“If everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionary and brilliant. … If you got to spend every day of your life doing what you love, you can’t help but be the best in the world at that. And you get to smile every day for doing so. And you’ll be working at it almost to the exclusion of personal hygiene, and your friends are knocking on your door, saying, “Don’t you need a vacation?!,” and you don’t even know what the word “vacation” means because what you’re doing is what you want to do and a vacation from that is anything but a vacation — that’s the state of mind of somebody who’s doing what others might call visionary and brilliant.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson


A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

In the 1950s, the researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that we sleep in cycles of roughly 90 minutes, moving from light to deep sleep and back out again. They named this pattern the Basic-Rest Activity Cycle or BRAC. A decade later, Professor Kleitman discovered that this cycle recapitulates itself during our waking lives.

The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes. Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.
Relax! You’ll Be More Productive


If You Multitask Often, You’re Impulsive and Bad at Multitasking

Multitasking appears to be less of a special talent and more of an ADD-type behavior: The frequent multitaskers in this study were just unable to focus on one thing at a time.

The people who multitask the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking.

From Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking. Via The Atlantic. See also The Myth of Multitasking.


“There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like”

The greatest satisfaction you can obtain from life is your pleasure in producing, in your own individual way, something of value to your fellowmen. That is creative living!

When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and the planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women, capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women, capable of self-expression, slowly dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?

From: How to Avoid Work


It’s hard being number 2


Derek Sivers’ 3-minute TED talk on leadership.

If you’ve learned a lot about leadership and making a movement, then let’s watch a movement happen, start to finish, in under 3 minutes, and dissect some lessons:
A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!
Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore – it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.
The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.
A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers – not the leader.
Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!
As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.
And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made! Let’s recap what we learned:
If you are a version of the shirtless dancing guy, all alone, remember the importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.
Be public. Be easy to follow!
But the biggest lesson here – did you catch it?
Leadership is over-glorified.
Yes it started with the shirtless guy, and he’ll get all the credit, but you saw what really happened:
It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
There is no movement without the first follower.
We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.

Via Monoscope. See also Seth Godon.


Relevance

“And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?” – Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 3

I’m not one for quoting the Bible but I happened upon this today and it seems entirely relevant to the people I am forced to deal with lately.


Filling out your Pie, Maxing your Triangle

triangle.jpg
When I was in Don Johnson’s trumpet studio years and years ago, one of the many concepts he tried to ensure we remembered was to divide our work into a pie chart. He wanted us to diversify the sources and types of income we generated to both ensure we could weather tough times and to create a balance in the type of work we were performing. It was a survival and growth technique.
Jack Cheng has a different approach to a similar equation which he calls the love-growth-cash triangle and I like it very much.

I find that most people take on new jobs, projects and hobbies for three reasons: 1) To learn something new, 2) To pay the bills, 3) Because they love doing it. These three things fulfill some of our very basic needs—they give us stability, excitement, ways to contribute and opportunities to grow.

He goes in greater detail and it’s a worthy read. Via.


[Bits] On work, work, and working

Startup, Inc – What You Need To Know Before Starting A Company
Often people start a company without any clear idea of what a company is. Entrepreneurs closet themselves in the garage and start writing code. While the modern tech world could not exist without obsession, artistic inspiration and crazy engineers, there’s more to a startup than passion. Alex explores the basics behind corporate entities, stock, financing, and the key non-technical infrastructure every company should have.[via Swissmiss]
Walking the Line When You Work from Home
Working from home as a freelance contractor or remote employee can be a great thing, particularly if you live alone. But what if you have a spouse and/or children at home with you while you work? Every work environment offers distractions, but those who work from home with their families face a unique set of issues—and need equally unique ways of dealing with them.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Managing Multiple Jobs At Once
Some of us take on second jobs to make ends meet. Some do it for a chance to do the work they actually enjoy. And some of us create our own second jobs to build a business or create our own projects. No matter what the reason, though, juggling more than one job is guaranteed to be a crash course in time management. If you’re not careful, the word ‘crash’ could become more than figurative
Tim Ferriss interview
Whether you are a musician, entrepreneur, employee, or all three, everyone has too much stuff you have to do, and not enough time for the stuff you want to do.
If you have something that you would like to make and you just don’t know how to test it, make sure you’re scratching your own itch. Like Twitter: Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey created it in two weeks as a way to scratch their own itch. He said, “At least that way you know that one person is interested in having it.” It’s amazing how many otherwise smart, well-funded companies will use awful statistically-invalid focus groups, then say, “Well, no one in this room likes the idea, but our focus groups tell us that we should make it,” so of course the product comes out and it fails.


The Problem with Telecommuting

This past Monday I had problems with my wireless network which prevented me from having access to the internet. I thought at the time it was a problem with my isp, as I had thought many times before, but playing with the settings created a voila moment, miraculously allowing network access.
Yesterday for some inexplicable reason I could not access a site that I use to run a web app.. In fact half of the sites I use, all on the same server, are unreachable – the other half are fine. All of these use the same block of IP addresses. I can’t continue with the work I was doing 5 minutes before the outage.
Is this the 21st century equivalent of my car won’t start?
Our increasing dependence on complex magical systems like the internet for our livelyhood makes me wonder what would happen if there were extended outages or increased unreliability at just the worst possible moment. I can’t get to work and there is no ‘internet bus’ to take me there.


December Exhibition

“To present the musical soul of the masses, of the great factories, of the railways, of the transatlantic liners, of the battleships, of the automobiles and aeroplanes. To add to the great central themes of the musical poem the domain of the machines and the victorious kingdom of Electricity.”
“I unfurl to the freedom of air and sun the red flag of Futurism, calling to its flaming symbol such young composers as have hearts to love and fight, minds to conceive, and brows free of cowardice.”
A few years ago I became enamoured with the audio environment around me. Through my photoblog at that time I had already been noticing and sharing small bits of visual artifacts but noticing interesting signals through all the noise that is present here was something new. When you take the time to listen you may find yourself surprised at the remarkabley diverse array of delightful noise. Your cityscape transforms itself into futuristic noise orchestra that constantly changes, a never ending performance, which in turn completely changes you and your relationship with your city.
And I started to record and think of ways to share what I heard. I decided I wanted to be a sound artist.
A year and a half ago I finished a body of work, well mostly just prototypes and concepts given form, of sound art and tangible UI/interactive art. It was a tremendous learning experience – an education in product development rolled up in less than a year. We exhibited in an entirely appropriate old railway house to some acclaim. Since then I have been lucky to show various pieces at other venues throughout Taiwan. But until now I haven’t had the oportunity to focus entirely on sound art.
This December I will exhibit my traffic series of installations in Puli Taiwan. I wanted to show more, including my ambient room, but budgets would not allow. I’m looking forward to it as a source of inspiration and a break from the doldrums of freelancing.
All the pieces are reltively similar but with different execution. Here are brief descriptions of the pieces:
Traffic 1
“Now we are satiated and we find far more enjoyment in the combination of the noises of trams, backfiring motors, carriages and bawling crowd.
To excite and exalt our sensibilities, music developed towards the most complex polyphony and the maximum variety, seeking the most complicated successions of dissonant chords and vaguely preparing the creation of musical noise.” -The Art of Noises- Luigi Russolo
Traffic 1 is a series of sound vignettes played through custom built enclosures. It communcates through sound various emotions felt during the daily commute through Hsinchu’s streets. Using the simplest tools possible I set out to recreate the sounds I hear when driving in traffic in Hsinchu.
Traffic 2
Traffic 2 attempts to create spontaneous real time auditory compositions or improvisations using data gained from network traffic. A secondary aim is to test our understanding of the usage of network data in the public and private sphere.
We treat the network as an unseen life form – a body in constant change – born from the usage patterns of the users of the system. By using network traffic as a tool for creating music we in effect illustrate this unseen form.
Unlike traditional musical performances, Traffic 2 does not exist over a set period of time. It is in effect never ending and never the same at any given point in time.
Traffic 3
Over a period of time we gathered sound samples from various locations throughout the city of Hsinchu. We edited these samples and tuned them to a specific harmonic structure. We then fed these sounds, over a 100 in total, into our software agent which communicates with our server. The result is a cacophony of sound which could be understood as the city of Hsinchu acting as a Futurist Noise orchestra driven by network traffic.


Taiwanease Issue2

In the heads down mind fog of “bus(y)iness” of last week I forgot that Issue 2 of Taiwanease is out and available in limited (hurry get one before they are gone) quantities at key locations throughout English speaking Taiwan.
An interesting observation is that it seems that a front cover illustration of a stretched and tortured dead pig is far more acceptable to distributors than a cover featuring an illustration of a couple of Mormons.
I am starting to believe that there is more art in finding art than the actually process of creating art itself. Finding and directing good illustrators who are willing to follow a brief for free is a task I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Though attractive in theory, stock companies that have an escrow service of sorts have proven to be useless. Who can wait 2 weeks for an email reply?
Here is an illustration from my friend 林授昌, who did the cover for this issue, that didn’t work out for the editorial.
lin.jpg


Design and Business Ethics

“AIGA has released a series of brochures outlining the critical ethical and professional issues encountered by designers and their clients. The series, entitled “Design Business and Ethics,” examines the key concerns a designer faces in maintaining a successful practice and speaks directly to the protection of individual rights.”

From Swissmiss.


Taiwanease Magazine

issue1-cover.jpg
The first issue of Taiwanease Magazine was officially released to the wild today and can be picked up at a number of outlets throughout Taiwan. Kudos to all.
Special thanks to 錢世泓 and 汪峻德 for their illustration work. 汪峻德 had to endure many nights of revisions, a task he didn’t complain too much about. 錢世泓 finished his work with only a few hours to spare before he boarded the bus to start basic training for the Taiwan marines.
After being in development for almost 10 months it’s great to see elements of this project finally seeing fruition. Next the website.


Help Wanted (PHP)

Well I thought I might give this a shot here on my web log. Taiwan is a Microsoft island and though I have met many talented engineers during my stay in Taiwan far too few are into open source software. There are many people like myself who know enough about PHP to be dangerous but I am looking to meet people who live and love this language. I have a number of projects languishing due to slow development.
Here’s what we are looking for:
PHP developer
We’re looking for a local PHP developer to work on some neat projects we’ve been developing. Required buzzword-y skills: PHP, MySQL, XHTML, CSS, Javascript (including AJAX), Linux. Design skills and usability experience wouldn’t hurt. Familiarity with wiki’s and social software would be cool. Some English ability required.
I am also looking in the near future for a Chinese speaking Community Manager but I think I will have far less difficulty with finding a partner to fill that role.
These are ‘partnerships’ and we work on a monthly revenue share payment system.


Late Projects

Some quotes from a thread on 37s:

“How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.” -Fred Brooks, software engineer and computer scientist
“We release things when they are ready to be released, not based a we-can-predict-the-future schedule.
Priorities shift, products change, new ideas bubble up, we discover new techniques and concepts, mistakes are made, external circumstances reveal themselves.
All those things make schedules a waste of time. They don’t account for surprises, new opportunities, gut feel, and human error. Schedules are too theoretical for our tastes.
The only time we start thinking about dates are when we’re really close to release. Then we can say “let’s try to get this out next Monday” or “Let’s do what we can over the next couple week and then go live with it.” Our schedules are relative.


The Hard World of Quiet

quiet.jpg
I’ve got a meeting in 20 minutes and instead of working on deadline doom I am looking through my photos on flickr and posting entries from Youtube on my weblog. I should start a for credit class on procrastination. Why not? UC Santa Cruz offers a major in computer game design.
The above photo was likely likely posted on this site a few times before. It features some of the main ‘players’ in my Quiet Please exhibition extravaganza.
While I enjoy the freedom that working outside of a corporate environment provides I feel at times that this freedom is an illusion. Sometimes having so much choice in what to pursue is numbing – too much choice ultimately makes you unhappy. This philosophy is true in just about every endeavor in life. Perhaps the restrictive nature of working in a large company is not so bad after all. I’ve always enjoyed working within constraints, all my work has been about that – improvisation, music, web design, interface design, and sound are all limited modes of expression.
I miss the singular focus we had in that project. Now it seems I am truly becoming a jack-of-all-trades, my head thinking on a million different ideas for a multitude of projects of which only a couple are truly interesting.


Project Management Tips

“One thing that derails projects is the lack of a discrete beginning or end. Projects either meet with dissatisfaction from their sponsors, or they amble on past deadlines as scope creep locks you, the project manager, into a lengthy and morphing situation of countless follow-up tasks. Here’s a trick. Use this measurement up front: From what to what by when?
My favourite project de-railer is when the features and goals of a project constantly shift like quicksand. You spend all your time building and managing a part of a project only to find out 3 months later that a sponsor has changed their mind and don’t want it anymore.
Read the full article.


Pop Wuping Launch

I haven’t been that busy around this site of late as I have been devoting a significant amount of time over the past couple of months developing a new site which is linked in the footer and on my contact page. It’s called Pop Wuping.
I think we all have our minor product obsessions or idiosyncrasies (some call it an object fetish); some people collect sneakers, others buy too many shoes, some have to have all the latest gadgets, while others may have the luxury of buying a new car every year. For me it’s always been bags and t-shirts (to a much lesser extent sneakers as well). So I created Pop Wuping as an online buying guide for people who might share my interest or who might benefit from having someone find the best bags and t-shirts available on the web. It also serves as a research tool for me as I have had a dream of having my own line of bags and apparel – as farfetched an that idea may be. It still being developed but have a visit and let me know what you think.
Now that I am getting into a groove I hope to learn to enjoy managing all the blogs I have created (and am creating).
Pop Wuping


PingMag’s – The Website Development Process

howtomakeawebsite.jpg
We’ve been too serious and downright stodgy for too long. Maybe the power of fun is catching on, here is a delightfully fun, unique, and understandable approach to presenting the usually boring web development process to clients. It’s over simplified but for a first meeting with an inexperienced client this could be a great way to break the ice and get them involved. Kudos. Use this approach for your next financial services client and perhaps they will actually enjoy yet another meeting with yet another vendor.
Check out: PingMag’s – The Website Development Process


Old Interview – 工研院研究員 Clark Macleod

I linked to this interview I did over a year ago and had completely forgotten about it. During that time the friends I had just happened to work in or have acquaintances in various news media companies so I tended to find myself giving interviews allot. It was fun and yet anothe rof the many great experiences I have had working here.
Here is the interview (such as it is):
物專訪-工研院研究員Clark Macleod
工研院創新研發環境 椅子,來點音樂!
前言:在工研院工作五年多,加拿大籍的克拉克‧麥克勞(Clark Macleod),因為陪著一歲女兒玩玩具,觸發設計音樂椅的想法。在工研院創意中心的支持下,很快地,這張坐上去就能參與音樂演奏的椅子,即將跟大家見面。

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