Archive for January, 2016

Virtual Brown Bag on Jan 26, 2016

These are my notes from the meeting yesterday…

Evernote
Went over the way I’m using Evernote.

Chocolatey
https://chocolatey.org/
George’s recommendation of a Machine Package Manager. Since I still do some work on Windows, I’ll check out this tool.

Vimium
Vimium is a Chrome plugin that adds VIM commands to your web navigation. I’ve been using it for several years now, mostly for the following feature: I hit the F-key, and then Vimium assigns a combination of letters to anything clickable on the page, so I can do all of my web navigation without using the mouse.

ConEmu
George mentioned this tool as a etter console for Windows: https://conemu.github.io/
I’ll definitely check it out. I’ve been using Console2 for a long time, but ConEmu seems to be a lot better.

Emergent Task Planner
JB’s recommendation for a paper task planner. As much as I like doing everything electronically, I have started using paper for a couple of notes here and there (which I keep syncing it back into Evernote), just in order to try doing things differently. I may try out this task planner and see if it works with my flow.

Elixir
JB shared a little of the awesomeness of Elixir’s pattern matching and how you can write some expressive code with it.

The video for yesterday’s meeting is up!

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The Virtual Brown Bag is Back!

Back in 2009 I decided to take the brown bag meetings I used to host at the company I work for to another level, starting a meeting with folks online, where we would Learn and Share at the Virtual Brown Bag Meetings.

Together with good buddies JB and George (the duo who were with me at almost every meeting), we’ve held the Virtual Brown Bag for over two years. And now we’re back!

Back then we used to hold the meetings using Live Meeting, which was a problem for Mac users. It was also painful to turn the Live Meeting recordings into YouTube-compatible videos. Now we’re using Google Hangouts, which works for everyone, and automatically makes the recordings available on YouTube just a couple of minutes after the meeting is over.

You can check out the Virtual Brown Bag category on my blog to see what kind of things we’ve shared at our meetings. Lots of goodness, I can tell you that much!

Last week we’ve had our comeback meeting, just to see how Hangouts would work, and we took the chance to catch up and share a couple of things as well. Check it out! We’ll be meeting every Tuesday, at 12:30pm Central Time.

Follow us on https://twitter.com/virtualbrownbag, where you’ll be finding the link to join the meeting.

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Get the Boredom out of my Workout

Working out is boring as hell for me!! I don’t want to run a marathon. I just want to not be sedentary. That’s all. But boy, working out is just too boring!

I know it’s good for me, so I need to do it

I’ve been trying to get into a workout flow for many years now. Several years ago I was going to a YMCA where I’d swim for a bit and then do a little bit of arms, legs, abs, etc. That lasted a couple of months. Had to stop it for stupid reasons.
Then I started inline skating for about 40 minutes/day. I really enjoyed that, but in the last few years I just couldn’t find the right logistics to make it happen. Hopefully I’ll get back to that in a couple of months.

Find the rhythm

Since last year I’ve actually fallen into a good rhythm, though. How? Fooling myself into not paying attention to what I’m doing. Seriously, I get on the treadmill, look up, and there are TV’s showing things I don’t care about. When they do have something that may be interesting, there’s no way for me to listen to it, and they don’t put on the closed caption, so it’s pretty much useless. I also don’t get inspired by the crappy music (for my standards) that they play over there. So if there’s nothing that keeps my mind busy, I’m there on the treadmill thinking “why am I doing this boring thing?”.

So I had to find something that works for me.

Keeping my mind busy with useful/interesting stuff

If I’m on things such as the treadmill or the elliptical, I watch videos. First, I’ve saved tons of TED videos to my iPad. Many of them were inspiring and got my mind working through several ideas. Quite a few of them really didn’t do much for me, but it was good seeing some things that have nothing to do with my main areas of interest, as it gave me insight on people solving problems in areas I’m not familiar with.

Once I was through with all the TED videos I had queued up, I’ve downloaded the Rails Tutorial videos. I have watched videos for this tutorial 5 years ago, but decided to watch the latest version so I could freshen up my Rails mojo on version 4, since I haven’t done much with it.

Another thing I sometimes do is to use the Text-to-Speech feature of Pocket to go through some articles I’ve saved. I may also switch over to podcasts if I’m tired of looking at the iPad screen.

Jot down ideas and thoughts

As I go through videos, articles, etc. sometimes my mind start to wander off, so I jot quick notes down on Evernote, and review those notes later in the day. If I don’t do write down notes, those thoughts may either come back at another moment, or I may forget it, but stay with that feeling there was something I thought I should have written down, and that bugs me.

I need music for certain activities

When I go to work on other things, like arms, abs, etc., then I switch over to music. Doing those things, I can’t quite pay attention to audiobooks or podcasts, so I just put on fast paced, intense music. That way, again, I don’t pay much attention to the boring thing I’m doing, but instead, get into the flow of the music.

But what’s my goal, really?

One goal I had was to lose some weight, just to stay within the ideal weight for my age, height, etc. I managed to lose 6.2kg / 13.7lbs, and have been keeping it there, so I’m comfortable with that. I credit this weight loss to getting into this routine of at least 3 workouts/week, but also, to very small changes on my diet (I may talk about this in another post). Keeping a steady workout routine has also helped me with another goal: spend more time learning.

Is it working?

I’ve been keeping track of every workout, just to keep myself accountable and not drop the ball. If I skip a workout, I write down the reason, and figure out a way for it not too happen again. If my weight goes up or down, I think about what I’ve been eating, to understand how my body works (I’m not quitting on pizza, lasagna, pasta, and all the other stuff I enjoy eating if I don’t have to!).

I’m feeling good about it. I’m feeling both physically and mentally better.

There are days I’m not in the mood for working out, but then I remember I was looking forward to finishing whatever video I was watching, and that motivates me to go to the gym.

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Getting Organized, Setting and Tracking Goals

Last week I talked about my 2015: Annual Review. This week I’ll briefly talk about how I’ve tracked my goals in 2015, since this is also how I plan on tracking my goals in 2016.

I’ve been using Evernote for a long time, and I keep trying out different things based on suggestions I find on the web. Throughout 2015 I’ve tried a couple of things that I think improved my use of Evernote quite a bit.

For setting and tracking goals, this post by Michael Hyatt got me inspired: How Evernote can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2015. I’ve used his templates and think it worked out well for me.

I also borrowed several ideas from Evernote Scott channel on Youtube. These are the main ones:

How To Use Evernote To Achieve Your Goals

How to get more done with Evernote and have peace of mind every single day: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

I read and watch tons of material on how people organize their life, projects, goals, what tools they use, etc, and the links shared in this post are the ones that stuck with me last year, so I hope it may be useful to you as well.

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2015: Annual Review

Inspired by James Clear’s “Annual Review”, I decided I should to mine, too. Heck, I do that on the projects I work on, I might as well do it to my own life as well.

So, the famous 3 questions that get the ball rolling:

  1. What went well in 2015?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What am I working toward?

I will be brief on this post, and later write up posts to detail more of each item. There are things that worked well in 2015 that I won’t list here, but will write up dedicate posts later this year.

1. What went well in 2015?

Defining goals, writing them down, and tracking them: at the beginning of the year I had defined goals, outlined them with key motivations, and kept reviewing them (at least once a week) in order to make sure I was tackling them as time went by. This has not prevented me from NOT accomplishing some of the goals, but it DID help me accomplish most of them, as well as it helped me reflecting on my failures.

Workout habit, results, and side-effects: I wanted to get in better shape. I don’t want to run a marathon or look like a bodybuilder. I just want to feel better about myself. Working out is boring for me. Tracking workouts and building the habit has made me find out how I can make this fun and harvest some benefits as side-effects.

Filing my taxes on time: Over the last several years I was always filing for an extension because I just couldn’t file my taxes by Apr 15. Well, in 2015 I’ve filed exactly on Apr 15. Huge improvement from previous years!

2. What didn’t go so well?

Make my professional blog more active: this post you’re reading is published to what I consider my professional blog. This is where I post things related to how I make a living (mainly, software development). I ended up only writing two posts last year, despite the fact there are many things I’d like to write about.

Personal project related to my experiences living in the US: this is something I want to do because I always have people asking me about this, so I figure I should share this with a wider audience somehow. I have some very specific ideas on what I want to do, I’ve picked a name for it, created the channels, the logo, but just didn’t start delivering the content. 

Personal/Professional secret project: this is a somewhat secret project just because I want to keep it low before it is all confirmed. What bums me on this one is because I did everything I could do on my end, but there are things that are just outside of my control. But, in order to cope with that, a Plan B is on the works.

3. What am I working toward?

Less ideas, more action: I think I’ve been very good at keeping track of ideas. And there are quite many ideas that keep popping in my head. I think I’ve finally started to take action on a few hand-picked ideas. I’m turning those into projects, putting effort into them, tracking it, and at this moment I’m feeling good about them. 

Take one day at a time: Having ideas flowing and figuring out some sort of a plan is good, but I need to learn to focus on taking one day at a time, live in the moment, make the best off of it. There’s only so much one can do.

Get better: I feel like at one point I was better than I am today. I also feel like I can get better than I was before. Working on that!

Conclusion

There are a couple more things I could add to each one of those bullet points, but I’m still thinking through it, figuring out the good things I want more of, the bad things that need to be addressed, and the things I just need to let go.

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