Tag Archives: shopping

The Secret to (Running) Success – Running is simple.


What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes.

The secret is…there is no secret. Looking for it will only distract you from the process.

Running is an incredibly simple sport. Run more and you will improve. Tweak this, alter that, and you have a training plan. But what if you don’t believe in it? You’re not missing some special workout, or some supplement. Doping won’t fix it. Nor will buying the best running shoes, spikes, shorts, sunglasses, or GPS watches. Having faith in your training is imperative. Yes, some training plans and methods are better than others. Yes, a new pair of shoes might give you some confidence because they look sharp or they feel great. What it all boils down to, though, is confidence in yourself and faith in your training. I’ve said before that the key to success is consistency. Perhaps a better analogy is that the door to success is consistency and the key is whole-hearted belief .

To be consistent you must be even keeled. You must have faith that what you are doing is right, will lead to improvement, and ultimately make you the best you can be. If there are shadows of doubt, it leads to inconsistency emotionally and mentally, which translates to inconsistent or subpar training and performances. If you do not believe what you are doing is helpful, will you put in your best effort? If you think a certain workout is pointless, counterproductive, unproductive, will you execute it as planned? More often than not, the answer is, “no”. Without faith and confidence in the plan, in your coach, in whatever is guiding your training, there cannot be the execution nor the dedication needed to for consistency.

This does not mean ignoring your body, nor blindly following your training plan or coach. It means listening to your body, questioning the training plan, asking your coach why you’re doing this workout, so that you understand. Understanding leads to confidence and belief. Confidence and belief lead to consistency, which just might translate into success.

Written by

Insouciant

 

The Golden Age of Poultry


US Meat Consumption, Pounds Per Person

Annual Consumption (lbs) per Capita, 1909-2012. Source: NPR. Data via Earth Policy Institute

For the first time in over a hundred years, we eat more chicken than beef.

Per capita chicken consumption in the US has risen from under 20 lbs in 1909 to about 60 lbs in 2012. During this same time span, beef consumption has dropped from a peak of over 80 lbs per capita in the 1970s to under 60 lbs in 2012. We eat as much beef now as we did in 1909.

Many different factors are possibly in play here. For one thing, a head of beef has always been relatively pricey compared to other forms of meat. Over the past 20 years, beef prices have risen drastically versus broiler (chicken) and pork.

Source: Beef Magazine.

The rising costs of beef coincide with the decreasing total inventory of calf and cattle in America, which hit a 60-year low last year. The CME Daily Livestock Report places the blame on rising oil and grain prices, as well as on NGOs that oppose meat consumption.

While this may be true, the energy requirement to produce 1 kg of beef is inherently higher than what is needed for 1 kg of chicken:

Source: Environmental Working Group

The rise of chicken can also be attributed to its versatility; beef generally takes longer than chicken to prepare. So not only is chicken easier to cook, but it’s also cheaper to buy and to produce than its heftier meat relative.

Chicken is also a white meat, which many people characterize as leaner than red meat. Red meat is claimed to be linked to higher cancer and heart disease risks. Red meat’s stigma can’t help but play to chicken’s advantage.

We are enjoying a golden age for poultry. Which probably doesn’t bode well for your neighborhood chicken.

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http://priceonomics.com/the-golden-age-of-poultry/

 

This New Year, do not make Losing Weight your resolution


Lose weight as a byproduct of a more audacious goal

One of the all time most popular New Year Resolutions is to Lose Weight. While it is a fine and lofty goal, unfortunately, it is quite unlikely to be attained.

Gazing into the crystal void of a brand new year, riding a high of motivation, many of us head off to the gym, jump on the scales, count the calories and say to ourselves, “this time it is going to work”.

Then, a few weeks later, the tide of normal life-pressures come flooding back to drown our commitment. We have to work late. We have to get the kids to after-school activities. One day, perhaps to de-stress from a busy day, we might wander into the pub, order a hamburger — ah, to heck with, add some fries with that — and our resolve is dashed. The diet and fitness regime is put off for another time — next year for sure — and the bad old habits return. Soon, we are right back where we started from: overfed, overstressed and under-exercised. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. This was me, year after year after year.

Last year, however, was very different. I did lose a ton of weight and I did get fitter — much, much fitter. I stuck with my plan for the entire year and integrated healthy eating and exercise habits into everyday life.

What did I do differently? I moved the goal posts.

The problem for me in all those failed years was that according to the Goal Commitment Scale (PDF) my resolution was too weak. Losing Weight was rated, “I think this is a good goal to shoot for”, while it should have been rated, “I am strongly committed to pursuing this goal”. Quite frankly, the goal of Losing Weight was never going to become a strong goal for me, it was just not energising enough, not exciting enough.

My goal posts shifted when I signed up for my first marathon. It seemed a near-impossible goal at the time. I had a year in which to progress from struggling to run just a few kilometres to enduring 42 kilometres. I had paid my entry fee and travel deposit. I had committed to raising a lot of money for charity. I had announced my goal to all my friends and business associates. I had started a blog. I was not just strongly committed, I was manacled to this goal — I had way too much face to lose if I failed.

First marathon complete! 20 kg lighter & much fitter

I did achieve my goal and it felt amazing. It was one of the most successful and enjoyable years of my life. Weight loss was a byproduct: I overcame obesity and metabolic syndrome in the process of striving for an audaciously larger goal.

Paradoxically, it seems that the most difficult goals produce the highest levels of effort and performance. So this year, why not give yourself a big hairy audacious goal: sign up for marathon, or a triathlon, or a mountain climb — something that is right at the edge of your capability, something that energises you, something that is bigger than the everyday pressures of life?

Updates:

A couple in their 60’s have completed a run around Australia, that is 15,500 km—one Marathon per day for 365 days.

Oliver Emberton has published an excellent article along the same lines using a blockbuster movie-script metaphor: How to make resolutions that actually work

Written by

Founder of Nexus IT & Communications Solutions. Training for my first marathon.

Published December 30, 2013

 

What meditation isn’t


Dispelling common meditation misconceptions

There are many meditation misconceptions out there. As a meditation coach I hope to dispell some of these.

Meditation is purely a relaxation technique

I hear “but there are other things I do that relax me, I don’t need to meditate” a lot. It’s certainly true that relaxation is a byproduct of a regular meditation practice but it’s so much more. You can consciously choose to live being perfectly present and fully experiencing life right now, freeing yourself of the limiting negative mental chatter that can sometimes feel relentless. We can do this through reconnecting with the still, silent space inside of us, rather than seeking temporary periods of true happiness through external measures.

Meditation is a religious practice

You don’t need to shave your head, join a monastery or give away all your money. You are making a commitment to love and honor the real you by reconnecting with the peace and love that resides inside that has been slowly consumed through years of modern day living.

Meditation makes you an emotionless robot

Meditation does not remove emotions but it makes you more attuned to emotional changes. I used to worry all the time, believing the commentator in my head to be very true, which caused me lots of energy and stress. (“Wow, could that really happen – that would be terrible”). Lots of the emotions I had were very fear based surrounding the future. Meditation has increased my clarity allowing me to think more logically rather than emotionally. Living in the present moment helped me to disengage from my unhealthy emotional states but I still feel things very deeply.

Meditation is too hard

It’s a complete alien concept to many to just sit and be. No distractions, no entertainment, no planning the future. Meditation is not hard but it is helpful to have someone guide you when you start practicing.

Meditation takes years to work

It is called meditation practice for a reason. It takes time to cultivate the habit of directing our attention inward. It’s not an instant fix but changes will be gentle and consistent. Gradually you will break free from the cycle of thinking too much and you will reconnect to your natural state of peace and love. The longer you put off starting your practice the longer you will remain in disharmony.

Meditation takes too much time

Spare time is a luxury that many of us do not have in excess of with the demands of modern day living, but everyone can create a few minutes in their day (I have periods where I switch my smartphone off so I can’t keep checking it to free up time). People who say they don’t have the time to meditate are usually the ones that really need to. Try just 10 minutes a day for 6 weeks, it’s enough to see a difference.

To meditate you need to stop having thoughts

I have been meditating for years, and my mentors even longer, and I honestly don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have any thoughts. We are human beings with human nervous systems and will probably remain having thoughts for the rest of our lives. Meditation offers you the freedom to chose which thoughts you engage with.

Meditation is an escape from reality

Personally my reality pre meditation was full of fear and panic and generally full of angst. I am now free from remorsefully thinking about the past or anxiously trying to foresee the future. You can’t get much more real than the present moment.

Meditation doesn’t work for everyone

There are many types of meditation all with the ultimate aim of enabling you to be present. There is something for everyone. I believe the majority of people give up as they feel they are ‘bad’ at it due to the amount of thoughts they have when they try. Never judge a meditation on the time you spend meditating but rather on the after effects. i.e. do you sleep better, have improved clarity, less worry etc.?

Meditation is selfish

I struggled initially with taking time out of my day to meditate that could have been spent with my children or a million other things. It felt extremely self indulgent and uncomfortable. However my practice has made me calmer, happier and generally a lot nicer to be around. Those surrounding you will reap the benefits almost as much as you do.

Meditation is the answer to all

Life is subject to flux and we will all have times where our circumstances become more difficult. Unfortunately meditation does not guarantee you a problem free existence. What it does do though is give you the tools you need to navigate your way through with a calmness and clarity and a knowing that this too shall pass.

 

Hibermate Review – A review of a kickstarter product


Hibermate is a ear muff and mask for sleeping. I bought it because I sometimes want to sleep in later but realize how the light shinning through my windows can affect me sleeping more. I also bought it because my girlfriend sometimes goes to sleep earlier than myself and I like to watch TV without her dealing with the volume being too loud.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dpbaileys/the-worlds-first-super-soft-ear-muff-for-sleeping

Who is it for

Hibermate, for me, is for my at home use to make sure I get some proper needed sleep. It’s for when I want to take a nap in the middle of the day. It’s also great for travelling. Although I haven’t used it yet for my travels.

Why the need

As you might have guessed sleeping isn’t just an experience with your eyes, but your hearing plays a factor as well. If you’re paranoid like me and wake up at a moments notice when you hear a weird noise, then that’s a good reason enough.


Initial thoughts

Box experience left a little to be desired

Hibermate did mention that there was a issue with the box when they shipped it but it was a good thing that the ear muffs were in a bag, otherwise they would have fell out. Although they did mention it, it felt that I got a cheap product because of this mishap of the tap not holding the box open.

Not completely noise cancelling but good

When I first put on Hibermate, my expectation was that I was going to be drowned in silence. The ear muffs did cancel out quite a bit of noise but it still left some noise to come through in case someone wanted to annoy you by talking. I was a little disappointed at first but then I thought about the experience of using the ear muffs with my iPhone alarm. It was a good thing that it wasn’t completely noise cancelling otherwise I probably would have stayed in my comatose state.

Was $40 worth it

After opening it and using a few times I began to wonder if the original $40 (now $60) was worth it. At first I felt weird telling people that I spent up to $40 on these things. I gaged some of my friends reactions and funny enough they thought $40 was a decent price for the product. Although, I probably wouldn’t buy the product at the $60 price unless someone absolutely needed it.

How do I wash this?

Something that came up was that the material is quite special and although I would like to admit that my face is always clean and doesn’t produce oil, I wonder what the washing instructions are for this thing. It says machine washable but I feel like the product can’t handle a machine. It might just be my false assumptions, but they don’t change how I feel.


Few Days Use

It’s great for switching between couples

Since getting this thing, my girlfriend has been using it more than I have and it has been great for when I want to wake up super early and I don’t want to wake her. I can set my alarm a normal level and she won’t wake up grumpy. It’s also great when one of us wants to go to bed early and the other wants to stay up later and watch TV.

The ears come off time to time

This is something that I’m not sure can be solved if you’re someone who tosses around in their bed. It can get frustrating sometimes, but it doesn’t always happen. If you tighten it just enough, and not to cut circulation, it works decently.

I sleep well

It does take a few nights to get use to but you do get use to it I can really see the difference in how it aids me in sleeping more or taking a nap during the day when it’s super bright outside.


So..?

Would I recommend this product to others? Taking into account the price, the pay off of being able to sleep well, the payoff between using it between my girlfriend and I, I would definitely recommend it.

If you’re interested (I don’t make any money from Hibermate), check it out.

Written by

I’m a mobile and web consultant that helps businesses better their user experiences for their products and services.http://manocreative.com

 

Why Targetprocess is better than Trello


Trello is a really cool tool. It is simple, fast and helpful. And free! You can create boards for everything: Hiring, Product Development, Customer Requests, Personal ToDo, etc. Trello has a solid mobile support, real-time collaboration, passionate community and many add-ons.

However, with company growth, you start to feel limitations. You want to see cards better, customize what you see. You want to manage 100+ cards easily, without constant scrolling. You want functionality that previously you didn’t need, like time tracking, sorting and more.

Targetprocess solves many problems that Trello can’t solve. However, it comes with a cost. Targetprocess is more complex and has some learning curve. Are you ready to put some effort to overcome Trello limitations? You decide.

Information Density

Trello is not designed to work with huge amount of data. If you have a board with at least 100 cards it looks quite messy. No zooming, no collapsing, limited filtering. You don’t know the solution maybe, but you feel that something doesn’t feel right.

Trello development board

In Targetprocess you can collapse columns and see cards as small boxes. You can hover on boxes to see additional details. You can even drag and drop these small cards into other columns. Collapsing helps you hide information quickly.

Board in Targetprocess designed to work with many cards

Moreover, you can zoom in and out to see more or less details on cards. If you have 10+ cards in a column that may be extremely handy. Just compare the picture above with the picture below:

Zoom out to see more cards in a column

Let’s take a more complex case. Sometimes you have a huge backlog with 100+ cards. Not good, but happens. How to manage it in Trello? It’s really hard I should say.

Let’s take a look into Targetprocess. Here you see a Kanban board. It looks like backlog management is bad here as well. You see just 7 cards from backlog, while the other 121 cards are hidden.

Huge backlog

Now let’s focus on just two columns: Planned and In Dev. You see much more cards on a single screen and can do something with them: set priorities, move into development, etc.

Focus on relevant columns

Still it is hard to skim through backlog in this view. People like to skim lists, not 2D boards. No problem, zoom in to see cards in a list-like mode:

Switch zoom level to see cards in a list view

Can you imagine doing this in Trello?

Functionality

Now it is time to talk about functionality. Maybe, the most important reason to switch from Trello can be this:

Trello development board

This board shows top ideas from Trello users. As you see, most of the ideas already implemented in Targetprocess. Let’s explore them in some details.

Time Tracking

It is not always good or required to track time, but often you have to. Targetprocess provides a Timesheet functionality. You can track time, generate reports and extract time information via REST API to integrate Targetprocess with external systems like billing or invoicing.

(Un)limited Tags

Trello has just 6 labels for every board. In many cases this is just enough. Not always though.

Labels in Trello

Targetprocess doesn’t limit you in any way. You can have as many tags as you want. Moreover, you can filter by tags and create boards with tags swimlanes (rows).

Bugs in Targetprocess

Checklists vs. Tasks

In Trello you have checklists. It is a very fast way to split work. However, it is not possible to assign people and set due dates for the items in checklists.

Checklist in Trello

In Targetprocess you can split every user story to tasks and assign people freely. Tasks have custom fields, so you can specify anything you want in fact:

Tasks list in Targetprocess

Dependencies between cards

Dependencies between cards should be avoided. Still there are situations when it is not possible. In Trello you can do nothing with that. In Targetprocess there is a really powerful dependency management with many bells and whistles.

You can quickly add dependencies and see them on a card details view. There can be inbound and outbound relations or even blockers. You can see them all.

Add many dependencies fast

Of course, you can see open dependencies on a board. I mean on every card. Here is the same entity, and you see that it has just one open inbound dependency:

See dependencies on cards

Moreover, you can create a very nice chart to see dependencies between many cards. Again, I highlighted the same card and you see two incoming dependencies:

Relation Network is a beautiful way to see dependencies and blockers

Cards sorting

In Trello you can’t sort cards, they are always sorted by priority. In Targetprocess you can sort by any field.

Sorting and filtering

Boards and Cards

Now we will talk about fundamental difference between Trello and Targetprocess. In Trello card lives on a single Board. You can’t see the same card on other boards. While it is simple, it restricts you to see data in different ways.

In Targetprocess card does not belong to board solely. A card is just an entity that can be visible on various boards in various ways. It opens cool possibilities.

Fundamental difference between Trello boards and Targetprocess boards

You can slice data and see it the way you need.

Let’s take a bug. You can have a simple board to track bugs by status and move them from open to done. But at the same time you want to see bugs by projects and bugs by tags. Or maybe you want to see bugs by assigned people to quickly reassign them and see who is overloaded with bugs.

It gives you an astonishing flexibility to visualize entities the way you want. But it also adds complexity and tool is harder to understand.

With boards you can extract, present and group data using vertical and horizontal lanes (Columns and Rows)

Timelines

Often you want to know how much time something takes. In Trello it is close to impossible. In Targetprocess you can see any board as a Timeline. For example, here you see how many days Dmitry is working on a user story and a bug (quite many in fact):

Sense of time in Targetprocess

Here we just reviewed top requests from Trello development board. Targetprocess provides even more benefits.

Wrap Up

Trello is a simple tool that works great for simple tasks.

Targetprocess is a complex tool that helps you see things better and make smarter decisions.

If you are curious, go and try Targetprocess.

Written by

 

Starbucks has nothing to do with coffee


{an unexpected lesson from a young man in New York City}

The stress on the New York City streets is nearly tangible. Men in business suits with their neckties blowing in the wind are scurrying like cockroaches from the light while women are running in high heels and pencil skirts, sure to be just on time for their next meeting. Horns are blowing and cabs are being hailed at a rate that seems to defy the laws of physics.

Amidst it all, a young man of maybe 19 years works slowly and methodically. His purpose and his focus seems different than the rest. His intentions are different whether he knows it or not.

If you’re starting or already running a business, you probably feel most days like the ladies running from one place to the next trying to ensure that they are always on time. Our misplaced loyalty and fear of ruining our reputations allows us to overcommit and deliver on the things that don’t really matter. And that’s life. We scurry from one task to the next, from one day to the next, from one month to the next, all while missing the point. Or worse yet, not even thinking of what the point is.

This whole scene played out as I was standing inside Starbucks on 7th Avenue waiting for my morning coffee. I was watching as this young man meticulously placed every single water bottle with the label out in a perfectly designed row in the cooler. He was the reason we were all here.

There were 50 people packed into a noisy room the size of a small cubicle to get coffee at 7:30AM and it had nothing to do with the coffee we were about to drink. I had two cups of coffee earlier this week that were better than Starbucks.

All of those people were there for the same reason that I was. We didn’t want the coffee. We wanted the experience.

“When people buy your product, what they really want is an experience.”

The stock boy, making those precise rows of mundane water bottles, unknowingly added to the experience. The entire cooler was an experience. From the perfectly aligned beverages to the colorful sandwiches to the soft lighting, every inch of the store was an experience. The smells, the tastes, the music playing in the background, the seating, the location of the machines so that you could watch the baristas every move… it was all designed for the experience, not the coffee.

I encourage you to take a look at your business and decide, “Am I providing my customers with a product/service or am I providing them with an experience?”

What can you do to create an experience or better the one you already have?

What other companies are great at providing an experience for their customers?

Don’t sell me coffee. I can get that anywhere. Instead, sell me what I really want.


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Written by

Software nerd with a love for helping people. I’m working on creating life as a user experience so we don’t get lost in the online abyss. www.JoshuaLayhue.com