Digital Life

Method to the Madness

Yesterday I talked about my data hoarding and what I want to do with a lot of my traditional media.  I also alluded slightly to a few things I use for the bajillions of pieces of information that I gather online and want to preserver for posterity.  I figured I’d highlight them here too because I know a lot of these were inspired by posts I’d read on other blogs.  I figure you don’t have to go the extent I do but you might be able to take a few pointers and use them at a not so crazy level.


For starters, I only use Firefox, both at home and at work and this is because I can easily configure it to work exactly how I want it and make things easily accessible.  I have quite a few plugins and scripts loaded to visually modify pages for a better browsing experience (Better GReader, Feedly, Ad Block Plus, FBPurity and Greasemonkey with GMail Professional Skin).

But they key for Firefox use is the following two plugins: Shareaholic and XMarks.

XMarks let me keep all of my bookmarks in the “cloud”, if you will.  It means I can add bookmarks at work and see them at home or vice versa.  It means I can set up a brand new computer and have all of my bookmarks follow me there.  It is a godsend.

I’ve always configured my Bookmarks Toolbar in Firefox to have quick short versions of sites that I use on a daily basis.  This toolbar follows me from home to work and vice versa.  So everything is always in the same place, the same order and right at my fingertips.

The only things I bookmark are my bill sites or stores that I shop at regularly or temporary ideas, like for a party, that I may not need to keep long term.

Shareaholic lets me share across any and all platforms that I need to.  I use it mostly for sharing in Google Reader or archiving off into Evernote.  I also occasionally use it to email links to people, particularly myself or Steve.  The nice thing about it is that I can customize it based on browser, so at work, for instance, where I’m blocked from Facebook and Twitter, I can remove those two from my share options and only have available what I can share from work.

I literally cannot function without Firefox.


Evernote is more of a hard data archive, off the Internet.  Most of what I store here is recipes and I use it’s multiple notebook and tagging capability to very loosely organize them into categories that make sense and are easily searchable.  I do this because Evernote has an iPhone app that I use when I’m cooking because it’s much easier to put my phone out of the way and reference it occassionally for a recipe than it is to try and haul my laptop into the kitchen.

I used to use Evernote for everything that I wanted to keep – words, quotes, pictures, articles, etc.  But I’ve split that up a bit amongst it, Tumblr and now Pinterest.  I think my ultimate goal for Evernote is mostly as a cookbook but also a quick notes area for the blog or a longer term type of storage for articles that I want to be able to reference forever (like longer how-to’s for household projects, etc.)

I also use Evernote for my ever expanding lists of blog ideas so that I always can go back and find something to write about.

The fact that it integrates so seamleslly with my iPhone and also that you can clip right into it from Shareaholic is what sold me.


I’ve been using Google Reader to read all of by blogs for close to probably three years now.  The key thing that drove me to it was not only the convenience of being able to see all the blogs at one time but it’s rather impersonal UI, which was beneficial when I wanted to read blogs at work and not have anyone be the wiser.  It also benefits me GREATLY now that I work at a place that has a rather strict web filter because while all blogs and personal pages are blocked, Google Reader and the RSS feeds within it are not!

Google Reader is my hub for finding content, whether it’s content I want to share or store and it’s usually larger informational articles and how-to’s to one line in a blog post that I might want to remember.

This is where starred items and shared items come in.  I use starred items like they are going out of style.  I use them to save something that is too long to read at the moment or something that may contain pictures or video that I can’t view at work (Flickr and streaming media is blocked so any blog, including mine, that references any of these in their blog posts will not actually show those pieces).  I star posts that I agree with so I can possibly write my own thoughts later or add it to my list of blog ideas or posts that I disagree with.  I star posts that I may want to share later (thought I’m actually learning to, you know, go ahead and share that post right then).   I read posts shared from others and share them accordingly.  And through Feedly, I actually can browse popular articles for the day and share those if I feel like it too.

I usually try to go home at night and clear my starred items out but there are weeks and months where they might build up and then I just take an hour or two, skim over each post and try to remember why I starred it and where I want it.  If I can’t immediately remember, I unstar it, send it nowhere and move on.  This is why you might not hear anything from me with regards to shared items for quite some time then be inundated with them.

Feedly is just a Firefox plugin that integrates very well with Google Reader and gives you a pretty magazine like layout for posts.  It has all of the star and shared buttons that I need and also a preview function, which is essential because I can just open the site from within Feedly without having to click over and back (the Better GReader plugin also offers this if you’re reading right out of GReader).


I’ve had a Tumblr for awhile but just recently started trying to make some use out of it.  Part of a good web tool, to me, is seamless integration with my blog and a capability to access it on the go, if necessary.  Tumblr provides both of those things so I’ve decided to utilize it as a mini-media blog (I guess that’s the best way to put it).  The number one thing with Tumblr is that I can share my iPhone photos with it.  Most of the time they are my Instagram photos and that app is integrated so well that you just choose to share with Tumblr and it’s there.  If I’m just sending regular iPhone photos (or ones out of the Hipstamatic app, for instance), I can just upload them via the mobile Tumblr app.  I also place quotes on there I want to remember and will probably occasionally share videos that I find amusing.  And I use the Tumblr widget to display my photos on my blog, like small snippets of daily life.

Pinterest is new – I’ve actually only been using it for about a week but already I’m in love and it’s become a very effective tool for me.  Pinterest is basically my visual online only lazy Evernote.  I use it to store quick pictures that I want to be inspired by, mostly because Pinterest’s layout is much more visually appealing and organized.  I use it to discover other pretty things.  And I’m working on moving the smaller pieces of data that I kind of temporarily dumped into Evernote over to Pinterest.  In other words, Evernote is my Library of Congress while Pinterest is my quick jaunt to the local library.


I’ve always been paranoid about taking up valuable website space so the key for me was to find a place to host these heavier media pieces while still being able to integrate them properly with my posts.

YouTube is just a rabbit hole for me.  I can so easily get sucked into that place.  And there are some awesome videos on there, videos that I will probably be sharing now that I have a better “plan” for where this website can go.  So I’ve used the favorites function over there to kind of create my list of videos, that way when I’m looking for a particular one, I can find it quickly.  I also will favorite songs that I hear and want to get later.

Vimeo lets me upload my video blogs and share them here.  I could consolidate this and use my YouTube account but I like Vimeo’s UI better and I don’t want to be lumped into the masses of 12 year olds who are making shitty YouTube videos about stuff no one cares about.  I am sophisticated and have something to say, dammit!

Flickr – well, we obviously all know what Flickr is, for the most part.  For the longest time, I couldn’t get my theme to link Flickr photos properly, specifically referencing default photos on each post.  But either the latest upgrade to this theme I bought fixed that or I was sorely missing something earlier, because now it’s easy as pie.  To feature an image, I just past the URL at Flickr into a box in the post area and voila!  Pretty photos in my post that aren’t taking up valuable web server space!


I briefly mentioned these yesterday but both of these sites help me keep a running list of the books and the movies I want to read.

On Good Reads, I have a shelf called Nook – any book that is on my Nook gets listed there, regardless of whether I have read it or not (I use the read, currently reading and to read to determine what I have and haven’t read).  When I browse, if an item is not on the Nook shelf, I know I need to get that back.  I also have more nonfiction and reference books that are organized according to what part of my life they pertain too – most of the time, these are not on the Nook, which I only really use for fiction.

We just recently changed our Netflix subscription from 2-discs at home to online only.  This was mostly due to the fact that the last two or three disc runs we had kept for over a month.  Steve has been buying movies like crazy lately at amazing deals so we didn’t really need the discs at home.  But aside from using the online streaming (we stream through our XBox 360 dashboards – we both have Gold accounts because we both play online) I use Netflix as kind of a dashboard for what movies I want to see and what movies I have seen.  I have an entire list of movies in the not released part of my queue that basically allow me to keep an eye out for when they are released and remind myself that oh yeah, I wanted to see that!  And I won’t lie – every once in awhile, I hop over to the Apple trailers site and refresh my list in Netflix with the ones that look really good.


So there you have it!  I think that’s about it for now.  There is somewhat a method to my madness and while it may seem like I make things really hard on myself (which I’m pretty sure I do), it’s the best way for me to take in all of the media that pummels me in the face on a daily basis.  It took awhile to get these routines in place in a logical and efficient kind of way but they seem to work for me.

How do you handle this over inundation of  Internet stuff?  Do you have a workflow or a method?

Image via diylife

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