Last week in Phnom Penh

Its my last days for a long time here in Cambodia. Next Friday I leave for Vietnam for a week or so to see my friend L. I will go to Saigon and Can Tho to see friends in both places. I am very blessed I think to have two wonderful people in my life in those places. After Vietnam, I have a few hours in Phnom Penh at the airport and then I fly to Taiwan for two months. I am feeling like I need the wandering time, the hobo time on the road. I need to see things I have not seen in a city like Taipei. I will have a month there and then will ride the high speed rail to 4 different cities and visit 7 days in each. I just built this itinerary with no real goals in mind because it sounded cool at the time. Then off to Manila, Davao, and Cebu. I have friends in Manila so will see them and will spend Christmas in the Philippines this year.

The Camera Casualty

One of the things I had written about was waffling on the whole camera thing. Do I take a dedicated camera with me or just use the iPhone 11? What would I gain or lose by doing that? One of the many things I gain is the footprint of stuff to carry. Gone are lens and batteries and cables, and lens caps and chargers. A second thing I gain is the ease of sync'ing photographs and even editing as I want on the iPad I will get in Saigon. A last thing I think I gain is a basic formula for taking photography and having all I need for it all in one device. iPhone 11 seems very capable at recording what I wish to record, how I wish to record it, and then sync'ing to Google Photos. A few things I lose is the flexibility of a camera lens and different film simulations which I enjoy. I also cannot really apply a change to the same shot like going to Classic Chrome or the Provia film simulation. Those are losses I feel kinda keenly. I enjoy that part immensely.

Left Behind and Lesser Things

What it leaves me with though is a single device which is easier to deal with in the long haul. I will be wandering for 7 months and I really want to lessen the footprint of devices. That's one reason I decided to get some kind of iPad when I get to Saigon. I think it will be easier with power and applications and use to simply have two similar in ecosystem devices. I am not sure which iPad yet but will probably go for the cheaper 2018 iPad with a Zagg keyboard or maybe will get the 2019 iPad with the smart keyboard. Prices are very similar.

By a week from today the laptop will be a thing of the past and I will have two easier to travel with devices. I have to say that the Macbook 12 inch is a very nice device but the power brick itself is a major issue for me. Its huge! Then there is not really having the same applications on all devices. Sometimes the Mac applications are different or do not have a piece of functionality or its different. Now I want to have a simpler existence with devices so I leave things behind and choose lesser things to take with me.

Using a single Notepad for it all

Finally I want to speak about finding a single container for all my writing and content. I did this for awhile on Ulysses but its painful for notetaking since I believe its really a pro writing app. I wanted something with basic functionality much like a wiki but that also would allow a lot of flexibility in what I can store, how it works, and having the same app on my devices. Enter Notion for my thoughts and diaries and notes. Notion provides the functionality of a wiki but yet with the features I like in Note applications. Its a graphical slate for me that I can build a very simple work flow in. I can create draft blog content in it and it preserves the drafts, lets me using markdown to create, and then I copy and paste the content and make a few adjustments and done. It means I can write these things with no internet or share between my iPhone and my Mac (now). But by far the most significant thing is the underlying power of the thing. With nested notes, sub pages that can be linked, image support which is excellent, and also being to use tags and create lists of affiliated pages with simple commands, I have this slate of wiki like ideas and approaches. I even have built a very simple work flow for myself each day:

  1. Write a diary or journal entry of events, thoughts, ideas. If one becomes more significant, I simply create a note or blog post or whatever within Notion and I can move the page or entry so easily. In a few steps I have a basic diary or a more substantive note or blog post. The biggest thing is its not split between Day One and Bear Notes. I did not like the artificial boundary there. I want all of everything in one place. There is only me No team so the integration part is very cool and I touch on it next.
  2. Integration and Delivery. This is huge for me. I want something that will integrate from different sources. If there are templates, much the better and there are. I can take a template like I have done for my wandering, change it up a bit, make it this way or that, and even detailed travel plans can be folded in. I will be working on removing all the detailed plans from Google Sheets and using Notion for that and just including files or itineraries within the note for I have for wandering. This lets the workflow be flexible and I can make changes to how I want it easily. There is only me again. No team to enforce standards or complexity on.
  3. Writing and Creation. This is a big one for me. I enjoy writing and creation but I do not need some big app like IAwriter or Ulysses. I need an application that fits inside the first things but then extends to what I need. I want a basic blank page but with easy commands to include, list, make a sub page, etc. I also want the freedom to change things up or down or sideways. I feel Notion gives me this too.
  4. Finally there is presentation. I expect the data to be presented back to me in a way that I can comprehend and use it. Things like taking snapshots of web pages with the web page snipper in Chrome or the share menu on IOS. Getting the presentation working for me is the last step. I like to link the ideas to other ideas and then be able to drill down.

The big thing of course if the wiki standard that I enjoy. I have always enjoyed using a wiki approach since there is unlimited nested pages, creation of ideas shines on a wiki because its both freeform and flexible. When I combine all the areas above, I get this rather fun canvas of ideas and approaches that is imminently flexible to how I want to work yet it lets me write the words “work flow” in a sentence and it seems to make some sense as I look at it.

Is the tool perfect? No. Its not perfect. Would it work for you? Maybe and maybe not. I know I searched and used things for awhile and then found it and have been busy some mornings moving things around, understanding more of how to use the mobile app to my advantage, and just getting the second thing done a bit. I enjoy integrating tool and how they influence my writing and presentation. I enjoy Notion.

Software is never done and there are things always you see and ask why is a thing the way it is. Always room for changes and creation of new paradigms for management and use of the important or not so important data you have. I have found for me, a single layer of presentation is the best. If a thing is in three places or more, I may not find it in the second or third and its hidden away in the first. With all the stuff in a single basket I am able to drill down and reach the final thing which is the use. The four things lead to use.

So those are the thoughts that wandered around today in my head. Things that have come and gone and bounced around. Its good to get them on my blog I think. Maybe someone some day will think of how to do a thing or find a thing and maybe, just maybe, Notion is a tool to consider for them too.

I feel confident that I am making either a good or bad choice with the camera but I don't really care. I will err at the level of wanting less things to track and carry for the next 7 months. I do have some feelings about leaving Cambodia behind because I don't believe I will live here again. Next year I will live in Vietnam in a new city I have not been to. I know this now. I will go where L is because its what I want and what she wants. I never thought I would find someone again that matters to me as much but I did. Its made life better in so many ways.