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Site Redesign and a Renewed Focus

As a recreational blogger who struggles with commitment to write on a regular schedule, I have been slow to pay cold hard cash to a web host for my site. I would love to slap a CMS on there and take off to the races.
I have a long list of excuses to draw from to keep me away from writing. I’m tired. I’ve worked all day. Our kids all have performances tonight. This porridge is too hot. This porridge is too cold. Where’s the third bowl?
Then I read about David Sparks wrangling his own family in California, working as a successful attorney, writing at his own MacSparky blog, recording the MacPowerUsers podcast with his partner Katie Floyd across the nation in Florida, and publishing two books in the past year: Mac at Work and iPad at Work.
Did I mention pocasts? Yes I did. Look at Dan Benjamin’s 5by5 podcast network. He’s been committed to recording audio since he was a kid and has built his current empire in just over a year. He manages production of 18 successful shows and is cohost in 10 of those. During the past year he and his wife had one youngster running around the house, another one on the way (congratulations Dan!), and orchestrated a move from Florida to Austin, Texas, while only missing a few episodes.
Yeah, I’ve got nothing to whine about. I need to shut up and get busy.
For now, I’m dressing up this free website with a new (to me) theme. I hope you enjoy my implementation of Dusk to Dawn.
What would I run on my own server? I enjoy I’ve been using it here on the free hosted site for years now and wouldn’t mind rolling my own installation of the .org variety; however, the latest version of Drupal is enticing as well. For the record, I have been using Drupal Gardens at work and can vouch that it provides an excellent hosted version at a reasonable cost.
I’m going to percolate a little longer in the womb here at and continue to focus on writing more before seriously considering a move and rebirth of sorts with a hosted provider.

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iPad: My review one year late

Using an iPad (first generation) for a few weeks now improved the way I work.
Taking notes
Taking notes helps me stay focused and engaged during a meeting or conversation. If you saw me in a meeting, it was a safe bet a notebook or legal pad (yellow paper please) wasn’t far from my side. The physical act of writing with a pen or pencil is one of my simple pleasures, yet as a prolific notetaker, the problem I found with collecting mounds of handwritten yellow pages is the lack of an easy way to search them. Proper filing makes pages easier to find (sometimes), but without a meticulous and impractical concordance I know of no way to search those files beyond simple topics. Using the iPad, I can tag my digital notes and search them with ease.
Not only can I take notes at work and church, but the combination of my iPad and iPhone constitue a digital filing cabinet I always have with me. I have used notebook computers exclusively for nearly a decade and an iPhone for about three years now, but the iPad has taken mobile computing to a whole new level for me.

Creating new content

Lots of people–naysayers and devoted iPad users alike–say the iPad is only for consumption and unsuitable for creation.
I disagree.
I’m no artist, but the tools on the market appear to be amazing. Adobe Ideas, Sketchbook Pro, and Brushes are three that come to mind and the number of high-quality photo editing apps is virtually overwhelming.
Words are my craft, and there is no shortage of tools to help writers. I’m juggling several apps right now until I find a home. IA Writer is my favorite so far for creating narrative content (this article for example). I haven’t settled on a favorite app for taking notes, but I’ve narrowed the field. Nebulous Notes is great and I’ve used PlainText and Elements. The new player on the field is OmniOutliner for iPad from the software ninjas at The Omni Group, and it looks perfect for taking notes.
Like any writer/geek these days, I use Scrivener on my Mac and and look forward to paying for final release of the beta version running on my Windows netbook. Sharing files between Mac OS X and Windows is seamless, but there are no plans to bring Scrivener to the iPad. A wise developer decision, but I’m still flailing about until I can find a pleasing way (for me) to edit writing contained in Scrivener projects while I’m on the go.

About that consumption

I disagreed with those who believe the iPad is only good for consumption, but I don’t disagree that the device is a terrific tool for digesting everything the Internet has to offer (unless it runs in Adobe Flash, which is fine with me). This is another area where my workflow has transformed.
The iPad is as close to perfect as anything I’ve seen for plowing through RSS feeds and other news sources online. I’ve been using Reeder on the iPhone for a long time, but more for triage than actual reading. I have to admit that I’m getting older, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and the larger screen makes reading easier and following up on the Web a pleasure when necessary. Videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and Netflix run like a technicolor dream (unless you’re into black & white recordings, and those work fine too).

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Everyone gets 24 hours

We all have plans, goals, things to do, and many of us whine the same shallow complaint.

“But… But… I just don’t have time.

Let’s look at that clock again. All clocks dutifully report the same 24 hours of time in each day. It doesn’t matter if the timepiece is on your wrist, my iPhone, or hanging on someone’s wall.
Join me on a little guilt trip down Tick Tock Lane. I promise not to steal much of your time.

  • Albert Einstein had 24 hours in a day. He was a professor of physics at Princeton University who published more than 300 scientific papers, more than 150 non-scientific articles, and revolutionized physics when he discovered the theory of general relativity.
  • Inventor Thomas Edison had 24 hours in a day. Among the 1,093 patents he held were inventions including the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera.
  • Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had 24 hours in a day. He wrote more than 600 known musical compositions for symphony, piano, opera, chamber music, and chorus before he died just before turning 36.
  • Author Stephen King has 24 hours in a day. He has written at least 49 books that have been purchased by more than 350 million fans. He continues to write every day.
  • Actor/director/producer Robert DeNiro has 24 hours in a day. He has acted in more than 60 films and helped to produce more than 30 films. He has been nominated for an Academy Award six times and won twice. He also established the Tribecca Film Festival, owns a hotel and a several restaurants.

These are just a few people from vastly different fields and eras who had the same amount of time as you and me. The list could be virtually endless.
Seriously, consider the schedule of the president of the United States. Think about all of the prolific actors/writers/composers you love. What if they stayed on the couch eating the last of the potato chips and whining about not having enough time instead of getting up and catching their dreams?
How do you use your 24 hours?

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Managers vs Leaders

Lead from where you are

Fancy titles and expensive business cards don’t make you a leader and you don’t have to be anyone’s boss to be their leader. Everyone has the capacity for leadership and anyone can be a leader regardless of their role.
Constant use has muddled the meaning of the word leadership. True leaders are overlooked because they often are not the ones in charge even when they should be. Leaders are not glory hounds.
Leadership is similar to respect. Leadership isn’t bestowed on a person when they get a title, a nice parking spot, and a fancy nameplate on the door. Just because someone is the CEO, the superintendent, the chairman, the Grand Poobah, it doesn’t mean they know how to lead.

What is a leader?

Good managers are not necessarily leaders, though leaders are usually good managers. Author Seth Godin says managers want the same thing today as they got yesterday, only faster and cheaper. More widgets. Higher yield. Increasing the bottom line.
Some managers are little more than taskmasters who are good at cracking the whip and keeping the worker bees in line. Leaders provide support and resources to help people reach their goals. Where managers might ask, “What else can you do for me?” leaders ask, “What else can I do for you?”
Managers dole out task lists, fret over process and details, and micromanage every step of a job. Leaders understand everyone is different and appreciate the diverse talents each individual brings to a project. A leader asks you to set a goal and steps out of the way, then provides the support and resources you need to reach the goal in your own way.
To summarize, managers are rigid where leaders are flexible. Managers are by the book. Leaders understand it’s OK to bend the rules sometimes and even to break them if necessary.
Leaders have a different way of assessing their environment, their project, the task at hand. A leader seeks ways to help everyone on the team achieve at higher levels. Leaders look for new ways to reach beyond their goals.
Leaders don’t ask for permission, they ask for forgiveness. That doesn’t mean they are looking for creative ways to get into trouble, but that they constantly strive to overcome the status quo and find greatness in others as well as themselves.
If you dread it when The Boss visits, then you probably work for a bad manager (or worse); however, if your boss’s visits provoke honest discussion helping you find new ways of thinking–you feel better after they leave–then she is probably a leader.

Leaders don’t care about titles

It’s worth ending where we began. Fancy titles and expensive business cards don’t make you a leader and you don’t have to be anyone’s boss to be their leader. Everyone has the capacity for leadership and anyone can be a leader regardless of their role.

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Teleport is exactly what I needed when I wasn’t even looking for something.

teleport lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control several Macs. Simply reach an edge of your screen, and your mouse teleports to your nearby Mac, which also becomes controlled by your keyboard. The pasteboard can be synchronized, and you can even drag & drop files between your Macs.

With this installed on my personal MacBook (with second display) and my work-based MacBook Pro, I can easily work across all three displays as if they are one.
I haven’t tested yet, but I’ll bet I could line up several of the Macs in the house and turn my office into a war room!
(Via One Thing Well)