Near Real-Time Tracking

You can find out what I'm up to in near real-time via: Twitter (@sholden) Instagram (@sholden), or Facebook (sholden). I also recommend checking out my AztecMedia.net produced sites: Chvrches Fan Podcast (@chvrchespodcast), ThePodCraft Beer Show (@thepodcraft, @techguysteve, Untapped, @techguysteven); Tech News Radio (@technewsradio), Air Gapped Networks (@airgapnet), Jersey Boys Podcast, and Veteran Stories. [Updated: May 9, 2021]


Thoughts & Tips for May 2021

Circle-blur-1This photo is part of my Blurry collection.

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

All but one of us is vaccinated. Guess which one? Ha Ha! #stay_home_if_sick, #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, #wear_a_mask

Theoaks2Christy and I had a great 2nd retreat to The Oaks to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary.  It was super reflective and restful.  Here are some photos!

I recently did a Getting Things Done (GTD) related presentation to Manager-Tools' M Conference attendees alumni group.  Here is more information about the presentation with an offer to present to other groups or organizations that are interested in productivity.

Scavenger-huntMy work did a virtual Spring Break scavenger hunt (above are some of the photos).  It was super fun and collaborative with friends & family helping out. It was also nice to get out-and-about little bit more. I highly recommend doing something like this if you have the opportunity.

LOOKING FORWARD TO

Carson-lb-state-Carson is going to be graduating high-school soon, and has decided to go to Long Beach State to study nursing.  We are very proud and excited for her upcoming college season.

Summer vacation plans seem to be coming together: Mission Beach beach house rental, back to The Oaks, Def Con (Las Vegas), and camping at San Elijo State Beach.

I am hoping that my friend's D&D session (mentioned in previous posts) will get us through this epic battle I have been DMing for months, and on to a new "underwater" related adventure created by our other DM Darren.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

Here are some greate Windows 10 tips from ZDNET. The one about the new Clipboard History is especially useful as I have had to use a 3rd party tool to do this in the past.  To open Clipboard History, press Windows key + V. Neat!

Wireless-podcast-gear

I have been experimenting with these Rode Wireless Go Compact Microphone Transmitter & Receiver Systems for The PodCraft Beer Show.  So far they are working well, and they definitely decrease the amount of gear I need to drag to each recording.  I think they are also making the conversational style of the podcast easier to record, and edit on the back end.  I'll probably do a future full review, so standby for more information.

Engadget's article on "Google makes it easy to jump back to the search box by pressing '/' -- The new shortcut makes it easier to refine your search results." should enable you to quickly expand searches to include addition terms.

I knew how to schedule the release of emails, but this article from Wired describes how to do this on Apple iOS devices and on Google Android devices for text messages.  Super handy to know.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” - Peter Drucker


Thoughts & Tips for March & April 2021

Blur2This photo is part of my Blurry collection.

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

All is good health-wise and no major COVID-19 impacts.  We are looking forward to vaccines. #stay_home_if_sick, #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, #wear_a_mask

Some how I didn't get around to a February post.  Things have been pretty focused at home (taxes, CISSP Continuing Education (CE) credits, ThePodCraft, etc), and work (new role) which is probably why it never got to the top of the priority list.

LOOK FORWARD TO

Our visit to the The Oaks (our photos from our 1st trip) to celebrate our 27th Wedding Anniversary is coming up soon.  And I am going to be taking some annual leave from work the first full week of April just after Easter.

I continue to be Dungeon Mastering (DMing) for my Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) group.  We have been slogging through the "epic" battle over 5 or 6 sessions (3-4 hours of real-time) to play 5+ minutes in game time (each turn has been 6 seconds long). I think the "snatch-&-grab" adventure I was planning is going to be something to do later, as our other DM is ready with his next adventure.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

Wired recently published some great Gmail tips that are worth reviewing if you are a Google Gmail user.

I learned a few things about how to better use Virtual Desktops on Chrome OS in this article.  I am currently using four: Main, GTD, Social, & Media.

I am not much of a wine drinker but I thought this graphic I found on Reddit to be helpful enough that I saved it into my REFERENCE library in Google Keep:

Wine

I believe I have a pretty good online password strategy.   Here are some times related to cracking common password patterns.  This is why your passwords need more complexity as of 2021.  The bad news is that every year going forward the time to crack passwords is going to get less as processors/memory/storage/cache/technologies/approaches/etc. get better:

Password Crack Times By Complexity

I have been using LastPass for several years (paying customer), and I still find it to meet my needs: works across many devices, Family Plan, easy to have different passwords per site, and complex generated passwords can be customized.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. - Mary Engelbreit


Thoughts & Tips For January 2021

Pine-needle-treeThis photo is part of my Nature Collection!

CURRENT HAPPENINGS

Over the past month we have been celebrating outdoors & socially distanced the Holidays, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. Best of all is that we continue to be blessed with a hedge of protection with regards to COVID-19 and health in general.

Christmas2020

Unfortunately I do have some bad news -- on Saturday morning (December 26) we found out our elderly black lab Kaley escaped our yard, and we have not been able to find her.  We are all very concerned and sad.  But we continue to hold out hope she will be found:

Screenshot 2021-01-01 at 1.08.46 PM

SUPER FUN ADVENT CRAFT BEER CALENDAR

Chris and Charlie -- the hosts of ThePodcraft Beer Show -- gave me this awesome customized Advent Calendar filled with twenty-four excellent craft beers:

Thepodcraft-advent-calendar

You can see photos, descriptions, and top 3 list here!

HOLIDAY SCAVENGER HUNT

The NAVWAR Enterprise had a fun virtual scavenger hunt for employees and their families over the weekend of December 18-20, 2020.  The family had a good time working on it.  We didn't finish in the Fastest Top 30, but we got everything done!

Scavenger-hunt

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

If you are looking for a great coffee mug, tea kettle, desk/garden creatures, or unique stickers/t-shirts/etc. then check out Skeletal Dropkick!  I am enjoying my new Bear Mug, and custom D&D stickers!  I also got an original custom drawing on my box! FUN!

Skeletal-dropkick

If you are doing "family" tech support for folks on multiple platforms, then check out the free Chrome Remote Desktop tool from Google.  It works cross platform, and also works on Chromebooks.  I personally use this nearly on a daily basis to get from my Chromebook to my Windows 10 PC for Windows-based activities.

This site puts some things in perspective on what has changed since you were born - https://neal.fun/life-stats/. It includes a lot of positive data, and not so much on data that might be controversial, but definitive worth trying out.

This great calendar visualization of 2021 continuous year from Kairos Cognition (a productivity consulting & consulting firm associated with David Allen's Getting Things Done) inspired me to create my own version in Google Docs which I published in PDF.  This is what mine looks like:

My-Continuous-Wall-Calendar-2021

In discussing this continuous year calendar on the GTD Connect forms, a fellow member shared his own horizontal version.  I copied it (PDF) and here is what it looks like:

My-Continuous-Wall-Calendar-2021-Horizontal

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin


2020 Christmas Advent Craft Beer Calendar

I got the following Christmas Advent Craft Beer Calendar from Chris & Charlie who host ThePodCraft Beer Show (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook):Beer-advent-calendarCraft Beer #1:

1

"Centre" (Imperial India Pale Ale (IPA)) [untapped] from Other Half 

Craft Beer #2:2

"Motueka Daydream" (Oak Cream New England-style IPA) [untapped] from Other Half

Craft Beer #3:

3

"Tropic Of Thunder" (Lager) [untapped] from Stone Brewing

Craft Beer #4:

4

"Yodale" (Coconut Lager) [untapped] from Creative Creature

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

Craft Beer #5:

5

"Lilikoi Sour" (Sour Ale) [untapped] from Harland Brewing

Craft Beer #6:

6

"Dort" (Dortmunder-style Lager) [untapped] from Modern Times

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

Craft Beer #7:

7

"Circle Of Hops" (San Diego Pale Ale) [untapped] from Burning Beard

Craft Beer #8:

8

"BCN Fog" (Double Dry Hopped Bi-Coastal Double IPA) [untapped] from Humble Sea

Craft Beer #9:

9

"Pseudo Sue" (Pale Ale) [untapped] from Toppling Goliath

Craft Beer #10:

10

"Tree Hugger" (Tart Ale with tropical dragon fruit, passion fruit, and coconut) [untapped] from Great Notion with Pure Project

Craft Beer #11:

11

"The Pupil" (IPA) [untapped] from Societe Brewing Company

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

Craft Beer #12:

12

"Autumn Gold" (Murky IPA) [untapped] from Pure Project

Craft Beer #13:

13

"Smacker's Mango Passionfruit" (Fruited Sour Ale) [untapped] from Creative Creature

Craft Beer #14:

14

"Covington" (American Pilsner) [untapped] from North Park Brewing Co.

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

Craft Beer #15:

15

"H-C (Hecto-Cooler)" (Fruited Imperial Sour Ale) [untapped] from Creative Creature

Craft Beer #16:

16

"Fingers Of Gold" (Murky IPA) [untapped] from Pure Project

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

Craft Beer #17:

17

"Where Vultures Fare" (German-Style Pilsner) [untapped] from Burning Beard

Craft Beer #18:

18

"Blueberry vs. Lime" (Sour Smoothie Ale) [untapped] from Creative Creature

Craft Beer #19:

19

"Bluemeboshi" (Imperial Sour Ale with salted plum & blueberries) [untapped] from Pure Project

Craft Beer #20:

20

"SuperFun!" (Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale) [untapped] from Other Half

Craft Beer #21:

21

"Reality Maze" (Imperial Stout with Coconut & Vanilla) [untapped] from Modern Times

Craft Beer #22:

22

"Passion Pool" (Gose Style Ale with passionfruit & sea salt) [untapped] from MKSD (Mikkeller San Diego)

Craft Beer #23:

23

"Strata Rocket" (Wet Hopped West Coast IPA) [untapped] from North Park Beer Co.

Craft Beer #24:

24

"Larry's Latest" (Sour Ale) [untapped] from Bell's Brewery

Customized glass from Glass To Mouth

My favorite top three beers from this year's advent calendar:

  1. "H-C (Hecto-Cooler)" (Fruited Imperial Sour Ale) [untapped] from Creative Creature
  2. "BCN Fog" (Double Dry Hopped Bi-Coastal Double IPA) [untapped] from Humble Sea
  3. "Motueka Daydream" (Oak Cream New England-style IPA) [untapped] from Other Half

Thoughts & Tips For October 2020

Wood-oct-2020This photo is part of my Wood Collection.  Also check out  my Nature Collection!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are AOK on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.  

My candidate for President of the United States in 2020 continues to be Jo Jorgensen. I think she would have been great in the 1st debate (#letherspeak, #letherdebate), but that didn't happen.  I think the Presidential Debates need to move back to a non-partisan group like League of Women Voters as the Presidential Debate Commission is just run by the Republican & Democratic parties with no interest in real republican democracy and a free marketplace of ideas.

Theoaks1Christy and I had a wonderful opportunity to do a self-guided retreat with COVID-19 protections at The Oaks the last weekend in September. It was an amazing weekend -- where we were able to relax, connect, and grow. Here are some photos of the amazing facilities and grounds.  And here are some pictures of nature from around the area.  Highly recommended!  If you have any questions, then please let me know.

Theoaks2

I also managed to record the event bell on the last day.  There are two versions.  One with little changes from the original recording:

And another where I tried to clean up the audio a little bit:

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL

  • The PodCraft Beer Show continues to put out weekly shows.  It is a lot of fun.
  • Still playing D&D. It is also a lot of fun.
  • I taught a socially distanced -- with additional COVID-19 protections -- Getting Things Done (GTD) class at work in September.  It went pretty well.  Next up is a virtual GTD class in early October.  That is going to be a learning experience!

EXPERIMENTING WITH MEDITATION

I'm still enjoying my emerging meditation practice. I got a couple of emails about my meditation post from last month, and the benefits others have had with meditation. The Oak app that I have been using to help me build out my practice has three main functions  (HOME, COURSES, GROWTH):

Oak1

Under the HOME you will see (I use the Meditate > Unguided):

Oak3

And under COURSES you will see (at the time of this post) just one available course (but more are planned):

Oak2

If you press on GROWTH you will see your personal tracker on how you are doing by day.  I can see my current streak and my longest streak for Meditate > Unguided since this the only one I am using at this time.  It is pretty simple and well designed.  I recommend it if you are looking for something to experiment with.

TECHNOLOGY, TIPS, & SUGGESTIONS

My favorite audio editing program is still the open-source application Audacity.  It works on Macs, Windows, and Linux.

The two days a week I am riding my bike with a stationary-trainer on our backyard porch, I am nearly always watching videos from this You Tube channel Indoor Cycling Videos. They are excellent!

For the last month or so, I have been trying to look at my Getting Things Done (GTD) Next Action lists and my Projects list as something doable in the next 7 days.  So far, I've seen more throughput in completing more projects and tasks.  Items that are outside of 7 days are moved to the Later list in Nirvana for my personal system, and a similar Next Actions (Later) list in Microsoft Outlook Tasks for my work system.  These Later lists are then reviewed using  a lens of -- "is this doable in a month" -- and if the answer is "No", then the item moves to Someday/Maybe.  This has definitely increased the number of "Someday/Maybe" items, but that has been manageable since I am reviewing them once a week during my Weekly Review.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

“Having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and thinking it will kill your enemy.” ― Nelson Mandela


Some Interest Craft Beer Links To Check Out From The Random Show

Screenshot 2020-09-05 at 11.21.18I was recently catching up on some podcasts, and this Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferris was very interesting.  I usually don't miss them when they happen.

This one got really interesting about half-way through when Kevin started talking about really good craft beers. In the area of COVID-19 he has been trying to drink more really good craft beers.  Over the last seven weeks my level of interest in craft beer in general as gone up because I've been helping Chris & Charlie with their The PodCraft Beer show.  In addition my palate has started to change from very IPA focused, to also enjoying a stout or a mild sour, and definitely fruit beers. Here are some of the links that Kevin mentioned that I studied after listening:

If you are interesting in learning more about craft beers, then check out this guide that Chris from ThePodCraft recommends.


Thoughts & Tips for August 2020

Wood-Aug-2020Photo by Steve Holden. MORE LIKE THIS!

CURRENT EVENTS

We are still health on the COVD-19 front.  We continue to be vigilant and focused: #wear_a_mask; #wash_your_hands, #social_distance, and #stay_home_if_sick.

ReopeningHELPING LAUNCH A NEW PODCAST

Square Graphic 300 x 300 px - Edited
Two friends Chris & Charlie have started a new podcast about craft beer with my help. You may think I know a lot about beer, but they know a ton more than I do. I learn something new everytime we record a show. The PodCraft Beer Show is currently at episode two, and the third episode should be out on August 3, 2020. I am primarily focused on audio recording, production, editing, and digital distribution.  In addition, I am also helping in setting up some of the services for website development, social media, and other backend stuff. Lots of fun!

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

With over a month of almost daily hands-on testing, I am now a big fan of the AfterShokz Black Diamond Xtrainerz. The bone conducting technology does take a little bit of time to get use to, but once I did, I like not having the headphone part in my ear even with the great headphones I had before. The Xtrainerz is a pretty straight forward MP3 player, basically you load files into folders and you can play the folder in order or shuffle them.  At the top level you can also shuffle or play the folders in order.  All in all I recommend them if you are swimming a lot, and want to listen to music while you swim.

Xtrainerz Black Diamond

When I am not swimming, I have been listening to more Audible lately than podcasts.  My main focus is plowing through books that I bought in the past, but have never listened to. You can try Audible for free for 30-days and get two free books if you want. Over the last month:

D&D

Corkin-3D-model-graphic
My Halfling Fighter In 3D!

Dungeons & Dragons continues to be a great new hobby (my personal blessing from CV-19), and it is awesome to be playing with friends from high school on a regular basis. The main physical books that I bought were the: DM Guide, Player Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Screen.  The tools we are using to play online include: Zoom/Discord (for video collaboration), Beyond D&D, (for character sheets & DM resources), and Roll20 (for sharing maps, combat, etc).  Two of my favorite mapping tools are: Inkarnate (for world, geographic, city, and town mapping) and Dungeon Scrawl (for dungeons, buildings, combat level maps, etc).  If you want a demo, then let me know.

OTHER TOPICS

  • My in-person David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work for August and September are still technically on the calendar, but I'm not confident I'll be able teach them with us still being on maximum telework. I am starting to scope out a Virtual GTD Training Class using Adobe Connect. (Editorial Opinion: I hope Adobe got the memo that Flash (.swf) is dead.  Just get with the program please.)
  • Related to GTD and the above mention of re-reading of "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg, I recently took for work the Power Of Habit class from Vital Smarts.  I am still unpacking the training and will report more in the future.
  • My music listening has been all over the board recently.  One band that continues to impress me is Lo Moon. I was introduced to them as the opening band for Chvrches in San Diego last fall.  I call them the Talk Talk of today. They are on heavy rotation. Music for the soul.

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"The more control you have over your attention, the more control you have over your future." - James Clear


Recommended Refreshers On Getting Things Done (GTD)

Let's say you just read David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) book (Kindle, Paperback, or Audible) and you wanted a good summary of the overall methodology.

Or maybe you read the book a while back and you want a refresher.

Here is my #1 recommendation -- listen to the following podcasts (in English) from GTD Nordic in the following order:

(1) What is GTD and how will you benefit from it? (23m49s)

(2) Step 1 in GTD: Capture (23m00s)

(3) Step 2 in GTD: Clarify (27m43s)

(4) Step 3 in GTD: Organize (25m11s)

(5) Step 4 in GTD: Reflect (29m11s)

(6) Step 5 in GTD: Engage (24m32s)

For more information about these podcast click on this link!

My #2 recommendation is to consider the new workbook: "The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity" (Paperback or Kindle) by David Allen & Brandon Hall. It is easy to read, has great exercises, and is well thought out.

You can also ping me via email if you want to discuss anything related to GTD, productivity, etc. Or check out all my posts tagged GTD.


Thoughts & Tips For November & December

Joel-jasmin-forestbird-xzPMUMDDsfk-unsplashPhoto by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

REFLECTIONS

  • The 2019 Baseball Playoffs in October were awesome. Congrats to Washington Nationals for winning the World Series.
  • October 31 was a very sad day for me and my family.  It was one year ago that my Mom passed away. I really miss her a lot.
  • Christy had a teacher's conference in Palm Spring the weekend before Thanksgiving and I was able to tag along. It was very relaxing and we had some great food.
  • Thanksgiving this year was excellent.  It rained a lot so we did not play our annual Thanksgiving Two-Hand Touch game.  Hopefully we will get to play on Christmas.

CHVRCHES

20191102_183729-COLLAGEMy favorite band was in town in early November.  It was a great concert.  Some thoughts on the show at CHVRCHES FAN PODCAST.

TECHNOLOGY AND TIPS

Two big conferences I have attended in 2019 -- GTD Summit & M Conference -- have stressed the need for quite and solitude in our daily lives.  Doing so increases effectiveness and productivity.  This article on "Solitude and Leadership" is definitely worth reading or listening to the audio version.

Some tips on how to make your iPhone more productive.

Looking for some a secure phone option that isn't mainstream?

Some other tips:

FUTURE STUFF THAT I AM EXCITED ABOUT

  • Christmas!

QUOTE I'M THINKING ABOUT

"No man steps in the same river twice" - Heraclitus

I also found all these great quotes from the start of each Star Wars: The Clone War Series.