Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Reflections on #blogjune

Friday, June 30th, 2017

It’s the end of June and the end of #blogjune. I can’t believe how quickly it went. At the start of the month I posted a few thoughts on what opportunities participating in this might bring, so now it’s time to reflect on the past month.

I did accurately predict that I wouldn’t post every day – I managed on average every second day & I thought that was pretty good. I did tend to have a bunch of posts on a musical theme.

I wanted to do some housework on my site. I did clean up a few areas and I’m nearly done working up a newer and more modern template. That will be in place shortly.

Going through this process did reignite some thoughts that I wanted to get in writing. I did find that some posts felt a little rushed, so I might revisit and expand on a few thoughts in a more articulate fashion. I’m keen to build on the momentum.

I enjoyed reconnecting with my library community again. Everyone was positive, everyone posted about different things, professional and personal. It was so interesting getting such a varied daily reading fix.

I was thrilled when everyone became passionate about my proposal for a common post topic. This was a highlight for me.

I’m guilty for not commenting on posts. The discussions for me happened elsewhere on Twitter – that was interesting although not unexpected. Ruth was a shining light in comments and has given me so much to think about for future posts. Stay tuned for #shyjuly.

I did find myself slipping back into things that I don’t like about social media. Checking statistics to see if posts had been read, checking twitter stats to see if things had been interacted with. I need to learn to not worry about that.

At the end of the month, I’ve got a few more topics in half finished drafts that I’ll get to over time. I’ve got my vibe back so I’ll be more active here in the future. Thanks #blogjune!


Time travel challenge

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

When I was thinking about topics to write on for #blogjune, one of them was going to be a reflective post about what the world was like when I started working in libraries. In the meantime, Kathryn Greenhill set a #blogjune challenge to answer the following 2 questions. They are close enough to my initial ideas, so here we go:

If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing that was going to happen to you between then and today, what would that be?

At 20 I was still at university, what I thought was real world experience was nothing like real world experience. I would tell myself to stop worrying, you will be happy. You are going to take some risks, you are going to get out of your comfort zone and there will be times in your life when you’ll be stressed and worried about the future, but it will all be OK. There will be some amazing opportunities presented to you – grab them and make the most of them. You have to trust yourself and your judgement.

In 20 years time (presuming the world gets better, not worse) what do you think will be the biggest technological difference between your life now and your life then ?

In 20 years time I’m really excited about where medical technology is going to be – maybe I’m a little biased as I’ll be in that target age group where age related issues start to develop. I’m banking on having science on my side. I don’t know what form this will take – I’m assuming there will be continuous background monitoring of everything with fully automated detection and prevention of issues that arise. Preventable diseases will be preventable. For more severe issues, ingesting nano-machines to carry out surgery and repair damaged tissue rather than undergoing traditional forms of surgery. This technology will be affordable and available without patents for the benefit of humankind.

I use this

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Paul Hagon, web developer at the National Library of Australia. I’ve been working in libraries and museums for nearly 20 years now – always on websites. I’ve been so lucky to work in major institutions and magnificent buildings. I don’t know how much strict designing I do these days (in the sense of picking colours etc). My job covers so many aspects of front end design (HTML, CSS, JS), user experience, analysis and accessibility.

What hardware do you use?

I spend most of my time at work on a late 2014 27″ iMac. The massive retina screen is beautiful. I use an iPad Air 2 for testing sites and apps, meetings etc.

My personal machine is a mid 2011 11″ MacBook Air. This is the best laptop I’ve ever owned & I can’t believe that it’s just about to hit the obsolete list in Apple hardware. It’s 6 years old & still going strong. I am glad I maxed out the processor, memory and storage when I bought it, although these days it would be nice to have more than the 4Gb memory in it, but I can cope.

I communicate and develop websites on an iPhone 5s. I seem to be on a cycle where I keep my laptops for at least 5+ years and my phones for 4 years. You’ll see a little trend developing here. I’m not one to be replacing my gear on a regular basis if it still works fine. Money spent on a holiday provides much better memories than money spent so I can use my phone as a credit card. The only reason I would like to upgrade is for the better cameras you get in the latest models.

I’m not a big gamer or video editor so my hardware needs are fairly basic.

Whichever machine I’m using there’s usually music in the background. I’ll be listening in my own little world via Bose AE2 bluetooth headphones. I can highly recommend bluetooth headphones. Not getting caught up wires is so liberating.

I use an EyeTV USB receiver that handles recording TV shows when needed.

To get from point A to point B and for general exercise I’m on my bike. It has Campagnolo components. I’ve been riding with them for 25 years & the design, quality & efficiency is fantastic. These components just work.

All this coding and cycling makes you hungry – in the kitchen a good set of knives is a must, I use Global. I’m always making pasta using pasta rollers and cutters attached to a kitchenaid mixer. Having both hands free to manipulate the pasta is so convenient. My current favourite gadget is Global pinboning tweezers. I also love my Alessi kettle. It’s always used as an example of impractical design (you burn yourself on steam removing the bird), practicalities aside it is a thing of beauty and doesn’t drip when it pours.

And what software?

The most valuable and essential piece of software I use is 1Password – this password manager holds everything – my life would be a shambles without it.

Much of my day is spent in my preferred code editor, Coda. I’ve tried various coding fonts but have settled on SF Mono at the moment as it complements the rest of the Apple interfaces. I configure Coda with the Monokai theme. Spending so much time in an editor, a nice colour scheme and font become important. Generally if there is a dark theme for software it’s enabled.

Being a web developer I have all the different browsers installed. I use Safari for personal use, Chrome for work (only because it’s what most users out there are using so it makes sense to use it). Both have great developer tools & do the job just fine.

I use Sequel Pro for wrangling with MySQL databases.

All code is in Git repositories managed by Tower. Generally if there’s a GUI interface for something that’s my preference. There’s some things that need to be run from the command line so a Terminal window is always open in the background.

For making things look pretty I now use Sketch for prototyping designs. I did use Fireworks for layout work & was so sad when Adobe stopped developing it.

To keep up with my RSS feeds I use Reeder. It uses Feedly behind the scenes to sync between all my devices.

iTunes is always delivering tunes & the occasional movie or TV show. I prefer to own physical copies of media rather than digital only versions.

Keynote handles all presentation tasks and sometimes layouts and interaction designs. I try to avoid any of the Office apps as much as possible although it’s inevitable that I have to use them. I always feel like I’m fighting with them to get it to do what I want.

All my backups are handled through a combination of Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner.

What would be your dream setup?

I don’t know if I have a dream setup. My needs are limited. I value portability over power. I get excited by the thought of all the fancy features in OS releases, but in reality I don’t use them as the promise isn’t delivered. I’m sure it will one day & I’ll be able to just think of things and it will be done. Until then I just want software that works and a stable configuration.

Oh … and knives that never need sharpening.

Digital detoxing

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

You might have noticed that over the course of #blogjune, I haven’t been posting anything over the weekends. This is deliberate. A few years ago, my head was full of ideas & I would spend time in the evenings and at weekends working up ideas. I spent all day at work in front of a computer and a fair amount of my free time in front of a computer. This isn’t really healthy. I wasn’t switching off from work mode at all. My mindset was always revolving around problems and trying to find clever solutions to solving them. This lead to a burden of more and more problems and an impossibility to find solutions and implement.

Now I deliberately switch off. In the evenings, sometimes I might do some tinkering, but mostly if I am on a device, I’m doing something different. At the weekends I might read the news over breakfast, do a sudoku with coffee and really that’s about my limit.

To help switch off here’s some tips I use.

Keep seperate email accounts. On my phone/tablet/computer I have my personal email/calendar configured to use the default mail client. This keeps things consistent across various devices. Any work related email/calendars are configured using the Outlook iOS app. If I go on holidays, I actually delete Outlook from my phone, that way I’m never tempted to just check in and see if everything is OK. I quite like the right to disconnect law that France has introduced.

Notifications. I’m selective on what notifications I receive. On my phone I turn off all email notifications for both work and personal accounts. My personal email is configured to not automatically check for email. I have to make a conscious decision to open mail and connect. I only keep a VIP contact list of family that are allowed to trigger email & messages notifications. I have Twitter notifications, but as I’m not that prolific on twitter, this is manageable. I also disable sounds on many notifications. I would love it if there were time sensitive notifications and I could configure work email with notifications restricted to 9am-5pm on weekdays.

Do not disturb. I configure do not disturb on my devices so from 9pm till 7am nothing gets through. My phone gets put into airplane mode each night when I go to sleep, no wi-fi, no 4G.

FOMO. Once you go 48 hours without checking everything religiously you realise that if there’s anything really important you’ll end up hearing about it. The rest, you don’t miss it. Whatever you do, don’t check your phone as the first thing you do when you wake up. Wait a little while. Enjoy other more substantive things. Which leads to…

Carefully select your online communities. There are online networks that I very rarely log into anymore – particularly Facebook. I’ve never had a big network there & for me it’s never proven to be beneficial. Every time I have to go there I’m reminded by just how vacant so much of the content there is. For others I know, Facebook is just what they need to be part of their network. Don’t be afraid to be selective in where you decide to be active. What works for me and what my family/friends/community use is going to be different to yours. You don’t have to be part of everything.

The downsides

I haven’t had too many downsides to this. It has probably contributed to the current state of my site. My photo cataloguing is a bit behind where it should be. Neither of these are really major issues. Since I implemented this approach, there’s probably a handful of situations that have occurred where it would have been nice to have a notification, but in reality it’s never proven to be a critical issue.

The positives

I feel so much healthier. I’m not as tired and agitated. I’m focusing on a range of different things throughout the day. I’m focusing on others around me rather than being focused on a machine. Physically I’m much better off. I haven’t got that permanent laptop/tablet hunch that is so easy to succumb to. My eyes are focusing on things further than 50cm away. Shoulder, back and leg aches and pains have reduced.

I’m probably still finding that balance between maintaining my online life vs offline life. I still feel part of my online community and still feel as through I contribute, just maybe not as much as I once did.

Find your balance. It’s working for me.

A blogjune proposal

Friday, June 16th, 2017

One of the blogs I follow is The Setup. This site, run by Daniel Bogan (ex Flickr Commons staff) interviews people and asks what tools they use to get their jobs done. Although it’s kind of based around tech, there have been interviews with people from all sorts of professions – anyone who uses something to do their job.

I’m suggesting that everyone who is participating in #blogjune take part and on Wednesday the 21st June, create a post answering these 4 questions.

  1. Who are you, and what do you do?
  2. What hardware do you use?
  3. And what software?
  4. What would be your dream setup?

You could talk about work, a combination of work & home or what you use in a hobby. Once you’ve posted, make sure you let Daniel know by tweeting @usesthis a link to your blog post.

Daniel releases everything for the interviews under a CC-BY licence and is keen to see how his idea is used.

What do you think? Let’s do this!