Ryan Irelan

is building Mijingo and doing limited consulting.


Just like the tagline says:

Give books away. Get books you want.

Minimalism Documentary

A documentary (just out on Netflix yesterday) about living with less and in smaller places.

My immediate thoughts on it after watching it last night:

  • Good message
  • Too narrow of a slice of society. Every person in the film is similar. I’d bet there are non-San Francisco -Portland, etc. people who are interested in minimalism.
  • Felt like it was speaking to its existing tribe (validation!) instead of reaching out. Progessive issues like this are doomed if they’re always looking inward.
  • It focused so much on tiny houses but that’s a tiny part of minimalism. Tiny houses are hard to identify with (I’d never live in one). There are other parts of minimalism that are easier to identify with, like tying it close to finances, using your money wisely (as if it was 1:1 with emotional energy), and knowing that you don’t need more to be happy.

All in all, a good film but it misses on many levels. It was done in a way to not be broadly appealing to those who aren’t already interested. The real potential audience for this are people who are looking to shed over-consumption. This film makes minimalism look kind of like a freak show that only consists of the eccentric lot.

Save Articles to DEVONthink Like Instapaper

One of my favorite ways to save articles into DEVONthink is as OCR’d PDFs with simple formatting. That simple formatting? A la Instapaper.

Instapaper has a very nice formatting style that makes web articles saved as PDFs readable and printable. I don’t save the article to read later, I save them to reference later. It’s important to me that they are self-contained (not links) and easy to read (not web archives).

To achieve that I use the Chrome extension to capture a web page with DEVONthink. When capturing I use PDF (Paginated) as the format and check “Reformat with Instpaper.”

In DEVONthink I get a paginted and OCR’d PDF with simple formatting. Any links are kept intact (but moved to parathenses) and at the bottom and top are links back to the source article.

My main use case for this method is when doing reesarch and planning for a new course. I’ll save articles I find and then store them in DEVONthink for later reference. I’ve tried several ways to save web articles in DEVONthink and this is the best I’ve found.

Minimalism Wallet

For the last year I’ve been using the Infinity Wallet1 as my every day wallet. I’m not a regular cash carrier so I use this wallet almost exclusviely for cards. It will stretch to fit as many cards as you need and then snap back when you downsize.

The Infinity Wallet has two slots on each side to hold cards and a middle area (that is open on both ends) to easily slide in cash. The tension from the wallet and cards keeps whatever is in the middle space secure. I like to use this middle space for temoporary items, like parking tickets or hotel room key cards.

  1. Affiliate link to Amazon.com 

ATX Web Film Series

Mijingo and Environments for Humans are presenting the ATX Web Film Series. The mission of this series is to screen relevant, insightful, and entertaining films for the Austin Tech community.

The first installment of the film series will be a double feature and takes place at 6pm on October 3, 2016 at Alamo Drafthouse on S. Lamar.

The two films are:

  • CODE: Deubugging the Gender Gap
  • What Comes Next is the Future

For all of the details of the event, visit the website.

More on how this came about another time but, for now, I hope you’ll grab a ticket and I’ll see you there.

Crossing the Chasm to Profitability

“Every venture-funded company has to cross the chasm to profitability, and we decided the time was now,” Carson wrote in an email to EdSurge. After today’s layoff, he expects the company to be “very close to profitable [as year-over-year] revenue growth for the last six years has been climbing.”

When you have to use terms like “crossing the chasm to profitability” things are most likely not good.

Back to School Sale at Mijingo

The annual Back to School sale is going on over at Mijingo. I’ve discounted a bunch of courses by 35% even my popular Git version control courses. Yes, that’s right.

More on Constants While Indie

A couple weeks ago I linked to Manton’s post about his first year indie and I noted that establishing as many constants as possible helps ease stress. The example I gave was establishing a payroll to pay myself. Of course, I still have to generate the revenue to support the payroll but you’d be surprised how much simpler that is if you know that payroll will hit on a certain day. There’s no “maybe” or “I’ll pay myself late”; you have to hit your mark every month (I pay myself monthly). That’ll keep things lined up and running smoothly.

The "Netflix for Education" Vision

Jay Lynch of Pearson:

But despite the compelling nature of this “Netflix of Education” vision, it can encourage a misleading view of personalized learning. Examining several key areas where the educational Netflix analogy breaks down can help us better understand the qualities of an effective personalized learning solution. Failure to appreciate these points will result in personalized learning products more likely to hinder than help students.

The Worst Ants in the World

L. humile isn’t your stereotypical ant, with one queen and many workers laboring in a single nest. Argentine ants have multiple queens per colony, and there can be as many as 300 queens for every 1,000 workers. This makes them virtually impossible to kill with poison bait traps, which work on the principle that workers bring the tasty toxins back to the queen, whose death destroys the colony. When you have a lot of queens, that’s not an effective strategy.

An excellent article by Annalee Newitz on Argentine ants.

Taking Away the Ambiguity

Shawn Blanc on writing his Focus Course using good planning and index cards:

Lastly, the constraints of the notecards themselves — a single topic with a pre-defined outline — took away much of the ambiguity involved in the writing process. All I had left to do was expound on the ideas I had already written down.

Index cards, solid outline, or mindmap. Don’t write without a plan!

Proper Index Cards

I’m not sure what happened with index cards. Most of the cards you can buy now are not cut from card stock but instead a heavyweight paper stock.1

You do not want those. You want these. Oxford 3x5 Heavy weight index card (I’ll leave lined or unlined up to you–I prefer lined).

My local office supply didn’t have them the last time I ordered, so I used Amazon. I just looked and even Amazon isn’t carrying them (third party sellers were but I don’t use them because they’re price gougers). You might want to stock up.

An alternative is the excellent looking DotDash notecard by Nock Co. They are quite a bit more expensive but you will get quality.

My video on how I create courses for Mijingo explains how I use notecards:

  1. I’m not a paper expert so if I’m confusing the terms “card stock” and “heavy weight paper” please correct me. Let’s just one is too thin and the other is a proper index card, deal? 

Obama on Feminism

But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

This sums up my biggest challenge as the father of a daugther.

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