Happy Birthday Typewriter | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor

On this day in 1868, the first typewriter was patented by Christopher Latham Sholes. It only had capital letters and it took up as much room as a large table. Typewriters were slow sellers at first, but Mark Twain bought one almost as soon as they came out, and in 1883 Twain sent the manuscript of his book Life on the Mississippi (1883) to his publisher in typed form, the first author ever to do so.

via The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Workspace of Iring Chao in Taiwan.   | Minimal Desks – Simple workspaces, interior design

Workspace of Iring Chao in Taiwan. | Minimal Desks – Simple workspaces, interior design.

We Are All Workspaces — Medium

We Are All Workspaces — Mike Vardy — Medium

So the next time you can’t connect to the Internet, look at your workspace and do what’s right. The next time you don’t want to pay for hotel wi-fi, look at your workspace and do what’s right. The next time you don’t have your devices at all, look at your workspace and do what’s right.

What’s right is using what you have on hand that does not require the things you don’t. In most cases, that is pen/pencil and paper. Excellent post from Mr. Vardy.

Why I’m Giving Up On Digital Notes

Why I'm Giving Up On Digital Notes

So I’m going right back to the drawing board, literally. The most fundamental form of note-taking is via the pen and paper. We can still read ideas and notes written hundreds of years ago. Paper is a fundamental material of humanity and you can bet it will be around for a very long time.

Agreed. In general, we need to get away from the idea that paper is somehow more fragile and less permanent. The fact is, history shows the opposite to be true. Now, in fairness, digital has not been around long enough to prove that it is longer lasting. That said, I’ve personally lost dozens of documents only a few years old to things as simple as no longer supported file formats. Writing that I will likely never see again. Yet, the horrible poetry I wrote 30+ years ago is still in my basement reminding me how far I’ve come. Also, digital files require software and hardware to read them. Paper requires no other tools to read than the ones you are born with.

So, if you are looking for an always on, platform agnostic, no further tools needed place to work on your best ideas — ones you hope will last for centuries — paper is the only logical choice.

Boy, 9, creates library in his front yard. City, stupid, shuts it down. – Boing Boing

Boy, 9, creates library in his front yard. City, stupid, shuts it down. – Boing Boing

In Kansas, 9-year-old Spencer Collins has been told by authorities that he must stop sharing books with his neighbors, and close the little free library–honestly, it’s just a bookshelf–in his yard. Its slogan was "take a book, leave a book," but city government is mostly about the taking.

Speaking of Little Free Libraries, here’s a heartbreaking story about a little boy that loves to read, loves to share that joy, and that a city in Kansas is making him shut it down.

One Strategy to Improve Your Handwriting | From the Pen Cup

One Strategy to Improve Your Handwriting | From the Pen Cup.

So I picked up an inexpensive Sheaffer calligraphy set and a calligraphy workbook and spent hours hunched over practice paper. HOURS. I never DID become a very accomplished calligrapher—school and life eventually got in the way— but after all those hours of practice, a funny thing happened. My random, immature, tilt-a-whirl handwriting became more uniform, tidier, and infinitely more mature. It wasn’t Victoria’s, but it was a much-improved version of my own. Finally, I had handwriting that had a bit of style.

This is actually an interesting strategy that might work for many others out there.

Building A Little Free Library

What is a Little Free Library? It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!Little Free Library

My wife is a voracious reader. She reads two to three books a week. She loves them. She’ll even power through a not-so-good one just to say she read it.

We are fortunate enough to live in a community where the Little Free Library has kind of taken off. It seems I see one every two to three blocks around here. Not a week goes by that my wife (usually with our daughter in tow) doesn’t stop by one of the Little Free Libraries around our neighborhood to trade some books. My wife even keeps a bag of no-longer-needed books in her car for the odd random stop that might happen as she is driving around.

So, for a while now I have been planning on building one as a present for her. As our 8 year wedding anniversary was approaching I knew it would be the perfect gift. Also, I set a personal goal of giving more handmade presents this year. The only problem was that I’m not very "handy". Woodworking stuff and DIY projects don’t come naturally to me. I’m also not the sort of guy who just dives into something I have no idea how to do and figures it out along the way. Especially not for anything this important.

I could have purchased one from the Little Free Library website but they seemed a bit expensive and I wanted to give her something I made with my own hands. I mentioned my plans to my friend Jason late last week, along with my complete lack of confidence in my own skills to do so, and he gladly offered his help.

There are plenty of plans for building your own Little Free Library out there. We live in an 1886 Victorian home and I chose a plan that could be adapted to match similar architectural lines (steeply pitched roof, double doors, plank siding, etc.).

We started with building the basic structure from 3/4 inch plywood. This formed a good foundation to add details to.

Next, the molding was added using some 2 inch cedar.

After that, the siding was cut to fit and installed. This is the same 1886 cedar siding that is on our house — reclaimed.

Cedar shakes were cut and added to the roof.

Finally, the doors were constructed from cedar (with plexiglass windows) and attached with self-closing hinges.

All told, it took a couple of solid work days to complete, but that is largely due to the customization and design choices put into it. A more simple plan would likely take even someone of my lesser skills less than a day. Now that I’ve been through the process, I’m pretty confident that I could and will likely do another one on my own.

Most importantly to me, my wife absolutely loved it! Not only because she has long wanted one of her own but also because she knew how much of a stretch it was for me to build it.

Little Free Libraries are a wonderful thing that brings the gift of reading to communities all around the world. Find one near you and go grab a free book (and leave one too). But, also, consider building one of your own — especially if there is not yet one in your area.

On Interruptions — The Brooks Review

On Interruptions — The Brooks Review

What it means is that if you want to get work done, uninterrupted, you better not be doing it on an iPhone. And if you really want to be left alone, write on paper.

Solid advice. Ben took a poll so it has to be true. Plus, more reasons to write on paper.

The Pile of Index Cards PoIC system | Unclutterer

The Pile of Index Cards PoIC system | Unclutterer

Hawk Sugano you’ll find him on Flickr as “hawkexpress” has devised a system he calls Pile of Index Cards PoIC. It’s a combination of a “brain dump” emptying one’s mind of all important information by writing it down, long-term storage for reference, and David Allen’s GTD method. It’s all managed by a “dock” of 3×5 index cards, and the result is tidy and searchable. The following are instructions for how to set up and use the system.

It is rare that I come across a paper based productivity system I haven’t heard of before. This looks like a really neat.



Ultimately, the Hobonichi Planner amazed me. Its benefits are subtle, and it is meant to be used daily. The Planner is thoughtfully designed, able to be employed for a multitude of tasks, and a pleasure to use. The more I used, the more I started to appreciate it, and to feel that it truly belonged to me. It truly does exemplify the Japanese concept of ‘Yo no bi’ – or ‘beauty through use’.

A good review with some really nice pictures. This is what I use for my daily log. I love mine.