Preparations for Being Away

I’ll be out of town for a week starting on Monday, and this last week and weekend are all about getting prepared for that time off.

I’ll be off work for a week, so I had to spend extra time this week and last making sure everything was squared away while I was gone. I do a lot of project-based work for my job, so luckily I have some flexibility, like moving some work to when I’m back in the office, and diverting a couple things to my team while I’m away.

With work squared away, it was time to set my sights on my other responsibilities.

My YouTube Let’s Play series isn’t hard, but it is a bit of planning, a decent amount of work, and you really have to stay on top of things, especially if you’re going to be gone for a week.

Luckily I already record about a week or week and a half in advance, so for the last two weeks I’ve been knocking out two videos a day in both recording and editing to ensure that the entire week I’m gone will be covered, as well as the week after I get back, just because the weekend itself is when I get most of my YouTube work done, and I wanted next weekend freed up after getting back from my trip.

Also, Factorio Alpha .15 hype, emirate?

For anyone who watches my Factorio series, I’ll be out the week .15 is out, so I’ll get my next MegaBus recorded when I get back. Sad to miss the launch week, but it is what it is. Enjoy my MegaWeek though!

And finally, writing. I’m like, really behind on my writing goals for the year. Admittedly, I had some pretty lofty goals, as in five to six times more writing than I’d done in any previous year, so coming short on them would still mean I was 2-3 times more productive this year than last, and that’s about where I am.

I’m scrambling to get a couple things done and sent off before I leave, like Korrigan 03’s final proofed version, which releases May 2nd, and Korrigan 04 needs to get to my copy editor, as I know she’s pretty busy.

All in all, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, but I have nearly all my items crossed off my list, and Monday I fly out.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

On Call

I just finished up a week of oncall for work. Very glad that’s over. It’s not that I have “that” bad of on-call, but I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years now.

It’s one of those things I’m really looking forward to being a full-time writer. No more on-call.

That being said, I will miss the steady paycheck, or the standard pay even if you’re not feeling 100% that day.

I’ll miss the insurance, and the fact that I don’t have to pay 100% of my Social Security each month.

But I won’t miss on-call.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

BeatsX Thoughts

I’m going to say it up front, I really don’t like the Beats brand. They are expensive, flashy, and way too much of the price tag is wrapped up in marketing.

However, I now own a number of Beats headphones and I feel like I should justify them to the internet because so many of you were asking for it.

My first purchase was two years ago. I bought a pair of Beats Studio Wireless headphones. My criteria at the time: I needed sound canceling headphones, they must be around the ear (I will never wear on-ear as they hurt way too much), they have to be Bluetooth, and they need to be super comfortable.

At the time, Bose was the leader with sound canceling headphones, but their problem was they were wired-only. I think Sennheiser also had a pair that met my needs, but there was something they didn’t do that I wanted, so that left with with Beats. I bought them, they were expensive, and they’ve been good till recently. Sadly, the headband ratcheting system is breaking down, which means they don’t stay where I put them anymore, and last night I noticed the ear cups leather had split on the seam and now I need knew cups. Also, the entire set creaks pretty bad now. Not happy for such expensive phones after only 2 years of use.

Shortly after that purchase, I picked up some refurbished Powerbeats 2 on Black Friday for like $40. Best purchase I’ve ever made. They’re not perfect, but for that price, they were great. I’ve used those for a year and a half with no issues. I loved them so much that when the PB3’s were announced with the W1 chip in them, I rushed out and bought the PB3’s and I’ve used them daily since. They don’t seal in my ears very well (I have very small earholes) so noise leaks into them when I’m outside, but they stay on, are very light, and the W1 chip makes them nearly perfect.

Enter the AirPods. I can’t use any apple-branded “Pod” earbuds. As-mentioned previously, my ears are delicate little flowers and they hurt like hell after more than 20 minutes of use. I bought them, tried them out and after a painful 30 minutes of use, gave them to my wife, who loves them.

I really wish they would have worked for me because I would have loved to have had something in my ears to handle all my calls/podcasts/audiobooks all day long. Sadly, the AirPods aren’t ever going to work for me until Apple puts out ones with swappable tips.

Enter the BeatsX. They fit snugly in my ears, they are comfortable enough that I can wear them for a couple of hours before my ears need a break. They seal very well so I don’t hear road noise, and dat W1 chip Boyz.

Very happy with my purchase, but I still use my PB3’s for working out then the X’s for podcasts and what-not.

Here’s hoping better-built Studio Beats are released with the W1 chip.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

Mac Pro Thoughts

I know I’m a little late with my blog post for today, but I was dead tired last night, plus I’m trying (read “TRYING”) to go to bed at a earlier hour and not have a bunch of brain-scratching tasks late at night, like blogging.

To that end I did go to bed earlier last night then got woke up at 4am for work, so yeah, about a net loss there.

http://beckyhansmeyer.com/2017/04/20/apples-identity-and-the-new-mac-pro/

I just finished reading this article, and I love the ideas Becky brings up. Apple surprised a lot of us by breaking tradition and announcing a product that was still in development, and I think the only reason they broke from their normal tight-lipped SOP is the community was on their last thread with them.

I have a trashcan Mac Pro. It’s what I do all my gaming for my YouTube channel, I process, edit, and export videos, and I even write on it. I’ve live streamed from it as well (for writing).

I actually enjoyed this Mac. It’s super quiet, which is amazing for someone recording, and I love how small it is and how much power they packed into the tiny case.

But it’s 3.5 years old, and hasn’t been updated. The new MacBook Pro I just bought doesn’t meet my requirements for gaming, even playing indie games like Minecraft or Factorio, I simply can’t drive them at 60 fps and record on a laptop.

I don’t want to plunk down a bunch of money for an iMac, because I already have more monitors than I need sitting on my floor (there is a 30” Dell there right now, sad to say). What I need is an upgrade, and I was starting to get the urge to look slightly to my right at my 4-year old windows homebuilt PC. Sadly, despite it’s top of the line GPU at the time, when I fired it up and tested it, I got worse performance on it then I did on my Mac.

I even tried running BotWorld on it as a headless server, to free up cpu cycles from my Mac, and nope. It actually ran worse.

So sad to say, but my 3.5 year old MacPro (which has never had a single broken day since I bought it) is my most powerful gaming computer.

Because of the news, I will hold off and really hope that Apple knocks it out of the park with this new update. I might consider a eGPU to tide me over, but it’s hard to justify the $1000+ that I’ll need to be able to get that whole thing setup, and I also don’t like hacking my Mac just to get hardware to work. It would be cheaper to just buy a better GPU and put that into my PC.

Anyway, I’m done ranting. I want better hardware and I’m willing to pay for it Apple. Specifically, gaming and video production related. Do us proud like you used to do.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

The Productivity Show

I’ve been listening to a new podcast recently, called The Productivity Show. It’s by Asian Efficiency, a group of (I assume Asian Americans by their name and accents) that run a productivity website and company for training, tips, blogs, and of course, this podcast.

I’m up to Episode 4 so far and I’m loving it. The big takeaway for today from them was journalling. They recommend doing it every day, which actually made me a little proud, because so far this year I’ve been doing just that. I’ve had this blog, which isn’t exactly a journal, in so far that I document my inner desires and what-not, but I have gotten into the habit over the last few months of sitting down to write every night (well almost every night.)

So, before I write up my blog post, or after, (time will tell) I’ll be adding a few minutes of journalling to the mix as well. I’ll be asking myself specific questions based on ones they recommended. If you’re interested in knowing more, you should check out their blog post at http://www.asianefficiency.com/organization/journal-entries/.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

Todoist App

My wife and I have been looking at a lot of productivity apps lately to help us organize all the various writing and production tasks around writing. Lately, we have been using Todoist, which we have for iOS and Mac, and I believe it’s available on other platforms as well.

So far, we’re loving it. We can collaborate fairly well between the two of us, joining projects and assigning tasks to one another. Right now we’re only using the free features, but some of the premium ones look good too, and if we decide to stick with this for the long-term, we’ll most likely subscribe to support the developer and gain access to the nicer things it offers.

A couple of things I wish it did:

  • Dependent Tasks
  • Start Dates
  • Recursive Due dates based off a common template due-date.

Here’s me explaining what these are:

Dependent Tasks are tasks that don’t become active until a prior task has been completed. For instance, I can’t publish a short story to Amazon until my wife has compiled the ebook. Having that task sitting there in my inbox does me no good because it’s dependent on another uncompleted task. I don’t even want it showing up, except maybe under a “waiting on other” view. This way it doesn’t clutter up my to-do list.

Start Dates are different than due dates in that you start working on a task, or a recurring task on a certain date. Only having due dates can sometimes be a bear, if you know the task is going to take a few days to complete. If I only concentrate on the due-date, then I may end up being late on a project if I truly require three days to complete. I think having the project or task start dates would solve this (while still having due dates).

Recursive Due-dates This one’s a little odd, but something I run into with my YouTube Channel all the time. Every week, usually on Sunday, my wife and I sit down and review the schedule for upcoming videos. We then create a recording schedule for me to work on for that week, an editing schedule to work on for that week (based on the recordings done the week prior) and a releasing schedule. All of these tasks are based off the Release date for the video.

Imagine I had a project template for a video. While generating a new video project, I input the release date for the video, and all other due dates are automatically assigned based upon that one due date. If it releases on the 30th, then it needs to be uploaded by the 28th. Tagging should be completed by the 29th. Editing needs to be done two days before the upload, to account for the 1 day required to compress and process the video for upload. Then, of course, the recording has to be completed at least a couple days before the editing occurs.

Being able to have a newly-created project auto-populate all the due dates for the tasks keying off a specific date would be awesome and would make our project creations SO much easier.

Let’s hope we see some of these features added in. That said, I’m loving the app, and it seems to be perfect for our needs at this point. A couple added features would help bridge the gap between a simple to-do app, and what we need which is a very light project management software.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

Outline Done! (Kinda)

So I finally had time today to spend a couple hours going over my litRPG outline a final time to clean up tasks, write up a summary of the series and book, and make sure I’m relatively happy with the overall storyline.

And it’s done! So I’m going to call this “Alpha” done. It feels like it’s been forever since I started this outline, but I’m really proud of what I’ve gotten done in the time since I began.

Firstly, the outline sits at about 11K words, but 2K of that is series/book synopsis and a large section explaining about the genre, quest texts, and me talking about some of the secrets in the series to better help my critique groups understand what I’m doing so they can critique it better.

It’s still a very dense outline, and I’ve never done anything this detailed before, so I’m very excited to start working on the first draft, but first, I sent it off to a couple trusted individuals to review and I can’t wait for their feedback so that I take this outline to the next level.

Now that it’s off my plate for a while, I can finally turn my focus back to some Korrigan stories that I’ve been lax on for the last month, as well as finally getting to editing the second book in the End Gate series.

Till tomorrow,

Tom