Gaming, my way

Long time ago, in the early nineties, when I was a student and just hooked up with my hubby, we bought our first computer. We’re both nerdy types and had done out research into what kind of specs we wanted for our computer, so we went to a local shop with an equally nerdy owner. After a long and infirmative chat we ordered our PC and the owner recommended a few computer games that went well with our setup, King’s Quest VI and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. We got one one them for free and bought the other. Little did we know that this was the start of a lifelong obsession hobby!

Adventures and action galore

The nineties were the glory days of point-and-click adventures and boy, did we play a lot! The nineties also saw the rise of first-person shoot’m-ups but those games never spoke to me. I strongly prefer games that use humor, imagination and creative thinking over violence and gore. I’m getting nostalgic to think that I have experienced a lot of the development timeline of digital gaming, as I also shared an Atari console with my sister in the eigthies.

Remember Donkey Kong and Space Invaders? Those were the days! By my gaming took a back seat when real life knocked at my door, especially when we got kids. But now the youngest is a teenager, I get to play more and, even better, get to share my interests with my kids. My hubby still is a heavy gamer and willing to invest more in games, hardware and accessories.

Simulations and casual gaming

Gaming has become easier than before. In the nineties, the internet was still only accessible through a phone modem connection and pretty much in its infancy. My kids can’t imagine not being able to quickly search for information on the net, but in those days, game books and bulletin boards were often key to successfully finishing many adventure games. Nowadays nobody gets stuck for days on end anymore on a puzzle with a wildly imaginative, multi-step solution. But is it cool to see old classic games being dusted off, updated and released again. Just played Full Throttle again and that was a lot of fun!

But games have evolved and so have I. I played a lot of time management games during the busy years and are mostly playing more relaxed games now that probably fall into the category women games. Simcity introduced me to the world of simulations and its spinoff, the Sims, has to be the games series I have sunken most hours in. But big corps are increasingly milking their games with DLC upon DLC, some of which should be in the base game, which take away a lot of the fun. So, as with my reading, I’m looking more to Indie game developers and smaller studios that genuinely love what they’re creating. And I’m spending more time actually playing the games I already have.

So what is installed at the moment? I have Stardew Valley of course. I just got myself a new PC and haven’t played the 1.5 update, so I ‘m looking forward to start again. With a fishing mod, because my motor skills are too poor for that. Then there is Spiritfarer, a beautiful, atmospheric game that tugs at my heart strings. I just started Cozy Grove, which is a relaxed game that is self-limiting in how much tme you can sink in it per day. I also have Oxygen Not Included, Megaquarium and Parkitect installed for when the buiding itch starts. Other Indie games in my active installs are Before we Leave, Littlewood, and Islanders and Dorfromatik that were developed by video game design students from Berlin. I’m always on the lookout for other interesting titles and actively support the development of Paralives on Patreon. I think it’s just as rewarding to find potential hidden gems as to play them!

Yeah, it’s summer

My summer holiday just started and, as with much of my life, I’m using it differently than many other people. Some of it has to do with my treacherous body, some with my mindset and interests and some with cicrumstances outside of my control (hello covid-19!).

Sunshine and atopy

To start with my health, unfortunately I have an atopic body that doesn’t like typical summer days. With hay fever (for birch and timothy pollen, so essentially present the whole spring and summer), eczema and photosensitivity, sunny and warm days make me stuffy and itchy and deplete my energy levels. Norway is experiencing a beautiful warm and sunny period at the moment, so here I am, sitting inside, instead of working in the garden, going on a hike or doing other outdoorsy stuff. One hour weeding did lead to a significant increase in symptoms, even with allergy meds, and I may have to concede that it is already too late in the year for that and wait until it starts raining or until autumn starts.

Openings and outbreaks

Norway has recently entered step 3 of its national reopening plan, but we also had the first local covid outbreak since the start of the pandemic and we have been in quarantine for a little while as the school of my youngest was also involved. Luckily, she tested negative twice, but it was a strong reminder that the pandemic is not over yet. We did get our first vaccine shots last week though. But we only planned to travel to Oslo for a short week because the kids need to reneww their passports. So I have a lot of time available for myself.

Personal time again

Now, I don’t really mind sitting inside, as I can do a lot of my hobbies and interests inside. These include faffing with my fountain pens, writing and lettering, and playing games. As I have little on my mind now (I only scan work related channels for news whether I have to help out with an activity during an international digital meeting in my holiday, which I count as hobby-related), I’m starting up my digital weeding and organizing activities again.

Right now I have to start again with learning about building a second brain and using Obsidian for that purpose. I decided to support the developers with a Catalyst payment that will also access to the private beta of the mobile app. I might be writing more later as I learn!

It all starts with weeding

We all know we need to declutter stuff we don’t use anymore. I’m no minimalist at all, but I do like to be able to find things I know I should have. I also don’t want to run into broken stuff that was only moved out of the way to be thrown out another time and is still taking up space in our living space.

When we moved from the Netherlands to Norway in 2008, we had to rigorously select what we wanted to keep as we only had so much space in the moving truck. But we have so much room in our new house now, that it’s starting to overfill again. But it’s at least visible how much physical clutter we have. Still need to weed out the physical junk, but it’s worse with digital clutter.

Saving for later

I once lost my draft thesis text and had to type everything again from the printout I thankfully had made. After that I made it a habit to save important files and backup them and save a copy for good measure. These directories were saved for eternity and copied over to every new computer I got. Despite attempts to organize my file directory, entropy is inevitable, especially when hard disks only seemed to increase in size. If you’ve got the room on your hard drive, it not really urgent to avoid double saves, especially after an experience as I had with my thesis. The main reason to weed out double saves was to ensure that you’d only work with the latest version of a file.

One application to rule them all?

Keeping up with all pieces of information I collected was getting a problem. So when I learned about Evernote, I quickly saw the potential for a system that could organize my files for me. I don’t really remember anymore when I started using Evernote, but is must have been around 2008 or 2009. I have been a premium subscriber for a long time and at a certain moment we decided that Evernote would be our archive for everything. We bought a Scansnap scanner and started scanning in everything directly into Evernote, from our recidence permits, bank statements and invoices to recipes, Christmas cards and drawings by our kids.

Then, in 2015 Evernote changed their management and subscription model drastically. and pissed off a lot of long-term users, like me. I was an early adapter of Springpad and was ready to move over, when they unfortunately and suddenly folded. Microsoft has been quietly building Onenote, which became my alternative note app. I exported everything out of Evernote but never quite imported everything into Onenote. Instead I started new in Onenote and quickly built up a knowledge and information repository there. Yet, I could never really get the hang of Onenote. Sync is not a strong point for Microsoft and I have had several notebooks that I had to copy to a new notebook because of corruption. Not good for a forever archive system!

The last few years I became more interested in open standards and open source developers. I’m trying to move away from the big names with their greedy fingers in my personal data, although I’m not ready to sacrifice all convenience and ease of use. But a few years ago I moved to my latest note taking app, Joplin, a very capable, free and open source Evernote competitor. Joplin works well and uses markdown, a lightweight markup language where you basically type formatting elements in your normal text. I have been learning and using markdown for a couple of years now and prefer that for writing longer texts over a WYSIWYG editor, so that was a big plus.

Back to basics , but with a twist

So here I am, with a fractured collection of archives that contain partly duplicated, partly new and partly outdated information. Just like a house full of clutter and junk distracts, does this digital clutter also distract. So I’ve made a start this year to clean up and refresh this pile of junk once and for all. I will be writing more about this process, so do come and and visit regularly to follow along. For now, I have made a number of decisions.

The basics of my system

I want a application-independent system, to avoid the mess I ended up with after I stopped using Evernote. I’ve decided on a simple folder structure with markdown files and related resources as the backbone of my new system. On top of that I want another second brain-like organizing system with living and organic connections between pieces of information that is independent of the folder structure. I’ve decided to use Obsidian (not open source, but modern, powerful and free) as my second brain. I tried out Zettlr (which is open source and free), but For I prefer Obsidian. The beauty of using markdown files is that I can easily switch between Obsidian and Zettlr, as they use the same source files. And I can as easily switch to another markdown based system in the future!

Other related posts

Welcome to my digital garden!

Welcome to my digital garden

Welcome to my digital garden; a blog that isn’t really a blog. This is my personal notebook where I can write down thoughts and ideas without feeling pressed to write a fully researched and polished blog post that fits in a predefined publication plan. I have many thoughts that I’d like to share and have developed and run different websites, but the thought of starting my own website/blog always caused a bad case of stage fright.

The main reason is language, as I have a multilingual audience. I grew up in the Netherlands where I have friends and family, moved to Norway in 2008 where I have even more friends and colleagues, and then, there is the international audience that I can reach with English. But the thought of having to translate every post or find a way to seperate posts is enough to give me a splitting headache and make me give up my ideas of sharing my thoughts with the world.

My depth year

So what happened that I managed to get over that hurdle now? It all started with my resolution to make 2021 my depth year. While surfing, I came through a serendipitous string of links across this post on David Cain’s website, where he talked about a new tradition he’d like to invent, a Depth Year, spent going deeper instead of wider. A year to focus on what we already have and drill deeper in existing interests and hobbies. His website, by the way, is well worth diving into! Anyway, that post put into words what I was feeling as the Covid pandemic forced us to think anew about a lot of things. As my social world shrunk during lockdown, my private world became more prevalent and what a mess it was. I had so many hobbies and interests, collected many resources for do-it-yourself activities to try out and so many future projects that my home and brain were completely cluttered. Therefore I decided to use 2021 to start decluttering and stop buying unnecessary new stuff. No new hobbies this year, but focus on what I’m already working with. 

Decluttering my personal knowledge

One of the my long-term projects is digitally decluttering all the places I have stored information. As it is turning out, that may well be the big project for the foreseeable future, because I have a lot of junk everywhere. This led me to a deep dive into the world of personal knowledge management systems. Trying to consolidate my personal knowledge into a future-proof system that makes it easier to actually use that knowledge to learn and discover. I found out I also wanted and needed a way to share my journey.

And this is where I am now. Thinking hard about what is important for me, how my brain works and what system would work best for me. In the meantime, I learned about digital gardens and mind gardens. These are digital places where you can putter around yourself, not for an audience. Where the important thing is the process, not the product. Where you can sow the seeds of your thoughts and ideas and see them grow organically. Where some of these seeds grow continuously, while others come to a natural conclusion. This concept caused a mindshift for me. Tending my digital garden as a metaphor for writing down my thoughts and ideas and using that for my personal learning makes it seem just like tending my physical garden, where I also have to do a lot of learning by doing. It needs consistency and patience, but is a intrinsically rewarding process just like physical journaling, which I have been doing on and off during my whole life.

The first seed is planted

So this is the first seed planted in this digital garden of mine. I’m journaling about my personal growth and learning, not blogging. Learning and experimenting, not telling others how they should live their life. I’m not going to stress about language, I’ll write in whatever language feels right for that moment. I’m looking forward to see what more will grow here.