Tuesday, September 26

Getting Things Done: A hipster PDA is my vade mecum

OK, I found out about this phrase a couple of weeks ago and I'm sick of trying to figure out how to slip it into a conversation or blog post. It's a terrific term; the Latin-derived vade mecum (and, look! I even put it in italics like a real publisher would do with a foreign phrase).

This just encapsulates such a great concept. You know that guy who always has a particular thing with him, no matter what? When I was in college, I had a pen on my person at all times. People would never ask if I had a pen, they just asked to borrow it... it was my vade mecum.

In fact, I still carry a pen around. (The Pilot G2 .5mm is writing like a charm, by the way. In fact, the ink cartridge on mine busted just yesterday, and I had to run out to Target on my lunch break just so I could buy another pack. I'm really attached to the little buggers.)

But my newest vade mecum is my Hipster PDA: the small stack of index cards I keep with me to track all my personal reminders. Well, it's not particularly new, but it's certainly the most useful thing I carry around these days. Hats off to one Mr. Merlin Mann for introducing the concept to the blogosphere at large.

So isn't it great that there's a term for that? By the way, vade mecum does not encompass just anything that somebody constantly has in their possession. For instance, I had a particular hat I wore from my junior year of high school through my sophomore year of college almost every day... but that wasn't a vade mecum. To fall under that conceptual umbrella, an always-available object must be something useful or something its bearer uses as a reference.

Like my pen and my stack of context-sensitive index-card action lists.

from Dictionary.com's Word of the Day Archive:
vade mecum \vay-dee-MEE-kuhm; vah-dee-MAY-\, noun:
1. A book for ready reference; a manual; a handbook.
2. A useful thing that one regularly carries about.

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.