Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

5Feb/160

Using Automation To Centralize Input

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

chessboard-sq

Recently, Zapier announced that they would be rolling out a new feature: multi-step automated internet functions they call "zaps." Now, I've written about IfTTT and Zapier before, and if you're plugged into the internet at all, it's possible they can help you automate things that take up your precious time. I'm currently using these programs to auto-generate task lists every morning, and send myself reminders to update the list during the day. I also have an ongoing" to-do list, for things that are long-term projects. If I add an item to my Google tasks, it's automatically added to my Evernote list. If someone follows me on Twitter, they're automatically added to my contact list in Evernote. The goal is to centralize my information input: to conglomerate everything to one portal, where I can look through all the information I need in one place. It could be Google Docs/Keep, or Evernote, or Office 360, or whatever information management program you like. But it should be something that's accessible anywhere, and is flexible enough to manage any kind of information.

But automation is a mixed blessing for me. It opens up a world of possibilities, and I usually spend more time playing with it than actually getting things done. This is especially true when playing with apps like Tasker, Evernote, and AutoKey.

2Feb/160

Goodbye, Google MyTracks

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

groundhog-day

Today is Groundhog Day here in the States... and for some reason, it seems very familiar.... as if this has somehow happened before....

In yet another stunning move that kills off something very productive that people actually use, Google has decided to end support for its MyTracks fitness app:

After April 30, 2016, My Tracks will no longer be available. We apologize for the inconvenience this might cause My Tracks users. We’ve made the tough decision to invest our efforts into other, more wide-reaching, mapping projects.

Of course, the reason they're killing it is because MyTracks doesn't make Google any money. I can understand not maintaining it, but just EOL'ing it (End-Of-Life, fyi (for your information)) is something I don't see as a smart move. There are more than 10,000,000 installs of it, and over 200,000 reviews of the app... something tells me they could have done something with it if they really wanted to.

25Jan/160

Posts With Lasers

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

1964-Goldfinger-20

As someone with- how shall I say it- "questionable" focusing ability, I'm always fighting the urge to allow myself to be distracted. Thanks to the internet and social media, there's never a shortage of distractions.

Gee, thanks, internet.

What I need is Laser Focus. And I don't have it, not even close. But it is possible for me to focus for short periods of time, say, an hour or so.

I'll be honest, I'm tired a lot. That's mostly because I don't get enough sleep, which compounds my focusing problem. But something has to give, right? I just can't sleep 8 hours and take over the world. So I'm going to update the Blog® as often as I can without lowering the quality of my posts. Where does that balance lie? I guess I'll have to find out. For now I'll be working on material for some nonfiction books, and I'll post some of that here when I can (hint: some of it is already posted!) and I need to focus more on that.

21Jan/160

Hail To The Insanity

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why don't I post more about politics?

Simply put, I dislike politics, politicians, and the government in general. I don't like hearing people's opinions on it, I can't stand reading about all the stupidity that Washington D.C. propagates, and it infuriates me to think about voting for a President when I know none of the people applying for the job are who I'd want to run the country.

It gets pretty discouraging, really. In America, our political system is corrupted from top to bottom, and it's not going to just suddenly fix itself. When you remove morals from everything, what you get is a disgusting mess. People waving around handfuls of excrement, shouting "look how progressive we are!" and nobody believes it.

Really, this is nothing new. Compared to the Roman Empire, America isn't even a flash in the pan. Back then, corruption was worse, morals and ethics were worse, death and destruction were worse, the economy was worse... everything about life sucked more than it does now.

Today, we don't have it that bad. Even with all the "horrible" things going on, we still live in the lap of luxury compared to most places, then or now.

18Jan/160

To Live Is To Die

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

IMG_6993

I've been thinking about death a lot lately.

Not by choice, mind you. It just seems to be popping up everywhere. Family members, movies, TV, the news, books. Someone dies and I think about it. In fact, three famous personalities- Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman (all who were the same age as my dad, coincidentally) died in the past week or so.

As a believer in Jesus Christ- who was able to look Death in the eyes and overcome it- Death has an interesting role to play for me. It's not the end of everything.

Even so, losing someone you love is always sad. Being afraid to lose someone you love is even worse, as you relive it over and over again in anticipation. We meditate on the possibility dying, and in doing so, I think we tend to overlook the significance of the actual life that did (or could) end.

Death is significant, but only because it marks the end of something that was significant.

In other words: If life wasn't important, death wouldn't matter. Our modern funerals are known for celebrating the departed's life; remembering the good memories and things associated with it.

How hard would it be for us to celebrate this while people are still alive? Why is it that we mourn with regret, only when it's too late? What would it look like if we celebrated the lives of our loved ones every day?

11Jan/160

Social Media And You (And Me)

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

sw_BacklitKeyboard_FFP10029

I'm old enough to remember before Social Media existed. Heck, I remember before the internet, cell phones, unleaded gasoline, and video games existed. (Yes, I'm old. Shut up and get off my lawn!)

Seriously though, as I've gotten older, I've gone through phases of using the internet and social media. Back before the Internet even, there were things called dial-up BBS's that you could dial into with modems, and were their own little self-contained social computer networks.

Somewhere, someone had the idea that "more is better" in the American tradition, and turned ARPANet into the behemoth that is now called the Internet.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The internet is a tool, much like anything else we use to get things done. It has potential, and pros and cons. Sometimes it's the right tool for the job, and sometimes it's not.

For collaborating on documents, researching, and connecting with people far away, the Internet is a good tool. It's allowed us to do things that were once the realm of science fiction.

But what most people use it for nowadays, a.k.a. "social media" it's not only a poor choice, it could actually be harmful to us socially.

We are constantly balancing things like privacy, security, and convenience. The question we should ask ourselves is "what real problem does Facebook/G+/Twitter solve, and is it the best solution?"

8Jan/160

I’m Now A Goodreads Author

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

file0001940583173

After a bit of work, I decided to apply for author status on goodreads.com so I can organize my bookshelf, and let you- my faithful readers- know when I have more writing projects coming up. You can visit my Goodreads author page here.

Since I'm not going to waste a whole day's blog post on that short announcement, here's a few thoughts I've been chewing on:

After an excellent discussion about yesterday's blog post, I've decided to write a daily creed that I can recall, to help me keep my focus. I haven't written it yet, but I will be working on it over the weekend.

Also, I've decided to dedicate my Saturday mornings to writing on my novels. In 3 hours, I can get several thousand words written, and though it's not as fast as I'd like, it's as much as I can commit to right now.

My exercise routine has been on hold for 3 weeks. That's right, I haven't done anything. What I have done is reclaimed my sleep schedule. It's going to be a struggle.... it may be a while before I get back to bike commuting, unless I can move my work hours. Getting up at 4:30 just isn't working. It's affecting my mental state in a bad way. I will go back to it at some point, but for now, sleep is more important.

I've been fighting car problems, too. Nobody wants to hear about those, but let's just say, I had to rip the whole interior out of my Saturn because of water leaks in the sunroof. The '65 Rambler needs a brake cylinder seal replaced before I can drive it again. And since I'm not riding my bike, I'm left driving the gutted Saturn.

Creativity-wise, I'm starting a new project soon with my friend and fellow author, musician, and ADD Mastermind, JohnnyHow. Can't give much detail on it yet, but it's going to be fun, random, and in all likelihood extremely crazy. And did I mention random?

Fun times ahead! Stay tuned, kids!

7Jan/160

I Don’t Belong Here (And Other Lies I Tell Myself)

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Find your way

Have you ever felt like you just didn't fit in? Like you were standing in a crowd, and everyone there was oblivious except you?

To some extent, I've always felt this. Growing up in rural Louisiana meant that most of my friends never shared the same interests that I did. I was reading horror novels when I was ten. Was reading epic fantasy and sci-fi when I was twelve. Was into games and adventures and things most other kids didn't care about. You see, my brain has always been somewhere else. (My apologies to all the teachers I had growing up... it wasn't you, it was me. I'm sure what you had to say was interesting, if only I'd been on Earth at that particular time.) Mostly, I was somewhere else, or wishing I was.

As I grew older, my penchant for feeling like a stranger in a strange land intensified. The more amazing new worlds I discovered, the less interested I was in this one. And without knowing it, I was slowly detaching myself from life in general, in exchange for something that was only a fantasy.

6Jan/160

Freedom Of Speech And Double Standards

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Pointe Aux Barques Light

Let's be honest: everyone says they want freedom of speech.

But what they really means is they want freedom of speech for themselves. Everybody else... not so much.

If you say you're for freedom of speech and then wish to forcibly silence hate speech- you're a hypocrite. I'm not saying hate speech is good or okay, mind you. But the two ideas of letting people say what they want and controlling what they say are incompatible. They're diametrically opposed. You can't have both.

As believers of Holy Scripture, we have the responsibility to fight falsehoods, hate, prejudice, and everything that is evil. This is non-negotiable. Light drives away darkness, and we are supposed to be the light of the world.

The mistake that most people make is that they think they can fight hate with censorship. Here's a bit of advice:

You can't fight darkness with darkness.

4Jan/162

Is Being Fat A Sin?

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

file0001314004470

I believe that God expects us to physically take care of our bodies.

I also believe God expects us to seek Him, first and foremost.

When I first met God I didn't understand a lot about theology, prayer, or the Great Commission. I just knew I was a sinner in need of forgiveness. As I grew and learned, I came to struggle with a lot of things in my life that were causing me (and my friends) to stumble. I gradually changed a lot of my habits, and learned how to walk closer to how Jesus walked- not that I'm an expert, mind you.

I didn't get interested in my health until about 5 or 6 years ago. Before that, I was overweight, out of shape, and a typical Cajun guy. I ate everything fried, double helpings, with tons of sugar and junk on the side. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetic. I felt like crap and my mental health began to suffer because of my self-inflicted physical hardships.