Wednesday, April 17

Evernote, Omnifocus, and my productivity

Over the past several years my job here at Cisco Talos has changed drastically.  I took on new roles, which is awesome and exciting, but in the process while trying to organize and create process and clarity for my team and those that work with my team, I lost my personal productivity.  Something I've written about extensively on this blog.

I shifted from Evernote (which I've been using forever, as readers of this blog will know) to, and from Omnifocus (Also have been using it forever) to, all in an attempt to reduce the amount of 3rd party apps I had installed on my laptop, iPad, and iPhone and use a "native Apple experience".

I quickly outgrew them both.   I found out that Notes really tops out at around 2000 notes, then it becomes basically nonfunctional. My notes are not your typical Apple "jot down a few things" type Notes though.  I've had a lot of people tell me that Notes handles their notes fine.  My notes have attachments, drawings, photos, complex formatting, etc.  I have thousands and thousands of notes.  I just don't think could handle it.  Another feature I missed: Notes doesn't allow you to "Tag".  I can arrange my notes by topic, much like the "Notebook" feature in Evernote, but I can't "tag" something in

For example, how I use this in Evernote, and I'll touch on this later as well...  let's say I am going to a conference.  I get the agenda for the conference, my flights, my receipts, my notes, my meetings, everything that I am doing at the conference, I tag it something that represents the conference.  For example, my tag for "CiscoLive United States" is "clus".  I can find everything regardless of Notebook or arrangement with that tag.   I could compensate for this in with something like #clusat the top of the note, and that worked for awhile, but as I said earlier,'s searching at thousands-of-notes scale is ridiculously slow, and let's not get started with the frustration of syncing across devices.

More on searching...  Notes can find text in a PDF or a Doc, that's fine, but it doesn't show you where in the PDF the text was.  Notes also doesn't do a good job of searching handwritten notes.  Something I do a lot of on my iPad. (I'll get to this later with my comments on Notability and Penultimate.)

As for Reminders.  It doesn't do any nesting of actions, vital to how I work in Omnifocus.  Plus I had a bunch of Applescripts that organized and automated things for my in Evernote and Omnifocus, and I had to rewrite some of them to deal with Reminders and Notes.  Things like being able to simply tap a keystroke, which prompts an entry box so I can create myself a reminder very quickly.  Omnifocus has this natively., I had to find one (or write one, I honestly don't remember which at this point)  btw --  here it is.

tell application "System Events"
display dialog"Create a new reminder" default answer"" cancel button"Cancel" giving up after 20 with icon path to resource "Reminders.icns" in bundle(path to application "Reminders")
set reminTitle to text returned of result
tell application "Reminders"
set newremin to make new reminder
set name of newremin to reminTitle
end tell
 end tell

If you use Reminders, and you want to steal that and make a keyboard shortcut that calls that AppleScript (if you use feel free.

So, after using this new system for awhile, I found out it was a disaster, and in the past two weeks I have dedicated significant amounts of time to get back to my happy place where things were productive.

So, I'm back to using Evernote and Omnifocus again, and I am going write a few posts on how I've developed a system the works for me with these three tools.  Consider this.. part one.

Please leave comments below.

Wednesday, September 5

Is Evernote going away?

Evidently we don't know if Evernote is sticking around, since there seems to be some panic on the internet about it today.

It is really easy to move your notes out of Evernote and into on the Mac.  (Click the above link for the easy instructions.

However, if you use Hazel, to say, monitor the "Downloads" folder on your Mac, and if any files show up there (like a PDF for example) and you want to have it automatically saved to  (This is handy after you try it).

I wrote a little AppleScript to do this for you, (in Hazel) since I couldn't find one on the Internet, and it wasn't rocket science:

tell application "Notes"
set mynote to make new note at folder "PDFS"
make new attachment at mynote with data theFile
end tell

If you have a folder in called "PDFS", it will create a new note in the folder for each file and attach the file to it (which for me, then syncs it with iCloud so the file is on all my devices). Pretty handy.

Anyway, putting this here in case any one else can use it.

Please leave comments below.

Monday, December 12

VimWiki, this looks pretty cool.

As it is very themed with some of my blog posts, I discovered this today, for all of you command line types:


Copy and pasted directly from their website, go check it out:

With Vimwiki you can

  • organize notes and ideas
  • manage todo-lists
  • write documentation
  • write a diary


  • three markup syntaxes supported: Vimwiki's own syntax, Markdown, MediaWiki
  • export everything to HTML
  • link to other wiki pages and external files
  • search through all wiki pages
  • outline notes and tasks in indented lists
  • quickly manipulate numbered and bulleted lists
  • tag wiki pages or arbitrary places and quickly jump to tags
  • tables

Please leave comments below.

Wednesday, June 15

Why don't you write on your blog anymore?

1.  I don't feel like I have much to say.

I do a tremendous amount of writing and blogging on the Snort, ClamAV, and Talos blogs.  So, I get exhausted when I think about things I would want to write for this blog.

2.  When I do think about what I want to write about, I want to rant against companies and competitors.

But why would I want to give any competitors an intel on what they are doing wrong, or in some cases right?

3.  Twitter is 140 characters of BS, and I can't even think of 140 characters to spew on there half the time.

I know a bunch of people that just post random thoughts and spew for 100s of tweets a night about something, and they have thousands of followers.  I just don't feel like that's me, or it gets me anywhere.

4. Gov't or politics

I know a bunch about the subject, and I just don't feel like talking about it, since that's all the news is saying right now.  

Basically, no one cares!

And now I am tired.

Please leave comments below.

Thursday, March 10

You can't have it both ways

Too long for Twitter. 

Law enforcement agencies are constantly complimenting Apple for the company's addition of "activation lock", citing that it reduces the amount of violent robberies, since the criminals know that they are not able to steal someone's iPhone and then resell it.

But now, those same agencies want Apple to essentially allow law-enforcement agencies to bypass that, what is close to the same feature. 

While yes, the lock screen passcode is different from the activation lock on an iPhone, the request is essentially the same, please allow us the functionality to guess or bypass the password.

I can understand the argument on both sides of this issue, but, I also believe that there are places, such as the human brain, which is protected by the fifth amendment, that the government should not be allowed to go.

Tuesday, July 7

I just had the best travel experience ever

Left my office at 4:30 for a 5:15 flight.  I know what you are thinking, you are crazy...

You're right. Normally would never do this, but was running behind with stuff today.  Drove from my office in Columbia, MD to BWI. 

Parked the car, no problem. 

Walked to security (already checked in on my phone), went through TSA pre line, using the boarding pass on my watch.  No line. 

No one bothered me about my bag, no one told me to have my boarding pass and ID out and ready...

Went through security in about 30 seconds. 

Walked to gate, plane too small to bring on roller board bag, so, pink tag check it at gate.  Done. 

Boarded with watch, zone 1, only one in zone 1.

Went right to my seat, no waiting.

Hour flight, quick Coke on the flight, I wrote three emails, done. 

Got off flight had to wait 5 minutes for bag, darn. 

Walked out to car rental bus, had to wait another five minutes, darn. Bus driver was friendly, no waiting there, went to car rental facility, no traffic, got my space from the Hertz Gold board, walked to car, got in, tapped my phone to give me the address and directions to hotel, drove to hotel.

I was already checked in (via app) at hotel, no lines, picked up my key, walked to room. In room, was waiting a small snack.  

From when I left my office to my hotel room, less than three hours.  

Over the course of my career I have encountered everything that can possibly be wrong with a trip (except crashing in a plane, knock on wood).   Today, nothing went wrong.  

Today was a good day. 

Friday, March 13

Should we fire low-quality contributors to projects?

Friend of mine at work pointed this article out to me this morning:

Should we fire low-quality contributors to projects?

Good article that deals with the dilemma of dealing with toxic community members to a project.

Luckily in Snort and ClamAV, I've only had to deal with a handful of these.  Usually people that hide behind nicknames and like to try and shame people into submission to their ideas.  I've actually had people apologize to me years later for trolling or simply being toxic.

However, if you are a community manager for an open source project or a community project, this article gives you a couple things to think about.

Please leave comments below.

Evernote, Omnifocus, and my productivity

Over the past several years my job here at Cisco Talos has changed drastically.  I took on new roles, which is awesome and exciting, but in ...