Johnathan.org

January 25, 2015

Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Put You Down. Sometimes.

As much as I try to stay current with technology, there’s a part of me that just doesn’t care if I check my phone all the time, or am constantly reading emails on the weekend. I know a lot of people keep up to date on the latest everything with every device they have and that’s awesome. I just can’t do that. However, there’s one device that I really can’t live without because it’s become a gateway to the “Quick-Check-to-See-if-the-World-Has-Burned-Down” reality: my iPhone.

I’m quite sure the list of people that say they couldn’t live without their phone is staggering. Hell, Instagram is a phone-only thing and look at how many people share what they’re eating on regular basis! If people stopped caring so much about their phones and making sure everything that was going on was going through their phone, Instagram would shut down. It’s likely that twitter would take a big hit, too. Facebook… meh. People are still butthurt about the unbundling of services that Facebook did recently, because they don’t have anything else to be upset about. They’re rebelling against the system by using their browser or their computer as if that’ll do anything. You go guys… way to stick it to the man.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having my phone around with me all the time, but it’s more of a just-in-case-something-happens kind of need. I might be listening to podcasts while I travel to and from work every day, but we’ve been able to do that for quite some time, before smartphones were a thing (remember the iPod?) so that doesn’t count as a dire need. I listen to music, too, but that also falls under what I just described. I might check twitter every now and then or watch Facebook all morning but that just drains me. Have you ever sat on twitter reading people’s 140-character-or-less thoughts and NOT felt drained or depressed afterwards? The world sucks nuts and I can only read about it for a little bit.

The world used to be a simpler place. Cats used to sit inside cannons like it’s no big deal. You can tell a lot about a time period by whether you have a cat that’s willing to loiter around artillery. Those days were nice.

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For all I don’t use my iPhone for, though, if I didn’t have it with me, I’d feel disconnected, I’ll admit. It’s become more of a security blanket when I’m moving between point A and point B. I, and likely society as a whole, have been trained to think that if I leave my house without my phone, something bad might happen and I won’t be able to call for help! I wonder how people in the 90s even survived.

I think if I absolutely had to, could resort to a dumb phone. Apple still makes iPods, so all my smart tools could just migrate to that device. I’d have iMessage wherever I had wifi and text messaging on my dumb phone. Turns out, though, that I’d still end up paying an arm and a leg for service. The difference of $20 for data isn’t worth the downgrade. On the flip side, the uncharge of $20 for data to have a smartphone is paltry.

Perhaps one day I’ll see if I can go a whole day without my smartphone. I have a ton of technology around me at home, and a ton more at work, so really there’ll only be roughly three hours out of the day where I’m in that disconnected state that won’t allow me to get the latest tweets that I hate or read emails the bleeding freaking second they arrive.

But that’s unlikely.

January 24, 2015

How to Set up Automatic WordPress Blog Post Scheduling with IFT.TT, and Buffer

Let’s be honest. The year is 2015 and nobody wants to do things by hand or manually if they can help it. Companies are hiring people to automate the hell out of everything because like M.I.A (sort of, not really) [famously rapped][1]:

live fast, die young, robots do it well.

I’ll admit, I like speeding up the process of sharing what I’ve written but I like controlling it a bit more than some. Here’s how I do it. You’ll want to create an account with IFT.TT and Buffer if you haven’t already. IFT.TT stands for IF This, Then That. The premise is that you can take data being expelled from one service, and based on certain criteria, do something with it via another. Things like “Text me with the daily weather report at 5AM” are easy and, well, kind of cheesy. If you become a power user of IFT.TT or already are, you’ll know that there’s so much more you can do with the service like auto-tweet breaking news stories from news sources or trigger your Philips Hue home lighting to change color when a storm warning comes into effect. In my case, I want to sync IFTTT with my WordPress install. To start, I’ll need to create a new recipe and click on the blue this link (A) and choose the WordPress trigger channel (B). This will be the source for the data that IFTT uses.

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Once I have that set, I can choose whether I want this action to be triggered by any new post from WordPress, or just when the post has a particular tag or category. In my case, I choose the former, because I want to share all posts.

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We can skip Step 3 as there’s nothing else to set for these triggers and move on to step four. Click Create Trigger. So at this point we’ve established that if there’s any new post on WordPress Blog then we’ll do something. Now we establish what that something is. Click the blue that link. In my case, I want to share to Buffer.

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I will want to choose the “Add to Buffer” option since I won’t be pushing photos from my source. My final step is to set up how I want my shares to look and then I create my action. Note: If this is your first time, you’ll have to set up what account you want Buffer to schedule this IFTTT-pushed content on.

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There are a couple things to keep in mind when setting this up. Anything pushed from IFTTT to Buffer: 1) will be set to whatever schedules you have created and 2), will only be pushed to whatever social media account you have set up for this channel. You can only have one social media account chosen for this type of setup. If you want to use more than just one social media account to share you content, I recommend creating separate recipes for each. Granted, only one of them will be scheduled via Buffer, so keep that in mind. In my situation, I don’t really mind, and I use Buffer so much already that I like having the ability to manually schedule for other social media accounts that don’t get as much regular pushing of content.

All Done!

It’s that simple. If you have account with IFTTT and Buffer already set up, this will take you thirty seconds to do. You’ll find this thirty seconds will save you time in the long run and will become something that you don’t even think about at the end of the day. Sure you could use WordPress plugins, too, and that’s all fine and dandy. I’m not stopping you! This is how I like to do it and I figured someone out there might like to know. Thanks for stopping by, have a good one!

Ghostly Sharing to Twitter from Jetpack’s Publicize Plugin

A rather odd thing started happening shortly after I implemented Jetpack on this site. I was seeing my posts show up on twitter, which is nice and all, but not through the method I had set up. I describe how I set up automatic post scheduling for the various social networks in this past. These tweets were being written without a fancy permalink, which seemed odd and told me that it wasn’t something of my intentional doing. After doing some research, I discovered someone having an issue with the Publicize plugin not removing a social media account properly. In order to fix their issue, they re-added their account and removed it again.

I figured it would be a stretch but I knew it couldn’t hurt anything so I tried that myself just to see what would happen. I Added my Facebook page, and after authorization, lo and behold, my twitter account showed up, too. It wasn’t previously authorized so I had a pretty good idea this ghost authorization was what was causing these unwanted shares. Un-linking my twitter account immediately solved the problem, and I was on my way to sharing the way I want to: WordPress => IFTTT => Buffer.

January 21, 2015

There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy. For Everything Else, There’s a Cat in a Box.

Sometimes I wonder about cats. Who invented them? Why are they here? Are those whiskers really just antennae they use to communicate with their alien space ships? All these things are valid questions if you are like me, because obviously my brain isn’t stimulated enough as it is. Of all cat-related questions out there, the one that keeps me the most interested and stumped is: what’s with the boxlust?

Yes, that’s a word I just came up with. Boxlust. Noun. The unreasonable and indescribable urge to be in, on, or around boxes as much as possible, for particular reason. I’ve witnessed my cat enjoy cardboard boxes like none other. Even as a kid, I enjoyed boxes, but not to the extent my feline friend does.

So that got me wondering: perhaps someone’s looked into this already! I look to the ever trusting Internet to find out the who, what, where, why, and how of cats and their desires for cardboard containers with eight right-angled corners.

The first thing I came up with was a quote from Stephen Zawistowski from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA). He said “Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide…[it] gives them a place of safety and security.” That explains a lot. When my cat enters his corrugated fortress, I’ll find he’s dug a mote around his encampment and at some point in the day found alligators to fill it. I’m still trying to figure out where he was able to procure alligators, as I can’t even seem to procure the right kind of accessories for my Playstation 4 on Amazon.

Live Science tells us that seeking out confined spaces is an instinctual behavior for cats. That makes sense, just like it’s an instinctual behavior for me to seek out a couch to veg on all weekend, every weekend. It’s a fire that burns deep in my core, and I suspect my cat lusts after the four-walled brown structure of an Amazon.com shipping box like a heroin addict lusts after crank: with the burning intensity of a thousand suns.

Although this all sounds like good information, I wasn’t satisfied with such normal and structured answers, so I took to reddit because why not? if the Internet has something to say about something, they’ll be saying it on reddit. Reddit User OookOok says it has something to do with trees, wood pulp, and the similarity. I’m trying to think of what wild cat fits inside a tree and can’t seem to come up with anything. Oh well, perhaps I’m missing a crucial demographic of the wild cat species: the one that’s like my house cat but somehow feral or wild? I didn’t know that was such a thing.

But then I got to thinking: in my obviously non-scientific accidental experiments, our cat seems to enjoy sitting on paper more than anything else. If my cat knew how to pay the child came “Hot Lava,” he’s a freaking expert. I feel like if my carpet ever became poisonous, he’d survive longer than I would. Perhaps he’s giving his kitty stamp of approval?

Whatever the reason is, I find it incredibly amusing. I’ve given up on buying cat trees, beds, houses, or other expensive toys. He’s resorted to several $1 rattling mice, pens, and paper products. I really should see if Staples is selling cat toys now. I feel like they’d have a great new product line and niche covered in a heartbeat. Either that or just get him a job with UPS. All those boxes? Yeah, he’d dig that.

January 20, 2015

Extending My Writing Goals to Photography

When I’m not working, writing, or studying, I’m (ideally) shooting. I’m a landscape photographer and by shooting I mean “taking photos of.” One of the things I struggled with in 2014 was my motivation to shoot more. I’ve always had a small inkling in the back of my mind that I’d like to live out a career at my desk writing and taking photos. With my start to writing underway (and so far going relatively smoothly), the next half of that is creating more photos.

A lot of photographers will tell you that the gear doesn’t make the photographer. While I find that to be true, the gear does make the photographer more motivated if the gear they just bought is exponentially better than what they used to own. See, up until the end of last year, I owned a four year old camera body—the Canon 60D—and a couple of lenses. Unfortunately, the 60D wasn’t the best for landscape photography for two reasons:

  1. Crop-Sensor: While create for getting extra range when using a telephoto lens, the smaller sensor leads to more noise on the image because each individual pixel is much smaller. This became unbearable at a larger print sizes, which I love doing. I have a 30×20” photo in my dining room I took at Mt. Rainier that I would love to re-shoot with my new equipment. I know I’d get much better results.

  2. Lens Selection: While I could pick out awesome, expensive glass, it wouldn’t be worth it. With a crop sensor body, I’d have to multiply the focal length of the lens by 1.6, which takes an amazing landscape photography lens such as the Canon 16-35mm and turns it into a 25.6-56mm lens. While that sounds nice, that’s a bit too narrow for me. So I settled with a 3rd-party brand lens that gave me 10-20mm of range, which equated to 16-36mm, exactly where I wanted, but with a trade-off. It wasn’t super sharp.

With those two elements combined, I had a setup that I didn’t really appreciate so I stopped using it a lot. When I had the opportunity to replace my gear, I jumped on the idea, and ordered a new body—the Canon 6D—and the Canon 16-35mm F/4 lens. For what I want to shoot, it’s an amazing combination and so far I’ve had nothing but awesome luck and experiences with the combination. The setup is light and agile but not flimsy. The field of view is spectacular and the quality of imagery on the sharpness and clarity fronts are epic. Well worth the purchase.

For those who say that new gear won’t help you take better photos, they might be wrong if the old gear was of retiring age.

When it comes to actually taking photos, however, there’s no amount of gear that will make me get out and shoot. I have to want to. With the gear half of my desire out of the way, all I have left is myself to fight with. For 2015, I’m attempting to apply the same goals I set up for my writing to my photography and have broken them down as such:

  1. Shoot at least twice a week

  2. Different locations each time, not coming back for at least a month

  3. Share at least one image from each shoot.

  4. Stay at the location for as long as I deem necessary so as to not feel rushed.

  5. Start taking my camera more places, intentionally, in case an opportunity appears.

These are rougher goals and guidelines than what I established for my wordsmith self, and that’s ok. I have a running list of places I want to shoot and each location requires different coordination in terms of time of day, weather, how long I’m there, how long it takes to get to my final destination, etc. I can’t reasonably expect it to take an hour to shoot at a beach at sunset and take the same amount of time while I hike two miles each way to a waterfall while raining. That’s unrealistic.

I think a lot of my shooting will end up on the weekends, as during the week, I am working a day job so my possible options will typically be limited to sunsets and night-time photography such as shooting the stars. I’m all right with that. I shoot over the weekend while I was in California and got some great photos. After work yesterday, I ran out and shot a sunset at the beach and got more great photos. I could have just as easily stayed home after work because I was certainly tired, but I knew that it wouldn’t take that long, and I really just need to do it and stop complaining.

If I ever want to make this something I do more regularly and possibly make money from, I need to work at it more. Same with writing. If I ever want to make something of it, I need to keep at it. No one becomes famous overnight (unless you go viral on the Internet, but even then that’s not really fame).

January 19, 2015

My First Smartphone

We all remember our first smartphones, for the most part. I know I remember my transition from the small brick phones that weighed as much as small bricks. They did the job back then. In 2003, texting was a limited thing still in my world and around all of my friends. We mostly emailed and instant-messaged each other. I think I did that pretty much all through high school. When I started using MySpace regularly, I communicated a lot through that service with my friends. Facebook, same story. It wasn’t until I bought my first smart phone in 2010 that my communication world really changed.

When I got my first flip phone, it was in 2007. I signed up with Verizon Wireless and felt super accomplished. I also had just turned 18 so I was allowed to sign up for stuff all by myself! I felt so accomplished. I even still remember my phone number from that time! I thoguht my phone was the coolest thing in the world. It had music playback capability, a front screen with music controls on it, I could browse the Internet with the built-in WAP browser… that was the life, for sure. Back then, battery life was awesome, too. I could go a couple days without charge while still using it regularly. I made a habit of plugging in nightly, though, as charging cables were still proprietary and good quality connectors were hard to come by.

My first flip phone was the LG Chocolate III. It was bigger than most flip phones of the time, and I loved that. It was shiny, had a great looking screen( for a flip phone) and the interface made it feel expensive. Since this was my first phone that had more than one color on the screen, I didn’t care about things like interface speed, lag, ux, or anything of the sort. It’s likely that a lot of people felt the same way. I rocked this phone for until my next upgrade date, which came 20 months later.

After I got my first taste of what adulthood brought in terms of mobile telephony, I wanted to kick it up a notch. The iPhone was still a really new thing and the iPhone 3G was out, but was an AT&T exclusive. I didn’t want to switch nor did I have the money to shell out for a true smartphone (yet). I bought the LG Dare. With its 240x400px screen, I felt like I was living the high life. Bluetooth, HTML Web browsing, MP3 and AAC support… ahh the features! The Dare (VX9700) was my first entry into touch-screen space and I loved it.

Comparing the size to my current iPhone 5, the Dare was shorter (4.87 vs 4.1 inches), slightly narrower (2.31 vs 2.2 inches), and thicker (0.3 vs 0.5 inches). It’s amazing to think about how far display technology has come where you have a deivce like the Dare with 0.08mp of screen resolution at 152ppi over a three inch screen versus the iPhone 5’s 0.72mp screen at 326ppi over four inches. Talk about a jump in resolution!

When 2010 came, I finally landed my first real smart phone. By this time, the iPhone was still an AT&T exclusive and I didn’t want to pay more money for the same measured service. I didn’t care about what one carrier had over the other. All I cared about was the fact that I would have to shell out more dollars for the same offering; that didn’t sound like a good investment, to me.

Instead of landing the iPhone, which wasn’t all bad as I wasn’t a fan of Apple products beyond the black iPod Nano I had at the time, I picked up the Motorola Droid X. When it arrived via FedEx, I was beyond excited. This was my first phone I could do complicated stuff with. It had a real browser, not some wimpy WAP-based turd. It had apps, too! The concept of Apps blew my mind and my views on my mobile device would never be the same. It had a huge—for its time—4.3” touch screen. With a 480×854 resolution, it was at the top of the smart phone display game, second to the iPhone, of course, which still had a higher density resolution screen.

At the time, though, I had no idea what that meant or why that would be significant to anybody. I was glad I had a device that was fast and had a big, beautiful display.

After about a year, though, I grew tired of this device. It made me feel that way, though, because at the time, Android aged quickly and updates to the software didn’t happen quick enough, if at all. The highest version one could install via traditional means was Gingerbread (2.3). It became clunky and slow and reminded me daily that it enjoyed gulping up battery juice. Even with larger capacity batteries, it didn’t take long before I got rid of it and switch to an iPhone.

After my battle with Android, I promised myself I wouldn’t buy another Android device, again. For the most part, I held fast to that promise. After I gave up my Droid X, my first real smart phone, I bought an iPhone 4S. I was thrilled to give it a shot after I heard so many good things about it from co-workers. I’ll admit it was a bit of a shock when I changed ecosystems. The whole premise was much different and I would grow to learn that was a good thing. This was my first realization that there are some devices I just want to work, no matter what. I don’t want to have to or even think about tinkering with some things, and my phone was the first on that list. It’s this idea that would eventually push me to replace my Windows PC that I hand built with a Mac.

Aside: to this day, I still get comments like “I’d never spend 2x on a closed platform” or “way to spend much more than any of that hardware is worth!” I like to casually remind people that unlike their Windows desktop or laptop, you’ll never hear me complaining about my mac being slow or crashing. To this day I’ve only hard rebooted my mac a couple times. As of this writing, I’ve never re-installed the OS, nor have I had to have it serviced for failing parts that don’t have a definite lifespan.

In 2013, I thought I’d give the Galaxy S4 a try, as I liked the idea of the large, bright, and colorful screen. Maybe that was my downfall, just as certain insects attract their prey with bright and beautfiful colors and or the allure of something great (read: black widow) only to kill them in the end because they made a stupid decision. The Galaxy S4 started killing me shortly after I got it. I was reminded of all the reasons why I disliked android: battery life, poor resource management, too many things that need tinkering to work right. I dumped it after just a few months and went back to an iPhone, where I sit to this day.

My next phone certainly won’t be an Android device. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Nah. Perhaps I’ll pick up an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S (or whatever the next version is that comes out this fall). All I know is that I bought android as my first smart phone because that was what I had available to me at the time. If I had been an AT&T customer from the start, I may have never purchased an Android smartphone and had an iPhone from the beginning. If that was the case, I might have bought an Android device later on down the road anyway, and fought through the same battles, just in a different time frame. I can’t say for sure what would have happened, but I know that my first smart phone purchase helped shape my technology toolset as it stands now and my continued purchases will help mold my future decisions. Apple has done a good job of building up an ecosystem people don’t want to leave, and I’ll admit I am one of them. It’s comforting to know, however, that there are a lot of people like me who just want their stuff to work. If that means paying more, then so be it. Consider it a no-hassle tax.

January 13, 2015

Running Out of Coffee (Creamer)

This morning I ran out of coffee creamer so I hope this all makes sense, if not… meh. I’m just a week into my new weekday morning routine. If you’re unfamiliar or don’t remember how I described it, it’s simple.

  • Go to bed around the same time every night, with <=30 minutes deviation.
  • Set alarm for ~4 sleep cycles (~90 minutes each) + 20 minutes ahead of when I get into bed.
  • Wake up within 30 minutes of alarm going off, allowing for a couple snoozes or time in bed with the light on to fully bring myself back to reality.
  • Morning cleaning routine.
  • Coffee. Must have coffee.
  • Write. Unless something went sideways with the above steps, there should be time for this. If not, do something else stimulating enough to stay awake while consuming coffee.
  • Proceed with the day.

That’s the idea. Yesterday was a bit rough as I woke up at a more in-opportune time and shut off my alarm. Since my travel to work was going to be different and more forgiving this week, getting up an hour and a half late wasn’t such a big deal. I don’t want to make it a practice though, as this is the whole habit I’m trying to break: getting up at the last minute and rushing.

My old routine was chaotic because it left no time for deviation and frankly was frustrating. I had just enough time to do the bare minimum and that was it. No time to myself, whatsoever. After becoming more and more frustrated with it, I vowed to never do it again. I did some reading on how to “hack” my morning routine and while a load of it was crap or not useful in the least bit, the parts that stuck with me the most were about sleep cycles and morning stimulation.

Sleep Cycles

A human’s standard sleep cycle is roughly 90 minutes in length, from stage one (light sleep) to stage four (heavy/REM/dream sleep). The idea is that if whatever wakes you up in the morning does so as you’re coming out of a sleep cycle and returning to light sleep, you’ll have an easier time waking up. For the most part, that seems to be pretty true. I’ve found it just as easy to wake up when my alarm goes off at 3:30am as it does at 5:00am (provided I went to bed at 9:00pm the night before). I usually grant myself four cycles for anytime I go to bed after 9:00pm and five cycles any time I go to bed between 8:00pm and 9:00pm.

But wait, you say… that’s only 60 minutes, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes! You’re right, it is. With the shorter cycle option, I find I have to give myself a bit of slack in the morning, by roughly 15-20 minutes. In this case, I’ll set three alarms, 15 minutes apart (ex. :00, :15, :30) and make each one more annoying than the one before it. See, I can sleep through a lot of noise in the morning hours once I’ve been through a sleep cycle or two. I’ve been tested and the doctors agreed. After one relaxes a bit in bed and has been sleeping for a bit, a lot of the stimulants and distractions from falling asleep are gone so submerging into deeper sleep is easier and more fulfilling. Thus, as deep as you go into REM sleep, it takes time to come out of it. Usually I’m aware it’s time to wake up when alarm three comes around because I seem to have trained myself to subconsciously understand that alarm one and two are warning shots that my warm, sleep-filled experience is about to end.

The Best Part of Waking Up, Is (Sometimes Not) Folgers In Your Cup.

I find that most of my tiredness (or the feeling of being tired) seems to come from how and when I’m woken up in the morning in relation to my sleep cycle. I executed my five-cycle option last night and with ~7.5 hours of sleep, I feel rested. Of course, I’m wishing I had my coffee, and Starbucks will have to help me out as I drive into work this morning. A good morning stimulant isn’t always a bad thing. Some people can’t drink coffee because it’s too much caffeine and gives the anxiety or they don’t like the taste of it. I get it. I didn’t used to like coffee, either. I still don’t unless it has creamer.

One of my alternatives was Red Bull. I used to buy them by the case from a wholesale store (Costco). While roughly half the price per can as a convenience store or other local grocery chain, it was still Red Bull. It lost it’s luster after drinking one every day of the week, sometimes twice a day. Coffee is warm and creamy (after I add my creamer, of course). In the winter, this is an especially friendly feeling. In the summer, I’m more of an iced tea kind of guy. I’ll go Starbucks and get the largest, most caffeinated tea they have and have them sugar it up—I can’t stand unsweetened iced teas. Usually this is some kind of breakfast/black tea.

As I wrap this post up, I’m really wishing I wasn’t out of coffee creamer. A clear oversight on my part, I knew I was out when I poured, yesterday. I know I could drink it black, but I already said I don’t like the taste of black coffee. Perhaps I’ve been ruined by sweet tastes thanks to the likes of Starbucks and other espresso-shooting vendors. Maybe I have. Sue me. I’ll pay you in Starbucks cards, anyway.

January 12, 2015

Being S.M.A.R.T about Blogging Goals for the New Year

If you’re still with me, I’m on day eight of the #10-days-to-a-better-blog challenge/workshop/event put on by John Saddington of Desk.pm fame. He’s on year 14 of blogging so chances are he knows a thing or two. Today’s topic has to do with coming up with goals in relation to where I want my blogging to go using the S.M.A.R.T. principle. It is outlined like so:

  1. Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  2. Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  3. Assignable – specify who will do it.
  4. Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  5. Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Those seem easy enough. When placed over the idea of writing, it seemed a bit daunting at first but that’s really only because I just started doing so consistently. Here’s a breakdown of how the above translates to me and the whole idea of writing and blogging:

Specific Target Area

I know I can produce quality writing if I just sit down and do it. I’ve never had a problem with that. I enjoy telling stupid stories, giving slightly janky points of view on seemingly random things, and also talking about real stuff that I find important. I don’t care so much if I’m maximizing my potential audience by covering as many topics as possible, because that’s my why I’m posting this—or anything—to my site. I need to focus on actually doing. I say I’ll become a master of X subject and never actually follow through with it. I’ll say I’ll go on more hikes next year because my gut says I could lose a few. I might not be able to control those things in this scenario. I can say this: if a bear craps in the woods, then I’m writing. I’m not talking about telling a story about a bear cutting pipe. I’m talking about the assurance that words will flow out of my mind, through my hands, into my keyboard, through the bits and digital stuff inside my computer, blah blah blah, to where you can see it.

TL;DR: WRITE.PERIOD.

Measurable Progress

My first blog post since I started writing daily was on January 6th, 2014, which as I write this, was six days ago. It’s easy for me to say that since I’ve conquered seven days, including this post, without stopping, I could bust out a whole year. Whether or not that’s true, nobody will know, because I don’t feel like it’s realistic! I’m writing every day because I made a promise to myself that I’d do this challenge and see it through to completion. I never said “I’m going to write at least 365 blog posts over the course of the year, with at least one per day, or I’ll eat my hat.” That’s stupid. Unless I worked for a publication that required articles to be created in the turn-and-burn style, I’d get maybe a month into it and burn out.

I need to make myself a little bit more seriously and treat blogging and writing as a form of genuine expression. Because of my personality, if I’ve been talking all day, I tend to get bored of people and bored of talking. Just like talking, I’d get bored of writing. Why sit down at my computer and but out some words about something that I may care a grand total of zero percent about for twenty minutes when I could sit in front of my T.V. and not even have to think about using my brain. Exactly. That’s stupid. Even in school I enjoyed writing papers not because it was homework (that was quite foul), but that I was writing about a topic. I didn’t write every single damn day and I was alright with that. I hated the topic I was writing about, but I enjoyed the fact that I was writing about it.

Being able to split up my writing adventures to a couple times a week is much more manageable because I can spend more time, perhaps over a few days, and craft a more quality piece, than some lame three hundred words on how tasty Garlic Jim’s pizza is. (side note: it’s delicious.)

My measurement of progress is that I’m writing two to four pieces a calendar week, with two being the hard minimum. I need to still keep myself to a commitment, just like people commit to stop smoking. It’s hard to start, but with a hard limit like dying when it comes to smoking, having a hard limit on how few of times I sit down and put my thoughts on paper must be a thing, no matter what.

Assignable

If it’s not obvious by now, this goal is mine and mine alone. No one else needs to be responsible for my writing tasks, assignments, topics, or anything of the sort. This is my beast so let me conquer it. By making this a solo task, this is something I can wholly own and have zero fear of something outside that I cannot control mucking it up.

Realism

Which brings me to this. As the popular saying goes: s–t happens. It happened this morning when I twisted my ankle in the dark while walking the dog. Could I have done something about it? I don’t know, it was dark. I haven’t figured out how to turn on my night vision eyes, yet. With writing, sometimes life will get in the way and I’m completely OK with that. If I miss a week, then I’ll do my best to make up for it next week. If I know I’ll be missing a week in advance, I’ll put in extra time the previous week and schedule it out. WordPress has this fancy post-scheduling feature. While not as genuine and not as on-the-spot as some would like, I think I’m still totally genuine and real and on-the-spot. What I write down rarely gets condensed, censored, edited for time, etc. I just write. That’s always been one of my stronger traits when it came to writing; I hate outlines and I hate planning my words.

Secret: corporate, politically correct emails are the bane of my existence.

Deadlines

I’m giving my self 1/4 year (13 weeks). If I can sit down and discuss quality topics with quality time at least twice a week, but no more than four, for 13 weeks, then I’m in business. If I make it, I’ll do it again, but add another stipulation. If I fail, I’ll pull back a bit. I think it’s doable. Given the possibility of the next six months to a year changing quite radically and a whole host of new experiences coming my way, I don’t think I’ll have an issue. I’m pretty confident I’ll have enough to talk about.

January 11, 2015

Analytics

I’m cheating a little bit.

See, I’m doing the #10-days-to-a-better-blog challenge as a starting point to build up my blog, but after I started, I realized the last day of the challenge overlapped onto a day I’m taking vacation and probably won’t be writing much, at all. So I wrote this post, along with my day 6 post. Perhaps it’t not exactly cheating but I’d rather do two in one day than miss a day.

As I start building up this blog, one thing I want to keep track of is the content people enjoy the most and how long they enjoy it for before leaving. I’ve installed Google Analytics and am hoping I get some good data out of it.

This will also include links from social networks, as I am building them with the “utm” variables in the URLs so as to accurately determine via which method people are visiting the site and reading my content.

One thing I know may be surprising is what people find most interesting. Topics, stories, and ideas I like may not resonate as well with others and they might enjoy stuff I don’t cover as often. This is what the analytics should tell me.

New About Page

I was able to stick to my routine this morning and sat down to craft my About page. I’ve never really spent much time working on it so reflecting on who I am and how I got here was actually very helpful in deciding what to write and what to share. Looking back, I can’t really think of a good reason why I didn’t write one before, except for the idea that I just didn’t take it very seriously. 2015 is full of changes, including this one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need some coffee!

Read about yours truly here.


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