The search for a better todo list

I had been using Trelo for my todo list for a while now.  After hearing CCP Grey talk about OmniFocus on his podcast, I wanted to give it a try.  It’s Mac only though, so I spent a couple days trying to get a virtual hackintosh up and running, which made me remember why I hate Macs so much.  That’s another story for another day though.

I came across MyLifeOrganized, which seemed awesome at first, and spent two days transferring everything from Trello into it.  As far as desktop apps go, it was pretty good.  Not exactly what I wanted but good enough, better than Trello for a GTD system anyway.  The trouble came when trying to sync it with phone apps…. it was the height of palm pilot technology.  You can only sync to one device and you have to kick it off manually, or pay for a fairly expensive cloud sync.  The app isn’t cheap either at $50, and then you have to pay $25 for the mobile app, plus the monthly cloud service to make it all work.  Way too expensive.

I tried some cloud services… IQ-something, Zen-something, and some other web2.0-ish names, that try to implement GTD by far too simple or far too complicated methods.  All I really need were an inbox, projects, and recurring tasks that don’t still show up as a current task if they’ve already been completed today.  Task ordering and next task by project would have been nice but it turns out that’s rather difficult to find.  And it had to be reasonably priced, which is another thing that’s difficult to find in a GTD tool (I guess the thought is that people who use them are manager types and can be gouged).

I settled on Todoist.  It’s cheap at $2.50/mo (cheaper than MLO’s cloud sync alone), the apps are free (and available on every platform), has a really good filter system, plus gamification in its karma feature.  The only thing it’s missing is a project next task feature, but it’s pretty fast to manually set a few tasks as high priority and include them into the dashboard.  It might even force me to think about my day more, so it might turn out to be a plus.

I’m actually kicking some butt, ticking off at least a dozen things from my todo list a day (and only adding about 10), so by the end of summer I might actually be caught up ;).

Salmon Stew Recipe

I get asked about (ok ok I talk about uninvited) my salmon stew recipe often, so here it is.  It’s super healthy, super tasty, and super easy to make.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 mixed peppers, deseeded and sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1# baby potatoes, unpeeled and halved
2 tsp smoked paprika
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
14 oz can chopped tomatoes (or 28 oz if you prefer)
4 salmon fillets
1. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the peppers, onion and potatoes. Cook, stirring regularly for 5-8 mins until golden.
2. Add the paprika, garlic, thyme and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, stir and cover, then turn down heat and simmer for 12 mins.  (Add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too thick.)
3. Season the stew and lay the salmon on top, skin side down. Place the lid back on and simmer for another 8 mins until the salmon is cooked through.


Shortest Horror Stories

I was taking a… constitutional… at work the other day, and I was reminded of something I heard several years ago.  The “World’s Shortest Horror Story”.  It was a competition to see who could come up with the scariest story in 5 words or less.  The winner was

Home alone, toilet seat’s warm.

Which gets creepier and creepier the more you think about it.  That also led me to think that, depending on your imagination, there are shorter stories that can be a lot scarier.  Maybe even a one word story?


That’s pretty frightening depending on the thoughts that are swimming around in your head at the time. What did you ask for? Why was it rejected?  What are the ramifications?

But what could be even more frightening?


This plays into the “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it” narrative.  What did you ask for? Did you really mean it?  Did you think of all the things that could go wrong?

But… Could there be an even shorter short story?  How about:


As in “Dude!” or “Woah!” or just the look on your face when making those exclamations.  Did the aliens just arrive? Did your dog just chase an unseen someone off your yard?

But the scariest, shortest story I can think of is:


Mouth agape, struggling to comprehend what’s in front of you.  “Why are you here?” or “How did you know?”  Those are the scariest stories I can think of.  But that’s probably because I’ve seen too many movies.

Short TV Review: Bosch

I’d like to call it “Dirty Harry for a new generation”, but it’s not for a new generation.  It’s not really an update or a reboot either.  It’s Dirty Harry told as a story for the last 40 years and just put to film now.  Worth a watch, good early foray into drama by Amazon Studios.  (Now if they would just finish filming The Man in the High Castle!)

100 Mile Hike – 2015 Life Goal

20150124_130117In 2013, a buddy and I kayaked across Lake Michigan to North Manitou Island, which I’ll write about at some point.  I’ve been looking for a new personal accomplishment since then, but unlike some of my friends, solo kayaking in deep water isn’t really my idea of a relaxing time.

I love being on the island, and I had originally played with the idea of doing a solo week there with a lazy lap around the island.  People have done longer trips there for sure, but how many people have done more than one night out in the wilderness by themselves?  A week alone on an island would certainly be an accomplishment.

I want to go in the spring before the weather gets too hot and the insects too large.  The ferry will only run if there are enough people to make the trip worthwhile, and only if the water is fairly calm.  The shipwrecks around the island can attest to how temperamental the Great Lakes can be.  I don’t want to take the risk of being stuck on the island longer than planned, especially when carrying only the bare minimum of food to save weight.  What about the same experience without the ferry?

So I decided that I would do a week in a forest on the mainland.  Michigan has a ton of public forest land. If I’m going to spend a week in the forest, I may as well spend that week hiking and get a little taste of what I would experience on the Appalachian Trail (one of my life goals).  I think 100 miles in a week is a difficult but attainable goal, and an accomplishment not many people can claim, especially with how sedentary our country is.  I certainly don’t know of anyone personally that have done a hike of this length.  So that’s my goal for this year.

Short Movie Review: The Guest

The Guest:

It’s Bourne as a horror movie and without the international intrigue and budget. Very enjoyable as a rental.

Side note: The Blackwater types should know better than to all run out of ammo at the same time.  You can’t maintain cover fire if everyone is reloading.

Side note 2: Hilariously inappropriate time to play a Stevie B song, I’m going to have to watch more of this guy’s movies.

Evil Genius

Evil Genius is one of the few games I’ll dust off every couple of years and play again. There aren’t very many games where you can play the bad guy, and I love base building type games. I remember when it was first announced on Gamespot, and I anxiously followed its development over the years. It’s by no means fully polished, there are a few errors and glitches, but that rarely detracts from the experience.  However, they can screw up your gameplay occasionally.

In Evil Genius, you play as a Bond-esque bad guy, intent on world domination.  The world is divided into 5 Get Smart inspired regions, each with their own acronym and super agent, and each super agent has a weakness to exploit in order to get rid of them for good.  The super agent for the greater China/SE Asia region is a martial artist, and in order to get rid of him you need to interrogate his master to find out what his weakness is.

In order to interrogate the master, you send out your minions into the world and have them do a mission to kidnap the master.  They will then bring him back to your island and place him in the depot, waiting for your other minions to pick him up and move him to a jail cell.  However, in my game the minion tasked with picking him up glitched and just sat there stuttering.  Like any good evil genius, I executed him for his insubordination, expecting another minion to carry out those instructions.  I guess the game engine never expected the minion tasked with picking up the master would ever get killed or executed or be otherwise occupied.

So what do I do now?  Like any good geek, I hacked the save game file.  An 87,000 line behemoth of a text file.  Finding the area of the file that describes the object for the master was trivial, he was the only object with “master” in its name.  But is the location line above the name or below it the proper location?  I did a search on each location to see what I could see, and boom, the location line above matched the location of an object called “depot”.  Now the question is where to put him…  I could easily beam him into a wall like that one episode of ST:TNG (“The Pegasus”, S07E12 in case you want to look for it).  The solution?  Look up the location of one of my henchmen (which was easy to search for) and put him down in the same spot.  Viola, I’m back in business.


As an aside, I would have posted this on the Evil Genius Chat forums, but phpBB doesn’t make it easy to retrieve a forgotten account (you have to remember your login as well as your email address), and the registration process is a little bit of a pain when you’re spoiled by “Log in with FB/Twitter/G+”.