Issue 037 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out now, Enviromental Graphic Design.

I did something a little different with the newsletter this month. Typically I ensure that there are a few images sprinkled throughout the issue. This time I decided to go text only — except for the cover. I want to see if this has any demonstrable impact on people’s engagement with the newsletter itself. Nearly 2 years into this newsletter and I continue to experiment with the exact form it should take.

Had to take my iPad Pro to the shop. I couldn’t take the battery drain any more.

Realising that this could take several days, I had to make sure that the cover to next week’s issue was done.

Now is as good a time as any to sign up to the best (totally objective opinion) newsletter about the built environment.

Issue 036 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. This issue concentrates on adaptive façade, David Attenborough’s latest documentary, Ørsted, The 99% Invisible City and Signify.

Issue 035 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. Leader topic for this week is submerged floating tunnels. Yes, as mad as that.

This one is a day late but issue 034 ‘On Bridges’ of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue equals the same number of issues sent out last year. As always the subject crept up on me but I ended up learning a lot about bridges over the last few days.

Issue 033 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue has a decidedly Japanese flavour and touches upon circular architecture, the Hobonichi Techo, Perskovite and some vertical agriculture.

Issue 031 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This is an important issue for me as I am changing the format a little bit to allow me to finish my book (currently finishing off chapter 07 of 12).

Sometimes you need a good old think, a piece of paper and a pen to solve the difficult problems. Today I ‘solved’ two issues that relate back to the work I am doing on Stet.Build. The first related to the format that will unlock a bunch of things for me. The second is in how I use Twitter.

Issue 030 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one has empathetic leadership, world energy and some analogue vs digital.

I have wondered about whether to use stock photography in my articles on Stet.Build and have decided to add some photos where I think there is something really appropriate. The surprising thing is the quality of the photos that are now freely available from places like Unsplash.

Issue 028 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one was different. The tock issues are usually a lighter affair, but with my renewed attention and focus I was able to expand on several subjects. Also updated the design of the email itself.

Writing is often messy business. At least in those initial stages when a piece is not fully formed. You have the various threads. The ideas are relatively clear in your mind. They’re just all in the wrong place. Paper doesn’t judge. It doesn’t care for such things. I’ve ‘relearnt’ the importance of staying on paper for as long as possible. The text in the photo became the introduction of my latest issue.

Issue 027 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one is all about wind turbines and easily the most fun I have had writing an issue. I attribute this to the manner in which I am now writing these pieces, which I’ll go into in future posts.

Issue 026 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue is about 3D printing, the true cost of solar, the cooling prize and AutoMEP.

Incredible analysis of the general cost of solar and how all previous predictions (including the author Ramez Naam) have been wrong. Now it’s time to work out all the stuff that goes around this pillar. See also issues 002 and 015 of In Abeyance for added context.

I now understand why Google can ‘afford’ to give much of its stuff away while Apple continues to charge you for iCloud storage. They don’t have enough of their own infrastructure. Probably why they rely on AWS? Apple clearly needs more data centres to be in a better position to give storage away with their devices.

A couple of interesting facts from the issue 025 of In Abeyance. Firstly Google uses nearly 5 times as much electrical energy for its operations compared with Apple. Secondly, data centres account for around 1% of all global energy use. What’s more impressive is the fact that these values have remained flat since 2015.

Went on a bit of an ebook shopping spree. Top of my list was Drawdown, which ‘describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.’ Hadn’t appreciated that the book was the work of an army of contributors.

Issue 025 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one is all about data centres and marries my love for the built environment with my love for technology.

Issue 024 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one looks at the construction industry’s response to COVID-19, Hadrian X and Monograph.

I’ve been a little quieter than usual. I’ve actually been keeping real busy working on two projects (both project Stet.Build related) all within my new favourite Apple app,….wait for it….Pages?! Yes Pages.

I will at some point delve into some of the things that this app does exceptionally well, along with some of the things it doesn’t, but needless to say it has comprehensively blown my very low expectations. So much so I have probably spent 10 hours over the last few days exclusively using this app.

If you are in the market for putting together any form of book that needs some typographic love and attention without going full InDesign you really need look no further.

Issue 022 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue focuses on Energy Vaults, Microlino, hydrogen trains and Zettelkasten.

Just finished the cover gallery for my newsletter In Abeyance. Writing and drawing this newsletter has been one of the most fun and satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. Special thanks to @blot for all his help on this.

I’ve been really enjoying CJ Chilver’s recent series of posts on one of my favourite subjects, newsletters.

Taking some of the advice in this series, which coincides with my general theme for the year, I’ve now updated the Stet.build website to include a new sign up and about pages.

One of the quotes I recently read in Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, was in the early days of Google:

So we were never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better.
— Sergey Brin

Whenever I add something new to the site, it’s a small step that makes it better for the person who has just discovered the site.

Issue 021 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out now and shines the spotlight on drones. This one was fun to research but tough to write about because of the sheer volume of information around the subject.

The latest issue of In Abeyance is totally kicking my ass this weekend. I’m nearly there, but I have been totally overwhelmed by the volume of information. Didn’t think this subject would be so expansive, but once I jumped in, I realised it was an entire world I knew nothing about. Should hopefully go live tomorrow sometime.

Isssue 019 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, The Circular Economy. This one has a lot of noise and material being generated for it. Definitely a topic to watch for how it moves in the future.

As I put the finishing touches (still need to draw the cover) for issue 018 for In Abeyance, I was reminded that I announced the newsletter a year ago today. It’s easily been one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. Still in its infancy and only starting to learn how to walk.

For all of the criticism laid on Twitter, yesterday I was reminded of its reach and network effect. A single tweet from a reader added the number of subscribers for In Abeyance by around 50%. One single tweet. Amazing really.

2020 Theme

Following the Cortex podcast idea of yearly themes, 2019 was my year of Release. I think overall the theme served me well as I tried to keep releasing ideas, projects large and small throughout the year, regardless of what was happening around me, which admittedly was a lot.

Did I release everything that I wanted? In some cases I actually released more. In other respects I didn’t achieve everything that I was hoping, but that is the point of the yearly theme. It’s not a resolution, it’s an idea to guide me through the year.

2020 is the year of Consolidation and will not have major new releases. Rather it will be building upon the blocks that I have established already - namely all things Stet.Build and everything on kaa.bz. I’m excited for the coming year.

Issue 017 and the last issue of the year (and volume one) of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. The title of this issue is ‘Green Concrete’.

Issue 016 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. I have found that I am oftentimes looking to the future and highlighting the road we need to take or make happen. In this issue, I want to bring some positive vibes and put the spotlight on where we have already made progress and projects that showcase built design at its best.

Next issue will be the last for 2019.

Micro Fiction

Writing The Mark was a really interesting and unfamiliar process to me. First of all it was written as a narrative, while all my previous works of fiction were written as scripts intended for being made into comics. This was obviously a very different muscle that I had to use. For example I didn’t know how to format dialogue (even though I’ve thousands of line of dialogue), I ended up referring back to this page time and time again throughout the month. Apart from the mechanics there is also a question of flow and structure. Two elements I really only considered in the most superficial manner. I will be revisiting the story to see what I did wrong and how I can improve.

One of the limitations I included (constraint is the mother of all creativity), was to the daily word count to around 50 words. This constraint allowed me to peck out the story predominantly on my iPhone. Every night after work I would take 5-10 minutes and just type something out. Having the bar so low meant that I was able to do achieve my goal every night, even when I was busy, or tired or had a headache.

As the process moved forward I finally realised that this was the perfect way to move several fiction ideas that I have had serious brain crack over. So that’s what I’m going to be doing. As an experiment I’m going to see if I can move a story that I’ve had in different stages, 50 words at a time. The thing is I also think that my site isn’t really the perfect place to show the work as it progresses, rather to showcase completed chapters. So I’ll be writing it on a service I’ve been looking for the right project to try out. So I’ll be running a new newsletter that has nothing in it but text (eventually a little logo) that I will hopefully publish to on a daily basis. Once a chapter is written then I’ll publish that on the site.

Why publish it at all? Part of it is building accountability and movement behind something that I otherwise won’t touch. It’s also a break that my creative brain needs in addition to the work that I carry out over on Stet.Build

Copenhagen

I’ve now been in Copenhagen for a week and have had a tiny bit of time to get a feel for the city. The closest city I can compare this to is London. However I keep reminding myself that this is not the UK, things are decidedly different here. The best example I can think of was when I was walking, I take a turn off the main high street, onto what looked like a simple residential area, and there at the end of the road I could see the wind turbines1. It was just another reminder, things are different here. However, the biggest difference that I can gather is the city’s approach to transport.

Transport

The truth is though the city’s layout is different, the streets are wider. They have very distinct lanes for the different modes of transport. The lack of total dependence on the car is absolutely evident here. Every form of transport has been catered to in one form or another. Walking, cycling, scooters, boats, metro, train, buses and even the ‘humble’ car. The first few days I spent walking. That’s because this simple act of taking a long walk and watching what’s going on in the world has been an exercise that I have not been able to do over these last decade(?!). The Gulf is many things, but a haven and promoter for walkers it is not.

Most telling for me is that I’m about to have walked more in the month of October, than any other month over the last year (according to my iPhone, which is missing a great deal of steps I know, but I’m using it as a loose indicator).

I’m now also looking very closely at buying a Segway Ninebot Kickscooter as a fun and simple way to get around town. While there are scooters everywhere for hire, the cost adds up really quickly (by my calculation use the scooter for 140 trips and you’ve paid off the scooter). That’s the other thing about micromobility, it’s generally really affordable, even if you have to replace the scooter relatively regularly - it’s a utility cost more than anything.

Local Not Global Country

The other element that is clear here is the fact that this is not a Global city. There are no Amazon Prime trucks running around. There isn’t a MacDonalds or Starbucks on every corner (although these two staples do exist here). There is no Apple store. Vodaphone doesn’t operate here (at least I haven’t seen the Vodaphone logo anywhere). And so it goes. In this regard, it feels like a place caught in time…with it’s own home brands, made by and catering it’s own people. Some companies I’ve never heard of before, others have actually made the leap outside these borders.

Over the last 8 years, the word ‘local’ was seen as a bit of a derogative term. Somehow, local here is celebrated, as it’s the main part of your every day life. It’s another part that I will need to recalibrate my thinking.

Food

Since arriving in Copenhagen, I’ve eaten at one restaurant and it was a magnificent. The one thing that I do have to say is that the produce here is exceptional. I knew that strawberries here have a good reputation, but I didn’t expect that. Bringing the shopping into my apartment, I could smell them straight away. I haven’t smelt a strawberry in so long.

Buying local chicken, local tomatoes, berries, have all really elevated my meals considerably. I’ve been getting more and more into Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel as well and have been really loving it.

Language Barrier

I knew that this would be a thing. I’ve not gotten into a habit yet for listening and doing my Danish lessons but I do intend to do incorporate into my life very very soon.


  1. I know I’ve spoken about this before, but they always take my breathe away. I love them so much because they signal progress. They signal the future married to the past that I was walking through. [return]

Issue 013 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now live. This one was a lot of fun to research and write about, although I barely scratched the surface. Also it’s linked to my theme for Inktober.

Micro.blog Feature Request

This is the second edition of the Micro.blog feature request post. Last year, I reviewed what I hoped Micro.blog would add to the service. @Manton and co have had a very, very busy this year, so this isn’t to diminish all the work they’ve done. Rather these are a list of features that I would like to see included into the platform at some point.

Canonical Website

All these features unfortunately haven’t made it into the service. Although we’ve drafts have been added, I do have one additional feature I wanted added:

  1. Let me filter the type of posts from people I follow. So if I want to see everyone’s photos then let me do that. Let me see everyone’s podcasts. Sure you can do something similar from the discover section, but that’s everyone (?) on the platform.
  2. It would be nice to see how many responses have been made on any individual post. Could be a small little number next to the ‘conversation’ link.
  3. Allow more than one photo to be uploaded at a time.
  4. Highlight the emojis that are supported on the platform directly underneath and allow you to insert them from there.
  5. Once drafts are saved, they can’t all be found in a single list, they become part of the entire stream. Also drafts don’t show up in the official iOS apps.

Photos

Totally nailed this feature request.

Photos should be showcased on a grid of three squares across. Ideally this should be another standard page found at mydomain/photos.

Stats

I’ve asked for this before, I’ll ask for it again. I want to know how many posts I’ve written. How many photos. A histogram of my posting to get a feel for when and how often I post. How many replies have I made?

I would love to see a yearly view of the number of posts I’ve made on a month by month basis. Each month could have two bars showing how much stuff gets posted to my site and how much stuff is interaction with others.

Better theme control.

A year ago we were limited to tweaking CSS. Now we have a LOT more power behind us. So the initial request was completed…however I’ll be that guy. While I’ve sorted my design for the foreseeable future, apart from the occasional colour tweak, I don’t intend to change my design while I’m on Micro.blog. Partly because I’ve spent a ton of time on it as it is. Partly because the manner in which I make these changes is pretty cumbersome. It should be easier than it is, especially for someone not technical.

Bonus related feature: I don’t think that theming in general is easy on the web. A proper feature changer is to be able to design your site in a block type editor.

I initially used to love the fact that I was limited in what I could do which was to play around with the CSS and that was it. Since then the addition of updating the footer has been added. A great additions for sure, but I want full control of my site. I’m paying for hosting, eventually I’d like to be allowed to control the whole look of my site.

Subscription

Yup. Sorted.

This is finally being offered, but not officially (blink that reply and it’s gone)? I’d like to see a yearly subscription to the service become official.

Two Streams

Not yet, but something tells me that this is on the docket very soon.

Micro.blog by it’s nature has two streams. The first is your website stream, and only includes your posts, while the second stream is the social one that includes everyone you follow and your posts starting with an @ symbol. As a user both are important, yet they are given wildly different treatment.

Categories

There has been some movement on this, with the addition of new icons. However it’s not as granular as I would want it.

There are currently 9 categories that you can contribute towards. It’s a good start, but hardly what I’d call comprehensive. I’d like to see a great deal more categories. Architecture, Engineering, Comics, Stationary, Country-specific-categories, and the list goes on.

Faster Updating

I use Blot for my other website, Stet.Build. What I’ve noticed is that updating anything using that system is instant. That includes posts, css design, etc. I’d like some of that updating speed on Micro.blog if that’s possible (maybe I’m asking too much).

I recently had to update a few things on my CSS (it was for this post actually) and it actually seemed to me that Manton has sorted the original slow gremlins that impacted the design control, so scratch this item of the list as well.

Forced iPad Lifestyle

This is interesting. I’m now being forced into living the iPad lifestyle as my main computing device (until I can revive my Mac or worse replace it).

Let’s see if Federico is onto something with his commitment and enjoyment of the iPad as his favourite device. I haven’t really had to do this on account of having a Mac. I found what I believed the iPad was ideal for - everything involving the Apple Pencil.

It’s going to be interesting to write, research, edit and draw several issues of my newsletter on this device. Unfortunately I’ve still not switched to iPadOS, so the experience does feel somewhat hindered and limited at the moment.

Funnily enough, the only app that doesn’t have an iOS equivalent has a web version available, everything else I use has a fully functional iOS app.

Just finished listening to episode 361 of 99% Invisible. I found myself enjoying it even more as the second part of the episode talks about two topics I’ve just covered in my newsletter, Tall Timber and Two Carbon Targets.

The interview with Vince Beiser was excellent. Sadly they beat me to the topic on sand - to be fair Vince was way, way ahead of me on that one. He does an amazing job of explaining the premise of his book, called The World in a Grain, which I can’t wait to read.

Because it’s always good to give stuff on your birthday, here’s issue 010 of my newsletter In Abeyance. This one is about modularity, the circular and plastics economy and Finch.

40

40 today.

I spent the first 20 years riding my bike. Listening to grunge. Learning how to draw. Reading comics.

The next 10 years I spent learning about graphic design, the web and talking about make comics.

The last 10 years were spent actually making some comics and learning to be both a husband and father. At some point I gave up on putting my energy into comics.

Instead I’ve embraced putting all my energies into an endeavour that brings together all of the things that I love under one roof. The work on Stet.Build has only really just begun. For the first time in a long while I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years brings.

Yesterday I learnt a great new word, turgid (excessively ornate or complex in style or language). It was the perfect desciption of the carbon footprint subject I just posted about and came from one of my readers. Mike is now going to be my editor on the larger project and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been looking for an editor for over a year now, can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far. If you live in the northern hemisphere, chances are you’re experiencing some form of heatwave. Issue 009 of my bi-monthly newsletter, In Abeyance, is fitting of a world getting noticeably hotter every year.