Self Control

Today is Election Day in the United States and it’s always a stressful day watching the news, seeing the social media posts, and just sitting around watching it with zero control with outcome except my single vote. Yesterday, I made a joke on Twitter that I was preparing for today by adding a bunch of sites to my /etc/hosts file.

Out of this came a lot of great replies but Tom Schlick recommended an app called SelfControl that takes this to the next level.

SelfControl is a free and open-source application for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click “Start.” Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

What I love is how hard core this app is. “Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.” Now that is some serious blocking. haha

If you ever struggle with wasting time on certain sites I’d recommend giving SelfControl a try and also consider the following books for getting hyper focused:

Hiding almost all the desk wires

I finally had enough of all the wires coming from my desk and decided to finally do something about it. Here is what it looked like before I started…

As you can see it’s not too terrible but it just doesn’t have a nice minimal look that I always wanted. To get started on the project I ordered two cable tracks, new surge protector, some double sided strips for mounting those two, cable clamps, and velcro wraps for the cords.

After a few hours here is how I had everything mounted on the underside of the desk:

Then here is the final results. From all those cords to just a single one coming off the surge protector.

Now I can be an Instagram desk influencer. 🙂

Trolling with Cameo

A few months ago I was a guest on the Laravel Podcast and at some point I made the off- hand comment that VIM is terrible. Matt Stauffer, the host, told my buddy Michael Dyrynda who loves VIM what I did and he informed me how wrong I was. At least this is how I remember it.

From the recording date to the publish date was a few weeks so as a way of trolling Michael I had a Cameo made from Chris Diamantopoulos from Silicon Valley talking about how bad VIM is. (language warning)

Not to be outdone, Michael then had Suzanne Cryer from Silicon Valley do a follow up…

Not sure what to read? Buy what people you follow recommend

I’m not sure where I picked up this habit but I’ve been instantly buying (preferably used and cheap) any books that seem semi interesting when I see them shared by someone I follow. For example, this book Just Listen by Mark Goulston was recommended by Michele Hansen on Twitter just the other day.

Because I love books on all aspects of business and with a recommendation like that, I think I would be doing myself a disservice not to get it. The same goes for programming books or even fiction when I see friends talking about it. Besides buying them I’ve also started writing on the back cover who recommended it:

Now when I revisit this book years from now I know exactly who recommended it, and can tell them thank you. It’s just a small way of showing appreciation.

Focus on the target not the hazards

I was recently playing golf at a course I’ve never played before and my playing partner would tell me at each hole what to look out for. “Don’t go left”, “Water to the right”, “Be careful of the sand trap”. I played one of my worst rounds ever. I didn’t realize until driving home what was going on. Instead of saying things like “hit it left center of the fairway”, he was telling me the negatives and subconsciously that became my target.

It’s a minor thing but focus on where you want to go, not where the problem areas are.

Path of least resistance

Why don’t you blog more? I’ve came to the realization that the reason I’ve been slacking is because of the path of least resistance is social media. Just look at how easy making a tweet is:

Write a quick thought, hit tweet and wait for the hate to come in. Where as if you want to write a blog post I get this:

It just feels like I not only need to write, but figure out a title, probably research my argument, and then post it into the void where I get zero feedback.

I’m not saying one is better than the other and I’d imagine blogging with the extra time and effort makes for a better internet but it’s just interesting to me how just a few extra steps makes me gravitate toward the easiest option.

Domain Selling Scam

Lately, I’ve gotten a few spam emails from a person claiming they want to sell a domain that is related to one I own. Here is a sample email:

Hello,

We intend to unload one of our cherished assets,

{domain-name-here}

Would you be keen to discuss this?
This is priced in 3 figures ($199 to $999).
If interested in owning this domain, feel free to contact me.

Of course it looks and feels like spam, but I decided I’d just run a quick whois on the domain mentioned and it wasn’t even registered. I’m going to assume if I said I’d buy it then they would register it for the $12 or w/e and then sell it to me for the amount offered, or more likely they’d just keep my money.

The main reason I’m sharing this is because I thought it was a pretty interesting angle. They have zero invested and just wait for the suckers to come along.

Analysis paralysis

My RSS reader of choice is Feedbin, but occasionally I like to login to Feedly and see how my feeds look using it. It’s been a long time since I’ve done this and this was the login screen:

Talk about analysis paralysis I have no idea what I originally used to login or to create my account. So now I’ll choose nothing and go back to work.

As creators we need to remember that less options is usually better. Don’t make me think especially when it’s a core tenant to actually using your app.

Keeping the kids busy

It’s the first weekend of a mandatory “stay home” order in my state due to covid-19 and the kids are ready to go stir crazy. Luckily I got a new pack of Field Notes that allow you to customize them with your own circle image. So we had art day…

The end results turned out pretty well…

I’m a big fan of doing things away from screens and this was a perfect activity.

Playing golf during social distancing

Today I played golf for the first time since the social distancing due to COVID-19 started in my area. Here was the rules:

  • Only one person per golf cart or walk
  • Leave the flags in
  • No rakes in or around the bunkers
  • No water from coolers on the course

Simple rules and I think it worked well. My group was able to play with no one getting too close to each other and we all had an enjoyable time.

Hopefully, the curve will be flattened soon enough and we can go back to normal life. Until then little things can go along way.

Stay safe!

Art Night

Every so often we do family art night. It’s fun, the kids enjoy it, and we get free drawings to decorate our house with. Winning all around!

I will say painting is hard without practice. Just like this one I created tonight that was supposed to be black panther eyes. I knew how I wanted it to end up, but couldn’t get the paint to do what I wanted. Just makes one realize how good the professionals are.

Buying the Kids a Book a Month

I think reading is essential, and I want to pass on the love of it to my kids. Last year I had the idea of a new program in our household, every first day of the month I would buy them a new book, and it could be 100% their choice. I didn’t care if it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar or an autobiography of Gandhi. Any book they want, I’ll buy it for them.

It gives us something to look forward to every month, and I think it’s pretty exciting seeing their choices. Right now, one is loving illustrated books, and the other is into fiction.

This month my oldest wanted the Hunger Games, so I got her the box set. I’m pretty sure that she is attempting to beat the system, but I’m not going to complain that it’s three instead of one.

The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger is about his business life. How he got his start, how he became CEO of Disney, and some of his thinking behind the purchases he made at Disney. During his tenure that was Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, and Fox.

The book is sort of a memoir, yet in the opening sentence he says its not. It’s a chronological narrative of his life. From early childhood and his family that is a catalyst for his beliefs all the way through being one of the most powerful CEO’s in the world. But beyond that the book is really a management and leadership book.

He covers some of the challenges he’s faced over the years, and how sticking to a few basic principles like honesty, integrity, and humbleness you can make it far.

What I find great about the book is Disney is a creative company and he gives specific differences on how to manage creative people which transitions well into software. Here is one paragraph on giving critiques that works for designers, developers, and pull requests:

“I never start out negatively, and unless we’re in the late stages of production, I never start small. I’ve found that often people will focus on little details as a way of masking a lack of any clear, coherent, big thoughts. If you start petty, you seem petty. And if the big picture is a mess, then the small things don’t matter anyway, and you shouldn’t spend time focusing on them.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and if you are in any management role, even if you manage open source software, it’s worth reading and seeing how you can take what works in one of the largest companies to managing a small project. No matter the size the same core values are the same.

If you’d like to get a copy it’s on Amazon for around $15 depending on what version (kindle, hardcover, paperback) you prefer.