Five Tips for Getting it Done in a Digital World

I recently entered the world wide web as a full-time job, having recently left my steady corporate position in favor of something less stressful and with more freedom.  My plan is to develop web applications, build and design great websites, continue my passions of writing and photography, and grow my overall knowledge of technology—basically to freelance everything.

Along the way though, I’ve discovered that it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.  So to that end, I’ve decided to share with you what I’ve learned about the creative process so far, with five tips that I think anyone can use (and what you’ll need to know if you’re deciding to head out on your own).

I: PRIORITIZE
It’s vital that you make yourself a list of things that you’d like to accomplish on any particular project.  Scientific research has even shown that humans work better with a list structure, and when there’s attainable goals that are kept visible.

II: FOCUS
If you’re setting out to create, share, develop or otherwise author content on the internet, then you no doubt know how vital it is that your message is captivating to any potential audience.  Likewise, even though you can gain a wealth of knowledge and perspective by enjoying the content that others are creating, it’s vitally important that you devote the majority of your time to making your own.

III: KILL OFF DISTRACTIONS
The internet is filled with millions of websites where you can waste your precious time.  Everything from online video to blogs to gaming can swallow up an entire afternoon if you’re not careful.  Make time for these things sparingly, after you’ve finished your checklist of things that you need to do.  And those new photos that your friend just posted on Facebook? They can wait.

IV: PAPER ISN’T DEAD
There’s no doubt that the internet is a great thing, and technology has brought us an incredibly long way as a species.  But nothing can ever fully replace the pen and paper if you use it well.  Make lists of all your ideas (no matter how silly they seem), write down the musings and ramblings going on in your head or just let whatever flows out of your creative tap go.  A little doodling never hurt the imagination either.

V: QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
Remember, you don’t necessarily have to be the first at what you’re doing, but you should strive to always be the best.  Always be thinking of your end users and their overall experience and perception of your product.  Stick to your guns, even it it’d be easier to throw it all together in haste. But along those same lines, don’t get so overly involved and critical of every last detail so as to miss out on an important opportunity. Real artists ship.

Tokyo 2020? International Olympic Committee Moves City to Shortlist

In a press release to the media this afternoon, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it has moved the city of Tokyo, Japan to the shortlist of cities vying to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.  In addition to Tokyo, Madrid (Spain) and Istanbul (Turkey) are also in the running to host the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

According to a report produced by the International Olympic Committee, Tokyo aims to create a ‘sustainable metropolis’ with pre-games development, adding to many of the success seen by hosting the Olympic Games in 1964.  Notably, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee is focusing on envrionmentally-sustainable games, with guarantees that no areas of natural environment (such as standing forests) would be affected or cleared in order to host the games.

If Tokyo is selected as the host city for the 2020 games, it would mark the fourth time that Japan has played host to the Olympics (previously in 1964, 1972 and 1998).  And Tokyo is big on backing this bid; the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly passed a resolution in favor of the Tokyo bid in October 2011 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) has been maintaining a Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games hosting reserve fund with over $4.5 billion in cash.

Previously, Tokyo unsuccessfully bid on hosting the Olympics in 2016, but they were instead awarded to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  In the 2020 Working Group report, the IOC states that “Tokyo presents a very strong technical bid and has used the experience of the city’s 2016 bid to further refine the project and continue to make improvements.”

While this is exciting news for the Tokyo 2020 bid, there’s still a long and thorough selection process ahead. The host city of the 2020 games won’t be officially selected until September 2013, at the 125th IOC Session to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

An Amazing Example of HTML5: BioDigitial Human

Over the past week or two, I’ve been doing a lot of research and teaching myself some of the basic skills of web development, notably the work that’s on the horizon with HTML5.

The HTML5 framework sets the stage for the next chapter in the world wide web: building an internet where application, programming, design and networking meet in perfect harmony together.  And there’s going to be some really, really impressive content hitting browsers soon—HTML5 has the capability to enable 3D graphics without the need for any additional third-party plugins.

What does this mean for a web surfer?  You get a really usable internet.

What does this mean for a software engineer? You get to build applications that you never thought could be deployed before.

A perfect example of cutting-edge HTML5 work is BioDigital Human—an anatomically-correct WebGL model that aims to help us understand our bodies just a little bit more.

Isn’t the internet awesome?

Creativity

Don’t stifle the creative genius that you have living inside of you.  Each and every one of us has the ability to make something great, to contribute to a different way of thinking and to change the world around us.

But this process isn’t easy.  We live in a world where the practical thought, not the more logical thought, is the dominant one.  So it goes without saying that embracing creativity can sometimes be a battle—but it’s a battle worth fighting if you want to truly master your own destiny.

Our world is fear.  Everything in it, and all that we’ve come to know, has to do with playing into our fear.  Of all the emotions that we feel as humans, fear will never be the strongest, but it is by far the most controlling.  But a sense of being controlled by fear is purely mental… purely irrational… purely misguided.

No one person on this earth is incapable of doing what they conceive capable of doing.  But all persons on this earth are capable of thinking that everything is incapable.  The people who reject this notion of fear, who live outside of a comfort zone and never think twice about it, those are the people to whom everything is capable.

The only change that will ever happen in your life is the chance that you take.  Complaining gets you nowhere.  If you’re unhappy, then change your situation, or change your outlook on the situation.  Continuing to dwell on negativity will only bring more negativity to your world.  See what’s possible, never be afraid to dream, and don’t listen to the multitude of reasons people tell you that it can’t be done.

People will always criticize.  Don’t argue with them.  Don’t waste your energy.  If someone has nothing positive to say about your creative process, then realize it’s their inabilities to see your reality.  Question everything around you.  Break down the reasons behind why we do things.  Think about the mundane, and then vow to never, ever accept it.

The Sweet Spot

The other day, one of my close friends said something insightful to me: “It’s all about the balance you have in life between your love life, your money and your work.  You have to find a sweet spot.”

These days, it seems like more and more of us are working ourselves into the grave.

XVIII

One of the most romantic poems ever written…

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

What the Hell?

[This needs a lot more editing before it's considered finished.]

It’s a question I find that I’m asking myself more and more these days: “Just what in the hell am I doing with my life?” “Isn’t there supposed to be more to life than this?” Maybe it’s just a common frustration that everyone has, the type of hypothetical questions that loom over all of our heads.  Or maybe it’s just me, looking for some sort of direction or guidance in life, now that I’m in my mid-twenties.  It might just be a phase.

I dropped out of college nearly two years ago without any regret, and I hold a firm belief that the education system in the United States is broken.  We’re lying to ourselves if we say that true intelligence lies only in the ability to throw down $100,000 and get a piece of paper that proves we’ve gotten a degree.  On the contrary, the degrees that most young people are getting aren’t even related to the industry in which they’ll eventually start their career.

There’s always the military.  That is an option.  Sure, but it means signing years of your life away, a loss of your personal freedoms, and the distinct possibility that you’ll get send home to your parents in a wooden box.  While it’s the right fit for a lot of people, I’m just not sure it’s me.  (Much respect to people serving in the military, someone has to fight to keep our country safe).

For years in the United States, there has been this attitude where getting a college education can supposedly give you a solid foundation and open up more opportunities for you down the road.

 

Highlighting Tradition (Tutorial)

Just got done with a little late-night photo editing: a re-working of a photo I took earlier this week with the Pacific Voyagers’ fleet departed Honolulu as part of their journey across the Pacific Ocean.

This was a pretty simple editing process, all done using Aperture.  Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what I did, so you can try it out for yourself:

  1. Cropping of the original photo, to get a little closer into the subject matter and delete blank space, remembering to use the rule of thirds to stylize the crop.
  2. Adding a black and white adjustment layer over the photo, nothing fancy here.
  3. Throwing down a second black and white adjustment, and then using a brush tool, brushing out the first layer of black and white on the Hawaiian flag area only, to make this one small area of color stand out in the photo.
  4. Using a sharpen brush tool, giving some attention to the colors in the flag, since the surrounding grey sky area is really dull.  This helped to make the Hawaiian flag stand out even more in the photo.
This kind of editing technique isn’t just exclusive to Aperture.  You can use Photoshop to do the same thing, and now there’s even some great apps for iPhone and Android platforms that can help you color isolate as well.

5 Days Cigarette-Free

It’s a Sunday night, and I’m in the middle of my usual routine: doing laundry, getting groceries, and prepping myself for the coming week.

Except for tonight it’s missing the usual and frequent interruption of a cigarette break here and there.   There’s no more lighting up after dousing my work clothes in cheap laundry detergent, no getting a nicotine fix after fighting the throngs of crowds at the grocery store, and no puffing that last stogie before bed.  As ridiculous as all of that might sound, it’s actually difficult giving it up.

There are some positive parts to this ordeal though.  Already, I’m noticing a nice padding in my checking account — the daily budget of a pack of smokes a day was definitely taking a toll on my finances.  With cigarette prices nearly $10 a pack here on O’ahu, smoking is not a cheap vise in paradise.

Although the craving for nicotine hasn’t really gone away, it’s gradually diminishing.  The worst I’ve had so far was on days two and three, where it was almost impossible to go a minute without thinking about smoking… especially with my cup of coffee in the morning.

From here, there’s no turning back.  I’m noticing these huge increases in my energy levels, as well as a slight return of my sense of taste and smell… two things that smoking really does a number on.