ATTN. Please enjoy your food

Here’s a very short letter for you today, since I’m at the beach with family for a long weekend and can only ignore them for so long. First a quick bit of housekeeping. There’s a little ATTN. badge over there on the left. If you don’t see it, something went wrong. I’m grateful to Darryl Brown for the graphics assist. The badge will show up here, and on the brand spanking new ATTN. archive site. The URL is attnplea.se, the double entendre of which pleases me greatly. :-)

 

You Shall Not Buy

Here in the U.S., it’s the day after Thanksgiving and consumerism is in full effect. It’s kinda gross, actually. For years now, AdBusters has organized Buy Nothing Day. The posters are still cool, though the movement seems to be less visible these days. Or maybe the ideas are spreading more broadly: check out the front page of Patagonia.com today (screenshot).

 

But I’m a pragmatist and a good deal is a good deal. I kinda don’t even want to start telling you about some of the deals that are going on, because you have a brain and can find them yourself. Those were some weird disclaimers I just wrote. Do I sound conflicted? Anyway, there’s no need to camp all night in front of a store (I’ll admit to doing this for REI return sales, but c’mon, I was in college). The Wirecutter has the best roundup of online gadgety deals, if that’s your thing. The Clymb has some ridiculous deals on outdoorsy stuff (invite if you need it)RetailMeNot has the rest of it. And that’s enough of that. (Why isn’t there a deal on the Whisky Advent Calendar?)

 

Obligatory Book Section

One book that I haven’t read yet is How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read [insert joke about needing this book in college]. Rest assured that I will eventually read it (Maria Popova already has). I’ll probably grab it from my local library. It is sometimes a hassle find a book on a web site like Amazon, and then copy the title, then fire up your library’s reservation page, paste in the title, and reserve the book. A little trick that might help speed things up is the old library bookmarklet generator. If it works for your library, it will totally be worth the time it takes to figure out and build the correct bookmarklet. It didn’t work for me a few years ago, so I had a smart undergrad build me a version that did work. Very handy.

 

This Sums It Up

 

Thanks for reading, and happy Friday.

Bren

P.S. Did you know you can just reply to this letter and it’ll come right to me? Try it out if you’ve got pointers for me, or think I screwed up, or just want to say hi.

ATTN. You should read this

Because I read a lot, I’m probably going to write a lot about reading. Because you subscribed to this letter, sometimes you’ll get to read what I write about what I read. Convenient! This edition takes a look at some cool reading options that have popped up lately.

Read this

  1. Amazon’s Kindle singles offering is a super handy place to find good stuff to read quickly. When it launched there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from, but I think authors and publishers are starting to realize there actually is a market for short, inexpensive, high quality writing. You don’t need Kindle hardware to read these offerings, but you’ll at least need the Kindle app for your computer or smartphone. I’ve read Lying and The Walk Up Nameless Ridge. Very curious about Do No Harm.

[Read more...]

ATTN. I want to go to there.

I’m on the road this weekend, and apparently I had a lot of travel-type stuff to say, so this edition is geared toward travel and a little bit of adventure reading. Believe me, two letters in two days will be an anomaly. As always, thanks for your attention to Attn:

Travel tricks

I know some of you readers have serious road warrior credibility, but I’ve found a few little travel tricks and tips that are worth passing along. This breaks down basically into gear and tech. Gear first.
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ATTN. Welcome to here

Today is Friday, November 9, 2012, and this is the inaugural Attn: newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Email is not dead, and newsletters are cool

I have subscribed and unsubscribed from newsletters for as long as I’ve had email (*cough* 1994 *cough*). Here are some that I like these days. If you’ve know of other interesting newsletters, let me know!

  • NextDraft: Dave Pell is doing good work on this general interest daily newsletter. He helped inspire Attn:
  • The Ryan Holiday Reading Recommendation Email: Longest title ever, but he is a voracious reader. I pick up good book tips here.
  • Photojojo: Focused on photography tips and tricks. They will also try to sell you stuff.
  • Edge: Interviews with thinkers from many disciplines.
  • Brain Pickings: Eclectic batches of themed interestingness. Maria Popova is inhumanly productive.
  • CoolTools: Cool tools. Email subscribers see reviews first, but to become a subscriber, you must first submit a review. Yes, I have.
  • The Listserv: Daily distribution. Many readers, one randomly chosen writer. Quality varies.
  • Viewsource: Daily email of a a video you probably haven’t seen yet.
  • The Scout Report: Aimed at educators, focused on STEM and humanities.
  • Media ReDEFined: Jason Hirschhorn is a prolific aggregator of tech, entertainment, and media stories.
  • This Is True: Long-running newsletter of unusual-but-true stories.
  • TomDispatch: An alternative to mainstream media coverage. Think Bill Moyers, Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, etc.
  • The Straight Dope: Produced by syndicated columnist, author, and polymath Cecil Adams. A little of everything.

Learnin’ and earnin’

What I like most about the Internet is the opportunity to learn new things. I really love it when I learn stuff that I can put to immediate use at work. OpenCulture has a great (regularly updated) list of certificate courses available. This turns everything upside-down. Instead of falling asleep in a class you don’t care about, you can stay awake on your bed and learn something interesting. I enjoyed a pint of ice cream while watching a lecture about calories.

Buy the way

How do you decide on your purchases? Thanks to the largesse of my father-in-law, our household has been a long time subscriber toConsumer Reports. I like reading the magazine, but I can never find the appropriate issue when it comes time to make a purchase. Lately I’ve been using The Wirecutter and Decide. The Wirecutter is a blog that’s mostly technology focused. Their mission is simple: they just tell you what the best thing is, and why. Decide will cost money each month, but the quality and timeliness of their reviews is worth the expense.

A fundraising masterclass

I spotted a weird Twitter exchange between Obama advisor David Axelrod and Donald Trump. I kinda considered them arch enemies, but they were just chatting like old pals. I storified it so you could gawk too.

Lock it down

Good article this week from the NYT on password security. I think password security is one of the building blocks of basic Internet literacy. I use a combination of a password manager, and a unique passphrase that can be customized to the site in question. As a consequence I have 515 (and counting) unique passwords. Matt Haughey’s password tips from back in 2005 were super helpful for me back then, and I continue to refine the approach. If you are repeating even one password, take ten minutes out of your day and come up with a basic scheme for unique, easily remembered passwords.

Happy Friday

That is all

Since this is the first edition, I’m keeping it short today. Hope you enjoyed it.

Bren