Welcome to 2021

2020 went off the rails for most of the world, but through a combination of privilege and dumb luck, we were able to make the most of it.

I’ve been a full-time remote worker since 2015, and my wife was able to easily start working from home in the spring.

Around the same time, we found out that we were expecting.

We scurried to get our house ready for the arrival of our newest family member.

We renovated our basement, added a bathroom, turned our old master bedroom into a nursery, replaced our HVAC system and even replaced our roof.

While I’m hopeful that 2021 will be better than 2020, we’re not out of the woods yet.

We’ll see more drama with the transition of power in the US, worldwide vaccine rollouts, Brexit, and the global response to all of the above.

(Not to mention all the unknowns lurking in the shadows.)

Still, 2020 is behind us, and there’s no way to go but forward.

Keep reading…

Cacophony of algorithmic fusterclucks

It’s been a minute since my last post. Sorry about that.

A lot’s happened in the last few months. We zipped through a basement reno, all in preparation for the arrival of our baby girl, converting our old master bedroom into a nursery. In September we took a little retreat up to a cottage in Central Frontenac, a new favourite destination of ours, and another in October out to Prince Edward County.

I also hit my five year anniversary at GoDaddy. Time flies.

Keep reading…

The journey is the point.

“I’d submit that this emotional journey is one that transcends goodness or greatness or even a so-called mediocre project; I’ve experienced this lifecycle for projects that ended up entirely sucking from end-to-end! But the point is clearly the journey.”

john saddington

I’ve followed John’s work off and on for years, starting with 8BIT and the Standard theme, one of the greatest ever WordPress themes for indie publishers (IMO).

John is now off and running with a new project, YEN.IO, and once again our universes overlap: He’s sharing his journey of building a business around the community space through YouTube and his newsletter (the latter running through Substack).

Artists tell the truth as they see it

At the end of the day, our job as artists is to tell the truth as we see it. If telling the truth is an inherently political act, so be it. Times may change and politics may change, but if we do our best to tell the truth as specifically as possible, time will reveal those truths and reverberate beyond the era in which we created them.

The Role of the Artist in the Age of Trump (The Atlantic)

We see this throughout history. Moments captured, stories told, lessons shared.

Artists take the world around them, interpret it, remix it, and leave behind some artifact of their place and time in history.

It’s one of the many things I love about traveling: visiting art galleries and museums, be it a local municipal gallery or a national institute, and just taking in what’s been left behind.

Our 3D printed homes of the future

Throwback to late last year in this piece from Fast Company:

Icon’s printer, called the Vulcan II, isn’t the first designed to build an entire house. But the new Mexican neighborhood, which will have 50 of the homes, will be the first community to use this type of technology at scale.

The world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood now has its first houses

Given all that’s happened since then — including an escape to the suburbs and an uptick in remote work as the new norm — I wonder if we’ll see more rapid residential development using 3D printer tech?

Zoom fatigue

“So many people are reporting similar experiences that it’s earned its own slang term, ‘Zoom fatigue,’ though this exhaustion also applies if you’re using Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, or any other video-calling interface. The unprecedented explosion of their use in response to the pandemic has launched an unofficial social experiment, showing at a population scale what’s always been true: virtual interactions can be extremely hard on the brain.

‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain (National Geographic)

I feel this. As a full-time remote worker for nearly five years, Zoom meetings made up the bulk of my day. Now it’s on overdrive with my old social reprieves — pub nights, occasional social outings, etc — being unavailable. At least we’re all in this together…?

Morning routines

This piece from Scott Young (via Pocket) covers six morning routines worth considering. I’ve experimented with a few of them — exercise first thing, prioritize deep focus projects before other work — and I think they’re pretty effective.

“Do you want your workday to begin quiet and contemplative? With vigorous exercise? Silent meditation? Creative and productive? Your morning habit can push you along a current which will carry throughout the morning and allow you to maximize whatever aspect of your personality you want to be most important.”

The Six Morning Routines that Will Make You Happier, Healthier and More Productive

The upside of small side projects

Great advice for side projects from Justin Duke, creator of Buttondown:

“If you are going to find a project, I encourage you to find something particularly small and particularly durable (which is to say, does not require constant or near-constant attention), so that you give yourself the ability to take a break from the project for weeks or months while it accumulates interest.”

The luxury of atypical success

I have a bunch of side projects on the go, mostly tiny sites and creative work. I’m trying to keep them both self-contained and self-sustaining.

My hope is to launch them later this year as evergreen resources, and continuously tend to them over time without fussing much about a timely publishing schedule.

Why I switched from Apple Music back to Spotify

A year or two ago we dropped our Spotify subscription in favour of Apple Music.

We had just bought our first pair of Apple Watches, and the Spotify app wouldn’t work over cellular. I’m guessing it was Apple’s way of locking out the competition.

The Apple Music app was alright but it wasn’t great. I could find most of what I wanted, but there were a bunch of nagging quality-of-life features that I missed from Spotify.

I missed three things in particular: shared playlists, artist discovery, and personalized recommendations.

People share Spotify playlists all the time. I see them in newsletters and on social. I never saw that with Apple Music playlists. There were playlists I wanted to listen to, but I couldn’t, not without searching for all the tracks on Apple Music.

I like the ability to follow artists, read their bios, and easily dig into their back catalogue. But you can’t follow artists on Apple Music like you can on Spotify. My workaround was adding an album from each artist to my Apple Music library.

I also find that the personalized recommendations are much better on Spotify. I’ve stumbled across a bunch of smaller artists that I never would’ve listened to otherwise. I liked Grooveshark back in the day for the same reason.

There’s a social layer to Spotify that Apple Music lacks.

Remember iTunes Ping? The social features I mentioned above were all baked into iTunes a decade ago, letting users follow artists and share what they were listening to. But it never took off.

It’s a shame Apple didn’t resurrect parts of iTunes Ping for Apple Music, because that social layer is where Spotify really shines.

When I jump onto Spotify I can see what my friends are listening to and what’s trending around the world. I can find playlists created by other users and quickly add my favourite tracks to my own playlists.

Apple Music felt more top-down than that, and much more finite. It was as if only Apple and their approved brand partners were allowed to put playlists in front of you.

I know that’s not true, because I could search for playlists, but browsing always put Apple’s choices front-and-center.

Anyway… I like the social aspect of Spotify, and I missed it in Apple Music. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got back on Spotify last week.

Also: The Apple Music desktop apps are weak. Especially on Windows.