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

Posted on Sunday March 2, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

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.

Adventures Unexpected, Going iPad Only

Posted on Monday February 17, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

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 Wednesday. 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 experiment.

Glad Mateo’s Cute, Reasons to Not Be Ugly

Posted on Sunday February 2, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

A photo I took when I was living in  Cusco Peru , asking "how's your facial symmetry?"

A photo I took when I was living in Cusco Peru, asking “how’s your facial symmetry?”

I used a photo of from  Mateo's baby dedication  to complete a  Ana Faces Facial Beauty Analysis .  He got a 7.37 although I think he's much cuter than that.

I used a photo of from Mateo’s baby dedication to complete a Ana Faces Facial Beauty Analysis. He got a 7.37 although I think he’s much cuter than that.

Freakonomics recently had an episode of their podcast, Reasons to Not Be Ugly. The episode looks at beauty, and how it effects peoples lives from being a cute baby to working and marriage relationships in adulthood. It was pretty interesting.

It made me think about how fussy people are for Mateo. When I take him to the store and other public locations, people are always fussing over him and saying how cute he is. This helps me to justify my feelings and bias that Mateo is by far one of the cutest babies out there.

A photo I took when I was living in  Cusco Peru , It's probably not the best photo I could choose to check my facial symmetry, but it made me laugh.  My score from  Ana Faces Facial Beauty Analysis  was a 3.13.

A photo I took when I was living in Cusco Peru, It’s probably not the best photo I could choose to check my facial symmetry, but it made me laugh. My score from Ana Faces Facial Beauty Analysis was a 3.13.

If you had previously asked me how to tell the attractiveness of an individual, I would not have guessed that facial symmetry would be a good way to identify attractiveness. I decided that I needed to have a more objective way of measuring both my and Mateo’s attractiveness. For Mateo, he scored a 7.37 (although I would say he should be higher and I just didn’t put the points accurately). It is still a good score, especially for somebody who still has a lot of growth to happen. I used, Ana face’s Facial Beauty Analysis. I ended up uploading one of my pictures, but it did not turn out that I was nearly as cute as Mateo. I will say, that the photo I uploaded was a bit more joking and probably one that doesn’t quite do me justice. I’m ok with my score of 3.13. I can rest assured that at least Mateo will not be discriminated against based on his looks.

Podcast Famous, Shout Out on Mac Power Users

Posted on Friday January 31, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

MPU Logo

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to every week is the Mac Power Users. I can give credit to their show for the majority of the productivity and ability to best make use of my mac from their show. If you’re a apple products user, I’d highly recommend their show, it’s pretty amazing. I’ve sent a couple of emails to the hosts over and have listened to so many of their episodes, I feel like I almost know them. A couple of weeks ago, I responded to a call to talk about how users use TextExpander. I have been heavily using TextExpander both at home and at work. Looking at my statistics this morning, over the last couple of months, I’ve saved almost 17 hours of typing time. When I was listening to their show on Monday, riding my bike home, I was surprised and excited to hear them share from my email on the program. I am very sure it was about me, but they said the listener’s name was Jared, not Jacob. It’s OK, it still made me feel super famous!

The episode is about GarageBand. It is a pretty cool product. I’ve played around with it some, but I’m hoping to dive a little more into it after listening to the episode. They also talked about Macworld iWorld 2014. I’m actually hoping to be able to go. You should listen to the episode, it was really great.

Atomic Throw Down Poster Designs

Posted on Sunday January 19, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

A while ago, I was doing quite a few poster designs for Natural Selection CrossFit (Facebook). I do really doing graphic design projects, although lately I feel I have been too busy to do much of it. This project took almost 20 hours to put together, and went through a number of iterations. When I was first talking to the client, they described wanting something Superbowlish because the event will be taking place on Superbowl Sunday, (you can sign up to participate). The following are the first three design concepts I had. I wasn’t really too happy with any of them, and these are just quick mock ups and not final versions.

 When I was originally asked to come up with a poster design, this is what I had in my head.  I'm assuming a part of it is because I'm really not much of a football fan. When I was originally asked to come up with a poster design, this is what I had in my head. I’m assuming a part of it is because I’m really not much of a football fan.

 Of the two football themed versions of the post I cam up with, this is the one I preferred. Of the two football themed versions of the post I cam up with, this is the one I preferred.

 This is the third version I created.  It was my least favorite and is the most unfinished of the concepts.  I threw it together and offered it as an option, after looking at a lot of Super Bowl posters with the idea that I could come back and improve the overall feel of this concept. This is the third version I created. It was my least favorite and is the most unfinished of the concepts. I threw it together and offered it as an option, after looking at a lot of Super Bowl posters with the idea that I could come back and improve the overall feel of this concept.

After going through putting these concept together, they had come up with a different design concept, one which I really liked and think turned out pretty awesome. Retro looking posters are pretty cool, and they talked about wanting to have a design like the old school Pee Chee’s. You can see the 11x16 and the 8.5x11 versions of the posters. I even made a cover image to go along with their Facebook page.

 This is the 11x16 Poster version.  You can check out a  PDF version  or the  Adobe Illustrator File  if you are interested. This is the 11x16 Poster version. You can check out a PDF version or the Adobe Illustrator File if you are interested.

 This is the 8x5x11 Flyer version of the final Pee Chee design.  You can check out the  PDF version  or the  Adobe Illustrator File  if you are interested. This is the 8x5x11 Flyer version of the final Pee Chee design. You can check out the PDF version or the Adobe Illustrator File if you are interested.

 The final version of the Facebook Cover Page optimized by  Cover Photo Size Helper .  You can also check out the  Adobe Illustrator File  if you are interested. The final version of the Facebook Cover Page optimized by Cover Photo Size Helper . You can also check out the Adobe Illustrator File if you are interested.

All in all it was a fun project. I’d love to know what you guy’s think about the designs. I’m pretty satisfied with the final version.

Growing So Fast, A Look Back at the Last Year

Posted on Sunday January 5, 2014 by Jacob Campbell.

Mateo has been growing super fast over the last year. I put together a video showing his growth over the last year in iPhoto. I looked at a bunch of different ways of trying to put this video together. I started in iMovie, but it lacked control. I looked at Adobe Premier but it is too complicated. I even started to make a Keynote Presentation with plans to make to export it as a movie. After starting, I decided that it would take way too long to individually animate each photo, and it would lack a consistent variance. I decided finally to go with iPhoto and make a slide show. It puts movies together quickly. While it still lacks the control that I would like, I think that it turned out well.

For Unto Us [2013 Christmas Newsletter]

Posted on Monday December 23, 2013 by Jacob Campbell.

We sent out paper versions, but because printing is expensive we only sent it to some people. Sorry. If you want to be added to our mailing list, send a comment or send us a Christmas card and we’ll add you to our list. You can download a printable version of the newsletter.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 A family shot of Minnie Garcia, Jacob Campbell, and Mateo Rodman Campbell VSP taken at Yellow Rose Nursery in Prosser for Mateo’s  almost one year photo shoot  at the beginning of December.     A family shot of Minnie Garcia, Jacob Campbell, and Mateo Rodman Campbell VSP taken at Yellow Rose Nursery in Prosser for Mateo’s almost one year photo shoot at the beginning of December.

Greetings from Jacob, Minnie, and Mateo and best wishes for this holiday season. The year before last was a difficult one, with Minnie’s mother dying, moving in Prosser, and Mateo getting ready to join our family, so we did not send out our annual Christmas letter. This last year has been jam packed with changes for our family and we’ll at least share some of the highlights.

The biggest change happened just after Christmas last year. On December 27th 2012, Minnie had gone in for her 36 week routine check-up and follow up as directed, (he was not due to arrive till much after the new year). Her doctors office was concerned about Mateo’s heart beat and sent her to the hospital. She called me and I left work right away. About 30 minutes after I got there, Mateo Rodman Campbell V.S.P. made his grand entrance into this world and was perfectly healthy. He was the best after Christmas gift ever.

 Jacob got to play Santa Claus for Elijah Family Home’s Christmas Party This year. Mateo didn’t know what to think. Jacob got to play Santa Claus for Elijah Family Home’s Christmas Party This year. Mateo didn’t know what to think.

Having a baby changes everything. Our lives have moved to be revolved around him. The first few months of his life Minnie, Jacob, and Nana (grandma Judy) took time off work to stay home with Mateo until the summer time when Minnie was on summer vacation.

After Summer Break we moved from Prosser back to the Tri-Cities. We bought a house in Pasco that was built in the mid 50’s. It has some very interesting architecture, additions that have been made, and a very mature yard. It has been a lot of fun doing some projects around the home, and having a more stable place for Mateo to grow up. Minnie changed jobs from the Sunnyside School District to being a para educator in a developmental preschool for the Pasco School District. The kids in her classroom are super busy and she is tired by the time she gets home, but she feels fulfilled by working there.

 Minnie and Mateo in our back yard in. Mateo was an old man for Halloween.  Minnie and Mateo in our back yard in. Mateo was an old man for Halloween.

I am still working at Tri-Cities Community Health Behavioral Health Services as a case manager and therapist. I stay busy doing that, trying to spend as much time as possible with the family, and still over committing myself to various community organizations. We are both enjoying parenthood, although it has been hard a lot of times. Mateo is growing up so fast. He has been meeting all of his milestones. He is our little explorer. He is constantly on the move and looking for new experiences. He is almost walking and loves to babble, and says some words in English and Spanish. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and God Bless from our family to yours.

My 2013 Christmas Wish List

Posted on Friday December 13, 2013 by Jacob Campbell.

I mainly am making a Christmas wish list on here for my family, so that they can see some of the things I would be happy to receive for Christmas. I am by no means expecting all of these items (or even a quarter of them) or considering this a comprehensive list of the things that I want. It was more kind of fun to go through and make. It’s not necessarily in any particular order either. Some of my ideas are way to expensive, and some of them are actually cheap enough that a random friend could buy them (although I’m not expecting that).

Technology Related

I am really a geek at heart, and anybody who knows me, knows that I love technology. The following are some stuff that seem pretty cool. You should also listen to the Mac Power Users 2013 Geek Gift Guide.

FitBit Force

The FitBit Force is a pretty cool piece of wearable technology. A powerful Force for everyday fitness, this sleek wristband is with you all the time. Stay motivated to keep moving with real-time stats right on your wrist. Track steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. At night, track your sleep and wake up silently with a vibrating alarm.

Fitbit

Aria Wi-Fi Scale

I’ve thought that having a wireless scale would be cool for a couple of years now. I’m not really sure which one would be better, but I figure If I already go with the FitBit, then I should go with their scale. Get where you want to be. Aria™ tracks your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI, painting a picture of your long-term progress. It wirelessly syncs your stats with online graph and mobile tools that help you stay motivated and on track. When you’re in control, stepping on the scale feels good.

Wi-Fi Scale

The Coin

The Coin isn’t out yet, but it does seem super cool. It is a card that let you put your other cards digitally onto it. I currently have two debit cards and credit card. While it’s not too cumbersome to have to carry all of these cards, it would be cool to just need one.

The Coin

Apple iPad Air

Apple iPad Air… not much else to say. Pretty amazing. I’m hoping to upgrade next year probably.

ScanSnap Scanner

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i. I’d like to become paperless.

File Transporter

File Transporter is pretty amazing. It lets you set up your own personal cloud.

Speakers for TV

I’m not sure what brand we’d like, but having a sound bar would be a great improvement for our TV watching, kid sing-along listening pleasure.

Previous Generation AirPort Extreme

I’m hoping to eventually have a couple of these along with speakers around the home so that I can stream music to them from anywhere. The new ones are $100 right now, but I think you can get the previous generation ones off of eBay / Craigslist for $30 or $40.

The Nest Thermostat

The Nest is pretty cool. I’d love to be able to turn on / off our central air from anywhere. Getting home from work, don’t want the house to be cold… such a great idea.

Nest

Home Supplies

Patio Heater

I like to be outside, even during winter. This is kind of crazy with how cold it is. A Patio Heater would be a great idea.

Fireplace Screen

Our fireplace doesn’t have a screen. While we don’t use it frequently, I worry that we will and Mateo will touch it. A screen would help keep him safe. This one from Target looks decent and doesn’t cost too much.

Baby Gates

Mateo is always getting into everywhere and everything he can. Over Black Friday, we bought him a little corral to try to keep him in. He will stay for a little while, but when he’s not there (most all of the time), he’s into everything. It would be nice to have a baby gate for the bathroom (otherwise it’s way to hot in their) and for the entry way area (extra wide).

Clothing Tree

I’d love to have something to hang up clothes without putting them away and especially not just throwing them on the floor. Something like this would be great in our bedroom.

As it’s getting late and I need to be going to sleep. The following is the rest of my list, unannotated.

  • Good liquor (I want to try more scotches)
  • Chrome cup holders for my car. The fake chrome stuff has been peeling and needs to be replaced.
  • New drill power tool
  • Chandelier for the entry way
  • For entryway bench (for taking off shoes, to sit and relax)
  • Speakers that play wirelessly (not bluetooth) to put in the bathroom / Mateo’s room, den.
  • Cold stones for scotch (instead of ice, frozen rocks)
  • Hot cocoa to drink
  • Gloves and scarves
  • Books on tape
  • WiMo Outlets