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Inbox Zero: Take Control of Your Email

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Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero series (warning: a few coarse words are used) gently leads you through a process to achieve that most desirable number next to your Inbox message count: ZERO. Part of the most excellent 43 Folders site, the Inbox Zero bookmark has been staring me in the face for months, but I haven't brought myself to actually read it until now. (The first step of solving my email problem is admitting I have a problem....)

As someone who receives hundreds of messages a day, and who has 222 messages currently in his Inbox -- all of which have been left in there because I feel I need to do something with them -- I need email help. So I'm working through the Inbox Zero series, trying to change my habits.

From the second article in the series, Articles of faith:

Less can be so much more

I used to think one-line email responses were the height of rudeness. If someone took the time to type me a 20-paragraph email, I always felt I had to respond in kind. It's like that horrible feeling at the holiday gift exchange when you realize that the present you brought cost a tenth of what your colleague spent. Well, get over it, because it ain't the same thing.

In an environment where attention is the economic equivalent of cash, you aren't doing people any favors by sending gothic novels. And taking your cues for etiquette, propriety, and efficiency on a message-by-message basis will quickly land you in a very bouncy room with a fresh box of crayons.

I'll report back in a few weeks. Care to join me on a journey to Inbox Zero?

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Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
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The End Is Near for Microsoft Paint
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Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Microsoft Paint is one of the few programs that has come standard in every Windows operating system since the tech company was founded. Now, after a 32-year run, The Telegraph reports that MS Paint is set to be discontinued.

When the program was introduced as part of Windows 1.0 in 1985, MS Paint allowed users to sketch doodles with their cursor on a blank canvas. The low-tech concept hasn’t evolved much since then, but MS Paint still maintains a loyal fan base, attracting 100 million users a month in 2016. Now, those artists will have to go elsewhere to create their digital masterpieces: In its recent announcement of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft listed Paint as a “deprecated” app, which means the company will no longer support it and it will probably disappear from future Windows versions.

In place of Paint, Microsoft is launching a more advanced art-making app called Paint 3D. Like the original program, Paint 3D allows users to create quick drawings using digital pens and paintbrushes. But the new feature is geared more toward creating 3D art, something that was never offered in MS Paint.

When the Fall Creators update comes out in September, it may mark the end of an era for Windows users. But don’t count on MS Paint being out of the game for good—Microsoft has been known to revive classic features, as was the case with Clip Art in 2016.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow
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fun
Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
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Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

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