New Home

I realized that a big reason I never wrote here is that it didn't feel like "home". And it wasn't. It was a line item on a much bigger list regard my entire online lifestyle. Do I want a personal cloud? Should I host it myself? What should run locally? Should I use a hyper-techy Markdown-powered static site? But then I can't easily post from my phone - like I am right now. 

Well, this is one decision I was ready to make. I'm tired of constantly switching to the new popular self-hosted platform. I don't need something as huge as WordPress just to run my own site. Now that I am no longer a developer by day, I want to spend less time working on my site and more time witting on it.  

So, as off today, this site now runs on Squarespace. They offer a great writing experience, solid mobile apps, and I don't have to worry about the site. Their templates are great for a non-designer like me, and when I go to build my wedding website soon, it is super easy to add on a site. It took less than two hours to migrate over here as well, which is pretty much the fastest I have ever been able to pull that off. It is kinda odd to not have this domain pointing to my own server, but now it feels like home. 

Nuked It All

I finally went ahead and did it. I nuked all my old writing. Posts going back to 2008, back when I was just learning all this stuff. 

I was in college, dying to stand out, and happened to grok WordPress really well. That was my in - I was in marketing, could code a bit thanks to classes I had taken, and could make my name by being young. Thinking back, it was a bit crazy - I only got kicked out of one bar for being at an event while I was too young, but trying to break into marketing at 19 is tricky, when nearly every event revolves around booze.

5 years later, it just didn't feel right to bring all those posts back. So, it is time to start anew. This time, I am not going to limit myself to posts that will make me look like a strategic though-leader looking to bring busines to social while socializing business. I did save a few of my old posts, most of which were recent. 

So, here you will find my long-form stuff, and anything a bit meatier. You can find me as mitchellhislop on most social sites, where I post the less-important stuff. You will also find it under the 'MPH' moniker, if I am able to secure that.

2015 - Whats in Store

Inspiried by all the other "2015" posts I have seen today (especially Patrick Rhone's, I figured I needed to call out what I wanted to accomplish this year. It's a hodpoge of resolutions, goals, and general themes, in no particular order.

  • Read more + read better. I used to read a ton, and then the internet happened. These days, I read far more on Reddit than I do just about any other source. I am going to start with a 1 book/month goal, and start to carry my Kindle. I tend to do well with physical reminders, so schlepping it around should get me to pull that out, rather than my phone

  • Stablize my personal system. Late in 2014, I realized I had mostly been, well, lucky to not forget anything. My previous GTD based system had long devolved into a bunch of random lists. For 2015, I am back on the wagon (not letting go of the "Weekly Review" concept really helped here). The main hub is my Levenger Circa, and various services (Trello, Sunrise.AM, Evernote) will feed it. I have a post in the queue about why I love analog things so much, which should explain it a bit more in-depth.

  • Use this site. This poor site. I've had a blog since 09, and I have never landed on what its...for. Recently, I have been getting an itch to write more. I haven't fully landed on a list of topics, but it will likely start as a mix of pen/gear reviews, productivity thoughts, links I love, book reviews, and personal thoughts. 

  • Journal. Related to the above, I have never kept a personal journal/log/etc. I've spent a lot of the last year reflecting, and not being able to look back at anything has hindered that a bit. 

  • Grow fjorge. This new role is my biggest yet, and I really want to see some "up and to the right" by the end of the year. 

  • Fix my teeth - I have always only been "OK" when it comes to my teeth, and relatedly, have always hated the dentist. I need to get my wisdom teeth out, and generally get it better integrated into my routine.

  • Manage my finances better. This year, I will log every transaction in YNAB (something I have tried and failed at before), and pay down debt. Not being as paycheck-to-paycheck anymore has lead me to a spot where I haven't made much progress on my finanical goals, rather have just been comfortable. 2015 will see me tackling those goals. 

  • Get outside more. I spent most of my youth outdoors (Thanks to a comboniation of working on my Eagle Scout, climbing, and having trails nearby). Most of my adult life has been behind a screen. I want to end up in a better balance this year. 

I've hit a point that big, year-long themes don't fit anymore - there is no big glaring One Thing Wrong like there was previously. Turning 26 and seeing the downhill to 30 has focused me around cleaning up the things in my life that I am not happy with, in an effort to form the habits I want to have 5/10/50 years from now. 2015 is the start of all of this.

New Beginnings

I just turned 26. When that hit me, an internal alarm sounded. The "if you want to do something big/risky/major, do it in the next few years" klaxxon was ringing. I've been slowly moving out of pure development, which I have been doing for the last few years, and moving back into interactive marketing, where my career began. 

This started with moving into the Digital Strategist role at Irish Titan early this year, which mostly happened because I realized that I was getting burnt out as a developer. I've been working on the same types of apps and sites, in the same frameworks, and it was just wearing on me. I'm relatively certain that I don't want to be a full-time developer - I love development, but the development that excites me the most is when I am playing with new things, or scratching my own itch. I want to build things to automate my apartment, or run my own cloud, rather than another CakePHP CRUD app. My true love lies at the intersection of Business, Technology, and Marketing, without being too deep into one. The catalyst moments happen at the edges, not deep within. 

A couple months ago, one of my mentors approached me with an oppertunity to get back into the interactive world, have a bit of freedom, and really get my hands dirty. 

It is time for me to take the next step on my journey. Today is my last day at Irish Titan. They have been fantastic, and I wish them all the best. 

I'll be writing more about the new role after I transition into it, but it is just the big/risky/major move that I need to make right now.

Switching Sides

This Post was originally written back in August of 2013. I decided to save when when I purged my blog.

I have recently made a major life change: I left the halo of Apple, and moved back to the halo of Google.

These days, you are not just picking a phone OS, you are choosing an ecosystem. You are slaving yourself to a system of devices, accessories brands, and apps that will hold you. This is exactly by design - the halo effect in action - but it can leave you in a bind. Whether you go to the land of Apple, inhabited by the likes of The Omni Group, hot social photo sharing startups everywhere, and Belkin, or choose the path of Android, with Samsung and Motorola putting their own twist on that lovable little robot, and apps that make you hopeful for the future of the tribe, you are choosing a side.

Sure, you can use both - an Android phone with an iPad - but you are missing out on something big. In fact, it goes back to something I've written about before - ubiquity. When you are fully in the halo, sporting a PC, tablet, phone, and set-top device from companies that are playing nice, something clicks. The feeling that data is just data, and the devices are just dumb screens that have access to it. This is a concept that sci-fi writers have write en about forever - the idea of people using multiple clients to access centralized data and computing resources, with very little friction between them.

This makes switching sides hard. It is often more expensive than just the device, and it can get tricky to end up with your data in the correct places. When I was in Best Buy, setting up the new phone line, I made a list of the apps that I would need to replace, what had Android options, and how much it would roughly cost. I ended up having to switch back to LassPass from 1Password, since they don't have an Android client, and I'm a sucker for generated passwords. Aside from that, I had done a good enough job choosing ubiquitous services that for my other apps, and I just needed to get the Android client. I am about $20 deep in apps, but I have achieved parity in functionality.

It is important to note that this is not my first switch - I had a Motorola Droid before the iPhone. This meant that I still had access to apps in my account, and was at least familiar with the system.

Having now spent a bunch of time in both worlds, here is where I landed:

Top 5 Things I Like Better About Android:

  • Intents. These are a killer feature, and Apple needs to address this in the next major iOS release. The ability for apps to arbitrarily pass data around, and define default handlers for these is amazing. It is the biggest thing I missed with iOS. When you are able to easily send stuff to Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest, explicitly define defaults at a granular level, and have things automatically take place based on other things happening, your phone feels like it bumped a few steps in power. 
  • Widgets. I grew up on various flavors of Windows Mobile (the Treo 700w remains one of my favorite devices to this day), and having an information-dense screen makes me happy. I get what Apple is going for with their choice, but the ability to throw stuff on your homescreen makes my life simpler.
  • Google Now. This is one of the best things I have ever used. It is like Siri, but if Siri was smart enough to know what you were doing, and what you would be likely to care about knowing right then. When my phone pings me that I need to leave earlier for a meeting because there is traffic, and it KNEW that so it TOLD me, I legitimately feel like I am on the USS Enterprise.
  • Lack of Bullshit. It is so nice not having to leave the Kindle app to buy a book, or leave the Amazon Prime app to get a video. I like being able to easily install betas. I like that I can replace stock stuff, remove it, and do basically whatever I want to it. I can easily share things with webapps, allowing me to text from my browser. I can easily install an app from my desktop browser (Apple's landing pages do NOT count)
  • Size. I went into this thinking it was going to be just too big of a phone. That screen was massive. However, after about a week I had this weird feeling - it didn't feel too big anymore. It felt right. My old iPhone felt like a phone for ants. And the SuperAMOLED is just amazing. Having the pure-black is nice for the battery as well.

Top 5 Things I Miss About iOS

  • Polish. While Android is getting there with Project Butter and the HoloUI, there are still a bunch of shitty looking apps. My experience tells me that even the shittiest, oldest iOS app still looks a lot better than the worst Android apps.
  • Hardware. The glass and metal is miles ahead of the plastic my SGSIII is rocking.
  • Software. I do still miss some of the iOS - only apps that I was using, and still feel a bit of a twinge when a new one is release that I can't run.
  • ...
  • ...

My next tablet will be a Nexus device, as will my next phone. [Ed Update 6/14: Bought a Nexus 7 a few months ago, love it][Ed Update 10/24/14: Bought an HTC One M8 to replace the S3, still happy to be on team Android]

Ubiquity & Continuity

Note: This was originaly written in March of 2011. With the recent announcement of Apple's Continuity framework, it seemed especially relevant.

Last week, I have been conducted a test. I wanted to see how minimal I could go with my kit, and how much of my life I could do on a device that is not mine.

The first day I was at my office all day. I had picked up a loaner MacBook pro from my dad, in order to test the form factor. I am lookingto upgrade sometime soon, and wanted to know what a MacBook pro felt like. Since it is not my laptop, it seemed like a
perfect time to test my setup.

I was able to do my entire job, as well as the coursework I had to complete, all with only launching safari. This can be attributed to a few things. The first, I was using several different platforms for the longest time. This means that I needed to rely on things
that had a solid syncing systems in place. Thanks to relying on gmail, google apps, Evernote, simplenote, toodledo, and mobile devices, I was able to do everything I needed to do. I had access to all my
bookmarks through pinboard, my notes through simplenote, my tasks with toodledo, and the rest of my tools with google apps.

I then decided to take it a step further, and try to go a whole day without touching my laptops. This means that I would only have access to my iPhone and iPad to go through class, any needed work
tasks, and the rest of the things needed on a daily basis.

I have been striving for years to make my setup as ubiquitous as possible. This is because I am always on the go, and after a few system failures, I got crazy about backup and access. I want to, at a moments notice, and anywhere I may be, have access to all of my
data and be able to do whatever I need.

I also discovered that I can get by with very little. It has lead me to not lug my laptop as much. This, in conjunction with having a
work computer for the first time ever, means that both MacBooks usually stay in the apartment.

Here is what I carried today: 

Just my iPad, iPhone, wallet, keys, headphones, and smokes. Start to remove things from your system, and see where your pain points