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.

This time 'round, a look at something we all forget from time to time, no matter how hard we try. And I'm one of those people who sometimes forgets (even though I won't admit it!).

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

On Context

For me context is the key — from that comes the understanding of everything.

Kenneth Noland

I have a few habits and quirks that tend to annoy my co-workers at The Day JobTM. One of those annoying habits is continually asking for context.

It doesn't matter what the situation is. I know some of my co-workers dread hearing me ask, or dread reading a comment from me that asks, Can you give a bit more context around that, please? Or something along those lines. At least I try to be polite about it ...

I don't do that to play dense or pretend to be the devil's advocate. And I definitely don't do it to be a jerk or to troll or to be that person. You know the person I mean.

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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 focuses on something that's been on my mind for a while now — longer than I care to admit or remember, to be honest. Something that has to do with the way in which I earn (at least part of) my living.

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

On Content

Unlike some writers I know and read, I don't obsess about every little detail. I don't obsess about every word. I don't lose sleep over every term. I don't stress about whether or not that phrase or sentence or paragraph is perfect (whatever that means).

I doubt that makes me unique among writers, but I really don't sweat the small stuff. There is, however, one word I'm struggling with. It's one I've been struggling with for quite a while now. That word? Content.

I'm definitely not a fan of that term, and haven't been since I first heard it applied to writing online many a year ago. I admit, though, that I'm sometimes as guilty as the next person of referring to what I read online as content.

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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 this week, I dive into some more thoughts about an idea I explored way back in Musing 118. These (I hope) fresher thoughts were inspired by some things I've observed recently. And less than recently.

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

On Jumping Between Tools

While my RSS reader is packed with a few dozen or five blogs and online publications that I regularly read, there are also more than a handful of blogs that I drop by every so often. Sometimes weekly, sometimes a couple of times a week, sometimes at longer intervals.

Around the middle of 2022, the person who publishes one of the blogs that I occasionally read decided to switch blogging platforms. I think that was his third or fourth time 'round with that in the last 12 months. His reasons were partly technical, but mostly (to my mind, at least) silly. Although it was unstated, the impetus for the switch was a pursuit of the perfect way to blog. You know the one: the way that doesn't actually exist.

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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, thoughts about something that many of us experience at one time or another in our lives. In some cases, at more than one time in our lives.

Just so you know, this edition of the letter started life as a post to my personal notebook. Excerpts from that post appear here via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

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

On Being Good Enough

No-one else appeared to hear my project unravelling, the sound of un-met expectations crashing to the floor. The gulf between what I expected of myself and my perception of what others expected of me widened, until eventually I was unable to function at all as a musician.

Bill Bruford

It starts with that feeling.

A little twinge. A nagging doubt. A tiny question. One here, another there. Then those twinges and doubts and questions start to slowly, silently multiply. That feeling gets stronger as time goes by. The twinge, sharper. The doubt, heavier. The questions, more frequent and harsh.

As you get deeper into working on a project or anything else, that feeling starts to take control. You see in your mind's eye that project coming apart at the seams. You watch as the gulf that Bill Bruford mentioned widens. Your doubts about what your working on become stronger, whether or not those doubts are valid.

It reaches a point at which those doubts become so strong that you crush what you're working on into a small ball and toss it into the proverbial wastebasket in disgust.

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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.

Over the last 168 hours or so, a couple of ideas for this edition of the letter have been pulling at me. I spent as much time as I could trying to tackle both, and what you're about to read is the one that won the tug of war for my attention.

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

On Relying (Too Heavily) on Technology

I can walk down the street, there's no one there / Though the pavements are one huge crowd

— “I Feel Free” by Cream

My family has a little monthly ritual. When the first Friday of a new month rolls 'round, we get a takeaway from a local restaurant. It's a bit of a treat, and since we only do it once every 30 days or so, that treat doesn't break the bank. It also gives us a chance to sample the variety of dishes offered by various restaurants in our area.

In August, 2022 it was my daughter's turn to choose what to have. As she usually does, my daughter chose fish and chips. Luckily, there's a good place for that in small mall a few minutes walk from where we live.

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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, something a bit different but something the same. In this edition of the letter, I try to set straight a misconception that some folks have. A misconception I've come across more than a few times when publishing words to paper or online.

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

On (Software) Alternatives

In the years since I started putting fingers to keyboard, I've published more than a few things here and there. Some of that output has been in the form of articles and blog posts that introduce some alternatives to popular or commonly-used software.

As you might expect, those articles and posts garnered their share of responses from various corners. And, as you might expect, some of those responses took me to task for what I wrote. Why? Not because I had the audacity or temerity to share options other than my correspondents' favourite applications and tools. Well, not always at any rate.

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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.

One does occasionally get email. A couple or three of those missives are often from complete strangers who've read something I've published online. Sometimes they offer praise. Sometimes they offer constructive (or not-so-constructive) criticism. Sometimes they jump on me with both feet about an idea or opinion I've presented, one which doesn't mesh with their ideas and opinions. A bit of the latter prompted what you're about to read.

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

On Doing Nothing

For the last I don't know how many years, we seem to have been living in a time in which the cult of productivity is thriving. Driven by what I believe to be a misguided sense of what productivity actually is.

Even though working from home, given rise to by the COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted many of us to reevaluate our relationships with work, there are still more than few folks out there with their shoulders perpetually to wheel. Who embrace the always be grinding ethos. Who fill their waking hours with work and more work, with task after task.

In more than a few cases, they're trying to find meaning from work, an identity in their work, and fulfillment from that work. People who do all that seem to want to be able to simultaneously brag and whine about how many hours they put in yesterday. Are in pursuit of gaining brownie points for striking yet another item off of their overfull to-do lists.

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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, another letter which offers a little bit of advice. While that advice revolves around our use of technology, I think we can also apply the advice to other aspects of our lives.

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

On Change

Change. It's inevitable, especially when it comes to the hardware and software that we use and, in some cases, rely upon. Interfaces morph. Features come, features go. Things get shuffled around.

Often, we're blindsided by those changes. Those of us who view technology as a tool rather than a lifestyle (or even a hobby) don't avidly follow the news in tech press or on social media. We aren't holding our collective breaths waiting for announcements about so-called latest and greatest to hit the market.

People don't like change, regardless of what some folks say. Change can be difficult. It can be painful. Often because we all, to varying degrees, get comfortable. We get complacent. We expect things to continue the way they have been.

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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, some thoughts that were sparked by a past side gig and some questions that some friends and family sent my way recently. I'm using this week's letter to share whatever insights and advice I've given folks in the distant and more recent past. Insights and advice I hope you'll find useful or worth sharing.

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

On Choosing the Personal Technology That's Right for You

In the early- to mid-2010s, I had a side gig as a technology coach. That involved me helping people who were having trouble finding the software and hardware that they needed to do what they needed to do, and coaching them on how to use that software and hardware effectively and efficiently.

When I worked with those clients, I didn't try to push what I used on them. I knew that their needs, their use cases were different from mine. Sometimes very different. Instead, I tried to tailor recommendations to those needs and use cases, being as platform and tool agnostic as I could. For that most part, that worked out well for my clients.

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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, I'm once again taking a small step on to another path. While I do have some thoughts around technology that I want to share, I need to shift away from them for a moment or three. Mainly because those thoughts have, thanks to certain groups of people more than the technologies themselves, veered into the realm of the testy rant. And, to be honest, I don't want to reinforce the idea that I'm a testy old guy yelling at clouds.

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

On the Expectations of Others

Expectations. Some consider them unavoidable. Some consider them a necessary evil in life and in much of what we do. I consider them a curse.

Expectations, especially the expectations that others apply to us, can often be a barrier. A barrier to your success. A barrier to your happiness. A barrier that blocks you from trying to do what you want to do. From following your passion. From being yourself.

And, yes, I'm speaking from experience. While I've managed to deflect the expectations that others had of me with some success, I did let my guard down once. That was a mistake. A big mistake, as it turned out.

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