A short note from me to you at the start of this New Year: I’m writing this under the bright light of a full moon so as not to disturb my sleeping wife. We’ve been having a lovely holiday in Myanmar since Christmas Eve (check out the photostream here) and have an early morning wake-up tomorrow to watch the sun rise over ruins of an ancient city called Bagan. Not a bad way to start a day, right?

Today, the 4th of January, is Myanmar’s independence day, commemorating when this country (then called ‘Burma’) broke free from Britain. I started this morning riding a shaky electric “E-Bike” along a very sandy, sawtooth-ragged road shoulder. As I wobbled along, the double-tap horns of passing motorbikes and swerving, speeding cars made the traffic feel much more like India than Thailand. I took a deep breath, clinched my jaw, and kept my eyes pointed straight ahead.

We eventually arrived at the nearly 1,000 year old Ananda Pagoda and wandered through the overflowing crowds of a festival which was sort of hybrid between a busy town market and a once-a-year county fair: Human-powered amusement park rides plastered, unaccountably, with the image of Johnny Depp-as-Captain Jack Sparrow, monks of every size, age, and description wandering amidst a backdrop of distorted electronic music playing through overdriven speakers and, everywhere, the smell of unfamiliar foods and spices in the air.

I spent the afternoon back at the hotel, recovering from how I spent my morning.

Bagan is an archeological treasure, the site of thousands of pagodas and religious monuments. Its breadth rivals Angkor Wat. We’ve had a beautiful time so far here in Myanmar and I thought I’d share it with you in case you needed an inspiring place to visit on this Earth or, you know, were wondering why I haven’t answered your email or been fixing AppleScripts inconveniently broken by some new app update.

Looking Ahead

Bagan is now at the center of Myanmar’s nascent rebirth as a tourist destination and, as a place which mixes history with new beginnings, is probably the perfect place to start 2015 and sort through this moment in my life when I feel a strong urge to take stock of where I’ve been – and where I really want to go.

2014 was another peripatetic year: It began in Luang Prabang, Laos and ended with fireworks over Inle Lake, here in Myanmar. In between–Thailand, Hong Kong, the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia. In each place, Lauren and I found old friends or made new ones.

How lucky is that?

Moving around so much hasn’t made it easy to finish everything I’ve started, but I think – I hope – that all this travel has helped me begin to see myself and the work I want to do more clearly. More and more this year, I found myself thinking about how traditions and technologies can work together to make our lives feel fuller and make our world more humane.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve met so many people who use a pastiche of ideas and tools–old and new–to do their best work and build a future for themselves. It often leaves me feeling more curious than certain about how to get at my own best work… but I suppose that means that I’m exploring in the right places. I have some glimmers of the direction that this is taking me and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you here soon.

For now, I wanted to take this moment to thank you again for all of the kind support you’ve given me in 2014: Your personal notes, mentions, and donations make me feel so very grateful to have an opportunity to share a bit of myself with you.

The more I live, the more I understand what a rare and wonderful privilege this is.

If you follow as many Mac websites as I do, you’ll notice waves of people talking all at once about the same apps being on sale. Usually it’s because there’s a good affiliate program promotion going on and, you know, earning money for helping other people save money is A Good Thing™ (especially for hard-working writers).

Case-in-Point – Making its way across the Twittersphere right now are really good sales on three Mac apps via StackSocial.

Quickly, they are:

  1. Text Expander 4. Truly one of my “essentials”, TE4 has become one of those “How the hell would I live without this?” apps for me. When I use my wife’s computer and forget that she doesn’t have it installed, I groan every time I have to type something out the long way. (The fact that I haven’t convinced her to try it yet is, to date, my greatest failure of Nerd-suasion ever.) You’ll want to snap this one up ASAP as the sale ends in a few hours.
  2. Dragon Dictate 4. I’ve used Dragon Dictate for years and it keeps getting better and better. The latest version adds built-in transcription of audio files (a feature that I’ve been concocting some fun/unholy experiments with here in my secret Veritrope Lab). If you’re a creative person who sometimes can’t type as fast as you think, I think this is a fantastic tool to capture those thoughts quickly.
  3. Undercover. This is one of the better theft-recovery apps and it’s what I use for peace of mind on all my Macs. Warning: If you steal my Macbook Pro, I have the ability to track you down and/or play bad US Top 40 songs at full volume until you lose the will to live and are begging Ryan Seacrest to offer you the sweet release of death. (This is a little extreme, don’t you think? Just give me back my computer and no one gets hurt, capiche?)

I use each of these apps myself and think these prices represent a very good bargain. If you’ve been considering purchasing any – or all – of these apps, I’d buy them on sale while you can!

Deadline for Public Comments is September 15th

If you’re an American, I’ve got a fun little Sunday activity for you…

The Federal Communications Commission is making new rules affecting something called ‘Net Neutrality’. Before we get to what that actually means, here’s the important part: The FCC’s deadline to receive public opinions about these new rules is September 15th and I think that you ought to take a few moments today to do some reading about the issue.

Once you get into the details, I suspect you’ll laugh out loud at the absurdity of the current situation (that’s where the “Fun Sunday Activity” part comes in). [Read more…]