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Weekly review: Week ending May 16, 2014

Lots of gardening this week. We bought seedlings for the herbs and vegetables we want to grow this year. Excited!

Also, I had this idea for doing an e-mail-based Emacs Lisp course. I floated the idea and lots of people signed up, so I’m going to be focusing on that over the next month. Whee! =)

Blog posts


Lots of sketches! Made a concerted effort to think on paper. =)

  1. 2014.05.12 How can I take Learn How to Read Emacs Lisp to the next level #emacs #packaging #writing #teaching
  2. 2014.05.12 How does Emacs fit into my plans and goals #emacs #plans
  3. 2014.05.14 A quiet day at home #life #experiment
  4. 2014.05.14 Evaluating Emacs Chat transcript experiments and other delegation #emacs #delegation
  5. 2014.05.14 Maximizing – continued #planning
  6. 2014.05.14 Planning an e-mail-based course for Emacs Lisp #emacs #teaching
  7. 2014.05.14 What am I maximizing for #planning
  8. 2014.05.14 Which three productivity tools would I use if I could use only those for the rest of my life #emacs #productivity
  9. 2014.05.15 Those awesome moments at work #experiment #work
  10. 2014.05.16 A plan for delivering the Emacs Lisp course #emacs #teaching
  11. 2014.05.16 How to draw a visual summary of a book #drawing

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (34.0h – 20%)
    • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • [#C] Sketchnote a book
    • Earn (23.9h – 70% of Business)
      • E1: Attend meeting
      • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (7.8h – 22% of Business)
      • Drawing (5.4h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.9h)
      • Dig up my receipt app and update the records
      • Find out what’s going on with my server
      • Fix summarization bug
    • Connect (2.3h – 6% of Business)
      • Free up space for O
  • Emacs
    • Follow up with other transcript?
    • Send course e-mail: beginner1, beginner2
    • Take notes on people who are interested in taking course, process course steps
    • Get e-mail sending to work from virtual machine
    • [#A] Brainstorm tasks for X
    • Take notes on people who are interested in taking course, process course steps
    • Send first section to myself and others
    • Prepare for session with technomancy
    • Post show notes
    • Pay invoice for transcript
    • Package beginner1 as a lesson
    • Make checklist of topics, figure out where people are
    • Invite Bodil for Emacs Chat?
    • Incorporate and revise transcript
    • Have Emacs Chat with bbatsov
    • Break Emacs Lisp guide up into an e-mail course
    • Assign EmacsNYC transcript
    • Get Gnus send mail working again
  • Relationships (15.3h – 9%)
    • Buy fish for cherry blossom party
    • Celebrate Mother’s Day with W-‘s family
    • Ping Mom for mother’s day
    • Cook bulgogi
    • Help X
    • Think about X
    • [#A] Bake thank-you dessert
  • Discretionary – Productive (12.5h – 7%)
    • Buy compost from Home Depot
    • Doodle more plans
    • Figure out how much I need to keep in cash
    • Fix my bike tire
    • Review experiment?
    • Make RRSP investments
    • Writing (1.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (17.4h – 10%)
  • Personal routines (19.6h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (9.2h – 5%)
  • Sleep (60.7h – 36% – average of 8.7 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending May 9, 2014

More Emacs-y things. =) Also, the weather has finally warmed up, hooray! I turned the compost heap for the first time this year, and I’m looking forward to getting more compost from either the city or Home Depot.

Blog posts


None this week.

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (38.0h – 22%)
    • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • E1: Go to user group meeting
    • E1: Go to training
    • Incorporate and revise transcript
    • Revise transcript from Oli
    • Earn (16.8h – 44% of Business)
      • E1: Attend strategy session
      • E1: Look up details for strategy session
      • E1: Send time summary
    • Build (18.1h – 47% of Business)
      • Drawing (1.4h)
      • Delegation (2.4h)
        • Talk to Oli (libervurto) regarding delegation
      • Packaging (0.5h)
        • Add forgotten Emacs Conference sketchnotes
      • Paperwork (1.2h)
        • Deposit payroll cheque
        • [#B] Write myself a cheque and remit the appropriate amounts
      • Quantified Awesome
        • Get to 100% coverage for Quantified Awesome
        • Add password somewhere to sign-up process
        • Grocery tracking: Find old code
        • Sort out 24h goal bug
        • Make it easier to set the friendly name for receipt items – autocomplete
        • Look up test coverage for Quantified Awesome
        • Fix batch import for grocery tracking
        • Dig up my receipt app and update the records
        • Debug e-mail
      • Get WordPress to show category description only on first page
  • Emacs
    • Write about defuns
    • Write about lambda
    • Start planning talk for International Lisp Conference
    • Set up Emacs environment in dev
    • Review new video and post it
    • Record session with technomancy
    • Prepare for session with technomancy
    • Prep for call with technomancy
    • Post transcript of Iannis Zannos’ chat
    • Post show notes
    • Plan What am I experimenting with?
    • Incorporate DanP’s second round of feedback
    • How to update the Org 7 that comes with Emacs to Org 8 (more configuration! better exports!)
    • Give feedback on show notes for Xah Lee
    • Connect (3.0h – 8% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.7h – 1%)
    • Buy fish for cherry blossom party
    • Buy groceries for cherry blossom party
    • Celebrate Mother’s Day with W-‘s family
    • Ping Mom for mother’s day
    • Spring-clean bedroom
    • Spring-clean living room
  • Discretionary – Productive (23.2h – 13%)
    • Write: Balancing scheduled and unscheduled tasks
    • Figure out how much I need to keep in cash
    • Look for better bike wheels
    • Price-check compost at Home Depot
    • Read chapter 2 of Latin textbook
    • Write: Things to do when you aren’t sure what to do with your life
    • Writing (4.9h)
  • Discretionary – Play (6.7h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (26.9h – 16%)
  • Unpaid work (10.6h – 6%)
  • Sleep (60.3h – 35% – average of 8.6 per day)

Monthly review: April 2014

Last month, I wrote:

In April, I want to:

  • Record and set up more Emacs chats
  • Make open source contribution part of my routine (mailing lists, patches, sharing)

And I did! I moved my Emacs writing workflow online and committed lots of code for different things I was working on. Here’s my Github heatmap as of May-ish:

2014-05-07 21_33_48-sachac (Sacha Chua).png

I’ve been experimenting with focusing more on Emacs. is coming along nicely, and I’ve started fleshing it out as . The guide on how to read Emacs Lisp is now more than 8,000 words, and it has greatly benefited from people’s feedback. =)

I completed my 10-episode goal for Emacs Chats and am starting on another “season”, now that inviting people is less intimidating. It’s fun, and I’ve been hearing from people who find the chats interesting as well. I wonder how I can make this more useful…

The weather has finally warmed up, so I’m back to gardening and biking. (Yay biking! =D) At first I thought our soil was doing okay. Once the rains lightened up, I found that the soil was still pretty sandy. I’ll need to add lots of compost. Still, a number of seedlings are on their way up. Yay!

On my consulting gig, I learned a lot about Tableau and reporting. Looks interesting. On a personal note, we’ve been tracking litter box use, and I now have more than seven hundred rows of data. Still haven’t automated the analysis, though. =)

I’m working on writing based on outlines and getting better at creating e-learning resources. I also need to prepare for a possible talk at the International Lisp Conference in August, too.

In May, I want to:

  • Learn how to write extensions for E1
  • Develop “How to Read Emacs Lisp” into a proper course, with objectives, modules, exercises and other useful things
  • Add compost and herbs to our garden

Blog posts

Time use

Label Hours Percent Notes
Business 160.0 22% Earn: 73.1, E1: 64.5, Connect: 28.0, Build: 58.9; average 37h/week
Discretionary 149.6 21% Social: 13.3, Productive: 90.8 (Writing: 29.2, Emacs: 39.7), Play: 28.8
Personal 97.6 14% Routines: 50.7
Sleep 264.0 37% Average of 8.8 hours per day
Unpaid work 48.8 7% Commuting: 21.5, Cook: 10.8, Tidy: 1.6

Thinking about what I want to do with my time

Every so often, I spend time thinking about what I want to focus on. I’m interested in many things. I like following my interests. Guiding them to focus on two or three key areas helps me avoid feeling split apart or frazzled.

I balance this thinking with the time I spend actually doing things. It’s easy to spend so much time thinking about what you want to do that you don’t end up doing it. It’s easy to spend so much time doing things that you don’t end up asking if you’re doing the right things. I probably spend slightly more time on the thinking side than I could, but that will work itself out over time.

I balance thinking with moving forward. It doesn’t matter if I might be going in the wrong direction, because movement itself teaches you something. You discover your preferences: more of this, less of that. You get feedback from the world. For me, moving forward involves learning more about technology, trying experiments, making things, and so on. Taking small steps helps me avoid spending lots of time going in the wrong direction.

(And are there really wrong directions, or just vectors that don’t line up as well?)

What do I want to do with my time?

Fitness: The weather’s warming up, so: more biking, more raking, more compost-turning, more carrying water to the garden. It would be good to be fitter and to feel fitter. I like the focus on fitness rather than exercise – not exertion for its own sake, but practical application.

Coding: I like coding. Coding might be a perfectly acceptable answer to the question “What do I want to do with my life?”, at least currently. I’ve been doing a lot more Emacs coding, and I’m digging into other technologies as well. I like it because I can build stuff – and more importantly, learning helps me imagine useful stuff to build.

I think I want to get better at making web tools that are useful and that look good, but I’m not sure. Lots of other people can do this, and I haven’t come up with strong ideas that need this. (Back to the need for a well-trained imagination!) I can wait to develop this skill until I have a stronger idea, or I can learn these skills to lay the foundation for coming up with ideas. I’ve been thinking about getting better at working with APIs, but that’s even more like digital sharecropping than creating content on other people’s platform is. APIs, pricing models, and all sorts of other things change a lot. I’m wary of investing lots of time in things that I have very little control over.

What would a few possible futures look like? I could be a toolmaker, building lots of little tools for niche audiences. technomancy and johnw are great role models for this. I could be a contributor or maintainer, building up part of something like Org or Emacs, or perhaps one of the modern Web stacks. If I need to keep a path back into the workforce, maybe back-end development would be a good way to do that. I like talking to fellow geeks anyway, so it’s okay if I don’t focus on front end–that way I won’t have to deal with fiddly browser differences or client tweaks.

Writing: Writing helps me learn more and understand things better. It saves other people time and tickles their brains. It’s also a great use of my time, although sometimes I feel like coding has more straightforward value.

Lots of people write. I want to write about things things that are not already thoroughly covered elsewhere. I want to be myself, not some generic blogger – to write (and draw!) things that are geeky and approachable. I like writing about Emacs (goodness knows how we need more documentation!), self-tracking, experiments, technology, and learning.

What’s on the backburner for now, then?

  • Sketchnoting other people’s content: Useful and easy to appreciate, but potentially distracting from the other stuff I want to do. I may make an exception for books, since I like reading anyway.
  • Spreading sketchnoting: I can leave this in the capable hands of Mike Rohde, Sunni Brown, and Dan Roam. I’ll still use sketchnoting to think through things, though, and I’ll share them on my blog and on Flickr.
  • Spreading alternative lifestyles (semi-retirement, portfolio careers, etc.): Jeff Goins, Pamela Slim, and Mr. Money Mustache are doing fine with this. I tend to stay away from giving advice, and I don’t want to inadvertently feed wantrepreneurship as a substitute for actually taking action. I’ll still write about my experiments and decisions, though.
  • Spreading blogging in general: I’ll answer people’s questions and encourage people along, but I won’t dig into this as much as I could. I might make an exception for tech blogging, because I have a vested interest in getting more geeks to blog – more search results to come across and more posts to learn from! ;)
  • Drawing better: I draw well enough for my purposes, and I want to keep things approachable.

What does this reflection teach me about what drives me?

  • I like the feeling of figuring things out and of contributing to something that will build over time.
  • I like positive feedback, but I can move away from it if I want. For example, people always ask me about sketchnotes, but I like Emacs stuff more even though it’s hard to explain in regular conversation.
  • If I don’t have a particularly strong idea for something I want to build, I can spend the time learning more about the capabilities of the tools I use. Along the way, I’m sure to run into lots of small gaps. I can fill those in to demonstrate my learning.
  • I tend to build things for my own convenience. I open it up if I think a web interface will be handy, and if other people find it helpful, that’s icing on the cake.

For amusement, you can check out my list of back-burner things from October 2013. Back then, I wanted to focus more on drawing and writing. This time, I’m geeking out. Yay! =)

Weekly review: Week ending May 2, 2014

Even more Emacs geekery this week. =) It might be time to reclassify it from Discretionary – Emacs to Business – Build – Emacs or something like that.

Blog posts


Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (40.4h – 24%)
    • [ ] E1: Attend strategy session
    • [ ] Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • [ ] File payroll return
    • [ ] Plan What am I experimenting with?
    • [ ] Post transcript of Iannis Zannos’ chat
    • [ ] Record session on learning keyboard shortcuts
    • [ ] Record session with technomancy
    • [ ] Try delegating transcripts to Emacs geeks
    • [ ] Sketchnote a book
    • [ ] Start planning talk for International Lisp Conference
    • [ ] Write myself a cheque and remit the appropriate amounts
    • Earn (16.2h – 40% of Business)
      • [X] E1: Rename T groups
      • [X] E1: Work on A
      • [X] [#A] E1: Deploy B code
    • Build (15.4h – 38% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.4h)
      • Delegation (6.8h)
        • [X] Plan for delegation with Alex?
        • [X] Talk to Alex about delegation
      • Packaging (4.1h)
      • Paperwork (2.1h)
        • [X] Calculate how much I can pay myself and set up the appropriate transactions
        • [X] Learn more about pay-what-you-want
      • Emacs
        • [X] Try out the Org presentation tools
        • [X] Set up Jekyll on Windows so that I can export from Org
        • [X] Revise Emacs – ERC transcript
        • [X] Organize Emacs resources into starting/improving/enjoying
        • [X] Incorporate @philandstuff’s feedback
        • [X] Move list of videos into emacs-notes
        • [X] Move Emacs Chat transcripts to Github?
        • [X] Get a list of Emacs videos
        • [X] Create graphviz map for learning Org Mode for Emacs
        • [X] Copy all of my posts into Org files for offline use
        • [X] Make blog posts available offline
        • [X] Contemplate git or blog posts
        • [X] Build a directory of Emacs-related videos – maybe everything with at least 1000 views.
        • [X] Write about keybinding
        • [X] Add support page to emacs-notes
        • [X] Add more details to reading Emacs Lisp tutorial
    • Connect (8.7h – 21% of Business)
      • [X] Set up chat with masteringemacs
      • [X] Set up chat with Xah Lee
      • [X] Set up chat with Christopher Wellons
      • [X] Add April 2014 videos to Quantified Self blog post
      • [X] Upload April 2014 videos
      • [X] Invite mickeynp (Mastering Emacs) for an Emacs Chat
      • [X] Review new video and post it
      • [X] Go to Quantified Self meetup
      • [X] Revise backlog post for Fridge magazine
      • [X] Record session with Xah Lee
  • Relationships (4.7h – 2%)
    • [X] Set up cherry blossom party
    • [ ] Buy groceries for cherry blossom party
  • Discretionary – Productive (17.3h – 10%)
    • [X] Allocate funds on Kiva
    • [X] Find out how much compost I need to order
    • [X] Making my Emacs-related blog posts available for offline reading
    • [X] [#B] Read first chapter of Latin textbook
    • [X] Prepare litter box analysis presentation
    • [ ] Read chapter 2 of Latin textbook
    • Writing (1.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (9.5h – 5%)
  • Personal routines (22.2h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (9.0h – 5%)
  • Sleep (68.9h – 41% – average of 9.8 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending April 25, 2014

I’m experimenting with spending more time focusing on Emacs. So far, it’s working well. I’ve been moving more resources to Git and ( to make it easier for people to check out and view the Org files in Emacs. And people have started sending me pull requests, hooray! itsjeyd contributed a section to this Emacs Lisp tutorial. This week, I’m planning to flesh out the reading Emacs Lisp tutorial more.

Blog posts


Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (32.9h – 19%)
    • [ ] Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • [ ] Go to Quantified Self meetup
    • [ ] Host visual thinkers meetup
    • [ ] Record session on learning keyboard shortcuts
    • Earn (12.9h – 39% of Business)
    • Build (9.7h – 29% of Business)
      • [X] Build – Coding: Tweak post info to appear in sidebar on wide screens (> 1600px)
      • [X] Add batch operation for “Today” and “Yesterday” to clothing view
      • [X] Read Eloquent Ruby
      • [X] Track all the experiments
      • [X] Fix vagrant VM
      • [X] Analyze a year of clothing data
      • Drawing (0.5h)
      • Delegation (2.5h)
        • [X] Brainstorm more tasks
        • [X] Add more tasks to delegation board in Trello
      • Packaging (0.0h)
        • [X] Set up custom domain for git, update redirects
        • [X] Decide on Linode crossgrade to SSD
        • [X] Getting R and ggplot2 to work in Emacs Org Mode Babel blocks; also, tracking the number of TODOs
        • [X] Use the structured debriefing framework for one occasion, then reflect on it
      • Paperwork (0.1h)
      • Emacs
        • [X] Outline a book or the key things that need improved documentation/tutorials
        • [X] Learn how to plot with Org and R
        • [X] Clean up live coding screencast for viewing tasks by project
        • [X] Add more sections to Emacs Lisp tutorial
        • [X] Experiment with exporting orgtbl
        • [X]
        • [X] Reinvesting time and money into Emacs
        • [X] Share picking up workflow tips by reading other people’s configs
    • Connect (10.3h – 31% of Business)
      • [X] Help with gozes’ configuration
      • [X] Help zeltak
      • [X] Invite bbatsov for an Emacs Chat
      • [X] Plan pairing with Tom Marble?
      • [X] Set up interviews with people
      • [X] Talk to David Wolever about Emacs
      • [X] Frugal Fire: Co-host interview with Bakari
      • [X] Frugal Fire: Transition to Jordan
      • [X] Check parts for rice cooker
      • [X] Fix rice cooker
      • [X] Chat with splintercdo (Janis) about literate programming
      • [X] Set up conversations
  • Relationships (5.9h – 3%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (28.5h – 16%)
    • [X] Ask questions in public
    • [X] Download talks as MP3
    • [X] Follow up on missing book? Obliquity
    • [X] Make a list of questions I’m curious about
    • [X] Tidy up desk
    • [X] What’s new in Rails
    • [X] [#C] Track cat data
    • [ ] Deposit USD
    • [ ] [#C] Tracking: Update the number of tasks
    • Writing (9.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (16.9h – 10%)
  • Personal routines (25.0h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (6.1h – 3%)
  • Sleep (55.6h – 33% – average of 7.9 per day)