Getting Out Of My Own Way

October 27th, 2014

When I started publishing here over five years ago I set off with a simple goal: to write and publish something new each day, five days a week. I have greatly enjoyed the challenge and I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. It’s brought me into contact with a lot of interesting people and brought me some terrific business opportunities and relationships.

But now it’s time for a change. I’ve published over 1,300 articles, including hundreds of writing assignments. It’s a hell of a lot of work to keep up, both for me and my editor Penny, without whom I could not have managed this for so long.

And now I’m done. OK, mostly done.

I will, on occasion, publish more here. It just won’t be five days a week. I have other writing to do and want a clean slate with no other commitments to split my attention.

I’m not disappearing. I am still available for paying work, although I will remain selective about the projects that I take on.

What am I going to do? I’m going to get out of my own way and get some of my own writing done. I’ve found that next to impossible to do well while I’m occupied writing here, managing the writing of others, and even working for others. I’ll be working on some new plays and whatever else interests me. On occasion I’ll publish more here, but it will be sporadically, at best. It will not be five days a week, week in and out.

But I will be right here, at my desk, writing (and hopefully lots of other places, writing there, too).

Until then, get on with what you have do to, and perhaps, write!

Yours truly,

Randy Murray

Author and playwright, Randy Murray, as photographed by friend and editor, Penny Mattern.

Author and playwright, Randy Murray, as photographed by friend and editor, Penny Mattern.


Writing Assignment: Carry A Sentence With You For One Day

October 24th, 2014

Most writers are world-class procrastinators. We learn to put things off in ways that would make the commonly lazy blush and slow-clap in admiration. Writing is hard, so we put it off.

But not all procrastination is to avoid writing. Some is to let the ideas soak in. We need to turn things over in our minds, sometimes to literally sleep on it. It’s harder than one might think to say, “No, I will not write about this today. I need to wait a bit more.”

I, of course, am a past master at letting ideas marinate. I’ve been known to wait ten years or more before putting pen to paper on an idea. But that may be taking things to the extreme.

For today’s assignment write a single sentence on a card or slip of paper and then carry it with you for at least one day (and not more than one week).

You can select your own sentence or you can use this one:

Something came in the mail today.

Put it in your pocket or bag. Let your mind return to your sentence throughout the day. Take it out and look at it a few times. And as ideas come to you, write them down.

And then, tomorrow, or later in the week, sit down with your sentence and your thoughts and write what you’ve been thinking about.

For bonus points post your completed assignment here.

Product Review: The Allett RFID Shielding Security Wallet

October 23rd, 2014

Let me first say this: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you.

And one of the ways that people may be out to get you is to steal your information and identity from the RFID chips that may be embedded in your credit cards, passports, and other documentation. The chip that veterinarians embed in dogs and cats is an RFID chip. Some people have laid out very scary scenarios about the misuse of the technology, including for tracking children.

I have among my clients a company that specializes in credit card processing hardware. They report RFID misuse is a distinct possibility, but in private conversations they don’t think that it is a significant issue at this time.

But it is an issue. If you’re concerned, you might want to protect yourself. I think it’s a reasonable concern, but not enough of an issue so that I’ll wrap my wallet in aluminum foil.

The people at Allett sent me one of their security wallets as a sample. They sent me a thin leather wallet with their RFID protection. I was concerned that the protective fabric would be obtrusive, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I had not been told that it was RFID shielded I would not have suspected. There’s no crackle or stiffness to this wallet.

My daily carry wallet is a Saddleback Leather Slim Wallet. It is VERY slim and I carry it in my left front pocket. I got that wallet after being chastised by a physical therapist for carrying an overloaded wallet in my back pocket. The Allett is a single fold wallet and very thin. The leather is soft and pliable. One could overstuff the Allett, but I found it quite comfortable to carry with the contents of my daily use wallet. Although it is a little larger than the Saddleback, I can comfortably carry it in my front pants pocket. The Allett wallet  I was sent has two bill compartments and four card pockets, with a separate ID pocket.

I used the wallet for two weeks and was please with it. I plan on keeping it as my “dress” and travel wallet, but will carry my Saddleback most days. I do think RFID protection while traveling is a sensible precaution. I was unable to test the RFID protection at this time (and I believe that I have only one credit card with an RFID chip, but I may not know about others). The problem with a protective cover is that once you take a card out you are exposed. I’m not sure that there’s an easy solution to that.

To boil it down, the Allett wallet is a very nice wallet and offers the bonus of RFID protection. Even if you don’t care about the protection, their wallets are stylish and well made.

Get Action—Apple’s Advertising Emphasizes Doing Things

October 22nd, 2014

The general stereotype of the computer nerd is someone living in a dark, cluttered basement or dimly lit room. It’s someone who lives hunched over in front of a glowing screen. It is a stereotype, but if you, like I, have spent time around hard core developers, gamers, and redditors you probably won’t find this image to be too far off base.

And yet take a look at Apple’s recent TV advertising. It’s all focused on DOING things. The people in these commercials are engaged in doing really interesting things. They go outside. They’re creating, participating, DOING stuff. It’s exciting.

And it’s not at all in line with the old stereotype.

I love it. While some in the media wring their hands and bemoan how far too many go through life staring at hand-held glowing screens, and now maybe even screens on our wrists or our glasses, Apple is suggesting that it’s not that way at all. We’re out DOING things. Our tools, those glowing screens, are helping us to do stuff.

It’s closer to the truth of how more people, people who don’t follow the tech press or think a lot about technology, use these devices. And it’s grand.

Let’s take Apple’s advice and go out and do something.