For the last few years I’ve felt like tech companies and tech journalists are all trying to tell me I shouldn’t be happy with the “amazing revolutions” that came out only a year ago (but of course these new ones will all fix my problems). It’s things like the iPad which was finally a pro device when the iPad pro came out, or maybe when it got the m1 chip, or perhaps stage manager? No, sorry. It was when final cut pro and logic came out last month.
There’s nothing wrong with improvement (and sometimes “improvements” are steps backwards.) but maybe we could drop the technology gaslighting where we’re told that we’re not happy with the things we loved and they are clearly terrible now.
🔗 What if you could only use ONE APP on your iPhone? – Shawn Blanc
What if you could only use ONE APP on your iPhone? – Shawn Blanc
So this is a completely random but fun experiment… but what app would you pick if you could only pick ONE?
I read this quick post from Shawn a few days back and knew my answer almost instantly – Drafts.
I’d certainly miss the camera (but I have a ricoh gr), podcast, and the sat nav in some situations, but with drafts I’d cover the other 80% I use my phone for. I could even manage my tasks there too if I needed.
Continuing with the other devices… I’d probably pick
- Mac – Arc (cheating I know, but I’d need it for work). excluding that, Obsidian.
- iPad – Reader from Readwise
I’d never choose obsidian on the iPhone, it’s just not fast enough. In fact, it almost makes me wonder if I could just switch to drafts…
What about you?
You don't have to go full YouTube guru to benefit from the thing
I’ve noticed (and I feel the temptation too) to think of task management/PKM/bullet journaling/jorunaling/whatever as a binary thing — either you have some incredible complicated system which you use everyday the way the gurus on YouTube use theirs, or your “not doing it right”.
Task management is about managing your task. If a post-it works for you, that’s great! You have a system that works.
PKM is about storing and retrieving ideas - if a pocket notebook works for you, great! You have a system that works.
Journaling is about getting thoughts out of your head and on paper. If you do that every now and then and find it useful, great! You have a system that works.
Maybe you would benefit from adopting some practices or ideas (or more consistency) but you shouldn’t do that out of some sense of envy or guilt. You can always try things out and stick with what works for you.
Give yourself grace to experiment.
A journaling prompt I'm trying to turn gratitude into generosity
Writing what you’re grateful for is a common journaling activity and for good reason.
Practicing gratitude is one of the most effective ways to increase your happiness. If you aren’t doing it, I highly recommend you start.
But it’s easy to stop there. To feel better about ourselves and what we have but not respond out of that. There can be knock on effects such as a more positive and warm outlook to those around us, but what if there was a journaling prompt that encouraged us to be more generous too?
Here’s one I’m trying today.
What am I grateful for today? How can I help others share this gratitude?
It might seem like a small addition, but I’m hoping it will lead me to take action.
- If I feel grateful for someone helping me, how can I be helpful?
- If I’m grateful for learning something, can I share what I learned?
- If I feel grateful for some part of nature, can I share it by taking someone else to the spot?
Sometime it might be trite, but just perhaps a small act of generosity will make someone else grateful too.
A journaling experiment I'm trying to help improve my patience
I’ve been less patience recently.
It’s been a growing issue since my daughter learned the word “why” and now her brother is “stealing attention” from her, at least from her perspective.
Blaming my situation is the easy and half-true option.
While I certain have some extra pressures, these are an opportunity for me to demonstrate greater patience. Plus I can always choose my response to even the worse situation. And that’s where my journaling experiment comes in.
A journaling prompt for patience
“What are some situations that typically trigger impatience in you? How can you prepare and respond more calmly in these situations?”
I stumbled upon this journal prompt yesterday and started to write out my answers.
As soon as I did, I saw some common trends in my triggers. But more importantly I noticed that the solutions had even more in common.
Accepting the situation as it is
Mentally preparing for the situations
Taking actions to prevent those situations from arising.
I still need to see how I actually live these ideas out and I’m journaling every day to track what happens, but I’m hopeful. I’ll let you know how it goes.
On boring blogs not brand sites.
Today I came across a writer with a boring site.
He has a single profile picture at the top along with links to navigate to his various writings and podcastings.
It was wonderful. I was soon on a wikipedia-like spelunking trip through his various article.
His site feels like such a breath of fresh air in an age of full page cover images with email popup forms. Admittedly, the depth of articles he has written helps a lot. And I’m publishing this on Micro.blog where this kind of design is the norm.
While there is a place for the website with landing page, I’m grateful that some people still publishing on boring blogs.
3 Quick Journaling Prompts That I Keep Coming Back To
I am not a consistent journaler.
Over the last 8 years, I’ve tried lots of different system with varying degrees of success, but every time I keep the habit going, I gain a lot from it.
In my experiments, I’ve found three prompts which have helped me more than any others. So I thought I’d share them with you.
What’s on your mind? - answer this often reveals a hidden fear.
What are you grateful for? - this shifts my perspective to one of gratitude.
What would make today great? - it often does take much, but this prompt helps me improve my days.
There you have it, 3 quick prompts that you may find valuable.
I’d love to hear any prompts you’ve found beneficial.
Random thoughts on the person who keeps plugging themself.
UPDATE: I’ve realised that even these thoughts aren’t completely correct. I’ve noticed exceptions to my main issue. My new working theory is that I just wished we were all a little self obsessed, and when someone is less obvious with it, it make me realise the issue in myself.
I’m finally preparing the latest edition of my newsletter to send and got caught on the invitation for suggested content.* I always assumed people would refer someone else’s content which has happened but I have one reader who sends their own content every time I open the invitation.
At first I thought it was my cultural background that makes me view that so negatively. Then I wondered if it was the implicit, if not explicit, request for other people’s content. But as I really thought about it I realised the strongest reason for my reaction.
I don’t trust someone’s opinion of their own creation.
People generally have good taste when it comes to other people’s work and certainly don’t share everything they like with everyone. But that instinct frequently get’s turned off by the kind of person who promotes their stuff all the time.
While I was selfishly asking people to act as a filter and finder of quality instead of taking that responsibility myself, this reader redistributes that work back to me again. So I suppose it serves me right really!
*In the end I cut it. I couldn’t be bothered to work out a good way to phrase it. At least not today.
🔗 I disconnected from the electric grid for 8 months—in Manhattan | Ars Technica
I disconnected from the electric grid for 8 months—in Manhattan | Ars Technica
On May 22, 2022, I began an experiment. I unplugged everything in my apartment, with the goal of drawing zero power from the electric grid for one month. I had no idea how I would make it past a few days.
Nevertheless, I opened the main circuit, disconnecting my apartment from the grid and committing myself to solving what problems arose as they came. As I type these words in January, I’m in my eighth month. My Con-Ed bills continue to show zero kilowatt-hours.
A really interesting read and it has extra resonance for me since reading The Life We’re Looking For. What if we had fewer constantly on devices, and more instruments we turn on only when we need them? It would certainly be needed for such a lifestyle.
I can still remember my amazing productivity when I first came to Poland and had no regular Internet. Every minute at the library was precious and I’d do more in those 30 minutes than most evenings now.
I’ve been thinking about minimalism again. My main prompt is reading “The Life We’re Looking For” by Andy Crouch. He lays out how “devices” can take as well as give and advocates for technology that makes us more engaged with our whole being rather than passive. As is common, I’ve started to see patterns everywhere. Suddenly stoicism seams very minimalist, I started to look at some of Patrick Rhone’s old essays and I’m wondering about how Christian “simplicity” is similar and different to minimalism. Oh and I’ve coincidentally decided to clear out my desk and draws at the same time.
In the past I commented that my big issue with minimalism is that it provides a diagnosis without a prognosis. I still believe there’s truth to that critique, but it doesn’t make the diagnosis less true.
Now excuse me while I go back to holding some old T-shirts and asking “does this spark joy?” Over and over again.
Appreciating the inbetween week
I’ve got the week off work (but my daughter is still going to pre-school) so I’ve drawn up a list of things to do that I would normally struggle to do due to lack of time or her presence! There’s a lot of big topic conversations with my wife plus making sure I’m fully present and engaged with her in the evening.
First item on my list - cleaning up my desk, notes and old clothes that need to be thrown out.
Turning down an upgrade
I had to renew my phone contract and had a chance to upgrade my four year old phone. In the end I decided against it. The offer sounded good but I wouldn’t have wanted to upgrade this year anyway so it was just spending money I didn’t want to spend.
As I reached the conclusion that I should declining the offer, I felt an uncomfortable pain. I knew it was a good offer, I knew I wanted the new shiny thing, but I also knew it wasn’t a good use of money and I’d be getting a phone and deal I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise.
I knew the decision was right, but I didn’t want it to be the right decision.
My 3 favourite pieces of tech hardware from 2022
The end of the year is in sight.
And while there’s still time for me to purchase a new piece of tech, I think it’s safe for me to create this roundup list (especially with my current financial situation).
I haven’t bought too many items this year, but these three stand out above the rest.
My wife is the best.
I had resisted replacing my old AirPods with news ones but my wife convinced me.
She was right. They’ve helped me with countless video calls, blocking out noisy neighbours (and kids) not to mention hours of podcast listening.
And It sounds like the second gen are even better.
There’s no perfect cheap monitor for Apple computers, but this is close.
- USB-C connection monitor.
Back when I was deep in spreadsheets, reports and editing every day, this screen was invaluable. Now it is amazing for editing videos, recording screen casts (I can record a limited space on the screen and have notes in the rest) and for opening a ton of resources from Logos.
The two ports on the Macbook Air just aren’t enough.
Well, not when I make a video and have my camera, microphone, streamdeck, iPad, monitor and external hard drive all hooked up. This handy little device has made it all a dream.
Previously, I had a dongle that required some careful planning to get everything connected. Now I hook one thunderbolt 3 cable into my Macbook, and away I go.
**What about you? **What have been your favourite hardware tech purchases of the year.
I wouldn't have believed a random project 6 years ago would turn into this.
6 years ago I started making some simple videos for students of English as a foreign language because it was a more valuable “proof of work” as a freelance teacher than the alternatives.
Today, I’m using those skills (and more I’ve learned since) for the onboarding videos project at work.
Plus I got a review copy of Logos 10 for the video review I published earlier this week.
You never know where a little decision might lead you in the future. Or how a fun little skill project might open other doors.
But also, don’t feel ashamed about having a hobby which is just a hobby.
A return to stock apps?
As I read CJ Chilver’s recent post on the lazy billionaire, I was reminded of Patrick Rhone’s approach of using the Apple default apps as much as possible.
- Notes in Notes
- Tasks in Reminders
- Events in Calendar
- Podcasts in Apple podcasts and so on.
Some of these feel more controversial than others. Could I really give up my beloved obsidian? Would I be prepared to give up smart skip in a podcast player? How will I GTD if I don’t have a full armed and operational battle station, I mean task manager.
And I do notice that Patrick does make a couple of exceptions such as using a markdown writing app instead of the notes app (unless that has changed since his minimal mac days which it may well have).
In truth, there are some apps (like Snipd my current podcast app) where I don’t really use their functionality. I do capture clips from podcasts, but I don’t tend to review them. And it’s even rare that I use those snippets when they are automatically imported into my obsidian vault from readwise.
So I’m reviewing all my fancy third party apps. Maybe they’ll go and maybe they’ll stay.
Carrot weather is definitely staying.
The images we live by
Metaphors create new worlds.
They focus our attention, open our imaginations and help us to see connections.
But no metaphor is perfect. If there weren’t any limits or exceptions to a metaphor, it wouldn’t be a metaphor. (this is an extension of the ideas “the map is not the territory")
So it’s no surprise that our choice of metaphor can be important.
An example: consider these two metaphors for a journey.
Depending on the one you select, you will have a very different perception of the journey you will undertake.
- One might help you prepare better, the other might help you enjoy it more.
- One might focus you on the destination, the other might help you take in the scenery.
Rushing for the first and most obvious idea can trap us in typical ways of thinking.
So what are the implications
Three easy ideas to help explore more metaphors
- Think of a metaphor for ideas or strategies
- Consider the limits of the metaphor
- Generate more metaphors and reflect on their strengths, weaknesses and differences.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
🔗 The Perils of Audience Capture - by Gurwinder
The Perils of Audience Capture - by Gurwinder - The Prism
In some respects, all his eating paid off; Nikocado Avocado, as Perry is now better known, has amassed over six million subscribers across six channels on YouTube. By satisfying the escalating demands of his audience, he got his wish of blowing up and being big online. But the cost was that he blew up and became big in ways he hadn’t anticipated.
A really fascinating read. Makes you wonder how we’re all being changed by social media.
🔗 Facebook's TikTok-like redesign marks sunset of social networking era
Facebook’s TikTok-like redesign marks sunset of social networking era
Mark last week as the end of the social networking era, which began with the rise of Friendster in 2003, shaped two decades of internet growth, and now closes with Facebook’s rollout of a sweeping TikTok-like redesign.
And just in case you thought the changes were limited to Instagram, Facebook is going the way of Tiktok too.
I guess Facebook decided to give up on trying not to destroy the world through the algorithm and is now going full speed ahead.
🔗 How Reels Have Impacted Engagement Rates on Instagram - Later
How Reels Have Impacted Engagement Rates on Instagram - Later
For those who have pivoted to Reels, engagement rates have remained consistent — or, even better, seen positive growth.
So regular posts went down 44% but if you post reels it’s about the same engagement.
The headline I saw this shared with (reels leads to a 44% drop in engagement) made me hope that the new timeline was a disaster, but no doubt meta will see this and think. “🔥this is fine.”
🔗Instagram gets worse with dark patterns lifted from TikTok TechCrunch
Instagram gets worse with dark patterns lifted from TikTok | TechCrunch
The new UI is plainly inspired by TikTok, the way Instagram has routinely been “inspired” by its more innovative rivals, like when they clone-stamped Stories out of Snapchat. In this case they took the opportunity to bring in a few bad habits and troubling choices, all pretty clearly intended to juice their metrics and force users to interact with content on the app’s terms.
I saw this shared by Andy McNally an illustrator friend who is active on instagram. I enjoy his, and other sketchnoters content but the algorithm and new feed is increasingly hostile.
In my weekly sketchnote newsletter, I never share any from instagram, mostly because it doesn’t have a friendly embedding option with revue. That actually makes it quite difficult to share sketchnotes as the majority are shared on Instagram.
I wish there was a better platform with mass adoption for sharing these images. At this point I know I should proclaim the virtues of Micro.blog (which is great) but it would be a real challenge to convert the sketchnoting masses.
Still, perhaps that is a vocation worth heeding.
So long and thanks for all the todoist
I’ve left todoist.
I’m not sure why I was on todoist recently but probably because I wanted a task manager on a windows PC. That’s my usually reason for choosing todoist.
But now I’m working in an Apple only environment and I’m free to choose.
While todoist has some nice aspects such as its flexibility, boards, web based automation and generous free plan, I wish it was more opinionated and native to the Apple platform. By trying to work with many task management systems, it doesn’t really encourage any system and requires hacks for a gtd style approach.
picking a new app
But what should I choose?
Well, I’ve been playing around with reminders, things 3 and OmniFocus on mobile (as I own all three) and I think I’m ready to pick.
So stay tuned for a post detailing my migration and how I set up my new system.
Joining PomPom as a Marketing Executive
I've Joined PomPom as a Marketing Executive
Back in 2013 I started a small podcast to promote our English School in Badajoz, Spain.
We shared our thoughts on Spanish life and made some materials based on the topics we discussed. Our students loved it! The content was intimately relevant for them, and they got free lessons each week.
To our surprise, we ended up in the top 50 language podcasts in iTunes.
By that time I was already a major podcast fan having discovered them after graduating from university in 2008 and working scanning documents while searching for a more permanent job. The work was boring, but it let me listen to whatever I wanted while I worked.
Today, I am taking the next step of my podcast journey
I'm moving beyond just listening and creating a podcast but joining Pompom— a podcast studio application native to the Apple platform.
After speaking to the team a few months back and bonding over our loves of all things Apple, great podcasts and getting excited about their vision for the app, I knew I wanted to join. Fortunately for me, my ideas for how we could promote pompom made them want me to join as well.
I'm sure I'll share more in the future but if you're looking for a simple podcast editing app with time saving features to help you product podcasts faster, you should definitely check out Pompom on the Mac and iOS app stores.
The perfect time to change todo app
I’m starting a new job on Monday so this is perfect moment for me to consider changing task management systems.
After all, I have a string of out of tasks for my old work that no longer matter. And this would be a great way to mark the end of my work there and a fresh start.
Losing tasks in the migration would be a feature, not a bug.
I’ve been “using” Todoist recently but I’m mighty tempted by things and omnifocus. The cost of upgrading to get the mac version would be about the same for me but I know omnifocus 4 is on the horizon so that’s another expense.
so maybe I should just push reminders as far as I can stretch it!
Episode 2 - 5 WWDC impressions
For my second micro cast, I thought I’d have a look at WWDC and the five things that caught my attention including that spoke to me as a sketchnoter. I’ve listed the topics below so turn away now if you don’t want any spoilers.
- Continity camera
- Stage Manager
- M2 MacBook Air
Starting is the first step
I’m starting a micro cast experiment to get more familiar with my new company’s app PomPom. It’s a podcast editor that’s native to the Apple platform so my role as a marketing executive will be to help make it more wide known and create relevant content on the Apple and podcast ecosystems.
So here we go!
Hi, everyone. welcome to my first microcast. This is a new experiment I’m doing partially because I am joining a new company who makes a podcast editing tool called pom-pom. In fact I’m using it to recording to edit this podcast now this microcast but also because I’ve had the desire to do podcast for awhile I’ve put it ￼ off for very good reasons and And now I can’t have a perfect excuse to break through that barrier because it will help with work so it’s one of those things which is fortuitous to help me overcome those barriers. So what will this micro cast be about? I’m not 1 00 % sure I’m basically starting now and starting to microcast to try and find my feet. And in fact that’s what I basically did with my newsletter. I had started a newsletter three years ago or something crazy like this maybe even longer and the idea was just sharing some things that I found interesting something that made me smile each week and that was even the initial name the initial version And then overtime I changed it to be more focused on showing Sketchnote resources in fact I actually think that was the first version — sharing Sketchley resources came first then I share a type of things I found interesting. Then I changed it again to be about creativity and showing the creative process And now currently I’ve been doing the sketching round up for 20 editions that I’ve sent out and this has really seems like it’s found its place. I think I actually had more subscribers for the the old learn create share newsletter but this is one which is just so easy for me to create and it’s so fun to create and it feels like it’s it’s the right newsletter to be doing And it’s just interesting how that has kind of emerged from nowhere and that it took me a long time of trying different things of changing the format of making mistakes to find the thing that actually worked for me. and that’s that’s the key part you know maybe this isn’t the most popular newsletter it could be. If I was really focusing on that and maybe I do something different for my followers or whatever but it’s a sustainable newsletter that I can keep going. And so that’s what I’m hoping will happen with this microcast. Maybe I’ll make some pivots maybe I’ll try different formats but it’s only by starting that I can learn what I actually want to do so thank you for listening and I’ll catch you in the next one