Thursday, April 25, 2013

I want to know

Tell me you don't lie awake all day thinking of exactly these:

Where does all the dirt come from? Archaeologists keep finding bones and pots and cities under the soil. I'm afraid to sit down.

How does my iTunes library have music I've never heard of?

Why won't voice recognition take 'yes' for an answer?

Was Del Boy based on Steve Ballmer or is it the other way around?

How lazy do you have to be to have invented fractions in maths? Someone asks you what half of something is and you say it's 1/2. "Take one of it and divide it by two, that's a half. You're welcome." Fractions are the maths equivalent of ikea instructions for solving a problem.

Why do television news channels still preview tomorrow's newspapers?

Is it really worth strip-mining the Earth and creating a multi-billion-pound industry just so I can wrap my sandwiches in tin foil?

When you book a coach with National Express, why doesn't it check if there's a seat until after it's taken your credit card details? If there isn't a seat, why doesn't it tell you which part of your journey is full?

Why are people so critical of the Conservatives when all they've really done wrong for the country is be in power?

Why do online train booking websites ask if you'd also like to see prices and availability? Is it because trains are so expensive that the site is surprised you're looking?

Why do tea bags come in pairs?

If a tree falls down in a forest and there's no one to hear it, does it swear?

In the next few days I will finish writing an enormous book, a new two-hour Doctor Who audio and a short Birmingham Rep stage play. These have occupied my life, mind and breathing totally for the year so far. What do I do now?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shape of the Day: software-free productivity

You have so much to do that you don't know where to start. Or often, you know exactly where you ought to start but, grief, no, please, anything but that. And some of this stuff is so small and fiddly that it's irritating. And some of it is so big that it doesn't seem worth starting because you'll never make the slightest dent in it.

I've told you before about how I put a £1 coin in a pot every time I get up to work at 5am – and how I don't remove a £1 coin if I fail one day, I remove every one of them and start again. But now I'm 67 unbroken weekdays into this and it means not only am I unbearable, not only can I reasonably say it's a successful productivity technique, but I also have enough coins in the pot to spell out actual words.

I haven't got enough coins yet to spell out either 'tomorrow' or 'yesterday' so I have to do this now. I have to tell you today about the other big productivity gig of mine. I mean, the other one apart from my utter dependence upon OmniFocus and my increasing dependence on Evernote. This is the one that requires no software and gets no coins.

Actually, there is software you can use for this and I have tried but it was just too much piddling about. One tremendous thing about OmniFocus as a To Do manager is that you tend to use it first and last thing in the day; you come back to it and go yep, yep, yep, done those. Rather than constantly ticking off things, it's there when you want it and gone when you don't. Similarly, Evernote stays under your fingers but it doesn't get in the way or need you to fiddle. And the only software I found that helps with my other productivity gig turned out to be very pretty but require a lot of work.

The whole point here is to put your work into your work. So let me tell you about the thing I sometimes do that always helps when I do: it's called Shape of the Day.

Two things to note:

– things are pretty bad when I use this

– I'm using it today

And I should probably also tell you that:

– it doesn't work

But it helps. It also helped me sleep last night instead of churning over the To Do list and my calendar into the small hours. When you get up at the time I do, there aren't many small hours to go into. Yesterday evening, I checked my calendar for today and I went over the various tasks I have outstanding. And I shaped the day around them.

Follow. My calendar says I'm doing one phone interview at 10am and another at 5pm. They may move around, one of them has shuffled about a little bit already, but they're set and in the calendar. That means a certain amount of time is set before them. It will vary but it's rarely less than an hour so now I know I have prep work at 9am and 4pm.

Since I know when I'll start and I'll know how I can typically last until I'm useless for anything, I could go on to plot out every hour of the day. It would be a stupid thing to do.

I plot out every hour of the day.

Only on days like this, you understand. Only on days when there is so much to do that you can't see when you'll be able to stop, to eat, to breathe out, or to write a blog post.

That doesn't stop it being stupid. What makes it irrevocably silly is that you cannot plan out your day like this unless you somehow plan out everyone else's too. And they stuck to it. And nothing else ever comes up in the middle of the day. And the phones wait until you were done. And everyone you need to email replies immediately with exactly what you need to know.

That's why the Shape of the Day does not and cannot work. But it also can't work because what I do is divide the 12/13 hours or whatever it is into hourly chunks. I'll throw in the odd half hour, the odd ninety minutes, just to keep it varied. But chiefly it's in hour blocks like we were back at school and working to a timetable. Hand on heart, swear to god, I've only this second thought of the timetable analogy. I may have to abandon this entire plan right now.


The reason dividing the day like this can't work is that there is nothing you do, no task you have, no duty you need to perform, that happens to exactly fit sixty minutes. Plus, you will need the loo from time to time. (Caution: take regular screen breaks. I don't do this, if there were time to do that I wouldn't be using this stupid Shape of the Day idea, but I feel honour bound and legally advised to recommend you do.)

You could do what I do every time and that's make the hour slot broad enough to cover lots of tasks but narrow enough that I get down to it. I can't give you today's example shape of the day because most of it is contractually required to be quiet for the moment and some of it is a thing I should've done for a friend about ten days ago and haven't yet. (Pardon? This is all supposed to make us productive? I've gone off you now.)

But 06:00-07:00, for instance, was "Write plan for [redacted] project". Maybe a bit too broad, but it did the job. I stopped the script I was on at 06:00 and I wrote for that hour on that project.

Here's the last reason why the Shape of the Day is stupid and why I tell you it doesn't work. I did not finish that [redacted] project plan by 07:00.

But here's why it does work and why I do keep coming back to it at key moments: I now have a lot of the plan written and I didn't have that before. If I'd sat here paralysed by having to choose what to do next, I wouldn't choose and I would be paralysed.

Plus, at 07:00 the next slot in the day was a big current project that actually I returned to many, many hours today. But first I did 07:00-08:00 on it and I was significantly further into it by 08:00 than I was at the start. It was also fresh to me, it was so different from the development stuff I was doing right before it. And when I go back to that development stuff, it will seem fresh, I left it at a good spot, I know what the very next thing I want to do with it is, I will start its next hour at a clip. If I'd spent two hours on it instead, I'd be waning before I finished the second hour.

Sometimes you don't have a choice, you've just got to press on. But there are two major and two comparatively minor projects I have got to deal with today and while the ideal is that I would finish some or all of them, the ideal is not going to happen.

So while I end up with a series of unfinished pieces today, they are all much further ahead than they would be if I'd just panicked, they are all high-energy because I broke them off before I went stale on them, they are all fresh because I came to them from somewhere completely different. Plus, there's little to no paralysis of indecision because the decision has been made: in this hour I am working on this, next hour it's that and so on. You can concentrate on the job at hand knowing consciously and unconsciously that you are doing what needs to be done. That is a strange one because it's a lie: you've just made up this plan but you're sticking with it as if it's real. But it works and it helps enormously, it is perhaps the strongest part of this Shape of the Day notion because what it does is remove the flapping time: you don't ever lose time thinking oooh, should I do this bit next or that?

You're working the plan instead of flapping about trying to triage everything every time.

I have sketched out a shape of the day on paper before. Couldn't read it. Now I tend to write it as a single task in OmniFocus or part of the day's notes in Evernote. But you don't have to use software. I'm not pushing an app on you. Not this week.

The software I tried was an iPhone app called Daily Routine and I've just seen, getting this screengrab (right) for you – and getting that screengrab right for you too – that despite my not using it at all this year, it has continued to chug away popping my calendar items into a kind of shape of the day.

And waiting hopelessly for me to go fiddle and add more.

You may like it a lot, I certainly enjoyed using it at first, but even this bare routine-less day looks too complicated for me.

I don't do complicated. I'm the sort who has to pay himself to get up in the morning.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Used notes, not in sequence

I'm not criticising, you understand, but I do note that you haven't told me how you cope with paper notebooks. Last week – no, wait, let me say this, I like saying this – Previously On Self Distract: I told you all about this business that my handwriting doesn't look human. So I don't handwrite, I type. And while I can understand that people deeply love their Moleskin notebooks, they're no use to me unless they somehow decipher scrawling.

But this does leave me with a big mystery. I seriously wonder and have fruitlessly asked many people over the years: how do you find everything? You have this great big notebook, or this tiny wee thing, and you jot down everything in it, but how you do find anything? I've worked with people who were fantastically well organised and they seemed unable to forget a single thing, they were instantly able to pick up where they left off in the last meeting notes.

And the spookiest thing of all, for me watching them, was that no matter what the meeting or how many years it had been since the last one, they still had the notes with them. Don't these things ever run out? I've got this image of you as a notebook demon who every morning picks out these stylish outfits you wear and then goes to some strange machine where all your notebooks are kept and it trundles through all of them until it reaches the one you'll need today. I picture you with the pods that used to slide under Thunderbird 2 until it reached exactly the one with what today's rescue mission needs.

Granted, I felt sure I was over-thinking all this and that there would be a simpler answer like "I just bluff well" but I thought you might tell me. I thought you might break ranks, break out from this Magician's Circle of notebook users and tell me how in the name of God you can always have the right bloody notebook with you and it never fills up and you never lose anything and what great alchemy do you have that means you can read your own writing?

Instead, I got asked about Evernote.

I always have this thing that if I know something, everybody else knows it. And that everybody else knew it sooner than I did. This doesn't stop me rushing up to you like a puppy when I've found out something, but it does mean that I'm used to you going yeah? So? And? Seriously? You just got this?

Prepare to do the same now, but it'd be nice if you did it nicely. If you're an old hand at Evernote, we're going to have words about why you didn't tell me this thing existed. If you're an old hand at paper notebooks, I'm going to try to recruit you to my side. Especially since it's a series of revisions and improvements to Evernote these past few months that have turned it from nice yet a bit ugly into something I use near constantly.

You can keep your handwriting. But paper notebooks must go.

Join me.

(Please picture me slowly beckoning you and imagine I have wide eyes like a cult leader. It's my new look.)

Join us.

Join us.

Evernote is free software and a service that you can use for no money, nowt, none up to a certain generous point that I never came close to exceeding. It can be a paid-for service if you want more features, and I do, so I subscribe. Angela bought me a year's subscription for Christmas and I'm not going back.

Evernote is a service that runs on just about anything I've ever heard of anyone using: iPhones, iPad, Macs, any web browser you're passing, everything. (Okay, also Android and Windows. I think Linux. Not sure there.)

And Evernote is just a service for making notes in. There are a million apps for writing notes in. And it's not like we were lacking for ways to type notes before apps came along. I used to write articles in Word and when the phone rang I'd just carry on typing. I became known for my surreal writing style because I cannot tell you how many features nearly went to press with a paragraph in the middle saying "Burt rang, needs spanner back".

That doesn't happen now because wherever I am, Evernote is a flick or a tap or a keystroke away and if I've got that phone crooked under my aching neck, I'm typing a little jotted note. When I hang up, maybe I'll chuck the note away, maybe I'll pass it off to my OmniFocus task list to work on later, most likely I'll save it in Evernote knowing that this means I will always be able to find it again.

I make notes in Evernote. I don't lose anything. I have every note I've ever written and I have them all wherever I am. I can find it all instantly. Surprise me with a board meeting and I'll surprise you with last month's minutes and the fact that I've done everything I said I would. (Though, to be fair, I'll have leaned on OmniFocus more than Evernote for that.) But then when we're in a shop, ask me what recipe your third-aunt-twice-removed said could use Oregano. If I'm on the phone with Eon yet again, then here's what exciting adventures I had with you the last five times I rang.

(Just an aside: Eon plays the same music every time I phone up and am put on hold. Not the same type of music, not the same artist, not the same album, but the exact same track on a loop. It got so I was singing along with it. And eventually I told the Eon operator to shush, put me back on hold, because I wanted to Shazam the music. And I did. Bought it off iTunes. It's Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Here it is on iTunes US and here on iTunes UK. I'm linking a lot here today, aren't I? There's one in a mo that I could conceivably get tuppence for if you clicked it and followed through with an order on Amazon. Please buy a car in the same Amazon session. Or a house. Otherwise, none of these links do anything for me except send you bounding off away when I'm trying to have a chat with you.)

I could've chucked those iTunes links into Evernote. I could drag the MP3s in there too. A screengrab of the band's website. A photo montage. Maps. Word documents, Pages documents. They all just go in and then they go whizzing around every copy of Evernote that you have.

This month I am mainly writing on two big projects and all my notes for both are in Evernote. A guy phoned me out of the blue yesterday and I was able to bring up all the questions I'd prepared for him, I was able to check a fact in a script PDF. Quite slowly, actually, but that was because my brain was mush more than that Evernote was hiding the note from me. Thinking about it, I could've put him on speakerphone and used Evernote to record the conversation if we'd needed me to.

Glasses ready. Pick up 10am.

The other month I lost some pension documents. Now when something comes in the post, I do file it away better but I also pop it through my Doxie scanner while I'm watching the telly and later on add the scanned copy to Evernote. You can organise all these notes, if you want, and one day I might put some thought into it all but for now I just bung 'em in and trust, correctly, that I'll be able to retrieve any or all whenever I want. That's just astonishingly useful for me.

There is one thing that is freakily useful. I'm writing a book that requires a huge amount of research through fairly old documents. I scan those in, they become PDFs in Evernote and then without my doing anything, they become searchable. These are old letters and scripts and treatments but I can type, say, "casting" into Evernote and it will show me every document that has that word in it. It OCRs the PDFs you put into it.

It's freaky but also a bit inconsistent: I can't tell you when it OCRs or how fast, it just does it when it does it. And I have some documents that I'd quite like it to OCR and it doesn't. No idea why.

Other than that, I realise I'm talking like a convert and an evangelist but it's because I'm a convert and I'm an evangelist.

Or I am now.

Previously on Evernote… I understood what it did but I found it a bit creaky and I just didn't like the look of it. I know that sounds feeble, but this thing is in your face all the time and I even found bits of it irritating to look at: it used to do more to look like a paper notebook. Not much more, I think, I can't remember now, but enough that I'd look at it and think, enough.

Talking to you today, I realise I cannot picture what it used to look like. There was this huge revision of it last year with massively updated versions for web browsers, iOS and Macs, I think also for Windows. The old one had the same features, more or less, but you can find them now and it just doesn't look irritating to me. I tried the new iPhone version, then pretty quickly tried the iPad one, then it was the decision of an instant to get it on my Mac and then that was me done. All three versions of the software free and I used them more and more. It's when you use Evernote a lot that you get it - actually, when you use it for everything. That's when you start wowing.

So the software is free and the service is free up to a point. That point is to do with how much you can save to Evernote in any one month and it's do with how big any one note you make can be. For a free account, the biggest single note you can have is 25Mb. You're not going to hit that unless you're saving audio files or images. A lot. You'll get an hour's audio in that, easy. Premium users, for comparison, can have notes that are up to 100Mb. I am a Premium user. I have no idea how big any of my notes are but nothing's fallen over yet.

If you use the free version – and you should, try it out like mad before you get hooked and wanna upgrade; I must've spent six months or more on the free one – then you also have a limit that you can only upload a total of 60Mb of notes each month. Again, never hit it. Until I went Premium, which ups that to 1Gb per month, and I started filing away a thousand scripts PDFs or more.

These limits are only to do with how much you save in Evernote in any one month: there is no practical limit on how much stuff you can have on it. Again, I have no clue how much stuff I've got in mine, but it's a sight more than 1Gb, I can tell you. Just keep shovelling the stuff up there.

Hand on heart, I went Premium because I like the software so much and I was depending on it so much that I wanted to contribute – and because Angela bought me the first year's subscription. I did also believe that the freaky thing with documents being OCRd was a Premium feature but I'm sure now that some of mine were done when I was a Free one. Not sure. Sorry about that.

But Premium costs around £35/year and, like I would with OmniFocus, I'd pay that over and over.

Because I use Evernote every day. I'll start a note on my iMac when I get up to work at 5am every day, then I'll refer to it on my iPhone when I'm on a train, and I'll maybe finish it later on my iPad when I think of something else. I don't have to do anything to get these things to work together and I usually forget that this is remarkable. It feels normal. So much so that when someone at the Birmingham Rep was asking me that thing I mentioned last week, that thing about losing my iPad, I forgot. They wondered why I risked making notes on my iPad when a mugger is always going to take that and never going to take a paper notebook. And I am so used to this feature that I forgot that whatever I've written on there is already on my iPhone and my iMac. After I've written it, while I'm writing it, I dunno, it just is.

If a mugger took my iPhone too and worked out from it where I lived, coordinated a flashmob-like raiding party on my home office and took my Mac, I'd be somewhat bummed but I'd still have every single one of every single note I've ever written. And that includes all my scripts, all my writing archive, all those bleedin' pension documents.

Did I mention that you can password-protect Evernote?

One more thing? I'm really not sure why I forgot this because I find it a delight: Atlas view shows you where you were when you made a note.

Something else non-evangelisty. There is a rare bug in the iPhone/iPad version of Evernote that isn't quite rare enough for me: I got it and it took weeks to sort out. (A note made with an audio recording added started to duplicate itself. I had around 170 copies of this same note and it Kept Popping Up until Evernote support fixed it.) All the way through those weeks, though, I would be alternating between shaking a fist at the screen and going ooooh, that's good, I didn't know I could do that, I'm going to do it.

So far as I know, that bug has not been fixed yet. It's been sorted out for me but I could get it back and it's only okay that I now know the steps to repair it.

And yet even with that and even with how annoying it was – tell me you get annoyed by software too, tell me – I'm still using Evernote every day and I'm still recommending it to you.

This is all true. It is all genuine. There isn't an ounce of my being envious of your ability to handle paper notebooks and, sheesh, handwrite in them. I mean, who wants legible handwriting? Come on.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Pencils vs keyboards - 2B or not 2B

I'm doing this thing with the Birmingham Rep and twice now, as I've sat there with my iPad out, people have commented on my typing speed, the fact that I can type at all on the glass. And one woman, Liz, even said she admired that I was able to use this stuff when she can't, when she has to stick with paper notebooks.

I truly have no idea if she was serious. She was very nice, but I've seen her using notebooks, I've seen many people use them at the BBC, and I envy them. Mostly because they're legible and I can't handwrite. Seriously, if I write something down on paper then when I take the pen away at the end, I can't read what I've just written.

There's also the fact that these notebook-wielding folk are, it seems to me, exceptionally organised. How do you find anything? What happens when you fill that notebook, do you have a shelf full of them somewhere?

It's become a thing. Recently I worked with someone who brought out a hardbound notebook that filled me with utter glorious nostalgia: though I had entirely forgotten it, the old online service – the BBC's first attempt at commercial websites and the place where Radio Times first began on the internet – had produced a A4 notebook for staff. It was very distinctive. I'm sure it was also as cheap as possible, as this was the BBC, but everyone had one in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I had one. Never used it. Couldn't. But this fella still had one. He says that there were a lot left over when closed and he's just been slowly using the ones up that he'd been given. So in a week or a month or a year or however long it takes him to fill a notebook, they'd be gone and I would never have seen it.

This nostalgic rush came in the same week Liz said that about admiring my use of my iPad. And it happened in the same month that someone at the Birmingham Rep lost their paper notebook.

It was found in a meeting room and by the time I was asked if it were mine, many people had been on the hunt for its owner. I was convinced it was Liz's. I took it away to bring to her at the next meeting, and I was wrong. Never seen it in her life.

There were these many people involved in searching for the owner but I ended up with this notebook for the best part of a week and it came just as I was really focused on this whole issue of paper notebooks and, I'll tell you, it got into me. I thought and thought and thought about who could have lost it, about how they use it. I resisted reading any of the notes because that would be like going through someone's pockets or a woman's handbag, but eventually I had to in order to find any clues to the owner.

No clues.

Plenty of writing.

I could read all of the writing, at least as I skimmed over it.

But no clues.

Eventually, it looked like I was just going to have to bring this back to the Rep and hope that someone would remember whose it was, to hope that the owner realised where he or she had left it and would come back.

It was a fairly new notebook; the owner hadn't written very many pages. And it was A4, it was blue, I was conscious of all the Paul Auster stuff about blue notebooks in his novel Oracle Night, I was very conscious of this business of my having the notebook and the owner not, of how I would have to accept that I'd probably never know whose it was and that the owner would probably have to accept that it was lost forever.

I wrote in it.

I put a message in one of the pages toward the back of the book. If he or she ever found the notebook, then someday in the future they would also find that message.

You can't believe how carefully I wrote. I drew each letter in pencil.

And it was awful.

I turned that pencil on its end and used the eraser.

It was worse.

Seriously? They put rubbers on the end of pencils and they don't work? Remember, I don't handwrite anything so this was news to me. I don't know how you put up with this without marching on the pencil manufacturers of the world.

The note was quite nice, textually, but most of it was unreadable in pencil and the rest, where I'd tried to rub it out and start again, was a mess of graphite that had been shoved about the page instead of erased. It just looked like I'd been out mining for graphite, got it all over my hands and clothes, and happened to lean on a page. Nothing of it looked like writing, nothing of it was presentable to any human being. And rather than being a nice message, I had fouled the notebook.

I looked at the binding of the notebook: no way to unstitch it and remove the one leaf. I searched my office for the razor blades I used to use cutting tape in radio, figuring if I could find it and if I could have a steady enough hand I would be able to slice so finely close to the spine that the owner would never know.

But I couldn't find those razors. I'd break apart my shaving razor but those blades aren't as sharp – I have very sensitive skin, you know – and the odds were great that I'd slice apart my fingers in the attempt. I was willing to do it, I was that into this notebook by then, I would do anything to get rid of this abominable mess I'd made in this person's notebook.

Only, the tiny remaining piece of rationality in my head did twig that my bleeding over the paper might not be the full and complete improvement I would hope for.

Angela had a proper pencil eraser.

Breathe out.

I managed to properly erase the pencil writing I'd made and I even managed to rub out the mess of graphite that I'd smudged all over the page.

Maybe you had to be kind, but if you were, then you'd look at this page and you wouldn't see a trace of the mess. Or maybe if you looked at the notebook, you wouldn't very quickly find the messed up page.

But I still had to write in it.

I don't know why.

I didn't really still have to write in it but, you know, I still had to write in it.

Did I mention that I can't write? I do all this iPad stuff, I live in Evernote on my Mac, I swear I got into computing so soon because I needed to get away from handwriting. And I do type very, very quickly. I love typing. It's one thing I'm good at and typing equals writing to me.I can't compose on paper, obviously, and I can't really noodle in my head, I need to knead the keys.

So when I'm writing you a birthday card, I draft out the message on the keyboard. With some people very close to me, I'll send you the card and then when I figure you must've had it, I email you the original text. I'm not proud of this, you understand, I'm not thinking it's something anyone could admire, it's just sometimes – often – essential.

Consequently, on the morning of my next Birmingham Rep meeting, I drafted a message. And then I did it.

I did it in pen.

I drew each individual letter. On the page. In this man or woman's notebook.

Last time I checked, some years ago now, I used to type at about 120 words per minute. It took me an hour to write this short note by hand. I worked this out: I wrote at 1.58 words per minute.

And it wasn't great. It was better than the pencil, the ink was clearer and narrower than the point of the pencil had been, and I had both my usual careful slowness and the extra added fear of having already cocked it up once.

I think it worked.

Certainly it's the clearest, most legible thing I've ever written by hand. Seriously. Ever. It is in fact the finest penmanship of my life.

I should show it to you now so you can see and maybe reassure me a little. But I wrote in one of the back pages of the blue notebook, I returned it to the Birmingham Rep –

– and an hour later this guy comes looking for it. He's in the same meeting, I know him, I see him come asking people whether they'd seen his missing blue notebook. I have to feel terribly relieved that the mystery is over.

But there is a part of me that is just a tiny bit disappointed. Yes, he got his notebook back and I know how important that is, I have seen how important that is to people. I've had the mystery solved and I really, really, really need my mysteries solved. Only, I'd come to accept that I'd never know. And that's why I'd written the note. I'd written it so that if the notebook were ever found, if the owner ever filled all the pages before it and came to those back pages, he or she would see a hello there. I would never know if it happened, I would never know whether it happened.

Now I do know the owner but I'm hanging on to one part of all this. I didn't sign the note, I haven't told him about it and I'm not going to tell you his name in case he has a Google Alert or something set up for himself.

But I am going to tell you what the note says.

Here's the draft I typed in Evernote before so very painstakingly destroying his pristine white page with the scrawl of a one-year-old:

Forgive my writing in your book but right now, March 1, 2013, it doesn't look as if I'll find you, that you'll ever get this back. I hope you do, whoever you are.

I like that you're a mystery to me and how if you do get this back and if you do come across this note, I'll then be a mystery to you. Perhaps we know each other. It's more probable that we don't, it's most likely that we will never meet.

So let this be just a wave hello between fellow mysteries.