Yifeng Wang

Seven Years Later, Online Shopping Still Doesn’t Save You Time

Casey Johnston in Shopping Sucks Now:

The internet has created a tyranny of perfect information, so there is more to know about which thing is the right thing to buy than any human can comprehend.

And:

This infinite-market stuff was all well and good when being able to buy almost anything was an opportunity, but now that I can consider everything in the interest of saving time and money on buying subpar stuff, it’s an obligation I can’t ignore. But then I inevitably end up wasting a lot of time and money trying to save that time and money, making everything about this my fault.

I wrote about the same sentiment way back in 2013. It has only got worse with now omnipresent direct to consumer brands.

What Do I Talk About When I Talk About Dance

I need to talk about dance.

Dance is the surprising and wonderful delight I found in 2018. It all began with when a friend suggested we did something new and tried out a hip hop dance class for a Saturday morning. That was fun, I thought. I went back the next week, the week after, and the week after that... Before I knew it I joined a performance workshop, danced with some most amazing instructors and students, and met many wonderful people that I now call friends.

I'm by no means a natural dancer. One would think dance is a just another form of sport that takes some adjustment and technique learning. Well it was not. Shocker. I received really great feedback from some dance friends. One said my shoulders were not open. Another said I forgot that I had arms when I danced. You see the idea. Groove? I don't have. Isolation? Not really. It took me three months to really understand what people meant when they said I was moving my shoulders when I was supposed to move my chest. None of those mattered though. I still found so much joy in it. I stayed. And I’m probably going to stick around.

The type of class I partake the most is usually referred as urban choreography or urban dance. Here is a video attempting at explaining what it is. The first 30 seconds is pure comedy gold if you already have an idea about urban choreography, which is more of describing an activity than a certain dance style. It’s the practice of people coming together and dance. It’s about building a community. While commonly hip hop, the instructors come from all kinds of dance background and employ different styles to express what they see and feel in the music.

It has been an unreasonably stressful year and dance provided me tons of positive energy to push through. I was so lucky to take class from incredible local talent such as Sila Poe to shiny stars such as Larkin Poynton and Ellen Kim. I sort of performed on the same stage with Les Twins, Kida the Great, and Chris Martin. My YouTube homepage started to fill with dance videos. I started to deliberately look for bass and snare when listen to music. It was wonderful and I'm grateful. I understand I need to foster a better relationship with myself and destress myself from the inside but dance has given me so much while I learn to do that. To much more dance to come.

My Email Workflow

We love email. We hate email. We deal with email everyday. Through out the years I've tried many ways to keep my mailbox sane. Many seek for help from a task management system. Often with this method, people track emails as todo items and treat emails themselves as merely reference material. Some email clients have taken that even further by making the client itself a hybrid task manager, popularized by Mailbox and its peers.

A rising amount of email clients started to automatically process and organize emails on user’s behalf, employing machine learning and alike. The processing may be based on an email’s type, priority, and other criteria. Such feature is sometimes called smart inbox. Spark and Inbox are two notable contenders. Even traditional email clients such as Outlook are exploring this option.

I personally do something much simpler. For that at the end of the day, email is just another communication channel. First of all, I separate my work and personal email entirely—different addresses and different clients. I don't even have personal account set up on work machine and vice versa. When I absolutely need to look something up in my personal email when using my work machine, I use the web interface. Having the physical separation helps me build a clear mental separation. The cleaner the context is defined, the better. The less context switching, the better.

I only subscribe to a tiny amount of newsletters. All the unsolicited ones are unsubscribed mercilessly. Marketing and promotion emails? Gone. Useless notification emails? Gone. For the ones I can never seem to find a unsubscribe button, I simply set up a rule to delete them upon arrival.

Notification, the single most distracting invention in history. To minimize the amount of notifications, I use rules to automatically mark the emails that I need but don't need to be notified about as read. For example I do so for the newsletters.

I triage my inbox in batch using a GTD inspired method. If an email can be responded within 2 minutes, I usually do that right away. Otherwise I leave it in the inbox to response at a later time, and again in batch. When a long response is needed, I most likely write the response in a writing app instead of directly inside the email client. Once I respond, I archive the mail. I flag the sent item that I’m waiting for a response for.

I use exactly one folder besides Archive and I don’t use tags at all. The folder is called Saved, where I store things needed for upcoming events, such as concert or flight tickets. Once they are used, they go to Archive.

I believe the best way for anyone to manage email is the way that makes them feel in control of their inbox rather than the other way around. Mine makes me feel so.

Have a Good Day

Who doesn’t love a good day? Everyone longs for days when everything just seems to go their way. However sometimes we focus too much on the wanting part and forget that a good day doesn’t just come by itself—it requires work and specifically, preparation work.

Go to sleep early. Prepare the clothes you need for tomorrow. Prepare breakfast as needed. When the morning finally comes, you wake up full of energy, jump out of bed and put on the clothes you’ve already decided on last night, and eat a hearty breakfast. From there, you are probably going to have a good day.

Tomorrow starts tonight. Want to get up early? Go to bed early.

Redesign

Friends don't let friends keep redesigning their website. I apparently need better friends.

This site was previously powered by FarBox, and with a little help from CloudFlare, it has been reliable, fast, and securely served via SSL.

Farbox was one of the best contenders from the wave of Dropbox synced blog platform. Their marquee feature was that posts were synced through a Dropbox folder where files were stored in Markdown format plus some necessary meta data. This made publishing and content management extremely easy and accessible, especially when on the go. This was all great, but I wanted more. I wanted a site that I can (almost) fully control.

The idea of having my own corner, a place where I share my words with the world, on the sea of internet has started forming ever since I subscribed to a blog via RSS for the first time. Plus I really wanted to use those Markdown writing apps that I read so many reviews about.

After the journey of the initial a few months of Tumblr, Scriptogram, and FarBox, now allow me to introduce the whole new yeefom.com – a Hugo generated static site hosted with Netlify. I picked up a theme that had the style I had in mind, and tweaked from the layout to styling to make it look exactly the way I wanted. Feel free to grab my fork and play.

Netlify made the deploy process extremely simple. All I had to do was to connect my site's source code repo to Netlify and specify the build command. The continuous deployment requires zero configuration. Once the site was successfully built, Netlify automatically rebuilds every time the repo receives a new commit. Netlify also takes care of HTTPS and the rerouting between root domain and www subdomain if you'd like.

After the new design was done, the migration was a matter of reformatting meta data, as both FarBox and Hugo build pages from Markdown files. What took the longest was by far evaluating all the blog platform and hosting options. Nothing is absolutely future-proof, but I'm really glad to have found for now the perfect combo of Hugo and Netlify.