Quick Happy Birthday Graphic

SOA style Happy Birthday Graphic for Minnie

Not going to be a long post, just a quick graphic I put together for Minnie's Birthday. She really likes Sons of Anarchy, so I figured that theme would be fun (even if it is a day late). I found the picture on Northwest Harley Blog and used the magic healing brush to erase the writing. I used the Carnevalee Freak Font to try to match the Son's of Anarchy Font with applied shadow and stroke. The SOA Logo was taken from one of lots on the internet with the background deleted and a circular shape with opacity placed behind it to help it stand out (and some other blending options). If you're interested, you can download the photoshop file.

Jump in The Stream, Favorite Podcasts

A photo of me when I was going to Columbia Basin College doing a back flip into the Columbia River in Richland.

I've heard about people who live outside of New York and other metropolitan areas having to commute for two hours each way. According to US Census Bureau 2011 Report the average commute time in the United states is 25.5 minutes. That number is fairly skewed because it incorporates persons who work at home (with no commute) and persons who don't work at home. They found that amend workers who do not work at home, 8.1 percent had a commute of 60 minutes or longer and that a majority of those tend to drive alone. WNYC has a pretty cool interactive map that you can look at average commute times.

Last year, when I was commuting from Prosser to Tri-Cities for work, about a 45 minute trip there and the same coming back. I found that having such a lengthy trip to get back and forth to work to be extremely burdensome. I would get back home, and just be so tired, not wanting to do anything. It did have some benefits as well. It gave me time to decompress about my day. It also started a new habit for me, listening to Podcasts.

I grew up listening to talk radio and books on tape with my mom for years. I really love NPR and have talked about National Public Radio on my blog a number of times. When I started doing my commute, I ended up starting to listen to podcasts, and I really fell in love. There are so many topics and possible options. The following are what I've been listening to.


Cover art for Mac Power Users

Mac Power Users -- Podcast in iTunes

This is by far my favorite podcast, and I've written about them a number of times. If you are a mac / apple product users, I would highly recommend it no matter what your expertise level is. I have learned so much, and I have improved my productivity with their content so much I absolutely love it. I've even been talked about on one of their episodes, in Podcast Famous. They are a large part of the reason I decided to go to Macworld / iWorld 2014 this year, and I even met them there. All of the other podcasts on the 5by5 Network that I listen to, are because I first heard their guests on MPU.


Cover art for Back to Work

Back to Work -- Podcast in iTunes

While, I don't think that I've posted anything on my website regarding Back to Work or Merlin Mann, I look forward to this show so much every week. While I'm not really a comic book fan (and sometimes I just don't pay attention when they talk about them), I absolutely love their show. This is one of the few podcasts that Minnie is willing to listen too, and she actually thinks some of it is funny. They talk about productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more. I have learned a ton. The fact that my workflow has changed, and that I've somewhat incorporated David Allen's Getting Things Done (don't worry, I will do a book review sometime soon regarding his book) is due to Merlin Mann and Back to Work. While they do sometimes talk about technology, they don't always so even if your not a tech nerd, I'd highly recommend this show.


Cover art for Freakonomics

Freakonomics -- Podcast in iTunes

This is another show that I've talked about several times on my site. While I haven't read any of the books yet, I am hoping to. Every week they come out with interesting topics, things that just peak my interest and make me want to learn more. The way that they describe it, is that they talk about the hidden side of everything. This is one of those shows that I listen to, and I come away and feel like I'm just smarter. It's great, and even Minnie really likes it.


Cover art for Smart People Podcast

Smart People Podcast -- Podcast in iTunes

The Smart People Podcast has a lot of really great guests that come onto their show. They have professors, doctors, business leaders. Unlike many of the other Podcasts that I listen to, they tend to keep their shows close to a half hour, so you can almost always fit it in in one listening. Even the guests and topics that I don't think I would care very much about end up being really interesting. Much of the show is about finding your passions and being a creator of stuff. It's pretty interesting and great guests.


Cover art for CultCast

Cultcast -- Podcast on iTunes

I have several technology and more apple centric podcasts that I listen to. This one is fun. I even got to meet them and go to a private party when I was in San Francisco. It tends to be mostly news and rumors regarding apple products. I wouldn't recommend it for everybody, but it makes me laugh and has some interesting topics.


Cover art for Systematic

 

Systematic -- Podcast on iTunes

Systematic is hosted by Brett Terpstra who is pretty amazing. I use so many of the great things that he has created and put together. The software he has written and scripts that I've been able to download makes everything on my mac so much better. His podcast is another interview style show. He talks to all kind of people do all kinds of jobs (although a lot of them tend to in the computer sciences). It's always interesting to hear about how people do their work, what they are excited about, and what their lives look like. There does tend to be a lot of discussion regarding technology, especially apple products / apps, but it's really good stuff.


Cover art for Social Work Podcast

Social Work Podcast -- Podcast on iTunes

This is the most recent addition to my podcast listening habit. It's pretty good information. I've been going through his back catalogue. He doesn't post on a schedule, but it seems to be about monthly, but not set schedule. I decided that because I had so many technology focused podcasts, I needed to find something that could keep me up to date regarding my day job too. I looked at a couple, and this was the best one I found. If you your a social worker, or in a counseling related field, it's pretty good with some really high profile guests and a wide range of topics.


Review of Buttrick's Practical Typography

Graphic of the dictionary definition of typography.

Graphic of the dictionary definition of typography.

While I am not hyper typographically aware, I do still care quite a bit about it. In my design, I do feel that that I practice ok typography. There are a great number of articles and stuff written by typography devotees that I will not spend very much time ranting about my likes and dislikes.

Be­cause you are a pro­fes­sion­al writer, you are already a ty­pog­ra­ph­er. You may be a re­luc­tant ty­pog­ra­ph­er. You may be an un­skilled ty­pog­ra­ph­er. But every time you put words on a print­ed page, you’ve made ty­pog­ra­phy hap­pen. So you are a typographer.
— Why typography matters, Buttrick's Practical Typography

I recently finished reading Butterik's Practical Typography. It's an online book, something that I've never seen before. It's an interesting way to publish a book. Due to the topic, I think that it is probably one of the best possible ways to publish. When I am wondering how to do something typographically, I'm very likely to google it, not to pick up some hardcover book and flip through it. I book marked it and read it on my iPad, which I think was much more comfortable to do then on a computer screen.

I didn't realize previously how inclusive typography really is. According to Wikipedia, Typography includes "the arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing), adjusting the spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning)."

The cover to our pamphlet that i am working with my co-workers to put together.

Buttrick goes through all of the different components of typography, along with font selection (which is what I used to think typography was). I found myself realizing how bad some of my typography for my day job really is. I've started adjusting my form letters that I write to my clients. I also went through and adjusted my personal letterhead (yes, I have my own letterhead, because I'm a little bit crazy).

One major project that a couple of co-workers and myself have undertaken is trying to reduce the number of forms our clients have to fill out during their initial mental health evaluation. Because we are a community counseling agency, the amount of forms they have to complete is pretty outrageous. We are attempting to go through and have a simple pamphlet. i obviously said that I would love to actually format and put together the pamphlet wanting to be able to implement some of the skills I had learned.

If you every have to write reports, letters, anything that you give to anybody else, I'd highly recommend reading Buttrick's book!

Back and it Went by like a Flash

The view of banner with the dates for next years Macworld / iWorld event.

I'm back at home now. The rest of my trip was fun, and went by very quickly. My last day in San Francisco was a little obscured by rain. I went back for one more trip to the expo hall and made my way around all of the smaller iOS and OSX Developers. I signed up to try to win a ScanSnap Scanner (they are really amazing, and I'm planning on buying one at some point). If I had money, I would have also bought a File Transporter because there was a great discount and I've been wanting one for a long time. There was a ton of other stuff that was very interesting, and I could see myself using and purchasing in the future. I got to sign up for the public beta for BusyMac new contact management software which will be released soon.

I walked around the Financial District for a while and went to the Apple Store (I've actually never been to a real apple store. It was cool, but I was much more blown away by the Macworld Event. I went to bed early that night, because I had to get up at 3:45 AM to be able to catch my 7 am flight. I arrived at Sea Tac Airport and started making my way back to the Tri-Cities to see my Family. You can see the following video's that I uploaded to YouTube of Mateo playing with the Slow Motion controls on my iPhone 5s. It makes me laugh :). I hope you enjoy it.

Make sure to check out my album, Macworld / iWorld 2014. on Facebook, as I've uploaded the rest of my photos from the trip.

Various Video's I shot of Mateo on my iPhone 5S using the Slow Motion feature. They make me laugh (although my favorite is the first one).

The First Look, Conference Beginnings and Sights

The view of the Expo Hall at Macworld / iWorld coming down from the elevator at Monscone Center in San Francisco.

 

It's been a whirl wind of a trip so far. I arrived in San Francisco at about 12:50 at the airport, but it was a real mission getting to my hotel, as I didn't get there until about 3 something in the afternoon. I ended up taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which was a great ride. I found myself really disconcerted with the app I had downloaded to try to navigate my trip. I ended up using the Embark iBART. I didn't realize that it was not going to give my any of the other transit directions. It told me to to get off at station at 22nd and Mission and walk two miles and something. I read it, and figured it wouldn't' be too bad. While it's not that far, walking with my Indiana jones style bag and towing my Swiss Gear carry on bag behind. Not only was it an hour and a half walk, but it started me off walking down Mission in one of the poorer areas of San Francisco lining the road with the homeless or vagrants.

22nd and Mission San Francisco CA

 

Tweet with My Bag in It...

I checked in at my hotel, Aida Plaza Hotel. It is clean, but very antiquated hotel very much near the financial district. It was the cheapest hotel that I could find with short notice last week. The room I paid for has shared bathrooms and showers. The room is pretty small, but is perfect what I need it for. After getting myself settled in and getting my bearings (and resting my legs a little bit) I made my way to Monscone Center where the conference and expo hall is being hosted. I was able to get over there and get my first glimpse of the exposition hall. More than the trade type show floor, there is a conference with various trainings regarding how to use various software and other creative activities. There is also an IT conference and training all combined into this event. I was only able to purchase the lowest cost ticket (just the expo hall) for financial reasons. This being said, there has been more than enough to keep me busy wandering around the conference.

The first day, I just walked around and really tried to take in the whole scene. I didn't really stop at many booths or connect with anybody too much. As the hall closed for the first day, I walked to Mel's Drive-in for Dinner. Back to the Motel and then to The Box SF for a party and live recording of the Cultcast Podcast. They are a pretty great podcast, and always make me laugh. It's much more news / rumors related then the other shows that I listen to. They had an open bar, which made me feel a bit like a VIP. I got to meet a number of people, but especially a IT consultant from Seattle.

The Rock Stars! David Sparks is the one being hugged in the middle and Katie Floyd is on the far right. It was cool to get to meet them.

The next morning, I made my way back to the Expo Hall. I spent the majority of the day doing a bit of deeper dive into all of the booths, asking questions, and looking at all the cool stuff being sold (I really wish I had some money to buy stuff, there are some great deals). I've been able to meet some of the developers for applications that I love on my Mac. I also got to meet Katie Floyd and David Sparks of the Mac Power Users, my absolute favorite podcast. It felt a bit like meeting some rock stars, at least in the geek circles.

Afterwards I made my way down to China Town. I walked down a ways, and ended up having a Mai Tia at a bar, that the bartender told me is the oldest bar in China Town and having a good conversation with a guy from Brazil and another guy who works as an activist for an environmental organization.

All in all, it's been a lot of fun. Today, I'm going to go back to the Expo Hall for a little while. I'm hoping to do a bit more of the tourist thing. I haven't decided yet, but I'm thinking the Worf. Make sure to check out my album, Macworld / iWorld 2014. on Facebook.

Bitten Years Ago, I've Got the Bug

Yes, I have the Travel Bug. A graphic I quickly put together in Adobe Illustrator depicting the words "Travel Bug" and some other graphics taken from All Free Downloads The Bee

I'm getting more and more excite for my Trip to San Francisco for Macworld / iWorld -- See my post It's Final, Tickets Bought. I'm currently sitting in the SeaTac Airport, waiting for my flight to leave in about an hour. I'm sure I will have more to share in the next couple of days (so expect to see some for frequent posts from me this week if I can get around to it.).

Last night I got to visit my aunt and cousin. It is so good to be able to get to spend time with family. In doing calculations, it seemed as if it wouldn't be much more expensive to stay somewhere and do the sleep and fly thing and not have to pay for parking. I had previously called Knights Inn Sea Tac Airport and was told the price would be around $58. I calculated the cost for parking, it looked like it would be around $40, so the sleep, fly, park option seemed a great deal. It ended up costing closer to $88. I really dislike when things are somewhat deceptive.

Anyways, it all works out. While you wait for more posts, you can read all of my former travel journals, or my Jaunt Down South 2010, or European Excursion 2008.

Word Salad and Technical Jargon

A graphic I created in Adobe Illustrator depicting a vegetables, a salad bowl, and the text "word salad." The veggies used are from All Free Download's Salad the and I got some inspiration from the Dreamtimes stock photo: Bowl with Vegetables. You can download the Illustrator File.

Working in the mental health field when I am working with my clients, I attempt to steer clear of technical jargon. There are times and places that I do use more psychobabble, but if I do use it in session it's coupled with a description in plain English. This is especially relevant for the clientele that we serve at my agency, which is predominately Medicaid clients. Being a community mental health center, a large percentage of my patients tend to be chronically mentally ill, impoverished, and undereducated. It is always important to make sure that what I am teaching, working on / through is understandable.  While, in my conversations, I attempt to include the smallest amount of specialized terminology as possible, in my documentation I strive to be as technically accurate as possible. This means that prefer to name things using the most appropriate and specific verbiage.

Word Salad: Noun
A confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases, specifically (in psychiatry) as a form of speech indicative of advanced schizophrenia.
— Oxford University Press

While I do not profess to be experiencing anything remotely close to word salad or more clinically defined as schizophasia. Realistically, its not even in the same class of thought disorders. The last couple of weeks, I've been noticing that at home I find myself using an excess of opaque non-technological expressions. Very often for me, this means referring to everything as "the thing." For example, I'll ask Minnie "can you hand me the thing," to which she replies "what thing?" and I realize she has not idea what I'm talking about and say "you know, my water bottle."

For all of us, this is a normal part of speech, and not abnormal one bit. It's very common for all of us to have a word not come instantly to mind, and so we use some sort of filler word. I almost wish that the stock word I absentmindedly choose was something with more novelty like doohickey, thingy-a-bob, dongle, whatchamacallit, widget.. etc, mine is pretty Plain Jane. We all use different placeholder terms. You should read the the list on Wikipedia article for placeholder names which has some really interesting ones that I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate into my everyday speech.

The same way, if you are doing public speaking and are attempting to stop saying "Umm" (or more frequently "like" for me personally), that I see myself calling any object a thing. It might be, that I've been thinking about my over use of "thing," but it made me wonder if some of it could be because of my days being spent attempting to be clear, concise, and as accurate as possible. Just maybe, it's as if I save up all my casual phrases and use an abundance whenever I'm away from work.

It's Final, Plan Tickets Bought

I'm GOING!

I've been itching to travel again, as it's been a really long time since I've gone any considerable distances (since I came back from my Jaunt Down to South America). In two weeks, I'll be heading down to San Francisco for the Macworld / iWorld event. It's a trade show and conference. This year, I can only really afford to do the expo hall, but hopefully in future years I might be able to attend the actual conference portion. Minnie has been calling it my nerd conference. I guess I have a lot more nerdery that I partake in, then I share here. Minnie's always reminding me about it. When I'm driving, and want to listen to my podcasts, she calls them my  nerd casts. She makes fun of me because after she goes to bed, I've been watching my nerd show. Netflix is amazing. I've never watched Star Trek Next Generation, and I've always been much more of the original Star Wars Fan. I'm enjoying it.

With all of those great nerd activities, it makes sense for me to be going to a nerd conference. I'm sure that I will be posting more as I go along.

Review of David Sparks's Markdown Book an Investigation to Formatting Documents

 

With the hard drive on my MacBook Pro out of commission, and that over the last year I've completely changed how I manage data storage, I figured it was time to write a review of David Sparks 's Field Guide Markdown (buy it iTunes).

Book Cover for David Sparks's Field Guide: Markdown.

Book Cover for David Sparks's Field Guide: Markdown.

I wrote really briefly about Markdown in my post, Been So Long. I've been transitioning most all of my documents into plain text files. For the non plain text nerds out there, this might sound a little strange. In my viewpoint, there is a real case to be made for plain text files:

  • Space: Plain text files take up almost no space on your hard drive, can be stored easily and quickly in the cloud.
  • Size: Even on my MacBook Pro, Microsoft Word and Apple Pages (although Pages seems to load significantly faster and I really prefer it), documents take time to load. Text files are so small and simple, it loads almost instantly.
  • Search-ability: With programs like nvALT, I can easily find and edit all of my text files, even if they are just small little snippets of information, I can find it quickly and easily.
  • Survivability: File formats change. There are a number of word processing files types that I wouldn't have any way of ever opening anymore. Storing files in a plan text file isn't ever going to go away. It's kind of like the very base structure that you can have, so it is easily importable, and exportable and will always be able to be opened.

Markdown is almost like a very simple (super simple, really you probably already do it) way of writing that that can be written in plain text and exported into a rich text format. For example if you've ever written an "*" or a "-" to make a bulleted list, then that is markdown. It gives you some of the basic features that you might want to use in your writing to help with the formating, but nothing nearly as complex as you can do either in HTML or in a word processing docuement. Many programs can take your plain text file, and export it into a rich text format so that it looks pretty as if you did in a word processer.

John Grubber at Daring Fireball: Markdown Overview, was the one who first created Markdown. There are other syntaxes that are similar in nature for plain text to that of Markdown that have expanded purposes, features, and uses. There is even a syntax called Fountain for writing scripts in.

David and Eddie's book was written in iBooks Author, and is created and especially for iBooks. That means it has features not normally available to other e-books. Along with the great descriptions, design astetics, it also has hours of audio and video embedded in the e-book. You can also purchase the PDF version and have access to the additional features through David's website. If I've peaked your curiosity, I'd highly recommend downloading the book on your iPad! You should also check out my favorite podcast, Mac Power Users, in which David is a co-host. I've written about their show frequently over the several months.

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Jacob Campbell

Well, my name is Jacob. I'm super friendly and love meeting new people. So feel free to say hi. I don't generally just add somebody I don't know, so send me a message first. I love to travel. I've traveled around North and South America, Europe, and Africa. I also love to work with and help people. I graduated from Eastern with my Masters in Social Work. I hope that I can help people and the community with my life.

Adventures Unexpected, Going iPad Only

 

 

My life always seems to be full of adventures, or maybe like so many other things, it's only a matter of perspective. Especially when I've been traveling in the past, I've found my self with all kinds of difficulties and random adventures.

I've been using my MacBook Pro very heavily over the past year and a couple of months since purchased it. I take it with me to work, and use it there. I use it for creating graphics and other design projects. It seems like I'm almost always on it. On Friday, I got home and I was going to keep working on the Keynote presentation I'm making for work regarding Getting Things Done and Mental Health on Wednsday. I had used it prior in the day, and there seemed to be no problems.

When I clicked the on button, there was the happy chime saying that it was starting, but it just never actually started. After about a half a minute I was accosted by the white screen of death (similar to the blue screen of death on a windows machine I'd imagine). There in front of me was bright white screen with a blinking folder with a question mark on it.

A graphic I found with the white screen of death.

A graphic I found with the white screen of death.

I purchased my computer at Best Buy and with any large purchase like this, I get a couple of years of Geek Squad protection. It means even if I throw my laptop a cross the room, I can get it replaced for free.  It great, that even though my Mac is out of warranty and my hard drive failed, I'm going to get it fixed for free. It will just take a couple of weeks.

My plan is to go iPad only.  I'm actually pretty sure I will be able to get by pretty well.  It should be an interesting experiement.