Becoming an Early Riser – Week 1
January 31, 2011
With the first week of being an early riser under my belt, I thought it appropriate to write about how it went. All-in-all things went well and I really enjoyed my mornings. There were, however, some things I struggled with throughout the week.
Fighting the Urge to Stay Up Late
Fighting the urge to stay up late was really tough. Something in my body kicks on about 9PM and no matter how tired I am throughout the day, I have a second boost of energy. It was very difficult for me on most days to force myself to get into bed and just read. Once I did committed, my body gave in and sleepiness followed within 15 minutes.
Feeling Like I Have Less “Me” Time
Because that alone time at night has become such a part of my life, I found myself feeling like I didn’t have enough time in the day to do the things I wanted to do. In reality, I was awake the same amount of time (or even more) as before my shift in schedule. I started skipping a few TV shows I have always watched in the past (likely a good thing) and shifted a few other tasks to the morning. I’m looking to incorporate exercise as well which should help me to feel like I’m accomplishing more as well as helping my overall energy level.
One habit I did fall into was working longer hours. No good. There were a few days I started working at 6AM and worked until 6PM. My goal was never to work longer, only to be more effective in those hours which I work. I’ve either got to fill my morning hours with non-work related activities or knock off work earlier. Currently, I’m leaning towards the latter.
Early Morning Darkness
In the winter, it’s dark in the morning and I feel like it makes getting up way more difficult. Stumbling into the bathroom to wake up with a shower is a struggle. This is where Steve Pavlina’s tips for waking up really come into play. Practice makes perfect and it’s getting easier each day.
Early Mornings on the Weekend
This last weekend was the first under my new schedule and it was fairly difficult. I made some plans early in the morning on Saturday which made it easier to get up, but Sunday was a struggle. I knew in my mind there was no reason to be awake. If I was up, it was going to be to watch TV because I had no desire to do chores or side projects. I ended up sleeping in until about 9:30AM which was a decent compromise. I was still tired at about 10PM last night which didn’t screw up my sleep cycle too badly.
I think going forward I need to come up with a solid plan for my weekend mornings or I’ll fall into the same issue again. Even though it feels like the natural thing to do at that hour, I don’t want to work on the weekends.
All-in-all I’ve really liked this new schedule. I plan to stick to it and hope that this first week wasn’t possible just because of the excitement behind proving I can do something new. I’ll continue to practice getting up so that I get better at ignoring the voice in my head telling me to stay in bed. With a few refinements, I really think this is something I could find good success in by changing permanently.
Counting the Costs of the Mac App Store
Panic announced yesterday in a blog post that they have “half released” their latest update to Transmit. It seems the update was submitted to Apple for review, but has spent over 2 weeks going through the process. Meanwhile, under pressure from the Support Team, they have gone ahead and pushed the release to direct buyers. It made me think…is the added value of a Mac App Store really worth the dependence on a third party (even if that third party is Apple)?
At launch, I really liked the idea of the Mac App Store. I felt that is served as a nice, centralized area where I could go to find apps, conveniently checkout with a provider I trust, and come back later for updates in one single place. However, it didn’t take long for the critiques to start rolling in and most of them made a lot of sense to me. But what about Panic’s latest issue? What if this release was a major bug in a core part of their software? Would users be left waiting for weeks on end?
With the Mac App Store being so new it’s no real surprise there are some glitches in the system. Here are a few issues I see that make taking the plunge a tough call:
Apps For iOS and OS X Are Different Beasts
The biggest fault I see with the Mac App Store is that it’s hard to justify the need for it. When the iPhone was first released the App Store made a lot of sense because we were talking about a smartphone with an Internet connection that could be exploited. I would have been somewhat surprised if a carrier was even willing to carry the iPhone without some controls. Apple’s review process minimizes the junk (right?) and clears out the malicious. Everyone is happy because cell phones aren’t being treated as P2P nodes, taking unexpected photos, or constantly tracking our GPS coordinates.
On the other hand, the Mac App Store is aimed at my computer. I don’t need anyone monitoring what I’m allowed to install. If a developer puts out a malicious (or even just a junky) application, the word is going to get out that it’s trash and shouldn’t be installed. If I don’t like it, I uninstall it. There’s really no need for a review process.
Lack of Control of the Experience and Process
As a developer, I value the experience that my user’s get very highly. It’s important to me (and I know even more to some of you) that my work is presented in a certain manner with a specific flow. While the Mac App Store doesn’t control the in-app experience, it does strongly effect the buying experience which is just as important (especially if you have mouths to feed at home). I will admit that the simplicity of the Mac App Store is great, but there are costs involved with surrendering this portion up to Apple.
Lag Time in Pushing Updates
As demonstrated with Transmit, it can be tough to push an important update through the system. This plays into the loss of control from my previous point. We all strive to create bug-free code, but also know it’s impossible. You better believe that when I find something, though, I’m going to fix it now and get it out fast. Not so with the Mac App Store.
The other cause for concern I see here is for those apps that are in early development, like Sparrow. I’ve been using it for some time now and it’s become very stable and offers a great feature set, but earlier on it was being updated quite often. Does this mean that Beta apps aren’t meant for the Mac App Store? Seems a shame to require apps to be fully matured before they “work” in the Mac App Store. Since apps I already have installed are recognized, wouldn’t it be nice if Apple helped Beta users transition into paying customers for v1.0? No deal.
The Cost of Convenience
I understand that not everyone is a web developer and some may not be interested in building and operating their own e-commerce website to sell their software. For this reason the Mac App Store is hugely convenient. But is it worth a 70/30 profit share with Apple? Obviously some would say yes because of the added exposure, but not everyone will be making $1 million in 20 days. With services like Quixly, digital sales and distribution aren’t an overly difficult thing to coordinate. For me, I’m taking home the extra 27% and working with PayPal (yuck) or Authorize.net.
So What Then?
All-in-all I do still think the Mac App Store is a great idea and will likely become more and more of a cash cow for Apple. I like the functionality and potential for what it could be, but I think by surrendering the experience and process to a third party, developers are left at the whim of their provider. Seems like something that definitely calls for counting the cost.
Play/Pause Keyboard Shortcut for Rdio
January 25, 2011
Let me start by saying that I love Rdio, but today I was annoyed for the last time that their desktop player is built in Adobe AIR. Throughout the day I find myself needing to pause my music for phone calls, conversations, or a (once a year) deep thought moment. No big deal except that the Rdio app is usually buried under several other windows. I wanted the simplicity of pushing a single button on my keyboard. Now I’ve found a way and want to share.
- Download and install Spark, a free Mac app to help set up keyboard shortcuts. I tried to do this shortcut right in System Preferences, but wasn’t able to get the desired outcome.
- Double click on AppleScript to create a new action for your shortcut.
- Select the keyboard shortcut you would like to use for play/pause (I selected F6 for myself) and set a name for the event (i.e. Rdio Play/Pause)
- Copy and paste the following AppleScript into the text area.
tell application "Rdio Desktop" to activate delay 0.25 tell application "System Events" key code 49 keystroke tab using command down end tell
- Click on ‘Run’ to test that the AppleScript is working (you must have Rdio Desktop open).
- Once you’ve verified that the script is working, click ‘Create’ and you’re done.
What is this script doing?
The script is activating Rdio Desktop which causes it to take focus, simulating a Spacebar keystroke (causes a play/pause action), and then simulating a Command+Tab key sequence which restores focus back to the previous application. You will see a quick flash as this process occurs, but I’ve found it short enough that it doesn’t bother me.
This method should work with any keyboard shortcut tool, but Sparky is nice because it’s simple, to the point, and free. Enjoy!
Battling Late Nights and Becoming an Early Riser
January 21, 2011
Ever since my Senior year of high school I have been a major night owl. If I had to venture a guess, I would say I’ve gone to bed before midnight somewhere around 200 times in the last 10 years. The excuses have varied from CounterStrike tournaments (in the earlier days) to excessive workload (in the more recent years). I’ve tried many times to shift my “internal clock” to be more like normal people, but it’s only ever stuck for a week at a time. Needless to say, at nearly 28 years old it’s something I really need to tackle.
To me, there’s something very appealing about nighttime and it’s only started to make sense to me recently. Several months ago I took a basic version of the Myers-Briggs test and learned a lot about myself through it. I’m an ISTP which probably doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you’ve read up on the details, but this portion of the analysis really rung true to me:
ISTPs like and need to spend time alone, because this is when they can sort things out in their minds most clearly. They absorb large quantities of impersonal facts from the external world, and sort through those facts, making judgments, when they are alone. (link)
I can totally see this about myself and I think it explains a lot about my late night habit. I often find myself deep in thought about the day that has past, the day that is coming, business, relationships, etc. in the early morning hours. There’s nobody to interject or distract and I really appreciate that time.
Although initially a concern, I think I can get this same “alone time” in the mornings. I’d prefer to approach the day early with a fresh mind and spend my focus on my day rather than the analysis of it in retrospect. Additionally, I foresee it helping my exercise (or current lack of) routine and spiritual life.
This change seems drastic to me because my plan is to get to bed between 9PM and 10PM every night and wake up at 5AM (no budging on this end). 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Very different than my current model which ends up looking more like sleeping from 2AM to 9AM.
This move (and a strategy for approaching it) was further energized by the writings of Ryan Waggoner and Steve Pavlina and their similar struggles and solid methods for changing the habit. I’ll be reporting in with some of the struggles that will inevitably surface over the next 30 days as my body and mind mold to this new way of living.
November 23, 2010
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
— Albert Einstein