A good overview from Jeff Hunsberger on using SublimeText as a multitasker. Less is more.
A good overview from Jeff Hunsberger on using SublimeText as a multitasker. Less is more.
Justin Lancy (who you should buy a drink if you find yourself in Southeast Asia any time soon) went to Abbey Road Studios to learn about how the types of equipment they had access to impacted the sound of the recordings:
But as the 60s went on, culture—specifically counter-culture—began seeping into the studio and changing that dynamic relationship between the engineers and their tools. Over time, the room became filled with incredibly skilled people who were willing to break any rule if it helped their artists create new and interesting sounds.
Our equipment dramatically impacts the creative work we do and the evolution of tools begets an evolution in our work:
What new tools do is force a reconsideration of the relative strengths and weaknesses of old tools. After some time goes by, creative professionals generally develop ways to blend the best aspects of both the old and the new.
It takes a mastery of tools to understand their capabilities but is ultimately up to the master to take those abilities and constraints and do something completely new with them. Respect the constraints but focus on the output. The techniques of the engineers at Abbey Road are studied but it’s the album itself that is loved so much.
My friend Michael Schechter is back in the saddle, writing on Better Mess:
So why am I here? Why am I back?
The truth? I feel I’ve reached a point where I’m only getting better now in the ways that come easy to me.
Well said. It’s a mature thing to go from just getting things done and being introspective about that to using those tools and methodologies to help you learn new things and be a better person. I think it’s worth getting into the productivity racket to learn about better ways to manage the things that can get out of control in work and life but it’s also worth getting beyond that and learning new things using the framework that you’ve developed—even if it takes some grit.
A little story from Jason at GORUCK, who has learned a lot about simplicity the hard way:
Way back when we thought we were so special in every way. Truth be told, we’re similar to most places most of the time. We build stuff we sell stuff we write about stuff we publish pictures and words. Our culture and our values and what we do make us different in some ways, but those have nothing to do with e-commerce sites and blogging platform layouts.
Jason and team had designed and built a custom template for the blog but then a thing happened that happens to all of us. Things change, technology changes, but the old special snowflake way we do things, the things that are built on old technology, built on old dogmas, old comforts, they don’t change and then we get stuck:
So we switched instead to an existing theme. Life is easier and it lets us focus more time on content creation and less time on being special.
Less special, more simple—something we can all practice.
This is pretty much the same way I went about putting together my book Coffee Shop Contemplations. It’s a great way to bring together your work in a way that’s easy for your readers to access your work and a way to make some money on your writing that isn’t ads.
When asked by Kelton Reid, Maria Popova—who writes BrainPickings.org—defined creativity like this:
The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That’s practical creativity. Then there’s moral creativity: To apply that skill towards some kind of wisdom on how the world ought to work.
A great article whether you consider yourself as a writer or not.
Leo Babauta with a fresh approach to finding a new perspective:
If we can learn to get outside this personal bubble, and see things from a less self-centered approach, we can see some amazing things…
We become less self-centered, and begin to have a wider view. Everything changes, from letting go of fear and anger and procrastination, to changing our habits and finding work that matters.
A great story of craftsmanship and focus on quality by Casey Johnston:
Lorina’s hands are so fast and sure at putting the headphones together her movements startle me. She shows me how to apply two different kinds of glue and how to solder the wires from the driver. In about five minutes, the headphones come together into one piece, and she lets me test them the way Grado tests every headphone: with an 80Hz tone that feels like Inception. Since my shoddy craftsmanship came after most of the important assembly steps (namely, the driver got there before I could mess it up), they actually work.
Grado headphones are one of my favorites and even the entry-level SR60s have a clean, crisp sound at a price that makes them a nice value. The flat response of Grado’s (the sound not being manipulated to be more bassy or bright) and the open-back engineering make these headphones sound “true” and nice to see the company behind them be true to the craftsmanship of making something wonderful.
Some advice for a first-time cigar smoker on /r/cigars:
Enjoy the experience. Don’t focus on enjoying the cigar. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy the company. Enjoy the music or conversation. Enjoy the beverage (I’d suggest water or tea or coffee without too much crap in it). Yes, also enjoy the cigar, but the time should be about more than the cigar.
I’m learning this every day of my life: don’t focus on the list/goal/want, enjoy the experience. Enjoy the quiet. Enjoying having made. Enjoy their smile. The list is just a way to get to do more of those things you enjoy and be able to enjoy them more. This time should be about more than the list.
A practical minimalist lifestyle encompasses more than chucking your stuff, but it is a big part of it as it is one of the most tangible changes you can make, and the result will be both literally and figuratively, a massive weight lifted from your life. Declutter mindfully and slowly so the change is not so overwhelming. It’s a catalyst for the rest of it.
A reminder that “minimalism” is an approach not a veneer.
I picked up something really cool from Costco today.
I’ve been having a personal struggle with photography over the last couple of years. Between the painful process of managing photos well and the distraction of constantly having my phone around to capture the moment, I’ve shied away and sometimes feel like I’m missing out because of it. In December 2012, I intentionally stopped taking and posting photos to Instagram. I don’t really enjoy taking photos or want to turn it into a hobby of mine so I figured I’d leave it to the pros and move on with things. I wanted to focus on writing and have that be my method of capturing life. The bonus was that my phone stayed in my pocket and I was interacting in the world around me without a screen as my viewport.
But I miss those overwhelming rushes that Sid felt.
The GORUCK GR1 has been my daily carry bag for a couple years. The GR1 isn’t cheap but you get what you pay for. If the price tag has kept you away from GORUCK gear, now might be a good time to reconsider. You can save $100 on the non-black GR1s which makes a $195 Coyote GR1 a pretty nice deal on a really nice bag.
My friend, the venerable Patrick Rhone, has launched a new site, “The Cramped”:
If you are the sort of person who appreciates nice paper, a decent pen, a well-crafted notebook, a solid pencil, writing and receiving handwritten correspondence, beautiful handwriting, or the clicky-clack of a dependable typewriter, you have come to the right place.
This is going to be good.
Seth Brown, AKA Dr. Bunson, AKA really smart dude:
When I was in elementary school, I apprenticed with a bonsai master…
Just love everything about this. While you’re there, go read through his archives. Great stuff there.
I couldn’t not link to this. After Strip it Down, I’ve been reconsidering prior assumptions I made about what I value out of some of these tools and who I trust with my trusted system. I thought I was in a place where I had something that worked but the more outside factors there are the more inevitable that something would change in a way that I didn’t want to or wasn’t ready for.
Getting to a place where a toolset is elemental in it’s simplicity and in that reducing the opportunity for system failure is what I’m seeking, and I think limiting myself to a certain set of core tools—and no new ones—is important to that.
A great read from Rands on one of my weaknesses, bag packing strategy:
Every single investment I make in reducing complexity gives me an opportunity to avoid system failures around me.
This is a good rule to follow all the time but airports thrive on failure so it’s bound to happen as you travel. The more simple it is the less chance it’ll fall apart.
A poem, a postcard and a love letter bundled up in one short film shot on the streets of Mumbai.
Makes me think about what other “codes” exists around us that transcend change, time, and social constructs.
Ian Crouch for The New Yorker:
Walker Percy wrote that “bourbon does for me what the piece of cake did for Proust.” Distillers have been appealing to this feeling—-something visceral and personal that transcends price points or mash bills—-for years. It connects to the collective cultural consciousness: the myths of tax rebels sticking it to Alexander Hamilton; or outlaws at their stills, deep in the hollers of Kentucky; or Junior Johnson outrunning the law on the back roads of North Carolina, packing illegal hooch in the trunk. It is the stuff of cowboy saloons and city dive bars and a thousand country songs. This narrative, of course, is told in the codes of (largely white) masculinity—and aimed at and perpetuated by the kinds of drinkers, mostly men, I suspect, who hope that their poison of choice tells a story about them, and who are worried that it might not be the right one.
It’s an interesting thought exercise to consider the mythos I’m trying to attach myself to when I order a bourbon though my friends are all drinking Bud Light or who I’m trying to be by carrying a knife since that’s a thing only bushman do.
Cory Doctorow, on our relationship with technology and a feature we don’t often consider:
I once had a really good KitchenAid mixer. Its merits were that it had limited features that coincided with my needs, and it performed them with superb reliability, and it failed well (had excellent warranty service). That, to me, is the pinnacle of virtue: get out of my way, let me work, fail gracefully.
This is the place where I would typically go on about being mindful of the choices and investments in our digital lifestyles. I’d embroider an elaborate embellishment of the impact of these choices but I think Cory touches on something more important.
Sophisticated computer users pay attention to failure, rather than success.
We need to think not only about how our software behaves in a failed state, but how we behave when we’re broken—when we’ve failed, when we’re down. Startups can get by with just posting a sorry-but-not-sorry letter on their homepage when they can’t pay their hosting bills anymore but is that how we want to treat our friendships and relationships too? Are we able to get work done when our systems are failing? Are we comfortable traveling without the gear that we’re used to having? Are you still you when you’re not in your routine?
I’m realizing that most of the time I’m in some state of failure whether it be my sleeping habits or eating routines, how I’m processing stress or managing friendships and need to better manage responding with grace when I’m tired or stressed.
Are you failing gracefully the same way you hope your software does?
Kourosh Dini, concerned about introducing dishonesty in to his task system by checking off things he didn’t do or deleting stuff he might do in the future, suggests a method to keep things on track.
I find myself doing similar things like having tasks begin with “Look into…” or asking future Nick a question by adding a task and deferring it until later.
“Look into…” tends to work for me much like “Plan project to…” where I don’t know what the next steps are or care to define them now since I may not follow through on it. Maybe it’s just a dead end and there’s no “project” to actually plan in the long run so there’s no point doing up front work.
Often, I’ll ask myself questions in OmniFocus because it doesn’t make sense to think about something any further until that question can get answered at a future date. For example, a couple times in the past few months I’ve tried to get my health insurance cards delivered to me by mail and they would never show up. I finally realized that the address in the system was incorrect so I fixed it and requested new cards. At this point, there’s no point thinking about “next steps” if they don’t arrive or putting in a “waiting for cards to arrive” task which would show up in reviews, so I just added a task and named it “Did I receive my health insurance cards yet?” and set a start date for three weeks from now. Eventually it would show up and ask me if I got my cards. At that point, if Yes I check the box and will have not spent any time planning for something that I never had to do, or No and decide what to do about it now. (I did eventually received the cards for those of you gripped in suspense.)
We may desire our programs and environments to do the thinking for us, but this is not their role. They only hold onto, more or less, our stored intentions. We, then, process them at their points of relevance.
Being stateless can be an ideal situation in computer environments where a request doesn’t require any memory or information of previous requests to handle the current process. Leo Babauta has recently commented on statelessness in the context of mindfulness and it’s similarly applicable to how we manage our task system. We shouldn’t expect our program to think for us but only hold the information we need to satisfy that task. If we provide enough data in the task itself—intention and want—our brain can be stateless when we approach a task and it provides us with enough to process it and nothing more.