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Day 194: The iPhone 5 – Thoughts?

Having followed the Guardians live coverage of the unveiling of the iPhone 5, I’m not quite sure what to think. There were certainly no shockingly exciting innovations or updates that were completely new to the press at least – from the design to the dock and from 4g down to the number of apps on screen, it had pretty much all been predicted.

So the questions today are:

- Is the iPhone 5 really as good as it could possibly be?

- Was I simply expecting to be surprised in a world that doesn’t really ‘do’ surprised anymore? With a company the size of Apple, can we expect things to stay under wraps until release?

- What is the deciding factor for you that either sells it to you or puts you off it?

One Year Blog Challenge, Uncategorized

Day 155: Lessons From A Messy Room

This morning, my bedroom was a disgrace. I’ve probably mentioned it in a previous post (I feel like I have), but it really was pretty foul. Today, I devoted a pretty substantial amount of time to cleaning it. Here are some observations from the day:

1. Things can get very messy if you aren’t disciplined.

My room has taken all day to tidy because I let it get messier and messier over a prolonged period of time. My washing basket was virtually unusable because it was filled with clothes I never wear anymore and so the clothes I do wear were just strewn across the floor. Add to that all the random documents, letters, loose change and various other miscellaneous objects and well, it had become a bit of a state. If I’d made a conscious effort to sort my washing basket out back when I first realised it was unusable, my room would already have been much tidier. If I’d chosen to spend five minutes every day tidying my room, the mess would never have developed to the disaster it was today. Simple solutions to one fundamental problem – ill-discipline.

In life and in leadership, a small problem can develop into a big one surprisingly quickly if it isn’t dealt with effectively. Decisions, emails, issues with coworkers, friends and families can build if we don’t have the discipline to stay on top of it all. I have a tendency to leave emails and reply to lots all in one go…which is fine, so long as I reply fairly regularly. Sometimes, time will pass and the small pile of emails will develop into a mountain and I choose to let some fall by the wayside, causing problems for some of the people around me. It’s my responsibility to be disciplined and respond to them before I begin to let people down and cause problems for people.

Do you have an issue with something of someone that is building because you are choosing not to ignore it? Maybe your in debt and the mess keeps building and it’s going to take a lot to tidy up. If discipline is a problem for you, why not seek some advice from someone that can help? Don’t struggle alone!

2. Removing clutter can help you find what you need

I was really pleased some notes from a theology-training year I took part in a few years ago. They were nestling under some useless documents…under my bed – I can’t tell you how much it blessed me to read them today. It wasn’t until I made the conscious decision to remove the clutter that I found what I really needed. Those of you that know me well will know how prone I am to temporarily losing either my wallet or keys (almost every week). I’d say that 90% of the time, I lose these pretty important items simply because I’ve covered them with some other thing that shouldn’t be there.

Sometimes, I think we let our worlds become cluttered with too many things that aren’t helpful to us. For me, it’s the video game ‘FIFA 12’ (I’ll be blogging on that game at some point, I’m sure), generally bad television and my iPhone. In fact, I’ve actually turned my phone off for the evening and will be turning my laptop off as soon as this blog post is complete in order to focus on a tech-free evening. For me, plane journeys are fantastic because during take-off and landing, I have no choice but to avoid technology. Almost every good idea I’ve had for Revolution in the last 6 months has come from a plane journey. It’s amazing what you can find when you remove the clutter from your life.

A fantastic prayer I heard not-so-long ago was not to ask God to give you anything; rather, to pray for him to take away things that aren’t from him. Is there any clutter you need to remove from your life in order to be as effective as possible?

3. Spiders in my room suck.

There’s no insight from that. They really do suck. I hate spiders! Especially in my bedroom. Urgh!

That’s all I have for you today, have a great evening – I’ll be tech free!

One Year Blog Challenge, Uncategorized

Day 73: Recharge

I’m addicted to my iPhone. I use it to listen to music, take photos, read emails and keep up with people around the world. I use it to tune my guitar when away from my pedal board, take notes, get directions, record videos, read books. I use it to beat my friend Beth at chess and I use it as an alarm in the mornings and sometimes…I even use it to call people. The bottom line?

I LIVE ON MY PHONE.

Anyone that knows me can validate that statement. I’m kind of ok with it. I could be better at pulling myself away from it, but it helps me do things with ease that just wouldn’t have been possible a few decades ago. The only problem with it? The battery.

My iPhone’s battery takes a beating every day and eventually, it crashes out and the screen turns black. Rarely does my phone avoid this during the day and as a result it takes a whole lot longer to charge in the evening.

I think we can sometimes run like my iPhone.

It’s so easy to fill our days to overflowing, extracting every last piece of energy that we have to do the things that we want to do. The problem is, when we really crash it takes an awfully long time to recharge. If I’m completely honest, I feel like I’m getting to a point where I’m taking longer and longer to recharge my batteries because I’m pushing myself all the way to the edge of shutting down. It’s not clever. I think I need to be a bit more efficient with the little energy I do have in order to make it last a little further. It’s much harder than it sounds.

One Year Blog Challenge, Uncategorized

Day 62: The Avengers

Five years is a long time. Five years ago, Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Apple unveiled the iPhone and Justin Beiber (with his mother’s permission, of course) uploaded his first videos onto YouTube. Five years ago I was on the verge of finishing my secondary school education. Five years ago I first heard out about the Avengers movie.

As an uber-geek with a chronic superhero addiction, the Avengers concept was something I couldn’t resist. A series of different movies depicting the characters I’ve loved growing up with (the unfortunate exclusion of Spider-man understood but noted), eventually combining into one to create one super-powered super-hero…err, super, experience. Approximately 22% of my life has passed with the knowledge that this historic cinematic event was approaching. Would it live up to my expectations?

Yes.

No fluff, no deliberation. I loved every second of it. It felt about as close as you could get to bringing the pages of a comic book to life and the way the characters were represented (with the exception of a pretty uninteresting Hawkeye in my opinion) was everything I’d hoped for. I left the cinema feeling inspired and uplifted…but also asking myself a question:

What is it about superheroes that I, along with a huge proportion of the general public find so alluring?

Superhero movies have been all the Hulk-like rage for well over a decade now and with new Batman, Spider-man, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Superman and even Antman movies announced among many others, the train shows no sign of stopping without some kind of super human assistance. Ok, I’m done with the geek puns, really. I promise. We are drawn to stories of bravery, sacrifice and honour. The idea of good prevailing over evil is something that grips the majority us in the most fascinating of ways. It’s like something inside us is telling us that we need a saviour, or want to be able to save others. What would you do if you were given the power to save lives? To change destinies? To battle the forces of evil regardless of the odds and win? What if you had a chance to follow the greatest leader, the greatest teacher and the greatest saviour this universe has ever seen?

Would you take it?

One Year Blog Challenge, Uncategorized

Day 42: Instagram – $0 to $1 Billion in 500 Days

If you are lucky enough to own an iPhone, it’s fairly likely that you’ve heard of an application called ‘Instagram‘. It’s very simple; you take a photo, apply a polaroid-styled filter to it and upload it to to various social networking sites. It’s a particularly easy way to show the world what you are seeing at that exact moment in time. Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger started the company less than two years ago…and have just sold it to Facebook for $1 Billion. Yes, that was a ‘b’.

Wow.

There are a  few things we can learn from the Instagram story:

1. If you don’t know what ‘apps’ are, you need to learn. Fast.

Apple revolutionised the way we use mobile devices by introducing the ‘App Store’ in mid-2008. The ability to easily download new applications (often for less than £1 or completely free) instantly increased the lifespan of its iPhones and iPads…but more importantly, it opened up an entirely new market with one master stroke – Apple also released a ‘Software Development Kit‘ that enabled the technologically astute to create and sell apps through the company’s store. The Apple App Store has grown from just 500 apps to well in excess of half a million apps in less than four years. There are even a few household names that have arisen out of the app market; most notably the ‘Angry Birds‘ brand. Instagram jumped on the band wagon only around 500 days ago – there are now over 30 million users of the app and the company has just sold for $1 billion, despite the fact that it doesn’t actually make any money at the moment! The app market is still far from saturated and with countless companies from Microsoft to Samsung picking up on the ‘app revolution’, don’t be surprised to see similar success stories popping up over the coming years.

2. Keep it simple, stupid.

Instagram is an incredibly simple product. The process goes like this: take photo – apply filter – upload photo. It’s hardly a shining example of mobile capabilities nowadays, but it works. It fulfills a need that people will always have – connecting with other people. Facebook has never really gotten to grips with the web-to-mobile device transition and consequently, Instagram were able to capitalise on the ‘photos on the go’ idea. And capitalise they have. This is just one example of many thousands that follow the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ rule that my old music teacher taught me as a teenager. Time and time again, we see that simplicity is key – whether music, design, businesses or technology. Doing the simple things very well is often the making of a great idea. Usually, it’s when we try to complicate or ‘over-think’ things that they don’t have the impact that we’d hoped.

3. The future is mobile.

More and more people are living out of their mobile devices. The app revolution has vastly accelerated what is already an exponentially growing industry – there’s no getting away from it: mobile devices are the way forward. Get used to seeing the ‘#’ symbol a lot more along with QR codes, targeted online marketing and greater interactivity with everything you see. Expect websites to be utterly transformed within the next five years  (drop down menus will almost certainly be redundant within that time), expect all televisions to be ‘socially integrated’ and physical newspapers to finally be a product of a time gone-by. We’re living in a time where seemingly infinite amounts of information and and tools are at our fingertips around the clock. This is something we need to embrace. I think we’ll see more and more business success stories around mobile devices in the next five years.

I’m intrigued to see what the future holds for Instagram; will they soar to new heights and transform the online world as we know it? Or will the company coast for a while before falling into relative obscurity before the next ‘fad’ comes along. What do you think?