Week ending 6/27/2021

Chrome Tabs : 80 → 74

Gmail Inbox : 61 → 65 Unread, 64 → 70 Total

I took a 10 day road trip with a friend and his dog, and thus a break from journaling here (although arguably a journal of the trip itself could have been interesting - maybe next time). We were aiming for some less popular areas of Northern California and Oregon, mostly eastward, and it was definitely an adventure, with a sudden cold snap, rain, big waterfalls, snowy lakes and mountain peaks, old friends, good food, and more. Here are some photos!

It was Sam’s “gotcha day” this week. I didn’t really do anything about it, but it’s a nice milestone to note. So far cat ownership is pretty great! Also she suuuper missed me after my trip and was very clingy for a few days. She’s still even more interested in lap time than she was before. Which is mostly adorable and not annoying. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

A friend of mine sadly passed away, and one of the things I wanted to do as a result was share any good photos I had of him. The perfect use case for face recognition in photo organizing software. I use Lightroom for the vast majority of my photo management and editing, and I have auto face-tagging enabled, so you think it’d be easy. But - not for the first time - I found Lightroom’s recognition accuracy to be poor, and the interface for making corrections is appallingly slow and clunky. I’m running on decent hardware, it really should be better than this. I’ve put up with it for a long time since I haven’t found anything that’s clearly better (I tried Capture One a while back and too seemed slow and clunky). But I think it’s time to look at alternatives again. So I’ll be testing ACDSee and some other options soon, but focusing on tools that provide face recognition since it’s integral to a lot of what I like to do with my photos.

My friend’s passing was of course very emotional; I haven’t lost anyone significant in my life for quite some time. It made me think back to when my dad passed away over 15 years ago, and it felt like a good opportunity for some reflections on grief and my own processing of that sort of thing. I found it interesting as well to just watch the shifts in how I was feeling day to day. The night I found out was pretty emotional, and the next day somewhat as well, but then a week or so went by and, although he came to mind, the intensity of feeling did not come to the surface as much. But it came back strongly again as I read through other people’s memories and saw their photos of him on Facebook. It’s been ups and downs throughout, and it’s all just valuable stuff to pay attention to I think.

I’ve been experimenting with improvements to my email workflow for the past month or two, trying to reduce the interruptions it can cause in my day and general productivity. It used to be the first thing I would do in the morning, read through all my email, and then keep up with it throughout the day. Inevitably this meant various articles and other links would show up and I’d get distracted reading them (or they’d clutter up my Chrome tabs through the day if I waited).

I know there are various extensions and services to “buffer” or “pause” your inbox and whatnot, but for now I’ve just been trying a fairly manual approach. I take 5-10 mins in the morning to quickly clear out my email, then I try not to deal with email much at all until evening when I’ll go through it all, open all the things, read articles, check new house listings, etc. In practice I still look at my email 5-10 times a day, but only for a minute or two each, occasionally deleting an email or something. It’s still too much, but it’s an improvement. It may be time to try an inbox pause function though…

I am in the midst of discussion with a product team I may end up consulting with, and I’m excited about the opportunity, but finding their communications patterns are worrying. Essentially it just takes them a really long time to respond to almost anything. I made what seemed like a fairly straightforward proposal almost 3 weeks ago and there has been no substantive update since then. Obviously this is a red flag, and if that kind of communications dysfunction continued into a consulting project, it would be quite likely to derail it sooner than later. At the least it would be a frustrating working environment.

But I mainly mention it here because it’s an interesting potential conundrum: the reason they’re interested in working with me is that they’re overloaded and don’t have enough time to handle their support needs, much less improve the efficiency of existing systems and processes! I have skills in both areas, so I can almost certainly help them manage that, and by the end of the contract they’d probably be in a better place. But I have to get onboard first! So it’s one of those challenging situations where the thing you need to do to fix your situation is made much more difficult - if not outright prevented - by the very situation you’re trying to resolve.

In any given week I probably try out at least one new app, and this one was no different. But I’m trying to get a bit more value out of my testing habit by taking better notes and then sending them to the developers, when I can. So when I got into the Clover beta this week, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to improve my process.

It took me about 2 hours to test everything I wanted to, taking notes throughout, then clean them up to send to the devs, and it seemed well worth it. They got back to me a while later and seemed to really appreciate what I had sent them. And I was honestly really impressed by the app, too! It’s a bit early in development, but it already includes pretty capable doc editor and whiteboards that can interlink with each other, including backlinks, etc, and it appears to be improving rapidly judging by their change logs. Keep an eye on this one! Another notes app that I spent less time with, but also deserves a look, is Saga.

I try to listen to a new audio book every month (in practice I tend to get through one every 2 months, maybe 1.5 on average). I just finished listening to Neil Gaiman’s “Anansi Boys”, which I quite enjoyed overall. Gaiman is pretty great in general, in my view, and the narrator for this particular story - Lenny Henry - was also really outstanding, doing a range of fun, well differentiated, and generally not over-the-top voices. I found the ending to be a bit of “wish fulfillment”, but it was still sweet, and a great listen overall. Next-up: Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”…

Last but not least, I finally returned to my “intermittent fasting” practice. Or at least, I did a fast day, which I haven’t done for some 5 months! If I manage to do another in the coming week, hopefully I can return to a weekly habit, if not a bit more frequent (my original goal was 2 days/wk of fasting). When I did this before I found a lot of benefits, and it wasn’t too difficult to actually manage the days. I just kind of fell out of it toward the end of last year, and actually throughout the pandemic it was more difficult than usual for some reason. So let’s see how I do…