The Act of Creating

I don’t know how else to be.

On my latest trip Florida it dawned on me that I generally am genuinely happy in, when I’m in creation mode. Originally I had thought that this mode was mainly going to be spent around the creation of comics. Turns out that was pretty limited conceptually.

The last few years I have tried to combine all my interests together, in all things Stet. While that does remain my focus hobby, I have found that I do want to continue doing other things as well. Making things and putting them out into the world is something that makes me happy. None of these things are commercially viable. I’ll stick to my day job thank you very much.

I do these things very much for myself and if others find value in them as well then that’s an awesome bonus as well.

I do these things because I don’t know how else to be.

Navigating Channels

Modern life is increasingly a struggle of managing multiple channels. Work channels. Home channels. Family channels. Online channels. Financial channels. Health channels.

Each channel jostles for attention. Sometimes some channels dominate your thoughts and other times they are left seemingly abandoned. The worst part is when your mind switches constantly between them all. Its true that it is not possible to always be ontop of each of these, all the time.

What I’ve found to be useful is reviewing these every month and seeing where everything is. Has it moved a little since last month? Can you remove some of these from the list. My preferred method of review is pen and paper, in what I refer to as a Life Book. I also have a Work Book.

Moving to Substack

It did pain me to do it but I moved my In Abeyance newsletter over to Substack from Buttondown. My main reason for the move is the constant spam that I was getting and having to manage.

I get the value of something like Substack now.

They have also managed to add some pretty nice features to the newsletter itself. Having the ability to start a discussion thread with everyone subscribed (and that is connected to the app) is an awesome feature. It’s a discussion thread and newsletter manager all wrapped into one.

Another great little feature is how the software generates these little thumbnails that you can share:

So if you’re interested in the built environment and want something concise and punchy, subscribe at


Every year now I am reminded of when I rediscovered my love for writing on the web again. On the web I write about the things that might be mundane for others but are important to me. Capturing my zeitgeist.

Sometimes what I write resonates with other. Most of the time it doesn’t. Those that do, I take as a cherry on the top of an ice cream masterpiece. It’s nice, but not the main treat.1

I work through certain things. I write about ideas across various topics that are important to me. I keep adding to the list and I keep posting away. Now starting my 6th year it’s just as exciting to write online as it’s ever been.

  1. If I learn something from the interaction then it’s more than a cherry, it’s a chocolate flake as well. Thankfully on I tend not to get any bad or annoying interactions. [return]

Falling In & Out of Habits

Falling out of habits is very easy. Falling back into the habit is harder.

  1. Micro habits are the start of establishing macro habits.
  2. Stacking these habits is an important trick to use at the start.
  3. Making habits discoverable to carry out the habit is the last piece of the domino.
  4. Establishing a time and a place.

Journaling and Writing

This is an important way of settling my mind. In 2022 I fell out of the habit, jumping back sporadically. So I’ve decided to stack, time and place. Stack the habit when I make my coffee in the morning and tea in the evening. My journal and pen are located in my kitchen drawer.


I completely fell off the wagon. Part of this is the habit, but equally part of this was having a stack of books that I could jump into. I made a list of books that I have bought that I would like to get stuck into at some point this year. 9 -12 I own and about 3 would be new.

Kindle is now located next to my bed. The aim is to read for 30 minutes a day.


Writing for Stet.Build every day is the other activity that settles my mind. This break I was able to map out Season 5 of In Abeyance while also looking to starting work on volume 2 of the Built Environment Compendium.

The writing will be a daily morning activity, with the achievable aim of writing 100 words. This is the most productive hour of my day.


I’ve found that what little energy I have in the evenings has generally been squandered on aimless internet-ing and the occasional show. The one activity that I have been able to carry out (on those occasions where I could yank myself away from the internet), has been designing. Books. Websites. Whatever.

Dear Zane. Dear Ryan.

Around the time that Zane was born Google released an ad for Gmail called ‘Dear Sophie’. It was fun and sweet and seemingly celebrated the internet. At the time I felt this was a great idea but didn’t want to use Gmail for this.

Fast forward a few years and I’m using my site to capture my thoughts. I began posting some stuff about the kids online but it felt like I was doing something wrong. They had no say in the matter.

Fast forward a few more years beyond that and I’ve finally worked out a way to create my own version of ‘Dear Sophie’. I’ve created separate journals for each of the boys and have begun writing small text messages and adding photos to each of them.

My site is written for my future online reading self. These journals are written for my boys after they’ve grown up and can understand what it took to raise them and what my hopes and thoughts for them were. I can’t wait to fill each journal.

Tricking My Brain

The final piece of all of this was using muscle memory of writing to my site, I use Drafts. Add this action, and modify the url with the following:


I’ve also gone and tweaked the appearance so that it is distinct from my action list.

The Act of Writing

I sent out my last newsletter around the time I was starting to make an exit from Denmark. It was the right time to pause my writing activities as I really didn’t need any more pressure than I already had. Fast forward 6 months and we’re now slowly edging towards a modicum of calmness. There is a seeming rhythm to life again. Mentally my brain is not fried anymore and I have begun getting the itch to research, write and draw.

I miss the research, writing, surprise and excitement about all things related to the built environment. What I don’t miss is the stress every month of trying to pull together an article. I do this for myself and those who are interested in how I write about a specific topic. Writing for the new season starts soon.


Over the last 4-5 years I have tried to keep my site as minimal as possible and use it as a way to share ideas, thoughts and photos. The site is then syndicated around the internet1.

However even though I syndicate to, Twitter, Medium, WordPress, Mastodon and Tumblr I do wonder what the point is?2

For you to grow on any platform you have to be an active member in each of them. I am definitely not in that space. I will interact on occasion but I prefer to work on my little part of the internet and keep pushing things out. What happens with it all is beyond my control.

  1. The only site that I would have liked to be able to cross post was Instagram, but alas that site is hostile to any type of external interaction, and also it’s all about the TikTok-like videos so erm, fuck Instagram. [return]
  2. On Twitter there is some interaction, but I also know that my family follows along there. [return]

The Summer of Disruption

It started off with Jamal’s death. Our holiday to Greece was cancelled. As a result I have not seen my parents since the summer of 2019, when we left Dubai and moved to Denmark. A week later we were in Tampa. A city neither myself or Yasmine had ever heard of. In fact, the only reason I had even heard of Tampa was because of Crossgen comics. There was a period of mourning and sadness and uncertainty in the house. I tried to keep it hidden from the boys and let them enjoy the summer. 2 weeks in, my mother-in-law’s appendix burst - caused by the pain from loosing her son.

IRCC Fiasco

There is no better way to say this other than the IRCC shat the bed over the summer. Our waiting times went from 1 week to 23 days, to 35 to 45 to 55 to 66 and we finally got the ok at day 73! To not fall foul of any visa issues, I flew out to the US and brought the kids over without their mother. That was a tough decision predicated on a complete leap of faith. The kids would only be separated from their mother for a few weeks maximum.

We were ready for Canada. Sadly, Canada was not ready for us.

The biggest irony in all of this? Of everyone in our family, morally Yasmine has the biggest claim to entering and staying in Canada. Turns out her grandfather was Canadian. Two generations later his granddaughter has to jump through hoops to re-enter. The world we have created has so many fucked up rules.

Hurricane Ian

I am reminded of the final scene from Argo (spoiler alert if you’ve not watched it, you really should). My wife left Tampa 4 hours before they shut down the airport. She was in Tampa for over 3 months and escaped a 1 in 100 year hurricane by 4 hours.

A New Start

It is completely surreal experience for my entire family to be here in Canada with me. We have a lot of living to get done.

Talking about Homelessness with an Eight year old

On our way back home tonight, Zane noticed a man sleeping on the floor. His first thought was to ask if he was ok. Thus began an awkward conversation about homelessness. Being a child born in the gulf and raised in Copenhagen, this type of thing isn’t something he has ever encountered before.

The truth is that I don’t know enough about the situation here in Canada. Why is it prevalent? Are there any government plans and how robust are they.

We both agreed that it was incredibly sad and Zane’s parting words on this was that he wanted to help this man and that he should fight for his life.


It’s been an entire month in the city of Toronto. A month in I can definitely say that I am starting to get this place a little and starting to really love it as well.

I have tried a few eateries. A lunchtime Mexican, an Afghani, Italian and a Harry’s burger. All were excellent except a pizza place on Dundas. Totally overpriced and never to receive my patronage again (I always vote with my wallet).

Canada is not a slightly different version of America. It’s actually a very different version. Sure the big highways exist, but the train, bus, tram networks are clearly more robust. The architecture is different. The stores are different. The people landscape is very different.

Bumps & Bashes

The biggest and most painful issue has been the fact that I have not really been able to see my family in this entire month. That has been the hardest part of this journey so far. It’s also been unnecessarily delayed by the Canadian government that has not been able to issue a simple enough visa (even though the original timeline was a week). At the moment things are all over the place and causing major disruption. It’s not clear when things might settle down.

Every start is difficult. This one has been much more difficult that it needed to be.

Fear of the Different

I have been patiently waiting for a book. A book that was released some 10 years ago, with a second edition meant to be released in May of this year. A book that would help me understand the country I have just moved to, A concise History of Canada.

For months the books release has been delayed and seemingly the only place you can buy this book is on Amazon and even then it is at a considerable premium. It’s like they really don’t want this book to succeed. Or bury the thoughts and ideas found inside. What’s that?

I imagine the updated version will have a nice chunky section (or at least it should) about the Canadian colonial genocide of the First Nations people across the decades (a slow systematic system to erase a culture and people that got an apology from the Pope a few weeks ago). Even in a progressive country like Canada, fear of the different is a powerful urge that should not be enabled. Ever.

Form Factor

Since my digital detox from 2 years ago, I have been looking for a good source of ‘news’. Most news websites don’t offer the type of coverage that I crave and never in the form that I want it. I subscribed to The Economist for a few months but the regularity meant I could read nothing more. What I wanted was a dense version published less frequently that let me get into a specific topic more than superficially. Turns out form factor and package matters.

Yesterday we went to a bookstore. In this post pandemic world that is a novelty and something many members of the my family have not done. It wasn’t the largest bookstore I have been to but it was several orders bigger than anything in Copenhagen. I unabashedly fell in love. I could have spent the whole day there.

Because of our imminent move to Canada, I refrained from buying more than a single paperback tome of American Affairs, and with it I think I have found my source of ‘news’ and commentary in a vessel that I can absolutely get behind. Put together like a novel, the ‘magazine’ is 99.5% text (with the occasional graph or image). The articles are dense and let you delve into the subject. The paper is emasculate. The cover stock is sublime. The typography outstanding.

Best of all, it’s quarterly. One of the instant subscriptions when I get a permanent place in Canada.

Being An Indie Publisher

Now that I have completed putting my book up for sale (in all the places I intend to sell it in) thought it would be good to record the experience and what I learnt (in case others might be looking to replicate the journey).


All in all there are 4 editions across 4 stores:

  1. Digital Edition. This is hosted on Gumroad. Comes in two flavours, pdf and Epub3.
  2. Paperback Edition. This is a print on demand copy and honestly my favourite version - but I am very old school like that. The only difference for this edition is the lack of full blue page blue insert at the start of the book. I found that this page impacted the binding. This edition also comes with an index at the end (more on that in a bit).
  3. Amazon Kindle Edition. This does away with the double page photo images that break the chapters. The graphs and tables are images and does not have an index.
  4. Apple Bookstore Edition. The exact Epub3 file. This one is coming soon, as it’s being reviewed by Apple.


Nearly 3 years ago I lost my Mac. At the time there were rumours of Apple silicone on the horizon and it didn’t feel like the right time to make a purchase that would least me at least 5 years. My only machine was my 2018 iPad Pro, a device with hardware that was (and is?) way ahead of it’s competition. All that was missing was suitable software.

My original hope was that Affinity would release their desktop publishing app, Publisher, on the iPad relatively soon. We’re still waiting for that release. What I found was the incredibly capable Pages app that could do just about everything I wanted. It did take a while to get used to understanding how some of these things were setup, but being able to edit things across my iPad and iPhone allowed me to iterate at a much faster rate.

Being able to share comments and update a file between myself and Mike (my editor) made the editing process seamless. This space could be better in keeping the comments history (after you’ve accepted the comments), but honestly it’s a nitpick at this stage.

The one feature that I hope Apple adds is the ability to create an Index. This was by far the most time consuming and painful exercise - and which I had to do manually. What is encouraging is that Apple continues to update this app several times a year and continues to make it even more capable with every iteration.


For Gumroad, creating a pdf and an Epub was trivial. As was uploading to the Apple Bookstore. The web interface for iTuneConnect is ok. You can tell which parts are still legacy from before Apple decided to take the web more seriously but overall no complaints.

Reformatting for Amazon was painful but hopefully worthwhile. For this edition I had to move off my iPad Pro and onto a Windows machine I have access to. Export from Pages to Word. Import it into Kindle Create and then go about formatting everything to suit the different format (ePub2?). Sadly I feel that this is a lesser edition than the others on account of not being able to provide some of the native elements that I have included in the other versions (full page images, native tables and graphes). Having said that everything looks sharp on both my Kindle Paperwhite and my iPhone.

I gave up on Draft2Digital pretty quickly because the final version was asking for too many compromises. My text and supplementary images don’t marry well with the type of book that service is catering towards. If you have a ‘novel’ type of book (a cover and then text), then this system will work a charm for you. Everyone else, it’s probably an exercise in frustration.

This has been a really incredible journey for me. From my original ideas of creating these concise books, I now have my first release across several stores and formats. The barrier to entry is exceedingly low, considering that apart from using a windows machine for a day to format the Kindle edition, everything else was done on an iPad (including all the illustrations). Creatively this has been one of the most complete things I have ever worked on. I have 3 more in the tank, although none have gone through the editing process yet. Now that I know the process, hopefully the next ones will come out faster.

Amazon Kindle Create

Spent the entire day formatting my book using Kindle Create.
What a collosal pain in the ass of a programme.
I mean seriously Amazon, sort your applications out. You’re a technology company with a leading role in the book industry. Their tool is piss poor. A few examples:

  1. You cannot format numbered lists or tables.
  2. Certain images cannot be moved around (you have to delete and start again)
  3. Full page images are not possible in the app.
  4. Don’t even bother with graphs.
  5. You can’t format the style of the contents page (not in any meaningful way).
  6. Covers are uploaded separately, so you don’t get to see the entire thing.

I have read a lot of books on my Kindle and yet this lack of finesse is only apparent to me with books that you can tell were not originally intended for this type of format. I have tried my best to create a great Kindle book, but I know it could have been even better, if Amazon had sorted their application out to make best use of their own readers.

It’s About Salad Dressing

What a ride.

It’s been just shy of 3 years in Denmark. We arrived in the autumn of 2019, filled with enthusiasm and optimism. Fast forward 3 months and we were in lockdown. Being a husband and father during these times was incredibly taxing. Fundamental ideologies between people in the same household would clash. Mine was no different. The common ground for us was fear for our kids. Some would untangle themselves from this mess relatively quickly while we would take years.

I really underestimated the difficulty of the language and it’s overall importance to being able to integrate into the society. This is used as a test really. As a means of separating the wheat from the chaff. Clearly my family were chaff. For all those considering a move, go listen to some Danish and see if it triggers the right happy receptors for you. It’s an important litmus test.

What I will miss about Denmark is the scale. Generally everything is on a human scale. I will miss riding my bike in a country filled with bikes. My work and office which I really felt a part of. I’ll miss the team.

Throughout all this upheaval, we were trying to get to grips and understand this decidedly different nation. Denmark is different by choice, not by accident. Proudly different and incredibly protectionist. There is no Amazon. A handful of MacDonalds (I think 3). Starbucks is not a thing. There are instead local brands and a few (emphasis on few) non-Denmark brands. This lack of choice is by design.

At first I loved the simplicity, but then after a little while I also started craving things that I did not have simple access to. Being part of the European Union means that most of these things are within reach relatively easily, mostly online. But you’re not going to buy chocolate online. Or Franks hot sauce. Or different types of crisps. Or tea. Maybe coffee. A choice beyond a single school for the kids which you might or might not be able to get them into. This lack of choice was something that Mindy (friend from work) would talk about. For her it was salad dressing. Sometimes you need choice. Sometimes it’s about getting more than 2 types of salad dressing.

Mondaine Helvetica GMT

Turns out I like creating my own yearly traditions. Every year, for the last 6, I have changed the colours of my site (this is the first year that the design was also changed, more on that in a future post).

Every year, for the last 3 years I buy a new watch. These are not crazy priced watches, by any stretch of the imagination, but modestly priced watches with a function . The collection grows steadily and I get to spend a good amount of time enjoying what I purchased.

For a great part of the year I was sure my yearly purchase was going to be a red dialed Orient Kamasu. Then I was convinced that it was going to be a blue faced automatic watch of some description. I was seesawing between a Christopher Ward Sealander and a Seiko Baby Alpinist. Honestly I can think of any number of others things I can spend $1000 on - maybe in the far and distant future.

Alas, like last year (when I opted for a Vaer Field watch), I went for a brand I was aware of but the cost and function won me over. In this case a Mondaine Helvetica GMT. Moving to Canada means that my parents are in a completely different timezone. Sometimes I do the mental arithmetic needed, sometimes I pull out my phone and check out World Clock (one of my favourite apps that has an excellent use case of haptic feedback). I wasn’t looking for a GMT, but when I saw it, I thought this might actually come in a little handy, glance down, what time is it in Europe/Middle East? Got it.

I’d never seen this particular model before - although I do not pay a great deal of attention to what Mondaine have been up to. Obviously I loved the Erik Spiekermann designed watch faces but this one hit all the right notes for me, except of course it’s not an automatic. I think this is another functional watch for me to enjoy.

Jamal El Labban

I wake up. It’s 5:10am.
I’m a little late in getting up but know that we’ve done most of what needs to be done the night before. It’s our first holiday since 2019, when the world was a very different place. We’ve been preparing this trip for what seems like years, but in reality it’s been a few weeks only.

The phone rings. It’s 5:30am.
It’s Sharron, probably to say good luck on the trip. I can barely hear her voice. She asks if we’re at the airport. I say we’ve just woken up and just getting ready and about to wake up the kids. I pass the phone over to Yasmine.

We never made it to the airport.

A death doesn’t become real to me until I write about what this person meant to me. Sadly family ‘obituaries’ have become a familiar subject for me to write about. I write them to help me remember and celebrate the life of those that have just left us.

My relationship with Jamal started as my oldest brother-in-law, over the years however I came to see him a little differently. Coming into my wife’s family I would be their ‘fourth’ brother. The age difference was a little jarring but amusing at the same time. Jamal, being of my mother’s age, told me a joke that my mother had told me 20 years earlier.

When I was still in Lebanon, in what seems like several lifetimes ago, I remember a conversation I had with him before we decided to leave. I ended it by saying something to the effect that ‘Lebanon was no longer built for its people, it was built for foreigners.’ He clearly agreed because a couple of years after that he had migrated his entire life over to the United States.

Memento Mori. Remember you will die.

Nobody better embodies this concept as a cautionary tale than Jamal. His passing was both shocking but also not so shocking. I knew his wanton disregard for improving his health was shortening his life, but I had no idea (nor did anyone else) just how much shorter that was going to be. Jamal struggled with his weight. This was one of his weaknesses and from there it would spiral into any number of issues that plagued him throughout his life. I’m (slightly) angry at him because he left us exceedingly early. Time and memories were taken away from us.

Shortly after he had moved to Florida, I visited him in his new house and spent a tiny bit of time with him. It was brief but he relished showing me around and his then setup. What I liked about him was his energy for entertaining others, for being around others. Jamals barbecuing was legendary. He was a master storyteller, sometime stretched a little (but always entertaining) and sprinkled with just the right amount of Lebanese bullshit.

He possessed a child like enthusiasm, which is probably why he loved interacting with kids. Maybe because he looked like Santa, white hair and beard, that kids loved him as well. He didn’t have any grandchildren of his own, but my kids were probably the closest he got to that feeling.

From time to time he would send me little videos and jokes. A small little curated collection of his humour. Every time I received one, I would just imagine his laugh and understand why he would send these over to me.

For my part I will miss the big bear.
A lot.

On Seasons

I write and draw because I absolutely love it. I do it because I find tremendous value in the research, writing and creation process and hopefully you find value in receiving these missives as well.

I don’t however have a team of people doing things for me. I am the sole person responsible for everything around these parts. Doing many things, which I enjoy, takes time. Having an infinite weekly deadline doesn’t really work for me now that I have to split my attention across multiple channels (the newsletter, the books, the website).

And so my In Abeyance newsletter is moving to a ‘seasons’ model.

My intention is to give myself the summer off. Write season 5 and release it in the autumn. The size of each season will depend, but I imagine between 6 and 12 issues. Each season will have a theme, with the next season concentrating on ports. Airports. Shipping ports. Spaceports. Their history, economics, design and future.

Paperback & Pricing Changes

The Built Environment Compendium, while the work of three years, is actually the very start of the journey with all things Stet.Build. I am incredibly excited about how the first book turned out - even more so now that physical copies are available.

I am however still learning what works and what doesn’t work in the indie self-publishing world. Pricing was something that I did agonise over a fair amount. I loved the idea that Derek Sivers uses however it didn’t really work for me.

I’ve decided to change the pricing model for the books, but only after I took care of the super early (and incredible) supporters by sending them a paperback version of the book as well (these are now all in the post and on their way). They now have all the versions for roughly the same price as the new pricing:

The final version I am currently working on is the Kindle version. This will likely be priced the same as the digital version and will hopefully drop sometime in the summer.

For all those who have bought it already I want to thank you for the support and would love to hear back from you. For those still on the fence, consider buying a copy (or 2), it’s a concise package of goodness about how the world is built.

An Affordable LifeBook

The Hobonichi Techo is marketed as a ‘LifeBook’ and for several years I bought into the marketing. The biggest issue I had with the product was the sheer number of wasted space on all the peripheral ornamentation that adorns each page. Fast forward a few years and I went and got myself one of the cheapest Muji A6 blank notebooks, an impulse buy but realised that this is my LifeBook.

What I’ve appreciated is the blank canvas that allows me to use it whenever and for whatever. Everything goes into here. Random thoughts. Email. Ideas for presentations. Ideas for blog posts. Todo lists items. How is this different to a number of Field Notes? Cost ($2.90) and pages (144 pages!). Great value. Highly recommended.

Printing Defects

That was disappointing. Just got a printed copy of my book from A little over a year ago I got a similar print which I thought came out really well.

Fast forward to today and the results are not the same. For a start the binding is worse and the cover has separated already from the front page.

There are issues with the printing alignment - checked the pdf and everything is fine at the source.

The colours have been printed in CMYK, even though previously they would be done in an RGB palette. I’m pretty sure this is a different printing house (the book came from France rather Spain).

Also, so far noticed one small error which I am correcting as I also pull together the Kindle version as well.

Sensible Defaults / Chapter 02

Understanding Collecting

As human beings we are constantly accumulating and collecting - information, data, objects, memories, scars, pain, email, experiences and so on. This explains why there are so many methods, courses, apps and products designed to help you categorise, manage, store or replace items within your collections.

You will never cease to collect until the day you die. It’s part of being a human. The intention of Sensible Defaults is to start making you more mindful of the existing items in your life and allow you to consider any new ones that you choose to add. The intention is not to achieve the perfect equilibrium, as this will likely be a fools errand. Your needs will change throughout your life and constantly reviewing the items in your life in this manner is exhausting.

The aim rather is to allow you to arrive at a moderate point along your journey whereby most of your surroundings blend around you and where everything has it’s place and provides a specific function in your life.

There will be outlier elements that will likely need to be considered separately. Don’t get bogged down with these items to begin with. Turn your focus to the low hanging fruit first.

The Physical, the Digital & the Mind

Most people’s world is occupied across three distinct containers, the physical, the digital and that vast expanse of the mind.

This does not define every human being on earth. There are people in this world with no electricity, much less internet access and for those millions a digital container is irrelevant. However the other two containers definitely remain relevant.

Each container plays an important role in defining many aspects of our lives. Left unchecked, the containers have the potential to add infinite amounts of weight and baggage over time, like weeds in a garden.

The physical world is the most readily apparent, as everything associated with this container ultimately surrounds us, in plain view. While the digital world can be infinitely larger and potentially more dangerous if not taken into account and understood and managed. Finally, the mind has the absolute biggest impact on everything, as it will impact the way you interact with each of the other two container and has the most power over you.

The first step is to accept the concept of trying to divide your life into these three spaces and then providing the necessary maintenance to each one throughout different phases of your life.

You Call That A Knife?

We were in Italy and my dad got me my Swiss army knife. It was part of being a Cub Scout. Fast forward some 30 years and I still have that knife. It works, but it’s received no maintenance in that time. It’s squeaky. The knife is blunt. The scissors don’t work. The vibrant red plastic is covered in scratches and the logo has been worn away completely. Trying to open some of the additional features is playing roulette with your fingernails. But the thing works. And I have used it for the odd job for decades.

I’m all about buying purposefully. So I decided to get a pocket knife upgrade. Down the rabbit hole I went. Everything has a passion group around it. Knives is no different. The sites celebrate knife designers. Materials and terms I have never heard. The costs escalate quickly as soon as the country of origin moves away from Asia. I think I will go for the Fox Baby Core in blue…although I am categorically a n00b here, so someone might tell me that I have got this all wrong.

Bookmark Trigger

I have heavily relied on things like Feedbin for my staring of important links I stumble across (after all that is likely where I read about them in the first place). Although I have had a Pinboard account for a long time. I decided to call bookmark bankruptcy and just deleted everything. I’m sure there were plenty of gems there, but somehow it didn’t really matter to me. I hadn’t used the service as anything more than a graveyard for links. Although my brain was telling me that all I needed was a nice list, in practice I need something different. Sometimes the tool creates a mental hinderance., might be a better way for me to collect and organise my links in a manner that I actually use them in the future. The main difference is that it can be as visual as I want it to be, allowing the happy triggers in my brain to fire. I decided to centre around collections (rather than tags) and just be purposeful at the addition of things in here. Lets see if this works better for me.


Today marks four years on today. One of the best internet services that I subscribe to. What’s not to like?

  • It’s not run by a faceless corporation.
  • It gets updated constantly.
  • It’s hooked up to a number of text editors (I subscribe to Drafts just to post to my site).
  • It gets beamed everywhere. WordPress. Tumblr. Twitter. Email newsletter (which needs some TLC).
  • I use it to track my book reading. This one is an outlier feature, but I love it.
  • It transports me back in time every day to past years and what was on my mind that day (one of my favourite features and that’s a plug-in).
  • Gives me an excuse to take photos of things.

Like I said. Wild. Bring on year five.

Year of Momentum

2021 was the year of learning. What I have learnt is that in fact I want this to be a constant part of my life. Every year should in some form be the year of learning. This year is when I would say that I finally learnt how to cook. Gaining confidence in the kitchen is an amazing superpower and one I hope to share with my boys. I learnt how to ride a cargo bike. I learnt how to juggle. I learnt about coffee beans (the last space in the coffee world that has eluded me while I learnt brewing techniques).

For 2022, I have decided it shall be the year of momentum. I have put several things in place that I need to continue to build more and more momentum around. Things that I started 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 3 years ago are all on the cusp of bearing fruit. I will persevere through these and make sure I give it my very best. Central to all this is the understanding that you can only control your own actions and reactions. The rest is either a direct consequence or outside your control or ability to influence.

Purchases for 2021

I don’t typically do this, but I thought it would be useful to consider the major items I bought this year. Since moving to Denmark I am increasingly more aware of the purchases we make, because frankly they are limited compared to our materialistic lifestyle in Dubai.

Røde microphone

This was the first piece of electronics I bought this year. Excellent build quality. Great size. I never used it beyond a couple of test files. This isn’t to say that I won’t, just that I didn’t incorporate this into my life in 2022. In 2022 I would like to release a single episode at least once a month.

Vaer Watch

While not electronics, this was the first major purchase of the year. I have decided that I want to generally pace my watch buying to a single timepiece a year. This is a marathon not a sprint. The intention is to slowly build up my collection with purpose. While this watch does not have the heritage of many other watch brands, what I liked about it is that it fit into my yearly sub-theme, which is trying to get sensible defaults in place.

AOC screen

For the start of the pandemic I was using my little laptop screen as my primary device. There was a beauty to basically closing my laptop screen at the end of the week, leaving my desk clean for anything I wanted to do. When it became clear that we are in this for a while longer, I bought myself the largest screen that I thought would be compatible in our tiny little apartment. Its a 4K job. While nowhere near the density of my iPad Pro, it offers a huge step forward from everything work provides, while also setting me up nicely for one of my primarily purchases for next year.

Kindle Paperwhite

This was a replacement after 8 years with the previous model. A real upgrade. Glad that I waited as long as I did for this upgrade. At this rate I will get the next one at the end of 2029.

Soundcore Q30 earphones

This is a downgrade from my Sony WX1000, except they are not really. They function excellently, they just don’t feel premium, because they are not. I bought these because I also got the next item as a replacement. These lasted me a hair under 4 years. The issue was a bit of plastic. Tried to fix it but alas it had to be replaced. At 1/3 the price of the WX1000s, my thinking is that as long as these current ones last over 1.5 years then I am winning.

Jabra Elite 75T

Last year I lost one earbud. After many months of looking at the alternative, I decide to bite the bullet and re-order these. What I realised is that the case is super important. The overall design and how this thing fits into your ear is super important. The noise cancelling is super important. Jabra hits all of these at a reasonable price (when compared to the alternatives).

Ikea Modular Couch

We tried to keep using the makeshift Ikea day bed we brought with us from Dubai. It lasted a little under 2 years. It has been a wonderful addition to our living space and adding the lounge section was essential.

Babboe Cargo Curve

We went native with this one and got ourselves a cargo bike. When in Denmark and all that. This is probably Ryan’s favourite thing in the world. He loves vehicles and I can’t wait to use it in the spring and summer to take them all over the city.

Looking at the coming year, the three items I am looking at buying is a Mac Mini, the next watch (looking closely at the Seiko SPB157) and possibly an ivory Pro Gear. Of course I imagine there will be some unscheduled items I will be forced to replace…

Stet.Build v2.0

It has been years since I designed a completely new website. My toolbox of tricks has remained mostly the same - still using Skeleton, which I absolutely love. What has been fascinating is the scope a modern website now needs to serve. Now you have to effectively design four websites in one - desktop, tablet, mobile and dark mode.


Version 2.0 of Stet.Build, which has seen very little love since it was launched 3 years ago, is a huge leap forward. I’m glad I took the time to make this the best it can be. I always recognised this was a major project and this has taken me around 6 months to complete (not full time of course).

The mock-ups were done in Affinity Designer - probably over a decade since I have used a vector app to design a website. For the most part I was able to replicate these. The annoying part was loosing some of the mock-ups half way through the design process due to some random name saving error. Top tip, save your work outside the Affinity system.

One of my favourite features of the new site, is the archive feature. A little bit of javascript and filtering the table like magic.


When it came to the mobile version, I left it to serendipity and let the pieces fall. I could have spent a little time on this during the mockup stage, however I think that it worked out well in the end.

Dark Mode

This was (and remains) the biggest hurdle. This issue was that the individual artwork looked completely out of place in its native form with the bright white background. The only way around this is to recreate 51 drawings that are more suited to the darker background. This is going to be a work in progress as it is not a top priority - but will get to it all eventually. Issue 50 shows where I am heading with this.


Finished the mock ups months ago but needed the space (mentally) to dive into the coding. Certainly rusty, I leant into my constraints. My primary machine is my iPad Pro. I lost my MacBook a couple of years ago, and due to all the Apple laptop keyboard fiasco I never pressed the button. I began coding this on the iPad, but it really was an exercise in misery. Forget what they say, the iPad does not have the versatility for something like web production. Until Apple bring the Dev tools over with Safari, its all counterproductive.

The overall Blot system also made it super easy to work on the site while everything else was live. Probably the best setup for developing a website I have ever worked one. Local files that I save and see the impact direct on the site. Genius implementation.

Sleep Techniques

Its like having a super power. For my entire life I have been one of those really annoying people that could fall asleep pretty much instantly. As soon as, or often just before, my head hits the pillow I am comically out. The drawback has always been getting back to sleep after I have been woken up. I will only decide to pick up digital media after tossing for an hour or more in bed trying desperately to get back to sleep.

I saw a quick post on Kottke, which ultimately is explained in this link. Breathing exercise to help you go to sleep. I didn’t follow this exactly, but remember the hold your breathe part while you inhale/exhale. Have been trying it for several days and it works! Easily one of the most important things that I have learnt this year. The Year of Learning continues to rock on.

In Abeyance Vol.3 No.051

Latest issue of my newsletter In Abeyance is finally out. Over the last year I have fallen out of my routine for writing in the morning. Part of this has been due to my regular work creeping outside it’s time boundaries.

I have considered making the newsletter easier to write (by writing less) but that defeats the whole point of this endeavour. What I have settled on is accepting that sometimes I will be late but (hopefully) worth the wait.

Surrounding your desk.
Around your television media area.
Across your kitchen (over and under the counters).
Deep inside your walls.
Running under your feet.
They deliver power and signals.
Cables are ubiquitous.

Yet even for an electrical engineer like myself, it would be difficult to argue that they are great to have around. They get tangled up. They fray. They are a necessary evil.

What a glorious place it would be if all your appliances and devices where always charged and ready to go. Wireless power. An idea nearly as old as electricity itself.

Read issue 051.

Sensible Defaults

I have a new form of obsession, finding my own sensible defaults. I am tantalisingly close to getting most of the way there for a number of aspects of my life. The more defaults I can add, the easier life flows and opens up the opportunity for me to explore beyond the mundane. Although this year was originally intended to be the year of learning, it really has turned into the year of sensible defaults. From clothes, to technology, to the house, to my thoughts and ideas, to what I need.

Every item that is allowed entry into my life has to enhance it in a meaningful and long term manner. Short term gains (such as the euphoria of having purchased something) is very much a thing of the past for me. Impulse buys are not allowed. Every item in my surroundings has a target on its back - unless I have some use for this item, it’s days are limited (sometimes it does take me a little while to get there but get there I do).

Cargo Bike

I thought it would be fine. We would take it nice and slow. It’s a straight line, soft downhill with a a few turns at the very end. The thing is it really has been pretty stressful these last few days taking and bringing Zane from school on his bike. Every jut out in the road I see as a trap. Even though it is only 10min on the bike, his concentration meanders. I occasionally see him where he shouldn’t be, so I slow down. I raise my voice. Sometimes he listens. Sometimes he doesn’t. He’s only 7 after all.

So I’ve decided to remove this stress from my daily life. Gonna bite the bullet and buy myself an overpriced cargo bike and go all Danish on the situation. The reason it’s taken me this long is down to need. I haven’t really needed this until this week, but I imagine it will be a very important addition to the family. Ryan will no doubt learn to love going on rides for the fun of it. Not decided which one to go for yet but aim to have that resolved by the end of tomorrow.

Mise En Place

These last few days have been exhausting. I decided to tackle the house in every single manner. When I began this process, I just knew that we had too much ‘junk’ around us. We certainly were not using everything and in a small little house, it all becomes more apparent as things tend to pile on top of each other. So I began the process of Marie Kondo-ing the house. Be ruthless, but remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process.

I have done this before but in a different time and place, during transition periods between country to country. This is the first time I review the situation within the confines of our lives as they exist now. For the most part, I was able to remove a large amount of things however there were a few things also coming in - either as necessary replacements or omissions that became clear after the clutter was removed.

While it might seem wasteful to dedicate such a large amount of my holiday time to sorting out our house this process actually frees my physical and mental space to focus on what is important. The greatest feeling I have had post this exercise has been the fact that there is now a specific place for everything. The joy of Mise en place, in a small family of four, is liberating. I highly recommend taking the time, no matter how much of a chore it feels like. Your future self will thank you for it.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Analogue Rabbit Hole

In the spring of 2020, the world was going through unprecedented upheaval. Many across the world descended and depended heavily on the digital realm. It took a hold of our lives; our mental space was covered by a warm glowing digital blanket. Many of us embraced this new reality as we all tried to get away from the reality happening around us. We looked for escape. Years of conditioning took over, it could never have happened otherwise.

I was certainly not immune to this way of life. My attention was completely hijacked. Enough was enough. I confronted this new numbing reality. I consider how I wanted technology in my life. Rather than letting technology entertain me endlessly, through unlimited steams of content I would control how the digital realm would be allowed into my life. It was a difficult transition. A digital addict needs to step away from the things that have a hold over him.

At first I would leave my phone at home when I went out. I would take a notebook and a pen to try and make sense of the world around me. I looked to reading physical books again. I was transported back a decade, where these computers in our pockets did not exist. This was a slow, steady transition back to a more analogue world. The final piece of the analogue puzzle came when I looked down on my wrist. Empty and bare. I looked again and decided that it was time to finally get back to wearing a watch. That was when I fell face down into the rabbit hole.


100th episode of the Micro Monday podcast is up. Great overview of the short past and hopefully long future of the platform. I agree that getting all the things that currently exist in more refined and faster is the correct focus. The year of refinement.

The part I didn’t completely agree with was the suggestion by Patrick to add a tag into the profile. My site is random. Sure there are plenty of sites with a singular focus, most personal sites however do not fit this limitation. One, two or thirteen tags would not be enough or representative of my site - depends on how granular you want to get really. That is the charm and need of our digital gardens. We can plant anything we want in them.

So how do you make discovery better? That is a difficult one when everyone’s thoughts are so random. I think we need to move away from topics and concentrate our efforts elsewhere. Maybe the reasons to discover anyone should be more about tone than topic. How you quantify this tone is a tricky question to answer. I do think that understanding how often someone publishes is key to this equation as well.

Sensible Defaults / Chapter 01

We all need a system that aims to reduce the noise and clutter that manifests in our lives, be it physical, digital or mental. We all have a great deal on our minds. We have too much stuff. We all need a better system than the one we’re currently using. Fundamentally, the issue with humans is that we are natural hoarders. Although it seems to takes considerably less amount of effort in accumulating as it does to discard. We seem to have more difficulty letting go. To reduce our mental overhead, the journey begins by defining those elements that are essential. This is then followed by carefully assessing what can be considered enough to our overall wellbeing, with as little excess as possible.

Any system seeking to define a universal approach to life is going to fall far short for all people. When it’s too broad it becomes harder to tailor to everyone’s unique situation. I’m a teacher. I’m a father. I’m an Engineer. I’m a mother. The intent in this sporadic series of articles is to try and find a common an implementable school of thought, such that anyone can gain something of use and merit.

Once you are able to see the elements of your life for what they truly are and what they actually mean to you, then you can decide on what to do with them. The challenge with the things that we all collect is that their status in our lives shifts in importance the longer they stay with us. They also shift in importance depending on where in your life they appear. Being able to understand these shifts and react to them is an essential skill that needs to be developed in all of us.

Our lives are complex, with a number of moving parts that are all competing with each other for attention and oftentimes supremacy. As we carry these parts around with us, they occupy physical, conscious or subconscious space. The issue being that each one of these parts contributes overall to our mental overhead. Becoming aware of these parts, then being able to categorise them and place them, first into main categories and then into smaller compartments. Once these categories and their compartments are clearly defined, managing them is the next step. Once you understand the pieces in a defined format, the enormity of the task becomes ever more apparent.

Why is this even important? Why change the way you are doing things? Being able to reduce and understand will give you agency. Agency over the world around you. Agency over your belongings (be they physical, digital or mental) that oftentimes you are beholden to. Many (most?) of us where never give clear direction on how to manage these pieces. They were just given to us and we were tasked with understanding and managing them. They called it experience. They called it life lessons. While much of this is true there has to be a better way. Others have tried in part to address this, but there are flaws in their systems. The flaw is trying to distill everything into something you can hold in the palm of your hand. Something simple. Most importantly something that can reduce your mental overhead. You need sensible defaults.

On Marketing

I have struggled mightily with working out how best to use Twitter. It is a tool with infinite connections. The main issue is that it has never clicked with me. I struggle with finding people to follow and what to post on a regular basis.

The reason I keep coming back to the platform is down to reach. Now in my second year of publishing my newsletter, it has expanded considerably since those initial steps, but it is a long journey.

I keep coming back to this quote from Seth Godin:

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. Marketing helps others become who they seek to become.

What problem am I trying to solve? Trying to help people understand the built environment and what we are doing to destroy or protect our planet by way of construction, architecture and policy.


I always knew there was an entire universe surrounding coffee. A bunch of coffee nerds talking about grind, water quality, grams per litre, percolation, pour over. You needed to have all the gear to make something half decent. You needed beans (sustainably sourced) from Guatemala. And on and on.

Honestly, you can go as deep as you want, like with anything attached to any industry. I’ve had a reasonably varied relationship with my coffee. This year however is when I take it up a little notch. No, not going to be buying an espresso machine any time soon, but will be building my coffee making collection purposefully.

I have been using the v60 almost exclusively over the last year to make pour over filter coffee. The first enhancement has been the introduction of a small kitchen scale and a Bodum milk frother. Its a surprising purchase that actually makes a decent milky based coffee at home. I am going to be (re)buying an Aeropress next (I lost the filter a while back and never bothered to replace it). One of the coffee nerds guiding me on this journey is James Hoffmann. Definitely recommend his videos on the subject. Suitably snooty about what he is doing, but actually comes from a factual and scientific angle.

Fall of Democracy

On a personal level, nothing that happens in American politics has any direct effect on my life. Not really. It’s no different than what happens in Australian or Russian politics. In fact what happens in Belgium or Germany is likely more important to my life and I certainly don’t pay them any attention.

I have a bipolar relationship with America. I consume a lot of culture that is produced there (from books, to shows, to music, to software, to electronics). I mean the ultimate endorsement is that my wife is half American. Yet I certainly don’t believe in the rhetoric and I can see many of the social issues that the country has to manage (systemic racism, rampant gun control, undemocratic electoral system, etc).

One of the best books I’ve read about America’s future is called Fall of the Empire. Its not talking about the British one, that fell long ago. No this was published over a decade ago by the same guy how predicted the fall of the USSR, then at the peak of its power and the reasons why, back in the 70s. In this book he described the reasons for the fall of the American Empire. Many of the topics he covers were played out yesterday.

So why am I glued to watching what is happening? Part of it might be that its a well documented car crash. This week has shown just how much of a sham the whole system is. Sure you might argue that the system will get rid of the bad players eventually, proof that there are some checks and balances. The thing is I want to try and remember when an angry mob stormed another parliament building in a first world country? Seriously. The fact that it got this far shows how poor the system in place is. Hell, even countries like Lebanon, with governments soo incompetent they kept a nuclear bomb in the center of the city for over 10 years, is able to control it’s population from entering the parliament building.

More broadly however I think from an early age I realised that the American machine touched many of our lives but in an indirect way. Democracy is in decline. I am someone raised in a democracy and enjoy the freedoms that comes with that. I certainly don’t want to swear allegiance to any ‘dear leader’ nor do I want to operate under the watchful eye of a ‘party’, communist or otherwise. I believe in democracy.

Year of Learning

Having released a number of projects in 2019 (it was after all the year of release), the focus of 2020 was the year of consolidation. The intent was to focus my mind on these projects and make them better - implicit was the fact that I was not to add any new projects.

What I didn’t expect was that in 2020, I would also start my personal learning journey.

  1. I learnt how to draw trees, which really laid the foundation for my artwork to take a step forward.
  2. I had never made sweet potato buns, now these have become a regular staple in the house and have seriously elevated my burger-fu. I have become ever better at making eggs in a number of ways (omelettes were conquered early on, but now boiled and Korean-style egg sandwiches are normal for us).
  3. I finally understood how to make a better cup of coffee (I was 80% of the way there, that last 20% really makes all the difference).
  4. I dove deeper than I care to admitt into the world of watches, which I hope to expand upon one a year until I have my collection where I want it to be.
  5. I spent hours working out my clothing style (and working out where to buy what), which I hope will come together more in 2021.
  6. I discovered digital minimalism and time block planning. I still suck at both, but at least I know what I need to do.
  7. I finally consolidated my notes into a Zettelkasten built around Obsidian and 1Writer.
  8. I was able to loose about 10kg using the No-S diet. I fell off the wagon a little bit in the last few months (mainly due to work pressures and just being a little bit mentally exhausted).

For 2021, the year of learning I want more of the above. I’m not sure what exactly I want to learn specifically, but I know that I really have enjoyed the process of getting better personally at certain things and understanding the reasons why.

Productivity Methods

Since I read Digital Minimalism earlier this year, I have been on a bit of a journey into more purposeful productivity methods, which can be attributed to a couple of reasons - the work itself and the place of work.

I have been listening to Cal Newport talk about Time Blocking for months now, but not really been able to implement it because there was another piece of the puzzle that was not available to me, the configure part of his method. This week I was finally able to find the solution to the configure section of things.

He would alway suggest using Trello and I did honestly try a couple of times. Turns out the man is very smart but his blind spot is Trello (we all have one). This overtly complicated software with fiddly (and silly) options, themes, templates, bloat. Just terrible advice really.

Enter Basecamp and TeamTime.

Two apps that work together to complete the configure circle. While it may seem limited at first, the free Basecamp Tier is incredibly versatile, because you can have an infinite amount of individually named todo lists.

Basecamp gives you three ‘projects’. I would offer you to think of these as contexts instead. I have three contexts:

  1. Personal
  2. Internal
  3. External

Within each context I then have multiple projects, each with its own todo list. What is great about the Todo lists for Basecamp is that each todo list can have a general discussion attached to it, each item can have a general discussion attached to it. I can add files if I want, but I tend not to (usually adding links to files instead).

Under personal I have also added categories such as housework, to get a general feel for how much time I actually spend on household tasks. Eventually I will also add how much time I spend on walking, reading and writing.

At work the external context gets the most action, however increasingly more time is spent elsewhere. I needed an ever more accurate way of tracking the plethora of channels so that I don’t context switch and keep that to a minimum. I think I finally found it as long as the free tiers remain.

Reading & Interacting

Earlier this year I semi stepped away from the community. It certainly wasn’t anything the community did to me. The truth is I enjoyed many of the interactions and the people I ‘met’ on the platform. The problem was that I didn’t like how I was using the service as a crutch for boredom.

This is a service that doesn’t really gain much from me constantly checking it. There are no advertisers involved, and yet I found myself checking the feed. Maybe it was a muscle memory, built across a decade that will be hard to break after a few short months? So as part of my digital detox I cut everything out.

A little while later I thought I could be an adult about this and decided to try and introduce it back into my life. Sadly, I found I was falling into the same trap as before.

I love the service for my hosting and the near limitless ways of publishing. It works perfectly for me. In fact this year I am going the full premium. I don’t like it for reading. So what to do? I created a new tag in Feedbin. Slowly I am pushing everyone’s feeds in there and now i have a dedicated place that I can go and access in a more purposeful manner.

What is missing is the interaction. I wish there was a way to interact with these posts directly from Feedbin, or at least be able to go to the site and somehow leave a comment. My comments made to a post in is then displayed on a persons website. I don’t know what the easy way to leave a comment on a persons website is.

Typed Writing Modes

Spent some time sorting out through my various text editors and how I want to organise my typed words. Taking inspiration from the system for my notebook, once again I realised that a single app for all the different threads and channels is foolish. By dedicating an app for a specific task, you are signaling to yourself that this is what I want to get done right now. This is where this type of work lives. Also different apps have different strengths - play to their strengths.


This is where all my blogging happens. The direct publishing to is exactly what I want. I open the app and can get writing straight away. If I want to have something with a title, it’s also there. No constraints or worrying about length. Just type and publish.

I set this up with two specific managed workspaces. Default is unpublished and therefore publishing ideas. The second is just an archive of everything that I have written and published.

iA Writer

This is where the projects live. I have synced this up with iCloud. I have individual folders for each project and so when its time to work on any on project I know where to go.

1Writer / Obsidian / Software Agnostic

Finally this all clicked for me. This is my second brain. Using the Zettlekasten method, I am able to start collecting and writing information knowing that it is a single folder of text files. Lives on Dropbox and honestly I can’t wait to have hundreds of thousands of notes in there. The more the better as long as they are tagged and interlinked with each other


I decided to also add Simplenote to the mix. This is really just a place to brain dump. Sometimes I like to work something out. It doesn’t really fit into any of the above modes. Sometimes its clearing out junk from my head, when I don’t want to write things down, I want to type them out. Its not a major part of my routine, but I have found that these random text files find their way into different places. Why not create a dedicated space for this. I have called this my Brain Cleanser.