Jumping out of a perfectly good plane

I force myself to be uncomfortable. It keeps me on edge, on my toes, and agile and ready to go. Just recently, I checked off skydiving off my life bucket list. It was a perfectly clear day, with 360 views. With the weather so nice, we were able to go up to 13,000 feet. We put on our jump suites, harness and met our instructor. They prepped us on what was going to happen and then we boarded the plane.

The 15 minute flight up was incredibly scary. The anticipation was probably the hardest part of the jump. When we reached 13,000 feet, the green light went off and the doors opened. A certified jumped went head first out. Next came my friend Cassie. She was fearless and just flopped out the door. Her husband Steven came next. His face turned white as he scooted toward the door and out. At that point, I wanted to stop.

I looked out the door and down to the earth. Two seconds later, all I felt was falling. I held tightly to the harness and screamed. After about five seconds, air resistance caught up and it felt like floating. That didn’t stop me from screaming the entire way down.

Not sure if I’ll do this again, but I’m proud I got it checked off my bucket list.

Here’s the edited version from Snohomish Skydive.

I also got the raw footage of the jump itself. It’s higher quality and captures most of my screaming the entire way down.

Change Management through Nostalgia

To effectively manage change, we must know what we want people to feel.

Watch the 90 second video intro by Apple at WWDC 2013. “What do we want people to feel? Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention.”

Making something “stick” requires more than simply throwing everything at them and hoping something lands. It’s not about forcing someone to follow you.

Now watch this scene in a finale of the tv show, Mad Men. Here, two Kodak executives want Don Draper to focus the advertising on the latest feature: the wheel. They want to show the specs, the engineering, the cleverness of their invention. Instead, Don’s pitch shows them how they can use emotion to inspire Kodak’s customers.

Nostalgia. It creates a sentimental bond with the product, service, or idea. It takes us to place where we ache to go again. Take a moment and watch the scene again.

As the world becomes faster and more complex, people may have the allure of going even faster and being even more sophisticated. We sell the ability to process more data, store more memories, analyze more insights. We build systems that mimic circuit boards and production factories. We squeeze out every ounce of efficiency and output. We measure everything. In doing so, we have become machines.

We ask our employees to do more, never stopping to rest. A wasted movement is a hit to the bottom line.

We ask them to change. We tell them that change is required to survive in this new world. They have no choice. They must comply.

Instead, perhaps we can use nostalgia as a motivator. We can take people back in time, to a time where they were once treated as humans. To a time where conversation, relationship, philosophy and debate were valued. To a time when not every hour and minute was accounted for with tasks, actions, and goals.

The next time we build a new system, think about the human component. Think about how we want our customers to feel, how they should be treated. Humanize the human aspect and automate the machine aspects.

First impressions of Android

I finally went out and picked up a Nexus 7 to see what it’s all about. I finally have the full range of devices: iPad, MacBook Air, iPhone, Lenovo laptop with Windows 8, and now a 7″ Nexus. My goal isn’t to be exclusive to one ecosystem, to to illustrate a world where these devices play well together.

Keyboard – I don’t believe in keyboards for tablets. It defeats the purpose and appeal of the tablet. For input intensive work, I’m going to do it on a laptop. On a 7″ screen, it is very difficult to touch type. My small fingers have to cram to fit in the keyboard. On a 10″ iPad, I can type close to physical keyboard speed. My impression is that these smaller devices, in the mini 7-8″ range are consumption devices, not a work tool.

Apps – Nearly every major app is available for Android. The user experience is not as intuitive as iOS. It works really well but I have to think about what to do next. It doesn’t feel natural. My biggest peeve so far is the home button sits just underneath the keyboard and conflicts with the space button.

The store is well stocked but the quality of the apps in general are second to iOS. Even Google apps are slightly better on iOS than Android.

Utility – At this size, I’m not sure there’s a business case to carry this with my phone. It’s not a viable laptop substitute nor does it provide functionality above the phone.

When Steve Jobs asked if there was a new category between a phone and a laptop, he was right in paving the way for the iPad. He was right that there wasn’t room for a mini. Even though the market demanded a low cost mini, I still think it’s a long term mistake.

It sits in a weird middle ground between a real tablet and a mobile phone/computer.

First impressions:

Android and Chrome is a real viable operating system. The integration of services like mail, search, and storage is first class.

Apps are second to iOS for the time being.

Google Now is amazing. The power of Google shows here with predictive search.

Voice input is reaching real usefulness.

This post was written exclusively on the Nexus 7. The app lacks formatting functionality to do bullets.

It’s time to build a nationwide gigabit network

The race is on to start building out next generation data networks in the US. The US is ranked poorly among developed nations, specifically 9th in average broadband speeds. This measure is average across all in the US and not necessarily in metropolitan areas.

Since the networks have been slow to evolve the the incumbent providers have not made the investments needed to build out next generation networks, companies such as Google has taken things into their own hands. We’ve seen news of Kansas City as the first test subject with more in late news including Provo and Austin.

So what is gigabit Internet?

Data speeds are measured in bits, not the megabytes we’re more familiar with. One bytes = eight bits. One megabyte = eight megabits. So if you have home cable Internet at 20 megabits per second, you will be able to transfer 2.5 megabytes per second, or roughly one high quality song in about two to three seconds.

At gigabit speeds, that transfer rate equals 128 megabytes per second. That’s approaching or exceeding the transfer speeds of your average hard drive.

Why would you want Internet to be that fast?

For an average household today, that’s overkill. They aren’t capable of maximizing that connection speed. Even watching Netflix all day and backing up files will barely put a dent on that connection.

Back in the 90’s, the thought of video chats was just a vision. We were lucky just to stream video the size of a postage stamp in low quality. Digital cameras were just coming out to mainstream users. Fast forward to the turn of the millennium and music started to become all digital. Cell phones came with cameras.

Today, nearly everyone carries a cellphone capable of shooting HD photos. Applications such as Skype and Google Hangout enables two way video conversations. We are producing more and more content in the form of pictures, videos, and documents, which all are shared online, transferred through our data connection.

What’s coming up for tomorrow?

Our photos resolution is increasing, rapidly increasing the size of each photo. We upload and share higher quality video. Even the consumer front facing cameras for video chats have not increased in resolution, due to limited data connection speeds. The transformation we’ll see will be high quality HD video that we’ve expect from our television for video conversations. The quality of the voice will increase as speeds increase.

At gigabit speeds, we’ve removed the basic barriers that will allow us to enjoy the technology without worrying about the connection. We’ll be able to connect multiple devices without worrying about slowing down the network. Families will be able to keep in touch with video chats. We’ll be able to communicate with our medical providers through video calls. We’ll be able to watch movies at the highest quality.

What about beyond?

The applications for gigabit Internet haven’t even been explored yet because the infrastructure has’t been built. Google is taking a stance by demonstrating what can be if an entire city were connected.

How about a home video monitoring service that uploads high quality video to the cloud for backup and storage?

What about a distributed storage network like Space Money?

We’ve already seen smart thermostats, next generation gaming systems smart enough to read your heart beat, movie stream like Netflix and music streaming such as Pandora.

What if we eliminated the wait  and load time. What if our experiences were instantaneous? If we built a network that connects everyone together, imagine what applications could be built.

Science fiction shows such as Star Trek is just around the corner.

The first step is to build the network and then see where we go from there.

 

 

The Creative Market is my one-stop shop for graphics

I recently discovered the Creative Market. It is a marketplace for independent creative professionals with products ranging from graphics to themes to handcrafted fonts. Unlike other services where you commission original designs, Creative Market is a place where you can pick up pre-designed graphics at a great value. The editors curate some of the best designed to be featured and search/filter/ranking features help you hone down to what you need.

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The shopping experience is the second most important aspect aside from having great content. Instead of going to each artist’s site and navigate their own ecommerce system, Creative Market houses the payment system. Once my credit card info is saved, it’s a matter of clicking buy for future purchases. Once that’s processed, click download and the zipped file is saved to your machine. Now, all my purchases are centralized in one marketplace with a record of all my purchase history.

Finally, each week, they feature free graphics, fonts, and templates that you can download. This is a great way to get hooked and try out the system. These are straight up high quality products that I would have paid for that’s given away.

Some of my favorite graphic sets:

These graphics come in handy when putting together a custom slide deck. Look for graphic sets that come with .jpg or .png files or you’ll have to export the vector files.

Adventures in Urban Farming in Seattle

In addition to all my home improvement projects as late, I’ve started another project to transform our backyard into an urban farm (half of it at least). The economics of urban farming definitely doesn’t work out. I’m sure I’ll have to sell my carrots for $30/lb just to barely break even.

This is really a project to feel a connection to the food I eat. In today’s modern economy, we go to supermarkets to pick up produce and meats. The entire supply chain before that point is out of our view.

In short, what I’m learning is that it takes an enormous amount of labor, sweat, and pain to put together a basic garden to produce just enough food to feed our family. While we’ll never have the economies of scale as production farms, we’ll know exactly what we put into the soil, trace the source of the seeds we use, and harvest the food straight to our dinner table.

The second, and more important benefit of starting this mini farm is that it’s building community within my neighborhood. This is an experiment in change. When we first moved in, there wasn’t very much interaction. When we installed our chicken coop, it became the focal point of the neighborhood. People stopped by to ask questions. Some come by daily to visit with the chickens.

We hope that as more neighbors walk by and see the food being grown, they’ll have a chance to interact more and maybe barter and start an informal market.

Not shown in the picture is my compost bin. We’ve produced nearly a cubic yard of compost, freshly steaming each time you turn the pile. We’ve reduced our garbage bin to the smaller 32 gallon bin and barely fill that at all. Nearly everything we consume is recycled or composted.

Below is a snap shot of our garden up to date. The two beds have been covered with a landscaping fabric to keep in the heat and protect the newly seeded vegetables and herbs.

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We put in river rocks from our neighbor’s rock collection. It would be fun to have flowing water but too wasteful to do so.

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Here’s a removable bench that sits between the beds. Lola and Amelia are enjoying their time out in the yard.

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This stack of cedar slowly became the raised beds. I used 2×6 cedar boards screwed to 4×4 cedar posts. It was very tempting to try complex joinery but I opted to use timber screws for simplicity. Even with that option, it took a better part of a weekend to sand down the boards, seal the end grains, and assemble everything.

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