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Facebook Chat: Feeding The Addiction

By business, opinion, sarcasm, technology

So the release of Facebook Chat is all the buzz this morning, at least from what I can judge by the status updates of my friends. Apparently no one saw it coming. I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks, but didn’t think it would be released for a while.

This is bad news for people like me who are already borderline addicted to Facebook. It’s just like putting a six pack in front of an alcoholic. The temptation is just too great. The interesting thing to note, though, is that Facebook sees this as an AIM-killer. They think that by integrating a chat system into their already intricate social network, users will see it as a one-stop shop for social networking and instant messaging, putting AOL Instant Messenger on the back burner. I don’t know about that.

Personally, I’ve had an AIM screen name for almost ten years. Most people I know have had theirs for years and years, too. I don’t think you’re going to see an abandonment of any grand scale anytime soon, if ever. It’s not so much that people are loyal to products like AIM, it’s their familiarity factor and the average computer user’s resistance to dramatic change in the technology¬†realm¬†that will ultimately save AIM’s bottom line.

Then again, I don’t use the AIM client itself, but rather a Mac program called Adium. I’ve always been surprised that AIM allows other programs to use its network, because by doing so there’s no banner ad or anything like there is on the actual AIM program and consequently no money in the pockets of AOL. But of course I applaud them for having such an open source platform of sorts.

At any rate, it’s a nice new feature, but Facebook’s claim that it’ll take over AIM is about as threatening as Microsoft’s claim two years ago that the Zune would be an iPod killer. And we all know how that one turned out. I’m still laughing at you two years later, Bill Gates.

The 2008 Deep Run Marathon Dance Raises $105,931.81 For Local Organizations!

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I still can’t believe just how much money was raised at this year’s Deep Run Marathon Dance. $105,931.81! I headed up the Film Crew this year and had so much fun filming throughout the duration of the 27 hour dance. I’ll talk more about how that went in a moment. But I made an opening video to get everyone pumped, including a pep talk from the movie Miracle, that was shown before the dance started, then had a closing video at the end that included interviews with leaders from all ten of the benefiting organizations, video footage from the dance, and a dramatic grand total at the end.

I was kind of on the edge of my seat at the closing ceremony because it had taken me eight hours to compile and edit the closing video and I didn’t even have time to render a DVD. So I basically just played an AVI that I exported to my computer and held my breath hoping my Mac wouldn’t freeze while playing it. It was a huge 2.5 GB file, so I had plenty reason to worry. Fortunately it didn’t freeze and I think it turned out pretty good. I had been up for just about 40 hours straight by the time I finished it, so I also wondered if I had made any big editing mistakes based on the fact that I was so mentally tired I didn’t know what I was doing. No one had even seen the video but me until I presented it to hundreds and hundreds of people at the closing ceremony. But there again, it turned out pretty good I think. Both videos will be posted later today and will be accessible here, on my YouTube page, and Facebook.

I was on the fence about whether to do this on an annual basis, but after doing this for my second year in a row and seeing the energy, enthusiasm, and huge benefit of this dance, there’s no question that I’ll do this again every year. It was so liberating to be able to head up my own video project and manage five other people who filmed the dance this year. I usually work under other people and have less creative control. It was great for once to be able to have the final say in what was produced and call all the shots, with no one to tell me otherwise. Because of that, I was a lot less frustrated and more motivated to produce a great end result. It was an amazing feeling (and that’s not a knock on anyone I normally work with, because they do great work; it was just a big thing for me personally). It was also cool to be recognized for once and I was honored to be so warmly received at the end.

Some have said that I should focus even more time on other video production efforts instead of doing this, but I would argue that it’s something that I’m really proud to be a part of and have so much fun doing it because of the role I’m given to creatively produce something really exciting and unique. Plus the end result is amazing. An event that raises almost $106,000 for charity is something really spectacular to be a part of. I may even consider taking on other projects and helping out other charitable causes around the area at their respective events because I found working with the Deep Run Marathon Dance to be very impacting and rewarding. It was just incredible.

Time Management

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Pastor Rick gave what I thought to be one of his most inspiring messages ever today. It was all about time management. He’s done some great messages in the past and is probably the most impacting and inspirational speaker I’ve ever heard, but today his message really hit home.

In the service today, Pastor Rick gave a lot of great advice and wisdom about how to manage your time:

Evaluate your time priorities. This can be done (as I’m going to do) by keeping track of how you spend your time over the course of two weeks.

Busyness does not equal productivity. I am always busy with something or another. The whole week it seems I’m never free. But I’m finding that a lot of the time I’m not doing much of anything of any real worth or significance.

Establish time systems. This could mean many things. One example Pastor Rick gave was his own schedule. Every day, he gets up early in the morning and spends time in solitude praying and having study/research time to plan his messages. He’s also at home every night at 6:00 PM for dinner with his family. These two recurring events are set in stone in his weekly schedule, and are obviously very important to him. I need to figure out which things are the most important for me to do, and plan everything else around them on a recurring basis like he has done. Having set things to do at set times and days also makes it easier to say no to people when they ask you to do something, and that’s a big thing for me. I find it hard to tell people no when they ask me to help with or commit to doing something.

Eliminate time wasters. As you’ll read below, I’ve already gotten rid of a lot of my time wasters, but this is something I really need to work on more. Pastor Rick spoke about how you should delegate what’s important and find new ways to use wasted time, such as reading or catching up on something that needs completing when you’re waiting (for example at a doctor’s office).

I have some of the worst skills when it comes to time management out of anyone I know. I always have really good intentions of getting lots done, being productive, and accomplishing everything I need to do. In fact, despite my lack of priority-based planning, I have one of the most immaculately-organized iCal calendars ever (that picture is a screenshot of how my iCal looks on a weekly basis). It’s broken up into sub-calendars, the main ones being home, school, and church. I have everything from my classes at VCU to my weekly breakfast with Tori and dinner with Jen. From the looks of it, you’d think I was one of the most organized people ever, right? Not so much.

So why doesn’t it all work out in the nice, structured way it seems to by looking at my iCal? There are a couple of reasons. First off, I don’t seem to be able to stick to what should be my top priorities. It’s sometimes out of stress, lack of will power, tiredness, or sheer laziness. Other times it’s because something fun comes up and I end up going out with friends. All I know is I need to increase the amount of time I spend doing some things, reduce others, and maybe even completely eliminate a few. Most things are fine in moderation, I just need to find the right balance.

Sometimes the time I allot to certain tasks ends up getting wasted because I’m multitasking while I should be focused on a singular goal. I also get distracted (and spend too much time on) my Mac and iPhone. The biggest distraction involving both devices? Facebook. Up until today, I had a ridiculous connection to Facebook. On my computer, there’s a desktop program that flashes a little box in the upper right hand corner of my screen notifying me when someone writes on my wall or does some other action on my profile, I get an email with the same information, and then a text on my phone. Sometimes the Facebook email also goes to my phone. Now before you send out the “whitecoats” to haul me off to the nut farm, please understand that some of these notifications were in place from the time I first registered my Facebook account (almost two years ago), for example the emails. I just added one thing at a time and now I’m at this ludicrous level. I’m happy to say that as of today, I’ve completely eliminated all of my Facebook notifications on both my Mac and iPhone, turned off incoming email to my phone, and turned off the new mail notification sound on my computer so I don’t automatically open my email client and read it as it comes in.

In summary, here’s what I plan on changing with my schedule starting this week:

  • Allot more time to studying, working productively at church, and exercising
  • Spend less time on the computer, doing less-than-productive things, eating out, and not necessarily hang out with friends every night
  • Come up with the best balance of school, work, volunteering, and fun

I’m excited about finally getting a handle on my life and make time for the things I need to do and be able to accomplish so much more.

Macworld 2008 Keynote – New Hardware/Software: My Review

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs just finished his keynote at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple released all sorts of exciting new things. I watched a video stream of it online. Here are my takes on what was released:

First up was Time Capsule. It’s an AirPort Extreme base station (wireless N router) that also backs up your computer’s contents wirelessly. It comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions.

Next up was iTunes Movie Rentals. This was expected. All major movie studios are on board to offer newly released movies for $3.99 and older movies for only $2.99. The movie is yours for 30 days, but once you start watching it you have 24 hours to finish. Downloads take only about 30 seconds over broadband and are available in DVD quality or HD for $1 more.

iPhone and iPod Touch software updates were next. The Google Maps feature on the iPhone finally has real-time GPS using cellular triangulation (finds the three closest cell towers to you and determines your position pretty accurately). You can now send text messages to multiple people at the same time, too. It’s about time. Web clips now let you make applications out of websites you visit that are already optimized for iPhone (for example, I use the iPhone versions of Facebook and Fandango). You can now put these and any number of other websites on the home screen. You can also now have multiple home screens and reorder your icons in any way you desire. Nice move, Apple. The only thing missing? With all these cool features, I still cant send or receive multimedia (picture/video) messages? Strange, no? The iPod Touch is finally receiving what iPhones already have: Mail, Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications. It should have had these in the first place, but Apple is charging $20 for them. Why?

Apple TV saw a major upgrade. Not the hardware itself, but a huge software update. You can now buy music, watch YouTube videos, rent iTunes movies in full HD, etc. all without a computer. Finally, this once dud of a product in Apple’s otherwise excellent product lineup should see a much more positive consumer response.

Finally, the much rumored MacBook Air was introduced. It’s being dubbed the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring only 0.76 inches thin. Incredible. It comes in an 80 GB 1.8 inch hard drive version (same size drive used in current iPods) or a much faster 64 GB SSD (solid state (flash memory) drive). There’s no optical disk drive, but you can wirelessly install software from other computers on your network. The track pad even has multi-touch just like the iPhone! Very cool. I’m in awe at just how thin, sleek, and beautiful this thing is. I know, I’m a full-fledged Apple geek.

A few things that many people were expected but weren’t announced were a new iPhone model and a Mac notebook docking station similar to the look of the current iMac model.

One thing I don’t understand is Apple’s logic on giving away a big update for the iPhone (as they should) as well as a huge overhaul software-wise for Apple TV, but yet they’re charging $20 for applications that should have originally shipped with the iPod Touch? That makes no sense at all, and I bet the update will become free when people realize how little logic there is in their strategy.

I didn’t think Apple could top last year’s Macworld Expo Keynote (where the iPhone was announced), but I was wrong. Great job, Apple.