Category Archives: Adventures

Learning to love the cloud

As I continue to dive into this iPad experiment, I realized the single biggest obstacle to using my iPad for more was that I did not have access to any files beyond my email and Photos. This, obviously, was hugely preventative of doing anything but modest creation on my iPad. And, I imagine it’s probably true for a lot of people. We are so used to this whole file/folder structure that’s on our computers, that we don’t know what to do when we don’t have that.

Now, I must admit that not having a file/folder structure is a blessing in a way. It’s a holdover from the “desktop metaphor” and not having that metaphor on my iPad that helps me stay focused.

But, more focus is useless unless I can access the things I need to focus on. Since I doubt Apple will ever introduce file management on the iPad itself (it seems to fly in the face of Apple’s simplicity model), I had to find an app for that. And, in fact, I found a few really good ones for creating that file/folder structure on my iPad itself. (The best being FileApp Pro, which I would highly recommend for managing any files you want to save locally on your iPad). But then I realized, with that, I lose one of the most compelling aspects of today’s tech world: seamless syncing.

If I read email on my iPad, it’s marked as read on my iPhone, and when I next log into gmail. But if I had a file on my iPad that I edited, and then I needed to access it on my computer, I would need to sync it through iTunes file sharing (or email it to myself). I don’t want to do that every time I edit a file. I want it to be seamless – like reading email. And there is one truly seamless way that exists… I moved to the cloud.

Enter two wonderful free cloud services (that both have apps) where my files now reside: Box and DropBox. Because of space limits for the free accounts, I decided to use both; Box is for my personal files and DropBox is for business files.

So, it took a few days of periodically syncing files while at my computer, but I finally have all of my business and important personal files on DropBox and Box — and therefore on my iPad. It feels really liberating knowing that, wherever I am, I can actually access that important file — or any important file.

That’s one step closer to never using a laptop again… (I jest. Or do I?)

[Once again, typed entirely on my iPad. Although this time, I heavily used the new iPad’s dictation feature. Great for creating a rough draft.]

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Typing on the iPad

First things first with this new iPad adventure: typing. I consider myself a good typist on a regular keyboard, hitting somewhere around 70wpm on a regular basis. But typing on the iPad intimidated me, a lot. And, if it intimidated me, I can only imagine that it intimidates a number of others as well.

If I’m going to take my use of the iPad to the next level, I have to be confident of my typing on it. It’s the main way I communicate at work and with many friends. Before I started this adventure, I clocked in at roughly 20wpm in my iPad (-50wpm from my normal typing ability). Not good enough at all, and totally preventative of using my iPad to the fullest extent possible.

There are three options, as I see it. First, I could get a Zagg Portfolio, and basically make my iPad into a laptop. When at work, I could use my external Bluetooth keyboard on my iPad. Or, finally, I could learn to rock the touch screen typing.

If you had asked me three weeks ago, I would have promoted Zagg. Or the external keyboard. But then I read a series of tweets, which reported on how teenagers are clocking in at 80-100 wpm on their iPad. What?! I know there are plenty of typists who type that fast on a normal keyboard. But on an iPad? I honestly didn’t even consider that this was possible.

More than anything else, this made me actually stop and say, wait, maybe touch screen typing quickly and efficiently is possible. With this possibility in mind, I went back to basics: I downloaded a phenomenal app that teaches touch screen typing, TapTyping. It reminds me of Mavis Beacon…. But for the iPad. And it works. Again, I started out clocking in around 20wpm. Again, this is ridiculously slower than I’m used to typing. But I did the ff jj dd kk fj dk lessons. And my muscles started to flex their memory.

I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. I took practice beyond the TapTyping app. I downloaded an instant messaging app (IM+) and started conversing on gchat. Let’s be honest, wanting to quickly reply to friends who are chatting with you is one of the best motivators to efficiently type.

Armed with the TapTyping lessons, I am now twice as fast – hitting around 40 wpm. Just the other day, I peaked at 62 wpm. More than anything it’s learning to trust my fingers to hit the right part of the screen/keyboard. There are also some cool “secrets” that are helpful to type even faster.

Note that this part of my experiment has occurred over the past few weeks, so these posts aren’t not in sync with life. In other words, it didn’t take two days; it takes practice. But it’s totally doable. With every accomplishment in typing on my iPad, I feel a bit more confident about typing on my iPad, and a bit less intimidated.

Let’s be honest — touch screens are likely here to stay. And the next generation will be (is already?) totally adept at using touch screens to type. No reason to fall behind the future today!

[This post typed entirely on my iPad.]

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A new experiment: iPad as my primary computer

Here we go, another adventure! I am going to use my iPad as my primary computer. Or I am going to try and figure out it can’t be done. After reading this article, and knowing two people that are considering the idea, I think it’s high time to find out how doable this is.

What I do know is doable: using my iPad for 80% of my personal computer needs. I already use it as my prinary device at home for browsing the Internet, light email, light document creation, light movie creation, consumption of anything and everything online.

The real challenge comes at my job. Working at a startup, in sales, I type a lot of emails, I use a lot of Office programs (where comparability is required) and I multitask like whoa. I edit files, send attachments, and research online. I type, type, type. For my personal life, I still use my computer for photo management stuff. For creating more detailed movies.

Now, I think I’d be kidding myself (and you) if I said I thought I could optimally perform all functions of my job on my iPad. But maybe I can do 85%… or 95%… or, who knows, 100%. I truly don’t know, because I haven’t given myself permission to try it out. Now I have. I’ll post brief and detailed updates as I encounter challenges and overcome them (or do not).

In the immortal words of Mario, here we go!

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Notes from Summer Baseball

Smiles all around. We walk under the lights of Boston to catch a cab, the vibe from a summer Fenway win still with us.

Tying run at the plate. 2 outs. 2 strikes. Bottom of the ninth. Papelbon delivers. Strike 3! You’re out!

Take Me Out To The Ball Game had preceded a joyous Sweet Caroline and now we’re Shipping Up To Boston. Papelbon walks in from the bullpen, not fifty feet away. We’re all dancing, singing and cheering. The whole park. He’s still Papelbon.

Crack. The solid sound of the wood connecting with the ball. I jump from my seat next to Kelly, pumping my fist. Ellsbury singles! The crowd, weary from a blistering day, erupts all around me. Varitek scores! Scutaro scores! The Sox jump ahead 2-1. High fives all around. Everyone on their feet, forgetting the heat of the day in the joy of the moment.

Bases loaded. The bad kind. Beckett is up to over 115 pitches. Crack. The ball bounces to Youkilis. He dives. Barely gets up. Throws to first. Gonzo digs it out. We all look at the first base ump…. Fist pump! He’s out! We’re still in this thing…

Bachelorettes, 50th birthdays, a whole different crowd on Saturdays. Amazing people watching.

Banter between people as the game slows between batters. Telling Kathy and Dave about the park’s history.

The game yet to start. The announcer booms: “To throw out the first pitch… the MVP of the 2007 Boston Red Sox… MIIIIIKE LOWELLLLLL!” Lowell throws in the first pitch to Dustin Pedroia to a Standing O.

Free ice in ziploc bags, melting from the heat of my skin. Willing the sun to drop below the buildings. Kelly pours ice water down my back, I jump, amazing.

Sitting in front of a cooling station in the catacombs of Fenway. A cool mist blows from the fan. Unbelievably perfect, given that it is a bazillion degrees.

We walk through the crowd at Fenway, taking in the scene with Kelly’s parents — their first trip to Fenway. Smiles all around.

Living life without knowing

Two months ago. South Africa. Everything was backwards.

Speeding down the N1. Learning to drive on the left. This was one time the words “crash course” seemed woefully inappropriate. I was on the highway that would take us from Cape Town to South Africa’s wine country. Passing on the right was normal. The right lane was the fast lane. My girlfriend Kelly sat in the passengers seat — to my left.

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Kelly was managing our maps. Yes, physical maps. We didn’t bring our iPhones (or computers). No technology to worry about outside iPods. We were, excepting the handful of stops at internet cafes, disconnected from the mobile age.

It was wonderful and freeing. While I have experimented with disconnecting before, this trip gave me a new appreciation for not knowing.

I realize how often I rely on my digital devices to augment knowledge. Whether resolving silly disputes about little known facts (what was the name of that actor from that movie?) to telling me where to go (what’s the address again?), we realized how often we rely on mobile.

For example, back to our journey out to wine country. We had booked a hotel, knew its name, knew how to get to the town the hotel was located in…. but we forgot to write the address down. No problem in the iPhone age. But a bit of s problem for us. We didn’t know, didn’t have any immediate way of knowing, and had to be okay with it.

We were fine, of course. We found it on our own with some luck, but we could have just pulled over in town and asked. Living disconnected was a powerful experience in many ways:

– We had to make true plans to meet our friends there (no “text you when I get there”, no “ish”.)

– Little facts had to remain unknown, and honestly, it didn’t matter one bit that we couldn’t remember.

– We simply made decisions on restuarants based on how many people were eating somewhere, and the menu (no Yelp)

– Kelly and I had to determine specific locations and times to meet when we explored on our own.

– We weren’t distracted when out, we had no device to “escape” reality or divide our attention. I vividly remember a time waiting for Kelly … and just looking around, observing. It was wonderful. Perhaps, without the magic of technology, we find magic in the world.

The mobile age offers us a lot of answers and instant information. But experiencing life without mobile reminded me how much of a luxury it is. And how fun it can be to sit with the questions and just be okay not knowing.

Back from South Africa

I have just arrived back from an amazing two-week adventure to South Africa with my girlfriend Kelly.

What a trip. Phenomenal. Everything we could have hoped and more. An unbelievable experience. It was…

Adventurous –

We did more in two weeks than I normally do in half a year. Stopover in Amsterdam, hiking, touring, learning history, deciphering accents, walking aimlessly, walking purposefully, learning to drive on the left side of the road, trying new food (ostrich, springbok), going on a mini safari, seeing animals, exploring new wine, going to my best friend’s wedding.

Humbling and eye opening –

We met people that worked in airports and only dreamed of ever flying on an airplane domestically, let alone internationally. Countless people of all races and classes who had never gone to America because of the distance and cost. We saw shanty-towns and heart-wrenching poverty, including women on the street at 9:30pm, breastfeeding their baby while their toddler begged for money. It was unbelievable to feel like you’re in a developed country one minute and a developing country the next. All the while we kept in mind what we heard time and time again — the Western Cape is an unrealistically wealthy view of Africa as a whole.

Inspiring –

We met so many friendly people, who were proud of their country. It is a young democracy, and people were always interested in what we thought of it, upon learning that we were from America. Often described as a rainbow nation, it truly is. There are so many races, ethnicities, languages. More often than not, the people we met would go the extra mile for people, be it through conversation, or action. It is one of the farthest trips I’ve taken, but the people were wonderfully welcoming.

Relaxing –

We spent time laying on the beach, ate long and wonderful dinners, watched the sun set over the Atlantic, lingered at wineries. In a country where we could have spent every waking moment doing something, we made sure to take time for ourselves.

It was, quite frankly, the best adventure and vacation I’ve ever had.

If you are going to see me in person, ask me about it — we have a ton of stories. If you’re not going to see me any time soon, feel free to leave a comment.

PS – The catalyst for going was the aforementioned wedding. Robert and Charlene, if you are reading this, it was perfect. Much love to you both.

What’s your adventure?

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Adventures are often thought of as something that we have to break from our everyday life to pursue.

According to Wikipedia, “An adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience; it may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.”

But how often are there certain outcomes in everyday life? Yes, there are things that are probable, but nothing is definite.

Every day, there are countless choices we all make. Whatever you and I are doing in life, we do not have to be doing it. Anything we do, we choose to be doing. Everything is a choice. There may be social/familial/cultural pressures, there may be beliefs or narratives that reenforce something, but, ultimately, we make a choice to do something or not to do it.

This mindset of choice makes it impossible to absolve myself of what I am doing (i.e. a feeling of hopelessness.) If I chose to be in this situation, I can choose to work through it. Or I can choose to not be in this situation. It also makes everything I do an adventure. If I have chosen to be in a situation, I can clearly choose to spice it up, or just generally kick ass at it. If I realize I don’t want to be in a situation, I can plan my out, and how to pursue my next adventure.

Even just describing everyday life  as an adventure changes my perspective and allows me to have more fun with it. We can each do something small to make each day more adventurous. I’ve taken backroads to work, walked to a friends house from three miles away (why not?), or gone on a hike in a new place to make my days more adventurous.

What are you doing on your adventure?