kurthurst | Home

Fiscal Cliff Prognostication

Posted on 27 Dec 2012 20:34 CST  |   Link

With all this talk of the speedily approaching fiscal cliff, I would be remiss if I didn’t throw out a little prognostication and let you know how I think all of this will play out. I’ll try to keep it short.

  1. No real agreement between Obama and Boehner will be reached. Obama will shoot down what ever offer is brought to the table.
  2. January 1, 2013, tax rates will return to the level they were when George W. Bush took office in 2000. (We can call these the Clinton tax rates.)
  3. The world won’t end.
  4. When most Americans get their first paycheck of 2013 they will think that there must be some sort of accounting error.
  5. By the time the second round of paychecks go out and people have figured out that their take home pay is smaller because their tax withholding is larger a groan will arise from the working middle class that drives the American economy.
  6. Obama will swoop in to save the day and offer a “tax cut” that will take the tax rate back to the rate it was on December 31, 2012. (Except for the top 2% of course. Those fat cats deserve to pay higher taxes.)
  7. It will take a few weeks to get everything passed and worked out and then people’s take home pay will return to its December 2012 level.
  8. The masses will cheer Obama for saving them and “cutting their taxes.”

Four Simple Steps to Writing Well

Posted on 5 Dec 2012 20:15  |   Link

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to become a better writer. I guess starting kurthurst.com back up has lead me to think about this topic more and more. Or was it wanting to write more that lead me to relaunch kurthurst.com? That is a topic for another post. Today, I want to share with you some of my thoughts on writing well. I am a very analytical guy. I like lists, bullet points and flow charts. So, I am going to try to summarize my musings into a short, four step, list.

Four simple steps to writing well

  1. Write… Really, it’s that simple.

    The first step to writing well is to literally put pen to paper, or in my case keystrokes to my text editor, and start writing.

    There are several hurdles we have to overcome to get this step done. The biggest of these hurdles is often ourselves. It is fun to fantasize about being the next Hemingway or daydream about earning a living writing as a tech blogger. Unfortunately, as long as we keep our writing in the realm of fantasy we won’t have to come to grips with the potential fact that we are not as great as we think we are.

    Ouch… I know, right? It might be hard for some of us to accept that our writing has room for improvement.

    But I’m not talking about you. You know your limitations, right?

    If you were a delusional self-aggrandizer, who was unaware of his inability to communicate well through written words, you wouldn’t even be reading this article. So you’re safe from delusion. (I’ll let you discuss your self-aggrandizement with somebody that knows you a little better.)

    You know your writing could improve and we can move on to step two.

  2. Keep writing… Repetition is a good thing.

    It takes roughly ten thousand hours to become proficient at any given task.

    If you want to write well, you are going to have to spend a significant amount of time engaged in the process of writing. To accomplish this you might have to make some adjustments to how you spend your time. Ten thousand extra hours are not just going to magically appear. You are going to have to carve out that time by adjusting your schedule.

    You might have to cut back on how much time you’ve been spending re-watching the first season of Homeland. You might even go so far as to schedule some dedicated writing time into your daily routine.

    Think how much more time you would actually be writing if you carved out forty-five to sixty minutes a day to just sit at your desk and write. If that hour a day were translated into consecutive working days, over the course of a year you would be writing as much as a full time job for nearly seven weeks. That little hour a day can add up pretty quickly to some serious time.

    Now that you are writing more, you might find yourself needing a little inspiration. That brings us to step three.

  3. Read… I am a firm believer that we don’t achieve greatness in a vacuum.

    We need the inspiration and example of others to become better ourselves. Since our goal is to be a better writer it might benefit us to familiarize ourselves with other people’s writing.

    If you want to write novels, read novels. If you want to write technology reviews, read some websites that focus on that genre. You might even pick up a technical writing book or two and learn some practical tips you can employ to improve your own writing style.

    It doesn’t really matter what you read as long as you find things that interest you and you enjoy reading them.

    As you’re reading, ask yourself the question why you enjoy that particular piece. Analyze it. Try to pinpoint what aspect of the article or story is appealing to you. Is it the cadence of the article? Is it the topic? Is it the author’s wit or humor? What is it that you could try to discover in your own creative voice that would bring about enjoyment in others as they read your work?

    This brings us to a natural segue into the fourth step.

  4. Let others read what you have written… Yep, you’re going to have to put yourself out there.

    You are going to have to click the publish button. You are going to have to send the email. You are going to have to print off what you have written and give it to someone else and (this is the important part of this step) ask them to give you their honest opinion. You are going to have to listen to what they have to say and try to learn something from their criticism.

    Before you get insecure defensive worried, remember that you are not going to get better without letting other people give you their perspective on your work.

    When a blacksmith makes an ax blade, he first heats up one piece of iron and then starts to smash it with another piece of iron. That is the sharpening and molding process. It takes a lot of heat and pressure to turn a raw lump of iron into a sharp and useful tool.

    Your writing ability is going to have to be sharpened in the same way. You will have to feel the fire and the pressure of criticism if you want your writing to be effective. You want your tool to be sharp so you can accurately communicate your thoughts to your audience. It is a lot easier to chop down a tree with a sharp ax than it is with a sledge hammer.

I think if you were to follow these four steps, you will start to see your writing improve. I also think you will see your enjoyment of writing increase the longer you stick with it.

What do you think? Can a person follow these simple steps and improve their writing skills? Leave a comment below if you want. You can also give me some criticism on my writing style if you feel like it. If you’re not the comment leaving type, you can hit me up on Twitter or email me.

Thirty-Five Things for 35 Years

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 16:29  |   Link

In honor of my 35th birthday, here is a list of 35 things I recommend you check out and/or do.

  1. Subscribe to my RSS feed
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Read an Abraham Lincoln Biography
  4. Check out Shawn Blanc’s website
  5. Buy an Aeropress
  6. Laugh a little
  7. Donate to a good cause
  8. Watch a classic Christmas movie
  9. Find a good local church
  10. Learn a word a day
  11. Learn how to survive a zombie apocalypse
  12. Try a new ice cream flavor
  13. Walk more
  14. Learn to ride a motorcycle
  15. Learn how to make your own website
  16. Check out the pictures I took with my iPhone
  17. Be my friend on Facebook
  18. Consider getting an iPad mini
  19. Go to the movies
  20. Sign up for a Dropbox account
  21. Buy a Roku box
  22. Test Ride a Harley Davidson
  23. Read this book
  24. Play me in Letterpress
  25. Check out Flipboard
  26. Check out some of my favorite blogs
  27. Start using a Moleskin notebook
  28. Donate a toy to Toys for Tots
  29. If you have love to give, consider adopting
  30. Buy an Apple TV
  31. Buy the best movie ever
  32. Buy someone you love some flowers
  33. Go get a flu shot
  34. Go on a roadtrip
  35. Give me a dollar for my birthday

Global Hacking Network Targets Syria 

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 07:40  |   Link

Global hacking network Anonymous said it will shut down Syrian government websites around the world in response to a countrywide Internet blackout believe aimed at silencing the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

Hey Anonymous… high five.

Apple Releases iTunes 11

Posted on 29 Nov 2012 13:40  |   Link

Apple has released, albeit slightly delayed, iTunes 11. Apple has claimed that this it a complete redesign and let’s hope it actually is. iTunes has long been plagued with complaints from both Windows and Mac users alike that it is a very poor piece of software.

You can grab your download here and try it out for yourself. I just downloaded it, but haven’t really played with it much. At first glance it does seem to be a bit more snappy than the previous version I had on my Windows laptop.

Apple Fires Maps Manager 

Posted on 27 Nov 2012 16:19  |   Link

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple’s Eddy Cue has fired Richard Williamson. Williamson was the manager on Apple’s Maps app that flopped with the iOS 6 release.

Kindle Cyber Monday Sales Heat Up Over Last Year 

Posted on 27 Nov 2012  |   Link

It looks like lots of people are going to be getting a Kindle for Christmas.

One Month Later and at Least 7 Lessons Learned 

Posted on 23 Nov 2012  |   Link

For those of you interested in self publishing and ebooks, Jonathan Christopher has some great lessons he learned while writing his first ebook.

Add Your Voice to Keep the Internet Free and Open 

Posted on 21 Nov 2012  |   Link

On December 3, government leaders from around the globe will begin meeting behind close doors to discuss the future of the internet. Some governments want to use these meetings to push their agenda of of increasing censorship. Make your voice herd by visiting http://google.com/takeaction and tell these governments that you want the internet to remain free and open.

Oh look its a relaunch

Posted on 20 Nov 2012  |   Link

I have made several attempts at keeping a blog over the last 10 years. Most of these attempts have started out with the lofty intentions of writing a post everyday and keeping a list of post ideas that is a week in the future so I’ll never run out of content to post. But what I have found is that this method turns the writing process into more of a chore than a creative outlet. So I soon stop writing and just go back to sharing links of things I find interesting on Twitter or Facebook.

This time I am going to change my approach. I have decided to let this site function as a place to write and also a place to post links that I find interesting. I know this is not a new concept. If I’m not mistaken, this might even be called a link blog. But my intention is not to come up with something revolutionary. My thought is that if I use this site for both writing and sharing links, it will allow me to stay in the habit of posting things on the site even when I need a break from the process of writing. When I do have something to write, it will be that much easier to follow through and get the post up.

What will I write about?

I am a geek at heart so I will mostly write about technology related topics. I am a bit of a gadget geek and an early adopter. I will have reviews of the new gadgets I have tried out. And I will have tips and tricks from the software I have been using lately.

I have also been bitten by the wood working bug lately so I am sure I might have a few articles on things I am learning and stuff I am making.

All this to say, I am excited to put the proverbial pen to paper… or curser to text editor and see what comes out. Hopefully it will be fun for me and for you.