Alternatives to iA Writer 3

I was once a daily user of iA Writer. They just released the latest version of their app, iA Writer 3. I tried it out and the experience is gorgeous. 

I still won’t end up using the text editor because it doesn’t support exporting to WordPress or Evernote. I’m using the Byword App instead. It’s great, but I prefer the aesthetics of iA Writer. 

So tell me: What are my alternatives if I want these features/characteristics:

  • Export to WordPress and Evernote
  • Markdown
  • Minimalistic 

Let me know if the comments if you have any suggestions!

Music for working

I’ve written about work music before on this blog. I still don’t listen to music as a work aid as often as I once did. I do find myself enjoying tunes more when I’m writing, however.

I’ve found two distinct characteristics that are necessary for music I enjoy while writing. They can’t be combined, but when one or the other is present there’s a chance I’ll be happy with the outcome. The best writing music includes:

  • Lyrics, but not in English. If I’m writing in the same language as the lyrics I tend to start transcribing instead of putting down my own words and thoughts.
  • Instrumentals.

I still have the habit of listening to music repeatedly until I can’t stand it any more. Right now I’m listening to an instrumental album by Béla Fleck called Drive. The album art is ridiculous, but it’s a wonderful little bluegrass album. The blurb on the album calls it a “Collection of Bluegrass and Related Acoustic Music” and I think it’s great banjo music.

Check it out above or on Spotify below:

Happy listening!

‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ and other ill-advised performance strategies

I am capable of running on 4 hours of sleep for a relatively extended period of time. I used this tactic often in my college years, when I was going to school full time, working at student publications full time and pursuing other “hobbies” full time. I always justified my lack of sleep with a rebellious sounding quote to myself and others: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

The interwebz is failing at helping me figure out who said this first, but I’m sure it’s been a common sentiment in some form or another for humans across time. We all have this strange predilection for spending a third of our lives unconscious, and some of us fight that biological necessity because of the time it steals from other pursuits. Many a face has lit up with ideas about sleeping less and getting more done, but I don’t think that’s a realistic outcome for me.

Today I try to sleep for at least 7 hours each night. That’s on the lower end of the usually recommended 7–8 hours of sleep, and it seems to treat me well. My Fitbit Charge HR tells me I’ve slept an average of 6 hours and 54 minutes so far this week, which is close enough for me to feel great. I’ve had a few stretches of days when that number gets closer to 6 hours, and even losing that hour is a noticeable detriment to my mood and overall performance in life.

I tend to get my sleep by following the two sleeps method that was likely the prevalent mode of our ancestors. My version isn’t quite the same as the method discussed in the article, where you sleep for 4 hours before staying awake for a couple of hours and then sleep 4 hours again. I tend to sleep for an hour or two and then get up for a while before going back to sleep for the remainder of my 7 hours. Sometimes I read during the awake times, and at others I just lay quietly and think about various things (like blog topics) that happen to be on my mind.

I’ve also tried a more formalized two sleep schedule, where I set an alarm to get up in the middle of the night and everything. I find it difficult to get this right, so instead I just let my sleep happen as it will from night to night. In the past I would have argued for less sleep, but now I know better. Despite the maddening amount of time I have to spend out of this world each day I definitely won’t be cutting back any time soon.

I’ll sleep now and when I’m dead.

My favorite podcasts

I listen to podcasts on my work commute. I find it is the best use of my time when I’m doing low-value tasks like driving.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite podcasts in alphabetical order:

  • 99% Invisible is about “design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.”
  • Bret Easton Ellis Podcast is an interview podcast with heavy doses of perspective from the author.
  • Criminal is about crime.
  • Design Details is “a show about the people who design our favorite products.”
  • Freakonomics Radio is the audio version of the Freakonomics books.
  • Invisibilia is “about the invisible forces that control human behavior.”
  • Mystery Show is quickly becoming one of my favorite podcasts. It’s like a real-life detective novel every show.
  • Nerdist is an interview podcast from Chris Hardwick.
  • Radiolab is the greatest podcast ever. If you only listen to one podcast make it this one.
  • Reply All is “a show about the internet.”
  • Serial is a mega-hit podcast that serializes a story across an entire season. If you haven’t heard of it I’m surprised.
  • StartUp Podcast is a show about startups.
  • Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project is a podcast from the guys at Tested.
  • Strangers is “true stories about people we meet, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that we aren’t even who we thought we were.”
  • This American Life is the prototypical podcast. I am also surprised if you haven’t heard of this show because it has been on the radio for years.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show is an interview show where the host “deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics and tricks you can use.” Thanks to Adam for this suggestion because I never would have listen to it otherwise. Now I’m hooked.

I also listen to a few random podcasts on occasion, but these are the shows that are always in the rotation. As you can see there are a lot of great shows out there. Get listening!

The two dog theory

Welcome to the first edition of Wild Wednesday! See this post for more information about my daily writing schedule. Thanks for stopping by!

I’m a dog person. I’ve been living with dogs the wrong way my entire life.

Hazel and Mac
Hazel and Mac are living the right kind of dog life. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Braman.

My dog life started out with family pets. I grew up with Maggie the black lab until elementary school. Then Bailee the chocolate lab gave us fun and joy up to my college years. Palmer the chocolate lab is a big lovable goof who lives with my parents to this day.

Since then Cassandra and I have had the great fortune of parenting dogs of our own. Luna was the sweetest weimaraner in the world. We adopted her with hopes she would live with us for at least half a dozen years. She was older than we realized, so she was only healthy enough to spend a wonderful two and a half years with us.

This year — thanks to the generosity of my in-laws Chris and Jeanne — we added Hazel the chocolate lab to the pack. We often find ourselves saying, “Good girl Luna!” before we realize that time continues to tick by. Luna is gone, but not from our memories. Hazel looks nothing like Luna, but she is Luna in so many ways. Save one. Luna did not chew baseboards to shreds when we left her alone in the house.

We tried everything to save our baseboards (and door jambs, and door handles, and …) but nothing worked. Hazel is a modern-day escape artist. She wriggles, writhes, and snakes her way out of any crate, no matter how many tasty treats left behind. Once the seal is broken no wood is safe from her quest to find comfort in our absence. Hazel was the perfect dog when we were home and the bearer of destruction when we left.

We were at our wits’ end until Mac the border collie saved the day. Mac (full name: Macintosh) came from the wonderful people at Austin Dog Rescue. We decided to give Mac a forever home because of a hunch I had. Would Hazel do better if she shared her no-humans time with a canine companion? At worst we would be right where we started with another amazing dog, right? As it turns out, Mac is the perfect buddy for Hazel and will soon be a perfect running buddy for me! We, and the wood in our home, couldn’t be more thankful.

So, after all this time, I now subscribe to the two dog theory. It’s a simple one: If you’re going to get a dog you should get two!