Categories
Apps Personal Development

So Many Shiny Tools

There is a huge amount of tools out there. And part of me is always occupied with tools. Shiny new tools to make my (or my colleague’s) work a bit easier.

My inclination to be on the lookout for new tools is part personal and part professional deformation. In my day job I am constantly looking where I can improve processes or tools.

In my personal life I am always testing some tool or another. Sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes because I want or need to get rid of a tool in my toolbox and need a replacement.

The last time that happened was when I decided that Evernote just is too bloated for note-taking. My process when something like that happens is that I dive deep into what is available and compare that with my way of working.

Keeping with the note-taking example, I know that I take a lot of notes. And I know that I prefer to use an app that has little to none distractions.

Evernote had more and more options and that made me slightly uncomfortable at first. And in the end, it made me hugely uncomfortable. Because of all the options, it felt to me like I was busier finding a structure to put my notes in than with taking notes.

I moved my notes to Notion. An excellent tool for many things, including simple databases, kanban boards and collection of reference material. But not for note-taking, or at least not for me.

So on the move again. Some more research led me to Bear. A simple and clean app for macOS and iOS that is excellent. The only thing it lacks is a way to access my notes from Windows or a web interface. Not a big problem because my iPad is always near me when I am working and I don’t mind copying the few notes I took in the Windows environment to Bear

With Bear as an important part of my current setup, I still find myself looking ahead. On my list of tools to try is Roam. A notetaking app that adds something very interesting to the mix. It has the ability to interlink your notes. Not only by actively making links, it also, and that is the big thing for me, shows you unlinked references. Thoughts and notes that connect to what you are currently writing and give you insights into the links between your notes that you missed. I can’t wait to play around with those! As soon as I get the invite.

Categories
Personal Development

Strange Times

We are living in strange times. As so many people, I have also seen my life be influenced heavily by the outbreak of the Corona virus and subsequent measures.

My significant other works long days as an elderly care physician and I find myself thrown into the role of teacher, beside the regular dad-duties that continue despite everything that’s happening.

The weirdest part for me is starting a new job amidst all this. The entire process of interviews and contract negotiations took place before the outbreak.

And thus I found me, at my first day at work, in my own home office, behind my own PC. Videochatting with my new colleagues, most of whom I never met before.

I am not opposed to remote work. I strongly believe that remote work will grow and become the standard for many careers in the future. Normally we all get into our cars and move from where we live to where we work. We call that a traffic jam. We sit in office spaces that are less than optimal for the work we do.

I think that we do that because we are used to do that. Our ancestors did it to go to the mines or the factory. Because they had no choice. So logically (?) we applied the same pattern to our work when many of us no longer did work that depended on the location where you were working.

So many people nowadays are knowledge workers. People who need only two things to do their work. Their mind and a way to get the things the mind conjures up out of their head and onto something they can share with other people.

And yes, I know that not all people can easily work remotely. The part of my partner’s job that involves examining people can’t be done remotely. The many people that work for the same mental healthcare company I started working for and that are charged with the care for our clients can’t do all of their work remotely.

But the corona outbreak shows that many things can be done remotely. That people, when the need is high, can change and adapt to a new reality.

And I hope this will help people to see the benefits of remote work and lead to a lasting change in work culture. So both employee and employer can benefit. Something to look forward to while we sit in self-isolation.

Categories
Coding

Day 2 of #100DaysOfSwift

Categories
Coding

Day 1 of #100DaysOfSwift

Categories
Coding Personal Development Work

Why I am Learning to Code

In my daily work, coding plays little part. As a consultant, I mainly spend my time researching solutions, planning their implementation and making sure “my” users get as many tools as I can give them to make the transition to that new solution. (Yes, this is a very brief summary of my work)

I might at times be part of the team that designs the software, but I tend to steer away from built-to-order software whenever I can. In my line of work, I can almost every time find software that helps my client do what needs to be done without resorting to developing custom software. Aside from the occational custom connection, that is.

And that is right for my current line of work. In the Netherlands there are multiple tools available for most of the tasks municipalities deal with. The ultimate choice depends mainly on the use-case and the larger view of the information architecture in that particular organisation.

So, why would I want to learn to code then? Excellent question! There are several reasons for that.

Because I want to

I don’t want to sound like a petulant child. But there is something to say for the very simple reason of learning something because you feel like it. I want to learn how to code, so I proceed to do so. I feel this is the prime motivation behind my desire. I like to learn new things.

Because it helps me in my work

In my opinion a good consultant should broaden his horizons as much as possible. In my work for municipalities I did that by going towards other departments and talk with the people there about their jobs. Not only in relation to my own, but to get a broad sense of what people were doing.

And it helps. Knowing why people need a new tool helps me find the best option for them. Just knowing that the wish exists is not enough. Seeing what issues arise from the current tool does.

And I think that learning to code is able to help me pinpoint the issues people have. Not because the actual act of programming is helpful in that, but because the way of thinking and applying logic can be used on people like it is used on code.

It helps me communicate

In my work often talk to tech people. Either because I need their help, or to act as a go-between with tech on the one side and the end-user on the other.

To do this properly, I believe I should know a bit about the tech side of things. I know that tech is much broader than just programming, but it is the biggest hiatus in my knowledge I have identified so it is the first I want to fix.

Coding improves creativity

I solve problems for a living. And while I often can fall back on established practices, at times a more creative approach is needed. And I think coding will help me to spark that creativity.

Besides that, coding can be a creative tool in itself as well. I have some ideas for little side-projects that might solidify as my coding journey continues.

Categories
Coding

The Start of a Journey

Today marks the start of an interesting journey. I am going to take you along as I learn how to code in Swift.

In the past I have learned a bit of Swift here and there but I want to learn for real now. And what better time to do that than now!

Due to me changing jobs, I have an entire month without work in March. I plan to use that time to make quite a bit of headway learning Swift. To hold me accountable, I plan to share my progress with you every day.

Because I am quite stubborn, and because I can’t choose, I more or less combine two courses to learn Swift. The first one is this Udemy course by Angela Yu. I did a bit of it a few months ago and now I plan to complete it. To do that I start anew, but the first part should be quite fresh in my memory. Or so I hope.

The second one is called 100daysofSwift and, surprisingly, aims to teach you Swift in a hundred days. It aims at an input of 1 hour a day. And asks you to log your progress daily by tweeting, instagramming or posting on whatever other social media outlet you prefer.

I will do that, whilst also write a little here every day. Mainly for myself as a sort of “Coder’s Log”, but also as an extra incentive to do the work. You guys will have to hold me accountable.

Let’s go…

Categories
Books

Discovering Something New

My particular brand of sci-fi has always been the kind of story with an emphasis on discovery, society and or technology. Even those set in a war or referencing violent episodes in that particular universe never were mainly about violent conflict.

Part of me always believed that I didn’t enjoy that kind of story. But I was very surprised when reading the books in the The Universe After series by Drew Williams,  that I very much enjoyed the fast-paced, combat-heavy story spun out in the first two novels belonging to this series.

With The Stars Now Unclaimed and A Chain Across The Dawn already out and the third book, The Firmament Of Flame slated for release in February 2020, you don’t have to wait to dive into this exiting universe. Go and read!

Categories
Personal Personal Development

When Your Mind Is Not Your Friend

In an ideal world, your mind is reasonably in tune with your body and your life. At the moment, mine is most definitely not. The last few months have been a rollercoaster when it comes to both physical and mental health. I have long hesitated to write about this as it is a very personal topic. Then again, I know from experience that writing about it has positive effects on me.

A little backstory

To get where I am going what this, a little backstory is necessary. In March 2017 I had surgery for an issue with the link between my oesophagus and stomach. This surgery was the end of a more than a year-long period with lots of physical pain and bad reactions to pain medication. And it worked, after the surgery, the pain was gone. The only thing left was the little pain the surgery itself had caused, but that went away quite quickly as well. Happy me!

But then…

About a year later, in May 2018, the pain came back. With a vengeance. I was angry, annoyed and sad because I did not see that coming and obviously wasn’t happy with it. It meant another long 3/4 of a year of being in a medical rollercoaster where I saw a lot of doctors, had a lot of examinations and am still not sure what is going on.

That weighs on the mind.

All that uncertainty and pain is having major effects on my mental health as well. It is hard to face this again, getting the impression that the surgery apparently did not work as well as hoped and getting a great scare last week when a neurologist told me that my pain symptoms in combination with a sudden drop in vision in one of my eyes might very well be a first sign of me having multiple sclerosis. That was, mentally, a big hit. Luckily I have a supportive girlfriend (who can explain medical things to me due to being a doctor herself) and family and friends that support me. But still, I also am currently on anti-depressants and in a therapy program to deal with all this stuff. Because I can not see my mental health separate from this and surely don’t want to fall into a depression again. A lot of medical appointments in the coming week, where hopefully I get 100% certainty it is not Multiple Sclerosis and also a plan for getting rid of my pain. A terrifying week ahead. Thanks for letting me rant!

Categories
Books Personal Development

Currently Reading, Now On The Blog

At the moment I strive to get myself to track a lot of stuff in my life. Things like what did I eat, what did I read, etc. To help with that and to share a bit of what I am doing, I now added a widget to this blog that shows what I am currently reading. At any given time I am reading two books. One for fun. One to learn from.

Not that those two can’t overlap, but it helps me to make that distinction. Look in the sidebar on your left for what I am currently reading.

Categories
Apps Personal Development

Guided Journaling

In the spring of 2018, a health issue popped up that I thought fixed by surgery in 2017. This health issue causes me a lot of pain. Pain that is extremely annoying and has a big influence on my ability to function. In order to track the pain (and hopefully its cause), I journal about it.

I know stumbled across Grapefruit, an app by Angus Woodman (who is also the creator of the theme I use on this blog), that not only offers a guided way to journal, but also options to customise the questions I need to answer. I think this is the thing I needed to track this well, I will review after a few weeks of usage.