone. The most recent instance of this is Gamergate.

In years past, I might have identified myself as a gamer. In the sense that "I enjoy and often play video games in my free time", it is an accurate descriptor to this day. After the past few months, I would be reluctant to identify myself this way. If you have successfully avoided any Gamergate news up to this point, good on you. Keep it up. If you feel like being sad about life, read this summary from Newsweek with actual Twitter statistics, or this in-depth summary about the implications of this type of movement.

Upon further research, this seems like a deeper cultural issue, unrelated to . I would say it is an American issue, but it is likely present elsewhere too. Kathy Sierra, a prominent tech figure, has now had to essentially leave the internet for the second time in less than 10 years. Before that, several private personal pictures of celebrities were leaked, of which there was a single male (and he was collateral damage, as he was dating one of the targeted female celebrities). Even before that, dumb old white guys were talking (seemingly sincerely) about "legitimate rape" in congressional election coverage. The megaphone created by our newly-connected society seems to have pretty terrible opinions about on an alarmingly consistent basis.

TL;DR The only way I know how to help is to write about it. I will be a parent soon. It scares me to think that the difficulty of that kid's life will be so greatly affected by a single genetic coin-toss.

Craig Pilcher

Productivity in the Age of Angry Flapping Birds

3 min read

I am a flip-flopper. The newest thing is always best; the grass perpetually greener. It is why I just got a new phone, and why my employer using Windows XP (!!!) on all employee laptops until late last year drove me crazy.

In addition, my favorite form of procrastination is reading about new ways to do work. All the bases are covered - the illusion of work, thinking about work, theoretically improving future work - to feel productive without actually being productive. Lifehacker is the ESPN1 of feeling productive, my main source of finding new ways to work (especially the How I Work series).

This is most likely the reason that I cannot choose a to-do/note-taking/organizer program. There are so many, but I think I finally have it narrowed down to about 4.

My previous favorite was Workflowy, basically an infinite nested list. Todo.txt is the open-source nerd tool, which just uses a .txt file. Trello makes everything into a bulletin board with cards pinned on it, and Evernote does all the things, everywhere.

Services2WorkflowyTodo.txtTrelloEvernote
Cost $49/yr Free Free for personal $45/yr
Photos No No Yes Yes
Tagging Yes Yes Limited to 6 Yes
GTD-oriented3 Kind of Yes Maybe Definitely
API Working on it... Unnecessary Yes Yes

They all work great, but at slightly different things. Evernote would be the best option, with its ability to store photos. but most of its function comes from storage, not helping me to process that storage. I am still figuring that bit out, and will probably use one of the other tools to do it.4

My favorite right now is Trello. I tried it a year or so ago, and it seemed better suited for group projects. Now, they have a better mobile client, and the documentation is easier to find. Also, the keyboard shortcuts5 are great and make using it fun. I would highly recommend using one to sort out daily life. None of them will meet all your needs6, but you can make them work together to hit all your bases.


  1. Come to think of it, ESPN : sports :: Lifehacker : working. What percentage of ESPN's programming is actually showing a sporting event? 
  2. OK, you got me, those are all referral links. Throw me a bone :) 
  3. I'm only about a quarter of the way into the book. But from all the lifehacking articles I've read over the past few years, I know the concepts. When my wife tried reading it, and stopped in roughly the same place to go do something else, I told her she clearly learned all she needed. 
  4. There are ways to connect all these services to Evernote on the backend - forwarding Workflowy logs to Evernote, syncing with Trello boards, and todo.txt
  5. Keyboard shortcuts are the stickshift of the internet. Not always necessary, but makes things a lot smoother, and people who always use them swear by them. 
  6. That is more of an existential problem than a productivity problem.