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January 1, 2022

Internet Bucket of Consumption

This was originally written in December 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

Generally I tend to prefer applications that focus on a single task and just do that single task well. However, lately, I am liking the idea of having a single place to read things that originate from the web.

Over the years my collection of things from the web has changed more times than I can count. One thing that was always a trend however was the use of multiple apps. Instapaper, Pocket, Raindrop, GoodLinks, Abyss, ReadKit, Pinboard, Feedly, News Explorer, NetNewsWire, insert 1000 more app names.

After some exploration and experimentation I have landed on a new setup for getting stuff into and out of my internet bucket of consumption™.

TL;DR The Bucket” is Reeder 5 on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS and the net that scoops everything up is Feedbin. This is also the sync system.

IMG_3094.jpeg

The Longer Version

The Consumption Sources”

  1. Newsletters

    These are subscribed through Feedbin using a special email address (xxxxxxxx@newsletters.feedbin.com) provided by Feedbin. When they hit Feedbin I use a couple features built into automate where to end up. They are tagged Newsletter automatically and then ::starred.:: Reeder then recognizes this starred state so they are easy to get to when I am ready to dive into some newsletters. This also means they won’t be accidentally skipped (marked as read) in my main reeder feed. One quick tap to the starred section in Reeder and all my available Newsletters are waiting to be read. 👍

  2. RSS Feeds

    Nothing too special here. All RSS links are added to Feedbin. Done. One special reason to use Feedbin is that you can setup actions based on keywords within the feeds you subscribe to. I use this to filter out content that I don’t care to see in my river of news.

IMG_0007.jpeg

  1. Read It Later

    Reeder 5 has a Read It Later feature now that syncs through iCloud. I use this to store articles that comes from RSS, my email, or just randomly on the web. There are extensions that are baked into the system that stem from Reeder as you would expect.

    Sharing

    Reeder does a nice job of letting me share items out as well, from a simple copy of the source link, to more advanced send-to locations, it covers all my needs for sharing neat things I find on my travels through the web.

    This system has been working very smoothly for me and has made my travels across the web a little easier and more more enjoyable. ::One thing of note: the only thing that made me go away from Reeder a while back was due to the animations making me feel nauseous. Weird? yeah I know. But, never fear, they can be disabled and all is well now.::

IMG_3095.jpeg

Feedbin Read It Later RSS Newsletter
December 1, 2021

A Spark of Creativity

This was originally written in November 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I have been in a photographic slump over the last couple years. I imagine this is the case for many people given what the last few years have included.. There have been a few shimmers of creativity that have come and gone in that time, but it’s been mostly dark. I recently felt a resurgence and it caught me by surprise so I thought I would attempt to explain it in the hopes that it might be helpful for others. Creativity often strikes when you least expect it and that was the case this time.

I have loved photography for quite a long time, and when the cameras in our pocket computers started really getting good, things changed forever in terms of what it meant to be a photographer and even what the word photography’ meant in general. The greatest benefit of a pocket computer camera is not the photo quality, the lens selection, or even the dynamic range. Those are all getting better by the day, but the real power is just how fast you can go from zero to captured.

Pocket computer camera capture steps.

  1. Grab Device
  2. Swipe the screen to the left.
  3. Capture.

That’s it. I know, right!? Now contrast that with using my standalone camera.

  1. Make sure you actually have it with you. And if you actually do, get it out of your backpack.
  2. Flick power switch and wait for it to start up.
  3. Make sure all the settings are correct so you can actually capture something useful.

Same number of steps. but, A LOT more time.

I sound like I am saying my pocket computer is better than my standalone camera in every way, so why have the standalone camera? I can see how it sounds like that but that’s not the conclusion I am attempting to steer you toward. I really just want to say that for some, myself included, the barrier to getting going again comes down to the input effort required. The above steps using my pocket computer means I am getting back into the swing of things quickly without even thinking about it. And just like that, this initial push has got me thinking about and starting a new photography project using my standalone camera because it’s better suited for that project than my phone is.

I touched on the capturing portion of the process above, but what about the post capture process, how did that play into the reigniting of my creativity? Well, it would be hard to find anyone that feels it’s easier to edit, export, and share photos from a standalone camera vs your pocket computer. (Although I am sure someone out there thinks this?) Anyway, for me, the power of trying different edits, duplicating the image to try different crops, and having this all instantly available for saving and backing up is wonderful for a creative endeavor. Sometimes waiting is best for a creative idea to build, but other times you have an idea right there in the moment and this pocket computer camera makes this all possible. Right now.

So, in my journey back from the brink of darkness thanks to my pocket computer, there were a couple great apps that most have probably heard of but I wanted to mention just in case.

Getting going again is hard. Trust me, I know.

Take this 590 words and see if you can use it to help you build something creative for yourself.

Photo of a fountain pen nib

Photo of a concrete pathway through tall trees

Photography iPhone Halide Darkroom TouchRetouch RAW
November 1, 2021

How I Craft.

This was originally written in October 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

Let’s not pretend like this is the first time you have heard me go on about Craft. I am not here to sell you on it, convert you to the ways of Craft, or even tell you why it’s better than whatever you are already using. I am just going to give a look inside how I organize stuff within it so that it may be of some service to someone who has used Craft, is thinking about using it, or wants some more input on how to perhaps better organize things within the system they are already using.

Getting Stuff Into Craft 📥

Getting stuff into Craft seems like a good place to start. Like a lot of apps that capture information, there are multiple ways to get info into the system and Craft is no different. I generally pull / push information into Craft in one of three ways.

  1. Original authoring within the application. This can be text or other content like images.
  2. Sending to Craft from Drafts.
  3. System Share Sheet within other applications.

Organizing It All 🗂

Craft has an organizational feature called Spaces. These spaces all live within the Craft interface and are a way to silo information into separate buckets. Think of this as a way to logically sort various parts of your life while still having access to everything within one environment. You can do something similar with folders all within a single Space, but that will depend on each person and what they prefer. I manage all my info across several Spaces.

Craft Spaces.png

Spaces

  • Jason Burk
    • My personal notes and stuff I am working on.
  • Archive
    • Once a note has lived its life and is no longer useful I move it to an archive space. This gets it out of my general working on stuff area, but leaves it available on the off chance I need to reference it. I could just export these and let them live in cold storage, but this is a nice compromise that adds some convenience.
  • Burk Home
    • This is a shared space with my wife where we keep all stuff related to home life. Our home wiki’ lives in here.
  • Coffee Pot Games
    • Anything to do with the board games I am working on goes in this space.
  • Hemispheric Views
    • A shared space between Andrew, Martin, and myself. All show related stuff goes in here. Show notes start out here, a running topic pool, and any other info related to the Hemispheric Views Empire.
  • Work”
    • This is all notes related to my work at NAME REDACTED. Being able to keep all my research, daily interactions, meeting stuff, and whatever else in a nice clean and searchable space is wonderful. I use the Secret Link feature (more on this below) at work a good bit as well so I can create dashboards for others to easily view and get info from. It beats the hell out of SharePoint.

Getting Stuff Out of Craft 📤

Craft has a number of ways to export content for use in different ways.

  1. Share
    • Secret Link
      • This allows you to create a shareable link of your note so others with the link can view the contents of your note but not edit it. The content will update for them as you make changes. You can revoke the link as well at any time to remove it from being publicly viewable.
    • Send as Email
      • Allows you to send a copy of the note content via your local email client or Gmail.
  2. Export
    • PDF
    • Image
    • Markdown (I use this one all the time)
    • Textbundle (I use this for exporting all notes as backup, see below)
    • MS Word .docx
    • Copy Deeplink (This is great for adding a link to another note or a specific place within a note)
    • Print
  3. Send To (These will be active or disabled based on what you have installed on your system)
    • Drafts
    • Things (This is great if you add some tasks to a note while talking with someone. Simply select them, send to Things, and those tasks are now created in Things!)
    • DevonThink
    • OmniFocus
    • iA Writer
    • Ulysses
    • Bear
    • Day One
    • NotePlan

Backup, Backup, Backup 📦

Backup is critical when it comes to storing your information. I like that Craft has multiple options for exporting documents. Here is what I do for exports.

Repeat for each space 🔁

  1. Export all documents as Textbundle. This feels like the most universal output for long term storage.
  2. Collect all exported folders into a dated folder.
  3. I store the most recent 3 backup folders in iCloud Drive, and roll the oldest ones off into cold storage’.

Now that I have typed this all out, it feels way more complex, but it really isn’t! Again, whether you use Craft or not, maybe something in here will trigger a part of your brain that will help you with another system you are using perhaps. Craft keeps growing and refining what it is and I am very happy with the direction this ship is sailing. ⛵️

A few other public Secret Links” as examples of what it can be used for

Game Status

Hemispheric Views // Media Corner Picks

Craft Notes
October 1, 2021

Sync. (EVERYTHING!!!)

This was originally written in September 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

It’s probably more common given this last year, but I personally work in two different offices during any given week. This presents some challenges when it comes to technology setups. I don’t imagine I am that unique in thinking that the more equal these two environments are, the more productive I can potentially be, so I have gone to some pretty great lengths to ensure my setups are very close to equal from a hardware and software perspective, given a few constraints.

Hardware

This is the area with the most constraints because for my home office I do not require a laptop for any reason, where as with the work office, I do. Both locations utilize Mac hardware. This is, and has been a requirement for employment for some time, and yes I absolutely understand the massive privilege that this is. On to the hardware..

Home Office 🏡

  • 24” iMac M1 (2021)
  • Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse (Mercury)
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
  • Apple Magic Trackpad
  • 13” iPad Pro (2018) w/Pencil
  • AirPods Max + Shure Microphone (Same stuff I use for the podcast)
  • iPhone 12 mini

Work Office 🏢

  • 13″ MacBook Pro M1 (2020)
  • 32” LG UltraFine 4K (32UN880)
  • Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse (Black)
  • Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
  • Apple Magic Trackpad
  • 13” iPad Pro (2018) w/Pencil [Same iPad as above]
  • AirPods Pro
  • iPhone 12 mini [Same iPhone as above]

This gives me basically the same hardware setup for muscle memory.

macOS + Big 4K+ Monitor + Keyboard and Mouse

*I am not a dual monitor person

Software

Email 📧

When it comes to email applications, I have used them all. When it comes to managing work and personal email, I have landed on Apple Mail as a means of managing both. For personal mail I use the wonderful Fastmail and my work mail all runs through Office 365. Both of which sync perfectly between all devices. I was using Airmail for a long time, but the differences between the iOS and macOS versions drove me a bit mad.

Calendar 📅

This is an easy one, the only calendar app I use and regularly recommend is Fantastical and it works flawlessly with both Fastmail CalDav calendars as well as Office 365.

Notes 📝

This is going to shock you.. I keep all my personal notes in my main space in Craft and all my work notes in a separate space.. IN CRAFT! Can you believe it!?

Tasks ✅

Like email, I have also tried every task manager that exists. They all have their trade offs. The one that most closely fits my needs and way of thinking is Things. It could be argued that I should keep all my work related stuff in Office 365 tasks app, but I am still pretty resistant to managing multiple task apps.

File storage 📁

This one is a little convoluted, but it’s by necessity, not choice. My personal files are 100% in iCloud Drive. It works great for me. All my work related stuff is in Microsoft OneDrive because of the integration with all other work related services. I also have Dropbox for collaboration with external engineering teams. It’s a bit annoying having work stuff spread across both OneDrive as well as Dropbox, but it’s easier for me to manage that versus managing other people on how to use stuff outside their normal workflow.

Messaging 💬

This one is pretty straight forward. Personal stuff mainly runs through iMessage and Discord. All work messaging goes through Microsoft Teams. Is it my favorite? Definitely not. Does it work on all my devices and get the job done? Yep.

I think the biggest point of this whole article is not really what I am using for each task or area of life / work, but rather the power of using a single platform of architectures and software. Using a single platform that I am comfortable and very familiar means my work is not impacted by the tools. This is not a template for how to be productive, or how to be a power user. Think of it as a bookmark to look at how you work in multiple locations and see if there are some small ways you can make things easier on yourself. 😀 👍

Work From Home Sync Hardware Software
September 1, 2021

Going Overboard. For Fun!

This was originally written in August 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

Raise your hand if you like dealing with your home network.

This is me raising my hand!

I assume most people probably don’t. And of those most, most of those probably don’t even give it much thought past what their ISP gave them or installed when they signed up. I am on the other end of that spectrum it seems. I love optimizing, tweaking, and upgrading our home network. So much so that after one year in our new house, we are now officially on to Home Network 2.0!

Yep, because we didn’t know all the ins and outs of the new house in terms of what network installation would look like, I took the easy route and went all wireless (with the slight exception of the two units using ethernet for backhaul. That’s a fancy way of saying that the two units talk to each other over the cable instead of through the air.). We started in this house with two AMPLIFI ALIEN units. They are fast, WiFi 6, and mesh capable with ethernet backhaul. For the most part they are good units, but they were too hands off (which, yes, is what most people want. So this is actually a great feature for most). I like to dig in and see what’s going on though for the sake of learning new things, and just plain curiosity. I pretty much love any equipment that can be rack mounted, so when it came time for ::Home Network 2.0::, you better believe there is going to be a rack involved!

Amplifi Alien Router

For most home setups the two ALIEN units would be overboard, but what if we want to go WAY OVERBOARD, how would one do that? Have a seat, I will tell you just that!

First, you need to get a list of all the stuff you want to get for the new network. Here is mine.

  • 1x Network Controller (Cloud Key Gen 2+)
  • 1x 24 Port Managed Switch (USW-24-G2)
  • 3x 8 Port Managed Switch (USW-Lite-8-PoE)
  • 3x WiFi 6 Access Points (U6-Lite)
  • 1x 1000 ft of CAT6a Cable (trueCABLE CAT6a)
  • 1x Bag of Push Through CAT6 Cable Connectors (trueCABLE Cat6A Pass Through Connectors)
  • 6x CAT6 Keystones and Wall Plates
  • Various tools for making holes and running cables through the walls

Simple, right? It sounds like a lot of work to run cables through the walls, crimping the connectors, and mounting access points to wall, and you would be kind of correct, but it’s all doable as long as you plan things out and take your time. Once you rush, you will be sorry.

Cutting square hole in drywall for ethernet cable

You cut holes in your walls!? Yep! One thing I can’t handle is cables dangling, so all cables get routed so they cannot be seen. This is technically optional, but when you see the results, you will be glad you did the extra steps.

Unifi WiFi access point on desk and on wall

Sometimes you need to go overboard even if it’s just because it brings you happiness! I know all this is not the case for you reading this right now, but even if you scale this all the way back to running a single extra ethernet cable to a part of your house where you get terrible or no WiFi, it’s all worth it! Also if you do go all in on the crazy, you get cool real-time topology maps of your network and clients, and who doesn’t want that!?

Unifi Network topology map

Oh, one other side benefit of Home Network 2.0 is that I can add on cameras as well that will integrate with this infrastructure and allow me to record all video directly to the local Cloud Key Gen 2+ on its internal 1TB drive without the need for cloud recording, and given the PoE connection to the cameras they are instant view rather than waiting for a wireless connection to handshake before you can view. 👍

I hope this was helpful in any way to each of you, whether you want to upgrade your home network, or simply get your wall mounted tv cables tucked away out of sight. Go forth and go overboard on some area of your life that will bring you happiness!

Internet Home Network Ubiquiti
Jason Burk | 1999-2022
blot.im! | 🧛‍♂️
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