Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tracking Time, the first step to powerful time management

I am very picky when it comes to adding a piece of software to my favourite apps list. By `my favourite apps list' I mean standalone applications that do not need a browser to run.

 Yet, a very sleek application quickly made it to my fav apps list. The application is called *** Kapow ***. Honestly, I just searched the meaning and it seems to be sort of an impolite word (according to Urban Dictionary) so we will try to ignore meaning of the word, and get to the function of the application.

Kapow 1.3.4 on Fedora 16 (Verne)
    Kapow is so simple that it will soon become indispensable to track your time. No much clutter. Just a left panel to add / remove projects, large (start / stop) and cancel buttons to indicate starting or stopping a task, and a simple view with customized columns to see what you have accomplished.

The clue to having life-reflecting data is to start / stop tasks when you really begin or end (pause) working on them. The relatively large buttons make it easy to do this. Tracking your time per day should never become a task in itself. It should never consume more than (300) of your precious 5,184,000  seconds you have each day ... (This is my own theory, and the 300 seconds should mostly be spent typing a meaningful task and later having a helicopter view of the tasks)

This said, I have to confess that I am the most person who:
- fails to estimate duration for any given task (despite some previous experience doing a similar one);
- fails to track her time;
- fails to arrive on time (even if it is an outing);

To curb this, I am trying Kapow and it seems to be doing me a favour. Hopefully I can keep going on and making progress on time management (الحمد لله، ما شاء الله، لا قوة إلا بالله)  :)

Here is how to get Kapow on Fedora 16 (source code is available as well as packages for other Linux distros. It is GPL 3 licensed):

$ sudo wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/gottcode.repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/gottcode/Fedora_16/home:gottcode.repo

$ sudo yum install kapow


Trust me, it will make a difference in your life if you suffer from time-management issues.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Initiatives for Online Education

Online education is growing, and I am glad!

Indeed, some initiatives have been there for a few years now and a handful of well-known universities are maximizing the opportunity for netcitizens to learn.

My favourite part about online education is not being free, but rather is comfort and flexibility.

For example, you can always watch the lectures or read course material during the times that best suit you. If you are a working mother or a busy individual, you can do this over weekends. Even better, you have access to the material everywhere you have an internet connection.

This simply throws the course into your `comfort-zone'. Once there, chances are you will grasp things better and accordingly can benefit yourself and the society from what you have learned.

I bet now you would like to have a list of online-education initiatives. Trust me, at least a couple of the below take knowledge seriously but makes it easy and fun for you.

Here are my favourite initiatives / sites:

1) Coursera
    * https://www.coursera.org/#courses
    * Has courses from Stanford, Penn, Michigan, California and Princeton Universities.
    * Courses that has no specific pre-requisites are really easy to understand.
    * You can sign up for courses that have already started and have access to their complete material (depends on  the instructor's decision but you will always have access to the videos).

2) MIT Open Courseware
    * http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/
    * A huge number of courses that really can make a difference in your life.
    * You have access to all course material aside of when you are attending the course.

3) Class Central
    * http://www.class-central.com/
    * Carefully enlists dates of courses for other initiatives. Doesn't host the material itself.
    * Up to date (keep up the good work guys!)

4) Udemy
    * http://www.udemy.com/
    * Not as authentic as Coursera for example, but `trending paid and free courses` are a good point to start.
    * You can create your own course there.
    * A good place to find about other books and initiatives covering the course. (Search for instructors and read discussions)

I hope the initiatives are useful to you, and that Allah (Sobhanoh w Taala) may reward me for letting you know about it :)