I am finding myself profoundly affected by Steve Jobs’ passing. I never particularly cared for Apple products as they stood for many of the technological principles which I oppose. But as a man who created an image, a following, maybe even a cult; Steve Jobs was a far cry from a failure. I consider myself strongly motivated to be successful and leave a lasting impact on the world. However, I see myself constantly being distracted from these goals with less important tasks. I don’t claim to understand his character, but the pattern I find in successful people like Steve are those who mastered the art of living minimalistic lives. Despite the luxury and vanity I despised so much in Apple’s products, their design and use made your life easier. Each and every product which launched under Steve’s supervision was a testament to his ideology and principle. Not many others can make that claim.
Of course, living minimally doesn’t benefit anyone but yourself. But minimalism will help you discover the forest from the trees.
Though his successes are immense, I still don’t quite understand why his death has impacted so many people in such an intensely emotional way. Of course, his technology brought people closer together. He showed people how technology can augment our daily grind instead of a hurdle. He spoke passionately about his products that would make snake oil salesmen proud. They did what he said they would, but more importantly, you wanted to see the “magic” he saw in them.
I’ve been a little introspective since I learned of his passing and tried to find the best part of what made Steve Jobs a truly great man. I’ve come to this conclusion… it was his intense passion. Few people share it. For those that do, you find yourself emotionally invested in their journey. So how do you find that same fiery passion?
(Update) Here’s one potential way…
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
– Steve Jobs
During a conversation regarding DRM and e-books (stemming from the recent release of the Nook client for Android phones which allows sharing your purchased ebooks with others), I was explaining my distaste for any lock-in technology and my desire for a utopian free-information model which motivates sincere effort rather than the product. Rather than paying for the final result of the effort, instead we focus on rewarding the effort itself. A marketplace which measures following, appreciation, and admiration for a thought or piece of prose. Call it dreaming, hopeful, or unrealistic but think of the number of Likes or Retweets you might generate in a typical day. We are already sharing our efforts and thoughts finding value and insight in small, consumable pieces. We pay for this information not with coins but with our attention and devotion; a currency which, as yet, isn’t very liquid or easily monetized at all.
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As I wait for a project to build, I’d like to unravel some thoughts regarding something of which I’m starting to catch wind. A new feature being implemented into Twitter which helps solve many interesting challenges inherent to how Twitter currently works all the way down to the 140 character limit. This new feature is called Annotations and, as its name suggests, will allow the public to make notes and comments regarding specific tweets and publish them along with the original tweet. Many of you, myself included, have still to find the real utility in Twitter as anything more than a novelty broadcasting toy. (Let me finish!) I’ve played with the service off and on for some time (@placer14) with varying levels of satisfaction throughout and will leave my opinions for another post. In light of my past experiences, I have an “Oooohhhyeaahhhh” feeling about Twitter Annotations.
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As a growing developer and a man of systems and mental hacks, I am constantly hitting roadblocks when settling on developer note-taking policy. I recently stumbled across this great collection of systems from other devs on StackOverflow. If you’re like me, you might take some time to grok this out.
From the hardcore, yet incredibly streamlined:
I use Emacs Org-Mode along with Remember Mode to keep track of everything. TODOs, appointments, notes, etc. With Org mode and Remember mode integration, plus a shortcut key defined in my window manager, I can hit a shortcut key from anywhere (Win + R in my case) and pop up a new Emacs window, select which type of item I’m saving (TODO, appointment, note, etc) and then quickly type what I want and then hit C-c C-c. The note is filed away to a default location for me to organize later if I so choose. This is so simple and convenient that I don’t have to interrupt my flow of thinking if I suddenly think of something I need to do or take some notes on a given task. “Just what are the steps again for setting up a remote git repo? Okay, I do this and this and this. I had better write this down before I forget.”
To the obvious and simple:
One notebook per project, typically, unless they’re really small projects, in which case I reach for a partially used notebook and add to it.
I find it very helpful to grab a notebook off my shelf and re-read my maunderings from when I was thinking my way through something. Scribbling on paper lets me record partial thoughts instead of doing a ‘finished’ write-up. This lets me revisit my thought process in addition to the solutions I found — and that tends to be more enlightening than merely recording a solution.
Enjoy! What do you use to keep notes as a developer? (Stack Overflow)