Chad Moore

Sprint 001 Review

I’ve decided to formalize my Agile/Scrum process for how I handle the side hustles, and my personal to-dos.

Huh? OK, first some terminology. Agile development or mindset is a software development mindset. It started as a manifesto and set of principles as a reaction to the traditional software development models back in 2001 or so.

Lots of larger companies and Startups are adopting Agile, or a version of it. For software development, and other efforts as well.

I’ve been using Agile on the job since 2002 or so. The benefits for teams is that it allows a focus on what’s truly important. Agile requires and promotes a growth mindset.

Scrum is a framework for Agile. There are several others, but Scrum is the most popular, I think. Scrum’s key components is the Timebox (traditionally two weeks) called the Sprint. You plan the Sprint, do the work, Review the work with the people that care about it, and then the team, in private, reflects on the Sprint in an effort to continuously improve (Growth Mindset, fits).

So, I’ll just leave all that there, happy to talk more about Agile if you want to send me an email.

Personal Agile

So recently I’ve been acting more on the side hustles in my life. Trying to focus on some of my ideas to get them shipped. Lot’s of reasons why, which maybe other blog posts will explain. I don’t dislike my day job, but why have all your eggs in one basket? Plus there’s so much to learn and ways to help others with small projects. See Anything You Want by Derek Sivers for The Money Tree by Chris Guillebeau for more.

So I started a Sprint on June second. I took stock of all the things in flight, or on todo lists, and moved them into the Mac and iOS app Things. Things is a powerful task management / todo app. I’m purposefully not using many of it’s features for this (long story). But I went with it as I like the interaction models and ux. It looks like this:

The Sprint Review

After I pulled in the “stories” aka todo’s for the Sprint. I put some time into figuring out what the goal of the Sprint should be. The Sprint Goal is traditionally the one thing that must get done in the Sprint.

My goals were:

Soft launch of Small Agile, New Website for Rigging Dojo

Small Agile is a new service I’m tinkering with (happy to take your feedback!) and Rigging Dojo is an online school I confounded ten years ago. We teach the technical aspects of computer animation. I used to work in the animation and video game business.

Here’s the review… I did manage to “soft launch” Small Agile. I was uncomfortable doing so as it’s not perfect in terms of copy on the website. Is it clear enough? And I didn’t create the supporting content (microcasts and newsletter) yet. But why do that work if it’s not clear? I thought I should work on that first, before doing the lengthy recording and writing tasks. I did manage to setup the accounts and infrastructure. So once the clarity is there, I can jump in and get the content going, as and if needed.

For Rigging Dojo, we use wordpress to manage our main, public facing site. I really want to move away from it, but we’re so entrenched after ten years, it’ll be hard to do so.

Anyway, we wanted a better theme - for readability and to do some better surfacing of our content to serve specific peoples needs. I was able to get the first part done in this Sprint. The site is much better from a readability / design point of view, and the groundwork is there for the surfacing of our content to our types of users.

In Sprint reviews teams traditionally go over the successes they had, and talk about where they fell short of meeting the sprint goal.

Success:
- Soft launch of Small Agile
- New theme for Rigging Dojo
- Infrastructure for Small Agile content in place
- Rigging Dojo website experience design is well defined

Misses:
- Small Agile content is not created as it would have been unwise to do that if the service isn’t clear, and this would have sacrificed time spent on the Rigging Dojo site
- The Rigging Dojo site redesign didn’t happen as I just ran out of time and energy

Retrospecitve

Here’s a look at my self reflection for this Sprint.


Places

I posted this to Facebook this morning.

There’s a place I visit, a little too often. It’s free to get into and I sometimes see and talk with friends there. It’s also loud, and full of things that make me feel bad about myself, for a variety of reasons.

The person who runs this place also lets people who have ill will towards others and the tools to do great physical harm to them congregate and recruit freely.

This someone doesn’t care that the person who currently runs all the places purposely stokes the flames of the things that are the worst of us all.

This place also notes everything I do there. Everything I look at, and interact with. It hears every conversation I have. Also, it tries (and succeeds mostly) to understand everything I do when I’m not even there.

Some say that this place is a great way to advocate for what you believe in. But I have observed differently. When I’m vocal about things I care about (beyond dad and poop jokes) I get reinforced via the echo chamber or fights over mindsets and points of view. Not real conversation.

There are other, better ways to advocate. I’m taking more steps in that regard.

Sometimes when I’m at this place, I have great conversations with people I care about. Most times I just see shit I don’t want to, and because I’m being manipulated I can’t stop myself from looking. Maybe I’m just weak.

There’s this other place that I have to pay 5 bucks a month to get into that has none of the above. None of what I think is bad. But also none of the people I know in real life. But the conversations are good and I’m building real relationships there. I feel good when I enter, leave and even think about that place.

I also have my own tiny place. If you’re reading this consider yourself invited. It’s free and you can come and go as you please.

I’m going to permanently leave the first place soon. I’ll miss conversations with people I care about. I’ll try to be better about reaching out in other ways. And, again, feel free to join me on those other places I mentioned.

The first place is the website you’re reading this on. The other two you can find at chadmoore.net

PS - Sorry if this is vague and a poorly constructed analogy. The first place doesn’t like it when you criticize it. It suppresses those kinds of ideas.

PPS - this post is all a bit dramatic isn’t it? The world is reeling from a pandemic. America is at a crucial point where can choose to be better and work to fix a long standing terrible system or we can be worse to each other. Does my disengaging here matter, in that context? I dunno. It’ll give me some peace and space to do more of what I think I need to do to be a better ally though.


Sorry about your face, Kiss Guy

I absolutely love hearing stories of musicians inviting fans onstage to perform with them.

For the performers, it must be a risk/reward calculation when you see a fan holding up a sign asking to play onstage with you. I assume you’re concerned with putting your energy out there to make connections so that people can be as one with music as the main thread. You want to make sure that everyone connects.

Do you suck? Don’t fucking say ‘kinda’, cause I wont invite you up here.

Here’s Foo Fighters bringing onstage a fan to play one of their songs. Dave Grohl, the singer asks the kid this. He’s making connections with the kid, “Kiss Guy” and ensuring that everyone can connect.

Almost twenty years ago, my wife and I were babysitting our friends baby. She was about 6 months old, I guess. Our friends went to a Green Day concert.

They came home with a similar story. As they tell it, the band solicited the crowd to find fans who could play one of their songs. They took some time and found people who could play bass, guitar, drums, and sing. They turned over all their instruments to these people, kids, probably who could play the respective instruments, and knew the song, but didn’t know each other.

My friends said it was the best concert experience they ever saw.

You may not like Foo Fighters, rock and roll, etc but Grohl’s laugh at 3:24 into that video is amazing. He forgets the lyrics to a song he’s written, and performed many times. What fun. I miss live performance so much. Here’s Grohl on The Day the Live Concert Returns. “Sonic Cathedral” indeed. I hope to see you all there.


My newsletter

I’m starting a newsletter. The first issue goes out on Sunday.

Where Light Gathers intends to be a campfire. A place where creative people can sit and share their hopes, fears, and experiences on making things. And why making those things is important to them. I’ll write about the things I’m creating, the ideas growing in the garden, and what I’m finding when I dip my toes into the digital streams.

I hope you’ll join us at the campfire.


Part One - We need your stories

Part One, We need your stories

Things are hard for people who make their living creating. Especially now. I write this on Thursday, April 29, 2020. The entire world is being affected by COVID-19. It doesn’t care where you’re from, what you look like, or what you do for a living. Here in America it’s showing us the disparity of those who have empathy for others, and those who do not. Hopefully some good social and health care changes can come from this.

Those who work creating and performing are impacted pretty hard with many public spaces closing to “Flatten the Curve”. It’s hard to express yourself without the space to do so.

The internet does provide a space for self expression, but the technical and cost barriers to entry are still pretty high for most people. There are many great user-friendly and relatively affordable products and services that allow anyone to get online. Understanding how to use them is the second problem, however. The first problem is finding them.

Now, more than ever we need human connectivity. Through art, performance, and conversation. Humans evolved from tribal connectivity and we still need that, so very much. We need your stories, in your voice.

Qualifications

I’m not a programmer, or designer. I’ve worked with, for, and inbetween some very good ones, and I love to tinker with art, design, and technology. I’ve been doing this for twenty years. My strengths are:

Empathy … I can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations

Developer … I recognize and cultivate the potential in others. I can spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.

Individualization … I am intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. I have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.

Relator … I enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Futuristic … inspired by the future and what could be. I can inspire others with my visions of the future.

Those are from the Strengths Finder book and survey and they really resonated with me personally. More than any other self assessment that thing out there (I’ve tried many).

Professionally my makeup leads me to positions of project, and personal management, and coaching of creative people. I’ve worked in the Animation, Video Games, Design, and Software development fields. This isn’t my resume so I wont bore you with the details.

So those are my qualifications for bringing you this info. I just like all this stuff. I’ve spent hours tinkering, and I want to share. I recognize that I’ve been afforded opportunities to have this time and tech to tinker. Maybe I can pay that forward a bit with what I’m writing.

Mindset

I’m an aspiring minimalist. I enjoy figuring out what is the simplest way to a solutuion or process. I’m exploring mindfulness, stoicism and improvised performance as the overlap of these concepts really speaks to me.

I believe in the indieweb. I believe in privacy. I don’t like using products or systems that track my or others peoples moves.

When I talk about setting up websites, and blogs, etc, I believe in POSSE. Posting on your Own Site, Syndicating Eslewhere. This is a main mantra of the Indieweb community. You own your content, and can put it anywhere. Even move it from place to place. Things like Twitter, Instagram, and FaceBook own your content and make it very difficult to take your creations elsewhere. The more people they have, and longer they stay the more revenue they can generate. You are the product, and your data is sold for a company’s profit.

I have a twitter account, and FaceBook as well. It’s hard just leaving that all behind. That’s where everyone is, after all.

My recommendations will skew towards POSSE and Indieweb but I recognize that not everyone will care as much about this stuff as I and others do. To each their own. The point of all this remains to help people get online and speaking in their voice.

Building an audience

There’s a ton of info, courses, advice and what-not about how to build an online audience. Some of it is better than others, just like anything. Some of it focuses on techniques that are shady at best. SEO is an area I do not know much about at all. That’s Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s techniques to arrange and broadcast your content so that it rises to the top of search results. Most people just look at the top three results in a google search, after all.

There are good people doing honest work in SEO. It’s an interesting mix of writing and preparing content so that it helps humans discover it. That’s a noble cause. I’m concerned about the content farming and other nastier aspects of it. But again, I’m not a go-to resource on this at all.

I write the above to get us to this point, which is what I believe in. Building an audience takes time. Frequent posting things of value, so that you make connections is how to build an audience. Simple, but not easy.

Seth Godin is a marketer, author and blogger. He posts on his blog every single day. He’s been doing this for years and years. He just recently updated the technology that ran his blog, after many years. He made a technical choice, stuck with it, and wrote every day.

A while ago, I asked myself “How does he write every single day” and the answer I provided to myself seemed obvious, even silly. That answer was just that “_he writes every single day_”. Not every post will resonate with every one of his readers. Consisentcy is his key.

A thousand true fans is the way to build an audience. I like to re-read that on occasion :)

Thanks for reading along so far. I’m opinionated and if you disagree with me, or have further questions please email me.

Tomorrow, I’ll send an email about design. Design of the way you want to represent yourself and/or your products and services as well as specifics on visual design.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.

-Chad

Continue to Part two


Part Two - Design

Part Two, Design

Design

Welcome back. Hope you’re well. Today I wanted to talk about design. In two aspects. How you present yourself and your products or services, and how your website looks. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Your brand

Oh, that sounds so gross. You are not a brand, you’re a person! Putting yourself online is putting out a version of yourself, arguably. Why not take a while to figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it? That’s all I mean when you read “Brand” in these posts.

First, the hard part.

What do you want to say?

Bullseye

Here’s one technique for organizations to help them understand themselves. It’s a called a Three Hour Brand Sprint, and the term the authors use for “brand” is similar to what I’m referring too. It’s put together by some designers formerly at Google, who wrote a neat book called Make Time, and have a blog and courses over at Time Dorks.

It’s intended for Starups, but I think the exercises are useful for individuals and small teams as well. Maybe not all of them, but the first four of the six, in particular.

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. It shouldn’t take a single person or small team three hours. Always remember:

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

Bruce Lee said that, and he was a badass. You are too!

If you go through with the exercises, I’d be really curious to what your Why is. Let me know.

Design tips from a non-designer

dubious

I am by no means a visual designer, but I’ve picked up a couple tips and tricks from 20 years working with really talented folks. These are boiled down and simple steps, not fully explored design mantras. Professional designers may disagree with the choices I advocate. Let me know if so.

See Design for Hackers for more detailed info on these topics too.

My thought process is to make small decisions that remove more thought process. If you want 10 colors or fonts, you have to balance each with the other. That’s a matrix of decision making that can cause you much frustration. Go smaller. Avoid friction. Have less.

Fonts

No more than two is good (headline and body). Using just one is even better, as it keeps it simple and reduces load times. As for sizing, make each size down 75% of the larger size. So if your Headline (aka H1) font size is 3, your body size should be 2.25, for example.

Font choice is a huge topic. Grab something you like from fonts.google.com. You can paste in your bio or any other content into the google fonts site to see how it looks.

fonts

Serif fonts (fonts with feet) are harder to read with a lot of text that sans-serif fonts (without feet). In other words, a wall of cursive text is hard to read. The tool I’ll recommend to you tomorrow will help with all this Font mumbo-jumbo. Hang in there.

Colors

Finding colors to represent yourself or company can be a challenge. A good rule of thumb is to pick three colors and a gray, maximum.

colors

If you aren’t sure about colors schemes, these are great resources.

Color.adobe.com is an interactive color wheel. Try picking one color you love, and looking at the Color Rules to find great combos. The little triangle in the bottom of the color swatch indicates the primary color. You can toggle other colors as primary to explore.

Get design advice via crowdsourcing at Color Lovers. That link shows the most loved color palletes this week. The community at Color Lovers submits and votes on their favorite color combos. Pick one you like and play. Note: That site has gotten really spammy recently. I’ll look for alternatives.

PS - I know as much about color theory as an ant understands an airplane, so you might want to do some research as to what emotions the colors of your website will invoke in your visitors.

PPS - Every color is represented by a hex value aka internet color. White is #FFFFFF and Black is #000000, for example. You’ll need to remember this value for your “branding”. You can find it in both the sites I mentioned above. Again, the tool I’ll recommend tomorrow will help with this. Don’t stress, we will get there.

Images

camera

Unsplash is a great resource for high quality images. Resize and compress the images and always give credit. You don’t need photoshop or other heavy photo manipulation software. Ask a friend or look at online tools.

If you have a Mac, and are friendly with the terminal (or want to be) check out the sips command. Or don’t if that’s too technical for you! It’s all good.

Sustainability

sustainability

SustainableUX is an online conference, and has some nice articles on how designers can reduce their carbon footprint and improve the user experience of a website. I worked with a couple of the cofounders, and they’re some of the best and smartest people I know. By having less, you increase the positive experience your website visitors have, and decrease the amount of energy it takes to run your online stuff. Win, win.

Remember

Less is always more, in my opinion.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about actually building your website!

Continue to Part three


Part Three - Your website

Part Three, Your website

Hey, thanks for sticking around for part three. We’re going to talk about doing some work today! Let me know if you have questions so far.

Before we talk about a little tech, let’s see what you’ll need to have in-hand before starting.

Minimum requirements

Are you looking for a page to represent yourself? These are generally called Landing pages. People land here and then dig deeper into your info, any products and services you may provide, and social media, etc.

These tend to be one-page websites, simple and to the point. They’re used for products and services, but also as a new kind of business card for personal use.

To start building these kinds of sites, you first need to know what you need to share. Write down what things you need. If you did some of the Design activities noted in the last post, you might be able to reference that.

Examples could be: - A bio
- Your resume
- A way for you to offer something you provide, if you do have something like that. Online classes you may offer, schedule for zoom calls, etc.
- A way to contact you, as much as you’re comfortable with of course.

Here’s a pretend website as an example. I’m using a fictional character from my favorite novels for the example here. Locke Lamora is the main character from The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by the author Scott Lynch. If you like fantasy novels with great adventure and characters, check it out.

Building something like this (and adding advanced features) is easy with Carrd. The first image is on a desktop, the second is from a phone. No extra work needed to make the site look good on multiple devices. Carrd does that for you…

Mobile

The features of that website are: - An image. This is fan art of the fictional character by the artist Keja Blank (such amazing work!)
- Bio - I wrote this up based on the character from the book. Some of those words are gibberish if you haven’t read the books of course. Garrista means boss of a group of criminals, The Nameless Thirteenth is a God in the fictional universe (although the other 12 Gods might have something to say about that) and I won’t spoil that last bit. Read the book to find out more :)
- Links to social account (these all link to my websites)

I built it in about 10 minutes with Carrd. Let me walk you through how to use Carrd. There’s a video walk through below. But first some front-matter on the service. I don’t work for carrd, I don’t get a cut if you sign up. I just love it.

Signup and login

For the free plan, you can build up to 3 sites. The Pro plan allows you to do more, of course. There’s a free 7 day trial of the Pro plan. That Pro plan starts at $9 USD a year. Not per month, per year. It’s a great deal and the service is run by one indie developer, not a Silicon Valley startup looking to turn it’s users into profit.

So I’d do the free plan, try things out and upgrade to the Pro plan, if you want to.

Pick a template to start from

Each of these templates will look good on computers, tablets, and phones. That hard work has been done for us. Experiment with different templates to see which is closest to what you have imagined in your head. There’s a little demo button on each template that you can use to open the template in a new tab, so you can check it out.

Explore and play. Find the one you like most. Also, if you’re really into it, you could start from a blank template. I don’t recommend this for first time users, but it’s a great way to make something unconventional or super customized.

You can tinker and simply delete sites you make if you want to start over.

The Instructions

Once you create the site, Carrd should show you a layover with all the functionality the system provides.

Take a few minutes to read through this, it’s really concise and to the point. Further help is available as well, if you want to dig deeper.

Structure

Carrd works with these building blocks. At the most fundamental layer is the background, then page, and sections, containers, and elements. Tinker away to get the feel, undo is your friend.

Saving

So, if you tinker and get something you like, you have three options to save your work, under the Publish button, which looks like a typical save icon.

  1. Save as a draft. This allows you to pick up later. The website isn’t visible to anyone but you. It is not ‘published’
  2. Publish as a carrd url. Our example site is at locke-lamora.carrd.com. Anyone who visits the link can see the site. For your site, this may be all you need. However, see #3.
  3. What if you want this site to be at something more personal than something.carrd.com? We’re going to talk about this in the fifth post of the series. There’s some complexity around naming (one of the hardest parts about a project) and technical mumbo jumbo that warrants it’s own focused post. We’ll do that later.

Carrd demo

I’ll walk you through how to do this build out here in the video. I kept very close to the original template. I didn’t manipulate the containers, or add sections. I clicked on the elements, and replaced the text. I did use the color wheel on the “bio” to find a color close to what was in the illustration.

Lastly I added some links to give credit and adjusted the buttons on the bottom to link to my personal sites.

vimeo.com/408966045

Grab the trial, play and experiment. If it’s not for you, that’s cool too. Remember Bruce’s wise words…

Adapt what is useful, ignore what is not, and make it uniquely your own.

Other (more technical) options

If you are comfortable using HTML, css and JavaScript then there are some other low-cost options for you. If you don’t care to know about technical info like coding in HTML, css, and JavaScript just skip down a bit. No pressure.

GitHub pages

You may be familiar with git and gitHub if you’re a coder of any kind. There’s a neat, but not well known feature of gitHub that allows you to host a personal page. See this tutorial.

You’ll still need to point the GitHub page to another domain, if you want that level of customization. Again, hang in until day 5 for that info.

Some other options

I came across this fun site generator recently. It’s easy to use to generate the content, and could suit your needs if your looking for something “text heavy” or “brutalist” in design terms. But you do have to host the code somewhere like if you own your own server, or use the gitHub technique. It’s called Temper. It’s free and kinda fun.

Here’s a quirky option, that might be fun for those in comedy, or those who just Ike fun: Host your site (and get an email address too) on omg.lol. 5$ a year. You’ll have to code it, but its kinda fun. Find me there at chad.omg.lol.

Another super minimal option is txti. It’s also free, and great for getting simple sites focused on text up and running quickly. Again, like the two options above, you need to point it to a hosted domain if you want to control the website name a bit better. Post 5 will go over that in some detail.

Closing

There are more ways to do this online as well, these were just the ones I’m most familiar with and provide a range from a UI to more technical options, including some quirky stuff too.

No matter which way you go, you’re going to wind up with a website like locke-lamora.carrd.com or something.github.io. Again, we’ll get to addressing that in day five. First, let’s talk about a blog. See you tomorrow!

As always, email me if you have questions.

Continue to Part four


Part Four - Your Blog

Part Four, Your Blog

Blog

Hi, welcome to part 4. Today’s all about the blog. First a bit about blogs, specifically personal blogs. Then I’ll talk about four blogging tools. There are a million tools for blogging, I’ll focus on some popular ones, tell you which ones I chose, and why.

Why blog

It’s unlinkely that you’ll make serious income even if you start a blog and write awesome things, every single day. There are ways to make money via blogging, and some people are bloggers as their day job. But, I am not advocating that you start a blog to make money. I’m advocating that you start a blog to speak to your interests, and yourself. Maybe you can build up to that idea of 1000 true fans.

So, write to get your words out. Or post silly doodles and bad internet dad jokes like I do on my personal blog. We all need connection.

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic” - Seth Godin

If and when you’re ready to start a blog, here are four options for you. I’m going to detail one of them, micro.blog, as it’s my own choice. It’s 5$ a month, so it’s not free. 10$ a month if you want to add video and/or microcasts (short podcasts).

It’s not free because there are no ads and your data is not sold elsewhere. Like the Carrd site from yesterday, it’s also built and run by a very small team. One person is the inventor, designer and developer. Once he was able to hire staff, his first choice was not to hire another developer. He chose to hire a community manager. The folks at micro.blog are concerned with building a better internet.

Note: there’s currently a free plan for teachers, and a free upgrade to microcasting for any paid account.

Again, I don’t get anything from micro.blog if you start using it. I just love it.

Micro.blog

micro.blog

“_The easiest way to blog_” so says micro.blog. While the foundation that the platform is built on is highly technical, you do not need those details. You can dig in and change the look and feel of your site aka Templates, and you can get in a rearrange the plumbing and how things work and integrate with many other things. But you don’t need to.

This service is two things at once. One, it’s a blog hosting platform. You pay the fee and your blog is hosted via micro.blog. Just like Wordpress or tumblr or any of the other hosting services.

Secondly, micro.blog is a social network. It’s purpose built to avoid the problems of the other social networks, however. No tracking, and strong community guidelines are the backbone. To keep out the spam, hate, and bad crap. But there’s more:

  • You can Favorite a post, like a ‘Like’ button. But it’s more like a Bookmark. No one but you sees the things you Favorite.
  • You can’t see the number of people that follow you.

These features avoid the popularity contests and the feeling of people only presenting their “best selves” online. That false sense of reality. But these features drive conversations via replies as well. These replies live in micro.blog Timeline and you can choose to have them on your website, or not.

If you want to skip the community aspect altogether, or on a per-post basis, there’s a way to set that up too. This way you can post your thoughts but not have people be able to discuss via commenting in the Timeline. Let me know if you want the details on that.

There’s a lot of flexibility, if you need it.

One of the indieWeb mantras is owning your own site. POSSE - Post on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. This means you own your words, photos, videos, microcasts, etc and choose where else to put them. You can crosspost from your micro.blog to Twitter, Medium and LinkedIn. Facebook changed their rules so you can only cross post to a Facebook page, not your own account. It’s tricky to set up but can be done. That’s a pain and is an example of exactly why you want control over your own content. So Facebook (or whichever large silo) can’t limit your options for their financial gain.

Much like we discussed with Carrd, your micro.blog will have a micro.blog url, and you can point that to a website you own. We’ll do that in the next post, but I wanted to talk about it again as it’s an important concept to keep in the back of you mind if you being a micro.blog journey.

Here’s how to begin:

Signup

Head over to micro.blog. Check out the info on that page to learn more about the service. When your ready, click the Get started now button. The signup is fast and easy. There’s a 10 day free trial.

Apps

You can post from the website, or official apps in the Apple platforms. MacOS, iOS and iPad. As it’s an open standards system, developers are making their own micro.blog apps. One is Gluon, it is cross platform (iOS and Android).

There are other official micro.blog apps for iOS. Sunlit is for posting and commenting on photos specifically. It is an Instagram like experience running on micro.blog. Another is Wavelength designed for microcasting (aka short podcasts). It’s an easy way to make your voice heard on micro.blog and offers the ability to get your personal podcast out to all the usual places people listen to podcasts.

Web

The micro.blog website is where all your account info is. You can’t control everything from the apps, those are meant for posting and replying mostly. Account settings and such are done on the web. You can post and reply from the web too, if you prefer that experience over an app.

Posting

Regardless of what app you’re using, when you post it’s worth noting that you’ll likely encounter a neat feature. If you write a longer post over 280 characters, the UI will present you with a title bar. You do not need titles for your short posts, or the long ones, even. But once you go over that amount of words, you can optionally add a title.

Social

Because of the features, or lack there of mentioned above, conversations are key on micro.blog. I’ve found it to be a very positive and rewarding experience. The community is largely Male, Caucasian, American, and Technology savvy. But it’s diversifying every day.

It’s a warm welcoming place. People disagree on things but do not participate in attacking each other. It’s not a zero-sum game. People are respectful of others. Rare these days online, sadly.

Micro.blog video crash course

Here’s a breif video that shows how to use the micro.blog service.

More on micro.blog

This screencastsonline video looks pretty thorough! The preview video is free, and covers the basics of micro.blog. To view the rest of the series, you’ll need to subscribe to the service. There is a free 7 day trial too.

https://screencastsonline.com/tutorials/mac-apps/microblog

Blot

This post you are reading is hosted with the Blot platform. It’s about $30 a year to host a site with Blot. Again, not free but may be worth it for you for two reasons.

  1. Your money goes directly to the developer. Yes, another service run by a single person. And David is fantastic with supporting his users.
  2. The way Blot works is magical. You write your posts in whatever editor you want, then put the file in a special folder in Dropbox, and it posts to your site. I still can’t get over how magic it is. Maybe it’s just me, lol. There’s great setup instructions to get started.

I love Blot for writing longer posts like this.

Wordpress

Wordpress claims “_36% of the web is built on WordPress_”. A third of all the websites in the world. It’s popular! It’s free, but has ads. Wordpress is a blog, and a system to let you build sites and stores (sell your products and services). It can scale up to be very large, and large companies use it.

$4 a month gets you the ability to have your own domain, and no ads. The service tiers up to 45$ a month if you’re running store at scale.

  • Pros: widely popular, if you need help there are many online resources, and designers and developers that you can pay to help you, if you need that level of help.
  • Cons: might be too much for those just staring out. Ads.

WordPress is open source, and aligns to an IndieWeb stance. It’s a good option, however I prefer micro.blog as it’s easier to use, purposefully has less features (therefore overhead and friction).

Tumblr

Recently acquired by Wordpress, Tumblr is a blog platform with a social component. You can follow people and reblog their posts. One of the cooler features of Tumblr is the post types. You can post and categorize your posts based on if they are audio, video, image, etc.

It’s free so you may want to give it a try. Open comments can lead to bad behavior ala twitter and YouTube comments.

Some other options

For even more options, check out squarespace, wix, and 1999. Each have pros and cons of course.

  • Squarespace seems overly complicated and I don’t care for the UX of the site builder. But there’s a community of helpful people out there too.

  • Wix has made a lot of improvements over the last several years, and a lot of people are moving to it. I don’t see how it differs from WordPress, but that might just be me.

  • 1999 - people love the ease of use of posting, but you have to host this yourself. In other words start and run your own server. I’m not 100% sure on the amount of effort here, but it’s harder to setup than any of the other options. If you don’t know (or want to learn) what git clone is, you’ll want another option.

Start a blog

Whichever system you choose, send me the link to your blog. I’d love to read your thoughts and stories. Pick one option and start, you can move things later if you need to because you’ll own the words you write.

Continue to Part five


Part Five - Pointing, reading, and robots

Part Five, Pointing, reading, and robots

Hey. Welcome back. Today, Part 5 of 5, we talk about a couple things. First how to point a website you’ve made with a service like I’ve mentioned to something you control. Then I’ll leave you with some thoughts on reading blogs and sites in efficient ways. Lastly, we’ll talk about robots!

Pointing

Pointing

If you’ve built a site or blog with one of the services I’ve mentioned, or something you’ve found outside of these posts (tell me what it is!), you’ll have a site name like something.service.com. For example, Locke-Lamora.carrd.com or yourUserName.micro.blog. Here’s how to truly own your content.

In day 2, I talked about design, specifically designing the online representation of yourself, or your services, and products. Maybe you went though that and landed on a name for yourself or small company. It would be wise to look into obtaining the website name. This is called a “domain”. There are a ton of services that let you buy a domain. I like hover and I hear Name is good too.

Regardless of which company you use to buy the domain, you’ll run into a challenge. All the good names are gone. You may have to get creative with hyphens or look at alternatives to .com and .net. I’ve had chadmoore.net for around 20 years. But it’s .net because there already was a chadmoore.com.

One of the reasons I like hover so much is because they have search that offers you options that are close to what you are seeking.

For example if you are an Actor named John Smith, you can type those words into the hover search, and they’ll list some options for you.

Maybe try the searching for the “what, how, why” and/or the “top three values” from the Brand Sprint exercise? Or the why and your name? Explore!

Keep in mind that the price you see listed is per year, so be mindful of costs. Also, some domain extensions are typically reserved for specific things. .org is for non-profits, .io is for startups, and .xxx is for pornography. Feel free to break the rules, just be aware.

So finding the domain, and purchasing it is the hard part. Next you’ll have to tell your blog or site to point to your domain. Here’s how to do it in Carrd, and Micro.blog, and blot.im

Blot

blot.im/publishin…

Carrd

carrd.co/docs/site…

micro.blog

help.micro.blog/2015/cust…

It’s also worth noting that micro.blog has an integration with name.com. When you sign up for micro.blog, you can search for, and buy a domain via name.com inside micro.blog. It’s a conveinence thing. More on that here: help.micro.blog/2019/doma…

So you’d sign up for micro.blog, go to the blog settings to buy the domain, then point the blog to the domain. It’s a one stop shop, really.

DNS / Domains / A and Cname records can be confusing. I’ve done this a bunch and it still puzzles me. Check out the instructions above, they can be helpful. Also, any good service will support users (you!) with this stuff. Use the support if you need to.

Reading

reading

You may be entering a whole new world, just from your own explorations. You may be finding awesome sites, and personal blogs from people all across the world. How do you read all the things? You can’t. You’ll miss stuff. Deny FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and embrace JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). After all, these blogs will be around. The act of slow discovery is wonderful. You’ll come across an interesting post, go to the authors site, and check out the other posts and ideas that the author has shared. It’s more mindful than just scrolling endlessly through a timeline of best-self presentations, adds and distractions.

OK, so I’ll get off my soapbox. You may have a tactical consideration. You may not be able to bounce around the web to all these great sites you’ve been collecting. Sure, you could bookmark them and spend sometime going to them all. But there’s a way to bring them to you.

An RSS feed is something most websites have. You can subscribe to the feed in a reader, and when that site has a new post, your reader will know. You bring the sites to you. Remember google reader? That was the best. But google shut it down. Many other services are out there that do this kind of thing.

Feedbin is a neat RSS subscription website. It does what I described above very well. It also allows you to subscribe to newsletters, and even twitter feeds (you don’t have to go to twitter, it comes to you). It’s $50 a year or $​5 a month.

I hear the app NetNewsWire is good, it’s Mac and iOS only, I beleive. I’ve never used it, but it has a strong following. Free and Open Source.

Feed read!

Robots

Robot

Last topic of the day is Robots. Not awesome sci-fi ones, ones that work on websites. There’s momentum building in the “no code” movement. If you go deeper into using websites and web services to help run your business, you can use services to help automate what you do. I’m not a web marketer, those folks specialize in this kind of thing. I’ve just found cool stuff along my travels as an internet weirdo.

Let’s say you would like a way for people to buy a digital book you have written. Here’s a tutorial on how to set this up with carrd and gumroad.

There are so many tools and services out there to enable automation, build communities, book online meetings, and so much more.

If your interested in this kind of thing, the first stop is zapier. It’s a tool that connects all the other things. Need a way for people to fill out a form on your website so they can book your services? Want a way to save tweets to a google doc? Zapier will enable these kinds of things. It’s great if you’re selling anything online.

For more info on all this, check out Makerpad and Indie Hackers. Or shoot me an email if you have questions.

The end

That’s the end of the series. It’s good for me to get this all out of my head, in a way that might help someone. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks for reading!

Go make something awesome! Let me know what you come up with.


Plain Text on iPad

I bought myself an iPad to try to use as my main computer. I’m writing and drawing much more than I have been previously. I thought the iPad would address those needs, and man that Pencil combined with the Procreate app is amazing.

I do wish I could use the pencil in any text field and have my lettering turned to text, maybe some day.

Anyway, there’s only one thing that I typically do that is hard on the iPad so far. It’s one specific website I use frequenty. I can get by, but it’s not a great experience. Also, FaceBook messenger in Safari puts double spaces in everything I type, but renders it properly on posting. But I don’t use FaceBook much anyway.

I don’t really code very much anymore, and when I do, I can log into the old MacBook the family uses.

I’m lucky to have options. I’m not trying to convince anyone to purchase iPads, or start changing how you do what you do. I type all the above to bring me to this.

Advancing backwards

This iPad and other modern computers are amazing machines. Full of features, and systems, and amazing advances in technology.

Maybe it’s my interest in minimalism/essentialism.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and trying to remove distractions and focusing on a smaller set of concerns. And setting better expectations for myself.

Maybe it’s the move to indieweb. The reaction to the large social media sites, and all their ills that outweigh the good.

Maybe it’s the time we live in. Dealing with the politics, the binary sorting of sides and encouraged fighting over discourse.

Maybe it’s the amount of news; 24 cycle, always on. Real or fake, bot generated, all designed to manipulate humans.

Maybe it’s the super specifc time we live in. Dealing with the isolation and anxiety over the coronavirus. Some are using this time to focus on what’s really important. I’m trying to. It’s hard.

Habits and tech

I’ve spent some time building up a journaling practice again. And, as a tinkerer, I’ve tried many apps and systems. Digital, analog, and combinations of both.

Again, I come back to plain text. These are computer files that are stored as .txt files. The oldest filetype, perhaps? I mean these kinds of files were around over twenty years ago, when I first got serious about computing. How old is Linux? These files were probably there at the start of that OS.

The thing is, they can be read and written on any computer. Mac, Windows, Linux, maybe others? Whatever your computer looks like. Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, Phone, micro-controller.

If you store them in a cloud service like iCloud, Dropbox or one you roll your own (make your own server and system) you can get to them anywhere there is internet.

Totally open, easily accessed, editable, shareable, easy to understand.

I wish more things in life were like these silly, simple text files.


Highlight

I’ve been tinkering with the concept of the Highlight from the Time Dorks and just came across this post the other day from John Henry Muller.

I like the combination of ideas, and Muller’s simple text approach. I’ve modified it a bit. Maybe too much overhead?

I made a textExpander snippet to expand into the date and the format described in the today article. It looks like this…

If nothing else, today I am going to blank.  I am going to do this by blank then blank and then blank. If I do this, and only this, today will be a good day.

I use the fancy fill-ins> fields functionlity of textExpander, but that’s not that important. I mean I could just write that entire thing, right?

So then I move that to iaWriter, into a Journal folder, and add some other not as important tasks. I use this throughout the day.

The tech doesnt matter

I’m thinking of going back to edit this post to remove the TextExpander and specifc apps talk. The process of focusing is all that matters, and secondarily that the file is plain text and on the cloud, so I can edit it in any app, on any computer, anywhere where there’s internet. The rest is yak shaving, perhaps.

Work / home balance

I struggle with the day job, and all the other projects I have. Balancing them all out. This Highlight idea will help me focus, I hope. I purposley keep these things seperate in terms of technology.

With all that’s happening in the world at the moment, it’s a bit hard to focus and I’m working on that. I realize that it could be a lot worse for me. Trying to be mindful of that. Thinking through any challenge and writing about it helps me. Stay safe, stay home. We’ll get through this and dance in the streets when we can do so safely.


plaintext on iPadOS - is anyone out there?

Anyone made the transition from nvAlt on Mac to something on iPad? I’m looking to replicate that nvAlt/Dropbox workflow on iPadOS, now that I’m mostly using the iPad. Closest I’ve come is iaWriter. Some things I’m looking for

  • single .md or .txt files stored in one directory
  • that directory is in iCloud (preferred) or Dropbox
  • great search
  • maybe tagging but great search removes the need for tags, I think?

Monkey Mind on the Mountain

I’ve been skiing three or four times in my life until this year. The previous attempts didn’t end well due to my own self doubt, and my lack of training. I kinda just jumped into skiing previously, without lessons or instruction. When I was 15 it was to impress a girl, and later it was to spend time with my wife and kids who already knew how to ski.

This year I committed to taking lessons. I’ve taken two of four planned lessons. This weekend, I spent some time out of the lessons, and on the learners hill. I spent some time on the “bunny hill” going over my lessons and trying to make progress, in terms of figuring out how to turn, and stop. Also battling the monkey mind who was chastising me for being too old, too this and too that, and not enough of yet another thing to even try skiing at 47 years old.

Focusing on the skis, the snow, and the mountain underneath my feet helped me quiet the monkey mind. I was encouraged by my wife to go up the lift to the bigger bunny hill. I reminded myself to focus, and took three calming breaths on the ski lift. The first couple runs were slow, and somewhat steady. I was lucky to have my immediate family with me and I took much joy in skiing with them.

We went our separate ways after a couple runs. I stayed on that part of the mountain, and made the run on the big bunny hill 20 or more times. Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th time, my lessons clicked, and my monkey mind stopped chattering.

I’m not ever going to be in the Olympics or a racing team, but I now can get around on skis in a way that is safe and really fun. It’s not the speed of the hill that is appealing to me (although that’s fun). It’s the oneness with self and terrain and weather. Plus hanging out with family and friends on the mountain and in the lodge. I’m grateful that I have the means and opportunity to ski a couple times a season, and that I have people close to me to share it with.

I’m grateful that my monkey mind wants me to be safe and not take risks, there’s wisdom in that, in some contexts. I just wish the monkey mind was kinder to me. Perhaps the more I stretch the comfort zone, the nicer it’ll be, or I’ll be able to ease it’s chattering in better ways.


CHAP

I recently came up with my “Ethic” ala Todd Henry’s advice on the matter. The Ethic is your way to approach each day with what you think is important in life. Every morning, look at the day with the lens of your ethic, and act accordingly throughout the day. Then, review in the evening.

I spent some time thinking on this, and came up with these words, and an acronym to remember them by.

Conflict - Positive Passionate Discussion is key to building trust on a team. Work, Family, Sport, etc. Any team. I’ve seen how these discussion move teams forward so well. But as humans we’re hard-wired to avoid conflict. I’m practicing and training to run toward conflict, but am hard wired to avoid it.

Humor - I love making people (including myself) laugh. I’m currently studying improv and standup comedy. I think humor is one of the things that is a basic human emotion, that transcends language and cultures. I want to find the funny in the things that divide us to show how we’re not so different after all.

Amor Fati - The old Stoics had this concept, “Love of Fate”. Or at least it’s been popularized recently. Either way, it means finding problems and making them opportunities. Flipping problems on their head. By doing this often enough I’ll get good at it, and like conflict above, run towards problems. I recognize that the levels of difficulty in each of our own problems vary greatly. I try to remind myself I am not trapped in a room with a bear to keep perspective.

Plus - As story tells, animators and other folks at Pixar have a concept they call “Plussing an idea”. You take an idea, and build upon it. Discarding what isn’t working and making it better. This isn’t binary; good/bad. It’s a way to examine ideas and build upon them. I see a correlation in the first rule of Improv here which is “Yes, and” - accepting the reality in the moment, and building on it. So I try to find the good parts in ideas and build upon them. Solo, or with the teams I am on.

I think it’s OK if these change as you practice. That’s how you know you’re growing?


Dynamicland

Dynamicland is a communal computer, designed for agency, not apps, where people can think like whole humans.

What an amazing project. Is this the evolution of paper, libraries, open spaces, community, among other things?

https://dynamicland.org 


Hardly Everything

I recently read about Hardly Everything on https://manuelmoreale.com.

Hardly Everything is your feed with a cadence. Ditch the FOMO and follow anything at your own speed.

Sort of like an RSS reader, but you control the timing of when the posts come to you. I’m fascinated by this site, what a great idea.


Storytelling

For 2019 I chose the theme of “Compounding”. Not strictly a goal, but a single word that should be present at the top of my mind when facing decisions, hardships, and successes. I wasn’t as good as I could have been in regards to using that word to help me progress past certain boundaries, and obstacles. But I did have some successes with it.

This year, I’m not going to forget the word compounding, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a new theme for 2020. That theme will be Storytelling. I’ve come to this word for a variety of reasons:

  • I started my professional career as an animator, which is a kind of storyteller who works with movement.
  • Over the last two years, I’ve been studying and practicing Improv comedy. An act of creating characters, relationships and stories on the spot and in the moment
  • I’ve been very mindful of the stories I tell myself over the last year. Especially the ones that are from the always chattering monkey mind, which insists that I’m too much of this, or not enough of that.
  • At work, we use User Stories to help us understand the users of the things we build. “As a Blogger, I need to write an article, so that I can express myself. User Stories are indeed stories. They tell the who, what, and why of a given action.
  • I have been tinkering with parts of a puzzle, and never putting them together completely. Web Marketing automation with zapier and other no-code tools, iOS and MacOS automation, Coaching services, Niche Job Boards and Tshirt sites, and many other “failed” side projects. Lack of focus is my story there.
  • I’ve been using images to help solve problems at work. These kinds of business drawings tell the story of the company or users.
  • Just this month I had conversations with people I’ve known for a long time that reminded me of the things I miss, and that also happen to be the most rewarding experiences for me. Telling stories.
  • We all tell stories to each other. It’s how we communicate to have people empathize with us.

All of these related thoughts (and maybe some I’m currently forgetting) have me coming back full circle to remember my love of storytelling. By bringing that to the top of mind as my yearly theme I can refocus and create.

I’m strongly considering creating an animated short film. It’s not really that I want to animate or relearn a 3D application again, it’s more like that feeling where I want to express myself in a visual way. To tell a story. To feed my good wolf.


A Brief But Awesome Trip To Austin

Friday

Saturday

Sunday


Weekend Vibes

For the last couple months I’ve been planning my weekends on a sheet of printer paper with a big black marker. Sometimes this looks like a list, other times, a mindmap. Always chicken scratch, lol. Most of the time it’s titled Weekend Vibes. I don’t have a technique or process. I just get all the junk out of my brain and onto paper on Friday night or Saturday morning. Sometimes we collaborate on the paper as a family. At the end of the weekend it goes into the firestarter or recycle pile. It’s ephemeral, loose and unstructured. I like that.


Surfing the flow

I caught up with a friend tonight. He said:

Surfing is like riding pure energy. There’s a moment where you transfer natures energy through the board to your feet and up through your body; out to your outstretched arms. Before it all falls apart and returns to the water.

I like this a lot. I’m now asking myself how do I make performing sketchnoting, bass guitar and improv more like this?

Is it knowing tools and process well enough so that you can detach from the everything in your life and focus on the flow. The now. The energy.

Or maybe just focus on that flow and make mistakes until you get to ride it a bit. Repeat until you know the tools and process and can therefore stay in flow longer.


Conflict

I’m reading Why Buddhism is True which speaks to the meditation, mindfulness, and the ties from those centuries old practices to modern day cognitive behavioral therapy. Regarding Stoicism, I’m reading The Obstacle is the Way and it’s been eye opening with similar notes to the ties from ancient philosophies to modern world. The lesson I took the most from is Amor Fati. That’s loosely translated to the love of fate. No matter what obstacles, conflict, and challenges come my way I don’t simply need to bear them, but embrace them for the opportunities to grow and change that they present.

When there is conflict on team. Instead of hiding from it, ignoring it or escalating it, I’m practicing making it completely transparent for the team. I’m summarizing what I am hearing from the team members so I can recap each side of the argument in a way that hopefully transfers to the other side.

I’m asking things like “I’m hearing rephrase the issues, is this your understanding of the issue?” And “What can we do to ensure that each viewpoint is heard and we reach understanding?”

I remind myself to be in the moment with the conflict, and to see what opportunities lie within it. It’s simple but not easy.


The Five-Set

I suppose I’m starting a new series of posts. These will be based on the five things I’m ruminating on, practicing for work, parenting, some other aspects of my life. And for fun, of course!

I’m very interested in the overlap between these areas:

  • The Agile mindset, originally a way to develop software, now being practiced in other places
  • Performing Improv comedy, and how being in the moment and trusting your partners is paramount.
  • Mindfulness, as we in the West have been practicing it to reduce distractions and focus.
  • Stoicism, the ancient philosophy, not the modern “deny your feelings” BS that seems to be hanging around. I think that the philosophy was founded on understanding what is in your control and what is not, and how choose actions that are beneficial to yourself and others.
  • Visual Communication. How our stories and narratives combined with images allow humans to gain faster and deeper knowledge and empathy.

If each of these is an ellipse laid upon each other, the intersection is where I’m focusing as I study and act in each area. See the ABCDE section in the middle of the diagram. This is the Five-set as it’s known in a Venn diagram. Hence the name of this series of posts.


Fate and coffee

I participated in the Out of the Darkness Portsmouth walk this past weekend. While there, I heard this parable and it moved me.

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

I carry a large coin with Amor Fati (roughly translated as “Love of Fate”) written on it. It reminds me that whatever comes my way, I should embrace that obstacle or challenge and see what opportunities may be there.

I still struggle with this, and the coin is a physical thing which I can touch to remind myself to embrace whatever it is, when it happens. So I can be the coffee bean more often that the carrot or egg.


Proportions

I’ve started a retake of Improv 201. My teachers and I thought another go at 201 was the best course of action. I have to work on being more specific in scene as my actions are too vague at times. Also, trusting myself to say the first thing that comes to mind when finding the emotional reaction in a scene. That last bit is a quote from my previous teacher, Jen. I’ll keep that all in mind as I go through the class.

Tonight my new teacher Tara said something that resonated with me in the context of improv, but also in my interests in Stoicism, at the job as an Agile Coach, and as a parent.

You have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth; use them proportionally.

That one is a keeper.


Training your strengths, hiring for your weaknesses.

I’ve had two conversations recently about the concept of training your strengths, hiring for your weaknesses.

The freelancer

I spoke to a friend who’s an animator, and creative director. He often builds teams of other freelancers to complete a given project. He said that he’d rather not take the time to learn super technical process, not that he isn’t capable, but it’s just not his strengths and what he wants to be doing. He’d rather hire to cover that, whenever possible, due to budget.

The big team

Another conversation with someone who is a lead of creative/technical people at a large firm had the same core concepts. I was speaking about the concept of hiring for fit with the team, and my past experiences determining peoples strengths. We agreed, and he added a note about how he uses the teams weaknesses as input to the hiring process. If the team lacks certain skills or mindset, he looks to candidate who exhibit those to round out the team.

Both the small indie and the large company seem aligned here, and both have the same challenges. Evaluating our teams strengths and weaknesses, finding candidates with the (often “soft”) skills that bring the team up.

I’ve done this work when hiring, but it was never formalized. Our hiring teams just talked about this as a part of the process. Is anyone doing this in a structured way?