Adieu Toastmasters

I quit Toastmasters today.

I belonged to my club for three years, two of those years as a Sergeant at Arms in the executive.

Toastmasters is one of the finest volunteer organizations. I experienced it first hand. I made friends, learned few skills, practiced public speaking, saw people grow as speakers, organized logistics and decided how to spend our limited budget for lunch after every meeting. So it isn’t an easy decision to not do it anymore.

I am by no means a great public speaker but while I was here, I got a tad better.

However David Allen once said: you can do anything, but not everything. So I decided to take a break from this lovely journey for awhile to give undivided attention to few of my biggest priorities.

Not surprisingly, I feel a bit sentimental.

New year resolutions

I did not have resolutions for 2014. Instead, I decided to plant and grow few habits that are worth pursuing for years.

To help me get going, I made the following three rules for myself:

  1. Base goals on Identity. Not on Performance or Appearance.
  2. Rely on Habits and Processes. Not on Willpower.
  3. Believe in Evolution. Not in Revolution.

To remind me of these rules, I forked some markup from Codecademy at the end of 2013 and added a timer to it: time.chaitanyamsv.com. This page served me well but as I decided to close my domain, this page will go down as well.

One and a half years later, I no longer need the timer as I systematized my habits in Coach.me and Wunderlist apps. So the habits happen nevertheless. However these rules needed a new home, and this post is it.

Quitting coffee

I did pretty well last month learning to stop drinking coffee.

I had only one small coffee in all of May. This is a significant slash given I was having one coffee every workday.

It wasn’t too difficult to give up coffee, partly because I am not a coffee addict. But I had few urges. Once I even walked halfway to the coffee machine but recalled my claim and returned.

I also found a great post -guess Universe conspired to help me- on my twitter feed titled Everything You Need To Know About How and Why To Quit Caffeine which helped a bit.

I will still drink coffee but mindfully and occasionally, not compulsively.

While all this is good, I am having challenges sticking to the larger goal of which this is only a part. That’s for another post.

Google Photos

I wished only three things in a photos app:

  1. Auto upload camera roll including videos
  2. Unlimited storage
  3. Free

Today this wish became true. Google released Photos app that ticks all three boxes.

Like everyone’s, my camera roll has precious memories on it which I keep pushing to cloud regularly. But I only have a limited storage space across all the cloud services. My current go to photos app is Flickr. It allows 1 TB of free space. It is good except that it doesn’t upload videos.

It looks like Google Photos is everything I wanted in a photo storage service. I know that Google is not doing any charity. But I am happy to let them use my photos and data in return for securing my lifetime memories. I am not fanatical about privacy. I believe there is no harm if Google send some ads my way. That is perfectly okay for me.

The joy of reliving years worth of photos should only be experienced. It shows how you and people close to you have evolved. This is what gets me excited about this app.

How do you manage your photos?

Goodbye chaitanyamsv.com

I just shut down my self hosted WordPress, chaitanyamsv.com.

It is not too long ago that I moved to .org. I learned a bit about how things work in the self-hosted world. But its value to my current mission is little. So I imported my content and deleted it. This action plants some broken links on this blog. I will fix them when I find time.

For the record, this is how many times I moved my blog over the years:

Blogger to WordPress.com to WordPress.org to WordPress.com and WordPress.org to finally WordPress.com.

Sigh! One less baggage.

What is permanent in this world, anyway?

150 workouts

This evening I exercised for 150th time since I told myself that I will not lose out and workout.

This habit is also an example of how I hoped to deal with my new year resolutions:

Identity – I saw myself as the type of person who never misses the workout. So I only cared to show up. I never worried about the weight I could lift or the weight I lost. There is only one person in our workout group who showed up more times than I did.

Habits and Processes –  5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Just backpack the workout clothes and shoes. No willpower required.

Evolution  – Compared to when I started, I can hold the band tighter, swing the rope higher and last the plank longer. I am now comfortable with heavier kettlebells. I can finish all the sets and reps on the whiteboard.

I am not after any particular results although I believe that results happen by themselves. I am training for life. So the effort continues.

Facebook iPhone app user experience sucks

Dear Facebook,

I installed your app after many months so I can easily set one of the photos in my camera roll as a cover photo. This time I hoped to keep you on my iPhone.

However I am disappointed that you haven’t stopped infesting my feed with “People You May Know” list. I understand that as a service provider, you want my social network as large as it can be and my privacy as screwed as possible. But when I check my feed I expect to see my, well, feed. Not a list of people with who I have no intention of sharing my feed or personal photos.

You should know that not every user is alike. I am not like many of your users who let lots of people lurk in their social graph, as you call it. If I am dying to have someone as my Facebook friend, I can search and add them; your search is pretty cool.

I will see you again the day you make user experience your priority. Until then continue resting in the iCloud.

Yours truly.