March 28, 2021No Comments

Log Mar 21 to Mar 27

Recap of my last week including my new dual desk setup progress, a new EP album from me, Yamabuki Pokémon, and new YouTube videos

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March 21, 2021No Comments

Log Mar 14 to Mar 20

Recap of my last week including the release of my next EP album, updates to my site, additions to my home office, and my next Figma video

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March 17, 2021No Comments

Log Mar 7 to Mar 13

A recap of my last week including launching Taste Notes' website, recording 2 new YouTube videos, and getting my gaming PC

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March 7, 2021No Comments

Log Feb 28 to Mar 6

Updates on what I did this week including buying my new PC and desk build, finishing the Taste Notes website, and finishing 2 new songs

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February 28, 2021No Comments

Log Feb 21 to Feb 27

Updates on what I did this week including working on Taste Notes website, my new design systems YouTube series, and some PSA Pokemon cards

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February 21, 2021No Comments

Log Feb 14 to Feb 20

Updates on what I did this week including design systems for Taste Notes, design videos for YouTube, and new music tracks

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June 19, 2020No Comments

Apps That Make MacOS a Better Operating System to Use

Even as an Apple fanboy that loves MacOS and iOS, I know that like any software, it isn’t perfect. Not to mention the lack of customization options and (at times) a cluttered interface.

Over time, I’ve found a few apps that replace default Mac apps that make MacOS a better operating system to use. I happily pay and advertise how useful they are just because of the sheer influence and impact they’ve had on my digital workspace and workflow.

In this article I’ll happily share them with you and (hopefully) dodge the dozens of questions I get every time I post a screenshot of something and happen to include one of those apps. Kidding! But no seriously, I need a place to direct people that ask this over and over ?

Bartender - $15

Example of how the Bartender interface works

I’m the type of person that likes to have the least amount of visual clutter and items in my view when I’m working. I tend to get easily distracted by icons and notifications and have geared my digital workspace to avoid that.

Bartender has been one of the best apps for this quirk that I have as it takes those 10–20 icons that show in your top bar and hides them in a secondary bar you can toggle on/off easily. No more having to get distracted by random red notifications and status updates!

Alfred - free or $19 for full

Alfred spotlight search interface

To be honest, I’m still baffled that Apple’s Spotlight feature is as poorly made as it is. It has become quite unpredictable, doesn’t accept keywords to better filter what a user wants, searches unusable files, mixes files with apps in search, etc.

This is where Alfred comes in. Alfred is basically a customizable version of what Spotlight should be. Not only can you customize the look of Alfred, you can also add and create “workflows” to make your own shortcuts that make your life easier. Alfred also uses certain keywords to better understand what you’re looking for and what actions you are trying to take. For example, if you just type a name it will search for apps, but if you type “open” then the file name, Alfred will switch from looking at your apps to looking at files you can open.

uBar - $30

uBar dock interface

I get asked about this app the most and I can understand why if I’m being honest. While MacOS default dock gets the job done, it doesn’t try and do much more outside of that (possibly for better battery management). uBar takes your dock up a notch while also making it quite nicer to use, while customizable and nicer to look at.

uBar creates a smaller dock that can hold favorite apps you have, provide better context on notifications, generates window previews on hover, lets you choose which window to open to, lets you see a calendar on hover, and gives shortcut access to your main Finder folders and preferences just to name a few. I personally like that it feels more out of the way than the original dock and still feels in place in adjacency to the top bar. You can even change where it is positioned and the style of dock you’d like.

CloudApp - free or $8 for Pro

Process of a screen recording in CloudApp

Just like Alfred, CloudApp makes the original MacOS screenshots ten times better. With CloudApp you can use a keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot (or record a gif!) and instantly get a link that you can share with others.

This app has been super helpful for me in my work life for sharing screenshots of design and code items I’m working on for instant feedback and no hassle of uploading. CloudApp is super fast and makes recording gifs when showing animations or click throughs very easy as well.

VEEER - free

Overview of the VEEER user manual

While there are quite a few window managers out there for Mac, I personally use VEEER because of how lightweight it is. It does what I need it to without using up RAM and slowing down what I’m working on. It also has a few small unique shortcuts like the way it alternates full screen and minimized windows.

Hope you found this valuable and I hope you try out the apps I mentioned. Got other apps that make MacOS better? Let me know which others I need to try out!

August 31, 2018No Comments

How Blogging Can Make You a Better Remote Employee

Working remotely is all the rage nowadays. Companies can hire more diverse sets of people, save money on salaries, and find the best people fit for the job. After all, 43%of the workforce has spent at least some time working remotelyin 2017. Working remotely provides for a more flexible schedule and even no set schedule like we have at MetaLab. Remote working is better suited to some people’s personalities and lifestyles and can be a healthier and happier alternative.

However, that doesn’t mean remote working is easy. As I mentioned, you really do need a personality and lifestyle that fits with not being in an office and often working in a spot from home. Routines and concentration are a must, including restrictions and reducing distractions. These are typically obvious to those in or considering working remotely, but a part you may not think about is written communication.

Technologies and companies such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have taken over the digital office space and become the new norm. As a remote employee, I’d say about one-third of my day (as a Product Designer) is spent writing and communicating with team members and stakeholders on projects we are working on. Written text can sometimes be tough to communicate in both content and tone and requires attention to detail and the way we present written words to others. Something as small as punctuation can completely change how words sound and feel to others, let alone communication not being descriptive or contextual enough.

As someone who has been blogging consistently for the past 100 weeks, I’ve naturally improved and progressed as a remote employee as well. I’m more able to think about how my writing is perceived, when and where to be descriptive, more clear and concise, and overall better able to set a tone in written communication. Also not to mention I can type much faster now ?

If remote working is something you are interested in or are currently doing, I highly recommend investing time and effort into improving your writing. Blogging is always a nice, for-sure way to improve, but if you’d rather not start a blog then writing for yourself or even being a more avid reader can impact your written communication skills altogether.

If blogging sounds enticing and you’re not sure where to start, I’ve written quite a few articles that touch on getting started! Here’s an article from last week that you may find helpful.

August 17, 2018No Comments

You Don’t Lack Motivation to Get Started, You Lack Clarity

Starting a new endeavor is typically difficult. You’re excited to get started and have all kinds of ideas in mind as to how you can be successful in this, seemingly all in different directions.

If you’re like most people—you’re fine for the first couple of days, maybe even weeks. Things start to slow down and you lose motivation to continue, eventually having this new endeavor die out. You struggle to find this motivation again. You accept failure and go about your life until it happens again. It sucks.

But, what if you could do something to combat your mind trying to have “motivation” kick in so that you’ll get serious about what you’re working on?

Instead of focusing on motivation, focus on clarity.

Typically the reason you can’t get completely invested in a new project or even a new lifestyle is because it’s not completely clear what you should be focusing on next.

A plethora of ideas come to mind when something new comes along, hence building that excitement (aka “motivation”) that gets you hooked and obsessed with what you are tackling. The only issue there is not typically having a clear direction of what you need to do to get you to your goal the quickest.

The solution is to filter, focus, and plan your ideas.

Take those great ideas you have and filter them out into smaller, more actionable steps. Focus in on what’s most crucial and important to your success and/or productivity and plan the best approach to attain that success.

Afterwards, you’ll naturally have a plan of action and a sure way to feel motivated and productive to keep pursuing that new endeavor that will make an impact in your life and/or the life of others.

July 27, 2018No Comments

Knowing When and Where to Seek Feedback on Your Ideas

Sharing an idea is like passing around an ice cube in a room of people. When you first have the idea it’s a good size and it’s sturdy. It has potential and a lot of use cases for how to best take advantage of this new thought in your mind. You’ve built up the idea and let it freeze to a solid form, just big enough to be ready to start putting into action.

But then you take this “ice cube” and pass it around to others in this room so they can have a look. They give a couple thoughts on it, provide some critique and some feedback as to how it could possibly not be successful or be better. When they hand it off to the next person, it’s melted a tad and not as solid as it was at the start.

Finally, it gets to the last person before you in the room. Once they pass it off to you, the ice cube is almost nothing now. You didn’t have enough time to build it up enough to take the heat and thought of others. Now you're lost as to what you can do with an ice cube this small now as it continues to melt in your hand.

Our latest and greatest idea is cherished and held close in our minds. We care for it and are passionate about the idea but when it comes time to put it into action, we sometimes think that the opinion of others can make or break our product/idea in an instant.

While the opinion and advice of others can be beneficial and keep us in check when we need it, knowing the time and place to ask for it is important. Your idea may still be “half-baked” and require some more thought on your end which is not a bad thing (it’s actually quite exciting in my experience). Presenting an idea to someone in this state can lead to less than ideal feedback, possibly because context is missing that you are still working on.

You may be familiar with the term MVP (Minimum Viable Product), where a product is built to have the absolute necessary features first and then built upon. I believe this can also be applicable when forming our ideas as well, say an MVI (Minimum Viable Idea) before you decide to share with others.

This MVI covers the absolutely necessary user flows and business models that to the best of your knowledge will make this idea successful. Even some iteration on how it would work in practice, benefit others, and play a part in the market competition you’d be up against.

In a more practical sense, even smaller more personal ideas can have an MVI applied to them—personal goals you have, fitness regimens, apartment layout changes, a new recipe you’re creating, etc.

Being able to find and pull out the most important parts of ideas that can make or break their success is a skill that is quite difficult to master. I honestly don’t think anyone has in every aspect of their life either. We’re constantly having to acknowledge and put ideas into play before we go ahead and share them with others. Over time smaller ideas and goals become easier to share and get opinions on while larger overarching ideas or even businesses remain what we strive for most of our lives.

Acknowledging and being able to find the correct times to get the correct advice is one way we can be better at this though. Like anything, it just takes a bit of patience, practice, and even a bit of failure before we begin to get better.


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