Wasting Your Greatest Opportunity

September 14, 2009

I can’t help but notice how many people are wasting one of the greatest opportunities of their life. Most people in university come from middle class families. Some are better off and others are worse, but that is the average. This makes me wonder why so many people take on such dead end jobs while they are in school.

Right now you have huge saftey net (your parents), little responsibility, and a ton of time. These three things combined mean you can try anything and risk it all for an idea, a project, a job. At the end of the day if things fail, even if they fail horribly you will pretty much end up in the same place as you started. Your crappy job will always be there for you to fall back on, so stop wasting time and go do something worthwhile.

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Organizing Your iPhone

August 23, 2009

iPhone

I have 56 apps on my phone and the number is ever growing. Without a method of organizing them, my springboard would be a mesh of icons that I would have to scan through every time I needed something. To use my phone effectively my apps need to be organized in a common sense way, it must be intuitive, and provide fast access. The iPhone doesn’t have folders so a hierarchal structure won’t work, instead we must use individual pages in a similar way (the downside is that one cannot jump to a specific page but must go through all of them). Lets go through this page by page.

Dock / Main Page

It goes with out saying that the main dock (at the bottom of the screen) should house your most used apps. I wish there was away to track app usage so you could see actuall usefulness versus perceived usefulness, by there isn’t so just guess.

photo 2 (2)

The next level up is the main page. This is is the only page that you can jump to (by pressing the home button) so all your main apps go here. Forget about categories or anything else, if you use it a lot, put it there. Some basic rules to go by are (note these haven’t been tested, but just things I’ve notice while using the phone):

  • The more apps you have on a page the longer it will take you to click the one you want (I try to keep at least three or four empty slots)
  • Apps along the edges take less time to spot so put the more important ones there

    Pages by Category

    photo 4After the first page I have a series of category pages: Tools, Reference, and Games. This allows me to quickly and intuitively know where I can find the app I need. Example: need a conversion app, it’s in the reference section. I do not need to glance through all the pages, I can quickly skip through them to the one I need.

    A good idea is to group similar apps together within the categories themselves. For example you can see that on the tools page I have all my extra camera apps in the first line and two fitness apps together in the second line. The idea behind this is similar to categories, you learn what section to look at so that you don’t have to scan the whole page.

    The Graveyard

    The final page is the graveyard, it has apps that I almost never use as well as apps that I don’t need but Apple wont let me delete. Some of these include Contact, Weather, Stocks, iTunes etc. as well as Settings and the App Store.

    Conclusion

    In the end regardless of how you choose to organize your apps do an initial sweep and keep it. More that you realize, you learn the places of various apps. Even moving an app one spot over, will have you unconsciously tapping it’s old location which is quite annoying. Happy organizing!

    Some Books 2/2

    August 15, 2009

    Books

    So you see how there are two photos above? And how on the right there a three books photographed on my desk and the one in the left photo is on it’s own? That’s what happens when someone moves your things in a hostel while you are sleeping and you don’t check the whole room before you leave because it’s 6am and you are rushing to the train station. Douche.

    Smile When You’re Lying” by Chuck Thompson shows what can be described as the unpleasant side of travel. Not having been able to read the whole book I cannot vouch for it’s overall awesomeness. But if you pick it up I guarantee you wont be disappointed by the first half, I will certainly be buying it again to finish reading it. The problem with Europe, at least book wise, is that most countries don’t speak English and by association don’t read in it either.

    This makes tracking down a good book in English, to replace the one you bought in England and forgot in Amsterdam, a challenging task. After visiting what seemed like a dozen bookstore, whose English sections were comprised of copies of Lipstick Jungle and Twilight, I had begun to accept a book-less future. One rainy evening in Berlin, while searching for what would turn out to be an amazing Thai restaurant, I walked down a staircase and into heaven. A bookstore with half of it devoted to this wonderful language called English. Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Bryson all waiting for a new home. That is how “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck ended up spending the final weeks of my journey by my side.

    “East of Eden” revolves around love and the wide range of characters show the emotion from all angles. Like other Steinbeck books “East of Eden” is full of twists and turn, sometime ending well, but mostly resulting in tragedy. If you want a tale of adventure and a character study, this is it.

    “It doesn’t matter that Cathy was what I have called a monster. Perhaps we can’t understand Cathy, but on the other hand we are capable of many things in all directions, of great virtues and great sins. And who in his mind has not probed the black water?”

    John Steinbeck

    BlogTO Maps

    August 13, 2009

    BlogTo Maps

    I was in Queen West yesterday and saw one of these BlogTO Maps in Tealish, and about ten other stores. So what you say? Glad you asked, I’ve got a few of my photos in there, that’s what! The maps are in awesome stores all over the city and even feature a few discounts as well as a bunch of cool places to check out in the area. If you are able to grab the West one look for my photos of Jezebel, The Red Light, Sweaty Betty’s, and Thieves Boutique.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Cheerios,

    Eugen.

    Some Books 1/2

    August 11, 2009

    Books

    About a year ago whilst traveling in Ukraine I read a little book called “The Favourite Game” by Leonard Cohen, I haven’t stopped since. To say I didn’t read before would be a gross understatement, I spent time with the occasional novel, and satisfied my curiosities in non-fiction. However, ever since those few weeks in Ukraine I have always had a book by my side, usually more. I set out to Europe with two books in my backpack Vegabonding” by Rold Potts and “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D. Salinger.

    I flew through Vegabonding” while on the plane (only a little bit of a pun intended). The subtitle of the book is : An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, and that is exactly what it is. It takes you through preparing for your trip, what to do once you start traveling, and even how to deal with life back home once your trip is over. There are tons of little tips in each section and collections of books and website to help and inspire you. All of this is delivered with a slight bit of humor woven in, for example;

    “In Israel, I did away with transport altogether and walked across Galilee, Jesus-style.”

    – Rolf Potts, Vegabonding

    The only problem was that I didn’t read “Vegabonding” before my trip, I’ll be sure to correct that when going on my next adventure.

    “The Catcher in the Rye” was something I had wanted to read for a long time and totally caught me off guard when I actually did. The book revolves around what most would now call teenage-angst. I wont to go into further detail as I think part of the books success is it’s uniqueness, but I will definitely be reading this again. Here is a taste;

    “That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you half fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.”

    – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

    In the interest of keeping things a reasonable length I’ll be writing about the other two books tomorrow.

    Cheers!

    On Trains

    June 30, 2009

    Train© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

    I’m convinced trains are the greatest form of transportations. You get on and your good to go. You can read, sleep, listen to music, write, do almost anything really and all you need to worry about is getting off. There are also the large windows and the varying landscapes passing you by. It’s not only a great way to see a country, but also relaxing and conducive to thought. The only trouble with trains is, getting to them.

    When my plane landed in Paris I had absolutely no clue about where to go. All I knew was that I had a ticket for a train that left in an hour, a train that was nowhere insight. It was about six in the morning and the airport was mostly empty. It’s a gorgeous airport by the way, Paris CDG, even as we were taxiing it looked great through my percentile of a window. It’s modern, in a clean minimalist way, and uses a lot of glass, concrete, and wood, and is slightly under lit. It reminded me a bit of the AGO. I found an information booth and perhaps the most bored employee I have ever seen.

    Asking for directions in English, in a foreign country, is always at least a little awkward. You don’t want to sound as if you assume the other person speaks English, when in fact you are assuming that they speak English. The result is that you start off speaking slowly in a slightly hesitant manner, anxiously looking for a sign of understanding. If such a sign presents itself, you go into regular speaking mode, using sign language to fill in the blanks. So in this manner I asked for directions to the train station and received a yawn in response. Then a puzzled look came over the woman’s face as I handed her my confirmation printout, pointing at the train portion of it. In the end the directions I received were “turn right and walk for five minutes”. A fifteen minute walk and I was at the train station.

    After talking with three different people and waiting in three lines, I had my train ticket. Here is where I learned lesson number two, arriving early for trains is pointless. Unlike flights, trains, along with their track number (or letter), are only displayed a few minutes before departure. For those of us inexperienced with train travel this results in wandering the station, looking for a train that will be displayed long after your patience runs out. Knowing this, I ordered a coffee, and waited for my train to arrive.

    On Planes

    June 29, 2009

    Light Plane© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

    Tomorrow I leave for London. I write this in a sea of possessions that my girlfriend and I are earnestly attempting to fit into out backpacks. I’ve spent about a week in France now. Half of that time was in the small southern town of Saint-Etienne, the other half was in Nice on the French Riviera, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The truth is I’ve never flown alone before, so lets start there.

    I picked my plane seat when I booked my ticket, I wanted the window seat, that’s what I choose. Turns out when you sit in the first row after an emergency door you get a whole lot of plastic wall and about one-tenth of a window. That’s the first lesson I learned, you don’t choose the window seat, the window seat chooses you. I was glad to have nice people sitting next to me, a girl starting university and her mother.

    They were headed for Romania and spent half the flight flipping through celebrity-tabloids deciding who was ugly and who was alright. We did end up talking quite a bit and even teamed up for a Sudoku puzzle. Who new the hours I spent doing Sudokus while working at a market research agency would be a useful social skill. The cool thing about flying Air France, they give you menus come meal time.

    You only have two choices for the main course, but that’s twice as many as any other flight I’ve ever been on and thus a plus in my book. I ordered green-curry chicken, it was pretty great. I also had a Heineken which is extra tasty and refreshing thousands of feet in the air. The other great thing about this flight was that I got to see both sunrise and sunset, that pretty much sums it up.

    This seems like a good place to stop, plus I have to go make some lunch.

    Cheerios.

    I’m Off

    June 18, 2009

    Niagara© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

    During the past year a lot has happened, I’ve met my wonderful girlfriend, have found a great job, have reunited with some old friends, and worked on inspiring projects. I enjoy this momentum. That is not to say that there haven’t been downs as wells as ups, however I like a good balance. Going forward, this upcoming year is already shaping up to one-up the previous. I’ll be moving downtown in September, working on my thesis project at school, finishing university, and working at a great job. All that however, is months away so I won’t bore you with the details. Today I’m jumping on a plane and flying across the ocean to France.

    For the next six weeks I will be traveling thoroughout Europe, visiting nine countries and 11 great cities. This, many have said, will be the adventure of a lifetime, though I have promised myself it wouldn’t be both the first and last trip of its type. The backpack is full, the camera is eager take it all in, and a blank notebook is ready for whatever I throw down on its pages. Goodbye iPhone, Google Reader, Twitter, goodbye commitments, appointments, invoices, hello world.

    I’m off.

    Direction and Purpose

    June 4, 2009

    Notebook

     

    I started this blog ten months ago, with two goals in mind. It’s purpose was to be  a place for me to “explore ideas and write critically about them” as well as to share things with others. Reflecting on this, I can say that I haven’t really explored anything at all, yet I have shared quite a few things that I found interesting. Going forward I want to shift the direction and purpose of Undead Pixel.

    To start, I want to make this blog a lot more personal. I’m not talking about detailing the day-to-day happenings of my life, what I mean is writing for myself. I want to focus on the idea exploration aspect and ultimately use this blog as a way to improve my writing.  I will no longer try to recruit readers, be it via Twitter, my personal site, or other avenues. If you read this please comment and let me know what you think of the things I write. Since this is an experiment, critical comments are gold.

    Welcome to phase two of Undead Pixel.

    Gung Fu Tea Ceremony

    May 29, 2009

    TeaCeremony (2 of 3)© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

    Last weekend my family and I enjoyed a Gung Fu Tea Ceremony for the first time.  Gung Fu is a type of Chinese tea ceremony used for tasting Oolong teas. I highly recommend you try this if you have get a chance, there are a lot tools required  so you will probably have to seek out a tea house or someone with their own set. If you would like to learn more about the details of the ceremony itself then check out the Seven Cups video podcast going through the entire process.

    Here are a couple more photos from the ceremony:

    TeaCeremony (1 of 3)Here you can see the various components required.

     

    TeaCeremony (3 of 3)The shorter cup is the actual “Tea Cup”, while the tall cup is the “Aroma Cup”.