Stories about Software


Finding Topics as a New Blogger

One of the serious difficulties about the life of a traveling consultant is avoiding weight gain. While this might sound like such a first world problem as to be 0.5 world problem, it’s actually a serious struggle. Living in a hotel, every meal is a restaurant meal, and restaurants tend not to optimize for low caloric intake. Recently, though, I’ve turned the tide and started to make a pretty successful foray into enemy territory; I’ve lost about 8 pounds over the last few weeks.

As someone who already exercises regularly and is conscious of my caloric intake, I pulled a different sort of lever to make this happen. I eliminated decisions about eating them by making them ahead of time. To wit, I set a rule for myself that until I became about 15 pounds lighter, I would not eat any desserts, drink any alcohol or eat any snacks. This is surprisingly easy to do compared to making decisions like that every time I was out with friends or felt hungry or was offered a cannoli or something. Standing in front of the pantry, it’s a lot easier to say simply, “oh, I don’t have snacks anymore” than “well, I’ll have a few handfuls of popcorn to tide myself over, and one cookie is probably okay…” The former is 0 decisions while the latter is endless decisions in the form of “should I eat this or that?” and “should I stop eating this now?” Life gets easier when you pre-make decisions.

Read More


Getting Started as a Blogger: A Contract with Your Readers

This post has been a draft without words for a long time, evoking images of a jar of pickles that’s been in the fridge for 15 months.  Someone says to me something like “man, I really want to start blogging but __________” and I say, “Don’t let that stop you — tell you what, I’ll write some tips and tricks.”  The first time this happened was me buying the pickles and putting them in the fridge.  Each subsequent time, I stick my head in and say, “yep, still have pickles and I’m totally going to eat them one of these nights.”  Well, today is pickle-eating day.

This post is aimed at someone who either has no blog or someone whose blog consists of a few posts described by the metaphor in the last paragraph.  You have a blog or don’t, but you’re interested, rather than having a blog, in being a blogger.  This is an important, but subtle distinction since it flips the matter from achievement to identity — you can move a “make a blog” or “make a post” card into another column in Trello, but not so much with “be a blogger.”

Also, caveat emptor.  What I’m telling you here essentially amounts to, “here’s what I’ve learned through some reading and collaborating and a whole lot of trial and error.”  I have a pretty decent reader base and sometimes I even get paid to write (and, recently, to help others get better at writing), but I am not Lifehacker or some kind of blogging empire.  I’m a guy that’s been treating the world to two or three rants per week for a number of years.


Read More