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Coming (Back) Home to WordPress

Friction can be bad. The more friction you feel between you and accomplishing (or even just starting) a task, the less likely it is that it’s going to get done. Even when it’s something you want to do.

I’ve been feeling some friction with using Hugo to generate a static version of this site. Mostly regarding needing to be at my MacBook or home office Mac, or to remotely access them, in order to be able to build and deploy the site.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny amend like a typo, misspelling, or a grammatical error. The whole site needs to be rebuilt and deployed.

Now its pretty darn quick to build, and with rsync only deploying files that have changed it’s also quick to deploy changes to the server. I still have to be at a Mac with the latest version of the site pulled down from the repo.

If I am on one of my iOS devices I can use Screens to remote to my home office Mac. I can then make sure I’ve got the latest source from the repo, and if I haven’t already added the new post (which is likely on these devices) then I can add the file, copy the post contents and format the posts metadata so it gets handled correctly by Hugo.

Once thats done I just need to build and check it looks fine in Hugo and deploy it. Oh and commit my changes to the repo.

It’s all straight-forward enough, but there’s enough steps and slight complexity in it to cause me to hesitate about even starting a post.

With WordPress I can copy and paste the markdown for my post, usually from Ulysses into my app of choice. If I’m on my Mac I can publish direct from Ulysses or perhaps MarsEdit. On iOS I can also publish from Ulysses or use the WordPress app.

Additionally on all platforms (where I also have 1Password installed or accessible by browser) I can login via the WordPress admin UI and create/update posts.

Since I moved to a VPS my sites are running faster. Not static site fast, but fast enough to make me happy and it’s not like this site has a big readership (or even a small readership).

At the weekend I deleted the site, one-click installed a WordPress instance, chose a free and clean WordPress theme and migrated my content. The biggest part of the process was finding a free theme that would suit for now and only required minor amends to not be too objectionable.

Hopefully now it’s easier and more accessible for me to post to this site, I will post more. There’s one less excuse not to.

Panobook from Studio Neat — A Notebook for Your Desk

It seems like only a few weeks since I received my glif (the second version) after backing their project on Kickstarter.

The Studio Neat guys are back on Kickstarter, this time with their solution of a notebook that fits well on a desk alongside a keyboard — the Panobook.

A panoramic notebook for your desk, and eventually, your shelf. Made of quality materials and thoughtful details.

The computer desk friendly ratio of the notebook isn’t its only thoughtful aspect. The dot-grid paper inside features subtle corner guides with horizontal and vertical midpoint guides to help easily divide the page including three or six 16:9 rectangles, perfect for wire-framing or storyboarding. The slip case for archiving completed notebooks is a cool idea too.

Ben Brooks and Stephen Hackett have posted reviews from their time using a prototype version.

I’m a sucker for a cool notebook (still pining for a Baron Fig Confidant but reluctant to spend the extra money to import one) so I’ve backed this on Kickstarter. Just the one for now, but who am I kidding I’ll probably up it to three or more soon.

Gather — A Modular Organiser from Ugmonk

I’ve been an admirer of the work of Jeff Sheldon for awhile since I first became aware of Ugmonk clothing. Instantly wanting pretty much everything on the site I couldn’t decided what to get. So I didn’t get anything. Weird. I mean I really like the minimalist designs, cool typography, and oh boy the brown leather mouse mat, phew!

I signed up for the newsletter though. Through that I found out about the current Kickstarter project for Gather.

Following on from that I just placed an order for a couple of t-shirts for Melinda and I. As luck would have it they were sold out of the mouse mat I’ve lusted after for so long. Some day it will be mine, but not yet.

Deciding on what to get from such a long list of cool t-shirts, prints and accessories was hard. Some things were sold out in my size too, which made choosing harder.

What’s easy is the appeal of ordering from a small, independent and creative company, run by a family, who make cool products and also give back to charity.

Kickstarter Campaign Funded in 47 minutes

The initial $18,000 goal was smashed in under an hour. 24 hours in the pledges stood at over $100,000. After a weeks the project was 1051% funded.

After the first few days I admit I felt a little wary about my pledge. I was excited about the project and desperately hoping that the manufacturing process would be able to scale to cope with the massive demand.

The third project update via Kickstarter ensured backers that the manufacturers were ready to scale as big as required and still deliver on time while maintaining detail and quality. I sure hope so.

A Gift to Myself

Delivery is estimated as December, a nice Christmas present to myself. I didn’t pay attention to this when deciding to back the project but it works out kinda nicely.

I backed the Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack last year which also turned into a fantastic Christmas present to myself.

Hoping that I get what I really want for Christmas this year, my very own Gather.

There’s 19 days left to back the project. Go on — treat yourself.

Not Quite a 365

The pressure is off at least. I struggled on quite a few days, since I started Shared Paternal Leave I’m not always out and about at places where I’m inspired to take photos. I’m also pretty focused, or distracted, by looking after little one.

There have been clingy periods and mental leaps, teething and colds and I chose (and also didn’t have a choice) to focus on looking after Ellie. Sometimes it got to nine o’clock on an evening before I remembered I hadn’t taken a photo for the day. This often led to some scrambling around looking for a subject, often with poor results. This led to a lot of what I would call poor photos, that I wouldn’t have otherwise shared.

Perhaps I learned something anyway from taking these ’bad’ photos, but I don’t think thats the case.

A few months in I started posting the photos less regularly. I was still taking a photo each day, multiple photos even, on my camera and my phones camera, but I was posting them in bulk after a few days, struggling to keep up.

Recently, while again behind on posts, I realised I had only taken one photo on a previous day. Elowyn and I both had head colds so we were resting. I took a very poorly lit photo using the front-facing camera of Ellie asleep in my arms, intending to send it to my wife. Thats the only photo I took that day, my energy went to looking after myself and my daughter and I’m completely happy with that decision, it wasn’t really even a conscious choice.

Now I could have shared that photo, I considered it. It would mean I could continue the unbroken chain of posting photos. But I would have felt shitty. Like real shitty. Like I cheated at something, and I already felt somewhat like that on. days where I cobbled a photo together last minute. I’m not completely sure why this made me feel bad, it’s not like I have an audience with certain expectations of me, or something contractual to live up to (other than perhaps with myself). Expectations I placed on myself.

Realising this was kind of freeing. I realised I didn’t mind so much having missed a day. It doesn’t feel like the epic failure I though it would. This isn’t that much of a priority to me, not the one I imagined it would be, failing wasn’t that bad.

I’ve missed a couple of days photos recently and have some I’ve taken that need uploading. Rather than abandon things at this stage I’m going to carry on. Sure it won’t be a complete 365, and I may still post some rushed, last minute though out photos (hopefully less of these). I’ll probably miss a few more days along the way.

You can catch up and stay up-to-date with my photos on Bliphoto.

At least I’ll be taking and sharing more photos. I think that was the real benefit of starting this project, and it’s a benefit that’s not negated by ‘failing’.

Yep yep yep!

Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

I first found out about Jessica Abel through a link to an article she wrote that Shawn Blanc published in an email newsletter of his. I signed up to Jessica’s email list which, of late, has covered her journey to becoming self-published author.

Quickly becoming a fan of Jessica’s writing style and finding myself struggling when it comes to personal projects, be they creative or self-improvement based, this seemed like a book I could benefit from reading. I joined the launch group on Facebook and started reading the book. I’m now going to recommend it to some of my colleagues and friends who like me, want to do many things at once and struggle to make any meaningful progress, living with the guilt and anguish of inaction instead.

The problems discussed in the books introduction really resonated with me.

I have a great many personal projects that I want to work on, that I feel I need to work on. A recent one was to design a birthday invite for a joint party to celebrate my daughters birthday, she will be one in a few months, and my wife and I are both forty this year. A fairly straightforward project, I’m a developer and amateur photographer, so not a designer but I know some photoshop and like to think of myself as a little creative.

I have been putting it off, plagued with anxieties about the design not being perfect, no-one liking it, or even caring that it exists.

Then I started reading this book. I know from doing the Focus Course (Shawn Blanc) where my life goals currently lie and what my priorities are. At least I have an idea.

This celebration perfectly fits with two most important areas of my life, my wife and my daughter and my goals for my relationship with them. It also ties in with my desire to do more creative work on personal projects. So why was I hesitating? Why procrastinate so?

Reading the introduction to this book was a perfect reminder as to how inaction on the things that matter to me will leave me more unhappy than working on them and being prepared to struggle, to create, even to try and fail.

“Growing Gills is a powerful, actionable book that will take you from overwhelmed, anxious, and stuck, to consistent, clear, and in control of your creative life.” — Jessica Abel, Growing Gills

I put aside the book and I sat down at the laptop and spent the evening creating an invite. A few revisions the next day and I wrote an introduction for the event and published it and the image to a Facebook event. It’s done, it’s out there, some friends have already commented they like it (without knowing I designed it).

My wife asked me to do one for our daughters baby and parent party (a smaller party just for Elowyn earlier in the day). I bought an invitation template for that one and adjusted it. Baby steps eh?

I feel better, one less thing to be anxious about, to feel guilty and stressed about not having done. I enjoyed it, it wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of myself for pushing forward.

I am looking forward to continuing the book and seeing what I can push myself to do next thanks to its positive influence. If you ha e similar problems then I highly recommend you get this book, which at the time of writing this happens to be free on Amazon.

Get your copy (not an affiliate link) and join me in the journey by getting your creative (or otherwise) projects off the drawing board and into reality.

A 365 for 2017

What if I fail? It’s a very real possibility and that scares me. I do fear failure and though my head tells me I shouldn’t let that fear get in my way, my default reaction is to avoid situations that can lead to it. Especially public failure.

Given the duration and frequency involved in a 365 project there will be many opportunities for failure. The fact that I have chosen (for now) to follow a outline (from a book) both works for and against me. Simultaneously aiding whilst also constraining me in terms of a subject for the day.

I am following the Vision 365 ebook which I hope will both provide me with a daily subject (thereby removing some of the friction of wondering what to photograph) and also train me to more readily recognise photographic opportunities.

Sharing my intention here and telling family, friends and colleagues about my 365 attempt provides some accountability. Tracking it in Streaks and following the book will hopefully provide some additional impetus. I can do this, whether or not I will do it remains to be seen. For now I’m trying to stay positive and take joy in being on the journey, for now anyway.

As I write this it’s day 19 and today subject is texture. I have a few shots from earlier today, some on my m4/3 camera, some on my phone. I am not sure I am overly happy with any of them so a few ideas have come to me on possible subjects to explore at home. I often find I run out of time and daylight and then end up shooting something at home but I try to practice ‘seeing’ on my commute and whilst at work, on lunch and wherever I can really.

So far so good

I am mostly enjoying the challenge. If you want to follow along you can find my daily photos on blipfoto.

If you’ve ever though about doing a 365 project and think you can make the time then just start. Sure you might fail just like I might but perhaps we can both be a little less afraid and be more creative together. Thanks for reading.

Orbitkey 2.0

I am always looking out for new and better ways to carry and store things. Sometimes it’s about about carrying or packing smarter, better, more options and features. Other times it can be about lessening, simpifying — the beauty of minimalism, essentialism.

Orbitkey 2.0

I’ve backed two projects on Kickstarter for what are my favourite, perhaps essential everyday or special carry items.

The first one was for Trove: The Ultimate Slim Wallet & Card Case, that launched in July 2014 and it was the first project I ever backed on Kickstarter. I’ve carried that wallet with me nearly everyday since and I wouldn’t be without it.

I wasn’t aware of the original version of Orbitkey, if I was I imagine I would happily have backed it.

The second was for the Peak Design Everyday Backpack which I also love, though I don’t use it everyday. I could, but with too so many other bags I own to choose from I like to switch it up sometimes.

Orbitkey has landed

Keys are one of those things I have with me everyday, that I’d like to carry less of, and also improve how I carry them. Leading up to this I’d already taken steps to reduce the number of keys that I was carrying at any one time. Partially by just weeding out unnecessary ones for every day usage, and also by creating different sets of keys to suit different days/activities (which does result in more keys overall but carrying less at any one time).

I wasn’t aware of the original version of Orbitkey, if I was I imagine I would happily have backed it. Although the Orbitkey production ran slightly longer than originally projected, there were regular production updates with progress containing great photos of the manufacturing process and the constituent parts. Issues and solutions were discussed and explained. The communication throughout the project was fantastic.

Orbitkey USB Stick

Arriving too late for Christmas, one of the keys I ordered is intended as a present, I was happy to wait for the product to be ‘right’, trusting in the projects creators attention to detail and pride in their work.

My Orbitkey’s arrived near the start of last week, the keys and accessories themselves were all nicely packaged and presented but the overall containing package wasn’t as nice as some of the photos from distribution centres in other countries. Perhaps a misconception on my part, maybe a distributor difference or decision to avoid a further delay.  Whatever the reason(s), the important thing is they are here and they are awesome.

Orbitkey Tan Leather and Buckle

I have the tan leather Orbitkey, the canvas one in Navy and the Kickstarter backer edition (the later was a reach goal bonus and I ordered an additional mechanism for it at extra cost). The leather one is setup with the multi-tool, 8GB USB key and two door keys. My car key will be ending up on here soon and this will be my go-to/everyday set.

Orbitkey Multi-Tool

The navy band will end up with a multi-tool, house keys and bike lock key on it as my sport/activity/travel set. The black rubber Orbitkey is destined for a family member as a belated Christmas present and the Kickstarter edition one will probably be kept as a souvenir of the project, or maybe an secondary activity/adventure day set.

The Orbitkey was intuitive to assemble though there is an instructional video available which I watched a few days after assembly and now realise I don’t need the second tensioning washer since I don’t have that many keys on it.

Bottom line: I’m really happy I backed this project, it’s a fantastic product and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a better way to carry their keys. Looking forward to using mine for years to come.

Indie Microblogging: owning your short-form writing

Very interested to read this upcoming book from Manton Reece on independent writing via the open web. I’ve backed this project on Kickstarter and I’m also looking forward to trying out the micro.blog service as well. I believe Melinda is also looking at backing this.

The Hilarious World of Depression

If you, or someone you know, is or has been affected by clinical depression then please check out this podcast hosted by John Moe.

A series of frank but funny conversations that aim to shine a light on the disease, with comedians sharing their experiences, and some laughs.

The Hilarious World of Depression… is a chance to gain some insight, have a few laughs, and realize that people with depression are not alone and that together, we can all feel a bit better.

Maybe start with episode 0 which is a preview of what the show is about and then dive in with any of the episodes (currently three).

I’m still navigating my way on my journey through depression and anxiety, being able to talk about it really helps. Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone about Mental Health. If you’d like to learn what to say to someone you know or care about, and also as importantly what not to say, or to learn more, visit the Make it Ok, Mind and Time to Change websites.

Let’s talk about mental health.

Merry Christmas Everyone

It’s our first Christmas as a family of three. At twenty weeks of age (today) the significance of the day will be lost on our daughter, but not on us. For us this day will (we hope) bring forth many happy and fond memories in years to come.

Camera(s) in hand I’ll be trying to document the day for us to watch and look back on in years to come. There are not that many photgraphs of my childhood, there are some but no-where near as many as we already have of our daughter in the short 5 months she has been with us. We are fortunate to live in an age where recording special or significant moments, or even everyday events, has never been so easy or inexpensive.

Our First Christmas, the three of us

Pre Christmas day we wanted to take a photograph of the three of us, with Elowyn wearing a Christmas outfit, to share with family and friends. One evening after work, without much time before little one’s bedtime, I setup the camera in the conservatory.

Camera on tripod, wireless flash transmitter in hot shoe, speedlight style flash on stand pointing into umbrella setup as reflective. Positioning the light inside the conservatory meant little working room and more importantly a big reflection in the conservatory glass behind us would in the shot. Out in the garden goes the light, no problem with range just boost the power. Luckily there is no wind, it’s a calm night, not like recent nights.

A few test shots later and then a ten minute struggle to get the Olympus Image Share app working. Deleting the installed profile for it and a few failed ‘easy’ setup attempts later and connectivity is restored. Baby is getting restless.

iPhone app set to fire three shots, a few seconds apart and after a three second countdown to start. Four or five monutes later we have a selection of photos to work with.

Into Lightroom and yeah that window column is coming out of Mel’s head, too difficult to clone out. We realised during the shoot with the on-camera preview and adjusted for some frames, trouble is the photos we like best happend to be the ones with ‘column-head’. A quick preset and tweak later and the important thing is we have a photo we are happy with, which documents the season. It should bring us happy memories in years to come and hopefully those who receive a copy will enjoy it.

Quick and dirty, one light. Not great, but good enough for a personal photograph.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and friends. Best wishes from myself, Melinda and Elowyn.