ADHD, the Silver Dragon Theory of Headset Ratings, and Comply Ear Tips #amwriting

As an ADHD writer, I consider a decent level of noise isolation (or noise cancellation) plus a source of instrumental music or soothing noise (AKA “distraction filter”) essential to being able to get any writing done. I had been using my HyperX Cloud II gaming headset for this purpose. But… I lost it.

This is a mild disaster.

Don’t ask me how I lost it. The thing was huge. You’d think that I would be able to keep track of it much more easily than a pair of earbuds. But there it was—or rather, there it wasn’t. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had it out of my backpack and no one turned it in as lost-and-found in any of my usual haunts.

My old reliable Audio-Technica noise-cancelling headset (https://www.audio-technica.com)

So I’ve reverted to my old standby, the Audio-Technica QuietPoint in-ear headset (ATH-ANC33iS.) While it doesn’t have as good a mic as the HyperX, I’ve given up on dictation, anyway. Its ratings on Amazon are mediocre, but this is true for in-ear headsets in general, and I have my theory as to why.
Comply ear tips rescue almost any in-ear headset. https://www.complyfoam.com

The Silver Dragon Theory of Headset Reviews:

Almost all ear tips (the parts that actually go inside your ear) suck.

Maybe not the ones from Bose. Those appear to get almost universal praise in Amazon reviews. But all the other manufacturers (including Apple) have reviews that hinge heavily on whether the ear tips provided actually happen to fit the reviewer’s ears. If the fit is poor or the tip doesn’t seal with the ear canal, there may be tinny sound, discomfort, poor noise isolation, and the earpiece may just fall out. Thus, since on-ear or over-ear headsets have fewer fit problems, in-ear headsets have consistently poorer reviews than the same manufacturer’s outside-ear models.

For years now, I’ve just thrown away those silicone ear tips that come with most in-ear headsets, and replaced them with Comply Ear Tips. First, because they’re made from memory foam, I can get a good fit (you compress them before inserting, like foam earplugs.) Second, they do a decent job of noise isolation. Not as good as my HyperX Cloud did, but much better than those little silicone earbud donuts. Finally, I can replace them when they wear out. Even the cheapest gas station ear buds will work OK to filter distractions if I have a pair of Complies on me that will fit the buds.

That said, the old Audio-Technica headset has seen better days. The belt clip on its control and battery box has broken, and fewer devices come with wired headset connectors. So I’m thinking about its possible replacement with a noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset.

Hmm… I should find out whether anyone makes in-ear Bluetooth gaming headsets…

UPDATE: I just added the Razer Hammerhead BT to my Christmas list. Stay tuned…

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Scrivener v. iPhone XS Max? #amwriting

Does anyone out there have both a new iPhone XS Max and iOS Scrivener? If so, would you please open a Scrivener project on that XS Max while the phone’s in landscape mode? The tutorial project will do.

In landscape mode, you should see a display similar to this, with both the Binder and a document displayed:

But at least one person on the Scrivener forum reported that it wasn’t available—that only the binder or a document would show in landscape mode, not both.

Would you please let me know whether you see a side-by-side Binder and document via comment or email? (you can use my contact page form.) I’m very interested, as I’m contemplating my next iPhone—and I’d prefer a nice iPhone 8 Plus that shows the binder to a fancy iPhone XS Max that doesn’t.

Shadowed Doorways Is Now Available on Amazon! #amwriting

That’s right—Shadowed Doorways, the fifth annual NaNo Los Angeles anthology is now available on Amazon.com! My story, “Fire Assurance,” is one of those featured in the blurb:

A shape-shifting detective hunts a homicidal arsonist. A jungle exploration goes horribly wrong. A child’s discovery has life-changing consequences. A deadly plague spreads across the countryside.

These stories and twenty-two more comprise our fifth edition of the Los Angeles NaNo Anthology. NaNoWriMo participants across the globe submitted short stories involving elements of darkness and concealment. This year’s diverse collection includes the most powerful and fascinating entries we received.

So open that door and take a step into the shadows beyond. Who knows what might be waiting for you inside?


I’ll make no profit if you should buy the book by clicking here—all proceeds go to support NaNo Los Angeles and National Novel Writing Month, and their literary educational programs.

Enjoy!

Universe, This Is Not What I Ordered #amwriting

I ordered an easy transition back to Keto.

I also ordered my leg injury and my infection to be healed by now, along with a side of increasing word count on my novel.

Instead, Universe, you’ve handed me a plate of a second tough withdrawal from carbs, a leg injury that still looks like someone spilled blue-black ink all over my calf, a fourth course of antibiotics (this one for 20 days, of which I’ve completed five) and, for dessert, the incipient return of my seasonal affective disorder.

Image courtesy of Thirdparty at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not cool, Universe. If you were a restaurant, you’d get a 1-star review on Yelp.

What’s that you say? I have only myself to blame? That I know the consequences of inadequate rest and poor diet? That I already figured out that I need to get out into sunlight every single damned day?

Pooh. Someday, I hope I stop doing the same thing and expecting different results.

iOS 12 v. Scrivener iOS: Image Links Lost

If you use Scrivener on both a desktop machine and on iOS, there’s an incompatibility between iOS 12 and Scrivener iOS you should be aware of.

The incompatibility regards images inserted as links via your desktop Scrivener. If you edit a document containing such an image link in Scrivener iOS, the image link will be erased.

It’s impossible to create such a linked image in Scrivener iOS, so this warning applies only to images created via desktop links. Here’s a link to the Scrivener Forums thread in which this is discussed in detail:

Missing Image Links

It’s on the list for the next Scrivener iOS revision, but that may not happen for a few weeks, as the developer (who is responsible both for Scrivener Mac and Scrivener iOS) is swamped. In the meantime, I suggest you turn on the following in your Scrivener Preferences (or Options, if you’re on Windows):

Scrivener > Preferences > Sharing > Sync > Mobile Sync “Take snapshots before updating documents.”

Turn on this preference in Scrivener Mac 3.x to preserve any image links. Similar options are available in the current versions of Scrivener Windows and Scrivener Mac 2.8.1 or newer.

If you turn this on, Scrivener will preserve a pre-Dropbox sync copy of any document you edit on iOS. Should you lose an image link, simply drag and drop the image link from the snapshot back into its rightful place in your edited document. If you don’t use Dropbox (you might instead use iTunes, AirDrop, or some other iOS file utility) then I suggest you make a backup or take snapshots manually before you incorporate any iOS edits into your desktop project version.

I Hate It When Life Fouls Up My Plans #amwriting

Illness and injury—both minor in that no hospitalisation has been required—have plagued me for the last four weeks. As usual, I’m unwilling to admit that I’m not up to my own standards of performance.

Image courtesy of kdshutterman at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I haven’t been able to keep up the pace I’ve set myself on finishing my current novel—which makes me frantic. Being frantic leads me into a very slippery place with respect to food. And yes, I slipped with respect to food. So in addition to illness for 4 weeks and injury for a week and a half, I’ve been out of ketosis for a week until yesterday. As a result, I added wildly varying cognition due to blood sugar swings to the distractions of discomfort and general malaise. Thus, I’ve put myself even further behind my goals.

I wish I would stop shooting myself in the foot—that I could stop doing things that I know will make a somewhat bad situation worse. But I’m on the way back up. Antibiotics have done their job (at last), the injury has gotten to the “itchy” stage, and I’ve returned to a keto diet, hopefully to stay for a long while.

Update: Scrivener Special Abilities on New iPhones (XS, XS Max, & XR) @scrivenerapp

Today was the annual Apple announcement of shiny new iPhones. If you’re a Scrivener iOS user, and considering a new phone, you may wonder which of the new iPhone XS and XS models will display the Scrivener binder in landscape mode.

The plus-size iPhones display the Scrivener project binder in a small sidebar.

Literature and Latte have said that iOS Scrivener uses the iOS size classes to determine whether a device can display the Binder in landscape mode. The key to this is whether the device has “Regular” width in landscape mode. According to the size classes just published for the new iPhones, the following new models have landscape regular width and therefore will display the Binder in Scrivener:

  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR

Other models that display the Binder:

  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 6 Plus

Note that the new iPhone XS (not Max) will not display the Binder in the sidebar, just as the older iPhone X did not.

Update on GTD v. ADHD #amwriting

A heavily modified version of Getting Things Done is still my go-to system, and I still have it tied to Habitica, the gamified to-do system I’ve been using for several years.

My calendar after GTD processing

GTD principles I ignore or simplify:

From my point of view many of GTD’s classifications are complications that I avoid or simplify lest I stop using the system. The ones I either don’t use or simplify greatly are related to categorisation and prioritisation, which ADHD folks are notoriously bad at (I am no exception):

  • Roles: Classifying things to do by the “role I play” while doing them. I don’t bother. The details of why I have to do a thing are things that are too nitpicky to record. Because I’m a writer? A wife? A housemate? Because I damn well please? It doesn’t matter.
  • Contexts:
 Classifying things to do by the location in which I do them. Again, I don’t bother.
  • Projects: Classifying things to do by the project of which they’re a part. If I have more than two projects going at once, I’m in trouble anyway. So I have essentially two projects: Writing-Related and Not Writing-Related. That’s fine enough categorisation for this ADHD person.
  • Priorities: GTD has four of these: Now, Next, Later, and Someday. For me, it’s either Now or Later. I can’t cut this any finer.
GTD principles I retain:

But there are things that are core to GTD that I’ve taken to heart and have heavily automated:

  • Collecting: I’ve set up automations via IFTTT and Zapier for this. Whether I add reminders in Evernote, in Siri, in the iOS Reminders app directly, in a (rarely-used) iOS app called Daily Notes, or by forwarding emails to Evernote as to-dos, they all get funnelled to a Google calendar I call “Unprocessed”, as all-day events due the next Monday after the events are added.
  • Processing: The hard part. I have it scheduled for every Monday; about half the time I actually do it. This is where having the tasks disguised as all-day events becomes useful. “Unprocessed”, “Processed”, “Scheduled” and “Appointments” are the four Google calendars I have on the same account—so that they all appear on my week’s calendar in neat little day-based columns.


How I process things to do:

I look at the unprocessed events, and delete those that I, upon reflection, don’t need to do. I then transfer the remainder to the Processed calendar.

On the Processed calendar, I start looking for places to put the most important to-dos on my calendar. My rule is that I never schedule more than five items on a single day. Writing is always scheduled, as is exercise. Appointments count as items. As I schedule to-dos, I move them to the Scheduled calendar. Left over items get moved to the next Monday’s Processed calendar. (Or possibly deleted if I decide that Later has become Never.)



From here my automation takes over. Via Zapier, all the Scheduled calendar items and the Appointments calendar items get inserted into my Habitica to-do list on the appropriate date. I either do them, or my fellow Habitica party members will chew me out.

Finally, a GTD user is to regularly review whether a thing-to-do is needful, and if the categorisation and prioritisation is appropriate. I don’t do this regularly; instead I do this when I feel like chucking it all. Usually this means either I need to prune my daily checklist (which isn’t tracked through GTD) or I’ve over-complicated my GTD variant. Again.

But still, the GTD paradigm remains useful so long as my automations still work—heaven help me if IFTTT or Zapier goes out of business!

Thoughts on Bullet Journalling #amwriting

Bullet journalling is a popular concept now. Be creative with your personal information system! Free yourself from the tyranny of electronics! My ADHD brain said, “Oooh! Something new and shiny!” So I bought myself a beautiful journal and expensive pens, and started in.

Fortunately, the experiment didn’t last too long.

An example bullet journal index, from BulletJournal.com. The problem with this is that I have to find the index page that contains the pointer to the information I want…

Bullet journalling works on the same principles as the old Franklin-Covey paper system I was taught in the 80’s—and the principles have probably been around a lot longer than that. Write things down on they day they happen, or are supposed to happen. Write an index for them every month. Refer back to related things as you write. They work for many people—but not for me.

Paper doesn’t beep, you see.

Paper is cool, it’s sensuous, and I can spend lots of time and money finding just the right journal and the perfect set of pens for my stuff. I’d love to handwrite all my organisational notes free-form on paper, but… I have to have an alarm set to remind me to update them or look at them. And I can’t find things that I need as reference, because I can’t remember what category I filed them under or when they happened, so I have to search all the index pages, and then all the other pages, too. I can scan them into Evernote to make them searchable, which begs the question: Why bother with paper at all?

If I want the benefits of handwriting and a free-form personal info system (with elaborately decorated F-bombs in) I can use an electronic free-form notetaking app such as my favourite, Noteshelf, which is searchable online (when connected to Evernote) and can be tied in to various automatic cattle-prod-zap systems I’ve already set up so as I won’t neglect it. And Evernote’s search functions mean that I don’t ever have to try to write indexes, or try to find something via a handwritten index. (Yuck.) Seriously, categorisation is difficult for me, as it is for many with ADHD. Remembering when something happened is also difficult. The beauty of Evernote is that I can search by anything I remember about a note, without having to wonder what category I put it in, what tags I stuck on it, or when I added it. (I found some writing notes under “Recipes” recently. No, they weren’t about food. I don’t know how they got there.)

I do better with creating a structure that’s both external and automated, so that once I decide to do a thing and get it into my system, it periodically punches me in the face. Eventually, it will get done, or I decide not do to it, and delete it. Meanwhile I have rewards (via Habitica) and punishments (via Beeminder) built-in to help me keep on track.

So no, no elaborate paper tracking systems for me—at least not until they make paper that beeps.