Monday 14 March 2016

How De-cluttering Will Clear Up Your House and Mind

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to finally clean up and declutter your house? Well, spring is almost here, so the time for getting rid of the unnecessary stuff and cleaning up your home is perfect.

Not only according to feng shui teachings, but according to a number of scientific researches performed – physical clutter can actually cause mental clutter and stress.  There was even a study which found that people tend to eat more in cluttered and messy kitchens, so now is the time to get rid of that extra stress and extra weight by cleaning up your home.

Before you start such a major project, it is always a good idea to do some planning first.  Think about the time management and make a list of the tasks you will be tackling.  Write down every single thing you think about cleaning out – from cleaning out your attic to cleaning out your bag of cosmetics or handbag.  Then choose the first top three priorities and highlight them.  When you are done with cleaning them out just stop.  Take a break and on the next day pick another three tasks from the list, and so on until there are no tasks left.

When you are decluttering, it is a good idea to make three piles, or designate areas or boxes (depending on the sizes of the items and space you are cleaning out), and mark one as “charity” or “to give away to a friend”, another as “for sale” and the other as “for the bin”.  Then start sorting the items one by one.

Remember to declutter your wardrobe or closet as well – you can get rid of some of the clothes and shoes which you are no longer fond of or don’t fit you, and make space for the new ones you are planning to buy for the upcoming season.  Spring is the perfect time to put away the massive winter coats and clothes, and makes space for those nice sandals and shorts you bought for the summer.  Use the same piling system for your clothes and shoes like with the other items, and choose which ones you could give to a friend or a charity, which you can sell and which you need to throw away right now.

If you find the decluttering too overwhelming, or if you need to clean out an entire house or other premise, then you can always call the professional movers and clean-out services who will help remove, load and transport your stuff either for donations, for recycling or dispose of it for you.  This though doesn’t relieve you from doing the picking out of things you might want to keep though.

So, get ready for some serious decision making, and for improving your organizational skills and start with the decluttering.  

You can’t imagine how well and relieved you will feel when you are finally done!

Thursday 18 February 2016

Politics 2.0 and the Thirst for Content

In an earlier entry in this journal I compared Barack Obama's site to Hillary Clinton's. When I wrote that article, Obama had not yet secured the nomination.

Now that he has, I am wondering if his landslide victory had anything to do with his campaign's approach to new (nontraditional) media. The campaign seems to have a firm understanding of Web 2.0 practices, and social networking tools. is just one aspect of a very well-oiled media machine, another perhaps equally important aspect, is the campaign's YouTube channel. There you can view anything from the candidate's appearances on talk shows, to fully unedited speeches, to the campaign's video team's behind the scenes look on the campaign trail. They have posted over 1000 videos, and they are getting tens of thousands of hits a day.

My generation spends more time on YouTube than on traditional media outlets, and it seems like this 24-hour soundbite news that television networks have been shoving down our throats for years, just doesn't interest us.

We grew up in the age of the soundbite, the age of the slogan, the age of 24-hour news coverage, and it's as if we are tired of it. We don't want soundbites, we want content. Clear, unedited, real content. Obama's campaign doesn't only understand that desire, they are supplying us with the kind of content we crave.

Last night I went to a very interesting talk with Arun Chaudhary, director of video field production for Barack Obama. The evening was hosted by frog design, and moderated by Ellen McGirt (who had just written an incredible article for Fast Company called "The Brand Called Obama"). The room was filled with about 80 people, mostly non-traditional media folks.

Chaudhary talked a bit about how the campaign's media team works, the type of people involved, and how easy it is for them to get content out really quickly, since Obama trusts their judgement and expertise.

How incredible...

In most "creative" work places where you have to deal with clients, there is so much management, legal, and red tape in place, getting something approved can take weeks, sometimes even months. So Barack Obama sounds like the ideal client if you ask me, and it shows in the quality of content that's coming out of that campaign.

Chaudhary came from a solid, academic film background. Before he became Obama's director of field production he was adjunct professor of film at NYU. I think a filmmaker's approach to news coverage is inherently different than anyone working in the traditional media news outlets, and it's quite interesting that Obama's campaign chose a filmmaker to take on that role.

As his role was beginning to take shape, and he was traveling back and forth from Chicago to Iowa covering the Iowa caucus, they were pumping out hundreds of videos in a matter of weeks. At first they were posting little clips from Obama's speeches or town hall meetings on YouTube, but pretty soon people were demanding more content. The Obama campaign was surprised at the amount of people that kept asking for the full video.

So they took their cue from social-networking and Web 2.0, and gave the people what they wanted.
Frog posted some fragments from the night here.

Design it to Last

What kind of car do you drive? How long have you had it? 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? When you bought it did you need it, did you want it, did you love it?

How about now, do you still love it? Or are you contemplating buying a newer model, with more bells and whistles, the new streamlined design, and that nifty looking updated dash with the neat iPod hook-up?

And how many tape-decks, cd players, iPods, computers, and cell-phones have you owned in your lifetime? 10, 15, 100? Have you bought a new gadget this past year? I have, so you will have too probably.

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault. Products are specifically designed to be replaceable. Even if we wanted to update our electronics, we’re not allowed. We’re meant to throw it away and fall in love with the latest version. It’s what keeps our current economy going. It’s also what’s polluting our environment, but we don’t care. We ship our waste to China anyway. Let them deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yes we all run after the latest fad and we all want new things. So let’s just accept it, and not rock the boat. It’s human nature after all.

Or is it? Well, not everyone seems to be running after the latest fad. Porsche owners certainly aren't, they are so in love with their cars they couldn’t even imagine getting rid of it.
60% of all Porsches ever made are still on the road…
Sixty Percent!!!!

That probably makes Porsche the most sustainable car in the world. However, when most people think of sustainable design, the last thing that comes to mind are gadgets, cars and electronics. Sustainable design tends to conger up images of granola, woolen socks and whiny neo-hippies. But that’s not what sustainability is about at all. It’s really about designing something to last, or to be updatable, or to be re-used. To use a catchy-term, it’s about “cradle-to-cradle” design (great book btw).

See Sam Clean - carpet & upholstery cleaning services in North West London.

I used to work in a place where they had transformed their colorful iMac to a very cool-looking aquarium, and a friend of mine has come up with awesome packaging that can be re-used in everyday life.

Anything really that is well designed, loved, timeless, and classic will not be discarded that quickly. It’s as simple as that.

And that might be the reason why 60% of all Porsches ever made are still on the road, and also why people have no problems throwing out their old ugly grey printers.

Spam vs. Love

The way the Internet is now able to send out targeted advertising is through some very basic things they know about the user. Cookies can be used to track browsing behavior, which can in term replace the ads you see in pop-ups. For example, if you have visited a certain website, let's say eBAy, that information is stored in your browser, and eBAy is now able to send out targeted advertising to your computer because they now think, that you are interested in their services, based on a past visit.
The reality is, that they really don't know that much about you at all, and it's not very effective. Some companies try to attain your PII (Personal Identifiable Information), but even that only gives them some basic demographics, like age, state of residence etc. So it's no wonder that junk-mail has gotten so extremely out of control. Their strategy is to just shoot a machine-gun of emails in as many directions as possible so that maybe, of the million emails they send out, they might hit one correct target, which of course, is not very effective.

The way I see it, is that I don't mind receiving advertising (even through email) at all, as long as it is something that I might potentially want. I happen to be very interested in things like back-pack traveling, art-shows, certain concerts, snowboarding etc. so if I receive any type of advertising that is related to this, I will take notice.

It is hard however for companies to send out targeted advertising, because they know absolutely nothing about you. People are suspicious of the Internet, and are extremely reluctant to give away any personal information on the web. Or are they? Web sites like and (which are web-sites geared to finding love on-line) actually get people to give away every little nuance of their personality with the promise that they will help them find love.

So, I went on and took their very extensive 20 page personality test, I wanted to see just exactly what they would ask me, and how accurate their final analysis of my personality would be.
Which started to make me wonder: can we match people with products and brands the same way they claim to be able to match personalities?

The interesting part is that as they are able to assess your personality (which in my case turned out to be pretty true), you are in fact not giving away any crucial information about yourself such as credit-card numbers, age or even names, just an email address. This would be extremely useful information that could effectively be used for marketing, provided that you ask the right questions, and assume that people will answer honestly.

The one problem though, is that answering a 20 page questionnaire is something not many people enjoy doing, and I actually felt like doing something else after about 10 pages of it. But people go through that effort all the time in order to find love.

But is the promise of getting rid of unwanted spam nearly as enticing?

Reds win finale vs. Stros/Edwin sent down

I was busy at work today but I knew it was a good day for the Reds due to the ammount of fireworks I could hear from my desk. The Reds avoided being swept by Houston with a 9-5 win today. The offensive stars were Ken Griffey Junior and Adam Dunn who both homered and Dunn even had a triple. Aaron Harang got his 5th win of the season by going 6 2/3 IP with 2 K's and gave up 5 ER. The Reds will now hit the road and face the Dodgers.

The other big news of today is the Reds have sent down 3B Edwin Encarnacion and brought up IF Jeff Keppinger. This is off the heels of a two error game by Edwin that resulted in 3 runs for Houston. I am a big Edwin fan, but this is the correct move. He has had many problems in the field and at the plate so far this year and its obvious he lacked confidence in himself. Edwin is still young and a hard worker so I think he will be ok and back to being one of the best young third basemen in the MLB.

The Hunt for a Red October 5/14

I didn't think things could get much worse than they were in last weeks Hunt for a Red October, unfortunately things are getting pretty bleak in Redsville. Last week the Reds dropped 3 of 4 to Houston and went to Los Angeles and were swept by the Dodgers. The Reds record now stands at 15-23 and are in the cellar of the central division 10.5 games back of the Brewers.

I think Reds fans have officially started the Homer Bailey watch. Many would have liked to seen Bailey brought up for Sunday's game at LA (to replace Eric Milton who is on the DL). The Reds however went with Bobby Livingston, who had an ok first start going 5 1/3 IP and gave up 4 ER but gave up 10 hits and 4 walks. I am not sure how soon we will see Bailey. Before the season I predicted mid to late July. However if the woes continue I have to believe we will see him up before the All Star Break.

Time to take a quick look at the good and bad of the past week.

  • Ken Griffey Junior. Junior remains on fire and has won NL Player of the Week honors. When healthy Jr usually produces unfortunately being healthy has been his big problem since coming home to Cincinnati. Hopefully he can stay healthy the rest of the year because he is fun to watch when he is playing like he is right now.
  • Bullpen. I don't really need to go into too much detail since its been the running theme of the season. The bullpen is struggling and continues to be the main reason for the Reds struggles. I really don't understand why Todd Coffey continues to see the mound.
Player of the Week
  • Ken Griffey Junior. This is the 2nd week in a row that Junior gets my nod for Player of the Week and as stated above he won the NL Player of the Week. Griffey has hit .405 with 4 homers and 10 RBI's in the last 10 games. Also here is another reason why Griffey gets my vote for Player of the week: In Saturday's game in LA, Junior gave a heckler a special gift. Nicely played Junior!
Upcoming WeekThe road trip for the Reds continues as first they travel to San Diego for a 3 game set then to intrastate rival Cleveland for a 3 game weekend series. Once again, I am not too optimistic about the upcoming games. I predict the Reds lose two of three to the Padres (I think they will win the Harang-Wells matchup. The finale with Arroyo and Peavy going at it should be a great pitchers duel but Peavy will get the win) and I think the Indians will sweep the Reds. If this happens it would mean the Reds will have gone 1-8 on the 9 game road trip and I have to believe that Castelini will do something and not just sit around while the Reds stink.

Final Four Game 2 Preview

*Note- this is a test blog from my cell phone

Game 2 tonight features North Carolina and Villanova. There should be some exciting guard play in this matchup. Ty Lawson has played great despite his toe injury. Scottie Reynolds has had an up and down career for the wildcats so a lot could depend on which Reynolds shows up.

My Pick: I have Carolina winning it all and am sticking with that pick. I was hesitant before the tournament to make that pick but now that Lawson is lighting it up I have a lot more confidence in the heels. Tyler Hansbrough will also be extra motivated to make up for last years loss vs. KU and he came back his senior year to win a title. UNC 86 Nova 73