Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

In this edition of the letter, I'm continuing to go off on a slightly different tangent. While I'm looping back in the direction of writing about technology, the subject of what you're about to read is an aspect of technology that many of us tend to overlook or ignore.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Maintenance

Innovation. That's the big byword and buzzword these days, isn't it? Innovation, we're breathlessly told, is the key to our futures. It's where the cool kids play. It's the forge in which the heroes and rock stars are formed. It's the space that's most interesting, most challenging, most cutting edge. It's where you want to be if you want to make a difference.

The drive for innovation also clouds our perceptions. It warps our view of things. Everything must be innovative. If it isn't, it's boring. It's destined to fail. It's not worth mention or attention. If something's not innovative, it's worth our derision.

Stemming from that mindset, for example, are all the however many negative reviews of releases of software or apps I've read over the years. Reviews bemoaning that there was nothing new in those releases. Reviews that unleashed a torrent of negativity because developers had the sheer temerity to fix long-standing bugs, to make sure that software or app was stable, that it kept running smoothly.

How wrong those reviewers were.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Maybe it's because my own clock is ticking down. Maybe it's because thoughts around productivity have been invading my gray matter. But lately, some of my thoughts have been in orbit around the concept of time — how much we have, how much we can use, alla that sorta thing. Which informs this edition of the letter.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Time and How Much You (Really) Have

How often have you heard yourself say If only I had more time ... Those words have passed my lips in far too many instances for me to remember.

If I only had more time ... Well, you don't. Period. And all those little hacks to save a few seconds here and a few seconds there have done little, if anything, to change that. You can't make time appear out of thin air, no matter what the productivity gurus online tell you.

You have a set amount of time during the day. And to be productive, you have to understand how much time you really have. And you need to adapt to that constraint.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, a musing that continues on from Musing 152. And one that's likely to get me slapped and slammed. Maybe at the same time. And more than likely due to people reading between lines that aren't there. People who will brand me a hater. That hasn't happened for a while, so I guess I'm overdue. Price of doing business and all that ...

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Personal Knowledge Management

Thanks to some of what I've been writing about and exploring since early 2021, I've been strolling along some of the main streets, and side avenues, of the world of personal knowledge management (PKM for short). Browsing, grazing, taking in what I can from a bit of a distance.

If you've never heard of it, PKM is (in the words of one of its main proponents and boosters):

the practice of capturing the ideas and insights we encounter in our daily life, whether from personal experience, from books and articles, or from our work, and cultivating them over time to produce more creative, higher quality work.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Another digression, this time into the realm of productivity. What you're about to read was sparked by an email discussion I had with a former co-worker. A former co-worker who is, in their words, all over the place and struggling to stay on track. This edition of the letter is an expansion of the advice I gave them. Which I hope works out for them ...

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Building Habits

Isn't it interesting how, before we realize it, we get caught up in particular ways of doing things? We get stuck in certain patterns of behaviour. In certain patterns of thinking and doing. We build habits, whether bad or good.

Many of us tend to focus on the bad habits, and trying to flip those habits around into something less bad. Sometimes, we shift away from one good habit to another that we believe will be even better.

Making that shift in habits can be difficult. It can be frustrating. But it can also be rewarding. I've seen all three up close. Not just with myself, but with more than a couple of other folks I've done some work with.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This edition of the letter has been sitting in various stages of completion for a few weeks now. But over that time, other ideas in other areas pulled me away from what you're about to read. This week, though, everything jelled rather nicely.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Technology Before Its Time

In late 2021, a short documentary wandered into my field of vision. A documentary that almost immediately gripped my attention. A documentary that appealed to both my interest in technology and my nostalgia for technologies past.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Recently, I've received a complaint or three about my recent shift away from musings focusing on technology. While it's still within range of my scanners, technology isn't what's gripping my attention most strongly right now. Instead, simpler, more human and seemingly mundane matters are. Matters that I find fascinating and, at moment, more relatable than technology.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Cooking

It's hard to believe that nine years have flowed by since Soylent (the food substitute, not the food rations derived from people made famous in that movie) came on the scene. First developed by a coder named Rob Rhinehart, Soylent came about because Rheinhart found himself exhausted by his constant need to prepare and consume food the traditional way.

The original Soylent was a powder that you mixed with water (or some other liquid). That mixing created what can best be described as sludge in a glass. It looked unappealing, to say the least, but quickly gained a following.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Ever have one of those weeks when some things just don't work out? That was the last seven days, with the musing I'd intended drop into your inboxes. However, a bunch of little things got in the way and became a bit of a wall. Which meant I had to scramble to pull something together from a bunch of notes and whatnot. Which is what you're about to read.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On (Bad) Handwriting

Six or so weeks before a recent birthday (mine, in case you're wondering), I was re-watching episodes of Better Call Saul ahead of the premiere of the final season of the series. In season four episode, something caught my eye which didn't catch it when I first watched that episode.

In one scene, a German engineer took out a notebook and a mechanical pencil to do some calculations. It wasn't any ordinary pencil, though. It was a mechanical drafting pencil. Sheathed in a tasteful silvery metal, with a noticeable but not overwhelming red logo on it. A rOtring 600, as it turned out. A badass looking writing instrument, by anyone's standards.

Even though I'm not a big user of pencils, mechanical or otherwise, right then and there I knew I had to have that one. After short search online, I found shop in Christchurch that sells the 600. I duly placed an ordered and the pencil arrived a couple of days later. No buyer's remorse, either. The rOtring is a badass pencil. It has a comforting heft but also a smoothness on the page. Any page.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

To be honest, this wasn't the musing I'd planned for this week. But, as has been happening a lot lately, an idea refuses to reach a form that I'm even somewhat happy about. And, as has been happening a lot lately, something I read tugs my attention on to another path. The result of which is this edition of the letter.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Personal Journeys

In his recent book, Finding the Heart Sutra, writer and Japanologist Alex Kerr explores a Buddhist scripture called the Heart Sutra. Kerr brings both a scholarly and a literary eye to the sutra in his book's title, analyzing it and sharing his interpretation of it.

But Finding the Heart Sutra is more than merely a tract about an esoteric subject. Like other of his books this one is, in many ways, a personal journey for the author. Kerr reflects on the people, many now gone, who introduced the Heart Sutra to him decades ago. People who influenced his thinking about it and about a wider range of subjects. He reflects upon incidents that drove lessons learned, from those mentors and from the sutra itself. Kerr gives you an idea about what Heart Sutra has come to mean to him.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

In this edition of the letter, thoughts inspired something that's going on in my life right now. Nothing bad, just to reassure you. Just a process that's demonstrating that no matter how much of a minimalist you try to be, you'll often wind up with more than you want to need.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Subtraction

Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars

Over the last several weeks, I've been devoting a small, but not inconsequential, chunk of my time to subtraction. Specifically, subtracting the items I neither need nor want from my life.

And it's been a surprise to discover how much my family has accumulated in the 10 years since we moved to New Zealand. Large and small items. Useful items. Novel items, and (to be frank) useless items. Items that we purchased for various purposes, but purposes that either passed or never came to be. Items that we don't remember buying, being given, or owning.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each Wednesday I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, an edition of the letter that started out as an cranky rant but which expanded (and cooled off) into something a bit more measured. Something that we tend not to think about until it's too late.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On Having an Exit Plan

Earlier this year, there was a bit of turmoil in the project behind my (current) Linux distribution of choice. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say there was a sizable difference of opinion between the project's founders around direction. At points, that dispute got a bit ugly.

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