December 15, 2014

Newsroom Wraps-up an Evening that Tilted

At 8pm my temp goes up and I start not feeling well. Just after 9pm I start watching Newsroom for the final episode. 9:10 for the next hour I am yelling solids at a small body of water between hitting pause and play. About 10pm tears are rolling thanks to Newsroom it is good deep letting go. The next 20 minutes are tears and feeling a bit better.

Now to sort out if the medication I took to feel better needs to be retaken. Also need to sort out how to monitor keeping my temp low through the night (it is about 100F, thanks for asking).

I think Newsroom may be one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a long time, as I am a sucker like that and I love banter and considering the difficult things in the world around us, then trying to sort out what to do next to make it better. To make real lasting change.

But, for now that lasting change is a good night sleep and feeling better in the morning. Don Quixote has a very short vision this evening, but also has a long long memory, which likes the visions of much better things in the future as well. (what good is having a good memory if it can’t help you see a better future too?)

December 14, 2014

Link Like Bin 13 December 2014

Another week of cleaning up, organizing, and working out partly broken identity and still working to get that resolved. Just the second time in 14 years with a Mac that I have had something this bothersome, which is much better than the nearly monthly with prior OS and same “corporate” OS when working on client sites.

December 7, 2014

Link Like Bin 6 December 2014

A week of clean-up on work and project front and prepping for a some personal projects and getting new work projects settled and sorted for the new year (you still have time to grab some time, you this is you reach out and say hello).

I am also in the midst of moving from the sofa as my work space and back to my desk. This summer the lighting was much better at the sofa and then had a stretch of work travel where my desk got buried when I dumped my bag on Friday returns and not really dealt with before Monday’s trip back out. While the sofa is comfortable and the natural light is still great, I miss having a good work space to have a few books open and working through things.

Links for the Week of 6 December 2014

December 3, 2014

24 Ways: A Web Holiday Favorite

Nothing makes me happier than to see the winter holiday begin and 24 Ways start its annual release of web development and design goodness. Drew McLellan and the 24 Ways crew have done another great job and I look forward eagerly for every day’s gem that is released.

To make all of this better, 24 Ways is in its 10th year. Congratulations for all the great content and work, from the very first to the current offering of the day.

December 2, 2014

30 Days Had November

Well the attempt to blog every day in November didn’t get as much wind in its sails as I had hoped it would have. November had 30 days, but I had far fewer posts than 30. I didn’t get a new habit set. But, I am not yet deterred as I am keeping this attempt going.

One of the things I’ve thought about doing is doing a weekly link dump of items I found of interest through out the week. These are some of my favorite week end reads when I curl up with the laptop (or iPad), a cup of coffee and a blanket. I have long been a fan of Om’s weekend delivery of his 5 (or 7) things to read this weekend as they are nearly always high quality, in depth, and decent (meaning on the longer side) length. I’ve also grown to head toward Josh Ginter of “The Newsprint” weekly “The Sunday Edition” link dump of the week. Recently Michael Sippy has been back sharing on the web (just like the days of yore) and his Filtered Week series on Medium is an annotated link list gem.

One of the reasons I have been considering this (and actually tucking links away for posting) is the past few weeks I realized my blog’s link list on the side of this blog that was posted from Delicious is now dead and gone. The link roll that was a staple of Delicious from 2004 or so was nuked with many other helpful features and functionality that kept Delicious as one part of my workflow. I moved most of my social bookmarking to Pinboard a few years back, but I still fed Delicious and then Delicious fed Pinboard. Well, that was the case until the new owners of Delicious (sadly Delicious gets passed around the IT community like a hot potato with each new owner thinking they are going to update it and improve it, yet lack a rat’s clue of the basics nor how to keep (now kept) the workings that underpin many parts of the web running) fumbled things and Pinboard stopped automatically ingesting Delicious. I really missed the change at Pinboard (was heads down on a project when that happened), but now all my social bookmarking is happening there.

The lack of a link sidebar is the push to share things that I find as gems from the week. I could repoint the Delicious javascript to Pinboard, but Pinboard also captures all my starred / favorited items (I don’t use starring in Twitter as a favorite, but more of a hook for things to hold on to and / or come back to) and things favorited in Instagram, and imports from other services. Pinboard, because I use the paid archive service is an endpoint that serves also as a place to do full text search of the items bookmarked there. Until I can sort out a good filter or means of tagging in my workflow, I am keeping the link list off the sidebar. But, in its place I am likely going to do a weekly link list.

November 15, 2014

Khoi Turns Infocards into Wildcard

This past week one of my favorite designers, Khoi Vinh released a product for iOS that is a great play on information card UI called Wildcard. Khoi has a really good write-up of the journey launching Wildcard.

Wildcard is Best When Used

The real joy is in using Wildcard. Khoi created a wonderfully usable and quite intuitive UI and interaction model all based on information cards, which work wonderfully on mobile and other constrained UI devices. Wildcard is a mix of news summary and scrolling service and product finding service.

Information cards are often mis-used and misunderstood. Both Google and Twitter started in with adding infocards to their design and information structuring a few years back. Both did this as a means to surface well chunked and structured content into small chunks for mobile and other UI constrained interfaces, but also for information scanning and lite representation interfaces and interaction models, like Google Now and the Twitter stream. The model does not work as well on fuller information and content sites, as it constrains in ways that are not moving things forwards, but instead setting false arbitrary constraints.

An Interconnected Service

One of the great pleasures in Wildcard is it not only has its own hold onto for later interaction and service, but it has fully integrated sharing with others and into your own services where you track, store, and manage your information nuggets. It does a really good job of integrating into one’s own personal knowledge flows and capture services.

Far too many services (see (unfortunately) Medium as example of current balkanization from other services) have been shifting to make it difficult for the reader and user of their content to work with the content as they wish and need in their information flows. This fracturing means it is more difficult to share and attribute content (and send people to the site) when blogging or other write-ups.

Khoi has long understood the value of information relationships and information flows for use and reuse, which shows brightly here in Wildcard.

Moved Wildcard to the Front Row

After spending about 15 minutes with Wildcard in my first use of it, it moved to the front row of my “News” folder in my iOS devices. It may become one of my first go to apps to see what is happening in the world around me.

A Model Interaction App

One of the things that struck me in my first use was the intuitive interaction model and information model for moving into a collection and around and deeper in the collection and then back out. Wildcard is really well done on this front. It is one of those things where when I am done using it the ease of use (for the most part - there are one or so “wha?” moment, but for a just launched product that is great) really stands out and I start working through how it works and functions. I’m likely going to have a sit down with it not to use it, but to map out what it is doing, because for me its interaction design is really good and fluid.

It is always a joy to find an app or service that not only does its job well and seems to get out of the way, but works to augment your workflows and existing resources for use and reuse. But, when it stands out as a really easy to use service on first use and good for discovery and exploring, it is worth sitting and better understanding the how and why it does that so I can better think through options and paths for things I am working on or advising.

Kudos Khoi!

November 13, 2014

Finding Voice and Freeing my Mind

The effort to return to a habit of regular blogging has been really helpful. But, it has also not solved some inner conflict I thought was going to be a breeze to push past. In my initial push the Refinement can be a Hinderance post really is a tough speed bump to clear. I have a long list of blogfodder queued up for my more formal and work focussed blog, Personal InfoCloud, but now I’m noticing a queue here on this blog as well.

Part of this effort on this blog is to just get things out of my head and shared. I’m realizing time is a hurdle (more correctly lack of time), but getting things framed well and not making a fool (there is a huge part of my inner self that loves to play the jester) of myself. In blogging I’m trying to work writing as an easy sprint again. I am trying to not pay attention to voice, nor what sorts of things I am finding of interest to share. I have been hoping it would evolve, has it did in the very beginning and again with a few other reboots. In this I am finding I am noting things of interest, but not fleshing them out quickly and marking them as to do later, which was my counter intent. Part of this shifting ideas to blogfodder lists rather than knocking it out is there are other things that get my attention as I sit to write.

I am ending up with a few new category terms to add to my pick list. I am also wanting to use this blog to frame and shape ideas and maps forward for the Personal InfoCloud blog. I’m likely going to list out all of the 14 or 15 Shift Happened posts that are brewing as a post here in the near future. I’m also thinking of listing all the social lenses as an outline - downside to this is I want to point to all the existing posts over the years that have become part of the social lenses.

Potentially Adding Linkblogging Back Again

I am also thinking of doing quick link blog posts, which fall into a longer Pinboard or Delicious social bookmark and add more narrative. I keep thinking I want a slightly different input form for those (I had one for Quick Links years back before Delicious started, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill these days). I also have a love / hate for blogger’s link blogging as the header link goes way from their blog and not to a permalink page with a little more info. The user interface is not differentiated in any way, or done incredibly poorly on most sites. But, I am trying not to let the short comings of other’s sites deter my own use of link blogging, but I would keep the header link consistent and link it locally to a node page and have a proper link out to the site or object in the text.

No More Meta - Maybe

With each of these meta posts about this blog as post in this blog, I swear it is my last one.

I also realized my new hosting server (sat in New York I believe) is not using local time, but GMT instead. This is better than the time stamping of blog posts on my old server / host in Sydney (yes, I know I can fix this with a simple conversion, but that requires writing the conversion). One day I may fix that. One day.

November 12, 2014

New Adoption Points

One of those things where, yet again, realize you have a really quick personal adoption threshold when a new device fills in and you start wondering why everything can’t be logged into with a fingerprint. Then there is the, “why are you calling me on my payment device?”

It has been over 30 years of having new devices arrive at semi-regular pace and quickly disrupting things for workflows around devices and interactions, which is followed often by relatively quick adoption and getting used to a new mental model that makes things a little easier. This is really true for software that is buggy and never really fixed and where I (as well as other humans are the human affordance system).

The Software Counter Model to Quick Change Adoption

As much as new physical hardware and software interaction model shifts largely causes little difficulty with changing for more ease of use, the counter to this with software with a lot of human need for grasping mental models. It is particularly difficult when structuring mental models and organization structure before using software is something required.

There have been some good discounts on Tinderbox across podcasts I listen to or websites around Mac productivity I read, so I nabbed a copy. I have had long discussion around Tinderbox for over a decade and it has been on my want list for large writing and research projects. I have had quite a few friends who have been long time users (longer than I have been a DevonThink user), but I don’t seem to have one in my current circle of colleagues (I you are one and would love to chat, please reach out).

I have a few projects that I think would make great sense to put into Tinderbox, but not really grokking the structure and mental model and flows - particularly around what I wish I would know when I have a lot of content in it. It is feeling a lot like trying to read Japanese and not having learned the characters. I also wish I had kept better notes a few years back when I was deeply sold on a need for Tinderbox, but didn’t capture a detailed why and how I thought it would work into workflow.

Some Tools are Nearly There as a Continual State

I have some software and services that I use a fair amount with hope that they will get much much better with a few relatively small things. Evernote is nearly always in this category. Evernote is a good product, but never gets beyond just good. The search always falls apart at scale (it was around 2,000 objects and had about doubled that scaling threshold pain point) and I can’t sort out how to script things easily or remotely drop content into the correct notebook from email or other easy entry model. There are a lot of things I wish Evernote would become with a few minor tweaks to support a scalable solid no (or very few faults tool), but it never quite takes those steps.

Their business tool offering is good for a few use cases, which are basic, but getting some smart and intelligence uses with better search (search always seems to be a pain point and something that DevonThink has nailed for 10 years) would go a really long way. Evernote’s Context is getting closer, but is lacking up front fuzzy, synonym, and narrowing search with options (either the “did you mean” or narrowing / disambiguation hints / helps).

We will get there some day, but I just wish the quick adoption changes with simple hardware interaction design and OS changes would become as normal as quickly with new other knowledge and information tools for personal use (always better than) or business.

November 10, 2014

Manufacturing Time

In addition to trying to hack a habit into existence around blogging every day (here but also counting the larger posts over at Personal InfoCloud, which is mostly working-ish), I am trying to hack my sleep cycles.

For a few years I have been running Sleep Cycle app to optimize my sleep wake up times so I am feeling more rested (read, “a lot less cranky”) by waking in the optimum sleep pattern. This has been a great tool and has really helped.

While all things are lovely on this front, I have been trying to sort out how to better optimize time or create more productive time. I haven’t been getting optimal output, which I was used to over many years. Part of the shift was slipping out of good habits, but on a recent work travel stint (I’m always a lot more productive when traveling, even though I’m lacking some resources (physical books) on the road).

In working through this productivity difference, it starting coming down to the revelation that home cycles include family time and driving my son to practices and games (I love doing this), but by the time I return in the late evening I am not as ready nor willing to sit down and work again.

While there are tasks that will engage my mind and I will get a lot of focus and crank things out (this is largely coding projects) but the late evening turns into night and then middle of the night quite easily, the evening is rather out. So, if I am trying to manufacture more time for productivity during the day the morning is the other option (in science fiction cracking open as slice in the middle of the day to add time would be a possibility, but I’m still living in my version of the now).

I am hoping to shift my 8am wake time, which ties to a midnight to 1am sleep time, back about two hours. I chipped back about 45 minutes today and hoping by week’s end to have this down.

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