The tech and life blog of a Seattleite living in The Bay Area, covering all technical and life-related topics of interest.

Beginner’s Mind

It happens to all of us. We get worked up about something that we’re really confident is a for sure thing. Then they call the lottery numbers and we’re still broke. Being disappointed by or in something extends way beyond buying lottery tickets and hoping to strike it rich. It’s easy to be disappointed in just about anything when we realize it didn’t meet our original goals or expectations.

A few days ago I read a post from Marc Chernoff on 3 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be. While not directly related to this discussion, one of the things he points out is this situation:

Imagine you had a ripe, juicy apple sitting on an otherwise empty table in front of you.  You pick it up eagerly, take a nibble, and begin to taste it.

You already know how an apple should taste, and so when this one is a bit more tart than you expected, you make a face, feel a sense of disappointment and swallow it, dissatisfied.

Or perhaps the apple tastes EXACTLY as you expected – nothing special at all.  So you swallow without even pausing to enjoy its flavor, and you move on with your day.

In the first scenario, the apple was disappointing because it didn’t meet your expectations.  In the second, it was too plain and unexciting because it met your expectations to a T.

Do you see the irony here?

It’s either not good, or not good enough.

Let’s think about that for a second. In this scenario, the consumer of the apple is inherently disappointed because the apple was either nothing remarkable or just sucked. Both are levels of disappointment, the former being veiled and not all-encompassing.

One way to avoid so much disappointment in life is to go into things with and open mind. The other, stop having expectations for things you aren’t intimately familiar with and be flexible. I can walk into Whole Foods and subsequently walk out and be disappointed they don’t have a certain brand of something I want. I could also walk into Whole Foods and buy an alternative brand to something I want because the original brand wasn’t available. In the latter situation, I’m no longer disappointed I couldn’t get X product. Sure it wasn’t the brand I wanted, but I went into Whole Foods with the idea that it might not actually be there in the uber-specific format I desire.

In consuming the apple from earlier, Marc goes on to say:

Now imagine you try this: eliminate your expectations of how the apple ‘should’ taste.  You don’t know, and you don’t pretend to know, because you haven’t tried it yet.  Instead, you’re genuinely curious, impartial and open to a variety of flavors.

You taste it, and you truly pay attention.  You notice the juiciness, the grainy texture of the skin, the simultaneously sweet, tangy and tart flavors swirling around your tongue, and all the other complex sensations that arise in your awareness as you chew.  You didn’t know how it would taste, but now you realize it’s brilliant!  It’s brand new, because you’ve never tasted THIS apple before.

Mindfulness practitioners often refer to this as “beginner’s mind,” but really it’s just the outcome of a mindset free of needless expectations.

Beginner’s Mind. All of this boils down to having a beginner’s mind. Going into a situation without pretense, already being convinced, or otherwise having a jaded view.

Also called “keeping an open mind.”

Forget Your Goals

All through life we set goals for yourselves in order to accomplish things. Sometimes we set a goal to lose 20 pounds by summer, or to finish fixing cleaning up the garage.

We spend so much time focusing on the end, that while we make our way there, we never feel like the actions in the middle are as important.

The problem is, they are. In fact, they’re more important than the goal.

Morning Email: Check In Without Checking Out

If you’ve ever worked in a position where regular communication via email is important, you know what I’m about to discuss.

We’re all guilty of it. It’s 8:00 AM. You’ve sat down at your desk, your computer is warming up for the day. You open your email application and BOOM, there’s a metric butt load of emails waiting for you, nay pining for you, nay downright stabbing each other for your attention. The red bangs, the forty replies from a large group, the attachments, oh God the attachments!

Choosing Your Words

We spend a great deal of time communicating via text. Some would argue we communicate more now than ever before as a society, albeit a smaller percentage via speech. This is likely due to the proliferation of text-based communication methods like email, text messages, Skype, etc.

Granted, before email we wrote letters or talked on the phone. The problem with letter writing is that its not efficient for long conversations. We resorted to the phone for such things but even then a successful phone call required two people to be in the right place at the right time.

Create High-Resolution Mockups for Your App or Site with Promotee

When it comes to promoting your site or app, it’s important that your renders are high quality and accurately portray what your customers should expect.

Promotee is a Mac application to create pixel-perfect and professional looking artwork for iOS, Mac and Android apps. Just drop a screenshot from your app onto a template in Promotee and our graphics engine will blend it into the template to generate a gorgeous looking result.

Promotee has one goal: to do exactly what I said without breaking the bank of paying for renders or shooting your own devices, wasting valuable time. I sat down with the app and here’s how it went.

18 Resources for Getting Started with WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms and content management systems on the planet. Created by Matt Mullenweg and the team at Automattic, it’s an open source and free tool using PHP and MySQL for creating just about any kind of site you can imagine.

Today I’m going to cover a load of resources for getting yourself familiar with WordPress, what it can do, and how to expand and develop for it.

Dart: Java-Free Android Apps

Made by some folks from the Chrome V8 Javascript engine team, Dart tries to solve 20-year old frustrations of working with Java. A language created completely in house, it feels a lot like Python.

from ArsTechnica:

Being fast and responsive is one of the biggest goals for Sky. While 60FPS (or Hz) is the smoothness standard most devices and app developers aim for, the Dart team wants to crank that up to 120FPS, which isn’t even possible to display on the standard 60Hz smartphone screens we have today. That sounds rather improbable on Android, where many apps don’t stay at 60FPS, let alone 120. Rendering an app at 60FPS requires a frame to be drawn every 16ms, and apps “jank” or display an animation stutter, when they can’t keep up with the 16ms deadline.

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