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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.

Google Chrome Incognito Checks How Your Site Looks to Others

September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

There are a lot of online services and programs out there that will show you what your websites look like to other people, particularly when your site looks different to you because you are logged in as an administrator.

check-sites-incognito-snapshots-graphicFor example, when I log into WordPress.com, I am also logged into my blogs as the admin. That means that my site displays a bunch of extra things like Edit links and so on that might not be seen by the average user.  There are also occasionally things that appear on your own websites to regular users that might not really show up to you, either because you are an administrator or because you have installed ad-blocking software, or disabled JavaScript via your browser options or the No Script plug-in.

Using Google Chrome in Incognito mode is a fast and easy way to see what your website looks like to John Q. Public. Sure, you could configure another profile in a web browser, or use the Privacy modes in Firefox or Internet Explorer 8, but none of those are as fast or as easy as just firing up Chrome and opening an Incognito window. Best of all, you can keep doing what you were doing in your other programs instead of having to switch to another profile or have all of your other open windows and tabs disappear when you enter Private Browsing mode.

The reason this is important is because the user experience on your websites is often just as important as the content you have worked hard to write. Content is king, but experience can make people hate the king.

I bring this all up because in my regular default browser, Firefox, I have ad blocking software and the NoScript plug-in.  When I think about it, I disable them for my own sites so I can see what is happening, but sometimes that just falls through the cracks. So, I had no idea that here on A Freelancer’s Writings that there is something called Snap Shots running, nor that it has trouble rendering those snapshots for some of my websites, like BestHubris.com.

Running an Incognito Window inside of Google Chrome let me see these issues, which were previously unknown by me, thanks to JavaScript being blocked in my usual browser. When I checked my posts to make sure they looked OK, they looked fine. Now, I think I will see if I can get rid of SnapShots, since it is exactly the kind of thing that irritates me when I am reading other websites. If it bugs me, it probably annoys some of my readers.

Categories: Freelancing Tips