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Ben from My Web Brain

Aug 12, 2009, 7:15:30 PM8/12/09
to My Web Brain
Hello everyone,

I am using this discussion to keep you informed on changes to My Web
Brain as they are released.

Version 0.11
As of 2 days ago the development preview for My Web Brain was first
released. You can find it at There are still many
features and polish to add. Here is the short list of what features
were added to this version:

- Ability to login using your Google account and log back out
- The Today screen (/today), which allows you to collect new thoughts
and view your next actions for a specific context
- The Thoughts screen (/thoughts), which allows you work with thoughts
- The Actions screen, which allows you to work with Actions
- The ability to process thoughts into actions either individually
from the Thoughts screen (/thoughts/xxx/process) or all together as a
single workflow from any application page (/thoughts/process)
- The ability to create and delete Contexts (/settings/contexts)
- Informational about pages (/about), which still have the majority of
meaningful content to be added.

As this is such a preliminary release, many things are missing and it
is worth pointing them out:
- Someday/maybe items
- Reference items
- On-page Interaction directly with the Actions and Thoughts list,
such as sorting, paging, completing, etc.
- Javascript validation for the forms on the detail pages
- Some highly likely data fields on Thoughts and Action items.
- Most Help and about documentation
- Etc.

For all the obvious features which are not present there are a range
of other non-functional areas that need improvement:
- Style and look and feel
- Some web design elements (logo, favicon etc)\
- Performance and efficiency on Google App Engine
- Standards validation
- Accessibility
- Print and mobile device support

Feel free to try out My Web Brain (at and provide
feedback on this group. Please be aware this is a development preview
release and many things will change. For the moment do not use the
application for any critical purposes just yet as the new few updates
might cause data loss.

Have fun!

Ben from He3

Aug 27, 2009, 1:24:29 AM8/27/09
to My Web Brain

Version 0.2 - Release 27-Aug-2009

Hi everyone,

Version 0.2 has now been released and is available at
Give a try and let me know what you think. There are still many
features to come. I plan to release the next iteration in two weeks.

Version 0.2 does not have many user-facing changes, but the ones you
may notice (or not) are:
-Session cookies are now user specific
-The HTML markup is now validated (HTML 4.01 Strict) and in content-
first markup order for users with screen-readers
-A draft privacy policy has been added
-URLs that include the context, like the Today page, are more readable
-Basic paging has been added to action lists
-The default form field on a page automatically receives the focus
without being selected
-New actions have the current context assigned by default
-There have been a few small stylistic changes

I am putting together the feature list of the next iteration now. If
there is anything you want to see sooner rather than later, please let
me know.

Any other feedback, as always, is welcome.

Ben from He3

Sep 19, 2009, 1:27:30 AM9/19/09
to My Web Brain
My Web Brain release 0.3 has just been made live. My Web Brain is Get
Things Done (GTD) web application currently being previewed throughout
its early development.

This iteration (from release 0.2) took longer than expected but there
are a number of user-facing changes you might notice:

-You can now create reference items, either directly or when
processing your thoughts. Eventually I would like the reference
section to be a searchable journal that can pull in information from
other services while recording your activities on the site.
-All the data tables, including next actions, thoughts, etc received
are somewhat more formatted and ideally easier to read and work with.
I consider all style and web design to be a work in progress.
-Thoughts now have a priority field that you can check while entering
them. A priority thought will be processed first, sorted higher and
visually distinct in the thoughts listing.
-Actions now have a due date. At some point in the future you will
have the assistance of a calendar widget to select the correct date,
but for the moment text field allows a variety of date formats and
even words like 'tomorrow', 'today', 'Monday', etc.
-You can now view the originating thoughts that became an action or
reference item. Currently there is no way to view an already processed
thought except via the resulting action or reference item.
-The Quick thought collection form on the Today page now supports a
number of shortcut directives that can be appended to the entered
o A exclamation mark (!) will mark the thought as priority
o A colon (:) will take you to the detailed thought
collection form
o A greater-than symbol (>) will let you process the
thought immediately, and
o Two greater-than symbols (>>) will automatically
create an action in the current context using the thought text.

My Web Brain is still in active development but I invite anyone to try
it out. You only require a Google account to sign in. Feedback is
always welcome here at the My Web Brain Google Group.

Have fun!

Ben from He3

Sep 25, 2009, 9:56:35 AM9/25/09
to My Web Brain
I am happy to let you know I have just made some updates to My Web
Brain, the GTD (Get Things Done) web application I have been
developing. The update includes the following:


* A bug that was preventing access to other pages in the
unprocessed thoughts listing has been resolved. Unfortunately I had to
disable the priority sorting on this list which would normally float
priority thoughts to the top. Google is expected to release updates to
the environment shortly which will make paging simpler. Currently,
effective paging is somewhat of a black art for all but simple
queries. I plan to restore priority (and other) sorting to the
unprocessed thoughts listing as soon as possible. Note that when
processing thoughts urgent thoughts are still prioritised.
* Some formatting has been fixed on the contact us page.

New and Changed Features

* Support for Someday/Maybe items has been added. Someday / Maybe
items can be managed independent via their own section on the website.
As per GTD, you can choose to create a someday/maybe item when
processing your thoughts. Each someday/maybe item has a tickle date,
which will eventually be used to proactively remind the user of when
they wanted to reconsider them.
* URLs for thoughts have been made more readable and search engine
friendly. Contexts, Reference Items and now Someday / Maybe items all
use the improved scheme, with only Actions now remaining to migrate.
* You can now mark complete multiple next actions directly from
the Today page's list of Next Actions without individually editing
each action.
* The Quick Thought form on the Today and Thoughts pages has been
enhanced for users with Javascript enabled. This form no longer
completely refreshes the page when it is submitted, allowing users to
continue collecting thoughts without interruption.
* A few other stylistic enhancements have been made.

The release includes a large increase in the JavaScript used by
application pages. I expect the amount of JavaScript to continue to
rise. However, the site does not require JavaScript and runs fine
without it.

You might notice that I am no longer referring to number releases
(this would be iteration 4, version 0.40) . Internally I will still
number releases as they are made but I would like to avoid
preconceptions about where the application is on the path to launch.

You should try out the new features and the remainder of the
application if you have not already. Feedback, suggestions or
questions are very welcome and can be made in the Google Group for My
Web Brain or in the comments to this post. Have fun.

Ben from He3

Oct 8, 2009, 10:26:29 PM10/8/09
to My Web Brain
I have made some new updates to My Web Brain. My Web Brain is a GTD
('Get Things Done') web application I have been developing across the
past several months.

Many of the changes were not be visible to you as a user. Some of the
updates you may notice are:

* You can now register interest on the welcome screen if you would
like to be informed when the service officially launches.
* The Setting tab has been moved to the utility menu at the
topmost right of the page.
* A first pass of the terms of service are now available.
* Action URLs have been migrated across to the new, shorter
* The space where enter the title of your thoughts, actions,
reference items and someday/maybe items has been expanded.
* From the settings page you can now nominate whether you
naturally use month- or day-first short date formats.
* You can now elect to process and reprocess individual thoughts
from the thought detail screen.
* When processing thoughts, the new action, reference item or
someday/maybe item now has the thought's title by default.
* Numerous other stylistic or ease of use changes.

There is still a lot of capability to be provided for this
application, including the addition of topics, projects, search, RSS
feeds and other exciting features. This set of updates was designed to
focus on the ease of use of the existing features. Many of the changes
were directly inspired by my own daily use of the tool.

There will a brief hiatus to the updates across the next month while I
am in holiday in North America. Try out My Web Brain when you get an
opportunity and let me know your problems, suggestions or feedback in
our My Web Brain Google Group.

Ben from My Web Brain

Nov 29, 2009, 11:35:01 PM11/29/09
to My Web Brain
This Friday just past I released the latest changes and improvements
for My Web Brain.

Timezone support has been added for both action due dates and Someday/
Maybe item tickle dates. You can now nominate your timezone under
General Preferences. This change means that My Web Brain will know
your current timezone and properly flag your actions as 'due today'
and also properly calculate what you really mean when you say an
action is due 'tomorrow'. Update: There are some edge cases where
dates are still displaying incorrectly. These instances will be fixed
the next iteration.

The concept of Topics has also been added the web application. A topic
provides a way for you to categorise your actions independently of
context. Part of the genius of the GTD methodology is divided actions
between the contexts you can perform them in. This is excellent for
actually performing the tasks efficiently, but oftentimes you wish to
group your actions around a topic. This change is intended to provide
that facility. You can create or delete topics within your user
preferences, and you can select your topic when you process your
thoughts into an action or edit it later.

In the future I will add topic associations to thoughts, reference
items and someday/maybe items. The intention is to also make it easier
to create a topic on the fly and view all your information by topic.
Topics are not the only organisational tool to be added; Down the
track I intend projects and goals to be form an essential tool for
organising your information within My Web Brain.

Finally, My Web Brain has a new logo and banner graphic. Prior to my
holiday to Canada and the United States in October I ran a logo design
competition through the SitePoint service 99designs. I was awed by the
number and quality of the submissions and in this last release I am
happy to apply the winning logo design to the website. I hope you like
it (I do).

As always, feedback and comments are welcome. The application is
currently free to use and and can be found at To
leave feedback or a comment, use this My Web Brain Google Group.

Ben from My Web Brain

Jan 3, 2010, 10:10:05 AM1/3/10
to My Web Brain

Hello everyone. Just before Christmas last year (2009) I rolled
forward the latest changes to My Web Brain. Apologies for not getting
this notice of changes out sooner.


* The interface for changing your current context on the Today screen
has changed. Instead of a drop-down box, your contexts appear are
links with the count of pending next actions after them. To change to
a context, simply click on its link. This change makes it easier to
see at a glance the status of all of your contexts.
* I added a help page about Getting Things Done / GTD. This provides a
simple and short description of the GTD process and why it is useful.
See it at the About GTD page .
* You can now access your pending next actions as a RSS 0.90 news
feed. You can use this feed in most news clients (I use Google's
Reader). You need to enable your next actions feed for each context.
These settings can found in a new Feed Settings subsection in the
(surprise) Settings area.
* The appearance of the Welcome screen was tweaked. I am not sure it
is for the better, but it is a change so I thought I would list it.
* I have added some additional navigational links to the Settings area
to make navigation slightly more intuitive.
* The Thoughts screen received some love with a slightly improved
listing that allows you to forget one or more thoughts without visit
the detail page for each.


* Due to an indexing problem reversing through a list of Actions,
Thoughts, References or Someday Maybe items could occasionally cause
an error. This has been resolved.
The Action list could sometimes render incorrectly in Internet
Explorer 6. This has been fixed.

Known Issues:

* There is still a bug with the timezone implementation. On the Today
and Actions screen, Next Actions will be highlighted as overdue
according to UTC / GMT time, not your local time.

Development has slowed on the web application since I am now working
full time with a client (and will be for a couple more months).
However, I will still push ahead with enhancements to My Web Brain to
the best of my ability.

As always, if you would like to leave feedback or comments about the
web application at the My Web Brain Google Group please go right

Ben from My Web Brain

Feb 22, 2010, 8:19:58 AM2/22/10
to My Web Brain
On the weekend some minor changes were released to My Web Brain.

- My Web Brain was not supporting unicode and non-roman scripts. This
has now been fixed.

- You can now create a new context 'on-the-fly', as you create or edit
a next action, without disrupting your workflow.
- On the today screen, the link 'Create New Contex' has been replaced
with 'Manage Contexts'. The link will still send you to the Context
Settings screen, but on creating a new context you will not be
returned to the today page and can continue performing context related

I hope you enjoy these changes. As always, suggestions, bug reports
and general discussion of topics about My Web Brain are welcome in
this Google group.

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