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ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
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Entries in Blogging (59)


Digital Creativity Flow & Google

Tonight, after replying to some nice comments from Jana on my recent article Analog Tools Foster Reflection, Creativity and Flow, i decided to head over to Google and figure out how she came across my post.

Jana suggested she was searching on the terms "digital writing" and "creativity" though playing with those terms didn't turn anything up in the first few result pages. So, I played with a few words from the post, starting with "digital creativity flow."

I hit return and bing! Look what Google turned up — the first hit on those 3 keywords!

How did this happen? I mean, I like the post, but how does a little weblog, written by a designer in Milwaukee grab first place on a 3 keyword search? I suppose the text of the post must be part of the reason, but still.

I have known about these kinds of high-level search results from other posts here on the weblog. Try searching Google for yogurt packaging and again a post written in 2004 occupies the 1st spot.

Amazing and nice, but I have no idea how this happened. Mind you I am not complaining whatsoever, but am simply astonished how powerful a blog can be, often without really trying.


Rohdesign Weblog Chosen by the 9rules Network


I pulled my mobile phone from my pants at lunch today — it was my friend Jordan.

"So have you heard the news Mike?"

Before taking a last bit of a sloppy joe, I offered "Uh... what news is that Jordan?"

"You've been picked out of 700 submissions in the 9rules Network! you were one of the 111 chosen for the 4th round of submissions!" Jordan replied.


Well, indeed I was.

Here are all 111 chosen sites, including the Rohdesign Weblog. Sweet!

I've not yet received an official email on what the next steps are to agree to terms of the network, but I suspect that will come soon. I'll update this post when I'm an official member of the network and have their slick logo added to the blog.

For those not familiar with the 9rules Network, here's a tidbit from the About page:

The 9rules Network is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and to help readers find great blogs on their favorite subjects. It’s difficult to find sites worth returning to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the independent web all under one roof.

And here are the 9 rules they're founded on — I love 'em:

1. Love what you do.
2. Never stop learning.
3. Form works with function.
4. Simple is beautiful.
5. Work hard, play hard.
6. You get what you pay for.
7. When you talk, we listen.
8. Must constantly improve.
9. Respect your inspiration.

Thanks 9rules Network! :-)


Two Web Articles: Web Standards & Palm PDAs

I managed by sheer coincidence to have 2 articles published on the web on Wednesday: an article on Web Standards and an interview about how I use my Palm PDA.

Web Standards: Why Bother?
First is an article I write for Bob Walsh's MyMicroISV weblog called Web Standards: Why Bother?. It's an overview of why owners of Micro Independent Software Vendors (MicroISVs) should consider using "Web Standards" to build their company website, rather than complex, old-school nested tables with font tags and spacer gifs. I provide a brief overview of the benefits to be had by using Web Standards, XHTML and CSS to build your website along with links to resources.

¿Qué hay en el Zire 72 de Mike Rohde?
Next, a little while ago, Albert Cuesta from Canal PDA, a Spanish-language PDA site, write and asked if I'd do an interview. I thought it'd be fun, so I said yes and gave Albert everything he needed. Yesterday he wrote to tell my my interview was online: ¿Qué hay en el Zire 72 de Mike Rohde?. Now don't go thinking I can understand or can reply in Spanish — Albert was kind enough to translate my answers! :-)

FYI, here are my answers in English, if you're curious:

Current occupation

Design Director for MakaluMedia Group, designing logos and corporate identity, websites, application icons, user interfaces and print materials. Founded and published The Palm Tipsheet from 1998 to 2003. Member of PalmSource's Palm OS User Council and maintain a PalmSource Expert Guide forWriting, Text Editing & Word Processing. Finally, I write and maintain my own personal weblog.

Current & Previous PDAs
Palm Zire72s is my current PDA. I like PDAs and devices with good balance, in this case the Zire 72 has a nice size, bright screen at 320x320 pixels, good battery life, onboard camera and optional WiFi with an SD card.

I also own a Dana Wireless, great for writing on the road because it has an excellent full-size keyboard, onboard WiFi and 20-some hour battery life. This machine is a dream for writers and bloggers.

Previous PDAs: Palm Tungsten E, which was also a nice balanced device, but was damaged accidentally. Sony Clié N610C, which was a wonderfully balanced device with great battery life, nice size and high res screen. Handspring Visor Deluxe, PalmPilot Personal and my first device, a Pilot 1000.

Regularly-used accessories
256MB SD card, Palm WiFi SD card, Vaja leather case, Belkin Sync & Charge cable.

Full list of applications you currently carry in your device (excluding applications inclided in the OS).

Applications Documents To Go; e*Mail; Eudora; iSilo; MyBible; Shadow; Splash ID; Splash Photo; WebPro; BDicty; DayNotez; eReader; Foreign; JFile 5; Noah Pro; PayOff Plus; SiEd; SlovoEd; SnapperMail; TipMe; TripBoss; upIRC; Wordsmith

Utilities BackupBuddy VFS; Colorize; DigiMe; FileZ; InstantText; MissingSync; TealLock; TomCatalog; PW Generator; Uninstall; Switch5

Games GoMocu, Hmaki, Vexed

Which of the above applications do you consider essentials and why?

e*Mail - for syncing email from Entourage Mac via the QueueSoft Entourage conduit, so I can read and reply to emails offline

Eudora - nice for checking emails when I'm using the SD WiFi card.

iSilo - for reading news and blogs offline in conjunction with iSiloX for Mac OS X.

WebPro - Great for web reading when using the SD WiFi card.

Splash ID - For managing my private data; love the integration with its desktop application for Mac OS X.

MyBible - for reading and reference to the Bible at church and on the go.

NoahPro - Great for quick lookups of words I'm curious about.

BackupBuddy VFS - My backup lifeline should the Zire ever lose battery power. Love that my data is all safely backed up on my SD card.

FileZ - Super utility for managing files on the Palm.

LauncherX - very nice tabbed interface to all of the stuff on my Palm.

Hmaki, Vexed - Good for stress relief when necessary. :-)


Rohdesign Weblog's 3rd Birthday!

Wow, 3 years. It's hard to believe that 3 years have passed since I began this blog on February 20th, 2003 with the post Get that Weblog a Rollin', posted to my former Blogger account.

Now, exactly 420 posts later, I'm amazed at the variety of posts and topics I've covered, including blogging, books, computing, creativity, cycling, design, family, film, food, drink & coffee, iPods, kids, Macs, Milwaukee, Moleskines, music, observations on life, Palm PDAs, photography, sketches, tech, travel, web design, WiFi and other tidbits.

When I started the blog I had no idea where it might go, only that it was freeing to write about anything I wanted to, after 6 years writing and publishing the Palm Tipsheet. I loved the Tipsheet and those years producing it, but in the end, it had become a burden. It was so narrowly focusing on PDAs. I still enjoy Palm PDAs, mobile tech and so on, but it's become just another facet in my interests, rather than a dedicated focus. That's a good thing.

I still recall friends teasing me a few months into my blogging that I was writing more than I ever did with the monthly Tipsheet issues. But in fact, those comments confirmed I'd made the right choice. Writing became a joy again and not the burden it had become while pushing out Tipsheets each month.

So what wisdom can I impart from my 3 years as a blogger?

Share what you love with others.
I love to write and I love to sketch, so it's been a natural combination to combine sketch work with detailed explanations of the thoughts behind the sketches. Sharing stories from my life have been fun exercises too, including posts such as: A Challenge to Encouragement, A Day Downtown or Surprised by a Diary. Each one of those stories was a joy for me to capture and share, and (I think) were also enjoyable for visitors to read.

Take breaks.
I think it's also important to know when you are dried up and walk away for a while. If you pressure yourself to come up with good stories or posts, then it may feel forced. This is of course more true for my style of long, thought-out postings than those who post many small tidbits each day. Still — we all need a break from time to time.

Be generous.
Spend time leaving good comments on the blogs you read regularly. Write back personally to those who leave good comments on your blog. Make mention of those you admire in your blog, especially those blogs with excellent stuff which might be less well known.

Thank You!
Thanks to everyone who has left a kind word in the comments, or have emailed me directly. You guys are the ones who encourage me to keep cranking out the posts. Special thanks to fellow bloggers Matt Henderson for providing Movable Type for my weblog and to Michael Ashby, Sammy McLoughlin, Shaun McGill for their encouraging words and frequent mentions.

Here's to a 4th year at Rohdesign Weblog! :-)



I can't believe it's been nearly 2 weeks since posting my Music-Driven Moleskine sketches; life has been increasing at a furious pace here, and my blogging time has suffered as a result. Well, I thought it was time to at least surface and let everyone know I'm just fine — but very busy! :-)

Been thoroughly enjoying The First Crusade by Thomas Asbridge. Quite an amazing story of the Crusades genesis in 1095. The book is a detailed historical and cultural description of the people and times which caused a monumental shift in history — so monumental that we're still feeling the shock-waves today. While you'd think such a detailed book of history would be dry and unreadable, it's actually quite an interesting, well-written book. I recommend it highly.

Haven't been sketching as I should be, but I've resolved to get a few more sketches in my Moleskine this week so I can post them here. Funny how when you aren't sketching you miss it terribly. I suppose I'm addicted to sketching. :-)

About 2 weeks ago I ordered my first Starbucks "Short" Latté, and it tasted quite good. If you haven't heard, Tim Harford recently wrote about Starbucks' 8 oz version of their drinks, called the Short (as opposed to Tall, Venti and Grande). What's good about the short? Well, the ratio of espresso shots to milk is better, and it's about 30 cents less than the Tall. It takes some nerve to order one at first, but now I'll order them when I get fancy coffees at Starbucks.

Thanks for stopping by! I promise a full post of some sort later this week.

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