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<title>Elaptics.co.uk</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/atom.xml" rel="self"/>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/"/>
<updated>2017-02-20T07:28:27+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/</id>
<author>
<name>Andy Henson</name>
<email>andy@elaptics.co.uk</email>
</author>
<entry>
<title>What is Stoicism?</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/what-is-stoicism"/>
<updated>2017-01-25T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/what-is-stoicism</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;In my previous post, I talked about how the only thing completely within your control is your own mind. It being one of the central tenets of Stoic thinking. But what is Stoicism and why study it and follow its teachings?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;First, we need to address the elephant in the room - and that’s the word “&lt;em&gt;stoic&lt;/em&gt;” and its definition in English:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;which most people translate as &lt;em&gt;emotionless&lt;/em&gt;. Naturally, when we hear of Stoic philosophy we assume that this definition must also apply. Until recently I was a member of that camp. Yet it couldn’t be further from the truth.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;the-painted-porch&quot;&gt;The Painted Porch&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;We’ll get to that, but first, let’s dive into a little tour of history by way of where the word actually comes from. It reaches us via Latin from the Greek word stōïkos, from stoa which references the &lt;em&gt;Stoa Poikilē&lt;/em&gt; or Painted Porch, in Athens.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;What’s significant about that? It’s where Zeno of Citium, the founder of this school of thought, sat and explained his philosophy to his students back in the 3rd century BCE.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As a brief aside, I suspect that one of the reasons the word gets a bad rap is because many of the words used in stoic writing were often mistranslated or misconstrued. The terms had different meanings when they were originally written. As is often the case with &lt;em&gt;chinese whispers&lt;/em&gt; through the ages the words retain only the merest essence of the truth after being twisted.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;from-greece-to-rome-to-today&quot;&gt;From Greece to Rome to today&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The earlier Greek practitioners in the few hundred years before the start of the Common Era taught the philosophy based on the ethical ideas of the Cynics. The school taught that the goal of life was to live in accordance with Nature. It advocated the development of self-control and fortitude as a way to overcome destructive emotions. You may be somewhat familiar with the names Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Panaetius and Hecato. Along with the founder, Zeno, they were the more well-known thinkers of this period.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As the philosophy made its way from Greece to Rome, it began focusing more on logic, ethics and its practical application in everyday life. Most likely this was due to the more industrious nature of the Romans. The “big three” of this era are Seneca (the younger), Epictetus and none other than the Roman Emperor himself, Marcus Aurelius.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The popularity of Stoicism faded when the Emperor Justinian closed all the pagan philosophy schools in 529 AD. In the Renaissance there was a revival of sorts with Neostoicism. Founded by Justus Lipsius, it was an attempt to combine Stoicism and Christianity. It was never as popular as the classical Stoicism. But it did influence such writers as Francis Bacon and Joseph Hall.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;one-day-is-as-all-days&quot;&gt;One day is as all days&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Which leads us to today, and here, where we’re seeing another revival of sorts. Loosely termed &lt;em&gt;Modern Stoicism&lt;/em&gt; it is an attempt to bring many of the teachings of the later Stoics into the modern world. Presidents such as George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt, NATO Commanders, sports stars and musical artists have each found solace in the words of the Stoics. But it’s in the last decade where its popularity is once again starting to soar. This is due to the influence of people like Ryan Holiday, author of &lt;em&gt;The Obstacle is the Way&lt;/em&gt;, and Tim Ferriss.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;At present there is no commonly accepted reinterpretation of the Stoic teachings. Each author on the subject has their own view. So why is it becoming more popular? One possible explanation – the recent explosion in smartphones and other technology are causing our lives to be &lt;em&gt;always on&lt;/em&gt; and we’re looking for ways to cope. Whether we’re stressed, overworked or dealing with the daily chaos of young children and family life the wisdom of the Stoics can be applied. Whilst times may change, most aspects of human life stay the same. People still deal with addictions, still experience success and hardship and still ponder the meaning of life. In the words of the ancient Stoics themselves, &lt;em&gt;“One day is as all days”&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As I’m reading and researching more of the Stoics I like what I’m seeing. It makes sense to me, at least where I am in my life right now. I will take those elements and incorporate them into my life. I’m sure more erudite people will tell me that it isn’t Stoicism as taught and practiced by the ancients. Truth be told, I don’t care. I’m just trying to understand myself better as I journey through life. I want to construct a more coherent view of the world and define a set of principles to follow which I can pass on to my children. For now, I’m calling that Stoicism and that’s why I’m studying it.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Circle of control</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/circle-of-control"/>
<updated>2017-01-12T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/circle-of-control</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;If you’ve watched Chuck Lorre shows like the &lt;em&gt;The Big Bang Theory&lt;/em&gt; and &lt;em&gt;Two and a Half Men&lt;/em&gt; you may have noticed the vanity cards shown at the end (&lt;em&gt;I like to think of them as blogs for the small screen&lt;/em&gt;). They’re always something I look forward to and make a point of pausing the TV to read, much to the chagrin of my wife.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This year I’m diving deeper into the Stoic philosophy and learning how to apply it in my daily life. One reason is because I seem to have been independently discovering the principles for myself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;On &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.chucklorre.com/index-bbt.php?p=516&quot;&gt;card #516&lt;/a&gt; Lorre is discussing the presidency campaign and who is promoting fear. But the part that jumped out at me was:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;So the real question to ask yourself is not who or what should you be afraid of, it’s how are you doing right now. Go ahead. Ask yourself. Are you in jeopardy right now? Of course not. You’re squinting at this vanity card and perhaps wondering if there’s a clever joke at the end of it. (Spoiler alert: there is not.) This means that whatever you’re afraid of, or being encouraged to be afraid of, is in your mind. It is not in your living room, or just outside your door. You’re thinking it. Which is good news. That’s the one thing you have control over. At any moment, you can take a break from thinking scary thoughts, or, if you’re like me and have a mind run amuck, you can choose to ignore them.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whilst I didn’t know it at the time, this idea is one of the central tenets of Stoic thought.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our own doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, slavish, can be hindered, and are not our own.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Epictetus, Enchiridion, 1.1-2&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;We can’t control external events around us but we do control our thoughts and opinions about those events. We can choose to let them consume us or not. Our ability to make choices are the one thing that we have complete power over and which can never be completely taken away from us. As Epictetus says, we don’t even have total control over our body. We could be struck down with an illness or be thrown in prison. What then? We can control how we think about that situation. We can &lt;em&gt;choose&lt;/em&gt; to allow ourselves to wallow in anger or sadness. Or we can accept the current state of affairs and instead direct our efforts toward improving our condition.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In short, the &lt;em&gt;only&lt;/em&gt; thing within our circle of control is our mind. And with that knowledge and understanding comes clarity and purpose.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>2016 - My year in review</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/2016-year-in-review"/>
<updated>2016-12-31T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/2016-year-in-review</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;In the wider world, it seems like 2016 has been disastrous in many ways. However, for me, 2016 was really a chance for a redo of 2015 as I’d originally wanted it to be.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As it draws to a close it feels like it’s been the foundational year where I finally found all the edge and corner pieces I’ve been looking for. 2017 is where I’ll start to put the jigsaw together.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s still, and always will be, a work in progress but I’ve finally created daily routines that work for me, turning them into habits that enable me to make plans and action them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;meditation&quot;&gt;Meditation&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The year started out with me aiming to meditate consistently. I signed up to try Headspace and it took most of January and February starting and stopping to get into it. Building it into my daily routine as the first thing I do upon waking cemented it. I’ve maintained several unbroken streaks and as of January 1st 2017, it will be at day 170. The calmer and clearer foundation it provides has definitely helped form the basis for the rest of the changes this year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Meditation is now a daily part of my life. I am joining others in a 365 day challenge to meditate daily. Hopefully by the end of 2017 I will have a total unbroken streak of 535 days&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;writing&quot;&gt;Writing&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The next major win for me is a better writing habit. The catalyst was Marc’s 30 day writing challenge in April. I had learnt from previous experiments to only take on one new habit at a time. Meditation was fairly well cemented by April so I committed to writing a post per week for the challenge. Setting this realistic amount that required a little pushing to succeed set me up nicely to meet (and slightly exceed) this goal and it didn’t burn me out. Whilst I’d like to have kept up that pace I’ve allowed myself some leeway because I was figuring out other areas of my life out during my allocated morning quiet time. Overall, I’m happy that I’ve published as many personal articles in 2016 than in all of my previous attempts at blogging combined since 2006.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My aim for 2017 is to double that by &lt;strong&gt;publishing at least twice a month. I’m aiming for a yearly target of around 30 posts on my personal site&lt;/strong&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;A side-benefit of writing more is that my thinking has improved — though there’s still plenty of room for betterment. It sets the stage nicely for doing more writing for business and pleasure in 2017 too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;gratitude&quot;&gt;Gratitude&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Throughout the year I kept coming across references to the 5 minute journal and &lt;a href=&quot;http://elaptics.co.uk/journal/five-minute-journal/&quot;&gt;finally took the plunge&lt;/a&gt; in September. I fill it in most days. It’s a quick, simple way to reflect and appreciate what you have, and what you have done. It really helped cement the daily planning I need to do in order to make progress on the things that matter to me. I plan to continue with it for the foreseeable future and would recommend giving it a try yourself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;health-and-fitness&quot;&gt;Health and Fitness&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve generally been pretty healthy this year although I’ve let myself go on the diet front since losing a lot of weight in 2014. My exercise régime has also been quite hit and miss. I’ve had a few good stints and then I’ve done nothing for periods and have to start from scratch again. Suffice to say that I still haven’t reached goals I set in 2015. Now that I have other habits better in place I am making exercise and eating more healthily a higher priority again for 2017.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;business&quot;&gt;Business&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In keeping with the rest of the theme of the year, 2016 was all about consolidation. Whilst our 2015-16 financial year ended with our best revenue figures yet there were many things we could have done better. I have spent this past year analysing exactly what we do for our clients, and what is profitable and what is not. We expanded the team so we’ve also been learning how to work better together and get our internal processes tweaked and tightened.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;dyf-clients-and-conf&quot;&gt;DYF (clients and conf)&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I retook the revised DYF Clients course giving it the time and attention it needs. This kicked off the first half of the year and as a result I’ve learnt a lot about positioning and how to better market what we do, putting a better sales funnel into place. A first quarter goal for 2017 is to kick this new positioning and marketing into a higher gear and start building a bigger pipeline of work.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In June I went to Sweden for the DYF EU Conference, which I wrote about &lt;a href=&quot;http://elaptics.co.uk/journal/dyfconfeu/&quot;&gt;here&lt;/a&gt;. There are still many ideas that I took away from that which I’m yet to implement. They’re on my roadmap for 2017. It was an amazing, inspiring conference and I’m already booked to go back again in 2017.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;mastermind-groups&quot;&gt;Mastermind Groups&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m now lucky enough to be in two great mastermind groups. The first with Marc, Darren and Alex has now been running for a full year. In 2017 we’re going to work in seasons and really focus on shipping things.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The second group with Blair, Francesca and Marian (whom I met at DYFConf) is just as good - but in a different way.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s hard to quantify the benefits of having like-minded groups of people to lean on and bounce thoughts and ideas off. All I do know is that I wish I’d had this support years ago and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for us all.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;leadership-and-business-mentoring&quot;&gt;Leadership and Business Mentoring&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Another thing that 2016 taught me is that no matter where you are in your business, and no matter how well you’re doing having a mentor can help you achieve more. Throughout 2016 I have had the wonderful &lt;a href=&quot;https://marcusblankenship.com/&quot;&gt;Marcus Blankenship&lt;/a&gt; to mentor me. With the help of his insights and advice I have a happier and more focused team and we’re now able to serve our clients better than ever before.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;and-the-rest&quot;&gt;And the rest&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I read a lot of books — fiction and non-fiction — I love reading and I’m going to continue that in 2017. I already have a pile to read as well an ever-growing list to purchase. I have started to be more mindful of the non-fiction books I read by making notes and taking the ideas and putting them into action. I shall be continuing this in 2017, publishing them here.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I have been poking around the edges of Stoicism this year, it really interests and intrigues me. I’m going to learn more about it and build the practices into my daily life in the coming year. I also want to teach its principles to my children to give them the right skills to prepare them for the highs and lows of life.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Finally, if there’s one thing I’m taking away from 2016 it’s about doing less but better. I’m shelving several ideas and side-projects to concentrate on my business first. I’ll still be doing more 30 day challenges and documenting them for the &lt;a href=&quot;http://elaptics.co.uk/30-days/&quot;&gt;&lt;em&gt;30 days to anything&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/a&gt; book idea but &lt;a href=&quot;http://jotpack.com&quot;&gt;everything else&lt;/a&gt; is on the back-burner for the time being.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;All in all, it’s been a pretty great year for me and I’m looking forward to bigger and better things in 2017.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Thoughts on Productivity</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/thoughts-on-productivity"/>
<updated>2016-12-07T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/thoughts-on-productivity</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;The traditional economic business definition of productivity is a simple equation:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Productivity = Output / Input&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You either need to increase output compared to the input or decrease the input compared to the output. If you produce 5 widgets in one hour compared to someone who produces 4 widgets in the same period then you’re more productive.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s less simple when we start discussing our personal productivity. Being productive seems to mean something different to everyone. Do you have a clear idea of what being productive means to you? Are you just Getting Things Done or are you more intentional about the things you pursue?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to take a few minutes and think about what defines a productive day for you? Maybe it’s simply about &lt;em&gt;feeling&lt;/em&gt; productive rather than &lt;em&gt;being&lt;/em&gt; productive?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The comments on a &lt;a href=&quot;http://alifeofproductivity.com/how-do-you-define-productivity/&quot;&gt;blog post&lt;/a&gt; by Chris Bailey highlights many different viewpoints.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/10/what-is-productivity/&quot;&gt;Steve Pavlina&lt;/a&gt; defines it like this:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Productivity = Value / Time&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I like this definition. It encompasses what most people are trying to achieve — doing more in less time. You get to define what Value means to you.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For me it means doing the right work more effectively and efficiently. Working smarter not harder. I do not want to be doing work that doesn’t provide value. In the [Essentialist]&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:1&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;1&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt; way of thinking, doing less but better. By discerning the vital few from the trivial many means I can leave the rest without guilt. This allows me more time to spend as I choose.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Building habits and routines enable me to produce my best work on a consistent basis. They help me put systems in place to prevent me reverting to my default (lazy) behaviours.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Consider this my productivity creed.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I would love to hear what yours is and how you try to achieve it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;footnotes&quot;&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:1&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://gregmckeown.com/book/&quot;&gt;Essentialism&lt;/a&gt; by Greg McKeown &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:1&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Motivation is an illusion</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/motivation-is-an-illusion"/>
<updated>2016-11-23T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/motivation-is-an-illusion</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Lately I’ve been thinking about motivation and how you make progress on your goals. First, in a week of serendipitous moments, I &lt;a href=&quot;https://unicornfree.com/2013/how-do-you-stay-motivated-when-youre-not-making-any-money&quot;&gt;read an article&lt;/a&gt; by Amy Hoy. Then I listened to a podcast with Jocko Wilink who both talked about this subject.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My dictionary says the definition for &lt;em&gt;motivation&lt;/em&gt; is:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But you don’t have to look far on the internet to see people asking the same questions again and again:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;How do I get motivated?&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;How do I stay motivated [especially when times are tougher]?&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The answer should be self-evident, the goal you set should be reason enough. If it’s not, maybe you need to adjust your goal. But I think they’re actually saying: &lt;em&gt;“I don’t feel like doing the work I need to do to achieve my goal”&lt;/em&gt;. They’re hoping that someone has “one weird trick” which magically gets the work done.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Amy Hoy points out that motivation is a feeling, not a state of being. You do things when you feel motivated. You do things when you’re not motivated. For example she says, you don’t just feed your pets or children when you feel motivated to do so. So treat your business or your goals in the same way.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I haven’t kept my own business running for 14 years because I wake up highly motivated each day. That “one weird trick”? It’s simply to show up every day and do the work. It’s not sexy; it’s not glamorous and it isn’t always easy.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As Jocko puts it “Don’t count on motivation, count on discipline”. The discipline of getting up every day and going to work. There’s no shortcuts, you just have to make yourself do the work. Waiting to be motivated is just a form of procrastination. And the best cure for that is to get to work.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Create yourself a process or system to make it easier to start working. Want to write? Set yourself up to make it easier to sit down and start writing. Clear your desk, set out your clothes and go to bed early. Then you can get up an hour earlier, get dressed, sit down and start writing. Write anything, it doesn’t matter. Even if you were to throw 99% of it away, you’ll have made more progress than if you were waiting until inspiration hits you in the face. Make it a routine and a habit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Jocko (as usual) says it best:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;“If you don’t feel like writing, or painting, or composing [or whatever], it doesn’t matter – you do it anyway!”&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>The Five Minute Journal</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/five-minute-journal"/>
<updated>2016-09-23T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/five-minute-journal</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Sometimes life gets the better of you. I have been aiming to write an article each week but with limited time available it’s easy to let it slip. Suddenly you realise it’s been six weeks or so since you last posted.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Limited time is one reason I’ve never really done a daily journal — or at least I’ve never kept it up beyond a day or so.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Cementing a habit is hard, especially for something such as writing each week. Writing takes time and I’ve not yet mastered writing quickly.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To start changing that, I started looking for solutions that would allow me to start journalling and build a habit slowly and carefully. I wanted to limit the amount of time it takes and have a structure or template to follow which enables me to focus and complete quickly but still have a positive impact on my life.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/five-minute-journal-2.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Five Minute Journal&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I think I found the answer in the &lt;a href=&quot;http://fiveminutejournal.com&quot;&gt;five minute journal&lt;/a&gt;. I’m an avid listener to the Tim Ferriss Podcast and he’s mentioned and recommended it a few times there, on his website, and he went into it in more detail in a &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_dUSGfsQZg&quot;&gt;video review&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In a nutshell, it’s a simple template of questions to ask yourself when you wake up in the morning and the last thing at night before you go to bed. The creators, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, created an &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb97vYqEIOo&quot;&gt;in-depth video&lt;/a&gt; for how to use the journal and is what ultimately convinced me to buy&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:1&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;1&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt; it and start using it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;the-journal&quot;&gt;The Journal&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You receive a nicely bound and finished hardcover journal. It starts out explaining the ideas and science behind the journal before inviting you to make a commitment to completing the journal for at least five days.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Most days the page starts with an inspiring quote to ponder. On random days there is a weekly challenge instead which is designed to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and take some action. Then it moves onto the questions. There are three to answer in the morning and two at night.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/five-minute-journal-3.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Internal page of the journal&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To give me the best chance of success to create and maintain the habit, I’ve anchored it with two daily habits. I answer the morning questions immediately after my daily meditation practice. I keep the journal by my bed with my headphones so that I take it downstairs with me to meditate. In the evening, just before I do my teeth I sit on my bed and answer the evening questions before doing my teeth and getting into bed.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve been using it for about a week now. It’s often taking me a little longer than five minutes but it’s getting easier as I become more mindful of being appreciative throughout the day.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve written before about &lt;a href=&quot;/journal/gratitude&quot;&gt;gratitude&lt;/a&gt; but consistently and deliberately focusing on it daily is a great way to start and end the day in a positive way.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;hr /&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Thank you for reading this, and thanks to Alex and UJ for creating this, openly and actively sharing the questions without trying to make you buy the journal.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;footnotes&quot;&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:1&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You can purchase it directly from them at &lt;a href=&quot;http://fiveminutejournal.com&quot;&gt;fiveminutejournal.com&lt;/a&gt; or, as I did, get it from their &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Minute-Journal-Happier-Minutes/dp/0991846206/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;m=A9SR1DR3R9EYB&quot;&gt;Amazon store&lt;/a&gt; to buy it in British pounds and save on the shipping. &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:1&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Own What You Care About</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/own-what-you-care-about"/>
<updated>2016-08-09T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/own-what-you-care-about</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;If you’re anything like me you have a lot of stuff, accumulated bit by bit over the years. A wardrobe of clothes you rarely wear, shelves full of books, racks of CDs, DVDs and games plus all sorts of other paraphernalia. &lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I don’t consider myself a hoarder but I do keep things “just in case” — you know, those items you need just after you finally throw them away.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;At first it was fine, I bought and slowly amassed things. Then I got married and had children and so the rate of collection increased. I have a bigger house now but it’s still just as full, if not more so.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The theory was sound, buying things made sense - you paid once to own it and then you have it forever to use as you need it. The problem is the hidden cost of owning it all. There’s the obvious issue of storage, but now I find it ever harder to deal with — it’s like you’re slowly suffocating yourself with things.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As humans we tend to think in a rather short-term manner, looking for that instant gratification without considering the natural consequences. For example I’ve got Playstation 1, 2 and 3 games. I had an Amiga with tons of games. Have I played any of them in weeks, months, years? No. Am I going to? In my pie-in-the-sky imagination I’d like to bust them out and play for nostalgia’s sake but the chance that’s actually going to happen is close to zero.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve got shelves of DVDs. Have I watched them all? Most of them. Am I going to watch them all again, the vast majority — not a chance. If you stop and think for a moment you realise you’d need to spend hundreds of hours to do that. Even watching a few a month it’d be years before I watched them all again.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I have many music CDs. I definitely listened to them over and over — for around a month or so until I found new music I liked and started listening to that. I can’t even remember the last time I listened to one of those CDs.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But I 100% absolutely, definitely have all this stuff, every day, filling my house and my mind.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So why am I keeping them again?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Today, we have no excuse for keeping everything. Films, music, games and books can all be rented to one degree or another. We can be entertained on-demand and when we’re finished with it, it’s gone. Many of these services offer a huge selection for a fixed monthly fee. When there’s no extra cost it enables you to explore other genres, experience more eclectic things and expand your knowledge. This wouldn’t happen if you had to buy them all first.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There are downsides, if you stop paying you have nothing. The content itself can come and go. I choose to view this as something positive. Did you get value out of the money you paid to experience the content? Great, keep experiencing something new. There’s always going to be more content than you can ever possibly experience so just move onto something else.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Then, and only then, if you &lt;em&gt;really&lt;/em&gt; like something you should buy it to own it. Personally, I don’t think that there are many films or games that fall into this category. I’m less sure about books and music. Most definitely do, but some music is timeless and even if most of your tastes change there is some music you will always enjoy. Similarly, most books are only worth reading once. The books that resonate with you or contain life-changing ideas are the ones that you &lt;em&gt;need&lt;/em&gt; to read over and over. These are the ones you should own.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Own what you care about and rent what you don’t. Keep only what is meaningful and precious and will stand the test of time. Think about whether you really need something and if it will still mean something to you in a few years or decades. Instead enjoy a clearer space and mind and use your money to buy experiences not things.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Priorities and Progress</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/priorities-and-progress"/>
<updated>2016-07-29T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/priorities-and-progress</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;I’ve resolved myself to keep a weekly publishing schedule but this week I’ve been using my scheduled morning writing time to prioritise working on and launching an email course at work.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Last night I didn’t think I would reach my target for this week because I had prioritised my other work that needed to get done. &lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But I realised several things:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Writing the email course took much longer than I’d allowed for on my weekly schedule so I’ve had to let other less important tasks on my list slide but it’s ok not to get everything done as long as you’re making progress on your most important tasks. It would be easy to worry about that but I’m finding that my daily meditation allows me to simply let it go.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Perfection is the enemy. As with everything I wanted my email course to be perfect. I was not going to make my deadline for this week if I didn’t relax my standards and let “good enough” be good enough. It’s better to ship and iterate with feedback later.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Over the course of this week alone, writing something meaningful each day is helpful. The first email took several sessions to write and edit, whilst I was able to completely write and edit three emails across two writing sessions.&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As a result I did manage to complete and launch my course yesterday and you can’t beat that feeling of progress towards your big goals.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Oh, and look at that. I did meet my post schedule after all.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Can’t</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/cant"/>
<updated>2016-07-22T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/cant</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Have you seen the brilliant “&lt;em&gt;We’re the superhumans&lt;/em&gt;” trailer on Channel 4 for the upcoming Paralympics?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;style&gt;.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }&lt;/style&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;embed-container&quot;&gt; &lt;iframe title=&quot;YouTube video player&quot; width=&quot;640&quot; height=&quot;390&quot; src=&quot;//www.youtube.com/embed/&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; allowfullscreen=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I dare you not to be moved. It’s inspiring and uplifting to see the lengths that people go to, to overcome and achieve something. The title of the song is &lt;em&gt;”Yes, I can”&lt;/em&gt; but more often than not our response is &lt;em&gt;”No, I can’t”&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;That’s usually followed by someone saying the rather clichéd line: &lt;em&gt;”there’s no such thing as can’t”&lt;/em&gt;. There are definitely some things we physically cannot do — like touching your left elbow with your left hand — then again the internet is filled with counter-examples so I’m probably making a baseless assertion here too. For example, if you have no fingers you can’t possibly play the piano. Except this guy can…&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;style&gt;.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }&lt;/style&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;embed-container&quot;&gt; &lt;iframe title=&quot;YouTube video player&quot; width=&quot;640&quot; height=&quot;390&quot; src=&quot;//www.youtube.com/embed/&quot; frameborder=&quot;0&quot; allowfullscreen=&quot;&quot;&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;&lt;/div&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Shay Carl says that the “secrets to life are hidden behind the word cliché” and when it comes to the power of our minds and our motivation I think that is true. You might need to work damn hard and work harder than others but you can do it. It’s a function of how much you want it and relentlessly practicing or working until you achieve your goal.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Henry Ford said:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t - you’re right&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So what have you told yourself lately that you &lt;em&gt;can’t&lt;/em&gt; do? Or maybe you’re making an excuse because you don’t really want to do it. In which case be honest with yourself, stop telling yourself &lt;em&gt;you can’t&lt;/em&gt; and move on.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>How I use Alfred to turbo-charge my daily work</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/using-alfred-to-turbocharge-my-work"/>
<updated>2016-07-15T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/using-alfred-to-turbocharge-my-work</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;If you’ve used OS X on a mac then you’ve probably used a feature called &lt;em&gt;Spotlight&lt;/em&gt;, a built-in function which helps you find and open applications and files on your computer. In recent releases it’s gotten smarter by getting results from more sources and lets you do calculations or get the weather forecast. &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.alfredapp.com/&quot;&gt;Alfred&lt;/a&gt; is a third-party productivity utility which, on the face of it, is quite similar to Spotlight.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In one of the Slack groups I participate in we were discussing productivity tools and this post is really my extended answer to the following question that was posed:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Isn’t Spotlight good enough now&lt;/em&gt;?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For basic operations like finding items or opening an application, it’s fine. It can also do basic calculations, get word definitions and do conversions. The biggest problem for me is that you still have to use the mouse to take many actions. For example, you can find a song in your iTunes library but you have to use the mouse to hover over it to reveal the button to play it. And, personally, that is the crux of the matter, Alfred lets you do so much more, without ever touching the mouse.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;its-all-about-flow&quot;&gt;It’s all about flow&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Computers are a tool for getting something done as efficiently as possible. When I’m in the middle of a task I want to stay focussed on it. I don’t want to divert my brain into a different mode and I don’t want to have to reach for the mouse or trackpad when my hands are already in place on the keyboard. A computer without Alfred installed feels handicapped.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As an example, let’s say I’m in the middle of writing this blog post when I suddenly remember I need to do something later. I want to get this recorded as a todo and get back to what I was doing as quickly as possible so I don’t lose my flow. I use Trello to record my todo’s so I have a trello workflow in Alfred which let’s me do just that.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/alfred-trello.gif&quot; alt=&quot;Adding an item to Trello&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;turbo-charge-all-the-things&quot;&gt;Turbo-charge all the things&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In addition to using Alfred to do everything I described previously here are some more actions that I take on a (literally) daily basis that you can’t do with spotlight.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;ul&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Do a web search via a variety of search engines&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Look up programming language syntax definitions&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Maintain and search clipboard history&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Browse the file system when I know where a file is likely to be, but have no clue what it’s called&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Go to a website and login using my 1Password data&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Play and pause music from iTunes or Spotify&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Lock or sleep my computer&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Add cards to Trello&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Resize and position windows&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Bookmark and tag the current web page in Pinboard&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Find and switch to a particular open tab in Safari or Chrome&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Auto-expand text snippets&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ul&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And this is just scratching the surface. It’s really easy to create your own new workflows and share them with others. There is a site called &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.packal.org&quot;&gt;Packal&lt;/a&gt; which is a great resource for finding workflows and themes. There is even a workflow for finding and updating your workflows from Packal. Meta.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So I guess the short answer to the question, &lt;em&gt;is Spotlight good enough?&lt;/em&gt; is No.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>DYFConf EU Retrospective</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/dyfconfeu"/>
<updated>2016-07-09T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/dyfconfeu</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;The website for the European &lt;a href=&quot;https://doubleyourfreelancing.com/euconf/&quot;&gt;Double Your Freelancing Conference&lt;/a&gt; guaranteed that I’ll leave rejuvenated with a list of actionable takeaways that can be applied immediately to my business but did it really live up to that billing?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;an-amazing-venue&quot;&gt;An amazing venue&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It was held at the &lt;a href=&quot;http://yasuragi.se/en/&quot;&gt;Yasuragi&lt;/a&gt;, a Japanese style spa hotel in Sweden with views of the Stockholm archipelago. On arrival we were given a yukata, a cotton robe, with the expectation that we would be wearing these for the duration of the conference. I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t too sure about this to begin with but everyone soon embraced the concept and it was surprising how quickly it became normal. I think the homogeneity of dress ended up being one of the contributing factors that helped everyone to gel so well. It was a great equaliser; male, female, attendee, speaker, everyone was the same and with no name tags you had to simply talk to each other. The yukata had pockets in the sleeves but we were also encouraged to leave our phones and laptops in our rooms. Disconnecting fully from our businesses and everyday lives meant we could &lt;a href=&quot;/journal/making-meditation-a-habit/&quot;&gt;be present&lt;/a&gt; and was another reason to connect with each other instead of sitting in a corner fiddling on our phones between sessions.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/sweden-sunset.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Sun finally setting in Sweden&quot; /&gt;
&lt;em&gt;Photo Credit: &lt;a href=&quot;https://franzsauerstein.de/&quot;&gt;Franz Sauerstein&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;a-beautiful-eclectic-mix-of-people&quot;&gt;A beautiful, eclectic mix of people&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The remote nature of the venue was another factor which ensured that everyone stayed together. We breakfasted, lunched and dined together. We hung out in the bar, in the spa and on the terrace together. I don’t think I’ve been in a place with so many interesting, smart and passionate people before who were all so welcoming and open.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I was really pleasantly surprised at the mix of nationalities that attended. I was expecting it to be a very British and American affair but I met Australians, Belgians, Canadians, Dutch, Finnish, French, Germans, Indians, Norwegians, Slovakians, Swedes and I’m sure there were several more. With the news of the Brexit result we had many interesting conversations about politics and business. I was both impressed and humbled that all these nationalities spoke English so well and knew and cared about our politics. (It is pushing me to double down on learning some other languages too.) Without wanting to divert into politics, it really brought home to me what our country and our future generations are now going to lose out on.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It wasn’t all business though, there was plenty of socialising and a lot of in-jokes. Just ask anyone who attended about the Pepsi gravitational field!&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Unlike any other conference we were encouraged to bring our partners. This was a big plus point in brownie points alone. I brought my wife as a small way to say thank you to her for everything she does for me.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;so-much-actionable-advice&quot;&gt;So much actionable advice&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I filled my notebook with pages and pages of notes because every talk was filled with useful, interesting, thought-provoking and actionable advice to improve some aspect of our businesses. The speakers were all open and engaging and many provided additional resources to jumpstart improvements. Whilst the talks were on a variety of topics, interestingly, the same themes cropped up over and over again. I plan to write more fully about the talks and how I implement the advice in my own business over the coming months.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;goodbye-is-the-hardest-word&quot;&gt;Goodbye is the hardest word&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;We all made so many new friends in such a short time that I don’t think anyone wanted to leave. Without exception I think everyone has already blocked out the dates in their calendar for next year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I can honestly say that DYFconf is the best conference I’ve ever been to and Brennan well and truly delivered on his promise. I cannot wait for next year. &lt;em&gt;If&lt;/em&gt; you can get a ticket you should join us.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/sweden-3am.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;3am Sunrise!&quot; /&gt;
&lt;em&gt;Photo Credit: &lt;a href=&quot;http://propelmybusiness.com/&quot;&gt;Blair Wadman&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Self Care</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/self-care"/>
<updated>2016-05-11T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/self-care</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;You’re probably familiar with the oxygen mask routine on aeroplanes. The flight attendants make it clear that parents should always put on their own mask first before helping their children. Why do they do this? If there’s a sudden loss of pressure, within 15-20 seconds you’d be experiencing a “stoned” and confused state and unlikely to be in a position to help anyone, let alone yourself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Apply this same principle to your daily life. Give yourself time to sleep and eat properly &lt;em&gt;and&lt;/em&gt; anything else that plays an essential role in maintaining your health and well-being.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Worse, in our quest for productivity, it’s easy to get upset at others who seem to be investing their time in the ways you want to but feel you can’t:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;ul&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;em&gt;Why am I the only one who stays late in the office?&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;em&gt;Doesn’t anyone else know how to wash the dishes?&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;em&gt;How can you go to &amp;lt;x&amp;gt; when there’s still so much &amp;lt;y&amp;gt; to do?&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ul&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In &lt;em&gt;The Exceptional Seven Percent: The Nine Secrets of the World’s Happiest Couples&lt;/em&gt; there’s an analogy which, I think, conveys this perfectly:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Imagine we’re together, and I’m so hungry that I can’t possibly wait another minute to eat. You, on the other hand, couldn’t be less hungry. That leaves me with two choices: I can sit around huffing and puffing, and wait for you to get hungry and make us both a meal, or I could fix myself something to eat. Of the two possibilities, the only healthy choice I can make is to accept responsibility for my need and meet it, regardless of what other alternative I might prefer.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So give yourself permission to make time to exercise, go for a walk, or whatever you need to do to get some “me” time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Stop working at a specific time, say “no” more often and just ask for help.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And once in a while, splash out and spoil yourself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Stop blaming other people for not being hungry and go and make yourself a sandwich!&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>30DWC Retrospective</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/30dwc-retrospective"/>
<updated>2016-05-02T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/30dwc-retrospective</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Now that 30DWC is over, I thought I would reflect and see what I could take away from the experience and apply in the future&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;what-went-well&quot;&gt;What went well&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My goal at the beginning of 30DWC was to produce at least one post per week during April to build a writing habit. I wrote 5 posts during the month — &lt;em&gt;achievement unlocked!&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Adjusting my morning routine to accommodate writing was surprisingly straightforward. I’m going to continue with this routine. It’s helped cement the foundation of a new habit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I can already see improvements in my clarity of thought. Having clear time regularly to think on a topic without interruptions is good.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;what-could-have-gone-better&quot;&gt;What could have gone better&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Some days I didn’t get as much time as I’d planned to be able to write. I don’t wake up and get up at a set time each day so if I went to bed too late it would affect when I woke up. I need to be more disciplined in my evening routine.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I also need to improve dividing my time between the writing stages (research, writing and editing). I still flit between them. I’m going to try using a pomodoro timer to keep focussed on one thing at a time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;lessons-learned&quot;&gt;Lessons learned&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Deadlines and small goals helped. Given the time I dedicated to this and my current ability my posts target was realistic. It was tempting to aim higher but unrealistic expectations can kill the motivation when you slip up. Having a deadline of a post per week did help me focus and avoid procrastinating too much. I plan to try and build this into other areas of my life, e.g. setting small deadlines as part of scheduling my work.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My posts have ended up being quite long. Perhaps I’m trying to cram too many thoughts in and I need to get better at editing them down. I’m going to keep my target output of at least one post per week. Instead of aiming at one lengthier piece each week, I’m going to write more shorter pieces — 500 words or less. This should allow me to keep publishing regularly whilst I take my time to work on longer articles.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Accountability works! Having a sense of obligation to others helps bolster your willpower to keep your promise. One unexpected benefit was the Slack community that sprung up through it. Their encouragement helped me to keep going and there was lots of interesting discussions and resources shared. It provided plenty of food for thought for new ways of thinking and writing that I hope we continue.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I was worried I would not have enough ideas to write about. This fear was unfounded; as the month progressed I added more and more ideas and thoughts to my trello board. They either came from sparks and thoughts I had whilst writing, or through the interactions I had with the group and their writings. To trigger more ideas I am going to curate a feed of writing from our group. Over time I’ll add in others who also write thought-provoking posts, like Sivers and Godin. The hardest part now is choosing which ones to take forwards. I still need to figure out how best to do this.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;whats-next&quot;&gt;What’s next?&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Continuing to write, of course! &lt;a href=&quot;https://marcjenkins.co.uk/tag/30dwc/&quot;&gt;Marc&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=&quot;http://bealers.com/category/30dwc/&quot;&gt;Darren&lt;/a&gt; published every day and maintained a level of quality throughout. I need to get some more writing under my belt but it’s definitely something I aspire to achieve.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Marc also wrote a post about &lt;a href=&quot;https://marcjenkins.co.uk/themes/&quot;&gt;monthly themes&lt;/a&gt; and I’d also been thinking along the same lines. I found this experience to be extremely beneficial. So much so that it’s inspired me to try and write a book around it as a larger goal.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;In 30 days you can build a habit, learn something new or push yourself to greater mastery&lt;/strong&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve now successfully built two new habits, daily meditation and regularly writing. I plan to cover the strategies and techniques that I used along with what I learned during this challenge. In addition, I am going to document my journey as I try to learn some new skills and improve myself further.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m going to use May to plan this but over the coming months I’m intending to:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;ul&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Learn to cook&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;em&gt;(I can just about follow a recipe but I want to learn enough basic techniques so that I can put a tasty meal together from whatever I might have available)&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Learn a language&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;em&gt;(primarily just for kicks and learning some learning techniques that I can apply elsewhere. I think I’ll learn Esperanto)&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Improve my photography&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;em&gt;(I already know the basics so here I want to improve my technique and subjects. I think this will be an area where I push myself and do a specific 30 day challenge, e.g. a photo every day with a given constraint)&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Learn to play a musical instrument&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;em&gt;(I’m pretty musically challenged. I dabbled with a keyboard when I was younger, but I’ve long wished I could play music. It’s time to do something about that)&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ul&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m putting together an outline for the book, with a rough goal of completing it for the end of the year.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If you’re interested, you can &lt;a href=&quot;/30-days&quot;&gt;sign up here&lt;/a&gt; to be notified when the book launches.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Gratitude</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/gratitude"/>
<updated>2016-04-30T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/gratitude</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Take a few moments to stop and think how you’re feeling right now. Are you stressed, anxious, depressed? Maybe you’re envious, angry or just ambivalent? I’m willing to bet that the one emotion you’re not feeling is happy. Why is that?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I think part of the problem is that we have progressed past the first few levels of Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. We are hovering around the Esteem level looking for achievement, status, prestige, and respect. &lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Somehow we seem to have translated this into “keeping up with the Joneses”. Comparing ourselves against others serves to highlight what we don’t have, rather than what we do. Our constant busyness causes us to feel tired and stressed. This leads us to be quick to anger or judge. We mistakenly think that our pursuit of more money, a better job, more goods is the path to happiness. While they provide us with a brief boost of happiness it soon wears off and we’re looking for our next fix. The long-term happiness we seek always seems to be around the next corner. In fact, the key to happiness is to enjoy, appreciate and be content in your present circumstances.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;When we starting comparing, we only compared “up”; we have forgotten to compare “down”.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Look around at your life, the people in it and the things you have. I bet you’re taking most of it for granted.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You are ridiculously fortunate — we should be ecstatic most of the time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The simple fact that you’re reading this means that you’re better off than most of the rest of the world. You have a computer (or tablet or phone), an internet connection and free time to sit and read it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;expand-your-worldview&quot;&gt;Expand your worldview&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;We need to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes from time to time. Someone who is far removed from our own little bubble of people.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Try doing something to see the world from another perspective. You could travel to a developing country or volunteer at a homeless shelter or nursing home.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In a book I’m reading at the moment&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:1&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;1&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt; the author describes visiting Uganda. There, she had the opportunity to explore a compound for vulnerable children. The non-profit group takes care of orphans and children with illnesses (such as HIV) when their families can no longer look after them.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;I walked over to the swarm of children around the swing set and said hello to one of the little boys who spoke a bit of English. I asked about what he was learning in his classes. He told me that he had been learning about organs and named a few, such as his heart, his brain, and his stomach. I told him he had a very good brain to remember all those things. In response to the compliment, his mouth stretched into a tooth-baring grin, and his eyes lit up and expanded with a surge of pride&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;Given that I seemed to have treated his comrade well, other children began to come up to me, asking me questions, showing me how they could do little acrobatic feats, and dangling from the trees overhead. We sang songs together, complete with arm motions, and the children showed off their strength by moving a sack of rice so big that it took four of them to get it to flop end over end&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;But most of all, they radiated joy&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;em&gt;They were away from their families. They had potentially life-threatening diseases. Their clothes were dirty and worn. They most likely had no money to their names. They definitely didn’t have mobile phones or computers. But, in my opinion, they were the ones to be admired not pitied. They truly had it all in that they obviously delighted in their lives, delighted in their friends, and delighted in all the good that they did have instead of dwelling on what was not&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;reframe-the-negative&quot;&gt;Reframe the negative&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;We should take a leaf from the boys’ book and reframe negative thoughts into something positive. For example if you’re stressed at work, be thankful that you have a job and you’re learning perseverance.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Thinking in this way is practicing mindfulness. This is something that I am learning through my &lt;a href=&quot;/journal/meditation&quot;&gt;meditation&lt;/a&gt;; it helps you be present in the now and notice what’s around you. It lets you pause and remind yourself what’s important.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;To illustrate: I was leaving work a couple of days ago and someone in a Mercedes had parked inconsiderately, blocking me in. I had to do several manoeuvres to squeeze though a small gap to get out. My immediate reaction was to call the driver an idiot&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:2&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:2&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;2&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt;; I got irate and honked my horn as I squeezed through.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Before I’d started meditating, I’d be seething all the way home and on into the evening. I’d undoubtedly drive worse too. Instead, as I drove out the gate, mindfulness kicked in and gave me space to reflect. Yes, the driver was unthoughtful but there’s no need to let it affect me. The situation only arose because I have a job (which I hugely enjoy). My job enables me to own a car which makes it easy to get home and grants me a vast amount of freedom.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Whilst simple, this technique can have a tremendously positive effect on your life. It reduces your own stress and, in turn, it means you’re much less likely to take out your frustrations on someone else.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Gratitude is about appreciating what you have, who you are and where you are right now, in the present. Notice and be thankful of the present. Stop taking things for granted, comparing yourself to others or worrying about what you don’t have. Instead…&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;be-thankful&quot;&gt;Be thankful&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;ul&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have clean, running water&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have enough food to eat&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have light and heat&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have clean clothes on your back&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;for your health&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have a home&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Your family who love you unconditionally&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Your friends&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;You have a job&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;and you have stuff, so much stuff, music, tv, internet, books, toys, hobbies…&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ul&gt;
&lt;hr /&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As this post is my last during &lt;a href=&quot;http://marcjenkins.co.uk/30dwc&quot;&gt;30DWC&lt;/a&gt; I must also thank &lt;a href=&quot;http://marcjenkins.co.uk&quot;&gt;Marc&lt;/a&gt; for putting this together. It has been a beneficial and inspiring experience due to the community that has sprung up through it. Thank you everyone — you are making me a better person.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;footnotes&quot;&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:1&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;“The 3 secrets to effective time investment” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:1&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:2&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It may have been ruder than that! &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:2&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Morning Routines</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/morning-routines"/>
<updated>2016-04-24T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/morning-routines</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Several of the other participants in &lt;a href=&quot;http://marcjenkins.co.uk/30dwc&quot;&gt;30DWC&lt;/a&gt; have shared their morning routines so I thought it would be good to document mine too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Your routine doesn’t need to be set in stone. I’ve been experimenting with different routines for the last year or so. It will continue to evolve as I learn what works well for me and what doesn’t. As my &lt;a href=&quot;/now&quot;&gt;current focus&lt;/a&gt; changes, my routine will no doubt be adjusted to fit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;a-good-morning-starts-the-night-before&quot;&gt;A good morning starts the night before&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The key to a good morning routine is preparation so my morning routine starts the night before. It starts at the end of the work day with a shutdown procedure, to tie up loose ends and plan out the tasks I’m going to do tomorrow. It allows me to mentally close off work for the day. Before I introduced this practice I would still be thinking about work problems into the evening and inevitably it would keep me awake much longer.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In order to wake early, I need to get to bed at a reasonable time. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl so training myself to become an early bird has taken some time and is still an ongoing effort. I aim to be in bed for around 10:30pm, to be asleep by 11pm so that I can wake and get up at 5:30am.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I aim to finish the evenings activities around 10pm when I get my daily reminder from Way of Life. I fill in my entries and that gives me a moment of reflection on the day and I use that to give me a little push to choose how tomorrow should look.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I will then grind some coffee beans and set out a mug, my cafetieré and fill the kettle ready for the morning. Upstairs I lay my clothes out ready by my bed so I can get dressed immediately on waking with no decisions to make.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I try to avoid using my phone or other electronic devices after around 9pm (with the exception of adding my Way of Life entries). Generally, unless I am really tired, I will read a magazine or some kind of fiction to relax and help my brain to turn off. Non-fiction gets me thinking too much so I read those earlier in the day instead.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Finally, I will lay my clothes out ready for the next day so I can get out of bed and immediately get dressed without needing to make any decisions or open wardrobes or drawers and risk waking the family.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;the-morning-after-the-night-before&quot;&gt;The morning after the night before&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I aim to wake between 5am and 5:30am including on the weekends. I don’t usually set an alarm, preferring to wake naturally so that I get as much sleep as possible. I’ve been using &lt;a href=&quot;http://sleepyti.me&quot;&gt;sleepyti.me&lt;/a&gt; to try and match my sleep time to circadian rhythms with mixed success. I get about 6 hours of sleep, on average, which I generally cope ok with but I do worry whether I’m really getting enough. However, I can’t seem to increase the duration with any reliability.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;On waking, I get up and dressed immediately. On days when I’m writing, I’ll go downstairs and make coffee first. It’s just a simple ritual that helps me to wake more fully before meditating. I make sure not to start looking at my phone or otherwise get distracted.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;When the coffee is brewed I return to my desk and begin my &lt;a href=&quot;/journal/making-meditation-a-habit/&quot;&gt;meditation session&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;After, my routine changes depending on the day. I exercise on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and write on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If we don’t have specific plans then I’ll try and write a little over the weekend too. I aim for 3 days of exercise a week so if I need to make other commitments, then I will change the days to ensure I meet my exercise target. Routines need to be flexible.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;exercise&quot;&gt;Exercise&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My current exercise routine is simple but effective. It’s a kettlebell workout following Pavel Tsatsouline’s &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kettlebell-Simple-Sinister-Pavel-Tsatsouline-ebook/dp/B00GF2HP9G&quot;&gt;Simple and Sinister&lt;/a&gt; book which consists of just two exercises, the “hardstyle” kettlebell swing and the Turkish Get-Up. It only takes around 30 minutes, provides a good workout but doesn’t take too much out of me for the day. I finish with a post-workout protein shake.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;writing&quot;&gt;Writing&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m using 30DWC as my push to kickstart a writing habit. To achieve this I’ve modified my morning routine to allow me to write for around an hour on the days I allocated to writing. Only after I’ve meditated do I wake my computer and start writing. Unless I’m doing research I open iaWriter in full screen mode to avoid distractions.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;shepherding-the-flock&quot;&gt;Shepherding the flock&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The rest of house will start to wake between 6:30 and 7am most days so 7am - 8:30am is spent getting myself ready and then making breakfast for us all whilst my wife gets herself and the kids ready. Weekdays my wife and I will have scrambled egg (&lt;a href=&quot;https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUP7U5vTMM0&quot;&gt;Gordon Ramsay style&lt;/a&gt;) or a home-made “quiche”&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:1&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;1&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt; as part of our slow-carb diet. I’ll prepare my lunch for work - either soup or salad - and herd the kids out the door before heading to the office.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;footnotes&quot;&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:1&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s not your typical quiche, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s egg, mushrooms, garlic, onions, broccoli, sometimes chicken, and cottage cheese cooked in a low oven for about an hour. &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:1&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Making meditation a habit</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/making-meditation-a-habit"/>
<updated>2016-04-13T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/making-meditation-a-habit</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Meditation has been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years. At it’s core it’s simply a form of exercise for your mind, training it to be calmer and clearer.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There are many different types and styles of meditation techniques and you should find the one which will work best for you. This &lt;a href=&quot;http://liveanddare.com/types-of-meditation/&quot;&gt;site&lt;/a&gt; has a pretty comprehensive guide and suggestions as to which method might suit you.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Currently I am using Mindfulness meditation techniques. Mindfulness is the practice of focussing on being present in the here and the now and simply paying attention to the sensations, thoughts and emotions that arise. There is no judgement, just acceptance.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;why-meditate&quot;&gt;Why meditate?&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In today’s modern world, we’re continually interrupted and distracted. We’re always being asked to do more in less time. It can be overwhelming.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There have been &lt;a href=&quot;http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/&quot;&gt;many scientific studies&lt;/a&gt; done that show there are lots of benefits to meditating. These include reducing stress, improving your focus and memory, fostering creativity, and helps improve your relationships with others.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I listen to Tim Ferriss’ podcast and meditation comes up time and again as something that he and many of his guests feel has played a part in their success.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;With all this evidence and when smart and successful people all agree I think it’s worth giving it a try.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For me, meditation is an attempt to be less stressed and be more focussed.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;how-im-doing-it&quot;&gt;How I’m doing it&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The general consensus seems to be that daily practice is key. One or two sessions might provide some initial relief but it’s the long term habit which provides the real benefits. I’m still in the relatively early stages but I can already attest to generally feeling better when I maintained it daily. If I let it slip for a few days I began to notice a dip in my focus and energy.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I have tried a few times in the past to begin meditating but sitting still and quiet on your own was surprisingly difficult. I would manage a day or two and then I’d effectively give up. With no guidance I had no idea whether I was doing it right. Thoughts would keep popping into my head so I’d double down on trying to stop it but that didn’t have a calming effect.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I found some guided meditations and they definitely helped me to have something to focus my attention on but ultimately I was doing it piecemeal, playing a session when I found a free moment so inevitably I forgot most of the time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;At the beginning of the year I decided to try and again and really work to make it a habit. I’d heard a few people talk about Headspace so I thought I would give their “Take 10” trial a try. It’s a free 10 day course to give you the foundations of meditation. They are guided meditations with some pre and post session commentary, which I’ve found very helpful in learning &lt;em&gt;why&lt;/em&gt; we’re doing a particular exercise. Now that I’ve been doing it for a little while I’m actually able to maintain focus longer and require less guidance &lt;em&gt;(see this stuff is working)&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;making-time&quot;&gt;Making time&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Headspace ultimately allows you to choose the length of the meditation sessions but their “Take 10” programme is ten, 10 minute sessions. Anyone can make time for 10 minutes a day, right?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My days are varied and life is always busy. At first I thought “it’s just 10 minutes” I can easily make time for that at some point during the day but it’s too easy to forget and not do it. I’m also a bit self-conscious so I didn’t want to sit and close my eyes in the middle of my work-place and hope I wasn’t going to get interrupted.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;same-time-same-place&quot;&gt;Same time, same place&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;You need to find a time and a place that will work for you. I’ve made it part of my morning routine, making it the first thing I do when I wake up and before the rest of my family is awake. I’ll talk more about my morning routine in a future post but I tend to wake around 5am, I’ll perhaps go and make a pot of coffee if I’m still a little sleepy to help clear the cobwebs, but then I immediately go into my home-office, sit down and put on Headspace. I don’t switch on my computer or do anything else otherwise it’s too easy to get distracted and that makes it much more likely that I won’t do it because I’ll just run out of time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;making-chains&quot;&gt;Making chains&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Headspace itself encourages keeping up the daily practice by rewarding you with free time to gift to someone else if you maintain a run for a certain period of time. That’s not enough to help me make it a habit. I use an app on my phone called “Way of Life” which helps you set and track activities that you want to turn into habits. It’s a very quick way to log whether you did or didn’t do something each day so it requires virtually no effort to maintain. It has a chaining feature so that you can see your streaks, much like the &lt;a href=&quot;http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret&quot;&gt;Seinfeld calendar&lt;/a&gt; idea. The simple visual cues of seeing your green streaks and an unbroken chain is just another little nudge to keep you on the path you want to be on.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;the-future&quot;&gt;The future&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m still very much a beginner, and I find some days harder than others to maintain my motivation but I am seeing the benefits. I feel a little less worried than I had been in the past and I am sleeping a bit more too. I feel more focussed and productive than I’ve felt in years too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I highly recommend that you try meditating yourself and if you can make it a daily habit, like brushing your teeth, you will feel much better about yourself and your life.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Headspace has a buddy system to help motivate each other so if this post has encouraged you to give meditating a whirl, drop me a note, I’ll invite you and we can make this journey together.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>My Secret Life</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/my-secret-life"/>
<updated>2016-04-06T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/my-secret-life</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;I am part of an underground society. You can find us in all walks of life. We have our own language and acronyms and gather together both online and in the real-world.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Let’s just get this out in the open. I’m an AFOL, an Adult Fan Of Lego. (I told you we have our own acronyms) Many of us keep quiet for fear of ridicule, after all we’re fully grown adults playing with a children’s toy, right?&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”&lt;/strong&gt; &lt;em&gt;First Corinthians&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;my-origin-story&quot;&gt;My origin story&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I had a fair bit of LEGO when I was growing up, as did all of my brothers. I expect you did too. I mostly had classic space sets, town sets and castle sets. As I got a bit older I graduated to Technic and then I suppose my interest must have waned. And then I left home and life happened and I forgot all about LEGO.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Then I watched the LEGO movie. I thought it was a great film; entertaining, but it had a subtle message that really spoke to me as a relatively new parent. Nothing immediately changed after that but it did re-ignite my interest in LEGO and I went out and bought &lt;a href=&quot;http://brickset.com/sets/70809-1/Lord-Business-Evil-Lair&quot;&gt;70809 Lord Business’ Evil Lair&lt;/a&gt;. My son started to get interested in LEGO so we started buying him some sets and inevitably he wanted my help to start with so we would build his sets together. Now my daughter has also started showing an interest in LEGO too so it’s now becoming something we all enjoy and it gives me the chance to spend quality time with my children.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My addiction — let’s just call it that — and full emergence from my &lt;a href=&quot;http://thebrickblogger.com/2013/05/lego-dark-ages/&quot;&gt;Dark Ages&lt;/a&gt; came when I visited the &lt;a href=&quot;http://brickshowslive.com/brick-birmingham/&quot;&gt;BRICK show&lt;/a&gt; last year. It completely opened my eyes to a whole LEGO universe and subculture.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There was a massive display area of models (or MOCs&lt;sup id=&quot;fnref:1&quot;&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;#fn:1&quot; class=&quot;footnote&quot;&gt;1&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/sup&gt; as they are called in the AFOL world) that people from around the world had built. It was hugely inspiring and is primarily responsible for triggering full scale obsession.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s where I found out that there were not just one, but two magazines in the UK dedicated to LEGO.&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.blocksmag.com&quot;&gt;Blocks&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=&quot;http://republic66media.com&quot;&gt;Bricks&lt;/a&gt;. Bricks, in particular, is very much geared to the adult market and has a separate quarterly Bricks Culture magazine which features in-depth articles on LEGO-related subjects. &lt;em&gt;(I subscribed)&lt;/em&gt;.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;There were mini figure collectors who had collected thousands of minifigs and I found out there was a whole mini figure customisation market out there, e.g. &lt;a href=&quot;http://minifigs.me&quot;&gt;Minifigs.me&lt;/a&gt;&lt;em&gt;I bought the crew of &lt;a href=&quot;https://twitter.com/elaptics/status/660857896188645376&quot;&gt;Serenity&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Also in attendance was a charity, &lt;a href=&quot;http://fairybricks.org&quot;&gt;Fairy Bricks&lt;/a&gt;, dedicated to supplying LEGO to children who are in hospital. And since then, through the magazines, I found out about other people like &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.thementalblocks.com&quot;&gt;Mental Blocks&lt;/a&gt; who are using LEGO to help mental health patients. I found these community projects very uplifting.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I came away from the show feeling very invigorated – &lt;em&gt;and with &lt;a href=&quot;http://brickset.com/sets/76042-1/SHIELD-Helicarrier&quot;&gt;76042 SHIELD Helicarrier&lt;/a&gt;.&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h3 id=&quot;and-the-building-begins&quot;&gt;And the building begins&lt;/h3&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I started to build my collection of bricks by buying new sets, and realising this was starting to become an expensive hobby I returned home to my parents house and found my parents had kept much of mine and my brothers’ LEGO sets so I’ve been gradually rebuilding those. Unsurprisingly there are broken and missing pieces, but never fear, as usual the internet comes to the rescue. There is a whole secondary LEGO market out there. There’s the obvious auction sites where people are selling their collections where you can pick up bulk sets of bricks, but there are also sites such as &lt;a href=&quot;http://bricklink.com&quot;&gt;Bricklink&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.brickowl.com&quot;&gt;BrickOwl&lt;/a&gt; which cater to you finding the specific parts you need and connecting you with sellers who have those parts.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As you might be beginning to realise, there’s a wide variety of LEGO blogs, YouTube channels, &lt;a href=&quot;https://www.flickr.com/search/groups/?text=lego&quot;&gt;Flickr groups&lt;/a&gt; and forums catering to many sub-genres along with sites to &lt;a href=&quot;http://brickset.com&quot;&gt;catalogue&lt;/a&gt; your collection. It’s something I’m only just scratching the surface of myself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Oh, and then there’s the LEGO investment market. The LEGO Group are continually bringing out new sets, which inevitably means that they are retiring the old sets. There are many people out there who collect LEGO sets so this gives them a rarity value. Unopened LEGO sets can command a real premium. For example, the Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon which retailed for around $500 now costs around $3,500 on the secondary market. This means it’s actually worth buying LEGO as an investment as an alternative to the traditional stock market. Sites like &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.brickpicker.com&quot;&gt;BrickPicker&lt;/a&gt; specialise in this.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This brings us back to today, and I suppose I haven’t really answered the question — “&lt;em&gt;why&lt;/em&gt;” yet.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;For me, the process of following instructions is quite therapeutic and I find that I can get into a sort of focussed flow state. Then there is the creative aspect by building your own MOCs; looking for creative ways to use the LEGO parts to represent something that is recognisable. It really stimulates my creative juices and improves my problem solving skills. But above all, it’s just plain fun and I think that it’s important for us all to realise that playing is not an activity that should be reserved exclusively for children.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up&lt;/strong&gt;.” &lt;em&gt;C.S. Lewis&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/blockquote&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s ok to be childish sometimes, we all need to have fun and have a creative outlet in our lives so why not LEGO? Try it, you might like it — but beware, it’s addictive.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;div class=&quot;footnotes&quot;&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li id=&quot;fn:1&quot;&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My Own Creations &lt;a href=&quot;#fnref:1&quot; class=&quot;reversefootnote&quot;&gt;&amp;#8617;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;/div&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>30DWC Day One</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/30dwc-day-one"/>
<updated>2016-04-01T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/30dwc-day-one</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;My blog seems to mostly be a series of starts which &lt;em&gt;very&lt;/em&gt; quickly tail off. This is my attempt to change that, once and for all.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I enjoy the idea of writing but when you’re faced with a blank page I’ve found it hard to start. When I finally do, all these thoughts come tumbling out and then it turns into a huge thing which I’m continually tweaking so it never gets finished and never gets published.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So when Marc announced his 30 day Writing Challenge I jumped at it. I hope that having some external motivation will provide the push I need to make writing a habit.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve learnt from experience that I shouldn’t try to do too much at once. Early mornings are the only quiet time I have for myself and I need to maintain my exercise régime so I’m scheduling an hour every other day for my writing time.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This is my commitment; for the month of April I’m going to publish at least one post per week. On what subject? I have no idea. My head is just full of partially-formed thoughts on all sorts of topics. Maybe I’ll use this month to get some of them out into the world.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>2015 - The Year of Goals</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/the-year-of-goals"/>
<updated>2015-01-27T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/the-year-of-goals</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;2014 was a pretty tough year and at times it felt a bit like Groundhog Day where I was just doing the same thing each day with little to show for it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The only real highlight of the year was that I managed to lose around 10kg by following the Slow-Carb diet from &lt;a href=&quot;http://fourhourbody.com&quot;&gt;“The 4 Hour Body”&lt;/a&gt; by Tim Ferris.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This year I’ve committed to turning things around with a pretty ambitious set of goals. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to meet all of them or whether some of them are unrealistic given how many I’ve set for myself but I’m treating it as an experiment which I’ll alter as the year progresses. The important thing for me is that I’ve explicitly set out some goals and actively track them so that I can see what progress I’m making and can celebrate achieving.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;One of the most radical changes I’m making is turning myself from a Night Owl to an Early Bird. In order to make more time available, I’m getting up at 5:30am to get around 90 minutes to either work on one of my projects or do a work-out (improving my fitness is another goal). This means that I’m also going to bed much earlier. I’ve instituted a policy of no screens in the bedroom and I finish working on any screens by around 9:30pm with the aim of being in bed by 10pm and winding down by reading fiction, hopefully being asleep by 10:30am.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve actually been doing this for about 3 weeks now and I must admit that it’s not been as hard as I expected; I get my clothes ready the night before and have a glass of water by my bedside so that when I wake up I don’t have any decisions to make. I have found that I do need a clear idea or plan for what I am going to achieve in the morning session otherwise it’s too easy to start checking twitter or browsing articles — and then the time is blown.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve created a separate page on my site detailing my goals and I’ll be keeping it updated as I revise and achieve them. Feel free to &lt;a href=&quot;/goals&quot;&gt;check it out&lt;/a&gt; and follow along.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ll meet you back here at the end of the year and we’ll see how I’ve got on.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Automating Git repository setup with Capistrano</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/automating-git-repository-setup-with-capistrano"/>
<updated>2008-12-08T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/automating-git-repository-setup-with-capistrano</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Setting up a remote repository for Git is really easy, but who wants to type things unnecessarily? Tonight I knocked up a task for Capistrano which &lt;em&gt;gitify’s&lt;/em&gt; your current directory then creates a remote git repository and pushes to it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s based on a bit of code by &lt;a href=&quot;http://peepcode.com&quot;&gt;Geoffrey Grosenbach&lt;/a&gt; but modified for my needs. I have a VPS which is where I want to host my repositories. This should also work if you’re running on a shared host like Dreamhost where you have ssh access, though I haven’t tested it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Simply cut and paste the following code into &lt;code&gt;~/.caprc&lt;/code&gt; then you can run:&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;pre&gt;&lt;code&gt;cap git:setup scm=t
&lt;/code&gt;&lt;/pre&gt;
&lt;p&gt;If it’s a Rails app then you can also do&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;pre&gt;&lt;code&gt;cap git:setup scm=t railsapp=t
&lt;/code&gt;&lt;/pre&gt;
&lt;p&gt;which will add .gitignore files to exclude the basics like log and temp files, .DS_Store, .sqlite3 and the api docs&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;script src=&quot;http://gist.github.com/33269.js&quot;&gt;&lt;/script&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>design principles cheatsheet</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/design-principles-cheatsheet"/>
<updated>2008-08-10T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/design-principles-cheatsheet</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/elephant-drawing-small.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;An elephant I drew when I was thirteen&quot; /&gt; I’ve always enjoyed art and design and wasn’t too bad at it, though never quite as good as I wanted to be. For quite a while through high school I was interested in becoming an Architect hopeful that it would satisfy my desire to mix science/engineering with art/design. My interest in computers won through and until the last couple of years, whilst I still dabbled in the design side of things, my focus had been much more on the logical, engineering side. Now though, I’m enjoying getting involved in design tasks again and it’s also informing my programming in many ways. (This is something I’m hoping to cover more in future posts.)&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;One thing has always passed me by though, and that’s typography. I’ve never really paid much attention to it, but since watching a documentary by Stephen Fry on Gutenberg a few months ago I’ve become fascinated with it. With credit card in hand I made my way to Waterstones and visited the design section. I picked up &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1856694372&quot;&gt;Type &amp;amp; Typography (Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam)&lt;/a&gt; as well as &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0321534050&quot;&gt;The Non-Designer’s Design and Type Books, Deluxe Edition (Robin Williams)&lt;/a&gt;. A slight detour via the science fiction section, a few moleskines and a lighter bank balance and I’m on my way home.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I thought I’d start with Robin Williams (not the comedian) book to brush up on my design skills and get a gentler introduction to type. Overall, I was very impressed with the book. It was an easy read and it really got the information over well, I highly recommend you buy a copy. Eager to put my new-found skills and inspired by Amy Hoy’s &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.slash7.com/articles/2006/11/3/stuff-you-can-download&quot;&gt;cheatsheets&lt;/a&gt; I thought I would put together my own on design principles.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I know I’ve broken a few design rules in putting it together but my aim was to illustrate some of the &lt;em&gt;Don’ts&lt;/em&gt; as well as the &lt;em&gt;Do’s&lt;/em&gt;. That said, I would really appreciate any feedback or criticism you may have on the overall design and the typefaces I chose along with any tips you might have for improvement. Any recommendations for books or other resources are also most welcome.
&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.elaptics.co.uk/assets/design-principles-cheatsheet.pdf&quot;&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/design-principles-cheatsheet-tm.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Design Principles Cheatsheet&quot; /&gt;&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Backpack Journal Dashboard Widget</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/backpack-journal-dashboard-widget"/>
<updated>2008-06-13T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/backpack-journal-dashboard-widget</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;At work we use quite a few 37signals products to manage our internal processes and client projects, one of which is Backpack. 37signals recently introduced a new feature, &lt;em&gt;Journal&lt;/em&gt;, for tracking what you’ve done and what you’re currently doing which we’re trying out to see if it’s a good fit for us. On their product blog there was a &lt;a href=&quot;http://37signals.blogs.com/products/2008/05/dashboard-widge.html&quot;&gt;recent post&lt;/a&gt; about a Dashboard widget for updating your status and journal entries.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;That’s pretty cool, I thought, but kinda redundant because Safari on Leopard has an awesome, but probably somewhat underused, webclip button which allows you to grab part of a webpage and have it turned into a widget. And as all programmers know, the best code to write is no code. So I have grabbed the updating part of the page as per the widget described and also the team’s recent updates. As a double bonus, it updates the clips when you invoke Dashboard so you get the latest team updates straight away rather than what you’d normally be having to do is refresh your browser’s page yourself.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Ok, I’m blind, where’s this button?&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Right here…
&lt;img src=&quot;/images/webclip-tm.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Webclip&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And this is what mine looks like on my Dashboard. The webclip widgets also allow you to put different frames around the clip, just flip it over and pick from the options. This season my two widgets are sporting the latest in Torn Edge and Glass themes fashion.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;img src=&quot;/images/backpack-on-dashboard-tm.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Backpack on Dashboard&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Blast from the past</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/blast-from-the-past"/>
<updated>2008-06-09T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/blast-from-the-past</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;In an attempt to ensure that I keep this blogging lark up, I thought I would resurrect an old post I made a couple of years ago to a now defunct blog to serve as a starting point and thus I’ll revisit where I am now in a future post.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h1 id=&quot;a-brief-history-of-computing-well-according-to-me&quot;&gt;A brief history of computing (well, according to me)&lt;/h1&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve had an interest in computers ever since I wrote my first Basic program, when I was eleven, on our Tandy 1000 and began poking around it’s memory with Norton Utilities trying to crack the high score tables of some of the games we had. (I even managed to succeed with a couple!)&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Fast forwarding several years of Amiga programming I ended up building my own PC which has been upgraded many times to the current incarnation that’s sitting under my desk here. It stopped being upgraded when I discovered Apple Macs and (maybe more importantly) Mac OS X. And it’s through Macs that I came to discover Ruby on Rails. In my search for the ultimate text editor, which I found in &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.macromates.com&quot;&gt;TextMate&lt;/a&gt;, I saw a video of TextMate being used with this web framework thingy. What piqued my interest was not only the fact that it seemed so quick to put together a basic application but the guy who was demonstrating it was clearly so passionate about it.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;the-gem-in-all-of-this&quot;&gt;The gem in all of this&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I started looking into it and the philosophies behind it, and I think that a combination of them and where my head is at now is the reason that it all seems to gel together nicely. The key piece of the jigsaw, that seems to be often overlooked in all the hype, is Ruby. It really is a joy to use and like many Ruby fans have said it “just fits your brain”.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The majority of my past programming experience has been in procedural programming and although many of the languages I have used have some elements of Object Oriented programming I’ve never really been able to fully wrap my head around the principles of Object Orientation until now. At university we used Smalltalk but I never got it, it just didn’t feel right and it didn’t excite me. Somehow, and I really can’t explain how, Ruby just feels right. I can write code the way my brain thinks and though I don’t know Ruby very well yet I write what I think it ought to be and very often it turns out it is and the code works.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;But the proof is in the pudding; I’m still learning the ropes but even with that in mind I have built a proof of concept app for an internal company project from start to finish in 5 hours with Ruby on Rails; that’s from inception to a working prototype oh, and I had to find out how to do some stuff in Rails too, so I reckon that time can be cut down somewhat too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So where does that leave us? Well it convinced me that it is viable for us to use it to build web apps in our spare time in a reasonable length of time - and have fun doing it! By letting us be more productive it should also allow us to spend more time on the little things that matter, the things that make a good app into a great app.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Having said that, I’d certainly like to hear your stories of how you got into Ruby and/or Rails, and also if you didn’t.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>New Design, New Beginnings?</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/new-design-new-beginnings"/>
<updated>2008-05-26T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/new-design-new-beginnings</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Finally gotten around to updating my site to consolidate everything into one&lt;br /&gt;
place. I spent a bit of time deciding what to do –should I just go “old&lt;br /&gt;
school” and hand code everything, or should I write my own little blogging tool?&lt;br /&gt;
In the end, as much as I quite fancied writing my own blogging tool I have too&lt;br /&gt;
little time on my hands to do that and plenty of other projects that I’d rather&lt;br /&gt;
be working on, so I plumped for WordPress, as it’s one I’ve used before and the&lt;br /&gt;
newest version is pretty nice to use. And it’s easy to get set up.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;So, here’s to new beginnings and a hope that I will keep this site much more up&lt;br /&gt;
to date with my thoughts and perhaps even a few articles…&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>A dubious first!</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/a-dubious-first"/>
<updated>2006-07-28T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/a-dubious-first</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Well apparently I can claim a first - for being spammed through ma.gnolia! Yes, apparently nowhere is safe from spam now.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Today I received a message within ma.gnolia (the really nice bookmarking website, for those of you who don’t know) from member donco. I’ve posted a screenshot of the message for posterity. &lt;img src=&quot;/images/magnolia-spam.jpg&quot; alt=&quot;Magnolia Spam&quot; /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;An a related note, I’m in the closing stages of putting together a widget for Mac OS X Tiger to quickly search just your own ma.gnolia bookmarks. When it’s done I’ll put it on my website for download and maybe see if I can get it listed on ma.gnolia itself. Speaking of websites, I’m also just getting my actual site up (www.elaptics.co.uk) if you want to see it in it’s current part-finished state. And that’s my rubbish excuse for not keeping this blog up to date!&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>.ds_store no more (on network shares at least!)</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/ds_store-no-more-on-network-shares-at-least"/>
<updated>2006-04-26T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/ds_store-no-more-on-network-shares-at-least</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Nothing exciting (for most people) but I’ve just finally found an easy way to stop creating the useless .ds_store files on non-mac network shares so I’m putting the info here for my posterity.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=301711&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;ol&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Open the Terminal&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Type:
&lt;code&gt;defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true&lt;/code&gt;&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Press Return&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;li&gt;Restart the computer&lt;/li&gt;
&lt;/ol&gt;
&lt;p&gt;As found on &lt;a href=&quot;www.textsnippets.com&quot;&gt;http://www.textsnippets.com&lt;/a&gt; (which also may come in handy in the future)&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Easier editing of TypoScript</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/easier-editing-of-typoscript"/>
<updated>2006-04-08T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/easier-editing-of-typoscript</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;I’ve recently discovered TextMate from
&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.macromates.com&quot;&gt;www.macromates.com&lt;/a&gt; - a superb text editor,&lt;br /&gt;
previously I’ve been using TextWrangler but I’m slowly using TextMate more and&lt;br /&gt;
more, one of it’s really great features is it’s expandability through the use of&lt;br /&gt;
bundles.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In getting to grips with the bundle editor I decided to put together a bundle&lt;br /&gt;
for editing TypoScript so that it has syntax highlighting plus I’ve added some&lt;br /&gt;
of the more common TypoScript objects as snippets to make it much quicker to put&lt;br /&gt;
your typoscript together. I’ve put a link to the TSRef doc online as well as&lt;br /&gt;
ensuring the comment toggle puts the right comment symbol in.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Not sure how it measures up as a first attempt but &lt;a href=&quot;&amp;#109;&amp;#097;&amp;#105;&amp;#108;&amp;#116;&amp;#111;:&amp;#097;&amp;#110;&amp;#100;&amp;#121;&amp;#064;&amp;#101;&amp;#108;&amp;#097;&amp;#112;&amp;#116;&amp;#105;&amp;#099;&amp;#115;&amp;#046;&amp;#099;&amp;#111;&amp;#046;&amp;#117;&amp;#107;&quot;&gt;drop me a&lt;br /&gt;
line&lt;/a&gt; if you find it useful or would like to see&lt;br /&gt;
some other things added to it, likewise if you add any more features why not&lt;br /&gt;
send them to me so I can include them here. If enough people are finding it&lt;br /&gt;
useful then we can also consider getting the bundle added to the main repository&lt;br /&gt;
at macromates.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’ve added the following scope selectors to the language grammars which you’ll&lt;br /&gt;
almost certainly want to add to your theme to have the syntax highlighted.&lt;br /&gt;
(Whether these are the best scopes to use I don’t know but feel free to suggest&lt;br /&gt;
others).&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;pre&gt;&lt;code&gt;entity.other.tsobject
entity.other.tsconstant
entity.other.tsvalue
entity.other.tscopy
&lt;/code&gt;&lt;/pre&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;strong&gt;UPDATE:&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;The bundle is much updated and now available from the macromates subversion&lt;br /&gt;
repository. Thanks to Sudara there is also a theme and a much better language&lt;br /&gt;
grammar. You can find it under the Review directory. (Maybe one of these days&lt;br /&gt;
I’ll iron out all the kinks and get it into the main section)&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>PC World ahead of the curve?</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/pc-world-ahead-of-the-curve"/>
<updated>2006-03-27T00:00:00+01:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/pc-world-ahead-of-the-curve</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Well looks like PC World have managed to pull off a bit of a coup - but they’re keeping it a bit quiet. Whilst some have &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.onmac.net/&quot;&gt;managed&lt;/a&gt; to get Windows XP running on the new Intel based Mac’s, PC World have managed to get Mac OS X running on non Apple based kit - at least if their new advert in the UK is anything to go by! The advert I saw on E4 last night shows the PC World website running on the Compaq notebook PC. Their web browser of choice? Apple’s Safari browser! :) Well at least now they’re admitting OS X is a better operating system to run!! :)&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Is this me?</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/is-this-me"/>
<updated>2006-03-14T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/is-this-me</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Ok, I just read this article &lt;a href=&quot;http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=08455&quot;&gt;TidBITS: From iPod to MacBook Pro: A Switcher’s Tale&lt;/a&gt; and it pretty much sounds like me and my view on the whole switching to Apple thing.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I’m not a total mac zealot but I do think that if you’ve thought about switching (and even if you haven’t), get yourself down to an Apple store or a reseller for Apple and have a go on one. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. One tip though; forget about Windows and how you have to do things, on the mac if you’re not sure how to do something try the really obvious thing and it usually works exactly like you’d expect.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Secret GMail account</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/secret-gmail-account"/>
<updated>2006-03-13T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/secret-gmail-account</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Wow, another week has flown by, nothing great to report other than I’ve found &lt;em&gt;another&lt;/em&gt; rss news reader which I’m trying out. (&lt;a href=&quot;http://kula.jp/software/endo/&quot;&gt;Endo&lt;/a&gt; for anyone who’s interested) plus I’m also trying out Wordpress to see the differences between that and Blogger.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Ok, the real reason for this post is just to note that I found out today that anyone who has a googlemail.com account with Google can still claim they have a gmail.com address and use it. I’m sure this isn’t secret at all (all I did was notice the headers of some mails sent to me through googlemail) but it’s good to know, googlemail just doesn’t have the same ring to it as gmail. Maybe, at some point we’ll lose the ability (if Google loses it’s legal battle) but for now it works.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Titles are the hardest thing to write!</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/titles-are-the-hardest-thing-to-write"/>
<updated>2006-03-04T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/titles-are-the-hardest-thing-to-write</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Well another week has shot by, haven’t really done much this week but suffice to say that I’ve been playing around with more apps again and been trying out various RSS readers to see if I can find one I like. At this stage I’m still not sure, I’m torn between &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.newsfirerss.com/&quot;&gt;Newsfire&lt;/a&gt; and &lt;a href=&quot;http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/&quot;&gt;NetNewsWire&lt;/a&gt;, what I really want is a mix of the two…&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Also, I think I’ve decided to forget del.icio.us for now, I’ve found &lt;a href=&quot;http://ma.gnolia.com/&quot;&gt;ma.gnolia.com&lt;/a&gt; instead which I think I prefer. It was certainly very easy to get bookmarks into it as opposed to del.icio.us where I have to find some other program to do the import. It’s also much nicer to look at, although sometimes it seems a little sluggish. It also has some nice features that del.icio.us doesn’t have, but it’s early days and I’m fickle so maybe by next week I’ll have found another one :)&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;My new website at &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.elaptics.co.uk&quot;&gt;www.elaptics.co.uk&lt;/a&gt; is coming along, I’ve got the main template up and running and I’ve decided to use &lt;a href=&quot;http://typo3.org/&quot;&gt;TYPO3&lt;/a&gt; 4beta as a bit of an excuse to test it. I’ve had a few problems which I’m still working through, it looks like many extensions are going to need some alterations to work satisfactorily in version 4 at this point though.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>More Reviews</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/more-reviews"/>
<updated>2006-02-25T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/more-reviews</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;Well as promised I said I would say a little more about the various apps I’ve found recently. I should note that I’m a mac user so these are all either mac specific or are web applications - so Windows users, go and get yourself a better computer :)&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://ecto.kung-foo.tv/&quot;&gt;ecto&lt;/a&gt; - Ok, I haven’t done too much with this yet but it’s really easy to use and looks like it has some nice handy features, set up and getting started was no problem whatsoever and I definitely prefer just being able to leave this running and quickly jot a note down in it for adding to later on. The ectoize shortcut/bookmark for the browser’s also seems a handy feature although I haven’t actually used it yet but it’s still early days. Maybe this is another review I should come back to in another couple of weeks but I guess the real proof will be whether I think it’s worth purchasing to continue using after the trial period is over. By the way Windows users, if you’re still reading this, ecto is available for your platform too.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;&lt;a href=&quot;http://www.kudurshian.net/highpriority/&quot;&gt;High Priority&lt;/a&gt; - I found this app by reading Douglas Bowman’s blog at &lt;a href=&quot;http://www.stopdesign.com/log/2006/01/27/mac-app-high-priority.html&quot;&gt;Stopdesign&lt;/a&gt; and I had the same problem, I like to make notes of things to do but I’d never found anything that quite did what I wanted, I thought iCal was it but if I didn’t have it running (more often than not) then I would forget about it and jot things down on paper again. But I think this is IT. It’s well worth the whole $6/£3.50 asking price. The only one feature that I think is missing is having some kind of date picker for setting the due date on a new or edited item.&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>Playing with stuff</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/playing-with-stuff"/>
<updated>2006-02-22T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/playing-with-stuff</id>
<content type="html">&lt;h1 id=&quot;psp-video&quot;&gt;PSP Video&lt;/h1&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Been playing with various things the last few days, mainly trying to get video’s onto my PSP. It’s been more of a pain than it ought to be. There’s not so many programs for the mac to make it as simple as it ought to be. The few that I found were more expensive than free and not as good as mac apps should be. Finally found one that seems to get it in the right format without much hassle but it looks like it’s early in it’s development because you can only do one file at a time, so a queuing feature would be nice. Otherwise it does a good job as well as being free. You can find it here &lt;a href=&quot;http://homepage.mac.com/major4/&quot;&gt;ffmpegX a DVD, SVCD, VCD, CVD, VOB, DivX, XviD, H.264, PSP, iPod, MP4, MOV encoder for Mac OSX&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;It’s a real pain that you can’t just drop the files that most podcasts and the other video formats come in straight onto the PSP. The conversions take around 10 mins or more for 20 min videos so you can’t just drop them on at a whim if you suddenly need to go out and you want to take the videos with you.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;I found that the best settings for the podcasts I get from iTunes are to use the PSP H.264 preset setting and then go and alter the video resolution to 320x240 unless it’s already a widescreen video. It’s also worth making sure it’s set to NTSC. Apparently PAL works on PSPs with later firmware but when I re-encoded a video the audio was out with the video.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;h2 id=&quot;delicious&quot;&gt;del.icio.us&lt;/h2&gt;
&lt;p&gt;In the course of getting this blog set up I’ve been reading a few blogs and come across various nifty apps (web and mac), some of which I’d seen before but not really considered as being of that great a benefit. Being in a webby mood I thought I’d give them a try. I’m pleasantly surprised with del.icio.us thus far, although I can’t actually access the site right now - I hope this is a one off and it’s not down too much otherwise it’s going to rapidly get binned. What’s the point of having all your bookmarks available on any computer if you can’t access them if the site’s down or too busy? And now it’s back up! :)&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;Maybe tomorrow I’ll add some more first thoughts on del.icio.us along with some of the other apps and utils I’ve found.&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;And please someone tell me why I’m listening to 80s on iTunes??&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
<entry>
<title>First Posting</title>
<link href="http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/first-posting"/>
<updated>2006-02-20T00:00:00+00:00</updated>
<id>http://www.elaptics.co.uk/journal/first-posting</id>
<content type="html">&lt;p&gt;As you might have guessed from the title, this is my first posting on my brand spanking new blog that almost certainly no-one is going to read!&lt;/p&gt;
&lt;p&gt;This blog is mainly just an easy place for me to plonk information that’s useful to me because I’m too lazy to come up with my own website design for now…&lt;/p&gt;
</content>
</entry>
</feed>