Fewer of more

I’d like to have fewer of more things. Does that make sense? Right now I have five of everything and it’s driving me nuts.

I know, I know, I’m the type of person who likes to try different things; to have options, but that may be changing. At least it feels like it’s changing. It could very well be just another short-lived mood, but I’m tired of making decisions.

Here are some of the things I’m working on having fewer of.

Software. I use way too many apps. They overlap in various ways that make it impossible to decide which to use for what. I switch between them and then need to “refactor my workflow” on a monthly basis. As fun as it is to play with software, my state of mind is telling me to cut back.

How do I do that? By using Emacs. When I’m in the mood for easy/pointy/clicky software, I try quitting Emacs. Doing so requires that I find apps to replace all the things that Emacs had been doing, and I’m back in the 3-apps-for-each-task conundrum. So now I’m using Emacs and Org-mode for everything that makes sense.

Using Emacs eliminates the need to decide between the following:

  • Things or OmniFocus for tasks
  • Tinderbox or Apple Notes or TheBrain or DEVONthink or Bear or Ulysses for notes
  • Timings or Timular for time tracking
  • BBEdit or VSCode or Vim for text editing
  • Mail.app or MailMate for email
  • TiddlyWiki or TheBrain or Tinderbox or DEVONthink for project/client notes

And so on.

Notebooks. I love paper notebooks, but deciding which to carry or use is debilitating. I’m down to three: A Field Notes pocket notebook for away-from-computer capture, A Leuchtturm for my version of Bullet Journal, and a Hobonich Techo for calendar and date-based stuff. Yes, that’s still three notebooks but it’s down from five or six. I’ll miss the Midori and the Rotterfaden but I have to stop trying to use them all at once.

Cameras. Admit it, there’s no way I’m going to stop using a bunch of different cameras. I don’t know how to addres this yet, but I spend way too much time organizing cameras and bags to get my “kit” just right.

The smartest move would be Leica M6 for everyday film, Fuji X-T3 for digital, and the Hasselblad for “serious” work. But then the beautiful Leica M4 shows up and what about the big Speed Graphic? And that Leica Q is amazing. Still thinking about this one.

Clothing. My least favorite thing is picking out an “outfit” to wear. I don’t think I could pull of a Jobsian uniform, but I’d like to not spend 15 minutes wondering what goes with what today. I’m working on getting my wardrobe down to a few types of things, all in simple colors that work together. Not there yet.

Devices. There’s no way I need all of the computers/tablets/phones I have. Two iPads? Two laptops? Two iMacs?. C’mon. This should be easy, but I love the iPad mini for most things, but the big iPad Pro is great for watching shows and doodling with a Pencil. And I’m sure I can find a good use for that “extra” iMac. I don’t need it, but there it sits, taking up my bandwidth.

Blogs. I’ve been getting better at this, but still have too much/many blogs. I want only one or two so I don’t have to think about where to post what.

Photo Sharing. I post photos to Flickr, SmugMug, Instagram, Coping Mechanism, Micro.blog, and Baty.net. That’s nuts. I would like to pick one for my photo gallery “home” and one for social sharing. Can’t decide, and it’s crazy-making.

I could probably call all of this an attempt at “Minimalism” but I stopped using that word once it had been usurped by so-called “Productivity Gurus” and “Life Coaches”. Blech, time for a new word.

Anyway, the gist is that I want to significantly reduce the number and types of decisions I have to make every day.

A little more ridiculousness - Paul Ford

Paul Ford, Vergecast:

So it’s getting cheaper to do more, but it is not an environment that rewards the vast and ridiculous creativity that we saw in the early days. I think it would. I think that just a little more ridiculousness would be welcomed because it’s very inexpensive to be ridiculous at scale.

I, for one, would welcome a little more ridiculousness.

Leica M4 is out of storage

Finally, I’ve gotten my beloved Leica M4 out of storage. It’s been in a case in my basement since last year’s move and that’s a shame.

Figure 1: Leica M4 with Voightlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar

Figure 1: Leica M4 with Voightlander 35mm f2.5 Color Skopar

The camera was made in 1966 and I bought it in 2009. It’s seen regular, if sporadic, use since then. I think it’s beautiful, and I especially like that it has the M3-style levers.

I have the tiny and terrific Voightlander 35mm Color Skopar on it. That lens is almost too small, but it makes fine images and was inexpensive.

It feels good to be using this setup again. I’ll run a few rolls through it and see if I still become fatigued shooting with no meter at all.

I still like using ox-hugo

I’m still using ox-hugo for publishing with Hugo. I like writing in org-mode. I also like that my entire site can be in a single text file. It’s clever enough to be helpful, but not so clever that it feels like magic.

Here’s a current screenshot.

The web without the web

Laura on dev.to:

The designer that knows CSS can’t update some colours in GitHub without breaking half of the tests. The Product manager can’t replace a bunch of words in a page without figuring out the PropTypes of the map component. The accessibility expert can’t replace divs with buttons because the visual regression testing says that Opera mini in Windows Phone 6.5 renders a border about them and we can’t merge changes until it all goes green. The frontend dev can’t implement an accordion (honestly, that one might be for the best) because the guy who’s super into types won’t let her store state outside of redux.

In elevating frontend to the land of Serious Code we have not just made things incredibly over-engineered but we have also set fire to all the ladders that we used to get up here in the first place.

I don’t mean to continue coming off as an old curmudgeon that can’t keep up, but I worry that the way we’re building the web these days is bad for some portion of our future.

(via @baldure)

Book: Armada by Ernest Cline πŸ“š

ArmadaArmada by Ernest Cline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was fine. More like “Ready Player Six”, I’d say.

I enjoy the occasional pop culture reference, but good lord that was a lot of them.

I knew I was in trouble when, as soon as he met a girl, I said to myself, “How much you bet he accidentally says something clever and they kiss before the day is out.”, and whaddaya know. Of course that’s what happened.

Also, “The Last Starfighter” and “Enders Game” did this already, and arguably better. Still, it was a quick, mildly entertaining read.

View all my reviews

Book: Space Opera, by Catherynne Valente πŸ“š

Space OperaSpace Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I imagine Catherynne Valente thought to herself…

“I think I’ll write something sort of like Douglas Adams, but with MORE!”

If you throw a lot of words at me, all trying to be super funny, a few of them will land. But when you do it in every single sentence with no guidance at all from an actual plot or characters, it becomes exhausting. So exhausting, in fact, that I stopped reading about 2/3rds of the way through.