Friday Links Issue 05

It’s been a bit of an off week. After posting ten things last week, life happened. Meaning summer in New York. I met up with friends. Stayed out later than usual. Slept in. I didn’t make time to write. I returned to the gym after freezing my membership for three months.

Back on the wagon.

Kurt Vonnegut Explains Drama — Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers posted this in 2009. Kurt Vonnegut describes life like a line graph. Movies and books are roller coasters while real life is a pretty straight line.

That’s why people invent fights. That’s why we’re drawn to sports. That’s why we act like everything that happens to us is such a big deal.
We’re trying to make our life into a fairy tale.

Social media is our highlight reel. It gives us a chance to edit our lives for others to view.

“Oh did you see so and so’s picture on Instagram? Always traveling. Do they even work?” A lot of the time they’re traveling because they work so much and need to get away to keep from burning out1. Social media gives us the layers and brushes to hide and show what we want.

Eric Ripert appeared on The Watch podcast

Andy Greenwald had Eric Ripert on his show to talk about 32 Yolks, Eric’s memoir. In building software products, it’s important to keep the user in mind2. The same goes for chefs.

People in love, you can see… even in the street you can see who they are. People in business, you know they are focused on the discussion and so on. It’s our job to notice that. It’s not that difficult but you have to pay attention.

They discuss art and craftsmanship. Chefs create art. Dali needed to learn the craft and how to re-create a clock. It’s learned through repetition. The art is in having the imagination to melt the clock. Ripert doesn’t think anything’s wrong with excelling at cooking as a craft. But the steps beyond that are what interest him.

He’s interested in creating beautiful and imaginative dishes. Then the craftsmanship comes back in re-creating the appearance and taste of pieces consistently. First you make an omelet. Then you mix ingredients together until three stars come out.

Seth Godin on the Beautiful Writers podcast

When Tim Ferriss asked about Seth’s writing ritual, he didn’t quite answer. This time, though, he shed some light on the nuts and bolts.

I don’t think you need to wait until you’re in the mood to write. But I do think having tools that give you a proustian boost that remind you of what it is to do your best work are critical. At least for me.

If I’m starting a new project I go to Muji. I get the big size spiral bound. I get just the right pencil or the pen. It’s only for that. No grocery lists are going in that thing.”

Happy to hear he likes Muji. I bought a stack of their storyboard notebooks in Japan because Muji discontinued them in America. They give me a creative boost. Seth’s answer reminded me of The Creative Habit. Twyla Tharp talks about starting projects:

I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me.

For Seth Godin, a lot of his projects require thinking and sharing thoughts through words. His box is a notebook.

For Twyla Tharp, her box is a box.

Looking at design sprints this way, the team has a giant box: the room. The group creates ideas and sketches. They stay on walls in the same room for a week. People leave the box for lunch and breaks. Everything happens in that giant box.

My programmers, a box is a new repo for bigger projects and a new branch for new subprojects.

I’ll continue exploring different boxes for writing. Right now it needs to hold a spreadsheet and some docs.

The Artisan Files: Jeffrey Way

One of these weeks, I’m going to experiment with creating screencasts. My favorite screencasts have been from and Laracasts.

Early on, egghead had a minimal site (HN thread) with a killer Angular demo using Webstorm. I bought Webstorm pretty much right after and still use it. I used Angular for side projects and today I happen to work on a large Angular app.

Laracasts is fairly new to me. Vue seemed to be popping up frequently and I wanted to try it out. I really enjoyed Jeffrey Way’s Vue tutorials.

My audience at Laracasts is a bit different: they’re working professionals (at some level or another), who want to stay up to date on the latest tooling, techniques, and patterns. I think of Laracasts as eight-minute abs: just short bursts of knowledge for you to fit in whenever you have the time.

I want to try creating my own resources providing short bursts of knowledge. I’ll follow some principles Tim Ferriss follows for his podcasts. He based his process on avoiding a pitfall other budding podcasters run into: after a few episodes, they’re overwhelmed with the effort required to edit. Early on, Tim decided to stick to minimal equipment, long episodes, and minimal editing.

I’ve made a couple short screencasts before. Rehearsing and choreographing takes a lot of time. I want to try recording my screen for half an hour, pulling clips out, and skipping audio. Instead I’ll write text to go with each video clip. I think it’ll be easier to follow along, but we’ll see.

  1. I also know a couple people that actually do mostly just travel and are very happy.

  2. Writing it out, this seems so completely common sense. The hard part is following through on the principle when other solutions would be more interesting to make.