The new ‘Reading Ruler’ setting on the Kindle app is a subtle but wonderful addition to a reading app. Wish web browsers had this feature.

💉=🖕🦠

I know, very childish, but I feel in that mood following my first shot! Can’t get this song out of my head.

My yearly iPad issue continues. Seems the USB-C connector is busted (it works in only one direction) and the battery gremlins are back again. For all it’s rock solid performance the hardware on this machine has not been reliable - even considering it was not a road warrior!

Slowly been amassing this beautiful range of freely available printed material across a wide range of subjects.

On Email Pixels

And like that war on the email pixel has been declared. I’m not going to say I will miss it. The only useful aspect of this technology for me is to see who has or hasn’t opened an email in a while. Truth is even then I haven’t used this feature to cull addresses.

I imagine that this then becomes an issue only as a newsletter grows. There will have to be new solutions adopted to address this. This could be as simple as a yearly poll that asks you to confirm you still want to receive the email, otherwise you will be removed. This might get annoying if everyone adopts the same technique (think that GDPR shitfest from a few years ago).

What people click on is even of less interest. I’m just just happy they found it engaging. I guess in the new world of newsletters, the only thing that matters is if someone signed up or removed themselves. If they sent you a response. Nobody ever seems to forward on an email so no need to worry about that.

🍎 I had completely forgotten that WWDC starts today. Nothing earth-shattering, just solid improvements across the board. As for favourite new feature: the keyboard shortcuts & the new multi-tasking looks great. The Safari and Weather app updates are solid as well.

I’ve linked to the Poetry Foundation before, but I just stubbled across this site again and took a moment to appreciate the care and attention to detail. Wonderful looking website with an equally lovely looking publication.

💉 Vaccine-booking-day finally arrived in Denmark. Like everyone else around the world I have been waiting for this day for months - honestly feels like years at this stage. I was a few months off when I thought this day would come (early optimism was for sometime in April/May).

I was given access to a beta version of one of my favourite iOS editors. An already great editor just got an incredible array of polish. Will have tons to say when this is released. For now it put a stupid smile on my face.

📚 Currently reading Human Kind. A Hopeful History. Just got to this amazing parable (apparently from the internet somewhere):

An old man says to his grandson: ‘There’s a fight going on inside me. It’s a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – angry, greedy, jealous, arrogant, and cowardly. The other is good – peaceful, loving, modest, generous, honest, and trustworthy. These two wolves are also fighting within you, and inside every other person too.’
After a moment, the boy asks, ‘Which wolf will win?’
The old man smiles. ‘The one you feed.’

Its not every day that I decide upon next month’s subject and instantly have the image of the cover clear in my head. Maybe after 2½ years of doing this, I am finally getting the overall hang of things.

I’m doing a ton of fun research at the moment about various paper products (will be sharing soon), but in the process I stumbled on the work of George Townley. Architectural drawings, mainly of and around LA.

Issue 047 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is about Brutalism, a subject with seemingly infinite avenues to explore. Also in this issue, Art Gensler and Dieter Rams.

Not sure how this happened, but apparently I have read on my kindle every single week for a little over a year now. This is the kind of metric tracking that I can really get behind - until a couple of weeks ago I had no idea this feature existed. Looking through the log, there were a couple of weeks where I read only once. In fact the 17 day streak is a far cry from my longest streak of 89 consecutive days. That is now clearly in my crosshairs.

I don’t normally talk about the weather, because I live in Northern Europe and the weather here is not great. May however has been probably one of the worst months in memory. Rainy, windy and cold, weeks before June. Having said that this weekend looks to be different. Bright & sunny. Definitely taking my bike for a long ride.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
— Winston Churchill

I have been on and off on the No-S Diet for the last year. I have since decided to jump back into it but I decided to read the book first. Tracking behaviour as opposed to results is exactly the kind of powerful insight that can help from straying too often.

I walk out my front door. The lift is to my right. Press the button. While waiting I fumble in my pocket for my earbuds. Pop the 1st one. Doors opened, I walked in. Take the 2nd bud out. It falls out of my hand. Drops between my legs and rolls behind me into the gap between the lift and the landing. The doors shut and my earbud is gone forever.

For the last month there has been a steady number of new subscribers to my newsletter. It ranged between 2-5 new subscribers a day. The thing is I couldn’t understand where they were coming from. My site analytics did not reflect this influx. Turns out they might have been added by a bot. Buttondown makes things easy to manage users and send a simple email to confirm (by doing nothing) or unsubscribe if it is a bot.

It really is incredible what my parents had to go through when they moved to Greece in the 80s. Crucially they had to do it without Google translate and the internet. While they eventually got into the culture and feeling at home there it took time. Without a doubt the biggest barrier for entry however was the language. Decades later I am going through the exact same barrier to entry here in Denmark. The spoken version of this language is incredibly foreign to me, bearing no resemblance to any of my other languages. This weekend was the first time it has affected me - couldn’t ride my bike because of a faulty lock. Turns out there was an alternative, if I knew how to read a handwritten note.

So been looking for some Middle Eastern ingredients (you won’t find much of this stuff at the plethora of local supermarkets). This little shop has saved the day. Pomegranate molasses! Zaatar! Foul Memdamas!

2 Micro Brand Watch Releases

As I dip my toes into the world of watches, I have decided to play around in the micro brand side of things and slowly move into more expensive options as I build my collection. There are two brands that seemingly have cornered this market as far as I’m concerned with their offerings are Vaer and Sternglas. What’s great about both is that they are not targeting the same styles, however they are approaching things in a very similar manner. One is based in the U.S and the other in Germany and both released a watch this week.

The interesting things relating to watch materials and colours are happening in the micro brand space. These new manufacturers do not have heritage to rely upon and so they have to provide a compelling reason to buy them over more established brands (that are likely to be here, 10, 20 years from now). These two brands don’t skimp on the specifications and have stayed true to their chosen design aesthetic.

Modesto

Sternglas has just released the Modesto, a very enticing watch with the option of a very simple black or white dial design. This naturally appeals to me on several levels, however if I think their very first idea, the Naos a better distillation of what they are good at.

D4

I am definitely not on the market for another Vaer watch (considering I just got one a month ago), but this is a real beauty. The D4 is their entry model dive watch. What I love about these dive watches is how the naming directly relates to their faces. I would have loved a Tropic version of the D4, however if I was to go for one of these D4s it would be the Atlantic version.

Even though I follow Frere-Jones on Twitter, I completely missed that they worked on a new typeface. And what a typeface! Seaford is available now if you are on Windows (which I am at work). Not going to be able to use this for any of my official communication (we are bound to Times New Roman) but I can use it for just about anything else.

Pre-order the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1

When I set to work on Stet.Build, I knew that this was a longterm project. That the many pieces that I was putting in place would not really find their complete form until many years later.

Now three years later I am edging closer and can finally share some of the very original ideas that got me excited so long ago. The very first book, the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1 is complete and is now ready for pre-ordering. I am still in conversations with my editor for final edits to the text, which should hopefully be done within the month.

This is the first time I use Gumroad and I am actually pretty excited to see what this platform has to offer to digital content creators. Overall I like the simplicity of the platform.

Spring has finally sprung in Denmark. It feels completely overdue but totally welcome.

Can’t wait for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the other networks to send me some stickers and a handwritten card. Aaaaannny minute now I’m sure. Not that I needed a reason to be on Micro.blog. A wonderful reminder that you are dealing with real people. Thanks @jean and @manton

It’s always a ton of fun when work starts on the next issue. All the possibilities of a topic I know very little about, waiting to be discovered. Usually one the fears I have is whether or not a subject has enough ‘meat’ on the bone. Can I dive into it and find the nuggets that I am looking for. Delightful details that put a smile on my face that I can also share. I feel reasonably comfortable with this one, although speaking about architecture in the abstract is a hard skill to employ.

It’s been years since I worked on a website design in vector format (why waste my time when I can just code what is in my head). This one is different and needs a little more care and attention.

Super interesting concept from Cal Newport about reading. The goal is to read two chapters a day. Doesn’t really matter what you are reading to begin with - the consistent nature of the exercise will eventually diversify the pool. Its got enough friction and is attainable to become a meaningful habit. I keep falling in and out of reading at the moment. Maybe this will right the course a little.

Zane has recently discovered the work of Sir David Attenborough and is a new mega-fan. Drew him a postcard. Then in a Corona-meta-what-the-hell-just-happened made sure that he had received the vaccine and was going to be safe.

Its always a great boost when there is a huge influx of new readers to the newsletter. I then usually scratch my head for a few days before I find out the source, but it is always welcome and one of the exciting times in a newsletters life.

Been wanting a photo that I can use online for a while now. Thanks to my wife and a lot of patience, have a few that don’t suck.

Issue 046 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is about Shipping Container Architecture. Also features The Ocean Cleanup, Prometheus Fuels, Michael Sorkin and the Ferrule.

This issue is a little late, but I’ve been a little preoccupied with life recently. Had a lot of fun creating the artwork this time.

Obsidian on iOS & Android is now closed beta. Super excited about this development. One of my favourite and most used apps on Windows is coming to iOS. Can it supplant 1Writer?

🧩 Puzzle time with the kids. Was never a puzzle fan, but there is therapy in a 200 piece.

Now that the manuscript is done, time to turn my attention onto the Stet.Build website. In dire need of a ton of attention. The iPad has been a wonderful machine in creating the work, the only area it really doesn’t do a very good job with is coding.

That’s not entirely true as there are a number of capable code editors (Coda from Panic being one of them). The only reasonable option is Inspect Browser. It was recently upgraded to 2.0 but it really is an unfortunate omission from the iPad toolbox - easily one of the things I miss the most from not having a Mac.

It took 3 years, but I finally submitted my draft of the BEC to my editor. Incredibly I was only 23 days outside my target date of completing the whole book, but I had a couple of technical hiccups which slowed things a little. I shared two quotes with Mike to frame what I hoped would be achieved through this process. The first is by Ryan Holiday:

No one creates flawless first drafts. And nobody creates better second drafts without the intervention of someone else. Nobody.

The second is by Neil Gaiman:

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right.

I removed the last part of the quote, because I kinda want to hear from him what he would do differently. He is my editor after all.

I will say creating an index by hand is the biggest ball ache ever. Pages has to automate this process in a future update!

That is annoying. There is a flaw in my book at the moment. No old style numerals. No idea how I totally missed this, but Pages on iOS does not allow you to choose these, which is very annoying. They came so damn close. Plan B is to see if it is possible to do this on the Mac version before bringing it back into iOS.

Publishing Streams

It took a while but I finally reached an understanding of how to go about the self-publishing route. The truth of the matter is that one size definitely does not fit all. In this case my strategy seems like it will be split across 5 separate channels. What I also didn’t anticipate is the fact that the order in which each one is put online also plays an important role in all of this.

First and most importantly is to get your very own ISBN. Handily leaving in Denmark you are given the first 10 ISBNs for free. Not sure what happens after that (I think you just have to ask for more. For those looking to go down this wild route, here are a few key points that I have settled on:

  1. Your own site. Digital goods can get sold on your own website using Gumroad. Simple and customisable. The percentage take is pretty reasonable for the convenience factor. I think Gumroad is a solid option for selling digital so that you can continue to create things that matter.
  2. Amazon / KDP. This is the big gorilla because it is the big player in this field. Go here first. Set things up accordingly so that they are pretty exclusive to Amazon themselves. Forget about Global Distribution. This is for those who want to buy things from Amazon and are hooked up into their ecosystem.
  3. Lulu. This is to offer a print alternative from your website. This is not for global distribution, rather simply to allow those internet savvy people that want a physical copy. They will have to go via the Lulu press website to finish off the transaction. The financial incentive to the seller is actually pretty low, however there is something truly magical about having your creation appear as a high quality physical object for a reasonable price. I have much more to
  4. Draft2Digital. This is for everyone not on Amazon. I can’t tell how big a market this is but it will include Apple.
  5. IngramSpark. This is for the global distribution to anywhere but Amazon or the internet.

Each channel has a very distinct strength. None of them are ideal, but the beauty of it all is that they exist and someone with an idea and an iPad can put together their ideas into this world and offer it in a number of ways. My view is that I will begin to offer each of these distribution options in the sequence above. Launching them all on the same day is not possible but I don’t think it matters either as the work itself is not particularly topical, rather can be read now or in 5 years time.

Park bench & journal on a crisp unlocking day. Spring is nearly here.

Pages on iOS

I have been using Pages for iOS for the last year putting together several books and documents. In a word it been a revalation. Incredibly solid application that continues to put a smile on my face as I continue to use and be delighted by it. Working between my iPad and iPhone is seemless. From my part, I am extremely thankful to have such an application at my literal fingertips that has allowed me to create the book that I wanted. This first book is certainly not the last book that I intend to create using this application.

This year has brought a slew of additional features which have been incredibly welcome. In my mind there is only one major feature that is surprisingly missing from such a complete package and that is the ability of creating an index. Sure you can create a table of contents automatically. You can style it to your hearts content, but the ability of highlighting a number of index points that get captured later is missing unfortunately. I do hope that Apple considers to add this feature - which has been requested across the place since 2009.

Been testing out Descript for editing podcasts. There is a way to do this right and a way not to. Recording and publishing is pretty easy. It’s clear to me that editing is where the hard work lies. Descript is compelling but needs time to develop.

So finally got an upgrade to my Swatch. While I do love that little thing, this watch from Vaer encapsulates what I have been looking for in an everyday watch. Have a longer thing to write (or maybe even talk about) soon. The tldr: its an excellent upgrade to a Timex Expedition.