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The personal blog of Michael Ashby

My Workspace

Our Internet went down for about 30 minutes today, so I used the time to take a couple of new photos and a screenshot of my workspace today. You can find the set on Flickr at this link, or I’ve embeded the slide show below.

A Funny Look At Simplicity

For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the ideas and choices around minimalism and simplicity. Some people may feel that it’s a fad and who knows, they might be right. For me personally, I’ve always found that I think better with less clutter and simplicity falls in line with my productivity methods.

I plan on writing more about this journey I’m on, but I need to get some distance first so I can look back and have some perspective. Then the article Simplicity is hard. Letโ€™s go shopping! showed up in my RSS reader, courtesy of and I just had to share it.

It has more to do with how husbands and wives communicate than it does with minimalism, but I hope you find it as humorous as I did. Enjoy.

AT&T Text Support

AT&T Adds A Cell Site

Hopefully the text message above is an indicator that AT&T is looking to be more proactive in customer service.

AT&T has been ranked lowest in customer satisfaction as far as service is concerned. However, 98% say they’d buy another iPhone on AT&T because they’re so happy with the device.

I’m no huge fan of AT&T, but my service here in Nashville has been good and I’ve been happy with the service since I switched from Sprint for the iPhone back in 2007.

They have sent me several text messages (all free) letting me know about my minutes and text messages remaining, which I think is fantastic. The screenshot above shows a text message of a new cell site that’s been installed near my home.

I haven’t had to deal with customer service, but if the above image is any indication of how they’re being pro-active, I’m all for it.

Questioning My Connections

As I stated in my last post, I’ve been on a bit of a minimalism kick of recent. I’ve been contemplating my needs for things in my life and trimming down where I can. Over the weekend, I thought long and hard about my use of Instant Messengers and why I’m constantly logged into so many.

In 1997, I took my first contract as a consultant with the Kansas Building Industry Workers’ Compensation Fund, which was based out of Topeka, Kansas. Wanting to stay in touch with family and friends, I came across an application called ICQ (pronounced I seek you). I was online a good bit, even back then, so when a friend would log on to the Internet I was notified that they were online and I could say “hey”. It was revolutionary at the time and I guess for me it was the Twitter of the late 90’s.

Soon there were copy cats as other Instant Messenger networks entered the market. Each one offered a new feature, or I had a client that used a different network, and thus I ended up joining them all. Fast forward to today and I’m looking at eight different messaging networks that I’m logged into on a daily basis.

  • AIM — npugdotorg
  • Google Talk —
  • ICQ — 12443768
  • MSN —
  • Facebook —
  • Mobile Me —
  • Skype — mashby
  • Yahoo — ashbygroup

Wow. Do I really need to be logged into all these networks? Of course not. Programs like AdiumX (mac) and Trillian (win) make it easy to stay connected, but that doesn’t justify the number of open loops and potential distractions.

So Who Made The Cut?

I use Google Talk for work and it’s my primary IM network, so it stays. Mobile Me allows me to support Mac users via iChat and Skype I use from time to time, so I think both of those will stay as well.

As for the others, I’m canceling my accounts as soon as this article is posted. If you’re on one of these networks, I’m sorry, but feel free to use Google Talk, or send me an e-mail.

What’s Next?

I’m still contemplating other areas of my digital life, such as RSS, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but I haven’t finalized my decisions as of yet. When I do though, I’ll be sure to post about it.

My Desktop (12/11/2009)

My Desktop (12/11/2009)

Originally uploaded by Michael Ashby

Been awhile since I posted a screenshot of my desktop, so I thought it was time for an update. I’ve been on a minimal kick these days, and this is about as lean as I’ve been able to get it.

What’s Different?

  • Removed all icons from the desktop.
    I usually have so many apps running, that I can never see the desktop and since I use QuickSilver, there’s rarely a need to click on an icon, so I opted not to have any.
  • Removed icons from the dock and set to hide
    Again, since I use QuickSilver, it’s a rare occasion that I need the dock so I remove every icon I could and set it to hide. There’s a closeup shot on Flickr that shows what’s running at start up.
  • Removed / Hid icons from the Menu Bar
    I used to have a have a TON of icons in the menu bar. Then the thought occurred to me, “Why do I have so much clutter and distractions?” So I took a look at what I actually needed and dispensed with the rest. The only icon I’m undecided about at this time is the DropBox icon. There’s no way to remove the icon within the app itself, but there is a method to hide the icon.
  • Last, but not least, the wallpaper is PinPoint by Otis Bee. So there you have it. Way too much detail about my minimalist Mac OS desktop. Enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

My Wish List

It’s that time of year again when we buy loved ones gifts for the holidays. When given a gift, I’m often told “I didn’t know what to get you, but I hope you like it.” Of course ANY gift is such a fantastic gesture, that it doesn’t matter what the actual gift is. However, I thought I’d make it easier for those that insist on buying me a gift by putting together a wish list.

I did some searching and settled on using BoxedUp to compile my wish list. This freed me up from having to find everything on a single site, or have multiple lists that you had to sort through. It’s not perfect and there are definitely things I’d like to change about it, but BoxedUp is about 75% there, which is more than enough.

You’ll find a link to my Wishlist below and also in the sidebar.

Been Busy Streaming

Recently Dan and I have been doing some video streaming gigs with a buddy of ours Nic Dugger. I came across the on demand links on uStream, so I thought I’d share.

Pre-Show: Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry

Carrie Underwood at the Grand Ole Opry

Jimmy Wayne Live Chat and Performance

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