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March 2009 Archives

A few years ago Peter Salus and I set out to publish all the April Fools RFCs in one book, and include essays by famous internet innovators to tell their stories.  We achieved our goal a few years ago and you can read them all in The Complete April Fools' Day RFCs. (You can read the RFCs, without the fun essays, on our web site  The essays are written by early Internet innovators such as Brad Templeton (founder of rec.humor.funny), Mike O'Dell (founder of UUNet, the first commercial ISP), and Scott Bradner (of IETF and other organizations).

Each month The Internet Society publishes standard documents that detail how the internet works.  Each April some fake ones come through, usually with hilarious results.  Wondering how to do TCP/IP over a network of carrier pidgeons?  Yup, published on April 1st.

Most of these documents (called "RFCs") are serious.  Wondering how PING works?  Read RFC 792.   Wondering how "telnet" works?  Read RFC 854.  Wondering how HTTP works? Well, that started with RFC 1945 and has been updated many times.   On April Fools day, however, we've learned how to debug your network with a rubber chicken and how to solve the Y10K problem.

The book makes a perfect gift for the geek that has everything.  Having this book at the office is the perfect way to show your geekitude.  As the back cover says, "When the network is down, this book won't help you at all!"

The book has received excellent reviews from BoingBoing, Groklaw, ZTrek
and the widely read blog.  Famous open source guy Eric S. Raymond says, "It's been written that April Fool's is the high holy day of hackerdom; if so, these are its sacred texts."

The book is available on and other fine book stores.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Book News

I was more productive at work this last week than any other week this last few months (maybe longer than that). How did I do it?

I didn't read Twitter. At all.

On Monday I was having a strange network problem made it impossible for me to access Twitter from my laptop. After three days I had, without realizing it, broken the Twitter habit. (Thank God I never activated the post-by-SMS feature.)

This is ironic since Twitter is having an awesome week of PR. They've been mentioned every day in The New York Times, coverage of Obama's Joint Session on Tuesday has been mentioning Twitter, Google's PR department started a twitter feed, Newt Gingrich has been posting tweets that sound like a 12-year old heckling a movie he doesn't undestand, and that's just half the PR they're getting. They're getting so much press, you'd think they're doing the kind of full-court press a company does when they want to be bought (you don't think those stories just happen, do you? No, someone from a PR company pitched every single one of them, I assure you). And yet, this was the week that I stopped reading twitter.

Why is Twitter bad for your time management? If you are like me there are too many interruptions and distractions that prevent work from getting done. There's always an excuse not to work on a project when there's email to read, co-workers to catch up with, and so on. Twitter had become another procrastination device. Do something productive? Nah, I'll check my twitter instead then spend the next hour surfing the various URLs people are mentioning. Pay attention at a meeting? Nah, check twitter via my iPhone! Now I've missed half of what people have said, and I'll spend the afternoon researching what I should have heard people say at the meeting. Twitter is an anti-productivity device.

"But Tom," you say, "anyone with a tiny bit of self-control could save their twittering reading for after work. It's like, you know, dessert after a fine meal." Well, that may be true, but anyone familiar with my time management philosophy understands that I don't focus so much on time management because I'm good at it: I have to focus on time management because I'm so bad at it. I have little self-control. I'm easily distracted. If you don't have those problems then Twitter is just fine for you. That ain't me.

I have bad habits. I know it. My time management "techniques" are often ways to "trick" me into better habits. Weeks that I trick myself properly I am productive. Weeks that I don't... not so much. The goal of my time management writing has been to record these tricks (and ones I've heard from others) in hopes that other people find them useful too.

So my "trick" of the week? If Twitter has become a distraction, delete it. You won't miss it. Sorry to be the naysayer on the cool new technology that all the cool kids use, but I had a productive week thanks, in part, to a lack of Twitter.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management