Ashraf Ali

A challenge for 2019: Stop reading into texts/IMs/emails so much

One of my biggest challenges for 2019: Stop reading into texts/IMs/emails so much. Quiet the empath inside me so I don’t get so affected. Connect with people as directly as possible.

I used to love phone calls. I still love phone calls. But no one has the time, no one knows how to fill the silence with in depth conversation. Now it’s text this, WhatsApp that, Messenger this, email that.

We are losing the art of real talk. All online conversations defer the real conversations—in-person.

That’s reality though. You need to adapt to stay connected with people. So as a person who is so used to empathizing and connecting in person, online communication has presented its struggles over the years.

Learning not to read too much into messages (and lately, phone calls too) has been the hardest challenge.

My written words, even the ones you are reading here, will never accurately communicate my tone, my emotion, how I am feeling, why I am feeling, the context, or the body language I have as I write this. Nor will any text or IM.

The problem—the text/IM comes through in a very personal way, even though it’s an impersonal medium. My phone is with me all the time and it makes it so easy for someone to access me—and shove their words in front of me—with no warning, no room to assess the situation.

Just one notification on my phone from a loved one or a friend with a curt joke can flip my day upside down. I can feel so incensed, or so hurt, or feel so personally attacked. It’s one of the pains of being too empathetic with short messages and abbreviated letters.

I shouldn’t take a personal vested interest in the casual keyboard convos sent from a bathroom stall (don’t shy away, you know you do it too). Yet, I do.

I do read into my messages—way more than I’d like to. All these emotions flare up constantly, curling me up into a ball of stress.

For example: My co-worker wrote to me without adding “please” and “thank you.” I used punctuation so that means I’m being “passive aggressive” (to be honest, I just like grammar rules). The email was one word, so I’m not important enough for a decent reply. It all feels like it personally affecting me.

I need to stop this self-induced issue and reconnect to real talk. If I really want to know the truth, just call (and pray they’ll pick up). Or better yet, meet in person (though…I’ve got to go the extra mile).

To me, this effort is worth it. Because I think it’s important to just to try and understand how we both feel when we talk with each other. And the closer I get to that truth every day, the better I can connect with the people around me. That’s worth everything in this life.

Converting from Photoshop to Illustrator? Remove layer styles for seamless text import

Hat tip: If you are trying to convert a Photoshop text layer to an Illustrator-ready vector asset, remove all the layer styles like drop shadow or fill. Also, make sure to save as a PSD (even PSBs are finicky). It should import in as a text layer (albeit with huge text box frames…but that’s adjustable).

Now if only Photoshop would allow some rudimentary SVG exporting…

That moment when you are writing a bash script to test an if...then statement and your shell spits out yup from your echo :)

I might have internalized move fast and break things a little too seriously.

Excel saves the day when importing Fuelio data into Road Trip

Switching back from Android to iOS always has its quirks. Take for instance, my Fuelio app on Android. I have to export all my motorcycle and car data and import into Road Trip, an iOS app that works about the same way.

Thankfully, the Road Trip app website has a data conversion tool that allows CSV imports from various car apps…except Fuelio.

Not to worry, instead of using the reference provided on the website, I exported the Demo Vehicle included in the app on first launch. Then, I opened that sucker up in Excel and compared my Fuelio and Road Trip demo data side by side. A little bit of INDEX MATCH here, some sorting there, and back into the import wizard for the Road Trip website.

I broke down the problem into sections. First, the gas data. Sort the data by oldest to newest. Most of it, I could copy and paste it. Then, use a GPS service to convert any coordinates to addresses. Next, do a simple formula to calculate the trip distance based on the last fill-ups odometer. Then, make sure to reset any values you may not have info for (conditions for gas fillup, currency codes, things like that were not relevant for me). Also, the first row should be considered the base row.

Then, I moved on to the Maintainence section. I matched the CostTypeIDs to the CostCategories chart using INDEX and MATCH in Excel. Then, I assigned categories and treated the existing categories as sub-categories. Finally, after copying and pasting the data, I made sure I put in my maintainence reminders.

I airdropped the lovely configuration file to my iPhone and presto, all my data is imported straight into Road Trip! Not so bad for 1 hour of work. And of course, the first time you do it, it’s always easier to repeat it for other imports. While I considered writing a python script to do the conversions, I opted out of that since my data set wasn’t heavy enough to warrant that much effort.

Okay…so I’ve got two more vehicles to go. Yay me /sarcasm.

Google is absolutely killing it with their camera. I’m super impressed.

Kind petals.

Krebs does it again with the most reasonable take on the security crisis of Supermicro and the complex supply chain we work with today.

I exchanged thumbs up with a Lotus driver, me in my Miata. It felt like we had a driving bond. I feel like a giddy kid who gets the insider. Ahh.

Closing my exercise ring today on my lunch walk felt so rewarding. I’ve exercised more and cared more about my diet in the last three weeks than in the last 5 years. Maybe it’s my improved headspace, maybe it’s the Apple Watch, maybe it’s the right fitness class, or a nice combo.

Anyway I look at it, this is fitting progress.

Sometimes I feel like the presence of a cat serves as a foil to a conversation, a way to hone in your thoughts without having to deal with the present. The distraction cat. Hah.

Drogas Wave…oh man…Lupe you did it so masterfully.

The macro is fuego on the XS Max.

The rain streams a few days ago were just stunning.

Easy, breezy, beautiful Sunday morning.

Hat tip: Always have Waze on in DC. It’s inevitable that you’ll get a red light or speeding ticket. What a racket. These cameras are not even accurate always and create a big incentive for companies to sell to governments to help them press punitive charges.

“The waves can be your cover, the beach can be your pillow
My heart can be your house, my eyes can be your windows
To teach you how to swim and then we’ll play Nintendo
Be with all of your friends, dancing to the tempo
Go Alan, go Alan”
Alan Forever by Lupe Fiasco

God damn, this one made me tear up.

“Dios es mi droga, si no a qué soy adicta”
“God is my drug, if not what am I addicted to?”
— Drogas by Lupe Fiasco

What is it about music that takes me out of my element and lifts me into a cloud?

Apple Music served up some Miguel today, a flashback to his hit “Do You…”. Is it just me or is my headphone melting into my ears. Ufff. 🎧

Helloooooo True Detective. How have you been‽

My camera on my Samsung S9+ is fantastic. The speed…not so much. So much sluggishness, everything from launching the camera, to using Android Auto, and basic interactions.

I’ve never been so excited for a new iPhone to come out.

My motorcycle is my medicine

I’ve been coughing up a lung, feeling quite sick for the last few days. My fever has lingered like a bad girlfriend, refusing to let go. I’ve ingested smoothies, cereal, and medicine to quell the symptoms. So far, it feels like there is a road to recovery. My illness is slowing down. But it’s not quite there yet.

The clock was ticking this morning. I had to get into the office. It’s been a week since I got on my relatively new bike, a 2001 BMW R1100R. The bike was calling my name, beckoning me to ride.

I pull on my gloves, strap on my helmet, turn on a song in my headset, and get on my bike. The BMW is large, a monstrosity with cool, curvy lines running through its body. Its black paint is stained with scratches and streaks. The odometer read barely over 10k, a sign of a bike still yearning for more road time.

I mount the bike, trying to get my leg over the saddle and on to the peg. I shift the weight of the bike, gripping the handlebars. I feel like I could drop it at any time, the 500lb beast. But, like rocking a child gently, I balance the bike between my hips, and press the ignition button. My BMW begins rumbling, waking up without a fuss. I shift into first gear and slowly release the clutch. I flash back to my motorcycle class, “Open the mouth, feed the baby. You’ve gotta do both at the right time.” I twitch the throttle, let the clutch out, and ride off to the stop light. I wait at the red light, the music playing through my headset. I’m mouthing a countdown, a few agonizing seconds with a voracious engine between my legs.

Red. Red. Red. Red. Red. Just as I feel the impatience crawl under my skin, I get the green.

GO.

I let the throttle rip. The RPMs jump from 1000 to 4000. I’m hitting 3/4ths to the rev line when I shift to second gear. I slam into third. I let the engine roar. The wind is exploding past my helmet. The MPH gauge reads 40, then, 50, then 90. It probably went higher but I didn’t dare look down. I flex my bike on a sweeping curve on the George Washington Parkway. I flash my right signal for a fraction of a second before I lean into the lane. The music in my helmet rocks with the rhythm of the road.

I go over a small bump and feel its reverberations past my lower back. The bike stays compliant. The chassis is responsive and agile, willing to play at the tug of a handlebar. The BMW gets louder and louder as I rev higher and higher. I let out a laugh, and smile, remembering how much I love motorcycling. I trim my vehicle past cars, curving along the exit to get closer to my destination. I pull up to my workplace and kill the engine. I lower the kickstand, push the bike into Park, and pull out the key.

I take off my gloves, turn off my headset, take off my helmet. My hair is in a tussle, wimpy strands that need a band to hold them back. I walk in to work and gave my morning salutations to Mrs. Gloria, the front desk assistant. I went into the elevator and felt my heavy breath. The adrenaline, my blood rushing, the smile that I couldn’t wipe off. I walk into work knowing that today, inshallah, was going to be a good day, cough and fever be damned.

Another day, another awesome Apple Music Favorites Mix. Yesssss

“I wear a time only analog watch to actually feel a sense of time.”

I love this perspective by Om Malik, a small nugget in his analysis on the Apple Watch.

I haven’t thought of watches as a reminder of time’s passage. I always just pulled out my phone for the time. But, this consciousness, a slow down of time, an awareness of time, of time’s passage…hmm. Interesting.