Is This Why I Stall? [en]

[fr] Peut-être j'ai besoin d'un dé pour être plus active quand j'ai trop de choix.

I am not very good at prioritising. Well, not always good at it. If there is an emergency, if we’re under pressure, if hard decisions need to be made, I can be decent to good at it, depending on the circumstances.


I am not good at prioritising my wants and desires, actually. Here is the second edge to my sword of freedom. What do I want to do today? What should I start with? Nobody is tapping their foot waiting for something from me (except my accountant, that is), nobody is forcing me to do anything, I can choose.

And I want to do many things. Too many. It’s already noon, but here is what I’d like to do with my Sunday:

  • go for a walk
  • write blog posts
  • continue sorting/tidying clothes so I can get rid of my chest of drawers and move my third cupboard to its new place
  • cook so I have food ready for the week
  • do some accounting (!)
  • go to the cinema

I can’t do all that. And choosing one means I don’t get to do the others. Cake, having it, eating it. It sounds silly, but it’s an emotionally difficult place for me. So I put off the decision by flipping through Facebook, for example.

And if I’m not careful, it will soon be too late to do any of these things I wanted.

Feuilles 3

So today I did things differently. I figured I probably had time for two of these things. So I numbered them. And I rolled a die. Twice.

I went for a walk by the lake. I took photos there. The weather was splendid, windy and sunny and changing. I didn’t have time for accounting, but I wrote this blog post and roughly sorted my photos (FB) instead.

Octobre 2016 au bord du lac

I’ll do the accounting tomorrow.

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Podcasts I’m Listening To [en]

[fr] Les podcasts que j'écoute...

The list of podcasts I listen to has grown a lot during these last months. So much that I have trouble keeping up. Here they are, if you want to get infected too:

  • Mystery Show: solving mysteries, seriously. Like, detective stories without a crime.
  • On the Media: a meta-show about the media.
  • Savage Lovecast: your favorite gay sex-advice columnist
  • Freakonomics Radio: what can we learn about the world through data?
  • Invisibilia: about the hidden forces that shape our lives
  • Serial: true crime, eagerly awaiting season 2
  • Death, Sex & Money: the stuff we don’t normally talk about. Talked about here.
  • Planet Money: they manage to make money stuff understandable and interesting to me (quite a feat).
  • Love + Radio: love. Stories.
  • Radiolab: sciency, geeky, my first podcast love. About all sorts of interesting stuff, from big ideas like death and time to small things like buttons.
  • Reply All: a show about the internet and its hidden corners
  • Startup: raw behind the scenes stories of starting a business.
  • 99% Invisible: design. But you didn’t know design included all this stuff.
  • This American Life: stories. Real stories. Each week, a theme, and stories around it.
  • The Moth: live storytelling, on stage, of true stories. Be ready to laugh and cry, and be taken on the rollercoaster of emotions that is the human life.
  • Snap Judgment: more storytelling, slightly different atmosphere. It took me a few episodes to click, and now I love it.
  • Limetown: like a TV series. But audio, and in a podcast. Fiction.
  • TED Radio Hour: TED talks, radio-ified.
  • Note to Self: the human side of technology. How it’s changing our lives. How we can live with it without it completely taking over our lives.
  • Sur les Docks [fr]: newly discovered, because I’ve been looking for high-quality francophone podcasts. Takes you places.

Some others, that I have in my list but am not listening to (yet?):

Good luck… devil grin

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Something Strange [en]

[fr] Petit épisode étrange: pleine d'élan pour bloguer, je mets sur slinkset mes dernières idées d'articles, et pof! mon élan se casse la figure. Je n'ai pas tout à fait identifié ce qui s'était passé. (J'ai quand même blogué, hein.)

So, something strange happened to me a bit earlier. I went to bed yesterday with a huge drive to blog, ideas for articles, wrote them down in Evernote, got up this morning ready to blog, dealt with some domestic issues, and set to work.

Blogging drive intact.

Before I actually started writing, I decided that I would add my latest article ideas to the list on slinkset that people can add to or vote on. So I copy-pasted, went through my old post list to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything and… As soon as I had finished doing that, my blogging drive went *poof!* almost down to nothing.

Well, I didn’t bow down, picked a topic or two, and blogged happily — but still, I’m intrigued. What made my blogging drive deflate? I can think of two things:

  • taking the list from private to public
  • going through the complete list (overwhelming)

I thought I’d share this little episode with you to see if you had any insight, dear readers.

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Prune Your To-Do Lists, Mercilessly [en]

[fr] Plus tôt on admet que l'on ne fera pas une tâche, mieux c'est (avant qu'elle nous pourrisse la vie durant des mois avant de mourir de sa belle mort). Soyez donc sans merci en révisant vos listes de tâches. Posez-vous honnêtement la question: vais-je vraiment faire ça?

Yesterday, I opened Things for the first time in… a year, maybe, to see if the link to a video I wanted to watch was still in my old lists there. It wasn’t, but trawling through the state of my to-do lists from Going Solo times made me realize just how much stuff was in there that I never did. And I’m still alive.

I’ve known this for some time: a good way to make our lives miserable is to stack our to-do lists (or next action lists, if we’re GTD-enabled) with piles of tasks that we will end up not doing. Seeing all those old tasks I never got around to doing reminded me, once again, of how important it is to realize as early as possible if I am not going to do something.

I think the first time I really heard somebody talk about this explicitly was at the Going Solo conference in Lausanne, when Martin Roell gave his talk on “Self-Organisation for Effectiveness” (watch the whole video, but the moment in question is about 10 minutes in). He told us that, contrarily to some understanding of GTD (who is to say what’s right or wrong?), he recommended throwing out as much as possible from action lists. YANGTDI: You Are Not Going To Do It.

It’s a bit the same frame of mind as when you come back to your e-mail inbox after a holiday. You can usually safely ignore the stuff that’s marked URGENT in all caps, because chances are if it was urgent a week ago, it’s simply not relevant anymore.

I think that this is where lies the trap in GTD’s “Someday/Maybe” list. Also because we quickly forget one important step in the GTD process, which is that when we put a task on a next action list, it means we are fully committed to doing it. That, I have found, is simply just not the case most of the time for mere mortals like us struggling around with imperfect implementations of GTD in our lives.

So, here are some ideas. They’re not perfect, but they might help.

If you’ve been ignoring an item on your list for a long time, take a moment to look at it. First, make sure it’s a real next action and not a project in disguise, because that could be why you’re not getting around to doing it. Then, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, honestly, deep down inside in your heart of hearts, if you are really going to do it, or if you’re going to keep on procrastinating it until it disappears into a little puff of smoke, in which case you’d have been better off removing it from your list straight away and preventing it from adding to your stress.

How do you know you’ve been ignoring a task for too long? Some systems have that built-in. For example, when I was in my notebook phase, once a page was filled with tasks-done-and-still-to-do, I’d copy over to the next page all the tasks that still needed doing. Once you’ve copied over a task to the new page five times, you start to realize that you’re not doing it.

Yesterday, somebody told me of another method: at the beginning of the week, make a list of tasks you want to accomplish. Opposite that list, draw columns — one per day. Each day, ask yourself if you are committed enough to spend (say) an hour and a half on that task. If you are, draw a green dot on that task’s line. If you aren’t a red dot. At the end of the week, look at what you haven’t done, and look at the amount of red vs. green. The decisions to make are probably made, by that time.

Another trick I have is that I have a sub-heading, in my lists, which is called “Obviously I’m not doing this”. That’s where I send tasks off to die, when I’m clearly not doing them but don’t have the courage to get rid of them completely. A bit like the “Should throw away but can’t yet” box in your cellar.

A corollary to this “task pruning” attitude is to extract subsets of tasks for given time periods, like I started doing (and still am doing) when I plan my week. Or on a stressful day, when you feel swamped, select three things (or five!) and forget about all the rest.

But the main point here is: show no mercy for those idle tasks that just sit there, make your life miserable, and never get done.

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Google Forms: Multiple Choice, List, Checkbox [en]

[fr] Attention: dans Google Forms, "multiple choice" n'est en fait pas un choix multiple. Il faut utiliser "checkbox" pour ça.

Like I did last year, I’m currently preparing the blogger accreditation request form for the LeWeb’09 conference in Paris (if you’re not a blogger and want to come, be sure to grab a very early bird ticket before the end of September — if you’re a student, get in touch with Géraldine). We’ll by the way shortly be letting you know which dates the form will be open for you to request an accreditation.

This is not the purpose of this post, however. I was a bit mystified by the difference between the “multiple choice”, “list”, and “checkbox” elements one can use to build a form using Google Forms, so I decided to build a quick test case to see how things worked. Brace yourself for a surprise (the test form is below, with explanations):



  • list is your normal “one choice only” drop-down list, no surprise here
  • checkbox is your real multiple choice list, with optional “other” choice which can be filled in manually
  • multiple choice is very poorly named, and is in fact a radio button “one choice only” list, but which allows an extra “other” choice which can be filled in manually

In all cases, multiple values are stored in a single spreadsheet cell as a comma-separated list. View the resulting spreadsheet.

I hope this will save somebody the trouble of working it all out themselves like I had to do!

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Happy iPhone Owner: My Favourite Apps [en]

[fr] Après quelques semaines d'utilisation, une liste des applications que j'utilise régulièrement et que j'apprécie. Deux recommandations en particulier pour la Suisse sont en tête de liste.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had my iPhone for a few weeks now and installed a whole bunch of apps on it. Here are those I’ve found usefull (order not an indication of importance).

Swiss specials

If you don’t live in Switzerland, skip this section. If you do live in Switzerland, download these two apps right away.

  • 20 minutes in French, because when I take the bus at the end of the day there aren’t any left (it’s one of our crappy free papers). Plus, less paper waste. You can download to go while on wifi so that you don’t use up data. Also exists in German.
  • SBB travel planner because I use public transport and the iPhone app is nicer than the train timetable SMS service (which is pretty good already if you don’t have an iPhone). Works great for trains, less well for busses and trams. Particularly appreciated: it knows where I am and where my “home” is, and when I hit the “take me home” button it tells me when my next train home is — wherever I am :-). Note: I’ve just downloaded Transport, which is an open source app which does the same thing, to compare.

Online geekery

For the geeks out there. Play with your web2.0 toys on your iPhone.

  • Tweetie for Twitter. Not free, but not expensive either. Does multiple accounts (haven’t set that up yet) and works just the way I expect a Twitter client to work. Rien à redire.
  • Facebook — really great. Almost better than the Facebook site. Even has chat. My only regret is that I can’t see wall posts on events and groups through it.
  • Fring in case I need to chat or contact people through IM. Not using it much, because I’m not very agile yet with the keyboard, but it comes in handy.
  • Google Mobile gives you direct access to all your online Google stuff: Gmail, Gtalk, Docs, Calendar, Reader, and all the rest. It opens in Safari, but the shortcuts are really handy.


I guess I’m exactly what you’d call a casual gamer. I don’t play games much, but if you put one between my hands, I’ll have fun with it. I like simple stuff that doesn’t require much brain power.

  • Aurora Feint: The Beginning has got me completely hooked. It has a Tetris-like dimension (assemble blocks by threes or more and they “pop”, allowing upper blocks to fall down in the hole), and when you pass levels you can buy tools and powers that make your playing more effective. It has beautiful graphics, is very easy to get started with, and when you feel the need for more& head over to the player boards to learn some strategy!
  • Marble Mash is almost a “physical” game. You hold your iPhone flat, and try to guide the marbles through the maze without falling in the holes, by tilting the iPhone slightly in various directions. I had a woodem marble maze toy when I was a kid, and loved it. This is almost like the real thing, and great fun.
  • Crazy Penguin Catapult Lite is funny. You’re at the head of a team of kamikaze penguins who catapult themselves through the air to knock out polar bears by falling on them. Sounded a bit weird to me, but you quickly get into it and learn to avoid catapulting your fellow penguins into the walls. Squish.
  • iMinesweeper isn’t free, but for 1$, it almost is. Does anybody here need to be introduced to the famous Minesweeper game? Hours of fun ahead. Just a bit frustrating when you forget to change “modes” and expose a mine instead of flagging it. Ah& concentration.
  • JellyCar is another of these funny games. You must guide a rubbery, shape-changing car through a series of obstacles. You can grow the car or shrink it, or make it tilt forwards or backwards by tilting the iPhone. I haven’t played much, but the whole thing just makes me giggle along.


  • If found allows you to enter your contact details and a reward for if your iPhone is found. I hope it never comes in handy.


These are applications that haven’t yet won me over — either because I haven’t used them enough, or because I just installed them and I haven’t decided if they were promising or a disappointment.

  • Tumblrette for Tumblr. Not free, and I’m not sure about it yet. It keeps logging me out because there is a “+” in my e-mail address, and it mainly seems to display a webpage view of the dashboard. Haven’t really had a chance to see what more if offers me than the regular site.
  • Evernote looks good. I have it installed on my mac, and having it on the iPhone looks like a handy way to store visual “stuff”. I only installed it yesterday, so I can’t really tell you yet if I’m using it.
  • WordPress gives me access to post on my blogs, but honestly, I don’t see myself writing posts on my iPhone. I had hoped the application would give me access to my comment management screen, but it doesn’t. Maybe later?
  • Enigmo is a pretty fun puzzle game, where you use a variety of tools to guide streams of water (or oil, or lava) into their final recipients. I enjoyed it until I got desperately stuck somewhere around level 8. Maybe I just need to get unstuck. It’s another of these “almost free” apps.

I’ve installed a bunch of other apps, but I’m not mentioning them as I really haven’t used them. Do you have any other great apps to share?

Oh, a tip: to get the URL of something in the iTunes Store, ctrl+click on the app (or song, or album) and select “Copy iTunes Store URL”.

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FriendFeed Appeals to Women, Too! [en]

[fr] Quelques commentaires sur FriendFeed, un nouveau service de lifestreaming. Et en réaction à une liste de "blogueurs élite" quasi entièrement masculine, allez -- une liste de femmes de mon entourage qui sont sur FriendFeed.

*Scroll to the bottom of the post for **The List**.*

[Brian Solis on]( joins [Louis Gray]( in commenting upon the fact that [“elite bloggers” are joining FriendFeed]( in respectable numbers. [FriendFeed](http://friendfeed) is a lifestreaming service, which allows you to aggregate all your online presence and publications in one place.

The first such application I bumped into was [Suprglu]( (just checked, it’s still running, wow!), [two years ago]( I was happy with it for some time, and then disappointed that it had too much of a lag (they didn’t have much resources, at least at the time).

Then came [Jaiku](, which I liked, but I never quite got used to the layout and the fact that only titles were posted. [Tumblr]( entered my world at about the same time, and for a while, I wasn’t sure how to use both these tools without being redundant. I finally decided that [Tumblr wasn’t for lifestreaming]( At that point I was also on [Facebook](, and the newsfeed there was pretty nice as a lifestreaming service. Then the apps arrived and [things started to get ugly]( — but I still like my newsfeed, particularly as it does some editing for me (selecting stories I’m likely to find relevant, based on a magic mix of criteria including my “thumbs up/thumbs down” ratings on existing newsfeed elements).

Lifestreaming has two purposes:

– gather all my stuff in one place, so that I can point people to it
– gather all the stuff of all my friends in one place, so that I can follow them all together (this is more presence-like).

For the first, nothing beats (to this day) [Jeremy Keith’s lifestream]( in readability. I keep telling myself I need to [grab the code]( and do it for myself.

For the second, I’m ambivalent. I like jaiku, but I find it not very readable. The Facebook newsfeed is more readable and is edited down to a readable amount of information, but not everybody is on Facebook, and it’s not public. FriendFeed is promising, in that it’s rather easy to set up, but I don’t find it very readable, and it would need some editing features (so I can filter out stuff manually, of course, but also some automatic editing which I could turn on and off).

So, I like FriendFeed. I wish they’d make it easier to add people, though. One quick example. Here is a screenshot of the listing of my “followers” (=people who have subscribed to me):

FriendFeed - People Subscribed to Me

There is no indication of if I’ve subscribed back or not. Compare with Twitter:

Twitter / People Who Follow stephtara

This, in my opinion, is a user interface problem that has been “solved”. If you create a new social tool, please don’t give us an interface which looks like it ignores existing solutions to obvious user headaches, like figuring out if you’re following back people who are following you (there is a higher chance that the people you want to follow will be amongst the people follow you already).

So, I’m looking forward to seeing where this will go. As such, I’m not actually using FriendFeed so much as sitting on it, waiting to see when it becomes usable.

**Coming back to the two posts I mentioned at the beginning of this article**, my initial reaction while going through the list of “elite bloggers” using FriendFeed was “hmm, I’m not in it”.

Well, of course. I mean, I’m quite lucid about the fact that all this blogging and online presence does have at stake (amongst other things) receiving a certain amount of recognition — and although I’m reasonably good at not letting this kind of motivation drive my activities. But it’s there, somewhere in the background. I’ve talked about this a lot in French, I realise — particularly in [interviews I’ve given to the press](/about/presse) and [talks]( about blogging in general, but not much in English. Anyway, I’m not dwelling on this as it’s not my main point, but I always have this little secret hope (that I’m not overly proud of) that I’ll “make it” into this kind of listing. But enough with that.

My second reaction was: **where are the women?** Now, sorry to pull the whole “sexist” card — and those who know me are aware I’m far from a flag-carrying bra-burning feminist (though who knows, in another place and time, I might very well have ended up burning underwear in public) — but when lists of “influential/elite/top whatevers” show up and women are totally unrepresented in them, I think “ah, another guy who is mainly interested in what other guys have to say, and who might suggest at some point that we need to talk about the problem of ‘women in technology'”. *(Nothing personal, Louis — this is more about my reaction than about who you are.)*

So, in an attempt to encourage you to check out **some of the women in my world which I have found on FriendFeed**, here is a list of Some Women On FriendFeed. And yes, I’ve put myself in the list, of course. **Oh yeah, this *does* have a taste of linkbait.** But I won’t be offended if nobody picks it up. So, here goes.

– Ambiome / [Ambiome[Dot]Net](
– Cathy Brooks / [other than that…](
– danah boyd / [apophenia](
– Dannie Jost / [uncondition](
– Dori Smith / [Backup Brain](
– Emily Chang / [Strategic Designer](
– Gabriela Avram / [CONIECTO](
– Gia Milinovich / [Gia’s blog](
– Hillary Hartley / [static{fade}](
– Laura Fitton / [Pistachio Consulting](
– Lilia Efimova / [Mathemagenic](
– Lisa McMillan / [Lisa McMillan dot com](
– Nicole Simon / [Cruel to be Kind](
– Stephanie Booth / [Climb to the Stars](
[]( *whoops, sbooth, not steph!*
– Suw Charman-Anderson / [Strange Attractor](
– Tara Hunt / [HorsePigCow](
– Virginie Pfeiffer / [Mistress of the Web](

*Self-promotion: follow me on [Twitter]( or [FriendFeed]( and don’t forget to [blog about]( [Going Solo](, or even [register](!*

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Ce soir, Bloggy Friday [fr]

[en] Bloggy Friday participants tonight in Lausanne.

[Le Bloggy Friday c’est ce soir]( Etat des lieux et des personnes présentes (je sens le petit comité).


– moi
– [Julien]( *– un nouveau! un nouveau!*
– [Alain]( *– grâce aux 16,32 mètres!*
– [Sylvie]( *– une autre fille!*

Pas là:

– [Bertrand]( *– la faute au virus!*
– [Raph]( *– la faute aux chaussures!*
– [Julien]( *– la faute au concert!*
– [speedy80]( *– la faute à l’autre concert!*
– [Anne Dominique]( *– la faute à c’était prévu!*
– [Lyonel]( *– la faute à l’impasse!*
– [Sylvain ;-)]( *– la faute aux raquettes!*
– [Ollie]( *– la faute au vert bouquet et à LIFT!*
– [Nico]( *– la faute à rater!*

Je vais réserver cet après-midi, annoncez-vous vite si jamais!

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Bloggy Friday de décembre: inscrits [fr]

[en] List of people expected for the December Bloggy Friday in Lausanne.

Eh bien! Soit c’est l’effet de l’annonce en temps opportun, soit c’est un effet post-[Stamm](, mais on dirait qu’on va être un joli nombre au [Bloggy Friday de décembre]( Voici l’état des lieux:

– bibi (comme souvent)
– [L’Abrincate](
– [Pierre]( (bon rétablissement!)
– [Ölbaum]( (qui se désistera à la dernière minute comme d’habitude *– j’essaie de conjurer le sort*)
– [Nico](
– [Fred]( (qu’il faudra convaincre d’ouvrir un blog, vous êtes prévenus)
– [Mim](
– [Sandrine](
– [James](
– [Sylvain-Samuel](
– [xhtml]( + 1 (des futurs blogueurs aussi)
– [Bertrand](
[fmonnard]( (doublon!)
– [Stéphane](
– [Yoan](

Les “pas-là”:

– [Julien](
– [Ollie](
– [Anne Dominique]( (viendra tout de même s’asseoir sur les genoux de quelqu’un vers 23h00, probablement)

Pis [nos journalistes-blogueurs](, alors?

Pas sur la liste? Laissez un mot ou [inscrivez-vous sur upcoming]( Réservation (15 personnes — décidés de dernière minute, débarquez quand même, y’aura des genoux à disposition) pour 20h00 à mon nom, comme d’hab. Attention, [l’Evêché]( ne prend pas les cartes, prévoyez du liquide.

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SwissBlogs Needs Your Help [en]

SwissBlogs is putting together a team of motivated people to improve it drastically.

[fr] Je cherche à monter une équipe de personnes motivées pour faire vivre SwissBlogs, un des répertoires de blogs suisses les plus en vue. Au programme, entre autres:

  1. amélioration générale de l'interface (formulaire qui se pré-remplit avec les informations meta du weblog, possibilité d'éditer ses infos)
  2. intégration avec
  3. version italienne
  4. processus de modération plus efficace

Si vous voulez faire partie de l'équipe, contactez-moi! Je cherche aussi des modérateurs, pour approuver les nouveaux sites ajoutés à la liste. Le site est en PHP/MySQL pas trop propre 🙂

SwissBlogs, one of the best-known Swiss blog directories, has become too much for one person (me) to maintain, even with a little help (Matt). Plus, you all know by now, that if I’m pretty good at having ideas and launching stuff, I’m much less good at keeping them going. I guess that’s just who I am.

I am therefore looking for motivated (and multilingual!) people to help me keep this directory going, and improve it (it has hardly changed since I quickly threw a few lines of dirty code together over 18 months ago).

I would like to put together a team of 5-6 people. Here is a quick list of what I’m thinking about for the coming developments of the directory:

  1. provide italian translation of interface
  2. allow people to edit their own data (add username/password functionality)
  3. automatically fill-in the form with as much data as possible pulled from the blog page meta tags (like ViaBloga does with their blogrolling system)
  4. more integration with it initially used the SwissBlogs list, but now the two lists have grown separately — people sign up on but not on SwissBlogs, and vice-versa
  5. in particular, information can be used to determine if a blog is still active or not
  6. add screenshots of blogs
  7. improve moderation process
  8. better sorting and filing of blogs (add tags?)
  9. improve general usability of form/site, and redesign…

Of course, we also need moderators — people who will check new blogs before inclusion in the directory.

Please get in touch if you would like to be on the team, or be a moderator.

Have I posted about this already? It rings familiar but my memory and site search are failing me.

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