Saturday, January 25, 2014

Night owl? Here's a nifty computer tool

F.lux logo
If you're like me, sometimes you find yourself up late working on the computer. I can be really productive when it's really late. "Early to bed, early to rise" isn't often part of my daily routine.

Studies show that people can have issues falling asleep at night, due in part to mental stimulation from the phone or computer. We just don't know when to turn it off. Then some of us toss, and turn, and have a hard time "shutting down" mentally for the night.

I didn't consider myeslf having a problem falling asleep at night, especially if I'm up until the wee small hours of the night (or morning) writing. I'd write until bleary-eyed, then slither into bed. But I discovered a computer tool, a software that helps with my computer eyestrain at night. If it gives me no other benefit than that, it's worth it.

I found F.lux.

Here's the brief scoop:

Sleep researchers don't just blame people's sleep issues on mental stimulation via television, computers and phones. It's also that "blue light" spectrum in the color field that mimics daylight. According to these sleep experts, being exposed after daylight hours to this blue light from our screens messes with our body's production of melatonin as well as our Circadian rhythm. Which makes us have a hard time falling asleep, or having a good quality sleep.

Even if you're not a night owl, chances are you might be working on your computer after dark, What F.lux does is gradually removes the blue light from your computer's display based on the time of day where you are. Okay, some might say, "Just don't use your computer or tablet at night." For writers, sometimes that's not an option for us.

So I installed F.lux on my laptop.

The first night, I noticed the slight "pinker" tone to my display. It's a warm light and it mimics the soft light of lamps in my home. I can't say I noticed a better night's sleep the first night, or the second. However, I did notice my eyes are less tired, only three nights after trying F.lux.

You can even adjust the level of brightness as you see fit. Or, if you're working on something where seeing true colors is necessary, you can disable the filter.

Here are some reviews of F.lux at CNET. CNET is what I consider one of the more reputable sites that evaluates computer software: F.lux reviews at CNET

Currently it's available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iPad/iPhone. Not available for Android yet, or I'd have installed the app on my phone by now.

Have you heard of F.lux? Have you tried it? So far, I'm pleased. Especially since I don't have a sunrise to sunset kind of work day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Taking a Cue From the Amish

I'm blogging over at Not Quite Amish Living, about simplifying our lives, and how a little four-year-old can get even the most well-intentioned person overbooked and cranky:

http://notquiteamishliving.com/2014/01/time-to-simplify/

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meet Gray House

Gray House is a grand old lady, but a bit rough around the edges when Kelly Frost first caught sight of her on historic County Street in New Bedford, Mass.

Inside, though, like many forgotten places, the entryway made her stop and stare.

We did the same when my finally-thawed-out hubby and I visited the Rotch-Jones-Duff House on County Street. The historic mansion was once the home of a whaling merchant and passed through several families' hands until it became a museum.

That frozen December day two years ago, my hubby and I stopped there for a tour. Nobody else except writers on a research trip would have ventured out on a weekday to a house-turned-museum, so I felt very special that we sort of had the "run" of the place. I snapped photos to my heart's content. Thankfully, my Cowboys fan hubby likes history and old homes, too.
Exquisite details with the light fixtures,
many of which are original 




 The entryway,  decked out for Christmas


The main staircase of the Rotch-Jones-Duff mansion

Thawed-out Cowboys fan wearing Patriots hat
poses by one of the many fireplaces.

In the formal dining room. This mansion didn't have a
ballroom, as Gray House does. 


But what dinner parties they must have had here.



  


And here's me, wearing a giddy author-grin while I
stand in the mansion's front parlor. 
And this is the mansion next door (how many times do you
get to say that?), a Greek revival structure that is
now office space (yawn).

And this under-appreciated gem was a few doors down
on the opposite side of the street. Built in the 1850s, it
provided the perfect outside inspiration for Gray House.