Writing Tools

Writing ToolsSome of my blog posts have taken a long time to materialise. If I am to continue writing for this site then I need to get a better grip on the amount of time I spend creating the content. The problem is all to do with my current process!

If I don’t set myself a regular deadline then I don’t get around to writing. There is always something more important… Even with a deadline I have a tendency to leave writing the post until the last minute. The basic idea would already be in my head and then I just sit down and start writing…

Quite often I find things tend to veer away from the initial idea as it was too vague. This can be interesting as my subconcious starts coming out to play and the ideas for future topics can soon multiply, but this is far from ideal. The post tends to grow very rapidly and then requires heavy editing to try and focus the point a bit. This can lead to a lot more time than there should be going into each post…

Posts on a specific, targeted topic, tend to be more interesting anyway. To help with this in future I need to create a more focused approach to writing posts. Putting your head down a letting the words wander off wherever they want should definitely be a part of the process but there should also be some structure.

Hopefully this might be useful to other budding bloggers but also will become a reference for myself when creating future posts.

Miniaturized Keyboard

Miniaturized KeyboardAs you may have noticed I have had a bit of a break from blogging recently. I’ll go into the reasons in a bit more details in a minute but you’ll be glad to hear that I’m back and I plan to start writing regularly again.

I’ve had some time to take a new look at what’s important to me. I have been slacking off a bit recently and after a bit of thought on the subject I realised that I didn’t have as much energy as I should have. This led me to look at my health and one thing that did come to light was that I had put on a bit of weight again…

I’m determined to get my energy levels back up so it’s time to start a new diet. After some searching I decided on Diet Chef. The idea of pre-prepared meals seems great as I think portion control can be one of my downfalls.

It’s not exactly cheap, but at under ¬£6 per day it’s over the top either. The costs involved may even help as when you invest in something you take it a bit more seriously…

GTD Tickler File

GTD Tickler FileI’ve tried lots of different techniques and tools over the last couple of years and some of them help but some just don’t work for me. Sometimes you can just tell straight away but it’s not always that obvious. Every now and then evaluate your processes and identify areas that may be unnecessary or that aren’t beneficial enough to warrant the time involved.

The most important thing when trying to improve your productivity is ‘Learn What Works For You’.

I found a lot of useful tidbits in David Allen’s Getting Things Done book, or GTD for short.

I wrote a very brief GTD review back when I first read the book. Some parts stuck and some didn’t. Over time though I have tailored a few things to better suit my way of working…

Here are a couple of the things that have stuck with me and some of my own experiences of them.

Facebook timeline

Facebook timelineRecently Facebook introduced their new timeline feature. This shows items in date order, against a central ‘time’ line running down the middle of the web page. You can now add milestones into the timeline which can be useful to populate a bit of historical info…

The layout has also changed requiring a cover image that goes at the top of the page along with a larger profile image, which is used as the thumbnail against any comments you make, and lastly the apps you make available are also shown just under the cover image, using new sized images.

As the timeline feature is optional some of my Facebook friends have already started using it, but some haven’t. I resisted the urge to change as I didn’t see anything wrong with the current system…

Then Facebook decided to force all Pages—like my peteoshea page, not your personal profile—to use timeline. I thought it might be useful to record some of the important sizes for anyone else about to move to timeline.

Black Rabbit

Black RabbitI’ve been back to work for about a month and these bank holidays are my first time off.

Happy Easter everyone!

I am not feeling great at the moment. I have had a cold for the last 3 days and I still haven’t managed to shake it completely yet.

It’s the worst cold I’ve had in a long time. Being back in the closed environment of the office every day has some downsides…

I’m sure I will still manage an easter egg or two though. It would be rude not to…

Anyway I’m starting to feel a bit better, at long last, so there should be a proper post again next week. In the mean time try not to eat too much chocolate & hot cross buns…

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Image: Pete O’Shea
Blossom

BlossomWhat have you achieved in your life so far? Is there anything you would like to achieve that you haven’t yet?

These are two very important questions that you should ask yourself regularly.

Take stock every now and again to see what you have accomplished. Sometimes you might surprise yourself when you look back…

Turn your life into a story to be proud of.

Rusted Farm Machinery

Rusted Farm MachineryA while ago now I mentioned here on this blog that I was quitting my 9–5 job. Even before leaving the job I started questioning the decision

Having been working for myself for 18 months I still haven’t achieved anywhere near as much as I had hoped. Now don’t get me wrong I have done a few things in that time that I am very pleased with. The problem is that I just haven’t found nearly as much time as I had wanted to, to spend on the personal projects I had envisaged.

Over that time I have had some good months and some not so good months…

Then I was offered some extra work for my old company but this came with some extra restrictions. This got me thinking as to whether I would just be better off returning to full time employment. Am I really cut out to be my own boss?

Time to reflect on my original decision and see if my feelings have changed in any way…

Dinner For Two

Dinner For TwoI am a very methodical person, some might say borderline OCD. I like to follow a fixed set of rules in a simple, logical manner. Whether this is due to my choice of career or simply a reason why programming is my career, I’ll never know.

If the rules are well defined then I can crank out work at a pretty good rate. The fuzzier the logic then the slower I can become. If the rules are unknown or very unrestrictive then I can flounder over the simplest of tasks. A simple thing like picking a name for a variable can sometimes waste 5 minutes or so if there are no pre-defined coding rules…

If you find yourself resisting something then it is likely that you have some piece of information missing. Without that missing piece the job seems too hard to tackle and so your subconscious tries to find ways to avoid it.

Noticing these points of resistance early on can be a great boon for productivity!

Yellow Cast In Windows Photo Viewer

Yellow Cast In Windows Photo ViewerNow that I have an iMac I deal with my photos pretty much exclusively on that. There is still always the occasional need to view images in Windows and the built in Photo Viewer program is pretty good.

One thing that does annoy me though is that, by default, there is usually a yellow cast over the whole image. This happened to me with Windows Vista and now I am getting the same thing on Windows 7.

It’s not hard to fix but it’s one of those things that I had to look up on the internet so I thought I would write a quick post for anyone else getting the problem. Maybe you have seen it and not realised there is even a problem…

PowerShot SX40 HS Lens Extended

PowerShot SX40 HS Lens ExtendedI was recently asked what I thought about bridge cameras. To be honest I hadn’t really heard much about them before but when shown what they could do I was amazed.

A few days later I was packing my camera backpack for a day out down to Snowdrop Valley. Having not been there before I wasn’t sure about which lenses I might need so I took all three of the lenses I currently own, a wide-angle zoom, a prime lens and a telephoto zoom. (You can see more details of the lenses I use on the new Gadgets page I have set up listing all my gear)

I did in fact use all three lenses but they make the bag quite heavy and the constant switching of lenses is really starting to bug me. Sometimes I end up taking all three lenses and only using one of them…

As they were fresh in my mind this got me thinking about bridge cameras. Should I replace my dated DSLR with a bridge camera?