Jun 26

Injustice and the Four Noble Truths

This morning I spent time revisiting the Tenth Mindfulness Training of the Order of Interbeing. This training sometimes causes confusion for practitioners who are uncertain how to engage in public action and discourse. The text from the book Interbeing is quite clear. 

A spiritual community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice. This should be done with a clear voice, based on the principles of the Four Noble Truths. The truth concerning the unjust situation should be fully exposed (the First Noble Truth: suffering). The various causes of injustice should be enumerated (the Second Noble Truth: the causes of suffering). The purpose and desire for removing the injustice should be made obvious (the Third Noble Truth: the removal of suffering). The measures for removing the injustice should be proposed (the Fourth Noble Truth: the way to end suffering). 

We can do this and transcend partisan politics. I can think of numerous opportunities in today’s social and political environment. 

 

Jun 03

Using WordPress with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Twitter takes the title, image and then links, so this limits title length. Facebook takes the post content and makes it the FB post and then adds the packaged link with title, image and content. LinkedIn packages it together as a shared link and shows title, summary, and image. It’s probably best to always include an image, especially for Facebook. 


Updated: Facebook is inconsistent. If an image is included in the native post, then Facebook ignores the post title completely and only uses the post content, image, and then links to native post. 

Jun 03

Happy Teachers Change the World

This is an important text for teachers who wish to cultivate mindfulness in the classroom. It is a uniquely Plum Village approach and provides concrete examples from hundreds of teachers from around the world. I am honored to have had a very small part in the manifestation of this book through offering feedback along the way as well as a couple of antidotes. 

Happy Teachers Change the World

The book is released in June 6, 2017 and you can preorder now from Parallax Press

Sep 10

29-Hours to Order the iPhone 7

It took me 29-hours to order the iPhone 7 Plus. 

I had decided well before the Apple keynote earlier this week, thanks to solid internet rumors, that a new iPhone 7 Plus would be in the cards for me. In fact, I went so far as to put my current iPhone in the Gazelle queue. Why the 7? I want the dual camera capabilities. The Apple event did not disappoint and I was easily sold on the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus with 128mb even though I am still a little concerned about adjusting to the larger phone.

But it almost didn’t happen!

For for first time, I did the midnight purchase (I’m in California). It took until 12:05am before the order page loaded on the iPhone app. I was simultaneously refreshing on my laptop. By the time the order page loaded, the shipment date for the jet black was 2-3 weeks out. Wow, that’s one hot item! 

Then the order itself didn’t process correctly due to a reported issue with AT&T but I was given a confirmed “reservation” indicating my spot in line and that I’d receive an email from Apple to finish the transaction later. No payment made at this point. I went to bed and come morning there was the email from Apple with the link to complete the transaction. 

It didn’t work. 

The first issue was a custom Apple 404 error page during the third step of ordering. That continued until late morning. Once that started working, I got to the checkout screen only to be stopped by a requirement that I make a deposit with AT&T and that I’d have to do an in-store pickup rather than shipment. Alas, no in store pickups available because the phone isn’t out yet. Catch-22. 

Throughout the day, with numerous tries and calls (and disconnections) to Apple then AT&T and then Apple again, I still was not able to complete the purchase. The timer was ticking as the reservation as it was only good until noon on Saturday.  The phone queues were getting longer. Finally, at 6pm an AT&T representative went the extra step to test my account and write up extensive notes on the shared AT&T/Apple system. I was totally in the clear with AT&T. What made sense being I was buying the phone outright, was not leasing, using payment plans, or renewing a contract. So bizarre this was even happening. 

Time to call Apple again. 

This time the Apple representative said this was a known bug in the order system and they’d been working on it all afternoon. It should be fixed within an hour. This was 7pm on Friday night. When I went to bed a few hours later, it still wasn’t working. Letting go. It seemed that on every turn I made that this phone was not in the cards for me. That’s okay. It’s only a phone. 

5am. Saturday. One more try. Success!

And so, I have the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus ordered and expected delivery the first week of October. In all, I probably spent 3-hours in hold queues and about an hour on the phone with different representatives explaining the situation. Way too much time, but I was committed (or maybe should be committed?). My mental attitude was pretty good throughout the process. I didn’t get angry, raise my voice, or regret anything I said to Apple or AT&T. That is a good sign of my mindfulness practice. It all worked out in the end, and I’m happy. And even if it hadn’t worked out, that too would have been fine. 

Jun 29

Evernote: Worth the Increased Cost?

App costs are out of control – they usually don’t charge enough for what they offer. Lately, we are seeing a trend toward increased costs and Software as a Service (SaaS) models for supporting software development. In general, this is a good trend because we should be paying for the real cost of development.

I am a firm believer in paying a fair price for a service or product, especially if it brings value to my daily workflow. And not just paying some minimal amount, such as $1 in the App Store, but truly paying developers for the work they do to create something useful. Most recently, a piece of software I use daily switched to a SaaS model rather than an outright purchase. I had to give TextExpander a good long reconsideration because the increase in cost was significant. It wasn’t until they lowered it, based on consumer feedback, that I decided to go with the annual payment plan at a slightly higher cost. Though other options for this exist, I do use TextExpander daily on my laptop and iPhone so it was mostly a no-brainer.

Now another piece of software that I use daily has increased their annual subscription plan by 35% – from $45/year to $70/year. That’s a big jump!

Evernote Logo / Brand

I’ve happily been using Evernote since 2008 (though it took a couple years to get it into my workflow) and began paying for a Premium Plan in 2012. I loved the tool so much, I offered workshops at Santa Barbara City College. Back in 2013, I had the good fortune to meet Phil Liben, co-founder of Evernote (and current Chairman) only to discover a person who is kind and passionate about being human and developing great software. So, it’s not just another software company.

Earlier this month I was at a conference and Evernote became super handy. I could snap a photo of a business card, have it recognize the contact fields, populate to LinkedIn, and let me send my contact information right back to the person’s card I just received. Super Awesome! The fact I can dump pretty much anything into the app and it can read, index, and make it searchable is of immense value. Every tweet I favorite gets dumped into Evernote. Entire webpages and articles can be added to Evernote with the web clipper – no more bookmarking needed. And did I mention that it’s all searchable? Immediate and consistent syncing between my iPhone, iPad, desktop, and laptop.

What to do? I use Evernote everyday and I would definitely miss it. Of course, there are several other options in this market space that could meet the same needs for a much lower cost – including free. My subscription isn’t up for renewal until December, so I have some time to decide.

Are you a paying Evernote customer? What are your plans for the future with this type of software?

Apr 23

Coffee Arrives. Looking Deeply. 

Appreciating a cup of coffee from Burundi and roasted by Blue Bottle – they call the roast Burundi Kayanza MpangaWhat do I know if where my coffee comes? Not much! It is quite amazing that I can sit here on a bright and sunny morning in the Ojai Valley drinking a cup of coffee from across the planet and not even know exactly where Burundi is located. 


Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 80% living in poverty and a majority of the children malnourished. I can’t even begin to understand this statement. It’s a tiny country in east Africa with coffee being its main export – though exports aren’t even a large part of their GDP. Agriculture and rural living dominates. 

On a windless day the flapping wings of thousands of birds pass between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Fed by the same waters and agile as a feather, the Mpanga also takes flight.

This poetic digression from Blue Bottle also helps me touch the beauty and majesty of this tiny country. Burundi is the source of the Nile and they also have the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the world – Lake Tanganyika. I can see the natural beauty and the people living to take care of their daily needs where they make crafts, drum, play soccer, and drink beer by the side of the road. 

The planet is small and yet a life experience in Southern California compared to a life in Burundi could be another planet. 

Thank you for my coffee today. I hope it lends some support to the people of Burundi in a fair and supportive manner. Appreciating the apricot and cane sugar flavored of Burundi.