🔗 Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

🔗 Eric Carle: Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

In 2019, he told the BBC why he thought the story endured for five decades. “For many years, my publisher and editor and I did not know the reason for The Very Hungry Caterpillar being so popular,” he said. “But over time, I’ve come to feel that it is a book of hope. And it is this hopeful feeling that has made it a book readers of all ages enjoy and remember.”

I remember reading Eric’s books as a child and it was a joy to introduce my daughter to them. The style of his graphics has stuck with me since then. I’m sure he has just gone into his cocoon now and will emerge again as a beautiful butterfly.

Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

🔗 Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

In a report released by The Information, we’ve found out that Netflix has approached several veteran game industry executives regarding their want to expand into video games, though we are not yet sure which executives. Despite the lack of specifics, we do know that Netflix is considering offering a bundle of games that would be similar to Apple’s online subscription.

That’s pretty interesting. Netflix expanding into other verticals now to provide a comprehensive package seems like a great business move for them and would be appealing as a consumer. Apple Arcade never really got me.

Why I love being in the Apple ecosystem

I took a screenshot to show some changed that haven’t been made. I was going to edit in preview but then saw an iPad icon…WAIT! I can draw! So I highlighted and wrote on my iPad what needed changing. Then sent from my Mac in our chat app. Apple certainly has issues and is pricy but examples like this are the combination of hardware and software working so well together that Apple loves to boast about. I’m definitely going to use this feature a lot more!

When simple is more complicate.

As I was thinking about how to manage publishing obsidian notes to my digital garden, I was saying I wanted a “simpler” solution. That was partially true. Really, I wanted a simpler solution for me, the user, even if it meant a more complicated backend. The danger is that complicated workflows are easier to break.

This is true of other areas of life too. We try to make things “simpler” for ourselves but under the surface there is a sea of (hopefully) hidden complexity.

The danger, is those dependencies will fail and our system comes crashing down or grinds to a halt like a shipping cannel clogged by a boat. Simple solutions may end up needing more maintenance than the “complicated” option.

So perhaps a simple drag and drop isn’t the worst thing in the world after all.

A technique for producing ideas sketchnote summary

A quick little book summary sketchnote of a quick little book: a technique for producing ideas. Main action takeaways are 1) dig deep in your initial research. 2) be curious and collect information about general interests as well as the problems you are investigating. 3) when you are stuck, do something emotionally stimulating.

sketchnote, a technique for producing ideas.

The value is in the summary (or is it)

There are some business books where you get all the value from the one paragraph summary or even just the title. I suspect Cal Newports latest might be another example. I’ve heard him on a couple of podcasts discussing it and I can buy into his basic idea. - Avoid open loop communications tools that anyone can contact you at any time for anything. - Promote context specific tools which you work on asynchronously.

It’s basically trying to avoid the “So when shall we have a meeting” chain of messages where it takes four messages to get the ball moving and instead use something like calendly which helps close discussions faster.

My team has made this shift in a couple of areas (moving away from our real-time chat and too google docs/trello/figma). We still occasionally ping each other over real deadlines, but it just makes more sense to not get inundated with pings all the time.

Of course, there are some topics where the lesson is clear from the title, but that doesn’t make it easy. Ego is the enemy for example. Sometimes the value of the book is not the information, but the repeated exposure to the message.

It’s a very Christian idea I’ll admit. That we can get the idea instantly and see a transformation (justification) but still regress and require a ongoing change to truly inhibit an idea (sanctification). Perhaps my own faith background and its emphasis on reading the scripture explains my openness to such books.

Well, I didn’t expect that ending when I sat down to write.

I don't care about iPad only anymore.

I’m really happy with not trying to force my iPad to be my main computer but just use it for what I like doing on it (reading, drawing, some web browsing, Listening to audiobooks while cooking, facetime calls with family back home) and use my Macbook Air for what I like doing on that (writing, editing videos, day job… which is writing, trello, managing and spreadsheets…oh so many spreadsheets.)

If Apple updates iPadOS to make the iPad better for day job work, I might reconsider but I’m not sure why I would now.

I like having a causal device and work devices or having a book/notes open on my iPad with a writing space on my Macbook.

When I was an “iPad only*” person I valued the iPad’s prompting of monotasking. While that hasn’t changed, I’ve since found that the MacBook can be equally low-distracting as it can be seen as a work device (when set up with fewer notifications, not installing certain apps, limits on internet access etc).

In fact, freeing the iPad to be an iPad has allowed me to also make it less distracting. Now I don’t have to use it for work, I can block the internet, uninstall anything that gives a notification related to work, and make it a better consumption and creation device.

If Apple adds more pro apps to the iPad or improves support for multitasking, external windows, split audio etc then fine. I’m sure some blogger will write about how the iPad truly can be anyone’s only computer just as they have for the last X years. (While the verge will also point out how it can’t be your only computer because it doesn’t work well with their CMS).

But whatever happens, I doubt it will affect my workflow much.

(There is a chance that future Chris is really mad at how stupid past Chris is writing this… I guess we’ll see!)

*terms and conditions apply. Definitions of iPad only may vary and usually don’t include day jobs.

🔗 All widget iPad home screen coming?

🔗Apple iOS15: What’s New? Notification, IPad Home Screen Upgrades - Bloomberg

Following a similar feature for the iPhone introduced last year, Apple plans to let users place widgets – miniature apps that can display the weather, upcoming appointments, stock tickers and other data – anywhere on the Home Screen. Users will also be able to replace the entire app grid with only widgets.

This would make me very happy. I can’t believe they didn’t roll out the all widget home screen at the same time as the iPhone so maybe there will be some more significant changes?

Finished reading 📖 Dominion by Tom Holland

Just finished dominion by Tom Holland And here are some thoughts.

Summary

Western culture including secularism and humanism have inherently Christian values that drive them.

The cross is significant

The cross, and the symbolism of the Crucified God, the powerful humbling themselves for the powerless, is the key aspect of Christianity.

Christian civil wars

There is an ongoing tension between the letter and spirit of the laws.

Slavery

The abolition of slavery seems like the most unexpected event. It almost feels as though it was purely the work Benjamin lay. Certainly most cultures didn’t see it as an issue but only appealing to Christian ideas of a common ancestory and the equality of all (no male/female, Jew/Greek) saw it as wrong.

"How do you not see it?"

Whenever I have the thought that I can’t believe some co-workers don’t act or think the way I do, I’m wary.
Maybe they know something I don’t.
Perhaps there’s a different reason for their actions.
Probably I don’t do things the way I think as often as I think.
Definitely there are other things I do which are irrational or stupid.

And yet, I write this and realise that in truth. I probably don’t have those reflections most of the time and just think the other person’s an idiot.

But I aspire to be more humble, and give the grace to others I wish was given to me.

I think we're doing the anti-best approach...

Best communication channels to provide content/web design updates at my work. 1. A document with comments/track changes.
2. Project management system with comments/attachments etc 3. Email, so there is an easily found record later. 4. Real-time chat application like Slack. (I’m open to hear about better ideas)

I haven’t counted to know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that our usage is reversed. From what I’ve heard about Cal Newports new book (a world without email) he seems to advocate for moving from email and real-time chat tools to those more asynchronous and focused channels.

I’m certainly wondering how I can encourage more of that at work.

Obsidian show and tell session - register free

tl;dr: I’m doing a guided tour of my obsidian system. provisional date April 6: 20:00 UTC

Obsidian can be really confusing, but I don’t believe it has to be.

I’ve been using Obsidian for a while and while I know my system is perfect, I’ve solved some of my core problems and it’s working for me.

So after a couple of people mentioned they’d be interested in seeing my system, I thought I’d host a “show and tell” session going through my system.

The date may change if it’s not a good fit for people so sign up even if you can’t make it.

Register here

Let me know any questions you have and I’ll do my best to address them.

No goldilocks option

I really hate things where there is no single “perfect” option, but instead a list of compromises and considerations. Some examples.

Bags

While there are definitely better and worse bags, the best bag for today might be different than the best bag for tomorrow. Today I want something small and discrete, tomorrow I’m taking lunch into work and need something to support that. Admittedly, lockdowns and work from home have made me forget about these issues somewhat.

Cameras

Do I want the fixed lens rangefinder (yes, yes I do) that would be terrible for wildlife (okay, maybe not but I’m as surprised as you are). Or what about a small micro four thirds camera with cheaper fast lenses but worse low light performance and fewer megapixels? OR maybe a full frame mirrorless beast that costs an arm and leg and is so large you’d probably just take your smart phone. Every option has compromises.

Headphones

Do I want the over-ear headphones that are comfy while at the desk, but horrible when out walking (I had a nice pair in Spain but it was so hot that I just avoided wearing them!) or the in-ear pair that are great when walking, but also never really fit my ears and get annoying after a while. Or Airpods whose battery die after a year and a bit.

The answer is both none of the above, and all of the above…but my wallet dictates none.

Compromise, or por que no los dos?

The solution is either to compromise for most situations (my bag approach.) or buy multiple (my headphone approach, although my airpods have now died…so I’ve ended up with one pair). Sometimes I wish there was a perfect solution in these areas but I suspect that even a bag which could adjust size would also be a compromise (not as thin when compact, not as comfortable, maybe not as sturdy).

At times like this, I’m grateful for those “coca-cola” options. The things where there’s one solution which meets your needs at least 90% of the time.

It's okay to take it easy somtimes

Last week I felt utterly demotivated. I’m not even sure why. Although I was slowly plodding along with my work for SPS, I felt like it was pointless and wondered if I should even bother. It turned out that I wasn’t alone. Chad felt the same way too for reasons that were similar and different. We decided to have a “lighter sprint” or even a “Sabbatical Sprint” – following the six week cycles of Shawn Blanc and Sean McCabe as well as have a call to discuss some things. Well, we had our call earlier today and everything’s changed. It actually started yesterday when I realised I had done more than I had set myself to do and some of my previous barriers had been removed. Those two small changes boosted my motivation and when I could share that with Chad, I felt rejuvenated. Our call only served to magnify that effect as we shared our frustrations, recent successes (however small) and some ideas for how we could continue in the future.

As I was walking home yesterday, I had this thought > “I don’t know who needs to hear this but take it easy on yourself… I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s time to dig in.”

There’s a real magic to knowing when we need to push past a barrier and when we need to slow down and take a step back. I’m glad I took a step back for this sprint, I’m excited to push harder for the next one.

Do as I say, not as I do.

I will never get over the number of times I see my company doing the very things we preach against. Today’s example. It’s probably that instead of updating a shared document, someone has made a new version that has updated details. Of course, they haven’t shared it with everyone which has caused some errors based on outdated information. The most infuriating part is we are using the very tools which are designed to avoid these issues. It seems the error lies between the monitor and chair.

Parkinson’s law, but for stuff.

Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fill the time allocated to it.

I’ve found something similar with “stuff” at home.

If we get more shelves or cupboards, they get filled.

We moved a few things around last week and opened up some floor space…now it’s my daughters favourite location to play with puzzles.

I’m not saying it always has to be this way, and you can certainly need more space, but it seems like we’ll probably fill however much space we have.

🔗 Google Nest 2 home device tracks body activity in bed - BBC

🔗 Google Nest 2 home device tracks body activity in bed - BBC > And Privacy is Power author Carissa Véliz asked: “What happens when you have sex?”

Google said the new features had been “built with privacy in mind” - and the data collected would not be used to create personalised advertising.

Of course Google won’t do anything creapy with that personal data. I wonder how many Nest users will suddenly see an increase in vigara adverts?

When I first saw the headline, I didn’t immediately think about sex…but it really didn’t take long to think about this connection. This makes me think of how tone deaf Facebook was over the portal…but maybe I’m wrong and people won’t care.

🔗 Kings of Leon Will Be the First Band to Release an Album as an NFT

🔗 Kings of Leon Will Be the First Band to Release an Album as an NFT > The band is actually dropping three types of tokens as part of a series called “NFT Yourself,” people involved in the project tells Rolling Stone. One type is a special album package, while a second type offers live show perks like front-row seats for life, and a third type is just for exclusive audiovisual art.

Really interesting to see what NFT will do to the music industry and arts in general. It’s also very encourging to see that this isn’t DRM 2.0 but offering additional benefits. At the same time, bands have been offering extra add ons to superfans for a while. Perhaps NFT is a bit overblown. Regardless, the person behind KoL marketing should take a bow for the press this will get.

Do I need to interrupt them?

I communicate with my team through a combination of real-time messaging and email. Before I send a message, I try to ask myself “Do I need to interrupt them?”.

I say try because sometimes I forget to reflect on this point (sometimes because I DO need to interrupt them). Most of the time, the answer is “no” or “not now” (I asked my team when they are most productive and I try to guard those hours for them) but sometimes the answer is yes.

Depending on the answer to the question, I can work out if I should - fire off a quick message - send an email - add an item to a task list - or just wait. I know how annoying it can be to have the over eager colleague who has to share every idea, and I know I can fit that description to a tee. So I try to rein myself in so they can stay fully focused.

Of course, I’ve written this down as I just felt the pull to send a message and then realised, I can and should wait till the end of the day.

That’s at least one success for the day.

A return to time blocking

Back when I was a teacher, I was a huge believer in time blocking: planning your day and marking certain hours for certain activities. It made total sense for me back then. I knew when I’d be in a class, I could estimate my travel times, and setting boundaries on lesson planning helped overcome Parkinson’s law. But after transitioning to work for a corporation in marketing, I had stopped time blocking. At first I had tried to use time blocking principles, but I found the days were too changeable and I’d often have to suddenly drop what I was doing for something else. It didn’t seem to make sense.

Now I’m managing a team, this trend has got worse and yet I’ve decided to return to time blocking.

Why return to time blocking

Although I have less control over interruptions (with more coming from above and below), that is precisely why I need to block certain time for what Cal Newport calls “deep work”. If I am always in reactive mode, with inboxes open for any interruption, then I never really engage with my work properly. And while there is some amount of instability I’ll never be able to prepare for, I can predict certain parts of my week (for example, when I need to review some content before it’s published and when I’m more likely to be messaged). I also need to create some blocked off times and the only way I can do that is by planning. If I hope a time of concentrated, distraction free work time will magically arise, it never will. I have to make it.

Time to begin

So I’m using the daily plan bar in my Leuchttrum bullet journal again. I’m intrigued to see how this experiment goes but I’m hopeful. I know that there will still be interruptions and my plans will never be 100% realized, but I’m confident it will be better than going in blind.

Nikon z50 review

About six months ago I started experimenting with recording and editing some videos as a creative challenge and break from my day to day writing. Although I had made some videos for my Sketchnote courses I hadn't been completely satisfied with the results and wanted to improve their quality. Playing with video has helped me hone my skills and I'm now ready to update my course materials.

I started as anyone should -- using their smartphone -- and made small, cheap improvements in my equipment along the way. Throughout the whole upgrade process, I knew that I would want to spend a bit more at some point on a standalone camera with 4k video capabilities (and some lighting).

It made no sense to buy ANOTHER camera while I already had two so I decided to sell my existing cameras an hunt for a replacement. Although my eye had been drawn to the Sony A7C due Sony's growing reputation for video and stills, as well as the more rangfinder-esq design and flipscreen, I just didn't have the budget for it.

I spent a ton of time considering different compromises and balancing the pros and cons of each option. I was finally pushed over the edge when I saw a Nikon z50 on sales for an exceptional price and decided to make the leap.

The features that mattered to me

The main criteria that prompted my search for a new camera was 4K video. Although I could record 1080p video on my current cameras, I wanted to film in 4k and wanted the flexibility for the future.

Aside from that, I was also interested in getting a larger sensor camera. Having used the micro four thirds range (and a Fuji x100t) for six years or so, I knew that sensor size both didn’t really matter...and really made a difference. Low light performance and depth of field were two important ways.

Admittedly, larger sensors need more expensive lenses so it’s more difficult to get high-quality affordable lenses. After those requirements, every other feature seemed like an optional extra.

What pushed me over the edge

I honestly spent months weighing up different options and considering the pros/cons and rumours regarding upcoming cameras.

I think I "decided" I would buy every major camera at least once (not the Canon R5, I'm not crazy). In the end, I was persuaded by seeing a sale offer that fell within my on hand budget.

Other feature thoughts

Since using it, I've discovered a few other features, benefits and downsides.

Portability

The Z50 and 16-50mm lens is tiny! It is very easy to fit in my camslinger bag along with some accessories (not that I have any yet!) This makes it great to head down to the park and take a few photos of the duckies with my daughter.

That grip!

The ergonomics are FANTASTIC. After a Fuji x100 camera which is a great camera, but doesn't have a great grip, this is a wonderful change. My Olympus E-m1 was probably just about as comfortable, and I do still prefer the front dial on the Olympus, but the Nikon fits my hand better.

The snapbridge app is good

I can download images from my camera to my phone, share my location data, and control it remotely. All great features. The location sharing works much better than my experience with the Olympus app so now my imported photos show up in Apple Photo's map view. Nice. (I hear Sony's is better...probably Canon's too. I don't mind as it's better than what I was using.)

Flip screen fun

The z50 has a screen which can flip below the camera, that makes for some fun selfies and can help with recording video. I did have to grab a smallrig mounting plate to be able to use this with my tripod, but that wasn't the greatest expense ever.

One of the features I heard reviews complain about was the inability to use the touchscreen to change the focus point when you have the camera to your eye. This didn't bother me as I had always used the central focus point, but the Z50 has face and eye detect features so I wanted to play with those. Suddenly, that issue that didn't feel relevant is very relevant to me! Don't get me wrong, using a d-pad is okay, but I agree that the touchscreen would be better.

Strange, but easy controls

Being used to Olympus and Fuji, the controls on the Nikon felt awkward at first...and then second nature. I think it was about a week until they became second nature for me. I would love an extra dial (for ISO?) but I don't mind these controls.

What I wish it had (on paper)

There are certainly a few points where this camera isn't what I wanted (exactly).

  • It's only APS-C not full-frame.
  • the lens selection for DX Z mount is pathetic. While I can buy the full frame Z mount lenses, they cost more. I can also get an adapter for F mount (my plan).
  • The flipscreen doesn't go to the side (This is the most convenient for video)
  • It doesn't have IBIS, just lens stabilization. it would be nice to stablize any lens.

Things that I really don't care about

  • it's "only" 20 megapixels. But more pixels, more problems (Okay, not for like landscapes which you want to print...but still)
  • the lenses attach the "wrong" way. This is true, I don't really care though.
  • It has a dumb pop up flash - But that's useful for some situations I guess.

The End?

I'm still not 100% settled with the Nikon z50 but I'm happy enough for now. I have considered that I could probably sell it and make a profit (that helped convince me to buy it).

The more I’ve thought about it, the less sure I am.

I can certainly see some good reasons to go back to Olympus (thanks to the fantastic lenses I still own and the lower prices, smaller lenses I could get.) or I could sell everything and get a new Fuji x100v (a camera series I love, but doesn’t have any zoom lens options).

I don’t know, but for now, I like the Nikon.

Graceful accountability

As Chad Moore and I were discussing SPS, we came up with the term “Graceful accountability”; encouraging each other to do our best, but understanding our circumstances and limits.

I wonder how it applies elsewhere?

Accountability to meet the goals you set and develop yourself with wiggle room and understanding. Providing challenges, but knowing that life has a great way of messing up our plans.

I think it might be a good approach for most things in life.

🔗The Management Myth

🔗The Management Myth

“. Notwithstanding the ostentatious use of stopwatches, Taylor’s pig iron case was not a description of some aspect of physical reality—how many tons can a worker lift? It was a prescription—how many tons should a worker lift? The real issue at stake in Mayo’s telephone factory was not factual—how can we best establish a sense of teamwork? It was moral—how much of a worker’s sense of identity and well-being does a business have a right to harness for its purposes?”

A really interesting article that has made me think a lot about the various management issues I’m now facing. I really enjoy the application of philosophy.

🔗Asking, Giving And Blogging – Greg Morris

🔗Asking, Giving And Blogging – Greg Morris

Truth is, I have been trying for a while to make writing and blogging pay like it used to. 6-7 years ago web ads paid ok with a few thousand hits a month and didn’t completely wreck your website and income paid for my hosting and even allowed me to, shock horror, make a little profit.

I can relate to the changes Greg has seen in writing online. I used to run a site that made a nice little amount of money through ads: Enough to pay for hosting and a few tech treats. But things have changed. Google ads want to be invasive. Web design trends have pushed ads out of the way (unless your a big media company and want them all over the place.) The promised patreon /Kofi/content subscription solution hasn’t lived up to its promises.
We shouldn’t be that suprised. The same issues have been in software with the growth of free with in app purchases and the (justified and not) vocal opposition to software subscriptions.

The issue of subscription fatigue is real.

Many of us would love to support more services and creator, but with so many apps, creators and causes to subscribe to, what was once a small drip from our pockets is now a running tap.

Perhaps creators should seek to create things and ask for payments in exchange for access; it’s the pricing model many wish more apps adopted.

This is certainly the model Seth Godin recommends where he talks about creating experiences. It isn’t easy to monetise anything, but we should pay attention to what we do/don’t pay for.

If we wouldn’t be willing to pay for a newsletter subscription, why would someone pay for ours?

Two responses to problems

I’ve noticed two main responses to any problem at work. 1. Blame distribution 2. Solution implementation While most people employ both to varying degrees, we also seem to tend towards one or the other.

Blame distribution is where we sell to find the person to be blamed. It’s not about find the responsible party but that may happen as a lucky consequence.

During blame distribution, you should expect to see email chains resurfaced with sections highlighted or underlined. People will point out how they “did their job” (usually to the letter) or that this issue didn’t fall under their remit.

Blame distribution can affect managers (who do I need to be upset with) and lower-level staff (how can I make sure I’m not blamed).

Usually, the actual problem remains while no one addresses it.

Solution implementation is all about fixing the problem. It doesn’t matter what (or who) caused it unless that information relates to fixing the issue. After the immediate issue is fixed, there may also be a process of finding out the root cause of the problem to avoid any repetition.

Someone solution implementation involves challenging staff to raise their standards, highlighting manager mistakes, and maybe even disciplinary action, but that’s not the first thing; It comes later.

I hope that I’m more of a solution implementer than a blame distributor but I know that I fall prey to the later too.