It’s now late October, the clocks have gone back an hour to GMT. In Scotland the nights are fair drawin’ in—it is getting dark earlier. All the more important then to make sure I look after my sleep hygiene.
For the last 14 years I have been working mostly sitting in front of a PC. I’m also a bit of a geek so I find myself sitting in front of a PC even when I’m not being paid to do so.
For years I found it hard to get to sleep at night. It turns out that staring at computer monitor for hours is not great for your sleep. The blue light emitted by a screen affects our attention, reaction times and mood (Source) and, crucially, our sleep.
In 2009, I discovered an application called F.lux that detects where you are in the world and automatically adjusts the screen colour temperature to gradually remove the blue as the sun is setting.
There’s something about this time of year that makes me look back on the past twelve months, reorganise things and generally try to simplify life for the year ahead. This evening I turned my attention to my RSS feed reader Feedly.
When Google closed down its Google Reader service in July 2013 I moved over to Feedly. Their migration process was flawless:
Log in to Feedly using your Google account.
Give Feedly permission to read your Google Reader subscriptions.
In the last five months I’ve been using Feedly on both a desktop browser and the Android app. It’s been a really useful way of keeping up with the sites I want to follow, and it also confirms recent research about how people are using the web these days: on multiple devices.
The old way
I have a problem with the way I categorise my feeds. Until this evening I’ve grouped them by topic:
The problem is: there are some feeds that I read more than others and this way of organising the feeds doesn’t allow me to find those feeds quickly.
A few feeds I try to read every post, such as A List Apart and Zenhabits. I take my time with these articles.
Other feeds I follow to look out for important updates. These are mostly software or web development blogs such as jQuery, Google Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera, etc. I tend to glance at the headlines and read only those posts that I think will impact me.
The new way
So, after understanding my own user behaviour, I now have simplified this to three categories:
I’ve also removed quite a few feeds this evening. Some feeds I realised I wasn’t reading anyway; others were a distraction.
I’m going to run with this way of organising things for the next few months to see if it helps.
Update: After a few months of trying this, I’m finding it really helpful to have my feeds organised this way. The only change I’ve made is to rename the first category from “Favourites” to “Must read”. I found that I was questioning whether “Favourites” was my own category or an auto-generated one by Feedly.
Ironically, Feedly does have an auto-generated category called “Must reads” but I’m finding this much less confusing. Your mileage may vary.
This evening I put the finishing touches to my new cheap-and-cheerful network storage: a USB drive attached to my BT Home Hub 2.0 (the shiny, black one).
Step 1: USB drive
The first step was to buy a new USB flash drive. I went for this one from 7DayShop.com. It’s a 32GB USB 2.0 drive and cost me £20.99. Usefully the swivel cap comes off quite easily.
(When I tried this out at first I used an old 256 MB flash drive that I had in my Big Boy’s Drawer of Interesting Things™.)
Step 2: BT Home Hub 2.0
Round the back of the BT Home Hub 2.0 is a USB port. They’ve even, conveniently labelled it “USB”. Plug the USB drive into the port.
(The dust is optional.)
Step 3: Connect with Windows Explorer
Assuming that you’re connected to your BT Home Hub, open a Windows Explorer window and enter the following network address in the address bar: \\BTHUB\Disk_a1 then hit Enter.
Step 4: Map a network drive
To save you having to type in the network address every time you can map a network drive to that location.
In Windows 7, open My Computer and click on the “Map network drive” button on the toolbar at the top:
A dialog windows will pop-up. Select a drive letter and enter the network address, as before, in the Folder input box:
Then click Finish.
You now have a network drive:
I’m going to use mine for backing up a few files and as a useful location for sharing documents between PC and laptop.
I imagine that this isn’t the most secure of solutions, as anyone with access to the network could gain access to the files, if they know the network address, but as a cheap and cheerful way to share files across multiple computers without the other PCs needing to be switched on this is ideal.
Oddly, after a couple of weeks of this working fine I can no longer connect to \\BTHUB\Disk_a1, the PC just tells me that it cannot find the hostname.