A good email reader
Mutt is a fast, customizable mail-reader with lots of features:
- color support
- message threading
- MIME support
- various features to support mailing lists, including list reply
- an active development community
- POP3 and IMAP support
- full control of message headers when composing
- support for multiple mailbox formats (mbox, MMDF, MH, and maildir)
- configurable key bindings and macros
- automatic configuration changes based on recipients, current folder, and more
- good search capability
- Delivery Status Notification (DSN) support
- easy inclusion of attachments when composing, even from the command line
- multiple message tagging
- replying to or forwarding multiple messages at once
- ease of installation
- translation into at least 20 languages
- small and efficient program
My setup is almost identical to that of Dave's mutt config. Figure 20 shows message 1 of 27 from my inbox. My screen displays 47 lines at a time, and most of my email messages are shorter than that, so I rarely have to scroll through multiple pages to see if I need to keep or act on a message.
Figure 20. Reading my inbox
Most wheels aren't worth reinventing. If you find yourself constantly rewriting the same code snippets or email, it's time to pick a language and a template setup.
Here are some of the better articles I've seen on choosing (or writing) a template system.
- Painless Functional Specifications by Joel Spolsky, about when not to use templates.
- Choosing a Templating System by Perrin Harkins.
- Bricolage: A Good Open-Source Option by Jim Rapoza. This is good if you want to see something a bit more large-scale.
- cmTemplate: A Template-Based Content Generator for Python by Chris Monson.
- Ludicrously Simple Templates with Python, from Simon Willison's weblog.
- How We Wrote the Template Toolkit Book Using the Template Toolkit by Dave Cross.
- Introduction to Template Toolkit by Randal L. Schwartz.
- Structured journals on the Portland Pattern Repository wiki. A structured journal is a journaling technique in which the writer employs a template or questionnaire to help capture information. The Journal Writing Resources site has example structured journals templates.
Code fragments or cliches
If you spend more than five minutes figuring out how some language function or WordSmasher-2000 utility works, write it down. I have a directory called ~/cliche that holds things that held me up, things I don't want to lose, or things I don't feel like typing in again (Figure 21).
Figure 21. Snippets I'll use again
I called it cliche because most of the snippets are the moral equivalent of "I'm just here for the team"; people expect them, and I'll probably end up using them sooner or later. For example, the file ~/cliche/ASCII/alphabet simply keeps me from having to stumble all over the keyboard if I need to loop through the alphabet for some reason:
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
The file ~/cliche/perl/yesterday is a four-line function in the Perl language providing the time 24 hours ago, and so on.
- Getting Things Done is my favorite site for GTD and productivity tips.
- Ramblings from a CTO is a dandy weblog on tech management issues, getting rid of appraisals, and more.
- Jon Udell's Weblog talks about groupware, online communities, and collaboration.
- Lifehacker has the occasional good article, though the ads and sponsorships turn off some people.
- Productivity and organization lists is a useful "getting things done" page, but like most stuff on del.icio.us, it's all over the place.
- The office weblog discusses planners and groupware.
- Working Smart includes categories on GTD, email tips, and workflow.
Karl Vogel is a Solaris/BSD system administrator at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
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