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My Promise to You

  • January 1, 2019
  • Blog

With the new year here I can’t help but also reflect on the things from the past year. I launched Rocket Panda, I posted 24 episodes of A Slab of Glass, and I posted 22 episodes of Getting Caught Up. These are all the things that I am proud of, and the things I want to continue to make over 2019. However, I don’t think I have been doing enough with Rocket Panda, and that stops now.

I was listening to Shawn Blanc’s Creative Focus Summit, where he talked with Paul Jarvis. Paul is a writer and designer and the whole conversation he and Shawn had was about building an audience-based business. He touched on a few things that really got me thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2019 with Rocket Panda.

One thing that really stuck with me was his 3 steps to building an audience that will stick with you, which I can’t believe I just wrote.

His 3-step process is as follows:

  1. Go to where you audience is.
  2. Talk to you audience.
  3. Have a consistent line of communication with them.

I have failed on all 3 of these if you ask me.

Go Where Your Audience Is

I rarely have gone outside of my own blog to find other like-minded people that may enjoy what I have to say. More importantly I haven’t been part of other communities enough and I want to change that. I don’t like the idea of me being on my own island where others have to visit in order to be part of the conversations I want to have.

So from here on I want to spend more time on Twitter and be an active part of the communities I want to be in (Apple, Tech, etc.). I also will be going to places like the Mac Power Users Discord and the Automators Discord and be more active there.

To me, it is more important to share tips and tricks over clicks and links. This is why I will be part of communities more, to bring value without anything in return.

Talk To Your Audience

I haven’t had an open line of communication to my audience much, if at all, since launching Rocket Panda. Everything about this has been a one way conversation and I want that to end.

One thing I want to do is have a direct line of communication to you, my readers, and the way I am doing that is two-fold.

The Newsletter

The first is my newsletter. This is my promise to you:

I will send 25 emails in my newsletter in 2019 that will be full of interesting exclusive content, the ability to ask me questions, and my personal email that you can use to contact me.

This newsletter isn’t about me trying to build a list to sell something. I currently have no plans to do so and if/when I do it won’t be solely to try and sell you something. If I do want to promote something it goes in the newsletter just like everything else I want to send you.

The newsletter will come out twice a month on the 1st and 15th of each month starting January 15th. So sign up today and don’t miss out on the first newsletter.

Slack Channel

The second thing is something I have had for over a year now, which is my Slack channel. This is something I haven’t been active enough in and I want to make this the day-to-day line of communication and community I want to be a part of. This channel is free to join and has a bunch of channels like the iPad-Only club, where people who use only iOS devices can share workflows, Shortcuts, and app recommendations. It also has channels like writers-bloggers where other people who are writers and/or bloggers can network and share ideas/articles for others to read and give feedback on.

These are just a few things that this Slack channel offers and it is something that I will forever continue to add and make changes to upon those who request for more.

If you want to join this Slack channel feel free to sign up here.

Have a Consistent Line of Communication

Along with the 25 emails I promise to send in the newsletter, I also plan to post 2 times a week on Rocket Panda at the very least. That is 104 posts on Rocket Panda! Some will be links, others will be original pieces such as this, and all of it will be completely free and accessible via RSS if you so choose.

My number one goal for 2019 isn’t to make money, or gain a massive following with Rocket Panda. Instead it is to provide a consistent posting schedule and a killer newsletter that helps you get your work done and accomplish your goals in 2019.

On top of the Rocket Panda posts, I will continue to be producing podcasts episodes every other week for both A Slab of Glass and Getting Caught Up. We did this for the most part on both shows. However, the only time we didn’t post episodes on schedule was due to personal events preventing us to do so. Barring anything like that happening again consider it my promise that both of these podcasts will have 26 episodes in 2019.

In Summary

This post has a lot of promises and things for you to check out, so here is a simplified version to make things as easy as possible for you to get what you want and ignore what you don’t.

1. Go where Your audience is

  • I plan to go to places like the Mac Power Users Discord and Automators Discord and be an active member at these awesome communities
  • I also plan to be more active on Twitter as well to share interesting things as well as Shortcuts and tips to help you through the year

2. Talk to Your audience

  • I am launching a newsletter that comes out twice a month beginning January 15th. You can sign up for the newsletter here and get the 25 email I promise to send you throughout the year.
  • I am also making a conscious effort to be more active in my own Slack Channel for other Apple enthusiast to come to meet and talk with other geeks like me. You can join the Slack Channel here

3. Have a consistent line of communication

  • Along with the newsletter I am also going to be posting over 100 articles on Rocket Panda sharing interesting articles other in the community have created as well as original content. It is completely free and you can either visit Rocket Panda’s website or subscribe via RSS.
  • I also will be continuing to post episodes of both A Slab of Glass and Getting Caught Up every other week barring anything happening to prevent this with either myself or my co-hosts Chris Lawley and Mike Rapin.

I am beyond excited to see what 2019 brings and to have the best year I can both personally and professionally.

Until next time I want to wish you a happy new year and well wishes for your plans for 2019 and that you accomplish the goals you set for yourself this year.

Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda

  • November 13, 2018
  • Blog

As of today Tablet Habit is now Rocket Panda. Before I go into the full reasoning why I wanted to share with you what has been going on with me for the last few weeks.

To make a long story short, I have been having a bit of an issue defining my blog. As I have said before, Tablet Habit was a blog for me to explain how I use the iPad as my main device and it was a way for me to express my love for iOS and the iPad. That all changed once I started using my 2017 MacBook Pro.

I started to slowly move more and more things to my Mac and less work on my iPad. Which brought on something of an identity crisis. I gained readers because I was an “iPad guy” and drifting away from that seems like I was cheating my readers out of what they wanted.

My first idea was to move things from Tablet Habit over to Mac Habit.

Logo for Mac Habit I made

Logo for Mac Habit I made

After a lot of work building a new website from scratch and importing all of my old posts over, Mac Habit was inches away from taking over Tablet Habit. I was excited, nervous, and anxious to show everyone the new website I was going to be using. But then a question popped in my head.

“What makes Mac Habit any different than Tablet Habit?”

The original answer I had was Mac was a more universal term for Apple blogging, and it was something that wasn’t tied to anything other than Apple. It wasn’t a device-specific name like Tablet Habit. Which sounded fine, but I wanted something even more freeing than Tablet or Mac as my name.

I spent days, even weeks, trying to come up with a new name. Then, during a shower I was taking the name Rocket Panda came to my head and I loved it. It wasn’t specific to any kind of topic or idea, and the name stuck with me like glue. If you ask me what it means, I will say it is just a cool name that I enjoy, and that Rocket Panda doesn’t need a topic or underlying meaning. It is just something that is catchy and easy to pronounce and type out without any kind of mispronouncing or misspelling. In short, I like the name way more then Tablet Habit or Mac Habit.

Seeing as this is my blog, and has always been a personal endeavor for me, having a name that isn’t tied to a specific topic seemed to be the right choice.

This website will still have all the things you loved about Tablet Habit, including all the old posts. The only change you will notice about this site is that it has a new name and a new color scheme to match the flames coming from the Rocket Panda logo. I may deviate from posts about Apple, but this is and forever will be a personal blog where I share my thoughts on things. It will always have my authenticity in it and I like to think people read my stuff because of my personality I put to the page, not the topics that I write about.

If you want to follow Rocket Panda on social media or make sure you have the right RSS feed subscription you can find all the links below. If you have any questions, comments, concerns feel free to mention Rocket Panda on Twitter or email me directly.

I thank all of you for being loyal readers and sticking with me over the last year with Tablet Habit. Here’s to many more with Rocket Panda!

🚀🐼

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Why Today at Apple Made the Keynote

  • October 30, 2018
  • Blog

One thing I think that was most interesting on the new Apple Event Keynote wasn’t the new devices, but the fact that Today at Apple was given time on stage.

For those that don’t know what Today at Apple is, it’s a series of workshops that Apple Stores offer for anyone to come to for free and learn things you can do on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I am sure there are others as well, but it’s been something that hasn’t been talked much about in the Apple tech community.

The Today at Apple workshops may not be geared towards those who are tech savvy. With that said, Apple giving time for it on stage today in between the release of some much-needed updates (Mac Mini and MacBook Air) and interesting innovation (iPad Pro) shows that Apple isn’t just here to make you think that your iPad Pro 10.5” isn’t good enough anymore. They want you to harness that power with what ever device you have.

As Tim Cook said in the keynote after they announced 60 all-new sessions coming to Apple Stores, it is something that no one else has.

For me personally I have never been to a session, but after today I have been looking at upcoming events and workshops at my local Apple Store and am very seriously considering making the 55 minute drive to go to one of these.

Some sessions mentioned in the Keynote include Siri Shortcuts, and a session called Small Screen Magic which is all about making short movies with the Clips app. They also provided an interesting background with other new sessions that are intriguing to say the least.

Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event

Screenshot from the October 30th Apple Event

Apple really outdid themselves today with the new devices. But I think they equally outdid themselves 18 months ago when they launched Today at Apple and made it possible for their users to learn from the team at Apple just what kind of things they can make on their computers.

It is also worth noting that when this part of the Keynote happened the entire audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music went into an uproar of enthusiasm and excitement. It is indicative just how important sessions like this can be for users, and I can’t wait to see what I have been missing out on.

Learning GTD: Starting From Scratch

  • October 26, 2018
  • Blog

When I started reading Getting Things Done, I was in a spinning world of chaos. I had many different plates spinning at the same time and no way of making sure that nothing fell through the cracks. I needed a system.

So, as a challenge to both my co-host of A Slab of Glass, Christopher Lawley, and myself I set out to read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen cover to cover to see just if GTD was something that would work for me. After chapter one I was all in.

I wanted to use this methodology immediately. I did brain dumps, set up a task manager, and started making boat loads of contexts and tags and folders. I thought I was finally getting to where I wanted with a system that worked for me. The reality was that I was on a high setting up all these productivity things, and I was no closer to getting my work done.

If I am being honest, I was even further from getting the big things in my life done. I did all the things I thought I needed to do to get my life in order and start Getting Things Done, but in reality I just took the foundation of the methodology and ran with it, without thinking on a much higher level.

I was worried about having a task manager that handled everything I threw at it, without actually throwing anything at it. I put the cart before the horse, and that is where I think a lot of people end up when starting a brand new productivity system. This all stops now for me.

I have decided that over the next several weeks I will be starting from scratch in Getting Things Done, and do what David Sparks suggested when he was on A Slab of Glass episode 19:

Do not try to create an entire system in a day. I think what you should do is you should make a list of things you want to improve. What are the key elements of a task management system? There’s capture, how do you capture tasks? How do you process tasks? How do you complete tasks? How do you review projects? Those are the big 4 steps. And pick one of those and say, “How am I going to get better at this?” And do that for two weeks, or a month, or two months, or whatever it takes to just internalize that and say, “Okay, I am just crushing it on capture, now how am I going to process tasks?” If you try to do it all at once it’s just overwhelming and nothing sticks. It’s just like learning keyboard shortcuts or anything you do. Bite off small pieces and fully digest them. And then take another piece, but don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one bite, you’re going to have a problem.

So the first thing I am going to work on is capturing. I need to figure out a system that will work for me and what will allow me to make capturing thoughts, ideas, projects, tasks, and anything else that comes to mind. I need to make it second nature to take those ideas in my mind and put them somewhere I will go back to later to process them.

All of this will be part of an ongoing series on Tablet Habit I like to call “Learning GTD.” Capturing will be part one of this new series, and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you as I try to make my life more organized and less chaotic.

The New Workflow

  • September 19, 2018
  • Blog

When I first started using the iPad full time the automation app Workflow was an up and coming app that allowed power users of iOS make some serious changes in how they did their work. Creating and finding Workflows to meet my needs were worth their weight in gold, and sometimes allowed you to make using your iPad more favorable than the Mac.

I, for one, felt that Workflow was so good at bringing together apps that don’t normally talk to each other. Seamlessly moving items from one app to another all while maintaining the integrity of the file was a game changer. Workflow was the singular app that made me want to pull out my iPad over my Mac. That is until Apple acquired it.

When Apple announced the acquisition of Workflow my heart immediately sank, I felt that Apple was trying to squash Workflow and other automation applications for iOS. Instead, a new iteration of Workflow was created with some advanced features that control first party applications and settings.

Honestly, this news still hasn’t sunk in that an app that is a unicorn in the iOS platform has gained so much capability. While I only have been using is for a few days, it is clear that Siri Shortcuts has revitalized my excitement and delight in working with iOS.

Siri Shortcuts hasn’t changed much from its Workflow origins as far as how the app works and the things you can do with it, but something about this makes me more excited than ever to automate and simplify the complex things I do with my iPhone and iPad. Working in this app has allowed me to see the true potential of the iPad again and has made me leave my Mac unopened on my desk. I believe the reason I am so infatuated with this app is because the worry I had when Workflow was acquired has subsided. Between the announcement of the acquisition and the announcement of Siri Shortcuts I felt I was in between a rock and a hard place where I wanted to use Workflow’s powerful tool but I also didn’t want to sink time into an app that seemingly had a likely demise. I didn’t want to use Workflow as a crutch to do my work on iOS because if Apple decided it would “sunset” Workflow my entire computing workflow would be null.

As we now know that was far from the case, and having that subconscious mental block leave me I have been using Siri Shortcuts every moment I can to build and play with the things that it can do. It reminded me of when I started Tablet Habit a year ago and had delight and excitement every time I would open my iPad, I finally felt that again with the iPad thanks to the revitalization of using powerful automation tools to make the tedious work on an iOS device as simple as a single tap.

I plan to share a lot of the Siri Shortcuts I have built over time, and if you have any questions or requests from me feel free to contact me on Twitter or email me and send any and all questions my way!

I Made a Mistake

  • August 21, 2018
  • Blog

Yesterday I made the decision to post something without really thinking about it first. I have since removed the post and am replacing it with this one. Long story short I said I am a Mac person and that my iPad hasn’t gotten much love since that purchase.

This was a mistake.

Honestly I am still having a bit of trouble choosing the iPad or the Mac as my main device.

I love the iPad and I love writing and I feel that I am thinking too much about whether the device matters or if the content matters.

Obviously the content is more important than the device, but when I made my writing about a specific device the idea of stepping away from it can seem like I am turning my back to what got me started in the first place. This is where my crossroads are and I’m still unsure which way I will end up.

Right now the Mac still seems to have what I want in a device but working on my iPad right now as I write this just feels good. I am focused on the task at hand without distraction, something that is easy to neglect when on the Mac. I am sure many people reading this think I am making a bold claim, but when I am using an iPad I am deciding on an application to take over the entirety of my screen. If I decide to move on to another app it feels like I am going to an entire different workflow.

I am sure I could do the same thing on the Mac with the Desktop Spaces feature, but even that is a quick swipe away from going to YouTube or browsing my RSS subscriptions. The ease of bouncing between multiple things on the Mac feels more fluid and attainable than on the iPad.

This isn’t to say the iPad can’t multitask, I often have two apps in split screen when I am working on something, but even that is a deliberate action that takes a clear and concise decision. Doing it on the Mac is just second nature to me, which breaks a lot of the attention and focus I need when writing. That said, it isn’t just the distraction-free environment that I like about the iPad, it is also the software.

I have said before that the software on a Mac is one of the big reasons I chose to make the switch, but even now I am not so sure that statement is true. I don’t need MarsEdit, I am using a calendar more than anything else when it comes to deciding what to do day-to-day. If I do need a task manager Things 3 is a wonderful app for iOS as it is one of the few apps that is just perfect for those who use a keyboard with their iPad.

My point is this: I haven’t used the iPad full time since I got my Mac and I think that is a mistake. I can’t know what is better until I really give both options a run for their money. It is like choosing my favorite ice cream before trying all the options.

So, I plan to work solely from my iPad from now until the beginning of September. Which gives me 10 days to come to a conclusion of whether to use the Mac or the iPad as my main device, and if I am actually going to use the other device at all.

I plan to write about some things during my time with the iPad again over the next week and a half to share my thoughts and to help me figure out what is important to me in a device.

Until then though I am off to re-learn how to work on the iPad only.

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