It’s been half a decade since I published my first book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. It sounds melodramatic, but that little book changed my life. I owe so much to the stories and research contained inside, as well as the rippling effect it created after publication.
Five years later, here are five things I learned after publishing the book: Continue reading…
Hey, readers. In an effort to promote my latest book this holiday, I’m doing a free review drive.
It works like this: Email your address to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I send you a free copy of the book. You read it. Then post an honest review, short or long — I don’t care — on Amazon.com.
If you’ve already read and/or reviewed Measuring History—thank you. If you’ve read it but haven’t reviewed it yet, would you mind leaving a brief review? It really helps get the word out as Amazon prioritizes books that are getting reviewed.
Thank you. Hope you go out with a bang this year!
BOOK DESCRIPTION: In 1976, three engineers from Austin, Texas created something that would one day touch the lives of more than half of the developed world. Neither “starting a revolution” nor “changing the world” was included in their mission statement. But with the help of some very smart people, a little dumb luck, and a lot of inventive customers, that’s exactly what happened. From its humble beginnings in a garage and narrowly avoiding a burnt-down headquarters, to making it to space and being honored by the Inventors Hall of Fame, this is the story of how National Instruments (NI) made history. It might not be sexy. It might not be cool. But it’s a true tale that just might change how you see the world.
I’ve been on a Ramones kick lately. Love their Beach Boys-like melodies, upbeat songs, and humorous lyrics—not to mention their invention of the genre that made me pick up a guitar and start writing songs (punk rock).
This week I finished reading Hey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of The Ramones by British journalist Everett True. It’s an honest, compelling, and telling read about a “dysfunctional family who still loved each other.” As drummer Marky Ramone explains it, “We were brothers – brothers fight. They make movies out of it. That’s how it is.”
Highly recommended. ★★★★☆ These were my favorite passages:
- The Ramones had to work for a living. They were a real touring band. The Ramones took their thing to each person individually through the years and that’s why we’re talking about them now.
- Although driving five or more hours a day, weeks on end, in a van with someone you never speak to, might seem like a good enough reason to quit. But then, loads of people are in jobs they hate, and stay in them for long past 20 years.
- Even if it was just going back to the hotel, they would stop at a 7–11. To get cookies, milk, something for the hotel room. It was always nice, you know… Pizza was the only ritual before show time – just plain cheese, the round ones, nothing extra. They’d always ask for it on the rider, and be very upset if it wasn’t there.
- They were always bitter about the success they didn’t have. They didn’t have the hit record. They didn’t get the respect for starting punk rock. They didn’t get the respect they deserved for this, that and the other. They were so concerned with what was written about them and their image, unlike any band I’ve ever seen.
- The Ramones represent the truth of the fact that you’re never too old to rock’n’roll as long as you believe in what you’re doing, and you can do it with a purity and conviction. The age of your band is irrelevant. Rock’n’roll is not for the young. It’s for people who refuse not to give a shit.
- As you or I might love the Ramones, Johnny and Joey loved the Ramones more than any of us could even comprehend. They wanted the Ramones’ legacy to be pure. We will all miss Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee very much. And we all wish we could see them together, just one last time.
Last fall after publishing my second book, the company it’s largely written about (NI) placed a very large order “to give out to current and future employees.”
This week my friend, Ron Wolfe, who was an instrumental source, sent me the above photo. It looks as though Measuring History is now part of NI’s new employee welcome package.
I’m thrilled that even more people will be given the chance to read the book. Just this week I ran into a family friend who didn’t know it existed, even though she read my first. Hopefully things like this can get the word out further.
Selling books is hard!
I recently read Joe McGinniss’s excellent book about a minor league soccer team that did the impossible: qualify for the second highest professional league in the world, despite coming from a mountain town with only 5,000 people. The book is so heartfelt and devoted, you even see the author becoming unreliably impassioned through the course of the seasons as the book wears on, particularly at the bittersweet ending.
While reading it, I appreciated the race to the finish and cultural insights into Italian behavior and ways of thinking, which are dramatically different than Americans. I was emotionally torn at some parts but could not put it down. Basically the book is a culture clash that will give you pause, make you think, and cause you to laugh.
Here are some of my favorite passages:
- They recognized history when it was made, even at their own expense, and they had waited for ninety long minutes, swelling their own disappointment, simply in order to pay tribute to the men from the mountains of the Abruzzo, who would never be considered little again.
- The golden color of the abruzzese fall had begun advancing down the mountain’s flank like an army, each day driving back a few meters farther the doomed green forces that had ruled all summer long.
- I’d long been of the view that only people in positions of power from which they cannot be easily unseated — they, and the mentally deranged — will talk for half an hour or more when it is obvious to everyone except themselves that no one is listening.
- It is remarkable, really, how much specific information can be conveyed through even the most impermeable of language barriers if the conveyor truly wishes to do so and has the patience and resourcefulness to keep trying, no matter how obtuse the listener might seem.
Many thanks to Martin Rowe at EE World for reviewing my newest book, Measuring History. With exception to thinking my Austin and Measurement chapters were too much background, I thought he provided a fair and recommended review.
From the article: “Measuring History is neither a history of measurement nor a measurement of history, and yet it’s both. Blake Snow takes you through the early days of National Instruments through the 2019 induction of founders Dr. James Truchard and Jeff Kodosky into the Inventors Hall of Fame. Throughout the book, Snow focuses on LabVIEW and how engineers and scientists use the graphic programming language to test and control systems that make many products we use function better… I recommend the book if you’re looking for a quick and easy read.”
The following excerpt comes from my newest book, Measuring History: How One Unsung Company Quietly Changed the World.
If there’s one theme that runs deep within the founding DNA of National Instruments, it is this: “Nothing beats dumb luck.”
Long-time CEO Jim Truchard is credited with imparting the belief during his four decades at the helm, and the principle certainly caught on, especially with early-generation employees and executives. “It’s basically a pleasing and modest way of saying we’ll succeed with hard work and luck, but to be great, we also need good timing,” explains Steve Rogers, who was hired in 1984 and serves as one of LabVIEW’s chief architects. “We were lucky to grow when we did.”
Almost everyone I spoke to internally for this book repeated the refrain: “Nothing beats dumb luck. This would have never worked had computers not become affordable and accessible to everyone. We were in the right place at the right time.”
What was that place and time? For those who grew up with smartphones and touchscreens in their hands, it’s important to understand that the “personal computer” (or PC) revolution of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s was a very different place and time. Society had no idea that bulky desktop and laptop computers would eventually merge with cellphones to become pocket-sized supercomputers, so at the time they called them “personal computers.”
After more than a year of interviews, reporting, writing, editing, revisions, proofreading, and a couple of months of quarantine (hence the two month delay), I’m excited to announce the release of my second book, Measuring History: How One Unsung Company Quietly Changed The World. We were suppose to do a big book launch party in Texas but that was cancelled for COVID.
Nevertheless, I’m immensely proud of the result and look forward to celebrating and promoting the book over the next several months and into the new year. If you liked my first book, I hope you’ll consider reading this one about a special “little” company from Austin that changed the world in a big, albeit unseen way.
Book description here:
In 1976, three engineers from Austin, Texas created something that would one day touch the lives of more than half of the developed world. Neither “starting a revolution” nor “changing the world” was included in their mission statement. But with the help of some very smart people, a little dumb luck, and a lot of inventive customers, that’s exactly what happened.
From its humble beginnings in a garage and narrowly avoiding a burnt-down headquarters, to making it to space and being honored by the Inventors Hall of Fame, this is the story of how National Instruments (NI) made history. It might not be sexy. It might not be cool. But it’s a true tale that just might change how you see the world.
Thanks for considering it, reading, reviewing on Amazon, and forwarding to all your reader friends.
I finished writing my second book the day America shutdown on Friday the 13th. In the months since, it was edited, approved, and most recently cover art-ed.
Although it was suppose to publish in August, COVID slowed things down a little. But I’m still confident it will release in the coming weeks, depending on schedules.
Either way, I’m incredibly proud of the result and can’t wait to share it with the world soon. Thanks for considering it.
Credit: Lindsey Snow
I was recently interviewed by Kim Forrester, a wellbeing podcaster from New Zealand, about my book Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting.
I hope you enjoy her delightful accent and questions as much as my answers related to sustainable technology use, how quarantine has changed the rules (or hasn’t), and what you can do right now to reclaim your nights and weekends.
Thanks for listening.
Courtesy Lindsey Snow
Over the last year, my book sales have spiked during year-end holidays, new-year festivities, start of summer, and back-to-school. I suspect that’s because my book is an introspective experience, so it’s only natural that readers increasingly reach for it during introspective times of the year.
Whatever the reason, for a limited time you can buy the book for 25% off ($6.99 ebook; $8.99 paperback; audiobook also available). If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider it and share it with friends, family, or someone in need.
Although a little thing, Log Off had a big impact on my life, and I hope it can for yours too.—Blake Snow
The following first published in the Deseret News in support of my new book.
Turkey, ham, presents and Santa are no longer the only staples of the holiday season. Smartphones — and more specifically family members staring wide-eyed at screens around the dinner table — have become a common holiday sight.
Utah author Blake Snow wants to see that change. His book, “Log Off: How to Stay Connected After Disconnecting,” chronicles his divorce from a life in front of screens. Having spent time as a tech blogger and a freelance writer, Snow knows putting the phone down for good isn’t an option in today’s world, but he’s learned to find a balance that allows him to use his phone as a tool rather than allowing it to become a way of life. His book — a “self-help memoir” — aims to help others tackle that seemingly impossible task.
“I want to take advantage of these powerful devices and tools,” he said. “But I want to set boundaries with them, rather than have them hinder or distract me from doing the things I love.”
Snow spoke with The Deseret News to share his best tips for putting down the phone during the holiday season and how to sustain minimal phone usage long after Christmas dinner is over. Continue reading…
I spent nearly 10 years researching and experimenting with healthy connectivity habits for my book, Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. The book contains dozens or reports and studies from “real news” outlets and distinguished universities from around the world, all of which conclude that excessive internet, social media, and/or smartphone use make us miserable. More specifically, overuse makes us more isolated, less confident, prevents us from experiencing the more stimulating analog world, and even dumber.
But recent research suggests that digital abuse may be even worse for us than originally thought. In an eye-opening expose this week, The Atlantic reported on the rise of sexual recession, in which young people are engaging in fewer intimate relationships than ever before and marrying less. Excessive phone use shoulder much, if not all, of the blame, the magazine reports. Continue reading…
In good company even! Thanks for including Log Off on your list, Tchiki. And thanks to everyone who has read, shared, and reviewed the book on Amazon. 🙏
Thanks to Adam (left), Nick (right), and everyone else who’s bought, read, reviewed, and/or recommended my new book on Kindle, paperback, and soon on audiobook (sample here).
After nearly 10 years in the making, I’m proud and honored that the book has finally released. Its contents changed my life, and I hope they can yours, too.
Thanks for reading.
Excluding non-bylined writing for commercial clients, here’s what I published this month:
- Log Off, my first book! Landing page here, Kindle here, paperback here. Thanks for considering it.
- Why you should bike on your next European river cruise. Written for Frommer’s after a wonderful 8-day biking cruise with my 11-year old daughter.
- Coming home to Carrollton. Op-ed I wrote for my former hometown paper.
Printed version below for those behind a paywall. Continue reading…
In his first book, recognized journalist Blake Snow offers humorous, well-researched, and insightful advice on how to break free and enjoy renewed life offline
Provo, UT (December 19, 2017) – Do you or someone you know need a little help unplugging this holiday or new year? If so, Log Off: How To Stay Connected After Disconnecting by Blake Snow (ISBN 978-1973543749, 2017) may have the answer and is available now at the world’s largest bookstore in paperback, ebook, and audiobook editions.
The self-help memoir and well-researched book is the first for Snow, a prolific writer for such publications as Wired, USA Today, CNN, and Wall Street Journal among others. The book produces convincing evidence and a path forward for people hoping to reclaim their offline lives without the constant distraction and “fear of missing out” caused by the internet, social media, and smartphones.
“With Facebook recently admitting as much, it’s official,” says Blake Snow, author of Log Off: How To Stay Connected After Disconnecting. “Excessive use of smartphones, the internet, and social media makes us miserable. Although I wrote this life-changing book for myself, I feel strongly that the ideas and encouragement contained therein can help others find greater fulfillment, peace of mind, and better relationships after responsibly logging off.”
In this quick but potent read, Snow recounts his own journey from being a workaholic internet addict, his awakening (aka “Montana Moment”), and the steps he has since taken to increase his facetime with actual people, do more offline with less online, double his productivity in half the time, and tunefully blend his analog and digital lives with no regrets. Continue reading…
I’m also happy to report that I met my deadline. In other words, interested readers will have either a soft or hard copy in their hands by Christmas day. Links to both coming Monday. Booya!
Related to the completion of my first book, that is. Continue reading…
Six years ago, I wrote about 10 things that scare me. Since then, I’ve overcome many of those fears and have adopted new ones, so I think it’s time I updated my list. Here it is: 10 things that intimidate or otherwise worry me at this point in my life:
- Writing a book. Thanks to blogging and an insatiable curiosity, I’m a self-made writer. Since 2005, I’ve written tens of thousands of posts. I’ve also written hundreds of 800-6000 word feature stories, and thousands of pages of special reports, columns, product reviews, opinion pieces and analysis. And yet, writing a 10 chapter book seems so daunting to me. Go figure. It’s probably because the required focus conflicts with my ADA more than a writing project that typically lasts no more than a half day to a couple of weeks. Nevertheless, it’s my biggest professional fear. Continue reading…
A long-time Smooth Harold reader — and by long-time I mean four days — writes:
Dear Smooth Harold,
I’m looking forward to the book you’re writing, but your fans want to know: What technology are you using to write a book about life/tech balance?
Yours in blogging,
Hi David. I’m writing the book in iA Writer. I’ll also require electricity to turn my computer on, an internet connection, and working plumbing. Does that answer your question?
As for the book, I’ll be launching a website, newsletter, and maybe even a podcast soon with sample chapters and the process I’m going through to ensure the book gets maximum visibility (i.e. the best agent, publisher, and distributor my idea can buy). So stay tuned. And by that I mean keep refreshing this page every 30 seconds for the next several weeks.
Thanks for writing.