¶ November is for Writing & Thankfulness

I've been seeing a lot of folks this past week getting ready for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as aspiring authors like to call it. NaNoWriMo is an ambitious endeavor. 50,000 words in 30 days. That is roughly 1,667 words per day.

I've also seen a couple other takes on NaNoWriMo, such as what Ben Brooks is doing. Ben isn't planning to write a novel, but he is taking on the challenge of writing 50,000 words on his site. Equally ambitious, if you ask me.

I was thinking this morning about Ben's take on the NaNoWriMo challenge and a challenge that I have done each November for the past few years. While I don't write anywhere near the amount each day in November to get to 50,000 words, I do write each of the 30 days.

A few years ago, my friend Shaun Jones (sorry, he doesn't have a website) introduced me to the idea of Thanksvember. Simply record something you are thankful for each day of November. Some days I write a sentence, some days paragraphs. I record all of it in my beloved Day One. Sometimes I share an entry with others, but often I keep it to myself.

I think the great thing about doing some kind of writing each day in November is not so much about the quantity — heck, even the quality — but rather the consistency. Taking November to write daily is a great way to start the habit of writing. It's so easy to have the desire to write but to allow yourself to be blocked to actual put words to paper or pixel.

Whether you are writing the next great novel this month or simply being thankful for something each day, be sure to write.

Encrypted iTunes Backups

With iOS 9's release just a few hours away, it seems like a good time to mention that it is always a great idea to make a backup (or two) of your iOS device. More than likely, the upgrade will go smoothly for you, but in the odd chance that it doesn't, you'll be glad to have a backup (or two) handy.

I actually take two backups. The first I do is an iCloud backup via Settings > iCloud > Backup. My iOS devices are also set to do an iCloud backup when they are charging and connected to Wi-Fi, so they tend to backup every night.

But my preferred backup before updating iOS or getting a new device is an Encrypted iTunes backup. By default, iTunes does not encrypt backups. You have to enable it in iTunes' preferences. While any backup is better than no backup, there are some advantages to the encrypted variety.

  • Your data is encrypted, which is always a good thing.
  • It is a more complete backup, as it includes:
    • Your saved passwords
    • Wi-Fi settings
    • Website history
    • Health data

I'll tell you right now, the saving of Wi-Fi settings alone is worth it, but I also think retaining your Health data is extremely worth it.

While iCloud backups save me day-to-day (and are also encrypted), I like the iTunes backups because if you need to do a restore, you'll save yourself a lot of time by doing it over the USB Lightning cable than over Wi-Fi with iCloud.

So go make your backups, and happy updating!

¶ Traveling with Apple Watch

I'm not one who particularly enjoys traveling. Let me clarify, I enjoy my destination, but I am not fond of the process of travel. This sense of blah increases by an order of magnitude when it comes to air travel.

This past week I traveled to Toronto for work. Also my first trip to Canada. I was prepared to have to use paper boarding passes as it is an international flight. Passbook has only worked for me on domestic flights in the past. But to my surprise and delight, United's app allowed me to check-in in advance, and take a photo of my passport for verification. And then I saw those three glorious words: Add to Passbook.

What's even better is that the boarding passes were also available on my Apple Watch. For departure, I entered the airport, skipped United's desk, and walked straight to the security checkpoint. The agents scanned the barcode off my Apple Watch for my boarding pass, examined my passport, gave me the customary greeting of a patdown, and I was on my way.

Upon arrival in Toronto, I took a quick train to the station nearest my hotel. I was within walking distance, so I opened Maps on my watch, spoke the name of the hotel, tapped walking directions, and felt like I wasn't a complete foreigner as I turned when he watch subtly tapped my wrist in its left/right sequences. It worked perfectly, and I never had to take my phone out of my pocket.

Finally, Canada has been a bit more civilized in regard to payments for some time now. NFC is present just about everywhere. Using my Apple Watch to pay with Apple Pay just worked. Also, it was kind of fun to see the slight jealousy of Canadians when they realized I used Apple Pay, as it is not yet available in the Great White North.

As time goes on, I am finding the greatest thing about aw is the convenience it brings to my life. It is still by far not a necessity, as my iPhone can do just about everything the Watch can, but having the essentials of what I need available to me quickly and easily is terrific.

"If you have a body, you’re an athlete."

A heartwarming story of a high school student with cerebral palsy thinking ahead to his years in college, and his desire for a shoe he could put on himself. He wrote to Nike, which developed a shoe for him, and is bringing it to market this fall for anyone with impaired motor skills.

This whole story is amazing, and what Nike is doing here reminds me of the kind of mindset Apple has with its products: leaving the world a better place, having a meaningful impact on people's lives.

Great work, Nike. Keep it up.

¶ Obituary

I recently linked to Eulogy, written by Matt Gemmell, in which he discusses telling those that impact you of what effect they've had on you before they've died. We store up all these lovely memories and feelings and the person who inspired that in us rarely gets to hear it.

Reflecting upon Eulogy, I began to think about something said at the last Deacon's meeting at my church. Let me introduce you to JL Schmidt. JL is a career writer, having spent much of his life thus far in journalism. He's one of those classic newspaper guys who seen and written about pretty much everything. He also leads our small band of Deacons in serving the people of our church.

During part of our meeting he issued a question and a challenge.

"Gentlemen, what's your legacy? If you want to find out, write your own obituary."

The idea seems a bit self-serving at first. But as he explained himself it became quite apparent the intent is to be other-serving.

JL's thoughts on writing your own obituary are quite similar to Matt's thoughts on eulogizing those you care about before they die. Often, this summary of your life is left until you've passed, and it is likely cobbled together by a fledgling journalist climbing the ranks, who likely never knew you. All they have to work with are some meager facts provided by those who have survived you. Your obituary, if done in this fashion, likely will not summarize your life accurately.

Write your own obituary now. Then, and this is the important part, read it. Now examine it. Is that accurate? If so, is it the legacy you want to leave behind? If someone else read it, would what is written match up with the person they know? Is there anything you think you need to change in your life? What do you want your obituary to say, and how can you start to make that happen?

You see, by writing your obituary you have a chance to see whether or not you are wasting your precious time on this earth. If you were to die in the not-too-distant future, would you be known for the ideal version of yourself you want to be known for?

By asking yourself these questions and reflecting upon them, you can then begin to change who your are now to who you want to be remembered as.

I personally want to be remembered as someone who served others selflessly, without hesitation. I have a long way to go on that as I've done a fair share of self-serving these past 30 years. But now that I know what kind of person I hope to be remembered as, I can begin to cultivate that person inside me.

What do you want your legacy to be?


Matt Gemmell, on not waiting until someone is dead to tell them what you think of their life's works:

[…] Imagine if it were you instead. Wouldn’t you want to know?

It need only take a moment; 140 characters are more than enough. Believe me, each one counts. If they’ve made something that reached you, and – even just for a moment – left you better than you were before, don’t just move on. These are people, remember; like you. Don’t wait.

Tell them. Tell them now.

Tell them while they can still hear.

Matt takes it a step further beyond just speaking to your friends and family while they are still here. He extends the notion to those you take enjoyment from. Writers, artists, etc. If you found enjoyment in someone's work, tell them.

The closest example of this that has happened to me in recent memory is after I read a book last year titled A Drive into the Gap by Kevin Guilfoile. I wrote a review, mainly for myself, in Day One, and on a whim decided to use their new Publish service and I linked it on Twitter.

Not long after, Kevin reached out to me on Twitter. We chatted about his dad a bit. I thanked him for writing a story that ended up having profound effect on me.

That's what Matt is getting at. Say thank you to those who have great impact upon you. Say it while they are around to hear it or read it. Bless them as they have blessed you.

If not now, when?

My friend Stephen Hackett is taking his site, 512 Pixels, and podcasting network, Relay FM, full-time. This has been a long road for Stephen and an obvious goal of his ever since I first started reading his site (back when it was called forkbombr).

I can't describe how proud I am of Stephen. This is the endeavor all of us writers dream about. Godspeed.

Twitterrific 5.12

The past year has seen The Iconfactory really take twitterrific to the next level, building out the feature set and continually refining the overall experience. Today's release of Twitterrific 5.12 is no exception.

Twitterrific now adopts Twitter's new Quote Tweet feature, and it is really great. I've been using a lot while testing this new version these past weeks. Simply tap & hold on the regular Retweet button to compose a quoted tweet.

For anyone who has a tough time reaching the top navigation, you can now optionally move the navigation to the bottom of the screen. Doing so awards you an extra customizable navigation tab. This is honestly quite nice for the iPhone 6, and I imagine even more so for the iPhone 6 Plus.

In-app notifications are less terse, color coded for tweet type, and actionable. Tapping one will open the tweet it references.

Even Twitterrific for Apple Watch saw some speed improvements, and the ability to use Emoji in replies and a list of canned tweets to use, much like you can have in iMessage. You can configure those in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

Twitterrific continues to be my Twitter app of choice, and I love that The Iconfactory is making so many quality improvements to it, and I am boggled at how quickly they have been iterating this past year.

You can grab the terrific new update to Twitterrific on the App Store. Be sure to grab the Premium features via in-app purchase, so The Iconfactory can continue to make Twitterrifc the best way to experience Twitter.