Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unread, Unfriend, Unplug.

One thing I started appreciating after becoming a dad is the value of time.

Like many dads, being the best possible hands on dad is non-negotiable to me. You don’t need a lot of money to be a good parent but you certainly need a lot of time and patience, things money can’t buy. However, this is not the only challenge I have.

I am three decades into my life and still haven’t figured what do I want to do with it. Thankfully I haven’t given up and I refuse to settle. This means besides trying to be a good dad, I also need time to find my life’s purpose. While I do this, I need to make a living, exercise, learn to write well, run errands, form and keep up habit streaks; all while getting eight hours of sleep.

All these things put unprecedented pressure on my time. So earlier last year I audited how much free time I have and how am I spending it. That’s when I realized a relieving fact that I can still put time on the things I want to do and be there for my son.

These are some things I do to free up significant chunks of time.

Unsubscribe to most of the RSS feeds. Google helped me a bit with this by killing the Reader. Now I only read less than a third of my original feeds.

Unfollow most of the tech celebrities, tech blogs, tech journalists and everybody who spam. As a result, I brought down my twitter following count from few hundreds to under 50. This saves a lot of time I am otherwise spending to scroll through twitter timeline. Now I follow only a few interesting people.

Unfriend with Facebook friends with whom I am not in touch for years. It may sound weird but with how many of your 500+ Facebook friends did you attempt to make a genuine connection? How many of them share their genuine thoughts on their feed? Most of them don’t. So I unfriended with all but 30 people on Facebook so I don’t have to deal with their Farmville requests and passive shares.

Unread news. I only spend less than 15 minutes to scroll through headlines of two newspaper sites. The one I grew up reading and the other, to get in touch with current affairs of the country and city I live. I only occasionally read through the main content. Most of it, most of the times is useless anyway.

Unplugging is challenging. Especially when technology is your passion and you have a handful of gadgets around. I would be lying if I say I can unplug when I wish. But I am making slow progress. Disabling notifications in the iPhone is one thing that helped me with this.

Few years ago I always looked forward for the next Apple event and used to waste lot of time reading speculations in technology blogs about what Apple is going to release. Now I did not even know when was the last Apple event and what was it about.

There is always enough time for anything, but not for everything.

2014 in the hindsight

2014 has been a great year for me with few exceptions.

I did not have any grand resolutions to start with. I instead chose to intensify the tiny habits method I stumbled upon in 2013. As a self-reminder, I forked some markup on Codecademy and created a three point manifesto for myself. I think I lived it very well.

Remembering Infosys

Ten years ago on this day I received one of the most anticipated emails of my life: the job offer letter from my first employer, Infosys [NASDAQ:INFY].

I was waiting for the outcome of the interview and I knew they’d email me the outcome. I was very keen so I could not wait more for their email. But I had no way to instantly know if I received any email.

At that time the internet was not prevalent and was only available at cybercafes. Yahoo was cool. So I was using Yahoo Mail. My mobile phone was a Motorola Talkabout I loaned from my uncle. It has no silicon that could hook it up to data networks. Mobile notifications were literally unheard of.

But thankfully Yahoo used to offer a service called  Yahoo SMS Alerts. Yahoo will send an SMS with the subject of the email to the registered mobile number whenever a new email arrives in the inbox. So in 2004, on this same day, I received a text that conveyed the good news.

I became an Infoscion (scion of Infosys family) and remained so for little over 6 years. This experience changed me in few interesting ways. Because Infosys is not like any other company in its class. I say this not just because I worked there or people are world class or campuses are magnificent. I can never forget my training experience at the then unfinished Infosys Mysore GEC. [Yes, what’s seen in this video is the training facility of an IT services company].

Visions diverge and things change so I eventually moved on. Now I am an Exfoscion (ex-Infoscion)  and a minority investor. I miss a few things but if I have to pick one single thing I miss about Infosys, it would be the InfyBLOGS, a LiveJournal based internal blogging platform. I will write more about this later.

Unfortunately, once the darling of the Dalal Street is now going through the challenging times but I am confident that Infosys will reclaim its leadership under the guidance of Dr. Vishal Sikka.

Microsoft Mouse II

Microsoft Mouse I.jpgMicrosoft Mouse II

My first wireless mouse – which I bought together with my first laptop in the September of 2006 – has finally died after working relentlessly for more than 7 years. It seems its circuitry finally gave up. I could not be more impressed by its mileage.

So on the weekend I picked up a new Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 1000.

It’s interesting to see the side by side view of both mice that were bought nearly 8 years apart,  from different parts of the globe.  The first one cost  ~ INR 1200 in 2006 September and the second one, 135 stale Fly Buys.

Both mice have the same form factor but the current USB dongle is dramatically downsized.  Although I wish the dongle could be tucked into the mouse, just like the earlier one. I was just closing the computer and had a second look at the mouse to find the slot next to the battery that takes in the USB dongle. Silly me!

Microsoft included a Duracell battery to power up this mouse out of the box, which I totally unexpected.

Meeting Matt Mullenweg

Today is one of the most important days in my life because today Matt Mullenweg happens to be in the town on his last day of Asia , Australia and New Zealand speaking tour. So I got a chance to hear Matt speaking live and shake hands with him. It is cool because Matt is one of my role models.

I have been following and listening to Matt ever since I came across WordPress few years ago. As always, he is thoughtful, witty and down to earth.

It is probably redundant to detail what Matt shared this evening at a free public lecture at Raye Freedman Arts Centre here in Auckland. So I instead point to some blog posts – furleydigitalthreadnz and dialogcrm – that did a great job of detailing Matt’s talk.

There’s cool WordPress swag, shades, Moleskine notebooks and a free copy of The Year Without Pants ebook given away at this event. The twitter hashtag is #wpakl for his talk.

It turned out that I am the only guy who brought the camera to the talk so I clicked as many photos as I could. I wish the photos were of better quality but unfortunately this is not something I can go back and correct.

Also, Matt gave a great interview in Auckland to Josh Janssen as part of Josh Speaking audio show. Josh Speaking with Matt Mullenweg is a great listen.

I treat this amazing experience as a present for my 31st birthday, although the present arrived a day later.


Strawberry Picking

This summer we hoped to visit strawberry farms around the city to experience PYO ( pick-your-own). Although we don’t particularly like eating strawberries, we figured it would be a good outing doing something fun with our little one.  So I searched for any farms that are offering PYO around the city. Google suggested a couple of farms, one of which is very close to the city which is why I deliberately avoided it. So we choose another farm located a bit farther west named Phil Greig Strawberry Gardens.

This garden is right on the state highway 16 en route to Kumeu. It is very easy to identify the place with big enticing hoardings advertising PYO, ice cream, smoothies and coffee. There is a plenty of parking available. Entry costs $7.5 upfront per adult which includes the first KG of picking. Children under 12 go for free. We are allowed to eat the fruit while picking. Any picking that weighs more than a kilo should be paid for at the rate of $7.5 per kilo.

After paying the entry fee, they give a bucket wrapped from inside  with a polythene cover to collect the picked berries. The farm is quite big with so many rows of plant beds so it has plenty of space for everyone. There are good number of fellow pickers mostly mums and dads with their children, spread across the farm. Thanks to today’s temperate weather.

While entering I was a bit skeptical about finding the berries as I learned that they allow PYO  only after the major crop has been harvested. However I became excited after finding the first couple of berries. The pathway between the plant beds is very narrow so had to walk a bit carefully. The berries are mostly concealed under the leaves. There are berries of all sizes including some unripened green ones and flowers. The small red berries are really sweet.  In fact, I don’t particularly get excited about eating strawberries but those tiny ones made me rethink. After about an hour and covering many rows of plant beds, we collected almost 2 kilos of fruit so we didn’t need to pay anything extra.

While leaving we stopped by the enclosed ice cream shop . All the ice cream is strawberry flavoured. Though I could not eat due to my participation in The Quantified Diet Project, my wife and son had it. Apparently the ice cream is good but not good enough to break my streak. So I saved my ice cream for later.

So that’s our first time picking experience. It is so much fun to pluck the fresh and live fruit off the plants. Most importantly our little one enjoyed a lot pointing the berries and asking us to pick. The aroma of farm fresh strawberries is awesome. We definitely look forward to do this next summer.

Samanyu with berry. sam1farm