Weeknote, Sunday 21st May 2023

There’s been a lot of London this week. I’m doing a stint of training sessions for various teams across the business – eight sessions this week, basically two a day – and I prefer to do them from the office so I was in for four days running. The good bit is that I get a later train in (the sessions start at 11, so I can get the 9.21) the bad bit is that it turns out commuting is quite tiring. Who knew???

It does have some plus points. It’s nice to see people face to face, and to have those kind of serendipitous chats to your colleagues which actually drive some of the more valuable creative work. It’s good to have a proper gap between work and home. The hour on the train serves that function really well. And it’s nice to have to avoid the inevitable temptation of ill-disciplined home work, where I slide out of bed at 8.45 and am furiously typing Teams messages fifteen minutes later.

I like working at home. But I like working at home on my stuff, rather than the business. That, I like to keep at arms length – and the blurring of home and work life which I fought hard to resist during the pandemic is finally catching up with me. I need more discipline about that, because I have lots of other things which I want to do.

I was reading Mo Morgan’s weeknote yesterday and he mentioned switching email providers. I’m not sure if Mo is actually my doppelgänger, but I have been doing exactly the same dance this week, working on trying out Fastmail. I’m impressed with it, and I am already certain that at the end of the trial period I’ll move all my email and calendars to it.

Another service that I’ve been looking at this week is Authory, which I have been using and recommending for a few years. I did an interview with them about how it meets my needs and was gushingly positive. If you don’t know it, and you’re a writer on the web, you should be using it: it basically scans sites that you write for for your work and create a personal archive of it. So, when someone on the site’s audience development team decides that your old content should be redirect fodder for strengthening another article’s rankings, you don’t lose your work.

(Yes, I have done that to people’s work. I’m sorry.)

Authory has some really nice features. You can use it to create a portfolio site which has all your content from across the web on it. Or you can have an email susbcription using it, so people get all your stuff if they sign up. Oh, and if you tell it a site where your content is, it will go through and find all the existing content to preserve, which is useful when, like me, you have done a bunch of freelance work over the years.

I am still getting slightly scratchy about how to set up my desk at home. A few weeks ago I exiled the Mac mini into the spare room, because although it was great it also tended to dominate the desk. I had a computer and pretty big monitor right in front of me, and it just didn’t feel right.

So I moved the Mac mini and now use my MacBook Air M2. It’s on a stand at the moment, which raise it to a nice height, and I use the Keychron K2 with it which has a lovely action on it. But somehow it still seems like… a lot? Just having the laptop on the desk might be a better option, even though ergonomically I know for a fact that’s terrible. Or maybe I should just go back to having a monitor and a minimal Mac mini setup. Decisions, decisions.

Yesterday we went down to Chichester and saw “Kaye Donachie: Song for the Last Act” at the Pallant House Gallery. It was really good and I would highly recommend it, and the whole gallery too. Pallant House specialises in modern art and does some really interesting curatorial stuff, contextualising the work in different ways. There’s also some great work by Gwen John, which you need to see.

Things I’ve been reading

For a bit of a change of pace I’ve been reading Temeraire, which is basically Napoleonic Wars with dragons. It’s really fun and of course I’m breezing through it.

Ian Betteridge @ianbetteridge