Ringing in some changes

From now on, things will be a bit different here on ...and in a good way. I'll be detailing some of the proposed site changes in the next little while, especially as we tackle the technical parts. First off, though, one of the biggies: a change in our front-page content.

Lo, in the beginning, was conceived of as an online 'zine style site, with an emphasis on original articles to differentiate itself from the plethora of "me-too" productivity blogs popping up like lemmings in the tundra. After all, when everybody is pointing to somebody else, there are few with anything to say; in fact, if you followed all the threads, most just went back eventually to 43Folders.

This decision meant that everything our writers produced had to be formalised to the point of being suitable for "real" print publication, mostly tied to their own subject expertise, whether that was templates, productivity, creativity or humour --think columns. This was a good idea at the time: we developed a lot of great original content, made a name for ourselves, and attracted a fair degree of mainstream media attention.

The problem is, three years later, this approach has a tendency to wear writers down, especially when they cover the same topics. Plus, it's no longer needed: we're established, the talent of our contributors requires no further proof, and --frankly-- it prevents us from saying a lot of the things we'd like to say. For example, if one of the team purchases a cool new notebook, that person shouldn't have to carefully construct a long and detailed review of the product.

So, change number one: although we'll still ring in with full-size articles, all the team members will now tackle things like product first impressions, mini how-to's, short reviews, links to other sites (with commentary) and other day-to-day happenings as short blog-style posts. And our writers should feel more free to handle whatever subjects they want, as long as it fits within the purview of the site.

Second, there's a lot of great discussions happening in the forums, but sometimes these quickly "fall off the grid" as new ones pop up. So we'll be promoting select forum topics to the front page on a regular basis to give more people more occasions to jump into the fray.

And the last one for now: we'll be contacting certain site members whom we feel have contributed a lot to the site, asking if they'll be interested in becoming regular front-page posters now that that the weight of the onerous "professional article" no longer looms dark overhead. However, if you're fairly new here or just like flying under the radar, and think you have something to contribute, please contact myself or Innowen; we'd love to hear your ideas.

I'll be writing about more changes soon, but what do you folks think of the above? Any other suggestions?

Takes to the Skies Agenda GTD Template

Take to the skies with this colorful, flying agenda template. Whether traveling or staying home, this template is sure to make you think of beautiful trips you've taken in the past or are about to take in the future.

Once complete, you will find the entire set here:

[Admin Note]: The templates described are NOT free.

Skies Agenda.png
Usage advice: 

Print, punch and off you go!

Paper size: 
Other (note the license in the description below)
Applications required: 
Adobe Reader

New Product and Special Member Discount Offer

I have a big announcement for all our members here at Renaissance Art, makers of the wonderful leather products, have announced their latest creation as being ready for purchase: Ring-bound system Covers and Bags. These wonderful hand-crafted leather cases are semi-customizable and available for use with your classic and letter sized ring-bound notebook systems (such as Levenger's Circa and Rollabind).

There are many different styles of closures to choose from and each can be outfitted with a customized variety of pockets to match your lifestyle. But that's not all...

For those of us who are constantly on the go, Renaissance Art came up with the perfect modular bag system. This modular system allows you to carry all your gear and a classic or letter-sized notebook in one complete package. This shoulder-sling bag comes with a cozy main component that holds your wallet, pens, ring-bound PDA, tarot deck, Moleskine, or whatever else you "just have to have" while being out and about. It comes with a separate and detachable leather journal case that you can slip your notebook into. The journal component then clips onto the back side of the sling bag. I've been carrying around one of these bags for about 2 months now and I can say that it's one of the most unique and innovative bags around. It's an absolute joy to use. I'm able to carry everything I need for journaling in the main pocket and then have the journal right there, ready for me to write into when I have a few spare moments.

Go here to view the full product lineup and start customizing a case or bag of your own.

Starting 7/MAY/08 and going through 11/MAY/08, Arthur (owner of Renaissance Art) is graciously giving all DIYP members a 10% off discount off all the core "Ring-bound cover" products. Use the code DIYP1 when checking out to receive your discount. This includes the covers, modular covers and modular bags--14 new products in all. The offer does not include any of the additional options which may increase the price of the core cover or bag.(Hint: Due to a little glitch in their system, if you order a complete Modular ring-bound bag system and get only one shoulder strap, it works out that you get a little larger discount).

Into the Wild (no starvation required)

Sorry I've been away a while, folks, but sometimes my work takes me places that just aren't accessible to the Net. Thanks to Innowen, as usual, for her tireless leadership (and great articles, as usual!) while I was away.

Wood Bison, (c) 2008 Douglas Johnston

So, I came face-to-face with a small herd of wood bison last week. These are truly wild, shaggy creatures nearly the size of a small SUV --I'm told they're the largest land animal in North America-- and quite capable of running up to 50 mph. And right now, at the end of the lean season, they can be downright ornery and rather dangerous as they roam through the sub-Arctic Northwest Territories wilderness in search of patches of frozen, dried-up grasses. I did manage to sneak up within 20 or 30 feet of them and take a goodly number of photographs before my fingers went numb with the cold and I lost the ability to manual focus. When the alpha male began to feign charges, I figured it was a good time to leave.

Here's yet another shout-out for Noodler's Polar Black fountain pen ink. Yes, it does work in extreme cold, and I've used it in -50C temperatures. As soon as I got back to the vehicle, I wrote up my notes using a still-frigid Moleskine and Polar Black in my red Lamy Safari. (Red, because it inspires warmth....)

On a vaguely semi-related note, does anybody else think the main character of Into the Wild should have spent less time reading Thoreau and more time reading nature books, and perhaps even buying a map and compass? Sheesh. An excellent film, but ultimately a very frustrating one for me to watch.

Write Free Book Giveaway Winner

Last week I proposed a contest to you all to win a copy of Write Free. I asked that you all submit your stories about what your perfect creative life would be like. Out of the 13 entrants, I selected one of the names at random. And we have a winner with wbb!

Wbb's answer was:

I'm retired from an exacting type career. I'm the Chair for the Finance Committee of my Home Owner Assoc. Never thought I was creative. Now that I'm on my spiritual journey, (that didn't fit in my exacting world either) I'm looking at life, nature more. I feel lacking, or "I can't do it", but my teachings say that is not the truth and to fully express the good, I must grow and stretch. Being open, creative in different ways is part of it.

Picked up a drawing kit from Costco and a Pentel Color Brush online. Still drawing stick figures, but I'm taking the time to look and see things differently.

Congratulations wbb, I'll be getting in touch with you for your address to send you the copy of Write Free. Thanks to everyone who posted a response, I hope your creative dreams come true!

On Hiatus

I've been putting off writing this post for far too long now, and it's not an easy one to compose. But I wanted you all to know. As of last Thursday, I'm taking a brief hiatus. Not sure when I'll be back, but don't worry... I WILL be back to fill your Thursdays with more creative ideas and reviews. I have this list, you see... and I want to finish it...

The past week has contained a series of difficult moments for me. Some good, some bad, but all leading me to realize I need some time off. Time to pamper my mind and myself. To sort out all the madness that has happened this week.

I need time to enjoy a conference I'll be attending this weekend. Time to learn a new contract gig I started this week. Some time to adjust to the fact that our house has one less kitty running around. And some driving time with the new car my hubby and I got for a great deal (and as retail therapy for said kitty). What really gets me, is other than the daily tech writing I do, I haven't been able to write or read much. So I need time to calm down and give my muse and myself time for writing and reading once more.

Honestly, I am okay. I'm taking it slow, one day at a time and allowing myself to just be. Thank you for reading and here's hoping things return to "normal" soon. Until I return, enjoy all the past posts and continue the great help and conversations you're all having in the forums.

A5 2008 Day to a Page Calendar

2008 Day per page printable calendar, with monthly double page planner. Simple layout is easily adaptable for any year.

Usage advice: 

Can print each month or entire year is formatted for double sided printing.

Paper size: 
Creative Commons
Applications required: 
Open Office Draw, Adobe Acrobat

We Wish You a Merry...

Happy Holidays everyone. I hope this holiday finds you all surrounded by family, friends, good cheer and Circa. Straight from the forums, I've decided that this little ditty (soon to be a rockin hit!) on the front page for all visitors to see.

The DIY 12 Days of Christmas, as performed by our forum members:

Twelve months of templates...
Eleven Circa discs...
Ten fountain pens / Levenger Customers a-leaping...
Nine Smurfers Smurfing...
Eight @ locations...
Seven daily pages...
Six Next Actions...
Five Circa Rings! (alternatively Large Moleskines!)
Four falling smurfs...
Three leather bags...
Two custom planners...
And a hipster in a pocket.

v1: Reference: One or Two Years on One Page (deprecated)

This application has been replaced by Dynamic Templates v2.x: The Next Generation. Please use the link to the left

This is the next installment of the Digital Templates, a series of cross platform applications that should ease the load on the folks who make calendar templates. This program generates a single page template of one or two calendar years based upon the settings you choose (date, margins, and so forth), and uses the basic D*I*Y Planner look and feel as designed by Douglas Johnston.

This is multi-platform software. Below are download links for both Windows and Mac OS X applications, as well as the source code. Through the Nordic Magic of the Qt Libraries, both of these applications were built from the same source code. This source can be built on any platform supported for Qt 4.3, including Linux.

Here's a shot of the Mac version: