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101 ways to save time with a wiki! #2 – Notes, Notes, Notes!

29 Aug

When I was a student, I was a copious note taker. Where are those notes now? After moving from dorm to apartment to graduate school to San Francisco, those notes are nowhere to be found. Two hours of searching my parent’s attic I located my college photos, my old rice cooker, and several textbooks books. No notes.

Dustin at http://www.lifehack.org has a great idea – use your wiki for class notes. Here’s how:

Instead of taking notes in class like this:

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Transcribe your notes into your wiki (or, for those cutting edge individuals, take notes directly in your wiki).

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Why this is an awesome idea that saves you time:

1) Fully legible – not only can you actually read your notes, but formatting with bullet points, bold lettering and headings helps to organize ideas.

2) Share – Easily share you notes with other classmates. Why bother heading to library to photocopy your notes or risk losing them when you lend them to someone? Simply direct people to your wiki page.

3) Link – Add links to relevant articles and websites to create a comprehensive study guide. Don’t try to compile information right before the exam, that’s when you should be chugging coffee and cramming.

3) Search – Locate all your information with the click of a search button. Can your Mead notepad do that? Not yet!

Check out the many other cool reasons you should use a wiki to take your notes on www.Lifehack.org

101 ways to save time with a wiki – #1 Post it!

29 Aug

I agree with you! It’s a huge pain to keep track of shared office documents. I am forced to figure out – does this document reflect the most recent changes? Was this version approved by the board? Has the team signed off on this document? Grr!

A wiki is a great way to cut down on that frustration. Here’s how I used my wiki to collaborate on my recent proposal for a city grant:

I started by posting the most recent revision of my grant on the wiki. To do this I just cut and pasted my original word document.

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I invited others to collaborate on my project. It took my team a few weeks to get used to the idea that the document was always updated and always on the wiki. After a few weeks of responding to request for the documents with, “Check the Wiki!� everyone caught on.

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It’s easy to keep track of revisions. By checking the document history, I can see who made changes and when they were made.

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Rather than editing the document and emailing it to the team, I simply edit our shared wiki. Everyone receives notification that the wiki was updated and knows where to find the most recent copy. In the end my document was revised by three different departments, and I wasn’t wasting my time trying to keep track of every iteration. Fantastic!

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How this saved me time:

1) I no longer have to search through email to find the most recent document, or figure out what I named the most recent copy on my desktop – my most up to date work is always on the wiki.

2) Finding old copies of the same document is simple, they’re always saved in the revision history. Again no more searching through past email or copies saved on my desktop.

3) Instead of receiving tons emails with revised documents, I’m notified when a change takes place. It’s easy to track what was changed and who made the changes (Less email noise!)

10 Things You Didn't Know About PBwiki (Tip #22)

7 Jun

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Ramit Sethi (PBwiki marketing guru) and I spoke recently about doing something a little different before I continue with your regularly scheduled Tip programming, so this is what we’ve decided: PBwiki has a lot of information spread out all over the place, and it’d be nice to pick a few of these things and consolidate them all in one place for users to reference. If this is helpful, I may do it once or twice more in the future. Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or e-mailing me at jason.nguyen@pbworks.com

Now, I’m not saying that you won’t know all 10 of the things on the list, but for the average PBwiki citizen, a lot of these things might be new. If none of them are new to you, then you’re probably as much of a PBwiki geek as me and you need to get some air *wink*. Anyway, on with the list:

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Tip of the Week #21: Introduction to CSS

5 Jun

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Eventually, every PBwiki user wants to have a little extra graphical pizzazz in his/her wiki. The current skins are nice of course (especially that new Bamboo skin…I wonder who made it…), but everybody is using them, so it lacks a little individuality. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to change some colors, or add some backgrounds, or design a whole new theme from the ground up?

CSS is the way to do that, with minimum hassle. Rather than trying to define the styles of every individual block of code or text like people can currently do in the Point-and-Click Editor, CSS defines classes and how to present different types of information. Read on to find out how it can work for you.

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Tip of the Week #20: All About Tables

24 May

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So last time, we went over everything that went into creating a table of contents for your page quickly and effectively using the Point-and-Click Editor. Today, we follow in the same vein, but advanced users can skip down to the bottom and read about some of the ways to style your tables using CSS, in case you would like to do something like get rid of the borders, change the colors, etc.

Before we get into all that however, we first need to make the table itself. Read on ahead to find out how to make a table using the Point-and-Click Editor and other options to modify an existing table, such as adding rows and columns, removing rows and columns, merging cells, etc.

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Tip of the Week #19: Inserting a Table of Contents

16 May

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There are a few questions I keep seeing in the forums over and over concerning the Point-and-Click editor, and I thought I’d use this space to clear up one of them today: How do I do a Table of Contents (ToC)?

I admit that the answer is not immediately clear like it is on the old Classic editor, where entering the statement “<toc>” on the page would create a table of contents linking to every header on that page created with a “!”, “!!”, or “!!!”.

The idea of the Point-and-Click editor concerning the ToC is exactly the same. Insert a Table of Contents plugin and it will create links from every first, second, and third level header you create. But sometimes you need a little illustration, so here’s everything step by step…

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Tip of the Week #18: 5 Rules of Net Etiquette

2 May

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PBwiki’s really simple, and that’s great, but sometimes, it lets us forget that we’re not only PBwiki users interacting in a peanutty-licious microcosm; instead, we’re webmasters and content creators in our own right, in a vast world full of others who may or may not be PBwiki users. The Internet, with us all involved, is a giant community, and in any community, there are certain expected behaviors that allow us to interact in a meaningful manner with our neighbors.

These behaviors form a few guidelines for basic etiquette in website design and content that apply to everything from Joe’s Vacation Journal Wiki to Giganto Corporate Wiki. I’ll just list them first before discussing them in more detail:

  1. DO NOT link to other’s files and images without permission
  2. Using content or designs without permission is BAD
  3. DO link to other webpages to give credit
  4. Big images are BAD
  5. Really long pages for no reason are BAD

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Tip of the Week #17: URL Parameters and You

25 Apr

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Sometimes you might be inclined to look at your address bar and wonder what PBwiki is up to. What’s all this “?edit=1” and “?raw=1” nonsense you see hanging off the end of your wiki names? More importantly, can YOU do anything interesting with them?

Well, of course the answer is yes, they can be useful to you; otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this entry. Each of those examples represents parameters that are passed to PBwiki so that the computers on their end can know what page to fetch and send back to you. For a non-PBwiki example, when you do a search in Google, the search term is included in the address of the next page you request, and that information is used by Google’s servers to search their database for your information.

Similarly, when “?edit=1” is set on PBwiki, it says “send me the edit-mode version of this page.” You can use parameters like this one to help make navigating your site easier…

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Tip of the Week #16: Beginner's Q & A

24 Apr

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As PBwiki becomes a more unified and simple-to-use product, it naturally grows outside of the scope of tech-junkies and computer-geeks, creating a target audience that includes everyone from SUPAH L33T TECHNO-DWEEB’s like me to somebody’s grandma trying to share her latest knitted masterpiece. Therefore, today I address five of the beginner questions I’ve seen most recently in the PBwiki forums and elsewhere. Even though many of these questions are basic for some of you, remember that everybody has to start somewhere, even when making a peanut-butter sandwich.

(For friends who are further along, I ask that you wait patiently until tomorrow, when I’ll put up something more to your tastes…Thanks!)

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Tip of the Week #15: Links

18 Apr

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Hey folks! Sorry it’s been so long since the last update, I just got back from a trip to London and now it’s back to the real world for little ol’ me. I hope everybody has been well and is ready to jump in with some more PBwiki tips…

In the past week or two, I’ve seen a lot of questions from users on the forums about how to link from one page to another, link to somebody’s e-mail address, or to do special things like open in a new window or break out of frames. Those options are all available for folks in both the Classic WikiStyle Editor and the newer Point and Click Editor.

First off, we’ll briefly review links in general for our newest users…

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