Tech Life Destructive, constructive work

Rands in Review 2008

I live in the mountains and in the mountains you need a chainsaw.

The Saw

Strangely, the time of year it’s the least fun to be outside is when I use the chainsaw the most. This is a result of holiday vacation, trees conveniently falling during winter storms, and short windows of time the county of Santa Cruz allows you to burn in your yard.

The job of the chainsaw is rarely one of actual building. It’s destructive, constructive work where you’re removing dead or live trees in order to make room for others to grow. After an afternoon in the forest, I’m covered in sawdust and sap. I’m bruised, I’m exhausted, and I can barely walk. It’s great.

I’ve been doing the same type of work with the weblog. In preparation for a new design, I’ve been slowly tidying and pruning the site. I’ve also been reflecting on the past year’s writing. Let’s look back at some of my favorite articles from 2008:

Appropriately, 2008 was led off with a Twitter article. Twitter was a recurring theme for the year and it showed up again in May as I talked about what, in my opinion, made a good follower in We Travel in Tribes. The first tweet inspired article was The Quirkbook, which listed a plethora of quirks I gathered via Twitter after admitting a few of my own.

Out Loud was the second half of my reposings on presentations. This article tackled the art of giving a presentation versus writing one. Articles like this appear because of immediate practicality. I was in presentation hell last spring and needed to articulate through my fingers how to prepare for a presentation.

Pixel Rigs documented another visual fascination of mine, namely desktop arrangements. I’m happy to report the Flickr group I created continues to receive a trickle of new desktop set-ups. I’ve recently updated mine, as well.

The FriendDA was an idea that had been kicking around my head that I finally got around to writing and posting. I deliberately disassociated the FriendDA from Rands to see what it could do on its own. Checks of the Twitterstream demonstrate folks seem to find value.

The Coffee Mug Affair was my third obsessive analysis of tools I can’t live without. The “This is seriously fucking black coffee” sits in front of me and is happily serving its purpose as I browse the archives and write this article. The cup also made an appearance on the first piece of Rands schwag, the t-shirt.

The year finished up with this Rands shirt with 100% of the profits go to First Book literacy charity. I’m done printing shirts, but I’ll be leaving what has been printed up in the Buy Olympia store until we’ve sold out.

That’s 23 articles on the year — five less than the year before. Other than some small tweaks, I’m moving into year #4 of the current design — which is unacceptable and currently being rectified.

The fact real work kicks in this week is tempered by the presence of MacWorld, which brings some of my favorite people to San Francisco. This collection of bright minds shows up at a perfect time of year. With the holidays behind us, with the celebration and the cleansing complete, it’s time to ask, “What are we going to build next?”

9 Responses

  1. Sounds like a good year. Also, looking forward to seeing the new design. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Wiredkiwi 15 years ago

    I’m curious to know why you consider a new design essential? Professionally I’m supposed to promote redesigns (earns my company money) but personally, I believe in the ‘trickle theory’ as applied to design and UI – with the added bonus that gradual change doesn’t confuse people!

    Love the articles – keep up the great work.

  3. Just wanted to chime in with agreement about the satisfaction produced through amateur lumberjacking. I live in Canada and every year I come home for Christmas and head back into my best friend’s wooded lot to fell, chop, and stack a tree for use in his wood-burning stove. Usually we have a crew of 3 or 4 of us and it’s easily one of my top 5 favourite things about the holidays. Blissful exhaustion. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep up the great writing!

  4. Hey, that’s my chainsaw! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Agreed, there’s something to be said for being outside and cutting/splitting firewood. Hard work, but there’s immediate satisfaction in getting the job done. I remember the first time I successfully felled a small tree in the manner it’s supposed to be done – it even fell where I wanted it to, go figure! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I like your articles, the series on Vegas was quite funny.

  5. Just wanted to chime in momentarily to thank you for everything you do. It doesn’t get said enough…

  6. Good choice of chainsaw. My girlfriend is a horticulturist and tool geek, and she approves of Stihl ๐Ÿ™‚

    For me, the 2008 highlight was your presentation article. Helped me out when preparing for my talk as OSCON.

  7. Love your articles. Nerd Handbook hits painfully close to home. Great job. Please keep it up.

  8. bretttt 15 years ago

    nice photo! although Im a husqvarna man myself…

  9. Lieuwe 15 years ago

    Damn. Santa Cruz, I mis you…

    Just had to get that off of my chest ๐Ÿ™‚