Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

June 23rd, 2016

The Mid-2016 Update

People often refer to me as a prolific writer. I suppose that’s true in the sense that I’ve written 60-ish books and hundreds of articles and spend pretty much every waking hour writing still more. But one thing I certainly am not is a prolific blogger. When I see, as I recently did, that my last post here was over a year ago, I start to think maybe it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to post a little something just to keep up appearances. I can’t guarantee that the next one won’t require a similar wait. I’m far from idle; it’s just that this particular means of expression is currently pretty low on my long list of priorities.

One of the things I’ve been up to lately is writing a brand-new Joe On Tech guide (Speeding Up Your Mac) and updating my three previous guides (Troubleshooting Your Mac, Maintaining Your Mac, and Backing Up Your Mac). If you’re a Mac user, I invite you to check out those books; I think you’ll find them helpful.

Even the Joe On Tech guides have been a bit of an interruption in my schedule, since I’ve also been up to my ears writing new and revised Take Control books, testing and documenting new apps, delivering presentations to various groups, trying to keep up with my energetic kids (the youngest of whom was recently diagnosed with autism), and dealing with assorted crises. As a counterpoint to the craziness of work and life, however, I’ve been getting much more serious about my practice of t’ai chi. I’ve joined an advanced class taught by world-renowned t’ai chi expert Chris Luth, and I only wish I could afford to spend hours a day practicing, because it improves my attitude more than just about anything (with the possible exception of chocolate). I also find myself going to an actual gym and doing actual cardio and strength training workouts, sometimes as often as a few times a week. It feels bizarre to write that sentence in that my self-image has never included any form of athleticism, but life is full of surprises.

On further reflection, I think it would be an excellent idea to post here more frequently—perhaps as often as twice a year! Why, in just six and a half months I’ll be turning 50, and that seems like an auspicious time for reflection and further updates.

Until next time!

September 21st, 2007

Blogging, Rejiggered

I have a few blog-related announcements, which contradict each other only slightly.

Announcement #1: Blogging Guilt Banished Effective immediately, I’m no longer going to feel guilty about going long periods of time between blog posts, and therefore no longer feel obligated to apologize when returning after a long absence. There. I finally said it. I feel much better now.

A typical expectation among people who regularly read blogs is that new entries will occur frequently—at least a few times per week—and that blogs with no new material for a month or so are effectively “stale” and not worth subscribing to anymore. I can’t change the way anyone thinks about blogs, but I can at least admit that my lifestyle just doesn’t accommodate this sort of schedule and probably never will. I’m now officially declaring myself to be OK with that, and I’m not going to try to fight it anymore. I’m just going to go with the flow as best I can.

This has been a difficult issue for me to grapple with, especially since I now contribute to no fewer than six blogs (more on this just ahead), some of which even produce a nontrivial amount of income. But I am not a professional blogger, and as much as I may fantasize about eventually being able to live off my blogging efforts alone, that’s not even remotely the case today, nor is it a top priority for the near future. For now, keeping up with writing blogs is not my life or even my job, it’s just an additional activity in an already full life.

Most of the time, I’m simply too busy doing things to also write about doing them (even when the activities I’m doing themselves include writing). In particular, the whole notion of committing to writing something on a blog every single day—well, for that matter, committing to doing virtually anything every single day—is just contrary to my nature. I’ve done it, but I haven’t enjoyed it, and I can’t sustain it over long periods of time. I don’t have a daily routine and don’t want to have one, but even so, I have relatively little free time. And such free time as I have is time I want to spend relaxing, reading, watching TV, not typing. So unless or until my life situation changes such that blogging is what keeps a roof over my head, it’s going to have to be a pretty random (and perhaps infrequent) activity.

Announcement #2: Yet Another Blog: TidBITS Staff One aspect of the recent redesign to the TidBITS Web site is that each of the staff members now has a “personal” blog. (That’s personal as in “specific to that person,” not “about someone’s personal life.”) And we are all encouraged to put interesting stuff in those blogs, in addition to what we normally write for TidBITS and what we would otherwise write on our personal personal blogs. So, lucky me, I have yet another blog to feed! It’s located here: Joe Kissell’s TidBITS Staff Blog.

In the past, I’ve posted any number of stories here on I Am Joe’s Blog about Mac-related stuff, but now that this new TidBITS blog exists, that’s a more appropriate place for much of that material. So expect the majority of technical topics to migrate there.

This change puts I Am Joe’s Blog in a kind of weird state. Already, I’d shifted most topics relating to my living in France to Truffles for Breakfast and most food-related topics to The Geeky Gourmet; with tech topics now moving to TidBITS, there are fewer and fewer bloggy subjects that don’t already have another home. So, I’m not really sure what’s left to talk about here. Meta discussions about Interesting Thing of the Day and SenseList? Opinions on TV shows, movies, or politics? I don’t know. If there’s something you’d really like me to talk about here, let me know—but no guarantees. Refer to Announcement #1.

Announcement #3: Twittering In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, or this is the first Web page you’ve ever seen (Welcome!), one of the latest memes in the online world is something called Twitter. You might think of Twitter as micro-blogging. The idea is basically that, whenever you feel like it, you type a very short message—there’s a 140-character limit—saying what you’re doing right now, or what you’ve recently done, or whatever other little snippet of text is interesting to you at the moment. People can then follow your activities on a Web page, or download any of numerous programs that will display little pop-up windows when any of the people they’re following post something on Twitter. And that’s pretty much that. It’s a really lightweight thing, not big and complex like RSS, no ads (yet!), and no endless backlogs of long news stories or email messages you have to slog through if you’re out of things for a while.

Well, I’ve been resisting Twitter ever since I heard about it months ago. Because honestly, I can’t be bothered to keep telling my computer what I’m doing. I’m notoriously bad about even changing my IM status, because it feels like an annoying, intrusive, extra task. I don’t want a new list of meta-tasks, no matter how brief they may be; I just want to do my thing.

But, on the recommendation of several people who are also generally disinclined to spend time on unnecessary activities, I’m giving it a try. I can’t guarantee how well, how long, or to what extent I’ll use it, but I’m going to make the effort for a little while and see how it goes. If you want to follow me on Twitter, click here or check out the running list in the sidebar of this page. Or see my Twitters on Facebook, not that I’m a very active participant there either.

Announcement #4: Ziki A number of people have inquired as to whether there’s a place they can go to find all my posts from the various blogs I contribute to. As a matter of fact, there are a number of ways to pull this off, but an easy one is simply to go to my page on Among other things, it shows my recent posts on Interesting Thing of the Day, SenseList, Truffles for Breakfast, The Geeky Gourmet, I Am Joe’s Blog, and TidBITS, which is a good percentage of my online writing. It doesn’t show stuff I’ve done for Macworld or Datamation, but I periodically update the list of books and articles I’ve written, which includes all that stuff, my ebooks, print books, and so on.

July 24th, 2007

Our new Paris blog: Truffles for Breakfast

We’ve been promising this for a long time, and it has finally sprung to life: Truffles for Breakfast, our new blog about life in France.

Our original idea had been that we’d start the blog at the same time that we “officially” started the process of trying to get to France, so that we could document everything we went through—applying for our visas, dealing with all our household goods, etc.—in real time. Unfortunately, all that stuff kept us so busy that we didn’t have time to write about it too. But now that we’re here and most of the difficult work is behind us, we finally have time to sit down and reflect on what happened before, as well as begin writing about day-to-day life here.

As I said in Introducing Truffles for Breakfast, one reason for the new blog is laziness (or, to put it more positively, efficiency): it saves us from having to retell our stories many times. But we also hope it’ll be an inspiration for anyone who’s thought about doing something like this, and a resource for people who want to move to France in particular but have found the existing information available to be somewhat unhelpful.

We’ve got about a dozen posts up already, with dozens more in the pipeline. Enjoy!

April 7th, 2007

Blogging for Introverts

A few days ago I was talking to my mother on the phone, and I mentioned that Morgen has a new blog, Spectatrix, about life as an introvert. In the process of explaining what the blog was about, I mentioned in passing something about my being an introvert too, and my mother was incredulous. “You? An introvert? You’ve got to be kidding! I mean, I knew I was an introvert, but you?” Well, I was shocked that she was shocked. But on further reflection, I think we were working from very different definitions of what it means to be an introvert, and I can see how easily someone (even someone who’s known me my whole life) might therefore make that mistake.

If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you know that the first personality component it produces is I for introvert or E for extrovert. (I’m an INTJ, in case you were wondering.) The sense of “introvert/extrovert” measured by this test is a specific psychological definition. As the Wikipedia puts it, where one falls on the “I/E” axis

show how a person orients and receives their energy. In the extroverted attitude the energy flow is outward, and the preferred focus is on other people and things, whereas in the introverted attitude the energy flow is inward, and the preferred focus is on one’s own thoughts, ideas and impressions.

In other words, extroverts get more energy from being around other people, whereas introverts get more energy from being alone, and find that being around others tends to drain their energy. This is very different from the colloquial sense of “introvert” as someone who’s shy, timid, withdrawn, or even misanthropic. I’m none of those things, and in fact I love speaking in front of crowds and throwing parties. But I have to do these things in moderation, and on my own terms. Given the choice, I’d almost always rather be with fewer people than with many, and I’d be happier still to be alone. Of course, it makes a lot of difference who the other people are and what they’re doing. If there’s a lot of noise involved, or if people are crowded close around me, that’s not so good, but if the crowd is more spread out and quieter, then my tolerance goes up; it goes up even more if the people are friends rather than strangers.

From what we’ve read, it sounds like Morgen and I are fairly typical introverts (although she’s further toward the “I” side of the scale than I am), and what she’s written on Spectatrix certainly rings true for me. Introverts tend to have a lower tolerance for noise and a greater need for personal space than extroverts, but there’s certainly a lot of variation. So although I might chalk up some personality trait as being “because” I’m an introvert, there could be other reasons—and it may not be true for other introverts, or true to a different degree.

A few people have expressed confusion at the notion of an introvert running a blog, as though by definition we should be very private people who want to avoid attention of any kind. I guess Morgen and I are pretty private people, but the great thing about the Web is that it lets us share information about ourselves with lots of people in a way that doesn’t drain our energy, since we’re not interacting with everyone at once, or in person. I’ve corresponded with I can’t tell you how many thousands of people who have read one of my books, articles, or Web posts, and because the interactions are all done from the privacy of my office, by typing rather than talking, it’s always felt completely neutral in terms of draining my energy. Again, that may not be true of all introverts, but I think many people would be surprised how many actors, singers, politicians, and even high-profile bloggers would identify themselves as introverts.