For a number of reasons lately, I've been looking into the Zettelkasten method of knowledge management, which I'll talk about at length in a future post.
One thing I want to highlight before I even get there, though, is just how daunting it is to get started.
It's not even that the process of turning more temporary notes into your own synthesized ideas is that difficult to understand. It's that a key step in the process, linking new ideas to previous ones, is frightening when you're staring at a blank page.
Does everything have to be bottom up from new material? I do have some ideas floating around in my head, can I scaffold those first? Do I need to flag them to come back to later?
My inclination so far is to do the crappiest thing possible, and fix it later if I have to. Perfection in PKM is far more the problem than never creating and toying with ideas at all.
So here's to diving into imperfection! After all, anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.
I wrote that less than a week ago, and now that script is a proper plugin. It's so hot off the press it isn't in the Obsidian UI yet, but I'm looking forward to when it is (which will hopefully resolve some weirdness I had with the script version).
Current Use Cases I'm Investigating for it:
Interstitial Journaling (super helpful thus far)
Changelog at the bottom of any notes files (need to toy with it a bit more)
Both are good for the “capturing a quick thought from anywhere in a timely manner” case.
When I was first stranded across the country due to COVID, I was sadly without my sunrise alarm clock (which I will probably use forever at this point). The closest thing I could get without buying a whole new clock was the Pixel Stand, which gave the Pixel a sunrise alarm along with it.
The alarm itself was a little finicky, but it took actually putting the device on and off the charger for me to appreciate how nice wireless charging is.
That said... the positioning on the Pixel Stand was always finicky and annoying. My in laws had a different third party wireless charge for their phones, and while it was easier to target, it certainly never felt like I put it in the “perfect” spot.
Switching to iPhone introduces... MagSafe. Finally a nice, clean feedback mechanism for correct positioning in wireless charging. This should be a standard, and it's practically a crime it isn't implemented in all phones.
The gentle tug to get in line. The snug confirmation you're in the right spot. The moderate but not too much effort it takes to pull off. It's all wonderful, and I very much do not want to go back to being without it.
Shame on Apple for hoarding this one for themselves. Make the world a better place and make the phone version of MagSafe something everyone can have, regardless of phone model.
I would like to start by saying that minimal design is a good thing. Clutter is objectively bad, and it takes a lot of really difficult work to cram a lot of capability into a smaller and smaller UI surface. I am completely acknowledging that.
That said, some gestures on the iPhone can go screw themselves.
In particular, whoever decided that swipe up from the bottom but not too much was a good idea should be publicly shamed.
Again, I understand the need to fit more functionality into a less space. If they break down the swipe up gesture into a little and a lot variants, you get two functions for the price of one. It makes sense... on paper.
But in reality? When I'm switching phones and trying to figure out what the distances are on all these swipes? It's really terrible.
On top of that, the animation for close an app looks awfully similar to the end of the animation for dismiss the app carousel. Given that they both use the same overloaded swipe up gesture it's just... incredibly uncomfortable not knowing what happens when I stutteringly swipe up, which happens from time to time on the big phone screen.
I wish they took Android's cue for the three buttons at the bottom. Then I would know when I'm summoning the carousel, and when I'm not. Calling in a HUD also gives you a lot more options to make features visible when needed, rather than overloading a fixed set of UI options.
I know Android implemented a similar semi-swipe up an OS update or two ago, but I immediately found a way to get the buttons back. No such luck for customization on Apple.
Apple keeps trimming UI elements to the point where functionality is now ambiguously hidden instead of just out of the way. To me, that seems like a bad line to cross.
IJ seems like a great combination of multiple factors to help keep me focused on what I'm doing during the day, and putting it in a templater template means I have access to the same workflow across my Windows Desktop and my Chromebook since they're in sync with Obsidian Sync!
I'm looking forward to trying this out, particularly with a mix of lighter and heavier workdays ahead.
This past Memorial Day weekend I woke up to my own Groundhog Day-style disappointment. My Pixel 4 XL's battery had stopped holding a charge... again... on a third device.
Working in technology, I'm used to having things break. I've also been a big Android user since the release of the Motorola Droid, sticking with the OS through a fair share of warts and growing pains. But when my phone broke last week in the same way as my other two Pixel devices, causing a Monday morning scramble to the store, I decided maybe it was time to be less of a tinkerer and more of a user again.
... at least when it comes to phones.
To help get used to the publishing flow on my blog, I'm going to note some of my thoughts here for others to chew on (and spit at) if they're so inclined. I'll admit upfront I did fairly minimal homework, thinking my years at big tech companies and affinity for tinkering would get me through any adjustment pains.
Some things have been smooth. Some have been choppy. Some are mystifyingly difficult. It reminds me a lot of when I had a Mac laptop actually.
As a general rule, a few weeks in now, I can feel the stability I traded for. I'm still frustrated by some limitations, but I think it's been the right call so far.
I just have to come to terms with the fact that I'm now just a user... and be OK with that.
In part because I didn’t get very good career advice when I was there, I like talking to Duke students about their potential careers. Since I jump at the opportunities that present themselves, I end up saying a lot of the same things over and over.
So, I’ve decided to write them down here to make it easier for all involved, and maybe even help a few others along the way. I’ll start with some warnings, give you my suggestions for how to build your career, and then give a brief recap of how mine has been going for reference.
This advice is targeted particularly at Duke students, but hopefully there is enough here that you can apply it to your own life at other schools as well.