The Beginner’s Guide to Writing With MultiMarkdown | Michael Hyatt

I’ve heard about Markdown, a simple way of marking up simple text so that it appears as formatted, and have started exploring it (well, I downloaded an app, and saved an article on it to read later). Then recently this article by Michael Hyatt convinced me to get going with it.

I started using Drafts app recently, but have not explored its Markdown function yet, mainly because I use Drafts solely to get notes quickly into Evernote on my mobile devices, and Evernote doesn’t recognize Markdown (I think).

But if you want to know more about Markdown, especially how simple it is to use, and/or how a busy blogger and writer uses it, read Hyatt’s article. It’s not a comprehensive overview, just a brief introduction.

I have used a number of “blog processors,” including BlogJet and then MarsEdit. But in the last few years, I have completely converted over to MultiMarkdown.

It’s a way of writing that turns minimally marked up plain text into well formatted documents, including rich text and HTML. You can even use it directly with WordPress. If you are a writer, you owe it to yourself to explore MultiMarkdown.

And, before your eyes glaze over, it is honestly the easiest way to write anything. The syntax is so simple, you already know it. If you can use an emoticon, you can write in MultiMarkdown.

via The Beginner’s Guide to Writing With MultiMarkdown | Michael Hyatt.


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cherry blossom roundup

sakura_sapphire_sky

I’m always a little bit crazy about sakura. This year I went to several places to see the blossoms. What you see below are some of the photos I took in Tokyo, Boso peninsula in Chiba prefecture, Kobe, and Yoshino in Nara prefecture.

via Through the Sapphire Sky: 2014 Sakura, cherry blossoms.

I did not go anywhere special to see cherry blossoms this year, but enjoyed the ones where I live and work, and all the ones in between.

Whether you went cherry-blossom-viewing or not, I hope you will enjoy Sapphire Sky’s beautiful photos and info on some of the many kinds of cherry blossoms in Japan. 

And here are some more “sakura” photos by my favourite lady-bloggers living in the Nara area:

 


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Heartbleed Bug – what is it and how does it affect you

I just spent several hours changing my passwords. Why? Because of this:

heartbleed

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging IM and some virtual private networks VPNs.

The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

via Heartbleed Bug.

For businesses and institutions that have their own websites and servers (think banks, financial institutions, merchants from the majors like Amazon to the smaller online businesses), this is an

EXTREMELY Serious OpenSSL Bug

OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f contain a flaw in its implementation of the TLS/DTLS heartbeat functionality (RFC6520). This flaw allows an attacker to retrieve private memory of an application that uses the vulnerable OpenSSL libssl library in chunks of up to 64k at a time. Note that an attacker can repeatedly leverage the vulnerability to increase the chances that a leaked chunk contains the intended secrets.

via Vulnerability Note VU##720951 OpenSSL heartbeat extension read overflow discloses sensitive information Companies affected are listed on the above website, and include Amazon, Google and IBM.  I was alerted to this by way of Karl Denninger at Market-Ticker who says

This is extremely serious folks.

If your systems are vulnerable to this and Internet-facing you must assume that the private keys involved in your SSL-enabled applications have been compromised and are no longer secret.  This means that your site can be trivially spoofed and will appear to be legitimate to a client connecting to it even though it is not.

This is very, very bad.  You cannot simply upgrade OpenSSL and be done.  You must also either revoke and have re-issued or revoke and re-issue yourself all keys that were formerly issued and potentially exposed.  In addition the public CAs may be impacted as well since they have internet-facing services, which means that their keys may not be secure either.

This is truly major. Merchants and banks, to name just the most obvious, use SSL to secure transactions and other private transfers of data. From what I can gather, there is no way to know if the company’s servers have been hacked or not. But most will have to assume that their keys have been compromised. From the heartbleed.com website:

Exploitation of this bug leaves no traces of anything abnormal happening to the logs…

Am I affected by the bug?

You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet. Your popular social site, your company’s site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Many of online services use TLS to both to identify themselves to you and to protect your privacy and transactions. You might have networked appliances with logins secured by this buggy implementation of the TLS. Furthermore you might have client side software on your computer that could expose the data from your computer if you connect to compromised services.

How widespread is this?

Most notable software using OpenSSL are the open source web servers like Apache and nginx. The combined market share of just those two out of the active sites on the Internet was over 66% according to Netcraft’s April 2014 Web Server Survey. Furthermore OpenSSL is used to protect for example email servers (SMTP, POP and IMAP protocols), chat servers (XMPP protocol), virtual private networks (SSL VPNs), network appliances and wide variety of client side software. Fortunately many large consumer sites are saved by their conservative choice of SSL/TLS termination equipment and software. Ironically smaller and more progressive services or those who have upgraded to latest and best encryption will be affected most. Furthermore OpenSSL is very popular in client software and somewhat popular in networked appliances which have most inertia in getting updates.

Time to change those passwords. (For my posts on one password management program, click here.)


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Word Stats for this blog

Science-fiction writer and Evernote Ambassador Jamie Rubin loves stats, keeps track of them and manages to pull them together into meaningful and interesting slices of information for others, as well as for himself. Quite an achievement.

After reading a recent blog post of his Blog Stats for Q1 of 2014, I got interested in the idea of keeping track of how much I write, on this blog and elsewhere. Rubin has created lines of code that automate this process, but not being a coder I’ve had to resort to more primitive methods: a plugin. I just installed Word Stats (another overview over here), and so here we go.

Because in Japan the school and fiscal years begin in April, and as I live and work in Japan, I’m going to follow suit, so these are for last “year”, April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014.

  • 113 posts
  • 42,454 words
  • 376 words/post (average)
  • 75% of my blog posts are at an intermediate reading level, 24% are at a basic level, and just 1% at an advanced level (must have been drunk at the time).
  • just 2 of my posts were tagged “too long”, meaning they were over 1,500 words (this is the default standard for “too long”)
  • 37 posts were tagged “too short”, being fewer than 200 words (this is the default standard for “too short”).
  • My most prolific month was March 2014 (7,519 words) – not surprising as I almost no classes in that month, so had more time to spend on blogging.
  • I blogged the least in the previous month, February 2014. Not sure why. Most of my classes finished in the first week of February. After that I was focussed on calculating final grades. I did get sick in that month, but that only lasted a few days.

Visitor Stats

My visitor stats go back to 2008, when I started this blog in November. I had 88 visitors that month.

  • By 2010 I was getting 100-200 visitors/month.
  • That all changed in March 2011 when the earthquake/tsunami/Fukushima nuclear meltdown happened, and I started blogging about that. In March I got 2,004 visitors.
  • In April 2011 I got 3,203 visitors. Numbers dropped to below 2,000 after that until November (2,398) and then they went up gradually reaching a peak in February 2012 (5,195).
  • Numbers from then on dropped slightly, hovering around +/- 3,000 visitors/month until
  • May 2013 when they dropped below 2,500 and have continued to drop ever since, falling below 2,000 in August 2013  (for the first time since October 2011) and
  • below 1,000 since January 2014 (for the first time since Feb. 2011).

The low numbers since Jan. 2014 are perhaps due to the fact that I have been blogging less since Dec. 2013.

  • I wrote just 3 posts in February this year, compared to
  • 13 in March, and
  • 7 in February, 2013
  • 39 in February, 2012!

So there seems to be a correlation between frequency of blogging and numbers of visitors. Tho it can’t only be that, because visitor numbers have not picked up even though I’ve started blogging more ( high word count), and more frequently.?


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Revamping my Evernote

Revamping my Evernote. Why?

  • I had too many tags (over 1,000)
  • Too many notebooks (around 60)
  • Too many “todo’s” scattered across 1 ToDo notebook and 1 ToDo tag (what the…?)
  • Notes piling up unattended to in my inbox and ToDo tag and notebook
  • Not doing regular daily, weekly and monthly reviews.
  1. Mission creep was affecting my original purpose for using Evernote.
    1. My original purpose was to use EN as
      1. an archive of ideas for the future, as well as reference materials for present and possible future projects, and
      2. my GTD system.
  2. BUT I was spending too much time collecting notes and clippings, and not enough time reviewing them and/or using them for live projects.
  3. Too many ToDos and ToReads and Someday/Maybes piling up.
    1. Why? Probably because these items do not pop up on my radar screen when they should, or as often as they should.
    2. Why not?
      1. Probably partly because I’m not conducting regular Daily and Weekly Reviews.
  4. Too many clippings.
  5. Too many notebooks, meaning too much time spent deciding which notebook to file a note under.
  6. Too many occasions when I was unable to locate the note I wanted because I could not search across multiple notebooks (but you can search across multiple tags).
  7. Storing too much and not trashing enough, i.e. not reviewing old clippings or other notes and discarding things I no longer need. Being too much of a packrat, in short.
  8. Lost track of my projects: too many items labelled as “projects” which weren’t.
    1. Solution: review David Allen’s definition of “project”, and re-label my “projects” which aren’t really projects (actions that require more than 2 steps).
  9. Lost track of my long-term goals, visions, etc.; my 30-, 40- and 50,000-feet perspectives.
    1. Possible solution: regular reviews (Daily, Weekly, Monthly)
    2. This means that my long-term goals and visions, etc., need to come up on my radar on a regular basis, in one or more of my reviews.
    3. That means organizing my saved searches.

I decided to re-read Ruud Hein’s article on using Evernote to GTD, where he describes in detail his extensive use of saved searches to make sure what needs to come up does actually come up. That is (for me) the biggest lesson of GTD: something important you must take to work the next day, you put it on your shoes or right in front of the front door, so next morning when you’re still bleary and fuzzy despite your coffee, you stumble over this and think, “What the heck? … Oh yeah, I gotta take this to work” and you pick it up and take it. Continue Reading »


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Famed Sanriku Railway resumes service, partly thanks to Kuwaiti aid

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnpAWKfX7Qc']

This was all over the news this cold Saturday morning (temp was down to 13 degrees C inside!). Buried in a few obscure news sources was the fact that part of this remarkable resurrection was due to a massive donation by the government of Kuwait about a year ago (details below).

MIYAKO, Iwate Prefecture–A railway that was thrown out of action by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster will be back to full strength this spring.

Sanriku Railway Co. is to reopen the last two sections of the two lines that have remained out of service. These are the 15-kilometer section between Kamaishi and Yoshihama stations on the South-Rias Line, and the 10.5-km section between Tanohata and Omoto stations on the North-Rias Line. They will reopen on April 5 and 6, respectively.

The Sanriku Railway has 107.6 km of track that traverses scenic coastal routes in Iwate Prefecture.

The lines were badly damaged in the disaster. Station buildings and [5.8 km] sections of [the 108 km] rail track were swept out to sea by the tsunami. The railway was forced to suspend all its train services immediately after the March 11 disaster, but five days later it resumed partial operations free of charge to help lift the spirits of survivors.

via Famed Sanriku Railway soon back to pre-disaster operations – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun.

map of Japan showing Sanriku area (from Wikipedia's Sanriku page)

(from Wikipedia’s Sanriku page)

Nothing in there about Kuwait’s donation, but on the same day, the Japan Times had a article about Fukushima titled “Expressing thanks in Paris, Fukushima officials vow disaster reconstruction” and tucked away right at the end was this:

Sanriku Railway has also purchased five new train cars with financial aid from the government of Kuwait.

How much aid? From a 27 Feb. 2013 article: Continue Reading »


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Update on Fuel Removal from Fukushima Unit 4

福島第一原子力発電所4号機からの燃料取り出しの進捗状況

 

移送燃料の種類(使用済:528体/1331体、新燃料:22体/202体) キャスクの輸送回数 25回更新日:2014年3月31日

via 福島第一原子力発電所4号機からの燃料取り出しの進捗状況|東京電力.


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Getting your Kindle book notes into Evernote

Do you read books on Kindle or a Kindle app on an iPad or similar device? Do you want to make notes or highlight passages in your ebooks but don’t know how? Would you like to have access to all your notes and highlighted passages even when you don’t have your Kindle or iPad with you? Would you like to do this but don’t have an Amazon.com account, or you buy your ebooks from some other store than Amazon.com? Would you like to share your notes and highlights with others? Would you like to transport all your notes and highlights into Evernote? If your answer to any or all of the above is ‘yes’ then read on.

In this post, I show you how I, a Japan resident who purchases most of his Kindle books on Amazon Japan (not Amazon.com, I don’t have an account there)  get my book notes and highlights made on my iPad’s Kindle app into Evernote. It’s a non-geeky (no coding required), unoriginal solution that makes use of free automation services and apps: Evernote, Kindle app for iPad, Twitter, IFTTT.

(This is for Kindles or Kindle apps only; I’m still figuring out how to do the same thing for notes/hightlights created in iBooks. Here’s a video on how to share notes and highlights in the iBooks app.)

Why bother?

Why would you want your Kindle notes in Evernote? As you’ll see below, notes and highlights made on a Kindle or Kindle app are automatically stored on your Amazon Kindle page. So why bother transferring them? You can edit them, sort them by book or by date, delete them, all on your Amazon Kindle page. Well, I like to have as much of my work- and research-related info as possible under one roof, not scattered across different programs or devices. Also, with Evernote’s offline notebooks capacity, I can access and edit my book notes in Evernote even without Internet access. If those considerations are not important to you, then you can stop reading right here. If you’d like to know more about your Amazon Kindle page, read Michael Hyatt’s post: How to Get Your Kindle Highlights into Evernote.

Evernote ambassador and SF writer Jamie Rubin has a geeky and long-assed post on how he gets his Kindle book notes and highlights into Evernote AUTOMATICALLY, but it requires knowledge of snakes and anyway it only works for notes taken on a Kindle device. If you take notes on, say, the Kindle App on your iPad, you’re out of luck. There is an app called Snippefy, which seems to do exactly what Rubin and I want, but unfortunately it’s not available for Apple Japan.

Michael Hyatt’s post: How to Get Your Kindle Highlights into Evernote, is good, but it involves manually transferring each highlight/note from your Amazon Kindle page to Evernote. This article gives a very good overview of Amazon’s Kindle page. I recommend it. For best results, and if you don’t mind not sharing your notes on Twitter, the simplest solution may be to wait until you finish reading your book and making all your notes and highlights, then going to your Amazon Kindle page, selecting all the notes for that book and copying and pasting those suckers into an Evernote. You have to do this manually, tho. Or perhaps Snippefy will do the job. Unfortunately, I cannot test it out.

Once set up (explained below), and assuming I’m reading a book on my iPad’s Kindle app, theree are just 4  manual steps, all done within the Kindle app (see below for details). Continue Reading »


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Laugh of the day

Mike Shedlock, or “Mish”, posted recently about a way to securely store your Bitcoins, assuming you have any. Mish thinks Bitcoins have a future, despite the Mt. Gox fiasco. It’s a short but sweet post, and he suggests a particular site.

The following was tucked away in the comments section:

I hope to one day accumulate enough bitcoins to be able to purchase my very own unicorn

via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis: Recommendation on Bitcoin.


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Report on Fuel Removal from Fukushima Unit 4

No news is good news. I used to think that meant “nothing that is news can be good”, but here I’m using it to mean, “There’s no news. And that’s a good sign!”

The tricky process of emptying No 4 Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) of its fuel rods and transferring them to a safer storage place continues without fanfare. Now up to 528/1533 (=34.4%). Every week that passes with no hitch in this operation is a win.

福島第一原子力発電所4号機からの燃料取り出しの進捗状況

 

移送燃料の種類(使用済:506体/1331体、新燃料:22体/202体) キャスクの輸送回数 24回更新日:2014年3月24日

via 福島第一原子力発電所4号機からの燃料取り出しの進捗状況|東京電力.


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage. If you purchase any of these digital products from this website, your cost will be the same as if you order directly and I'll get a commission, about the price of a drink. Thank you! :-)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”