Off the Top: Television Entries


January 17, 2021

Weeknote - 17 January 2021

Busy, but not overly productive week. I’ve been battling getting a replacement laptop actually functioning, so battling and not being productive. That scenario drives me absolutely up the wall. Going through the battles reminds me of how fairly seamlessly Apple does this.

Evenings have been trying to run errands, but finding stores closing quite early due to Covid and complications around the attack on the Capitol and Inauguration. This has left me rather tired, but also not sleeping well.

Insights from

I just read about Foxsy shutting from their CEO’s blog post about the company and product and his and their lessons learned, Moved on from my journey Foxsy. I was introduced to them from an investor as they were hitting an inflection point and needed help smoothing out some of the interactions, user flow model, and some language areas. The product was rather ingenious as it was a cross social platform chat service using AI to match people. Jin was in San Francisco and the rest of the team at that point and time was in Japan. It was great to read they kept going as I shifted to another project.

The glimpse inside a San Francisco start-up is rather typical from the doing everything to scrape by to keep the product going and get to the next level. I heard some of these stories when I was helping them and hearing it from Japanese guys was interesting as the story wasn’t that different from American guys, the French teams I know, nor the mixed teams from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The small companies I knew / know in Europe, Latin America, and Singapore were a bit different, but the dedication and passion isn’t.

While I hate to see Foxsy shut, I know whatever each of these people do will be fantastic. Only a very small percentage of start-ups make it through to launch, through a few years or use, and then making money to be self-sustaining, and getting the investors some profit. Here’s to whatever is next Foxsy crew!

Read

Every January I dig out the Saint Mary’s Jan Term Catalog and look through was is / was offered. When I was at St. Mary’s Jan Term was something I deeply enjoyed. St. Mary’s ran on a 4–1–4 schedule with four courses in a fall semester, one course in January, and four in spring semester. January classes typically met for 3 or 4 hours Monday through Thursday for an intensive course on a tight subject. There are usually also travel courses for Jan Term, like religious architecture in Ireland or Italy, or sailing course in the Caribbean. My first year I had a Sports Psychology course and second year was on charisma and public leaders (this was amazing). My last year I didn’t exactly get Jan Term as I was doing a full term in Oxford at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Centre.

Every year I find new intriguing courses with good reading lists and I add the reading list and often start digging into a subject of a few each year. I’ve long wondered what a full school year of one month one class would look like. The Oxbridge tutorial system is somewhat similar over two months with intensive tutorials used to fill in gaps through guided self-learning, with that guidance being deep and good.

I stumbled on this article from a couple people, ‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude. This concept is an utter gem! The guy in Japan is selling his service of not doing anything, other than “just being there” for a round $96 a task. People using him to walk them to a court house as quiet support. Listening to people talk through something that they don’t want others to they know to hear or to judge them on. The service of “doing nothing” is somewhat akin to renting someone in a mature relationship that is years into that calm quiet support that gives the deep relief of not being alone and some togetherness.

Watched

Modern Doctor Who is on HBO Max. My two favorite Doctors are David Tennent and Matt Smith. There were a lot of the Tennent episodes I missed and being able to fill in the gaps is wonderful. But, also being able to watch favorite Matt Smith episodes again is something I’m looking for.

Listened

I tend to listen to a lot of music that doesn’t have lyrics or English lyrics. I don’t often listen to lyrics when they are in English, even though I will sing along or sing the song with out music. But, every now and then the lyrics stand out as they are creative. Twice this week I hit this.

One instance was going back something I used to listen to a lot and listened to driving across country with my dad, it was A.J. Croce’s self titled album. The music and production quality are really good, but the lyrics also stand out as they are witty and creative.

The other was Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver License, which was in my short list of recommended new music for the week and I had it playing in the background and the chorus of “’Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street” that really stuck out and I scrubbed back and relisten. That was insanely well crafted lyrically as well as musically.

Food

El Charro Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette, California Closed for Good, which may be one of the odd Covid maladies I’ve run across that hurt, beside the people it has taken from us. This was my first taco. It was also the accidental spark that got my parents and I obsessed with guacamole. When I was born this wasn’t all that far from where we lived and it was a favorite of my parents. I don’t remember going here as we moved when I was about 18 months old or so. But, we always stopped here when in the Bay Area.

I went to undergrad at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, which is sort of next door via back roads through the hills. When my parent would come and visit we would often goo to El Carro for lunch or dinner. One of the things my parents loved was the small dish of guacamole that came with tortilla chips, as well as salsa. From the time I was a baby my parents tried to replicate this intensely flavored guacamole. We learned many different ways of making guacamole and had a few favorites that are still really good. But, it wasn’t anything like El Charro’s.

So one day we asked about the guacamole, with my parents explaining they had tried to replicate it for 20 some years when we moved away. There was a bit of confusion, but the waitress understood and went in the back to ask. He head cook came out smiling. He explained it wasn’t guacamole, but blue cheese, a little garlic, and butter all mashed together until the blue of the cheese was a green-ish spread / dip. I’ve never seen this anywhere else. The cook had said the owner knew it from Mexico and was a special treat in a small town there. Thanks to the confusion I’ve learned many different guacamole recipes, probably more than 50, but also how to riff with the basics.

Productivity

I’ve been trying to put something in a daily dump note. The book notes and idea notes are getting to be a decent habit and being able to easily search and build on an understanding is really nice to have. Obsidian has been proving to be an insanely great augmentation layer.

Talking with a couple people using Roam this week about Obsidian has been interesting as both lost network access and didn’t have access to their notes. This also got them thinking about how to exit Roam, and the lack of API and a common framework they are feeling really stuck. There is now an option to scrape Roam to pull the content into markdown files that can work with Obsidian, and it seems it will also work with block replication. Roam is slick and what the people who love slick, but don’t consider function and the basic use cases for every platform: Do I have ownership of everything I put in?; Do I have constant access?; How do I exit?

I’m thinking through these as I have been looking at Craft, an Apple OS focussed note system that is quite similar to Notion. I somewhat like Notion and its capabilities, but getting to things, feeding them, and searching when working on things (I have to go to it and perform search and moving content in and out for writing and other workflows has a lot of friction. One solution around it is an API, which isn’t fully there. Craft being more native and sync with iCloud or other would enable what is in it being found in a search. Notion for personal use is now free and Craft is pay, but only about $4 a month.

Craft wouldn’t replace anything in Obsidian, but could help with some organization systems. I use Notion most for pushing podcast and YouTube links into them and then annotate them for refinding and reusing.



January 2, 2021

20 Years of Blogging and Wrapping Up the Year 2020

Happy New Year (the 307th day of March in the Year of Covid). As of December 31, 2020 this blog is 20 years old. It started sort of on a whim in Blogger. I find a lot of things that stick start on a whim around here, either as a quick experiment (there are a lot always running) or just fed-up to the point of just do something. Curiosity strikes hard, but it does for most of the people who I spend time with and who do well around tech and digital systems.

There are now 2,103 blog posts. All but a handful are still around. The first one is gone, as it was a “Hello Squirrel!” post (20 years ago I was already insanely tired of hello world and switched some where in 1999 or 2000 and it stuck. I’ve thought about running stats to look at years of activity (in 2004 or 2005 I started Personal InfoCloud as my more work focussed blog and vanderwal.net stayed as my random thoughts and rarely edited brain dump. The top 5 used categories for this blog since its start are Personal, Information Architecture, Web, User-Centered Design, and Apple / Mac. The whole list can be found at vanderwal Off the Top Categories List - By Use. I really need to get a sparkline placed next to each as that would be really helpful to see what is popular when and something I’ve wanted to do for 15 or so years, but never got around to.

I haven’t really kept track of analytics. I would look at analytics on a weekly or monthly basis, but I really haven’t done that in a long while. I do know some of the folksonomy posts drew a lot of attention (the main defining folksonomy post was moved to a static HTML page at the strong urging of academics who needed that for citation purposes. I know a few posts drew a lot of attention inside some companies which were posted here and cross-posted at Personal InfoCloud.

I’ve used blogging to think out loud so to make sense of things, but also for refinding for myself, but also to connect with others who have insights or similar interests.

Wrapping Up 2020

This also is sort of Best of 2020, or things that I spent enjoyable time on or changed me in some good way. I don’t think I’ve ever done a year end wrap as I always feel I’m in the middle of things and a wrap isn’t really fitting when in the midst of things.

Podcasts

Postlight / Track Changes podcast over the last two or three years has become the conversation I’m missing. It is the conversations I miss having and sort of work I’ve been missing at times (I’ve had good stretches of moving things forward to help organization avoid the missing manhole covers or recover through helping understand need, gaps, and pain points to create vastly improved paths forward. Paul and Rich, as well as when Gina gets to play along have been great moments of agreement and a handful of, “ooh, that is good!” as well.

Dear Hank and John from brothers (vlog brothers) Hank Green and John Green, was one of the Year of Covid’s great find as refinding the vlog brothers YouTube channel and their books was comforting and grounding during this odd and rough year. In 2007 time frame with Hank and John were starting out I saw them as Ze Frank copycats, which admittedly they were, and I was a big fan of Ze (particularly after meeting him and having some great winding down rabbits holes of philosophy around content, community, and connection). I was entertained with the vlog brothers 2007 to around 2009, but didn’t overly seek them out and they fell off my radar. This year during the start of lock down they came back into to focus and stayed.

99% Invisible is a weekly breath of fresh air that digs into just one more subject from beautiful Downtown Oakland California. I am continually learning from it and go digging for more information after their podcast.

Matt Mullenweg’s Distributed isn’t quite regular, but I make room for it. Matt has had some really insightful podcasts that also have me digging for more and really am happy to see all that Matt has built so far. It is great that Matt is largely open with his sharing insights and information about they do things at Automattic, but also the guests from outside are really good.

Dave Chang Podcast seems like has a ton of content coming out and I can’t keep up. My favorites are when he is talking with other chefs and restaurant owners. The podcast was really good to listen to during the pandmic as Dave and guests dug deep into the challenges and economics around the effects of the shutdowns.

No Such Thing as a Fish is often my weekend morning listen. Last winter I caught their live DC show, which was great to see after many years. A show where you can get informed and laugh like crazy is always a win in my book.

Newsletters

Newsletters are a love / hate thing for me. The hate mostly is that they are in mail apps where doing useful things with content in them in my information capture for refinding, connecting with other similar things, giving attribution, and coalescing into something new or an anchor point for exploration is tough when in any mail app or service. But, I love a lot of the content. The best newsletters have HTML pages that are easy to search, find things, and interconnect ideas in. The Tiny Newsletter newsletters do this fairly well, Substack does this quite well (and can be RSS feeds), some custom solutions (like Stratechery) do this insanely well, while Mailchimp is miserable with this in so many ways (sadly none of my favorite sources is in Mailchimp, which is ironic and also frustrating).

The perennial favorite for years is Stratechery and keeping up with Ben Thompson’s take and really well thought through explanations are one of the few things I intentionally track down and at least skim (some of the subjects I know really well and look to see where Ben has a different take or a better framing for understanding).

This year perennial favorite New York Times columnist David Leonhardtt (whom I in only recently in the past year or two realized I know and see regularly) took over the daily news summary, New York Times Morning newsletter and it has become what I read as I’m getting up. The insights and framing are really good. But, also pulling things into focus in the NT Times that I may have missed is an invaluable resource with an incredibly smart take no it all.

One added midway this year is the daily MIT Technology Review’s own MIT TR Download that is edited by Charlotte Jee. The intro section and daily focussed editorial is always good, but equally as good are the daily links as I always find something that was well off my radar that I feel should be drawn closer.

My guilty pleasure that I read each morning on my coffee walk (I walk to get coffee every morning as working remotely I may not make it out the front door that day) is the Monocle Minute and Weekend Edition newsletter. Which during the week is quick, informative, breezy in a familiar tone, that cover international business, politics, global focus, travel, and more. I’ve long had a soft spot for Monocle since the started. The Weekend Edition newsletters are longer and have a highlight of someone, which I deeply enjoy, and focus on food, travel, media, the good things in life. The recipes on Sunday are also something I look out for.

The non-regular Craig Mod newsletters, Ridgeline, Explorer, and general newsletter are a good dose of calm and insight.

One of my favorite voices on systems, design, and information architecture is Jorge Arango and his biweekly Jorge Arango Newsletter is a gem of great links. I’m always finding smart and well considered content from this newsletter.

Music

I changed up my listening setup for headphones a bit swapping some things around and now enjoying things quite a bit.

I’ve been writing a bit about music in my weeknotes, but Lianne I don’t think has made the write-ups as I seem to be listening to her music during work wind down as it draws my attention and focus.

Books

2020 was a year of picking up books, but given the state of things reading wasn’t fully functional.

There are two books, which I am still working through, or more akin to meditating through that really struck me in 2020.

The first is Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge about a stretch of about 1,000 years and how classical books and knowledge were lost and found. She focusses on nine different periods. The background for how books were copied to stay alive (with far more frequency than I imagined), how the big libraries of the world were kept, whom they served, and how they went away and their collections lost or destroyed. This book deeply challenged a lot of underlying beliefs and, looking back, silly assumptions about keeping knowledge and the vast knowledge we have (which is only a tiny slice of what has gone before us). Reading this book, sometimes just a few pages at a time, causes long walks and deep consideration. It has been a while since I have reworked a lot of foundations for beliefs and understandings so profoundly. A lot of this book also reminds me of my time at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies that also challenged me and pushed me in similar ways, but that was more of setting foundations and extending them than reworking them.

The other book, which I’m still working through is Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own that I had been looking forward to it since I heard about it late in 2019. As we hit summer in 2020 and the murder of George Floyd sparked a deep reawakening of the realities of race issues in the United States it brought back memories of the 1980s and 1990s and thinking and working through similar ideas. That deep caring and belief that things were better and had improved were shattered as reality reared its head. I had stumbled onto James Baldwin after returning from living in England and France for the last semester of undergrad and a little bit more. I returned to the U.S. with really bad reverse culture shock and one of those challenging understandings I had was around race and very little in the U.S. felt right nor on inline with a united anything. This bothered me deeply for a lot of reasons, but part was being threatened just by hanging out with good friends who were running errands and they were verbally abused (and I feared worse was coming) by just walking in a store and I was a target of the same because I was with him. There were many times like this. After living in England and France this was clear it was mostly an American thing, particularly in educated circles where skin color wasn’t the first consideration it was who you are and what you believe and do. Baldwin echoed these vibrations of reality that trembled through me, it made me feel not alone in this, but he also gave urgings to stand up and be a different way. Over the years this faded, until the torch march on Charlottesville, Virginia and then the long series of murders at the hands of people who should be protecting not wrongly dishing out their perverted mis-understanding of justice. Begin Again has had me thinking again, believing again, and acting again, but taking it in small meditative steps and also reworking my foundation.

William Gibson’s Agency was a good romp and included a handful of places I know quite well, which really help me see it. I hadn’t finished reading Peripheral, but have it on the list to do.

John Green’s Paper Towns was a wonderful read and his view on the world and use of language is one I find comforting, insightful, and delightful. I have The Fault in Our Stars queued up. I also picked up his brother Hank Green’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and made it about a third to half way through and it was reminding me a lot of 2005 to 2010 or so and things I hadn’t fully unpacked, so set it aside for a bit. I really enjoyed the characters and storyline, but I needed something that was a little more calm for me.

Lawrence Levy’s To Pixar and Beyond which was an interesting take on one person’s interactions with Steve Jobs and Pixar, which I found incredibly insightful and enjoyable. I’ve read a lot of books on Steve Jobs, Apple, and Pixar over the last 20 to 25 years and this added new insights.

James and Deborah Fallows’ Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America has been a really good read to help understand and get insights into where America is today with what are the thinking and beliefs.

The Monocle Book of Japan is really enjoyable as it is beautifully make. It is part picture book with the great photography that is in Monocle(https://monocle.com) as well as brief well written insights into many different facets of Japan and life in Japan.

Games

Ghost of Tsushima is one of the best games I’ve run across in a long time. It is utterly beautiful, the transitions are quick, and the game play (while quite bloody) is fun and not over taxing nor complicated. I’ve really enjoyed prior Sucker Punch Production’s games, I the Infamous series has been a real favorite (although hearing a slow moving empty garbage truck with rumbling diesel engine still puts me on edge as it sounds like the Dustmen from the first Infamous game). The storyline in Ghosts is really good as well and has kept me moving through the game after taking a break. I love the open map as well, which sizable and insanely beautiful.

MLB the Show is continually one of my favorite sport sim games as the game play is quite good, the visuals are amazing, and the team management and different ways to play through a season are really enjoyable. It gets so many things right that most other sport simulations don’t. I quite like sport sims as they have a fixed time, which makes it easy to stop or at least consider how long you have been playing and then get back to other things.

Fifa 20 and 21 continued to be really fun and enjoyable. The graphics and game play improves quite a bit each iterations and this last entry was no different. Much like the Show I find Fifa really relaxing to play and fun to manage teams and work through improving them.

Others I’ve enjoyed and played Death Stranding, No Man Sky, Journey, and Grand Tourismo. Death Stranding I didn’t finish even though I was enjoying it, the theme wasn’t really working well with the Covid–19 pandemic, but I know I will return to it. I’ve sunk a fair amount of time exploring in No Man Sky again and really enjoy it. I’m still playing Journey after all these years and still like it a lot as it is calming, familiar, and time limited. Grand Tourimso is still one of the most gorgeous games and fun to just drive around in.

Watching

I’ve written a fair amount in weeknotes about these three. There is more I liked, but I I haven’t really kept good track of those things.
* The Crown
* Ted Lasso
* Mandalorian

Productivity

The big shift has been Obsidian, which has become the layer over my existing notes that are in markdown and already in directories. I looked at Roam Research, but quickly realized it is most everything I try to stay far from, which is the content isn’t in my possession (if anything goes south I’m stuck), there are no APIs to extend use, the subscription is expensive for something not fully built and not well thought through, and a whole lot of arrogance from the developers (this is something to steer very far from, particularly if things aren’t well thought through).

Obsidian has me not only finding things in my existing notes, but allowing for interconnecting them and adding structure to them. The ability to have block level linking is really nice to have as well, but I haven’t really made use of that yet. I have been writing a lot more notes and pulling notes and highlights out of books. In the past I have used VooDoo Pad wiki on Mac and loved it and Obsidian gives me that capability and with storing the notes on Dropbox I can search, edit, and add from mobile as well.

Obsidian may be my one of my favorite things from 2020 and one that will keep giving for years to come.



December 23, 2020

Weeknote - 20 December 2020

An odd week of deep frustrations, walks, and settling into holiday season of reflection and calm (the calm part has been taking work, particularly since my normal calming music wasn’t cutting it).

Read

A week ago I wandered to my favorite local bookstore for a look around and picked up a few things. Some of these were finds that were really well outside the potentially planned, which is where many of my favorite and insightful books come from. I’ve spent time this week reading some of the front matter and going a little deeper into some.

One of those that really intrigued me is The Bookshop of the World: Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age, which caused an audible “what?!” when I stumbled upon it. It seems like it will be a good pairing to The Map of Knowledge that I’ve been meditating through this year. The Bookshop of the World seems like it also will be pulling together a lot of different interests with the breadth of ground it covers.

Also picked up was Gary Kamiya and Paul Madonna’s Spirits of San Francisco: Voyages through The Unknown City, as I really enjoyed Gary’s prior book and writings on San Francisco (he writes on a San Francisco I deeply miss, but is being covered over with banality that dulls the intelligence and creativity that had made it really special for decades). Somewhat related, I picked up Dominique Crenn’s Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters as I’ve read and heard some of interviews with her about the book and her pursuit of a dream so left France to become top chef and found a home in San Francisco, where as a woman could be taught the craft at a high level and explore her own path to create something new. This finding one’s path and wanting to go deep to understand everything then put it in practice has been a long journey of my own, but also I’ve long been fascinated with chef’s craft and kitchens as well. The last of these that is somewhat related is John Birdsall’s The Man Who Ate Too Much: The life of James Beard, where my parents light (perhaps more) obsession with James Beard has been passed down a bit and a new book on Beard is always welcome.

Another book picked up in the jaunt was Amy E. Herman’s Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life as it echoes a lot of what I’ve learned over a few decades as one of my foundations, but have a difficult time framing it for others. I have many books, which I read and use a suggestions for others so to get a foundation for understanding, when asked “how do you see / know / understand these things” (normally this is across broad and deep subjects where the answer is deep curiosity and deeply build breadth and depth in that breadth across domains, but each of these needs jumping off points for others) and slices of these I really like having a good reference (but also look for understandings to add or check what I know and hone it or replace it and then work it through experience).

I hit the used stacks to pick-up a copy of McChrystal’s Team of Teams, which isn’t new fodder and large parts echo experiences and learned lessons from the last two or three decades. But, I’ve also worked with people in McChrystal’s environments and found them to be highly counter productive and problematic (for similar reasons some of the things prescribed in the book haven’t been used as practices for follow for quite a while). But, since the book is continually used as a reference for conversation and seen all new it would be good to know where to point where things are off and a path to know others are on to augment the good things (where there is also much in it) to help improve what they have going.

I had a gift card for my bookstore so I took my son on a trip and see if he would have interest in a cookbook that would help him learn some things and have some decent recipes to riff off of. He likes cookbooks with pictures and the new Jacques Pepin’s Quick and Simple did the trick. He seems to have a good appreciation for it, but not made anything out of it yet.

Watched

My son and I watched the last two episodes of Mandalorian and really enjoyed it. Now we are really looking forward to next December and the next installments. Prior to the last two episodes I was really wondering where this season was going and not all that confident it was going to get to a decent place in a “believable” way.

Saturday was Tenet night and I’ve been waiting for this for months. Sadly, we couldn’t see it in a big theater in IMAX, but we still got to see it. As it is with most Christopher Nolan films the long discussions after started following and through the next day. Sunday night I did a rewatch with headphones on to better hear dialog (there is so much going on visually and audibly things were getting a bit lost. Headphones helped a lot. I liked this more than I thought I was going to and I was expecting a lot.



December 14, 2020

Weeknotes - 29 November Through 13 December 2020

This is a triple weeknote, largely because after posting the last weeknote I started in on moving this blog and its CMS, the whole site, another site or two on the same host, and some other apps running on the same host and a stack of email addresses. It was simple and complicated at the same time, but I wrote about the site move prior when the DNS propagation finished. That post was the 2,100 post to the blog here (in its various forms) that started 20 years ago at the end of this month. That move and some other things ate time that attributes to content for here.


Thanksgiving week, that included the annual photo walk through Georgetown and making dinner with the usual duck breast and its accompanying blueberry leek thyme reduction. A lot to be thankful for with work consistency and health. Thursday morning came with a doctor’s call with all clear for tests, following quarantine after not feeling well the prior weekend. In these times it is really good to be overly cautious, but still a relief.

This weekend could have been longer by Saturday I was wiped out and started on the action part of moving this site and all the digital accretion around it to its new home. The evenings this week will hopefully be wrapping that up. This weeknote is the last change to anything on the current host before the move.


The middle week was mostly site move and related matters when not working or running a shuttle service for one or waiting for a set of negative test to come back for the shuttlee and who was quarantining with me.


This week allows for catching up on some listening and watching favorite teams, some movies, and shows.

Watched

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian (Season 2, Episode 5) was one of the best yet in my opinion. Not having watched any Akira Kurosawa, but reading a lot of reviews of The Ghost of Tsushima game that I have been really enjoying for a few months and enjoying the visual tapestry and story telling and reviews point to much of that as Kurosawa style. Mandalorian had a lot of the storylines and visual fingerprints that would also point to Kurosawa.

I also got back to watching movies and shows a bit. I think I’m in the midst of three series have partly intrigued me.

I watched Crazy Rich Asians, which I enjoyed, but it echoes a lot of other movies and story lines I spent much of the time trying to remember what it is that it was harkening back to.

Listened

A long awaited delivery of an a tweak to headphone listening arrived and I’ve been going back through some of my favorite songs to listen to so to hear different dimensions. Yosi Hoyakawa’s Bubble and Fluid are two of them. Both can be utterly stunning for sound quality, but also spacial representation.

I also went through some of the Edition Records offerings I have, particularly Daniel Herskedal and his Slow Eastbound Train album and The Roc. I listened to Alexis Ffrench Evolution album, which has some of the most breath takingly calming music I know of. I took a spin through some really dense Prince music, Peter Gabriel, and wonderful Stevie Wonder. Listening to Snarky Puppy really helped see the clarity and opening up of the space in the music. This band that is ever changing can be dense and swims in complicated patterns and being able to hear into the music more with more separation and clarity was fantastic. The last listen that really opened up and became more wonderful to me was Construction that really becomes more moving, as in a sense of drifting.

In listening to Snarky Puppy I also stumbled upon a YouTube video of drummer Larnell Lewis of Snarky Puppy and other bands listening to people play some of his complicated Snarky Puppy pieces. This was wonderful, he was so overjoyed, but also his ability to give constructive positive criticism was amazing to watch. I’ve been a fan of his playing for some time, but never seen any of his own social media contributions. I’m hooked.

Food

Last week the local market had petrale sole, which is not all that common here and I did a quick picata with corn starch and rice crumb crust cooked in olive oil and brown butter with capers and lemon. This is one of my favorite dishes. One my dad used to whip up for sand dabs or petrale sole on a Saturday night. I’m not going by a recipe, but going off what I can eat and a slightly more healthy version than just full on browned butter. It is such a quick happy meal with a little broccoli that has been thrown in the pan after the fish if flipped.

Productivity

Getting my site moved was a relatively large chore. Using a mind map and Omni Outliner to set the steps and order of the move and what was completed really helped (there are still a few things that need wrapping up, but that will come in time). One thing I thought I was going to be getting is a server in my timezone, but it is set to GMT / UMT, so my blog posts would have a local timestamp. Just adding that to my to do list.

One of the things I’m trying to do is get back in a better habit of tracking things in Obsidian. Having it be my own has been a great help and I am deeply thankful I didn’t go down the route of Roam (mostly because I own it and can shape it how I want to and need to use it). The mobile capture is still one extra step from tossing something in Drafts and that text step to dropping it in the directory where Roam sits. I have quite a few things in Drafts I need to comb back through, do the push and the clean up.

In the past week I’ve been able to pull back and recall information easily from Obsidian, which has related context. I’ve done this from mobile devices and laptop. The mobile access has been a real treat. I really need to find a good port for Delicious Library into structured Markdown for my books, particularly series like those Charles Stross has as keep track of what I’ve read, what I have, and what is coming up.



November 23, 2020

Weeknote - 22 November 2020

Happy 267th day of March in the Year of Covid.

A rather heads down week or planning with some errands and running kid to his appointments. The weekend became caring for a kid’s insanely kinked neck followed by stomach issues.

Read

Not a whole lot of reading happened this week as it was planning week at work and some errands and driving my son (but having it dark I lost a bit of my reading books time while waiting in the car).

One of the things that is echoing loudly from the James Fallows’ and Deborah Fallows’ Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America is people moving to “the city” or larger towns from where they grew up. This desire to get off the farm, move from a small town of a few thousand to the state’s large city of 100,000 or more for more opportunity, performing a role they trained or went to school to learn, or to get a larger dating pool to find a life mate. This desire is interesting and common, if you’ve lived in a large city. There are people who move between large cities following jobs or opportunities, but they don’t move to smaller cities (they may move to a city’s edge, an exurb, or suburb when raising families).

Somehow we are to one of my favorite times of the year a a reader, the “Top Books of the Year” time of the year. The New York Times top 100, Washington Post Top 10 (this links to other top book lists, and Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2020 have theirs out.

Sadly, a favorite author died this week at the age of 94. Jan Morris historian, travel writer, and trans pioneer dies, as the Guardian labelled her. I found Morris from her histories and culture overviews of Oxford that I read in the months prior to my heading to Oxford where I would take my last semester of undergrad. I later found collections of her travel writings and other histories, but it was the framings of Oxford that impressed me and I still return to today.

Watched

Started in on Season 4 of The Crown and finding the Prince Charles character, whom they wrote in season 3 as a young man finding himself and a bit lost, but with a soft look on life (rather than a hard, non-caring stoic side, nor overly aggressive side), and seeing hints of the effort to spin him to a dark and evil-ish look. The glare at the end of episode 1 was more funny (in an “oh, really…” way). I’m curious where the story arcs are going to go.

On Friday got caught up with Mandalorian with my son, who in used downtime due to the Covid pandemic to watch Clone Wars in its entirety and is far more versed in the backstory, places, and names that I am. I’m still enjoying it, but is doesn’t have the richness it does for him.

Listened

Not much listening to happened this week other than a really good 99% Invisible - In The Unlikely Event podcast episode, which is a really good look at not just make instructional materials work well, but understanding the whole system first, from planes, mechanical, human, and the ever important understanding the psychology of humans.

This week Pomplamoose and KT Tunstall collaborated on a new arrangement of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found”, which I found incredibly good. There is also a really good Making of Still Haven’t Found, on Jack Conte’s own channel. This may be one of the best covers / versions of the song I’ve heard by U2 or others.

One of my favorite labels, Edition Record had some new releases this week, but so far I haven’t had a chance to listen to them much but liking it a bit.

Productivity

It was good to see a New Yorker piece, The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done by Cal Newport and starting off with Merlin Mann. It wove through the enhancements something like Getting Things Done offers, but also its gaps. It wove in Thomas Davenport’s knowledge management improvements for personal improvement and thinking. It is a good high level view, that roughly scratches the surface. But, the diversity of options and models are also ones that are quite personal, but also needed for diversity of intellectual processes and needs of different systems and purpose.

I’ve been doing some rethinking of some of my Social / Complexity Lenses Models to expand and branch them as need and realities dictate. It takes some rigor in understanding what you have, what the needs are, and even more what are the gaps. It is at that point where thinking of a system to support what is being worked through and augmented as well as things held in valuable tension.



November 15, 2020

Weeknote - 15 November 2020

Happy 260th day of March in the Year of Covid.

The wonders of smell. Not from the lack of smell from Covid–19, but the muted smells from wearing a mask. Losing a sense seems like a great tragedy, be it hearing or sight. But the senses don’t stop there, as we have touch - which seems like it would be detrimental to lose yet that is what happens when someone becomes paralyzed. Taste, I’m realizing is an odd one, as it is so heavily intertwingled with smell that it isn’t fully clear what would be lost.

It is the muted smells and the temporary loss of smells that has me in awe from wearing masks (other than it is God’s way of reminding you that you didn’t brush your teeth). Taking off one’s mask when outside is something magical. The muted sense of smell from wearing a mask, becomes magical when taking it down or taking it off getting a solid direct nose full of the wonderful world around. The background scents that go un-fully noticed on walks of trees, freshly wet pavement, a car engine cooling, all the different flowers and plants, the creek that has filled or when it is drier than usual, fires in fireplaces, and wafts of food being prepared. Taking off one’s mask when nobody is around, or just lowering it is like a firework show finale with all the scents hitting full saturation at once. It is a bit magical. Yet, within a few minutes the smells fade into the background and seem difficult to pull out of the air unless masked again, which does happen. The one scent I don’t find all that magical is vehicle exhaust, which I’m finding is one smell that really lasts. I’ve never noticed it before Covid times, but it is sure present now.

Thanks to Covid–19 and one of its traits of infection can be the loss of scent, one of the first things I do each day after waking is smell things. I smell the back of my hands, fingers, and wrist and then wash my face and hands and smell. Every morning I am relieved that I can smell.

Related, I restumbled upon Monocle’s “The secret to putting on perfume” video that focusses on scent and the use of it as a personal layer of attire, as in scenting for the occasion or work role or environment.

Watched

I finished up Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix so I’m good to start Season 4. I’m utterly impressed with the story telling and film work. The stories don’t seem to fully hew to what I remember reading and hearing retold, but I’m fine with that. I’ve really liked the crafting and developing of characters.

This week I also have been watching some recent and older Monocle Videos, which some seem to be fully Monocle productions and some are Gestalten produced with Monocle. What strikes me is how well they are made as the color grading, edits, cuts, transitions, and tempo are all well done, but they also all are similar going back years to older Monocle videos.

I was good to watch a Netherlands win today over BIH, as they have been a bit lifeless scoring under the new coach. There may be hope.

Listened

I found the 1998 Grace Jones album Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions, which has an 8 minute version of “Slave to the Rhythm”, which is a Hot Blooded Version mix. This song brings back a lot of memories of college, nights out in San Francisco, living in England, and wandering Paris. The odd thing is I didn’t own Island Life the album the original version was on, nor have it on mix tapes. It was ambient life sound track. I have some music that I owned and had on tape and I can tell you the shoes, socks, coat, and places quite vividly when I hear that music. Slave to the Rhythm always seemed to be background soundtrack to some wonderful times and this 8 minute version, which is largely instrumental fills to get to 8 minutes is the perfect background for running errands after the sun has gone down.

Food

This weekend’s grocery errands had a bit of focus on Thanksgiving, as far as sorting out what is stocked and where. With my county back down to Level 1 Covid reopening stores are down to 25% capacity and counting the number of customers in the store and lines starting again.

The weather turned a little bit cooler so made a pot of chili (beef and black bean) that was quite dense, but also really good. My son went through two bowls and it was gone in 3.5 bowls.

Play

A couple days after work I took some time to play through a bit more of Ghosts of Tsushima. I am still amazed withe the scenery and I’m looking forward to being done and just wandering the open map.

Productivity

I’ve been reworking how I’m going to handle blogfodder in Obsidian notes, which start as a link to a piece from someone or some other source. I have been keeping a list in notes, but that was one of the things that I had reworked and been keeping it in an outline, just a tag one note files, and a link on the source in Pinboard. I started a blog fodder note file that links to the source, person, and a note page for what could follow. These may turn into mid-week posts as the notes seems to be turning into 50% to 75% done responses.



November 9, 2020

Weeknote - 8 November 2020

Happy 253rd day of March in the Year of Covid.

Work week was busy. Again not a lot of extra time for reading or moving this site. The election and the week of counting all the votes ate attention. One of my favorite clips from the week was of this Detroit pastor talking about protecting counting the vote and the impact of Black Americans involvement in the process with the great line, “we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents”. I love a good turn of phrase, and this is a gem.

After four years not not believing what I was seeing and hearing coming out of the White House, change has come with Joe Biden being announced as the President-Elect of the United States with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. Hopefully this we be a turn toward calm, getting ahead of Covid by following science and medicine, and getting the economy and environmental needs back in focus. It is so good to hear a President talking about being a President of “all the people” again.

Watched

The Atlantic’s “25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again” list has been pointed to as a list of comforting movies to get through the current week. Some of my favorites on on there, like: Metropolitan (Whit Stillman movie which is one of my favorite movies, but not on my top 5 and I may need to rethink that or make my top 5 my top 10 - Barcelona I find to also really enjoy but isn’t quite as chatty and the dialog in Metropolitan is brilliant), Before Sunset (I really like Before Sunrise more, but after a couple watchings Before Sunset has grown on me and I still have the last of the trilogy to watch), High Fidelity (I really liked the book more, but I’m a big John Cusack fan thanks to Sure Thing that had friends as extras in it, yet when I think of the movie as separate from the book I like the movie a lot), Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh’s edition and the whole series I find to be fun), Ponyo (is still on my watch list and likely my next up of Miyazaki’s films, but I’m thinking of this as most any of Miyazaki’s films as most of them exude comfort, kindness, and a sense of peace in turbulent times). Two the list but I haven’t watched, but one I have it in this category is Julie & Julia, the other is Inside Man that I really would like to watch for more than just a few minutes at a time. One that I would add that isn’t on the list is Local Hero, which I have watched numerous times after watching it in the theater twice when it came out. I likely have seen Local Hero more than 15 times, and possibly more than 20, but there is always something new that surfaces and some missed humor or something in the background that is wort paying attention to.

I have a feeling by week’s end I may have watched one or two of these again, or for the first time… Well, I did watch Before Sunset again, which I liked much more this time. I also watched some of the additional content from the Criterion Collection edition.

I started in on the newest episodes of The Mandelorian with my son. My son has watched Clone Wars since the last series ended and was much more attuned to back story.

Listened

I restumbled onto the work of Yosi Horikawa, which the genre normally isn’t fully in my interests, but I found I really enjoy Fluid and Longing off his newest album, Spaces. I have had Bubbles in playlists from audio testing and sampling playlists, but back listening to it more closely as music not analytical sampling of equipment.

Also out this week is Construction’s newest, "We’re Great Thanks for Asking, which I really like. So far my favorite song is “Never Fail”, which is video of it and filmed in Venice (pre-Covid).

Food

A couple weeks back I shifted breakfast to smoothies from a fresh fruit and yoghurt stretch, which has replaced a black bean and mushroom bowl with egg on top, which replaced a long stretch of huevos verde with black beans. This was sparked by sorting out a working blender. The mix has settled into frozen banana, ginger root, turmeric root, a little under a cup or probiotic yoghurt drink, fresh orange juice, pineapple, and berries. This ends up being about 16 ounces and keeps me going to mid-afternoon.

The weekend, due to errands, turned into takeout, and finally did pick-up from a favorite restaurant, La Piquette, with a well packaged frisée salad with lardons and poached egg (normally a salad Lyonnaise) is one of my favorites and makes me happy. Also tried their cassoulet, which was stunning. I have had some poor to horrible cassoulets over the past few years and this put my faith back into cassoulets as amazing and really good comfort food.



November 2, 2020

Weeknote - 1 November 2020

There was a point this week that took me back to March or April and wearing masks to go out the front door and wondering would this last long enough that it felt normal. The old adage of a habit is made with 21 days of doing the same thing. It is far past those 21 days, but it not only seems like something we have been doing naturally forever but feels like walking out the front door without a mask it like walking out without your keys. I stepped out of the car and had my mask on and realized it was normal and natural, so much I didn’t think about it. It seems really odd and not so smart to see people without them.

I’ve given my hosting company notification that I don’t want to be moved to their new place as GoDaddy shuts down my hosting company I’ve been with for 7 to 10 years. The options they offer is a giant step backwards, so moving on. I have found a good replacement that is relatively similar, and a bit better. The next 3 to 5 weeks things will be moving here. I have part of the 10 apps and services I run partly mapped out, but have been waiting to sort out the destination to understand the scope of the move and if all the languages used will work. Mail may be my biggest pain, but that may be one of the last things to move.

The past few work cycles have me worn, but getting insanely high kudos from vendors about finally cracking some tough patterns that have been pain points for many others. That combined with election related matters I’m a bit drained and been really cranky. I did vote in early voting, which was relatively quick and easy, after seeing wait times over 45 minutes (at times it was 90 to 120) earlier in the week.

Read

I’m reading an early copy of a friends book that is really good and pretty much nails one of the small pieces that create massive positive differences, but are rarely noticed nor focussed on. Many organizations focus on innovation, and while some do it incredibly well most are a farce and are just copying practices from other companies with different problems and not understand the problems and starting from there (hence, the innovation doesn’t really have much positive value). I am looking forward to getting through the rest of the book, but also seeing it out and available for everybody.

Watched

Like that, I pretty much gave up on Deadwind after the first episode, as the second I didn’t make it through. The story is interesting, but also close to a few other things I’ve watched recently. But, I also I tend to watch things while wrapping other things up and not having enough of a foothold on Finnish I was having to pause, back up 30 seconds to a few minutes to understand what I missed which had me realizing I didn’t miss much or I didn’t care about what I missed. That was it and moved on.

I’ve been hoping to finish season 3 of The Crown, which I find to be some of the best writing and film craft around. By writing some is the words, but much of it is the setup and drawing and building of an arc and story line.

Also catching up on Somebody Feed Phil, which I really like but usually watch with my son, but we got distracted and missed a couple.

I’m holding off on Mandalorian for a couple weeks. But, it looks really good and looking forward to it.

Listened

Incomparables on Ted Lasso was really good and was a great reminder of just how good Ted Lasso was. I nearly started back watching it again from the beginning.

Productivity

Obsidian has released and then updated block referencing functionality. I haven’t had time to focus on it nor sort through a couple use cases I really things this may help with. One is keeping book notes tied with the book, but using block referencing to place subject / domain related ideas in their subject page and similarly with subject related quote files.



October 25, 2020

Weeknote - 25 October 2020

I’m returning back to something I read a bit ago from Matt Webb about getting back into a habit for blogging again. Matt’s posting about 15 rules for blogging, and my current streak is one that really struck home as I’m trying to get back to a regular writing habit, here and elsewhere. Matt’s idea for one idea per post is the old school way of knocking out quick short notes on one topic for reference for one’s self, but also sharing out for others by default. The weeknote model runs a bit counter to this, but trying to get back to a habit of capturing things and trying to get to a schedule helps get things moving again. Matt’s post is more than worth your time.

The week was heavily focussed on the work front as trying doing work that could really benefit from a good innovation space with large whiteboard and to include teammates to think and work through the flows and integrated systems. I’ve been working through a solutions to a gap that makes some easy solutions not viable due to compliance and needing to craft for a large enterprise and the constraints and diversity of needs. The start to the solution came about about 3 weeks ago and trying to work through a solution for one piece of it that would remove a lot of manual work that has a lot of opportunity for error as it scales and scope increases. Getting he foundations right is key, but I think we will have a good solution. Working through permeations of scenarios and modifications coming from vendors was a good chunk of working with large logic puzzles, but the foundation should be good. Now to work on workflows and interactions for it, or at least the first step and a solid system of record for these. I love this type of work, but it is much more sane with a good sized room, large whiteboard and stickynotes, and a few others to work through permeations and potential missing manhole covers that are created when the goal is seeing them and resolving them.

Early voting starts this week and trying to sort out when I can fit that in. While today (Sunday) was eerily quiet, which could be the cold snap or Covid cases spiking at its worst everywhere around the U.S. and people playing safe, I don’t expect that quiet to last for the week.

Read

A really quiet week on the reading front. I have some things to read this next week for a quick review that I am really looking forward to.

Watched

I sort of stumbled onto starting the Finnish crime drama, Deadwind that is on Netflix. I have only watched one episode, but I think I will stick with it. I thought it was a different series, but it has me interested.

One of the things that had me intrigued is not so much the show, but it is in Finnish. I haven’t listened to a lot of Finnish as an adult and its spoken and linguistic patterns are well outside of any language I have a passing understanding of. I was reading the closed captions and trying to pull out some words that could work as way in, but that was tough. I also realized I really liked the cinematography and focussing on closed captions and thinking about language structure was a bit in the way of what had drawn me in.

Listened

Over the past year I’ve become a fan of Rick Beato’s YouTube channel and I stumbled onto his break down of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes in the episode What Makes This Song Great? Ep.27 Peter Gabriel. There is so much more to this song and with Rick had taken another 30 minutes to dig into that.

Productivity

I’ve been using Obsidian more and a release that should hit those with early access and allowing block addressability really looks good. I’m finding with what Obsidian offers I’m able to really get a lot of crosswalks between ideas, sources, authors / creators, and structures that I just didn’t have access to before. Already it feels a bit like I have a James Burke long transfer system in the works that is part of the structure of his Connections series.



October 11, 2020

Weeknote - 04 October 2020

I have so many partially completed weeknotes sitting for the last many weeks. Some are partial efforts to combine two, then three weeks or even more. The Black Lives Matter need for focus from utterly disgusting lack of people’s care for other humans diverts my focus.

But, I’ve also been needing to do a slight update to get this site running on a slightly newer version of PHP. Yet, in the next few months I needing to do a slow drip conversion to a quite modern PHP. To me it is utterly amazing that this site is still running on code I started writing in 2000 and fully started using in 2001 (I ran it is a temporary travel blogging fill-in when all too often hotels wouldn’t connect with FTP that I used to push Blogger pieces into place for new blog posts). I have made some minor changes to the underlying code three or four times, but this is going to be a large change. I will likely just do a straight conversion of the underpinnings, but following that may finish some better navigation and then a redesign.

Work has shifted from 4 days a week back to 5 days and that shift put a damper on a couple small personal side projects.

Another thing I’m working on is turning some of my core pieces of my talks and workshops into 1 to 5 minute video explainers. I regularly chat with grad students that run into my work around folksonomy, but also many of the social complexity models and lenses. Some of these have helpful animations I use as explainers and get really strong praise from professors when they run across them. This will likely lead to writing them up as well.

The other piece the last few weeks I’ve been focussing on is reworking my note taking and organization model. I will get into this in more detail below in the Productivity section.

Read

Reading took a bit of a back seat the past 6 weeks or so. I’be been reading two books in a slow meditative manner, due to the thinking and rethinking they are leading to. These two are The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., which I’ve mention here before (I think, they may be in unfinished weeknotes I haven’t posted). My fun read, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, has turned into a slow meditative read, which is helping me realize why I stopped writing and sharing on the web as much, but also why I need to get back to it. The last of my concurrent reads is James Fallows and Deborah Fallows Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America fits one of my favorite genres of exploring America though stopping and asking questions, but also listening deeply across America.

The Map of Knowledge runs quite counter to the poor assumption that the intellectuals of antiquity we know shared their knowledge and we have much of it. Well, we have very little of it. Much of it lost to lack of continual upkeep and continual recopying of works that was / is needed. The book looks at the old great libraries and how they disappeared and what happened to their collections.

A few years ago doing expert witness analysis I was amazed that much of the domain of canonical works about the internet, particularly around the Web 2.0 era, were gone from the web, they are also missing from the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. I have a decent chunk of them in my own collection as archived html and / or PDF tucked away and searchable in DevonThink. But, many of these are linked to from Wikipedia the sites that hosted them are gone to the digital winds. For a long time we thought of the Web as being the holding of all the thinking of mankind and having it all searchable and within easy reach (this also means the appalling thought of the fringes that get over amplified are there as well), yet this is far far from the case.

I have yet to discern if this loss of knowledge and really good thinking and understanding not being a new reality is comforting or not. A high school economics summer school class that introduced the “pure flow of information” leading to good decisions. Searching Google for “pure flow of information” my blog pops up a fair amount where I’m pointing to Nobel Prize for economists work around the internet and this, how to manage a vast flow of information, disillusionment with the lack of reality of the pure flow, and more. The thought I keep having, is along the lines of, “I thought we had so much more than we do”, then weighing true repositories like the Bodlian Library and the Library of Congress and their seemingly vast collections. The vacillating perspective of “we have only a tiny slice of what we have known” and “we have far more than any one person or collection of people can know” are a tension I’m very slowly learning to live with as a viable tension while still believing in the pure flow.

Watched

Mostly I’ve been rewatching movies and shows. But, the newest season of Endeavour, The Young Wallander, Van Der Valk have scratched an itch that I can always use more of.

Like many, I’ve stumbled into and really been enjoying Ted Lasso which has been a really good cultural palate cleanser to the mess going on in the world who want to lead by hate and lies.

Listened

Through a Tidal recommendation I found Brian Bromberg’s album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, which is decently good, but Hey Joe really stuck out and I’m really enjoying it (particularly on Tidal and really wishing they had a Master (MQA) version of it).

My podcast listening slowed as I shifted my morning breakfast routine from a 15 minute making a black bean bowl (black beans, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, fresh turmeric, Canadian bacon, sometimes grape tomatoes (cooked so they are jammy), and with a farm fresh egg on top). The current is thick yoghurt and fresh fruit, sometimes with muesli on top and a perfect bar. I’ve also gone back to doing a coffee walk in the morning to fetch coffee (this ensures I get out for a decent walk at least once a day) rather than preferably making coffee at home. This shift from 15 minutes to under 5 minutes knocked out my usual podcast listening time.

Food

I finally tried some gluten free baking. A peach and blueberry clafoutis was a good pleasure, but the gluten free Dutch baby went all sorts of wrong.

Play

I’m about a third of the way through Ghosts of Tsushima and a bit stalled. This game is a really gem. It is utterly beautiful (yet insanely bloody, which is something I often steer clear of) with an open map, good game play, and a tiny bit educational and has lead to reading understanding feudal Japan and samurai culture. I am a big fan of Sucker Punch’s prior series, Infamous, and Ghosts expands on what I really like about their games.

Productivity

The past few weeks I’ve been needing to find a different and improved method for my note taking method and workflow. I have long used NValt and it stopped working, but since it is just a front end for many (1,200+) markdown text files, I can use any markdown editor or text editor. But, what is missing is a loose wrapper around these short snippets of somethingness, collections of quotes, lists of interesting words with definitions, drafts for blog posts, other stubs of ideas (fiction and non-fiction), and also finished items I’ve started in NValt and then using small apps loosely joined method of doing things I use focussed writing tools for longer pieces that work with markdown files natively and can output to many other formats.

This exploration I pulled from here and posted it as its own piece (in very rough form) as Rebuilding My Note Taking and Management System and Model on Saturday.



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.



February 22, 2011

The Genius of Design - BBC Series Overview

This past Summer (2010) the BBC (BBC 2) showed a five part documentary series on design, called The Genius of Design (TGoD). This series is similar to Gary Hustwit's Objectified, but TGoD goes much broader and deeper offering a better reflection of the reality of design only seen through that depth. Think of Objectified as a taste sampler of TGoD. There are some people in common between the two whom are interviewed and focussed upon, but life is breathed into architecture, process, visual, industrial, and many more slices of the design world that bring design to life in TGoD. It is a wonderful look at the real nature of design.

The Five Episodes of The Genius of Design

The five episodes are: 1) Ghosts in the Machine; 2) Designs for Living; 3) Blueprints for War; 4) Better Living Through Chemistry; 5) Objects of Desire. The core focus is on the deep consideration and understanding that goes into design. It is this rigor of understanding and working through to final product all based on a core objective. Throughout the five series the focus on a deep understanding the materials deeply, use, impact on the people interacting with what has been designed, and development processes (as well as optimizing them).

Standout Themes

The obsession to understand the materials used and objects being design with depth and breadth is not the only standout theme. Many other themes and take away ideas stood out not only when watching, but also now many months later.

Focus on End Use and People Using Product of Design

One major reoccurring theme throughout is the focus on end use. The the products not only should be pleasing nearly (possibly to the point of being emotive), but they must also be usable, and do what it is intended to do very well. A continual focus on the person using what is designed is one of the central tenets of design and with out this it is something other than design.

Breadth of Design Disciplines and Roles

To the point of design having a focus on the person using what is designed, the breath of roles within design was brought up. Wonderfully, Peter Boersma's T-Model was directly mentioned in when discussing the breadth of expertise with required depth and roles in design that are required to all come together to optimally create a final product that is please and usable for the person who engages with the final product. While watching the whole series the focus on various disciplines and roles is very evident and when listening to the designers talk about their own focus and discipline (all largely falling under the moniker of design) as it relates to final crafting of the final object) it is they all have depth in their own discipline, but understand the materials deeply and the class and required needs for the final product very well.

Every Designer Has A Chair In Them

Another reoccurring thread, that gets depth of focus a few times, is the idea that every designer has a chair in them (this has become a meme in the broad design community from the near instant this was uttered mid-Summer). The chair is emblematic of the need for utility (purpose, comfort, durability, etc.) as well as providing style. A chair that collapses is not well designed. The chair also often has requirements beyond basic sitting, which can include long term comfort, ability to stack and store it, be environmentally friendly, and many more possible variations. This intersection of use, style, material, and production around the chair leads to a lot of the depth of understanding required to get to a final product prototyped, tested, and into production. This depth and breadth that designers put in is often not considered by people outside the design community, but also the depth and rigor involved in design is missed in some disciplines that are tangential to design, but do not consider themselves purely in the design profession.

Process Design and Optimization

Within the Blueprints for War episode the focus of designing the process was often repeated. The episode focussed on Britain in World War II and the need to have mass production of goods needed for the war that worked for their purposes, but there were limitations of materials and time needed to get mass amounts of goods in military personnel’s hands. Streamlining production and simplifying the goods became essential, but as well thinking of solutions seemed like their was expansive production (dummy planes, etc.) and alternate facilities (fake factories) were included in the design mix.

Wishing for More

In all this was a fantastic series for those in and around the design profession, those who intersect with design, and just fans of design.



September 19, 2006

Studio 60 Brings Something Good to Watch to Television

I flat out loved Studio 60, the new Aaron Sorkin show. It is the best thing on tv hands down. The premiere was fantastic with the opening framed around a dead-on rant of the current state of television in the style of the movie Network (the only downside for me was they had to state it was just like Network over and over - let people be smart and media literate). The tirade was dead on and the scenarios and construction of tension was well done.

I have missed good television (last season 24 caught my attention, but the show Lost has not fully grabbed me (the social interactions outside of the show and the web-based value and social interactions generated by the show have my interest, but personally the show does not grab me. The last shows I deeply enjoyed were both ones that Aaron Sorkin drove, West Wing (while Sorkin was involved) and Sports Night. The other bits that I have enjoyed in recent years have been HBO series and movies, particularly Band of Brothers.

Much else on American television has been rather boring, patterned, and predicable all while being written to a level of the lowest common denominator. There are other exceptions (The Simpsons) in comedy and satire, but they are rare. All I can say is thank you for Studio 60!



January 6, 2006

Yahoo! Go Launches [Updated]

I am quite interested in the newly launched Yahoo! Go, which is self described as:

Yahoo! Go - a new suite of products and services for your PC, mobile phone and even your TV.

Yahoo! Go allows you to access the information and content that is important to you on whatever device you choose.

So wherever you go, your photos, your music, your email, " your life&#quot; is right there with you. Ready to go.

The service provides your contacts (address book), photos, messanger, and mail. All great to have where ever you go. This is a very helpful service.

But wait! It is missing one thing. Yahoo! states, "allows you to access the information and content that is important to you". If that is true it is missing one giant piece. Where is the calendar? [Update] The calendar is actually there. Russ Beattie (of Yahoo! Mobile) provided the following response:

Y! Go also syncs the Calendar, it syncs with your Yahoo! Calendar and uses the Series 60 native calendar app on the phone for alerts. The SyncML service also syncs the calendar on phones like the SonyEricsson's and Nokias which support it.

What really impresses me is the SyncML work. That news is one of the most impressive things I have heard on calendaring in a while. I have been waiting for Apple to go this route for their iSync for the last couple revisions and I thought they would be the leaders on this syncing standards front. Yahoo! seems to understand the needs today and the future, which is one of the things that has impressed me about Yahoo! in the last year or two (they really get it, possibly better than any other large web company, yes I am considering Google too). If you want more info on Yahoo! and using SyncML Russ has the following post on Yahoo! Mobile Services: SyncML and More. I am still not sure why the marketing people left out calendaring. [/Update]

<ignore>Of all the things to leave out.</ignore> The calendar is one of two pieces of essential social data that people complain constantly that they do not have access to, or did not sync properly (the other is contact info). A large part of our social communication is about the "next". It could be the next call, the next meeting, the next lunch, the next... you fill-in the blank. Social is not completely about the now, it is about the future too. Not having a component to connect in the future and to ensure proper planning it is only a partial social tool.

One of my pet peeves the last four years, or so I have been working with the Model of Attraction and the Personal InfoCloud (your information you are interested, that you have attracted to your device, becomes attracted to you and moves across your devices so it is at your ready call when you want it and need it) is constant access to one's own information, which means whether you have connectivity or not and is available on the device you have with you (it must be device and platform agnostic). Yahoo! seems to get this all but for that one important bit.

In the past year Yahoo! purchased a company that provides event information (Upcoming), which could tie wonderfully into a calendar (either as events you are attending or potential events). Yahoo! also recently announced connecting Tivo and your Yahoo! calendar. We know they get the importance of the calendar. Where oh where is it? [Update] It is actually there just not advertised.[/Update]



May 29, 2005

Empire Falls is Wonderful

Last night I watch the first of two parts of Empire Falls on HBO. The cast is wonderful, but the story and it depiction on the screen is even better. The tensions of the plot are set up very well. The screenplay keeps chapter breaks and author narration. The flashbacks in time are done wonderfully on the screen and the literary narrative seems like it is playing out well.

I watch very little television any more (too many other things have my attention for the same time). But, Empire Falls has made a wonderful change of pace. I put it up with Band of Brothers as one of my favorite cable movie series.



October 8, 2003

Why and how the Web beats television

BBCi's Ashley Highfield speach TV's Tipping Point: Why The Digital Revolution Is Only Just Beginning highlights what is coming in the future, hopefully not too distant future.



August 24, 2003

Beeb to open archives to the Web

The Beeb is open its program archives to the Web. This is a deep and broad repository and will be a great addition to the public around the globe.



March 3, 2003

Another wonderful Mister Rogers story

Another wonderful Mister Rogers tribute story. The days since Mister Rogers passed away have brought to light the wonder and kindness one man gave. He was an incredible gift to all of us and as the stories of his life kept coming everybody stated how warm and caring he was all the time. He gave levity in every situation and show how one can live a great life. As the story suggests he may just be a true saint. I have talked with folks over the years that were frightened by him as they could not find a dark side. The friends I knew who met him and saw him in everyday situations said he was kinder and nicer than on television. I only wish I could start to live to be half of what Mister Rogers was. [hat tip Rebecca]



February 27, 2003

Mister Rogers has died

Mister Rogers has died at the age of 74. I learned a lot from his shows and as an adult would watch the shows when I was home sick. He taught kids (and adults) not only about the world around them, but how to care for others.

I have known folks who knew him personally and said he was just the same in real life as he is on the show. This is one of the best role models for kids that has ever been on television and it is wonderful to know he is just as nice and caring off the camera.



October 11, 2002

Update on lack of broadband progress

I am still with out most of my outbound e-mail capabilities for my usual accounts. I can see all the inbound e-mail, but I am mostly devoid of responding, which is driving me crazy. This will get resolved once DSL arrives, I am still waiting on Verizon to get their act together and tie the phone number to the address. The last residents of the house has DSL running at a really good clip, but nobody can see that until Verizon understands their role in the world.

We finally got satellite TV today, which is a huge improvement over cable. Why? Much better picture, much better sound, cheaper, and channels like Tech TV and BBC America. The downside is the current placement of the dish, on the right hand corner of the roof on the front of the house. It could be a good reason to remove the tree that is creating this issue or to get the dish moved when we paint the eaves.

I spent today trying to figure out why we had no phone signal, well it turns out the PC modem fries the phone lines. I was waiting for contractors to come and fix a furnace, closets, and the dish guys. All the contractors were stuck in the traffic related to trying to find the DC shooter and we calling the often to let me know of their delays. The shootings really have not un-nerved me as the odds are long that I or anybody I know would get shot. I am much more aware of my surroundings, much like living in the UK in the late 80s with the IRA bombings and such.

I was put off from doing some work for a while today as the CD I burned on a nearly up-to-date security patched Win 2k box would not be acknowledged in the Mac. This is odd as it is how I move files out of XP Home (miserable version of XP). I finally got the CD to run in the PC (I finally had a reason to assmble it after nearly 2 weeks in the house) and reburned them on a CD, which did run on OS X. This little task and figuring out that the PC modem has phone voodoo here caused the loss of a couple hours. I knew I should have pulled the box of blank CDs out of the packing box they are in.

I am trying to focus on getting a couple reviews done, user/usability test a new site, get back to writing some articles, and putting our office together.



September 21, 2002

House appeal

It is settling in that we will be moved by this point next Saturday and I will most likely be without broadband access for a week or two at that point. I have Earthlink dial-up, which is barely passable and restricts access to most of my e-mail addresses. We are also leaning toward satellite TV over cable, mostly because our cable supplier can not process payments and their billing system has been one step away from being fully hosed for nearly six months. This may be the perfect opportunity to get Tivo into the house.

On the house front, the painters are done and the walls and ceillings are beautiful, and now that we can open our doors to the outside and open windows, we are very happy with the job done. Our floors started getting refinished yesterday and we have wonderful red oak flooring that is looking amazing after one coat of light stain. It is a huge improvement.



April 4, 2002


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.


November 27, 2001

I am so looking forward to getting back to my regularly scheduled programming. In last nights adventures I did get to watch the conclusion of a Monday Night Football game that did not involve the 49ers. I also watched the Food Network for a while. I was intrigued with many items on the FN, but was really thankful Emeril was a chef and not a Web developer as he seems to throw out most cooking basics I know and he is not into teaching cooking, but rather creating a high school football atmosphere. Should you want to recreate something on the Emeril show you would need to use eggs, butter, a bottle of wine (because the crowd cheers for more wine), and whatever else you want. I guess that is why it is the Food Network and not the Cooking Network. Who knew there was this much on television.

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