Travel Receipt Workflow

Here is a handy workflow to keep track of your reimbursable / billable expenses on the road.Set-up:

I have an Evernote Notebook that is used solely for professional receipts. This notebook is named “Receipts_Work”. I’ve set up an If This Then That (IFTTT) Applet to send an email when the notebook receives a new note.When I receive a receipt on the road, I immediately scan it with Scannable then save it to my Receipts_Work Notebook. IFTTT monitors the Receipts_Work Notebook. When the new note is detected, it automatically sends an email to both my assistant and my Omnifocus Maildrop address (so the item is added to my Omnifocus Inbox).After my trip, I can go back to my Evernote, select all the receipts/notes from my trip and make a “Table of Contents” using a single button push in Evernote.This workflow simplifies management of reimbursement receipts. Hope it works as well for you as it does for me.

Grantome - Website offers new insights into Successful NIH Funding

I recently came across a new (at least to me) website called Grantome. The site was developed by Cleveland, Ohio data scientists. Granthome’s mission is to use data to drive the discovery of new knowledge about scientific research grants. Grantome extracts data from various places and combines it into a single data source that offers insight (and, they claim, a competitive advantage) in procuring grant funding.Currently, only the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) is included. The NIH information is updated weekly. There are plans to expand Grantome to include the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy, and federal grant organizations in Canada and Europe.I ran Grantome through its paces, conducting a search on the topic of the proposal I’m currently writing. The interface is simple, clean and intuitive. Granthome quickly spit out interesting information on my topic including: 1) the number of grants issued per year on my topic, 2) the authors of the successful grants on my topic, 3) the institution of the winning proposals, 4) the institute where the funding originated, as well as 5) the study sections that approved each of the successful grants.I will keep a close eye on Grantome and plan to use it with future funding proposals. I hope I’m able to meet up with this team during one of my frequent visits to Cleveland.Check Grantome out and let me know what you think!

The World's Most Dangerous Writing App

I’ve read plenty on writing. Most resources suggest, when writing a first draft, you simply write whatever comes to mind—writing the whole first draft in one long stream of conciousness. Yesterday, I read a Wired article about The Most Dangerous Writing App, a web tool to help writers get over writer’s block.The app is simple, if you stop writing for more than 5 seconds, The Most Dangerous Writing App erases ALL your work. Not a few sentences, not a paragraph, but everything you’ve written. Now that’s incentive to keep writing (especially if you’ve chosen a longer writing period of 30 minutes to an hour)!I’m not sure if The Most Dangerous Writing App will help me or frustrate me, but am willing to give it a try. If you decide to try it too, please leave your comments below.

If This Then That

I am a big fan of the If This Then That (IFTTT) website and app. If you're not familiar with the site, it is a service that performs an action in response to a trigger. There are dozens of "Channels" that follow you unobtrusively, automating your work.One of the many ways I use IFTTT is to track the time of my commute to and from Duke. The script, using Location Services on my phone, triggers when I enter or leave my driveway. Another script fires when I enter or leave the parking garage at work. When the "If" is triggered, the service appends the date and time to an Evernote file. A separate trigger writes the same information to the Google Calendar I use for time tracking.In the future I will write about how I use IFTTT to help me keep on top of my reading, both for pleasure and for work.

Automating Full-Text Retrieval: KeyBoard Maestro Script for Google Scholar

I absolutely love KeyBoard Maestro. Keyboard Maestro lets me automate just about anything that happens on my computer. I save incredible amounts of time using it to take care of many of my repetitive tasks. It’s well worth $36. If you’re not a Mac user, you’re out of luck.

I’ve published Keyboard Maestro scripts I use in tracking down scholarly information. As an aside A few folks told me the script I published specifically for Duke users didn’t work for them. I’ve updated it again. You can download the modified script here (for Dukies only).  Once you’ve downloaded, import the script into KeyBoard Maestro (File:Import Macros…). It works for me, but let me know if you have trouble.

Unfortunately, I can’t always find full text articles at Duke. If not, my next goto site is Google Scholar. Since I do this so frequently, I decided to program a KeyBoard Maestro script.

Here is how it works:

  1. Highlight any text (web page, PDF, Word Document, etc.) and hit Command-Shift-S
  2. the script will copy the highlighted text
  3. then it will launch Google Scholar (in Safari)
  4. it will paste the copied text into the search field of the Google Scholar
  5. and then submit the search.

A single key stroke does it all—automagically. I put a 2-second delay on pasting the clipboard into the search field. If text isn’t pasted into the text field, the load time probably took too long. You can either: 1. Go back to the original document and reinvoke the script, or 2. Just click in the Google Scholar Search box and paste (the script already has copied your text to the clipboard).

This macro works with any text I’ve highlighted, be it on the web, in the bibliography of a manuscript, or somewhere else.

You can download my Google Scholar script here. When you download the macro and before you import, you’ll have to remove the .txt at the end of the file (so it will be recognized as a Keyboard Maestro file).


How to Choose an Air Travel Search Site (New York Times)

Seth Kugel, the self-declared “Frugal Traveler” of the New York Times, wrote a piece comparing old and new travel sites, including my favorite, Hipmunk. I love Hipmunk for its visual interface and it’s ranking of flights based on its “Agony Factor” (a combination of ticket price, flight duration, departure, and arrival). For all you travelers responsible for booking your own trips, this article is worth a look. Once you’ve booked your flight, don’t forget to forward your itinerary to Tripit (as I covered in this entry).