Producing vs. Consuming

How do you start your morning, as a producer or a consumer?

I was sparked to ask this after reading this thread on reddit. The thread talks about small life changes that have a big impact. This question really stuck in my head. How do you start your day?

I’m not talking about when you shower (hopefully), eat breakfast, and go though the mindless routine. I’m talking about the first things you do with your thinking. Do you start checking Facebook, Twitter, and email? Do you start working on a project? It comes down to are you consuming the information, or producing it? A small thing that can really set the tone for the rest of the day.

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Being Creative

I saw this on a poster recently and really liked it. It’s an excerpt by Ira Glass. I believe it is originally from a speech (you can find it on youtube).

What nobody tells people who are beginners – and I really wish someone had told me – is that all of us who do creative work get into it because we have good taste. but there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste – the thing that got you into the game – is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phone; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know out work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close the gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this an anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through.

Ira Glass

5 Apps for Productivity

Lately my workflow for getting stuff done has changed. I am working more from a travelling office and have less time to get things done. I needed to be more efficient when I am working and these apps help make that happen.

Podio

My main organization tool. I use Podio to mange both my personal and work projects. What makes Podio such a unique App, is its customization. There is a Podio App store to add different functionality to your projects or you can build your own apps. It is really something you have to try to see how expansive and useful the app can be.

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Music

The way I listen to music has come full circle.

When I first started listening to music, it was on the radio. I had a yellow Casio hand-held radio. This “hand-held” radio is bigger than my smart phone is today. I didn’t know much about radio stations, but I knew how to scan around with the manual knob until I found music I liked.This got me by, since it was portable and I didn’t really know music.

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5 Tips for Freelancing

I have been working as a freelancer for the past three years. Both part-time and full-time. There are things I’ve learned, and things I wish I knew starting out. I work as a web developer, but the advice is pretty universal.

1. Clear Separation

You are a constant representation of your work, but your work life is not your entire life. For communication, you and and your business and two separate entities. You don’t want clients to contact you the same way friends would. Have a level of professionalism with how you communicate.

There should be some ground rules. You may be working from home, but that doesn’t mean you are always working. I only answer my work communications during business hours (usually 10:00am – 7:00pm), but I also make sure I am always available during these hours. You  can’t expect yourself to be on call 24/7. Work and personal life needs some division.

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Slow Dance

This was at the end of The 4-Hour Work Week, which I finally got around to reading. I liked it and decided to share. It’s written by David L. Weatherford.

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,

or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,

or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,

when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,

with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,

and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,

’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,

time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,

you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,

hear the music before your song is over.

All Art Is Quite Useless

This is the preface to the Oscar Wilde book, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I read this book a while back and revisited it recently.  Remembering how much I enjoyed the preface and how I wanted to publish it last time I read it, it’s a bit overdue.

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.  To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.  The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.  This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.  They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.  Books are well written, or badly written.  That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.  The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.  No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.  No artist has ethical sympathies.  An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.  No artist is ever morbid.  The artist can express everything.  Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.  From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.  From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.  All art is at once surface and symbol.  Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.  Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.  It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.  Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.  When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.  We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it.  The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Winter Coming

I recently started my second Alain de Botton book, The Art of Tavel. The first was “The Architecture of Happiness.”  It left a pretty favorable impression on me, so I decided to get another one of his books the library.  de Botton has a pretty unique writing style with some interesting veiws on how the world around us effects us.

This is the opening paragraph to The Art of Travel.  It seemed fitting giving the time of year.  There is really no point to the text, just take it for what it is.

It was hard to say when exactly winter arrived.  The decline was gradual, like that of a person into old age, inconspicuous from day to day until the season became an established relentless reality.  First came a dip in evening temperatures, then days of continuous rain, confused gusts of Atlantic wind, dampness, the fall of leaves and the changing of the clocks – though there were still occasional moments of reprieve, mornings when one could leave the house without a coat and the sky was cloudless and bright.  But they were like false signs of recovery in patient upon whom death has passed its sentence.  By December, the new season was entrenched and the city was covered almost every day by an ominous steely-grey sky, like one in a painting by Mantegna or Veronese, the perfect backdrop to the crucifixion of Christ or to a day beneath the bedclothes.  The neighbourhood park became a desolate spread of mud and water, lit up at night by rain-streaked lamps.  Passing it one evening during a downpour, I recalled how, in the intense head of the previous summer, I had stretched out on the ground and let my bare feet slip from my shoes to caress the grass and how this direct contact with the earth had brought with it a sense of freedom and expansiveness, summer breaking down the usual boundaries between indoors and out, all allowing me to feel as much at home in the world as in my own bedroom.

4 Alternative Uses for Your Blog

Software list– I often blog about new software I find and use. When setting up a new computer you can use your blog to recall all the little programs you usually use. It much easier to find programs on your blog then searching the web, since you are the one that organized it all.

Tweaks and Tips- little tricks I’ve found and like, I blog about. Its often easier for me to show someone a how-to on my blog rather than explaining the whole process to them. It also saves me time with not having to explain the same thing to different people, everyone is able to view the blog.

Online Organization– a blog can be used as an online organizational tool. Its a central location to store any thoughts or ideas you write about for quick future in the access. Its much easier to have ideas on your blog rather than trying to remember every little things. Also the data is accessible from anywhere, so you don’t have to be at your own computer to access your data.

Digital Toolbox– I’ve done a couple posts on fixing problems that I’ve had with my computer, and cited programs that I use for cleaning up my computer. This information come in handy when I have to work on friends and family computers. I just got to my blog and get all the tools and information I need in one location.

With all these alternative uses for your blog, the more you blog, the more useful it is.