Random Human Kindness

Random Human Kindness

Fuck. My immediate thoughts after my bike’s front tire gave out and I was miles away from home at Whole Foods. My mind started iterating through any possible next step I could take. I decided after only seconds I’d have to make the miserable trek back home on a flat.

“You don’t want to do that, your spokes will all blow out”. Like a fucking Batman outta nowhere, my bike broke down right in front of THE bike expert who happened to live two houses away from Whole Foods. We went to her house, pumped the tire and temporarily sealed the leak.

Her name is Alyssa, she appeared to be into Rock, was chill as fuck, and I may never see her again. But for that moment, she was one of the coolest people I knew.

She had no obligation to me but she saved my day. Maybe I’ll find a way to pay her back.

Thanks, Alyssa.

Working Hard is Overrated

Do you think any boxers preparing for Muhammad Ali weren’t preparing like their life depended on it?  Of course they were. They still lost.  But not because they didn’t work hard.

Look no further than Silicon Valley if you need a today example.  So many startups fail year after year.  Yes, some of them could have worked harder.  But most failed startups didn’t fail because “they didn’t work hard enough”. 

I’m not advocating you become a success by sleeping all day and picking your nose.  Working hard is important, but working smart is far more important.  

The heavyweight boxers of Muhammad Ali’s time were winning titles by raw bruteforce.  The harder the punch, the more successful the boxer.  The most feared of the 60s was Sonny Liston.  He won the heavyweight title by knocking out the previous title-holder, Floyd Merriweather, in a single round. 

Liston was a monster. No one wanted to fight him.  Until an upstart Cassius Clay challenged and took him down in 6 rounds.

Ali wasn’t a hard hitter at all.  He talked a lot of shit.  He almost seemed “scrawny” for being a heavyweight boxer.  So how the fuck did he make Liston look like a amateur?

Ali moved too fast for heavy punches.  He conserved energy so he was always prepared to go 12+ rounds.  His own punches were fast and precise — eventually enough head blows would be game over for his opponent.

Defense wins championships.  And Ali’s agility and endurance gave him the best defense in the game. 

Ali fought smart.   

50 Followers already?  Gosh. I used Tumblr for over a year longer than WordPress and still haven’t hit 50 there.  I’m definitely upgrading and switching my domain to here when I can.

I’m not so sure this is a fair trade off, but with a brand new app, my Valt needs any reviews he can get to stand out.  If you’ve enjoyed things I’ve posted, I’d really love it if you’d download it and give hime a nice 5 star review.  (It’ll help you store passwords and login anywhere faster, too).

Why we hate “Salesmen”

The funny thing about sales — we tend to associate the word “salesman” with people who fail at selling or trick us to buy. “Oh he was obviously just trying to get me to buy his product”.  I often rehearse my responses beforehand if I know I’m about to talk to someone whose going to try to upsell me.

The weird thing is when you’ve gained my trust, you’re not a salesman anymore — your a friend, a mentor, someone who has gone out of their way to find a pain point in my life to solve.  You helped bring value into my life.

The best selling doesn’t seem like selling at all.  That’s why word-of-mouth is so effective in helping a product grow — your best friends already have truckloads of your trust.  We’ll use a product they recommend without thinking twice about it.  And we certainly don’t accuse them of being salesman.

So, in the end, “salesman” means people either manipulating us to buy things we don’t want, or failing to convey why we would want it which is funny because that’s the opposite of what a good salesman actually is.

 

Get back to Your Life! 5 Apps that Protect Your Time

I have some sort of mental gauge that goes off every time an app wastes my energy with useless bullshit or confusing UI. Once this gauge fills up (which doesn’t take much), I delete the app and find something else. 

This sometimes means zero apps tolerably solve my problem. I still haven’t completely replaced a paper calendar. I keep a majority of my personal to-do in a notebook. 

If the problem is bad enough, I will use a solution but cry about it every time I’m exposed to its faults. 

Bottom line: I want apps that save me time and brain cycles while helping me accomplish meaningful things. I don’t want to think. This is mostly because I want to have time for other awesome things (but also a little because I’m very insecure about shipping bad software myself). 

Here’s our list:

 

 

1. Clear.

When the term “Gamification” gets thrown around, several bad ideas surface about how this should be applied to apps. Many try to reward you with trivial achievements or worse- unlocking features that should be available to you anyway. 

Some go as far to punish you for bad behavior. Yikes. 

Fuck meaningless rewards. Clear gets it right by rewarding me with encouraging sounds, sleek gestures and animations, inspiring quotes when I finish a list, and a few easter eggs, all while remaining dead simple. 

Now THAT’s gamification.

 

 

2. Fantastical 2

I admit my cheap ass waited far too long to throw down the $5 to buy this app. Probably because all the other calendar apps I tried were mostly bloated crap and I’d developed a kind of PTSD for calendar apps. 

But this app is great. Reading my calendar as an ascending list is remarkably intuitive. They chose the right features to implement to make it beyond useful without complicating the UI. I do wish adding events and reminders was even easier though (hint, hint).

 

 

3. Mailbox 

I could check and sort my inbox with Mailbox while juggling . I’ve tried to think of a better email solution for the iPhone but I’m not sure there is. I don’t really distinguish between deleted and archived but maybe others do.

Even watching the status bar message makes me happy. Empty inbox feels like a party. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 
 
 

4. Daily Routine

This app might be a wild-card pick in that it’s the interface is barely short of train-wreck status. It’s more about what the end result accomplishes: Daily Routine automates time blocking so I don’t have to think about what I’m suppose to be doing when. 

If you don’t time block, you should. Despite it’s UI feeling like a neverending maze, the finished result provides an unmatched experience for automating your routine. The notifications make it worth using over paper.

 

4.5 Valt (I originally labeled this plug as #6 but bitched out. I’m not THAT shameless though maybe I’d convert better if I was.)

I can sit here and bark all I want about how we all should create stronger, more secure passwords unique to every site, but let’s be real; we often don’t protect ourselves because it’s painful.  

The problem is even worse on a phone. Who wants to type a password like “fjdKLD3djSDAo39sJJ” every time they want to check their bank account?   

Valt securely remembers your important data and helps you autofill it on the web.  I wanted an app that I could access or create sensitive accounts in seconds — like in-between-traffic-light speed.  

There wasn’t anything available that had this light, fast, mobile-friendly interface I wanted so I built my own. I’ve actually trashed my bank and bill-paying apps because Valt moves faster.   

 

5. Mint

I wanted to be unique and hipster about my financial pick so that maybe I could introduce you to something new, but there’s still nothing that does easy finance tracking as well as Mint.  If finance apps require manual entry of my spending and budget, get that shit out of my face.

 Level comes so close to being better but simply didn’t allow enough control on how much of my income is considered “spendable”.  Mint focuses on the amount coming in vs the amount going out, and that really all we need.