Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Really free

I'm not convinced that all of the best things in life are free - not until someone starts giving away Rioja, anyway - but there are many, many good things to be had that are free. Really free. No strings.

Here are two I found recently.

The Focus Booster
I have battled against distraction my whole life. I was still in junior school when it made its first appearance on a school report and that wasn't the last, not by a long chalk. I like to think I have an enquiring mind, but it's arguably more accurate to say that I have the attention span of a gnat. What do you think the Internet did for my productivity? Exactly! When I had a 'proper' job and was paid for turning up, that was less of an issue. Now that I have to make every minute count in order to earn the rent money, it's pretty important that I do whatever is necessary to stay focused.

And that's where the Focus Booster comes in useful. It's a wee widgety-thing that sits on top of all the other stuff on your desktop and counts you down to your next skive break. You can set the session length and the break length to suit yourself, but I have stuck with the default setting. That means I work in 25 minute bursts, after which I take a five minute break. And do you know what? It's working!

Now, if I see that an email has come in, the longest I need to wait to check it is 25 minutes. Previously I would look at incoming mail immediately. It also means I do the 'I wonder if anything's happened', 'I wonder who's around' mad clicking thing in a five minute burst after concentrating on the task in hand for 25 minutes. I suspect it helps that I'm ever-so-slightly OCD, but what the hell! Whatever does the trick! Give it a go and see what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts. I'll be with you in 25 minutes!

Free e-book reader applications
I've got two, greedy girl that I am. I started off with the Kindle for PC application, then found out about Adobe Digital Editions. (I got it to check e-book formatting for Smashwords.) Anyway, while I decide if I need a Kindle or some similar device, they keep me in e-books.

Mind you, should you decide to get yourself a free e-book reader application so you can have a look and see what all the fuss is about, you will quickly find that you now have access to a bunch of free e-books, too. That's right - one free thing leads to another. How cool is that!

My Kindle for PC malarkey actually had some books available when I downloaded it: Aesop's Fables, Treasure Island, and Pride and Prejudice. They may well not be to your taste (I hate Jane Austen) but it means you can see how it works, and then start looking around to see what other goodies are out there.

I wouldn't be without my e-book reader application now. Or my Focus Booster. In fact, using them both in tandem, I can read an e-book for five minutes in every half hour period and still get things done. Result!


  1. I admit to downloading Aesop's Fables at once, Ms Malarkey.

    I wonder though, does the time-thingy-gizmo adjust for 25min and a 10 min break? - I could get part of a new project started just while on break!

    ~ Absolutely*Kate thinking you could sell JOOL'ery (and ginsieng knives that keep you awake) during 5'min. spans of 25'min programming on late, late, late night tv when some folks are still catching up on their overflow because so much is exciting to get involved with (grin)

  2. Whirlwind Kate, you could probably complete a project in 10 minutes! You get so much done while I'm still rubbing my eyes and wondering what day it is. I hope all is well, m'dear - catch you later AT THE BIJOU.