It’s one of those days where I need to go outside. The dreaded world on the other side of my keyboard that requires my presence to interact with its inhabitants in order to get done. After a silent morning I hop in the car and drive off. In my personal rolling steel cage, everything is fine. The hum of the airconditioning, the soothing sounds of a podcast or a dulcet Spotify Playlist… I slide into my day. But just before work I just want to pop in for my load of take-away Java. I open the car door and am assaulted by … noise ! Honking cars, the sounds of a jackhammer and a piece of sidewalk having violent intercourse… people shouting.
… this is mostly geared towards single-celled-hard-hearing 3 year olds.
The sounds of a busy city. I scuttle inside the coffee-shop for relief and am confronted by the most terrible torture modern man can inflict upon himself in the morning hours : The RADIO. Blasting from strategically dispersed overhead speakers there is no escape to the blaring sounds of what needs to pass for “morning entertainment” these days. A quick analysis of both the volume, the content and the delivery of ‘Mainstream radio’ teaches me that this is mostly geared towards single-celled-hard-hearing 3 year olds. Its lack of quality and content highly compensated by the overzealous delivery in volume.
Its like people vomiting into my ears .. My hands instinctively reach up to my neck and, like some kind of life jacket grab onto my noise cancelling headphones. I slide them over my ears and … relief. The auditory maelstrom is dimmed and replaced with the a soothing mumbling nothing. All I need to do is tap my smartphone and music surrounds me. In a flash I’m taken back to an old 80’s teen flick. The retro-wave beats streaming from the interwebs into my eardrums form an instant soundtrack for the situation i’m in. The experience is complete. Just like in the movies you ONLY hear the music and see the main character go through the motions. No pesky ambient noise, no people chattering.. Just music and motion.
… In many ways putting on noise cancelling headphones is like putting on your the earphones of your Walkman back in the 80’s
In many ways putting on noise cancelling headphones is like putting on your the earphones of your Walkman back in the 80’s. A defiant and deeply personal gesture to grab those little speakers covered by their orange foam and place them firmly over your ears .Telling to world to be quiet, erecting an auditory wall around you. These days they are wireless and their noise cancelling abilities range much further then their prehistoric ancestors. But the gesture is the same.
Even their roll has changed. In the perfect storm of the pre-covid area where landscape offices, noisy colleagues and constant one-on-one Skype meetings resulted in a never ending landslide of noise and distraction … The noise cancelling headset became an essential component of the office worker. The only way to focus (and in many ways stay sane) was to pop on your headphones and cancel out whatever mayhem was going on around you. The joke of the entire philosophy behind a landscape office: Physically putting everyone in one room, only to end up with a collection of individuals fighting for selective isolation of the people around them. Paradox anyone ?
If you don’t hear me .. are you still willing to listen?
The conclusion is that we all need and enjoy our little personal audio stream that shies away from the mainstream noise around us. Just like we all have our own Twitter feed, watch our own selection of Netflix shows and are addicted to our very personal mix of insanity on Reddit, Youtube our TikTok. My only hope is that (just like with the other social media bubbles) even though we don’t hear each other.. we are still willing to just .. listen.
Pdf’s: We love them, right? They are our favourite cross platform way to replace paper and save trees. That is, as long as it is a passive experience. Like just reading whats on the page, perusing the manual, consuming the content. But when you need to edit them it kinda goes downhill from there.
Well, not entirely: Simple tasks like signing and annotating PDFs has become a lot easier these days. Most browsers (like for example Edge on the desktop and safari on mobile) let you squiggle away with your pen or your mouse and sign your autograph (or an offensive stick figure) under any document.
But whenever you want to go one step beyond its a world of hurt. Before you know it, a simple query on Google to “ split pdf” takes you down a wormhole of costly apps, Adobe subscriptions and if you click deep enough: services that require a human sacrifice to merge 2 documents together.
A good thing I found ilovepfd.com. A free, online browser based service that lets you do just about anything to a pdf aside from the horizontal chacha. Great cross platform stuff. Love it.
I love to listen to audiobooks when I have the time. Nothing is more enjoyable than being sucked into a story read by a good narrator and tearing through the pages of a book with the tips of my earlobes as I’m mowing the lawn or working out.
There are plenty of ways to do that on your phone of course and some are more tedious then others. You can download the audiofiles to you phone and use some kind of audio player (tedious) OR subscribe to an audio book service like Audible to ‘stream’ your books to your mobile device. (While they nickle-and-dime you into poverty one month at a time for books you don’t really ‘own’).
For a while now I have been looking into a way of streaming the audiobooks, documentaries and podcast series I have on my home server. A valid alternative was of course Plex. The reliable home server for streaming whatever content you have to whatever device you have. I played around with the standard ‘Plex’ client but was a bit annoyed at the fact that it’s not optimised for audiobooks. While out and about it would lose the connection to the server and forget the place I left off in the middle of the audiofile. (Not handy).
But by some serendipitous googling I came across “Prologue” in the App store: A fully fledged audiobook client for Plex . It’s quite easy to work with: Install it on your phone, log into you Plex account and point it at the folder where your audio library resides. It will index the audiofiles per folder and bob is your uncle. The free version of the app even allows you to either stream OR cache your audiofiles locally for those moments where your connection might be a bit on the spotty side. Additional features also include variable speed settings and all the dingdongs you expect from an audiobook player.
In short: I love this: It gives me the functionality and convenience of a streaming service like Audible but still allows me to “own” my audiobooks. But who says I need to stop there. Prologue is perfect to stream that downloaded collection of a podfaded podcast, or that audio rip you made from a Youtube documentary. The possibilities are plentiful. Get Prologue in the Apple (and Android) store today.
Yesterdays workout at the gym had me on the prowl for a new ‘random’ podcast episode about no particular topic. I had just re-installed the Google Podcast app in order to be able to cast my podcasts to my office speaker, when I came across a Ted-Talk daily talking about the 3 secrets of resilient people. Resilience is something we need these days. I look towards the south, where only a few miles away, towns were swept away by flash floods and people lost everything in the blink of an eye. It takes resilience to pick yourself up and continue. Lucy Home, the speaker of this short but powerful speech was a trained resilience therapist an thought she had it all figured out, until she lost her daughter in a fatal car crash and had to “move on” with her life. She gives a couple of valid insights on how to “train” your mind and your mindset to be able to “bounce back” from adversity.
One tip in particular stood out: How to deal with the perception of ‘Danger’.
To paraphrase: our minds are much better attuned to “registering and remembering” danger than happiness. It was essential in primitive times when danger was close and lethal. Today we are bombarded with sensational news of danger all around us: Newspapers going for scary headlines, the next “ohmygod” clickbait around the corner. Our reptile brain however is unable to distinguish ‘perceived’ threats from ‘actual’ threats and is (on a subconscious level) afraid of ALL the things we read online. I come back to the age-old mantra of “curating the library of your mind’ and trying to tune the information streams you consume so they don’t ruin your mood (or your perception of happiness) and it was pretty cool to find topic touched on in this very short but informative TED talk. Have a listen and ask yourself “how resilient am I?”
For two decades the era of “Linux on the Desktop” has been just around the corner. This week Knightwise takes us through a discussion of how he’s using Linux to drive some tasks for work, and how the pandemic-driven changes of 2020 might have helped push more Linux to the forefront.