Jay's Journey


This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on April 3rd, 2018.

Simple is Good!

If you're somehow finding this post as a result of a search engine query (which I doubt, because I totally suck at SEO), you might not know what Standard Notes or Listed actually is.

For those of you that do know, you can skip ahead to why I love Listed. For those that don't, you're welcome to keep reading...

Standard Notes is in my opinion, the best note taking app I've ever come across. It's basic, yet can be as complex as you want it to be.

The free version is pretty no-frills. The paid version allows you to customize your note taking workspace to your liking. You can change the color of your writing screen, use markdown if you like, have split pane writing to see what your copy looks like as a real time preview, and tons of other goodies.

And really, what I like most is that because I can set up my SN workspace to my liking, I can write and annotate in a way that's very natural to me.

I use it now for my writing, as well as capturing thoughts and website URLs I want to remember for later. And, for me, the best part is that the Standard Notes team is focused on privacy.

They encrypt your notes right out of the gates, and you can set up multiple layers of security to get to your Notes. And, they have mobile apps, too, which is great for writing on my iPad.

The web version is the most functional at this point, as that's where you can use all the customizations you've set for yourself, but using the mobile app is great for outlining, writing a first draft, and just capturing what you don't want to forget.

The paid version doesn’t cost all that much, and not only do you get some great customization features, you'd also be supporting a great app with a cause. Privacy.

Apps like Evernote and OneNote are great, and really super functional, but they're just not private. Not only that, for me, as someone who likes to write, I found that both Evernote and OneNote are pretty clunky for writers.

Sure, they capture everything else, but for distraction-free writing, they're not the best tools for that. For me, Standard Notes hits a bullseye.

I've been looking forever for the perfect writing tool for me. A place that is natural to go to and use everyday, and easy for me to put thoughts into words without fussing about formatting or code.

And because it's so easy, and now so natural, I find myself blogging more than I ever have, and really enjoying it. Mostly because I don't feel like I'm actually “blogging”, because in a way I'm not.

I'm getting my thoughts down on Standard Notes, in the method I like to do so. Then, when I'm done, I can publish my post with one click to Listed, which is the blog companion to Standard Notes.

If you skipped ahead, you can land here:

All my published posts show up in Listed, under my handle.

And, because I'm so smitten with writing with Markdown, my posts are easy to format, because I can format as I write. That's what makes it no-fuss.

So, blogging is for me, what it was probably meant to be from the beginning when blogs were first created. A quick and easy way to get your thoughts out to the world.

But, with commercialization and monetization came complication. And yet, with Listed as my blogging platform, I can potentially monetize my posts or accept tips for my work... and without complicating the crap out of doing so.

Perhaps as I get older, I've really come to appreciate simple, easy, and uncomplicated. Maybe that's why I now use an iPhone and iPad after being an Android guy for many years. It checks all those boxes, too.

I still use a Windows laptop, but I've got my reasons for that. However, I've even gone to work on making that as simple and uncomplicated so that Windows feels comfortable, at least for me.

And, when I do want complicated, I have my Linux machines that I can tinker with and learn new stuff. And, when I'm done with complicated, I go back to Standard Notes, Listed, my iPhone, iPad, and optimized Windows laptop.

They all sync together, they all work together, and in the end, it enables me to enjoy the ritual of writing once again.

Thank you Standard Notes team!

tags: #opinion #technology

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Will write for coffee Image credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash

When I first launched this blog, I wanted to use a donation service as a way to earn tips for my writing. In my research, I'd come across two well-established players in the donation space: BuyMeACoffee.com and Ko-Fi.com. Both have similar as well as different features between them.

In this post I'll highlight the similarities as well as differences, along with the reasons I chose Ko-Fi.com over BuyMeACoffee.com.

First up, let's talk about BuyMeACoffee.com. This platform is all about supporting creators, whether they're writers, artists, or musicians. They offer a variety of ways for creators to monetize their content, including a “buy me a coffee” button that can be added to websites and social media profiles, as well as a full-fledged storefront for selling digital products.

One of the biggest draws of BuyMeACoffee.com is its low fees. The platform only charges a 5% transaction fee, which means that creators keep 95% of the money they earn. Plus, they offer a variety of premium options, such as the ability to accept recurring payments, customize the look of your storefront, and even sell physical products.

One thing I didn't like too much was that in order to withdraw your money at any time, you'll need a Stripe account. Otherwise, you'll need to reach a minimum amount before you can withdraw.

It's not that I'd need the money instantly, but I don't really care to set up a Stripe account. I have PayPal and I'm pretty happy with it, for the most part, and don't really want to set up another similar service.

So, one of the reasons I prefer to use Ko-Fi.com is that they enable their users to connect their PayPal account to receive their payments.

So now, let's talk about Ko-fi.com. This platform is similar to BuyMeACoffee.com in that it's all about supporting creators, but it has a slightly different approach. Instead of a storefront, Ko-fi.com offers a simple “buy me a coffee” button that can be added to websites and social media profiles. The button is a simple call-to-action that allows fans to support creators with a one-time payment.

One of the biggest draws of Ko-fi.com is also its low fees, it only charges a 3% transaction fee, meaning creators keep 97% of the money they earn. They also offer a few premium options such as the ability to accept recurring payments, and the ability to offer digital downloads.

Both BuyMeACoffee.com and Ko-fi.com are great options for creators looking to monetize their content. While BuyMeACoffee.com offers a full-fledged storefront and more customization options, Ko-fi.com has a simpler approach and even lower fees.

So, whether you're a creator looking to monetize your content or a fan looking to support your favorite creators, both platforms are worth checking out.

And while I chose Ko-Fi.com for my donation and soon-to-be subscription service, you really can't go wrong with either one. I hope this helped you in some way.

tags: #thoughts #technology

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

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Gmail, not my computer Image credit: Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a generally negative view of Google as an email provider, let alone a corporation. Back in the day, when I didn't know any better, I loved using Google's email, calendar, and docs.

The ease and simplicity of using their services was just too good to be true. And, it turns out, it actually was.

When news story after news story came out about Google's downright evil corporate surveillance of it's users, I stopped using Gmail and Docs many years ago. I also vowed never to use these services ever again.

And I get it. They're a business, and since I didn't pay a dime for these amazing services, they should be allowed to make money somehow from the services they offer. Which is why I chose not to use their services as I eventually learned, I was the product.

To be clear, I do have a Gmail account, but that's just to be able to create playlists, like videos, and comment on YouTube. I don't actually use the email or the docs.

So, I never thought I'd say it, but here we are, and I'm just as shocked as you are. I'm going to miss Google. And that means that at work, they're in the process of migrating us all off Google Workspace over to M365, which is Microsoft's attempt at email and collaboration.

More like Microsoft's email and convolution. Ugh. Thankfully, it'll take a while before I have to use M365.

I'm no stranger to M365 as I used it for my small side-business because I refuse to use Google products, let alone pay for them. So, I know what awaits me when my employer makes the switch, and I'm kind of dreading it.

Having had to use Google Workspace at work, I've become more and more impressed with Google Workspace's ability to actually get work done. The collaboration features are really solid. But what's been even more surprising to me was the individual tools that enable me to get work done.

Little things like the ability to click a button in your calendar entry to create a pre-formatted Meeting Notes document that fully references your meeting from the calendar entry itself. From there, you're asked if you want to share that same document with your attendees – where, because it's Google Docs, you can all view and edit simultaneously. What's more, when you create bullets, you also have the ability to assign bullets as tasks to any of the attendees.

Yeah, Microsoft let's you do that, kinda, with Teams, and Word and Sharepoint, and Outlook fat client, etc. Not as smooth or out-of-your-way easy like Google does it, and, you've got about 3 different tools to do the same thing. Thus, making it hard for a work team to know which tool to use for which task.

The result of this is that information your team needs is spread around several tools and storage locations. Sure, everything is really stored in Sharepoint, but it's disjointed and disparate.

Heck, OneNote doesn't even let you tag users STILL. After years of enterprise users begging Microsoft for the ability to @mention users in OneNote to be able to use OneNote in a task-collaborative manner, Microsoft still couldn't give a shit.

Google Meet is kinda meh, and it needs some updating in features, needing tighter integration with Google Drive, Keep, and Tasks. But from what I've seen with Google's ability to create a truly functional productivity suite, I'm sure it'll continue to get better over time.

Spaces in Google have really gotten pretty good. Spaces are virtual work rooms where chat, documents, and even tasks can be centralized and coordinated. Combined with the features that Google Drive and Docs offer, I'm just really impressed, and much more productive and efficient as an individual and as a member of work teams.

And, since my employer is footing the bill, I don't have to worry about betraying my principles. But, in secret, I really enjoy using Google Workspace as my project documents, emails, calendar, and the ability to stay organized and productive has never been better.

So, this is why I say, reluctantly, and albeit surprisingly, I'm going to really miss Google. Sigh.

tags: #technology #productivity #thoughts

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You've Got Mail! Photo credit: Yannik Mika at Unsplash

I don't mean too many emails, I mean too many email accounts. With emails all up in them as well. I've just got too many email accounts.

Why? Well, I kind of collect email accounts like some people collect purses, or shoes, or salt and pepper shakers. And this past weekend, I finally realized that it's not good.

Why do I collect email accounts in the first place? Well, mostly because I like to try out new email services. Let's face it, since email as a service is kinda boring, most email providers have to market their service as being unique.

You know, the whole, “A Unique Approach to Email” is the headline. And, to some extent, each email provider does do email a bit different than the other. So, I like trying that unique thing. And, over the years, it's translated to like close to 12 different email accounts. <—– I already updated that number like 3 times while writing this post as I keep remembering more accounts I have laying around.

Some accounts I pay for, and some I don't. The ones I don't pay for are an issue because the old saying goes that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

But, with a provider like Zoho (yes, I have an account with them), they'll give you a free account and won't do evil shit with your info. But, for places like Yahoo and Google, and even Microsoft, yeah, they do.

I ditched Yahoo years ago after they had the biggest email breach in human history. It's true, look it up. And, I have Gmail out of necessity because, you know, YouTube, but would ditch them entirely if I could – damn those digital crack dealers!

And, with different email accounts come different email addresses. And with different email accounts and email addresses comes email sprawl – email on many different servers in many parts of the world. And because most email providers offer an email migration tool of some kind, I'm a propagator of my own email across different services.

Because it's just. So. Easy!

I've been on a quest to find the email service that won't be evil with my email by snooping on or selling my data. Then, it needs to have function and utility to enable me to manage my email in a way that's fun, or at least in a way I don't hate it.

A huge bonus if the email service is end to end encrypted with zero knowledge, meaning the staff or third party contractors or anybody but me can't read my email.

Each email service tends to have it's own value triangle: Features, Zero Knowledge Encryption, Fun to Use – You can only pick two.

As I'd like to get this post out relatively quickly, I won't go into which service meets each of the elements of the value triangle, but maybe in another post.

For the purposes of this post, I've come to the realization that I have way too many email accounts, and this past weekend I started to do something about it.

I started by first embracing the fact that I can't have all three elements in the value triangle. Then, based on that, I decided that in order to have all three elements, I'll need TWO email accounts. One that does what I want without zero knowledge encryption while being fun to use and fast, and then one with zero knowledge encryption that can at least do the basics without sucking too bad.

I settled on the two that will get the job done for me in the way I need to and want to:

  • Fastmail as my daily driver: It's way fast, feature packed, and at least private, but without the zero knowledge encryption.
  • Protonmail as my virtual safe deposit box: Stuff I'd only want my spouse, priest, attorney, or doctor to know go in there. I also have their VPN service, so it's kinda free and I get a stupid amount of storage, like 500GB.

And, by doing that, I feel relieved. Like I'm getting a handle on things.

Now, for all the email addresses that I have out there. I'd started using an email masking and forward service a couple of years ago called SimpleLogin.io. It's great because you can create an email alias, on the fly even, for every website you have to sign up for some kind of an online account.

It's also great for signing up for newsletters, basically, anything you have to give out your email address for. Instead of giving out your real email address that they can sell, give them an alias instead.

Then, when that alias email address is sold or compromised in some data breach (which happens daily now), you can easily disable that alias in the SimpleLogin dashboard.

So, just today I had to register for jury duty. On the county's website, I created an alias on the fly of the countyname@mydomain.com. And now that email alias forwards email to the actual mailbox of my choosing. SimpleLogin also allows you to specify multiple mailboxes to send that email to.

That doesn't really help me as I'm a recovering email account collector, but it's good to know I can do that if I want. So, with that service, I can also give people an email address that I can determine where it lands. It saves people from having to always update my email address, or even have to keep several of them in my addressbook entry.

I just give them one address, and whichever or how ever many email services I use on the back end, all they need be concerned with is the one email address I gave them.

So, the next step is to take the next week or two, and pull all my emails off these other services other than the two I've decided to use, and cancel the rest. Until I fall off the wagon again, that is.

tags: #technology #reflections #productivity

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

And, if you'd like to stay up to date with new blog posts, subscribe for free email delivery each time a new post is published. I hate SPAM just as much as you do, and your information will never, EVER, be shared or sold.

But muh deletes! Image credit: The Internet

I'm a fairly recent Mac convert, and I enjoy it very much. As an IT pro, however, I still use different operating systems like Windows and Linux for fun and profit.

But, one thing that's unique on a Mac keyboard more than the others is the “delete” key. See, the delete key is really a backspace key, and there's no real proper delete key on a true Mac keyboard.

Some of the Mac purists out there may say I'm blaspheming by saying that, but c'mon, the delete key takes your writing cursor BACK one space for each time you press the key. That's a backspace, even if you are removing a space or a character while moving back.

A true “delete” key enables you to press it, and one character or space AFTER the writing cursor is removed each time you press it. Hence, the act of deletion.

So, is there a way to use the Mac's delete key as a delete key? Yes, there is.

If you click the function key (fn) with the globe on it, at the bottom left of the Mac keyboard, and also press the delete key, you can now delete characters and spaces after the writing cursor. These two keys right here Image credit: Macinstruct.com

There you go. Hope that helps!

tags: #technology #productivity

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

And, if you'd like to stay up to date with new blog posts, subscribe for free email delivery each time a new post is published. I hate SPAM just as much as you do, and your information will never, EVER, be shared or sold.

From the unknown! Image credit: Pedro Figueras: Pexels

This is an origin story of where this blog originally came from, and what my goals and aspirations are for this latest iteration of it.

I actually started blogging back in like 2004. It was a brief effort, and never really captured my attention.

And, ever since then, I'd try new blogging platforms and get excited about it, and keep it up for a couple of weeks, then move on to something else. If for nothing else, there was consistency in my inconsistency.

I did realize, however, during that time that the more I tried to write, the more I actually enjoyed writing. Even to this day, I really do enjoy writing. Whether it's business writing for work, or blogging, I do enjoy it.

Just not too much all at once. Otherwise I get bored and go on to other things.

This Blog In A Previous Life

That inconsistency has carried itself over to even my most recent iteration just prior to this one. A version of this blog was over at a platform called Listed.to and was called Jay's Journal. I never did do a custom domain name for it, as it was mostly a writing outlet than it was a blog meant to be a standalone destination.

Fun fact: The domain for jaysjournal.com, .net, and even .blog were already taken, so I had to go with jaysjourney.blog for my new blog away from Listed.

My writing was aggregated with other writers on the Listed.to platform, so I got some exposure and attention that way. It was there that I got the most feedback and interaction, and it was quite satisfying.

Direct emails via the newsletter feature garnered some encouragement from my readers, and the platform even had a guestbook that several were so kind to leave messages of praise and encouragement on.

After setting up this blog and preparing to bring over the posts from Listed, I realized, I wrote A LOT over there. Probably the most consistently inconsistent (or vice versa?) and prolific writing I've done up to this point.

And, even with all that, I was still inconsistent in posting. There's just something about routine that my mind and body rejects. Not just with writing, but with so many other things as well.

Doing the same thing every day kind of bores me, and even the most exciting things can become daunting if having to be done every single day. Perhaps I'll explore the mental and emotional underpinnings of that in future posts, but suffice it to say, I simply resist routine.

I think what further contributed to extended absences away from writing were also with the platform itself. “Listed” is a blogging feature that comes baked in to a paid subscription to Standard Notes.

Standard Notes in and of itself is an extremely secure note taking app. It's really good, actually... and almost too good. See, it's zero knowledge, meaning that all notes and files that are saved in the app are encrypted and unreadable by anyone at Standard Notes.

I was so impressed by the app, and its focus on privacy and security, that I reached out to the app's founder. He's a really great guy, very down to Earth, and he and I seem to have a lot in common in our philosophies and viewpoints.

In fact, I was even able to land a copywriting project for the website redesign of Standard Notes. That enables me to say that at one time I was truly a “professional” copywriter. Not for sales copy, but for how to use the various features that come with Standard Notes. It was a great experience working for him.

Well, when it comes to the app, however, I ran into issues with it. After not logging in for a while, it became difficult to log in and have access to the advanced features that come with a paid plan. I still was paying for the plan, but then my account lost sync to the access to those features.

It kept telling me my subscription lapsed and I need to upgrade. But, I already did.

I engaged the support team, and they weren't able to really solve it, so I got a refund. Well, without a paid plan to Standard Notes, I'm not able to post to the Listed blogging platform.

So, after the most recent holidays passed, I thought I'd give it another try. However, I changed emails, and was able to add my new email address to my account, and could still access all my notes. Then I remembered that my paid plan was no longer active, so I reactivated it.

And, lo and behold, my account was still out of sync with the advanced features. No matter what I did, I just can't get it to sync up. And, I have a lot, like I mean a LOT of notes. Again, I can still access them, but I can't manage them in the app the way I want to with the advanced features I'm paying for.

Well, even with that being the case, I figured I'd still be able to post to Listed because all of my posts are still up on Listed, and the notes that I posted as blog posts are still in my Standard Notes account.

However, during my absence from the platform, it seems they changed how the blog posting feature interacts with my actual Standard Notes account. And so I was prompted to enable my “Listed author” account from within the notes side of things. I figured if I did that, I'd be able to post again directly as my previous persona.


When I activated my Listed author account, it created a whole new account. It was at that point I figured it was time to move on. Not because I was angry or upset, but only because I didn't want to have another series of back and forth emails with the support team.

It's Not Them, It's Me

I just don't really want to mess with it anymore. And, that's what brought me over to Write.as for my blogging platform. It's as simple as Listed was when it worked. However, with Write.as, it's just meant for blogging and the occasional writer's notes, not full on note taking like Standard Notes, and I'm good with that, too.

Now that Apple has enabled users to have end-to-end encryption for their notes and other data, I'll just use the built-in notes feature that comes with my Apple devices and iCloud account.

I'll still be forever grateful to the founder of Standard Notes for the opportunity to work on a writing project for him at a time when I was super passionate about writing. So much so, I thought I might want to make a second career out of it. And while that's changed a little bit, I've modified the goal around that somewhat, and will also share that in another post.

What's Different This Time?

And so, where does that leave me with my issue with inconsistency in how often I post to my blog? Well, I'm not sure, to be quite honest. As I mentioned earlier, there's consistency in my inconsistency. But, I think this iteration may have some staying power, in terms of more prolific posting, and here's why I think that.

I'm putting multiple strategies in place to help:

  • I'm bringing over all my previous posts from my Listed.to blog, Jay's Journal. There's quite a few of those, and so that'll keep this blog fed for a while just with those.
  • I plan to review all my re-posts from Listed to provide updates from those older posts. This will allow me to share with you how I think those posts aged, and provide any new updates or breakthroughs to my previous mindsets.
  • As a 2023 resolution, I shut down a side business that was taking too much of my time and not providing enough of a value to make it worthwhile. The net benefit is that I now have more time to draft out blog posts well in advance.
  • And finally, since I'm able to use Apple Notes with my devices, I can capture blog post topics and ideas on a whim and access them anytime I'm at my laptop and can crank out a draft whenever the mood strikes me and/or I've got some free time on my hands.

To be clear, I do have a full time job, but you'd be surprised how much extra time shutting down a side hustle has freed up for me. And yup, you guessed, it, I'll be blogging more about that later as well.

(Question: Have you subscribed yet for all these updates I've got planned? If not, you can do that at the very bottom of this post)

Even as I write this, it's on a day that I already posted to my blog, and so I'm just drafting this knowing I don't need to post it today. That's because I don't intend to post more than once a day. But, by stacking my drafts, I can simply select one to post each day, while working on more drafts each day.

When I've got enough drafts stacked up, I can skip a day or two, if needed. So long as I've got a draft ready to post each day already in queue, I'm golden.

And Where's This Blog Going?

So lastly, let's cover where I'd like to take this blog. To be honest, I'd like to build up a readership. And as long as I'm being honest, I wouldn't mind making a few extra bucks by readers buying me a coffee, if my writing is bringing value in some way.

And, eventually, I'd like to see if I can (or even want to) build a community by way of premium content, and recurring subscriptions that include virtual meetups and even one on one conversations and/or coaching.

But, clearly, that would be up to you, wouldn't it? I mean, if there's no appetite for premium content or virtual gatherings in groups or one one one, then I'll just continue to write here on my blog probably more for myself than anyone else. We'll see. I'm open to possibilities, but not expecting anything grandiose or career-making from the blog.

I'm just keeping it real, but am also open to being surprised, too. Hoping you'll stick around to see what happens, though.

tags: #reflections #thoughts #technology #privacy #security

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

And, if you'd like to stay up to date with new blog posts, subscribe for free email delivery each time a new post is published. I hate SPAM just as much as you do, and your information will never, EVER, be shared or sold.

Since the Write.As platform is a minimalist blogging/writing service, there's not a lot by way of sidebars and frilly site navigation. I love that.

It's clean and, well, minimalist, which makes in uncluttered. However, I'd like to give you a way to see all the groupings of blog posts by their tags, so here we are. The tags page.

Simply click on a hashtag and all posts that share that hashtag will appear for you to see all on a single page. Enjoy!

#updates #thoughts #opinion #reflections #diet #rants #observations #productivity #technology #privacy #security