Reading is Hard – Regaining Focus

January 22nd, 2013 § Comments Off on Reading is Hard – Regaining Focus § permalink

I thought I didn’t like reading, but I found I have a hard time focusing for long periods of time. Whenever I find myself sitting in one spot and truly focused on reading longer than thirty minutes, I impress myself. That doesn’t happen often.

Here are a few things that have significantly increased my ability to focus while reading. No drugs here – just devices, apps, and plugins. No techniques either – I’ve tried them all with little to no improvement. This is what works for me.


The Amazon Kindle is great to keep me focused on just the page I’m supposed to be reading rather than peeking ahead to see how many pages are left in the chapter. Yes, I do this – doesn’t everyone? The built-in dictionary also helps me stay focused. I can’t count how many times I’ve got lost browsing the Internet for an hour in order to look up just one word.


I used this when it was originally called ReadItLater. Pocket is a one stop shop for cleaning and saving an article to ReadItLater. The Chrome extension makes it even easier to just throw it in my list of things to read.

Evernote Clearly

Who knew Evernote made a tool to help me read? Clearly cleans up websites, big time. I’m not distracted by ads, other links and articles, comments, and other “squirrels” flooding the browser. Best of all, I can just save it and read it whenever I want later on, like when I’m on the subway. Again the Chrome extension here is freaking awesome.


I found this on Hacker News a while ago. It’s a response to the way scrolling really sucks at displaying text. Just go read it. I’ve only recently used it for longer articles that I read directly on my computer, but it’s so hard to just read while on my computer. I have to move away from it and get my hands to a less Internet-connected device.


I need Audible to read me my bed time story before I go to bed, definitely not the built-in TTS from Kindle. For the first week, I’ve been able to listen to and following along one chapter of Game of Thrones before I find myself nodding off. I got through two last night since the action started picking up.

It’s a great pairing with the Kindle, but I can’t wait until they merge and map the reading location with what is being read to me, just like karaoke! Imagine reading on your own and whenever you need it to be read to you by Audible, just click play, or even just putting the text down completely. That’s the future and it should already be here.

As you’ve noticed, all these are ways to get away from my computer in order to read. Maybe it’s time to look into getting some Pomodoro thing that kills my Internet connection or throttles it during the productive time and back to normal during the break period.

Google Maps and the Bicycling Layer

January 13th, 2013 § Comments Off on Google Maps and the Bicycling Layer § permalink

I use Google Maps to find out where the bicycle lanes are, ran into an interesting issue, and submitted it to Google.

When I add the “Bicycling” layer to Google Maps, why are traffic directions removed? It’s really annoying*. This happens on Google Maps (PC/Mac, IE/Chrome and Android). Whether I’m on the go or planning a bicycle route, I would like to know which direction traffic is going.

This past weekend, a few of us took ride out to Brooklyn from NYC via Brooklyn Bridge. We mapped out a plan to take Dekalb out east (to After crossing the bridge, we came to a halt when we realized that Dekalb Ave is a one-way going west. We had to stop at Fort Greene Park and re-route to Willoughby Ave.


In no more than 24 hours, I got a reply. Amazing customer service for a free product. Even though they don’t have an immediate solution for me, I’m impressed.

Thank you for reporting this problem. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the problem you reported isn’t easy for us to fix at this time

We did want to let you know that we’ve escalated your report to the appropriate engineering team. Even though we don’t have an immediate fix to your problem, please be assured that we’re working hard for a resolution.
Thanks for helping us to improve Google Maps!

I’m hoping for a fix soon. Meanwhile, it’s only a few clicks to turn the layer on and off.

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