Working Tools 27. Apps-tastic

Apps

The trouble with stock applications not working is that I look for other applications. While looking at an app for one thing, I inevitably find numerous apps for all sorts of other things.

Oh, the first world problems that plague me.

I started with Notes, and then fell down the rabbit-hole.

Productivity

I always pursue productivity, a chase that invariably circles back to task management. I bullet journal, albeit in a simplified way. It’s a struggle to make the system work for project management and segmented lists. I decided to revisit some old friends, namely Things 3, Time Page and Actions by Moleskine. I also had an idea that I wanted to look at habit tracking.

Now, the thing about Things (if you’ll excuse the pun) is that the more you put in there, the more it does for you. Cue a stream of consciousness brain dump into the app. Everything goes into “Inbox”, until I sort it somewhere else. Happy hours ensued setting up areas of responsibility and projects. The greatest irony of productivity systems is the amount of time that you have to put into them.

Moleskine

The Moleskine apps are beautiful, particularly the calendar one. I enjoy that I can customise the views, and the simple aesthetic of the display. Actions integrates beautifully, but lacks features compared to Things, so for the time-being at least, Actions will not get used. I bought an annual subscription to both Timepage and Actions which expires in a few months, so I’ll keep experimenting with them until then, when a further decision will be required.

Habits

In my journal, I have a habit tracker. One that is becoming increasingly complex to manage. Would that work better electronically? Turns out, I had already thought that at some point in the past, and had purchased “Productive”, an app for habit tracking. So – I’m back in that too.

Food Journaling

I have been reading about food journaling. Mostly because I am in danger of being awarded my own postcode unless I start getting smaller rather than bigger. In the past, I calorie-tracked through “My Fitness Pal”. It’s great, but it does require a level of input that I’m not prepared to give any more. I am interested in the psychology of recording what I eat and drink, without necessarily comparing the calorie count between an apple and a pear.

Could I use Day One? I have had this App since 2013, dipping in and out. Now – I am photographing my food, and noting how eating it has made me feel.

Is this going to replace all my analogue tools? I don’t think so. It may change the way that I journal, but I think it unlikely to replace it entirely.

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Members 50. Half a century, and still at the crease.

This is the third start of this particular post. The first was a proper grump about Twitter in general, about right-on, holier than thou, virtue-signalling Twitter in particular. Second was an enquiry as to what makes a stabbing “terrorism”rather than “knife-crime.”

The evidence suggests I’m grumpier than usual.

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Working Tools 26. Periodic Apple Whine

I need an Apple whine. I need some grape wine too, but then that’s a constant state.

My Setup

MacBook Pro 15 inch 2017. High spec
iPad Pro 10.5
Apple Pencil 1st Generation
iPhone X
Apple Watch Series 3
AirPods 2nd Generation
AirPods 1st Generation
HomePod

Software

All devices are off-beta on the latest versions of operating systems, so iOS 13 and macOS Catalina.

The Whine

Every device functions less well than it did on the previous OS.

My MBP is slow. Horribly slow. Months into the upgrade cycle, it is still trying to get all its ducks in a row with cloud services. I’m not smart enough to work out exactly what’s going on, but photos and notes are always “working” and never fully synchronised. Various 3rd party services that worked flawlessly in the past, now intermittently fail. Apple Mail is so dreary, I’ve gone off into 3rd party land again. Apple Watch unlocks the MBP, sometimes. One time yes, one time no.

The iPad Pro and iPhone have the same struggles with photos and notes. Almost every day, something stops working for no apparent reason. Usually, the something starts again at a later date. Again – I don’t know what’s causing what.

My second generation AirPods do weird charging stuff. This morning, the left pod was 100% charged, the right one 1%. Maybe I did something? Who knows, it all seems OK now.

The HomePod. This device relies on Siri. Like everything else that works on Siri, it works properly so seldom, that it’s best left alone. We essentially use it as a less-reliable, and vastly more expensive, radio.

The Reality Distortion Field

People used to talk about the ability of Steve Jobs to distort reality. It wasn’t him. We do it to ourselves.

Apple’s software isn’t working properly. For several years, its laptops have been fundamentally flawed, in that the keyboards are insufficiently robust. Its artificial intelligence/voice activation is garbage.

The most expensive IT stuff in the market and none of it works as intended.

And yet, the share price is firm, and the revenues enormous. Why?

Stockholm Syndrome

Apple release a new laptop, that APPEARS, so far, to have a keyboard that, you know, works. Like bullying victims ignored for one day by the bully, we all smile, and tell each other that things are on the up. Even though we’re not buying the new laptop, we bathe in the halo from its release.

The Cartel of Mediocrity

Apple should now be being demolished by the competition. Their overpriced hardware is not fit for purpose and is made unreliable and unusable by software that is either entirely untested before release, or has been tested by hamsters. Apple Users should be flocking to Google or Microsoft. They can’t be this bad.

Ah. Well. Actually…

Ripoff

Apple has sold me goods that are not fit for purpose – the MBP with inadequate keyboard. It has charged me large sums of money for hardware (everything else), which it has then rendered unreliable with recommended operating system upgrades.

What will they do about it?

Release a new top end computer that costs the same as a car — that won’t work as advertised because the operating system is crap.

Yay!

Sort yourselves out Apple.

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Members 49. Adjourned.

Since the attack on Margaret and Nero, and his subsequent death, my sleep has often been disrupted with rehearsals of meeting the man whom I hold responsible. These dreams often feature imaginative, inventive acts of violence that I commit cooly upon this person, in the manner of a shorter, tubbier Jack Reacher.

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Living the Dream – 74. All rise

All rise

As predicted, we turned up at 9am and were directed to a courtroom. (If you need to know why, start here.)

We were told to return at 1030 and went for a coffee.

As I carried our purchases towards the terrace, I was nearly knocked over by Margaret coming the other way.

“He’s here.” She trembled.

I guided her to an internal table, and tried to find something reassuring to say. Our question as to whether the defendant would attend had been answered.

We sat through a case, a sentencing, we think, ending with the defendant leaving with two policemen. One of those policemen had through gestures, advised me that I should not be leaving my reading spectacles on top of my head. Margaret had recovered from the shock and was convinced that the defendant in our case had not recognised her.

Eventually, a prosecutor checked that Margaret was, in fact, Margaret. This established, she spoke with the opposing counsel, before returning to us.

“The defence will ask for an adjournment.”

“Right…”

“I will write for you the new date.”

The Process

It turned out that after a recess, we had to wait for this arrangement to be confirmed by the judge. As the judge came in, everybody stood, reminding me of UK court dramas, were the clerk always intoned “All rise” as the judge entered and left the court.

We watched as our nemesis was led to the dock. Call me nasty, but I delighted in his discomfort. I caught one in ten words from the judge, I think he was summarising the charge. The prosecutor rose, and replied in quick fire Greek. The words that I caught, were Margaret’s name and the name and rank of the investigating police officer.

Margaret was asked to stand, immediately drawing the attention of the man in the dock.

Having established that she spoke no Greek, the judge swore in an interpreter to translate his explanation to her. He explained that due to the weight of ongoing cases and because the defence wanted more time, he was adjourning until the 7th of April and that there would be no further summons.

Gratefully, we left. Seconds ahead of the person being prosecuted.

Next Stage

I guess that’s how it works. This is a criminal prosecution, not a civil one. Margaret is a witness not a plaintiff. No justice system anywhere could afford to keep everybody apart, I suppose. Still, it felt a little awkward.

As for your brave correspondent, I worked very hard to avoid eye contact. My focus is Margaret and I’m not sure that macho posturing would be much help to her.

So, as I wrote, the wheels of justice turn slowly and the next instalment will come in April 2020, when again, we will “all rise”.

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Members 48 The sky is falling in

Politics. Seems to be going well, doesn’t it?

In true British style, I will disregard the vast majority of the world and focus on the USA and the UK. If we are to believe media, both real and fake, traditional and technological, the sky is surely about to fall in.

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Living the Dream – 73. The wheels of justice

The wheels of justice turn slowly.

Margaret took a call in the car. Someone was hoping to serve court papers on her. She explained that we were on our way home and would be there in five minutes. The server elected to post the papers at the gate and continue on with his day.

Background

We felt certain that this related to the nightmare that Margaret endured around a year ago, when an uncontrolled dog attacked her: But what was her role at court? On the advice of lawyers, we had chosen not to pursue a civil case against the owners of the dog. The Police were prosecuting under the criminal code.

Court

The papers turned out to be an un-enveloped docket, half printed and half hand-written. Quite reasonably, it was all Greek to us.

However, we are advised that we are to attend the courts at 9am on the allotted date, with our piece of paper. Somebody will direct us towards a courtroom waiting-area, and at some point, the prosecutor will wish to hear what happened. Then, a date for a hearing will be set and we will be sent home.

I’m planning on taking a book and a packed lunch. The lawyer tells us that the defendant will have been instructed to be there too.

Why?

Frankly, I’m mystified as to the purpose of this. The lawyer said that we have been asked to attend because the defendant has not accepted the charges. I assume means that he has denied that he broke any laws. Were we not to turn up, then the case would be dropped.

Waiting room

If I were a cynical man, I might think that obstacles are setup in the hope that the whole thing will simply go away. I daresay it might all go away in the end – but it won’t be because Margaret and I didn’t do our part.

In the year that has passed, the owner of the dog, still living two minutes from our front gate, has made no effort to communicate with us at all. The day that my wife stood screaming and trembling, Nero, our cherished pet of 11 years, dying at her feet, a few scant yards from this man’s front door; he came out, mumbled something about a vet, put a phone to his ear and that was the last that we have seen or heard from him.

Certainly, that failure to engage will make our time on the waiting room a little tense.

The wheels of justice is a paraphrase, thought to originate from Greek philosopher Sextus Empiricus.

“The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind small.”

I hope so.

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Meditation

My meditation begins, “Welcome to the Daily Calm…”

The soothing voice comes from my iPhone. Usually, just after lunch. Full of food, I descend to my office, turn off podcasts and music and sit in my easy chair.

Tamara Levitt utters the words and guides me to my quiet place, where I spend a few minutes focusing on my breath, and several more minutes catching myself focusing on everything except my breath.

I can’t tell you whether Tamara knows what she is talking about, all I know of meditation comes from her. I can tell you that her voice is soothing.

Calm is an app. Set up by a couple of Brits in 2012, it’s a huge success story, worth over a billion dollars, last time I checked. Tamara is the Head of Content. There is a free version, but I pay £60 a year to access the full breadth of the offering.

I have “a practice”, meaning that each day, I meditate for ten minutes. Ten minutes where I tune everything else out and try to be still.

All a bit hippy, what?

Truth be told, I believe there is something to it. That ten minutes does give me a sense of peace. I do find it increases my tolerance and patience. When I miss a day, I feel the lack of it.

Calm offers an easy entry point to meditation, and I’m glad that I tried it.

Maybe you would get something from it too.

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Members 47. Sean Update

Back in early April, I wrote:

“_Should I share this timetable?_
_ _Why not? After all recruiting members was, at least in part, about commitment and accountability. So – potentially to my eternal regret, the timetable is:_

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Living the Dream – 72. Plotting and Planning

Autumn is for plotting and planning. Ideally, the New Year is when new chapters begin, and to make that happen, I need to get going in November.

Seasons

This is the perfect time to lock myself into the office/cave. The days are getting shorter, the evenings cooler, it’s the perfect time to bury myself in my notebooks. Except, Cyprus weather hasn’t read the script. Having had a try at autumnal, the days have decided to revert to summer. There’s not a cloud in the sky, the temperatures are soaring and the beaches are busy again. This is a problem that I am delighted to have, particularly after the trials of last winter.

Scope

In terms of plotting and planning, I look at several areas. The consulting business, the notebook business, the podcast, this site, the home and myself.

Method

Without getting formal, I put aside time to review the year in each area. What went well, what didn’t. I identify objectives for the next year. Once we get to that funny week between Christmas and New Year, I document all this, but for the moment, I just make notes.

stuartlennon.com

During 2019, I have posted three times a week on the site. Each post being 300-700 words. So, one or two thousand words a week. Work on the novel has been sporadic, to say the least. Hmmm…that needs looking at.

As it happens, my Wednesday posts have just reached the end of a series, “Going Solo”. I’m fairly certain that I am not going to leap straight into another series there – hell, perhaps I could edit 500 words of the novel instead? Now, there’s a revolutionary concept.

The Friday posts, of which this is one, will continue, but perhaps with a wider scope. On Monday’s, I post for Members, and I will continue to do that, perhaps tightening the focus there, moving back towards the novel.

Balance

I love this planning and plotting process. I do have to be careful though, as I have a tendency to forget things. Like the fact that I am married. I recently produced myself a week schedule, that managed to incorporate everything that I wanted to get done on an ongoing basis. It was a seven day schedule, including evenings. I think Mags and I got to spend a couple of waking hours a week together, during a quiz. Whoops.

The schedule

How will my schedule settle? Too early to say. That’s why I start the process in November. One thing for sure, I need to put aside time for writing. If I don’t, then not enough gets written.

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