The Toolbox Fallacy

I have been thinking a lot about this video and just how true it rings for me and many other creators.

If I had (x) then I could do (y). That is a mantra I have said to myself for years over many different things. Thoughts like “If I had a camera I could take good photos” or “if I had more time I could write more.” These are all fallacies, and for some I have proof.

For instance, because of the wonderful Timing App I can look intro great detail how I use my time. Here’s how I spent my time on Monday September 16th, 2019.

As you can see, I spent a ton of time just watching YouTube videos instead of something productive. Like reading articles or writing, or doing literally anything productive.

If you watch YouTube as a means of entertainment and enjoy it that’s great. For me though it is a way to procrastinate and put off the important yet scary things. For me it’s writing. Every time I prepare to write I still get butterflies in my stomach. I get afraid that what I have to say isn’t good enough, even though I haven’t said anything at all yet.

In order for me to combat this I needed to make the time to sit down and write. It’s still something I am working on but I try every morning to write for at least 30 minutes. Some days that works and on other days it isn’t possible for me to do that. But instead of just making up things I “need” I took a look at this time tracking data and really took it in. I added YouTube to my list of blocked domains. Instead, I download the videos I want to watch and only watch them during my lunch break at work. It’s a start, but it eliminates the possibility of diving deep into a YouTube rabbit hole.

One of the things I have done to combat this Toolbox Fallacy was to start this new photo everyday challenge for myself. I decided to make photography something I get back into because it is a lot of fun for me. So I decided to flip my Toolbox Fallacy. Instead of “I just need a good camera, so I can start taking photos” I turn it into an iPhone photography challenge. I turned the limitations on myself into innovation.

In fact, I’ve been having a lot of fun pushing my iPhone to its limits. In fact, I finally got a photo that I am really excited about.

if you find yourself in a “Toolbox Fallacy” look at what you’re saying that you “need” and see if there’s a way for you to turn that limitation into innovation. It might not always work, but for me it has allowed me to turn a barrier into a doorway.

Impostor Syndrome

There’s no writer bit in anyone’s DNA. I don’t have that bit — nobody does. There’s no such thing, and there’s no collection of genes that make you a real writer, either.

You don’t have to have an English degree.

If you’re working on a blog, you’re a blogger. Period. Even if it’s not on your own domain (though, you should really own your site if you do anything online). You’re sharing your thoughts online for others to read — that makes you a blogger. That’s all it takes!

Impostor syndrome goes away eventually. You just forget about it. The fastest way to get past it is probably to help other people.

It’s okay to admit that you have it. It’s been many years, but I had it too. 🙂

This is me, and I am sure others reading this also agree.

I have been dealing with a lot of things offline lately–which is why I haven’t been posting at all–that’s partly due to imposter syndrome. I get married in a few days, to my beautiful fiancé. The person that has helped me with all of my mental health issue the better part of a decade now. Afterwords, I hope to keep the imposter syndrome part of what’s holding me back at bay.

Until then, if anyone wants to get in touch with me you can do so here on micro.blog or via email at Jeff[at]rocketpanda[dot]net.

Brent Simmons writing for inessential:

There’s no developer bit in anyone’s DNA. I don’t have that bit — nobody does. There’s no such thing, and there’s no collection of genes that make you a real developer, either.

You don’t have to have a CS degree. (I didn’t even own a computer when I was in college. And I didn’t graduate.)

If you’re working on an app, you’re a developer. Period. Even if it’s not a stand-alone app; even if it’s some scripts. You’re solving a problem on a computer with logic and code — that makes you a developer. That’s all it takes!

Impostor syndrome goes away eventually. You just forget about it. The fastest way to get past it is probably to help other people.

It’s okay to admit that you have it. It’s been many years, but I had it too. 🙂

If you were to replace this for blogging this is what it would look like this:

 

There’s no writer bit in anyone’s DNA. I don’t have that bit — nobody does. There’s no such thing, and there’s no collection of genes that make you a real writer, either.

You don’t have to have an English degree.

If you’re working on a blog, you’re a blogger. Period. Even if it’s not on your own domain (though, you should really own your site if you do anything online). You’re sharing your thoughts online for others to read — that makes you a blogger. That’s all it takes!

Impostor syndrome goes away eventually. You just forget about it. The fastest way to get past it is probably to help other people.

It’s okay to admit that you have it. It’s been many years, but I had it too. 🙂

This is me, and I am sure others reading this also agree.

I have been dealing with a lot of things offline lately–which is why I haven’t been posting at all–that’s partly due to imposter syndrome. I get married in a few days, to my beautiful fiancé. The person that has helped me with all of my mental health issue the better part of a decade now. Afterwords, I hope to keep the imposter syndrome part of what’s holding me back at bay.

Until then, if anyone wants to get in touch with me you can do so here on micro.blog or via email at Jeff[at]rocketpanda[dot]net.

Being Honest With Myself

It’s no secret that I write a lot about blogging on Rocket Panda. I have a thing with going meta, I even used to host a podcast about podcasting before Rocket Panda even existed. That said, sometimes it can be fun to go down memory lane.

Yesterday I was migrating my website over to micro.blog1 and I noticed something about my writing style over the last two years. There’s been a stark contrast in my older posts and the ones I write now, and I wanted to talk about it.

My older posts were me trying to imitate and mimic tech journalists like that of 9to5Mac and TechCrunch. I was trying to be more journalistic and matter-of-fact without adding anything personal to them. I even tried to make myself sound like and Apple expert, but if I am being honest with myself I know little about the history of Apple and the impact they made before 2008, which was when I jumped into the Apple ecosystem.

Once I realized that wasn’t working out for me, I moved to doing things like listicles and have my Top 10 iPad Life Hacks and The 9 Things I Learned Going iPad Only. I look back at both of these kinds of writing and cringe, because desperation has a foul and pungent scent and I reeked of it. After I got over how much of a try-hard I must have looked like I realized that had I not done those things and looked in the mirror afterwards I wouldn’t have come to the conclusion I have today about what it is I want to write about the things that I’m passionate about.

If you look at my more recent pieces, I am writing more personal pieces about the things that I can add personal input on. I have written things like Why iOS 13 Made the iPad Home Screen Fun Again and my TouchType Pro Review2. These things are comments on the news from Apple and the companies that cater to those users, but I center it on myself and my feelings on it instead of trying to make this an article for TechCrunch or something similar.

It is much more satisfying for me to comment on the smaller things that I’m comfortable speaking on instead of trying to get my share of the pie with what the rest of the big Apple blogs are commenting on. There are times where I may add my feelings and opinions on something but only when it is something that I am comfortable with. Gone are the days where I try and do some quick research and reading up on something that I know nothing about just so that I can be with the rest of the Apple News cycle. It is great if you enjoy that but I found it to be extraordinarily draining both mentally and emotionally. Chasing that forever-spinning wheel of tech news is not something for me.

If I am still staying honest, it’s hard to make a blog about the Apple news as a single independent writer. That faucet is broken and it is just a firehose of information shooting out at you with an unlimited supply of water. I have tried being a part of the firehose and it’s simply not for me. I would rather be a trickle of water by myself for a small amount of people to drink from. Which brings me to why I have moved my site to micro.blog.

Why I Moved to Micro.blog 3

The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. I am not a Pro Blogger, and I need to stop acting like one
  2. The atmosphere at micro.blog isn’t as formal as something like WordPress for me, and I like that

When I say I am not a Pro Blogger I mean that I don’t have hundreds of thousands of readers, and I don’t think I necessarily want that. It isn’t a goal in my life to make Rocket Panda anything other than a way for me to express myself creatively. I don’t look at stats, I don’t see what posts are getting the most clicks, and I definitely don’t want to make my site a digital billboard with ads everywhere and videos playing automatically. That wasn’t the case when I first started though, I wanted to make Rocket Panda my full time job so badly. So much so I was willing to throw a piece together I thought would get lots of clicks and subscribers instead of writing something that I was happy with.

What I want when it comes to this blog is that I own every pixel top to bottom and that I can say what I want, when I want without worrying about upsetting anyone that has control over my livelihood.

As for the second point, micro.blog is a place for me I consider a much friendlier atmosphere than that of Twitter or Instagram. There’s nothing about this service that makes me upset or feel inadequate about myself. It is just writers and bloggers sharing their lives, thoughts, ideas, and photos with others. As someone that doesn’t have a staff of writers it can be lonely at times writing, and having the ability to be a part of a community that isn’t culturally toxic and genuinely delightful helps fill that void for me.

I could have kept my blog on WordPress and linked it to micro.blog, but for me it made more sense to just put all of my chips in this service and embrace the limitations it comes with. I am happy with my setup and I hope to see it stick, and I think that this time it will.

After some tinkering and playing around I finally figure out how to fix my biggest gripe with the service, which was differentiating the micro posts (the things I would post on Twitter) to the articles (like this one). Because of the addition to categories and the support for Hugo I managed to figure out how to add parameters to my site to hide my micro posts from the website but still have them post to micro.blog for those who follow me there. For those interested, I found the answer to that from the Hugo Discourse which is a group of helpful individuals4.

This isn’t me saying that you should move to micro.blog, that is for you to decide. That said, I do think that more bloggers should look I the mirror and answer the tough questions about what they are writing about and what they want to share, because it took me way longer than it should have to listen to the people who told me to write more personal posts over the bland lists and news articles I was writing.


  1. More on that in a bit 
  2. Sorry Salman if you’re reading this, I still haven’t sent the review unit back to him. 
  3. I have since moved back to WordPress because of wanting to have link posts work the way I want, as well as having more granular abilities with the way my site looks. That said, the sentiment of being more informal is sticking with me. 
  4. I have bookmarked this site for future browsing as well if I ever decide to tinker with my website again 

A Meditation on the Open Web

Something about this video makes me realize the real reason I am blogging on Rocket Panda instead of something like SquareSpace or Tumblr. It isn’t because I think WordPress is a better platform, that is debatable on many different levels. The reason is because it’s my platform. I own every pixel of this website and I can control what goes on here and what doesn’t.

This isn’t about WordPress though, it is about the open web. If you are unsure what the open web is, I will let Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, explain.

Mark Surman writing on Year of Open:

What is Open Web?

“Open web” is a sweeping term — it encompasses technical concepts like open-source code and open standards. It also encompasses democratic concepts like free expression and digital inclusion.

But there’s a single underlying principle connecting all these ideas: An open web is a web by and for all its users, not select gatekeepers or governments.

At Mozilla, we compare the open web to a global public resource, like clean water or the environment. The open web is something we all depend on: to communicate and create, to work and play, to buy and sell. And like any other natural resource, it’s fragile. It needs care, because it can be polluted: by harassment and abuse, by misinformation, by bad public policy.

Why is it important?

The web doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or apart from society. The two are deeply entwined. The web is where we engage with journalism, form opinions and share knowledge. It’s an arena for politics, education, culture and science.

An open web means positive progress for all these things. A more informed public; more civic participation; more opportunities to learn and connect with each other.

An unhealthy web has an opposite effect. When misinformation, harassment or surveillance proliferate online, we lose trust in our institutions and in each other. Fewer people engage. And when closed, proprietary technology proliferates, innovation and competition are stifled. The web is no longer a level playing field — it’s a platform controlled by a select few.

While the main issue is governments seeking control of the internet, another entity is at work to wall up our content and lives: social media. I read somewhere a long time ago that you can’t be playing in someone else’s yard and then get upset when they kick you off it.

If Facebook one day decides that they want to close up shop all of the photos, posts, videos, status updates, and events you have put there are susceptible of going away forever. While losing a large part of your digital life can be catastrophic the thing that I think is much more dangerous is the freedoms you are giving up as a cost of entry into Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

These social media giants aren’t making these social networks just so you can stay in touch with friends and family, it is to get data and demographic information for marketing and advertisers. You are the product, and the more information these companies can get on you the better.

That said, Apple is planning to launch Sign In with Apple soon and that is a game changer in my opinion. You no longer have to use your personal information to log in to a service. You can now use great services online and in the App Store without having to worry about privacy concerns. This is the digital version of having your cake and eating it too.

I plan to remove every piece of my Facebook the moment I get married this summer. I no longer want to be a part of a company I deem to be evil, and I don’t want to keep feeding them my personal data for a myriad of reasons.

I guess what I am trying to say is when I want to share something on the internet I am going to do it on Rocket Panda, and I hope that you consider doing the same for your stuff.

Just Be You

Lee Paterson on LJPUK:

Something changed for me in the last year with my writing and based on feedback I’m getting it’s for the better. When I started blogging back in 2008 I stuck to a niche (at the time it was guitars) then I moved into technology a little while later based off the back of my freelance stuff.

What I’ve found though in the last year is that I’m writing more personal (posts like this one) and not worrying about sticking to any sort of niche, just writing about what I’m passionate about or is on my mind.

[…]

I guess what I’m trying to say as I’m starting to ramble is if you have a personal blog just BE YOU. Write about your passions be it the latest gadget you love or the most recent movie you’ve enjoyed.

Like so many things Lee writes, this post spoke to me at my core. Recently, I spent time on Twitter contemplating the name of my site. While doing so, I forgot that the name of my site doesn’t matter if I don’t know what I want to say on it.

My answer to that is this, Rocket Panda was created because I wanted to have a name outside the box Tablet Habit was putting me in, and I have slowly done so. I plan to continue to do so, and write about the things I want to write and not worry about my “niche” as much.