Speed up your mobile texting

Being an IT security engineer it is my daily job to enter all kind of texts into the keyboard of my laptop computer. Thanks to the 10-finger-system this is a rather effortlessly task.
On my iPhone on the other hand I entered stuff laboriously letter by letter until recently.

Sure, this alternative to “swipe” words instead of typing them has been around for a while. And as an inquisitive person I tried it out as soon as custom keyboards made their appearance on iOS.

As far as I remember it was “SwiftKey Keyboard” I tested in the field. It didn’t convinced me at all. Somehow it never came up with the words I intended to swipe and I spent more time in correcting then I would have spent by typing them in in the first place.

So this topic was finished for me for a long time. Until I decided to give it a new shot with another custom keyboard – “Path”.

In the beginning I faced the same problems I had faced before. But this time I decided not to give up on it so fast again. After all these kind of keyboards have a lot of fans and this has to have a reason!

Over time I got used to the usage of the new keyboard. Before swiping a word I spend a short moment to envisage the swipe path I would have to take. Very quickly my swiping got better and better.

Even though I sometimes don’t accurately “hit” every single letter of the intended word, Path displays a bar with words that come close to my swiping. This way I manage to reach a pretty good success rate.

Overall my mobile texting accelerated a lot. I can only suggest to try it out for yourself. You will find swiping words is not only faster – it also makes a lot of fun (I think this is because of the sense of achievement every “nailed” word will give you). If it doesn’t convince you immediately remember to practice a bit and watch the magic unfold 😉

BTW: This text was swiped on “Path Keyboard” on a plane. Before I never would have thought I would ever write a text of more than maybe 300 characters on my iPhone…

How to send stuff to your sleeping (or offline) Mac


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Finally! Finally I found a way to do something I wanted to do for a long time: Send stuff (text, links, pictures, …) to my sleeping Mac without having to do it in form of an eMail (or creating a todo, list item or whatever)!

There are plenty of options to beam files and alike to your Mac while it is running. Like using AirDrop or even SFTP (I used that back in the days when AirDrop wasn’t ready).

But most of the time I’m on my way (with my iMac sleeping at home) when I discover stuff with my iPhone which would be better to try-out/study/read/view on the big screen. Usually newsfeed items I scan in my Newsbar app. Frequently I find interesting articles which are just too long to finish within the current waiting period or they cover cool Mac tools/tricks which I have to try out on my iMac anyhow.

The first thing which comes to mind to “transfer” these articles to your Mac is to add them to the Reading List. Well – I don’t use this one any more. What should be some kind of “read later” list regularly turned into a “read never” list in my Safari’s sidebar. Because – you know – if you store it there – no reason to hurry – it’s in good hands until you find the time to read it (never).

Alternatives are sending an eMail (which will clog up your inbox), creating todos or list items (same  problem as with the Reading List) or taking a note in your Notes app (same same but different).

A new version of the app DeskConnect is here to the rescue! Being around for quite some time, but always cumbersome to use, it now has a share extension 😀


Now when I want to send a news item to my iMac, I head to the share menu and tap the DeskConnect icon. Voilà – next time I wake up my Mac all the sent stuff is waiting in the DeskConnect companion app.


“How is this approach better than any other list approach?” you may ask. Well – beside the very smooth workflow to open the transferred stuff, the application forces you to do a “HELL YEAH! or NO!”-decision. After 30 days your stuff will be gone for good. This way you can kiss good-by to all these “when I ever find the time”-links.

The connection also works for files and text. And it also works the other way around (Mac -> iPhone), so for example you can quickly type a text on Mac’s keyboard and beam it to your iPhone without any of the usual detours like paste it into a note.
But note: Files will run through the vendor’s server. So if you are a security minded person (which you should be), you may not want to use the service for confidential stuff.

“HELL YEAH!” or “NO!”


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My today’s post is “inspired” by an idea I got from reading Tim Ferris’s Blogpost ‘How to Say “No” When It Matters Most’. Since he admits he “borrowed” the “HELL YEAH!”-notion by himself from Derek Sivers, I think he will not be too upset about it. And I will apply the thought to a concrete example of use, so I hope I will add some value to the matter.

So what is this “HELL YEAH!” or “NO!” thing? It’s about saying “no” to things. Not to all of them, but to all the things not being a “I really-really want (or have) to do this”. This way you can clean up your mind, desktop, download-folder, whatever; and concentrate on what matters most.

Today the opportunities to fill up our time are literally endless. Even if your day would have 48 hours you couldn’t study all the articles people send you links for, read all the Facebook posts your friends came up with or keep up-to-date with all the new stuff on Netflix. And if you are eager to learn and zest for action like me, it’s even worse – the Internet if full of knowledge to absorb and there are at least 5 sportive activities I would like to try out some day.

Long story told short – the world is full of “cool stuff”. And for a much too long time this “cool stuff” distracted my focus from the “HELL YEAH!” stuff.

While it is easy to say goodbye to “definitely no!”-stuff, “cool stuff” is hard to get rid of – it is never important enough to deal with and to cool to discard. At the time I read Tim’s post, the “todo” folder of my mail application was filled up with more than 50 mails. The very most of them invitations to cool webcasts, links to cool free downloads, newsletters containing cool gimmicks and the like.

I decided to clean up this mess which had piled up for over a year by applying the “HELL YEAH!” or “NO!” idea. Everything without an essential value for my future life had to go. First it hurt a bit to toss away all these cool opportunities. But in the end I felt great when my “todo” folder dwindled away to three (!) mails.

The feeling to be back on the top of your tasks is so much better than the missed chance to download a fancy iconset! Try it for yourself 😉

Say goodbye to paper piles – establish your personal clean-desk-policy



Even though I optimized a lot of my every day procedures to be more productive, until recently I had a bad habit to deal with my “open cases”. You know – these documents, papers, whatever which need to be treated in any way and since this treatment will take a while, you didn’t do it immediately. These things used to pile up on my desktop and sometimes even on the floor beside my desk.

Not only that this whole setting looked messy – ruining the beauty of my classy iMac and swank desktop utensils, it regularly gave me a displeasing overwhelmed feeling. At times it came to the point where I first had to overcome a debilitating sense of powerlessness against this mighty pile of stuff before I could get to work.

So for the still kind of young 2016 I created a new habit – my personal clean-desk-policy. This is something I borrowed from the working world of companies which deal with confidential documents. Employees processing sensitive data have to clean their desk at the end of the day an lock all documents into a cabinet of something.

Every day when I’m done working on my TODOs I clear my desk of all remaining stuff and put it into my file cabinet. I even created an item in my streaks app to reinforce the daily execution of my new habit.

Now my desk looks like an inviting place to work in the morning 🙂


If you like the idea, I think there are important things to consider:

– Storing away stuff must not be a “store and forget” activity! Fetch back the papers every day to make sure they do not become forgotten (Out of sight, out of mind.)!
– Don’t pile all documents together to a monolith block of paper – or you will have a hard time to divide them again. I layer the documents with a gap of 2 or 3 centimeter so I can separate them again in no time.

During the execution of my new policy I experienced a pleasant side effect:
I found that some of the papers weren’t as labor-intensive as I thought in the first place, so instead of putting them again onto the store-away-pile, I processed them shortly and so the amount of “open cases” noticeable shrank already!

BTW the same policy can also be applied to your computer desktop or your download folder…

Positive thinking – a good (productivity) resolution for the new year


If you intend to be more productive in 2016 – how about making “positive thinking” to one of your resolutions?

“How is this supposed to help me getting more productive?” you might ask. Well, the thing is that negative thinking will make you procrastinate stuff and hinder you to concentrate on your work.

I will illustrate this on two examples. The first one is from the excellent book “Getting Things Done” I already wrote about. David Allen explained why people procrastinate to do their taxes:

“Do my taxes? Oh, no! It’s not going to be that easy. It’s going to be different this year, I’m sure. I saw the forms—they look different. There are probably new rules I’m going to have to figure out. I might need to read all that damn material. Long form, short form, medium form? File together, file separate? We’ll probably want to claim deductions, but if we do we’ll have to back them up, and that means we’ll need all the receipts. Oh, my God—I don’t know if we really have all the receipts we’d need, and what if we didn’t have all the receipts and claimed the deductions anyway and got audited? Audited? Oh, no—the IRS—JAIL!!

And so a lot of people put themselves in jail, just glancing at their 1040 tax forms. Because they are so smart, sensitive, and creative.”

… and are thinking negative, I would add. If they would think positive, they might say: “Okay, maybe I could make a mistake with my taxes. And maybe I could get audited. But even if the IRS would find something, I would say that I did it in all conscience and they wouldn’t put me in any trouble.”

This passage from the GTD book came to my mind today after a personal experience. Here’s the story:

I (living in Switzerland) ordered something from Germany in the middle of December. Yesterday evening – still haven’t got the parcel nor any notification – I checked the tracking link I got from the sender and found out that DHL would have tried to deliver it on December 21. and would have left a notice. The webpage said they would store undeliverable parcels for seven days and then they would be returned. This is what was going on in my head:

– These *bad word here* ! There was no notice! (This much is true!)
– Sure it is already to late now – they are going to send it back to Germany.
– Anyhow they will send me a bill about the customs
– I will not pay this bill – it’s not my fault they send it back – there was no notice!
– They will insist I have to pay, but I will not. We will go to court in the end.

The whole thing stirred me up that much that I wasn’t able to continue with my finances which I wanted to do afterwards. I decided to switch of my Mac.

Today I called the customer service. As it turned out it is not to late. They will re-deliver the parcel next week free of charge 🙂

More positive thinking -> more productivity.

Happy new year 2016!

Security: An important productivity topic


Starting from now on I will have a new category on “productivity.ninja”: (IT-)security!

“How is that a productivity topic?” you may ask. Well – considering IT security in your daily work will not actually improve your productivity. But it may save you from loosing all the valuable achievements you worked so hard for.

Ignoring IT security could lead to data loss, theft of data, identity theft or the like, resulting in financial loss, loss of reputation and maybe a lot of recovery time. The latter will hit your productivity twice: You will have to redo work you already did and you will not get around to do the work you would normally have to do.

Applying security to your IT is not rocket science, but needs a little bit of catching up with the newest threats.

So stay tuned for the posts about security to come. In the meantime I would recommend you – if you haven’t already – to add some source of security news to your daily readings. Some URLs:

http://www.heise.de/security/news/ (German)

Thinking outside the box with Workflow for iOS


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Just a quick addition to my last post. I got feedback that people didn’t see any of the workflows offered to be useful for them.

So let me share something one wouldn’t necessarily associate with a workflow.

As I wrote before I’m using the NewsBar RSS reader to read my RSS feeds. I’m also using the iCab Mobile Internet browser which has a ton of options to configure it your way to surf the Web (maybe I should do a post about it some day…).

The problem is, when I want to open a link in my RSS reader in iCab Mobile, this happens:

Open in iCab

“URL will be saved! It will open when iCab Mobile is launched the next time!” – Sure not what one expects to happen (I want iCab Mobile to open immediately). I mailed with the developer about it and he says this is due to some iOS restrictions.

Anyhow I found a solution for this, using Workflow:

Workflow opne in iCab

Now I can use “open in…” -> “Run Workflow” -> “Open in iCab” and violà: The page opens in iCab 🙂

Automation on your iPhone (or whatever iOS device)


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Anybody who happened to read one of my blog posts about Automator on Mac OS will know that I’m a big fan of automation. Today I will throw some light on Automators “little brother” on iOS – the app “Workflow”. It is not build into the system like on the Mac (it is not even made by Apple), but you can get it from the App Store.

First of all: Workflow is by far not as powerful as Automator, but it offers a lot of useful actions to compose a workflow of. If you are looking for examples there are a bunch of pages on the Internet which showcase possible workflows (like http://www.workflowgallery.co).

Let’s take a look at a useful example. For this let us assume you want to send your current location to a certain friend on a regular basis. To do this manually, you would:

  1. Open the Maps app
  2. Hit the share button
  3. Find the button to send a message (and tap it)
  4. Select the recipient
  5. Add some text (hey – just sending the location would be a little bit rude, right?)
  6. Send

How about to cut this short into these steps:

  1. Open the according workflow within “Today”
  2. Send

What we would need to get there would be to create a workflow from these actions:

  • Get current location
  • Get Maps URL
  • Text
  • Send Message

Like so:


Nice! Anyhow the most useful “workflow” (actually it is just one action!) I created jet is my “Save to iCloud” workflow. It consists of the one action “Save File”. I saved this workflow to be an “Action Extension” (Options are “normal”, “Today Widget” or “Action Extension”), so I can fire it wherever there is an “open in…” button (for example in the Photos app) and save the current file to the iCloud (normally a long-winded task).


Download on the App Store Workflow for iOS



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Todo lists are great. You put all your undone stuff on them and have these things out of your head. Seriously – having a clear mind is a perfect precondition to achieve killer productivity. Having 1000 matters circling around in your mind will only keep you busy not to forget anything (like when you waste 10 minutes trying to remember this important thing that came to you yesterday and you didn’t wrote it down because you thought you wouldn’t lose sight of).

So let’s assume in the meanwhile we all know about this and we put everything that needs to be done on our todo lists. What now?

One approach could be to start with the first item on the list. Another technique could be to do the easy stuff first, so we got that out of the way and than get into the nitty-gritty. Or the other way around!??

Well, while every effort spend on meaningful tasks is a good thing, there’s something else you should do before you get down to work: Prioritize!

Without prioritization chances are you spend too much time on things which are rather less, and too little time on stuff which would be more important for your life’s big goals.

So how to prioritize wisely? Different approaches here as well! I’m gonna throw some light on two of them today.

The first system isn’t the one I use, but I liked the twist in the story I read about it – it made me think. It’s Warren Buffett’s “2 List” Strategy. Here’s the story: http://jamesclear.com/buffett-focus

System number 2 is the one I apply for my prioritization: The Eisenhower Matrix
The idea behind this is to divide your todos into four areas:


As always, there is an app for this®: Priority Matrix – Effective Task Management for Work and Life

But even if you have some other kind of task management tool which doesn’t support the Eisenhower Matrix, you can apply the system for your prioritization anyhow. You could use tags (like for example in “Things”) or priority-flags (like for example in “Todoist”) to sort your todos into one of the categories “Important and urgent”, “Important, but not urgent”, “Not important, but urgent” or “Not important, not urgent”.

Give it a try and see how it will help you to do “first things first”!

PKG installer? No thanks. Just the app, please!


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Do you know Teamviewer? It’s a wonderful application to share your screen with someone else far away. Like when my mother get’s stuck with her system, I just tell her to fire up Teamviewer instead of telephone dialogs like: “Now go to ‘file’… What do you mean there is no ‘file’? There must be… I know you are not a computer expert… Why am I impatient again now?…”

However in the past there was a no-installation-needed Mac app. You just downloaded it, threw it into your “Applications” folder and you were ready to go. Just the way I like it.

Yesterday I wanted to add Teamviewer to a new Mac OS installation and found that there are still “Quick”-versions to be downloaded, but only for the host-part (the side that is sharing its screen). If you want to connect to a shared screen, you have to download the “TeamViewer full version” disk image, which contains a PKG installer (“Install TeamViewer.pkg”).

I don’t like PGK installers! Often they even ask for admin rights and than they start some black installation magic, leaving you with no idea what they copied to wherever. I like to have a download containing a plain whatever.app file, which I can move to my “Applications” folder. Yes, at runtime the app can and will store stuff to your “Library”-folder, but this will be done using the rights of the current user – no misuse of admin power!

So here is how I accomplished to have the “TeamViewer.app” without running the installer:

When you open the TeamViewer disk image (“TeamViewer.dmg”), you will find one single file in it: “Install TeamViewer.pkg”. This thing first appears like a black box – you cannot even crack it with a “Show Package Contents” (this thing you find in context menus at times for certain files)!

Now the command line tool “pkgutil” is our friend. So let’s give this guy a whirl:

cd /Volumes/TeamViewer/
pkgutil --expand "Install TeamViewer.pkg" ~/Desktop/temp/TeamViewer/

Changing to the target folder there will be a big disappointment waiting for us. We have got a bunch of further .pkg files. What a bummer!
But wait – doing a right-click onto the TeamViewerApp.pkg, we now see a “Show Package Contents” entry in the context menu. Anyhow by clicking on this we will end up in another folder with even more pointless files.

However there is a file “Payload”, and this is the one with the good stuff in it. To get to its valuable content, we have to apply some more command line magic:

cd ~/Desktop/temp/TeamViewer/TeamViewerApp.pkg/
cp Payload ../Payload.gz
cd ..
gunzip Payload.gz
cpio -iv < Payload

Output, output, output, and – look what we’ve got! A “TeamViewer.app” file! 🙂

All that’s left now is to move it to your “Applications” folder, fire it up, and…:


I know – a lot of nerd stuff to accomplish to come here. But if somebody asks you why, you can proudly answer: “Because I can!”