Priority Shift

It is fast approaching that time of year again. November is designated as National Novel Writing Month with their stated goal being 50,000 words a month into a novel. I love the concept but it isn’t practical for me so of course I’ll be hacking this.

Now that I am pivoting focus from photography to writing these next few months, it’ll probably go extreme. The intent is to crank out a couple of short stories, while finish plotting out the bigger ones. There may even be more frequent content here and in my personal journal as well.

I thought about the importance of my commitment to post here daily but nope, enjoying the process is more important than a stringent schedule. 

But then too I get frustrated with being a single-focused individual. I also want to grab the camera or write code but what has priority for me? What has more value?

Once I realize that one value is more important to me than another, I have to ask if I am living accordingly.  

What’s more important to me? Learning or creating? Expand or focus?

Once I work that out I may yet go extreme with it. “All in” as they say and optimize my life around it and let go of almost everything else. And then change it up after that.

Balance

I don’t know why I have this rebellious side of me, I really don’t. I don’t mean to be so contrarian but it happens. I want to be opposite of my surroundings some times.

The strong-willed, overachievers bring out the lazy side of me. People I know who are slackers bring out the best in me. If people prefer colors, I tend to go with black or grey.

I’ll root for the underdog, seek a balance to offset the other side and swim upstream. We’re taught to not be this way. We aren’t to react that way. I’m supposed to be the same but I form my own opinions thank you very much.

What motivates me is knowing that there is something out there that is the opposite of what I want.

If I see selfishness it tends to make me more generous. If someone is freaking out, I choose to remain calm. If I observe someone who is wasting their talent it motivates me to keep practicing. Competition makes me better after all. Knowing a friend who doesn’t take care of themselves encourages me to get healthier. and so on and so on.

It’s been a balance of better to worse so far. Why fight it?

Test My Theories

I need to make personal growth a priority. This means I plan a life away from the safe zone and do it. And when I decide that creativity is a priority than I need to plan a peaceful place without obstacles so I can just create.

But I need to get these ideas of personal growth and creativity out of my head and into the real world.

There is a big difference between theory and application.

If it turns out to be a mistake so be it. I’ll know it was a mistake instead of just a theory.

Ulysses

Now that I’ve acquired one of the best writing apps for iOS I had to figure it out and set it up. That was easy to do with it’s intuitive features. I was able to connect it to a few other apps like Mind Node where I could import my mind maps as notes. Loving this.

The one downside so far is a lack of connection to publish articles to my website remotely. I’m still working on this but apparently there is an issue with the XMLRPC connection. Firewall policy rate-limiting?

Overall, it is very pleasing. The one thing it won’t do is write the manuscripts for me.

Back In Cyberspace

Screenshot of this website in an RSS feed

Cyberspace- A long time ago, before we allowed ourselves to bottlenecked into a few social platforms, fed into massive surveillance machines, mined for our attention, and controlled by algorithms, there was an idea about internet freedom. Cyberspace.

We allowed cyberspace to become dominated by a few large companies. It was unregulated, free. We created things and shared ideas and we didn’t need anyone to do it for us. We just did it.

Web 2.0- We became lazy and enticed by centralized/connected web applications. Back in 2005, I became hooked into the Google platform thanks to Gmail. Flickr was new and exciting way to share photos. In 2006, I was one of the first users of TWTTR (now Twitter) and I even had a MySpace account and then Facebook. We then coined the phrase “social media” and it was good. The internet became a cesspool of ads, trolls, marketing and algorithms after that.

Social Media- No Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Thanks to the massive digital footprints I’ve left behind, you can still find some references to my usage but I am off of social media. The Flickr account I subscribe to is not social. It is an online repository and cloud backup to my photo archives. I have an Outlook account from Microsoft but that is residual and for using their services (which I am weaning off of.) No more. Most of us rely on those corporate platforms that decide what they think you need to know. Facebook news feeds anyone? Google search, anyone? Controlled by algorithms designed to keep you hooked and sedentary inside their apps.

I’ve spent the past year winding the clock backwards and starting over again. I have fully reclaimed my little hub here in Cyberspace. My domains are secured again. The website is self-hosted. Email domains are mine.

Since the early 2000’s most of us have used and since then forgotten two brilliant tools to consume information; E-mail and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

With E-mail and RSS we control what we want to focus our attention on. For either information or for pleasure. I’ve slowly re-introduced E-mail subscriptions to informative websites I trust. They use it as communicating ideas, just like we did in cyberspace a long time ago. They won’t sell my information and they won’t spam me. When/if they do I’ll simply unsubscribe.

Since I first discovered RSS back in the early 2000’s, I was hooked. I’ve relied on it almost daily as an information resource. Here’s why: every website or blog has a feed attached to it. Once you set up or subscribe to these feeds in a feed aggregator like Feedly (free), you could read articles from your favorite websites without visiting them all. No ads, no tracking, no algorithms and in one central location.

I am in control of what I see. No one else. Now, that does not mean I won’t visit the web, far from it. I still use it for research purposes like everyone else but those websites are prevented from tracking me thanks to ad and content blockers. I use a secure browser called Firefox Focus which blocks them. I use Duck Duck Go to perform searches on the web. They don’t track or sell you anything. Pretty soon I will purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that masks my internet provider’s information.

There is a lot of cyberspace out there still. The corporate platforms and strict governments haven’t completely taken over it, even if they do fancy themselves as masters of the universal internet.

I do not advertise and will never have advertisements here. I will never spam or sell anyone’s information. Ever. If you’d like to add my website to your feed aggregator it is [https://chrisdenbow.com/rss].

Digital Minimalism

I’m currently reading four books at once. Bad idea but the public library had all the desired books I had on hold ready to go and they are all on heavy demand. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport is one of them. I really wanted to to read and review this book so much, that I petitioned the library to order it. Success.

Step one is kicking the smartphone addiction. By removing a majority of the apps that are not in use or are major distractions, this will help free up both mental and hard drive space. Also, disabling notifications is a great way to regain control of your time and attention.

I am stopping right there for now and applying what I am reading to a test. As of this writing I have forty two applications installed on my iPhone xR. The iPhone storage gauge says I can save 325 MB by offloading unused apps. I’ll run that soon and then keep on with more.

I’ve also shelved the Windows desktop in favor of using the iPad as a PC replacement. Another experiment to see if it is possible to downsize. I am missing my mouse and re-learning keyboard shortcuts.

The distracting apps removed from my iPhone will stay on the iPad as it will function as both a tool and entertainment hub.

Offline

Since I am no longer subscribed to an internet service at home, I have been relying on public WiFi and my phone’s hot spot. This has been challenging for me, especially since I need a connection for my continuing education.

I just remembered today that you can save a web page to your computer and still reference it…even when you are offline. I use Firefox because of speed and security so that will be the reference used here. Your web browser should be similar, experiences vary.

image

Click the Settings icon and choose “Save Page As…” (as shown above.) Then decide where you want to save it. When offline, locate and open. That web page is now viewable offline. It goes without saying…even though I am going to, but you cannot click or navigate this page while offline, only view. Neato.

Below is the saved web page. A tutorial I needed to reference while offline.

image

Now Developing

Picking up the Python programming language is going smoother than most of the other languages I have attempted to learn so far. If I am going to become a full stack developer I need to get in the habit of using best practices such as…

1. Developing a working solution by solving a problem.

2. Work it out first either by using pen/paper or a mind map app.

3. Utilize an up-to-date Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

4. Master at least one language

5. Keep it simple

6. Ask questions. Reach out to others to learn from.

7. Utilize Github more often. Submit several more pull requests.

8. Brush up on my Linux skills (installed on my machine via VirtualBox.)

9. Look up terms I don’t understand.

10. Read up on current trends

Developing these habits, I believe, will allow me to…develop.

Limits

This past week I have relocated to a new home. A home without Internet service. For the first time since 1996 I do not have an ISP and it feels like I am in the damned dark ages.

How is it possible for me to learn the Python programming language without it? How is it possible for me to load processed photo images to the cloud and other platforms? By finding solutions and alternatives.

By choosing not to have internet service, I am discovering a more productive lifestyle, reducing mindless surfing and wasting time and with alternate resources.

Here’s what I mean: streaming entertainment is non-existent so we’re going old school videos by using a disc player. Quaint, right? Physical books as opposed to digital books. Neato. 

The pros of no service are outweighing the cons so far because of limited distractions. I can focus on reading more and writing a short story. Heck, I may even get to that long overdue novel.The Python IDLE (Integrated Development Environment) works brilliantly off line. Photo processing can be done without internet as well. Speaking of photos, I took advantage of great weather for a long overdue photo walk. Offline and IRL. Another offline option is learning how to play that ukulele eventually. 

When I do have access (thanks Panera, public library, iPhone XR hot spot), I can then upload, download as needed. In fact, I just downloaded some e-books for fun reading as well as a technical manual for Python.

By limiting myself I have found an opportunity. And just like my mother always said “Be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.”

* This post was written offline and then later uploaded via hotspot.