1 Minute Tips Literature Philosophy

Advice for Aspiring Writers

I came across this today via Twitter, and I thought it was so good, that I needed to keep it on my blog, so that I would always have a copy.

Here’s the advice:

First — keep reading. Writers are readers. Writers are also people who can’t not write.

Second, follow Heinlein’s rules for getting published:

1. Write it.
2. Finish it.
3. Send it out.
4. Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check.

There are variations on that, but that’s basically what works.


It’s from novelist Anne McCaffery who died today at 85. I wasn’t aware of here, but when I read the blog post about her death and it noted this piece of advice, it made such an impression on me that I posted it on all my Social networks, but also felt the need to keep it on my blog.

You’re blog on you’re own domain, I think is important, because things like Twitter, Facebook, are great for “Real-Time” but they are ephemeral, and you tend to forget what you posted after a few days, much less can you find things that you need.

One of the things that resonates with me on her list is “Finish it.” I’ve noticed that with songs: Even if you don’t necessarily like your lyrics, it’s always so much better to finish the song, rather than leave it lingering, waiting for the “perfect” lyrics to “someday” come. Someday never will come, but if you finish the song as best you can, then it takes on a life of it’s own and has the opportunity to get better.

“Done is Better than Perfect.” is a sign that they have around Facebook’s Headquarters. Very à propos.

1 Minute Tips Code Tech

How to Link Text in HTML

OK, I know this is dumb. But mainly this post is for me. When I write things down, and especially in a public facing place like a blog, it helps me remember. Which goes to one of my tenants:

A blog can simply be a repository of things you want to remember, and if that thing isn’t something private, it might possibly be also helpful to someone else.

It’s kind of like that teaching is really a way for the teacher to remind themselves, or ditto for writers, although writers often have the extra benefit of learning while they write. One of the best arguments for writing is that (for folks who are “readers and writers” as opposed to “Talkers and Listeners”) writing is the best educational instrument there is. Writing is the best, most efficient way to learn.

Anyway on to the subject.

How to Link Text in HTML

You simply wrap your text with the “a” tag in this code:

<a href=”insert your link here“>this would be your text</a>

Simple as that, but today I had to “hot” link some text, and I wrote href=”” and forgot the “a” tag. Had to “Google” the code for the billionth time. Sick of that. Felt like I needed to remember simple code that I use all the time without having to Google it all the time. So you see linking is essentially an “a” tag with that little “href=” bit added in there also you must make sure your link is in quotation marks.

So here’s for helping me learn writing and blog. Maybe one day I can learn the code to make this blog look prettier and sparkle!

Have any questions? Who knows, if I can figure out your problem, maybe I’ll learn something.

1 Minute Tips Social Media Twitter

The Best Way to Use Twitter

Update 9/27/11

Here it is in a nutshell. You don’t need to read the rest of this post: Don’t worry about getting followers. Just fill your inbound (who you follow) with cool people your interested in who, and this is key, whose information will somehow make your life better. Help you learn cool new stuff.  That’s how you get value. And the same would go for Google+.

date 6/23/11 –

Just saw this tweet from @steverubel (Good guy to follow) “How To Answer The Question “How Often Should I Tweet?” ” – Thought it’d be a good and perhaps valuable read for this subject.

Update 2/06/11

If you’re a member of Twitter, then I’m sure you got this email recently from the Twitter team on how to get the best experience from Twitter. I’ve copied and pasted it hear and put my comments in parenthesis:

Happy New Year,

Our resolution is to help you get the most of out of Twitter this year. To start, we thought we’d send this note with four simple suggestions. Come on by our web site to try these out anytime!

1) Follow your interests. We’ve found that the people who enjoy Twitter most tend to follow a variety of accounts: friends, family, people in their profession, local shops and events, and most importantly, people who share their passions.
(This hasn’t been easy in the past. For the first few years twitter was all “techies”, but now that it is becoming more mainstream, it’s becoming more possible.)

2) Get specific. Like sports? Follow your favorite leagues, teams, players, coaches, commentators, writers and fellow fans. Love food? Follow chefs, restaurants, critics, bloggers, specialty shops and respected foodies.
(Obviously, no-brainer. 🙂

3) Don’t panic. People turn to Twitter during emergencies. Snowstorms, power outages and fires are just a few emergencies where Twitter may be helpful. Search for #hashtags and follow local civic accounts to stay informed.

(This may be one of Twitter’s most understated assets. Search in general on Twitter is not that good. But when you are searching for something that is happening right now, it’s fantastic. For instance, my team was playing the other night. Their schedule said it was broadcast on “CSS” which is Comcast something. I don’t have Comcast. I have Dish, but I thought maybe somebody was “Ustreaming” or something. So I did a real time Twitter search (Search is the box at the very top center of the page). Couldn’t find anyone Ustreaming it, but what I did find was even better. Someone tweeted loud and clear, “Arkansas vs Georgia on @ESPN3 tonight” ESPN 3 is the online streaming arm of ESPN. )

4) Return to Twitter. There are about 200 million accounts on Twitter now – that means new interests, new voices, and new ideas every day. We offer services in seven languages, apps for most devices, and SMS worldwide.
(Wow, 200 million is a serious number. But I believe it. Every where I go, everything I hear, Twitter and Facebook are mentioned in the same breath, same tandem. So it makes sense that Twitter would start to be getting “Facebook Numbers” so to speak)

Thanks for being part of Twitter,

@Biz, @Ev, & @Jack
Co-founders, Twitter

Part I: What’s in it for You?

Firstly, I wish the follower counts weren’t listed on Twitter. It becomes an obsession, and it works against the first tenant of how Twitter is best used for the “average” user.

If you are an average human being, who isn’t interested in being “recognized” or being a digital “star” the best way to look at Twitter is simply what value you can attain from it. You shouldn’t care a hoot who or how many people follow you. You should only be concerned about following people who interest you, who can give you value for your life, entertain you, whatever turns you on. You’re first objective is that Twitter should be a pleasure, not a strain. You should look at it as a media source, the same way you look at which book or magazine to buy that will give you those same things.

  • So, firstly, you should find 150 or so great people to follow or whatever your “Dunbar” number is, and leave it at that. Don’t follow people just so they will follow you back or just because they are following you.
  • You would rather follow 1,000 of the most awesome people in the world and have 0 followers, than have 10,000 followers and be following 5,000 people who tweet things that aren’t adding value to your life.

That really could be the end of it for most of us. Think of Twitter like a book. If you’re reading an awesome book that enriches your life, do you care if that book “Like you back” so to speak, or “follows you back.” Heck no. Even if you were Ashton Kutchner or John Mayer, you would be better off with ZERO followers but following only people who were enriching your life. This really is the top priority of Twitter. What can I get out it that adds to my life. Not, oh, if I can only get Roger Ebert’s or Steve Martin’s attention!

Part II: Your Still Not Satisfied

OK, so you still want to be a “Digital Star” part of the “digerati.” If you do want to attract honest to goodness followers, and by that I mean folks who aren’t following you just so that you follow them back you need to

  • Create original content in a subject that you are passionate about, preferably in video format.

It’s easy to tweet interesting content that someone else created, say the New York Times, the Tech Blogs, etc. But everyone is doing that. It’s ok at times, and especially if its something you find truly interesting and that you have actually read yourself and thought about, but people are more interested in the source. They may follow you, but they are listening to and influenced by the source. Because the source is the guy who is passionate about his subject, he’s going to deliver the most interesting, not only content about it, but perspective and opinions about it.

So find your passion, no matter what it is, and create original content around it. It may not be tech or some of the other popular Twitter topics, but even if no one else on Earth was interested in what you were covering (and that’s highly unlikely) at least you’ll be living on the edge of excitement all the time.

And one of the points of Twitter is that you would rather have 1,000 followers who are truly interested in your tweets than 10,000 who are only following you so that you follow them back. That is akin to having a conversation with someone who is only there so that you’ll listen to them.

What are your thoughts about the best way to use Twitter? Love to hear your insights.

1 Minute Tips

One Easy Way to Stimulate Your Creativity

So, I was listening to the podcast “TWiT” yesterday, as I have been doing pretty much every Sunday for the past several years. Then I happened to listen to the Podcast that comes right after it called “East Meets West” with Tom Merritt and Roger Chang which I usually don’t listen to, but did because because Leo was going to stay on for it. Anyway, in one short snippet they talked about how they always think of their best ideas in the shower. Well it turns out that it’s more than just a coincidence. What’s happening is that blood vessels are stimulated by the warmth. They expand and your brain becomes oxygenated.

  • So if you want to stimulate your creativity or need to come up with a good idea, take a hot shower.

If you want to boost this effect, take a hot tub or whirlpool bath, especially after a work out.

It reminded me of my own experiences with this. I have a whirlpool bath. I was in the habit, several years ago, of getting in it everyday. I was going through a period of writing songs and poems. I noticed great lines seemed to just come to me when I was in the whirlpool. I got to where I’d put a notebook on the vanity. It was quite exhilarating. I was in and out of that hot tub ten or fifteen times during a bath. That was the only problem. I couldn’t enjoy my bath! But if you need to come up with some ideas, or have a specific project in front of you, this is a great technique. Take advantage of it.

Here’s a snippet from the podcast, where Leo, Tom Merritt, and talk about this phenomenom.

Hot Shower Stimulates Creativity by spickeringlr

What are your thoughts about this? Do you have any other suggestions for stimulating creativity?

1 Minute Tips Music Tech

Garageband Tip: Work Behind the Beat

So I’ve been in the Mac World for over a year now, but I’ve just now entered the Garageband World or recording and the whole idea of recording on a computer. I know what you’re saying, “Welcome to the ’90s!” I know. I know, but you see as much as I’m interested in technology, I also have this reverse energy working. I call them “mental blocks.” In the early ’90s I got a 4 track cassette recorder. I think it was $500. Couldn’t make it work. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t.  Then I bought some multi track software from the local music store. Looked fancy. Only $50. Couldn’t make it work either. I just couldn’t get decent sound into the damn thing. I don’t know what it was. A PC, the drivers, the technology? I don’t know. Just a lot of buzzing.

Finally in 2001 I got a stand alone “DAW” one of those little BOSS BR things, and FINALLY, something I could simply plug in and play, and though its woefully small GUI (I wouldn’t even call it a GUI) would make the normal musician drive to the local bridge and jump off, I could actually record multi track sound that sounded clear, and a drum machine to boot! I was hooked. My creativity jumped. Then in 2005 I bumped up to the BR-1600, spending $1200 and thought I was in heaven. Even better Pre Amps, better sound, and the ability to program real arrangements, bass lines and customized drumming. I thought I had my studio. So I’ve been working with it ever since, thinking I had it all. All I needed at least.

Finally though, especially with this gorgeous 20″ iMac screen, I just couldn’t live with the little 1×5″ GUI. I never wanted to do editing because it was just too painful. So I was stressed with every take because I felt I had to get it perfect. I did, because I wasn’t willing to cut and paste or even punch in and out very often. Pain moves folks to action.

So finally I entered the Garageband world a few weeks ago, cutting my first song on it, “The Darkest Hour Comes,” just recently. Loooooove it. The colors, seeing all the tracks. The loops. Dragging and dropping edits allows one so much freedom, that one can relax and get into the groove.

So, since I don’t have an interface yet, I’m recording guitars and vocals into the BR and importing the .WAV files into Garageband. (Of course that little pain will have me down to the Guitar Center getting a Presonus Firebox very soon!)

But in the meantime I’m working on a new tune. Now with the freedom of Garageband (And computer based recording in general) I discovered I can just record away over and over again, not worrying about mistakes, because I know that I can cut and paste the best parts on the desktop and arrange the song with relative ease.

So finally here comes my tip. I’ve been working on the guitar track today, cutting and pasting away, and I’ve noticed one thing: Even though I’m working with a click track, you’re almost never exactly on the beat, especially at that crucial juncture of the first beat. You’re either a millisecond ahead or behind it. That’s one of the things that makes it sound natural. But if you cut and paste a section that comes in ahead of the beat you’re going to cut out an important part and also hear a little clip. If you cut and paste those sections a little behind the beat, then everything sounds seamless.

When you’re recording, you can’t consciously decide to be in front or behind the beat, but knowing that you have the freedom to make mistakes does allow you to relax and get into the groove. So if you just keep the tape rolling and make multiple passes (I recorded 6 minutes of passes for a 4 minute song last night) you’re going to have enough material where you have as many backbeats as frontbeats, so you’ll be good.

Then, when you’re editing look for those sections that have a backbeat to cut and paste with. It’ll make your life a lot easier. And a lot more fun. And when you record enough passes, every once in a while you’ll even be right on the beat.  Those moments are rare (unless your a good musician) but they feel like Luke finally getting those laser torpedos into that right whole of the Death Star.

The “Death Star” of your anti creative complex explodes and you up your anti to a new level. Oh, shit. I feel Pro-Tools and Logic on the horizon coming forward.

Comments, Questions, or Suggestions? Love to hear your thoughts.

1 Minute Tips Apps Iphone Tech

Brighten Your iPhone’s Screen


On your iPhone main page click Settings>Brightness and then slide the button all the way to the right. You can also turn off “Auto Brightness” when you lay down to surf or read, to stop it from doing that annoying dimming when you’re trying to see things clearly.

O.K., before you say I am insulting your intelligence, let me explain. For one, I’ve had an iPhone for a few months and I didn’t know how to do this, and I generally think of myself as half techno-geeky. I’ve also been a computer enthusiast for years and that didn’t stop me from letting a hard drive crash a few years ago with no back up, loosing a lot of valuable stuff. I call these “blind spots” in one’s psychology. So maybe its just me, or maybe some of you out there have them too. I don’t know. We write in order to learn and to remind ourselves and to improve.

Also, I blog about what interests me at the moment. A couple nights ago, I fell asleep at around 6pm and woke up at 9. I looked over at the digital clock to see what time it was, and it wasn’t on. Didn’t take me long to figure out that the electricity was off in the whole house. First reaction? Did I forget to pay the bill? No, I knew I had.  But anyway it was pitch black. I had no way to see. Except for my iPhone.

Then I thought about the Flashlight App I had gotten and dismissed as being stupid and somewhat of a scam. But anyway I turned it on. OK, at least I could tip toe around. Around enough to look out the window and see that the whole neighborhood was pitch black too. Whoo, rubbing the sweat off, relieved it wasn’t just me, and that I had somehow forgot the bill. Anyway, it occurred to me, “Can I brighten this thing?” So that brought me Settings and Brightness, and Wahlaa! a flashlight that wasn’t so bad after all. And another benefit of it is that it keeps the screen on, from going into sleep mode so that you don’t constantly have to worry about swiping the unlock button.

I walked outside, saw a few people wondering the same thing and then a couple of Entergy trucks heading down the main thourough fare.

The electricity was out for a good three hours. So I came back in sat down in a comfortable chair (that I could find now!) and surfed the web on my iPhone. You know before I almost never surfed the web on the iPhone. Felt the screen was too small, but in this situation I didn’t. And now I am more comfortable and almost enjoy surfing with it, even now that the lights are back on.

Funny how an electrical outage can ironically turn a few psychological lights on.

P.S. See even here CNET calls the Flashlight App “Absurd” and I would have heartily agreed, until that night I needed it. One doesn’t always have a flashlight or candle (that’s lit) by one’s bed, but one always has one’s phone. For this particular occasion the $.99 was worth it.