Categories
nerd technology writing

Fast Software, the Best Software — by Craig Mod

Fast Software, the Best Software — by Craig Mod:

Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.

John Gruber posted about this article over at The Daring Fireball and he’s right. It is a delightful read for a nerdier audience and hammers home some excellent points about software.
If you are so inclined, give it a read.

Categories
writing

Waiting at Starbucks

My son was in a car wreck a couple of weeks ago. That’s why I am at Starbucks right now. My wife drove his busted car to the shop near where she works this morning. I am at the corporate coffeehouse down the road from her office waiting for 5 o’clock to happen here instead of somewhere else. As I type, it’s 3:52 p.m. I figured I would get to the neighborhood (read the mall), enjoy a fancy caffeinated beverage, and unplug for a bit.
Writing comes so much easier with no connection to the internet. Why can’t I just make a conscious decision not to open Twitter or Instagram every 45 seconds or so. The weird thing is I have my phone here next to me, but it seems shameful to pick it up. Even now it calls to me.
My precioussssss.
It feels good to putter through a few lines of prose with no real goal while the caffeine soaks into my brain.
A previous career required me to write several hundred words a day to fill the pages of the newspapers I worked for. The pace wasn’t so extreme at the weekly, but the daily paper could be challenging. There are always topics to write about because something is always happening. A typical article for those small publications was about 400 words long, and that only came after writing more and editing back down to condense all of that newsy goodness.
I enjoyed journalism, but I don’t really miss it. Because the papers were small a writer had to know about all areas of potential coverage from the kids who win the spelling bee to city and county government shenanigans and the effect of national politics on the local economy. Now that I am free I can be free to grouse about whatever irritates me at the moment and when it becomes too much I can simply ignore it. I don’t have to know what’s going on if I don’t want to.
Also, I now enjoy ending my sentences with prepositions. Also, Oxford commas. They’re pretty great, swell, and fun to use without an editor complaining about them.

Categories
art writing

Mister Rogers, Poet

Drawing a picture badly

I’m not very good at it.
But it doesn’t matter.
It’s the fun of doing it that’s important.
No matter how anybody says it is.
It feels good to have made something.

Categories
brain life nerd writing

Breaking Digital Bonds

My habits have become terrible. All of my idle moments are filled with Twitter, Instagram, and endless mindless games of Microsoft Solitaire (which is the best handheld solitaire game I have found to date and please don't download it for your own sake and sanity just DON'T DO IT).
So it's time for some change. The easiest change is to read more, not in witty chunks of 240 characters or 500-word articles on, well, everything. I mean reading real books of fiction and non-fiction, and I mean reading for fun and not to learn anything. I mean reading like I did when I was a kid riding my bicycle to the public library between the polo field and elementary school to fill up my summer reading booklet with titles.
I've had a Kindle for years. It's the third-generation Kindle with the physical keyboard. It's slow, and I'm old and need lots of light to read now. As I was finally finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a book I purchased two or three years ago and only finished Sunday night, I found myself leaning into the lamplight and squinting to make out the words. It was frustrating, so it didn't take me long to upgrade to the Kindle Paperwhite and I got it yesterday and it's wonderful.
Now I'm digging into the five-volume box set of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones saga, which may be too ambitious. Having watched the series on HBO (and eagerly anticipating the final season), reading the books is like watching it again in slow motion in my brain. The writing is great, but I'm not sure if it will hold my attention to the end. I wish I had read it before watching the series so I could kvetch about how they did so-and-so wrong and "No, it wasn't like that in the book!" with all of my fellow nerds.
Reading more will, hopefully, lead me to write more regularly. One plan to reframe my brain on the front is to simply move around a bit. Today I have holed up in a local coffeehouse. Cliché, I know, but it's working. I can see they have Wi-Fi, but I refuse to ask for access. That invisible Wi-Fi wire will bind my mind and I'll be stumbling through Twitter and reloading Reddit before I know it. If I really start jonesing for a connection, I have a paper notebook and pencil.
In case of emergency…unplug!
These grand plans for change are fresh on my mind. For now, it's working. I have written more today than I have in the past year. Much of it is rambling. Nobody would want to read it, but it's getting garbage out of my brain. I spent many years making a living as a writer, enough time to know that the words will start making sense if I just start giving them form outside of my brain. I remember someone saying something like "you can't think your way out of writer's block" and that is so true. Thinking is important, but spilling thoughts into a more physical medium is the only way to break a block. It seems like a contradiction, but you must write your way through writer's block.

Categories
culture life writing

A Change of Scenery

As part of the monthlong celebration of my birth, I got to enjoy a Scotch tasting session at our favorite bar in Chattanooga.
The session begins at 6 p.m. and I figured, “Hey, why not make a day of it?” I packed a small bag with all the necessities: MacBook Pro, notebook, pen, pencil, and my new Kindle Paperwhite. Armed with some extra time and a credit card, I was ready for anything!
Https farm8 staticflickr com 7871 33221219458 27523bce1a nNo, I’m not drinking all day. To start, I settled in with a latte around 2:30 at a great coffeehouse next door to the aforementioned speakeasy. After treating myself to one latte, I switched to black coffee roasted fresh all the time just six blocks down the road. I’ll be a twitchy mess at bedtime, but it sure was good coffee.
Two folks chatting nearby caught my attention and introduced themselves. Genesis is a local, an artist by the sound of it, with a guest named Daga. Genesis seems to know everyone; he greets almost all of the customers coming into the place. He introduced Daga as “a creative who just moved here from Boston.” I had been tapping away at the computer open in front of me. He asked if I am a writer. “Sometimes,” I said. “Same,” Daga said. Cool folks. We exchanged a few pleasantries about writing and living around Chattanooga before returning to our own little worlds at our tables.
Back on track, the Scotch experience was fascinating. Rick Edwards, one of four Masters of Scotch in the world (at the time of this writing), led us through an hourlong session tasting five servings of Glenlivet. I always knew I like Scotch whisky, but I never knew why I like it. Now I do!

Categories
productivity writing

Little Stones for 2019

Little Stones for 2019:

I live in New England. We have tiny stone walls criss crossing the fields and forests. There are thousands of miles of two foot tall Hobbit walls just outside my door that attest to our history as really poor farm land. When I first moved here it really struck me that every single wall was made in a time before the Bobcat excavator. Stone by stone each farmer marked the boundary of their aspirations. That seemed like a nice analogy for making and achieving goals so I revisit this idea often.
I start by marking out a rough limit for my goals, realizing that this isn’t the real work. The real work is going to be moving stones. One small stone at time.

If you noticed my site’s title, you know I appreciate how Macdrifter built this post on small stones. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s worth your time.

Categories
art design nerd writing

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE:

The starting point for the observation is always the continuous text, which is what we write into the p-tags on the web. This text is the index, meaning it keeps the font size of 100 percent. All other elements are derived from that.
According to this, the first step is getting the text to a comfortably legible size. A lot of this is just a matter of taste. For me, this value is at 18 pixels, I don’t want it to be any lower. Common publications are mostly around 14 pixels. No matter which size you define, it is important that it is the foundation for all other elements.
Headlines (hl) should have 180 to 200 percent of the original size, secondary headings (h2) 130 to 150 percent, and tertiary headings (h3) should only be slightly bigger than the running text. In many cases, you’ll see h3 as a simple bold text. You should be able to go up to 125 percent without problems. Footnotes shouldn’t exceed 75 percent of the size of the continuous text.

This is good advice and reading the entire article is worth your time if you use words. This is also a good time to recommend The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.

Categories
life writing

Optimism Never Dies

Last month I made some bold claims about my output on this site. Oh well! Life goes on. I remain optimistic that both of my readers will have soon have more to read here than extended apologies for nothing being here to read.

Categories
writing

Never Stop Writing

Kermit the writer frog
Building a list of topics. In the meantime, enjoy our surprise guest writer. Kermit the Frog! Yaaaaaaaaaaayayayayay!

Categories
writing

Swing and a Miss

I missed my deadline for day two of this latest writing adventure, but I thought about it and that means something. After a brief nap to carry me through to morning, I shall return. Until then…good night.