Recomendo

Productivity trance/Ludwig/Photoshop tutorials

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Recomendo: issue no. 135

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Productivity trance
I discovered a number of years ago that playing one track of music in an endless loop helped me write the difficult first draft. Some writers and coders use white noise, but another group (I am one) prefer a single musical track in a loop. The kind of music varies by person (I use one specific Russian choir hymn); after a dozen loops the music disappears and what I get is a feeling of comfort, which helps me focus for hours while it repeats. Try it with your song. — KK

Search for example sentences
If I’m not confident with how I’ve used an expression, I will google the turn of phrase inside of quotation marks, and if I get Google Books results with similar examples then I know I’ve used it correctly. Lately, I’ve been using Ludwig for the same kind of phrase searches. I like that it gives me back example sentences from different sources like encyclopedias, news and science publications. — CD

Photoshop tutorials
My favorite way to learn new Photoshop techniques is by watching the Phlearn YouTube channel. I’ve learned how to remove objects, remove backgrounds, touch up skin, remove glare from eyeglasses, and my favorite: how to use the clone stamp tool. — MF

Graphic inspiration
I collect visual reference books to provoke me when I make things. I recently discovered the work of the prolific illustrator Charley Harper, who in part created the graphic look of the 1950s and 60s. His illustrations are witting, spiffy, and timeless. Many hundreds of his designs have been gathered into a nifty book called Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life (pictured above). It’s not nostalgia: I get at least 10 new ideas each time I open it. — KK

Good cordless driver
I finally upgraded my one-speed cordless driver with a variable speed drill driver ($35). Made by Tacklife it has adjustable torque, and speed is controlled by how much you pull the trigger. A built-in light turns on when you use it. I wish I would have bought this a long time ago. — MF

Alternative to an exercise ball seat
I bought this 13-inch balance disc ($14) to help reduce lower back pain. I use it for about 4 hours a day when I’m sitting at my desk. It keeps me from slumping forward and helps perfect my posture. — CD

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 02/24/19