Quiet.

One of the things I like about walking in the morning before work is the relative quiet of the neighborhood. This morning the birds are singing, there’s a woodpecker earnestly working nearby, and traffic noise is at a minimum off the main streets.

A great way to start the day. Bliss.

Spring!

It was 62ºF this afternoon here in Chicago and I had to get outside and go for a walk to celebrate the arrival of spring. Granted, spring has been here for a few days but today is the first day it really felt like spring to me. Of course, the temperature has already fallen 13ºF and the weather this coming weekend is supposed to hover around 40ºF.

But signs of spring make me happy.

Every year around Halloween I make a concerted effort and promise to myself that I won’t let the winter doldrums take over. I won’t feel the SADs. And every year I lose at this battle because my body just can’t handle relentless winters and around the beginning of March I feel depressed even though I’m struggling really hard against feeling that way. I try therapy lights, I smile to myself, I think happy thoughts, I take Vitamin D, I do everything I can but move to the Equator to escape the winter blahs. I’ll be trying again when winter starts to show its face late this coming year, but for now, it’s all about spring.

Let the sunshine in!

Anything Is Possible.

When I read about the stupid and completely idiotic things the Trump Administration is trying to do, I remember this sign on an elementary school in our neighborhood.

Creativity.

So I started this blog entry, writing about today’s Apple keynote event at the Steve Jobs Theatre at Apple Headquarters (“the Spaceship”). I was going to list each of the services Apple announced today and my associated thoughts. It was all to be positive, because I really enjoyed the keynote today.

But I couldn’t bring myself to sound like a tech pundit, because that’s not what I am. I’m one of the Crazy Ones. My LinkedIn Profile starts with two words: “What box?”. I don’t think outside of the box, I can’t even find a box. I don’t see the big picture because I’m not looking in the same direction and I’m probably not even in the same room. It’s amazing that I have worked for several Fortune 500 companies during my career because I really subscribe to the whole “Think Different” philosophy. And this is something I’m proud of.

What struck me about the Apple keynote today was the genuine feeling of passion. The artists, the creative ones, even the ones presenting today, all seemed so very passionate about what Apple was showing the world today. A new way for a credit card to work. A new way to read your favorite magazine. New ways to find your favorite online games and new ways to find your TV shows, all on your own terms. Apple’s huge push of privacy is a welcomed change of pace in this ever growing economy where the user is the product, not the consumer. Apple doesn’t want your information, Apple doesn’t need your information, and Apple has no way of sharing your information. That is awesome. We need more of that in this digital age.

Am I going to sign up for an AppleCard? As a guy that uses ApplePay everywhere he can, you bet your sweet bippy I am. I’ve already asked the CTA when I’ll be able to add my Ventra (transit) card to my Apple Wallet. I’m already reading my favorite magazines in Apple News+ and I’m really looking forward to the original content Apple will bring to the world in Apple TV+. I was moved when I saw Tim Cook tear up when he hugged Oprah after her speech during the keynote today.

Such passion. In the speech, in the reaction, in the creativity.

We need more passion for creativity in the world. Be a Crazy One.

I’ve started editing videos on my iPad Pro today. Ten years ago I never thought I’d be using an iPad Pro to shoot, edit, and share video, but here we are. Technology isn’t only about spreadsheets and word documents and slides. It’s about what we want it to be about.

Let your creativity flow.

Vaccines Work.

“Madam Secretary” has a very interesting episode last night about the dangerous of not immunizing your children. If you haven’t seen the episode, please watch it for an understanding of what happens when you choose not to vaccinate.

I had a flu vaccine at the beginning of this last winter and I swore it was my last one, as I felt kind of “off” for a while after the flu shot. But the truth of the matter is, it probably saved me from catching a round of the full-blown flu while living here in the nation’s third largest city. I’ll definitely be getting a flu shot every year, and I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.

While I fully believe we don’t know everything about everything, I equally believe that science is the answer to what ails us, not supposition or superstition. Science is here to help, not to harm.

Vaccines work. Learn more at this UNICEF website.

Interruption.

One of the “runaway conditions” of trends in the latest technology is how we as users are so willing to allow ourselves to be interrupted with regularity, even expectation. Last week I was in an all-day video conference at work. There were eight participants and we are scattered all over the country. Part of the meeting included the a project leader sharing their screen for all to see, mainly so we could review various subjects via a Powerpoint presentation. I couldn’t help but notice the person sharing their screen had a notification pop up on their screen every time they received an email, and honestly, they receive a lot of email.

Personally, I could never get any work under those conditions. As a viewer and passive participant in the moment, I found the popups maddening. I couldn’t imagine working on a laptop configured that way.

Many folks in business live and die by their email. I’ve met my share of users that manage their business (and probably personal) lives via Inbox. They store everything in the Inbox and it’s usually overflowing with thousands of messages. They live in a reactionary paradigm, awaiting the next email to take action.

This got me to thinking about notifications in general. There’s quite a few people at work that think nothing of seeing “In A Meeting” or “Giving A Presentation” on my work Skype status and sending me a message that says, “I see you’re in a meeting, please ping me when you’re done”. When I’m leading a meeting you can usually tell this is happened because I start stumbling and losing my train of thought for a few moments and then I have to stammer a couple of times before resuming my train of thought. I have been in countless meetings where this has happened, and not only when I’m doing the presenting or speaking. We allow ourselves to be interrupted and we have software that encourages us to be interrupted. With Microsoft’s Skype for Business (our main chat platform at work), I’m either “Available”, “Busy”, or on “Do Not Disturb”. I can still be reached by Skype message with the first two settings, the second setting halts messages getting to me completely.

If I were to take this whole “I know you’re busy but please ping me when you’re done” thought process to the real world, it’d be like walking into a conference room with a bunch of suits around a conference table, donuts in the corner, and a presentation in process, and someone busting through the front door to say, “I know there’s a meeting in progress, but J.P. please come see me when you have a moment”. We’d never dream of doing that in real life, why would we do this in the electronic world?

We’ve had answering machines for decades, why haven’t we built an “answering machines” mechanism into our chat programs? Imagine a Skype setting where we could indicate “Please leave a message”. The user could then send us an IM as normal but it would be held in a queue until I either changed my status to something a bit more receptive or I decided to close Skype, in which I would get a notification that I had messages waiting in queue.

Some may counter, “well, that’s why we have email”, and this is perfectly valid point. However, as we move from overflowing email mailboxes to “instant messaging”, folks have an expectation to use Instant Messaging and to get a response instantly.

Sometimes I like to let them simmer.

This trend of active interruption isn’t limited to Skype or work. All of the social media platforms have built apps that will notify you as often and as quickly as possible. “Here’s a tweet you missed”! “Your friend has updated his Facebook status”! “Two people liked your Instagram photo”!

Twitter is notorious for this; the iOS app will indicate you have activity pending review by you only to say, “Your friends Gertrude and Finster have liked a photo posted by someone you don’t know” or “Trump sent a tweet!”

This is why any social media apps on my phone have all notifications turned off (and I have significantly reduced the number of social media apps on my phone to begin with). No little red highlighted number next to the icon, no popups, no toaster messages, nothing. I never know when someone waves at me without actually taking a few moments, on my own time, on my own turf, and logging into the site to see what’s happened since I did the same on my own time and own turf.

I own the way I am contacted, I don’t let others call the shots. This has done much to restore my sanity.

I’m currently working on a personal growth project this weekend cleaning the cruft out of all my social media avenues. How many folks do I follow on Instagram that post nothing but selfies? Do I really want to be “friends” on Facebook with someone that was recommended through an algorithm? Do I really know anything about them? On how many social networks do I need to follow this inspirational speaker? How many groups do I need to belong to?

It’s all about focus. Technology should not dilute our focus. It should help us focus. I’m still all for connecting with others but we should all do it on our own terms, not as dictated by corporations that are monetizing our data and trying to get us to engage with their platform as often as possible.

We need to take control of our technological use habits. And we don’t need a notification to tell us to make it happen.

Kennedy.

So Earl and I were on our way home from the airport. This involved a ride down “the Kennedy”, known to visitors as Interstate 90 though here in Chicago we call the expressways by their names, not their numbers. Unless they don’t have a name then we use their number. We have to say something.

Traffic was heavy and was slowing down. I always start slowing down a little early, a Kia Soul passed on the right and apparently didn’t realize traffic was slowing down, and tried veering rapidly at the last second but didn’t make it, he smacked a stopping VW Jetta and he smacked it hard.

The VW Jetta won.

The Kia Soul came to an immediate stop, the VW Jetta was pushed to the left and came to a stop. Earl and I stopped in the Jeep and got out to make sure everyone was OK. Earl called 911. Another motorist stopped as well and we agreed the Kia Soul couldn’t be moved (airbags had been deployed and the front end was a mess) but there didn’t seem to be a risk of fire. The Jetta was able to be moved and we moved it to the left side of the road to free up a lane or two on the expressway.

Both drivers were pretty shaken; a third motorist stopped and helped the guy in the Kia out and over to the right shoulder; we stayed with the young lady in the Jetta on the left shoulder. She was a little frantic as she had never been in an accident before and didn’t know what to do. We talked her through the basics: take photos of the vehicles, tell the police everything, get a police report, get insurance and driver information, etc. We stayed on the scene until the police and fire trucks arrived. One or two passerbys screamed at us for being there I guess but for the most part traffic moved pretty well. It was slow moving but it was moving.

Once the officials were there they asked us a couple of questions, thanked us for stopping at the scene and we were on our way. They even blocked traffic so we could get the Jeep off the shoulder and back on the roadway.

I don’t think I feel the need to walk on the Kennedy again. It must more suited for safe driving.

Unison.

It’s Friday! Get up and dance with me to Céline Dion’s “Unison”. I vividly remember dancing to this track back in the day on a solo trip to Montréal.