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December 2016 Archives

Top Posts of 2016

This year is finally come to a close. After pretty much not blogging ever this year, I considered not even doing a top list. Unlike 2015, I didn’t even write anything for at least half of this year, probably more. 2015 wasn’t much better after April, to be honest.

Either way, I thought I’d go through the list of what I did write this year and come up with a Top 5 list.

#5 Fitbit, You Frustrate Me

This one was a semi-rant. I had a Fitbit for a while and was frustrated by how incredibly unreliable it had become. This one did pretty well, I’d say, for someone who doesn’t have much of a following. Fun fact: after I eventually completed the firmware upgrade, everything seemed to return to normal. I continued to own a Fitbit until I lost it during my move from California to Washington in October 2016.

Now I have an Apple Watch.

#4 Fighting ffmpeg

This was around the time I decided to set up a live streaming webcam server/relay device thing. The documentation surrounding ffmpeg’s finer yet lesser known abilities was lacking. I don’t think I’ve ever written 4000 words on any topic, ever. Not once. Clearly, I felt like I had a lot to say.

#3 31 Sites for Completely Free Stock Photos

This was a post that ended up becoming a page. The multi-page nature of it wasn’t working out super well in the blog feed and it felt to me more like a static resource that can be called upon at any time. Out of all the sites on this list, I really only ever use ~Boss Fight~ Unsplash, these days.

#2 Attempting to Stream a Webcam to an RTMP Server

Apparently, the Internet really wanted to know how to do this, because this was my 3rd post popular post I wrote in 2016. I learned a lot about media streaming through this post and the series of posts surrounding it. The biggest thing I learned… there’s a reason the professional software costs a lot of money.

#1 Live Streaming with Hardware Acceleration using a Raspberry Pi and RTMP/HLS

This is where I finally got a legit live stream set up. It used HLS, told Flash to go die in a fire, and it looked great. The problem was the player choice and making it work with MPEG-DASH. I never quite got that figured out. Turns out, the Internet really wanted to know how to do this, too. It was my most popular post of 2016, by 2.5x over #2.

So how bad was 2016? Here’s a heat map:

Let’s make 2017 way better, shall we? ?

How Hard Are You Trying?

It’s technically not 2017, yet, but I wanted to get a jump start on the 2017 Book Club anyway with the first title, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a f–k by Mark Manson. I’m also cheating in that it’s not Monday, January 1st.

In the first chapter of this New York Times Bestseller, Manson asks how hard are we trying? There’s something to be said about the more effort and energy you exert in order to please others, make sure we wear the right clothes, have the right car, buy the right things, is nuts!

You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a f–k about everything, all the time .Give a f–k about a new TV. Give a f–k about having a better vacation than your coworkers. Give a f–k about buying that new lawn ornament. Give a f–k about having the right kind of selfie stick. Why? My guess: because giving a f–k about more stuff is good for business.

Thinking about that for a moment made me realize out of all the times I cared more about something than was healthy or warranted, it was about stuff. I’m guilty of this as much as the next person. I spent my Black Friday this year buying a TV that was both too big and to fancy for my needs, but I wanted it and I felt like I had to have it.

Do I regret the purchase? No. If I cared less about making sure it was exactly nice enough or that it was top of the line, I’d bet that I’d either have not bought it or spent way less money and still have been just as happy in the long run.

I consider myself lucky that I’m not as vanity-oriented as some folks, and I think a lot of that has to do with my upbringing. I never had a lot of things, and was never taught things were a status symbol. This mindset extends into my adult life and I’m happy about that.

Another thing that really sunk in while reading this first chapter in our quest to be happier, we’re actually making ourselves more miserable.

> The desire for more [a] more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

This came up while talking with a friend last night, completely out of band from this book but I think is great to mention here. The fact that we so intensely seek attention and affirmation from those around us only adds weight to the fact that we’re not as happy as we think we are. Any Facebook status, Twitter post, Instagram picture, Snapchat snap that essentially implies *here is a thing I am doing/saying, tell me how cool/fun/exciting/delicious it is!* is really just a single example of this hunt for happiness that people get caught up in.

Be real with yourself. If you’re fishing for compliments, you’ll find two crowds: the first will give you what you want because some people will always, no matter what. The second will just ignore you. In the long run, the latter group is probably the better kind of people to surround yourself with in life, as the former is likely just as willing to hunt for artificial interest as you.

Weekly Wine

Happy Wednesday. If it’s not a happy day, it really should be. I wanted to take a few moments and plug a new project of mine: Weekly Wine.

If you’re anything close to a wine person, then I’m pretty sure you’ll find this useful. I came up with the idea of starting a wine club last summer. I had this grand idea of having a monthly subscription service, not unlike many of the clothing/makeup/food boxes so many people seem to be signing up for. What kept me from making this is a reality is that, at least in the United States, the private shipping carriers don’t always ship wine and shipping wine to certain states is either difficult to do without a permit or outright illegal.

Since I didn’t want to become a licensed wine seller in these states, I put the project on ince.

Fast forward a few (six) months and I’ve started a much smaller yet more managable version. Weekly Wine is starting out as a once-a-week email with 2-3 wine picks that meet the following criteria:

  1. not too expensive
  2. varied
  3. international

Beyond that, just about anything is fair game. I’m shying away from Champagne and other bubbly bottles fore the sole reason that when I buy these wines, I’m not planning on drinking the whole bottle at once… I have to be functional the next day. Bubbly wines will go flat long before I have the chance to either finish it or drink enough to form a solid opinion.

Keeping the price fair is a huge deal for me. Sure, I could recommend a $300 bottle from some far away land, but are you going to spend $300 on the recommendation of an Internet stranger? Exactly. Perhaps down the road, once the project grows a bit and the following is sizable. Until then, there are literally hundreds of wines out there that cost way less and taste just as good.

These prices are retail store prices. I don’t get these bottles directly from the wineries (I’m not that good). Restaurants typically charge 2-3x the retail price… crazy right?

Keeping some variety in the mix is key. I suspect, for the first five years, there won’t be a single duplicate. My store of choice is huge and if I had to guess has over a thousand unique bottles of wine. That’s a lot of emails.

It’s easy to think about the typical wine locations as being the prime source for the tasty juice of the gods, but contrary to typical American hubris, there are other countries that make great wine. I want to make sure they’re featured, too.

When I recommend these wines, I’m essentially boiling it all down to answering this simple two-part question:

Is this wine good enough to buy again and if I had friends over, would I recommend they drink it, too?

If I can answer yes to both parts, it’s going on the list. It’s easy to subscribe to high-class magazines like Wine Spectator or chat up your rich friend who has a wine cellar full of rare bottles they picked up while in tuscany, spending the summer in their villa and playing polo with the prince of who gives a crap. Those clowns don’t really know what they’re talking about, anyway. They pay someone to care.

Here, you have someone that cares, and you don’t even need to pay him (me).

Weekly Wine just released its second issue, and the third is on the way. New issues release every Thursday afternoon/evening. I chose Thursday because the following day is Friday and that precedes the weekend. If you’re likely to drink a bottle of wine, I’d bet money these days are more likely to be the days.

I definitely recommend checking out Weekly Wine. It’s killer, the emails are ad-free and not long and rambly, and you’ll thank me.

The 2017 Book Club

Getting ready for the New Year looks like a couple different things in my world:

  1. What am I doing now that I should stop doing?
  2. What am I not doing now that I should start doing?

I think I have an idea for #2.

For the latter, a big deal for me is reading more. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about setting goals for yourself rather than having resolutions, a goal I’ve created is to read a book every two weeks. That sounds pretty easy for most and depending on what you enjoy doing with your day, it might be. For me, my attention is in a lot of different places, on purpose.

I find myself much more satisfied with life in general, if I’m dabbling in a bunch of different thing at once, rather than going whole hog on just one idea.

Hence the two-week window, versus one.

To hold myself accountable, I want to start a book club of sorts. If you’re just discovering this blog and this post well after the fact, don’t worry. You don’t have to follow along in real time. All the discussion is asynchronous, mostly with me reflecting and discussing what I’ve read in blog post form. I’ll have them marked with 2017 Book Club as a tag, so they’re easy to sort through and read.

Here’s the idea: every Monday I post about what I’ve read in the calendar week prior (Monday-Sunday). I’m kind of already cheating and have started a book for 2017 that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I’ll share that with the group on January 1st, as it’s Monday, and that’ll start off our 2017 Book Club.

The kinds of books I expect to have are mostly non-fiction, learn-something-from-this type books. This doesn’t mean exclusively self-help books, either, though I might sprinkle some of that in the mix, too.

A lot of knowledge is floating around out there and has yet to be consumed by many of us. Let’s change that.

I’ll see you January 1st!

Resolutions

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. There’s something about creating a todo list that for some reason can’t start until January 1st nor was it even thought of until someone asked do you have any resolutions for the new year?

I suppose I should clarify. I don’t have a problem with read one book per week in 2017. My beef is with read more books in 2017. The difference there is the latter is vague and lacking substance. That’s no way to live.

The latter is much better and I’d argue it’s not even a resolution at all, but a goal. Resolutions are vague and easy to get out of. Tight goals with small checkpoints along the way to measure progress are where it’s at and where your head should be at, too.

Instead of making resolutions this year, sit down right now, today, and set a couple goals for yourself. A goal of mine is to blog five days a week (Monday-Friday) throughout the new year. It worked incredibly well for me as a part of my morning routine when I seriously started pumping words into this blog January 2015.

Another goal of mine is to read one book every two weeks. Every week sounds better, sure, but I’d argue one week vs two isn’t what’s important. What’s important in that goal is I’m reading more, learning more, and consuming the ideas, thoughts, and teachings of others much more frequently.

What are your goals for 2017?

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography