Posted in Podcast

Season 2 Episode 8 of Being Productive is out!

This time I’m digging into two articles about timeblocking and habits vs. routines. Some interesting stuff if you’re looking for practical recommendations on managing repetitive activities and your schedules working from home full time.

Season 2 Episode 8 – Timeblocking and Habits vs Routines

The key to productivity is distinguishing ‘habits’ from ‘routine’ – TheNextWeb.com

Popular Time-Blocking or Time-Management Techniques You Can Use While Working Remotely – Entrepreneur.com

Back to building pages

After spending a week building an application and staring at data feeds it’s nice to get back to building pages in SharePoint. There’s a lot to be said for having a creative outlet and this happens to be one of mine. The opportunity to lay out designs, integrate imagery, and create a good consistent user experience has a very satisfying end result in my mind.

Making a little difference

For the first time in a long time I’ve been able to build a solution that will have a direct impact on people during this crazy time. I can’t discuss what it specifically does due to client confidentiality, but suffice it to say it makes people’s financial lives just a little less painful when trying to manage right now.

It’s amazing how far this type of thing can go both motivationally and emotionally. We all feel a loss of control right now and to be able to help people get a little bit of that control back means a great deal to me. It’s all about silver linings right now, isn’t it?

Switched to a new WordPress theme for the blog today. (Yes I know, I know.) I’m hoping this one helps me organize the content just as well as making it a bit more visually appealing.

Posted in Analog, Techniques, Tools

Digital note-taking isn’t ready for prime time

There has been a long aspiration in the tech communities to replace paper and pen and go pure digital. “It’s easier to organize.” “It’s faster to access.” “It’s more intuitive.” When it comes down to it tech wants to replace something that has been around for thousands of years and proves time and time again to be a more reliable solution.

Typically you’ll come across posts such as “The top 5 digital note taking devices of 2020” or the like showcasing the latest in handwriting tech and identifying “transformational” new ways to capture your notes and thoughts with a stylus. I’ll admit I’ve been seduced by the talk in the same way going back to the days of Palm Pilots and Windows CE devices only to be let down time and time again.

I’m not saying you may not find the perfect tool for you, but what I am saying is the technology both hardware and software have been found lacking in my book. Whether it’s an uncomfortable stylus (I’m looking at you Samsung) or an exceptional expensive device (hey, Sony) the chance for digital handwriting to replace traditional pen and paper still has a huge way to go.

Now some may say I’m not being fair about this. “People have terrible handwriting,” or “There are so many styles to account for” that it’s too much to ask for perfection. You’re probably right, but that doesn’t change the fact that traditional pen and paper can handle those situations at a fraction of a fraction of the cost.

If you’re looking to move to digital note-taking and don’t want to be tied to a keyboard, just remember what you’re asking to happen. If you’re inclined to tell someone, “oh my handwriting is terrible” how do you expect a computer to make the interpretations of your chicken scratch. I’ve got a crazy idea. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on tech to compensate why not spend some time working on your handwriting and note taking skills so it’s not an issue in the first place.

You can use scanning tools and smart pens such as LiveScribe or Rocketbooks, but neither will fix unintelligible handwriting. This is a skill that pays dividends for the rest of your life no matter what happens with technology. In this period of stay-at-home and social distancing, put some of that time to use to work on that penmanship so the digital translation isn’t the issue it has been.

I’ve included some links below to articles that may help you turn that chicken scratch into something you don’t mind reading and sharing.


How to Improve Penmanship – The Art of Manliness

How to Improve your Handwriting – Bullet Journal

Posted in Tools, Update, Working from Home

Changes to the office

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with the configuration of my home office to make it more functional to work from full time again. There was a time several years ago when I was working from home that the layout and hardware were different and I could function effectively. Now, my office is not only used for my full time job but also podcasting, writing, development, and many other things (not to mention the occasional gaming session.)

One of the main challenges has been running a laptop and a desktop all-in-one machine as my central monitor without having two different keyboards and mice AND sharing one webcam (since that’s a critical thing now.) It took a little planning and an order from Amazon but it has all come together.

The Amazon purchase was for a 10 port powered USB hub with three charging ports built in. The second part was a manual switching USB hub. The way the set up works is: the keyboard, mouse, webcam, boom mike, headset, and phone charging dock all plug into the UBS hub. The hub is plugged into the switching hub which in turn is plugged into the laptop and the all-in-one desktop. (I’ll include non-affiliate links to the two at the bottom.)

This configuration means that by pressing two buttons (one to switch the hub and one to change the all-in-one monitor’s input from internal to external) I can effectively jump between machines without changing a single cable.

When working on configuring your home workspace make sure you are setting it up so it works for you rather than trying to emulate the artificial standards placed on you at work. Finding the configuration that works for you can make all the difference in the world.

Links:

Tek Republic TUS-200 USB Sharing Switch – 2 Port Manual Switch One USB Device…

APANAGE Powered USB 3.0 Hub, 11 Ports USB Hub Splitter (7 High Speed Data Tra…