Finding Religion

February 29th, 2012

(Since I’m failing pretty hard on my resolutions except for 1.5 and 2.1, I figured I might as well knock out an easy one and keep up with my blogging.)

My mom sent me off to Catholic school, at least in part, hoping for some spiritual growth. I guess it wasn’t really a failure. I went in leaning atheist and came out more in the agnostic camp. During and since I’ve worked to define and refine my own personal philosophy. Between my successes and failures, my trials and tribulations, I have built my personal philosophy around truth (I wrote a little about it previously). Truth as in, being able accept the truth and being able to present the truth, communicating with others honestly and communicating with myself honestly, acting with honest intentions, etc.

At some point, I was prompted to look into some of the tenets of Buddhism. Surprisingly, I found many similarities between my personal philosophy and The Eightfold Path, which is the path to Nirvana/self-awakening/enlightenment. The aspects that are most similar to my personal philosophy are Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, and Right Knowledge (which is an acquired factor and not really part of the Eightfold Path). Clearly, I need to work more on the concentration aspects of the Eightfold Path if I am to find enlightenment. :P

The Four Noble Truths, I can accept as well. Though I’d take a slightly more optimistic perspective on them, but that’s just the hoper/optimist/dreamer in me. The pragmatic realist in me accepts that there is some truth in the Four Noble Truths, and that hoping and wishing often lead to struggle.

There are few genuinely new thoughts, and I didn’t expect my personal philosophy to be unique. I find comfort that my personal ideas aren’t complete shit and that there exists a framework of similar thoughts that has been refined over thousands of years. I hope that they will help me better define and expand my personal philosophy. Perhaps I may even adopt them wholesale, though don’t hold your breath on me identifying myself as a Buddhist. I hesitate to identify myself with or as anything. Hrmm.

Goals/Resolutions for 2012

January 9th, 2012

This year, my businessy/financial goals will remain fairly similar to last year’s. However, I’ll be placing a greater emphasis on personal goals.

Businessy/Financial Goals:

  1. Increase my revenue by $10,000. Same as last year. Though this year, I’m not quite sure where that additional $10k is going to come from. At this moment, I don’t see any strong streams of revenue that I can grow. Perhaps I’ll try to get that additional revenue across all my clients and projects.
  2. Get my primary contract under 50% of my income.
  3. Increase my “savings” by $15,000. If I was able to save $10k last year, and my expenses stay consistent, it should be easy to do another $10k this year, right? So I’m going to up the goal. With #1, this should be easy. Right? I mean technically, I should be able to do $20k easily.
  4. Make some money personally from The Watchbox. Whether that be from some sort of decent cash flow or a substantial investment. This could help with #1, #2 and #3.
  5. Get to the point where The Watchbox is my main focus. Not necessarily my only focus. And not necessarily where The Watchbox is my main source of income.
  6. Help my friends meet their goals with their personal projects. Instead of releasing X number of personal projects this year, I’m going to help my friends with their personal projects. I suspect The Watchbox will take up my personal project time, but that doesn’t mean I can’t consult for (give solicited or unsolicited advice to) my friends (Hi Richard, Jon!). I will blog my thoughts on this in the future.
  7. Clean up some of my old projects. Touch up BarcodeReader in regards to Lion before May. See about migrating TallyZoo to my servers to save my partner some on costs, also in the first half of the year. Maybe I’ll just take it over, since it’s sort of a dead (zombie) project. Except that I’ve started using it again to track some personal stuff.

Personal Goals:

  1. Go to the gym 160 times in 2012. Though this is a pretty large jump from last year’s, at my current rate this should be pretty easy. We’ll see. Maybe #2 and #3 will have a negative effect.
  2. Swim at least twice a month. Variety in my workouts has really helped me. I know swimming kicked my ass in the past (the little that I did) and I would like to reintroduce it into my workouts and have it kick my ass again. And since I’m planning on getting scuba certified in a little bit, I should get a little practice in.
  3. Jog outside at least twice a month. Just want to mix it up and increase my range. I’m just not going to run THAT long on a treadmill, so I’m assuming I’ll want to run outside.
  4. Work outside of the “office” once a week. Mix it up a bit, get out more. I can even meet up with some of my occasional remote working friends (Hi Steven!).
  5. Go on 20 “first dates”. Unless there is a reason to stop going on first dates.
  6. Increase my Facebook friend count by 100. The number Facebook friends isn’t the greatest and most scientific measure of … anything, but I will use it as a proxy to measure my personal social “engagement” and effort. I’m not going to add FB friends willy-nilly, so I’m going to have to do more “stuff”. #4 and #5 should help here.
  7. Organize 6 events. I generally don’t do much organizing for various reasons (none of them good). I’ve got ideas for two already. Just need to make them happen and figure out 4 more.
  8. Travel (2 trips). Same goal as last year, and since I already have an epic trip planned for May, I’m already half way there.
  9. Get my mail and desk in check. Mail must be cleaned up within the same “day” it is picked up. Desk must be cleaned off of shit when that shit is no longer in use.
  10. Blog more. I made 3 posts in 2011, which was really lame. I could blame being busy and my penpal drawing some of my writing energy, but those are all excuses. I intend to do better this year. At least once a month. I don’t necessarily think it is extremely important, but I do feel like I should do a good/better job of it.
  11. Help my friends meet their goals with their personal goals. Just like my businessy version but not everyone has a personal entrepreneurial project. But this is one of those nebulous touchy feely resolutions. No real object criteria to meet, but I’ll judge myself at the end of the year. Again, I’ll blog about this in the future.

After writing them all down, the list seems a lot longer than in my mind. I don’t feel like any of them are unattainable by themselves. And given that I did a pretty good job with last year’s list, pushing it this year is a good way to go.

2011 In Review

January 2nd, 2012

Welcome to 2012. It’s time to review my 2011 resolutions.

Business/financial goals:

  1. Increase my revenue by $10,000. A-. I was going to give myself a B, but I gave myself a B last year and I was much closer this year.
  2. Continue to reduce my dependence on my primary contract. According to my reports, my primary contract is still over 50% of my income. Much lower than the year before, but not as far as I had hoped. C for having accomplished a lot, but not quite enough.
  3. Release 3 personal projects. Fail, but I’ll let it slide. I wasn’t going to count Barcode Reader, but I did end up putting in a significant amount of work at the beginning of the year. Otherwise, the only real personal project that I released was The Watchbox. But it’s bigger (not necessarily code-wise, but in hopes and impact) so that’s got to be worth a little bit more. ;)
  4. Increase my “savings” by $10,000. B. I should have recorded how much I had in my “savings” somewhere last year. Oops. But, as best as I can recall, I’m right around that mark. Close enough.

Personal, non-businessy stuff:

  1. Go to the gym 130 times in 2011. A+. I went at least 150 times and that isn’t counting my gym visits while traveling. And I feel good about it.
  2. Continue to work on remembering names. I give this an A-. Definitely putting in greater effort, and it is helping lots. I make an ernest effort to read people’s name tags, and make sure I catch their names during introductions and repeat them. I’ve impressed myself at times, though still have the occasional lapses. But I accomplished what I had in mind.
  3. Reduce use of “I think …”, “I believe …”, and “I feel …”. I give this a B. I don’t really think about it too much, and I’ve definitely changed habits there. Still room for improvement in this specific area, but I definitely “reduced” my use.
  4. Travel. Fail. Though I did travel (I went to Beijing, I went to Chicago, I went camping, etc), I didn’t really accomplish what I had in mind when I wrote the original resolution. I can wrangle about details and technicalities, but the fact of the matter is despite the fun I did have, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
  5. Move. Grade – A. I moved, resolution accomplished.

Looking back over my 2011 resolutions, I did a great job and am quite proud/excited/etc. It is awesome to basically accomplish what I set out to do in so many different areas. It feels good — I feel like I can do anything. Time to up the ante on a couple of them for 2012, and come up with some new ones as well. I already have a theme in mind for some of the new ones.

Bring on 2012.

Using BarcodeReader on the iPhone with Delicious Library 2

March 22nd, 2011

My latest iPhone app, BarcodeReader (iTunes link), isn’t terribly useful by itself. Really it is a cog in a much larger system. Some of these larger systems may just be an Excel spreadsheet. Or they may be a much more sophisticated point of sale system. One natural complement on OS X, is the popular Delicious Library 2. Using BarcodeReader to scan items from across the room wirelessly seems like it would be a great benefit for many users.

I took a look into the issue, and it looks like with a little bit of AppleScript, BarcodeReader can work pretty well with Delicious Library 2.

Here is a walk through on how to get BarcodeReader working with Delicious Library 2:

  1. First, make sure you already have BarcodeReader working with your Mac through Remote Desktop (directions). When you scan a barcode, the barcode show up as if it were typed in. An easy way to test is to open a new text document and scan a few barcodes.
  2. Configure BarcodeReader to ‘Append Enter’ under the Output Settings.
  3. Download the the AppleScript script and save it to /Library/Scripts/Applications/Delicious Library 2/ or your home folder/Library/Scripts/Applications/Delicious Library 2/. Now restart Delicious Library 2. This script was created by Theo and posted in the Delicious Monster support forum.
  4. Now, whenever you want to do a bunch of scanning with BarcodeReader, go into Delicious Library 2, and choose from the menu “File” -> “Import” -> “BarcodeReader”. Make sure the little popup dialog has focus and you’re all set to start scanning. After each scan, Delicious Library 2 will read back the title. Scan until you have finished. Once done, just click the “Cancel” button in the dialog.

BarcodeReader with Delicious Library 2

The Gym

January 10th, 2011

I’ve gone to the gym in the past off and on since college. However, “hitting the gym” is a common reaction to or remedy for some big downturn in life. Reddit has a popular meme involving lawyering up and hitting the gym. The gym has been great and once you make a routine out of it (1.5 years now for me), you reach a point where you feel bad for not going to gym for a day or two. I don’t know if I’d qualify myself as a gym rat, but the gym provides me a couple of things.

  • The gym acts as a convertor or an exchange (in the sense of a currency exchange). I am able to convert excess emotional energy (that is temporary in nature) into permanent (or at least more long term) physical benefits. Anger, happiness, whatever — I’m able to take that, expend it at the gym and exchange it for a better body. To be honest, presently, I feel that negative energy is easier to tap into and channel into that stack of weights or that treadmill. Positive emotions seem to work pretty well on the treadmill too, but not nearly as well with the weights. Sometimes, I’ll even intentionally get myself worked up at the gym or before I go. That’ll have to pass eventually.
  • The gym allows me to meditate. I enjoy taking long showers, I do some of my best thinking in the shower. Showering is a simple physical task that allows your mind to dissociate itself and wander. The gym is a little like that (though not as much, I need to count my reps). There just isn’t that much thinking involved as you run or push or pull. There are people all around, but they’re in the background, each in their own little workout bubble. Everything just sort of fades into the static. Even Glenn Beck on the TV.

Invariably, the gym is never the worst way for me to spend an hour.

Goals/Resolutions for 2011

January 4th, 2011

It’s that time of year again! Though oddly enough my goals and resolutions remain basically the same from last year. The only truly new resolutions are #3 and #4 of the personal list.

Business/financial goals:

  1. Increase my revenue by $10,000. Last year, I set a similar goal but based on a percentage. I’d love to do another 20% increase, but super linear growth is probably a little optimistic at this point.
  2. Continue to reduce my dependence on my primary contract. I’d like to see it drop under 50% of my income.
  3. Release 3 personal projects. Not counting my current app in review (I guess it falls under a weird category where it doesn’t qualify for last year’s list either). No longer limited to just iPhone apps as I have a couple of projects in mind that are not strictly “just” iPhone apps. Personal in the sense that they’re my own ideas and I will be doing the majority of the work on them, as I also have additional projects with other people.
  4. Increase my “savings” by $10,000. Should be easy with #1 (except that number is pre-tax and this one is post-tax), though expected increases in expenses will more than nullify that.

Personal, non-businessy stuff:

  1. Go to the gym 130 times in 2011. Same goal as last year. Did alright last year, I intend to do better this year.
  2. Continue to work on remembering names. And find some more frequent opportunities to have to.
  3. Reduce use of “I think …”, “I believe …”, and “I feel …”. Using these prefaces is putting my positions and statements in poorer light than they actually are. This stems from trying to be too honest. Many times I’m in a position to make statements that I cannot confirm with 100% certainty and want to convey that the statement is not a certainty. I’ll have to figure out a way to convey a strong position and present the confidence level (in the statistical sense) without stressing the uncertainties.
  4. Travel. My unexpected trips at the end of 2010 were awesome. I must do it again. I will go on vacation (at least) twice in 2011. Long weekend type trips, though fun and great in their own right, do not count.
  5. Move. It’s really time, this year. The additional risk from added expenses should light a fire under my ass and be good for personal development.

2010 In Review

December 30th, 2010

2010 is coming to an end soon, and I don’t expect any huge developments in the next 40 or so hours so now seems to be a decent time to review my 2010 resolutions.

Businessy/money goals:

  1. Increase my revenue by 20%. I did approximately a 10% increase in revenue. Could have probably hit my 20% goal if I didn’t have these open/late invoices. Didn’t I have this problem last year? Weaaaak. I made more money than last year, but failed to reach my goal. Ha, strike that. Apparently I was able to close another invoice within the last 40 or so hours of 2010. Didn’t quite hit 20% but probably pretty close, I’d guesstimate approximately 17%. I’ll give this one a B also.
  2. Reduce my dependence on my primary contract. My primary contract represents a smaller portion of my revenue, but not to the degree I had intended. Fail.
  3. Create a new (additional) revenue stream that is largely orthogonal to my existing revenue streams. Fail. Didn’t happen.
  4. Release 3 or 4 more personal iPhone apps. Depends on how define personal or classify some of my apps. But I’m of the opinion that if you need to qualify a statement then the statement isn’t true. I can say I developed 7 apps this year, but a couple were not released (yet), a couple were not really “personal”. So this is a fail also.
  5. Double my savings. I think I hit this one. I don’t remember what my savings were at the end of last year exactly. Pass.

More personal, non-businessy stuff:

  1. Go to the gym 130 times in 2010. I think I ended up going somewhere between 115 – 120 times. Given I was out of town approximately 3 weeks, that’s pretty close. I’ll give that a B.
  2. Work on remembering names. Fail. I guess I worked on it a little bit, but it didn’t really come into play enough.
  3. Move. Fail.

You’d think looking at all those “fails” would be depressing, but I’m pretty satisfied. I didn’t hit my goals, but I did make progress (except for the two #3’s) and wasn’t too far from hitting many of the goals either. I think my goals were well chosen as they were “shooting high”, yet reasonably achievable.

Look for a follow up post for my 2011 goals/resolutions. Many of these will carry over with slightly different numbers/timelines.

Hope you did well with your resolutions.

Re: Ricky Gervais – Why I’m An Atheist

December 21st, 2010

This was suppose to be a comment on Facebook, but it got truncated. Boo. Anyways …

Rick Gervais’ recent piece titled “Why I’m an Atheist” on the Wall Street Journal is making the rounds (Conan’s Twitter, etc).

I tend to be non-confrontational, and the article is a little antagonistic in parts for me (no doubt, in part for comedic effect). I try not to rile up emotions about religion since things just tend to descend into a shouting match. I’m just too polite. However, the last paragraph resonates well with my personal beliefs and I feel is worth repeating.

Ricky writes:

“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life.

My Favorite Gear: Keen Boston/Boston II

November 8th, 2010

The Keen Boston (and Boston II) are, far and away, my favorite pair of shoes. I bought my original pair many, many years ago. And replaced them a year ago with the Boston II. They are my “go to” pair of shoes. I’ve literally worn them all over the world. I’ve worn them in the snows of Mammoth, Big Bear, Whistler, the monsoon-like rain in Hong Kong, the sands of Egypt, the urban jungles of Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Buenos Aires, San Francisco. And they have never let me down.

They’re water resistant and have kept my feet dry and warm. They’ve kept the fine sand of Egypt out of my toes. They have character and are suitable for urban exploration (though maybe not trendy clubs, at least not in the Bison color). They have decently aggressive tread and toe protection so they’re probably be up for some light trail work too.

There are some potential downsides (but these don’t bother me). They’re poorly ventilated, but my feet tend to run cold so that it’s not really a problem for me. They’re not very light, but that hasn’t stopped me from walking all day in them as they’re extremely comfortable for me.

Now, obviously your feet and my feet are different. But if you find the Keen Boston II to be comfortable, they too could become your favorite pair of shoes.

If you want to send me a free pair, I like them in Bison (the finish wears well, and I like the matte/suede look) and I wear a men’s 9.5. Thanks.

The Perfect Moment

June 18th, 2010

Years ago, I was working for a small company that sold software online. Every once in a while, we would be ready to release a new version of the software, or release a new version of the website, or we would have a large new ad campaign ready to go. And inevitably something would come up. We would experience some server issues, or some datacenter issues. Or maybe issues with our CDN. Or with our ad server. Or our admins would be sick. Et cetera. There would be some sort of exception. We would delay our release, because it wasn’t the perfect moment. Of course, when our new release date rolled around, there would be some new set of issues and again it wasn’t the perfect moment. It wasn’t that everything was always on fire. But with so many components and so many people involved, there was always something that was less than perfect. There was no perfect “normal” moment. That perfect moment was the exception. The real “normal” was imperfect.

Now take a present day decision: I’m working on a release so I’m taking time away from my golf. I’m waiting for that perfect moment to work on my golf game. During that perfect moment, there will be a lull with my work and I’ll have plenty of spare time to get out to the range and get out to the course. That’s the delusion. There is no perfect time. After this release, there will be another release. Another project. Another fire to put out. If I want to work on my golf game, I need to make it a priority and work it into my schedule along with all the other things.

I’m not going to say something trite like, “The perfect moment is now.” because definitely some moments are better than others. But don’t wait for that “perfect moment” when you’re done with everything or everything has settled down, because that “perfect moment” doesn’t exist. If it is important to you, you just need to make it happen.