This chain of blog posts that are not about the stated topic of the blog continues, as I seek to kickstart a regular blogging habit. Today I will describe the environment around me. My environment is something that I think about a lot. I’m not particularly neat and tidy, but I do like to optimize some things about where I sit and how I work on a computer.
My physical environment for blogging is usally in my living room at night after my wife and son have gone to bed. I sit at our family desk, in our Ikea office chair which was recommended by The Sweethome as a good runner up to the top $900 chair. I have my laptop set on top of small boxes kept near the desk area for the purpose of raising the open laptop screen to be level with my eyes when I am sitting with good posture. I type on an Apple Bluetooth keyboard (without numpad) and use an HP Bluetooth mouse, which I rather like. These are placed on a tray that slides out from the front of the desk. The keyboard is roughly level with the height of my hands when my elbows are bent at 90 degrees.
My environment is a little bit cluttered with papers and pens and half finished projects, but that’s ok for me.
I like to have a little music playing. I change it up, but usually I find something without words. I like classical music or electronic music for working and writing. I put my phone in Do Not Disturb mode, I quit Twitter and Facebook, and I turn off any other notifications that might pop up.
My writing software is currently Sublime Text 3 with a number of customizations. I write with a dark text on light background color scheme. Here are most of the packages I use for writing in Sublime Text.
- Sublime Writing Style
- Omni Markup Previewer
- Advanced New File
- Pandown (for PDF, Word, and presentation outputs from Markdown files)
In addition I have a few custom snippets for the header data that I need when I publish my writing to this blog. I write in a plain text editor because I’m also a programmer and I like using text editors. I move around quickly in this environment. I feel comfortable and efficient. I know exactly where my plain text files are going, and they are more widely compatible with workflow changes and are pretty much future proof. I don’t have to worry about formatting and I can just flow.
My blog itself is a part of my writing environment, I have slightly customized version of MiniBlog a web application which runs on ASP.Net. I am very comfortable making changes to .Net websites so it was easy for me to get up and running with this blog and theme it just the way I wanted. Another important feature of this website is that it supports posting from clients that use something called the MetaWeblog API. There are a few good applications that support sending data to blogs over that API. I am currently using a command line tool called md2sp in order to publish and edit my blog posts. This tool will allow me to work in plain text markdown files and publish to my blog when I am ready.
I know, it’s an especially fidgety and custom workflow compared to the much simpler ways that people write. But I don’t mind and I have good reasons for arriving where I have. It feels pretty efficient most of the time.
I tried working at a standing desk for a couple weeks, once. It wasn’t terrible, but I still gave it up because of foot fatigue. I could probably do it for an hour or two of writing if I wanted to get a good standing desk setup again.
As I continue writing I am sure that this setup will change. I am always on the lookout for a new application or workflow to try. My successes and failures will be documented here in some fashion.