Hitting A Stride

Hitting A Stride.

A short post on photography from my new photo endeavor. randomdirt.


The Ten Percent Solution

With talent comes an immediacy; an ability to draw something up from the pool that resides within. It’s not always perfect or exactly what we want; it’s about 90%. Looks pretty good. The key to producing something that will make your audience sit up and take notice is in doing what it takes to make that last ten percent. Sometimes it can be very difficult because you must be brutally honest with your assessment. It might even require an outside critique; the scariest of all tests. But!

How do you get that last ten percent? There is no formula; step one step two… that will fit every situation. You must formulate your own guidelines for making that last mile of the journey. Talent is yours; you can enhance it but you can’t substantially change it. Editing what we produce is the key. Learn to edit and you will be gaining ground every time.

Four Pillars of Your Digital Desktop

Simplenote, DropBox, Notational Velocity, Instapaper

Much has been written about these apps/services recently, with the move to simplicity in just about everything. Full reviews of these can be found elsewhere but we want to focus on how you experience them as a suite of tools.

If you’re not familiar with these apps, lets get aquainted.

Simplenote – Allows you to create, well… Notes. Free form, hit the plus button to create a new note and start typing. No formating to set up, saves your notes to the cloud as you type. Add tags, support for versions is there if you need it. There is also a mobile app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Indications are that other devices are also under development. For a complete list of desktop apps that work with simplenote, click on the downloads link on their website.

Notational Velocity also will let you create notes simply and effectively as Simplenote does with a few extra features one might find useful, especially if you post to the web. You can sync your notes with Simplenote and other iOS apps so that anything you have created on the Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, can be accessed and worked on in Simplenote from any computer with internet access.

Dropbox is a powerful service that allows you to throw anything in a folder which resides in the cloud and then can be accessed from anywhere without the need to carry those files with you.

Instapaper Last and certainly not least is Instapaper. Let me describe; find something on the web, want to read it later? Hit the read leader bookmarklet and it’s saved in your Instapaper account where you can read later without all the distracting ads and stuff. You can also archive, favorite and put them in folders.

So, as my kids would say, what’s the big deal about that? Simply this; all of these tools, simple as they are make a powerful suite of tools for the blogger, researcher, student, collector etc.

My initial reaction to this “software” was it’s too simple, I kept looking for the bells and whistles… they aren’t there. You must start using them as a “workflow” to finally “get it” which is, they work well and don’t get in your way. These four pillars help this “big picture” guy focus on what is really going on. The ability to focus is what makes the internet and all it’s vastness manageable. Sort of like scooping from the pile and putting it in another container. The beauty is that the container can be accessed from anywhere you have a internet connection, either by WiFi or 3/4G Cellular service. Remember too, that this is essentially free if you don’t count the cost of the hardware.

Start using them and you will begin enjoying the benefits of this amazing technology.

Colophon: Typed and edited in Notational Velocity

Fear Of The Unknown

It has been often said, we fear what we do not understand. While this may be true you can still fear something even if you understand it. The reason is simple. Fear takes us to a uncomfortable emotional place. It is the experiencing of these things that we don’t like. 

Why we have these feelings is too complicated to figure out and influenced by a zillion factors that make up who we are. Figuring it out wouldn’t help anyway. 

The truth is our emotions play a much larger role in governing our behavior beyond the extremes of emotion such as fear, anger and love. We tend to base our decisions on what will give us a sense of well being. Isn’t it more complicated than that? Probably, but how we “feel” is a pretty big deal.

Apple’s Net Book Strategy

In the weeks and months prior to the announcement of the iPad there were all sorts of “wish lists” floating around and many of them were hoping for some sort of “tablet computer” to eclipse the netbook product line. Steve Jobs basically panned this idea, saying that netbooks were slow etc. etc. Apple’s answer was of course a tablet but not necessarily a computer tablet; no hard drive or physical keyboard unless you are using the dock. It was a mixed bag when it comes to fulfilling anyone’s wish list.

Now we are at iPad 2 and everything has changed and Steve has proved his concept was spot on. Imagine that. The iPad succeeds because it doesn’t compete exactly but creates a whole new way of interacting with our stuff, just like the iPod did.

But what about those die hard fans who really wanted a netbook. Well Apple actually has created one, it’s called the MacBook Air. One might argue the 11″ Air is still a tad bigger than some netbooks but you would be hard pressed to find a slimmer, more trim netbook anywhere. So what is the difference? The MacBook Air is a much healthier system, with flash memory that boots faster than you can sip a Latté and of course it costs a lot more. The moral of this story being that if you want speed, reliability in a compact form and you want it to “just work” then you buy from Apple and pay the price for all that speed, reliability and convenience.

You may be thinking, that’s not fair and this guy is nuts but the lesson in all of this is that Apple tells us as much by what they don’t say or call things. If you want to know what Apple’s priorities are; go to their website and look at the tabs. They are in the content delivery business. Yes, they can do spreadsheets and vertical market stuff and a million other things but they have done something that few other companies have. They’ve made it simple. Maybe not in the way You wished but simple none the less.

George Eastman said “we will make photography as simple as the pencil” Apple has taken the computer and delivered on that promise.

I must confess to a bit of tongue in cheek with this but this kind of thinking takes over while I’m driving.

What they don’t tell you about Success

Many of the admonitions, tips and tricks that lead to a successful outcome are true; notice I said many and not all. There is one element that is overlooked and although it may not sound great it really is one of the most important assets you can have.

It is simply this.

People who are really successful are a combination of many traits, experiences and situations that are too complex for anyone to orchestrate. You are who you are. Finding out what works for you is the key to your success; not being able to mimic the habits of people who are living out a life that is quite different from your own.

Yes you can use those tips and tricks but only in a way that is consistent with your goals and desires. My career in design was a result of my observations in the fourth grade. I had no idea at the time what was taking place but a few skills I learned from one of my fellow students was the catalyst for a future I could never have imagined.

It’s not what you say, altogether

BB King said “it’s not what I play it’s the way that I play it” So true also of writing. How things are phrased and what is left out can be just as powerful. Sadly this is too true of our communications these days whether from companies or the media.

If you read only the headlines you may never know the truth of a subject. Journalists use a hook to attract attention in their headlines that may not exactly give you the whole picture.

“Elevated levels of radiation in milk”

Alarming to say the least but does elevated mean harmful? You must read on to find out. In our time deprived world we read snippets and hear ten second sound bites that give us a general and sometimes fuzzy picture of the world around us.

Our modern frontier is expanding at a pace that many are not able to keep pace with and yet for our own well being we must be alert and aware of the changing world. It’s time not to take cliches of the past or what we heard growing up as the whole truth. As we venture out we must keep our “possibles bag” stocked with provision that are useful for today.