One thousand lightbulbs

New year, new tools

2021 is a new year! I’ve been slowly ramping up my logging and notebooking routine, and this year I’ve reached new heights of pretension for my analogue note-taking setup:

From bottom to top:

Ten books I enjoyed this year

Because it’s that time of the year, where we do book roundups.

This year was the first full year where I kept a (manual) reading log. At the close of 2020, I can see exactly how many I’ve gone through. As a small exercise, I went through that index putting a little star next to the ones I really enjoyed, and suddenly - boom - a top ten for the year!

Keeping productive with a tiny zine

I’ve been having real problems focussing on doing stuff during the evenings this last year or so. It’s a real shame since I’ve spent the last ten years or so investing heavily in GTD and fancy tools in my computer to keep track of my projects, but all this goes out the window when I’m sitting down at 7pm after finishing up all those chores that comprise adulthood. In fact, my normal process is:

  1. Review tasks on the to-do list
  2. Get overwhelmed
  3. Watch youtube all night

Which isn’t the best way of dealing with the situation.

Automating OmniFocus to scope every task

I can’t believe Omni-automation has been out for so long and I haven’t talked about it.

The tl;dr of the site is that Omni Group recently (as in six months ago) supercharged the automation capability of all their apps (OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan), by giving them a really robust Javascript Core framework. That sentence will either send you to sleep, or make you quite excited, and that reaction will tell you whether you care an inch for this post or not.

With your expectations set, let’s see how I can develop a really simple Javascript plugin for OmniFocus in about half an hour.

Birds of a feather

We are pigeons. We are everywhere. The vast majority are as you expect. A few of us have been blessed by the Grey Lady, given the dedication to carry out her work. We seek out the Bag People, take their instruction, and help the dead rejoin the Earth.

Even those of us who have purpose, who can see the souls of the dead, are still pigeons. We are vain, myopic, argumentative, impulsive. But for some souls, we’re all they have.

JAMStack comments (for free) with Netlify and Fauna

Note: The commenting system is a bit flaky right now - comments may not get posted! I’m working on a more robust system, but for the moment we’ll just have to deal.

This site used to have comments through Disqus. But Disqus was a huge third-party javascript drain and resource hog, and I ditched it.

R and colour palettes part 2 - set your primary

A few posts ago, I got very invested in how to build a nice colour palette in R. I went through how to build your own palette, select colours depending on the number of series you needed to show, and how to wrap it all up in some handy shortcut functions, so you could feel like a real pro as you bring your own colour palette in to help with whatever plot you need to build.

What could be better than a whole article devoted to colour palettes in R? Did you guess, doubling down with a follow-up article about niche aspects of colour palettes? If so, you’d be correct.

Quantified self through little fill-in boxes

Except for a period of about eighteen months in my early twenties, I’ve generally been a bit sceptical of the whole quantified self movement. In theory, sure: it can be useful to know some hard facts about how you make your way through your day, week, or year. But in practice I suspect that most people, if faced with every measurable facet of their lives, would change exactly nothing.

And yet we persist in quantifying our lives. Perhaps it’s part of our obsession with optimisation and squeezing the value out of every minute of the day. Perhaps it’s because numbers, like lists, give us a way to escape our thoughts about death.

Making zines with pdfjam

The past few weeks, I’ve been looking at zines in a new light. I’ve always liked the idea of printing out little books at home, but given we’re all trapped indoors right now, it seems like a great time to do a little craft activity.1

I got interested in a more-then-theoretical way thanks to “writer who draws” Austin Kleon, who posted this post on making an eight-page zine from a single sheet of A4 paper, but then he posted this video from autumnthing on how to make a fourteen-page zine, and it blew me away: