15 Days Down

It’s been 15 days since I started my “hiatus” from Facebook and Twitter. It hasn’t gone quite as I had hoped. I still find myself reading Twitter from time to time and I’ve played some games on Facebook, but overall my usage of both sites is significantly down. I feel like I’m missing out on lots by not keeping up with either site, but I still feel like this is something I need to continue on with.

Strange Encounter

Last night, around 11:30pm, I was on the way home from picking Kim and my niece up from the Daughtry concert. We stopped at a Burger King to get something to drink and eat for the two of them. While in the drive-thru I was approached by an older woman who asked if we could help her get gas. She was shaking; said she was from Waynesboro and was using her brother’s van because she had to take him to the hospital today. She continuned to tell me that her purse was in her car in her brother’s driveway in Waynesboro. It sounded sketchy, as most requests for money usually do, but I helped her out anyway. Why? Well, I’d like to think that if I was ever in her position, assuming she was telling the truth (and I feel like she was), someone would be willing to help me out as well. I told her to drive across the street to a gas station and I’d buy some gas for her. I paid for enough fuel for her to easily get back to Waynesboro. Shook her hand. Wished her luck. And went back on my way home.

I hope she made it to hers. I hope she’ll pay it forward.

Hiatus

I’m addicted to social media. I know it’s sounds stupid, but I have an unhealthy obsession with it. I compulsively check Twitter to see what news people are posting, what links are popular. I’m addicted to information. I crave interaction. And it’s not healthy. I – ashamedly – play games like Social City on Facebook. It’s got to stop. I can’t do it anymore. That’s why I’m giving them both up. I’m not deleting the accounts. (I made that mistake with Twitter once before.) But for now, I’m stepping away. Now is the time for me to focus on being as creative and productive as I can.

If you @ me on Twitter, I probably won’t see it. If you direct message me on Twitter, make sure you include an email address otherwise I won’t be able to respond. Same goes for Facebook. Email, phone or IM will be your best bet to get in touch with me until I decide the time’s right for me to venture back onto either of those networks.

You can find my contact information at cdharrison.info

Thanks for your support.

Leap

Last month I made the leap back to using a Mac. Since July 09, I’ve worked solely as a freelancer and my trusty Dell laptop has served me remarkably well, but the time came for me to upgrade to something more capable. Budget-wise I was aiming to spend as little as possible. That left me with only a a few choices:

  1. Get another PC. I toyed with the idea of getting a desktop simply because it’d be more upgradeable down the road. I love my laptop, though. Being tied to a desk isn’t ideal when you have to meet with clients or want to work someplace else from time to time. For $500-$1000 you can get some good laptops and/or desktops.
  2. Get a Mac. I was torn between getting a 13″ MacBook Pro, 24″ iMac or a Mac mini.
    1. A 13″ MacBook Pro would be a very capable machine, able to run CS5 without issues. It could be hooked to an external monitor when needed. It’s super portable. The only downside is that it’s a little on the small size. Working on it for extended amounts of time, without an external monitor would probably be a pain in the ass. Starting at $1199, the base model isn’t bad, but not quite what I was after.
    2. The 24″ iMac is fast, has a nice sized screen. Lots of great options. I loved that I’d be able to hook an external screen to it to double screen space. At $1199, the entry-level model is a great deal and I was seriously considering it.
    3. The Mac mini is compact and decently powered for its size. While it’s not portable like a MBP might be, it’s easy to transport. With its ability to connect to multiple screens sporting HDMI, VGA or DVI (via display adapters), I was sold. The price helped as well. I bought the entry-level Mac mini for $579 retail with free shipping and no tax.

Getting used to Snow Leopard versus several years in Vista and XP has been a bit of a challenge, but not much. The Mac mini is quick, is able to do a lot with it’s seemingly unimpressive hardware specs. All in all, I’m happy with the decision to get it. Given the limited budget, it was most definitely the right choice for me to make, but I could see myself going for either a MBP or an iMac the next time I need to upgrade.

Dual

The Setup

It handles two monitors flawlessly. It runs all of my applications without a problem, even Creative Suite 5. I’m extremely happy with my Mac mini and I can’t wait to build and create some awesome stuff with it.

Broken

Dear Twitter:

Twitter Trends are broken. Yes, they can give invaluable insight on the pulse of Twitter as a whole, but they’ve long been irrelevant to me and I don’t feel like I’m alone.. The system is easily gamed. Random hashtags like #SheProbablyAHoe spread like syphillis but why?

I know what you’re thinking: just ignore them. Use a desktop or mobile client that doesn’t put trends in your face. That’s valid. But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Trends would matter more to me if they applied to the people I followed. I don’t care about what the whole of Twitter is talking about. I want to know what the people I follow and who follow me are talking about. What is important to my social circle is infinitely more important to me than what’s #nowplaying, #pleaseexplainwhy or #omgfacts. But there are people out there who find that sort of stuff interesting, and it’s likely the people they interact with on Twitter do too. That’s why Twitter needs to fix trending – so everyone can get the most of it. So that everyone’s experience with Twitter is a bit more custom-tailored to their own interests.

And would it kill you to fix replies?

Love, cd.

Worthwhile

So far, over 300 people have committed to participating in Project 52. It’s pretty safe to say that it’s exceeded everyone’s expectations. If ever there was a reason to write, Project 52’s quickly become one of them. If even a fraction of the participants stick with it, content on the web should see a marked improvement in 2010. I hope they’ll focus on quality and not just quantity. Committing to writing 52 posts is well and good, but if there’s little thought put into them, you might be better off not writing at all. After all, this is a personal challenge – one we should learn and grow from.

I know that by announcing my intentions with Project 52, I might be sabotaging myself, but my aim is to be as transparent as possible about what my plans are and what goals I hope to achieve through Project 52. And hopefully my transparency will help keep me more accountable. But transparency isn’t enough. I want my participation to mean something. That’s why I’d like to up the ante. For each post I write for Project 52, I’m going to be raising money for a charity. (Which one? Not sure yet, but I’ll announce between Christmas and New Years.)

If you like what I write, I’m hoping you’ll be encouraged to chip in something to help me reach a goal of raising $500. That breaks down to $9 a week. I know it can be done. And if my content’s good enough, it will be done.

What are your thoughts? Am I insane? If you dig the idea, got any charities you think would be worthy of support? (I’m thinking I might try to find a local charity to support, but would love any suggestions you might have.)

Project 52

Thanks to Anton’s suggestion of Project 52 – based on a tweet by Chris Wallace – I’m publicly committing to write more in 2010. Beginning the first week of January, I’ll post at least one new (substantial) article. Asides and portfolio entries won’t count. Why am I doing this? I want to become a better writer and I’m tired of this site being consistently stale.

My Approach

A year-long endeavor like this will require planning and perseverance. I’ll need to identify topics. I’ll need to come up with some sort of regular schedule (and stick with it). And I’ll need to force myself to be accountable through it all.

Help the Snook Family

Jonathan Snook is an amazing web developer, author and all-around great guy. Him and his wife have adopted two children and were planning on trying to adopt a third at some point in the near future… An opportunity to adopt has presented itself a little earlier than they had planned. Adoptions can be quite expensive. They’ve completely self-funded the other adoptions, but they weren’t fully financially prepared for this opportunity. (And they were reticent to ask for help, until they mentioned what they were trying to do to a group of us.) Would you consider helping them out, or spreading the word?  Every little bit will help.

If you’d like to learn more about what they’re trying to do, please check out: http://snook.ca/adoption/

My first job

I started working the summer after my 10th grade year. I was 15 years old. I didn’t really want to work, but my parents insisted I get a job. My mom found out about a contractor that maintained the grounds of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, VA and got me an interview. They weren’t picky. I was hired.

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