Monday, February 23, 2015

Hyper Connectivity

This post is #4 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 



As more and more of us understand that time is the most valuable commodity, we seem to cram it with the need to maximize every moment. We text, post updates, send snaps, email and take 100 pictures every day. These countless needs of reaching out and staying in touch can distract us from the very essence of experiencing life.

Only ten short years ago, we lived in a world with limited social media. MySpace was the network of choice, instead of Facebook. We downloaded from Napster for free instead of paying $.99 cents per song from Apple’s iTunes. We enjoyed playing snake on a Nokia 3310, instead of playing Clash of Clans or Candy Crush on our iPhone 6. We were connected by technology, but not at the same pace that we are connected today.

In today’s society, interest can shift from one network to the next within a moment’s notice. Applications, such as OMGPOP’s Pictures with Friends can be created, sold for $210 million and then become valued at ⅕ of that value within a year. How could something so “valuable” could depreciate 80% within a year? Or SnapChat can scale from 5 million users to over 150 million users within a 6 month period. Today, networks grow faster than the speed of light, making it tougher for individuals to experience real light.  

        Take a look at cars around you next time you are at a red light. It’s amazing how many people will be looking down on their phones --either texting, responding to emails, or browsing the Internet to “connect” or “stay-in-touch” with others around them. When did our lives become so busy that we needed to receive constant updates from our world? Why is it important for us to be able to respond to messages in a moment’s notice? Is it okay if we respond in the next hour or even hour? ...Should I even suggest one day?

It doesn’t simply stop with our phones, tablets, and PCs. The desire to stay connected is transcending beyond traditional forms of device integration. Our cars are now equipped with applications to keep us connected and extend the cloud wherever we drive. Our homes are getting integrated with smart solutions, such as state-of-the-art thermostats and cloud streaming cameras to make them more efficient and continually share information with us. Wearable devices, such as Apple’s iWatch, will fuel the next generation of hyper connecting.

The rise to stay in touch and connected didn’t simply arise with the modern smart phone. In fact, technology’s integration into society can be traced back to the early 20th century, when telephones replaced the Morse Code as a form of constant and personal communication. The rise continued in post-World War II as the housing baby boom gave way to the birth of the personal computer.  Over the next 30 years, the personal computer evolved and slowly integrated its way into suburban households. Although it took decades for this transformation to unfold, it is the next few decades that really accelerated the integration of personal connection with technology. It all unfolded with the birth of the commercial Internet, which allowed allow individuals and consumers to connect via email, personal websites, and early social networking sites. In the blink of an eye, the Internet quickly started to transform that way we interacted and spent our time.

As individuals used the Internet and purchased more technology devices to connect to their friends, family, business contacts, and acquaintances, it created an intersection between civic engagement and social contact. The lines quickly started to blur between personal and technology connection points. The critique of this intersection was noticed by sociologists, Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman in the 2002 report, How Does the Internet Affect Social Capital. In the study, the two sociologists discuss this convergence between social contact, interpersonal communication, such as phone calls and personal encounters, and civic engagement, time spent enjoying community and political activities, such as sports or business clubs. Although some may argue the accelerated intersection between social contact and civic engagement can be viewed as an advancement in society, Quan-Haase and Wellman discovered that this intersection can erode and discourage from real-world involvement and participation within society. This erosion is caused by the need to feel less motivation to participate in the real world as technology makes it more convenient to connect.

As the pendulum shifts from real-word communication and participation to electronic participation, the hyper connectivity continues to accelerate. Today, millions of mobile phones are added to the network each day, adding more points of contact are added to the system, which increases the amount of messages that are connected or “hyper connected,” a term coined by Quan-Haase and Wellman to convey the person-to-person and person-to-machine connection.

As this acceleration increases, the main question to ask yourself is …how do you connect? How do you chose to spend your time connecting and interacting with others? How much of your time is spent on TV, the Internet? Texting? Playing video games? Or casually browsing social media? No matter, how you spend your time, remember each pastime you choose is your choice. You have the power to decide how and when to spend your time. 


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, February 16, 2015

Introducing the Workcation

This post is #3 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Our comfortable culture of working hard, not taking vacations, and taking forced “staycations” continues to transcend into the habits of our daily lives. Today, more and more Americans are dining “al desco” and enjoying “no resco.” Our culture is engrained to go, go, go! But at what cost? We need to take time for ourselves in order to have a balanced life and be refreshed.

Frequently, it can be major setbacks in our life that cause us to question our purpose and open our eyes to what we are really pursuing and if that matters to our life goals. I’ve endured various physical injuries, including my bicycle accident and lost close family members in my life, including my brother. These moments are all very painful –both on physical and emotional levels.  Having elements of your physical health removed from you or loosing loved ones to cherish these experiences with, causes your mind to value and cherish each prior experience. It also slaps your face and electrifies the mind to value each and every day as we don’t know what is around the corner. These various life moments taught me to identify moments in our life, where we can pursue our dreams and take full advantage of the time we have.

Sometimes major setbacks and also cause a person to quit everything and have an extended time to pursue their dreams. This may involve going on a cross country drive, visiting several countries in Europe, or starting a new job. My setbacks didn’t cause me to revolutionize my life, as I more than anything just wanted my old life back.  I didn’t quit my job and start to ride my bike across the United States to bring advocacy for safe streets. However, it did open my eyes to how I spent my time and what activities I valued.

As my face was slapped with the fragility of life, I realized that I needed to take more advantage of my after work time. I realized that I could explore my natural surroundings and have “mini-vacations” or workcations during the workweek. I started to go on hikes after work, or stop on my commute home to go for a walk on the beach. It was these moments that I spent in outdoors and with nature, which awakened my senses and caused me to reflect upon my life as the world also reflected on me. I was unplugged from technology and distractions of our hyper connected society. These “workcations” became the highlight of my workweek.

As I started to explore more and more, I wanted MORE. I wanted the ability to extend these feelings of nature’s solitude for a longer period; but I didn’t want to quit my job for it all. On the side, I tried to create my own line of successful mobile applications to fuel my early retirement, but it was met with mixed results. It provided the opportunity to enjoy more lattes, but not enough to buy a new house. I quickly realized that having a stable career and income was still important to me too!

As I tried to research opportunities to see more of the outdoors, I realized that camping may provide the best opportunity to be in the outdoors for an extended period of time. The experience of sleeping in a tent could provide the ability to be surrounded by nature and away from technology devices that kept me “connected.” I wanted to detach from technology and connect more with myself, thoughts, and nature.


As I started to explore available campsites, my visions of sleeping under the stars, enjoying a hike under the moonlight, and contemplating life by a campfire quickly dissolved as I saw that the majority of local campsites were reserved for the next 6+ months. As my frustration increased due to the lack of unavailable campsites, I felt a sense of hopelessness. This sentiment caused me to rapidly click through the reservation calendar only to see occasional openings during the workweek. Could it be possible that I could go camp during the workweek? Could it be possible to camp and work? …And the first overnight workcation was born! I made a reservation for a two night stay at local beach campsite and the workcation was on! 

The Most Valuable Commodity

This post is #2 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

If I asked you, “What is the most valuable commodity?” What answer would you give me? You may respond with “gold,” “oil” or the “Apple iPhone 20” with the telepathy application set to release in 2020 (don’t bother Googling iPhone 20, I’m just joking around here). Or, you may take it a level deeper and respond with more practical commodities, such as “food,” “shelter,” or “water.” ...Or you may respond with an emotional answer such as “love,” “health,” or “family.”  These are all excellent commodities and are extremely valuable, even priceless in many instances.

However, what if there was a commodity that could interconnect all of the responses above. What if, we responded with “time?” Time is a commodity that we cannot buy. Once we use it it’s gone. There is no additional source, unless you are one of the privy few who has invented time travel, but even time travel may have unexpected consequences.

Time is valuable, because our lives here on earth will eventually end. Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth, hasn’t been channeled to reflect the water’s mysterious powers to the rest of us to provide immortal powers. The more we understand that time is the most valuable asset, the more we cherish it. The more time we want to spend enjoying life – cherishing moments with our family and friends, accomplishing bucket list items or doing whatever activity makes us feel free and alive.

Whatever your activity is, it may not necessarily involve “work.” As time becomes more valuable, especially as we get older and have less of it; time becomes even more special. The time we have is precious. How we choose to spend it may determine our overall happiness and fulfillment in life.

As time becomes more important, it’s valuable for us to cherish it doing activities that we ENJOY and SHARING those activities with people we love. We don’t want to look back one day in our old age and go “I wish I did that,” or “too bad I didn’t go here.” Additionally, we are not going to say “I’m really glad I saw every episode of Entourage.” It’s the moments, such as experiencing the first snow fall, taking a long hike, or teaching someone how to set up a tent that we will remember. These experiences are valuable and help us grow in our own life journey and reward us with passionate memories of life. 

The more we spend enjoying life and time outside with our friends, the more we grow and are rewarded. The more we spend not confirming the stereotypes of society – such as shower, commute, work, commute, repeat –the more we feel alive and are rewarded with wonderful life experiences. As we experience time and truly live in the moment, our eyes are opened to the richness of the moment. The moment of now! Living in the moment and realizing that the time we have before us is right now can cause the mind to start chasing goals or dreams that we may have put off. It can open us up to exploring more of our surroundings and enjoying some of the richest moments that life has to offer.  



To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, February 9, 2015

Chasing Fast Riches and Discovering The Workcation

This post is #1 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

Like many people, I was enamored by the idea of Tim Ferris’ best seller The Four Hour Work Week. Ferris suggested that entrepreneurs can remotely hire third-party contractors, such as application and website developers to build income generating entities, like subscription service websites or iPhone mobile applications. In turn, individuals could work remotely, at their own leisure and enjoy “mini-retirements.”

After being introduced the idea of working for yourself and having more free time to explore your own personal interests, I wanted to experience a “mini-retirement.” I thought it would be incredible to launch my own work-from-home business and be able to travel the world at my own convenience. I thought that if you poured enough blood, sweat and tears into an idea, you could achieve success. Merit would be returned to those who invested the time. The perils of hard work would be rewarded and money will seamlessly be deposited into a bank account as I enjoyed margaritas on a remote tropical beach.

Sounds too perfect, right? To add more wind to my sails, I continued to read success stories, such as Chad Muerto who started a $6 million mobile application company, while recovering from a car accident on a hospital bed. Muerto managed to emerge out of $115,000 debt by hiring third-party application programmers in countries, such as India and China, to develop iPhone applications. Although he didn’t know how to develop iPhone applications, he was able to communicate his ideas to these remote programmers for development and achieve success. His success and passion allowed his first mobile application to earn over $700,000.00.

$700,000!?!? This was only one of his applications and he developed over 50! This was more money than I would make in 10 years of work! …And he did it in less than a year! I couldn’t believe that a simple idea could generate so much revenue in a short period of time. Surely, one of my own ideas – either a similar iPhone application or website – could achieve similar success. Even if my idea did not become as successful and I missed the mark; missing the mark on a $700,000 target, isn’t bad right?

After learning about Muerto’s story, I was determined to replicate his success. I felt that I could learn how to duplicate his success and build my own mobile application empire. I also connected with Muerto in a deeper and personal way. As Muerto was involved in a serious car accident, I had also been in an automobile accident that severely damaged my shoulder in 2011. After two reconstructive shoulder surgeries, including reconstructing my left clavicle with a 6 inch metal plate and over 10 screws, and over a year of physical therapy (but still had over a year more to go), in September 2012, I felt I was to a point where my physical strength was strong enough and I could focus on external business endeavors.

In fall 2012, I shifted my mental focus from physical therapy to developing various business ideas. Although I worked a Monday-Friday 8-5 job, I made it a priority to find time spare time to develop different iPhone mobile application ideas. I figured if other people with less knowledge about the mobile marketing industry or programing experience could create successful applications, I could replicate their experiences and achieve similar success. Turning my passion into motion, I researched the steps required to turn a mobile application idea into an actual iPhone application.

Surprisingly, there were not too many helpful resources online. I spent hours online looking for blog articles about how I could hire freelance programmers and designers from third-party sites, such as odesk.com or elance.com, to outsource my ideas and turn them into developed iPhone applications in a matter of months. The articles were similar to The Four Hour Workweek, but included specific examples to get started with my mobile application ideas. Although these articles were helpful, most of them elaborated about how much revenue their earned or focuses on the pearls of early retirement – relaxing on the beaches of the French Riviera or taking refuge under a palm tree on a deserted Maldives island –all while being able to remotely check in on their mobile projects while sipping a pina …whatever your fancy is...It all seemed too perfect and way too easy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some successful entrepreneurs, such as Tim Ferris or Pat Flynn, who interviewed successful “apprepenuers” on their respective blogs, FourHourWorkWeek.com/blog and SmartPassiveIncome.com. Some of these interviews did share successful tips and resources to help transform an iPhone application into reality. It was just the main focus of eBooks and online articles that highlighted the millions to be made in the app economy, but neglected more of the step by step instructions to help achieve and transform this alluring goal. Less discussed were the simple odds of making millions on this apprush, with millions of applications already in the marketplace the sheer odds of striking it rich with app gold were slim to none. It was almost like hitting the lottery.

        However, I still felt confident that if others were achieving success, I could to achieve similar success with a well-thought game plan. After reading more eBooks and blog articles on app creation, I figured I had enough knowledge about how to approach and create an iPhone application. I drew out my application idea, created a fixed $400 get for a designer and programmer on Odesk.com, and moved forward with interviewing candidates. After a few interviews and seeing sample project, I selected a programmer from India and designer from Egypt. I was in business! At least moving forward with my project idea and I was proud of the international team I assembled.

Fortunately, I selected a programmer who was familiar with coaching individuals through some of the intricacies of developing an application, such as creating provisioning files and development certificates. The tasks were not complicated, it was just learning the nuances and sequence of development steps. After a few design revision rounds, I selected my final design and eagerly moved forward to programming. After a few rounds of programming revisions, I was finally able to submit the application to the iTunes store and patiently wait for Apple’s team to review my application. After a week of anxiously waiting, I received the golden ticket from Apple; my first application, Sports Parlay Calculator, was approved into the iTunes store! It was a really refreshing experience to take an idea from concept to product in less than 1 month. All I had to do now, was sit back and collect my riches. Right?

The next morning after my application went live, I anxiously opened iTunes connect to see how many downloads my application had. I was amazed to see that over 200 people downloaded the application in the first day. Wow! Either people must be betting frequently and need to calculate their bets, or I just struck gold!

Well not so fast, why should I stop at one application, when I could continue to develop more ideas. I researched the current popular trends in the iTunes store and noticed that photography manipulation applications were trending high due to the rising popularity, especially with the growing popularity of Instagram which went from tens of millions of users in 2012 to hundreds of millions of users 2013.

My second application, Pro Photo Layout launched four weeks after my first iPhone application. It was a photo manipulation application that allowed users to combine several photographs into a montage. The concept wasn’t unique, but it was one of the early montage applications that helped it receive over 50,000 downloads within the first week. As the application continued to receive more downloads, the advertising revenue increased. In a matter of days, I went from earning $1.00 a day to over $50.00/day on advertising alone. $50.00/day isn’t too much, but when you multiply that by 30; $1,500 in passive income isn’t too shabby.

        My imagination continued to escalate, if I could create 6-10 applications that generated $1,500/month each; I could easily leave my job and generate $7,000-$15,000 a month in passive income. As the dollars signs floated in the ethos, I thought more and more about how I could really experience the “American Dream,” “work for myself,” and “live the four hour work week.” Whatever you name it, the dream of providing for myself with passive income started to really take flight!

        I quickly schemed to make additional applications that could help me scale my rising application revenue. I didn’t know how long it would be sustainable, but I wanted to give it a try.

        Over the next six months, I poured my extra energy into creating additional applications. It was rewarding to have an international team and be at the forefront of transforming ideas into reality. However as quickly as I started to gain traction and success, my downloads dwindled and I was left with various iPhone applications that yielded some passive income, but not enough to retire comfortably and quit my day job.

As the reality of early retirement quickly dwindled, I grew comfortable with the idea of working a traditional 8-5, 40 hour+ week job to support my lifestyle; but I also wanted more. I wanted to be able to experience more of life and not fall victim to missing out on opportunities. I didn’t want to have a bucket list of things I “wish I did” when I was older. I wanted to explore more of life and truly carpe diem!

In an effort to fully seize the day, I decided to make a pact to take advantage of my proximity to nature trails, state parks, and the beach and explore these areas after work. I decided that I didn’t need to use my vacation time to explore what was in my backyard. I planned on using my vacation time to take epic, large-scale vacations (with a planned budget) and to spend time locally after work, instead of going home to watch TV or a movie. The idea of taking a mini-vacation after work resonated well within my heart, body and soul! …And the workcation was born!


What’s a workcation? Well, before we dive into one; let’s take a look at why we need it!


To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  


Monday, February 2, 2015

Workcation




       A few years ago, I discovered the workcation or going to work and enjoying your freedom after work to enjoying activities, such as camping, hiking or mountain bike riding. Each workcation opened my eyes to new surroundings and helped me grow significantly as an individual.

       As more technology is added to our lives to help us “stay connected,” it’s important to unplug, take breaks, and connect in person with people in the real world. Our email inboxes will not complain if they receive extra email. Our smartphones can store more texts. Our social media profiles don't need to be checked in real time. It is our lives that need to be updated in real-time and it starts by stopping to connect with the world around us.

      As I continue to take more workcations, I have complied all my thoughts and why it's important to take workcations into the following eBook: Workcation! Have the Best Life Now! The eBook is about 40 pages and combines personal experiences & current trends with a guidebook to help optimize your life!

     If you are interested in learning more and reading the book, it's available here on Amazon. It's free to "borrow," if you have a Kindle and it's priced at $4.99 for instant download.

     If you are not interested in purchasing, but want to follow along, I'll publish all 17 chapters from Workcation, once a week for the next 17 weeks starting next Monday, 2/9/15.

    My overall goal is to help you maximize your time and open a new world of enriching experiences!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Firenze di notte

Arno River at night (C) Tiner

Enjoy some night photographs of famous downtown Florence sights, including Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River.



Florence at night (C) Tiner


Arno River (C) Tiner


Florence at night (C) Tiner


Florence (C) Tiner


Ponte Vecchio at night (C) Tiner


Florence apartment (C) Tiner


Downtown Florence (C) Tiner


Florence Street (C) Tiner



Florence Traffic (C) Tiner