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Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.

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Ramblings

Things... 3

Jonathan Tom

Productivity. It’s a subject that many profess to be experts at and a word that tends to get thrown around willy-nilly. It’s also a huge topic but let’s talk about to do lists for now. I’ve always been a list man; whether it’s jotted in the margins of a notebook, in a moleskine, or using an app on my phone/computer/tablet, I’ve always been a fan of using them to track progress and keeping on track. While I’ve always been a fan of lists I’m not an expert with them by any measure. I’ve read Getting Things Done by David Allen but I’ve never reached that level of systematic.

As I mentioned above, I’ve taken to using applications for managing my to do lists and projects over the last several years. For my professional task management I’ve used everything from Outlook’s task list, to simple checklists in Apple Notes, to what I currently use: Todoist. The main reason for using Todoist for my current work applications is that I need to collaborate with my team and it’s the best cross platform solution I’ve come across.

I do, however, like to keep my professional and personal applications separate so for my personal to do lists I had been using Omnifocus on my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad (yes, for the new people, I am firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem). I’d been feeling more and more like it wasn’t working for me though as I strayed further from a GTD system. Over the last few months I’ve been toying with going back to Cultured Code’s Things. I had tried Things when it was a version 1 product and I grew out of the experience, mostly due to the UI. I’ve recently made the leap back to Things 3 as you could have guessed from the title of this post and I’ve been pretty happy with it so far, the downside is the price point. While I am a fan of supporting software developers who make great products, dropping over $100 for applications on computer, phone and tablet is a little steep but perhaps that’s just me being cheap. Either way I did do it and I don’t regret it but if you’re a budget conscious person it might be worthwhile to stick with something like Todoist.

For those who are interested, I do break my separation rule by using Todoist for my grocery list. It integrates really well with Amazon’s Echo which I use extensively and I’ve grown accustomed to saying “Amazon, add eggs to my shopping list” as I’m rummaging around in my refrigerator or pantry. I know, I know… zeroeth world problems but it is way easier than stopping what I’m doing and grabbing my phone to add eggs to my list.

I guess this is a good place to say that I have not been sponsored in any way by these products or services and that the opinions expressed above are my own.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for a solid to do list for a manageable price, hit up Todoist. If you have extra cash and you’d like a more polished experience aim for Things 3. Finally, if you’re looking for a serious GTD tool for your system, go for Omnifocus.

Different Area Codes

Jonathan Tom

So it’s been a while (this seems to be the norm around here) but I’m not going to make any excuses - things have just been crazy. The biggest change in life thusfar is that I moved out of the place I had been living for the previous five (five?) years. Contrary to the title of this article though, I haven’t actually moved that far - I’m literally right across the street in a newly contructed building called The Onyx. The new place is pretty much all setup now and it’s pretty much feeling like home now.

While the remainder of the summer is still looking pretty busy I hope to have a little more time to get here a little more often.

Ships and Holidays

Jonathan Tom

Morning in the shipyard.

Morning in the shipyard.

I left North America around mid-November in a snow squall for northern Italy across the water from Venice to a city called Mestre. In Mestre is an industrial yard called Fincantieri Navale which is the shipyard where every Holland America Line vessel for at least the last 18 years has been built. I’ve been a part of every build since 2010’s Nieuw Amsterdam but this year I was joining from the contractor side rather than the employee side of things. What I initially thought was going to be quite different turned out to not be very dissimilar at all - the real differences were not having to take part in the drills and not wearing a uniform. The things that were in common were the sudden changes in availability of hot water, elevators, power, trips out to the coffee machines. Having mentioned the coffee machines... some of the best coffee I’ve had has come from machines located outside in an industrial shipyard. Ridiculous!  

Test Patterns on the 270 degree wall

Test Patterns on the 270 degree wall

It never ceases to amaze me how a ship goes from massive pieces of metal to a floating hotel - at the risk of sounding like a Discovery Channel announcer, it’s really a marvel of modern engineering. Not a small endeavor in either time or man power, the end result after over a year is a ~99,000 ton ship.  In the main theatre, the Worldstage, there is a 270 degree video wall which encompasses the majority of the space and a video ring which can fly in and out. Made up of somewhere around 15 million pixels, the wall is driven by two disguise media servers. In addition to the LED surfaces there are also four laser projectors which put content onto the floor for the show Step One Dance Comapny presentation of Humanity. These projectors are fed by another three disguise servers from the control booth in the Worldstage. Despite the amount of technology that we put into the theatre it’s only a small percentage of the amazing tools (and toys) that get installed on this small city.

Step One Dance Company’s Humanity as seen from the Control Booth

Step One Dance Company’s Humanity as seen from the Control Booth

Anyway, we were in the yard for a couple of weeks and then we sailed from Venice to Rome for the “shake down” or soft opening cruise and, following that, we left for a trans-Atlantic voyage to Fort Lauderdale. Quite a few days at sea but the ship was in pretty good shape with only a few minor bugs to work out and the crew was great. We hit land four or five days before Christmas and I flew from Fort Lauderdale to St. John’s Newfoundland to spend Christmas with the family - it was a pretty good time except for the fact that a bunch of us got sick; fortunately no one transmitted their illness to my niece. All in all, after having been away for 6 weeks I got home just before New Year to end off 2018 in Ottawa.

Family Christmas 2018

Family Christmas 2018

yo ho yo ho

Jonathan Tom

This last week was my first week back out on a ship since I left for land life a couple of years ago. I wasn’t taking a pleasure cruise or anything; I was, in fact, out there for work to prepare for the Oprah Magazine Adventure of Your Life cruise on Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. To the point, I really enjoyed being back out at sea. I knew that I would miss the camaraderie that I had with fellow crew members but I didn’t expect to miss the ship itself and being at sea. Don’t misunderstand me, there is certainly something uniquely attractive about being at sea but after having been at sea for the better part of two decades it wasn’t something I was anticipating would bring nostalgia. That being said, it was really nice to be out there for the week - I’m now back home in Ottawa and enjoying the crisp fall air before it turns into the biting chill of winter.

The view at sea.