A Few Tools I Like [en]

[fr] Petite collection d'applications et de services qui valent la peine d'être explorés et utilisés, selon moi.

Quickly, before collapsing in a little sleepy heap, some tools I want to write about here, but am not writing about because I want to do it properly and that takes time, and I never get around to doing it.

So, maybe I’ll talk about them more in detail later on (some of them I already have talked about), but just in case, here are tools or apps I like and would encourage you to look at these days:

That’s it chickens… I might add a few if I’ve forgotten, my bed is calling!

In Love With Evernote [en]

[fr] Evernote est un must si vous avez un iPhone. Cette application vous permet de prendre des notes dans toutes les formes (audio, texte, et image avec un bout de reconnaissance de caractères), les taguer, et les synchroniser via le serveur d'Evernote avec votre accès web ou l'application qui tourne sur votre ordinateur. Il y a également un plugin Firefox. Même si vous n'avez pas d'iPhone, je vous encourage vivement à voir en quoi Evernote peut vous être utile.

Pour ma part, voici quelques utilisations que j'en fais:

  • photos de cartes de visite, d'horaires de bus/train, d'heures d'ouverture de commerces
  • liste-photos de choses prêtées
  • notes de recherche ramassées sur le web
  • idées à creuser quand je serai en ligne
  • choses à écrire/bloguer
  • choses à acheter
  • livres lus et films vus
  • photos des choses que j'ai laissées au chalet, pour savoir si j'y ai déjà un pyjama ou non
  • ... et je cherche encore!

Et vous?

When I told you about my favourite iPhone apps, I wasn’t sure yet whether I’d like Evernote or not, as I had only just installed it.

I now know.

Evernote is your ubiquitous backup brain. It’s a place to store all the stuff you want to remember, be it snapshots (with text recognition to some extent), text, or audio notes. You can add notes and access them from the web, the desktop app (Mac <strong>and</strong> Windows, please), or your iPhone or Windows mobile phone.

If you have an iPhone and aren’t using Evernote yet, do not waste one second. Download the free Evernote iPhone app immediately, and sign up for an account. Even if you don’t have an iPhone (or a phone running Windows mobile), I really recommend you sign up, install the desktop app, and take a close look to see how it can be useful to you.

You should also install the Firefox extension or the bookmarklet if you’re using another browser.

Now that you’re done, here are some screenshots and ideas to get started using Evernote with your iPhone. First, here’s what it looks like:


The little “Tips” tab near the bottom has a bunch of good ideas in it that made me go “oooh” and “aaaah” as I read through them. Amongst other things, I learnt to take screenshots on my iPhone:

Evernote 1

You can easily record any kind of note from your iPhone. Take a snapshot, or record some thoughts in audio format. The notes sync with the server, which will in turn sync with your desktop app — so you have everything everywhere.

Evernote 2

As you can see, notes are tagged. You can prevent the iPhone from syncing over 3G if you’re worried about bandwidth limits. I’m personally so way under mine that I turned it on.

Evernote 6

Here’s a list of what I’ve been putting in Evernote so far:

  • business cards (a bit disappointing with the MacBook iSight, haven’t tried with the iPhone camera so far — but I was a bit let down by my high hopes for textual recognition in photographs; expect it to work “a little”)
  • bus and train timetables (Lausanne and elsewhere)
  • opening hours
  • photos of things left at the chalet
  • photos of things lent to people (books, DVDs)
  • ideas for blog posts (with or without photo)
  • things I need to look up or think about
  • books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen
  • things I want to buy
  • “quotes” from books I’m reading

Other ideas:

  • recipes
  • research material
  • & (limited here only by creativity and current needs)

Bus timetable, to come back home from town without missing my last bus at night:

Evernote 4

Contents of my drawer at the chalet to help me remember that I already have a woolly pullover, a cap, a pair of pyjamas and toothpaste up there next time I go:

Evernote 5

Now, even if you tag your stuff, the pile of notes is going to build up, and you might want a little more organisation. You store notes in notebooks. Here are some of those I’ve created (with the desktop app):

Evernote 3

Notebooks can be public. For example, “Things Read and Seen” is online for everybody to see.

As notes may be a little slow to load on the iPhone (and connectivity might abandon you) you can mark some notes as favorites — they will be available offline.

With the Firefox extension, you can put snippets of web pages into notes (just highlight and click on Evernote), as well as whole pages. You can import bookmarks and notes from delicious or Google Notebook.

I’m curious. What are the other great uses of Evernote I haven’t discovered yet? The comments are yours.

Thanks to Stowe for pointing out Evernote to me way back when, even though I didn’t “get it” at the time. Thanks to Julien for recently telling me how much he liked it on his iPhone and how he was using it.

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”.

Redirections in WordPress [en]

When I moved the Going Solo site away from WordPress.com (which did its job well, btw) so that I could jiggle it around and make the Lausanne and Leeds events into separate sites, I ended up with a whole bunch of URLs like http://going-solo.net/programme which actually referred to the Lausanne event, and needed to point to http://lausanne08.going-solo.net/programme.

If you’ve been reading me for a while, you probably know that I’m not shy to go and fiddle around with my .htaccess file, but I’m also getting increasingly lazy as the years go by. So, here are two WordPress plugins (well, one isn’t strictly a plugin, but let’s not get tangled up in semantics) which can come in handy:

  • Redirection plugin: use this when you just need a 301/302 (prefer the latter) redirect/move — if you head to http://going-solo.net/programme, you’ll see it at work. It has a handy interface to let you manage all your redirects, and also does 404 logging for you. I’ve discovered (and fixed) quite a few broken links since I installed it.
  • “Redirect to” page template (thanks, Mark): this is actually a page template which does nothing but redirect somewhere else. I use it on the main Going Solo site to create navigation tabs to Lausanne and Leeds which redirect to the other sites. Create a page with the right title, select “Redirect” as the page template, and add a custom field named “redirect” with the destination URL as value.

Have fun!

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr… [en]

[fr] Poor little lost cat? Not necessarily. Cats can travel upto 2-3km to hunt, and way more for a tom running after females. This cat, who wouldn't quit following me around, is probably just on a (very) long walk, and runs the risk of being kept away from his home if made too comfortable.

A call to the local shelter gave me this information (about three people were ready to adopt him on the spot, so something needed to be done):

  • ignore him completely (no food, no water, no attention) so that he doesn't get comfy and heads back home because he's thirsty, hungry, or wants a cuddle
  • if he's still there after a few days, put notices up in the neighbourhood
  • if he's still there after a week or so, get the shelter to come and pick him up

The bottom line is that cats don't "get lost". They'll go back home, unless they're given a good reason (food, shelter, friendly humans) not to.

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr... (Vallombreuse, Prilly/Lausanne) 7

Me promenant à la Vallombreuse (près de la frontière entre les communes de Lausanne et Prilly), j’entends un chat qui miaule devant le numéro 77. Je regarde, il ressemble à Bagha, il veut sûrement rentrer.

A mon arrivée, il court vers moi comme un petit chien. Trois caresses, un câlin, je lui ouvre la porte mais cela ne l’intéresse pas. Je lui souhaite une bonne journée et m’en vais, mais je viens visiblement d’être "adoptée" et il me suit partout.

Que faire? J’essaie de le semer, sans succès. Après enquête dans le voisinage, il s’avère que ce chat était là la nuit d’avant et que quelqu’un l’a nourri. Pas étonnant qu’il traîne encore dans le coin! C’est un joli jeune mâle très (trop?) affectueux, pas castré.

Coup de fil à la SPA pour demander quoi faire (on soupçonne qu’il est perdu, et devant la mobilisation générale de l’immeuble pour l’adopter…). Conseils avisés du monsieur de la SPA:

  • il est sans doute en vadrouille plutôt que perdu — un chat ne se "perd" pas, mais fait facilement 2-3km pour chasser, voire plus si c’est un mâle qui court après des femelles (le chat en question est un jeune mâle pas castré, et — coïncidence — la dame qui l’avait nourri la veille a une femelle non stérilisée dans son appart du rez…)
  • ne pas le nourrir, ni lui donner à boire, ni d’attention; en bref, l’ignorer — le but est de ne pas rendre l’endroit "sympathique" pour qu’il retourne chez lui; en lui fournissant un semblant de foyer, même sous forme d’un peu de nourriture et de câlins, il risque de s’attacher et de ne plus rentrer chez lui
  • s’il est encore là dans quelques jours, mettre des affiches dans le quartier; au bout d’une semaine environ, appeler la SPA pour qu’ils viennent le chercher…

Certains chats sont plus affectueux que d’autres, s’attachent plus vite que d’autres. Celui-ci… c’est un rapide (il n’a pas fallu grand-chose pour qu’il me suive à travers le quartier).

Sur internet, il y a bien le site animal-trouve.ch, mais mis à part une gestion catastrophique des langues le site semble vraiment peu pratique. Difficile de faire des recherches fine, présentation des informations trop synthétique (une page listant les détails de toutes les fiches résultant d’une requête, ce serait pas du luxe), confusion entre animaux perdus et animaux trouvés… Bref, pas terrible.

Dans le Canton de Vaud, les animaux perdus/trouvés sont à annoncer au registre des animaux trouvés (SVPA, Refuge Sainte-Catherine. Un animal perdu peut être annoncé sans frais au 021/784 8000; pour un animal trouvé, il faut remplir le formulaire d’annonce se trouvant sur le site.

Chat perdu, donc? Pas si sûr.

Chat perdu? Pas si sûr... (Vallombreuse, Prilly/Lausanne) 2

Surtout, surtout — si vous avez un chat, faites-le munir d’une puce électronique afin qu’il puisse être identifié.

How I Made my To-Do List Fun to Use [en]

This is just a simple way I made my to-do list a bit more fun, with a sheet of paper, a ruler, and coloured pencils. Give it a try, if you’re tired of to-do lists!

[fr] Au lieu de faire une bête liste de choses à  faire, j'ai fait un grand tableau sur une feuille. J'ai ensuite mis chaque chose à  faire dans une case (ou deux, si c'est une "grande tâche"). Quand j'ai fait quelque chose, je colorie la case. C'est plus amusant que de biffer des choses sur une liste, et le résultat final est bien plus joli!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself more than once in front of a very long and depressing to-do list. I’ve given up on to-do lists. I’ve given them another chance. I’ve given up again. I’ve done them on paper. On the computer. On my phone. I’ve tried sticking individual post-its for each task on my front door. Nothing really works for me.

I had an idea yesterday afternoon. I’m at a point in my life where I’m realizing that I need to find other drivers for my actions than my old friend fear. (Oh my God, I’ll never have time to finish on time, Oh my God, I’ll be late and they’ll be mad at me, Oh my God, I’ll get in trouble, Oh my God, they’ll stop liking me… you know the chorus.) Anyway, the point is I had a sudden idea for making my to-do list fun and getting some pleasure out of maintaining it, rather than just seeing it like a long list of “things-I-must-do”.

My first idea was to get rid of the “hierarchy” that a column-like list imposes. Compare this:

  • put clean laundry away
  • correct maths tests
  • call doctor
  • clean cat litter-tray
  • pay the bills
  • write blog post

with the following:

kitty litter pay bills
call doctor write blog post maths tests
laundry away  

First, notice that the table layout supresses the “first do this, then do that” implied by the column-type list. Trying to decide what to put first in a list is usually a very efficient way for me to avoid writing anything down. Here, I have a whole page I can fill up in any order I like.

Second, I use up one, two or three table squares for each task. This is just a gut-like evaluation of the “size” of the task. “Size” comprises the time it will take, but also how much energy it will take me to get it done. A longer task that I find easy might fit in one square, and a shorter one that I’ve really been putting off for a long time might use up two or more squares. I don’t try to calculate this, I just use up the number of squares I feel like using when I write my task down.

Where is the fun? Well, I thought that instead of just crossing things out when they were done, I would colour the square(s) they are in. This means accomplishing a task allows me to choose a pretty colour pencil and colour part of the page. When I’ll have done lots of things, I’ll end up with a multi-coloured mosaic of things accomplished. Not much, maybe, but enough to make me happy.

Get started! You’ll need:

  • a sheet of paper (preferably squared)
  • a ruler
  • coloured pencils, or markers, or whatever you enjoy colouring with.

Then do the following:

  • draw lines on the paper to separate it in “task-sized” blocs (I did something like 3cm by 1.5cm)
  • write down your tasks in the squares you have drawn, anywhere on the paper; use colour! I also go over the outline of each task square in colour (useful for multi-block tasks)
  • when you’ve done something, rejoice and enjoy the colouring!