You Can Be Anything–And That’s OK

( I originally posted this on another site, and I’m reposting it here for posterity. I need to follow this advice more often. )

  1. The past moulds and instructs us, but it should not constrict us or limit us.

  2. Letting go of bad memories and experiences is a major step in our personal growth.

  3. Being able to open up to friends about our feelings. To quote Spider Robinson: “Shared joy is multiplied, shared pain is diminished. Thus do we refute Entropy.”

  4. Take care of your physical well-being. Eat well, exercise when possible, get a good night’s sleep. Make a small change to your routine each day. It adds up over time.

  5. As important as the above however is to take care of your mental health. Depression, anxiety, stress affect more people than you might think. And if allowed to build up they can become debilitating.

  6. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends, but it can also steal your time and attention. Keep it only for close friends, and don’t feel that you need to stay logged in all the time.

  7. Turn off notifications on your computer, phone or tablet. Except for those that you need to see. A mind forever distracted can never be at peace.

  8. Some people thrive on making others feel miserable. Or are demanding your time or energy and giving back nothing in return. Show them the door.

  9. There is no shame in seeking help from others. And there is no honour in struggling and failing on your own.

  10. Take time to observe the world around you. Realise that the news is not all bad. See the beauty and wonder in yourself and others.

  11. Life is not a zero-sum game. Your happiness should not come at the expense of someone else’s misery. We have more in common than we have differences.

  12. Pay it forward. Perform random acts of kindness. It all comes back around, and you’ll be a better person for it.

  13. Less is more. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.

  14. There is only one Planet Earth, so do your part to look after it.

  15. Your vote matters. Use it. And hold your representative to account.

  16. Your beliefs are personal. They do not and should not be a rod with which to beat others. No excuse, no justification.


The TODO Silo

Yesterday I saw the news that Microsoft will be shutting down Wunderlist in 2020. I’d used Wunderlist for a time before its acquisition, and it was a decent task manager. But I moved away because while it looked beautiful, its way of working didn’t quite gel with me. (That’s also a criticism I have of Trello.)

Microsoft now have their own app, with the unoriginal name of Microsoft To-Do. It’s sorta-kinda the successor to Wunderlist, and the app they’re suggesting that current users migrate to. You can also export your data from Wunderlist as a ZIP file, although I’m not sure how useful that’ll be. From my experience with other services, it’s a nicety that doesn’t help if you want to import that data into another service.

This got me to thinking about the information I put into Todoist. While I get immense value using Todoist to organise my life, its ability to export data is rather limited. For one thing, I’d need to go to the web version of the app to even attempt that. That’s not soley a criticism of Todoist, by the way. Trello has export options too, but none let me import the data into Todoist, so I ended up re-entering some stuff by hand.

So now I ensure that any info that I want to keep for posterity gets copy-pasted to a file somewhere. One I can access from the cloud if need be.

Could it be the folks who do all their organising using plain text files, or even physical bullet journals, are onto something?


Doing the Scary Thing

Matt Bonney:

I’m absolutely terrified of blogging.

I think I know why, but it’s still curious to me that the idea of writing down my thoughts and putting them out there scares me as much as it does.

I have thoughts and feelings about Apple and the technology industry – many thoughts and feelings – but for whatever reason, I’ve been too afraid of criticism and judgement to make those feelings public.

But you know what? I just turned 30, and goddamnit, if I’m ever going try my hand at this sort of thing, I may as well try now. I’d rather try now than wake up in another 30 years and regret never starting.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Matt. 🙂


Changing My Writing Workflow

I’ve bounced around several different apps over the last few years for my writing.

For a time I used Byword on both my iPad and Mac, and it remains a good app.

But then I checked out Ulysses, which has earned itself many plaudits.

As I found, though, there were some niggles with Ulysses. Many features only worked if you kept your writing in iCloud. If, as I was doing at the time, your writing was on Dropbox, you only got a subset. And Ulysses was a bit too eager to help with Markdown formatting.

So I made my own writing workflow using Sublime Text on the Mac and Editorial on the iPad. It worked, albeit with some tweaking. (Sublime Text is a coder’s editor, though it can work with Markdown and there are writing plugins available for it.)

Alas, Editorial seems abandoned. And my lashed-together writing setup in Sublime Text started to break down. I never did figure out what the problem was. I returned to Ulysses and moved my writing back to iCloud.

Then things got weird and frustrating with the arrival of iPadOS 13.2. Ulysses started having issues synching with iCloud, telling me my documents weren’t accessible, or not synching at all. I could still access all my documents on the Mac (phew!), but it was an aggravation I didn’t need. Restarting the iPad would sometimes cure the issues, but sometimes not.

The final straw came yesterday. I’d not had any sync problems for several weeks, then I found that Ulysses hadn’t synched at all overnight. There’s no way to retry synching or diagnose where the problem is. Even after a restart, I was still looking at a day’s writing that wasn’t there. (Though it was definitely there on the Mac.) Eventually it resynched. But by then I’d reinstalled iA Writer on the iPad and was moving all my writing into the Documents folder on iCloud Drive.

If I’m going to have my writing in the cloud, I want to be certain that it’s in the cloud. iCloud may not be perfect, but it works. And because my documents are on my Mac, they’re also backed up to Time Machine and online to Backblaze.

I’ve now bought iA Writer for the Mac. It costs only a fraction more than my current subscription to Ulysses, but that’s a one-off fee. I’d already gotten iA Writer for my iPad a while ago, and had been using the Android version for a time on my old Lenovo phablet.

While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Ulysses, it excels in one crucial aspect—not getting in my way. Yes, it wants me to store my writing into its own structure in iCloud. But it’s gracious in allowing me to choose where I want to store my documents.

And because all my writing is now back in the Documents folder in iCloud Drive, I can do automation of tasks using a combination of Keyboard Maestro and Hazel on the Mac.

All the applications I’ve mentioned above have their strengths and weaknesses. And there are plenty of other options out there to consider.

Which one is best for you? That depends a lot of what you want to do, and which of the bells and whistles might help you to achieve that. If you use more than one device or platform for your writing, that’ll affect your choice too.

You might not even need a specific writing app. TextEdit on the Mac and WordPad on Windows could do the job as well. On the other hand, both of those are plain text editors with a few word-processor niceties bolted on.


The Deep Sea is a fun interactive presentation where you literally scroll down into the depths. I’d not realised just how deep some parts of the ocean floor are.


My short and sweary case for voting Labour

Alexei Sayle’s latest piece for The Canary, on a possible origin story for Boris Johnson. Which involves a lot of elderly bloke poo…


TikTok Secretly Hid Content From Fat, Queer, and Disabled Users

Supposedly done under the guise of combatting cyber-bullying, and no longer in use. But it looks an awful lot like making the problem go away by making the victim leave the platform.


Early Christmas Present :)

I decided to splash out on more memory for my 27″ mid-2017 iMac. I’m planning on doing more 3D modelling and video editing in 2020, so this will come in very handy. And my Windows 10 and Linux Mint virtual machines can have more memory without fear of hobbling my computer.'About This Mac' window, with upgraded memory highlighted


What are Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats so desperate to hide?

Mary Fitzgerald, Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy:

It’s a privilege to do this job.

As editor-in-chief, when the award nominations and accolades pour in, you get to bask in the glory of your brilliant, tenacious colleagues.

Equally, when your organisation gets threatened by powerful, sometimes dangerous people who want to silence it, it’s your job to take that heat.

Often those threats come in the form of expensive lawyers’ letters, usually from the expected quarters. Oligarchs. Criminals. Sex offenders.

But something happened recently which was completely unexpected. We’ve decided to go public about it, not only because the Liberal Democrats have some serious questions to answer. But also because it stinks of the cynicism and fakery we’ve seen across politics during this election.

And it would be quite funny – except it’s not.

It all started when we published a story by my colleague Jim Cusick, a highly experienced political reporter. It was about how the Liberal Democrats had sold voter data to the official Remain campaign, Britain Stronger In Europe, for £100,000 back in 2016.

The Lib Dems have always maintained there was nothing wrong with the lucrative deal, but it raised eyebrows, and the Information Commissioner launched an investigation. You can read more about that here.

The way in which the Liberal Democrats have handled this cements, in my mind, that they’ve truly become the ‘yellow Tories’. 🙁


The Home Computer Christmas Wars

One for all you fellow nerds of a certain age, from the pages of Paleotronic Magazine. 🙂