Cal Newport’s Time-Block Planner looks interesting, but I can’t see the justification for a dedicated notebook for it. I could use the same process on a plain old dot grid notebook.

The power of pen and paper

Seth Etter reminds us that pen and paper is a powerful and simple tool that can help you start to solve problems.

Pen and paper. Whenever I catch myself stuck in the whirlpool, feeling not-great because I know I’m not doing what I want to be doing, or what I should be doing, I step away, grab pen and paper, and start writing.

The simple act of writing can focus my thoughts and attention in a way that nothing else can. Free from distractions, just a canvas to pour my thoughts into, and turn them into something with a sense of direction and purpose.

Start with pen and paper

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using the Shape Up process on a couple of projects to see if I can get some traction on them. The Shape Up process suggests using fat marker sketches so that you don’t get bogged down too much in details.

A fat marker sketch is a sketch made with such broad strokes that adding detail is difficult or impossible. We originally did this with larger tipped Sharpie markers on paper. Today we also do it on iPads with the pen size set to a large diameter.

Fat Marker Sketches for Shape Up

I’ve been using a pocket notebook to sketch ideas for user interface designs but purposely using a thicker marker so that I can just get an outline instead. I’m finding the process quite useful. Sure I throw away a lot of designs for one reason or another, but I do eventually settle on something that works.

Software and apps come and go. There seems to be a never-ending release of new features, bug fixes and other changes to improve what many software makers tout as an already great product. If it’s already great, then why keep changing it?

Pen and paper suffer from none of these problems, and yet remains for me, the most effective tool for problem-solving and gaining a clear solution.

Wow, it’s been 30 years now since EMF’s Unbelievable was released.

I’ve been trying to get some traction going on a few web applications over the last couple of months. It’s just not been happening. Countless distractions and lack of motivation has been difficult to get past. Going to give it another go though over the next six weeks.

I love this “Do or Do Not” notepad.

Nicholas Bate says no more waiting.

David Sparks shares the aftermath of the California wildfires.

After another post of mine found itself on Twitter when I didn’t want it there, I’ve decided to turn off cross-posting on I’ve seen this happen a few times now on If I want something shared on Twitter, I’ll just have to do it manually.

Ordered the Shape Up book from Basecamp. Sure I could read the book for free on the website, but having my own copy means I can put my own notes on it as I read.

It’s amazing how clear a subject becomes when you write about it.

The last double shot from Mike

Sad to see that Mike Gunderloy is bowing out from software development and the Internet. He was one of the first Ruby developers that I followed on Twitter and through there I subscribed to his blog, A Fresh Cup, where he posted his Double Shot posts.

Looking back, I’m also not super-happy with how the industry has evolved. There was a time when I could believe and hope that software was making the world a better place. Looking around, I’m not so sure any more. Money and power have seized pretty much everything related to software, and the rising tide of surveillance, manipulation, and generally rapacious behavior appears to be getting worse all the time. It’s become harder and harder to find any industry niche that I feel comfortable in working any longer. My sincere blessings to those of you who are still fighting the good fight, but as I said, I’m tired.

End of the road

I can understand his reasons for bowing out from the world of software development. I’ve been feeling the itch to leave as well, but I still think I have a few years left before I completely think about trying something else for a career.

Having used both Grammarly and Ulysses grammar checking tools on a few blog posts tonight, it’s clear that Grammarly suggests more changes than Ulysses does. Going to keep using both though over the next few months to see if I make do with Ulysses own grammar checking tool.

Note to self, start reading again.

Nice to see there are still apps out there like Reeder that keep on releasing versions with a seperate price for each version. Happy to keep paying the price for each version. It would be nice to see more apps like that.

My patience for software development over the last couple of years has grown to the point where I would love to throw in the towel with it. A defeatist attitude perhaps, but it’s a feeling that I’ve been unable to shake off in the last few months.

What did I miss from last night’s Apple event?

As far as I can tell, a new iPhone, a new mini HomePod and a new feature in iOS called Intercom. I’m quite happy to just catch up the morning after now with these events now.

The surprise factor behind the Field Notes subscription has definitely tailed off for me. It’s just become another pack of notebooks in the post. They are fantastic notebooks, but the subscription used to include other items in their quarterly drops. Sadly, not so much anymore.

The Hatton hoodie

Congratulations to Tyrrell Hatton on winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. And great as his golf was, what really stole the show was Tyrrell’s choice of attire. A hoodie.

Now, most people probably know that many golf clubs have a particular dress code —the usual tailored trousers or shorts with a collared polo shirt. And of course, proper golf shoes to protect the golf course while you are playing. There’s nothing wrong in my eyes with dressing in the right attire for a game. It looks smart. I love watching my boys playing, but I also love the fact that they look smart while they are playing.

Now the debate on the right dress code for golf has reared its head again thanks to Tyrrell Hatton’s Adidas hoodie that he wore while playing at Wentworth. I completely support it, and if given the option, I would wear a hoodie while playing golf as well.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen posts on social media by clubs and professionals who are challenging the traditional dress code of golf. They are allowing juniors to play and practice in almost anything that they want. Trackie bottoms and a hoodie? That’s fine. As long as the kids are enjoying the game, why does it matter what they wear?

I agree that golf needs to move with the times, but it also needs to be seen as fun and entertaining. By allowing hoodies on the course, and even in the clubhouse, golf would be a more attractive sport to more people.

My only concern is that while Tyrrell Hatton was wearing a hoodie, it was a hoodie designed for golfers by a major sporting brand. Except for the hood, it looked like any other golf top I’ve seen worn on the course. I suspect that if a traditional high street hoodie was worn, there would have been more of a hostile reception. And that’s where the line starts to get blurry. I suspect Tyrrell’s choice of hoodie would not have been cheap. Will clubs insist that younger players only be allowed to wear particular hoodies on the course? That’s a harsh rule to enforce.

I love to see players challenging the status quo in golf. It makes people think about why we’re playing the game one way when we could be playing the game another way. Tyrrell’s choice of wearing a hoodie while playing golf challenges the dress code of the game. A dress code which has mostly remained unchanged for decades.

More importantly, though, it also opens the door to attracting younger people to the game. And that’s definitely something that the sport needs to do.

Back to home cooking for central Scotland

With new restrictions in place for central Scotland, our first visit to our favourite restaraunt will need to be put on hold for a while. I’m not mad at the restrictions, although there is an element of frustration. I understand why it’s needed, but I was so looking forward to a change of scenery on Saturday.

With this weekend blown out, I think I’ll need to up the ante this weekend and do something extra special for the family. Now, where did I put Kurt Harden’s creamed spinach recipe? It always goes down well with steak and chips.

That’s my first Rails application ported over to DigitalOcean’s Apps platform. It was only a single page Rails website so hardly taxing, but the experience of migrating over was worth it. In time, I hope to migrate more Rails apps to DigitalOcean.

Friday night dinner at the golf club with a cracking view. Great start to the weekend.

What a fantastic evening for the young golfers getting coaching tonight.

Recommended task managers from Curtis McHale

I can’t argue with the picks that Curtis has made. He knows his recommended task managers very well and has devled deep into all of them. Just check out his blog if you need to find out more.

The next step up the ladder is Things by Cultured Code. Not only does it have great keyboard support for iPad users. Not only is it cross-device and syncs fast across devices? Not only is the pricing reasonable. Not only does it integrate well with macOS and iOS. Not only is sync fast between all your devices.

It’s just beautiful too.

The Task Managers I Recommend by Curtis McHale

I’m still using bullet journaling, and I am a fan of Things, but I see it more of a single-user task manager. I have out-grown it though, as I needed something that was cross-platform.

Reminders is a great entry-level app, and although basic, does everything that a task manager should.

I’m also using Basecamp at the moment to share stuff with my family. Its free personal plan is ideal for families and small teams.

What’s your recommended task manager?

Autumn is all about the apples and cinnamon.

Another Sunday. Another nine holes with Drew. Cracking day for it and he managed to play most of the holes from the junior red tees. He even managed a double bogey on one hole, which for his age, is great going.