40. Desire paths

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

I’m starting to get used to the new rhythm of life. I also learned about desire paths, which is a term I did not know existed but perfectly explains the phenomenon of people just making their own paths & tracks over time, especially if those paths that run contrary to design or planning. It’s a nice allegory to making paths in your life that work for you.

Reading

Why You’re Probably Getting a Microchip Implant Someday (The Atlantic, 10min)
Called ‘implantables’, the RFID health tag industry is starting to ratchet up. With Apple Watch 4 starting to offer health kit benefits too, you can see that hardware manufacturers are wanting to commercialise medical hardware at the consumer level. Nokia/Withings tried it, but I think Apple will win this one, purely based on distribution and awareness. Plus, strapping on a watch is way more palatable to the public than injecting a chip.

Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom (The Guardian, 25 mins)
I love everything he writes. This is no exception. And it ties in well with the observation about the medical hardware above, specifically this section:
“At present, the hackers rely on analysing signals and actions in the outside world: the products you buy, the places you visit, the words you search for online. Yet within a few years biometric sensors could give hackers direct access to your inner world, and they could observe what’s going on inside your heart. Not the metaphorical heart beloved by liberal fantasies, but rather the muscular pump that regulates your blood pressure and much of your brain activity. The hackers could then correlate your heart rate with your credit card data, and your blood pressure with your search history.”

The Doomsday Invention: Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction? (The New Yorker, 60 mins)
This is a conversation about AI from 2015. It’s a long read, but interesting if it’s your thing! Mostly I like that there’s a view on AI forming a type of religion, this line stands out:
“This is not an honest conversation,” he said. “People think it is about technology, but it is really about religion, people turning to metaphysics to cope with the human condition. They have a way of dramatizing their beliefs with an end-of-days scenario—and one does not want to criticize other people’s religions.”

The clever UX that made Fortnite a $1.2 billion sensation (Fast Company, 10 mins)
I played Fortnite for the first time this week. It was an interesting experience. This article explores the success of the format: “Fortnite‘s success rests on three principles: accessibility, sociality, and spectacle.”

What Everybody Is Getting Wrong About FIRE (Mr Money Mustache, 10 mins)
MMM is like the godfather of FIRE. There’s going to be a lot of media attention on the movement over the next 12 months, I think. And it’s important to remember why we’re doing this: it’s not about retiring. It’s about living a life on our own terms, and “Complete freedom to be the best, most powerful, energetic, happiest and most generous version of You that you can possibly be.”

Listening/Watching

Business Wars podcast – covers business rivalries like Nintendo vs Sony, and it’s a fun listen.

Loving

Pretty much the best sales pitch I’ve seen for a D&D Halloween module.

Here’s your paper from High Anxiety…classic homage!

Best life

I bought a coffee grinder because, as much as I love hand grinding, I am just not up for it at 6am in the morning.

The week ahead…

Tuesday is trivia night with the work crew, and next Sunday is the climax of our current D&D session, The Sunless Citadel. It’s a classic dungeon delve, and there’s gonna be some monster slaying indeed. Think we’re moving into Waterdeep: Dragon Heist after that! A city romp!

39. Noodling

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

This week’s biggest discovery is modular music. I watched the start of a Twitch stream where the host noodled for 30 mins (link to the audio), and then I got into a YouTube playlist, and then I started asking friends for recommends, and oh my the rabbit hole. Anyway, tooling around with your synth is called “noodling”, thus the title.

In other news, I started the new gig and had a few meetings. I’m having troubles adjusting to the new rhythm of my life – when I work, what happens outside of it, what happens during my day. It’s not a bad thing at all. It’s just an adjustment.

Reading

My preferred virtual tabletop company Roll20 had a bit of a PR crisis this week on Reddit. Huge for the community, but small in the grand scheme of things. Here’s a good summary and here’s a good read from Forbes about handling PR crises, should you ever find yourself in one.

Kobold Press are an indie publisher of Dungeons & Dragons materials (the main publisher & ‘owner’ is Wizards of the Coast, but there are a handful of indie publishers who build upon the work done by WotC). Their latest Kickstarter Tales of the Old Margreve is live. I really love their work, but in the community there’s a conversation going on that’s not about “the work”, but about “the format”. This Kickstarter only offers physical books; no PDFs. Plenty of folks are miffed about that – they want the material, but they don’t want physical. The digital versions on offer are explicitly for virtual tabletops (or VTT, eg. Roll20), so it’s a nod to digital but not the full monty.

Personally I’m a PDF person – it’s easier access internationally, and for limiting the amount of “stuff” I have in my life. If I had all of my D&D books as real world books, I would need a bigger house! Still, it’s an interesting conversation about publishing for a community. I love that they’re producing the VTT versions. I agree with the tweet though – the discussion over format is distracting from their amazing content. A full forest setting!! Unfortunately I’m not backing it due to the physical limitations & that I don’t DM games on VTT (yet), but I look forward to seeing how this plays out for Kobold & other publishers in future.

Now, in non D&D related topics…

Your Notifications are Lying to You (Lifehacker, 5 mins)
“The purpose of a notification is to make you pick up your phone and spend time on it. Not to bring you news of an emergency or to communicate with your loved ones.” A good reminder – turn off things that aren’t important to you, or are unnecessary.

Just Don’t Call It Privacy (New York Times, 10 minutes)
“In other words, asking companies whose business models revolve around exploiting data-based consumer-influence techniques to explain their privacy policies seems about as useful as asking sharks to hold forth on veganism…What is at stake here isn’t privacy, the right not to be observed. It’s how companies can use our data to invisibly shunt us in directions that may benefit them more than us.”
I’ve had enough time & exposure to the data industry to decide that a model that empowers citizens with control over their own data sharing, instead of users without control providing data to a company in exchange for a service, is a far better system for the internet. It’s better for companies, who know they are getting less data, but what they do receive is clean & accurate. And it’s better for citizens, who will be back in control of one of their most valuable assets other than their time – their own information. A lot of the chatter about crypto & blockchain that interests me is on this topic. Picture a token system where you have 100% of your data available, and you choose who to provide your data to, for how long, and at what depth. Nothing fundamentally changes for the provision of service – aside from how companies currently make money from their users, instead of with their users.

How Away Shook Up the Sleepy Luggage Market With a Simple, Colorful Carry-On (Adweek, 10 minutes)
“Away might be selling luggage, but it’s promising something more: the feelings of romance, sophistication and success that come with travel. Away customers don’t just get a wheeled suitcase or a shoulder bag; they get a feeling of being part of a savvy, upwardly mobile clique.”

I’ve worked in product, and in marketing, and this is a wonderful example of the two working in tandem. I’m a big believer in emotional connections that go beyond the product, the why of the thing, into storytelling. Sometimes it’s all a bit of bullshit though, so you need to maintain a healthy dose of reality alongside your creative sensibility. Be careful of your own hype hype hype 💯
““You have to realize that most of [Away’s] audience is impressionable,” Barker explains. “This is marketing at its finest: ‘If I get this product, my life will be better.’ Maybe you can’t go on a trip today, but you can buy the luggage and be a step closer.””

Listening/Watching

I linked above to the modular playlist, but dang it it’s so good I think you deserve it twice.

Loving

Nuzzel for iOS, which is a summary stuff that my Twitter feed shares. Since my feed is mostly people whose opinions I care about & my hobbies, it’s like a dose of good news each day.

This article on coffee (Eater, 10 mins). Satirical or not, it reminds me that I’m a coffee snob and I chose this delicious roasted bean juice life. ☕️

The Lohals rug from Ikea. The rug really ties the room together, does it not?

Best life

I picked up a squat & pullup rack from Aldi for half price. Got some cleaning to do at home and then I’ll be setting it up. Sticking with bodyweight for now but it’ll be good to get back into a routine.

Haven’t been feeling crash hot (as reported last week) so I’m doing a week of good eating. If I’m still bad next week, to the docs I go! I assume I’m missing some essential vitamin. Probably iron, knowing my luck.

The week ahead…

First “full” week in the job. Lots of onboarding and knowledge transfer. Also playing an IRL game of Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy RPG on Saturday, which’ll be fun since I haven’t played in the setting or their ruleset before.

38. Press Start

Photo by Kobu Agency on Unsplash

I start my new role tomorrow, and it’s also day one in a co-working space. I’m looking forward to getting back to work. It’s been exactly 6 months today since I last worked full-time. The time off was necessary for me, and the lifestyle change that accompanied it has been welcome. I feel more grounded, and a new approach to living my life is opening up for me.

There’s no one to blame in how my life was before; I can’t blame myself for my own ignorance at what was really occurring to me both mentally and physically. Ultimately I didn’t know what I had to do to care for myself; but I did know I had to stop and take stock. A line in a link below stood out to me: “It wasn’t who I am, but it was who I thought I needed to be.”

Reading

Why Design World Legend Tina Roth Eisenberg Would Rather Build Four of Her Own Businesses Than Work for Someone Else (WealthSimple, 5 minutes)
Tina founded CreativeMornings (among other businesses), and I liked her frank discussion about the client-service model: “You really have to be a certain type of personality to be okay with the client-service model. I like to build something, I like to figure something out. I don’t like just to dip in and shake it up and then hand it back.” Totally me. Give me a problem to solve, and then let’s see it through together.

There Is a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In: Leonard Cohen on Democracy and Its Redemptions (Brain Pickings, 20 mins)
Just some food for the brain, mixing art and topical discussion.

Burned Out and Fantasizing About a Big Life Reset? Start Here (Medium, 15 minutes)
The article gets a bit preachy towards the end, but it’s a good primer that would have been helpful six months ago! It’s the source of that quote from earlier.

Listening to/Watching

I’ve been digging through Sly Flourish/Mike Shea’s back catalogue of D&D prep videos in anticipation for a game I’m running this weekend.

Loving

I went Kickstarter Krazy this week backing:

Best life

I’m gonna try to make KFC but with cauliflower, because apparently the 11 herbs and spices are finally revealed.

I’m also moving to pescatarian from keto vegetarian. I’ve been keto for 4 months, and vegetarian for 6. I’ve definitely had some remarkable weight loss and I felt great (20kg and counting). The problem is that I’m getting really run down lately, and exhausted come the afternoons. I haven’t been able to maintain ketosis, so I’m in this weird halfway point of continually trying but continually knocking myself out. My body is rebelling. Better to just put a pause on it for a while, get my equilibrium back, and see how I feel.

So I’m going to increase my intake of protein & fibre via beans and grains, and also bring some fish into my diet. But the best bit was walking into the supermarket today and realising that I can finally eat biscuits with my french onion dip. A man has to have some vices.

The week ahead…

Starting work tomorrow; two networking events on Tuesday; onsite with a client on Tuesday & Wednesday; and I’m DM’ing a first session of Lost Mine of Phandelver for some new D&D players on Saturday. I’m going to tweak it slightly and use the Village of Homlet instead of Phandelin with a few other hooks, should they players want to explore those adventures. Should be fun!

 

37. Dungeoning

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Last week is last week, and since this is my thing, I won’t make myself feel bad for missing a week. It just means you get extra love this week!

I’ve really been diving into Dungeons & Dragons lately. It’s something that I want to bring more into my life – gaming, playing, DMing, and just fantasy novels and worlds in general. It makes me happy and I enjoy the creative expression. I’m starting up a new table in my local area, and entirely new players are welcome. I’m here to spread the joy of D&D!

I’ve settled on a new townhouse and housemate, and also have a new job. I start in October. It’s remote, so I’ll be working from a coworking space, and all of this is in Brisbane. Pretty happy with this outcome.

Work

Here’s something related to my other work: games.

Who will win the race to become the Netflix of Games? (Medium, 6 mins)
Morgan is the godfather of the game dev scene in Australia, and his take here is well worth a read if you’re trying to “predict the future” of games.
In short: someone is going to be commissioning developers to build content for their subscription only games service. There’ll be a few offerings from various parties, but the ‘winner’ will succeed based on four things:
1. The quality of games (ie. the quality of the game designers involved);
2. The quality of data (ie. whoever can help the game designers best in their design & iteration process); and
3. The quality of the tastemakers themselves in the commissioning process (who is the Rick Rubin of games?)
4. The Money (ie. whoever has the funds to buy the best in the business, AND support their own service)
As a developer, it’s clear that the next wave of game dev will be playing out in this commissioned-games-monetised-via-subscription-service space.

It’s also clear that this new subscription service model will play havoc with the current production models of self-publishing, working with publisher, free-to-play, ad supported, etc. That being said, I’m looking forward to it – a world where the designers can focus on the quality of their game versus having to work on the monetisation of their game. We only put in ads so we can keep the lights on. Fund our development from another channel (ie. mass subscription) and – boy oh boy – the places we will go.

Reading

Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy? (The New Yorker, 30 mins)  “It’s at the intersection of technology and psychology, and it’s very personal.” and “More than 2.2 billion people, about a third of humanity, log in at least once a month. That user base has no precedent in the history of American enterprise. Fourteen years after it was founded, in Zuckerberg’s dorm room, Facebook has as many adherents as Christianity.” I have many thoughts about social media, and my new job allows me to explore them, but mostly I’m working towards educating both business and people about the psychology of social media, and how to treat it in a healthy way.

Seneca Could Have Written the Anonymous Times Op-Ed About Trump (The New Yorker, 10 mins) After having just finished The History of Rome, I enjoyed the comparison of Seneca the Younger to the Anonymous article writer of the Times piece. Well done Mr Romm!

How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank (New York Times, 10 mins) My little financial independence focus is starting to hit mainstream. There’s a documentary due out in early 2019 that’ll crack it wide open.

Reforming our political system is not a quick fix. Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to do it (The Conversation, 20 mins)
Sometimes I wonder what it would take to reform politics to a more citizen-led democracy. We’re working with a system that was designed for a world 150 years ago. I think it’s time we reviewed it, don’t you?

Listening to/Watching

I’ve resubscribed to Download This Show, an ABC podcast.

Loving

Mike Shea’s Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master has been a wonderful read on simple DM’ing.

I’m also enjoying letting my imagination run wild with Tome of Beasts & the Creature Codex, both from Kobold Press. I think published adventures are fun, but the standard goblin/kobold/orc mix is a bit plaid. Bit of spice in the game keeps it interesting!

Best Life

I’m planning four 1 week trips for 2019; a trip each season. Keeping it local, I think. Indonesia is about as far abroad as I’ll go in 2019. It’s not worth losing 2 days in travel time if I’ve only got a week. Open to recommendations and travel buddies!

The week ahead…

I’m moving into my new townhouse, and we’ll be settled there by the weekend. I move into my new “office” (coworking space) on Friday. And there’s a rodeo I might go to on Saturday, because it’s a rodeo woo.

35. Frosty

Photo by Richard Hodonicky on Unsplash

This week was a week of connecting. I’m actively building a network of cool people doing cool things in Brisbane (if that’s you, say hi!), so I’m starting with people I know, and asking for introductions to one other person who is doing cool stuff. It seems to be working so far; the people I’m meeting are great.

We had some family drama early in the week so I had to postpone seeing some friends, but we’ll make it up.

I also came to Sydney to have a meeting about a potential role, so I’ve spent the weekend in nearby Canberra. They’ve had their first Gelato Messina open up, so I had to do my duty as a devoted ice cream aficionado and go eat three scoops. It was glorious. Thus the frosty title – it’s damn cold here. I really should remember to pack warmer clothes.

Work

I hate jargon and lingo in business. It’s just a barrier, another gatekeeper preventing understanding and clarity in the task to be done. So this article about using “real world” language when explaining a problem or design is 👌

Reading

The 25 Year Journey of Magic: The Gathering (The New Yorker, 30 mins)
“Since its beginning, Magic has spread to more than thirty million human operating systems. Today, those humans play with some combination of the game’s eighteen thousand unique cards, in eleven different languages. Magic YouTube shows like Geek & Sundry’s “Spellslingers” regularly draw hundreds of thousands of views. In a video on a channel called “openboosters,” a man opens a very old pack of cards and his gloved hands begin to tremble when he finds a “Black Lotus,” the most coveted card in the game. That video has six million views. Last year, I spoke to a game-store owner named Jon Freeman about the cultural resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy mainstay with a much higher profile than Magic’s, and he told me that, in his store, “if you want to look at the sheer number of people who are playing games, Magic far exceeds all of the above.” ”
With eSports on the rise (Melbourne eSports Open is this weekend, the AFL is buying eSports teams, prize pools are well over $1m, and Twitch is awesome), I think it’s important to look back on the history of games as social platforms – D&D, Magic, board games. And what happens when large communities form. “I think Magic people pride themselves on trying to be inclusive, and that’s what makes other people feel comfortable there.” This article from The New Yorker was timely.

The History of the FI/ER Movement 2.0 (ERD, 33 minutes)
“In 1993, the web didn’t exist. CompuServe and AOL were in their infancy. USENET, so I hear, was 90% porn. Google was the misspelling of a gloomy Russian author’s name. And in the absence of online resources it was almost impossible for those of us who’d conceived of FI/ER to find each other and share our knowledge. And so: much of what you’re about to read is history I lived.”
Early Retirement Dude covers the history of my financial approach. It’s from a US perspective, but it’s interesting nevertheless. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. FI has been around for an age, and will be still. I’m just glad I found it when I did. If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll love this article.

The shady world of beauty influencers and the brands that pay them, explained (Vox, 10 mins)
“The problem is disclosing the information of being paid to talk about a product so fans can make an informed decision on their purchases. Influencers and brands alike are to blame for this lack of transparency.” 
I’ve been thinking lately about Twitch, and media, and the removal of gatekeepers – allowing a creator direct access to their fans/patrons. A single person with 7.5 million followers on YouTube has more global influence than the mayor of a town. And the creator can say, and do, whatever they want. The creator builds content, which attracts an audience. They create a niche audience of people who love them; then the circle expands to people who like them; then out to people are kinda aware they exist; then the people who don’t care at all. It’s a heady mix of power, and when you add in that you can make money from the attention of this audience, the dynamic can change from providing service out of joy to providing service out of commercialisation. In some industries (eg. sports), a player may be sponsored but the fundamentals of the game continue regardless; the sponsorship doesn’t change the production of the content or delivery of the service. But in this gatekeeper-less arena of content creation (beauty influencers, Twitch streamers, YouTube reviewers), the influence of commerce can change the entire production. Your content is coloured by the coin of your patron, without the defence of a traditional framework that has inherent checks & balances. Your patron could be your fans; it could be your sponsors, your “paid placement”, your career ambitions. I believe that it can be a dangerous slope, and one that a new generation of public figures may not be prepared to handle properly. The creators wield so much power, but the thing that makes it wonderful – a system without gatekeepers that allows anyone with talent & drive to succeed – is also it’s greatest threat. Unless the creator has a clear understanding of the responsibility they have, and has consciously made decisions about the grey areas, then the risk of hurting their audience skyrockets. I don’t believe a good person would choose to hurt their audience; but there are some grey areas where that is an unintended side effect. For example, creating a negative product review because their competitor was paying you – and you didn’t tell your audience that fact. You didn’t mean to cause harm. But you did. Spiderman had it right.

Listening to / Watching

Never too small – a tiny 35m2 apartment in Melbourne. As I look for a place to live soon, I’m inspired by a future where less = more. I don’t particularly want a LARGE space, because space constantly asks to be filled. I quite like the frosted glass / open wall element.

Loving

Everything in the House Awards 2018 site (you can filter by shortlist/commendation/award if you want the good stuff). I’m a sucker for Grand Designs UK, so this speaks to me on a “daaaang that’s nice” level.

Best Life

These instructions to quickly change your phone from colour to greyscale – superuseful! And it takes mere moments to set up.

The week ahead…

I feel like the week ahead will deliver some change in the form of job offer/s. It’s also Birthday Week, so I’ll be treating myself to a few adventures, foods, and quality time with family & friends. Birthday Week is the best week of the year. I’m also starting a new D&D campaign on the weekend, and we’re doing an inaugural Wing Crawl on Sunday to find the best chicken wings in Brisbane. I may be vegetarian, but I make exceptions every now and then. This is one of them.

34. Do you need a priest?

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

After last week’s poor showing on the reading front, I’ve upped my game and started consuming more words from more sources.

In related news, this week  I completed my Goodreads reading challenge of 30 books in 2018. That’s a book a week (almost). Book 30 was Matt Colville’s Priest, which I really enjoyed once I realised it was set in the same world he runs his D&D campaigns in. I enjoyed it so much, Book 31 will be the sequel, Thief.

Emotionally it was a fairly average week, brought about by some anxieties about future work, but it’s surmountable. Just required a bit of managing.

I’ve started nesting by picking up odds and ends on the tech front – a Google Mini for the bedroom, a NAS for media storage, a 5.1 surround system, an upgrade to the PS4 Pro. Ya’ll know the next thing on the list is a 4K TV, so I’m contemplating whether to go 55” or 43”. There are some great deals around at the moment.

This is all so I am entirely prepared for riding across the prairies on horses in Red Dead Redemption 2 in October. And Spider-Man comes out September, and Smash Bros & Pokemon come on Switch before Christmas, so there’s a lot of gaming to be had in future.

Work

I’m still exploring the why of products, and I think this article is the capstone of that exploration.

Reading

Life is short. That’s the point. (NYT, 5 min)
“Technological breakthroughs can be life-changing. But I believe that our humanity — our humanness — is inextricably intertwined with the fact of our mortality. And no scientific fountain of youth can ever cause that to change.”
As a creative exercise, I’ve been writing down thoughts on what the world would be like if humans never died. Aside from the implications on the physical world, the really interesting part is what might that take from our emotions, and our humanity.

We have a new Prime Minister this week. It’s like a revolving door, really. Here are two interesting related reads.

Hello Rupert, Bye Bye Malcolm (The New Daily, 5 min).  “Murdoch’s annual visits to Australia invariably trigger seismic events both in and outside News Corp, the company he’s presided over for decades. So is it any surprise that Malcolm Turnbull has lost his job less than a fortnight after Murdoch arrived here? Of course it isn’t. … In the end it took just 11 days after Murdoch’s arrival to bring about a party room spill.”
I’m not a huge conspiracy nut, but the timing does seem to be a strange coincidence.

The political life is no life at all (Meanjin, 25min). “I decided that if most people inside the system couldn’t speak candidly, then I would do what big corporations do when they fear they are losing good people: I’d conduct some exit interviews, and share the impressions.”
I have friends in the public service at all levels (local, state, and federal) – and reading this account of the realities of that life, particularly on Federal MPs & staffers, was confronting. We don’t see this side of their world, and we should. I think appointing cabinet members from outside the political system is something we should be looking at. Both to bring talent into the political system, and also to reduce the burden on MPs who are already stacked. “‘You’ve got your parliamentary responsibilities, your responsibilities as a local member, your portfolio responsibilities, your responsibilities to your political party and to the caucus. On top of that, you’ve got the media, you’ve got to contribute to discussions in Cabinet, contributing to broader discussions in the government…”

Hi, sobriety: Our changing relationship with alcohol (SMH, 10min). “Being sober is the new black.”
I gave up booze in May. I don’t know yet whether it’s a forever decision, but it’s the right decision for me right now. I feel like a better version of myself, and this pull quote sums it up. “It wasn’t just about alcohol. It was that alcohol was a default position and had always been in my life. More interesting than not drinking was the impact on other things like relationships. You only realise what a big drinking culture we have when you take a step back and see it with open eyes.” Give it a read, and see what you think.

Listening to

Still making my way through the 75 albums every man should own.

This podcast with Alan Donegan, talking about starting up a business with very little initial outlay. Love the idea.

Loving

Calibre, which is how I manage my ebooks.

Best Life

I read a Wirecutter review on the best pen, so I went and bought a 4 pack from Officeworks. And let it be said: oooooh dis some NICE pen… <3

The week ahead…

Tuesday I’m seeing some friends. I’m heading down to Sydney on Friday for some meetings, and am spending the weekend in Canberra. I feel the need to create this week, so I think I’ll start on mapping out a novella. Got an idea brewing for a split timeline mystery story.

33. Incremental progress

Photo by Pedro Lopes on Unsplash

This week was a slower week than others. Achievements were larger, but less frequent. On Monday & Tuesday I ticked off some industry certification with PRINCE2 Practitioner and Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO1). Later in the week I sold my 65″ TV, I sold my big couch and recliners, and upgraded my PS4 to a PS4 Pro. I also started gaming again, introducing Prey into my gaming repertoire. I’ve had some great chats about work opportunities this week as well, so I’m looking forward to continuing that next week.

Overall the process of minimising Stuff while also maximising Value is incrementally progressing.

Reading

Would it surprise you to learn I have no reading to link to this week? It would? Oh – ok. SURPRISE!

Listening To

The 75 albums every man should own is informing my current musical playlist. I’ve started at 75.

Death Cab for Cutie have a new album out that I’m waiting for the right time to listen to.

I’m blitzing my backlog of Planet Money episodes this week, which is basically “the American economy explained”. I would love if we had an Australian version.

Loving

This learning how to learn course on Coursera. Many many tactics to apply!

The trailer for Star Wars Resistance, the new Star Wars cartoon from master showrunner Dave Filoni. Coming October, which is not soon enough. I hope there’s some more Thrawn.

Best life

I’ve been struck down with the manflu this week, so my gym routine has suffered. Back on the wagon next week.

The week ahead…

Not a huge week planned, fortunately. Tuesday will be a day of people time, I’m heading to two meetups to meet like minded folks in Brisbane. Family time on the weekend, but otherwise a rather quiet week planned!

32. Moving on up

Photo by karl chor

A few things happened this week, but the main event would be that I made it official that I was relocating to Brisbane from Melbourne. That took the form of letting the team at my previous job know. We’ve been together for 5 years so it felt a little bit anti-climactic, but that’s the nature of endings. Sometimes it’s a whisper, and that’s ok.

My Taxibox arrived with my Stuff from Melbourne, and it took all of 20 minutes to unpack it. I don’t own a lot of things, it turns out. The only thing I cared about were my ugg boots – it’s been chilly in Brisbane, and I hate having cold toes, so my uggs are currently The Best Thing Ever. Highly recommend the Taxibox service btw, it’s efficient and their hold music is the Mario theme. 

This week I also had a super long 3 hour interview for a potential new role, and some followup interviews with the C-Suite. At MiniMega, we started exploring publisher relationships.

Reading

An interesting take on the theme of “robots taking our jobs”, and why a universal basic income is likely the best solution.

A regular read as a reminder to live the simple life.

When folks ask what my investing strategy is, I explain I’m building a perpetual money making machine. This article covers that explanation in much better detail than I could!

How our love of gaming comes from our love of stories. Why do so many adults turn off their imaginations as they get older and lose the basic rules of making up stories?

Listening to

a16z podcast on growth & user acquisition (Parts One & Two)

Loving

I’ve been getting back into watching TV shows – I’ve started at the first season of the anime Ghost in the Shell. Vibing a Japanese post-cyberpunk techno universe at the moment.

Best life

I’ve returned to the gym and my weights program! It sucks starting at low weights again, but it’s just more motivation to keep progressing.

The week ahead…

I’m reintroducing gaming on the PS4 into my life with Prey, and we’ll see how that plays out. I also expect a few more interviews and publisher calls, and I have two additional certification exams to knock off on Monday & Tuesday. The rest of the week is free and clear!

31. Beach vibes

 

Photo by Oz MLCN on Unsplash

This week we had our annual general meeting for MiniMega, hosted at the Innovation Centre at Coffs Harbour Technology Park. My family & I stayed in Sawtell at a lovely Airbnb which was brilliant. We were right on the main surf beach, within walking distance to the RSL, SLSC, cafes, and water. It’s a lovely part of the world, and I can highly recommend the little Airbnb house we stayed in.

One major outcome from the AGM is that we’re exploring new revenue models for MiniMega, so I’ll be actively involved in exploring that challenge.

This week also saw the first of the month roll around, which means it’s my favourite time of the month: balancing the budget! I thought I’d share a bit of reading about my investment approach and how I handle my personal finances each month.

Work

Not a lot of work reading this week, since I was mentally focused on the AGM.

One thing I did explore though was the Scrum guide, a guide to the scrum development methodology. Very different from PRINCE2 and rightly so, they’re different methodologies for different types of projects. I prefer scrum with kanban for managing a code development project. #funfact

Reading

The investing strategy of an Australian financial independence blogger. This post led me down the path to evaluate LICs (listed investment companies) as part of my portfolio, versus straight index funds. Australia is rather unique in that the franking credits system makes dividend payments an attractive option to corporations who make a profit, so I’ve decided to split some of my investment into LICs to ride the dividend gravy train.

The post I wish I’d written: combining D&D and personal finance. Genius explanation of personal finance, using D&D references as a guide.

(watching) this talk by Mr Money Moustache on the purpose of money and happiness. Well worth a sit down to listen & contemplate.

A republished article that was the original inspiration two years ago for the spreadsheets I created to manage the bigger picture of my personal finances. Run your life like a business, and you’ll be managing your money with an income statement and a balance sheet (P&L). Check out the spreadsheet templates if you’re interested. NB: the numbers in the sheets are fake, so replace those (and the categories!) with what makes sense for you.

Listening to

Ólafur Arnalds, touring in November. Have wanted to see him live for 7 years.

Loving

I bit the bullet and bought a NAS (Network Access Server) to host a media server. It’s a simple 1 bay 4TB storage setup, but it’ll be a fun toy and hopefully a welcome addition to my home tech setup.

This tiny projector from LG (action shot)

Ever Eco stainless steel straws

Rocket emoji app for Mac

This $4.95 USB bluetooth audio receiver that enables my car radio to play podcasts & tunes from my phone. Take THAT, unnecessary expensive stereo upgrade!

Best life

I’ve started with MCT oil with my morning coffee. Been a bit off the wagon for Keto since Melbourne, so getting back on.

Also signed up for a local gym (gasp) since I miss the routine of lifting heavy things up and putting them down again. This is in addition to the Elements bodyweight work I’m starting.

The week ahead…

I’ll be completing my exams for PRINCE2 certification; returning to the Stronglifts routine in the gym; starting the Elements routine with GMB fitness; and completing the 30th book that I’ve read in 2018.

It’s the first week in the last month that I haven’t had anything major planned, so I’m looking forward to having a quiet week with lots of reading, coffee, and catchups.

30. Seasons of Melbourne

To everything there is a season

Photo by Agathe Marty on Unsplash

Let’s all agree that Melbourne in July = cold. Agreed? Good. Great. Moving on.

I spent the week in Melbourne with my friends, catching up and doing a “best of” tour of my favourite restaurants. I visited:

Two things stand out about this list: One, I was not vegetarian this week. It was an intentional choice, I wanted to enjoy my visit here with old favourites pre-vegetarian. Two, it’s a lot of food. I am very fat and full. Time to #jazzercise.

It was also lovely to see a select group of old friends – I couldn’t see everyone, so sorry if I missed you! I’m planning a return visit in early January for a few birthdays – and also when it’s not so painfully cold.

Many thanks to Az & Corey for hosting me for the week, and Holly & Blake for lending me their couch on Friday night. xx

It’s been a nice week to mark the end of a season of my life, being the season where I lived and worked in Melbourne. 2009 – 2018.

Not a lot of reading this week, but a few things to share!

Work

This week I explored approaches to selling that aren’t cold call lead gen 1980s hardcore phone sales. I like to think there’s a more human approach. I mix sales & marketing together – in my head, marketing is the story, and sales is the action once the story is told.

To Sell Is Human is a 2012 book by Dan Pink of Drive fame. It started me thinking about this sales approach.

I like to tell stories, so this idea of Human-to-Human (H2H) sales is interesting.

Reading

The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama XIV & Howard Cutler. After my meditation retreat in Thailand, I’m interested in exploring the ideas of happiness, and how it’s different from pleasure and what role suffering plays.

Meditation is deep on the idea of the “beginner’s mind”, and Charlie Adler covers the principles well.

Listening to

I’m finishing up the last few episodes of The History of Rome. It’s only taken me two years. I can confidently say that my favourite period of Roman History is the later years of the Republic, before the Republic went belly up and became the Empire (not that anyone realised it at the time, it just kinda happened). This period is where the norms that ruled the Republic for hundreds of years eventually got ignored as men of power tried to get more power, and men of merit were sidelined. It’s basically a period of stagnation for the Republic, and it led to the people wanting change – any change – to move beyond the BS that the Senate had become. All it took was some of those men who wanted more power actually getting it – and then doing the right thing with it. Cue Julius, Augustus, the hot mess that was Tiberius, and the remaining Emperors of Rome. Here’s a great interview with Mike Duncan, the host.

The ol’ uni rite of passage that is Splendour in the Grass was on last weekend. I enjoy a good cover song – so here’s a wrapup of the best. Give DMA’s cover of Cher’s “Believe” a whirl.

Loving

This episode of The Outer Limits, written by Harlan Ellison, that was a source of inspiration for a period of sci fi that included James Cameron’s Terminator.

Oysters.

Best life

Aaron has a book on Ramen. It has the recipe for chashu pork – the pork that I ate 4 out of 9 days in Tokyo. Being vegetarian is hard when pork is that good. So I’m gonna make it for someone and live vicariously. Who wants ramen with amazing pork?

The week ahead…

I’m heading down to the north coast of NSW for the annual general meeting of my company, MiniMega. We’ll be reviewing the last year, and putting some guiding rails up around this year.

I think 2018/19 will be a pivotal year in our 7.5-years-young company. It’s the year after the release of our third major title, and we’ll see whether it has the longevity of our first two. Can lightning strike thrice? We’re about to find out.

Some of my family will be joining me down there for a few days, which’ll be lovely.