Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Power of Apathy: A Question of Motivation

Lately I have been thinking about apathy and motivation. Essentially my question is this: is one more likely to be more successful in an endeavor if that one basically "does not give a shit" about the outcome.

This thought experiment is somewhat derived from several George Carlin interviews in which he describes himself as having stopped caring about the human race and what its outcome is and how as a result of this lack of caring he has unlocked a way of life and found a new form of creativity.

I was thinking about how as a primarily a coder, I often describe myself as a horrible designer however if I simply stopped caring about not being a good designer, perhaps that would unlock a level of undiscovered design creativity that I was previously not able to tap.

The counter argument to this of course, is that personally accepting ones lack of ability to do something (i.e.: a proper design) does not eliminate outside comparison of that work to other works in the same field of interest.

So following that it would seem that such "not caring" attitude towards things is more beneficial to personal endeavors and individual philosophies and ways of life. If I were to say that I don't care about financial gains as a result of work, then I am more likely to portray and act with an underlying attitude that expresses genuine interest in a certain subject which would likely result in my finding of work and jobs that I really enjoy become really good at and then produce higher financial gains from.

It kind of sounds like the whole "find a job that you love" line that is professed by so many. But I think that thinking of it in more of a mindset and psychological tendency manner is key to unlocking more doors in terms of personal accomplishment, creativity and development.

In a recent conversation it was posed as a longing thought that the person I was talking to wanted to get a car but was wary about entering into the lifestyle in which more money was being spent. It made me wonder right away what kind of life they would rather live. It wasn't as though they would have to work more, or have less time to spend on hobbies or past times. They would simply acquire a vehicle and life would continue on in that direction.

Otherwise what is the point of working? What is the point of earning money? What is the point of going anywhere? Why educate yourself? Why bother with anything at all? If you care too much about something, its going to cause you to worry about it and its going to become a problem in your mind. IF you just don't really care about anything, then you'll just decide to do things or not do things based on what you actually feel like doing.

This of course is not to say that you should be care<strong>less</strong> while living and doing things. I thin k there is a distinct difference between not caring about something and acting carelessly. I suppose you could say one is a state of mind and the other is actively portrayed through action.

At the end of the day, you just have to ask yourself: Do I like what I do everyday? Do I like the people in my life? Do I like how I interact with the world and do I like the outcomes I am getting? If the answer to these sorts of questions are no, I'd rather be doing something else or would rather have a different attitude, then it simply means its time to change. It's not a bad thing to need a change. It's okay to not posses great amounts of skill at something. It just means you need to fundamentally alter your strategy and your state of mind and approach things from a different angle.

It's Title is Misc

I'm always trying to figure out how to stay on top of things, you spend minimal amount of time on chores, work on side projects, come up with ideas for hack projects and all that sort of stuff.

One thing I both enjoy and wish I could avoid is when I find "lists" in the various list applications I use called "General" or "Misc". These typically function as a catch all for random links ideas or thoughts that I have at various points throughout the day.

It somewhat surprising how low the ratio of waste to gems is. When I crack open these lists I usually find interesting links or ideas that I had forgotten about.

It's interesting how much thought we can lose throughout the day.

Through more blogging and micro blogging I hope to capture more of these links, thoughts and ideas so that I can refer to them later when I am in action mode. Cause we all know when I am in action mode the weather better hold off! (Terrible line).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pedestrian Friendly Streets

There was some sort of ridiculous discussion about making streets "more pedestrian friendly". Alright, I can see how aspiring to an objective such as this could be a good thing if it is approached from the perspective of having more streets that are like Sparks street (or Times Square which is basically the same thing).

However, in Ottawa the motivation for this is driven by a new phenomenon of pedestrians and cyclists being involved in collisions with motor vehicles. Now, yes, of course this is tragic for those involved, however one thing I would like to point out is pedestrians and cyclists (as far as I observe in Ottawa since this is where I am living currently) hardly ever look where they are going. It is common to see someone J-walking a "don't walk hand" with headphones in and eyes on the mobile phone and completely not paying attention to what is going on around them.

I see cyclists biking on the road taking up a lane like they are a car (and I do think many of these avid cyclists like to claim equal road rights as cars) and then run through a red light like it doesn't matter.

Not to mention, cars are bigger and a lot faster than anyone on a bike is. This is something that cyclists should really think about. Cars are heavier, bigger, more durable, less destructable and A LOT bigger than you. Think about that why you are claiming your lane on heavy traffic road ways. It is not safe. There are plenty of alternate routes. This isn't about getting your share of rights and making cars drive slower. This is about keeping the world moving and not getting yourself killed.

This video sums up the basis of what I'm talking about:

Except maybe instead of lions, there could be an element where you get FUCKING RUN OVER!

Ottawa Wine and Food Show

I went to the Ottawa Food and Wine shoe on Friday. Overall it was fun.

When I first got there it felt very crowded and it was hard to move around. I quickly found that after a few "samples" of wine it was easy to move through the crowd and move through the people to get more food and more wine.

There were a lot of interesting wines. I stayed in the reds for the night. I am not much of a wine taster so I cannot very much about the wines themselves, other than how much I owe for making the night great.

The food was also delicious. Various restaurants from around town were setup. Some of them had music, some of them seemed to be solo chefs who were just showcases various dishes. There was nothing I ate that was not tasty.

So if you are ever invited to the wine and food show and are weighing the option between a lame house party and the wine and food show, I would suggest (especially if you haven't been) the latter. It is fantastic.

Staying Connected with Mobilicity in Ottawa

A number (unknown to me now) of months ago I had some problems with my Sony Ericsson x10 phone and wanted to get a new one. Around the same time I observed the growing trend of new "indie" mobile providers such as Wind and Mobilicity. They touted unlimited talk text and data for 35$. My Rogers bill was around 85$ a month and there was obvious need to investigate.

I did some research and eventually concluded it was time to eat the cancellation fee and switch providers.

The switch was made seem less by Mobilicity. I went into the shop, bought the HTC Panache and was set up with the same phone number within three hours.

Now that I've been on this provider for some time I want to detail the quality of the service and help give some direction for anyone else interested in saving a lot of money by switching away from the monolithic phone providers.

My Usage Habits

I live and work downtown and as a result spend most of my time in the downtown area. Members of my family live in various other parts of the city (namely Kanata/Stittsville, Walkley and Heron and South of Barhaven).

Service downtown is by far the best. It works as well as being on the Rogers network. I text message regularly, use the phone as often and stream music and surf the web a lot. This would indicate to me that they have a good amount of infrastructure to handle a reasonably large user base.

As mentioned before my monthly plan is around $39 dollars a month (some cents included here that I don't really notice). Recently I received an offer to sign up for automatic billing and in exchange received $2 off my monthly bill for a period of time described by the offer as "life time". I signed up for this and now my bill is around 37$.

Mobilicity is constantly offering sign up deals and promotions (obviously in effort to gain members) but it's very much worth it. I received a 100$ credit when I signed up and now there is a promotion on offering a 200$ credit for signups.

There is also a new plan that offers unlimited long distance in Canada and the US. This plan runs for 45$ / month and is a pretty good deal if you ask me. They also offer BlackBerry compatible plans that are essentially all of their plan features which is 55$ a month, however BlackBerry is on its way out (if you ask me) and you are better off with an Android or iPhone. If you are worried about loosing BBM, don't worry. Android and iPhone has Google talk and Android (I imagine iphone has it to but I don't know) has Google Huddles which are like group chats. I've used them a bit and they work great and is way better than what I've seen from BBM.

These prices are also way less than anything I've heard anyone from Telus / Bell / Rogers brag about.

Network Stability
For the time I have been on the Mobilicity network, it has been rock solid. Nothing is perfect however and I have noticed some periods in which the network was down. However these periods were often on weekends early in the morning or late at night. I have never used the phone during the day and had it not work or not be able to find a signal.

A Plus!

Now here are the downsides: because Mobilicity is a growing network, they have a coverage map. This means that they only serve certain areas, for example Ottawa has a certain range in which you can get Mobilicity coverage. Outside of that area you are considered roaming. That said roaming charges are not very expensive and I do roam on an occasional basis and have never noticed any scary numbers on my phone bill.

The coverage area has also grown significantly since I joined. When I first signed on, there was coverage in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and I believe various parts of Alberta. Now it is a large portion of the West and the populated areas of Ontario and has grown into Quebec (Montreal and Quebec city). check it out yourself.

So all this said, the further away from the city center you live, the less of a good idea it is for you to join Mobilicity. However if you are often in the city working or going to school where ever (in Ottawa) it is a great choice to save a lot of money and not be continually cornered into contract renewals and price hiking. Mobilicity's plans are straight forward and generous when compared to those of the bigger providers.

I wish I could say the same for other indie providers but unfortunately I do not have any experience with them. The differences I read while researching options seemed to be primarily within policies on roaming and things, so I would guess that the quality of the service is similar. I chose Mobilicity because they seem to be the most hip and have lots of Ads everywhere which make me believe they are dedicated to building their network.

One other note is that I have been into the states a few times with the phone on Mobilicity and I did use it a little bit to use maps and find my way somewhere. Roaming charges did apply but for what I was doing was very cheap.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to find a good answer.

Filming is not allowed on OCTranspo property

Just try and stop us. Do they really think that just because "filming is not allowed on OCTranspo property" that we aren't going to use social media to showcase idiocy? There are myriad methods to do so anonymously and I think that a "fine" or whatever they serve you really doesn't out weigh the opportunity to bring incidents into the public eye.

OCTranspo drivers are expected to be professional when on the job. More so because they are "public workers". Anyone in a work place environment who erupts with that kind of behavior is most certainly going to be dealt with - the fact that this is a public serving incident, well forget it.

Now there are videos of bus drivers shown using cellphones illegally (putting passengers in driver), complaints being made against drivers who sing while driving and I believe there was another story recently of a passenger who went off the deep end at a driver.

When I was on a bus in Toronto, some low life started to harass the driver and the bus we were on was equipped with a window / door type of mechanism which allowed the driver to deal with the harassing passenger. We should have these in Ottawa. And we should make examples of people who offend and push rules. We are going to wind up in a stalemate against ourselves if we continue to be so sensitive towards issues.

We should always be aware of where we are and what we are doing when we are out and about. You never know what is happening. It shouldn't be a question of "be careful there are cameras on you". Being watched isn't something new. People have had eyes for quite some time now, and wherever you go outside your home, there are eyes on you.

Having the ability to film and take pictures is nothing more than an extension to our ability to recount events. So yes, OC Transpo, we have cameras and we are using them. We aren't paying attention to whether we are on your property or not and it doesn't matter. We have eyes, ears and memories and we can recall what happened whether or not we have cameras.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Obnoxious Airplane Passengers

I don't quite understand how the business of flying on a plane has evolved to the point where flyer's emit a sense of obnoxious entitlement to be on the plane. God forbid there be a delay, you know like a mechanical problem that needs to be fixed so we all don't die when we shoot off into the sky and then to make sure you don't miss your dinner plans at 6 we plummet to our deaths because you need to be somewhere.

I flew to Boston today to attend the jQuery conference (web development related event). It's being held at the Royal Sonesta. While I was waiting for the connecting flight in the Toronto City Airport, it was announced that there was some routine check ups being done on the plane before boarding time. Great, I'm glad that things are being double checked before we take off - after all while flying we are basically helpless rag dolls in the event that something goes wrong. Anyhow, after another 20 minutes (still before the scheduled take off time) it was announced that there would be a delay. Apparently something was found that was not right. I'm thinking "Great they are thorough and found something needs to be fixed". I really want to get to Boston in one piece and attend this conference.

Then all of a sudden I saw her. An anxious looking woman who was hacking away at a keyboard on an IBM think pad. As her motions caught my attention she seemed to be in the middle of placing a phone call. The phone call was to Porter  Airlines. She was frustrated and upset that there was a delay. She had a dinner to go to at 6 o'clock which apparently Porter didn't care about. She accused them of repurposing the plane for another route. It was unacceptable to cause a delay unless they could explain to her just what the problem was.

Well lady here's the deal. Porter is running the airline not you. If you have critical appointments and things to do then try planning ahead and making sure you leave yourself time for unexpected things to happen. Unexpected - Ha! You should expect there to be flight delays. It happens all the time. Get over it, get over yourself and stop treating the airline people like the are some subservient half life which must bow to your command. Flying to New York and then taking a train is most likely not going to get you there faster.

Why is being a passenger on a bus and a passenger on a plane so wildly different? Why is it that plane passengers get away with giving personnel so much lip, yet on a bus the driver would like pull over and ask the person to get off. In fact I recall one night as I was busing home from a friends house some guy was all upset because the driver had taken a break before starting his route and was apparently late getting back and was angry that he was going to miss a bus transfer. The guy was yelling at the driver and the driver called a security guy who kicked the guy off the bus. The guy needed to get home somehow so he ended up apologizing to the driver and shutting the hell up before and the security guy left it up to the driver to let him back on. In the flight world the personnel would've been bending over backwards with apologies and offerings of how sorry they are.

No. Just no. People need to chill the fuck out. We are all humans and we all live on this Earth together. You're life is not so important that being late while travelling on a flying machine is going to put an end to it all. Remember how good we have it. We have flying machines. We have places to travel to. Others are not so lucky. Introspect and remember we are fortunate even if your too stupid to plan ahead so as to not stress yourself out when flying.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eat it, Rogers

I've been telling myself over and over, quietly inside the depths of my mind to cancel my Rogers account. This summer after seeing the ads for Mobilicity and Wind - 39.55 for unlimited text, talk and data and having my Sony Ericsson x10 die on me, it was time to switch.

I decided to go with Mobilicity after reading a number of reviews and such. My decision mostly came down to availability of locations in the Ottawa area roaming policies and the fact that their website is pretty cool. I bought HTC Panache for about 600$ and cancelled my Rogers account for about 500$. It was a pretty big kick in the wallet however it was certainly worth it.

Living and working downtown, I don't require any extended network coverage. When I go to somewhere that doesn't have cellphone reception, I often find myself not using a cellphone anyways.

So having a Teksavvy Cable Internet connection, Mobilicity for a cellphone, I have reduced my total communications costs to below 100$ per month - about 72$ to be exact.

It's a good world to live in when access to the biggest source of information and global communication is less than my grocery costs.. isn't it?!

Btw, both of these companies don't have contracts. I think this is excellent. They win by providing good service. Besides who needs contracts? It's not like everyone is suddenly going to stop using the Internet or cell phones is it?

Also, Rogers really sucks. I called them and said that numerous cell phone providers are offering more for more than half the price that they are offering. I asked them what they could do to provide a competitive alternative to this. They said nothing and so I went Mobilicity the next day.

Trip to TravelPod

After working at MARSWorks for close to three and a half years, I was contacted by a talent agency in San Francisco about a job opportunity at TravelPod (located in Ottawa). I went into the first interview and wowed them with my technical knowledge and later sent them some references and some code I wrote in college for a custom web framework.

A short week and a bit after the initial interview, I was signed on for a three month contract, and after a month and a week I have been signed on fulltime.

This move has been a great shift in terms of career and where my interest has been going lately. I am working on a well established active website that has a lot of users and we work at optimizing SEO and Revenue generation. I have been learning a lot about a different side of the web and it has been great.

I will miss the atmosphere of MARSWorks, but I am wholly enjoying the experience of working at TravelPod.