Streaks

At the end of December, ​I always take a week or two off and use it as a time of regrouping, planning, and just relaxation before the new year starts. 2017 was no different and during that time I felt like I wanted to do something different to start the year.

Some writing or creation that was totally for me​. I decided to attempt to blog something every day, and “something” was taken very liberal. It could be just a quote, or a picture, commentary on a story, or something that was on my mind. It didn’t matter as long as I hit publish every day.

Back around six months ago, I noticed that I was going through something internally where I stopped wanting to publish any new content on my primary site. As I looked inward to figure out why, I noticed that it all came down to popularity and traffic. The site had its best year yet and tons of people are visiting it all across the world, which you would think would make you want to publish more, but that wasn’t the case.

Just thinking about that put me in a mental shutdown. I became too worried about making everything perfect and worried about feedback and just negativity all around on my part.

Flashback to December and I had this in my mind when I made the goal to publish something every day, and I jumped in, but I decided to not share new posts on social media, to leave the comments open, and treat it like no one would be reading. I will admit as the month dragged on finding inspiration for content got harder and harder, but I struggled with it.

I made a few mistakes where I didn’t uncheck the social share options and had a few good discussions, but over all, I call this month a success. I meet my goal. I had fun. Most of all it has taken the negativity away from publishing.

I’m not sure what the rest of this year will look like for this site, but I hope to continue posting more, and I doubt I’ll share it on social media. So join the old school RSS feed if you want to stay up to date. Or not. 🙂

Watch The Total Lunar Eclipse Online

From the NASA announcement:

If you live in the western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands, you might set your alarm early the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 31 for a lunar trifecta: a pre-dawn “super blue blood moon.”

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, a live feed of the Moon will be offered on NASA TV and NASA.gov/live. You can also follow at @NASAMoon.Weather permitting, the NASA TV broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory.

“For the (continental) U.S., the viewing will be best in the West,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.”

The Jan. 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit — known as perigee — and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

For more information on what to expect check out this video:

 

We are all idiots at something

We all have our interests, and it’s impossible to be knowledgeable in everything in the world. For example, I’ve never been good at basic auto mechanics. One time I tried to change my oil I ended up draining the transmission fluid and then adding five more quarts of oil. When it wouldn’t go into gear, I couldn’t understand why and had to ask for help…

I remember getting picked on for that, and looking back it was a dumb mistake, but I had no one guiding me. I unscrewed the first thing I saw, which happened to be the transmission fluid.

Over the past few days, Strava has been in the news because they released a public “heat map” of all the workout locations from billions of data points all over the globe.

Apparently, you can use this data to pinpoint military bases throughout the world and what has previously been blacked out is now easily findable. To me, this is much like my auto mechanic story and a stupid mistake on the part of the leaders of our military. I mean how can you think it’s a good idea to use a social media app with the whole goal of tracking you with GPS on a base that should be blacked out?

One interesting piece of information on the story is Area 51 was indeed blacked out. I have assumed the other bases aren’t on some global list and if I’m being guessing even if Strava would have asked the military they wouldn’t have given them any information on what to block out.

But what this story reminds me of is that we are all idiots in our ways. Just as in my example I am an idiot. You are an idiot. However, if we work together, we can bring our IQ up collectively​ since there is a significant probability we are both dumb in different areas.

Mr. Rogers Documentary

Above is a clip from a new documentary coming soon called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? that is about the lessons, ethics and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Rogers.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a staple of my youth. We watched it almost every day​ after school and I have so many memories of both the show and the people that were​ in my life during that season. This will be a documentary that I’m very much looking forward too. ​

Beginning Blogger: Ignore your stats

I’ve had this site for many years and I’ve never really had a posting schedule. I would wait for inspiration to hit, write a post, hit publish and then get a little bummed out seeing that all the time I put in was only seen by 12 people. You would do well, especially in the beginning, to just ignore stats altogether​ and press on. Keep publishing, keep practicing, and little by little grow your audience.

By ignoring the stats it’ll keep your focus on what matters, the content, and not on doubting yourself. I know seeing thousands of people viewing an article is exciting, but at the start, ​you have the advantage of obscurity and can use that to hone your skills.

Really the only thing that matters is showing up, day after day after day, and pushing out your content, sharing your ideas, and making a community. If you can do it, it’s possible to make friends all over the world and honestly change your life.

Digitally Storing Book Quotes

In the past few years, I made the jump from digital books back to analog, and one of the first reasons I moved was because of the price. On a lot of books you can get the paperback cheaper than the eBook, and the hardcover for just a few dollars more.

But as I started building out my library a lot of other interesting things began to happen. I feel like I can remember where I read stuff better, I can flip through the book more comfortably, I can let friends and family borrow them, and it gets my eyes off the screen. Tons of wins!

However, one downside is converting quotes into digital notes for easier retrieval. In the past what I’ve been doing is marking the spot and then grabbing my phone and manually typing it all out. It’s a very slow process and not that great. The other option is to take a photo of it, but then those aren’t searchable.

Today I came across this post on using the Day One app as a Commonplace Book or what I call a Morgue File, basically a place to dump “all the things” so you have one place to look and search in the future.

In that post, they recommended an app called Scanner Pro from Readdle that is your camera on steroids. You can take a picture, and it will then OCR the text, electronic conversion of images of text into machine-encoded text, and allow you to copy and paste into whatever app you want.

It works surprisingly well but it is clunky because of all the steps involved going between two different apps, but still way faster than manually typing it all out.

Of course, a tool like this can be useful in a lot of other scenarios as well. For instance, digital scanning receipts for taxes, documents you need to email, and more. Scanner Pro priced at $3.99 is not a bad deal and I’m certain there​ are others on the market that might be free or even less expensive.

How about you? Do you have any tips for taking better notes and quotes when reading analog books? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Pitching Your Product to a Journalist

In my spare time, I run a tech news site, and I am constantly getting bombarded with pitches to cover everything from code packages, to SAAS apps, to new tools and utilities. Including things like this is why I initially started the site and I love it.

I love helping people by boosting interest in what they’ve spent their time creating, and I love the relationships it brings.

One of the downsides is time. I have a set number of hours every night that I can dedicate to the site either through writing new posts or managing the business side. But with a full-time job, a family, and other hobbies it’s honestly limited.

If you are making a pitch to me here are some things I am looking for:

  1. A Heads Up. Giving me a heads up that you will be launching in a few days is fantastic, and it helps me plan a post to coincide with your launch. That helps both of us. But I need a press release, so I can sit down and write it. I can’t follow up with 100 questions. I will honor an embargo, but I will not sign an NDA.
  2. That I can understand it. You’d be surprised how many things people send me that I have no idea what it is. I’m not going to waste my time attempting to figure it out. I’ll move on.
  3. That it’s ready. I will not cover your creation until it’s fully launched. No landing pages, no newsletter signups. It has to be purchasable, downloadable, or usable or I’ll move on.
  4. That I understand the use case. Please give some examples of why what you’ve created is useful.

Remember I am not expert in your domain and all I want to do is write an article on it. I don’t want to spend hours trying it out, and I don’t want to make mistakes in covering it. Help me by explaining what makes your product unique, why the world should care, and what features are essential. The more you can help me the more I can help you.

I know this post comes across as selfish, but as I look at my mailbox with dozens of pitches just sitting there, I needed to document ways that we can better work together.