Some Changes Coming to These Parts
24 October 2021 | 7:36 pm

When I started this blog, my intention was to post in this space occasionally. What occasionally meant at that time ... well, that was up in the air.

For whatever reason, posting here became a weekly affair (more or less). There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes that schedule seems (at least to me) a bit forced.

I'm going to try to go back to the original plan of this blog — publishing occasionally. That could mean every 11 days, twice a week, or at longer intervals. Doing this will give me a chance to practice what I preach when it comes to slower blogging.

Also, I'm hoping to keep the posts here shorter. Five hundred words or less. Why 500 words? It's the approximate word count of two typewritten pages (yes, I'm that old!). If I can't get my point across in that number of words, I'm not doing my job am I?

I'm looking at that 500 word limit as both a promise and a challenge. A promise to the fives of people who read what I post here to stay within those boundaries. A challenge to tightly encapsulate an idea or an opinion, to give you enough of a taste to intrigue you, with the hope that you'll think a bit more about that idea or opinion.

Focus On One Thing at a Time
17 October 2021 | 6:02 pm

The internet has opened the whole world to us. Not only is there so much to see, there's so much to learn too.

Influenced, perhaps, by tales of uber-productive over achievers, many people try to cram as much learning as they can (in a variety of disparate areas) into the limited amount of time that they have.

Take, for example, a friend of mine. For years, he's wanted to learn both Spanish and Korean. In early 2019, he embarked on twin courses of study: trying to learn both languages simultaneously. The results, to say the least, haven't been spectacular. Or even marginally good.

In addition to sometimes mixing the two languages, he's not absorbing enough of either. He has a limited amount of time for listening, studying, practicing, and reading both Spanish and Korean. And his retention is passable (the assessment of his tutors, not me).

The problem is that my friend's energies are spread too thin. He's too mentally fatigued with life and work and everything else to learn those languages effectively and successfully.

When he originally decided to simultaneously study both languages, I advised him to focus on one. He brushed me off then. Now, after his semi-disastrous experience, he's taken my advice and his focusing on Spanish. The result? His gains are noticeable and his abilities with the language are rapidly increasing.

Trying to cram too much disparate information into your brain, quickly or slowly, results in a jumble. It results in a mess. You don't remember as much as you should. You don't learn as much as you should or need to.

Instead, focus on one thing. On one area. Do it well. Learn it to the best of your ability. Then, move on when you've reached the level that you need to reach.

Doing this maximizes your retention. It keeps your energy up. It keeps your enthusiasm and motivation strong. You won't get discouraged as easily. You won't burn out. You're more like to stay focused, to stay the course than if you try to follow several different threads at once.

What about the other things that you want to learn? They can wait. If you think they can't, then you either need to reassess your priorities or let some things go. In doing that, you might realize that some of what you thought you needed to learn isn't as important as you believed it was.

Announcing the Third Edition of Learning Markdown
12 October 2021 | 5:56 pm

A little something from the Department of Promoting My Own Work: I’m happy to announce that the third edition of my book Learning Markdown has finally hit the virtual shelves.

Here is what's new in this edition:

  • A chapter that covers how to use pandoc to convert your files formatted with Markdown to HTML, word processor formats, and PDF files.
  • The list of tools for working with Markdown has been updated and expanded.
  • A number of general tweaks and minor changes and updates.

You can read a sample chapter if you’re curious. And if you’re ready to buy the book, you can find EPUB and PDF versions on Gumroad. It'll only set you back $3.99 (USD) (or whatever you choose to pay above that price).

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