iOS 11 – It’s the little things

Last week I installed the iOS 11 public beta on my phone. After playing with it on my iPad for a few months I figured it’d be safe enough to add to my daily driver.

It’s a new OS that adds features to a pretty established OS, no real surprise there as someone who uses Apple devices.

However, there are two features that make me happy.

Volume controls

Ok, this doesn’t seem to work everywhere yet, but the video player in iOS that shows up in Safari has been redone. Instead of a horrible volume control that takes over the entire middle of the screen, it’s moved off to the top right.

AirPod controls

There’s a setting to allow double tapping your AirPod to either change volume or skip to the next track. Since there are two of them you can set the left ear to one option and the right ear to another.

Contributing to WordPress Core as a non-developer

Contributing to WordPress Core as a non-developer

Sharing a post I wrote for XWP, where I work as a Product Owner / Designer.

Sketches: The Universal Language

I’ll be giving a talk at WordCamp Toronto and WordCamp Baltimore on sketching, wireframes, and prototypes.

In this talk you’ll learn some very simple steps to create sketches and wireframes that you can add to any development ticket or website related problem you’re discussing.

The intended audience is non-designers who are interested in learning how to use visual aids to convey ideas and explain problems.

Walking memories

While I’m busy building my life, working, learning, planning, and all around staying busy, I often catch glimpses of something far more important that’s quickly passing me by.

My son is 4 years old, and right now one of the highlights of his day, especially since it’s Summer time and he isn’t in preschool, is spending time with me.

We’ve recently started a couple of things together. We go for a short walk in the evenings before his bedtime, and we read a few short stories from his children’s Bible.

Sometimes these things can feel like they’re just getting in the way of all the things I want to do. But when I really think about it, they matter more than anything else. He’s growing fast, and someday he won’t be around to go on walks every day.

The thought feels painful and makes me wish he’d never grow up. But I know there’s joy in that as well! All that’s to say, I’m learning to appreciate the quiet and slow times with him.

Just today we went on a 1-2 mile walk around the neighborhood. We held hands the whole time; and he never stopped talking. He had questions about everything, his own version of stories to tell, and generally just found something to say every step of the way. And I loved it.

Here’s to living life in the moment and enjoying what we have!

One Small Thing – Running

As a teenager I tried running. Any attempts quickly ended in a fit of coughing with my lungs feeling ripped out. Finally around 19 a friend took me running for 2 miles. He kept us at a medium jogging pace, and at the end I didn’t feel like I had lost any major organs. Just slowing  the pace helped. It was the difference between trying to sprint and going for a slow run.

Later I picked up a good tip: if you can’t carry a conversation you’re probably running too fast. I’m guessing this only applies for people like me who are just running for basic exercise.

After that 2 mile run I realized this could be something I’d enjoy. 6 weeks later I ran my first half marathon. It was hard but fun!

Then I mostly tapered off of running for a few years. I’d get out every now and then for a few miles, but nothing consistent. Finally at 25 years old I decided to get serious again and trained 4 months for my first marathon. The consistency was amazing. I followed a guide that told me what to do each day; it didn’t require much thinking, just get out and run.

The next year I ran a marathon again, greatly improving my time. Then I stopped running (regularly at least) for a few more years.

The result has been, if I don’t have a race I’m training for, I don’t run consistently.

A few weeks ago I decided to try the smallest daily habit I could think of in regards to running. I committed to running 1 mile a day (except for Saturday, I use that as my rest day). The experience has been freeing. While I would like to find an event to commit to, I can always get my running shoes on and at least run a mile.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this small habit continues over the next few weeks, and if it builds into something long term.

One Small Thing

Push-ups

Can you do a push-up? Whether it’s from the knees or strict I’m sure you can. Go on, try one now.
That was pretty easy right?

Do you think you could do one more tomorrow when you wake up?

Earlier this year I was reading “Tools of Titans”, from Tim Ferriss and I was inspired by one of the examples he shared. No matter what I had going on, I could absolutely commit to doing 1 push-up a day.

So I did. For the past 5 months I’ve made sure to do at least 1 pushup every day. While it’s a very small thing that will not help me reach my long term interests for fitness, it is a step in the right direction.

Journaling

For years I tried journaling. I’d enthusiastically start writing one day and pour my thoughts onto the page; digital and analog. Sometimes I’d write a few sentences, and other times I could fill out a few paragraphs. However, the story was always the same. After a day, or two, or even a few weeks, I’d end up quitting.

At the start of this year I decided I would journal every single day. The trick this time was to only do one line of journaling every day, and then force myself to stop. Over 7 months later my journal the habit has become clearly established. I now have a log throughout the year sharing major things I did, and often how I felt on a given day.

Note: I did cheat on this one a bit and sometimes would come back to fill in 2-3 days, but ultimately I’ve kept it going so I call this one a win.

Bible

For a long time I’ve wanted to be more intentional about my personal devotional time. I wanted more consistency. So I made a commitment that I’d read 5 minutes from the Bible every day. Sometimes I would actually read and other times I’d listen to a narration of the Bible. The result has been that I haven’t missed a day in almost 10 months.

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What are some things you’ve been wanting to do? If you have tried to start a habit, only to break it a few days later, then you might want to give this a try.

What is something you want to start doing? Running, lifting weights, push-ups, journaling, reading, drawing, flossing?

Decide now what you really want and make the tiniest step toward that goal. Put it in writing and make sure you can see the words everyday.

Some tricks that have helped me are repeat reminders in a task manager, changing the wallpaper on my phone, or writing it up and sticking it on the wall right by my desk.

Push-ups, 1 line journaling, and 5 minutes of reading my Bible have now become habit for me. I don’t feel that my day is complete unless I can check them off.

Now I’m thinking about what my fourth habit could be. Running 1 mile a day?

My Favorite Noisemaker App

These two apps, Relax Melodies and Noisli, perfectly illustrate why a simpler, more focused, solution will often win out over one that tries to do everything.

For the past few years I’ve used Relax Melodies, the main function I use is the white noise sound. At one point I even considered making my own app that just has white noise and nothing else.

Relax Melodies is an example of an app that drives me nuts. First off there are ads, unless I opt in for a subscription. A description on a noise maker app? This is madness. I don’t want to pay $10/month for a glorified fan. And what else does that subscription give me? A bunch of fancy new noises?

Still, I held onto this app because it had a sound that I thought would be hard to replicate.

Then along came Noisli. It’s $1.99 to buy. This app is beautiful and simple. No ads, no upsells. When I open it all I see are a few simple icons that I can tap to start the noise. That’s it.

Lately I’ve grown accustomed to switching to the brown noise setting. It’s less sharp and feels a bit more relaxing.

Choosing my next iPhone

Last year I made the decision to switch to the iPhone 7 Plus. This phone is huge. To say it can be used one handed is a bit of an exaggeration.

All of my phones prior were smaller and easier to carry around. 

Below are my pros/cons of owning a bigger screen size and what will influence my future buying decisions. Please note that these reasons are based on how I use the phone. I realize that for other people the list will be different.

Pros

  • Watching video – It's easier to watch video and get a bit more immersed in what you're viewing. This is especially the case since I always watch video (unless it's portrait shot) in landscape. 
  • Taking photos – This is the biggest benefit for me. I LOVE portrait mode. It's the number one reason I decided to go with the bigger phone. 
  • Texting – This one is almost a tossup again. For texting I have to use two hands, and because I do my texts are much faster. However there are situations where I'd prefer to be able to use one hand (running for instance) but can't do that easily. It really just depends on how you use the phone. Since texting IS really nice with two hands I'll call it a benefit.

Cons

  • Reading books – On the one hand I like the bigger 5.5" screen as I can more comfortably read through words on the page. On the other hand a smaller screen is easier to hold one handed. If I really want to read a book for longer periods I can pull up my Kindle Paperwhite, or you know.. read a book. I'm calling this one a con since the portability of the phone (smaller is better) outweighs the extra real estate for reading. 
  • Listening to books – Almost all of my "reading" is through Audible. Smaller phone will always win here. 
  • Running – Yeah, smaller is always better here. 
  • Playing games – This is a very low priority for me, so smaller is still better. 

Lately I've been trying to experiment with ways to become less reliant on my phone. I'd like it to be more of a utility than an always on, always available, always in use device. 

The main reason I stick with a larger iPhone is for the portrait mode. I love it! If the next iPhone has portrait mode on the smaller size then it will be an easy decision.

So here's to looking forward to seeing what comes up next!

Creation vs consumption

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I’m spending my time.

There are periods of time every week where I find myself consuming content. That could be a TV show or movie, a book, Reddit, social media, news, tech blogs, etc.

In all of this I’m merely an open vessel absorbing bits of information. Now granted some of it is good information, and I could argue that other pieces are actually quite valuable. But on the whole a lot of it could be completely ignored, even the good stuff.

I find myself struggling against the impulse to constantly refresh and see what’s new out there, just to get a quick fix, and the desire to build and create things.

Writing articles on this blog is one perfect example of this struggle. I could spend my time reading what others are saying out there about some of the topics I love (simple living, traveling light, focus, essentialism, Apple products, etc) or I could add value to the world by sharing the things that are of interest to me.

I’d like to think that the second option will win out! I’ve caught myself reading opinion pieces on something that interests me and in the same breath realizing it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking.

So my encouragement to you is to look for the value you can add to the world, and not to just be someone who is taking what the world has to offer.

Creating