It’s amazing how people who start emails with URGENT start every email with urgent. It’s almost as if they view everything as urgent.

Also, starting an email with “URGENT” can actually increase the likelihood I’ll ignore it.

Turning my iPad into a focused creation device

This quarter, I’m focusing on writing.

I’ve had a writing habit for a long time, but since I became a professional copywriter, it’s been harder to write the type of content I want to. So, I’m focusing on my writing habit.

The only problem: distractions!

There are so many of them all over the place. Sometimes I’t barely a minute between sitting down and when I get swamped my emails, notifications or a youtube rabbit hole.

My cure? Making a focused creation device.

Enter the iPad.

A creation iPad

My goal is to remove the apps that distract me, and leave only the ones that allow me to create. That way, I have a device geared to creating new things rather than scrolling the endless feed.

There are a few apps I use to create

  • Procreate
  • Drafts
  • Obsidian
  • iA Writer

Then some to play

  • OnSong - a sheet music application
  • Paprika - A recipe management app
  • Kindle/iBooks/Scribd et al - reading is play, right?

And there are a few apps that distract the hell out of me

  • Safari
  • YouTube
  • Messaging apps
  • Social networks (Instagram & Microblog. Yes, even you.)

Plus some which are kind of distracting but I still need to use sometimes, like mail.

Not an anti-consumption device

You might have noticed that there are some consumption apps there like the kindle and Scribd. On the one hand, these are not creation, they are consumption. If I wanted an anti-consumption device, I should remove them. And yet the kindle and other ebook readers are some of the highest value apps on my iPad.

Sometimes the ideas within the books I read provide the impetus for new creative works. And while that can also occur with youtube or another service, the hit ratio is lower and I’m more likely to choose one of them instead of creation.

So I’m happy (for now at least) leaving them on my iPad as I try this experiment.

Will it work?

I’ve debated doing this in the past and always found it tricky.

No single device seems to be a perfect “distraction free” or “creation” device. There are times I need to look up data on the mac, there are times I want to check a message on my phone, and my iPad is arguably the best web browsing experience.

But I think this is the best action to help me create more.

Procreate, after all, is ONLY on the iPad. And using the ipad as a distraction free writing device is great (as long as you have a keyboard to go with it).

So I’m giving it a go and I’ll report back later.

My feelings about a certain review.

What's in my dad bag?

Whenever I’m with my kids, I have my “Dad bag” with me.

Its content varies slightly depending on which of my three kids is with me, but here’s the basics of it.

  • Nappies
  • Suncream
  • Wet wipes
  • Muslin rags
  • Sandwiches
  • Bottles of water
  • Anti-mosquito spray
  • Fruit Mousse for the kids
  • A change of baby clothes (full set)
  • A backup t-shirt for me, incase of vomit
  • Backup shorts for the potty training child

Sometimes I’ll take a few extra items like more food or a picnic rug, but that’s the main gist of my bag (although If I don’t have certain kids with me, I can take fewer things).

Overall, it’s a great pack to have but there’s one item I’m missing.

A backup battery.

My 5 year old iPhone Xs doesn’t have the battery life it used to, and if I don’t charge it during the work day, It can lead to some issue. Like not being able to warn my wife when we’re heading back home or asking if we should get something from the shop.

My one pro tip

If you have certain items you need for one kid or another, try to group them together in a mini kit or bag (we just use Ikea resealable bags). That way, if one parent takes one kid and the other another, you have the right nappies with you at all times.

I dropped out of a course I was due to start last week. I’ve had zero mental capacity (especially for serious study and reading) since baby 3 joined us. I felt pretty bad but I knew it was the right thing to do. Cue today and they’re now offering a core course online starting in a month!

I’m thinking of sharing an interesting word a week as a way to help expand my vocabulary. I’ve been over using this one recently. Ouroboric - a never-ending cycle.

When did reminders get so good! I love the today view divided by times of the day. I often add admin task to evening to remind to do them after work.

It’s happening again…

A bit of a lettering experiment today and a reminder to myself.

Play the ball, not the man.

This is one of my core values.

It’s a phrase taken from Football [^1] and means “debate the idea, not the person.”

On one level, this is a reminder not to fall down to ad hominem attacks, but it goes beyond that too. When we look at bad behaviour, we should consider the system that created the issue as well as calling out the behaviour, not the person.

This is one of the things we try as parents.

We don’t say “you’re being mean” or “you’re silly”, but “it’s not nice to…”. Of course, the other person might not notice the difference, particularly over topics their identities are tied to. But at least this option allows people to change.

When we play the ball, we have the option to discuss the issue, not ourselves.

Exceptions: abusers and repeat perpetrators

Of course, sometimes the behaviour needs to be specifically called out.

When someone abuses someone else, commits a crime or a great injustice, they need to be called out. Even in these situations, it’s still good to focus on the actions and showing how they are wrong rather than the person who perpetrated them. After all, some people can rush to defend an obvious corrupt government official just because he happens to be in their party affiliation.

Individuals as emblems of a system

A while back there was a professor who made a joke to point out the obvious discrimination against women in the sciences. It was clear satire to most of the attendees of the conference. One attendee, a journalist then denounced the professor on Twitter leading to his eventual dismissal. When the transcripts came out that showed his was joking and pointing to the ironies in his own life, many still attacked him.

He was an emblem of the problem.

That’s a dangerous stance. When we start to attack someone rather than the actions, we can infuse their actions with all sort of other beliefs. “They might not have said X, but this is exactly the kind of thing that leads to X.” So we’d had just better assume they believe or do X anyway.


It’s okay to point out the slippery slope or common beliefs but that’s why we need to attack the broader issues (radicalisation, sexisim in science) rather than creating scapegoats to sacrifice.

While it might clean us of our sins, it doesn’t actually address the real problems.

[1]: sorry, Americans. “Soccer”. And yes, I know it was originally Associate football and widely called soccer in the UK till the early 90s. You know who doesn’t care, the rest of the world now.)

Humans working the hard jobs for minimum wage while the ai robots write poetry and create artwork is not the future I wanted.

Great quote at the end of this piece on Future thinking by @chadgmoore

I have a few work in progress articles as open MicroBlog windows. This is not the best idea as they don’t always restore/I can lose them etc. So I’m debating a publishing app again (espeically if it can publish to multiple places). The obvious answers are

  1. Drafts - it can do all the things and I have the actions in place already
  2. Obsidian - it’s where my thoughts are and I can link them to other ideas.
  3. iA Writer - This could be a dedicated place for longform output.

I can make a good argument for each one but I’m trying to work out “Which will be easiest for me to use and will encourage me to use it the most?” My current guess is 3 as I already have 1 and 2 but don’t really use them (that’s a sign of something. Then again I could adapt my drafts workspace/add the obsidian plugins).

After the amazing green of the iPhone 13, the iPhone 15’s colour options are a huge disappointment.

Most of my favourite bloggers have very simple blogging and marketing setups they’ve basically stuck to for years (WordPress, chronological theme + email newsletter).

I often think their sites are better because they are basic (no homepage that pushes you to buy something) and yet I get obsessed with all the different options rather than writing.

[TBF, I’ve actually had a really good run of just focusing on writing and writing longer things recently. I’m pretty chuffed with that.]

Internet points

The internet is a game.

If you play it well, you get “internet points.”

Most of the time they are pointless, but if you collect enough of them, you can become “internet famous” and even earn some income because of them. For the most part, internet points just give us a sense of feeling good or “valued”.

How do you get internet points?

I’m glad you asked.

You get internet points for doing actions that the internet validates. It doesn’t have to be the whole internet, it can just be a small group, but the more validation you get, the more points you get.

If you put a post and no one reacts, that’s zero points for you.

But if you get 10 reactions, even if one attacks you, that’s 10 internet points.

So if you want to win the never-ending internet game, you need to start an arms war. What got you points yesterday won’t today. That controversial or “risky pick” that you made last year, you need to go far crazier this year.

Even if no one else is competing with you, you need to compete with your past self because just as the addict gets less of a kick from subsequent hits, so the internet machine needs greater and crazier content to doll out its points.

Just look at Mr Beasts.

As you can guess, this is a problem.

The internet game is changing what we think and how we act. A nuanced opinion or debate is “boring” (even if it’s accurate) but a snappy comeback is pure gold (even if obviously wrong). Getting in a quick reply for your side will win you far more internet points than reflecting, waiting and offering a true critique.

Some versions of the internet are worse for internet points. Platforms with likes, hearts and algorithmic suggestions will always promote the game. But there are slower forms of the internet where we can play a different game.

I have several notes in obsidian which are variations of

  • How to keep my kids entertained at various times
  • How to avoid screens at various times
  • And some which have both.

These are all highly valuable notes.

Procreate announcement is currently live. I think they’re introducing a new (replacement?) app. While I wouldn’t want to pay a subscription, I’d pay a subscription for procreate to keep it running.

“The problem with a theocracy is everyone wants to be Theo” - James Dunn

Me: I’m a minimalist and live simply so I don’t spend money on pointless things. Now, excuse me while I look at buying another pair of headphones.

I hate how strange it feels when I can actually say “It’s not been busy at all.” It feels like I have to say things are busy, and normally it’s true.