So Long (And Thanks For All The Fish)

Blogging Daily

At the end of 2015 I committed to blogging daily for 2016. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty heavy commitment. Especially considering my full time work that consumes on average 55 hours per week before travel.

Then family, a social life that includes spending hours on a motorcycle, and of course that large sucker of time, leading worship at church. Oh yeah there are the 17 podcasts I subscribe to, weekly books I read, and don’t mention Masterchef, Orphan Black or Game of Thrones.

If you then consider the average time a blog post actually takes. Invariably for me the shorter the post the longer the composing, but not always.

My Motivation

But I was committed for a number of reasons:

1. I want to write. Professionally.

Stephen King suggests if you want to write (well), you have to do two things a LOT. Write, and Read.

Committing to blogging every day was a way to develop the discipline of overcoming distractions and flexing that writing muscle. Sure you can blog once a week, but you’ll never get to the 10,000 hours required for mastery at that rate.

2. Documenting My Life.

The very word ‘blog,’ comes from ‘web log.’ Think of it as an online journal. The articles often show a snapshot in time, and space. A context of a life lived that is hard to recall any other way. Especially with the granularity that writing ‘every day’ brings.

3. Articulating Thoughts.

Over time as I develop hypotheses there are two benefits to sticking them on the blog. The first, is the act of writing forces me to structure my thoughts. The second, publishing them gathers valuable feedback that in turn strengthens the thinking.

Structuring my thoughts daily exercises that ability. It makes me much sharper at work and when interacting with others.

4. Developing Collateral.

The blog is a great place to publish articles that provide value and insight. Gear reviews, ‘How to’s’, and professional leadership techniques. A lot of this I can, and do repurpose.

Just the commitment to blog everyday generates a demand for content that drives me to develop it. Not to mention an online place I can find content I’ve created before.

5. Creativity

Sure anyone can brainstorm, although few rarely do. But can you generate a list of ideas good enough to write about every day? How about headlines, and keywords, images, and questions?

I can.

Because I have to. Well, I committed to.

But So What?

For some time I’ve been thinking about the effectiveness of the blog.

Not effectiveness in the ‘content marketing’ sense. Yes, I do look at the numbers. I also practice SEO (to get better at SEO rather than to drive traffic.)

Rather my effectiveness in the world.

Is this really the best thing I could be doing with my time, skills, and effort? I guess a heart attack will help prioritise things like that, but as I said, I have been pondering this for a while.

I love writing the blog. I love the creativity, the research, the writing, the editing, and the measuring. But frankly the daily commitment does consume a LOT of time that I could leverage to provide more value to more people. Time I could be learning, or directly earning. Even expressing: e.g. time I could be writing stories, shooting photos, or editing video.

Simply reducing the cadence isn’t a solution. That just lessens the value to everyone.

Bifurcate

There are very real pressures on the Internet that say “Focus! Your Blog should have a single customer, a single domain, and focus on building your traffic so you can monetise them” and clearly that’s not my thang. It’s never been me. I’m what Emilie Wapnick calls a ‘multipotentialite.’

And the blog isn’t exactly aimed at “monetising” anyway. (Most of you will probably be glad to know).

Although there are the seeds of opportunity. My most popular articles all have to do with Motorcycles and Motorbike Touring. I was even asked by an online company to review their products. I could absolutely see a blog as part of motorbike touring and gear sales business.

So, it seems, a way forward could be to split the blog into a number of sites, all dedicated to an individual topic. Some to earn, some to express.

Which is fine, but I’m not entirely sure creating more work for a (at least initially) zero net gain return, makes any sense at all.

No More.

So as we’re exactly half-way through the year, I’m declaring the commitment honoured. (Even though this post is just over a week late) 🙂 I have posted every day since 1 Jan 2016. That is except for Easter Sunday because I wanted that to be a follow up to my story “Fire, Earth and Blood”

I will continue update this blog occasionally, but not daily. Over time I expect to start another site that is more dedicated to “Roger 2.0.” To my career and life as it evolves. I may even document some of that process here.

It’s been a very fun ride, and I do very much enjoy all of the readers, comments, and engagement. Enough to want to grow that.

Rog42?

At this stage I’m not even sure I’ll keep (identifying with) Rog42.

On the one hand it has been my identifyer for some 20 years across 4 continents, 9 countries, 22 cities, and 9 companies. More constant than a home country, a telephone number, a passport or social security number, an employer email address. There’s a LOT of investment in the brand.

It’s short, easy to share, and ‘geeky to those in the know.’

On the other hand it’s hardly that famous or well-known, and I’m unsure it’s a brand I’d create if starting from scratch. It doesn’t really stand for anything clearly.

More on that later.

Holiday

But for now I’m taking a holiday. Literally a holiday on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I intend to Reflect, Plan, and Create in equal portions.

If something catches my fancy, I may pop it on the blog. Or not.

I am disconnecting from work mail, Facebook and Twitter.

See you on the other side.

 

IPad Pro in Anger: Day Eight – Flying

Flying Home

There are many reasons for using a tablet on an aeroplane:

  • Entertainment
  • Creativity
  • Learning – and –
  • Work

Entertainment

As an entertainment device, the iPad Pro has no equal. The screen, both from a real estate and resolution perspective, is phenomenal. Also the brightness. I was next to someone watching a movie on a Surface Pro today. He asked me to close the window shade because of screen glare. The Pro was plenty bright enough to not need this.

Then there’s the battery life, which even without in-seat power on my recent SYD-SFO flight, lasted the whole flight.

Quite apart from purchasing iTunes movies and TV shows, you can get the OPlayerHD App, or VLC, or any number of video players. Simply copy movies in any format to the device, and et voila, your movie collection comes to life.

Creativity

Photo-20160201235906145.jpgIt is true that the iPad lends itself to creative tasks. Just today on two short haul flights between Sydney and the Gold Coast (1 hour flying time) on the iPad Pro I:

  • Used calligraphy to handwrite a thank-you note
  • Blogged
  • Edited video
  • Edited photos, and
  • Sketched

Of course there’s plenty more I could’ve done from creating music to building websites.

Udemy Course on Drawing
Udemy Course on Drawing

Learning

Here Udemy, iTunesU, Kindle, Kahn Academy, DuoLingo, and iBooks are my friend. So many options for learning, there is no longer an excuse for not finding the time to learn your next skill.

Work

Ok, the biggie. Can you really do real work on the iPad Pro, in an economy seat on an aeroplane?

Of course, that’s determined by your definition of real work. So let me say, for me, the compute tasks I need to do to conduct my work when travelling include:

  • Email
  • Reviewing & authoring documents (PDF’s & Word)
  • Reviewing, creating and delivering presentations
  • Reviewing spreadsheets
  • Research, both primary (mostly Interviews), and secondary (mostly Internet) which I need to collate, synthesise and share with colleagues
  • There is administrivia, like timesheets, expenses, booking travel, the leave and payroll system, and occasionally procuring equipment. All of these systems are web-based, and even with last years 108 days of travel, I can do these back in the office (or on a PC at home)

In the last two weeks I’ve flown 4 times – two 14+ hour flights to and from San Francisco, and two 1 hour flights to and from the Gold Coast.

On the Qantas 747-400, there is no problem doing serious work in economy. Both flights I was on the aisle (44C and 48H), in a seat behind another (so people reclined seats onto me). With the seat reclined, it was tough to use the iPad Pro on the in-seat table. There’s not quite enough room to extend your arms for the keyboard, without standing the Pro upright. However, there’s no problem at all with the keyboard on your lap.

If the seat in front is upright, the table is the way to go.

On the Virgin 737-800 I was in a window seat (29A) and found it pretty cramped. Once the seat in front reclined, there wasn’t really enough room to type comfortably. On the Embrauer 190, however, also a window seat (9F) there was room to type comfortably on the table, even with the seat reclined. I think the extra elbow room on the E190 contributes to this.

On all four flights I cleared my email, mostly before take-off.

Travelling to San Francisco saw me reviewing some 10 deep technical abstract papers, and summarising these for a calibration workshop. I also worked on a client PowerPoint presentation, and another client PoC Proposal (Word).

On the flights too and from Coolangatta I continued work on the Word proposal, and the PowerPoint presentation.

Of course it was hard to review anything without Internet Access, but I did read the pages I had clipped into Evernote prior to the flight.

I’m collaborating with others on both the Word and PowerPoint files, and as soon as I connected to the web again, MS Office365 OneDrive synced my changes to everyone else.

Added Bonus

There are five added bonuses for using the Pro as a travel work device:

  1. As it’s not a “laptop” you don’t need to remove it from your carry-on at security
  2. As it’s not a “laptop” you can use it (in airplane mode) from gate-to-gate
  3. LIghtning Connector – you can charge it in-flight on most long haul carriers. Not to mention everyone has a Lightning cable, and on the odd occasion you sit next to an Android Afficionado, you can pick up a cable in every airport. If you start with a charged device, you won’t need this on all but the longest flights
  4. No fan noise, or overheating.
  5. Integrated 4G means you can stay connected until the doors close, and reconnect as soon as you land, allowing you to send all of those queued emails, and post those blog’s.

Drawbacks

There are a couple of drawbacks:

  • That damned Pencil design. I’ve lost the magnetic lightning connector cap. It came off in a seat-back somewhere over the pacific, and is no more.
  • Also, the Pencil dropped during a meal, and rolled back 2 rows. This saw me using my iPhone torch at 3am somewhere to try and recover the device. (I recovered it). Seriously Apple – A CLIP WOULD BE NICE.
  • None of the Office Products are fully featured. This is particularly irksome on PowerPoint, especially if you’re trying to create graphics. Word is okay-ish: It’s ok for most text styles, and even tables. Just not ideal for graphics (e.g. No aligning function, no multiple select etc.) The workaround is to open the documents in Pages, or Keynote, and edit them with the rich tools there, then save them as Office formats. Either that or only do work that requires limited editing functionality.

The Answer?

Uniquivocally…

“Yes!”

I took both the laptop and the Pro with me for the last two trips, and didn’t need to use the laptop for all but the most obscure reasons.

 

Plans for the Month of February

Sketching and Drawing

First attempt at humanoid wireframe – learning proportions

As mentioned in the iPad Pro in Anger series, I have fallen in love with the Apple Pencil. So much so, that although I’ve spent a lifetime doodling, I want to learn to draw. To sketch. People, places, experiences.

Ultimately I’d like to draw cartoons or comics to illustrate this blog. Which, I think, is going to be a lot more challenging than meets the eye. But there it is.

I have invested in two Udemy.com courses on drawing, and will commit to 30 – 60 minutes every night to the cause.

I’ll be sure to post my daily progress. Probably on my Instagram account, with occasional, perhaps weekly updates to this blog.

Being the Best Best Man I Can Be

Some months ago a couple of great friends decided to tie the knot, and to my surprise they asked me to be the Best Man. The wedding is in two weeks (gulp) and I need to ensure:

  • My speech achieves the appropriate level of meaning, wit, and brevity
  • The stag night is planned and executed
  • The day, at least from the grooms perspective, runs tickety boo

So work cut out for me then.

Selling the House

This one seems a little more out of my hands. Apart from ensuring the house is tidy enough for “Open Homes” this seems to be about passively letting people look at and offer on the house. Passivity is never my thing, so if we don’t sell by the end of February, I’ll be re-looking at our strategy.

Driving VR in the Enterprise

From a work perspective, I’m collaborating and facilitating a Proof of Concept that will drive Virtual Reality as a meaningful tool for our (HPE) enterprise customers. It’s a pretty exciting project that will take two to three months. More as I can share.

This is exactly where I want to be in technology, driving innovative, but meaningful solutions with disruptive technologies.

Contributing to STEM Education

Again, there’s not a lot I can mention here, apart from saying that I’m working on a project that has the opportunity to seriously turn the dial on STEM Education in Australia.

If this comes off, so much will change.

Hand Writing Thank-you notes

I’ve reinstituted my weekly hand-written thank-you notes. Only I’m using technology for a (logistical) twist:

I’m using an app called Touchnote, that allows me to send a postcard with a picture from my photo roll, to anyone in the world.

So I can use Paper by 53, to handwrite my thank-you note, save it as a picture, then have it printed in hard copy as a beautiful glossy card, and sent to those I want to thank.

Simple. Effective. Beautiful. And delightfully Different.

Blogging

Yep, I’ll still be continuing my challenge to blog every day of 2016. I hope that you find the content refreshing, authentic, entertaining, provocative, even helpful.

If you do, please comment.

If you don’t, please comment.

 

The Best Blogging Tool… …Ever!!

Project 2012: Day 12

Chances are if you’re reading this you’re either already a blogger, have decided it’s not for you, or may be considering getting into blogging. If you are a blogger, what do you reckon is your best blogging tool?

For me there are two choices:

1) For really simple blogging (although powerful enough for most) I use Posterous. For posts (or pages) you simply email post@posterous.com. Any attachment or link in your email is automagically converted into an embedded item.

2) For my main WordPress and work blogs, I use Windows Live Writer. You can get this off the web for free, it posts to most blog platforms, and has plugins readily available for those not on the list.

I’ve been using this tool for almost 4 years now, and it has stood the test of time. The interface is unadorned, inspiring good writing, yet it is simple to enrich your posts (and pages) with rich text and media.

I love the fact that you can use it offline, yet still synch with your blog account. Also that you can specify post date (and time).

I love the ease that you can embed media, not to mention modify code if you really need to.

And did I mention it’s free.

Check it out…

Postcript

The only issue is that WLW only runs on Windows. There is no (free or otherwise) Mac tool that comes close, so I have to run a Windows Virtual Machine on my MBP every time I blog…