My Birthday Gift, and the River Song Journal

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-04-2012

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“SPOILERS”  Yep.  Today is my birthday!  A good friend and fellow nerd gave me a journal based on the journal used by the character River Song in the Doctor Who series.  It sort of hit right when I needed it.  I spent all last year keeping my journal on Evernote and it was a GREAT success but I missed noodling about with a pen and doing the odd paste-in and such.  So thanks for the journal, James, and here is a little tribute to the original River Song Journal


Whiteboard + Easel LOVE IT!!!

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-03-2012

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Well I love whiteboards in general. I find them perfect for quick brainstorming, making ongoing lists and ToDos, mindmapping, and just general catch-alls for information and planning. I have one on my wall at work, but at home there is really no place to have a permanent board. Besides not having an attractive place to mount one the wall, I rarely work in the same room twice. This is where the combination of the whiteboard and an easel comes in.

Having a small, portable easel to set up a whiteboard is probably the handiest thing I have come across in a quite some time. No matter where I am (even out on the patio) I can set up the white board and get to work generating ideas or mapping our a project. Not only is it portable but there are other convenient properties. For instance you aren’t stuck with one format to work with. Mindmapping works best in landscape for me, but if I want to make a list, I can just flip the board around and, voila, instant portrait format. Not just format, but size. I have several whiteboards from large to small. I can swap them out as needed. And several whiteboards plus several easels makes a temporary brainstorming nest!

One tip, I found that small, portable, folding easels are quite a bit cheaper from an art supply store than from an office store.

BTW you can expect the next few posts to concern whiteboard hacks.

Dragon Naturally Speaking —A Game Changer!

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-03-2012

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Yes, I know.  I am kind of hit and miss on my posting to this blog.  I have had a lot of internet issues and computer issues and just a general lack of motivation for posting.  But now I am seeing that not only are people reading the blog but I an FINALLY getting some comments on the posts.

I have posted before on using the Dragon Dictate app on my iPhone.  I still love it.  Now the apps for Dragon have gone even further.  Nuance is producing apps that working in conjunction with the latest version of their speech recognition software (v. 11.5).  Now you can use your iPhone as a microphone for dictating to your computer or even record on the go and have DNS transcribe everything later for you!

 

 

 

After reading about these amazing apps I took another look at the full computer software.  I own DNS v. 9.  I will it admit it is pretty good.  It doesn’t take nearly the training the previous versions did to recognize your voice.  It’s pretty easy to learn and it’s no hassle at all to set up.  And although it doesn’t support the previously mentioned iPhone apps, I can’t justify buying a new version of the software until I am well versed in the habit of using the one I have.

I recently installed version 9 on my laptop and have been making myself use it as often as possible.  I am writing blog posts, emails, and even using it in conjunction with Evernote to keep my diary for this year.

As I see it, utilizing DNS helps in several ways:

• It lets me be much more productive.  Dictating in DNS is about 3 times as fast as typing.
• It helps me to form thoughts better.  Speaking is a LOT different than typing.  It forces me to think more clearly.  Not so much editing.
• Its great practice for public speaking as well as training for maybe someday putting out my own podcast.
• It helps me “write like I speak”, because, let’s face it,  I am speaking not writing.
• Its also MUCH easier to lounge about in bed dictating than it is to type in the bed.  And to that end it will be a great boon when I get the latest version and I am no longer tethered to the laptop at all.  I can get my ideas down while taking a walk or folding the laundry.

So 2012 is the year I really focus on being prolific and I think that getting comfortable with Dragon Naturally speaking will be a big help in that goal.

Jillian Michaels — Unlimited!

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 03-06-2011

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I have to apologize to Jillian Michaels…

Admittedly I had sort of ignored her.  I never watched The Biggest Loser.  I preferred watching the Discovery Health Fitness Challenge.  The participants seemed more like me.  The coaches seemed more realistic.  The Biggest Loser seemed to be populated with people WAY out of my weight class and the coaches were bombastic and over dramatic.  Then I see Jillian Michaels advertisements all over the television.  It was all too “Pop Culture” for me.

But circumstances conspire….the universe presents us with opportunities….

I am a subscriber to Audible.com (one of the best $20/month investments EVER).  As part of the subscription I get two free downloads a month.  I am addicted to listening to books in the car and I try to switch regularly between fiction and non-fiction to stay well rounded.  Last  month I was looking for a book to listen to, and I knew I needed to get some non-fiction into my literary diet.  I don’t know why, but my eye landed on Jillian Michaels’ book Unlimited.  I spend a few seconds debating it but I was about to get in the car and I wanted something to listen to (the radio stations in my city leave a lot to be desired) so I downloaded it and hit the road.

OMG!  Talk about not judging a book by its cover!  This book is fantastic!  It is an uplifting, no nonsense approach to setting and achieving goals.  Although she uses a lot of fitness based stories and analogies, it is not, in itself, a book on fitness.  Jillian covers all aspects of moving your life in a positive direction.  She discusses relationships, careers, happiness, and of course health and fitness.  She hands you some very clear step-by-step strategies for deciding what you want out of life and then going after it.  She doesn’t mince words.  She doesn’t get new-age.  She puts it in very simple terms.

I have to also say, that I have read a LOT of books on personal betterment and I have heard many of her suggestions before.  I mean that as a positive thing.  These tools work.  Sometimes we hear something so often we tune it out.  Jillian succeeds in reminding you that you have heard these things over and over because they are effective.  If they didn’t work, people wouldn’t keep recommending them.

Jillian reads the book herself and you can tell she is not only passionate about he subject matter, but believes in both the process and in every one’s ability to improve themselves and their lives.  I even learned some things about her in this book that made me take a second look at her as a person. It shattered my previous picture of her as simply a loud TV celeb with a six-pack.  She knows her stuff.  She lives her stuff.  So again….Jillian I am very sorry for prejudging you and thank you so much for the information in your book.

At the moment the thing I am most interested in is her concept of a “goal pyramid”.  Its a way to organize your main goal into smaller, achievable  goals that build on one another until you reach your ultimate goal.  Its very visual and graphic and I am having a good time working on mine at the moment.  If you want to check it out you see it in action at her website.   The site is well done and there are a lot of free downloads and stories that will get you motivated and on your way.

Vision Boards….The FIRST “Secret”

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-05-2011

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The Vision Board is Older Than History!

Yes, I am a student of personal development, but my first field of study was actually ancient history and archaeology.  I am often amazed how so many of our current and “modern” cultural tendencies have their roots in the oldest cultures.  Recently, while working on a new vision board project (that I will be sharing here soon) I was struck with a sudden insight.  Vision boards are nothing new.  As a mater of fact, vision boards are some of the oldest cultural artifacts we have!

A MODERN Vision Board
One of the EARLIEST Vision Boards

That’s right.  The earliest records of our species were cave paintings like the one seen here, found in Lascaux, France.  What we see here is  a vision board.  It shows, very clearly, the goals of the artist and a very positive outcome .  We see the artist/ hunter represented.  We also see the goals he has set for himself (a good hunt).  Finally we see the positive energy that the artist has put into his Paleo Vision Board.  The animals are filled with arrows, indicating a successful hunt for all.  If that’s not a vision board in form and function, I don’t know what is.

In addition, archaeologist have determined that the artists probably didn’t simply wander into a convenient cave and doodle a sketch on the wall.  The cave was set aside as a sacred space and the drawings were done with great ritual and emotional outpouring.  They put a great deal of feeling and energy into both the creation of this artwork and the goals that this drawing was to help bring about!  In every way this is identical to the process that we use today to create the most potent vision boards.

When you make your next vision board, take a lesson from the people who’s very survival depended on the outcome of their vision board.  Find a place to work that has good energy.  Put strong, positive emotions behind your images, and hold the finish product in high regard.  It’s not just arts and crafts.  It’s a power tool and should be handled with respect.

Using the Dragon Naturally Speaking App

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-05-2011

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Please Pardon the Typos

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time as a matter of fact it was a little phone. I wanted to see how that is the Dragon NaturallySpeaking app was on my iPhone. So my plan was to simply speak a post. I have minimal training with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I can in Decendents.

I can start a new paragraph.
I can make a list
like this
I want to

the point of this post is just to illustrate how accurate this app can be iPhone for getting your ideas out there. I do not contingent at it, touch, or fix anything in this post. I’m just going to speak it and posted. However any interest legibility I think I might have to type up the transcript of this and post it directly under it. That way you can see what I intended to say versus what dragon that. Actually recording. If this works. It’s a fabulous tool for getting your ideas out. I do most of my good thinking in the car and there’s really no way from you right all I’m driving. This way I can do rough drafts of posts, chapters and e-books, grocery list or anything else that pops into my head well I’m on a particularly dull stretch of road.

What I can tell the iPhone app gives me about 20 seconds of speaking which is actually pretty good after 22nd I simply can’t continue and do another 20 seconds and it depends the new text right to where I stopped speaking. 20 seconds is about all I can keep in my head up. When I write I can rearrange and put my thoughts out there added to

I just look at that last line and it didn’t record that very well.

Typing lets me edit on the go speaking doesn’t let me do that so I only use the 22nd four o’clock maybe a paragraph anyway that’s how it works I will post for my next post because driving and talking isn’t natural to me yet transcript will see you later

Sent from my phone.

That last bit was a totally unedited entry from my iPhone and the Dragon Naturally Speaking app.  I guess its not quite as polished as I would like it to be but still, its pretty amazing for a free app.  I used a set of ear buds with a microphone and it picked up the gist of what I was saying even if it didn’t transcribe it perfectly.  The app allows around 20 seconds of recording before it cuts you off and transcribes what you just said.  Never fear, though, when its finished its transcription you just hit the record button and it picks up right were you left off.  I haven’t found an upper limit to the amount of dictation it can take in this manner.

I love this app because I get most of my best ideas while I am driving in my car.  This way I can capture the idea and send it to an email to myself.  I also seem to think better when I am walking so I can totally see using this as I walk around my neighborhood, getting my blogs roughed out, and getting a head start on chapters in up coming books, or even reminiscing for my journal.  All of  this text can be emailed from my phone and stored in my inbox to be copied, pasted and edited.

As you can see the transcription is far from perfect, but it is great for a VERY rough draft.  It goes a long way to getting you started on any writing project.  Sometimes facing that blank page is the first, biggest hurdle to getting a project done.  This way you have something to start with.  Problem solved.  I’ve always heard that “writing is re-writing anyway.  I fully intend to get better with this app.  The opportunities seem enormous.  I think that they designed the app to learn as you use it so the I expect the transcriptions to get better over time.

Now, for the benefit of those that are interested, I will attempt to edit my dictation into what I originally said:

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time. As a matter of fact it was a little fun.  I wanted to see how that is the Dragon NaturallySpeaking app was on my iPhone, so my plan was to simply speak a post. I have minimal training with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I can end sentences.

I can start a new paragraph.
I can make a list
like this
if I want to

the point of this post is just to illustrate how accurate this app can be  for getting your ideas out there. I do not correct, edit, touch, or fix anything in this post. I’m just going to speak it and post it. However, in the interest of legibility I think I might have to type up the transcript of this and post it directly under it. That way you can see what I intended to say versus what dragon was actually recording. If this works. It’s a fabulous tool for getting your ideas out. I do most of my good thinking in the car and there’s really no way for me to write while  I’m driving. This way I can do rough drafts of posts, chapters and e-books, grocery list or anything else that pops into my head while I’m on a particularly dull stretch of road.

From what I can tell the iPhone app gives me about 20 seconds of speaking which is actually pretty good. After 20 seconds I simply can continue and do another 20 seconds and it appends the new text right from where I stopped speaking. 20 seconds is about all I can keep in my head. When I write I can rearrange and put my thoughts out there added to

I just look at that last line and it didn’t record very well.

Typing lets me edit on the go. Speaking doesn’t let me do that so I only use the 20 seconds  for maybe a paragraph. Anyway that’s how it works. I will post for my next post because driving and talking isn’t natural to me yet transcript will see you later.
Sent from my phone.

 

The bits marked in red are parts I can’t figure out. I cant remember what I was thinking.
Here are some tips:

  • Use earbuds with a mic.  That way you can see when you are out of time and push the record button again.  Besides if you are driving it makes it much easier all around.
  • Learn the dictation language.  “New Paragraph”  “New Line”  “Period” “Comma” etc.  These are code words that let DNS know how to format your text
  • Speak naturally.  If you slow down it actually confuses the app.  Some very smart people went to a lot of trouble to make it easy to use.  Stilted speech also leads to stilted thinking.
  • Edit you text as soon as you can.  While it is still HOT in your head.  The colder it gets the more difficult it will be to remember what you wanted to say.

The Symbols of My Life … Yi

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 06-04-2011

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I-Ching Hexagram 27 … Yi

This hexagram is a picture of an open mouth; above and below are the firm lines of the lips, and between them the opening. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense.

THE JUDGMENT

THE CORNERS OF THE MOUTH.
Perseverance brings good fortune.
Pay heed to the providing of nourishment
And to what a man seeks
To fill his own mouth with.

 

Over a lifetime of strange studies and historical intrests I have become interested in various symbols and the ideas behind them.  Sometimes a symbol, properly understood, can relate an enormous amount of information, emotion and motivation.  There are several of these symbols that I try to keep around me as signposts and reminders.

Yi is a particularly important symbol.  I am very interested in fitness and nutrition, and even cooking.  On the surface it pretty obvious why I am attracted to this symbol.  Its about nutrition and nourishment.  True!  The meaning of Yi can be taken much deeper than this, however.  If you go below the surface of food/nutrition and look at it as life/nutrition, you get a very powerful idea.  Just like the old saying, “you are what you eat”, whatever you bring into your life becomes your life.  Just as picking the very best ingredients for a recipe can make all the difference in the finished dish , think of selecting only the most vital and nutritious thoughts, people, ideas and activities to make up your life.  Filling your life with too much “junk food” (pointless tv shows, poisonous people, etc.)  is as bad as a strict diet of Big Macs and Twinkies.

So start feeding your life what it needs.  Make it grow into the life you always wanted.

The Junque Journal

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-04-2011

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Or….How My Niece FINALLY Started Keeping a Journal!

For years I have been trying to get my two nieces to start keeping a journal or diary or notebook or ANYTHING. I have one niece, Kate, that likes to read diarys and books that are written as diaries but never keeps one herself. The older niece, Nicole, has made several attempts (mainly to make me happy) to keep a diary, as sketch book, even dream journals, but never seemed to have any luck.

Then, as I was looking through the web on my own quest to see how other people are journaling I came across something that the creator calls a “Junque Journal” on YouTube. I loved it! It’s a totally creative, no pressure way to compile a “journal” of all the bits of your life that some how fall through the cracks.

Here is the video from YouTube:

I immediately introduced Nicole to the process and we spent a Saturday afternoon preparing the composition book and pages for the journal. We painted, inked, tore, glittered, taped, tied ribbons, stapled and anything else we could think of to use up old crafting supplies. The trick is to have the pages ready so you can just shove stuff in when you get the urge.

I have to admit, I didn’t really think it would go much further. We often have these art sessions, then, like your refrigerator, the light goes out when the door closes. Rarely, if ever, does the creative process stick with the when they leave my house. This time, however, I was to be amazed! Nicole took to her Junque Journal like I’ve never seen her do before with any of our projects. I was at my brother’s house one day and she plopped that big, beautiful, chunky, clunky, overstuffed, wonderful book down on the table. I was speechless. Check it out for yourself. I made her let e take a couple of pictures of it.

Truth be known, she far out stripped me on this project. I have yet to add a single thing to my junque journal. Her advise…don’t even think about it. Just shove stuff in it. No rhyme or reason or themes. Just put stuff in. It becomes it’s own, organic, living thing with no help from you. All you have to do is feed the thing.

Go ahead and give it a try. I’ve never found a journaling technique that is as wild and free as this Junque Journal!

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Finally I Have an iPad!

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-03-2011

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When the iPad first came out I fell in love! But I was cautious. It was a big chunk of change to part with and I knew that the next generation would be better. I reigned in my impulse buying and it’s finally paid off. I am now the proud owner of an iPad 2! I am loving it.

The first thing I did was download the WordPress app and the Evernote app. Now I can journal and blog on the go. I am all about being mobile.

Not only should it make me a more productive journaler, but what really sold me were the art apps. I love sketching, drawing and painting and have actually been using some art apps on my iPhone, but the screen is just too small. Now I can draw on a page nearly the size of a sheet of printer paper!

Mind mapping, video editing, vision boards, photo albums…all more accessible on the go with my new iPad!

Yes, this post has been composed and uploaded from the iPad. I am using the onscreen keyboard so please forgive any typos. Last year I purchased a folding Bluetooth keyboard that I can use to make typing content even easier.

The Digital Diary Experiment

Posted by RichD | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-03-2011

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All forms of diaries and journals fascinate me.  I guess that goes without saying.  One of the pitfalls of this hobby is that it becomes hard to stick to one kind of diary when you are constantly attracted to new and different techniques.  It makes for a lot of false starts, I can tell you.  That’s why this year (it was a new years resolution I didn’t tell you about) I have decided to keep a simple, day-to-day diary.  No bells, no whistles and no rules.  I just wanted to put a date at the top of the page and go for it each and every day.

That worked until about the middle of February.  I was reading some articles online that talked about the simple elegance of keeping information in a plain old text file (.txt). It’s easy to update, easy to search, easy to copy and works on any computer, Mac, PC, Linux, even my iPhone.  It had an enormous appeal.  I mean, in my job I am sitting in front of my computer ALL day.  Why not do my journaling at my desk?  The more I thought about it the better the ideas sounded.  Not only could I keep a simple text file for my diary, I could keep it online somewhere.  I thought about Google Docs first but then I thought it would be great to be able to update it from my iPhone and I really haven’t found a good app that lets me edit Google Docs.  Then I remembered that I used an offline storage service called Dropbox (dropbox.com).  I could keep my text file there and then download it to any computer I was using at the time.  I would then put it back in Dropbox when I was done so it would be they’re waiting for me the next time I wanted to update it.  I even found apps that let me keep text notes on Dropbox from my iPhone.

I used this technique for a couple of days and found it was a bit clumsy.  I had multiple copies of my diary that I had to remember to take off of my various computers and the apps on my phone didn’t let me edit the text files, just create new ones so I had to spend time consolidating them later.

That’s when the “AHA!” moment hit me.  I was already using the online notebook service called Evernote.  It had everything I needed.  It was basically a simple text file.  I could organize my diary folder into months.  I could update and edit from the app on my phone.  I could access it from anywhere.  I could even take photos with my phone or upload pics from my other cameras that could be included in the diary.

To date, it’s working perfectly.  I keep a regular diary of thoughts and plans and “what happened today”. On my Evernote account I have folders for pictures and illustrations that I want to include in the completed diary.  Finally, at the end of the year, I intend on sending the whole thing off to Lulu.com and have it printed, pictures and all, into a nice book to put on the shelf with all of my other diaries.

Sure I still keep a notebook around.  Nothing beats a plain old notebook for on the go brainstorming and note jotting, but as soon as I make some sense of the notes I try and put them right into the Evernote file.  I am committed to keeping this entire year on Evernote.  I am already picking up some tricks that I can share with you in other posts, so I’ll be letting you know how things are going as the year progresses.