For quite some time, I’ve wanted to write about getting things done when there’s an overwhelming amount of other things we could be doing. The average perrson would say it’s best to focus on the most important things and do away with the distractions that constantly hold you back. There’s a problem with this, however: you may often find yourself thinking, “But what if I did this instead?” It becomes a continual struggle to locate your true priorities and carry them out. If you have this problem, I don’t claim to be able to help you, but I do have something for you to think about. continue reading »
November 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm
Rather than write a full-length review of Motorola’s latest trendy Android device, the Moto X, I’ve decided to round up my thoughts in an easy-to-read pros and cons list. I’ve used the device for over a month now, which is enough time to give me a good idea of its long-term Hopefully it gives you a good idea of the experience from a former iOS user’s perspective. continue reading »
October 13, 2013 at 9:21 am
Here’s my style of writing: sit down and do it — all at once. I can’t treat anything like a “project” or outline my entire research paper for school. My brain just does that for me. (Not trying to brag. I apologize.) I don’t like wasting any time, which is why I end up waiting until the last two days to read a 400-page book for history class. At least then I remember everything I read, right?
People think I’m inferior because I put things off. They say I “procrastinate” and “avoid the subject”. I’m just divergent. My mind works much differently than most people’s, I’ve begun to notice. I can’t slowly develop my opinion on an app or my angle for the next tutorial I’m writing. Instead, I sit down for as long as it takes — usually not much more than ten minutes, because I’d get bored — and write. Sometimes I bullet-point ideas and on occasion I take notes. Most of the time, however, I have a predefined route to finishing any kind of project. If it’s a paper, I’ll have it done in one session. I can’t walk away, because I lose everything I’m working towards and end up scrapping all the words I’ve written to replace them with new thoughts. I also have a hard time proofreading, due to my already-piqued interest.
Writing, for me, is a sprint, not a marathon. It may take me seven hours to finish an academic essay. In that time, I’ll be too busy to eat anything and by the end I’m very happy with what I’ve written. I do still find the value in working towards a certain goal, but it’s hard for me to do that. Even in algebra, I do two weeks worth of work in a single day. I can’t just take my mind off something once I’ve started because I know I’ll neglect it later.
So, when people ask me why I “slack off” on my English paper, only spending a Saturday morning writing the entire thing with no revision, I tell them it’s because I think differently. I’m not trying to be rude about it. I don’t want to insult other people’s work. I’m just not everyone else. If you stop my seamless motion, as it were, bad things could happen (to you). If not, I create what I set out to. The result is not always amazing, but I do enjoy the process.
There. That was a look into my mind. What’s your process?
October 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm
There seems to be a mindset that people get into once they’ve used a mobile operating system for a long period of time. (To be fair, this is universally applicable and can be found in many parts of life.) Apple users love their devices and protect that admiration — or “fanboyism” if you wish — with a passion. They remain loyal to the Apple ecosystem, sometimes even if they don’t like the changes that are taking place.
Just last night, at a friend’s birthday party, everyone in the room was talking about the iPhone 5s, why they’re getting it over the 5c, and how excited they are for the new phone. Even people without upgrades were talking about purchasing one. You certainly must value the community that revolves around Apple. They’re dedicated. Sadly, though, they often see users of products other than Apple as inferior. The American complex.
Then there’s the occasional wanderer who opposes the current trend. He doesn’t agree with the design choices, or he just gets bored. (After a while, Apple’s minimal, slow-changing approach to things can get dull.) I’m him, but not until recently. continue reading »
September 18, 2013 at 9:53 am
Last week, I browsed NoiseTrade in the usual fashion: listen enough to understand what the artist is trying to accomplish, then either agree with it and download or close the tab and begin another album. I typically don’t discover a lot of truly inspiring new music, but during that listening session, I happened upon Prince of Spain, which, from what I can tell (I tried to research this as much as possible) is a solo project. With that in mind, this guy is knows how to maintain a unique and heartening sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. continue reading »
September 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm
Today, Apple Inc. sent out invitations for a special media-only event at 10:00 a.m. Pacific on September 10th. It will be held at the Town Hall of the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. continue reading »
September 3, 2013 at 9:43 am
Amazon.com, online superstore and manufacturer of the Kindle e-reader, today announced Kindle MatchBook, a program that will provide owners of physical books with a free, or heavily-discounted, electronic copy. continue reading »
September 3, 2013 at 9:23 am
Early this morning, Microsoft announced that its CEO, Steve Ballmer, will be retiring “within the next 12 months”. Following the news, the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation’s stock began trading 7.29% higher and reached a pinnacle for the month of August 2013. continue reading »
August 23, 2013 at 10:03 am
I have a sort of problem prioritizing things in my life. When it gets busy, I find it difficult to keep everything organized and held together. But the real issue arises when there’s nothing to do. In episode sixty-five of On Taking Pictures, a 5by5 podcast on photography, the two hosts, Bill Wadman and Jeffery Saddoris, discuss why “doing nothing is the enemy”. I can relate to their experiences because I too have a problem with dead days. It’s better to be learning and seizing the day (I just watched Dead Poets Society) than to recline in an office chair waiting for work to arrive on the Pony Express.
But doing nothing isn’t what this article is about. Instead, I wish to discuss another issue that’s been plaguing me: finding the balance between nothing and everything.
On occasion I’ll be bombarded with work. New tutorials must be written, apps are waiting to be reviewed, the lawn must be trimmed, and I really need to read that bit of poetry I’ve had open in my Safari tab for days. The last one is the most notable. Lately I’ve been keeping relatively short emails for days thinking I will eventually get a chance to read them, but often I end up archiving them because there are hundreds of other things I need to do in that moment. I make everything a “do it later” task and put it in yet another list within Simplenote, hoping to one day conquer the goal.
In reality, I don’t get half of these things done because there are more important tasks out there. Is that a bad thing though? Am I missing out on an experience?
“Just because everyone jumps off the bridge doesn’t mean you need to follow”, my parents would remind me when I was a child. I’d respond, annoyingly for them, “But it could be a memorable experience.” There are a lot of experiences that can become good memories and if you think about it for a moment, there are billions of people doing different things than you are (maybe having experiences you’d enjoy). Does this mean you should focus on what you’re missing? Of course not.
A lot of people I know will spend their lives going to one extreme: doing only what they see fit for themselves. This means no adventure or excitement is present in their lives, but maybe they just don’t care. Other people I know will spend their days swimming on the opposite pole: trying to do everything at once. And that is your worst enemy. You will constantly be regretting your decisions to do one thing over another since, when you think about it, you missed yet another opportunity.
Is this a story of regret or missed opportunities? I don’t know anymore — at least not the way my brain is working at the moment. I just know that it’s easy to get stuck with lists of things to do and, out of sheer panic, run toward all of them. If you do accomplish all the goals, you may still be unhappy; not because you weren’t there for something else, but rather that you did a shoddy job, focusing on too many things at once.
August 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm
I wrote the following article for a local newspaper, but they decided not to publish it.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Chicago, Gestalt Research, and Harvard University shows relationships which get under way online are healthier than those in real life, and they are becoming increasingly popular.
The survey was sponsored by online dating service eHarmony and included data from 19,131 individuals who had married between 2005 and 2012. Approximately one-third of these participants had began their relationship on the Internet. According to the survey, 45% of these digital relationships started on online dating sites; 20% from social networks (Facebook, Twitter); 10% from chatrooms; and less than 7% from email and instant messaging.
Strangely, the real world only accounted for 30% of relationships, 20% of which were initiated in the workplace. The other 10% of participants first began their relationships at school, which is a surprisingly low statistic since 36% of 18–24-year olds are in college (US Census Bureau data) and 43% of offline participants went to college.
Online dating is not only becoming more popular among this increasingly-digital generation, it has also proven to be more reliable, according to the survey. 5.96% of the participants who met their spouse online reported that their marriages ended in separation or divorce, versus 7.67% for those who met in real life.
There is an advantage to meeting someone online and then being able to simply tell them you’re not interested with a few keystrokes. Then again, is that human interaction or just your unwillingness to be vulnerable? After all, people need people, whether they’ll admit it or not.
It’s easy to get trapped in digital communication. Instead of using it to maintain contact with people when they’re busy, you can make it an excuse to not see them in person. I’ve even found myself favoring text messaging over calling people, just because it takes less time. But how is that showing that I am devoted to being their friend? It’s just lazy. I wrote a lengthy piece about how communication has been fractured. It addresses the above concerns and more, but this new survey brings processed data into the picture.
The greatest advantage of meeting a person online is that you know everything about them by slyly perusing their profile. There’s nothing to lose — that’s the greatest threat. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but isn’t it more fun to have an adventure? When you actually do things with the person and get to know them, you may find yourself hating ever single moment, but at least that can be turned into a hilarious story for your kids.
“You’re finding someone who is 90% compatible for you before you meet them,” reflected local photographer and dumpster diver (not really) Cody Tuttle. “It’s like you’re putting out your resumé and looking for suitable matches. I think it can be dangerous, but there are agencies who can do something good with it. There’s always a way to work any system, and if you’re a professional at online dating, you’re a creep. But, you know, there’s a certain realness to real life meetings — you can have a connection to a person not just through their words.”
Risking something is vital to relationships, because you can’t learn without stumbling. There doesn’t seem to be as much emotional investment in beginning a relationship online since it’s much easier to abandon it anytime. It’s the same principal as the one-night stand. Not every person wants to jump from one bed to another — some care about having a partner who loves them.
So when it comes to finding a spouse online, how rational is it? That depends on your age. The survey shows that 30–50-year olds with a solid fiscal standing — 40% had an income of over $100,000 per year — are more successful than, say, a recent college graduate with student loans to pay off. Also, Hispanics and males are more successful in their romantic pursuits, according to the participants. That’s only rational, because we know men.
On the topic of online dating, June Laker Paden Rosnau simply said, “Don’t do it.” He elaborated: “I don’t want to be mean, but why can’t you just suck it up and go to a bar to meet someone? You’re desperate if you need to go online. It could be really good if you met the person online and got to know them a little bit, and then after that no more talking online — just in person. A lot of people feel safer being behind a computer.”
It’s definitely easier to get to know someone online, but it’s not exactly exercise for the heart. Then again, where else will you meet that companion of your dreams? You could sort through your friends’ Facebook contacts, or you could risk your pride at the local coffee shop when someone cute sits down a few tables away. The latter sounds like a better story, and isn’t that what love should be? I mean, who wants to tell people, “Uh, yeah, we met online and after a few weeks we got dinner together. After that we dated for a year and got married.” Boring.
August 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm
Early this morning, Apple, Inc. released a major update to its professional audio software, Logic Pro, bringing it to version ten. It includes a plethora of new features, from a built-in arpeggiator (finally) and Drummer to SoundCloud publishing and redesigned vintage keyboards. Well worth the $199 price tag.
Sadly, with all of its wonder, this DAW brings an interesting problem to the table: upgrading digital-based software isn’t as cost-effective. With physical purchases, you could deregister the software and sell it on Amazon.com or eBay. This isn’t the case with digital purchases since there’s no way to transfer the license. Apple doesn’t use key authentication for Mac App Store purchases because signing in to your account is a lot easier. However, without this there’s no way to redistribute the software — it’s expendable.
This isn’t just Apple’s problem — it plagues developers on any platform. Soon, physical mediums may be obsolete and the only thing valuable could be the USB keys required to legally run the software. Propellerhead still uses this with its Reason DAW, which means that resale of the software is easily possible. But with products on the various app distribution hubs, it’s not plausible to consider making money off the software once it’s outdated.
The only solution to this problem is to release major upgrades every few years rather than every other month. It ensures that the users don’t pay too much for the software so they keep coming back for more revisions in the future. Just like with sequels to games and films, new copies cost money. But if you don’t need the old copy, it should be possible to sell it.
July 16, 2013 at 9:29 am
Today, my weekly NoiseTrade email arrived and a band name stuck out to me: The Paper Kites. They have a free EP available on the website, so I thought I’d have a listen. Boy is it good. continue reading »
June 13, 2013 at 11:18 am
Today my favorite Markdown editor, Byword for iOS and Mac, was updated to version 2.0. The developers have included sandboxing, a way to keep the preview at the same position you in you were editing the document, the ability to copy rich text to the clipboard, and, of course, lots of bug fixes and other improvements. But by far the most important upgrade here is publishing, which allows you to write a blog post and instantly send it to Blogger, Evernote, Scriptogram, Tumblr, or WordPress. continue reading »
June 4, 2013 at 7:16 am
School, while criticized for many things, is the cause of one major problem in today’s society: it socially misleads its attendees.
Watching education the past few years, I’ve noticed that the system is very broken in a lot of fundamental ways. Sure, the curriculum could use reformatting, the “informing” structure should be changed, and the expectations should be modified to stop forcing students to conform to perfection. But that’s not the real problem that one can find in today’s education. The real issue is a social one.
School creates a structure for life: attend classes, learn, make friends, and get a foothold on the ways of this world before going to a “grown-up job”. Then, without a thought, it rips these things out of our lives. School creates a structured community and then tears students away from everything they’ve grown accustomed to. It begins something that it cannot, with confidence, complete in the student’s favor.
This “community” which school creates is known to many as what life should be like. Sadly, once they graduate, there’s nothing to keep their social ventures going. That’s why people end up in bars, coffee shops, and libraries (I had to). There’s nowhere else they can meet people or find new friends, and since they moved away from their hometown, they need these friends.
(Why do people become depressed? They often cannot sustain a relationship with someone after high school, so they end up living along, eventually finding a wife, and living outside community, without the friends they need in this world. Friends hold you up when you don’t know what to do. They provide the perspective you’d never think of. This is why so many people relate to psychologists: they cannot be vulnerable with more than one other person [their spouse would be this one] and eventually find this last resort.)
Of the many problems school poses nowadays, this is the most harmful to its graduates. It answers other questions, too: Why are we so alone? Why do some people have a drinking problem? Why is coffee the number one commodity? And so on. Interestingly, this problem has gotten better lately because of the Internet. I often write about how this global network can hurt so many parts of our lives, but in this one it can actually connect us. I’ve met many people on the Internet in the past five years. It’s amazing how thriving the online communities are. The thing is, communication is fractured at the heart, and even though the Internet is one fix for the problem with community, it only introduces another issue.
What’s the permanent fix then? How can we repair this formula for a generation? Is every man meant to attend college after high school? How can we stop our high school friends from leaving us and forcing us to move on? How, oh how, can we stop this circle we put our children in? There are so many questions it’s overwhelming.
I believe the fix is, of all things, church. It’s always been the one thing that brings people together, whether they like it or not. Religion is not to be confused with church, though. The former is a political struggle and bi-polar mess, the latter an everlasting community faced with the same troubles as any. People shouldn’t be scared of church, but many of today’s churches create fear by being a house of fakery. It’s only pride. Pride is what drives this yearning to show people how good they aren’t. It’ll take a lot of effort to fix this community, but it’s worth it for what such a beaitiful structure can offer.
I could elaborate on many of these issues, but what I really want to do here is get a point across. I want to know what you, the reader, think of this idea. This is all my perspective from growing up in a small town of limited opportunities. Maybe it’s incorrect. That’s for you to say, so please email me!
May 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm
I value the few people who read this blog. They might skim through things and think, “Oh cool”, but once in a while there’s the guy who compliments my writing, and that still means the world to me.
The interesting thing is, more readers is not the solution to anything. When you receive a comment like “good job”, it feels much more valid when there are fewer people perusing your work. It’s always nice to know you’re doing a good job, but when that happens all the time the novelty is quickly lost. You take good feedback for granted and soon you start doing shoddy work because there’s nothing new to keep you going. But when you get that one person who commends you on your work, it means a lot because it happens far less often than you’d like.
Don’t pray for more, pray for just what you need to keep going. It’s nice to hear “You’re doing well” from someone besides your parents and it’s almost worthless to hear praise from a crowd of individuals. Celebrities may disagree, but when you go for days without hearing anything, one person can light up your day. Just a thought.
May 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm
Lately I’ve fallen into what seems to be a common trap of wanting to send people a text message or email rather than actually phoning or talking to them in person. It’s been happening ever since I got this new job at the local newspaper, but the problem has been in my life much longer. With the new job, I have to call people and actually talk to them. It’s proving to be a challenge each time. Girls are especially difficult for me to communicate with because, as my mind tells me, that’s how it should be.
Why am I so fearful of actually talking to someone? It could be that I’ve become conversant with emailing, Tweeting, or sending a text message to the person I need to contact. Or maybe I think I’ll say something stupid (which happened a lot in my younger life, leading to fear in the present day). The more palpable cause, though, is probably that I don’t want to let that person know anything about me. I’m scared of being even that vulnerable, and that’s a considerable problem.
When I found myself interviewing a girl for work yesterday, I was beyond panicky. It’s not something I do on a daily basis and it was never in my plans as a writer. But, of course, plans change and I end up in situations like that. I find myself continually faced with the choice of calling or text messaging, and I almost always favor the latter because I tell myself it’s “more convenient” or “better for them”. The real reason is that I’m not comfortable with talking over the phone. I’ll tell people that I don’t use Facebook because “I like interacting with people in real life”, but that’s not true at all. I actually don’t have one because I have bad memories of who I used to be a few years ago, and Facebook is connected to those memories. I also want to force myself to socialize in person.
This grand shambles of communication — in my life, at least — is not appealing to me. Lately I’ve been trying hard to do different things with my time, to stop thinking about what I will do next, to challenge myself to get out of the house more, and to simply do things that are uncomfortable for me. Exempli gratia: I’m getting my blood taken next Tuesday, which is the next step in my great adventure to—oh dear, it’s going to be dolorous, isn’t it?
My point here is that communication in this day and age is broken. People prefer to use virtual characters and emoticons to convey their perceptions rather than using the words God gave them. I can’t accuse any one person of this because I myself do it. It’s hard to take the more undefended road when there’s a phone in your pocket that creates all the walls for you. I must agree, walls are very nice, but we’re people and we don’t need walls to communicate — we need other people by our side in the physical realm. We need people who can delight in our company and not be distracted by their mobile phone every few minutes. We need vulnerability to connect, and when it’s lost, so is candor.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Jacob’s thoughts, which is a capricious time during which he over-thinks matters to only the greatest extent.
May 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm
People value places in which they do not live because innocence resides there.
My home is less than a mile from a lake; 15 from a ski resort; and three hours from a city with a Walmart or Jamba Juice. Some would call this paradise, but things change after you live here for nearly 11 years. The beautiful outdoors grows old, the whimsical small-town feel fades away to become bothersome, the people all look the same, and you feel trapped in a merry-go-round of misanthropic activities.
After ten years, I started to think of ways I could leave this town. To this day, I devise grand schemes of holidaying elsewhere. The sea has always interested me, and I must say that rain accompanied by foggy mountains is my favorite of weather conditions. Something like Scotland, or maybe Australia, Whales, New Zealand, Amsterdam — the list goes on. Then I stop to think about something: what is this intriguing allure about where I live? I can’t seem to find it.
I spend days chasing lightning storms, snapping photos of people enjoying silly activities, and even spelunking when I get the chance. But in all of this, I don’t think much of where I live. It’s just the predictable boisterous atmosphere that I’ve lived in all my life, and I think nothing of it. People travel thousands of miles just to ski and snowboard here; fishermen flock to the many lakes of the Eastern Sierras in the summertime; the city folk come from Silicon Valley and Orange County alike to enjoy the hot springs; and everyone who visits Mammoth Lakes seems to have more fun than I have here in my life.
Is it that the novelty has warn off? Possibly. I think the problem lies a bit deeper, though. First there’s the obvious fact that humans become accustomed to the ways which they have lived for a while. This means that they don’t think twice about where they live. It’s a gift from God, yet they dismiss it without a thought. Now, take the average vacationer. He will be much different than this debilitated and restless resident. He will only see the value in a small town like mine, and he would love to make a life for himself here.
There’s a purpose to vacations, then. When you get tired of the boring old place you live, it might be time to take a look at another beautiful gem on the Earth. There are many spectacles within driving distance for some, but they never leave the couch. These people cannot complain about where they live because they’re making it their permanent home and cannot embrace change.
The hard decision is whether to move somewhere more exotic or stay where you are. You could choose the former, but you will be searching for something different sometime down that green road. What’s the solution, then? For some, it might be to make the best of where they live. Instead of thinking about climbing a rock or taking a boat out for the day, these people must actually do the things they dream of. For others, it might be to move somewhere more fitting, where the rain falls every day and the sunsets are ravishing. For me, it might be to remember how valuable life was to me as a child, without worry or care of what people thought. We all need that once in a while.
May 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm
Ah, Iron Man. To the Marvel Universe, he’s the iconic philander of Malibu, California. His country praises him for the explosive weaponry he brought it. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brings many things to his world, but he’s mainly known for his ability to create peace on the Earth. As a part of the Avengers, he aided in the fall of an invasion. He also has his own adventures. But then he fell from greatness, like so many do. The third installment of the cinema’s Iron Man franchise tells this story. Or rather, Tony Stark does. continue reading »
May 3, 2013 at 8:07 am
Mailbox wasn’t anything revolutionary for my workflow. The concept and potential were cool, but it wasn’t a tool that compelled me to use it, so I quickly deleted the app and moved on. Today my editor Tweeted something very interesting, an app that changed my mind about what different ways email can be handled on the iPhone. It’s called Triage, and, quite simply put, it lets you either archive or keep your unread messages. There are buttons for replying and forwarding, but the app is very minimal. continue reading »
April 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm