Sunday Selection 2012-10-28

Today’s selection is a grab-bag of various interesting things I’ve found around the Internet. There’s no real theme this time besides what I found interesting and share-worthy. Enjoy.

Around the Web

Paris and the Data Mind

Craig Mod takes a look at how we’ve grown to accept and even depend on the ability to constantly monitor, store and share what we’re doing in our live. He talks about Paris, his Fitbit, walking, climbing the Eiffel Tower and how sometimes it’s nice to stop recording, measuring and documenting life and just live instead.

Solving Gen Y’s Passion Problem

Following our passion seems to have been the mantra for most my generation (at least for those growing up in Western, English speaking countries). And yet that advice does not seem to have actually gotten us anywhere. Maybe we need to look for life advice that is maybe not quite so optimistic and uplifting, but more beneficial in the long run?

The Island Where People Forget to Die

In age of growing obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stress-related ailments we can stand to learn a lot from cultures where people not only live longer, but also live healthier and in many ways better. This article looks at the people on the island of Ikaria, their lifestyle and what we can learn from them.

Video

Amber Rae interviews Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is one of my heroes. In this interview he talks about his experiences with CD Baby, one of the largest online CD stores, how we decides what to work on and the value of money.

A Whole Lot About Books

Today’s post is just a collection of things about books. These are things that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while, but none of them individually deserved a full post on its own. So I’m going to put them all together here and put them into a coherent narrative.

First off, you may have heard about the Kindle fiasco where Amazon removed a customer’s account without warning (or explanation) and then deleted all her books. Said customer’s account has been restored but it raises question about Amazon and the Kindle. I personally love the Kindle hardware and service, but I also want to actually own my books. I still buy paper copies of books that I want to keep and will read more than once. All my textbooks are paper too.

Luckily, many non-Amazon ebook vendors will provide DRM-free ePubs. If you have ePubs then the best reading experience for them is using the Readmill app on the iPad. They also recently added support for Adobe DRM, PDFs as well as books from the Kobo and Google Play store. Readmill will also sync your books to an online library and provides highlighting and social features to share what you’re reading. Highly recommended, I just wish they connected to Goodreads and Findings.

Unfortunately the Humble Bundle for eBooks has already ended. This bundle offered a selection of DRM-free ebooks (including some graphic novels) at your own price. The amount you paid got split between the authors, a number of charities and the Humble Bundle team. I hear that if eBooks counted all of these authors would have made the New York Times bestseller list. We can count this one as a success for DRM-free, post-scarcity publishing. You can sign up to receive notifications of later Humble Bundles and I hope to see similar bundles in the future.

A few weeks ago I reviewed Cal Newport’s excellent book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”. It offers examples and advice on forging a career that’s based not on nebulous definitions of passion but rather on cultivating rare and valuable skills. If you’ve been wanting to read this book but haven’t gotten around to it yet, here’s your chance. Social Books is a new online book. Members read one book a month, sharing and discussing it as they go along. Their first book is So Good and they’re starting November 1. I’ve already read the book but I think it would be a learning experience to do it again.

Last but not least, one of my friends from college has been writing a blog called Courtney Reads a Lot. If you guessed that it’s all about books, you guessed right. If you’re looking for new books to read or a constant stream of book-related posts subscribe to her blog.

That’s all for today. Enjoy your weekend and see you all next week.

Sunday Selection 2012-10-21

Good afternoon everyone. It’s fall in my part of the world, the leaves are changing color, the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. Things are moving and shaking in the tech world (as usual) and today’s Selection takes a look at Microsoft, Linux, Firefox and the intersection of technology and life.

Around the Web

The Story of the New Microsoft.com

Microsoft has a new website. No matter what you might think of the company and its products, I think you’d be hard pressed to say that the website wasn’t a job well done. It’s clean, effective and very modern.

UX Principles Behind Firefox for Windows 8

I’ve always had a soft spot for Firefox. Even though I mostly use Chrome nowadays, I keep coming back to Firefox. It was the first non-IE browser I used and I think the Mozilla team has done a lot to make the web a better place. It’s good see Firefox evolving and developing to stay in tune with the rest of modern technology.

Linus Torvalds Answers Your Questions

Linus isn’t the most public of technology superstars, but he doesn’t pull any punches either. In this recent Slashdot interview he talks about kernel development, what he might have done differently, patents and more.

Video

Creative Mornings with Jonathan Harris

CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20 minute talk. This one is by Jonathan Harris creator of We Feel Fine and Cowbird (among others). It talks about his journey exploring technology, life and storytelling. If you’re looking for examples of a remarkable life well lived, this one’s a keeper.

Keeping the Past from Disappearing

How do you keep the past from disappearing?

Do you start a diary (or a blog) and write down your thoughts every day? Do you take pictures and throw them onto the Internet? Do you write a memoir? Do you simply meditate on the day that has gone by?

I wonder if perhaps, the best way to keep the past from disappearing is to live in the present. Perhaps the past is meant to be forgotten, just as long we learn the correct lessons from it, and then move on. I wonder if this is why meditation is so relaxing and enhancing: it pulls us out of the flow of time, out of the unending stream of things that need to be done, and lets us just be.

I read an article yesterday entitled The Ultimate Guide to Time Management (the first in a series). Though I’m generally skeptical of such titles this one proved to surprisingly level headed and action level. However given the technical details presented I’m afraid that perhaps the core messages will be lost. There is an infinite amount of work to be done. We will never do it all and we cannot do much at the same time. But we can do something everyday and those days strung together will lead to a lot of things done, a lot of changes made.

Personally I’ve found that it’s easy to let time pass you by. It’s easy to put off things, one hour at a time, one day at a time until it’s too late to do them. Sometimes you do want time to pass you by, when you’re watching a good movie, or having drinks with friends. But sometimes you need to remind yourself of the passage of time and remind yourself of how you’ve been spending it. Sometimes you want to catch the stream of time and hold on it for as long as you can.

For the past week I’ve been recording my activities and tracking how I use my time. Every 30 minutes my Android phone gives me a reminder to record what I’ve done in the last half hour. I then send a text to the IFTTT services which stores the message into a Google Spreadsheet along with the timestamp. It’s lightweight enough that I don’t have to interrupt whatever I’m doing and context shift completely. Since I tied it to my phone and texting I can record what I’m doing even if I’m away from a computer or the Internet. I’m planning on looking over this log at the end of the week and see just how much time I spent on each activity. However even without the review, I get a benefit every time I record something. If I’ve been slacking off this is a reminder that I should get back to work. If I’ve been working and getting things done it’s a good positive feedback mechanism. It helps me slow things down and makes me be more conscious about how time is passing and what I’ve doing with it.

I think that it’s a good thing that time only moves in one direction. It gives us a chance to learn about the past, take away lessons and then move on. The passage of time is also a continuous reminder that if we don’t take steps to actually live our lives, one day we won’t have a life left to live. I am skeptical of the notion of “managing time”, especially since we all get the same fixed amount of it. However we do have choices for what we do with that time. Learning how to make the right choices is worthwhile. I can’t say I’m always very good at it, but I do try to suck a little less each day.

Sunday Selection 2012-10-14

The past week has not been one of the most productive I’ve had, for a number of different reasons and some of them my fault. Partially in response to that today’s Selection has a time management and productivity focus, but hopefully one that’s different from staple fare in the area.

Around the Web

How to Create Time

The notion of creating time can be misleading: you can’t really get more than 24 hours in a day and youare biologically required to devote some part of those hours to rest and repair (probably). However you can make more time available to do the things that matter and this article gives some guidance on that.

Confessions of a Recovering Lifehacker

Talking about things that matter, the question it’s often surprisingly difficult to identify the things that do matter and then stick to them. Especially if you’re someone who’s a natural tinkerer there’s a tendency to invest a lot of time and energy into things that are actually pseudowork. I think this article than it strictly needs to be, but the four point recovery checklist at the end is worth remembering

Overworked, Overwhelmed, Overscheduled? Work More

Another controversial piece and probably not the best wording either. That being said, the point being made is worth paying attention: sometimes the best opportunities and most satisfaction comes from things that aren’t technically your day job. Even if you love what you do for a living, investing some time and energy into other areas might have interesting payoffs.

From the Bookshelf

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

First a disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book for free to review. But I can safely say that I would have been glad to pay for it. It’s not strictly about productivity but it attacks the higher level question of: What should I do with my life. The basic thesis is that instead of following some ill-defined notion of “passion” we should develop rare and valuable skills that allow us a choice of jobs and lifestyle. You can read my full review and buy the book on Amazon.