Let me know of any other good reads you know.
I write private notes for myself almost every day. (Some sort of diary with references to things I've done, and to reflections and thoughts that come to mind.) I also tweet. On Twitter, my words get a different tone, and I believe they loose the personal touch I put on my own notes. I've decided to express myself more this way, writing for myself here (in my public journal) instead of on Twitter, to render my words without thinking of a word count limit, making every post count more than a simple tweet and, hopefully, posting my notes in a more personal way.
In the event of a disaster, we would probably leave most of our belongings behind. You're not likely — I hope — to care so much about your fancy tea mug, your watercolors, or whatever piece of clothing you own, as to put your life in danger to save them. Today, with the exception of digital information not backed to the cloud and other unique hand-crafted objects, everything we own can be replaced for an item which is exactly the same. After a disaster, great part of our stuff might be gone. If you manage to get out of there with no important injuries, you have, without choosing it, adopted an unsolicited minimalism — you've got rid of stuff without looking for it.
No disaster? You might never get around getting rid of stuff. Belongings accumulate and, the more storage space you own, the more you'll accumulate. The thing is: we usually don't care much about most things we own. We tend to only love a small portion of it.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, was interviewed by Tim Ferriss not long ago. She is known as the Japanese tidying master, who created the KonMarie method. Her motto? "Love everything you own." She believes we need to be thankful of our belongings, thank them for their service while we have them, and, more importantly, before we get rid of them. This way, on top of appreciating the item itself, we remove the feeling of regret for getting rid of it (a feeling that frequently prevents people from letting go of things they don't need any more).
This, I believe, goes inline with what William Morris said in his 1880 lecture titled The Beauty of Life1. "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
As a friend pointed out, in Spain we often say that "moving three times equals a fire2." Will you wait for a disaster to take action? Or will you fake your own so you can get rid of the useless and love what you own?
It's easy to overthink what people will say about what you are about to share online (especially when you are the creator of the content).
Often, the artist judges (and undermines) her work even before others get to see it, by imagining all of the bad things that people will think about it. But this can only lead her to doubt about her art and, probably, to adjust the way she creates, according to the preference of her current audience. Instead, she should continue to enjoy her art and stop paying attention to immediate feedback.
Going down this rabbit hole, it can be hard to imagine that, on top of liking what you do, people will be willing to pay for it. My mom constantly asks the same question: "Who is going to buy this?" Unless art is her only source of income, charging money for it isn't an easy step to take. But I can see that people value the quality and personality of her craft (which keeps building up over time). In this context, money might end up just being a simple way for her audience to show appreciation of her artwork—and not so much a necessity.
It's easy to get trapped in busy work. You are given a brief and a deadline. You leave everything aside and focus on your work to meet a set of deliverables. Finish the task, and you’re all done.
Well, there’s a little lie behind this story: you are not completely done—not yet. A project doesn’t exist if it isn’t visible and accessible and shareable and understandable. The job is not finished until you've documented your craft, until you've done some sort of self-explanatory manual that others can peek at without you looking, that others can read without you talking.
Create it while working (or after finishing)—but don’t forget to provide us with a manual!
This morning—in preparation for the weekend, when Bea will be visiting me in Cambridge—I decided to go to the local laundromat, right in front of Bukowski's Tavern, to wash all of my dirty clothes: the Inman Square Laundromat. I don't do laundry too often and I guess I wanted to make this one time worth it, so I went ahead and also added my bed sheets and towels to the equation, together with two little black cotton coasters from MUJI that Bea gave me two months ago for my Birthday.
As if the weather had jumped straight from winter to summer, Cambridge was at twenty-eight Celsius degrees—82.4 Fahrenheit—when I left my house, all packed with clothes. It was the first time for a while that I could walk around Cambridge with a simple tee shirt. (The plastic coverings all around my windows made my room perform more like a greenhouse than a bedroom. Special thanks go to my lovely Real Estate, who offered to install plastic film for the winter instead of fixing the windows.) After doing two different loads of laundry and setting up twenty-five minutes of drying, I brought my clothes from the laundromat back to my house, both inside a white IKEA container and inside my Element Mohave backpack. I folded all of my clothes, made my bed, and continued my day. Then I had lunch, I FaceTimed, procrastinated for a bit with my laptop, and biked to yoga.
I came back home from yoga at around 8 pm and, before going to bed, I decided to prepare a sandwich and a hot beverage. It was right when I brought my hot drink to my bedroom that I felt something was missing. My two black coasters from MUJI were not were they should be, and I didn't have any recollection of bringing them back home after doing laundry. They might be inside one of the bed sheets or inside one of my clothes—I thought. I went ahead and unfolded, searched, and folded back every single tee shirt and sweatshirt I own—with no luck. I thought about the possibility of undoing and doing my bed again, but this seemed like a complete nightmare, so I wore my black Nike FREE Run and walked to the laundromat wearing my pajamas. (It's not like anybody cares too much about what you wear around here in Cambridge.) The light of the laundromat was on and everything was working as usual. Only a sympathetic man with South Asian aspect was sitting at the entrance, quietly reading a magazine.
People tend to leave forgotten stuff on the middle metal table in the laundromat, but today the only thing there was an orphan black sock which looked completely new. I used two different machines that morning to do laundry, and a single one to dry everything together. I went ahead and—again without luck—looked all around the first washing machine. Then I gave the second machine a try, which was completely wet. (I was feeling observed and looked back at the guy at the entrance, but he was immersed in his magazine and didn't seem to care a lot about what I was doing.) I decided to put my hands in every single whole inside the machine. It was inside the outer plastic ring that I found them: two small rolled pieces of fabric, my little coasters, completely wet and full of detergent. My dummy face was that of someone extremely happy. No one knew I had lost my coasters and no one knew I found them in the washing machine, but I was so happy. I looked at the guy, and even though he didn't really know what was going on, I said—pretty weird hey?—while showing him the two wet black pieces I had on my hands. I left the laundromat with a huge smile on my face, laughing inside on my own as, after all, I had a small success in my day, I had recovered my lost coasters.
I've washed them to take out the detergent and have them drying on a hanger in my bedroom. Loosing them made me feel how much I actually like them, and established some sort of connection between the coasters and myself through this weird anecdote with a happy ending.
First of all, I want to congratulate the iA team for the incredible improvements in both iOS and OS X versions of iA Writer 3.0—’it just works.’
I firmly believe that, if you use these apps on a daily basis, paying a total of $30 is a fair amount. The app costs $9.99 for iOS, $19.99 for OS X, and $4.99 for Android.
iA Writer, A Sublime Text for Writing.
The usability has improve a lot. The user interface is so much more intuitive an has been simplified a lot. Still, what was interesting to me is how they have adopted functionality which was present in other programs and seems to have been proved valid after a wide use.
For instance, I remember typing a couple years ago with Mou for OS X—which currently seems to be in an eternal state of free beta—where the split view with a live preview was one of the core features. Nevertheless, it seems like iA Writer has learned some of its core new functionality from Sublime Text.
One of the key successes of iA Writer 3.0 is the Library and its integration with iCloud and Dropbox. It syncs really well, and it caches the path of all your Dropbox text files at once, so it is really fluid when browsing files—unlike previous versions where every touch on a folder would fetch its contents from the Dropbox API.
These feature was one the most comfortable ones inside Sublime Text, where you are allowed to open a whole project folder and navigate through it with ease.
As I said, Mou and other Markdown apps had a Preview function built in from the very beginning, but Writer always had this feature separate—its Preview would open a popup with the pre-visualization of your rendered Markdown.
From 3.0, Writer joins the split view game, starting at a really small size that—I adventure to say—mimics the way Sublime Text works. It allows you to easily navigate your writings. If the small scheme is not what you are looking for, you can always click and drag to resize the Preview window, even up to the point where the writing window disappears and the Preview covers the whole screen.
There are many other features which where already available inside iA Writer Pro, but have been polished in order to make the experience even better.
I am in no way related to iA Writer, and the only reason why I share it is because it makes my life so much easier every single day—and it may also make yours easier. It is simple, gorgeous, functional, and—most important—completely focuses on writing.
It's been two years since The Launch of the blog, back in May 2013. Currently, the amount of posts is up to two hundred twenty two articles.
Recently, I started categorizing the articles according to tags — although there is still work to do on this subject. Tags can be seen by hovering over a post.
From now on, all new posts related with architecture — previously posted here — will be posted on Getting Architecture Done.
Thanks for reading.
The point of this post is not to explain the technicalities and details of Markdown, but to underline why its use is a benefit.
Markdown is a syntax to write plain text which can be formatted in a really simple way and in any text editor—even in the notes app of your phone.
As its creator defines it, Markdown is two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to HTML. Even though it was initially intended for conversion to HTML, there are many other possible uses due to its flexibility.
Markdown simplifies the act of writing—reducing the text-formatting possibilities of your writing to essential markup. This way, you can not get lost in formatting tools, and can completely focus on your content.
As the syntax is widely used, more and more tools are being released in order to make Markdown compatible with almost everything—it is supported by WordPress, for instance. It can be used to post, create rich-text documents, electronic books, and a large etcetera.
In June 2014, I shared some of my Markdown Workflows to use text written using the Markdown syntax in many different environments—including Adobe InDesign, websites with Laravel, or iOS apps with Objective-C.
Markdown was created by John Gruber in 2004. You can go through its syntax and philosophy here.
If you wanna try using Markdown, you can try with iA Writer in your iOS or OS X device (it will soon be available for Android devices), with Markdrop on Android, with MarkdownPad on Windows, and with MarkdownItOnline.
Today, I reached the minimum requirements to launch the content management system (CMS) in which I have been working on since mid-February.
The main features that it provides are: