Archive for the 'Bricolage' 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!

December 24th, 2014

Happy Holidays

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a weird and exhausting year. Nothing went quite the way I expected it to, except in the predictable sense that half the things on my “Must Accomplish in 2014 No Matter What” list will still be waiting for me in 2015. But numerous signs suggest that next year will be more prosperous, less weird, and perhaps not quite so tiring. That would be very nice indeed.

My 4-year-old son asked me a few weeks ago what I want for Christmas, and I answered him in the traditional way: “Two good kids.” In fact, my kids are fantastic already, and really the only thing I could ask of them is to let Daddy sleep a wee bit later in the mornings. As if. Of course I’d love to have a little more time and a little more money too. That will probably always be true. But I couldn’t wish for a better family, and that’s the best gift of all.

It’s 72° and sunny in San Diego on Christmas Eve. The presents are (almost all) wrapped, I hear no crying at the moment, and we have alcohol. So I think we’re pretty well set for a merry Christmas. Whatever holidays you celebrate (or tolerate) at this time of year, I wish you all a feeling of contentment and joy.

December 31st, 2013

So Long, 2013

This past year was notable for at least one thing: I wrap up 2013 with a rare sense of accomplishment. For several previous years, what I mainly felt at the end of December was remorse over unfinished projects and unfulfilled ambitions, prompting me to catalog everything I did in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009—just to prove to myself that those years were more productive than I’d imagined.

But this year I feel pretty good about what I managed to do. On my Publications page, you can read about my five new Take Control books, seven updated books, and dozens of articles for Macworld, TidBITS, and other blogs—not to mention 23 speaking engagements, 15 podcast interviews, and a few other assorted gigs. I was also turned into a comic character and even a superhero! My wife and I started a company, survived our first year of homeownership, and got our kid into preschool. We were privileged to spend time in Hawaii, France, and Spain. And I’m pretty sure I broke my all-time record for TV consumption, which was a great way to balance out all that work! And, as usual, I end the year with an empty inbox. I think that’s sufficient for one year.

Although I rarely manage to keep New Year’s resolutions, I do have a number of expectations for 2014.

For one thing, it looks like our family will be growing by one, as Soren becomes a big brother! That will mean a 21-year age difference between my oldest and youngest children and, most likely, a complete cessation of sleep for the foreseeable future. Woo hoo!

Of course, there’ll also be the usual long list of writing and speaking activities next year, as well as some nontrivial home- and self-improvement tasks and, very likely, significant international travel.

But now that I’m just a few years away from turning 50, I’m scrutinizing my Life’s To Do List and thinking hard about undertaking a Big Fancy Project that I just might be able to pull off by then. We’ll see how that unfolds, but let’s just say it would make me very happy indeed to be able to add a certain item to my list of first-half-century accomplishments.

Oh, and I’d also like to fix that whole problem of people not being kind to each other on the Internet, if I have a few spare days.

History tells me it’s unlikely that I’ll post on this blog very often, so if you’re interested in keeping track of what I’m up to, I suggest following me on Twitter and/or signing up for joeMail using the form in the sidebar or on the linked page.

Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2014!

December 31st, 2012

What I Did in 2012

After breakfast today, I sat down to start writing my annual “what I did this year” blog post. (See earlier posts from 2011, 2010, and 2009.) This has become a sort of healing ritual for me, a way of mentally moving from “Wow, I feel like I set yet another record for underachievement last year” to “OK, actually I guess I did kind of all right, despite the huge number of undone things on my to-do list.” But my heart wasn’t in it, because one big accomplishment I’d hoped dearly to be able to report on hadn’t happened yet.

Then I went for a walk with Morgen and Soren, and while we were out, I got a phone call telling me that finally, after weeks of agonizing delays and bizarre snags, we’re closing on our new house in San Diego today. By the slimmest of margins, I will end 2012 as a homeowner for the first time ever! (Mad props to Jeremy and Jesse at The GreenHouse Group!) And that sort of changes my outlook and attitude as I ponder the rest of what did, and didn’t, happen in the past year.

Buying a house, especially a first house, is an enormous undertaking for just about anyone. For me, it was even more complicated—partly because I’m self-employed, and partly because I did most of the process while still living in Paris, nine time zones away. I could tell you the whole long story, but it would be boring. Suffice it to say it was a massive project that sucked up most of my time, attention, money, and (occasionally) will to live for the last couple of months. It kept me from my regular work, from my family, and from sleep. But now, as of today, it is DONE.

At midnight we’ll celebrate the start of the new year and of homeownership by drinking sparkling California white wine—a rare treat for us, because all you can find in France is Champagne ;-). We will also eat our favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream (something else you can’t find in France). And we will wake up to a gigantic pile of projects that we can now attack with renewed vigor and without the distractions that have plagued us for so long.

With that preface out of the way, I can now offer, with much less sadness, the list of things (virtuous and otherwise) I remember accomplishing in 2012:

This year featured a significant increase in speaking engagements, both in person and via video:

I also spent quite a bit of time doing non-work-related stuff:

That’s about it. Now, if you think this list is long, you should see the things I intended to do but didn’t! That is one serious list, which of course now rolls over into 2013. Oh, the places I meant to go, the things I meant to see, the books I meant to write (and read)! Well, I appear to have fewer excuses in the year ahead, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice.

Happy New Year!