The Exploding Scooter and Your Best Camera

Scooter (post explosion)
Scooter (post explosion)

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” This is a common phrase among photographers. It is true. The camera does not make the photograph. The photographer with opportunity does.

A few weeks ago while on the way home from a hike I was reminded of this. As I was driving through a small town I saw something that was strange, out of place, and almost shocking. A scooter that had burned up appearing as though it had exploded just sitting in a gas station parking lot. This was more than an unforeseen moment as I had my camera with me1. I knew that this exact opportunity might never present itself again. So I made a u-turn and stopped to take the photograph above. This has made me consider taking my camera with me out more. Sure, I have my phone with me at all times and the camera on the iPhone is great. But the feeling I get when using a dedicated device is much different. It is simpler. More focused. Almost, like an artist. And you never when that perfect moment may happen that needs capturing.

The adage is true. Whether an iPhone, or a large-body DSLR, the best camera is the one you have with you.

  1. I have an Olympus OM-D EM-10. (Excluding my iPhone).

Comments You Will Get As a New Great Dane Owner

Our puppy, Ruthie
Our puppy, Ruthie

My family and I recently became the owners of a Great Dane puppy. This has been a great learning process for us new dog owners. It has been full of surprises, challenges, frustration and joy. One of the surprises to me was the amount of comments I receive from others about the dog. People driving by will stop in the middle of the road to ask about the dog. Neighbors who have never spoken to me1 will stop me as I walk around the neighborhood. People apparently like asking about dogs. Much of their comments, along with the ones I’ve received from friends and family are along the lines of:

  • What breed of dog is that?
    • Great Dane puppies look very different when they are young vs. when they get older. Naturally, they are far smaller. So the average person including some “dog people” don’t generally spot the breed. Your reply to this question will almost certainly be followed by:
  • Really, that is a Great Dane!?
    • Again. They look much different when they are puppies so most are not expecting this. Upon hearing this information they will almost certainly one of these statements:
  • How big are they going to get?
    • A legitimate question as Great Dane’s do get very large and are a less commonly seen breed.
  • Do you realize how big they are going to get?
    • A variation of the comment above, but generally has the connotation “do you understand what you got yourself into?” I try to refrain from sarcastic answers to this like “really, I had no idea Dane’s are a large breed!”
  • How much do they eat?
    • Again. Large breed = more nutrition. This comment is sometimes coupled with a comment of “I’m just glad I don’t have to pay for that food.” Thank you for the encouragement…
  • How active are they?
    • Since Great Dane’s are so large, most are not informed on how active a breed they are. Another good question.

So, if you plan on getting a Great Dane in the future—I encourage you to start rehearsing your answers to these comments. You’re going to hear them.

  1. We have lived here for several years.

David Walsh on Being a Dev Dad

A great read from David Walsh on being a Dev Dad working from home. As a fellow developer dad who also works from home, it resonated with much of my own experience.

One of my big takeaways from it:

“The keyword, both for work and home life, was “impact” – I needed to concentrate more on making an impact in both sides of life.”

There is a good amount of debate in the “work/life balance” vs. “work/life integration” camps. I think David Walsh is on point with his discipline towards finding harmony between work and personal commitments.

My Journey Towards Staying Productive, an Update

I have been working from home full-time for well over 2 years as part of the team at Lullabot. In that time I’ve had various ebbs and flows of project types, living situations and family life changes. Through all this with much trial and many errors I have found I can stay more productive if I focus on 3 main areas:

Prevent distractions

There are number of things I’ve worked on over the years to help prevent distractions. I use to make my priority segregating myself from the rest of the house with a separate work space and concentration enhancing headphones1. I still do this but I have found my greatest distraction is not what is happening around me, but “blackhole” websites that are easy to loose yourself in. I now leave SelfControl app running most of the time while I am working and have it set to block out sites like YouTube and Reddit. Maybe one day I will be disciplined enough to not allow wasting time in these sites. But for now it is just to easy of a diversion from meaningful work.

Get comfortable

Staying mentally and physically relaxed while working is crucial to keeping your productivity level high. For me this includes a few things:

  • Hydration—I start my morning off with some fussy coffee and always have water with me at my desk throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Lighting—I have several different lamps around the office to provide the lighting I like. I even burn a candle at my desk sometimes. You know, for ambiance.
  • Music—In the last year I have settled into almost exclusively listening to instrumental music while I work. This includes post-rock or sound tracks.
  • Desk—A desk doesn’t have to be extravagant but ergonomics are important. I have been using a standing desk for around 5 years.

Know your tasks

I use OmniFocus to keep track of all that I need to work on as well as the things I would like to get done. One of the big things I am striving for right now is to never allow myself to get bored at during work hours. This means when there are gaps in work or a few mins between meetings, I need to have a list of what I can do to fill that time. Sometimes it is just as simple as writing a short bit in Day One. Having a list of tasks reference keeps me on track of what I have to get done. And it also keeps me from spending time on small things—that may be well intentioned—but don’t help me act on my life priorities. I you haven’t already, I recommend you read Getting Things Done and develop your own system for tracking tasks.

What are things you focus on to stay more productive?

  1. I now use open back headphones over sound isolating. With my office position in the house the outside volume isn’t a distraction and I greatly prefer the open back sound.

Maintaining (Omni)Focus

After using OmniFocus for several years I have finally settled on a workflow that I’m comfortable with.

It is largely influenced by this article from Learn OmniFocus which emphasizes the following:

“Use due dates to honour your commitments. Just make sure that you’re only using due dates for things that are due.”

From the release of OmniFocus 2 I started using the “Forecast” perspective to “queue up” what I needed to work on for a given day. If I wanted or needed to complete a task for a given day, I’d assign it a respective due date and it shows up in the forecast view for that day. The thing that I didn’t like about this is sometimes the tasks I was viewing there were not due. If they didn’t get done—they just get moved to the next day. This didn’t feel like I was using due dates correctly and honoring the commitments I made to myself. Not to mention that all the due dates were not created equally. For instance: “complete final checklist before tomorrows release” that is on a given day is not equal to “respond to Tommy’s casual email about what he’s been up to.” One is due today, and the other would just be nice to get done.

I have now settled on a workflow suggested like this from Learn OmniFocus:

“If, however, there’s no commitment around having something complete by a specific date, leave the due date blank. If a particular task is important and is something you’d like to get done today, flag the task to make it stand out from your other available tasks. If it’s something that you’d like to get to on Friday, flag it and then defer it to Friday. Once Friday comes along it will become available and the flag will remind you that it’s especially important.”

So I have now moved to leveraging OmniFocus’ “Flagged” perspective as it queue of “what I need to do today.” If I want to work on something next week, or tomorrow, or even this afternoon. Then I flag it and set the appropriate defer time. The task shows up in the flagged perspective after the defer time.