Dear Pocket.

Dear Pocket,
I absolutely love your website/app/God-sent-article-saving miracle, and I appreciate that you have a really minimal design to accent the wonderful dark theme that I can enable. I can neatly organise the things I either want to read for later or the things I wish to preserve for later reference, like an article on photography or further understandings on how the brain functions, and it’s amazing.

FACT: This blog’s permanent dark theme was inspired by Pocket’s version (please don’t sue me).

There’s a reason Pocket is widely used, and it’s due to its versatility when it comes to syncing to other platforms, reading offline or simply the ease it has on our eyes. If there’s anything you could change to enhance the experience of reading, it’s this:

1. Highlight quotes for future reference

I love that you can share a selected excerpt from what you read, but if you went one step further and allowed us to highlight the part to save (copying to clipboard would also be nice), that would be a huge gamechanger.

So whenever you return to said article, you can focus on what you previously highlighted. You could also have a board which has all of your saved quotes, like the clippings feature in a Kindle. It’s just a convenience thing and honestly, I’d love it.

2. Redirect tab links to Pocket instead of the original page

Bear with me here, you know how there’s a Pocket’s trending stories on the new tab page on Chrome?

I realised there’s always one Trump-related article in this section. That says a lot about his presidency.

There’s some really good damn articles that I want to read straightaway so I click the title instead of the ‘Save’ button. It redirects me to the original article, where I get bombarded by newsletter and “WHITELIST US ON ADBLOCK OR PAY £1.99” popups left, right and centre.

It’s a pain, especially in the night when I’m accustomed to reading with the dark theme on but instead I get blasted with blue wavelengths that chip away on whatever sleep I had in the first place. This is once again a convenience thing on redirecting articles straight to Pocket over saving it, entering the Pocket website and reading that way.

It would be great to have that in the options page.

That’s it.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. No. 1 is something I think is a personal necessity, No. 2 is just a pet peeve really. Other than those little things, you guys are doing a great job. People are seriously missing out if they don’t use it.

If these changes do happen, I’m going to make a freak out blog, and that is a promise.

 

Best Regards,
Nishat

ToDoist: Awesome addition to your daily life

Whether you’re a productivity nut or not, you need something to at least remind you of the important stuff to get done throughout the week. Meet ToDoist, probably the best app you can get on productivity and also a great app to kick off the year!

I’ve been using this app for months and I must admit, it has done very well towards handling my rollercoaster of a life.

Extra info for extra context i guess.

Before we get into the pros and cons, I think it’s best to add some context first. I’ve been using ToDoist since August-ish and was learning my ways around the basics and how it could fit into my workflow. There was a moment where my computer and iPad broke down and I couldn’t access the app at all which was a real pain until I realised I could print my weekly ToDoist on a local computer and still keep up, which was an absolute lifesaver!

Back to the review! batman transition

Look at it! It looks amazing!

Don’t worry, totally not unhygienic.

I immediately fell in love with the ultra-minimalist UI that shows me everything. No matter which platform you use, it’s always got a consistent, familiar look with customisable themes too.

There’s all sorts of options, giving the user a lot of freedom and just generally making life a lot easier. It’s given you the choice to control things your way, and that is vital for anyone really. They offer no specific way ToDoThis (knee slap for a certain reader I have an inside joke with) and it works.

How it works.

ouch.

To create a task, press the plus sign and type as shown in the amateur gif provided above. You can can create projects and assign the job to a specific section. You can then choose the time, date and it’s priority level.

What’s even better, and is by far my favourite feature, is the smart detection in what you type. So when typing in ‘Next Friday’ or ‘ToNIght’, whatever the upper and lower case the letter may be, it will highlight the detail red and automatically move that task to that date/time.

There’s even a Smart Reschedule addition which automatically reschedules overdue tasks to a suitable date based on your routine/what the robots learn from you! They won’t do it without your consent though.

The shortcuts make life a lot simpler for the mere human being due to the nanosecond of “productivity time” being saved for that 3 hour Louis Theroux marathon you’re going on. In my opinion, this is a HUGE advantage that they do subliminally support and it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of.

Verdict: Downright awesome.

The UI is clean and consistent no matter if you’re using Windows, a Kindle or the extension available in Internet Explorer (thank goodness the latter doesn’t exist) and all the various elements proves to make you more efficient and the algorithms smarter than you. #rekt

As of December 2016, I have no issue with this system because I control the system. Everything works when I work so I basically have no one to blame but myself when it doesn’t work.

So in short, it’s incredible and a 9.7/10, because nothing can be 10 without being a God-sent miracle.

Back-to-school-despite-being-december 2016: Things I would use myself

This was originally meant to be my Back-to-School blog but I just procrastinated thanks to Nishat being Nishat (wooooo). But so many YouTube videos have been made on it, I might as well make one long list that’s actually useful. Because nothing is as exciting as back-to-school-in-december tech, and you know you’re ballin’ when you got affordable tech that’s cool and swaggy af.

(NOTE: I do have affiliate links but that in no way affects my love for these damn products and they don’t bump up the price either. Now scroll, young padawan!)

Continue reading →

My experience with homework – a student’s perspective

Homework seems more like a neverending battle of stress, anxiety and detention as you attempt to pull yourself together to get that stupid, tedious task out of the way. It’s actually affecting student’s health and ironically their grades.

That should be enough to convince schools to ban homework, period. But they have their reasons too. One of which is so they “don’t forget”. Yeah I can’t really make a case against that however going through the strenuous ordeal of all this outweighs the benefits. You load them with too much homework that stress, which leads to a shrink in a certain part of the brain, consumes the thoughts to an extent where memory loss is more likely than memory gains.

It also ignites a rage within the student to lash at you, either aggressively with verbal or physical attacks, or assertively by outsmarting you with authorities or some rather plausible excuses. To back up this point, it is proven that the stricter the teacher, the more deceptive a student becomes to avoid consequences.

Come on teachers. If you want to give us homework, give us something that is fun or lets us be creative and incorporate our own skills and passion into it. I may sound like a cliché, but you’re giving us depression here, jeez just bring it down a notch.

How to save Google Drive space with Gmail

Well it’s 2.35am, you’re emailing your colleagues dank memes when all of a sudden, your 15GB of space fills to the brim with errors popping everywhere. You consider getting a subscription, but you haven’t paid rent yet so you’re screwed. Here’s how to save space.

Delete them meems.

I know they mattered to you and were there for you during your divorce, but it’s okay. Go to the ‘Sent’ section of your Gmail and just delete. Delete every thing that belongs to your heart. Do the same for the spam, inbox (any unnecessary ones) and make sure to go to the bin and slay all the beasts you once called friends.

If you have any subscriptions, make sure to read (keep the precious ones if you like) and delete. This button is key to all storage saving. Once you clear up your Gmail, head to the Bin and permanently get rid of all emails.

I’m sorry pal, those memes must go.

TIP: The emails with files and attachments, if not important or is already saved, can be deleted as well. They bump the storage down a lot.

Make a new account

If you use Gmail intensively and can’t handle the onslaught of emails, make another email and redirect all subscriptions and other unrelated stuff there. You can also use it for signing up to websites or just dedicate it towards being a professional email for outsiders to contact you. It helps you be a little organised.

Now watch those numbers drop as quickly as your marriage. This was a simple but hopefully useful tip that’s helped me out a lot.

My productive routine (or daily ritual or whatever you call it, i don’t care)

Everyday, I strive to be as productive as I can so when I’m done, I can spend my time enjoying Bloodborne or even the old Crash Bandicoot.

For projects/lists: Trello

A great minimalistic board showing your tasks, ideas and lists. Trello integrates with many other apps (Evernote, Slack etc.) to optimise the workload and generally make things more efficient.

For weekly and daily planning: ToDoist

This is a really clean app organising your everyday tasks. It’s got those little things that makes life much more easier, like creating a task which you can prioritise with flags to know what is the most important to get through. I love it.

Note-taking awl day err’day: Evernote

This is a no-brainer. Evernote syncs on nearly all platforms as it takes in notes that you have full control over. I’ve used it for YT scripts/scenes and general brain farts I want to remember later on.

Notebook: Notebook

Pour out your heart and soul into a physical notebook. Stylish, improves handwriting and writing things down is generally just awesome. Any notebook would do, but I would like to use the Evernote Smartbook so I can save whatever precious stuff I draw/jot.

TIPS:

  1. Sunday should be planning day as you’re about to get right into the thick of school/work.
  2. Spend every night reading a book or just writing in a journal to gradually create a ritual that your brain remembers so when it’s sleepy time, you’re prepared.
  3. Always read one light or factual book (e.g. 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades) and an emotional, plot-driven story.
  4. Look at Thomas Frank’s videos on productivity. If you watch closely you’ll soon realise that I based everything off of this dude.

Would like to introduce:

The Five Minute Journal – keeps me motivated and happy. Don’t do all of this without a clear goal in mind.

6 Apps That Fit Charity Into Your Daily Routine

An important thing to do is to incorporate charity into your daily routine so you can go through each day with the feeling that you’ve helped someone.

I found an article recommending reliable, non-profitable charity apps that are both convenient and simple. Make a change for the better today!

Source: 6 Apps That Fit Charity Into Your Daily Routine

What we can learn from Bruce Lee

“Be like water” is one of his many famous quotes, but Bruce Lee taught us a lot more than just that. I’m picking some bits out of this article because there are some parts that really reached out to me. I suggest you read the full post.

He was a very philosophical man, a person of integrity and peace. He believed that philosophy was a vital part of life, everyday and more. Lee kept a pocket notebook and took it everywhere with him to capture any ideas and reinforce the beliefs he established upon himself.

Willpower:
Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.

Emotion:
Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.

Reason:
Recognizing that both my positive & negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.

Imagination:
Recognizing the need for sound PLANS and IDEAS for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans.

Memory:
Recognizing the value of an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall, and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.

Subconscious mind:
Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my CLEAR PURPOSE in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture CONSTANTLY BEFORE my subconscious mind by REPEATING IT DAILY.

Conscience:
Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right & what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.”

He was diligent, and believed he had all control over himself, his emotions and thoughts. His positivity defined his purpose in life and therefore made him spend every day efficiently. I feel that scrolling through your email or social media feed is what we do as a nervous tick, waiting for something but we don’t know what that something is. But we would still scroll.

Keeping a pocket notebook is important. Writing things down on a physical notebook is proven to be more effective than typing it up. If you write down your affirmations, your goals in life and who you strive to be, you clear up your mind of stress, anxiety and confusion. You solidify your faith (whatever it is) and have the willpower over yourself.

Steve Jobs said that every day, he looks in the mirror and asks, “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?” If the answer was no, he had to change something. There are lots of articles and posts on motivation and being happy, but these are the ones that have come to most use.

For more inspirations from the one and only Bruce Lee, check out the article I mentioned. It’s worth reading.

My favourite Chrome extensions

Chrome is like a hypothetical base of LEGO, you just have to stack it up with more hypothetical LEGO. Those more hypothetical LEGO would be extensions.

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all at my disposal.

HTTPS Everywhere:
This automatically implements HTTPS security on most, if not all, sites. It encrypts the sites that don’t have that “http” or the green padlock at the beginning of the URL bar.

AdBlocker Plus:
This is the free upgrade of AdBlock that not many know about. It functions the same, just with a cleaner UI and stats to show the amount of junk that’s been thankfully avoided.

TubeBuddy:
This is the best helper for those budding YouTubers, small or big. It just makes settings and video processing a lot quicker as shortcuts are available on the TubeBuddy dashboard. You can get the free version but you can buy more features.

I have the Star upgrade (which does require money) but I highly recommend that you buy it. Purchase it through this link – I get a commission from TubeBuddy if you do: https://www.tubebuddy.com/NishatBlagh

AutoPagerize:
This just makes life a whole lot more easier by allowing pages that have several follow-on pages to just flow as one on the page. For example, searching something on Google and reaching the end of the page only to see a line of more pages is prevented because all you have to do with this extension is SCROOLLLLLL.

Whoever made this is a genius because all it does is run in the background without you activating it or something.

Password Alert:
This has saved me from losing my YouTube channel and Gmail several times. It alerts you whenever you’ve typed in your Google password into any websites that don’t have a certified Google sign up page.

Turn off the lights:
Ever have that feeling when you’re watching a video online that everything on the website is distracting you? Fear no more! cue triumphant fanfare music Turn off the lights dims the screen and lets you concentrate on what’s really important, food videos.

Disconnect:
This thing is pretty much a systematic advertisement destroyer. It analyses the adverts and social media on the page and hides it until you say otherwise. There is Advertising, Analytics, Social and Content that it removes and categorises them as requests, which you can decide to keep or not.

“Adblock is your average run-and-gunner whereas Disconnect is the hitman with no remorse. The silent killer.” – Nishat, just right now.

Panic Button:
This one is simple, map the button to a hotkey and whenever you press it, it hides your tabs in a bookmark folder and opens up a fresh new tab. That’s all you need, go wild.

The Great Suspender:
Having a computer slower than me is really bad, and having a bunch of tabs doesn’t help either. This extension just temporarily suspends the pages you haven’t entered for a certain period of time. For the sites you always want open, you can choose to place that on the whitelist.

It does the job, it’s great. My only problem would be that it suspends important tabs when I’m working and it can be a real nuisance.

Checker Plus for Gmail:
I always needed one of these, and this is probably the best. The UI is clean, so separating emails is easy. There’s a variety of settings to play around with and I love it, I use it everyday! Doesn’t even cost a penny.

LastPass:
I use LastPass on the computer because it’s free. I made a post on how to use password managers to the ultimate but that’s not what the title is called.

Yellow highlighter:
When I need to show something from an article, I find that it’s good to highlight and makes it a lot easier. This extension has been enough, but it crashes a lot. Any alternative that has the same features but performs smoother is welcome.

Pocket:
I love this extension, just click and save the article that you’re on so you can read it another time. I also have the app on my iPad and it syncs up quickly as well! Damn, this is probably one of my favourite apps all round!

That’s about it, I organise the extensions like that because I’d like some apps to work in the background whilst others are more accessible for frequent use. I didn’t mention Honey, TamperMonkey or MEGA because they aren’t worth mentioning (except maybe the latter).

 

 

 

Trello: the best productivity app yet.

So as you may have realised, I want to be more productive. To rid of my procrastination and keep my fingers twiddling in excitement. For that to happen, I need some sort of organiser to help me in life without leaving me in pure perplexion.

I found One Big Thing. Used it, loved it, reviewed it. It had a minimal priority list that didn’t make you feel bad whenever you didn’t complete a task accidentally on purpose. Instead, it encourages you and motivates you to get through the day with a friendly nudge.

But I soon realised that this was more of a daily to-do list. I needed something that would help me plan my days, but follow the simplistic vibe when it comes to productivity apps. Then I found it. Trello.

I wrote down all of my bucket lists, plans and work on Notability. This is a great app, but it gets really cluttered no matter how many dividers and folders I make. It wasn’t a really good way to keep track of things so finding Trello was perfect.

Source: Trello demonstrating a developer’s plans

Trello follows a Japanese minimalist form consisting of boards, lists and cards that organise what you need to do and get done. It’s simple, stress-free and enables you to arrange everything the way you want to. Though I haven’t personally used it, there is the option to include groups of people and be the admin, a great feature for students, work or other stuff.

Plus, its available to sync up to from various platforms!

My experience is that it’s smooth, simple and satisfying, especially when you make your own ‘Done’ list and cram it with your completed jobs. I haven’t experienced any problems except that when I open the app on my iPad, it requires a refresh to load the changes.

Overall, it’s amazing. I use it to help me organise what to do the following day, then write that down on One Big Thing. But it’s really flexible so you can use it however you want, either the app on iOS or the website on Chrome or any other browser (even internet explorer).

 

One Big Thing: Simple yet effective

Example of how the app works.

IT’S TOO &*%! PERFECT!

I’m a real sucker for procrastination and forgetfulness, which gives me the qualification to honestly review this app. One Big Thing is essentially a to-do list that is a great start for people to set their priorities straight and clear their mind, made by indie developer Nick Burka.

The app is easy to use. Type up your one Big Thing then follow-up with some Little Things. Scroll down and you’ll find a list of ‘Other things I might do’. Swipe to the left and get organised for the next day. Boom, you’re sorted. Want to remind yourself of your tasks every morning? It’ll give you a “friendly nudge” at 8am.

In the settings, you get the chance to choose which days you want to be notified at 8. You can also buy different themes, stickers and an archive of the previous 60 days of tasks. That’s all there is, and that’s all I wanted.

“There are heaps of ways people use to-dos and this specific one is sometimes called the “1-3-5 Rule”. I didn’t invent the idea, but I think I’ve created the best app for it. Every other task app I’ve tried had too many bells and whistles, made me feel bad for not getting tasks done, or let tasks pile up in a way that felt overwhelming. I wanted something dead simple with just a light sprinkling of delight on top, so I created One Big Thing.”

– Nick Burta

At first, I didn’t really like it, but I stuck with it. There wasn’t as many notifications as I wanted and I wouldn’t get all the tasks done. But later on, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do those jobs anyway. Other similar apps have always put me on edge whereas this one doesn’t make me feel regret. It’s a move-on-it’s-cool method that maintains my motivation and actually eases me into being more efficient.

In other words, this is an incredible app when it comes to subconsciously making me work more effectively. It taught me to not push myself too hard and to be a lot more positive and resilient. All through one app. Thank you, Nick.