Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Combat spam by highlighting mail from known senders....in Thunderbird

Spammers seem to have been extra-industrious over the past six months. I'm using Thunderbird, whose built-in junk mail filters are catching maybe 70-80% of the spam I'm getting. The problem is that that still leaves me with as much as 30 to 50 spams in a morning's download.

If you use Thunderbird, there's an easy way to highlight the messages that are sent by people who are in your address book. I've posted instructions below. Many other e-mail applications have filters of one kind or another. Here I'm using them to mark matching messages with a color highlight, and taking advantage of the fact that one of the filter options is "in my address book."

Note that the first thing I learned from this was that many of the spam messages are spoofing their sent-from addresses as being MY address. So I had to take my own address out of my address book.

- Create a new filter Tools -> Message Filters
A dialog appears. Click New.

- Name the filter.

- The criteria box has 3 fields.
In the first one, select "From."
In the middle one, select "is in my address book"
In the 3rd one, select the name of your address book. You might have >1 address book.

- At the bottom, in the "Perform these actions" section, select
in the first field, "Tag"
in the second field, choose a tag, such as "Personal"

By default, Personal messages are colored in green. You can change tag color options by selecting

Tools->Options, click the Display button, select the Tags tab

Monday, August 27, 2007

The house of my childhood imagining

When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 12, I imagined what my house would be like when I grew up. And it was a lot like this conversion of a water tower into a house.

What I imagined was a tower filled with platforms that stuck out partway from the walls and overlapped, so that you could move from platform to platform and thus move up the tower, but there was also a lot of open space. So that babies could roll off the edges.

There were bars for climbing, too. It was kind of like an indoor jungle gym, with pillows added so you'd have somewhere to fall asleep after you got tired of playing video games. It was never stated, but I'm pretty sure an awsome game console was included. With a game where you catch falling babies.

See, the incredible unchildproofnessosity of the idea is what impresses me now. My youngest is two right now, and she falls over on improperly levelled floors, or when she steps on a feather.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Note-taking methods

I've been interested in note-taking methods ever since I took a class about Mind Mapping a few years ago. Since that class, I've taken meeting notes and brainstorming notes as Mind Maps, often prompting people to ask about the strange web diagrams I draw.

But there are some interesting ideas I hadn't been exposed to, and LifeHacker describes them in an article here:


The one that interests me the most is the Cornell system, described here:


I like the Cornell idea because it includes several useful ideas that are similar to concepts Tony Buzan writes about when he writes about Mind Mapping:

- summarizing and distilling what you note
- reviewing your notes on a regular basis

What I liked about the Mind Mapping class, much more than the Mind Mapping technique itself, was the attempt to match note taking and info management to how our brains work. So you write something down, but you attempt to fit it into a framework or model in your brain. If you form a model of something as you note it, it becomes much more than rote learning and you are more likely to remember it. And then you can review it at steadily increasing intervals if you want to remember it.

If you want more about Mind Mapping, look up any of Tony Buzan's books. They're worth a look.