Johnathan.org

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.


January 10, 2015

Finding a Short Domain Based on a Name is Harder Than Ever

I’ve always really enjoyed having a short address to rely upon when I tell people where to find my sites. I’m personally of the idea that the shorter you can get your address and have it still make sense, the better, especially on mobile devices. Not everyone is willing to type in myreallycoolmobileapp.com when having appname.com is much better, or even app.co, if it’s available.

Update: I wrote this post a couple years ago. Some things have changed since then. A lot of the two-letter TLDs belong to countries and some have rules or restrictions on who can register with them. The ones that don’t have rules or restrictions typically still charge an arm and a leg. For example, we all know the URL shortener bit.ly. Would you believe me if I told you that the .ly TLD goes for $150 for the first year on 101domains.com? Renewals are $230 for a single year. That’s a lot. There are TLDs that are much cheaper, like .co, .io, .is, .me, and whatnot, which is great! Some however aren’t…

The Differences

There are several acronyms for the various top-level domains you see:

  1. gTLD – Generic. (.com, .net, .org, .ws)
  2. ccTLD – Country Code. (.us, .uk, .ir, .br)
  3. IDN – Internationalized (.中国 / .xn–fiqs8s)

The Struggle is Real

My problem is, however, that when I want to register a short domain that uses my name with a short TLD, I’m limited on options, unless I’d like it to make zero sense. My first name is Johnathan, and that right there is too long for my tastes (hence why I currently use jlyman.net; 6+3 is better than 9+3) I I now own johnathan.org. I’d like to register a john.TLD domain but all the cheap ones are taken. Not surprising though, since John is an incredibly popular name. In 2017 I ended up doing just that, snagging john.ly, which makes this next section almost irrelevant, but I’ll keep it for posterity’s sake.

Varying Difficult.ly

With the proliferation of the Internet and everyone having an app, service, blog or portfolio, short addresses are harder to come by and the ones that are free will cost you. In the grand scheme of things, if I were to register a .ly address (for example), $150 a year isn’t too bad, and if I went straight to the source for the .ly TLD, I could save a lot of money. Finding “the source” wasn’t as easy as some are, however. With .ly, the country is Libya. Libya isn’t necessarily known for being the number one country for technological ease of use or freedoms. However, their NIC (Network Information Center) at nic.ly provides a link to another site, ltt.ly (Libya Telecom and Technology), which gives a list of approved vendors of .ly domain names. On this list, is LibyanSpider.com, a Libyan hosting and domain name registrar. They say I can register a .ly domain for 40 LYD, but since I’m an international customer, I have to use Register.ly. Now four levels in, I finally find a registrar that doesn’t charge as much as 101domains. At $75, while still a serious markup (one LYD is $0.84 as I’m writing this) over the 40 LYD ($33.48 USD), it’s about as good as I’m going to get. I can’t reasonably expect to get a foreign domain name that hasn’t been completely mainstreamed by the Internet for the price of a .com or .co.

.An(d) it’s gone.

There are other registrar setups like this one out there for other countries, too. Some are harder to get into, like .an, which isn’t even available anymore, since the Netherlands Antilles dissolved in 2010 and became the distinct countries of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, along with three smaller still-Dutch-owned municipalities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.

.is This Just Fantasy?

The TLD .is is gaining in popularity, too, but isn’t dead easy (unless you want to pay the 101domains price). Iceland owns this TLD and can be registered directly via their NIC site at isnic.is. At roughly $36 USD, it’s not a bad price, but their site isn’t very intuitive. Sometimes, paying a bit more makes the whole process that much easier. I could go on for days talking about all the different gTLDs out there, but I think you’d have a lot more fun looking them all up yourself. Luckily, Wikipedia has pretty much every TLD out there in one list.

New gTLDs

With the launch of newer topic-based gTLDs like .photos and .club, a lot of sites will eventually transfer over and older ccTLD and gTLD domains will eventually expire, unless a company chooses to keep renewing it and use it as a redirect. I’ve thought about having something like john.blog or jltech.blog, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind. There are a lot more options in the word-based TLD space. I think this’ll forever be an ongoing battle. People with short names will always have the one-up on me.

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