Knowing what you can control..

I find it useful to categorise sources of stress in the following ways as soon as I realise I am stressed:

  1. Things I can control e.g. preparing for a examination.
  2. Things I cannot control but can mitigate e.g. the weather.
  3. Things I can neither control or mitigate e.g. war.

This  helps me to focus on available courses of action or begin to mindfully relax if there is nothing I can do.  In the pas coming to the realisation I am effectively a spectator has been surprisingly calming, although not always in extreme cases.

This has been in part inspired by the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr which was made famous by the AA:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you can change and letting go of the rest is indeed a powerful tool.

Listen, learn … then lead!

An interesting TED talk from four star General Stanley McChrystal about how the events following 9/11 lead to a new style of war and a requirement for a very different form of leadership of the widely distributed military response.

I think this is a worth while talk for any leader to watch and hear about how the General adapted in the face of change..

Deliberate learning

Sometimes its easy to forget that to keep developing a skill requires some deliberate action and planning. In our hectic lives it is easy to overlook and neglect our skill development. Often we don’t realise we’ve done this until someone that was previously less skilful than us appears to overtakes us overnight.  How to avoid  skill stagnation?

  • SCHEDULE – Dedicate time regularly to the study and practice. Go as far as to block of time in your calendar if your really busy.
  • PLAN – Know a small part of the skill you want to develop next and where to find out more about it e.g. books, internet or a skilled friend.
  • EXPLORE – Experiment with the skill to discover its limits and applications. Don’t stop as soon as you understand the basics, dig deeper for true mastery.

Its easy to think I want to get better at X but unless you set aside time, have a plan to improve and experiment it is very easy to stagnate your growth especially during busy periods.

Interesting podcasts

I am quite fond of listening to podcasts while doing repetitive tasks or walking to/from work as a means of keep up to date with subjects I am interested in.  I try to keep the number of podcasts I’m subscribed to low so I don’t end up with a huge backlog as I always finds that puts me off listening for some reason.

The Accidental Creative The Accidental Creative is focused on the creative process for people working under pressure to deliver creative solutions regularly, it is hosted by Todd Henry.  Topics range from generating ideas to delivering the product and business strategy discussions.  The book of the same name is also very much worth reading too.  Episodes tend to be between 10-25 minutes long.
Agile Weekly Agile Weekly is focused on discussing the agile development process, it is run by the crew at Integrum Tech.  It is a weekly discussion of topics relating to agile development, scrum and running software teams to deliver software on time and at quality.  Episodes tend to be around 15-30 minutes long.
The Candid Frame The Candid Frame is a series of interviews by Ibarionex R. Perello featuring a different photographer each week.  It is very interesting as Ibarionex interviews photographers for all photography disciplines and styles so there is plenty of variety of subject matter and photographic journeys.  Episodes tend to be around 30-60 minutes long.
Coastal Church Coastal Church’s podcast is the Sunday sermon from my old church in Vancouver by the Pastor David Koop, who I find to be an excellent preacher and always worth listening too.  Living thousands of kilometres from Vancouver its great that I can still keep up with my old church via the podcast.  Episodes tend to be 30-45 minutes long.
HanselMinutes Hanselminutes is a programming/technology focused podcast by Scott Hanselman which tends to cover allot of the latest technologies and trends in software development.  Although sometimes there are special issues on non-technology subjects (which tend to be equally interesting).  Episodes tend to be around 30-35 minutes long.

These days my podcast app of choice on iPhone and iPad is Downcast which I highly recommend.

Five years of Endlessly Curious!

Its hard to believe it but this site has been running for five years, I started it in August 2008 in Vancouver and now its 2013 and I am in Stockholm!  Its has been an interesting project that has morphed in focus many times since I have started it and so much in my life has changed over the course of those five years too. I thought it would be fun to post the top ten posts from August 2008 to August 2013:

  1. Configuring Perforce command line client P4 on Mac OS X – Nov 2008.
  2. Basic graphing with MatPlotLib - May 2011.
  3. Running WordPress on Mac OS X with XAMPP - March 2011.
  4. Installing Python, MatPlotLib & iPython on Snow Leopard - April 2011.
  5. Extracting image EXIF data with Python - May 2011.
  6. Graphing real data with MatPlotLib - May 2011.
  7. Finding duplicate files using Python - June 2011.
  8. Getting started with Python - June 2011.
  9. Scraping PDF with Python  – June 2012.
  10. Praise for Python - May 2011.

It was interesting putting together the top ten posts lists to see that I obviously had a pretty hot streak in 2011 for writing popular posts, most of which seem to be of the ‘how to..’ variety.  The other interesting thing is that most of the top ten list is Python related which I hadn’t expected.

Hopefully there can be a ten year anniversary in five years :)

The return of the iPad!

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about ditching my iPad 2 as I wasn’t carrying it due to it being almost the size of my MacBook Pro (without a case) once it was in a vaguely protective case.  Well a few months after that post was written Apple released the iPad Mini which is significantly smaller than the iPad.

I have recently purchased an iPad Mini 64Gb Wifi and so far I am very happy with it as its not much bigger than my Kindle Paperwhite (in its protective case) and the screen size is still big enough to be much more productive than on my iPhone.  An added bonus of the  Mini over the Retina screen iPad was the cost: the 64GB Mini was cheaper than the 16Gb Retina model!  As my original iPad2 was the 16 GB model I’d struggled for space on it, so the iPad Mini being smaller and having four times the storage for a lower price sealed the deal for me

The Mini has proven its self very portable and an excellent travelling companion as its light enough to take on a day trip and has long enough battery life to entertain me through a long haul flight.  Currently I am using a Apple Smart Cover and simple (thin) plastic shell to protect the back of the iPad which keeps the bulk down.

Update:  After a few near misses I have since swapped to using a Belkin Apex360 Advanced Protection Case which is the least bulky tough case I could find for the Mini, it has magnets in the cover flap like the Apple cover so the Mini wakes up when you open the cover.