Taking Care of Business: Part 1 – Finding Your Trusted System

Even us creative types need to remember that when all is said and done, we are running a business. And businesses live or die on information. Oodles of information, that may or may not be useful, come our way — all day, every day. Without a reliable method to parse all of that data, valuable connections and opportunities may get lost in the noise. To handle this, we need a trusted system.

Getting Things Done GTD
GTD Workflow – Click to enlarge

If you’ve heard of David Allen or read his book Getting Things Done (GTD), you already know what I am talking about.

Basically, you need a simple, reliable place to put your stuff so it (a) won’t get lost, and (b) won’t get ignored. Both A and B are equally important!

The best system is one that you will actually use. You could spend a lot of time learning a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) but if it doesn’t fit easily into your daily workflow, you’ll never even open it.

So, let’s start with a system that you already have. No really, you already do have one. It’s your email program and its connected address book.

It’s time to start thinking of your Inbox and an inbox.

inboxMany of your tasks already start as email. The simplest way to get the rest of your tasks in there as well is to send them to yourself as emails too. After a while, jotting quick emails to yourself becomes second nature. Once it does, you can finally relax and trust that important things won’t get forgotten. They are all in your inbox awaiting your attention.

Now that all of your tasks are in one place, let’s turn our attention to resources. I’m talking about your address book (or contact list).

addressbookMost modern email programs have an option that automatically adds people with whom you correspond to the address book. Add to that the fact that every mobile app in creation wants to sync its data with the address book on your phone and you already have access to an incredible amount of information at your fingertips.

Cleaning up this data can seem like an impossible task, especially if you have never done it before. But, going through it all can help you better understand your own communications and your business in general. It’s well worth the time.

In addition to the basic contact information, try adding some of this information to each entry:

  • Source (Where did you connect? Facebook? LinkedIn? a conference?)
  • Category (Prospect, Client, Agent, Engineer, Talent, etc.)
  • Other Personal Info (Birthday, Hobbies, etc)

Once the data has been cleaned and organized, you’re ready to get started. It’s time to triage your inbox with a process that might look like this:

Is it actionable?

No

  • If it’s junk, throw it away.
  • If it’s good information, file it.

Yes

  • If it will take less than 5 minutes, do it now.
  • If someone else needs to take action, email it to the right resource found in your address book.
  • Otherwise, schedule when you will get it done.

At its core, that’s it. Of course, over time, you will start to see where other tools that enhance things might be useful. Things like:

  • Tracking whether emails have been viewed
  • Sending emails automatically on a schedule
  • Saving templates for commonly used emails
  • Snoozing tasks to be reviewed later
  • Automatically adding tasks to your calendar
  • Showing a contact’s current social activity alongside their email
  • Enhancing contact information with new data from their online profiles
  • Visualizing how far along negotiations are with a certain prospect

There are lots of tools online that can add these features, some free, some paid. Now that you have a good idea about how you work, you’ll be able to find the ones that work best for you. And, now that you’ve developed a trusted system, those tools will be ones that actually get used.

The goal of this article was to talk about concepts and systems that could be applied with any software. In my next post, I will talk about my own experience with some specific tools that help make this work with either GMail or Google’s new Inbox by GMail.

What’s your trusted system? Any experience with GTD? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Adding Punch & Roll to Adobe Audition

Just like my scripts that add this functionality to both TwistedWave and Audacity, it is possible to get Audition to do a basic Punch & Roll.

My script is written for Mac OSX, it should be possible to implement a similar script on Windows using a program called Auto HotKey.

1. On your Mac, please click here to download my script.

2. Once that is complete, double click to open the file. It should open on your computer using AppleScript Editor.

3. When opening, it will probably ask you to locate the Adobe Audition program. Browse through your Applications Folder and find the right executable. (NOTE: This will change “Adobe Audition” listed below to reflect the exact name of your file. example: “Adobe Audition CC 2014”)

The AppleScript Editor window should show you the following code:

tell application "Adobe Audition"
   activate
   tell application "System Events"
      keystroke "m" -- add a marker
      keystroke "m" using {option down} -- custom keystroke to toggle Mute
      keystroke "j" -- scrub backward
      delay 5 -- wait 5 seconds
      keystroke "k" -- stop scrub
      keystroke "m" using {option down} -- custom keystroke to toggle Mute
      keystroke " " -- play audio
      delay 5 -- wait 5 seconds
      keystroke " " using {shift down} -- start recording
   end tell
end tell

You can see that I added a Custom Keystroke to toggle Mute. This is to prevent you from hearing Audition scrub during its rewind. If you would like to add this custom shortcut, please follow instructions from Adobe found here. If you don’t mind hearing the scrub, leaving this code in has no negative effects.

4. At this point, open Adobe Audition and create a new session.

5. Record about 30 seconds of audio into your new session.

6. Place the cursor at the point that you’d like to do a pickup.

7. Press the Run button on the AppleScript Editor window.

Audition will now rewind 5 seconds, playback the 5 seconds of Pre-Roll audio, then start recording from where you placed the cursor.

To modify the length of the Pre-Roll feel free to change “delay 5” to your desired value. Remember to make both values identical, or the script will no longer work as designed.

Congratulations! You’ve just done Punch & Roll in Adobe Audition! 😉

If you would like to assign a Keyboard Shortcut to the script, use this same script and follow the directions given here for TwistedWave.

Please note that this script is leveraging functions that are already built into Audition. I am not adding any new functionality. And, be aware that scripts like these will never be as smooth as native functionality within an application.

Feel free to post your questions or improvements below.

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Add a Keyboard Shortcut to Punch and Roll for Twisted Wave

Select TwistedWave in Automator

If you are using my AppleScript that adds Punch and Roll to TwistedWave and want to assign a Keyboard Shortcut to the script, follow the steps outlined below. Any image that has been reduced in size to fit the page can be enlarged by clicking on it.

1. In your Applications folder, double click on Automator. When Automator opens, select Service, then click Choose to begin.

Select Service in Automator

 

2. Then set Service receives to no input and choose Other from the drop down labeled in.

Set service receives and other in Automator

3. Select TwistedWave from the window that appears.

Select TwistedWave in Automator

4. Double click Run AppleScript to reveal the Scripting Window

punch-roll-4

 

5. Open the TwistedWave – Punch and Roll script (highlighted in blue) from the original download. Be certain this is the same role where you modified the delay to work best on your computer.

punch-roll-5

 

6. Copy (COMMAND + C) the script from TwistedWave – Punch and Roll

Copy AppleScript

7. Select All (COMMAND + A) and Paste (COMMAND + V) into the Automator window labeled Run AppleScript

Paste AppleScript into Automator

8. Click the Hammer Icon to Validate the script. If there is an error, back up to step #6 and be certain that you use Select All in both the AppleScript Editor and Automator Windows

Add AppleScript to automator

 

Validate AppleScript

9. From the File Menu in Automator, Save the service and name it something like Punch and Roll.

Save in Automator

 

Name the Service Punch and Roll

10. From the Apple Menu, open System Preferences, choose Keyboard, then choose the Shortcuts tab. Choose Services on the left and scroll to the bottom of the list on the right. Under General you will see your Punch and Roll Service. Click where it says Add Shortcut to add a shortcut.

Open System Preferences

 

Edit Shortcuts in Keyboard Preferences

 

Assign Shortcut to Service

11. If you find that the delay time needs to be changed to make it behave properly as a Service, just open Automator and open Punch and Roll from the File > Open Recent Menu

Automator Open Recent

12. If you ever want to delete the Service completely, you can find it at: /users/YOURNAME/Library/Services/

Services Folder

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Punch and Roll for TwistedWave

Download the TwistedWave – Punch and Roll script here.

Two months ago, I put together a Punch and Roll script for Audacity. It was a bit clunky, but it worked. I’ve since modified it, and broken it out into separate parts (move audio, run pre-roll, etc), and I have found it much more useful.

Recently, I have started experimenting with TwistedWave, an audio editor for OSX, iOS, and the Web. Many well respected people in voiceover seem to love it (including George Whittam and Paul Strikwerda).

But,  one feature that some people say that it lacks, is Punch and Roll editing. So, I decided to port my script to TwistedWave.

Once you download the file, and unzip it, open the TW-PunchRoll folder. When you open the folder, you will see 5 files.

Inside the TW-PunchRoll folder

Please read the READ ME file before doing anything else. The READ ME file will walk you though using the Application (pictured above on the lower right), and through tweaking the script (pictured above on the lower left).

If you would like to add a Keyboard Shortcut to this script, please read my article: Add a Keyboard Shortcut to Punch and Roll for TwistedWave

If you have any questions, or suggestions, please post them in the comments section below.

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January 2014 in Review

So far, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year.

I completed two wonderful projects in January (an audiobook and a website).

The audiobook is an interesting piece of speculative fiction by JC Andrijeski called Karma. The story revolves around two immortal souls that encounter each other throughout human history. And, how these beings both shape, and are shaped by, humanity.

The website is for a small Colorado-based company. Among other things, the company makes Vocal Isolation Booths (just what I need for my new recording studio 😉 ). They make a high-quality, solid product, and they were long overdue for a web upgrade. The site, though live, is still a work in progress (even the design is in flux). So, any feedback is more than welcome. In the coming weeks, I will be helping them add new photos and videos. And, they will be sharing more of their day-to-day work over social media.

Also, in the coming weeks, I will become the proud owner of a 4’x4′ booth built by them! I promise to document the whole process so that other Voice Actors can fairly judge their booths against the competition.

 

Aww #Dries, do you really miss me? Really? #Drupal #GaSP #mollom

Recently, I got an email from Dries Buytaert (CTO of Acquia) that I’d like to share with you.

Hello stevenjaycohen,

recently Mollom has been feeling kind of lonely. We noticed that your site http://stevenjaycohen.com hasn’t made any requests to Mollom for about two weeks.

If you decided to stop using Mollom, we’d love to understand why. We’re determined to provide the best possible service. If you are still using Mollom, and things are just slow, please ignore this e-mail.

We hope you’ll come back so if there is any way we can help, just contact us at support@mollom.zendesk.com and mention your site’s public Mollom key: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Mollom looks forward to eating more of your site’s spam!


Dries Buytaert
Co-founder Mollom
http://mollom.com

Hi Dries! Long time, no see!

I’m so sorry to hear that mollom is getting lonely. I wish I could say that I am coming back, but I’m not. Since leaving Drupal for GaSP, I really haven’t needed mollom to take care of my site.

GaSP uses a system called SAPTCHA to battle spam, and so far, it seems to be working perfectly for me.

Don’t get me wrong, mollom is great project. And a system like Drupal really needs the help of a huge project like mollom to help limit spam. After all, Drupal renders its content in a very old-school Web v1.0 way that is easy for spammers to exploit. GaSP, on the other hand, has a UI built in light-weight, dynamic JavaScript. So, it is impervious to most of the spamming software found on the web today.

Does that mean I am relying on security through obscurity? Not at all! I’m just pointing out that a small, nimble project, starting out on the modern web, doesn’t need to make the same assumptions that you did back when you started coding Drupal.

Dries, you and I skyped last a little over a year ago. And, a lot of what you said, that day, and at events over the years, has had an impact on me, and how I approached designing GaSP. I have learned so much by studying things that you have built.

That said, GaSP seems to be the antithesis of Drupal in many ways. And, that’s a good thing. Drupal is a wonderful framework, but no single framework will ever be the solution to all problems. Too many Drupal developers seem to suffer from the old saying, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

My website is not a nail Dries. So, Drupal (and mollom by extension) are not the tools that I need to get the job done.

Thanks for everything!
I’ve learned so very much!

Steven

GaSP v2 and the new Imagine Theme!

Over the last few weeks, I have completely rebuilt GaSP (both the front and back ends).

gasp-admin
It is now fast, secure, and intuitive, while keeping the source code easily readable (Hey, I spent too many years as an educator for that not to be one of my goals). All of the changes inspired me to build a new theme, so may I present Imagine!
imagine
I took the picture earlier this year on a trip to New York with my daughter. I really liked the interplay of lines and patterns and have been looking for an interesting way to use the image. Here, I have used CSS 3 border radius and shadow along with font embedding to build a theme that feels like it flows with the picture. If you load the site on your mobile phone, you will also get to see the mobile version of the theme. I am still working on the tablet version (I only have a Kindle Fire to test it on and I don’t trust its browser to speak for all tablets).
Once I finish cleaning up the GaSP source files, I will be open sourcing the code, and some default themes along with it. Any, and all, feedback is welcome!

GaSP implements Responsive Web Design

After a bit of a refactoring frenzy of late, GaSP can now intelligently reformat its content for mobile, tablet, and desktop computers. I big thank you goes out to the people behind PHP Mobile Detect for helping to make it this easy to implement.

Making GaSP mobile-aware lead me to re-examine the available widgets with a touch-based-UI in mind. The handlers on all widgets have been re-worked to take a finger-driven-UI into account.

Next on the agenda, re-working the Admin UI 🙂

GaSP reborn? #GWT #Drupal

After a short stint of a few months with Drupal, you may have noticed that, once again, this site is running GaSP.

Drupal is wonderfully powerful but was “getting in the way” instead of fascilitating creative expression.

So, I have resurrected the GaSP project. I am still doing a bit of cleaning up, so I apologize if things are not quite right yet.

In the next few days, I will be developing a roadmap for GaSP. After that, I will be refactoring the code.

If you have any feature requests, now would be the time to speak up 🙂