Tag: Blogging

Knowing When to Stop/It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

I mentioned over on my hobby blog that I’m trying to know when to stop, rather than doing something and then tinkering with it endlessly because “it’s not good enough” or similar (or simply because I can). This is a frustrating habit of mine, because it’s a waste of time and effort, and usually leads to extra and unnecessary stress.

This is something that happens in loads of different situations, but within the context of my hobby projects it happens more often than not, and it’s the main reason I don’t finish anything near as much as I’d like, and it’s in this context I think I can make the most progress in “fixing things” overall.

It just so happened I came across two videos (one recent, one older) by Tabletop Minions which are on this exact topic:

Knowing When It’s Best to Quit

The Price of Perfection

Addendum: “It’s not good enough” has frequently been a case why I haven’t blogged regularly – similar to what’s described/linked in “How to Talk Yourself out of your New Year’s Blogging Resolution… One Day At A Time” – so overcoming this habit will benefit more than my hobby projects. It’s still early days, and posting has been a bit “spotty” since going back to work after the festive break, but I’m slowly getting there…

A Wargaming Blog

This year I’m doing something a little different, in that I’ve started a “side blog.” A Wargaming Blog will contain all the day-to-day hobby-related posts I normally only post to various social media channels. These posts are usually really small, so wouldn’t fit the format of this blog.

To get started, I’ve got a couple of posts:

I’ll still be posting hobby stuff on here, but it’ll tend to be either more in-depth, or finished pieces, rather than in-progress snapshots.

Some Loose Aspirations for 2015

I wasn’t going to write this post.

I promised myself I wouldn’t write a “2015 goals” entry; quite often it’s setting you up for a fall as unforeseen circumstances later in the year prevent you from reaching your well-intended goals, and leave you feeling crappy as a result.

But what the hell — one of the things I want to do in 2015 is write more often, so I might as well get in the habit.

I’m intentionally keeping some aspects of the goals vague. I don’t want to get too locked in to something, only to get to December 31st and feel crap for missing a load of my targets! And yes, some of these aspirations are very stereotypical!


1 — Get More Active.

This is the one everyone does. I know it, you know it. Like many geeks around the world, I work at a desk, then come home and plonk myself in front of a screen of some sort, and that’s me until bed time. Over the last few years I’ve slowly built my activity levels up – thanks to FitBit trackers and various apps, I tend to walk more than the average desk jockey, and I have some fitness equipment at home I make use of. But this year it gets serious. An average of 3 workouts of 45 minutes or more per week on top of my existing activity levels is my goal. Over the festive week I managed to get 3 hour-long gym sessions comfortably done, so as long as I can keep motivated to go, this should actually be one of the easier goals.

2 — Write More.

2014 was my second best year ever for blogging – largely due to a massive spurt at the end of the year. I’d like to keep that going, now I’m over the festive break. Ideally, I want to write more this year than in any year previous. If I can keep up a steady pace then it will be practice which puts me in good stead for another long-term goal of getting something published. Inspiration is going to be key to meeting this aspiration, and I know sometimes I will struggle and fall short of where I’d like to be. Consistency will be key.

3 — Play More Games.

I have a PS3 I only use for blu-ray movies, WWE Network, and Netflix. I have a stack of board games and tabletop games I’ve yet to play. I have a gaming table I’ve only played on once. This needs to change. I love gaming so much, but in 2014 I feel like I just wasted time and money on a hobby I just didn’t do justice to. If I’m going to manage to play one game of every game I own, then I’m going to complete a few other “sub-goals” such as finish painting a playable Warhammer 40,000 army, assemble and/or paint the contents of each starter set I’ve got, and get some place comfortable for playing board games with friends and family. I have my eye on something here, but it’ll have to wait until later in the year I suspect.

4 — Read More.

I have this on my list simply because it’s something I always want to do, and it’s one of the best ways to be a better writer. Reading is so much more evocative than most other forms of entertainment, that even though I read quite a lot already, I never feel like I read enough. On top of that, there are so many “classic” books I have yet to read — even in the genres I tend to stick to. So I’m going to try and read more. There’s not much more to be said here, really!


So that’s it, my grand plan for 2015. Well, not really. There’s more to my plans for this year than what’s written above. But I have to keep some things to myself — I can’t give away too many spoilers up front! Some goals/plans/ambitions will be written about at a more appropriate time, as will updates on how I’m progressing with those written here.

Here’s to a good year!

Desk Blogging App

Desk is a new blogging app from an indie developer, with a goal to be as simple to use as possible. Naturally it suppoorts most of the major platforms, and features both Markdown and WYSIWYG support. It’s piqued my interest, so I’ll probably give it a try on my Mac Mini (which, admittedly, isn’t turned on very often these days).

The only downside I can see, so far, is no iOS version. I’ve still to find an iOS blog editor I “click” with. I spend a tonne more time at home on my iOS devices than I do my Mac, so it would be great to find an app for my iPad/iPhone which fits into my blogging workflow. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Middling

Andy Baio on short-form blogging, in the post which inspired the “rules” from Gina, which I linked to earlier:

In the early days of Waxy.org, before I launched the linkblog, I used to blog short posts constantly. Multiple times a day. Twitter and Waxy Links cannibalized all the smaller posts, and as my reach grew, I started reserving blogging for more “serious” stuff — mostly longer-form research and investigative writing.

Well, fuck that. I miss the casual spontaneity of it all, and since I’m pretty sure hardly anybody’s reading my site again after the death of Google Reader, the pressure’s off.

The spontaneity is something I miss. Somewhere along the years (probably when the “pro-blogger” thing started to get attention), blogging transformed from a fun thing people did on the web, to Serious Business.

Short-Form Blogging

Gina Trapini gives a few ideas about short-form blogging, for when Twitter is too short, and a full article is too long (such as on Medium). Her new “rules” are all things I’ve mulled over. In particular, this item from her list is one resonates with me a lot:

Negotiate a comfort zone on two axes: personal and public, tech and everything else (feminism, musical theater, MMA, parenting, etc). 2001-era Scribbling.net was too personal, Lifehacker/Smarterware too tech. There’s something in the middle.

This blog tends to go quieter when I’m struggling to balance writing between personal and public, or when the immediacy of Twitter overwhelms the need to say something. The number of times I’ve bent over backwards to get a thought into 140 characters is ridiculous. Not everything belongs on the blog, but probably more does than I’ve been writing.

The Things That Will Last On The Internet Are Not Owned

My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.

Brent Simmons, commenting on “Community Services”.

These days I use Social Media more than I write in this blog, though it wasn’t always that way. Mostly that comes down expediency – it’s quicker to share a trivial thought or link on Twitter than write a post about it. Social Media, to get all Silicon Valley on you, is for ephemeral sharing. I don’t expect any of it to last, or be noticed beyond the <20 seconds it appears at the top of someone's "feed." It's fleeting, and I think of it as such.

If I want to record something more substantial, or which will last, I use this blog. Maybe not as often as I should, and sometimes I've not cared for backing up the archives as much as I should have1. But the blog has endured anyway.


  1. If I'd looked after it properly, there would be hundreds more posts in there, particularly from 2000 to 2008. 

Pseudonym for Jekyll

Earlier this summer I started messing around with Jekyll. In the end I didn’t migrate to it, but I at least gained a little knowledge.

One way that I tried to learn more about how Jekyll works, was by creating a test site and building a theme. That theme sat locked away in a private Github repository. Until now.

I’ve just opened up the source for Pseudonym, the name I gave to the project. It’s really very basic, but I hope at least somebody gets some use out of it.

You can find the demo site at http://dev.pseudonym.xxx/ (yes, I own a .XXX domain), and source can be found in the Github repository, here.

dev.pseudonym.xxx

A few notes and attributions (some copied from the readme)

  • I was also experimenting with Grunt.js. There’s a rudimentary gruntfile included, but the setup is incomplete. It was designed to build, concat and minify LESS files into CSS, various JavaScript files, and generate multiple sizes of the header images.
  • The theme is slightly responsive, but more work needs to be done here. Only tested on/targeted at desktop, iPad Mini, and my Nexus 4.
  • Header images are from Unsplash
  • Icons are by Font Awesome
  • I was messing around about with some newer CSS properties – the theme uses CSS columns in many places. While I’ve made it as cross-browser as I could in the time I spent on it, IE doesn’t look as pretty.
  • I’ve used Zepto, with a fallback to jQuery for IE.

A Blog is a Bonsai. It Needs Careful Pruning and Feeding.

I’ve spent some time this weekend making doing some much-needed housekeeping here, in order to keep it tidy and in a healthy state.

I’ve always found good blogging is more than just adding post after post. It takes a bit of effort behind the scenes; tending to the older content, keeping the “static” pages fresh, and removing any crud that’s accumulated in the sidebars. Keep these things in order, while feeding in good content, and your blog will grow. At least, that’s my theory. Things are slightly different on this particular blog, because it’s a personal blog, not a topic blog – so growth isn’t a primary concern. Hence the title: it can grow and be healthy, but I don’t expect it to be big.

With all that said, what have I been up to?

Site Theme

I decided the new(ish) Twenty Thirteen WordPress theme just didn’t work for me or how I see this site. It was nice and colourful, and good to have as a change, but it wasn’t really “me.” Instead, I’ve switched back to the “Standard” theme (which has been “retired” it seems), with a few tweaks. It’s more structured, and described as a “meticulously designed, hand-crafted theme.” I like things to have a bit of craftsmanship to them, and within that show an element of “control”; Twenty Thirteen felt just a little too chaotic for my tastes. I may still adjust some small parts, but mostly I’m happy with things now.

“Elsewhere” Links

For a while now I’ve maintained a sidebar list of other places you can find me: social media, profiles on various sites, etc. I’ve tidied this up to remove services I no longer use, or don’t use frequently enough for you to bother with. The  four sites in the sidebar now represent the other places you can find me, that I care about. Apart from Google+… not many people really care about that one, and I’m no different (maybe one day). Google+ is there to maintain my authorship information in Google.

Pruning Dead Content

Last year I would cross-post a lot of my Instagram shots over here. Then I deleted my Instagram account, and all those photo posts started showing as broken images. I’ve finally got round to clearing them out. I may have missed one or two, so if you spot one, please let me know!

Consolidation

Over the last couple of years I got it into my head that my blog had to present a “professional” image. An employer (or potential employer) might read it and decide not to hire me based on something I posted. As a result I fragmented my personality across the web, using a different site or service to post content in tailor-made silos. This site was just for technical posts which would show my expertise and how “professional” I am.

It was a stupid idea. It was stressful to maintain, and not as enjoyable. As a result, each site would languish for months without any update, and anything I did post was as much out of guilt as anything. I’ve given up trying to manage these sites, or “reboot” them. From now, this site represents the one “true” me. If an employer isn’t going to hire me over, say, one of the hobbies I’ve written about on my blog, then chances are they’re not somewhere I’d be happy to work at.

I will still use some services for specific needs: Twitter for things too short to fit here, and quick conversations; Facebook or Flickr for sharing photos of the kids with family or close friends, etc. Anything else should end up here. I’ve already imported the content of some other blogs into the archives, and I’m picking through an export of my old Tumblr, to see if there’s anything there worth adding (not likely!).

Re-Injecting the Personal and the Personality

Directly related to what I’ve written above, it struck me when I was reading through the old posts I recovered from previous incarnations of this blog, was how personal I used to get on here. That has been missing for a few years now, and as a result, a lot of the personality and “voice” has gone. Somewhere along the line I became overly private and cautious about what I was posting, and I honestly don’t know or understand why any more. It can’t just have been the employer reason mentioned above. Did I think I would be seen as some sort of narcissist? This is something I will try to address going forward. I’m also thinking about addressing it going back too. There are large gaps in this blogs chronology which could easily be filled with retrospective and back-dated entries about what was going on at the time. Some of it could even be quite useful for myself, as a way to reflect.

I’m not 100% certain though. While it could end up OK, I don’t want to post something inaccurate because my memories of the events have been tinged or faded by time. Especially where there’s other people involved. It’s OK to make a mistake about something just about me, but it’s not OK when it could impact or upset someone else.

I have made a baby-step of a start though. I have added some photo galleries to the site. Most were taken in the last year, but I’ll be going back and picking out other suitable subjects/events to post up. Galleries are backdated to the event/date they were taken, to distinguish “old” ones from any I post in the future. There will be a mix of subjects, from holidays, random photo-shoots, modelling projects… whatever really!

What Next?

Going through this exercise ties-in to some thoughts I’ve been having recently about my “digital identity,” who controls it, and what it means. These thoughts inn turn, have spun out of me stepping away from Facebook for a while. I’m trying to shape these thoughts into something fully-formed so I can share them on here.