52″ Mac with PIP TV

A couple of days back, I started to use my old Mac Mini on the 52″ Sony TV in the living room as a DVD player, to finish up with the Korean Drama series which we bought and started watching on my birthday. I had to use the mac because the Samsung DVD player’s remote control died on me after a battery leak.

So yesterday I reformatted the Mac Mini back to Snow Leopard (it was previously on Lion), and today I cleaned up the space a little, dumping the power cables and adapter into the Bluelounge Cable Box.

Cables in Bluelounge Cablebox

Cables in Bluelounge Cablebox

Bluelounge Cablebox Covered

Bluelounge Cablebox Covered

52" mac with Picture in Picture

52″ mac with Picture in Picture

So now using the TV as a monitor, I get to use a 52″ 1080p screen, and with the Bravia’s Picture in Picture function, I can surf net in the living room while watching TV! Haha!

My Standing Work Desk – 2 Weeks On

This evening, I have decided to readjust my table back into the sitting position, with the option to stand up and work with the use of a stool (which I already have) to raise my MacBook Air.

I realise that while working standing has been productive to get work done and push out code updates to websites or get something written, it’s just not the most conducive for the more “thinking” and “research” tasks like planning a marketing campaign for a client, or looking for a nice stock photo for a website. I tend to take shorter sessions when I am standing, and the research or thinking task tend to get better results in longer sessions.

My Standing Desk

My desk, now converted back into a sitting desk for “thinking” tasks

My Standing Desk

Using a stool to makeshift into a standing desk

Besides, this working desk which I have is also my leisure desk, and its not exactly a very enjoyable experience to watch a movie or listen to music while standing. With the current setup, I can use the stool for times which I want to stand and blast through a task (like writing this blog entry), or sit down and be able to enjoy longer sessions when that is preferred.

Frankly, I don’t know how this will turn out. I’ll give it another two weeks and we’ll see!

Its Time to Rock

I’ve got my new MacBook Air delivered today – it is a refurbished model, but at least it is the latest release (July 2012), and it comes with Mountain Lion. The computer has put me back S$1258, and with a few accessories I bought today to complement the computer (a Magsafe 2 to Magsafe adapter, and a 1TB western digital HDD together for $142), the investment is quite substantial, but not too hard to bear.

Mac Book Air

My new MacBook Air, freshly unboxed

Western Digital 1TB Harddisk

Western Digital 1TB Harddisk

With an 11 inch screen and just 128GB of harddisk space, it is not ideal, but at least it’s so much better than the previous Mac Mini that I’ve had for almost coming to 3 years. I really believe that with the enhanced speed (and riddance of the frustrating feeling of waiting for computer to catch up with me), I’ll get back my investment in no time.

The whole computer boots up in less than a minute, applications are so responsive and lightning fast to load with the SSD. But most importantly, I think I’m going to love it because its going to give me mobility: not only to be able to carry around my presentations to my clients, but also the ability to really work where I want to.

I know… At home, there is a 27″ screen with a 2560 x 1440 resolution display which I can hook up my new laptop to, and literally make the whole working experience more than awesome. But I’ve also realised that I sometimes need to get out more – maybe sit in a nice cafe and enjoy a cup of nice coffee and the atmosphere while I do my work, away from the distractions at home.

When I placed my order for the computer, I promised myself that this will be an interim, and just as a tool and stepping stone for me to go clinch deals and get my work done more productively. And I will make it such. The ideal would be nothing less than a MacBook Pro with Retina Display, with 16GB of RAM and 768GBs of SSD. And that’s going to be at least S$4,768.01.

I really look forward to the upcoming deals. Its time to rock and roll and go make some moolah!

Coping with the Standing Desk

Today is my 4th evening with the standing desk setup – and things are going fine! My ankles and heels are still aching a little, but its much better than what I experienced on the first night.

I realize the pain is actually now more psychological rather than physical. Over the weekend, I’ve had thoughts about how I can cope with standing for so many hours a day, and if I can really focus on my work with all the pain on my ankles. I had thoughts of going back to my original configuration, so I can spend my leisure time surfing the net and reading while sitting. There were so many thoughts and worries!

But standing to work really isn’t that tormenting, and I think it will really get better over time. In fact, I already feel a lot more “grounded” when I walk, and since I now spend so much lesser time sitting, I really appreciate being able to sit and relax!

Standing Work Desk

I’ve been reading and hearing about the health and productivity benefits of doing desk work while standing up, and on Thursday evening I decided to give it a go. Since my Ikea GALANT work desk has adjustable legs, I first tried to raise the height of the table to the max: 90cm.

But after a while I found that I was looking down to the monitor, and that doesn’t really work well for my neck. So today I took a quick trip to Ikea and got myself some props to raise the platform a little higher.

My original idea was to get a $12.90 white LACK table but fix the legs horizontally, so I get 10cm of height, instead of 40cm. But I chanced upon a set of nice stainless steel legs CAPITA (from their FAKTUM/RATIONELL system) that is use to raise the monitor by 11cm, which is actually perfect for what needed.

Ikea capita

So I bought the set of CAPITA legs, a LACK 55cm table, and another LACK shelf, and fitted everything together. Here’s what my standing work desk looks like now.

Standing Work Desk

And the height is perfect! Now my elbows bend a nice ‘L’ shape, and the monitor is right at my eye level. I’ve put an old towel for some comfort for my feet, but I think I will have to look for a more comfortable alternative, like an exercise mat.

I’d have to admit… working while standing does take some getting used to. And with the 32°C evening temperature and just a fan blowing at me from two meters away, I’m really perspiring as I work, and my ankles are a little sore after standing for a few sessions. But I’ve read that having sore legs during the first week is normal, so I shall stick to it and hopefully my body can get accustomed to the standing soon!

Will update again with my progress on this!

Rain Rain Rain in My Brain Brain Brain

I have scheduled myself to go for a run today, but at 7:15pm, the skies were gloomy in my area, and the winds were strong… and looking at the weather, my first thought was “Sigh, its going to rain again, so I’ll just go climb the stairs, or I’ll just do some Wii Fit and call it a day”.

But at that moment, something inside just told me to go for it – to just go for my run regardless! And I did!

And it wasn’t raining. It didn’t rain. Not until I completed my regular 4km. It started to drizzle only when I was just about 50m from my finishing point! In fact, probably because of the nice cooling winds and because I would prefer not to get caught in a downpour, I ran significantly faster than usually did!

Come to think of it, so what if it rained? I think I would have been happier if it started to rain when I was running, rather than not go for the run altogether.

This serves as a good reminder to myself. Don’t “rain in my brain”. Never give up on anything just because there is evidence or signs of potential failure.

Pushing on!

Fixing my negativity

It’s almost October, and while I have quite a couple ‘private’ posts on this blog in between this and the one on “First Things First”, my last entry was way back in 1st August. Time flies. I’m almost 3 months in my job and 100% immersed into the role in the company.

I’ve been busy.

I’m taking time to write today because I realize lately that I complain too much, and something must be done to it. Not the ‘auntie’ type of yakking complaints, but that of late, my inner self talk has not been too positive.

I complain about the morning train being too packed.
I complain that I have limited options for breakfast if I don’t take a detour.
I complain that even though I have the luxury of leaving work on time, I still think about work at home.
I complain that the train trips being too long, that my feet always get numb from the hour long of standing.
I complain about not having that abundance of money and hence I’m still unwilling to pamper myself a little more with nicer meals, clothes and equipment.
I complain that I am always so tied up with activities that I have not got back on my running program for over a month.
I complain that I am not eloquent enough in my conversations to be able to speak up in the right situations and influence decisions.

… and because of all these negativity inside, I’m starting to see my days getting filled with pure agony and misery. Like I’m totally lost in the middle of the ocean with nothing to cling on to, and no land in sight. Heh… I’m not exaggerating – Horrid thoughts in my mind that I just don’t express these out verbally.

But I think its not a good way to live life, and its time to do a detox – a review, reset, reboot… whatever you call it.

It was lucky that this week I got back to listening my seminars and podcasts on my way to work. Got me started back Jack Canfield’s “Success Principles”, and listened to the first disk three times. That ingrained the first principle which I am committed to following – to take 100% responsibility for in my life, that I have a choice, and I decide how I feel each day.

There were also some observations:

I realize that as I get engrossed into the roles I play daily – as an employee of the company I work in, as a husband to my wife, a son to my parents, and a friend to many close mates, I tend to get into the thinking that I need to serve and be my best in these roles, with ALL the effort that I can muster.

Now that is not necessarily a bad way of thinking, but what’s happened without me realizing is that I also tend to sacrifice a lot of my personal time, resources, and energy to make sure that these relationships stay as sweet as possible whether or not the sacrifices are reasonable.

I end up looking at a day full of the little “sacrifices” – eating cheap, working extra hard, sleeping extra little, doing that extra research, and taking the detour. Seeing things from that perspective really makes me feel that my days are miserable.

Sigh.

So.

I’ve decided its time to appreciate and reward myself a little, indulge in a little good food, sleep in a little longer, get some fresh clothes, put “saving for a rainy day” on pause for a day, don’t bother about waste, don’t trip the guilt trap… and really get myself happy again.

This weekend will be great to do just that – its a new month and its going to be a great start for the reboot.

Then I’ll follow through with some happy activities and happy commitments that will keep the energy high and brain functioning in right order – getting back on my running without stressing for clocking time or distance, (finally) getting started on my Adsense sites, committing to at least one “no thinking about work” evening each week, restarting on my multivitamin supplements, and getting on weekday vegetarian diet. These personal commitments will be put on priority and will be the big blocks of my life, while letting the lesser important stuff (stuff that I commit to to make others’ happy) flow and fill up the gaps.

I believe this ‘internal happiness’ will eventually show itself in all the stuff I do and the way I carry myself, resulting is better efficiency and effectiveness. It will get me in better shape physically, mentally, financially and in my relationships!

Yes! This sounds more right for me, and I’m really looking forward to see brighter days ahead! :)

First Things First

Since I am now working full time and I have a commitment to be in office at 9am in the morning, I realized that there is no escaping the morning peak hour squeeze in the train. I figured that instead of lamenting and complaining over it, I should make use of this time to get back into the habit of dumping some good personal development material into my brain during the hour long trip (soon to be 1 hour 20 mins!).

The trains are so packed that I can’t even hold a book out to read, so I used audio books instead. This week, I started off with 2 Stephen Covey titles. The first was the first of the 7 habits – Being proactive. The second one was First Things First.

My key takeaway this week was the framework that he outlined in First Things First:

  1. Create a personal mission statement.
  2. Identify the different roles in your life – including one for sharpening the saw.
  3. Select quadrant 2 goals in each role – What is most important thing I could do in this role this week, to have greatest positive impact?
  4. Creating a decision making framework for the week.

I realized that as I was doing my work in my own business, I was so busy chasing deals, “fighting fire” and rushing projects that I didn’t have the time to really sit down and review the direction which I was heading as I took up the work for each client.

For example, if I have stuck to my earlier decision to ONLY do WordPress projects, I would be able to confidently command a higher fee for a WordPress project, instead of spending time learning Joomla just for one client. It might be an opportunity lost, but it would have helped me “sharpen my saw”.

Really need to spend time this weekend to look at this four steps and really pen my thoughts down.

Revamp

I’m taking another revamp of my personal blog! Can’t remember how many times I’ve re-installed WordPress on this domain.

Hopefully this time round I’ll have more time to record my musings. :)