Archive for the ‘I like…’ Category

5 Benefits of Adopting a Daily Meditation Practice

meditation

A 5 minute read.

I recently read Dan Harris’ new book 10% Happier and came away with a new understanding how adopting a daily meditation practice doesn’t have to be hard, nor the pastime of only monks, buddhas and New Age-y hippies, and can help improve health (mental and physical) and overall well being. A daily meditation practice became very accessible to me after reading his own experience.

Dan is an ABC News reporter and he shares his personal journey to realizing the positive benefits of regular meditation and “mindful” thinking. The backdrop is his return to New York after covering the Iraq War and dealing with post traumatic stress situations while pursuing a high-pressure network television career. My backstory isn’t as stress challenged or interesting as a war correspondent, but I found inspiration in his writing.

In the high-tech startup world in which I and my colleagues are immersed in, email, texts, tweets, and blog posts blare at us across all our devices. We’re overloading our brains with a constant stream of sensory input and the problem of disconnecting is becoming epidemic. True epiphanies only emerge when we disconnect and clear our minds. And the world needs more epiphanies.

It used to be that a six hour cross country flight without WiFi was agony, but now I kinda enjoy the opportunity for deep thinking when WiFi isn’t available and I’m not tempted to “check in.” Being connected and available to the team is a problem of our own making. So the collective “we” needs to find a happy medium between always being available and purposeful disconnection. For me mediation is a way to achieve healthy balance.

I approached mediation the same way I integrated a regular exercise routine over the past years. Started with simple goals, didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day, and just gradually eased into a cadence.

Here are my five benefits of daily 30 minute meditation:

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Kindle Fire Un-boxing and Review: +1

I rarely write a new gadget “un-boxing” experience but feel compelled to share my experiense starting to use the Kindle Fire. Full disclouse I am a big Amazon fan-boy. I have been using Amazon Prime since it was first offered, been pioneering on the Amazon Web Services cloud for over 4 years, and the UPS person probably delivers an Amazon box to my house one to two times a week. Amazon Kindle Fire  is the intersection of Amazon Store, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Cloud.

This morning I have just returned from a visit to our UK office in Bracknell, and while travelling I tried to use my iPad 2 extensively, so the rapid shift to Kindle Fire will be a great compare and contrast time.

The Un-Packaging

Kindle Fire is shipped in Amazon’s new, unique, environmentally friendly packaging system. Most of Amazon’s small electronics are now shipped in a plain-looking cardboard box that acts as both the shipping vehicle and the packaging. It’s hard to explain until you see it yourself. Pull a tab to open the package and no there is finger-cutting plastic or hassles of extra cardboard to cut through. Contrast to Apple that prides itself on elegant packaging, which I can also appreciate. But let’s face it… the package is seen once and usually never again unless the device is sold. Apple feels they can justify the elegant packaging as part of their branding, but I’m sure the cost of Apple devices are higher because the packaging is more expensive. While Apple famously reminds you upon opening their goodies “Designed in California, Made in China,” Amazon could easily claim ”Designed in the Cloud, Made in China.”

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Greg+ Circles versus Google+ Circles

I can appreciate Google+ Circles feature to allow segmentation of content and sharing between the different “natural” audiences we all serve and follow. I’ve been dutifully cataloging my new Google+ connections into what I hope are the right circles. At first I was amused and concerned some connections may take offense if I put them in “Following” as opposed to “Friend” or “Acquaintance.” But as the old adage goes, life’s to short to sweat the small stuff.

A couple years ago, about the same time I started this blog, I created my own version of “Greg+ circles.” Family and close friends see one version of me. Business acquaintances, casual friends and the Internet in general see another view. It’s just natural the way any of us want to control “who knows what” about ourselves. [n.b. I'm a bit horrified as I watch 20-something year-old family members "max share" every minute of their life on Facebook. I don't get that, but I'm nearly twice their age.]

I created “Greg+” circles with several different web services, and they all aggregate here at this blog.

Facebook is strictly family and close friends. Sharing photos and links and updates. Feels very close and intimate, just like in real life.

Twitter, LinkedIN and Flickr are strictly “business casual.” Updates, photos and conversations with my professional life  occur over these networks.

I’m going to give Google+ Circles a real chance. I want Google to be successful with the whole suite of “Plus” services, but last night over dinner conversation with a friend discussing our mutual Google Plus ramp-up, I realized that I had already created my own version of circles and hadn’t thought to call attention to this until now.

 

 

 

When Chrome Tabs are my ToDo List

 

No matter what “time management system” du jour I use, my Chrome browser tabs become the default daily todo list. @sonian we’re multi-tasking on new features, new channels and solving some really challenging “big data” problems in the cloud.

Check out some previous posts on building for the cloud:

http://www.gregarnette.com/blog/2011/06/three-secrets-to-cloud-computing-harmony-2/

http://www.gregarnette.com/blog/2011/06/security-in-the-big-data-cloud/

http://www.gregarnette.com/blog/2011/06/re-thinking-slas-in-a-cloudy-world/

Airlines: Just give us power and Internet…

Airlines: Just give us power and Internet! We’ll meet you more than half-way and bring our own displays. You’ll save weight and complexity, and we passengers will get what we want since we’ll bring our own portable displays (iPad, iPhone, laptop, Android tablet, etc.)

The past few months I have flown American, Delta, US Airways, United, Virgin America, Jet Blue, and the regionals Mesa and Skywest. There is no in-flight Internet or seat-back entertainment product feature consistency within a single airline fleet or across the industry. My reference point is economy cabin amenities. First class is treated special and don’t have a lot of first class experience. (But one can dream!)

  • American has some WiFi on MD-80 and 737 planes. 12v power ports on some planes, but nothing consistent. And no entertainment systems at all.
  • Delta has done a good job with WiFi across the fleet, but no power ports. Some planes have in-flight entertainment.
  • United and US Airways don’t seem to offer any significant WiFi or seat-back entertainment on any equipment.
  • Jetblue only has their marquee in-flight video system, but no WiFi or power ports.
  • Virgin America is the best: WiFi, 110v power, and great in-flight entertainment experience.

So we can applaud Virgin America and Delta, light clapping praise for American and boo United and US Airways.

But in my observation of the recent 3 months of travel, what customers could really use is simple: 110v or 5v USB power at each seat and Internet. Heck, we’ll take the power first, since most of us already bring our own entertainment on iPads and laptops. Just that our batteries usually conk out so we need some juice to survive a six hour flight.

Airlines: Make your life simpler. Portable technologies have matured quickly and will get better. Many of your customers are already carrying devices that duplicate what you are trying to do with seat back entertainment. Save weight and the maintenance of hundreds of video screens. Just give us some juice. And maybe some WiFi.

Paper is Dead, Long Live Paper

Still thinking about the “retro-paper” meme.  Melding notebooks and QR codes, as discussed here at GigaOm, basically creates “a real-world link to a virtual destination.” Neat.

Uniting the “quality paper goods” world of Moleskin, Rhodia et.al.  with the virtual world (i.e. anything with a URL) is a fascinating idea. Anoto tried this with their digital dot technology, but you had to use their electronic pen (bulky+expensive) and their paper (just expensive). Levenger and Evernote can probably take this meme from idea to a suite of real products.