Writing Music

February 3, 2013 1 comment

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of music to help with regulating mood, motivating, and just plain feeling better. A lot of people from many different professions listen to music while they work.

However, as a writer, music can be a tricky thing. While having a fun beat and clever lyrics appeals to a writer as much as anyone, there is a very big snag. The human brain cannot always keep everything separate, and the words flowing in from the song sometimes get jumbled up with the words being generated to write your article. The result is stray words typed without you knowing it and lost trains of thought.

As a web developer, I’ve always been more able to use music. It’s because even though programming requires focus and typing, the words and consciousness streams in the mind are not the same. In fact, only a small amount of the average code actually uses English words, and even when it does, those words don’t hold on to their same meanings, having been conscripted for coding. However, the problem with a lyric or two interrupting a complex train of thought is the same.

So, I stuck with just two options, either listen to classical music (no words), or work in silence. Finally, while reading my Twitter (follow me!) I noticed another programmer mention a list they he was listening to while coding. I tried it, and the silence has disappeared from my world.

writing music songza

As it turns out, a lot of programmers use various forms of electrical or techno music with upbeat, throbbing beats, but NO WORDS! Just like the classical music I have been using, these kinds of music provide a background of melody and beats without disrupting your fragile thought processes. However, I don’t know anything about these kinds of music, so finding solid tunes that are entertaining, and, let’s be honest, not irritating, can be a time consuming process filled with trial and error.

Fortunately, music apps like Spotify come with the ability to listen to other’s playlists. Several coders have playlists published on Spotify, which allows you to both listen in, and listen to a radio station based upon the playlist. Both are solid ways to crank out some prose without having to find and manage music when you should be writing. Whenever, you don’t like what you are getting in through your ears, just hit next. Spotify limits this, but it shouldn’t happen too often when you are in the zone. However, a better option might be Songza.

I’ve just discovered Songza, so I’m not aware of all it can do, or its limitations, but it has one feature that I love for both writing and life in general. Songza offers up playlists based upon what you are doing (activities) or based upon your mood. The former actually lists, “Coding” as one of the default activities, while the later is a great way to get some music for everything from cooking a little BBQ, to cleaning the house, to chillin’ with a bucket of beers and ice on the balcony. Even better, Songza doesn’t seem to keep complaining when I want to skip more than a few songs.

When it comes to working a full day as a freelance writer, its the little things that enhance your comfort and make it easier to keep going long after the work stopped being its own party.


MCSE Is Back Again

January 29, 2013 Leave a comment

A few years ago (back in 2009, it looks like) I wrote an article about why you should still get your MCSE and had to use the delete key over and over again to avoid flat-out saying that Microsoft was stupid to kill off the MCSE certification in favor of the much more confusing and completely unknown certifications it was replacing it with.

You can read more of my rantings — when they occur, I’m trying to tone down — at BestHubris.com

Looks like I was right. Having gotten no traction outside of a tiny subset of companies and IT recruiters with the new certifications, Microsoft is bringing back the MCSE. They should have listened to me the first time.


And, though I promised myself I wouldn’t, I have neglected this poor blog again.

It’s time to set up a new writing calendar. When I had just four site and a half-dozen clients, just keeping it all in my head worked fine. These days, there is just too much to keep up with.

I’ll be back.

Banned in the USA, I Was Banned…

O.K., not really, but I was banned from WordPress.com.

Somehow, my account and several of my WordPress.com blogs got flagged as violating the TOS. All of my blogs are super innocuous. In fact, most of them are more neglected than anything. They all do, however, link to my other websites, and I’m guessing they do it just enough to trigger some anti-link scheme filter or something. The irony is that the sites they link to are much bigger, higher ranked, and so on, so there wouldn’t be TOO much value in it.

I sent in a help request about my account being shut off and they turned it back on.

That let me log in where I saw that several of my blogs were shut down. I’m assuming that too many bad blogs = disabled author account.

Getting those turned back on was a little easier. Each Dashboard had a link pointing me where to notify “the authorities.”

Everything is back on now. I won’t link anything from this post, just to be safe, but hopefully, I’m back in the clear for now.

Hopefully, my poor WordPress.com blogs won’t be so neglected from now on either 🙂

Story Ideas That Never Happen

Each year I see row after row of parked cars with parking tickets sticking out of the doors when street sweeping season starts.

Each year I think there might be a story there.

Each year I don’t come up with anything.

Each year I remember that last year I didn’t think of anything either.

This year, I wax philosophically about it at my personal Brian Nelson blog.

Maybe I won’t think about it so much next year.


Maybe I should get a picture…

My Latest Personal Finance Articles

Over at my personal financial advice blog FinanceGourmet, I’ve been busy writing about everything from 2011 tax deductions to credit reports to investing.

As people file their taxes, they look for tax minimization strategies. While there are various actions you can take throughout the year to lower your overall tax burden, once December 31st rolls around, the only option most people have for lowering their taxes is to contribute to an IRA account. Of course, there are limits on IRA contributions, so that only offers so much relief. Otherwise, the best you can do is find every possible tax deduction you can.

When it comes to your credit report, there isn’t much you can do to manage it other than to pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit card balances from getting too close to their limits. (Credit line utilization is one of the big components of a credit score.) However, you do have to constantly watch your credit reports to ensure that negative information is not lowering your credit score without your knowledge. One of the easiest ways to monitor your credit report for free is with Credit Karma. I wrote a nice review of Credit Karma on Finance Gourmet after first determining that Credit Karma is not a scam. You can see my latest update where I delve into Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring service.

Lastly, this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average mananged to top 13,000 for the first time since 2008 when the housing bubble triggered the financial crisis and the stock market managed to drop all the way down to about 6,500 before bottoming out and recovering as economic indicators started to look better. But, what does Dow 13,000 mean? Is that nice, round number really worth anything, or is it just a lot of media hype?

Either way, it’s been a good time over on FinanceGourmet.com. Check it out.


Freelance Writer Using Empire Avenue

I have, for no good reason whatsoever, decided to try out Empire Avenue as a way to both “improve my social networking” and have more fun with the same. In the end, however, I’m sure it’s nothing more than an attempt to further distract myself from my real work by adding another dimension to Twitter. Notice that I joined on a Sunday when my (and everyone else’s) streams are running light while people enjoy their real lives on the weekend.

I guess hitting refresh just wasn’t satisfying enough today.

Use this link to sign up for Empire Avenue and make me virtually rich. That means fake, online rich on only one website, if you were wondering.

I guess I should go find someone to buy shares in.