How I Drastically Reduced My Show Note Prep Time

For a podcast like Relative Dimensions, in order for me to be able to keep myself straight, I have to have "Show Notes".  This is a document that has what topics we are talking about, any news articles and links, and other things that I need to remember to say.  Typically, these show notes will end up being the blog post that goes along with the podcast episode.  Recently, I have found a new way to reduce the amount of time spent on putting together these show notes.  Click past the break to learn how.

Each week before a podcast, I used to spend lots of time creating the show notes document so that my cohosts and I can stay on track for the episode.  For the longest time, I have been working on newer and easier ways to create said show notes.  I started off using Google Docs, as it allowed me to easily share the document with my cohosts.  The sharing feature and real-time editing between all peoples is something that is really appealing.  The downside to this is that it still requires me to sit down and put in all the links/stories/etc. that we wish to talk about.  The way I used to approach this was to spend the first couple of hours before a show scouring websites looking for stories and then pasting the links in the Google Doc.

One tool that has helped me in this regard was Instapaper.  It is a service that allows you to save links to read at a later time.  I hooked it into Tweetbot (twitter client) and Pulse (my RSS reader), so that during the week I can save stories as I come across them.  Then, on Sunday, I would just pull up Instapaper and read through the stories, cutting and pasting the links that I still wanted to discuss into the show notes.  Another recent change is that I switched to using Evernote for my show notes.  I've posted here before talking about what Evernote is and how I have recently enjoyed using it.  However, without signing up for their premium service, I lose the real-time editing features that I like, but what I like about Evernote are how easy the mobile apps are to edit documents and how easy they sync with the desktop clients.  So I would look at the show notes during the week whenever I had a free chance, no matter if I was out and about on my phone or sitting at my computer.

This solution was working for me alright until I learned about IFTTT.com.  IFTTT, which stands for "If This Then That", is a website that allows people to make connections between popular web services.  By hooking together services like Twitter, Instagram, etc and linking in "triggers", you can do things such as "IF I put a photo on Instagram, THEN send an email to my parents", or "IF I send out a tweet, THEN send that tweet to a note in Evernote".  Instapaper isn't supported, but a service called Pocket that does about the same thing is.  I set up a simple recipe that has made show notes prep SO much easier.

My prep goes as follows:

1) While browsing my twitter stream or my RSS reader, if I see a link that I think I might want to discuss on the show, I save the link to Pocket; which I can do easily without leaving either app.

2) Later, I pull up the Pocket app and look to see what links I have saved.  I can read through the articles/links and see which are not important and just straight up delete them.  Those that I think will be interesting to talk about I click the check mark (which signifies them as "Read").

3) IFTTT is set up so "IF I mark a link as read THEN send the URL and the title to Evernote".  I have a generic "Show Notes" note in Evernote that IFTTT is set up to append the URL and title to the bottom of, so over the week it will build the show notes for me.

4) Record the podcast - Once I have recorded the show and no longer need the show notes, I copy the note and save it with the date to archive it, then delete all the links out of it.  This then preps the note for any new articles that I find.

I have been using this for the past couple of weeks, and it has been working really well.  Anyone that uses a lot of articles and links in their shows would do well to take a look at IFTTT and see if it can help simplify your show prep.  Even if you aren't a podcaster, there are some really cool ways people are using IFTTT, so get an account and look at some of the recipes that people have created.  Let me know if you end up coming up with something really cool, as I'm always looking for new ways to improve my methods.  You can comment below, or send me an email at chris@ocdcast.com

Keeping Track Of All My Action Figures

Earlier I wrote about my experiences at Baltimore Comic Con. One of the issues I had leading up to comic con, however, was trying to find a way to keep track of my action figure collection so we didn't buy figures that we already had. Click on through to see what my solution was.

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For my comic books, I've used the Comic Collectorz software (www.collectorz.com) for awhile now to keep track of what I do or don't have. Yet I haven't found any sort of similar software/website for letting me track what action figures I did or didn't have. I had a couple of ideas about making a database in Microsoft Access, but it would have taken too much time, and I also needed a way to view the database from my phone. That's when I stumbled onto Evernote.

In case you aren't familar, Evernote (www.evernote.com) is a place where you can create notebooks of all kinds of information and have them sync across multiple devices. I now have it installed on both my Macbook and Windows PC, as well as my iPhone and iPad. Changes I make on one device are pushed to all my different devices.

Playing around with the different options available, I first tried to create one master note that would contain all of my action figures along with a picture of them. This proved to be quite difficult, as I had trouble formatting the note and it was taking a lot of time to scroll back and forth through the note due to the amount of figures I had. Then, I realized I could make a whole notebook dedicated to action figures and have each figure be its own note. I used my webcam to take a picture of each one and resized it so that it wouldn't take up too much space (free Evernote accounts have a limit on how much can be uploaded during a month). Now, not only does the notebook look so much neater and more organized; I can also use the search feature to quickly find a certain figure and see if I have it/don't have it. Then, I shared the notebook with Ashley so that she could access it as well.

Overall, this solution has been great. It came in really handy when Ashley found those World of Warcraft figures because she could look and see which ones we already had. Now I just need to put in all the different figures that we obtained from the comic con, and I'll be all set!

Do you keep track of your action figures/other collections? How do you do it?