Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sense of Time

My birthday is coming. About the significance of birthday, I read a sarcastic remark years ago kind of saying that birthday is no big deal, it just means that you didn’t die in the past 365 days. Since we only experience death once in our life (beside the rare case of Near Death Experience - NDE), we just live day by day. So, what is the difference between ‘didn’t die in the past 365 days’ and ‘…364 days’ or ‘366 days’? Not significant, so birthday itself to me is just another day. I found that remark interesting, since I didn’t celebrate my birthday much back in my early years of life. So, I just didn’t care much about my birthday in general. Yes, my then girlfriend aka. My lovely wife now does celebrate my birthdays with cake and meals. I do enjoy them, but to me, that’s more just an occasion for some good foods. That’s all.

This year, as usual I still don’t see any significance of my birthday. However, I just have a stronger sense of time going by. Is it because of my bigger waist size? Gray hair popping up? Or just feeling less energetic than before due to lack of exercise? Maybe a combination of all above and more, I guess it is actually more about what’s inside than outside.

Yes, I do have a busy life, many errands to run, responsibilities to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, they don’t stop me from squeezing time to think. Cuz, thinking doesn’t take much time. In fact, doing self-reflection of the current ‘me’ could be quite striking to myself. How to sense the passing of time is when I realize what I’ve changed and been changed. Many things that I recalled to be important to me back then, they have become light-weighted fluffy stuff that I just don’t care much anymore. The more I look back, the more I sense how things have changed or evolved. I think that’s something I can’t teach my son or any young people, they wouldn’t get a deep sense of understanding until they are mentally old enough to take a ‘deep’ look back of themselves. It is just something must be truly learned through live experience.

I used to love listening to music and going to movies. I thought they were the cornerstones of my personal entertainment. In previous blog, I did blog about my collection habit of mp3, collecting rather than listening of music became my hobby. Recently, the hobby of collecting has been slowed down. Cuz, I realize that I spend maybe 80% of my time listening to podcasts rather than my music collection when I was listening to my iPhone. Even when I was listening to music, I do listen to ‘new music’ that I collect. However, what I would equally enjoy if not more is to listen to some familiar songs that I love. I feel that there are just not much ‘new’ things out there that I’ve never listened before. Yes, there have been some relatively new genres created in last decade or so, like nu-metal, rock-classical hybrid, etc. However, I think I’m more or less set and done with my favorite genre the most, at least for now. Exploring new is still good, but it is not something I’m dying for. I would be happy enough to enjoy what I’ve collected so far. I guess in that sense, my attitude toward music in general would be like a retired billionaire that just don’t care much about making an extra dine.

About my other favorite hobby of movies, worse than music, I just don’t have the time to enjoy movies. I used to see all kind of movies, my then view was that I got to see as many as possible regardless of quality. Cuz, I would not be able to appreciate what’s good unless I see a wide spectrum of movies in terms of genre and quality. Now, I just don’t have the time to explore the deep sea of movies anymore. I think I have been back to the state of being innocent taste wise. Just go with the flow of the movie, rather than be an expert or critic. I think I’ve seen enough of good movies to a point that if I miss some ‘good’ new movies, I don’t feel regret of missing them anymore. Cuz, my satisfaction can come from other sources, like playing with my son, reading good articles, etc. Yes, they are different, but as long as I feel good and relax, that would be enough.

These are just some examples of my change. Also, lately, I have gained a new sense of appreciation of ‘slowliness’. I would ask what the rush of doing certain things is. I think I’ve started to take note of the small things and the subtle changes that I wouldn’t notice when I used to go high speed. Slowing down is not a bad thing, cuz certain things can and should be done slowly. It is not really taking steps back, but rather taking ‘concrete’ steps forward. Quality is more important than quantity. In these days and age with the uber-development in technology, chasing the latest possible updated and acquiring the largest quantity is exhausting and becoming unrealistic. In many cases, the chase will never end no matter how you try. I began to ask “why do I need this?”, “what do they mean to me?”, “how to make use, maximize and enjoy what I already have?” Rather than keep on the never-ending pursue.

I don’t know if I was said mean anything to anyone. These are just some thoughts that I have about myself recently.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Post Steve Jobs' era in Apple

Steve Jobs’ third departure of Apple last week has again generated comments from all walks of life all over the world. On the financial side, request of further disclosure of his health status has been put aside with Apple’s great financial performance in last quarter. For the money folks, as long as they can make money, they don’t give a shit even if a donkey is the CEO. On the tech side, Apple’s competitors didn’t say much, coz all they care is still how they can compete with those i-Products. Their focus is still on quarter to quarter basis. For them, Apple is still Apple for now. For the consumers, they just care about what they can buy with their money. Apple is still a cool brand, and they are still looking for iPhone 4 and iPad if they’ve not bought one. To them, Steve whoever is just a famous rich old man who they see in the news few times a year to hold new products and tell people what’s new to buy. They don’t care much about that man as long as their friends tell them what to buy which happens to bear an Apple logo on it. Finally, for the fans, they just pray for Steve to get well soon and come back. Steve to them is still Moses, and they are still always crossing the Red Sea.

Well, for me, I’ve mixed thoughts of most of the above, except I’m not working in tech. My gut feeling is that Steve is gone from Apple forever. I really admire this guy and from the bottom of my heart, I really want to see him return to and lead Apple as before. But, realistically, that’s just wishful thinking that is not gonna happen. I see Steve’s status to Apple somewhat like Bill Gates to Microsoft now, but just not as lucky as him for being healthy. Well, with his announcement, Apple has instantly and unofficially entered the post-Steve era. It is not officially that case, but hey, we better assume that, just accept it and move on. Apple is gonna be fine in the short run. 2011’s schedule is set and done. Products like iPhone 5 and iPad 2 are already on pipeline. 2012’s plan and 2013’s strategy are probably taking shape. Just remember what Steve said in last year’s All Things Digital conference that the concept of iPad (released in 2010) in fact preceded iPhone (2007). Apple probably started working on iPhone in 2005 if not earlier. So, Apple does have plans/strategy set few years ahead of real product launch. Certainly, details would be changed in between under Steve’s direction. However, I think Apple would be fine in the next 3 years. The problem is more in the long run. We all heard of how Steve works and what values that he has shown as example in all these years. I’m sure they can be or have already been implanted in Apple’s culture. However, my concern of what Apple will miss is the ‘voice from Heaven’ to say ‘No’. As Steve has said that it is actually more difficult and important to make decision of exclusion than inclusion.

Apple may not be run by finance people or engineers like many other companies. Designers and product guys will still have strong say in product/service design. However, Steve is that one who listen to all they say and just hammered down a decision intuitively without explaining to everybody, and miraculously his decisions have been more hits than misses in last decade. We were told that Tim Cook will be a great CEO and Jonathan Ives will still be a great product designer. But, who is gonna make the ultimate decision? Will big decision in Apple be coming out of collective bargain? Or consensus from now on? If so, Apple will probably hit its peak within next few years and go downward from there as soon as Job’s previous key decisions have run their courses. Anyway, I will still buy i-products until something better is coming up, so does many consumers as long as Apple’ aura stay. We will see…

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Expendables

Thanks for the wonderful technology of online streaming, I was able to watch a movie that I had been trying to go to cinema to see but didn’t over the weekend why I was recovering from a sore-throat at home. I saw ‘The Expendables’ at my desktop yesterday and glad that I didn’t pay full price to see that on big screen.

Don’t get me wrong that I do like Sly and excite to see some old fashion back-to-the-80s type of hardcore action movies. I think this movie is ok, but just not worth paying full price of emission.

I don’t expect much from the script and it does match my expectation. There isn’t much of a story which is plain vanilla straight forward script, just for the sake of setting up a premise for the action guys to go to a place to kill everybody. No twist, no surprise, not even a speed bump from beginning to end. I think this script can be written by any amateur script writer finishing an 101 course at a community college. Well, how about acting? What do expect from these guys, we shouldn’t and they didn’t deliver much. Why should that? The script didn’t ask for it. I think most fans would simply happy to see those tough guys being lumped into the same movie together. This movie is all about action, action and actions! Well, does it deliver? I would say yes, but not an overwhelming ‘YES’. I like the hardcore R-rated actions of blowing up bodies with big guns, but what I wish they could spend a bit more brains to create some elaborated scenes of actions. Cuz, be honest with you, the actions are just forgettable, nothing could stick in our head after seeing them. Also, I think the level of killing is ok for this type of movies, but the actions scenes are just too dim. I wish they could put a bit more light to see how to do things before the explosions coming up when the bad guys were killed. Also, the fight scenes with Jet and Dalph are too choppy to be seen, wish they can show some wider angles. Character wise, I think Jason as a knife expert is the best part of the movie, besides him, nothing much.

Well, what about the most talked about scene of this movie? Not any of the action, killing, explosion, but the short 5 minutes of Arnold, Sly and Bruce together chit-chatting in a church. That’s the highlight of the movie, and the dialog was indeed funny. Just too bad that they weren’t on screen together for an action piece, no matter how brief it would have been. Anyway, I don’t mind to see a sequel and even pay for full price if it is gonna be good. Otherwise, please let this be a one time nostalgia.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The big Claw

I've not been feeling well in last week or so. I got a flu, am still recovering. My son got a fever + cold/flu + cough, my wife got a fever/flu as well. Anyway, a bunch of ill people at home. The weather lately has just been punishing cold! With my long absence in working out, I just feel weak.

There are tough challenges on my home front coming up starting mid next month or so. I just can see things will go down hill from there till mid-year, and then there will be another even bigger change....

Well, I always try to look up and see the good sides, but there are just things that out of my control. I know that nothing is perfect. I don't like to complain myself, but it doesn't mean that I don't need to deal with complaints from others. I just hope people would be more understanding and show a higher tolerence of inconvenience. I will try to do my best, but my best doesn't equal perfect. People still like to pick out the faults and drill on them. They will still got upset and complain for whatever reasons, maybe out of emotion or simply cause of unknown.

Additional to the self-inflicted but justified pressure from the work side, today, I just feel burn out psychologically. I feel like Woody in Toy Story 3 when he was about to be cremated on the track to the hell hole in the dumpster, he tried struggling his way up but failed. The difference is that Wordy has his pals with him, but I'm alone...In the movie, Woody and his friends were rescued by the 'big claw'. I wish I can see a 'big claw' in my world but it is just nowhere to be seen...

We live in a society that full of people, we encounter them at different times of our lives. Some of them will be with us along the way for a long period of time. But, we are ultimately all individuals with our own thoughts. I don't feel lonely, just helpless and tired sometimes. Hopefully, things will turn out for the better. If not, rather than hopelessly waiting for help which will never come, I just need to try to split my alter-ego to drop a 'big claw' to rescue myself. At the end of the day, the only reliable person that can help me throughout my life is...myself!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Instead of spending time in the annual routine celebration of New Year, I was lucky enough to squeeze time to finish this book: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 by Tina Seelig. As I previously blogged that time is too precious to be wasted by doing stupid or meaningless things, such as reading a bad book or watching a bad movie. This book is definitely a good read. Not only it is entertaining, I do feel like I can benefit from learning the lessons in this book.

The author is a female neuron scientist who became a management consultant. She has been giving life lessons based on her own experience and encounters. Those lessons are not complicated at all, some of them perhaps were told by others in some other forms or means. She patches her lessons together and wrote this book as a gift for her son who was gonna be 20 then. Though my 20 was long gone, I do find the timeless lessons in this book refreshing. The author is skillful enough to pack them up with vivid description and examples to keep my eyeballs from cover to back of this book.

The following are some extracts and lessons that I picked up from the book.

“If you goal is to make meaning by trying to solve a big problem in innovative ways, you are more likely to make money than if you start with the goal of making money, in which case you will probably not make money or meaning.”

Brainstorming sections should have no rule, boundary or limit.

“Rules are often meant to be broken. This idea is captured in the oft-used phrase “ Don’t ask for permission, but beg for forgiveness.” Most rules are in place as the lowest common denominator, making sure that those who don’t have a clue what to do stay within the boundaries.”

“It is better to know the few things that are really against the rules than to focus on the many things you think you should do.”

“…it takes practice to do things that are not the “automatic next step.” The more you experiment, the more you see that the spectrum of options is much broader than imagined. The sole rule is that you are limited only by your energy and imagination.”

“Instead of waiting to be asked and tiptoeing around an opportunity, seize it. It takes hard work, energy, and drive – but these are the assets that set leaders apart from those who wait for others to anoint them.”

“if you aren’t failing sometimes then you aren’t taking enough risks.”….creation of a ‘failure resume’ showcasing some of my biggest mistakes. “One the most basic level, all learning comes from failure.”

“The Da Vinci Rule” – It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end…”Quitting is actually incredibly empowering.” Quitting should be done gracefully.

“Don’t sit around waiting for a yes that will never come. It’s better to get to no sooner rather than later, so you can put your energy into opportunities with a higher likelihood of success….That is, if you continue to push the limits, and are willing to fail along the way, you will very likely find success.”

“There appear to be five primary types of risks: physical, social, emotional, financial, and intellectual.”

“Passions are just a starting point. You also need to know your talents and how the world values them.”

“…it is important to keep experimenting, trying lots of things until you find out what works. Being too set on your path too early will likely lead you in the wrong direction.”

“…you build a career in such a way that you optimize the quality of the people with whom you work, which ends up increasing the quality of the opportunities that flow your way. Great people support each other, build valuable networks, and create a steady stream of new opportunities. Essentially, the ecosystem in which you live and work is a huge factor in predicting the types of opportunities that will present themselves.”

“It is important to reassess your life and career relatively frequently. This self-assessment process forces you to come to terms with the fact that sometimes it’s time to move on to a new environment in order to excel.”

“…..identify the intersection between your skills, your passions, and the market.”

“the harder you work, the luckier you get.”

“lucky people tend to be extraverted. They make more eye contact and smile more frequently, leading to more positive and extended encounters….they tend to be optimistic and to expect good things to happen to them. This become a self-fulfilling prophecy...they find ways to extract positive outcomes from the worst situations.”

“…you never know when your experience will prove to be valuable.”

“Showing appreciation for the things others do for you has a profound effect on how you are perceived.”

“Your reputation is your most important asset.”

“…how you want to tell the story in the future is a great way to assess your response to dilemmas in general. Craft the story now so you’ll be proud to tell it later.”

“knowing how to apologize is incredibly important…if you wait a long time to apologize, the damage continues to grow.”

“The most common mistake in negotiation is making inaccurate assumptions….”

“The key to a successful negotiation is to ferret out everyone’s interests so you can maximize the outcome for everyone.”

“ if there is no win-win solution,…it is actually better to walk away….the best way to know whether you should walk away from a deal is to understand you other choices…”

“…to pick three priorities at any one time, knowing that these will change as your life changes.”

“…removing the cap and being willing to reach your true potential…acknowledging that you are ultimately responsible for your actions and the resulting outcomes…”

For most of the lessons above and others, there are real life examples that back them up. If I read the book critically, it is possible that the author came up with the lessons first and then try to back them up with selected examples. However, second guess the author’s intention isn’t something I usually do. I would rather go with the flow, enjoying the reading experience and learn whatever I can pick up from the book. The bottom line is that this is a good and easy read that I find it recommendable to ‘thinking’ people of all ages.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Szeto Wah R.I.P.

For anyone that doesn't know Mr. Szeto Wah, please check a belief introduction of him in Wiki. If you can read Chinese, the Chinese version of Wiki does have more info about his legacy.

This great man just passed away yesterday. For a person who has gut and integrity for being a political activist that fought for freedom, equality, and democracy to the silent majority, he will be surely missed!

May he rest in peace and wish his legacy will live on through the continuous struggle carried on by his followers with his inspiration