kinopyo blog


Coding, Web and Personal Development

Book: On Writing Well

I like to peek into people's workflow and tool kit. It can be watching how a person drips a cup of coffee, from grinding the beans to pouring into a pre-heated mug; It can be observing how a chef cooks a dish, from choosing the ingredients to presenting it on the plate; It can also be, exactly what I'm gonna write about - reading a book about how a writer thinks and writes, from mastering basic principles to adjusting the attitudes.

Ever since I turned into 30, I've noticed an emerging needs to pin down who I once was, to ponder on who I really am and where I'm heading, to seek the meanings of life from all sorts of unexpectedness. My two great companions on this quest have been reading and writing. This book is perfect: it kills two birds with one stone. (Not like I got my 2 companions killed.)

I am a writer and I'm not. I am a writer because I write stuff regularly, but before that I love to think about stuff. Whenever I'm not talking - my majority life has been like that - I'm thinking about something inside. Meaningless or not, it doesn't matter. That something keeps me alive, and only through writing I can put those thoughts in a logical order and make sense out of it.

I'm not a writer in terms of professionals who publish some books and make a living with it. But I won't stop day dreaming that one day I might reach more readers not with better stories but with stories that are written better.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. No matter what type of writers you are, this book give you some guidance:

On writing skills (principles and methods)

  • How to choose and tweak words, lead and end
  • How to organize long pieces of information and where to stop
  • How to put your style, your symbols into your writing?
  • Should or should not indulge a humor that you're worried about whether the reader will "get it"
  • How to tweak rhythm and alliteration
  • Why rewrite is so critical
  • ...

On different formats of writings

  • How to write about people, place and yourself (memoir)
  • How to write subjects out of your specialty
  • How to write reviews and critics
  • ...

On attitudes

  • Who are you writing for ultimately?
  • How to fight fear, find confidence and have fun
  • ...

I especially enjoyed the technique of using thesaurus dictionary to choose words, not just to find more precise ones but also to make it sound good. Readers not just read your words, they also hear them. I think that's one of the secret ingredients why good articles read instinctively good - it's fine tuned for our palate.

And I loved the attitudes part the most. Even though the author is targeting non-fiction writers, the fundamental about writing or perfection can be applied to any fields that requires hard work and craftsmanship.

He also showed me writing well is not about talents but constant efforts:

"What do you do on days when it isn't going well?"

The professional writer must establish a daily schedule and stick to it. Writing is a craft, not an art, and that the man who runs away from his craft because he lacks inspirations is fooling himself. He is also going broke.

"What if you're feeling depressed or unhappy? Won't that affect your writing?"

If you job is to write ever day, you have to learn to do it like any other job.

"Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field." As a person who has never lived in any English-speaking countries, learned it as 3rd language and only holds limited vocabularies in hands (can't blame anyone for this), I'm never confident enough to write with it. But language is a beautiful thing - with simple words and sentences I can still be myself and further find some missing fragments of myself within it, which can't be found in my native language.

I'm gonna continue this journey with 4 core lessons learned from the book: clarity, simplicity, brevity and humanity. Now I've doubled my dual weapons, I hope and I can go out hunt for 2 birds, or 3.

November 27, 2016 Book

4 Thoughtful Quotes That Saved My Day

I had a bad day, I'm having bad days. I'm writing journals everyday, which is supposed to be a place for self realizations but instead nowadays I'm more like dumping my stress, depressions or even angers there.

With all that, today was different, some "magic" happened.

I picked up a book in a bookstore, I opened it, just one single phrase in the first page, and it goes:

Always look at the bright side of life - Monty Python

I don't know why it strikes me like a thunder. I'm sure I'll just skip it in any of my "ordinary" days but, it has the power to turn me to look at literally the bright side of things I've been going through. Indeed it's bright, more than bright, those are great things, it just comes equally with a price. Don't forget the vision, don't forget the bright side that brings you here in the first place, that's the message, don't know how much I appreciate it and the book.

Then, a second one kicks in later. I heard it a while ago from an evangelist at a local church, I don't believe in god but it still resonates with me.

All the things you've been going through, they're all under god's plan, you just haven't understood the reason yet.

(Originally it was in Japanese: "今までの全てはきっと神様のご計画通りで、我々はただまだそれを理解していないだけ"

Let me show you the 3rd quote now, it's very similar to the 2nd one:

Things don't happen to you, they happen for you

Yes, they happen for me, it's ultimately relying on how I interpret it, react to it, it's up to me to find the reasons, the meanings behind. Those are just events, itself can be bright or dark, light or heavy, but it's me who lead it form there, towards the goals I'm been dreaming about. I have the control, I have a choice, just like another great quote says:

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

October 06, 2016

iPad Pro 9.7 + Smart Keyboard weights

Here are the specs:

  • iPad Pro 9.7 Wifi model: 437g
  • Smart Keyboard: 230g
  • Smart Cover: 110g
  • 3rd Party Cases: 100~300g

And for comparison, here are the laptop specs:

  • MacBook Air 11 inch: 1.08kg
  • MacBook Air 13 inch: 1.35kg
  • MacBook Pro with Retina 13-inch: 1.58kg
  • MacBook Pro with Retina 15-inch: 2.04kg

Cited from from Apple official website with latest model.
http://www.apple.com/macbook-air/specs.html
http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs-retina/

That means iPad Pro 9.7 + Smart Keyboard is 667g, about 62% of lightest MacBook Air 11 inch(1.08kg), 413g lighter.


I considered about Apple's Smart Keyboard as the first option, I also got the chance to try my friend's Smart Keyboard, but at that time I felt it's a bit heavy. Maybe because I was using a iPad mini so when upgraded to iPad Pro 9.7, the tablet itself already felt heavier. I've looked for some 3rd party cases but a lot of them weight more than the Smart Keyboard(more than 230g). There are some "light-weight" 100g-ish cases but all feel not attractive...

So I ended up going back to Smart Keyboard. If it's almost the same weight, a portable and comfortable keyboard could help me in various ways I couldn't imagine(and it did!), the overall weight of the combination is 437g + 230g = 667g, almost half of MacBook Air 13-inch.

Note that there's no official data from Apple about the Smart Keyboard, I found it on some blogs, and some says it's 225g some says 230g.

July 31, 2016 ipad

Always There, Like A Mountain

Some people strike me as mountains, always there when you look upon, no matter how the environment changes.

image

Some of them are my close friends. Whenever I visit their blogs I know there're new contents waiting for me. Or I login to the game I've been AFK for such a long time, they're there inviting me to the party.

Some of them are connected on Internet, they don't know me but I've been following them for years. Michael Hyatt's "This Is Your Life" podcast is the central place for my mental nutrition and self improvement, Miyagawa's rebuild.fm for trending tech news and Japanese anime/books/culture, Sensus WoW Rogue whenever I want to catch up my World of Warcraft rogue skills, and Blizzard Entertainment for high quality games all these years.

I'm not here to promote any of those things, what I want to say is, it's not hard to start anything nowadays, and if you get lucky you may even grab some spotlights on the stage, but it's always hard to keep going, even for games!

In this fast paced noisy world, those "mountains" give me a sense of order, calm me down when everything is in chaos. It shows me a way where to find the spiritual connection and emotional support, just like same old friends. No matter if you're a blogger, a youtuber, a gamer, a writer or any content provider, as long as you keep the persistency and frequency, you create a reliability.

I don't want to be a sky - too unstable and unpredictable, suddenly shout out with rain and thunderstorm. I want to be a humble stone, that shares certain similarites to a mountain. Nothing lasts forever - sun, stars, diamonds, but I hope the next time you pick up the stone of me, it's still the same old stone, and gives you a sense of calm and safety.

July 27, 2016

Organize Your Apple Notes with Folders - Nesting and Ordering

In the last post I wrote about migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes, here I want to show you how to organize your notes with similar features of Evernote.

Here is a screenshot of my Apple Notes notebooks.

Apple Notes folders - ordering and nesting

Create Nesting Folders

In Evernote you can create a Stack Notebook, you can do it too with Apple Notes, but seems like it can only be done in Mac, not iPad/iPhone.

  1. Create a new folder(Cmd + Shift + N)
  2. Drag this folder to the parent folder

Apple Notes create nesting folders

Tip: Hit "Enter" key to rename the folder, it's easier than single click the folder and wait for one second.

Difference Between Evernote Notebooks Stack

In Evernote you can't move any notes into a Stack Notebook itself, it's like a pseudo folder. But in Apple Notes a parent(stack) notebook is just like normal notebooks that can hold any notes. You may find it handy.

Ordering Folders

By default folders are in alphabet order, you can not move around notebooks to change its order. A common practice here is to assign some index numbers to the notebooks, like a notebook with name "00 Important" shows higher than "10 ABC".

Note that the default folder "Notes" is fixed, you cannot rename it nor reorder it, it always sit under "All iCloud", so you can use it as the inbox of all your notes.

Inbox Zero?

Inbox Zero is a technique to keep the inbox empty -- or almost empty -- at all times, and in the context of notes taking, it means you set a "Inbox", all notes go to that folder first, then at the end of the day you move the notes to respective folders.

I've heard it long time ago, and I'm applying same technique to Google Inbox. But for notes taking it feels overwhelming, at least for me.

Right now I'm only putting certain notes -- blog ideas, inspirational quotes, receipts etc, that I know exactly where it belongs to, and have a good chance to review them later -- to folders, for others they just remain in the default "Notes" folder. I don't want to waste brain energy on each note thinking "hmm.. which folder should I put it", most of the time I can find it through search so that's enough for me.

I find myself with the nesting folders and good orders, I had no difficulties transfer from Evernote, and the overall experience with Apple Notes has been great.

July 09, 2016 Apple Notes, evernote