Happy New Year!

Monday, Jan 03, 2022

Happy New Year from our home to yours! May the new year bring joy, health, peace, and prosperity to your home. There’s nothing quite like flipping over the calendar for a fresh new start.

That fresh start was something I avoided for a long time. Year after year, I’d embark on a New Years resolution path only to fail to build the habit somewhere in the first week of February.

2021 was different, though. I set out the year with two resolutions:

  1. Develop a fitness habit.
  2. Develop a daily Bible reading habit.

I finished the last daily Bible reading on December 31st, 2021. I missed some days, but always caught up a few days later.

I think I can say I developed a fitness habit as well — I ride the Peloton three to four times a week right now, and either skate or play ball another day each week.

So, 2021 was good. I’m proud of it. I had a truly amazing year.

Goals and Dreams

Surely it’d be wise to roll that momentum into 2022! Right? Surely it’d be easy to continue adding things to my day now that I know I can keep a resolution going throughout a calendar year!

Yet, here I am, mostly befuddled and at a loss.

I have so many things I want to do in 2022, but am unsure how to fit them into my daily schedule or am unsure how to actually succeed at the resolution.

Here is my list of “wants” so far:

Transition my daily Bible reading from a “Read the Bible each day” mentality to a “study” mentality. — Mostly, this means reading less and studying/meditating more.

There are some great study-specific reading plans in the Crossway app, but they aren’t per book and they don’t cover the entire New Testament. I don’t know exactly where to look for better reading plans.

Revive the practice of taking handwritten notes. — I have a stack of aging Field Notes memo books that need to be used up and I’ve come to realize how much I’ve missed handwritten notes. When I’m in doubt, I always go back to my handwritten memo pads to look for thoughts or specific information.

I still don’t have a workflow ironed out for exactly when to take handwritten notes and when to take typed notes. This is a small hiccup, but it creates indecision, which usually leads to paralysis.

Build out my connected note library in Obsidian. — I discussed how I am increasingly taking notes in Obsidian right here. In essence, I want to build a standard operating procedure manual for any complex work I complete or for any issue or decision I’m pondering.

Building out this level of detail inside a personal note-taking workflow takes a lot of brain power and focus, two things I’m feeling short on by the end of a work day.

Grow my fitness habit to include strength building. — I’ve done well to ride the Peloton three or four days a week, but now it’s time to build some muscle and some strength. This would involve incorporating a few weights/light-weights workouts to my routine.

I already had to scale back from five or six rides per week to three or four rides per week due to the amount of time and effort committed to the Peloton each week. I would have to get back into that five or six day routine again to develop this strength habit.

Write consistently for The Newsprint. — I proved in September to November 2021 that I could write and publish just about daily for an extended period of time. I have a backlog of things I want to quickly write about or photo essays I want to showcase and I’d love for these to hit The Newsprint this year.’

When I eventually stopped writing daily in November, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I had this daily commitment that generally led to half-assed, quick work that didn’t have the quality I’d like. Quitting the writing habit felt great and provided extra time for family focus.

Rest. — I had a wild 2021. The impacts of the harshest lockdowns in early 2021 are really starting to take their toll. I haven’t had a work-free vacation since a long weekend in August 2019. January to May 2021 marked the hardest part of my CPA schooling — study and tax season led to 15-hour days for 6 months straight. The last 6 months since finishing have been a whirlwind. No vacation time. The busiest December on record. Work has truly taken over life. And I say this staring down another 6-month tax season from January to June 2022. I will never tell anyone I’m burnt out, because I vow to never complain about having work to do. But dang, it feels really good to sleep in right now.

Given the start of another tax season, I don’t see opportunities to rest for another six months.

Eat better. — By “eat better”, I mostly mean eat more. I’m a scrawny and narrow guy to start with and the Peloton habit has led to my clothes no longer fitting. I’d like to build up strength and get to a thicker, stronger body in 2022, and I think a big part of this is eating more and eating better.

My wife is a registered dietitian, so I will rely heavily on her for this one. But eating better also means taking the time required to cook, to plan, and to eat, and I’m still looking for extra minutes wherever I can. There are roadblocks here, but I think this may be the easiest goal to work on in 2022.

Solutions

So here are my proposed solutions for the above resolutions:

  • Bible reading transition: I will choose specific reading plans from YouVersion or ESV.org that pertain to specific topics or books of the Bible and complete these every day or every other day.
  • Handwritten notes: I’m going to carry a Field Notes memo book in my messenger bag and have it on my desk at the office each day. Where I used a memo pad before, I’m going to use a Field Notes book instead. I’m also going to scan in these pages as often as possible and save them in my personal Notion database.
  • Building out a connected note library: Still working on a solution for this one.
  • Strength building: I will dial down my Peloton riding to three days a week minimum and fill at least two other days with strength training.
  • Consistent writing habit for The Newsprint: Without painting myself into a box, I am going to try to post two or three times a week. Once may be something original, the other might be a comment to someone else’s post. This should help overcome some of the pitfalls I discussed here.
  • Rest: Still working on a solution for this one.
  • Eat better: I will work with my wife to have more food available with me throughout the day. I will eat a proper breakfast, have a snack between breakfast and lunch, and have a snack in the afternoon.

Onward

Now that’s a list of resolutions! I’m going to start out the year keeping these seven resolutions in mind and I’m curious to see what sticks.

Most resolutions require a compromise of some sort. If I want to write more, I have to give up some video game time. If I want to rest more, I have to go to bed earlier. If I want to gain strength, I have to devote two additional days each week to a workout of some sort.

I suspect the resolutions that don’t require much compromise will easily stick (eating better and taking handwritten notes, for example).

Here’s to a successful 2022 for you and yours!

Supported By

14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro: Display

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021

The 2021 MacBook Pro's XDR display is, quite simply, astounding.

You’ve heard the common quote already — that if this display were the only thing Apple updated in the 2021 MacBook Pro, it would be worth the upgrade on its own. This is true, of course. This display is the best display I’ve ever used. It’ll be the best display you’ve ever used. It’s probably the best display everyone has ever used, unless they’ve experienced a perfectly colour-accurate $20,000+ studio monitor that only the most skilled people can appreciate.

I don’t include the Pro Display XDR in that comment. The Pro Display XDR doesn’t have ProMotion, which, though poorly utilized at this point, puts this 14-inch XDR display ahead of every other display in Apple’s pack.

This 14-inch XDR display is so good. Seriously.

The display is the first impression. You open the lid after unwrapping the box — now automatic, without the need for a power button push — and the display springs to life.

I had a terse-speaking colleague looking over my shoulder as I unboxed the MacBook Pro. I looked at him, said “Watch this!”, opened the lid, and the computer fired up.

He took one look at the display.

His simple response was “Oh.”

Eyebrows raised. The corner of his lips raised.

Yeah, he was impressed. He’s a firm PC guy.

Two specific comments need to be made before I’m done today.

First, this 14-inch MacBook Pro’s display runs true “retina” resolution. This is the first display in years which runs at a true 2x resolution, filling the screen with the sharpest text, the most refined windows, and the most stunning clarity.

I plug this MacBook Pro into two 4K LG UltraFine Displays each day. Those run true retina resolution at a piddly 3840 x 2160, severely hampering your true screen real estate.

I run those displays in a scaled resolution. I don’t have to run the MacBook Pro in a scaled resolution.

On the negative side, I’m still not a fan this display’s general brightness. The display can run at 1600 nits peak brightness when showcasing HDR content (HDR content jumps right off the screen; whites are bright, blacks are dark, and all colours are simply stunning), but it only runs at 500 nit brightness in general use. Five hundred nits is nice and bright, generally. But the light in my office is bright enough that I find myself looking to increase display brightness only to discover the display is already at full brightness.

Here are a few other observations thus far:

  • You can change the display profile from “Apple XDR Display (P3 - 1600 nits)” to any number of profiles designed for specific purposes. On the off chance I edit a photo on this MacBook Pro, I find myself inside “Photography (P3-D65)”. This profile turns off Night Mode and True Tone and locks display brightness. It probably colour coordinates a few other settings as well. I love the ability to quickly jump into a display profile for editing photos.
  • It’s a small thing, but I love the rounded top display corners. The rounding is so gentle, so inviting. It fits into the wide world of iPads and iPhones. And it maximizes every bit of screen real estate this lid can hold. I love those rounded corners.
  • ProMotion is here, somewhere, but it’s hard to find. You’ll see it when throwing your mouse pointer across the screen or scrolling text in certain apps, but it’s not everywhere yet. ProMotion, to me, has been less noticeable on the Mac than it has been on the iPhone. It’s a “Woah!” feature on the iPhone. It will be a “Woah!” feature on the Mac eventually.

At the accounting office, I have two 24-inch LG UltraFine Displays centered on my desk and I place this MacBook Pro below and in between those displays. It’s astounding how much better the MacBook Pro’s display is when compared directly to those UltraFines.

I generally choose to work with the MacBook Pro lid open while connected to those two displays. Though this may seem obvious, I challenge you to find an accountant that doesn’t work with a number pad.

They’re few and far between.

The singular reason I choose to work this way for most hours of the day is because of the MacBook Pro’s XDR display. This display is the cream of Apple’s crop and ranks almost at the top of my favourite features on this new 2021 MacBook Pro.

It’s so good that I’ve almost moved my photo editing habits over to the MacBook Pro. Quick, simple edits now happen on the MacBook Pro. Longer, more specific edits still happen with Apple Pencil and iPad.

The transition of quick, simple edits to the MacBook Pro is a serious testament to this display. iPad as photo editing machine may be the most entrenched device usage I have.

Share What You Know

Tuesday, Dec 14, 2021

Matt Birchler on the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how people tend to be more vocal about things they know nothing about:

To help make the internet a better place for everyone, I'd like to suggest that if you are an expert in a subject matter (or even if you only know a bit more than the average person), that you share your expertise online. Do it on a blog, in a newsletter, in a video, or on social media, but do it somewhere public so that people who want to learn more can find it. Not every post needs to explain everything, but little bits of insight here and there go a long way to making the rest of us more informed.

I appreciate this point of view. The more someone complains about something, usually the less they know. And quite often, the exact opposite is true — the less someone says about something, the more they know about that topic. Funny predicament.

But my quick counter-point:

I won’t say I am the smartest or most knowledgeable Canadian taxation accountant in the world, but I did pretty well on my exam. I don’t talk about Canadian taxation in public all that often because I talk about it all day, every day with colleagues and clients. When I go home in the evening, the last thing I want to do is write a long blog post about taxation policy or financial advice.

I don’t actually have the confidence to discuss taxation openly for fear of leading someone astray when I don’t know the facts. But I think folks in my industry have some pretty great ideas to improve Canada’s taxation system that could eliminate complexity and stress on Canadian taxpayers.

I’m not sure where the healthy balance occurs.

For the most part, I work at work and side gig at home. I’m not all that interested in writing about work in the evenings.

I’m hoping others chime in on this matter. I don’t have a solution, but I know my preferences. And my preferences have been to keep my mouth reasonably shut when it comes to things I actually know about (tax) and to yap all day about things I don’t (apps, services, baseball, hockey, the occasional COVID statistic, and Star Wars). Maybe it’s a form of stress relief.

Can I get a “laugh out loud”.