The Idea Dude


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Far from the madding crowd

6:30am and a stroll along the Niagara Falls. No crowds. Just some runners and a few tourists. The air is fresh punctuated by the twitter of birds and the roar of the water. Amazing!

Now I'm sitting by the pool on the 14th floor blogging while my daughter swims. I love my iPad. I could get used to this. Only regret? I didn't get the 3G version, there are definitely times when there isn't a hotspot available. I'm thinking of getting one of those mobile pocket wimax routers so I can use that with my iPhone, iPad and MacBook at the same time. Usually when we travel, there are also another laptop, netbook and another smartphone. These new 3G pocket routers are the size of a pack of cards and will connect up to 5 devices.

The protective layer over the iPad screen works well. I probably will forgo the customary screen protector. If I look back at all my devices, the Palm V, the Dell pocket pc, they all became obsolete before they broke down or became severely scratched. I know of families that wrap their couches in plastic. Yet we all drive $20,000+ cars in the worst conditions with hot sun, hail and snow. Isn't that ironic. I'm going to stop wrapping my life in plastic and live for the now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finding the beauty around us

We visited the Royal Botanical Gardens over the weekend. Just an amazing explosion of color from the tulips to the irises and lilacs. Apparently there are only 20 natural occurring varieties of lilacs but over 1600 man-made / engineering strains. Boggles the mind.

I thought the possibility to moving closer to the gardens when I retire. The idea of being able to visit the many gardens and hiking possibilities were intriguing. Then I wondered would it be as special if I saw the wonderful display of flowers every week. Part of our amazement and wonder is because we visit the gardens once or twice a year.

Would we become jaded if we saw it every day? Would we stop looking and visiting after a while? Seth Godin talks about the purple cow. How a trip to the countryside gets everyone excited with the first siting of cows. 2 hours later, the cows are no longer a novelty and we hardly notice they are there.

We should take time to stop and examine the beauty around our daily lives that we too easily take for granted because they are always there.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blogging via the iPad

I had some good friends bring me an iPad several weeks ago from the US. Unfortunately we were so swamped with work we hardly had time to play with it. So here's my first attempt at doing something really useful on it. My first blog post on the iPad.

I can see how I would blog more often. It's a device that will readily on hand most of the time. No more jotting down thoughts so I can create the blog later on my Macbook.

I used to think Apple should have put the MacOS instead of the iPhone OS. I've changed my mind. It would create some issues like trying to be as functional as it's bigger brothers the Macbooks. The iPad should not be seen as a computing device, it is a digital assistant. The digital media companion and when you think about, that's all we really need 99% of the time. A little surfing, a little blogging, watch a video, read email and even play a game. Oh yes, as my daughter reminds me as she watches me type this. And read books.

Do we really need that big notebook / desktop? When we are away from our desks. Probably not.

Typing on the keyboard is not as bad as I anticipated.

Now to go and sit under a tree and read....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finding the right lens

This week, a local camera shop inserted a terrific flyer in our newspaper. Rather than the usual talk about great prices, advanced technology and all the gee whiz features of the latest cameras, it took different approach.

It simply told us, if you want to take a picture of that bird on a tree far away, there's a lens for that. Or if you want to focus on a beautiful person and blur the background so she stands out, there's a lens for that. Or if you want to squeeze a whole group of people into one picture, there's a lens for that too. And don't forget that funny lens that makes it look like you were in a fish bowl.

...And by the way, we have cameras that work with all the lenses.


The message was simple, unexpected, engaging and told us about all the kinds of pictures we could take. ...And by the way, we have cameras that work with these lenses. They weren't selling product, they were selling possibility and opportunity. They were selling a result that you and I could easily understand. They were selling inspiration.

As I walked along the park this morning, (btw: at 6am, it always feels like there's only 10 people in the entire universe. And they all smile and say good morning, isn't that awesome?) I though about that ad, and about framing. How photographers have a great eye for framing a picture, using the right lens to take a picture that conveys the right message.

Made me think about how we forget to frame our lives, our moments, our activities with the right lens. Because we are gifted with great eyes that can see far and near pretty much at the same time. We always see the big picture, the periphery. Sometimes it's just too much information.

Often we forget to use the right lens to frame our lives. To focus on far and beyond when planning our goals and lives. To widen our arms to encompass our family and friends. To focus on special moments and blur our surroundings to make it special. And sometimes to take a really wacky perspective on the world because it's fun and makes us laugh.

The frame isn't the picture, but it sure helps us figure what the picture should be and what we should be looking at.

Using the right lens in life is about defining the moments, understanding why they are important and their context relative to our entire lives.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's wrong with this equation

I travel to our office every day for the past 4 years. It's about 12km. Within that period of time, I pass through 24 sets of traffic lights. 24! If they are in my favour, I can do the commute in less than 15 minutes. In the morning it's more like 40 minutes.

So during my commute, some external force aka traffic lights have the power to tell me what to do 48 times.

Got me thinking. We think we have free will from the time we wake up till we go to bed. Subconsciously, we are governed every day by rules beyond our control. How fast we should drive. When to start and stop. Where to park. What to eat. What we watch on TV and when.

We think we have choice but in reality our choices are never in a vacuum, they are always within some defining box. The designated parking spaces within the car park. What we can order at the local coffee shop.

Then there are the choices we think we are making but really are influenced by who we know, what we see on billboards and ads and what our friends may think.

I like to think I have the freedom of choice. But in reality for the most part of our lives, our choices have already been made or we are fooled into thinking we are choosing when someone has already defined the options.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 2, I joined the 50+ club

It wasn't the mile-high club, more like the 50 mile-club. This morning, it was a walk in the park at 6:30am. As per my last post, I'm committed to giving myself the first hour of every day.

It is the best hour.

Just me, the birds and few other 50+ seniors.

There's a few ladies doing a few brisk laps around the pond.

An old man practicing Tai Chi on the bridge as the sun rises.

And me. Just me.

My kids are reaching the age where they are end their school era and entering adulthood. I'm fast approaching the 50+ club. Different perspectives, different goals. I wish I could tell them what really matters in life and what doesn't. I'm not sure they'll understand. I'm not sure I know either.

But I did learn in the last two days about perspective. About stepping back, way back and thinking about what really matters. And asking ourselves, the thing we think is so important right now, how would we feel about it in 5, 10, 15 years.

Oh, yes, I got my blogging mojo back it seems.

All I needed was a change in my routine and making time for me.

More often, I'm the March hare (aka white rabbit) in Alice in Wonderland. "I'm late, I'm late, no time to lose, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late". It's time I stopped to enjoy the Mad Hatter's Tea Party or talk to the Walrus about cabbages and kings.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finding the inspiration

Bloggers come in all shapes and guises. Some blog every thought, whim or desire. These people are probably avid twitterers, with active Facebook accounts, LinkedIn networks and a couple other social networks to boot.

My modus operandi is different. I prefer to blog about things that move me. Moments that I can go back several years later and still derive the same inspiration or emotion I had at the time of the blog post. That's just me.

Lately it's been tough, I get inspired many times in the day. Problem is it's usually squeezed between heavy workloads that really take it's toll. By the time, I get the 5 minutes, the inspiration is gone. The thought is still there but the ability to crank out a post that's just right has disappeared.

Today was different. There were probably 10 cars on the road. The birds were singing. The air was fresh. I was ready for the gym. Yes, it is Monday morning. The difference. It's 6am.

Developers tend to be night owls, raging into the night, laboring over the feature that just doesn't quite work. So getting up early is hard. Especially when the order of the day is wake up kids, get breakfast, make lunch and cart the kids to school.

This morning was different. At 6am. The world is pretty much still at peace. The drivers are courteous. Did I mention the air is fresh? There is a ton of parking at the gym and everyone seems to be absorbed into their workouts, deep in their own thoughts or maybe just not fully awake.

The epiphany came on the way home. As parents, spouses, workers, we grind out every day, waiting for that hour at the end of day to unwind. We drink from the bottom of the well. We eat the last crumb. We've been there and most of us are still there.

Surely we should give the best part of the day to ourselves, even if it is just a moment, an hour. And it shouldn't be 9pm at night. It should be the first thing we do for ourselves.

This morning showed me what Monday could be. And Tuesday. And Wednesday... So at least until the first snow, I resolve to slip out 6am every morning for me and only me. Whether it is the gym or a walk by the lake, I'm not saving the best for last. I'm savoring it first.

Who cares if the rest of the day is crappy? The main thing is it started right and if the rest turns out bad, there is still another sunrise to look forward to. Another new beginning. A new me.