The Wednesday Writeup - Issue #6

Hello, and welcome back to The Wednesday Writeup!

What I'm Doing

Publishing a gatsby theme. After the demo I posted early last week, I spent a few days polishing the code, and put the theme on GitHub. Already it has gotten a decent amount of attention, and it is really cool knowing that my code is currently powering a couple of people's websites! This is going to be an ongoing project for at least the next month or two most likely, with bug fixing and a couple of new features on the roadmap. Hoping this can become a powerful tool for people hoping to build a personal knowledge-base for themselves!

Building out my own Public Brain. I haven't been doing too much in the way of proper blog writing lately, mostly a book review that went up yesterday, and a few drafts that I have been iterating on. But in place of that, I have been attempting to post something to my Brain roughly every day. This feels like a more natural approach to learning in public for me, and it means I can save articles for slightly more polished and developed long term works without worrying about losing the writing habit. My biggest issue with this so far is that it doesn't feel like there is any good way to share out updates and actually get new eyes on what I'm writing. But that is a minor issue for now, and at least for discoverability I have started keeping a change-log on the home page there.

Continuing with Week 3 of BASB. This last week we have had to think about our 12 favorite problems, and also pin down a few key sources that we want to capture from. I enjoyed the 12 problems exercise, and I'm pretty happy with my list. Capture is something I have been getting steadily better at over the last few months, so feeling pretty good about that side of things as well, although there are still a few pain points I'm working through.

Finally fixing bugs in my app that have been haunting me for a week. There were a couple of silly mistakes that took me a while to catch. Now I'm back on track, have another feature developed, and I'm hoping I can start moving forward more quickly. I know I need to share more concrete details soon, I suppose that falls under that nebulous, scary field of Product Marketing. Suppose I should spent some time studying more about that...

Messing around with visualizations this weekend. I didn't do too much here, but as part of Ludum Dare 46, although I didn't want to do a real game, I have been thinking about visualizations and algorithmic mesh generation recently and wanted to spend at least a couple of hours on something related to that. It was easier than I expected, and turned out really cool, so I want to think of ways I can incorporate this sort of technique in other areas. This is the result!

What I'm Thinking

I need to begin incorporating mindfulness into my routine. I wouldn't say I'm being non-mindful, daily journaling has certainly helped me be more aware of how I spend my time and the things I do with my day. But I don't tend to focus on how I'm feeling and really analyzing what is going on in my mind and body. At the beginning of the year I tried meditation and didn't like it that much, but I may give that another go. Also looking into how much of morning journals and gratitude journaling I might want to incorporate into my daily routine for this purpose.

Unix Philosophy for productivity tooling. There is a guideline for Unix tools that I really like, it states that a tool should Do One Thing and Do It Well. Although some of the tools being built lately (Roam, Notion) seem to be in many ways trying to do everything, I am working on pairing down my usage of each to a bare minimum and figure out the one job I want each one to perform really well. So I'm working to make Roam the place where almost all of my writing happens, Notion used as dashboards for project planning and publishing, Todoist for all task management, and Dropbox to keep all of my files. This is a hard separation to enforce though, and I'm still figuring out if it is the right way to go, but I think I'm on the right track.

Things to Read

Steal Like An Artist - Austin Kleon

Nice little book. I read it in about two days, it is only about 140 pages and half of those are pictures, but almost 100% of the words are good advice for doing good creative work. If you get it though, I recommend going with a physical book. I plan to keep it on my bedside table going forward to flip through when I am in need of inspiration, motivation, or just need to remind myself of how I should be working.

You can read my review of the book here.

Beneath A Scarlet Sky - Mark Sullivan

Fair warning, do not read this if you aren't in the mood for something heavy. This book is about an Italian man, Pino Lella, and the story of what he, and Italy, went through during WW2. It is rough to get through, and I took over 2 months for me to finally make it through the audiobook because I would just need regular breaks from it. I learned a fair bit that I didn't know about the war though, and overall it is an incredible tale about a truly amazing person.

Things to Watch

Critical Role

This is an incredibly nerdy recommendation, but I would really recommend anyone with an interest in table top games at least try watching a little bit of Critical Role. It is a show with a bunch of nerdy voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons. It began back in 2015 as a continuation of a home game with just a handful of viewers, and since then it has grown to have a huge community around it with millions of fans.

Although it isn't traditional entertainment, it is really incredible the level of storytelling, character development, and emotional impact that can be generated from a group of friends improvising around a table. At this point there is ~800 hours of content, so it will likely take literally years to catch up (I'm still working on it), but the backlog is so good it is worth it.

If you want to watch starting from the very beginning and are willing to put up with them getting their footing, start with Campaign 1

Otherwise, if you would rather have a slightly easier introduction to the show and have an easier time catching up, you could start directly with Campaign 2

Marie Poulin Notion Videos

These are probably some of the best videos out there on using Notion. I have been indexing more on Roam lately, but, as mentioned above, in the last few days I have been trying to incorporate Notion back in where it makes sense, and I'm going back through these videos to get ideas and inspiration.

Location of the Week: Myanmar

From late 2015 until 2018 I was on an emerging markets team at Facebook. Part of that job was going on research trips to figure out unique problems that users around the world had with the Android Facebook app. Many of those trips took us to South East Asia, and in 2017 I was lucky enough to visit Myanmar.

It was really incredibly spending time in Yangon, seeing the temples and the Shwedagon Pagoda. And later in the week we crossed the river and got to spend some time riding bike rickshaw sidecars around the countryside interviewing people, an incredible contrast compared to the city bustle. While waiting outside of an internet cafe, we also ended up spending about an hour hiding under a tree to stay out of a monsoon, which was quite exciting!

Signing off until next week
- Aengus McMillin