Hjertnes.blog

The 10 000 hours rule.

December 29, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers, and it’s 10 000 hour goal have been quoted, written and talked about to an extent where it’s so boring, over analysed and have lost most of it’s meaning.

There is something to the 10 000 hour rule. I don’t think it is a magical number, or a strict rule; something a lot of beginners and morons do.

I have learnt, developed and gotten paid for quite a few different skills up to this point. And there is no magic here. I learnt everything I know about programming, computers and system administration in the room I lived, in my mothers house, until I moved out.

You don’t need to be a genius to learn most skills, you need to me smart enough. My personal opinion is that mosts persons have the required intelligence to learn what they want, if they really want it.

And it is with this craving to learn something that the 10 000 hour rule comes in. I don’t think it will be 10 000 for most, or all people. I don’t talk about all of the people that have an guitar and some “Learn to play guitar book”, I don’t talk about all of the people with a copy of some “Objective-C Programming” or “Developer iPhone apps” book at their desk.

I talk about all of the people that pick something, they don’t know, and they start doing it, and they keep on doing it, until they are really good at it.

The key here is both the patience and time they put into it. But it’s also how they use their time. You need to put pressure on yourself, to do something you don’t know. I didn’t continue to write “Hello World!” programs for 10 000 hours, I wrote more and more advanced apps, and web sites. And I continued to write those things I had written in the past in new and better ways. In new and better languages and frameworks.

I have not written the same blog posts over and over again. But I have written about many of the same subjects. And I think most of what I write today is a lot better than the stuff I wrote a year ago.

The difference between the people that get really good, and those whom just waste a lot of time, is that those of us that get really good always know where they need to get better. They know what part of their skill set, that are the weakest.

One thing is to know it. It is another thing to do something about it. This is why you need something like the 10 000 hours. It might be 10 000 pages, or 10 000 versions of your iPad app.

The important thing is to not just keep doing what you are doing. It is important is to wander into deep water. To keep on pushing yourself to the better. This is the critical sense. You need to be your biggest critic.

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Writer Pro.

December 28, 2013

I have been using Writer Pro, on and off ever since it hit the App Stores. There are a lot of interesting ideas in it. The design is great, like it was in iA Writer.

I like the idea of having my documents divided into Notes, Write, Edit and Read. This is a logical way to organize the documetns. And it makes it very easy to find stuff.

I have no idea what to say, when it comes to the syntax tools they provided. It looks cool, and all of that. But I just don’t know what I am suposed to do with them.

And, then you have the list of features I would really love to see. The Markdown support is like with iA Writer minimal in the iOS version. There are no highligting, and no markdown button on the extended keyboard.

There are not any URL schemes included in the app either, this is no surprice. But it makes the sell for Writer Pro even harder. Drafts is my starting point for 90% of the writing I do on iOS. And not being able to use Drafts with Writer Pro is a real game stopper for me. They could have solved this with a simple url scheme, or by providing Dropbox as an alternative to iCloud.

I don’t think this release are close to as great or eye opening as iA Writer was. But it is a great set of apps. And it is really sad that they didn’t put the app off for a few more months to include the few extra features that would have made this app a real Byword competitor for many of us.

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Review Bodum Insulated Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Coffee and Tea Mug.

December 26, 2013

I’ve used these Bodum combined french press and travel mug’s a few times in the past. And now I got one for christmas this year.

I think I have to explain why it is a bad idea to have a combined french press and coffeemug. It is very important to pour the coffee from a french press and over to a coffee-pot or cups, as soon as possible after the coffee is brewed, to avvoid getting a overbrewed drink. Overbrewed coffee just tastes terrible.

It is pretty much unavoidable to get overbrewed coffee in a combined cup and french press.

When I looked at the cup, I found out that they included two different lids. One with a french press-dingus on it, and one without.

This bodum cup is in a lot of ways two different things in one. It is a usable french press, but in no way as good as their regular french press pots. And it is a very good travel mug.

I think I’ll continue using this mug. Without the french press part.

This is a very good mug, and I think everyone should take a look at it, if they want something to keep their coffee hot for a very long time. And it might also be something to look at if you need to make coffee in while traveling, for example on a airplane, train or bus ride. But something like an Aeropress would be a better option, if you need to make coffee in your cabin or when hiking.

Anyway.

A good travel mug.

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The preferred tool, is not always the best one.

December 26, 2013

All of us have our preferred ways to write. And some of us even have preferred ways to write, different kinds of things. For example, I prefer to write my brain dump, in other words stuff I am going to do and my journaling into FieldNotes notebooks. And then transferring them into TaskPaper and Day One later.

This is to have another round of reviewing before I start the doing. And to let my journal entries have a second round of editing before making it into my digital journal.

While I prefer doing my blogging and other kinds of writing on my Macbook Air.

But the tool I prefer to use is not always the best one. I will without doubt write into my notebook if I have it on my person, and I’m sitting down somewhere. But I will use my phone to do this in most other situations; or if it is weird, or attention seeking to pull out a notebook and a fountain pen.

When it comes to writing long form, I prefer my Macbook Air, then my iPad 2 and my iPhone 4S last. I might write down some bullet points or notes for something, if paper is my only option.

The thing is this, I don’t use my preferred tools most of the time. I just pick the tool that is the best fitting within arms reach. I am writing this post on my Macbook Air. But I would have written it on my iPhone or iPad if I my laptop wasn’t already on my lap, when I decided to write this thing.

One other very important point is that both a paper notebook, iPhone and iPad is something that is fare more “focused” than using an laptop. This is because well you can only do three things with a sheet of paper. You can either stare at a blank page, write on it, or stare at a page full of words. And when it comes to your iPhone or iPad, you can only work with one app at a time.

I find this very helpful when I need to write something that I find very hard.

Try to just pick the most convenient tool within arms reach the next time you are going to write something. Don’t get up, pick up your phone, or iPad. You might get some interesting results.

I type faster on a hardware keyboard. But I write better first drafts on everything except hardware keyboards. And I never have to stop to think while writing on paper or on a touch screen. I do that all the time while writing on a regular computer. The reason for this is that I use a little longer write things down, and this makes it possible for my brain to work on the next few sentences, while I’m still typing out the last one.

Like Natalie Goldberg is writing about in Writing down the bones(not an exact quote), the whole dynamic and how you write is very different depending on what you are writing with and on. Typewriter, Computer, paper — it’s all different.

Be a bit mindful, and don’t let the lack of your preferred tool keep you from writing. Because it is the writing part that is important. And especially the writing part. Do yourself a favour, and just write. Fill the pages, or make that Clackity Noise.

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My new GTD system – TaskPaper.

December 23, 2013

This is the third draft, and I really hope it is the last one.

I have used a lot of different GTD and task management apps. The four systems that have been sticking longest are Things, Remember The Milk, OmniFocus. I also used a few custom text file based systems in my Linux and Unix days.

My current GTD system worked great for the last two years, and the systems before that lated about the same length. But my needs changed with me shifting away from doing software development and onto being a full-time student, and doing a lot of writing.

I used to have a capture method that was all about going straight into digital. I switched over to my mac, or picked up my phone when I needed to add something to either OmniFocus, RTM or Things. But I stopped doing this. It was must simpler to just write it down in a pocket sized notebook.

Anyway.

Today, I did the damn thing. I moved everything out of OmniFocus and into TaskPaper and things. I keep everything that don’t have a due date, or is a repeating task in TaskPaper. And that is about 99% of what I do. And the rest is in Reminders, for now. I might change it later.

Why TaskPaper? There was a few things that intrigued me about TaskPaper. It is a very flexible system that isn’t anything more than plain text. I can combine tasks and regular text in the same document. And I can manage it all from anything that can read and write to a simple text file.

TaskPaper is similar to OmniFocus in one way, it is very flexible when it comes to sub-projects and tasks. Something I am a big user of. This is also one thing most GTD solutions is terrible at.

I can’t use anything that is designed to have X levels of projects or tasks. And I can’t use something that isn’t designed to handle everything from two active to 200 active.

Anyway. TaskPaper is the most flexible, simplest and the most effective way to add and process tasks that I have seen to this day.

I’m not 100% sure how this will go. But it is exciting to try something new. And I’ll post a real review of TaskPaper, when I have been using it for a while.

Check out TaskPaper here

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Squarespace galleries, and their portfolio app.

December 21, 2013

I’m a big photo nut, and I take close to 100% of my pictures with a DSLR. I have many reasons for this; they look so much better, and it also makes it possible for me to make great prints for presents.

One of the things that my Lightroom setup don’t have is an iPad and iPhone app that let me sync sets of pictures. And I don’t want to do this with Dropbox viewer apps or to use services like 500px.

I have used both Flickr, 500px and Picasa in the past. But I have come to a point where I want to control as many of the platforms that I use, as possible.

So I use a combination of Squarspace tools to make the images available on this site (if I want to), and to sync them to my iPad. This is great, if you want to show people the pictures you shot.

Step 1 {#step-1}

I just export the pictures, from Lightroom.

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After that I move the folder to Dropbox/Apps/Squarespace/accountid and wait for them to upload.

Step 3 {#step-3}

Publish. Then I move into the squarespace admin panel, and hit the publish button in the Dropbox part of the connected account section.

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Now I can either show people on the web, send them a link, or sync the gallery I created to my iPad and have the whole thing available offline.

The thing I love about squarespace is that you have all the tools you need to do most things. And these things are btw often available in some way on most platforms. But the thing I love about squarespace is that they are available without hassle. And the Portfolio and Gallery functionality is another one of these.

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The Mobile Writer

December 21, 2013

I saw that Patrick Rhone mentioned a new book by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a few weeks ago. It is called “The Mobile Writer”, and it is one of the few books about writing that I really like. I have read it more than once. And I think it is something everyone that who is or is thinking about writing on their phone or tablet should read.

The thing that really clicked with me and this book was that the author started with telling us, the readers they every computer, tablet and phone on the market is capable writing tools.

You don’t need anything fancy. But, a good writing app might make it more pleasant to write on your mobile device.

He also interviewed different writers, about the tools they use. Before he moves on to talking about different hardware options, apps, accessories. I have not seen many books on this subject that really goes into all of the options, and addresses the different options, and what the real pro and cons for the different options are.

My approach to writing is to use the best tool within arms reach. It might be my MacBook Air, iPhone or iPad. And sometimes I use pen and paper.

Some people like hardware keyboards, while others are perfectly happy with using the onscreen keyboard while writing on their phone or tablet. I don’t write very fast on any of them. And I have come to the conclusion that it is the act of thinking and to figure out what to write that is the time sink, and not the typing.

I used to be one of the crazy people that only wrote on my fancy Apple computer. These days I write on the best option within arms reach.

You should go and get “The Mobile Writer“. It’s not expensive, and it is a great way to spend the night.

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Swear words.

December 19, 2013

I know that some people have a big problem with them. And I can understand that. But the thing I have zero understanding for the need some people have to get rid of everything in this world that they don’t like.

I don’t like Android phones, or Windows computers; but I would never dream about trying to sensor or to get rid of the damn things.

I try to keep my writing, and speaking as close to each other as possible. What I mean by this is that I try to let my writing to make me a better speaker, and to let my speaking turn me into a better writer. The most important part of this for me is to always write what ever I would have said in real life.

I would call George Bush “a fucking asshole” both in real world, no matter whom I am talking to. And I should also do the same when I write.

Let’s move on to the real problem with “bleeping” or censoring the few words that most people consider “bad”. There are not much about the words themselves that are bad. It is just that we consider them bad. English swear words are usually about sex, and bodies. While for example my native language of Norwegian have similar words, but they are usually about hell or satan.

One argument I often hear regarding swear words is that parents don’t want their children to be exposed to them. Fair enough. And I understand the thinking behind this. But I don’t buy it.

First of all. All children will learn every swear word available as soon as they start in kindergarden, pre-school or school. Trust me. They will learn every single one. And that is just because we look at “fuck” as a bad word, and not because of the word “fuck” itself.

Why can’t parents take a similar approach to swear words, as good parents take to talking about children about sex?

And then we have the bleeping. Some idea that had to come from American conservatives. Anyway. It don’t work. Never have. Never will be.

First of all, the thing you are doing when bleeping something out is that you are highlighting the fact that some person said something bad, for everyone listening. While I would guess that most people would not notice if you didn’t do that. And the other problem is that most people always go for the worst word they can think of in that context, when something is bleeped out.

Should oversensitive americans dictate what kind of words the rest of the world is allowed to hear on TV, Radio and in podcasts?

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Three pages of apps, on my iPhone.

December 18, 2013

I finally found a functional limit on apps, on my iPhone. I’ve had a really hard time to figure out what kind of limit I should impose on myself after I gave up on the horrible broken folders in iOS 7. I have been both a 1 page, 2 page, 3 page and a whole lot of pages person through the years.

All the default apps from Apple fill up a little bit more than a page and a half.

So I needed to have at least two pages.

I went through everything. I deleted all the “kind of useful but I never use them”-apps. And I ended up with three full pages of apps. There is not a single third party app on my phone that don’t serve a real purpose.

The apps that is left, is all of the apps I really need. All the apps I really use. And I don’t mean the apps I use once a month. This is the apps I use at least once a week.

This is the list.

1Password is my password manager of choice. I use it to store password, software licenses and all kinds of other information that I need to keep secure. Great app for close to every platform.

Podwrangler is my go to podcasting app for the moment. I’m just using it until Marco’s overcast is out. Then I’ll mark a choice for what. I’m going yo use as my go to client for the coming months.

Audible is a great app service and store for audiobooks. You can look at it as the App Store or Kindle for audiobooks.

Notesy the icon looks like shit, and the app used to be kind of ugly. But it got a nice update after iOS 7. It is the most stable and only markdown + Dropbox text editor for iOS that just works no matter what. I’ve had 2000 notes, and I’ve had huge single notes. It always works. And that is the single most important thing for me.

Quotebook is a great app for iOS that let you store, manage and share notes you find.

Byword is my primary writing app. I write everything that isn’t a note or over 1500 words in it. On my Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Evernote is my everything bucket. I use it as an archive of everything that is more than just text. I also use it to capture images and location data.

Pomodoro is my Pomodoro app. Its simple. It’s fast. And it is one of the few that is doing just one thing. The Pomodoro part.

Ember is a new and powerful image management app, for iOS and OS X. I use it to store cool images I find. Or shoot with my phone. I store all the images I want to save that I haven’t shot with my DSLR in Ember.

Day One is my journaling app. I transcribe all of my paper journal entries into it. And also all of my paper notes. I add important life decisions and happenings there. And sometimes I do silly projects like taking daily pictures of myself.

Goos tagging support makes it easy to store all kinds of different data. And markdown makes the whole app very powerful. They have apps for both iOS and OS X.

Kik is a simple mobile messaging app I use with friends that isn’t on Facebook,Twitter or iMessage. It’s pretty decent. It is funny how no one have made a messaging app that blows everyone out of the park.

Tweetbot the best twitter client out there. It’s just amazing.

OmniFocus 2 the most powerful and probably the best GTD app out there for power users.

Fantastical 2 is my favourite calendar app. It gives me everything I need, and also the only interface for adding events that I like.

Left to spend money management for minimalist. I just tell it how much I can spend per day, and it keeps track of it. And I add all the money I spend.

It’s the only app that is simple enough,for me to actually keeping it up after quite a few years.

Newsstand. I have two magazines in there. The Loop Magazine and The Magazine. They are amazing.you should check them out if you like reading really good and interesting articles.

Facebook Messenger is the Facebook chat client for iPhone. It’s pretty good. It makes it fast, easy and simple to chat with my friends that don’t use twitter.

Text Expander Touch makes sure that all of my typo fixes and boiler plate text shortcuts from OS X also are there when I write on iOS.

Snapchat. Some of my friends use it. I also do that sometimes. But this is one of the apps that I would remove if it’s spot was needed by some important app.

Squarespace blog lets me publish blog posts to this site from my iPad and iPhone.

Instapaper is my preferred read it later service. I mainly transfer the content to my kindle, but the app is great to have when I don’t have it available.

Data usage is a simple and pretty good app for keeping track of how much cellular data you are using.

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Information silos can be amazing.

December 16, 2013

I have been thinking quite a lot about the so called information silos, during the last few days. Information silos are applications like Evernote or Yojimbo. They provide some kind of database where you can save notes or files. The main difference between this and using regular files and folders structures are many. Tagging, and projects or notebooks creates something similar to folders, but easier to understand. But one of the best reason to use something like Evernote is to now exactly where to look when you are looking for something.

I don’t use Evernote to store most of my notes, because I don’t need it for managing plain text content. But I use Evernote to store a lot. I usually put everything I do not work with now, or don’t need now. But all of the stuff I might need some day in there.

I know where all of my PDFs are. They are in Evernote. I know where all of the scrapped blog post ideas are. They are in Evernote. I know where all of the former writing projects are, they are in Evernote.

The way I use different systems to store different kinds of information is very geeky. And I’m a geek. I think most people should use these systems differently if they don’t have a very good reason.

My own experience is that systems like Evernote makes it easier for most people to know where their documents and notes are. They are able to know where they need to look. And it’s far less confusing than looking through different folders on their Mac or PC.

Sync is hard. But with Evernote, you get it out of the box.

If you feel that your data is everywhere, and that you never are sure about where things are on your hard drive. Give Evernote a change. Even if you only use one notebook --- you know that everything is in there. And it all of the tools for organizing and tagging are there if you find out that you need it later on.

Getting your data out. The first time I needed to get all of my data out of Evernote three years ago was a pain in the ass. It is far easier now. You can export all attachments in one operation and it is just as easy to get out the text of your notes, as HTML.

I have been going back and forth on Evernote over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that everybody should have something like Evernote in their tool belt. I use it as an archive, it makes it easy to move things in and out. And I always know where to find old files. Like today when I wanted to look at my English exam from this spring, it was in Evernote.

But remember, no software solution will be able to organize your data, this is something you need to do yourself.

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