The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'tips'
A big list of useful shell commands for OSX. Some of these are generic UNIX shell tricks, but many are OSX-specific and quite useful; to wit, a few examples:
# Copy output of command to clipboard
grep 'search term' largeFile.txt | pbcopy
# display a Quick Look preview of a file; ctrl+C to kill
qlmanage -p photo.jpg
# converting an aiff file to 160kbps AAC:
afconvert track.aiff -o track.m4a -q 127 -b 160000 -f 'm4af' -d 'aac '
Cory Doctorow, freelance writer and novelist, has written a short article on how to write productively in the age of ubiquitous distraction. The advice he gives is rather novel; he dismisses the usual advice about switching off one's internet connection, and is also scornful of the idea of ceremony, or of setting the right mood. (And understandably so; acknowledging the idea of there being a right mood or atmosphere for evoking one's inner muse could lead to finding excuses, consciously or subconsciously, for not actually doing anything.)
The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn't help my writing. This advice was wrong creatively, professionally, artistically, and personally, but I know where the writer who doled it out was coming from. Every now and again, when I see a new website, game, or service, I sense the tug of an attention black hole: a time-sink that is just waiting to fill my every discretionary moment with distraction. As a co-parenting new father who writes at least a book per year, half-a-dozen columns a month, ten or more blog posts a day, plus assorted novellas and stories and speeches, I know just how short time can be and how dangerous distraction is.
Short, regular work schedule. When I'm working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I'm working on it. It's not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it's entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there's always 20 minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn't become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day's page between sessions. Try to find one or two vivid sensory details to work into the next page, or a bon mot, so that you've already got some material when you sit down at the keyboard.
Leave yourself a rough edge. When you hit your daily word-goal, stop. Stop even if you're in the middle of a sentence. Especially if you're in the middle of a sentence. That way, when you sit down at the keyboard the next day, your first five or ten words are already ordained, so that you get a little push before you begin your work. Knitters leave a bit of yarn sticking out of the day's knitting so they know where to pick up the next day — they call it the "hint." Potters leave a rough edge on the wet clay before they wrap it in plastic for the night — it's hard to build on a smooth edge.
Realtime communications tools are deadly. The biggest impediment to concentration is your computer's ecosystem of interruption technologies: IM, email alerts, RSS alerts, Skype rings, etc. Anything that requires you to wait for a response, even subconsciously, occupies your attention. Anything that leaps up on your screen to announce something new, occupies your attention. The more you can train your friends and family to use email, message boards, and similar technologies that allow you to save up your conversation for planned sessions instead of demanding your attention right now helps you carve out your 20 minutes. By all means, schedule a chat — voice, text, or video — when it's needed, but leaving your IM running is like sitting down to work after hanging a giant "DISTRACT ME" sign over your desk, one that shines brightly enough to be seen by the entire world.
(via Where do you think?)
There is now a Tricks of the Trade weblog:
If you listen to the radio while coding but are distracted by ads or yammering DJs, tune into a foreign internet radio station such as http://www.radiobeat.cz or http://www.futuro.cl, where all interuptions are in a language you don't understand.
Wear a kilt when playing bagpipes on the street. You will make twice as much money than if you wear regular clothes.
If you're faced with an irate customer on the telephone who won't let you help him, leave them on hold for about three minutes, then pick back up and pose as the manager. Thinking they've "won" the battle, the he customer is much more likely to work with you.
If you faced with bad service and are being "escalated," calm down before interacting with the next person up the chain of command. The lowly incompetent drone you've been howling at will likely warn his supervisor to expect a raging psychopath; if you are on your best behavior when the manager speaks with you, he will probably be confused and much more inclined to help you out.
A list of secrets of various occupations; small, inconsequential-seeming things which make a difference in the perceived competence of the practitioner: (via FmH)
Every actor eventually is called upon to act drunk. Most do this by slurring their speech, stumbling around, and perhaps drooling a bit. This is what a freshman drama teacher calls "indicating." A better way to appear drunk is to act very, very sober. Walk very carefully, and try not to let anyone see that you're inebriated. This is much more subtle and will register on a level the audience won't immediately recognize.
Always put copper grease on the battery terminals after servicing a car. The performance benefit is negligible, but when customers look under the hood they will immediately see that something's changed and thus feel happy to pay you.
In Australia, the butchers have a secret language called "rechtub klat" that they use to gossip about customers without getting caught. The code is formed by speaking words backward. Old-timers could have entire conversations in the language, but these days a core vocabulary of about 20 to 30 essential words are used...
If you can't think of a headline for a story, use one of these three magic verbs: "weighs," "mulls," or "considers."...
Tips for recording live music gigs with the Archos Jukebox Recorder:
- Don't bother with the internal microphone, unless you like having the sound of hard-disk noise over the top of the recording every few minutes (perhaps if you're doing lo-fi glitch electronica or some form of sound-art it could add to the overall ambience). Yes, it's convenient, but it's also useless for anything other than voice notes and the like.
- As the Archos doesn't have a pre-amped microphone socket, you'll need an external preamp. The only pocket-sized battery-operated one I've seen that doesn't cost an arm and a leg comes with the Archos stereo microphone, so get that.
- Once you've got the Archos stereo microphone, throw out the cheap dynamic microphone that comes with it and, in its stead, plug a decent-quality condenser microphone into the preamp. Otherwise, no matter how you adjust the gain, anything recorded in a band venue will be distorted horribly.
I recently got the Archos microphone/preamp combo in the mail, and decided to test it this weekend. I tried recording last night's Ninetynine gig with the dynamic tie-clip microphone that came with the preamp, and ended up with a horribly distorted, and ultimately unlistenable, 60Mb MP3 file. This evening, I went to the Bidston Moss gig with the Sony stereo microphone I bought some years ago for my old MiniDisc and the recording came out sounding surprisingly good.
Top Ten Digital Photography Tips; something to keep in mind for when I get my camera back from the repair place. (via Reenhead)