Example of a nagging app

Only yesterday I blogged about apps and their tricks to grab our precious attention by making us  install them on our phones in the pretense of helping us.

This morning I wanted to check the menu of a local cafe. I googled and clicked on one of the search results. It’s a Zomato link that looked like what I wanted:

I click on it and get this:

When I click on SEE MENU link, I get this:

If I think a bit about this…

What I wanted to do: check the cafe menu.

What Zomato wanted me to: install their app.

If Zomato’s aim is to help me, it will get out of my way and provide the info I need as soon as possible without any friction. But it seems Zomato’s aim is to make me install their app and advance its interests.

These are exactly the kind of apps and services I should avoid.

WiFi and VPN

I usually don’t offer free advice. But I will make an exception this time for the greater good.

Don’t connect your phone and computer to public WiFi networks without VPN.

Install VPN software in your computer and phone and turn that on every time you are about to hook on to public WiFi.

But how? Ask Google. There are many free VPN services for Windows and Mac; iPhone and Android.

Using any VPN software is magnitude better than using none to protect your privacy and security. You don’t need to be a celebrity to get snooped or hacked.

 

Hide media in tweets

Twitter embeds are cool, just like everything else on WordPress.com. You just paste the link to a tweet and the editor auto-magically embeds the twitter card.

While this is great, WordPress.com does a bit more that I don’t like: it also includes the images in the tweet. I don’t like it because the image increases the size of the twitter card.

When I published my previous post, I wanted to just post the tweet without media.

What I wanted is this:

What I got by default is this:

I wanted a way to hide images in the tweets. But I wasn’t sure if that is possible. So I scouted the Twitter Embeds support guide and found hide_media=’true’ option which hides the media item from the linked site.This is exactly what I am after. Besides its description, this option also hides the media in the tweet like an embedded image.

Here is the shortcode that got me what I wanted:

[tweet https://twitter.com/WPDiscover/status/697842590951931904 hide_media='true']

This isn’t as slick as just pasting the link to the tweet, but with a bit of editing, I get a clean result.

Three ideas I learned from Derek Sivers

I learned three great ideas from Derek Sivers over the last couple of months. I am very grateful to Derek for the following ideas.

  1. Hell yeah or no.
  2. /now page.
  3. Mastering self and helping others.

Hell yeah or no

I came across Derek’s “Hell yeah or no” idea via Leo Babauta’s tweet.

I instantly liked it and started saying no to anything that is less than hell yeah. It has helped me focus on my priorities and say no to everything else.

/now page

Being part of Derek’s /now page movement and writing my /now page has helped me think what is important to me and write how I am spending my time. I read my /now page regularly to make sure I am spending my time on my priorities.

Mastering self and helping others

Derek recently shared this idea in this second episode of The Tim Ferriss Show. I strongly recommend you listen to it. I enjoyed the two-hour long first episode as well but if you have only little time, just listen to the second.

He shared this idea at 28:03 of the second follow-up episode when someone asked him how does he define success.

I am amazed by how most of the things I do – which you will find on my /now page – perfectly aligns to this philosophy.

Exercising, doing push ups, running are to master my body and be in shape. Meditating, playing Elevate, and eating healthy helps me master my mind.

I am here first to help and take care of my family. Thankfully they don’t take much of my time or help but I don’t think twice to drop everything else if they ever need me that much. Then, my day job and Chaitanya 3.0 project are too about helping people, learning new things, and solving others problems.

Thanks a lot Derek. Your ideas are  some of the best I learned in 2015. I am super excited to continue living them in 2016 and be more useful to others.

Mindful November

At the end of October I finished reading this book titled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. So during this month, I hoped to practice some of the things I learned from this book. Hence Mindful November.

I liked the idea of conserving mental energy that’s otherwise wasted on small stuff so we can use it for the things that really matter. The central theme of this book is to help keep the little things from taking over our lives.

I picked twelve things to practice during November. These rules sound like truisms, but as with all truisms, the challenge is in practicing. I failed miserably multiple times when situations have arisen. Lately some of my ducks are getting out of row (if they aren’t, they are not ducks, are they?). I would have saved a lot of mental energy had I applied some of these rules. But alas, such is life!

It is not all bad though. I did well in some of them. For example, I am not an aggressive driver but I am neither sagacious. I received a rather expensive speeding ticket in mail during the Bay of Islands road trip last month. Much earlier to this, since the start of the last year I decided not to honk at anyone on the road, regardless. Who knows what the other driver is going through. Everyone does mistakes sometime. So there is no point in getting zealous with horn as if I am saintly.

However, I was only not honking. I am still disturbed within when I see bad or dangerous driving. This morning someone cut in front of me in the traffic. But this time, instead of feeling angry, I recalled the following from lines from the book and instantly felt better.

Why not simply allow the driver to have his accident somewhere else? Try to have compassion for the person and remember how painful it is to be in such an enormous hurry. This way we can maintain our own sense of well-being and avoid taking other people’s problems personally.

And from the essay 57,

…you end up saving no time in getting where you want to go.

Nevertheless, I am an optimist and believe in practice. So I will get going.

Here are the twelve things I will continue to practice.

Let others finish.
Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences.

Let others be right.

Let others have the glory.

Let others be more enlightened.
Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.

Choose being kind over being right or being intelligent.

Praise and blame are all the same.

Become a less aggressive driver.

Think of what you have instead of what you want.

Look beyond behavior.

If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it.

When trying to be helpful, focus on little things.

Mind your own business.
Avoid analyzing or trying to figure out other people.

/now page

I am now part of the /now page movement started by Derek Sivers. I created a What I’m Doing Now page on this blog.

I felt this is a brilliant idea because it made me pause, think about what is important to me and write how I am spending my time.

Here is Derek’s Now page. Here is the list of sites with /now pages.

I bumped in to Derek when Leo tweeted:

I then found and liked Derek’s No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no post and started following him in twitter.

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.

Not giving a fuck

Tim Ferriss tweeted and I retweeted this great post titled, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

It has so many f-words in it but it is a great post I read today and I am glad I read it. So please don’t get offended or distracted by the overdose of f-words and try to understand the point it is making.

If I have to remember only one thing from this post, it is this:

Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.