Keep it Simple Stupid

Keep it Simple Stupid (or what’s commonly know as the KISS principle) is something I picked up in my Software Engineering classes during my tour of duty at RIT. It is something I try to carry over into my every day life. That being said I’d like to share a few simple ideas I try to utilize to simplify my digital life.

Your Blog

For those of you reading this directly from the website you should have already noticed a complete redesign. This is only part of my new Zen overhaul. I have taken several points from Skellie‘s post 50 Tips to Unclutter Your Blog. If you’re interested in exactly what I did please check out the article. You may find some additional tips which I haven’t yet implemented as well.

Your Wallpaper
My Simple Wallpaper
A recent simplification I have made is my wallpaper. I was a fan of scenery wallpaper, most often shots that I took were my favorites, but I recently decided that this just adds to clutter. Photographic backgrounds can hide icons and can be a distraction. I created this simple background which provides a central focal point for any icons you wish to display on the desktop. I’ve provided several sizes so feel free to download it if you’d like to try it out.

Your Feeds

Chances are, if you’re like me, you subscribe to a lot of feeds. You probably also generate a lot of content on the Internet and therefor a lot of feeds (whether you realize it or not). If that’s the case why not manage both in the same place? I use Google Reader extensively and this is one of the biggest reasons why. Essentially I maintain two feeds: My Shared Items and My Content. Both are exactly what they sound like. My Shared Items is a feed in which articles, Videos, pictures and anything else i want to share will appear. I do this by utilizing Google Reader’s Shared Items feature. My Content is another feed in which any content that I produce will appear. For example, Any post on this blog, My posts on Randy and Rachel, My Comic Strips and my Youtube videos.

Your Archives

Lets face it, in this digital age chances are you have a lot of digital stuff. Stuff you want to keep. For most people this might just mean photos. For some it means photos, videos, music, software and more. To store all this and keep it organized you need a system. I have dual 250Gb SATA drives in a Raid 1 array which i use strictly for storage. On the root of this array I have the following directories:

  • Files
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Software

Everything I need to store fits somewhere in these 5 categories. Music and Videos are broken down by genre. Files and Software are broken down by category. Photos is broken down by date. This is probably where I’m the most organized. My Photos directory contains photos dating back to the 1950s all the way up to the present. To do this I created decade directories (1950s, 1960s etc) and within that year directories(1951, 1952 etc). Finally within the years directory I list the actual albums which also have a naming convention (MM – DD – name). Because of the shear amount of photographs I store I needed a system and this has greatly simplified things for me.

KISS

Regardless of what you’re doing, when something seems like its too complicated it is. Simplify it. Do whatever it takes to reduce the clutter and the complexity in your Digital Life. I will be making this a recurring theme for this blog so let me know if you have any specific topics you’d like to know how to simplify.

We are Media

Today’s Media sources are truly impressive. The pure amount of information available and the ways in which to get it are just astounding. After struggling for a long time I started with a blog. That helped, then I discovered Google Reader and that helped a little more. I then installed a wiki which only I have access to. That helped me manage my ideas and organize thoughts and helped a lot.

But today… today my good friend Tim let me in on a little secret. Google Reader’s shared items. I’ve always seen the feature sitting there and not really paid much attention to it. I noticed he had added his Google Reader’s shared items application to his facebook profile.

Suddenly, Like Robert Scoble, I am Media. I share lots of things I find all over the internet via lots of different tools. instant messages (or should i say Pidgin?) E-mail, In-person (gasp!), and our Blog. Recently I’ve been struggling with how to share these things efficiently. For a while I posted a lot of videos on our Blog. I don’t like this. The blog is supposed to be our thoughts and how people can keep up on what we’re doing. It had become a place to keep up on what we’re reading/watching. I didn’t want to use my site because that’s intended to be more of a professional atmosphere where I share projects, ideas and thoughts I have dealing strictly with the software industry (or wherever I end up).

Well now I’ve found my mechanism. If you are interested my shared items can be found here. There’s even a feed for those of you who like that idea. Also it’s now displayed on our website in a sidebar widget.

Filesystem Photo Gallery

I’ve been looking for a good filesystem-based Gallery system for a while. I haven’t been able to come up with one that has the features and is as lightweight as I’d like it. Therefor I decided I’d write my own. I implemented the first version in .NET but have since ceased development and decided to move away from IIS/windows and begin using linux/apache and an external host (powweb). I also want the Gallery system to work seamlessly with WordPress and any other PHP based content management system (or blog engine). Therefor I decided to scratch the .NET version and start on a PHP based version.

I started working on my new PHP filesystem based Gallery system last night. It’s intended to be extremely lightweight with no database interaction. It will assume the first image in a directory should be the ‘thumbnail’ for that directory. It will dynamically generate thumbnails for images which do not yet have a thumbnails. This is so that they are only created once.

I’m very surprised at how fast the The system is coming together. I suspect that in a few days I’ll have a working version with most if not all of the features I’m looking for.

The only problem is I have no Idea what to call it. If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

As soon as I come up with the name I’ll publish a google code site with all the documentation and downloading goodness.