August 5, 2017

A terrible case for not reading paper books

In Why you should quit reading paper books, Andy Sparks writes:

When you read on Kindle and highlight passages that you find beautiful, interesting, or challenging, you’re sending your future self a hell of a gift

That’s true, but here’s my version:

When you read a paper book and write in the margins or highlight passages that you find beautiful, interesting, or challenging, you’re sending your future self and generations to come a hell of a gift.

My version is better.

I’m 100% certain that the electronic versions of Kindle highlights, no matter how many backups or exports exist, will disappear with my death, or shortly thereafter. Browsing a loved one’s old books and reading the margin notes and seeing the highlights is a wonderful experience, and will remain so for decades to come.

I’ve found that the ability to electronically search highlights is over-rated and seldom used. I peruse dog-eared pages and passages from my real books (I call them real” books because that’s what they are) whenever I need inspiration or to refresh my memory of a book.

If I think I’ll want to recall some specific fact or quote later, I write it manually on an index card, my commonplace book, and/or type it into DEVONthink. The act of rewriting important passages has the added benefit of helping it stick in my memory.

For me, the benefits of paper books far outweigh any minor inconveniences. There’s a reason ebooks are losing.

reading analog books kindle
August 5, 2017

People who don’t have a Productivity System” are more productive

I spend what many would call a ridiculous amount of time tinkering with my systems”. I enjoy it, but I also like to think it helps me work smarter and faster than those unfortunate saps who just toss a bunch of files into a folder and keep a single TextEdit document open. Or worse, people who manage their lives by setting and un-setting flags and unread statuses in their gmail or whatever. ::shudder::. I goggle at the insanity of living inside an email client. I know better than that!

But, I’ve noticed something lately while standing behind these workflow?-what-workflow? types. I’m astonished at how quickly and efficiently they do things. Their system” (it shouldn’t even be called that) is a mess, and yet they find everything easily and quickly.

This is very upsetting. After years of trial and error all I seem to be able to find quickly is error. Now, where did I put that thing?” Hang on, Emacs won’t start for some reason.” This app is usually so fast, I’m not sure what’s going on today.” And so on.

Considering all of the time and effort I’ve put into this, I have to question the whole concept of having a productivity system.”

It’s making me think, and I don’t like where it’s going.

August 5, 2017

I’ve had all this figured out for years

I love trying new things, but I’m not sure why bother. I’ve had most things figured out for years.

Here’s a quick, incomplete list of software and hardware that have continued to work for me, doing what they were designed to do, without much fuss or trouble, for a very long time. In no particular order.


Apps and formats that have been around a long time and have burned themselves into my life. These are the things I always come back to.

  • BBEdit
  • Tinderbox
  • DEVONthink
  • Text files (a la Markdown)
  • nvAlt
  • Photo Mechanic
  • OmniFocus
  • Vim
  • Dropbox
  • Files and folders, organized neatly, viewed in Finder (or Pathfinder)
  • Transmit


I look for newer, better, faster all the time. Sometimes I find it, but mostly I just keep using these…

  • Leica M6 w/50mm Summicron and Tri-X
  • Domke satchel
  • DVDs (or now, Blu-ray)
  • Manual typewriters (Olympia SM3, mostly)
  • iPhone
  • Pen and paper
  • Watch (automatic)
July 30, 2017 Josie-in-car-(Olympus Stylus Epic, Tri-X)Josie-in-car-(Olympus Stylus Epic, Tri-X)
July 30, 2017 Gail and I at The ScoreGail and I at The Score
July 20, 2017

Blogging from Emacs

This is just a test post from emacs via Blot.

blogging emacs