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?


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.


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


For 2020, I’m going to go all-in on using the keyboard as much as possible to control my Mac.

This is going to require unlearning a few habits, such as closing windows instead of hiding them.


Getting Off The Upgrade Treadmill

It occurred to me this morning that I don’t have any pressing need to upgrade to macOS Catalina, with the upheaval that would entail. My current setup with Mojave is working just fine, and just about all of my most-used apps are ready for Catalina.

A few things won’t work when I do upgrade. My old printer definitely won’t work, but that is approaching the end of its useful life after over a decade of service, so I’ll look to replace that with an AirPrint-compatible model in the New Year.

The other sticking point has been games, primarily those in my Steam library. Most of those will stop working on Catalina, but then again, many more of the Steam games I own won’t run on Mac at all, period. I’ve looked into running them through the copy of Windows 10 that I’ve got installed using Parallels Desktop, but so far it has been hit-or-miss whether they work. I’m seriously considering trying to get them running on Linux, as it appears that compatibility is greatly improved nowadays.


I made a one-bowl meal for lunch. ๐Ÿ™‚ Reheated the frozen pre-cooked sausages in the bowl in the microwave, cut them up into pieces, then added carrot & butterbean soup and heated for a couple of minutes. Delicious and warming, really hit the spot! ๐Ÿ™‚


I just deactivated a load of WordPress plugins that provide only marginal benefit and are slowing down my website.

I should apply the same rule to WordPress as I do on my Macโ€”only the extra stuff I need, no more.


The last few days have been spent resting, and learning to love WordPress again.


I found some new radio stations to listen to the other day. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ“ป๏ธ๐ŸŽถ

a.m. ambient
Ambient Sleeping Pill