The Dumbest Possible Kanban That Could Work
I have a fixation with personal Kanban systems, where I think that if I find the right one, I’ll be able to limit work-in-process, get things through the bottlenecked pipeline (me) faster, and have a pile of Done stuff to show for all of it at the end of the week. We’re not allowed to just download whatever we want at work, and the list of Kanban-enabled tools we’re clear to use is limited. Seems like all of them have some fatal flaw anyway, and I had to admit to myself it was a bad idea to introduce another standalone tool on top of the blank daily page in my notebook, the weekly Markdown file of projects and their tasks, and the enterprise calendar with its task reminder system. I ended up making a super-dumb, high-level vertical Kanban at the top of the weekly Markdown project/task tracker. I’m in that file all day anyway, so it’s one less place to go. It looks like:
# Week of 2024-02-26
- something bigger than a task but smaller than a project
- that thing I promised my manager I'd do this week
- that thing I promised to train a coworker on
- training I need to schedule
- testing some new function in QA
- one unit of meaningful work I finished yesterday
- drafted document for new process
Sadly, there is some duplication between some items in the sort-of Kanban and the projects listed below, and there’s no tagging or filtering on any of these tasks, but it’s the only way I can work. I have to have non-smart lists that are anchored to a spot on the page (or in the file).
## Project A
- [ ] write up test plan
- [ ] test code in QA
- [ ] tell developer I'm done
## Project B
- [x] write up process for that new web property we inherited
- [ ] train coworker on it
## Project C
- [x] figure out what training looks good for 2024
- [ ] schedule the training
- [ ] tell manager I'm done
My brain needs the tiny little bit of focus afforded by that “DOING” header in the Kanban at the top.
VMFA, Dawoud Bey, shooting film, and “Remember The Night”
It’s finally, temporarily, not freezing outside. And the “new” kitchen floor looks nice in the daylight. The underlayment does a great job at keeping the cold from the basement away from our bare feet up here.
Getting ready to go to the VMFA, I loaded Tri-X in the Leica M2 for the first time in months! We saw Dawoud Bey’s “Elegy” exhibit. The part that grabbed me was the last room, “Night Coming Tenderly, Black”, where every print was bathed in darkness to evoke the experience of following the Underground Railroad. These prints were dark in the same way that your eyes start hallucinating shapes in the moonlight. And with a weight like my favorite Rothko piece hanging in the VMFA, you can’t understand it looking at it on a computer screen or printed in a book. You have to be in the same room and it has to be big. On our way out, we sat with a nice staff member who was doing a survey about visitors’ thoughts on the exhibit. I told her that before watching Bey’s film “Evergreen”, I’d never seen the plantation cabins where enslaved people lived.
After that, muffins in the Best Café, and then the sculpture garden where Sarah drew and I took photos with the M2. It felt good to work that muscle again after having had so much inertia working against it before. It was just right there waiting all along.
Watched “Remember the Night” with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck on Criterion while we ate dinner. We managed to sit still long enough for an entire movie! I wish that whoever digitized it hadn’t de-noised it and cleaned it up so much.
It’s funny how I usually think blogging takes so much energy. For me it actually gives energy when I remember to do it.
Tinderbox meetup, Feb. 24, 2024
What a good day. At noon, I and about 27 other nerds joined a weekly Zoom meetup about Tinderbox. This one featured Dave Rogers and Jack Baty demonstrating how to blog with Tinderbox. I realize that makes it sound like there’s one way to do it. There are endless ways to “blog with Tinderbox”. It just depends on what you want to accomplish, how deep you want to get, and what your tolerance is for figuring it out as you go.
After reading Jack’s and Dave’s blogs for years, this was the closest I’d come to “meeting” them and it was a treat! Those guys are open books and I think they blog because they can’t not blog. Their enthusiasm is infectious and it got me all excited about the idea of using Tinderbox for something, and about the idea of blogging in general. I even had a brief thought as I looked at Jack’s neatly-named nodes for each post (formatted automatically with dates, but not technically named as they’re shown) that I could use Tinderbox as a CMS for Blot. The question is, should I? Truly, with Blot, I don’t need anything more than Dropbox and whatever text editor I’m in the mood for that day.
Things that made me perk up in addition to the blogging demos:
- Mark Anderson showed off some Tinderbox keyboard shortcuts I’d never seen. I could probably do 95% of what I think I need to do in Tinderbox outlines. These shortcuts would make that easier.
- Dave organizes his NetNewsWire RSS feeds into folders of: bloggers, news, locals, social media, Tools for Thought, YouTube, photography, etc. I’ve always just lumped together all the feeds I follow. Maybe I could try this approach and it wouldn’t feel like such an undifferentiated blob of stuff every day.
- Maybe try Forklift for FTP? Or I could just stick with Transmit, which I already have.
- Mark Anderson says not to forget the Export tab above each note if you want to see the generated HTML.
- Static.app looks fun for static hosting.
I may have to start joining these meetups more often. It gives me a charge to see people having this much fun learning stuff as they solve their own problems. And I probably need a regular dose of encouragement to use software that’s only available on a laptop. Limiting your apps to only things you can also use on an iPhone or iPad is likely to keep your work shallow.
It was raining after the meetup, so I started and finished re-installing underlayment and the kitchen floor slats we had to pull up in January (when Lowe’s was supposed to install a new dishwasher and didn’t, giving the water supply line we had unhooked ample time to leak all over half the floor). I appreciate the floor all over again now.
The End of 2023
I’m not clear headed enough to think about what I want to commit to in 2024, but the end of 2023 has me going over old questions, considering good influences, loose ends, and coming up with a buffet of things that could happen next year, or be done differently.
Uh-oh. As this gets longer it starts reading like one of those Christmas cards where people list all the amazing things they did this past year. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m just sorting things out so I don’t forget them.
- What have I accomplished with photography in the year since we lost Tim Vanderweert of Leicaphilia? Have I made the most of the time I had, that he would have liked to have had? I took two semesters/sessions of darkroom class at the VMFA and learned a lot about how to get comfortable, or less uncomfortable, with the chemicals, paper, and equipment. I’m pretty happy with a lot of the prints that came out, and I look forward to doing it all again next year. But that beautiful Lecia M2 sat in my drawer for way more of the year than I thought it would. I won’t get back all those opportunities to use it, but I can bring it out more often in the future and not treat it like a jewel.
- How will I get over my own baggage surrounding processing images from the Fujifilm X100T and Ricoh GR?
New good influences
- The Ultimate Film & Darkroom Workbook by Rachel Brewster-Wright. Makes time spent in the darkroom much less stressful, more productive, and focused.
- Alec, our trainer/instructor at Onward Fitness
- The Apple Watch SE 2 and its not-so-gentle nudges to keep moving and get decent sleep
- Visiting Seattle and then seeing Joni Mitchell at The Gorge in Washington. Travel is hard but it’s one of the best things to spend money on.
- Cal Newport’s Deep Questions podcast
- Ann Patchett: How To Practice. “This was the practice: I was starting to get rid of my possessions, at least the useless ones, because possessions stood between me and death. They didn’t protect me from death, but they created a barrier in my understanding, like layers of bubble wrap, so that instead of thinking about what was coming and the beauty that was here now I was thinking about the piles of shiny trinkets I’d accumulated. I had begun the journey of digging out.”
- Dave Rogers writing about shortwave radios, which prompted me to order a Tecsun PL-680, return it, and get a Sangean ATS-909X2, which is much better and what I should have done in the first place. I don’t know why I didn’t get a good shortwave radio sooner.
- Beck Tench interview on The Informed Life from 2019 where she talked a lot about Tinderbox. I liked her emphasis on how sometimes slower, more contemplative software (like Tinderbox) can help us think better.
- Jason Scott’s podcast
- How to Do Things by David Cain. It superficially appears to be about the pomodoro timer, but it’s more about the why and the how, and it’s short.
- Dana K. White and her no mess decluttering method. Step 1: If I’m keeping it, where would I look for this thing? Step 2: Take it there now.
- Feb. 26: Richard Thompson at The Tin Pan
- May 25: En Attendant Ana at the Fuzzy Cactus
- Sept. 8: The Chameleons UK at the Broadberry. Mark Burgess’s mother died earlier the same day back in England and he carried on with the show in honor of her.
- Sept. 12: Weyes Blood at The National with my friend Tim
- Nov. 4: Milliseconds at The Camel
- Learning Spanish. Boy did this fall off the radar.
- All those digital photos in Lightroom and Capture One. Languishing.
- The mint condition Beseler enlarger that Sarah and I drove to Amherst, Virginia, to buy from a nice lady on FB Marketplace in March. I thought I’d be much farther along in our basement cleanup and on the way to having a darkroom of my own set up by now, but no.
- The wiki. The poor, neglected wiki.
- Went to our gym a lot, but November and December are hopeless for being consistent with it. Should I keep my membership or just use the gym classes at work?
- Not just repeating my habits of doing things the same way I’ve always done them.
- Dry January again.
- Take care of our money and house like an adult.
- Think of writing in this blog as an opportunity instead of a chore.
- Make more stuff than I make now, although “making more than I consume” may be impossible for anyone.
- Develop film fairly quickly after I finish shooting it. I have all I need to do this.
- Take better notes about what’s on my film negatives (old and new).
- Read books? I’ve heard people do this.
- Use the Hobonichi Techo as a bullet journal to log what happened, but it doesn’t have to be in bullet form. Just leave it open all day and add to it. Use its weekly add-on supplement book to plan what will happen. At the end of the year, you’ll have a very rewarding flip back through all the previous 52 weeks in a way that you wouldn’t bother if using Google Calendar.
- As much as possible, keep leaving the phone by the bedside table after getting home. The Apple Watch will let you know what’s urgent. When you feel bored and low-energy, you’ve instantly lost when you idly pick up the phone. Pick up a notebook or the laptop instead.
Fixed Drafts.app not syncing over iCloud
I rely on Drafts syncing between Apple devices over iCloud. I usually never have to think about it, but yesterday I noticed that some recent drafts hadn’t come over to the MacBook from the iPhone. Right then, I looked at DownDetector for iCloud and there had been a spike in outages, so I figured it would work itself out eventually.
This morning those drafts still hadn’t synced to the MacBook, so I went through the Drafts troubleshooting steps and made sure that Drafts had iCloud Drive permissions on both devices. Also checked that iCloud Sync was turned on in Drafts on the MacBook. I figured I’d looked at everything that could make any difference.
Greg responded with an explanation to a user who reported that iCloud Sync was enabled on their Mac but not on their phone:
Glad it’s sorted. We try to enable it by default, but if iCloud was not available for some reason when you first launched the app, it can get disabled.
Thanks for your patience with the issue!
A-ha! I hadn’t bothered to check that iCloud Sync was turned on in Drafts on the phone because I “knew” it had always been enabled there. Note to self: Always check and re-check your assumptions.
Dr. Drang’s one notebook — one river of posts — iOS Translate
I really like Dr. Drang’s one notebook method. His Perl script to clean up his dictated paper index makes me want to use one notebook at home and index it the same way. But if I were to do this I’d want to use a bigger notebook than the Field Notes pocket notebook, and then where would I keep my grocery list and to-do list for the week? Those need to stay in the Field Notes because it’s so small and can go anywhere.
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Somewhat related, although not really, I’m getting jealous of all the people with blogs putting all their stuff into them and not overthinking it. I’m going back to the idea of sticking with one dumb river of posts in this blog, whether I’m doing a Daily Notes kind of post, or a real Bloggy-Blog post with a title and a central idea. I’m following Jack’s lead here, where he tags his daily-journal posts (like
/posts/2023/10/wednesday-october-25-2023) with “Journal” but they’re still in the same folder path as his “full” posts that have topical titles. Actually, I’m not totally following his lead because I haven’t started naming the files after the date. But it’s all a mess here anyway, so one thing at a time!
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The iOS Translate app. I keep forgetting and then re-remembering that it’s right there on the phone.