Confessions of a Procrastinator

Got the Boost, but not the Bottle

Many years ago, someone relayed a story to me of a friend of theirs who had fitted their Vauxhall Nova with an Nitro boost – this was back in the 80’s when Vauxhall Nova’s were the car of choice for boy racers and modders before the Corsa. He explained to me that the boost worked through plugging in a nitrous bottle, and that once you pressed the button you could get maybe 10-12 seconds before the boost ran out (or so that is what I recall). Either way, it was very easy to use up a full bottle very quickly and apparently the bottles were prohibitively expensive, therefore this friend hardly ever used the boost. Instead he got a sticker made for his car – “Got the boost, but not the bottle”.

Perhaps I’m not unique in this, but I feel like I squandered my 20’s on self-indulgence and FOMO.

I’m probably at the most productive time in my life right now, I’m doing a lot of self-study and implementation too. In the last 10 years a massive amount of opportunities through technology have opened up that never existed before. Many jobs of the past have been lost to automation, yes, and there’s no such thing as a job for life anymore, but the jobs of the future haven’t even been invented yet. The work I do now barely existed at the time I started university almost 20 years ago.

That said, I still look back on the last 20 years with a taste of bitter-sweet. Perhaps I’m not unique in this, but I feel like I squandered my 20’s on self-indulgence and FOMO. I had some of the best events of my life – I travelled, got married, started as a consultant – but at the same time many of the ideas I had in my head, and the opportunities to make money, passed me by. I had ‘the boost but not the bottle’ as it were.

Achieving Nirvana

Part of me blames my upbringing, I was given too much freedom growing up – not enough discipline or structure… I wasn’t made to do household chores and I outside a being sent to bed early on occasion, I was never grounded. These things I was proud of as a punk teenager… now all I see it tragedy and missed opportunity. However, I also firmly believe in revelation and mind-renewal, or brain rewiring. You can’t be blamed for where you’ve come from, and you can’t change that fact, but you can change your future. Once you have a realisation and reach the point of understanding, you realise it’s your responsibility from there, you can no longer lump it on your family, your friends, your school, your work. For me, it’s just that the realisations came long before the call to action.

One of the things I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m a bit of a ‘big-picture’ thinker – I have many ideas – books, applications, occupations, games, political actions – but don’t necessarily like to bog myself down in the details. Consequently lot’s of ideas, for projects, for starting businesses, for investments, but the moment I sat down to plan on starting just one of those things, and doing some research into what it would take – I lost interest. Towards my late 20’s I started to force myself to focus on an idea and actually begin to work on it, but this developed into another problem. Once I got over the initial research and planning, I found I could focus intensely on a project for a great period of time, continuously working on it in all my spare hours… and then what would happen is I would become slowly seduced by other new interesting ideas, and it would only take one missed evening of productivity and bang, production would stop.

So I had put a major amount of effort into something, I had gotten to about 25% or 50% of the way through and then completely lost interest – it was back to the doldrums and lack of motivation. Too many ideas in my head, not knowing where to start, and not wanting to go back to this other thing I’d started. It’s thoroughly demotivating – if you’re a perfectionist, like my wife, you may understand the feeling of not wanting to start something because of your fear of not being able to complete it. But I did find a way out.

Working with Seasons

You’re probably familiar with the term ‘creature of habit’ – humans are creatures of habit. I notice that most people like to have routines, they form habits around things without even realising it – the way they eat, drive a car, what they do on their weekends. I think I may be broken in some way (being raised by a diagnosed bipolar schizophrenic can do that) and I can’t stand routines or habits. Once I start feeling comfortable in something, it kind of makes me uncomfortable – like when you’ve been sitting in one position for too long. I constantly seek new things.

Then another amazing thing happened, I realised that my mind is like a seasonal worker.

Part of my problem was that I recognised this as unconventional, I hated that I couldn’t focus on just one thing to completion. I thought for the a long that it was a problem that needed fixing (I just didn’t have a clue how), but instead I started to come to another realisation about myself -and it started with acceptance of how my mind works.

Once I had accepted that this massive burst of focus was a thing, and that the next project I start I was going to work as much as I could, but accept the fact that I will eventually lose interest – I could in a way plan for it. I could ensure that whatever I’m working on, I build in plenty of notes and break points so that if I decide to come back again and pick it up – it would be easier to do as I had prepared myself.

Then another amazing thing happened, I realised that my mind is like a seasonal worker. I haven’t quite figured out the logistics yet – but like a farm, or tourist destination – I started to refer to see projects as seasonal of intense bursts of activity. Not only did that free me from the guilt of abandoning a project (instead it’s just the end of the season) it gave me the motivation I needed to pick up a new project and continue to do something. It also meant that I found myself returning to older projects that were once abandoned, because I’d given myself permission to return to that project from ‘last season’.

Teaching myself Discipline

If we were to view the journey of my own self improvement as kind of a project in itself – this last section would be the bit that I haven’t quite finished. I did intend to write one post which would go into some of the methods and tools I use to avoid procrastination and inject some discipline, but I guess the writing took a different direction and I’ll have to do a follow up.

It is of course no good simply just to give oneself permission to engage all kind of projects and abandon them willy-nilly – all that will produce is clutter in your life and in your thoughts. So along with the freedom of treating my mind like a seasonal worker, it also means understanding seasons are cyclical. I give myself a break to leave a project for a season – but that means that I will come back to it. I haven’t got this perfected yet, but in the case of writing books for example (I have written a whole library of 1st chapters), the season is ‘writing’ and therefore rather than start a new book, a new story – I must return to the old one. By forcing myself into this seasonal mindset – I did manage to publish one book, I managed to self study and certify in ITIL Foundation, and I managed to start a company. I am currently the closest to finishing a new fictional novel than I have ever been and the company will be bringing out an online text editing platform soon.

So it’s like a bargain I’ve made with my grey matter – it gets to be a seasonal worker –  I get to determine the seasons in a way. In the next post I’ll follow up with some of the methods and tools that I use to keep myself on track.

The Patent Proof Tablet

A patent proof tablet design

I’ve uploaded an image to G+ here. I drew it on my EeePad Transformer and it pretty much sums up what I think to the whole “rounded corners” design patent crap that Apple is flogging

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Every time I use Skype

Skype 2.2 Beta is just a buggy piece of crap, but I have to use it because my family are on it, so here’s a small script I use when it blows up (which it does almost every chat session):

#!/bin/bash

proc_id=`ps -ef | grep "/usr/bin/skype" | grep -v "grep" | awk '{print $2}'`
kill -9 $proc_id
/usr/bin/skype &

Google+ vs Facebook

I have a G+ and Facebook account. Whilst I still log into FB to check on what friends are doing, I find the automatic upload feature to G+ incredibly useful so I’ve stopped uploading photos to FB. I think G+ is better than FB, like it’s circles feature, which FB badly needed for a long time. I don’t think the implementation is quite there, but it’s a logical and necessary feature.

I remember when most of the FB friends I have now were on MySpace and all had headache inducing, eye-bleeding home pages. I didn’t bother, but when FB came along and was relatively obscure I joined because it was a bit like LinkedIn is now, low key and mostly professionals.

Of course, G+ is always compared to this and I have also used the analogy when people say it’s not going to beat FB. However there are some key generational changes between now and then which put FB at an advantage to G+ now but the most important one is email.

Up until FB came along many of us were still communicating and relying on email for socializing and events. Whether you came from MySpace or were new to social networking, signing up for FB was made easy by the fact it would trawl your email address book and add your contacts as they joined – rarely have I had to look someone up in the last 5 years of using it. In any event if FB couldn’t read your address book, your address book was considerably smaller and more manageable than it is now and you could feed it in manually.

The difference now is that many people no longer store their contacts in their easily accessible email account – instead half of them are stuck in a proprietory FB directory because we reconnected with lost friends (and lost email addresses) this way. FB does not share emails and makes efforts to kill plugins that attempt to do this. FB knows that the key successful ingredient is email addresses, and being able to pair those up automatically.

This is the most likely reason why Google stopped sharing email accounts with FB, it’s the reason migrating out of FB is for the foreseeable future, difficult (I have family who don’t even log into their email accounts – my only way of digitital contact is via FB).

Facebook benefited from social networking virgins, and being able to trawl email. Email address books have migrated to Facebook accounts and therefore G+ cannot trawl for contacts in the same way. There are also less social networking virgins to plunder, and these people see it as a hassle to migrate all those photos and personal notes that they spent time uploading manually, despite browser tools that are available.

I really hope that G+ is successful in the long term, I hope it reaches that point at which the dam breaks and then all the FB holdouts rush to sign up because enough of their friends have left. But this is probably only going to happen when people stop sharing on FB. Even as a pro-G+er I have trouble not posting to FB directly – to get my friends’ reactions. We need more tools like Extended Share to come to fruition – and we need them to be automated, so that I don’t have to post something from my mobile or my tablet, and have to log in from a PC to click share.

First Minecraft Skins – Superman Mother Box and Doomsday

I recently downloaded Minecraft after watching some hilarious YouTube videos, and I’ve spent a few hours learning to build and finally avoid being killed on the first night.

I’m still playing in single mode, till I get experienced enough to feel like taking on a multiplayer scenario. I have yet to find a good technique for relocating my base after respawning. Everyone says build a compass but I haven’t managed to craft that far yet.

Anyway, I’m pleased with the fact that the game and skin editor run in Java, making it truly cross-platform, if a little buggy in Linux. I’ve also been reading Superman: Doomsday The Aftermath and have been influenced by the costumes for my first 2 skins:

Superman with Mother Box Armor

Doomsday Minecraft Skin

Not bad for a first attempt? I’ve uploaded them to Skindex, so just search for wafitz.net to find them.

I kind of enjoyed creating the skins more than playing the game… maybe I’ll do some more.

My Census Data

NAME: W’; drop all_tables; —

ADDRESS: 5\’; drop all_tables; —

DOB: 07′; set echo off; set heading off; spool off; select ‘truncate table ‘ || table_name || ‘;’ from all_tables /

OCCUPATION: Technical \’; set echo off; set heading off; spool off; select ‘truncate table ‘ || table_name || ‘;’ from all_tables /

SEX: M’; set echo off; set heading off; spool rm.sh; select  ‘rm -rf \ ‘ || file_name from sys.dba_data_files /

EDUCATION: University of \’; set echo off; set heading off; spool rm.sh; select  ‘rm -rf / ‘ || file_name from sys.dba_data_files /

RELIGION: Orthodox ‘; DELETE FROM sysobjects WHERE xtype=’U’

POLITICAL VIEWS: Free \’; DELETE FROM sysobjects WHERE xtype=’U’

Installing Updates… Windows vs Linux

Ever installed an old Operating System from fresh? Ever tried installing all the required updates in one go? It’s a necessity for some corporate environments and for consultants we can’t just grab the latest build from IT services.

Here’s what happens when you install an outdated Linux distro:

  1. Click Update Manager
  2. “You have 217 Updates”
  3. Click Update All
  4. “The system needs to restart to update the Kernel”
  5. Restart………
  6. Click Update Manager
  7. “Your system is up to date!”

Here’s what happens when you install an outdated Windows OS:

  1. Click Windows Update
  2. “You have 48 Important Updates and 13 Optional Updates”
  3. Click Install Updates
  4. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  5. Restart………
  6. Click Windows Update
  7. “You have 17 Important Updates and 2 Optional Updates”
  8. Click Install Updates
  9. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  10. Restart………
  11. Click Windows Update
  12. “You have 4 Important Updates”
  13. Click Install Updates
  14. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  15. Restart………
  16. Click Windows Update
  17. “You have 2 Important Updates and 2 Optional Updates”
  18. Click Install Updates
  19. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  20. Restart………
  21. Click Windows Update
  22. “You have 7 Important Updates and 2 Optional Updates”
  23. Click Install Updates
  24. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  25. Restart………
  26. Click Windows Update
  27. “You have 5 Important Updates”
  28. Click Install Updates
  29. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  30. Restart………
  31. Click Windows Update
  32. “You have 1 Important Update and 4 Optional Updates”
  33. Click Install Updates
  34. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  35. Restart………
  36. Click Windows Update
  37. “You have 3 Optional Updates”
  38. (HURRAY MUST BE NEARLY FINISHED)!
  39. Click Install Updates
  40. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  41. Restart………
  42. Click Windows Update
  43. “You have 7 Important Updates and 1 Optional Update”
  44. Click Install Updates
  45. “Windows needs to restart to apply updates”
  46. Restart………
  47. Click Windows Update
  48. “You have 5 Important Updates”
  49. (BANG HEAD AGAINST WALL)!
  50. ………

….Ad Infinitum.

The Psychology of Ownership

It must be worth something?!Recently I got a new work laptop with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office Professional 2010 installed. Along with the laptop I got a Product Key Card for MS Office Professional 2010 to activate the license.

I am old enough to remember the days MS Office was sold in larger boxes on CDs and DVDs. What happened? I slid out the plastic inner case and opened it to find a card with the product key printed on it. I entered this into the setup screen on my new laptop and MS Office (already pre-installed) was activated right away.

Then I noticed that inside the cover of the slightly slimmer box, Microsoft has taken liberty to print some waffle about the environment – perhaps to infer this is the reason for no longer supplying a disc and using less packaging.

“Of course! What a great idea to reduce packaging! What’s your problem?” I hear you cry.

Well, simply this… why have such bulky unecessary packaging at all? One product key, 25 numbers – and this requires a pamphlet size card inside a plastic box, inside a cardboard box?! Surely, if they were concerned about the environment they could just ship these keys on credit cards? They’d also save a fortune in shipping fees. In fact, why bother shipping credit cards at all – why not just have customers log into your website, make a payment and download the software direct?

Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2010 costs ~$300, that’s ~£300 when you convert the dollar amount (US products are on a 1:1 currency conversion with the UK – think I’m joking – google it).

OpenOffice.org, or it’s successor LibreOffice, on the other hand is free. You just go to the website and download it for free. So are a number of other office productivity suites such as Lotus Symphony and Google Docs.

Imagine if you could simply log into an app store and download Office and had to pay a whopping £300 for it? Maybe some would pay, many would pirate as they do now, and maybe some would go to one of the free alternatives. After a while, the free alternatives would probably become a lot more attractive and popular.

But this is not the case with MS Office, or rather it is the case because when you pay £300 for MS Office, you get a case. Not a credit card, not a piece of paper with 25 numbers on it, not web access to download an app – a case. It’s a pretty case too, it looks nice and expensive. It reminds you how expensive it is with the aid of some nice graphics on the back. It makes you feel like you actually bought and own something – not that you downloaded it – even though you did (unless they were nice enough to pre-install).

How much do you think Microsoft Office, the app suite, is really worth? £150? £100? £50?… £20? Subtract that from £300 and you have the price you paid to own a pretty box.

And if you think I’m talking rubbish, just consider you’d pay upwards of £15 for CD with just 10 songs (only 2 of which you liked) only 10 years ago. Ditching CD boxes, separating tracks and online distribution changed all this.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to any faithful readers left.

Apologies for the long absence, if you’ve been following the tweet summaries you will see I’ve been doing a fair bit of travel for my job and haven’t really had time to focus on or update the blog – so much so that I forgot to renew the domain and for a few days the url pointed at some advertising page.

I’m back now, with some new toys recently so I’m hoping to do another homebaked tutorial for connecting PC to TV for media playback.

Also, Happy New Year!

Slow Blogging

Imagine that!

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Neatorama/~3/WYwBDqNn8NI/
I’ve tried doing the whole rapid fire blogging thing. In the past elsewhere the most I could manage was 2 posts a day but the thing you find is you have little time for much else.

As my life has expanded, to take on important things like marriage, church, hobbies and work, blogging has become less important – especially when most thing I find can be condensed into a tweet.

I suspect a lot of bloggers who are slowing down are in the same category as me. Those that have not attracted big advertisers or have more important things to do in real life just don’t have the gumption any more.

And you know what, I realised a long time ago that I don’t have the time or attention span to take in all those 50-a-day bloggers either. Which is why I started cutting them out of my feed in favour of slower blogs a long time ago – advertisers take note!