Off the Top: Books Entries


May 31, 2020

Week Note 4 - 24 May & 31 May 2020

This started (and was on time for) the week before Memorial Day for release that weekend, but it didn’t ship. The life diversion beasts seam to have come in the way.

This was the first week that furlough Friday came into effect, so have essentially an “4 day week of 8 hour days”, as if workdays are that short. So I’ve gone from a week of: Monday followed by three Tuesdays and then a Friday; to Monday followed by two Tuesdays and a Friday (on a calendar stated Thursday), which this being now a 4 day weekend a 3 Saturday and one Sunday (on a calendar stated Monday) weekend. The shortened week turned into a week with some of the longest days I’ve had for a while with a 14 hour day Monday, a 12 of Tuesday (the real Tuesday, or the first of them if thinking in Covid week time) that I initially thought was 9 hours, 10 hour Wednesday (second Tuesday, for those playing in Covid time at home), and 9 hour Thursday (well Friday in Covid adjusted time, or as others call them all, “Blursday”).

I’ve been trying to sort out if I was going to work a bit on the long weekend, start digging back on reading, tackle some of my long put off personal tech such as converting this website back to https or some other digging into updating some of my productivity practices.


Since this a double week edition (edition? Heh, well I just hit the “post” button (or whatever I’ve clicked since 2001 when I rebuilt this)).

This second week had me baffled with what day it was and the hyper rhythm of the week prior was mired in a sludge of timing being off. But, on the work front a lot of positive movement happened, which was really good. We are about a third of the way through what I’m working on and the next chunk over the next few months will be one of the more challenging from the perspective of pulling it all together. Getting the next piece right and worked through the foundations properly will set up whether it has long term success.

A lot of the work is talking the complicated and complex and making it more simple to understand and using that as a foundation to bring more people along, but also get the tough decisions understood and in front of the right people with their understanding to bring their expertise and needed framing from their domain. The downside (always) of making things more simple is having people believe it is that simple, but not grasping the complications and complexity under that need attending to properly.

On the personal side this week had me utterly stumped and hurt with injustice of George Floyd’s death. These hurt. They hurt deep down to the fabric of the core that stems for basic humanity. During the week I pushed it aside, but this weekend as work wound down on Friday it really sunk in.

Read

Students are failing AP tests because the College Board can’t handle iPhone photos is an example of an organization failing to do the basic tests and fixing problems, but then failing more with their response.

Microsoft’s New Fluid Office Document Is Google Docs on Steroids is something I’m keeping an eye on.

A New York Times piece about what is on bookshelves behind people as they are interviewed on tv. It is about one book, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert Caro. The piece is really good and dives into why it is behind so many people and the meta value of it in view.

Another piece in the New York Times pulled me in, Brooklyn, Before It Was a Global Brand: Walk Its History. It is a wonderful pieces (on the long side for some) that gives the history and and background of common areas. The last year or so I’ve been going up to Brooklyn to work and been really fascinated by it and this fills in some of the background I’ve been hoping to track down one day. One of my friends has done that for me, when I’ve caught up with him in Brooklyn across the years.

A few weeks ago I was in a discussion with folks in one of the back channels about the economics of the new food delivery services. I repeatedly hear from shop owners and restauranteurs that they often are losing money on each delivery. I brought this up, partly because I hadn’t had / found the time to dig into what this means. But one of the folks in the group shared this gem by Rajan Roy in Margins, Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage. This hit on target on so many different levels and now I’m wanting to dig even deeper.

Along the lines of the above, the Washington Post picked up on this in their piece Restaurants are barely surviving. Delivery apps will kill them..

I my “to read” stack got another addition with [Stephen P. Anderson and Karl Fast’s book Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding)[https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/figure-it-out/] ariving. Two favorite people and minds I miss and haven’t run across in person for far too long. This is a book I’ve been waiting on for quite sometime. From my perspective this may be the conversations I’ve been missing with them.

About a decade or more ago I was talking with a friend about a book of his that was coming out that had a quote / quip or two of mine in it and saying I was really looking forward to his book. His comment to me about his book was, “This book isn’t for you, as you know everything in it already. But, I would hope it is worthy of you blessing and sharing with others.” This brought clarity to many books I have, as they are about the conversations and deep dives with many of the authors over the years. But, a good chunk of the books I pick-up are to dig deeper and push at the edges of the domains I read in and work to understand so to find unknown areas to dig.

Listened

I stumbled into a custom Tidal playlist that was triggered by Danny Wilson’s “Mary’s Prayer” and includes Prefab Sprout, The Style Council, Propaganda, Haircut 100, Wang Chung, Blue Nile and so much more. The night I listened to this was a quite rainy evening and I had the balcony doors open and could hear the occasional car sloshing by and it took me right back to the mid to late 80s in England and France listening to this music on walkman or radio over sloshing car noises. So many memories tied up into all of this, it was wonderful.

The Verge podcast seems to be running interview podcasts along with their weekly Vergecast. This week was Nilay Patel’s interview / chat with Stewart Butterfield on The Vergecast. Stewart is one of those people I miss talking with and interacting with. Stewart doesn’t approach things like most others, but there are similarities with a handful of others I also miss that we all regularly interacted, but we each went our own directions and got absorbed there.

Play

Leading up to the long weekend there really wasn’t much play as the work front had sets of issues that needed sorting and digging. The long weekend didn’t provide as much play as I thought it may (nor as much reading) but a bit of MLB the Show and Death Stranding was played on Monday.

I’m deeply realizing I need to get outside more for walks, hikes, and perhaps finally get my bike out of storage.

Productivity

The past month or two I’ve been trying to sort out the value of Roam, which many productivity types around YouTube and blogs have been discussing and raving about, but it negatively hits some of my must have for note taking and organization. Roam is outline focussed, but can go long, but to keep track of nested hierarchy it has grey dashed lines to show / hint at the nested layers, but I find it quite distracting. My favorite outlining tool is OmniGroup’s OmniGraffle which handles this far more elegantly and keeps the focus. The other is its export offering which lacks OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). Yep, an outlining tool that doesn’t use OPML as an import nor export offering is utterly bizarre. There are many insanely good reasons to use OPML for outlines and a means to transfer or integrate with workflows, but the top one for me is keeping the nested hierarchies. Roam currently is an island that doesn’t interconnect well with other productivity services and doesn’t work well in outline centric or tangential workflows. Roam’s biggest advantage is the internal linking

I have somewhat similar feeling for similar reasons for Notion, which I use a little bit, but keep from working in it heavily due to import, exports, and integrations.



May 17, 2020

Week Note 4 - 17 May 2020

Another really busy work week where I set work aside for a few hours then back at it, which means reading and other things were down a bit. It is the last full (5 day) work week (not that work stops at 8 hours or 5 days) until September. Deeply fortunate and grateful for the work and challenges on that front, which are things I find deeply fun and get my brain lighting up. I’ve been joking that I’ve been trying to sort out 6 day work week with 3 day weekends or 7 days workweek and 4 day weekend.

Where I am in Maryland, the county is still shut, which I’m mostly fine with. Quick trips to the store aren’t going to change from the hour to 90 minutes back to 15 to 25 treks they were. I am looking forward to getting back to my favorite bookstores and having a couple favorite restaurants open back up in some form.

Read

Some pre-ordered books and books ordered a while back from local bookstores arrived this week. I’m trying to sort out what follows Agency as my fiction read, but likely going to be finishing Charlie Stross’ Empire Games. I know have Chris Pavone’s The Paris Diversion at hand, which likely could be a good romp of a read.

The long awaited Steven Johnson Enemy of All Mankind arrived and I haven’t had even a preliminary scan of it yet. Robert Reich’s The Common Good also arrived after a good wait. I’m thinking extra weekend day (if I use it that way in coming weeks) could be good to get some reading done.

Watched

Early in the week I stumbled onto Coast Modern on Amazon Prime, which is about modern design on the Pacific Coast. Some of the architecture reminded me of homes around Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles that intrigued me when I was a kid. The modern and cutting edge design had shifted into some of the more mainstream vernacular by the time I was a kid and evoked a lot of memories and had me realize some of the seeds for domestic design that feels “normal to me”.

I rented Little Women and finally watched it this weekend. I was really impressed with most everything about the production. I had never read Little Women, nor seen it on screen or stage before. But, a lot of friends have long used the characters as short hand when discussing others. The characters now have resonance, but also set in a really wonderfully filmed movie.

This weekend we finally watched Prince George’s County: In the Water on Showtime on Showtime and have been waiting for this for months. There is a lot of lore and solid history with PG County basketball. Walking into a lot of the gyms and rec centers the trophies and familiar names are impressive, but so is the coaching and the level of play. If you want to know if you can ball as a teen on up, that is a good place to learn that and learn to play well in and against a broad array of styles of offenses and defenses.

Listened

Yet another Postlight gem! One of the few must listens each week for me is Track Changes with Paul Ford and Rich Ziade, I though last week I missed and it drifted into this week. tk!

It was great to have Exponents pop-up in my podcast feeds this week and be a good listen for a Friday evening wind down and dinner prep.

Food

My morning routine has been shifted a bit as with the Covid lockdowns my coffee walk in the morning hasn’t been something I can do, before the work day starts. The coffee places are now back open for pick-up, but starting too late to get my work day going. I have been going with Ceremony, which is my favorite brew at home option, particularly Thesis. I’ve picked up beans on sale and a local grocery is back stocking it again, so I’m not doing the delivery route.

I’ve been sticking with my breakfast, which started a couple years ago as heuevos verde, with corn tortilla, black bean refried, then then brown garlic and add fresh spinach and a pinch of salt to cook down, then top with sunny side up covered eggs, and top with salsa verde. That morphed into making my own black bean smash. To now it is a black beans cooked in a Canadian bacon (loin, not reconstituted pork bits), garlic, mushrooms (shiitake or brown button), fresh garlic, and grate in fresh turmeric. Then add some large spoonfuls of canned (not drained and unsalted) black beans to cook down and put in a bowl. Then sunny side up covered runny egg on top. In about 10 minutes it is great comfort that with coffee will get me into afternoon just fine.

Productivity

My usual routine was get up, check late night messages and email, grab coffee and eat, and map out the day while colleagues are driving to work. Now they don’t have a commute and that planning time on paper or in an app has drifted to the winds a bit.

My scratch paper sort of has some framing and occasionally I get to my journal to map a FGL for the day: Something to Focus on; Something Grateful for; and something to Let go of. Then right out a few things that need to get done. Then check it a few times a day. This week I realized I’m only getting to that once a week at best these days.

The days and weeks shift focus and priority, but longer work goals remain, as well as some of the longer priorities that will take effort over a long stretch to make a lot of things run much more smoothly.

One of the great things about working in tech and optimizing toolsets and patterns, is things change rapidly. What was a really good practice 12 months back is now depricated, or a more secure or computationally efficient way is now the norm. Staying up with this tools, shifts in tools, vendors adding new functionality or tool, and vendors going out of business or selling to another company is all a large task in and of it self (but also part of the fun), but also part of the big challenge.



May 11, 2020

Week Note 3 - 10 May 2020

This week had a lot of focus on work matters and the weekend has too (a bit, and will more when I post this).

The big score this week was toilet paper, as the last time I picked up the usual purchase was 3 to 4 weeks ago and it was down the the two roll panic. Instacart claimed there was stock, but never could deliver on that promise. Friday late afternoon, it seemed there was stock at a local market finally, so headed over and found not only toilet paper, but decent paper towels. Now keeping a better eye on stock now that I have the usual purchase.

Read

The Monocle Weekend Edition (a weekend version of the weekday newsletter Monocle Minute) is one of the things that they have rejiggered in the past few months and I’m finding I really have been enjoying on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They also post to their site for easy making use / reuse of the content.

I ran across a really brief (not so informative) article on the mutations and different strains Covid–19 has been taking, but it linked to this really good mapping / data visualization of Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus - Global subsampling by Nextstrain.

A nice piece of research that came through the electronic transoms was Emily Webber’s research with Robin Dunbar on social group size and impacts different scales have. Emily discusses the work in Social group sizes, Dunbar’s number and implications for communities of practice. This mostly echos social scaling shifts in dynamics and what functionality is viable at various scales. If you do work with start-ups to large enterprise and switch between them you can pretty accurately guess the scale of the company by the problems and pains they are having, but also the deviation between groups in a large organization. This call out of this research is around the maximal size for groups functioning in a democratic manner (where all input is valued and there really isn’t an overseer or leader type role) and that size is roughly around 40. The slotting around 40 is about 5 to 10 people higher than I see small companies struggle with bumping into the next growth scale. Most companies will stay around 25 to 35 as above that there are a lot of pains and new roles needed. If those shifts are made (usually 5 to 10 functional roles to support the organization) and things can scale somewhat well to around 60 to 75, but the organization has shifted and changed and no longer as tight. The shift up also draws into consideration is there enough work to scale to that size larger size. I love research along these lines as it anchors a lot of what is seen and highly predictable for company size, group sizing, team size, and then the tools and practices to work at those scales well.

Lastly, in the reading section I finally finished reading William Gibson’s Agency this weekend. Starting in on 300 to 500 page fiction often takes 3 to 5 days or it is done over a couple months or more. This one fell into the three month window as work shifts, changes to personal life practices shifted, and the story seemed to interweave with what was going on with our pandemic state of things. I really liked it and now want to go back and finish its predecessor, The Peripheral. When I started Agency I was reading two other novels with time travel concepts that were very similar, and Agency using a different concept allowed for me to keep it straight.

Watched

This weeks not a who lot was watched due to trying to focus on the work front. But, I did fall into watching many Charlie Berens YouTube videos of his comedy sketches, including the Manitowoc Minute. “Keep ‘er movin’”.

Listened

I’be been testing headphones and going back through music and finding some sounds utterly amazing and other music types really aren’t great. I have a couple of weeks to sort out what I may do.

Productivity

Still trying to fully sort out Notes search problem, but it has improved a little.

I keep running across Roam, as web-based outline / bulleted list note taking tool that



May 3, 2020

Week Note 2 - 3 May 2020

This week, like many in the life and times of Covid–19 pandemic, was a week of three Tuesday’s bookended by a Monday (a day I try to get back into the swing of things (unless it is filled with meetings)) and Friday. Tuesdays are often when I did into the meat of things I’m trying to get things accomplished for the week. But, while I’m used to working remote (15 years mostly working that way) coordinating with a corporation just gone through a large merger, is a bit more unusual (not bad, just needing different adaptions). I also am finding I really miss my monthly week with the team in Connecticut and time in Brooklyn to work though ideas in person. I’m also craving large workspaces with a lot of walls and whiteboards.

This week flew by yet again (not a good thing when feeling there is a lot that needs to be done) and trying to use weekend time to decompress, think, recalibrate, and meditate on solutions.

Also finding the simple errands that were a 30 minute walk shop and return or drive for a 45 minute shop and return are now 60 to 90+ minutes. Much standing and waiting in 6 foot apart lines, mask in the up and locked positions, to get into stores. Trying to get get tasks done while waiting in line, like clearing email, reading favorite daily items, organizing things for the week note, editing notes (downside is Dropbox breaking sync’ed folders makes this (and a whole lot of other things) impossible (reminds me I need to fix this when not standing in line to get eggs and fruit, but at a home).

I added Play to my template as that fills in for watching, and is often my decompression, as well as discovery mode, which out of guilt of “play” from childhood I don’t often embrace.

Read

Matt Mullenweg posted his Distributed Work’s Five Levels of Autonomy, which is quite good.

As part of this week’s 99 Percent - The Smell of Concrete After Rain as part of remembrance of Michael Sorkin (which was really good) it surfaced Sorkin’s Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know, which I’m really enjoying.

My books to finish or read more from last week didn’t get touched much this week, but may today. It was a busy week.

I did find a good piece in Vanity Fair about Regan being shot from a young CNN’s perspective and how that was the start of a viable cable news medium, in their piece “Shots Fired. Hilton Hotel”: How CNN’s Raw, Unfolding Reagan Coverage Heralded the Nonstop News Cycle.

The NY Times piece, In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead offered some good insights on structure, innovations, and challenges for a vaccine in a timely manner.

Monocle’s May edition and the 2019 The Entrepreneurs edition my time between time reading this week. Stepping away from online news and having Monocle is my guilty pleasure that doesn’t come with notification and alerts popping up (but the pages don’t offer the time with you touch the top of the page, no matter how long or hard you press).

I really liked this NY Times piece - This Florida Student Was Accepted at All 8 Ivy League Schools, which is an all too rare “Florida man” type story.

JTBD

Jim Kalbach’s The Job’s to be Done Playbook arrived this week in physical form (digi version did this a bit before, but I hadn’t had time to get to it) and I did a quick skim and read the early bits. I am really looking forward to this.

JTBD has played a common role in a lot of my focus over the last 10 to 12+ years. Enterprise work environments make a lot more sense when trying to understand problems and gaps through using the JTBD lens and framing solutions is so much easier as well. I’ve never been a full convert, but use it here and there (mostly because JTBD isn’t a full frame for understanding, but is good paired with other insight tools and methods, it by doesn’t get one far, but it opens paths for insights). Or I should say I wasn’t a full convert, as a little over a year ago I paired to do an internal work shop on work patterns, different social scales of work, tool types teams need for work, and the different tools at different scales and what type of interactions and work can be done at those scales to help set clarity for what the problems are, what are the gaps, where are tools types missing, where are wrong tools to the need being used and making utter messes (the same sort of enterprise workshop I’ve done for 10 to 15 years) using my social / complexity lenses. But, this workshop I paid with an internal designer lead who brought deep JTBD background and created a survey that mixed JTBD and a few of the complexity lenses around how teams work and interacting and working at different social scales. The outcome was insanely good that provided solid insight for what is needed, where there are issues and problems that decision makers needed to see openly and clearly to take the correct steps.

A good friend and occasional colleague has long pushed the pairing of JTBD and the complexity lenses, particularly to use as a survey and entry to capturing and showing gaps and needs. I’m a huge fan of Kalbach’s work, writing, and insights.

So, yes. I’m really looking forward to this book to putty in some of the gaps I may have.

Watched

This week was mostly a YouTube week, other than starting in on the Michael Jordan biography series running on ESPN.

I stumbled onto Explaining the Pandemic to My Past Self by Julie Nolke, which was utterly brilliant and funny. That had me checking out her other offerings.

But, YouTube being YouTube watching Nolke’s pieces I was recommended Charlie Berens’ IKEA Husbands and down a rabbit hole created by Charlie Berens I went for my distractions. I love IKEA and needing to get there once lockdown lifts to finish something I started in early March with Billy (Billy is my buddy, but so is donating) and 12 years on an Ektorp, may just be a bit too long.

Listened

On the podcast front two friends I don’t get to run into nor talk to enough in recent years (one I haven’t talked to in quite a while) started a new podcast Finding Our Way, which is Jesse James Garrett and Peter Merholz talking about design, user experience, and leadership. I stumbled into this late in the week and listened on Saturday and I’m now looking forward to every session. I’m really happy they have a real website for it with a transcript, which seems like it should be the basic for a podcast these days, but oddly it isn’t (also for newsletters to have a real web home the kludgy Webmonkey hack, isn’t done well enough to really count).

I stumbled back into Prince’s New Power Generation, One Night Alone… The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over! after a couple weeks not listening and found it is as magical as always.

Food

This was a week of putting off grocery runs, as trying to work through some of what I have. But, also my usually stores have been out of what I’ve normally been seeking. There is a local egg farmer that a local store carries that have amazing yolks (the color of the shell doesn’t mean anything, but the color of the yolk tells you a lot). But, Saturday was restock day and things were in stock (even found brown rice) and good lentils (I have some asafoetida hing powder I’ve been wanting to put to good use). I also found one of the brands of gluten free flour as well as pancake mix I like, so things are good-ish.

I did make a fresh garlic and anchovy paste as a base for a quick lunch spaghetti (corn and brown rice pasta) with pea pasta bowl with Parmesan and butter / olive oil light sauce. I may want to come back to this one again. Using good jarred (pink) anchovies that aren’t overly pungent seems to be essential.

Play

I’ve been playing MLB The Show as my post work decompression for about 90 minutes each day (one thing I like and appreciate with sports is building teams and I’m playing franchise mode with this year’s Pittsburgh Pirates and did some gutting of the team (not quite intentionally) but building on contact (hits) and speed, which in current MLB is undervalued so inexpensive. I’m also focussing on decent starting pitching that can get through 5 to 7 innings, then use a series of pitchers to get through the remainder of the game pitching an inning each. The salary budget is in the $60 to $75 million range for players and I spent heavily on coaching. It is working, as I’m a week from the All Star break and 6 games up in first place.

I took advantage of a 50% off sale and picked up Death Stranding, which is a bit dark (something I normally stay away from), but the graphics, story, and AR interfaces are good. I normally keep to sports games (or sims) to time constrain play (or help reduce over play - playing a far longer stretch than intended as I did with Sim City on my birthday in an empty house in 1993 and wondering why the sun was coming up).

Productivity

This weeks productivity insights and practices took a backseat to frustrations with my daytime lack of good tools for productivity, particularly when One Note decides it won’t include anything in search from 2020. My brain dumps and notes live there and lacking basic organization, refinding, and productivity tools on Windows side (particularly that run locally) that there are on the Mac side of the world, I’ve been down that road battling.

I sort of treat OneNote as I do DevonThink as my catch all and lean on search heavily and organize later approach, which is a model that works really well with good to great search (something DevonThing is aces with, but OneNote is just okay with as its search is a blunt approach and not finesse approach).



April 27, 2020

Weeknote # 1 - 26 April 2020

This is my first weeknote, which by the name I am committing to posting weekly. I’m not sure how this will work as aiming for daily writing to set a habit is far more anchoring something in place that a something new with a weekly cadence.

I’ve long been a fan of friend’s and acquaintances weeknotes as it is a way to keep up with what they are reading, watching, listening to, writing, and thinking. I deeply appreciate other’s sharing their interests and likes and after many years planning to do similar I am finally doing this. I am also doing this for my own consumption and tracking.

I have a template setup with general categories / headings in TextExpander and each week I’m planning on opening a new markdown file in iA Writer and filling it in as I go. The starter headings are: Read; Watched; Listened; Food; and Productivity. This is largely what I care about from others, but also things I’m continually tracking down. I regularly tuck things into my Pinboard and tag links of interest with “linkfodder” and podcasts with “podfodder”, but also things I think I may want to write-up and have more of a fleshed out response to as “blogfodder” (those rarely actually get done, mostly due to being busy).

This first weeknote I’m catching up on the past few weeks a bit.

Read

I’m still trying to get through the last few chapters of William Gibson’s Agency, which I have been deeply enjoying (for quite some time, as it arrived when it came out and I started in then, but work and other life slowed progress). I always have a few books going at once and Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge has been a wonderful slow read full of thinking and reworking some back history on knowledge and understandings I have that were set in place in undergrad when studying at Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford (now changed a bit since Middlebury took over, not a bad thing, just different) and the shift of pockets of knowledge and learning from the Middle East / Arabian / Northeast Africa areas and some of that shift to Europe after Constantinople fell in the Spring of 1453.

Supporting my favorite local bookstore, Politics and Prose I ordered Humo Ludens by Johan Huizinga for delivery. I have just tucked into that, which I have in a few readers and collected contributions to the value of play in understanding work as well as the world around us. Having the full text (only 213 pages) I can finally read as a whole rather than a gutting or selected reading approach.

Being a fan of Kenya Hara’s work and writing (Designing Design is a favorite of mine) I picked up a sale copy of Designing Japan and the preface and first few pages really has me looking forward with some quiet time with the book.

Watched

Last weekend, on recommendation of a colleague (and has been mentioned in other’s weeknotes as well) I watched Devs that was on Hulu / FX. I nearly gave up on it as it is a bit dark and gruesome, but stuck with it and it has turned into a show I’m thinking somewhat deeply about a week later. The inclusion of theoretical physics / science got me really hooked. Sorting out what character was the focal view from wasn’t clear for quite a few episodes, but understanding that helped frame sorting through some of the ambiguities. But, it also had me digging out framing resources on a few of the theoretical physics I’ve never fully anchored in my head, and don’t really have folks I’m talking to regularly to talk through thing around this.

The late summer and fall of 2018 when I was digging for work / projects I started in on the corpus of Bon Appetit on YouTube (along with a few other channels). During this time of lockdown and remote work, this crew of cooks / chefs has been highly entertaining with what they are sharing.

Listened

I’ll address podcasts in later weeknotes, but I’m consuming them at a slower rate than I was prior to covid lockdown (mostly due to my morning listening I’m spending some of that time trying to pull focus on what I need to so that day for work and focus has been a bit more fragile).

Music, well music to help focus to get work done has been something I’ve been working to get sorted as my usual go to playlists haven’t really been doing the trick.

I have cut back my use of Apple Music streaming listening as a few months back I picked up a discounted set of months from Tidal and the Master quality with MQA decoding (or partial decoding) has been a real find and source of enjoyment for headphone or in ear monitors (IEMs). I’m still on trial with Amazon’s Music HD (which their Ultra HD, is similar, but not quite the quality of Tidal yet can still hear details of well recorded playing and hear the room) and trying to sort what I may do between the two services.

This past week I found Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks have been good fodder for focus listening that, for me, can fade into the background a bit yet still drive energy and focus for work forward. The “Interstellar”, “Inception”, and “Batman Begins” soundtracks had multiple plays on days without many meetings to work through some explainers I’m working on to shorten getting to understanding with people we’re trying to onboard into a complicated system nested in a world of complexities.

Food

Spring foods (or one’s that really have me loving spring) are fading as spring onions (not green onions) were no longer in the farm fresh section of the grocery store. I am on my last bundle of them and using the last of them in Canadian bacon, garlic, shitake mushroom, spring onion, asparagus, and feta omelettes is planned. Also putting them in the black bean, Canadian bacon, mushroom, garlic, fresh grated tumeric breakfast bowl with soft fried eggs during the week may finish them before they go bad.

Productivity

Over the last year or two I stumbled onto Ali Abdaal particularly Ali’s YouTube Channel and he covers a lot of productivity tools and focus. Ali shares his study techniques he picked up studying for medical exams at University of Cambridge where he studied and now for medical exams as a junior doctor near Cambridge. Ali share a lot of how to study insights and deep dives, which are mostly applied practical organization and productivity practices

Through Ali’s work I re-stumbled upon Tiago Forte and his work, which many of my long time practices (when I am in them deeply) are quite similar. A project / product I was helping about 10 years ago was trying to bring Tiago on to it as well and I started looking into his work and what he was sharing.

Closing

Well, this wraps a first weeknote. Let’s see if it there is one next week.

Be well. Stay safe. Peace be with you.



June 21, 2017

Spines On the Bookshelf

Today listening to the latest Track Changes podcast, Maris Kreizman Wants to Mail You Books there was a statement by Paul Ford of Postlight and many other things at Ftrain commented about how he likes physical book, particularly on his bookshelves as looking at their spines he will “think new thoughts because of the juxtapositioning of the spines”. This was brought up because it is one of the things that ebooks don’t offer.

This remixing and thinking new thoughts by looking at one’s shelves and the book on them is something I have a few conversations about over the last 5 to 10 years of reading digital books and paper books. Each physical book, not only has its own content with it shared and intermingles with one’s own preexisting knowing (or even can supplant prior understanding), but they accrete context interwoven with when and where they were read. They can also accrete understandings and framings that were concurrent thoughts during that reading. A book can really sink in for me when I discuss it with others, to a lesser degree it takes hold when I write about it. So, when I think of a book through the spine I see on the shelf I can often see the people I interacted with around the time I was reading it or discussing it with others.

This visceral sense springs to life when looking at my shelves (less so with the stack not currently shelved for various reasons). But, also the intermixing of the spines and their concurrent and accreted thoughts and understanding that come along with them.

Bookshelves and physical books are a sensorial wonder that ebooks don’t bring along. I can’t feel where in the book I read something - how much of the book’s pages are stacked on the right side, how many on the left, what side of the book a thought or passage may have been on, or where I was when I read it. These ancillary senses are not permitted when I read something as an ebook.

I do read ebooks and I find the ability to have a stack of books in my pocket or thin bookbag something nice. I also deeply appreciate the ability to search in an ebook. The ability to highlight and pull that highlight out easily (this is increasingly difficult with Findings cutting this off and Readmill shutting down). Having digital notes typed out easily in the pages of an ebook and having relatively easy retrieval is also nice (when there is easy access, see above).

What ebooks don’t provide is that sensorial interaction and deeper recall. The other ability that is missing is the ease of flipping through a book to find what is needed and flipping through the pages prior to what is found to be helpful to get context easily. The flipping through prior pages to get the beginning of a framing of an idea or concept is really nice. It echoes the gutting a book I learned in Oxford and is a practice that has stuck with me. I’ve run into a few people who have the same gutting practice and they also haven’t found a way to work ebooks in the same manner.

My preference? Both. They each have their benefit. Paper books have their added sensory enjoyment. But, ebooks have that ease of portability and search, as well as annotation (when it has some permanence).



March 28, 2015

Interview with New Steve Jobs Biographers is Quite Good

On Friday I saw that John Gruber had interviewed the authors of Becoming Steve Jobs as part of Apple’s Meet the Author Podcast series. I had been reading snippets and reviews about the book for a couple weeks, with Steven Levy’s “The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was” and Rick Tetzeli’s Fast Company except “The Evolution of Steve Jobs” and found them interesting and much more inline with the many books I read over the years about Apple and Steve Jobs, than I did the Walter Isaacson book snippets I read.

This morning I watched the iTunes podcast of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli: Meet the Author and it more than lived up to expectation. It was incredibly good. So good I bumped the book to the top of my wishlist.

Why this book?

I have read quite a few books about Apple and Steve Jobs with Alan Deutschman’s “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs”, Steven Levy’s Insanely Great, and Adam Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple” standing out from the many others I read and all the Silicon Valley history and culture books I have read along the way. They stood out as they grasped the lore, debunked it as well as extended it. They filled in the gaps with new stories and understandings. But, under it all they looked to only tell the stories of what, the place setting, and how, but they get to the why.

This book seems to fit why I liked the others with filling in the background and understanding the lore. This book seems like it will fit well in my underlying interest.

My fascination with Apple and Steve Jobs has to do with influence and foundation setting. In particular its early-ish influence and foundation setting with me.

I was born in the Bay Area, but grew-up up and down the whole of the West Coast in and just outside the major cities until my second year junior high when my parents moved to the California’s Central Valley. Being back in Northern California and a little over and hour from San Francisco we got San Francisco stations. This meant in the late 70s the personal computer was being talked about a lot. My dad was a systems and operations guy in the health insurance industry and there were always magazines around with computers in them. His fascination and work with computers rubbed off.

But, being in Northern California meant television and print news also covered computers and technology. This hippy guy with long-ish hair and a scruffy beard was continually on talking about what was happening today and in the near future. It was Steve Jobs. His near future visions influenced my perception of reality and how things should be. Our family’s first computer came in 1983 and it was an Osborne Executive, which I learned to use and copy code (copying small software that was handed out in local user groups) and play around with to see how things worked until they broke (then I swore and did it again).

But, in 1984 the Mac came out and that changed my whole perception of things. Not only did I have computer envy for the first time, but I also began to understand the future of where things were headed and was (then) thankful I didn’t go into computer science as a major as things became much easier to use (what I sorted out a few years later is much of what I wanted to do would have been aided by having a formal CS background). But around this time I also was meeting people who worked at Apple and they loved what they did and loved their jobs. Many at college had Macs and our newspaper my last semester not only was set up with Macs, but we got a new type of software, desktop publishing, for Mac from Aldus, called Pagemaker. It was so new we got a lot of training as part of the deal. We sort of had a digital newsroom (with a fully functional sneaker net).

After Jobs left Apple I followed what he was doing and had deep interest in Next. During this time I still had Macs around with most jobs and in grad school a couple students had Macs, but they weren’t as prevalent as they were in the late 80s in California. Often jobs I had would have a Mac around for creatives or testing, but by the mid–90s they were buggy. When Jobs came back to Apple as advisor as part of Apple purchasing Next in 1997 I still knew a few people at Apple and they were quite happy to see him back in some capacity. The shifts and changes at Apple fascinated me as the guy who influenced a lot of my belief in personal computing, what is was doing and could do, and how it should be done (with a focus on the user and ease of use - this was a “no duh” for me in the early 80s as I was making and breaking things on my Osborne).

Around 1999 I started cluing into the Steve Jobs keynotes again and in 2001 I picked up my first Mac, a PowerBook G4 Titanium, lovingly known as a TiBook. I got it because my laptop I was using, a light Toshiba, was tied to my project I was on and I left that project. I missed having a laptop, but I really wanting power, good screen, and ability to have UNIX / LINUX as well as a major consumer OS. In the TiBook I had UNIX as the core of OS X with command line ability, OS X, Classic Mac, and importantly a Windows emulator that allowed me to use Visio and MS Project (those needs would dwindle and become tiresome the more I got used to the Mac and its ease of use and its “it just works” approach to things - these do not always hold up). But my needs for the 4 OSs on one device that was powerful and relatively light eased into the background as the lack of needing to spend regular time maintaining things turned quickly into me just doing my work on the device.

Over the years with my Mac and increasing interest in Apple and how they do things and frame things, I got to know even more Apple folks as friends went to work there and I gave a some talks inside Apple. I was also running into people who had managed at Apple and I enjoy interacting with them as they think and work differently, which often fits how I like working and approaching things.

It is this trying to understand why my Apple tools and software (mostly) work really well for me and how I enjoy working with Apple (and ex-Apple) folks (I also have this enjoyable fit with McKinsey folks, but for very different reasons). It is trying to understand the what, how, and why of the fit with Apple, but as well as they “this is the way things should be” that was seeded in my head in the late 70s and was feed and groomed through life, that has me interested in understanding Apple and Steve Jobs.



March 5, 2012

Experiencing Light

Yesterday, Saturday the 3rd of March in San Francisco I had been out in the Richmond District revisiting my old haunts (to old friends, yes I was on Clement street on Saturday driving but it seems to have improved). I went by Green Apple Books, where I may have spent months of my life (it is my 3rd favorite bookstore anywhere, with Powell's in Portland holding the top rung). The mix of new and used and the nooks and crannies that hold great potential to open new doors of understanding are a real gem. I also wandered into Haaigs Deli and Spice where I used to buy bags of spice and loose leave tea to savor.

Comparatively, in and around Washington, D.C. things are far more transient and ephemeral in the community space than in San Francisco. Yes, there is history to no end in and around D.C., but but stores and communities drift with the winds. This 30 minute walk back through places that were core parts of my life and being in San Francsico has changed so very little. The crafts people as store keepers and business people has endured. I was back at home and not wanting to leave that comfort and connectedness to what was and still is. It reminded me of a great piece in the SF Chronicle/Gate from 2003 about the repair of the San Francisco Ferry Building clock. It was such a great San Francisco story of history, craft, and individuals having a part of the whole community fabric. As well the clock was built to continue working for over a thousand years. It is there to count the minutes of more than a thousand years of history, personal moments, booms and busts, and other general and momentous passages through time.

At about 5:20 p.m. (17:20 for clarity) I got back in my car (er, was my mom's) and started driving out Clement into the sun toward the beach to see the 20s street crossings of Clement Street that also held a lot of wonderful moments from the past. From there I turned and went over to California Street to drive back downtown to meet friends for dinner.

As I was driving in the bright clean clear increasingly golden sun was going down slowly behind me. The lighting was the most incredible light I have experienced. It was warm, golden, engulfing, and made everything radiant. It was the embodiment of the golden glow. And all of this was incredibly moving to the point of loving everything great and glorious about everything in life: people, architecture, nature, all made and natural, and all real and imagined. It was that kind of light. A perfect moment lasting through the golden shadows created by the hills all the way down to the end of California Street.

As I reached the end I really had been wishing I had my camera with me to stop and see if I could capture the glory of this light and the crisp blue skies wrapping this beautiful city. But, I remembered a great snippet of conversation I had in Berlin with Malcolm McCollough about reading after he signed his book, Digital Ground, I had read and jammed with PostIts sticking out the edges like a fuzzy caterpillar and highlighted extensively. We talked about the problem of reading a book like that and wanting to read it straight through to have the flow and understanding, but also to read with highlighter and paper snippets in hand so to capture the things I really want to hold on to [there is no good way to read it twice as it has unfolded already and what struck once with significance may not again]. Malcolm stated that was his problem with going to cities for the first time, but rather than an highlighter it is the camera to document and capture the city (which is how I often meet and get to know a city) and he opts to just experience. For that 20 minute stretch yesterday I had no camera with me that could capture the ephemeral qualities of light that were escaping, but my only choice was to live and experience it. I did possibly like no other stretch of time before. There was glory built into that time, woven with history of personal and collective all woven and washed in amazing light.



August 8, 2011

Coming Farther Out of the Grief Fog

Today along with the past week in California at my Mom's place has finally begun feeling like another of many layers of the grief fog lifting. I was not fully prepared for the reality of taking care of my Mom’s and remainder of my Dad’s affairs. After losing my dad last Summer I was more prepared mentally for the passing of my Mom and her long struggles with good health really making it all seem like is was forever close. Yet, with all that was going on at the same time (move and transitions with work and elsewhere) it was a good struggle.

The trip out to California with my son last week really was good. My mom badly wanted to go to baseball games this Summer at some point with the two of us. She was a long time and die hard Oakland A’s game and my son got to run the bases after the game, then watched the Giants play in SF from a few rows behind home plate, went to see the Sacramento Rivercats play, and finally watched the Stockton Ports from right behind their dugout on consecutive days from funds tucked away for just that the grief fog lifted.

The past few days back (and prepping for another few trips to California to continue to go through and close things out) really started sinking in the wonder of life that has been so far. Watching Milk last evening really brought back many memories of growing up in Northern California and that really odd time of teen years sorting things out at the same time the world around me was struggling with the same thing (not sure the world ever is finished with that journey). The drives the week before from the Central Valley to the Bay Area really brought back many memories and understandings of who I’ve been and where I am.

Today I got out and went to Politics & Prose to look around and there is something about a really well curated local bookstore that you can connect with that brings the senses alive. Politics & Prose really did that for me today. I’ve long missed other Washington, DC area bookstores like Olson’s that had just the right things displayed that tickled my mind and soul bringing them to life. Pulling thoughts and glimpses of understandings (for myself and to share with others) out of the denseness of the grief fog really was wonderful. Politics and Prose had so many things out on special displays that are at the top of my Amazon wish list it really was a dangerous place to be.

Today was wrapped up by watching Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that chronicled the existence of the band Rush from its creation to current date. My neighbor Tom Just turned me on to Rush in 1980 when he moved into the neighborhood from Chicago. Listening to “2112”, “A Farewell to Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and “Permanent Waves” really struck me from a music stand point, but also the lyrics (I pay attention to lyrics much later than the music, there are some Rush lyrics I am just getting around to listening to in full after 30 some years). But, in watching this movie tonight it brought out the love and passion the band members have for their craft and the depth to which they put their understanding and pushing the edges of it. The discussion of Neal Peart’s loss of his daughter in a tragic accident and then his wife and his struggle to find it all and put it all back together helped cement the breaking through another layer of this grief fog.

In the past few weeks I've been talking with some companies about their products and some are in fairly good shape and needing a few tweaks and pushes in the right direction, yet others are lost in a world of buzzwords and social development memes with little value. I'm really looking to getting my hands dirty again and anxious to clear through the family affairs that need addressing. I also have a good chunk of writing to do and prepping for some presentations ahead.

On a Sunday evening I am ready for this next week to begin and dig in.



May 31, 2007

Folksonomy Book In Progress

Let me start with an announcement. I have not had any answer for continual question after I present on tagging and folksonomy (I also get the question after the Come to Me Web and Personal InfoCloud presentations), which is "where is your book?" Well I finally have an answer, I have signed with O'Reilly to write a book, initially titled Understanding Folksonomy (this may change) and it may also be a wee bit different from your normal O'Reilly book (we will see how it goes).

I am insanely excited to be writing for O'Reilly as I have a large collection of their books from over the years - from the programming PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby to developer guides on JavaScript, XHTML, XML, & CSS to the Polar Bear book on information architecture, Information Dashboard Design, and Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design along with so many more.

Narrowing the Subject

One of the things that took a little more time than I realized it would take is narrowing the book down. I have been keeping a running outline of tagging and folksonomy related subjects that have been in my presentations and workshop as well as questions and answers from these sessions. The outline includes the deep knowledge that has some from client work on the subject (every single client has a different twist and set of constraints. Many of the questions have answers and for some the answers are still being worked out, but the parameters and guidelines are known to get to viable solutions.

Well, when I submitted the outline I was faced with the knowledge that I had submitted a framework for a 800 to 1,000 page book. Huh? I started doing the math based on page size, word counts, bullets in the outline, and projects words per bullet and those with knowledge were right. So, I have narrowed it down to an outline that should be about 300 pages (maybe 250 and maybe a few more than 300).

What Is In This Smaller Book?

I am using my tagging and folksonomy presentations as my base, as those have been iterated and well tested (now presented some version of it well over 50 times). While I have over 300 design patterns captured from tagging service sites (including related elements) only a few will likely be used and walked through. I am including the understanding from a cognitive perspective and the lessening of technology pain that tagging services can provide to people who use them. There will also be a focus on business uses for intranet and web.

When Will This Be Done

Given that I have a rather busy Fall with client work, workshops, and presentations I set a goal to finish the writing by the end of Summer. It sounds nuts and it really feels like grad school all over again, but that is my reality. I have most of the words in my head and have been speaking them. Now I need to write them (in a less dense form than I blog).

Your Questions and Feedback

If you have questions and things you would like covered please e-mail me (contact in the header nav above). I will likely be setting up a blog to share and post questions (this will happen in a couple weeks). I am also looking for sites, organizations, and people that would like to be included in the case studies and interviews (not all will end up in the book, but those that are done will end up tied to the book in some manner). Please submit suggestions for this section if you have any.



April 24, 2007

David Halberstam Dies In Menlo Park

I found myself saddened by the death of David Halberstam, who died in a car accident in Menlo Park, California today. It was the Summer of 1987 that I was reading a paperback version of The Powers that Be (about transformation in politics and media around in the 1950s through early 1970s). It was a book that opened my eyes as I was transforming to a real adult, but I was also reading it as I was traveling around Europe that Summer. This book is one that I consider a true favorite for its depth and ability to bring the time and stories to life.

Having rowed I also was a fan of Halberstam's The Amateurs about the quest for four rowers to make it to the Olympics.

I deeply enjoyed Halberstam's editorials and essays when I would run across them. His appearances on television crystallized the aura of a wonderful writer who thought deeply about his subjects and brought history and deeply tangled issues to light. I have yet to read his baseball books, but they are sure to be as wonderful as his other works.

I considered David Halberstam one of the greats and still cherish his works and will pass them along to the kid if he has interest in this wonderful writer.



January 16, 2006

Rosenfeld Media Launches

Heartfelt congratulations are in order for Lou Rosenfeld as he has launched Rosenfeld Media. Rosenfeld Media is self described as:

Founded in late 2005, Rosenfeld Media is a publishing house dedicated to developing short, practical, and useful books on user experience design. Our books will explain the design and research methods that web professionals need to make informed design decisions.

This is one of two boutique publishing houses I have been looking forward to launch. Publishing houses that are part of the community they are serving is incredibly important. Paying attention to the interests and needs of the community is incredibly important. I am really looking forward to the forthcoming books.



December 31, 2005

My Book Highlights from 2005

I had been hoping to do a longer post on things I enjoyed in 2005, but the year end has been a little busier than planned (it is a good thing). There are lot of books that I picked up in 2005 (possibly in the 30 to 50 range). Two from earlier in the year I really enjoyed, John Thackara's In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World was a huge favorite. It has brought to mind many changes that we need to address as people who design and build things. The second was Personal, Portable, Pedestrian : Mobile Phones in Japanese Life by Ito, Okabe, Matsuda (editors), which provided insight into the Japanese mobile culture. Some of the cultural aspects to dot translate to the United States, but it does a wonderful job of raising awareness for introspection into one's own culture. The book also does a fantastic job of providing history and technological change and differentiation in use based on product types.

The couple months I have picked up some books that I will really have an impact on me. Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling my be my favorite book of the year (with the Thackera a close second). Shaping things gets to where we are going with design in an innovative way. The design of the book is playful and makes for a quick read (unless it gets your mind wondering in wonderful ways, as it did mine). It is a book I could not more highly recommend.

I finally picked up DOM Scripting: Web Design with JavaScript and the Document Object Model by Jeremy Keith and was pleasantly impressed with the coverage of pages that degrade properly. This book is required reading for anybody doing JavaScript or AJAX so to stop the madness with sites that do not work across browsers or mobile devices. There are far too many sites that have developers that did not learn anything from the mid to late 90s and using JavaScript that are making unusable sites, pages, and applications today. If you are a manager of interface developers this is written in a manner that it should be easy to read and make sure the developers working for you are following these guidelines.

My favorite fun book was recently released book in Britain, Against the Wall by and about Banksy. This is a collections of Banksy's street art and wonderful sense of play. I personally find it a great book to break through conventional thinking and get to the other side. This book is not currently available in America, which is an utter shame.

I may do a posting on music from 2005 I really enjoyed in the next day or so. But on this note, I wish you a wonderful new year and great things.



July 24, 2005

QI Explained

David has posted about QI (Quite Interesting) after taking photos. I had done some digging, but David has solid info. I am already planning a trip to Oxford after speaking in London at the end of November and QI will definitely be on my list of stops, along with where I studied, read, dined, drank, and lived. Ironically, I received my Oxford University Society Alumni Card and first magazine today.



February 21, 2005

HST Gone

Hunter S. Thompson is dead. The man was truly not like any other and he caused many people to consider thoughts beyond the norm. He was like Zorba the Greek, but with an insanely hard edge as he lived for the moment, but in his own way.



December 31, 2004

Books Read in 2004

I bought and read one standout book this year, Malcolm McCullough's Digital Ground mixed in with many more that I enjoyed. Digital Ground stood out as it combined a lot of things I had been thinking about, but had not quite pulled together. It brought interaction design front and center in the ubiquitous computing and mobile computing spectrum. I have been working on the Personal InfoCloud for a few years now and this really moved my thinking forward in a great leap. I considering better questions and realizing there are many next step, but few of these next steps the design community (in the broad user experience design sense) seems ready for at this time. One of the key components that is not was thought through is interaction design and the difference place makes in interaction design. It was one book that got my highlighter out and marking up, which few books have done in the past couple years.

I greatly enjoyed the troika of books on the mind that came out in 2004. The first was Mind Wide Open by Stephen Berlin Johnson, which was a relatively easy read and brought to mind much of how we use are minds in our daily lives, but also how we must think of the coginitive processes in our design work. Mind Wide Open focussed on improving one's attention, which is helpful in many situations, but I have had a running question ever since reading the book regarding focus of attention and creative problem resolution (I do not see focus of attention good for creative problem resolution).

The second book was On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. On Intelligence is similar to Mind Wide Open, but with a different frame of reference. Hawkins tries to understand intelligence through refocussing on predictive qualities and not so much on results based evaluation (Turing Test). I really like the Hawkins book, which throws in some guesses in with scientifically proven (unfortunately these guesses are not easily flagged), but the predictive qualities and the need for computing to handle some of the predictive qualities to improve people's ability to handle the flood of information.

Lastly, for in the mind book troika I picked up and have been reading Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb. This is one of the O'Reilly Hack series of books, but rather than focussing on software, programming, or hardware solutions these to gents focus on the mind. Mind tricks, games, and wonderful explainations really bring to life the perceptions and capabilites of the grey lump in our head. I have been really enjoying this as bedtime reading.

Others in related genres that I have read this year, Me++: The Cyborg Self in the Networked City by William Mitchell, which was not a soaring book for me, mostly because Ihad just read Digital Ground and it should have been read in the opposite order, if I had cared to. Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Meands by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi was a wonderful read, once I got through the first 20 pages or so. I had purched the book in hardback when it first came out and I was not taken by the book in the first 20 pages. This time I got past those pages and loved every page that followed. Barabasi does a wonderful job explaining and illustrating the network effect and the power curve. This has been incorporated into my regular understanding of how things work on the internet. I have learned not to see the power curve as a bad thing, but as something that has opportunities all through out the curve, even in the long tail. On the way back from Amsterdam I finally read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which was quite a wonderful end to that trip.

I picked up a few reference books that I enjoyed this year and have bought this year and have proven to be quite helpful. 250 HTML and Web Design Secrets by Molly Holzschlag. CSS Cookbook by Chris Schmitt. More Eric Meyer on CSS by Eric Meyer.

On the Apple/Mac front the following reference books have been good finds this year. Mac OS X Unwired by Tom Negrino and Dori Smith. Mac OS X Power Hound by Rob Griffths.

Two very god books for those just starting out with web design (Molly's book above would be a good choice also). Web Design on a Shoestring by Carrie Bickner. Creating a Web Page with HTML : Visual QuickProject Guide by Elizabeth Castro.

The year started and ended with two wonderful Science Fiction romps. Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow. Jennifer Government by Max Barry.

Update: I knew I would miss one or more books. I am very happy that 37signals published their Defensive Design for the Web: How To Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points, as it is one of the best books for applications and web development on how to get the little things right. The tips in the book are essential for getting things right for the people using the site, if these essentials are missed the site or application is bordering on poor. Professionally built sites and applications should work toward meeting everything in this book, as it is not rocket science and it makes a huge difference. Every application developer should have this book and read it.



December 1, 2004

Mind Hacks for You

Of note, Mind Hacks is the site for the Mind Hacks the book. Congratulations to Matt and Tom. I am looking forward to this read.



November 21, 2004

Tying Things Together from Design Engaged

Design Engaged is still interfering with the regularly scheduled thinking, which makes it one of the best gatherings I have been to in the last few years. It has been a positively disruptive experience. I have posted my notes on other's presentations, which are sketchy at best. The gaps can be filled in to some degree using Andrews links to Design Engaged posted presentation. Andrew also has wrangled the Design Engaged favorite book list.

I have two or three pieces that I am building essays or some other format from some of the ideas that bubbled up. Some are reworkings of some of my own ideas that have been changed by other's idea infusions and some are pure mashings of other's ideas. Now it is just finding time (as usual).



June 2, 2004

Peter Charts Attention

Peter has posted charts the facets of attention as described in Steven Johnson's book Mind Wide Open. This diagram is very helpful with out having read the book, but it will be more helpful once I have the book in my hands.



February 6, 2004

Eastern Standard Tribe Released

Earlier this week Cory's Eastern Standard Tribe was released. I have been waiting for this for some time. Not only have I downloaded the version for Palm (then went and updated by reader), but I have beamed it to a co-worker (as well as the updated reader). Cory asks that you let him know how you acquired the book electronically and how you read it.

I have been excited about this because I loved Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which the only way I got around to reading it was on my Palm on the train. I now have a new device to read from and I am hoping Cory shares how his book changes hands.



December 14, 2003

Sir Clarke Portends Humans will Survive the Deluge of Information

I had read the Arthur C Clarke Humanity will survive information deluge interview from OneWorld South Asia. I had pulled the print version of this article into AvantGo and read it on the train commute.

The article had some great insights into the flood of information. He pointed out that over time we have adapted our ways to cope and manage information. When the printing press was developed people wondered how they would ever keep up with everything and how they would ever read 1,000 books. Most opted not to read everything and became selective. The selection of reading benefitted the whole.

The interview does a wonderful job of highlighting responsibility and the challenges ahead. We have access to an extreme breadth of information and we must find ways to expand the access and accessibility to that information to all that are willing. Sir Clarke points out that not all technology is helpful and neither is there a technological solution for every problem, in fact technology can impinge progress.

I encourage you to read the article itself and get inspired.



October 1, 2003

Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver gets a referance site

My first edition copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver arrived yesterday. I flipped through it yesterday and was very impressed with the craftsmanship of the book. The paper and typography are very impressive. I read the intro this morning and I am very much looking forward to digging in.

Also to note, Metaweb, an annotated reference for Quicksilver. The annotations are provided in part by Neal himself along with others. There is a need for this reference as this is a historical novel with fact and fiction interwoven. The reference provides a guide background and what is real.



August 25, 2003

Neal Stephenson interviewed in Wired

Wired interviews Neal Stephenson about his upcoming book, Baroque Cycle, and past works.



July 27, 2003

Baby prep and holiday prep

A busy weekend with a handful of errands and two five hour baby birthing classes. It was also the last week of the three week of post birth baby classes. We just have baby CPR left and one last prep class for a baptism and we can just wait for the baby to arrive.

Both of us are ready for the summer heat and humidity to be over and done with. Fortunately our trip to the shore is coming soon.

Speaking of the shore I am between two books for shore reading. One just arrived this week, Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch, which is a 700 plus page story that I have been intrigued with since we saw them filming the movie (only released in Europe) in Amsterdam while on our honeymoon (we saw Stephen Fry at breakfast in our hotel. The second is, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, which friends have recommended and I have enjoyed his Notes from a Small Island (a walking tour of Britain). I am leaning toward Discovery of Heaven as I have devoured two rather long books the past two years and I really like having the time to sink into a good long book.



April 13, 2003

Perl for Website Management book site

The Perl for Website Management book is helpful, but even more so are the samples found at the book site. There is even a Perl for Website Management book Wiki that has some of the samples and some other related info.

I have found the book to be very helpful for giving ideas and means to approach dealing with Web access logs.



March 27, 2003

Annotations for William Gibson's Pattern Recognition

Since I am in the midst of reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition a great resource is 'PR'-otaku, which is an annotation of Pattern Recognition put together by Joe Clark. This is a brilliant addition to the book done by a fan. I had noticed many of the same items that are annotated, notably monomers in the first few pages, which has my radar on since then. [hat tip Adam]



Powells Books Booty

Okay, here is the list of booty from Powells Books... Metarepresentations: a multidisciplinary prespective edited by Dan Sperber, a description of this Cog Sci overview book help understand it better. Kunstler's The City in Mind. Feynman's Six Easy Pieces, which I started this morning on the train and really enjoy. William Gibson's Pattern Recognition that I started reading on the plane and has really pulled me in. A string of tech books, MySQL Cookbook, Perl and XML, and Java and XML, and based on Peter's recommendation Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy. This and yesterday's mentioned Hofstadler book should about cover it. I really wish there were a Powells Books where I lived, but my wallet does not wish the same. It is great to be able to see the books and evaluate how helpful the book will actually be to you before buying.

I also added Information Architecture: An Emerging 21st Century Profession by Earl Morrogh while at the IA Summit. It seems to be a very good overview on first pass and it comes very highly recommended. I met Earl at the Summit and he is purely delightful and very much a part of the IA community.



February 22, 2003

Neal Stephenson has Quicksilver on shelves in September 2003

Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver is slated for release in September 2003. I am anxiously awaiting this book. Hopefully the book arrives at the beginning of September as things may be a little busy after that.



September 3, 2002

Chad's reading lists

Chad Thornton has a great list of others reading lists. Such reading lists are great ways to find new resources. Chad adds Stanford's Joint Program in Design to his list.


August 29, 2002

Polar Bear Arrives

A great day here, the O'Reilly's 2nd edition of Information Architecture arrived today. I have only perused it lightly, but will spend a little more time with it in the next few days. It looks like Lou and Peter really knocked themselves out. I have two other books that I am really enjoying and will write reviews of in the near future: the wonderful Constructing Accessible Web Sites and Usability: The Site Speaks for itself, which is great for learning how to think about making usable sites and not just following commandments from guru that do not apply to all situations.


June 17, 2002

Librarys desire distributing electronic books

On the train in this morning I read the NYTimes article librarians fighting for digital books and copyright free content. Electronic content that is easily available is a great way to access books and information. One of the first things I looked of on the Internet in 1992/1993 was the Magna Carta. I remember that I found it through a set of Gopher links. I though this Internet thing was going to be amazing. It is in many ways, but there are folks out their with poor minds that keep them from seeing the posibilities of the future.

Electronic books are a great find and a seemingly excellent use of public libraries. Being that I read this article from an AvantGo NYTimes download (yes, synched off Windows as I am still waiting from the Mac OS X version or a competitor) of the frontpage, business, and technology news. I have read three or four short books on my Palm during commute time. Now that monitors and software are improving reading on a personal computer much easier. Libraries are on the right track. Bless them.



February 23, 2002

A sad day for Inspector Morse fans as John Thaw has passed away. Thaw added a wonderful dimension to the Oxford inspector created by Collin Dexter. It may have been the time I spent living and studying in Oxford or being a Brit mystery fan that drew me in, but what ever it was, Morse became my favorite.


January 2, 2002

A benevolent Secret Santa, I believe from the Boxes and Arrows project (using the Secret Santa - Mystery Menorah application I built), dropped of two wonderful gifts today. One was The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, by Lawrence Lessig, which has been on my highly desired list since hearing him speak at Web2001 in San Francisco. I have been really liking and agreeing with many of Lessig's articles of late, so the book should be quite juicy. The other was Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995, by Bill Watterson, which not only contains many C & H Sunday newspaper strips, but includes Watterson's background on the drawings. Many of the snippets I read this evening make for very good understanding of layout and visual presentation and tie directly to Web design. This seems to be similar (or a lite version of) to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, which Peter likes.


December 29, 2001

Things have been quiet here you say? Yes, the holiday season has been a busy one. My parents swung through beginning on Christmas Day for a quick visit, it has been wonderful to see them so much this holiday season. I have been battling a cold and possibly allergies, which have really worn me down. I have also taken some time out for life to read (Lance Armstrong biography, which is wonderful, and pick through Patrcia Wells, "The Paris Cookbook" a fantastic journey through recipies and restaurant insights of Paris) and watch movies on DVD.

I am still very worn down and in need of some serious sleep, exercise, and relaxation. Hopefully that will come in the next week or two.



November 5, 2001

Lawrence Lessig has a new book, The Future of Ideas, in which he discusses the freedom of information flow that drive innovation and commerce. He also discusses the hinderance that some industries try to place on this flow of information and the direct and indirect effects this has on growth of ideas and expanding markets.

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