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Monthly Archives: June 2013

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The Sands of Time (and Light)

The Sands of Time (and Light)

Antelope Canyon
Photo © 2013 Abe Kleinfeld

Tours are tightly controlled to manage accessibility to this extraordinary slot canyon. Photographers can purchase an extended two-hour tour where the guide holds back crowds to enable long exposures like this one.

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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Magical light filters through the natural wonder of Antelope Canyon

Magical light filters through the natural wonder of Antelope Canyon

Photo © 2013 Abe Kleinfeld

No posts during the past few days as we travel through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Yesterday we detoured to the extraordinary Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. It’s a long day trip from Zion, but wow!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Evening walk

"Walking in light" Photo © 2013 Abe Kleinfeld

“Walking in light”
Photo © 2013 Abe Kleinfeld

I love our neighborhood walks in late spring and early summer evenings when sunlight extends into the late hours, drawing out long, soft shadows.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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I don’t need an app for that.

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Yesterday I realized I had 73 apps on my iPhone. 73!  But how many do I actually use, even infrequently? 28. And how many do I really care about, or dare I say, need? 11.

The fact is that many apps are little more than dumbed-down versions of the full experience you’d get from just visiting the author’s website with your mobile browser. Apps like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Amazon, eBay, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, etc. are generally less functional than their website equivalents. And they crash, require regular updates, don’t let you do handy things like zoom or copy and paste, and worst of all, do underhanded things like give away your location and other personal data without you knowing.

Having worked in the tech business for the past 3 decades I’ve come to realize that many projects get done simply to show you’re current with the times. Like make an app. If you want to appear up to date in the tech business today, you need to offer a mobile app. It doesn’t matter if your product is a network router or a refrigerator comparison website, you NEED TO HAVE A MOBILE APP. And that’s why Apple now has 800,000 apps in their app store. But is that a good thing?

When I think of the apps that I truly value, they generally fall into two of four categories — Communication/Productivity such as email, calendar, phone, browser, messaging, notes and lists; and Functional, which include camera/photo-editing/scanning, maps & location-based services, banking (i.e. mobile check deposit) and remote control (i.e. NEST thermostat, Apple Remote, video surveillance)

A third category, entertainment, is one I personally don’t use much, largely because I’m not a gamer. But these apps are arguably the most sophisticated and creative. And statistics show more time is spent in them than any other category.

Then there’s the most over-represented and least valuable, fourth category: informational. These are the apps that I find most disappointing and annoying — as they’re always being shoved down our throats (or networks). Visit most magazine, newspaper, shopping or other informational sites and you’ll get that predictable, insistent “download our app” pop-up every time you visit. They force you to take action to *not* download their app. And if you agree to download, you’re forced to learn an entirely new navigational paradigm, one that is neither as functional or intuitive as what you get from just visiting their website.

I expect that as HTML5 and other Web technologies continue to improve, the vast majority of these informational apps will disappear. They’re already a waste of resources to build — resources that would be better spent improving the website experience.

To be fair, there are a few informational apps that I find somewhat more engaging than their websites. Weather apps, for example. The best ones, like Living Earth or Yahoo Weather, go out of their way to act like entertainment apps with cool use of graphics and animation. But still, these apps are largely providing information that a browser bookmark can just as easily get you to.

So if I’m really only using 11 of the 73 apps I downloaded, or 15%, does that mean that only 120,000 apps of the 800,000 in Apple’s app store are really being used? Or does it mean that only 11 of the 800,000 apps are being used? I expect it’s closer to the latter.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The luxury of time without purpose

Endless-Road-B&W-11-04“Endless Road”
Death Valley
Photo © 2004 Abe Kleinfeld

Until about two months ago when my company was acquired, I spent 10 years as CEO of network security firm nCircle. It was an awesome experience that, as you would expect, had many high and low points along the way. Being a CEO in the high tech industry pretty much dictates a fast-paced, nearly frenetic lifestyle that keeps your adrenaline flowing like wind in a hurricane. And then suddenly it all ended. As CEO of the acquired company, my services were no longer needed. But that’s OK — this was not a sad ending. In the high tech industry mergers and acquisitions are common and I’ve been through this experience multiple times in my career. Indeed, the outcome left me with the luxury of being able to take a few months off.

Now, be assured that I had plans to make the best of that time. After all, few people ever get the chance to take months off without spending all their time anxiously trying to get back into the workforce. So I made a list of things I wanted to do. Projects around the house. Photo treks to national parks. Start a blog (check!). Update my website. Read lots of books.

That’s right. I was planning to maximize the efficiency of my time off like I did my time on. Pack in as much as possible to ensure I’d have no regrets.

Well, it turns out that with an extended period of time on your hands, even for a Type A personality like mine, you actually do less and less every day.

I used to wake up at 6 AM, take 30 minutes for breakfast, an hour for my workout, shower and be working or driving by 8 AM. Now I’m waking up around 8:30 AM, taking two hours for breakfast, catching up on email, facebook, twitter, tumblr, wordpress, linkedin, etc., wasting another hour or more aimlessly surfing the web for interesting stuff I never had time for in the past, doing my workout, showering, and before I know it it’s noon or 1 PM. And just about everyday I’ve scheduled afternoon coffee or a late lunch with friends I rarely had time to catch up with. So I find myself rushing to make that coffee or lunch date. And then suddenly it’s 4 PM — I’m exhausted, it’s been a long day. Time to get home, catch up on the news, feed the cats, go for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife and in the blink of an eye it’s 11 PM. And what did I accomplish? Nothing on my list. Indeed, nothing at all.

I used to chuckle when my retired family members would describe “lunch plans” as their “event” of the day. When you work full time lunch is one of 5 or 10 things on your daily schedule. Certainly not the only thing that takes up your whole day. Well… I get it now. 

The good news is that I’ve become comfortable knowing that when I finally do retire, life will not be a boring drag. It turns out that taking all day to do nothing can be surprisingly stimulating and oddly fulfilling. Yes, it takes much longer to tick off items from my to-do list, but so what? Time is infinite. There’s always tomorrow. The slow pace and lack of schedule creates a comfortable rhythm that I’ve settled easily into. It’s a feeling that made me anxious at first, but now embrace like a soft pillow.

Things that happen on a schedule (like paying bills) have become harder to do. I lose track of time. What day is it? Are we at the start of June or middle of June? Is that trip we planned happening next week or three weeks from now? Without the packed routine of Monday morning meetings, quarterly sales targets, MBO’s to achieve and products to ship, I quickly lose touch with the cadence of time.

Interestingly, I also feel the fire still burning inside me. I know without hesitation that I’ll be able to power up and merge back into the fast lane again. But now I know that when I really do decide to retire, I’ll float right in without trepidation or fear.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A warm first day of June

Jazz-in-Library-Window-Color-6-13
Jazz enjoys the warm rays of California’s sunshine
Photo © 2002 Abe Kleinfeld

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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