Category Archives: blog

blog

Programming Note

I have been eager to write more about the cool stuff I am doing with Obsidian. At the same time, I don’t want this blog to return to the strictly “how-I-do-stuff” theme that it fell into back in my Evernote ambassador days. Nor do I want to indundate people with post after post about what is likely uninteresting geekery to most readers.

To that end, you can expect one techie post per week on average. Sometimes more, sometime, I’ll skip a week. But just to set expectations, once a week is something I can tolerate, and hopefully something you can tolerate (or skip) as you see fit.

So, expect my next post on Obsidian–and how I’ve automated my daily notes–on Tuesday, February 9th. Until, you can expect the usual stuff.

A Full Month of Posts

Back in December I mentioned how my writing on the blog over the last few years had been decreasing, and that I missed sitting down to write here. I was determined to do better than the 51 posts I wrote in 2020. I noticed today that I am on track to do just that. For the first time in over a year, I wrote at least one post every day in the month of January.

Daily post heat map over the last year.
Daily post frequency over the last year.

That seems like a promising start.

What I find really interest–and this really pleases me–is that there were more comments in January that in all of 2020 combined! I really enjoy the discussions that take place here, I learn new things, and I even discover useful new tools!

It also appears that there is a chance I will surpass 3 million views (all-time) and 1.5 million visitors (all-time) to the blog at some point this year. I’m much closer to the former than the latter at the moment. Even for an informal blog like mine, it seems remarkable that 1.5 million visitors have come through here in the last 12 years (which is as far back as the stats go).

When I told my kids, who are now big YouTube followers, that I was approaching 3 million views on the blog, they were impressed. They compared me to YouTubers with millions of subscribers. Though I was tempted to leave them with that impresssion, I had to tell them the truth: that those 3 million views are cumulative over the last 12 years, and given that there are 365 days in each year, it sort of dilutes things.

Mostly, I’m pleased that I managed to write here every day in January. And grateful for all you readers, your comments, and discussions.

Annual Reminder on Guest Post Policy

Because the requests keep coming here is my annual reminder on my guest post policy. I’ll keep it simple and make it red just to call it out:

If I didn’t ask you specifically for a guest post, you can safely assume that I don’t want one from you. Put another way: If you have to ask, the answer is no.

Why not?

  • Because this blog is my hobby and I enjoy writing for it. I don’t “provide content”, whatever that means. I sit down, and I write. I’m perfectly capable of doing it without unsolicited guest posts.
  • Because I think I know my audience better than you, and I’m 99.9% certain that your “content” will not be something my audience is interested in. Just because I wrote a post on toilets a year or so ago does not mean this is something I write about regularly, or that my readers want to read about regularly.

But other people have written guest posts on this blog!

  • Yes, this is true. But keep in mind the following:
  • Out of 6,538 posts published here over the last 16 years, 4 have been guest posts.
  • I personally requested each of those 4 guest posts. Not one of those writers solicited to put one here.

Many of the requests I get point out how they love my blog, or they loved a specific post. A few even say they checked my site for my guest post policy but couldn’t find one. Which is really strange since I link to the policy on every single post. Just take a look over there on the right-hand side of the screen and you’ll see the Site Policy box with the link. (Of course, if you are reading this post via email, or some RSS reader, you won’t see it, but trust me, it’s there.)

This year, I am adding one important caveat: If we know each other in the real world, or we’ve known each other online for a long time, and you think you might have something interesting you want me to share here–a book release, blog tour–reach out to me. Outside of that, unless I ask for something, I hereby pass in advance.

I realize that posts like this won’t stop the requests from coming in, but it does my heart good to make them, especially when the bulk of the unread messages in my inbox are requests to provide “informative articles” for my blog.

Blogging in 2021

I published 51 blog posts in 2020, not quite a low water mark for me (that was 2018), but nothing like my heyday here on the blog. In 2012, for instance, I published 567 posts, and in 2013 I published 482 posts. I miss those days.

In recent years, I have been more selective in what I publish on the blog. Rather than post just anything that comes to mind, I’d wait for something I considered “post-worthy”–whatever that means. But I miss the days of just sitting at the keyboard and pounding out something that just occurred to me. And so rather than wait for what I feel is a “post-worthy” idea, I’m going to swing back toward posting here when things happen to pop into my head.

What this means for you is more posts in 2021. Some will be certainly be the essay-like pieces I have been writing here for the last several years. Others will be more ephemeral. I suspect not everything will think that is a good thing. But after a year like 2020, any kind of connection with the outside world, even through the posts on the blog, feels freeing.

So expect more of what I have been writing in recent years, along with a casserole of other posts, some one technical topics (I may revisit some Evernote ideas and personal archiving), others on writing and reading, and other non sequitur posts on whatever happens to be on my mind at a given moment.

And since I haven’t said so in a while, if there is a topic you are interested in seeing me write about here, send me a message at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin dot com and let me know what is.

Finally, thank you for stopping by and continuing to read and comment on posts here. It might seem cliche, but from the feedback and comments I get here on the blog, I’ve got the best audience I could ask for.

Wishing you all a happy new year in 2021. Here’s hoping for a better one than 2020.

A Brief Writing Progress Update and Coming Soon News

I know I said that I wasn’t going to provide updates about my progress in this final attempt at writing this particular story I’ve been trying to tackle. But I figured it was worth mentioning that last night, I hit the 10,000 word mark. Considering everything else I’ve got going on, writing 10,000 words in 9 days is pretty good for me. It’s not all the most inspired writing, but whenever I worry about the writing or the story, I tell myself to worry about it in the second draft and just keep on writing.

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to jump-start things here on the blog. I enjoy the writing that I do here, and especially the interactions I have with readers. With that in mind, I have a new project that I plan to start here in the not-too-distant future. My working title for this project is “My Standard Answers.” I’ve often thought it would be useful to have a place I can myself (or point people to) for the standard answers to questions I sometimes get asked about–not just questions here on the blog, but questions I get asked in other areas of my life. An example might be “Who is your favorite audiobook narrator?” or “What, in your mind, makes for a good audiobook narrator?” These would be short, maybe 500-word essays, and the current plan is to post one per week.

I don’t want to start on a project like this until I have a list of the questions that I think would be interesting to answer. I am aiming for at least 52 of them, so that I can guarantee myself I’ll have something to write about for at least year. So far, I’ve jotted down 30 of these. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I think these are eclectic enough to be of fairly wide interest and not too centered on any one things. But, to make things more interesting, I’m also toying with the idea of a weekly companion essay that focuses on the subject from a different angle–meaning you’d potentially get two posts a week. I haven’t quite figured out this last part yet, and I still have to come up with more of my Standard Answer topics, then weed out the weaker ones and order them in a way that makes them interesting.

Ideally, I’d like to start this in July, but it all depends on how I can fit this into my current workload. In any case, I wanted to mention that this idea has been brewing with me for a while and I hope to be able to bring it to fruition here soon.

Guest Post Requests Get Meta

For years I have had a set of site policies about things like guest posts and advertising (tl;dr: I don’t accept unsolicited guest posts or any advertising). Occasionally, I post a reminder, but I still get requests. The one I got today deserves to be shared because (1) it shows where automation/AI can fail, and (b) it is so meta that it’s funny. Here is an image of the text of the message (links are not clickable in the image):

A few thoughts:

  1. The article the writer enjoyed where I talk about guest posts is this post, which is a reminder that I don’t accept unsolicited guest posts, advertising, or link exchanges.
  2. They enjoyed it so much, that they added my site policy page to their Flipboard.
  3. Last month (December 2019, presumably), they wrote a 7,000 word guide on the best guest post sites for 2017! Would I consider linking to it? I wouldn’t link to it if it was a 7,000 word guide for the best guest post sites for 2019, let alone 2017. How many of those sites no longer exist in 2020?
  4. Then comes the request for a link exchange (which I explicitly say I don’t do in the article my correspondent enjoyed so much). If I modify my site policy to include a link to the best Guest Posting Sites for 2017, they will include my blog in their post on the Best Blogs to Follow in 2017.

I am reminded of that Groucho Marx quote about not wanting to belong to any club that would have me as a member. I didn’t reply to this message, of course. I rarely do, and when I do, it’s usually to point the correspondent to my site policies. But if I did reply, I’d have to wonder about getting on a list of Best Blogs to Follow that requires some kind of quid pro quo to make it onto the list in the first place.

I have been writing this blog for a long time, and what I have found is that it is good writing, and interesting posts, and not link exchanges and guest posts that helps to build and maintain an audience. If anyone out there is thinking about starting a blog, and looking for tips, here’s one: don’t do what my correspondent did.

Bringing This Blog Back to Life

I have been struggling with what to write about on this blog for the last few years. I’ve written about all sorts of random things, more to keep the blog alive, and keep in practice than for anything else. I’d like to change that. I’d like to write something that was as impactful as the Going Paperless series I did for a few years. But so much of what is written today is echoes from elsewhere that it is hard to know what to write about.

Part of my struggle with what to write is that I enjoy reading blogs that are not necessarily centered around one theme. I prefer to read things that are like old newspaper columns, where the subject of the day could be virtually anything that piqued the writer’s fancy on that day. That is what I have tried to do here, although for a while, I’ve restrained myself on this because of the notion that I got in my head that a blog should be focused and not so scattershot. Well, I’m disabusing myself of that notion now, and while I do plan to focus on certain themes from time-to-time, I’m not going to restrain myself from writing about whatever is on my mind, regardless of how mundane it might seem.

I’ve given it some thought, however, and I am going to start by writing something new. I won’t commit to saying it will be a series yet, but it is something that has been on my mind a lot lately: being a writer in a complex digital world. I’ve sketched out at least three posts on this subject, and you can expect to see them shortly. I stopped writing about going paperless because I felt the posts started to become repetitive. Writing about being a writer in a complex digital world might also become repetitive at some point, and I hope I recognize that before repeating myself too often.

Repeating myself is something that I worry about. This blog has been around since 2005, and there are, as of this writing, 6,421 posts. I’ve written about just about everything, and it is hard to remember what I have written before. Sometimes, I’ll get partway through writing a post, and what I write seems familiar. I’ll do a quick search and found that I’ve written about the subject already four or five years ago. If I have something new to add, I’ll recast the post in that light, but more often than not, I find myself repeating things I’ve already written. So part of my goal with my renewed effort here is to touch on some things that I haven’t written about as much. If you do find me repeating myself, cut me a little slack, and know that I am now consciously trying to avoid that.

As always, I am open to suggestions. I didn’t start blogging with a master plan, but over the years, if I have any one goal, it is to write with an eye toward entertaining, to occasionally write about how I do things, with the hope that others might benefit, and to steer clear of the extremes that might generate a lot more traffic, but don’t add much to the conversation. If you have suggestions for things you’d like me to write about, drop them in the comments, or send me an email.

New Office, New Theme

After trying out one of the newer themes here on the blog for a couple of months, I decided that I liked what I had before better. Today, I’ve reverted it back to the original theme, with a few tweaks for added clarity.

I figured that since I have a new office, the time was right for a new (old) theme. I may continue to tweak things over the next couple of days. But I don’t think the overall theme will change much again for a while.

Domain updates and blogging info

Things appear to be going well with the new blog over on Medium. As I mentioned earlier this year, I’d planned to transition all of my blogging over there. This blog will not be going away, as it is a kind of archive of the 6,000+ posts I’ve written between 2005-2015. However, beginning tomorrow, there will be some changes that will potentially affect readers.

  1. The jamietoddrubin.com domain will begin pointing to my Medium-based blog.
  2. If you want to continue to access this blog, use www.jamierubin.net.

Additionally, I have created an updated About and Bibliography page over on the new blog. I’ve also obtained a new, short domain that points to my About page, for quick access: jtrwriter.me

I’d encourage folks to head over to the new blog and follow me there. If you don’t like Medium’s interface, you can access the new blog via RSS.

REMINDER: I’m Writing Over on Medium

Just a reminder that, while this blog isn’t going anywhere, I am transitioning my online writing over to Medium. I’ve already posted several new things there, and as I pick up steam, plan to do so more regularly. So if you are looking for new stuff from me, head over to Medium.

See you over there!

Going Paperless on Medium

As part of the transition over to Medium that I wrote about last time, I have started to make my Going Paperless series of posts available over on Medium. I have created a “Going Paperless” publication, and I’ve migrated roughly a quarter of the posts so far.

In migrating these posts over to Medium, I considered whether or not to update them. The earliest posts are from way back in 2012, and many no longer represent how I work today. I decided to leave them in their original form for 2 reasons:

  1. They show how I once worked, and the entire series provides an evolution of how and why I changed my habits over time. This might prove useful to others.
  2. Some of the way that I used to do things don’t work well for me today, but they still might work well for others.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to get all of the posts (well over 100 of them) migrated over to Medium. You can keep an eye on the Going Paperless publication to mark my progress if you are so inclined.

Transitional Notes

I occurs to me to that I have not posted here since back on my birthday. I apologize for that. I’ve got a lot of things going on. Here are some transitional notes to bring things up-to-date.

Retired as Evernote Ambassador

If you haven’t already seen the news, Evernote has transitioned their Ambassador program to a new Community Leader program. I took this opportunity to retire as Evernote Paperless Ambassador. A few points:

  1. I am still an Evernote user.
  2. I retired mainly because I felt like I didn’t have anything new to offer. My posts, while well-received, have begun to repeat themselves.
  3. The program transition seemed like a good time to retire.
  4. I want to use the time I spent writing about Evernote writing about technology more generally. More on this later.

Transition to Medium

Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote about “stagnation and transition to Medium,” something that I ultimately didn’t follow through with. Today, I am more serious about it. I have been spending time formulating a plan to transition my writing from this WordPress blog over to Medium. This transition will take place over several months, and there will be a period of time where the posts that I write will appear in both places. But eventually, this blog will retire and my writing will continue on Medium. I have several reasons for making this transition:

  1. My time is growing increasingly limited, thanks to being busy at work, and with the family. This site is a self-maintained WordPress site, and it does take work to maintain it. That time could be better spent writing. I don’t have to maintain Medium the way I do this site. So that’s a plus.
  2. I like Medium as a writing platform. I like its simplicity, its UX/UI, and its discussion model.
  3. I like the kind of pieces that I read on Medium, and I want to be a part of that. My own take is that Medium represents (or had already subsumed) traditional blogging.
  4. Sometimes, I just need something new. Medium represents that new thing for me.

My transition plan here is not complete, but my goal is to be doing this kind of blog writing on Medium exclusively beginning in early September. With a roughly five month transition, and plenty of reminders along the way, it should make it relatively painless for those who want to follow me over there.

Technology writing

I haven’t been writing much at all lately. A while back I announced my retirement from science fiction writing. I am transitioning this blog over to Medium. I’ve retired as Evernote’s paperless ambassador? So what do I plan on writing about?

I suspect, although I am still working this out, that much of what I write will be tech-based. I want to write more about the influence of technology. I want to write more about technology on a micro (vs. macro) scale. That is, that ways that I use technology to improve myself. I’m still fascinated by quantified-self, and have been working on a project in this regard, borrowing concepts from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others. I’ll have more to say on this at some point in the future. I want to write more about coding for wider audience. Coding skills today are like home maintenance skills. Have experience with some of those skill sets can reap large benefits.

Of course, I also want to write about the things I read about, and other miscellaneous things that appear here on this blog from time-to-time.

In conclusion

Things are in flux, and I appreciate your patience as I work my way through them. Beginning with my next post, post will appear both here and over on Medium through the transition, and of course, there will be reminders along the way. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them for you.