The Person

Hard-core family man. Loyalty. Strength. Dedication to one another.


A love of words, writing, reading, listening, singing, praising, rejoicing.


Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

The Professional

Self-employed web publisher. Programmer. Developer.


Consultant. Aid. Help. Advisor.


Happily employed with Search Engine People.

Small Town America Between Our Ears

“We haven’t been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. […] She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness […]

[…] the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial. There are lifestyle choices that were nearly unimaginable in 1960 […]

With the advent of television, these changes became inescapable. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns.
Sarah Palin’s Myth of America , Time

Whether you live in the USA or not — I don’t — you’ll recognize these themes, these ideas, as they’re true for most developed countries: small town simplicity, small town life, small town morality is a) gone and b) was never really here to begin with. In its place there’s a bunch of people happening to live between the same borders but with desires, ideas and values so widely apart that coming to a new cultural agreement we never had anyway will never ever happen. Ever.

It’s a view of our society that leaves you and many others like you feeling cut off from the rest of the country, your country. Usually just a little bit, just before you harden yourself again and become realistic in a global economy type of way.

By having our idea, our desire, posed as an anachronism we’re being denied not only the target of our desire but the desire itself. The same mechanism prevents anything from having to change or be improved upon, prevents a Vision, a Goal, because, remember, there’s nothing to work towards to. We’re all just a bunch of scattered random sets of values.

And that’s a shame because this desire for some kind of richer life through simplicity, honesty and righteousness, this desire to go back to what we know once was, seems to me to be a major unifying factor.

A Small Town Desire

Small town patterns and desires are part of our everyday life.

We may live in a megacity like New York, a universe in its own right, yet we move in small, predictable ways, usually moving no more than 10 km (about 6 miles) max.

Big city, small town.

6%, and growing, of the USA’s households live in gated communities. We’re not talking rich, powerful and exclusive here either. Renters are 2 1/2 times more likely than buyers to be living in a gated community. Nor is it a white affair: Hispanics are more likely to live in a gated community than blacks or whites.

And what is it they’re looking for there? Apart from a sense of security they’re looking for a sense of togetherness, a place where “everybody knows your name”.

A Small Town Life

If you don’t have a physical place to belong, one where everybody knows your name, we still have the Internet where small communities of a handful of people interacting socially are now Big Word Labeled “social networks”.

Sounds good but what they are is Cheers, a town meeting, it’s “hidyho, neighbor!“.

Updating your status on Facebook is not just convenient; it’s wanting people to know you and what you’re doing.

That’s small town in a big way.

Between The Ears

Small Town USA is a desire, and by and large a destination, between our ears.

It’s a desire for scalability and scale itself. A desire to be connected, interconnected, recognized and acknowledged. To see not just cars pass by but life.

I think that this desire is so broadly shared its fulfillment could be a goal, an ideology in itself. Should be. To use our diversity as a culture, a species, as an excuse to not fulfill our dreams because we might disagree about the ways we fulfill them would be a waste. An error. Our shared desire is the very homogeneity we’re looking for.

Intention Deficit

If you feel it’s all just too much information and you don’t experience the stream of information available to you as something great and laid back then you might be suffering from Intention Deficit.

Intention Drives Actions

Normally we intent to do something with something at a specific time and place. Thus we find ourselves in the supermarket with the intention to buy groceries.

Removing intention from the equation is frustrating.

Loss of intention makes your actions meaningless and impossible.

Ever stood up to go to the kitchen only to find yourself thinking; “Why am I here?” That’s loss of intention for you right there…

Intention Deficit Kills Information Joy

If you don’t have a clear intention for each piece of information you expose yourself to soon that information will become a source of distraction and frustration.

You open your feedreader, see “1000+ unread” and think; oh no. Clicking “mark all as read” you sigh, clench your muscles and think “I failed again but this time I’ll stay current and up to date — this time I’ll read it all, all the time”.

From Intent to Read to Intention for Reading

jump-for-joy

The clearer your intention, the better you feel. “I follow this feed to stay up to date on the news in my industry” sounds like a clear intention but soon you’ll find yourself stressed at somehow staying “up to date”.

Why?

Because the question is; why do want to stay up to date? Answering that question for yourself gives you a chance to bring things back to your real life; “I follow this feed to stay up to date in order to learn about code exploits as soon as possible so I can protect the company server”.

If you find yourself storing information or URL’s ask yourself: what do I intent to do with this?

The fact that it is remotely interesting isn’t enough. You have to know for yourself “I save this article because I’m planning to write about the body-space awareness of termites”.

More elsewhere:

  • Horizons of Focus
  • Covey’s idea of Roles (would love to include a link but alas, can’t find a good write-up on it! Know one?)

Do you think clear intention helps — or do you maybe think all this talk about information processing and knowledge work is way overdone?

Treat Your Feeds Like Magazines

Adopting a “first in, maybe never out” approach to RSS feeds assures you have tons and tons of content from sources you know you like.

It’s there, ready to go when you want to enjoy it.

This Saturday morning, for example, I passed in bed with some heavenly espresso (Italian stovetop method, yes) and tons of great, funny, interesting, emotional, informing articles. It’s like having a huge pile of recent magazines.

Be Your Own News Filter

Young woman reading a magazineAs you browse through your collection of feeds and feed items you’ll come across a lot of tasty stuff. Just as with reading a magazine, it’s perfectly OK to skip forward to what caught your interest, to sample and article or to earmark another for later reading.

In Google Reader the Starred Items works perfectly for this. [S]tar that post, [S]tar that item you think sounds like a good read, [S]tar for later on.

This routine is like being your own news filter. Not only do you have your hand selected subscriptions waiting for you; you have your hand selected “most interesting” articles preselected.

Photo at the generous courtesy of AJ Schuster

Surfing vs. Information Overload

My main reaction to the idea of information overload is one of disbelief. David Allen does a wonderful job giving words to that disbelief:

"If information overload was the issue you’d walk into a library and die. The first time you surf the web, you blow up."

Now as we don’t have people dying or suffering a mental meltdown caused by information "overload", clearly we don’t mean "overload".

What we’re trying to say is; "Look, there’s too much information here to digest". To which my answer is; so?

If someone is clutching his stomach complaining about "food overload" caused by there being too much food to digest, you’d ask "but why in the world do you try to eat it all at the same time?!"

Take Television

Information abundance isn’t new. Just think about the thousands of television programs, the hundreds of hours you could spend in front of the tube. Hard news, breaking news, reportages, documentaries…

TV screens

Hear anyone complain?

Between 1993-2002 television program supply in Finland (PDF) increased by 73%; 23 additional TV program hours per day. Yet television viewing time over that same period increased by only 40 minutes a day.

And no-one is collapsing under TV, entertainment or information overload.

Why?

Don’t Try To Finish

Nobody in his right mind will try to finish watching all programs on all channels.

Likewise no-one around you is attempting to read all newspaper article in all newspapers. Or sitting in a library speed-reading all books.

And you yourself, when you sat down and connected to the World Wide Web, were just "surfing the web"; you weren’t actually trying to reach the "last page" and finish, were you?

The same holds true for your RSS feeds. Yes, there’re 1000+ unread items. Great! Even if everyone would stop publishing today, you would still have a ton of great reads ahead.

Because face it, you don’t need to "catch up" with all those unread items. Stand up! Surf! Welcome to the information wave.

From Google Reader automatically into Gmail

Gmail works great as a personal nerve center.

An efficient way to get data into the system, apart from typing it or using the Send To button or GmailThis bookmarklet, is a combination of Google Reader and FeedBurner.

Whenever I come across something in Google Reader that I might want to use as reference material later on, I don’t star it (S) but Share It (SHIFT + S).

I have a FeedBurner feed setup for the feed of those Shared Items and have configured that feed to have an email version available as well.

Subscribe to that email version and voila, once a day the full texts of my shared items arrives in my Gmail, gets labeled DB (database) and removed from view.

Mind Like Water: PHP’s Stateless State

In karate there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water”.
— David Allen, Getting Things Done

I find web applications, scripts, fascinating. Like water their natural state is stateless. And like water they have no memory at all.

Every time you interact with a web application is its first time ever. Every single time is its first and only time.
Continue Reading…

Home Baked Bread

Nothing beats the authentic smell of fresh home-made bread and coffee in the early morning.

Bread and coffee both have those authentic smells you just can’t fake.

For years I’ve been kneading my own dough and baking my own bread. And even though the time that I have available has been considerably reduced as I have gathered more contracts, I still make my own bread. And coffee.
Continue Reading…

Semper Fidelis

To strive towards the highest and even most noble code of conduct is not only a matter of personal conviction but also makes for sound business sense.
Continue Reading…

Google ranking is for hobbyists

Godfried Bomans, a Dutch writer, always talked about his family. He would mention uncles and aunts endlessly, always changing their names, ages; they didn’t exist — they were simply a vehicle to introduce his story.

My single most important lessons are like that.
Continue Reading…

Where is your web site?

One of the questions you get to answer most as a web developer is; “Where is your web site?”

Incredulous as it seems, an astounding number of web developers or people otherwise engaged in web-centric business have either no web site or something that barely resembles a web site.

I had opted for the latter.

Programming

See, when you’re a web developer people expect you dish out a site (expectation #1) that says “wow, look at me dude — I’m happening!” (expectation #2) whereas in reality you’re busy meeting the expectations of your clients.

When you finally get to doing your own site, Friday night at 4:18 AM, writing the words “Hello World” seems like a good enough idea. Somewhere down the line you make some more time (“I won’t be long, honey!”), add a page or two about how good you are — and that’s basically it.

The Truth

As the X-Files put it; it’s out there.

Web designers have portfolio’s with cute little thumbnails. Pure SEO’s have logo’s of clients and their ranking to point to.

But as a web developer you have zills. Nada. Notti. If you’re worth your money your work is invisible. There is nothing to point to.

Take Notepad for example. Everyone running Windows has it on their computer. Virtually everyone has used it at one point or another. It’s extremely simple in what it does, but could you program it? Apart from the general idea, the vision, could you write the actual lines to make your computer perform these tasks?

Given that, did you at any moment in time think “wow, this programmer was really good” or “hmm, dunno what this guy was thinking but…”.

No.

Tired

I hate to present myself as someone I’m not. I’m not a corporate person. Would I handle things “The Right Way” I’m sure I could make a lot more money than I do now.

But I’m a programmer and the only corporate, the only business side in me is my golden rule to underpromise and overdeliver.

As such I spend long hours, I mean long, programming other people’s visions, projects and ideas. By the time I’m done I don’t feel like editing my site and making myself look a little bit more corporate, a little bit more professional, a little bit more desirable.

By that time I just want to tell it like it is.

That’s what a blog should be for, should be about.

This is my site.

Hat tip to Kim whose post about blogging instilled in me the desire to go this route

Custom Queries for Evernote

Custom Queries for Evernote

Custom Queries for Evernote

How I Use Projects in Evernote (and tie them back to actions)

12 Month + Some People Tickler File

Recurrence in Evernote GTD