Productivity | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

The person who asks is a fool for five minutes, but the person who does not ask remains a fool forever.

–– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg?

Cities and Ambition  

Paul Graham in a 2008 essay:

Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.

The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.

What I like about Boston (or rather Cambridge) is that the message there is: you should be smarter. You really should get around to reading all those books you’ve been meaning to.

When you ask what message a city sends, you sometimes get surprising answers. As much as they respect brains in Silicon Valley, the message the Valley sends is: you should be more powerful.

Read the whole essay. It’s a very thought provoking. What does Munich tell you, what Shanghai, what Saigon?

Fast Software  

Craig Mod:

I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness.

Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.

John Gruber comments:

One of the confounding aspects of software today is that our computers are literally hundreds — maybe even a thousand — times faster than the ones we used 20 years ago, but some simple tasks take longer now than they did then.

Too few product managers treat speed as a feature. There should be tests that make sure software stays fast (or becomes faster) when new features are addede.

Hugo, which is powering this site, is a positive example, advertising itself as “the world’s fastest framework for building websites”.

Lead developer Bjørn Erik Pedersen said in an interview with the New Dynamic:

I try to play the zero-sum game when adding new features: The processing time added by the new feature will have to be compensated by improvements in others […].

Performance bottlenecks show up in the most surprising places, so you have to benchmark. Performance gains and losses come from smaller accumulated changes over time. And speed matters. Try Hugo’s server with livereload and you will see.

How to Protect a President

Former Secret Service Agent Jonathan Wackrow, now managing director at Teneo Risk, explains how the Service protects the President and other VIPs.

Interesting to hear what they’re looking at regarding venues. I never thought about threats coming from air conditioning or light access.

Spies in Disguise

Former Chief of Disguise for the CIA, Jonna Mendez, explains how disguises are used in the CIA, and what aspects to the deception make for an effective disguise.

In the second video she breaks down 30 spy scenes from shows like Alias and Bourne Identity.

Concentration and Diversification  

I like this thought of James Clear in his 3-2-1 Newsletter:

Concentration produces wealth.

Diversification protects wealth.

A Conference Call in Real Life

I used to take part in many conference call that were exactly as depicted.

These days I’m doing mostly video calls which are much better.

'This Is Small Talk Purgatory': What Tinder Taught Me About Love  

CJ Hauser in The Guardian:

But once I gave up on the banterers, my Tinder chats became uniform. The conversations read like a liturgy: where are you from, how do you like our weather, how old is your dog, what are your hobbies, what is your job, oh no an English teacher better watch my grammar winkyfacetongueoutfacenerdyglassesface. The conversations all seemed the same to me: pro forma, predictable, even robotic.

That’s when I realised that what I was doing amounted to a kind of Turing test.

How the Language You Speak Changes Your View of the World  

Panos Athanasopoulos says bilinguals view the world in different ways depending on the specific language they are operating in.

Scrum Product Owner Checklist  

Hans Brattberg from Crisp shares his mindmap.

The Best Productivity Apps for Mac

A Quora user asked for the best productivity apps for Mac OS. Here’s my answer:

There are of course the big productivity suites like OmniFocus and Things but I want to focus on the small helpers that save me several hours per week.


My number one pick is BetterTouchTool. It’s a small, free application that lets you map actions to various forms of input. Some of the trackpad shortcuts I use all the time:

  • Three finger swipe down → Minimize window to dock
  • Four finger tap → Close Window below cursor
  • Four finger click → ⌘W (Close tab/window)
  • Three finger click → Middle click (lets you open links in a new tab)

You can also define application specific shortcuts:


  • Five finger click → ⌘⇧T (reopen closed tab)
  • Three finger swipe left → ^Page down (switch to the tab on the right)
  • Three finger swipe right → ^Page up (switch to the tab on the left)


  • Three finger swipe right → ⌘⇧R (mark as reviewed)
  • Three finger swipe left → ⌘K (update view, i.e. remove tasks that no longer belong into the current perspective)

You see the pattern. The tab switching is something I add to every app I’m using on a regular basis. Similar to going back and forth in history (Finder, Spotify, …).

You can also trigger actions from the keyboard, a normal and a magic mouse, an apple remote, Leap and from the BTT iOS app.


Hazel is another tool I’m using on a daily basis. Well, I’m not actively using it. It’s running in the background doing its fantastic job.

Hazel asks you for folders to monitor. You can then define rules to apply on the files in this folder.

Some examples of my Hazel rules:


  • Archive old files
  • Rename and move PDFs from my banks, phone companies, … into the corresponding folders
  • Move files downloaded from Facebook to a special folder

Scan Inbox

(This is the folder in which my ScanSnap document scanner dumps all the PDFs it creates.)

  • Add date and time (extracted from the document)
  • Move bills to a special folder
  • Move processed files (scans that got a date and a description) to a special folder


  • Move Screenshots to a special folder


  • Move everything that’s not a screenshot but ends up here back to the Desktop


Alfred is a launcher that you invoke with a keyboard shortcut. It can do many helpful things like find files, eject volumes, quit programs. It also lets you define search engines so you don’t have to open/navigate to your browser to start your search.

You can define complex actions, called workflows, or download shared ones. My favorite one searches LEO (one of the best German English/French/Spanish/Chinese/… dictionaries) and shows the results in Alfred.

The Job of Leadership  

Ev Williams:

The job of leadership is to foster alignment and enthusiasm toward the right goal.

Jeff Bezos' Regret Minimization Framework

Jeff Bezos:

And the framework I found which made the decision incredibly easy was a, […] what I call though what only a nerd would call, a regret minimization framework. So I wanted to project myself forward to age eighty, and so came out looking back on my life, I wanna have minimized the number of regrets I have.

I love this.

The Surprising Solution to Being More Productive at Work: Slow Down  

Joseph Stromberg:

This research has produced a number of specific tips: things you should do — or not do — to maximize the effectiveness of the hours you spend working. Here’s a brief guide.