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Jane Metcalfe, Founder of NEO.LIFE

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Our guest this week is Jane Metcalfe. Jane is the founder of NEO.LIFE, a media and events company tracking how digital tools and an engineering mindset are transforming human biology. Prior to that, she made chocolate on a pier in San Francisco at TCHO Chocolate. Jane is probably best known as the cofounder of Wired Magazine. The Kickstarter campaign for her new book “Neo.Life: 25 Visions for the Future of Our Species” is now live.

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Show notes:

offimagtable
Offi Mag Table ($249)
I love bent plywood! I also love magazines, so this bent plywood magazine holder/side table designed by Eric Pfieffer is a total winner. There is something just so satisfying about seeing a sweep of beautiful wood flow down into a curve and splash back up the other side. And that’s not all. The table makes a perfect companion to your LazyBoy recliner for Sunday afternoon reading delight. But, you can also turn it on its end and use it as a makeshift work surface, which is great when a colleague has to come be in the video conference but also wants desk space to take notes. It’s so good looking I used it this week on stage for an event we produced.

soukshopperbasket
Souk Shopper Basket by Bohemia
I used to find shopping at farmers markets physically taxing mostly because I get excited and buy way more than I can carry, always. But also because once I had bags in both hands, I was constantly picking up and putting them down to taste something or fetch my wallet. Until I found the souk baskets by Bohemia. The big innovation is the length of the handle—it’s long enough to fit over your shoulder unlike literally every market basket I had ever seen before. And it’s not just any handle. It’s rolled leather covered so it doesn’t dig into your shoulder, and the colors make me so happy. I first bought them 15 years ago, but the wear and tear of feeding a family of four finally took its toll, so I just got a new one with a lovely raspberry colored handle. They sit flat on the ground, too, so no more chasing your satsumas down the aisle because your basket rolled over. They’re handwoven in Morocco from sustainably grown palm leaf. Innovation in a market basket, after all these centuries!

deskpad
Desk Pad/Gaming Mouse Mat ($11)
My gamer son scoffs at me for this, but I love it. It’s a huge mouse pad, about 32 x 15” originally designed for gamers, but re-imagined as office decor. Made from a durable, washable microfiber, It’s big enough so your wild mouse motions aren’t constrained by a small 4×6” mouse pad. You can put your keyboard, your phone, your car keys, and your cup of tea all on top of it. It’s waterproof, smooth and warm to the touch. I’ve been spending a lot of time on my computer at the dining room table lately, and this gives me confidence that I’m not scratching or watermarking its finish. Comes in assorted colors, too.

gearties
Nite-Ize Gear Ties ($21)
How did I manage without these? For years, I’ve been using velcro ties for my computer and phone cables, but when I came across these recently, that all changed. Suddenly velcro seems so 20th century! Made from flexible steel wire and covered with a non slip rubber coating, these gear ties will find their way into every room in your home. The 3” ones are perfect for headphone and charging cables; I use the 6” for computer cords; and the 12” for skis. Assorted colors, too. So much easier to wrangle than velcro that wants to stick to itself.

b12love
B12 Love vitamin injections
I’d heard of celebrities and CEOs using vitamin and nutrient injections and IV drips to cure hangovers before an important board meeting or performance. I’d also heard of chemo patients getting in-home drips before having to travel, and Burners to prep for the playa (or recover upon return). So when I got sick right before the holidays, I decided it was my turn to try it because lying in bed was simply not an option. The menu was extensive and took a lot of thought and consultation. I was sick, exhausted, dehydrated, and not sleeping well, so I ended up getting 2 “cocktails.” In my right cheek, I got the Ultimate Chillax ($65), which includes magnesium, B12, MIC, and taurine. That was to help calm my mind for sleep, which was working in overdrive on my work, Christmas, and packing lists. In my left cheek, I got the Kick Butt Travel Shot ($55), which has high doses of all the B vitamins in addition to “Extra Strength” B12 which they said would give me more energy, endurance, and stamina and help prepare me for international travel.The result was an excellent night of rest, and enough energy to get out of bed and actually work like a demon the next day. I started getting better from that moment on and was able to sail through the holidays, international travel, a week of skiing, and a week of convention intensity when I got back. B12 Love makes it really easy with more than a dozen locations around the Bay Area, including fixed location lounges and pop up hours in places like natural medicine clinics, spas, and skin care salons. You are treated by a licensed naturopathic doctor, trained naturopathic medical assistant, or registered nurse. I am normally skeptical of naturopathic remedies. They always sound good but the evidence is not always there. In this case, I figured I had nothing to lose and honestly believe it was helpful. Even if all I needed was the rehydration, it was worth it. Having access to this sort of treatment without having to convince your doctor or go to the emergency room feels so 21st century!

About Jane’s new book:

Neo.Life: 25 Visions for the Future of Our Species
Neo.Life: 25 Visions for the Future of Our Species is a book about the future of human beings, as viewed by some of today’s most creative minds working at the intersection of biology and technology. You’ll find essays, interviews, fiction, and visual art that explore the powerful new tools and ideas redefining the frontiers of our biology. Think of it as a guide to your future self. We now have the means to transform ourselves and our species. This book captures today’s most daring, inventive, and thoughtful ideas as conceived by some of science’s biggest thinkers, entrepreneurs, writers, and artists. But it’s not a technical manuscript or a treatise on bioethics. Neo.Life is written in layman’s terms for people like you who care about our legacy and the world we’re building for our descendants. The Kickstarter campaign is now live and is 106% funded.

 

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $390 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! If you would like to make a one-time donation, you can do so using this link: https://paypal.me/cooltools.– MF

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huskerboy
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Book Freak #34: Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice For Better Living

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Book Freak is a weekly newsletter with cognitive tools you can use to improve the quality of your life. Subscribe here.

Even though he never graduated from college, Kurt Vonnegut is as well known for his commencement addresses as he is for his novels. Here are four pieces of advice from a collection of Vonnegut’s graduation speeches called If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?
Get off the internet and experience life
“Don’t try to make yourself an extended family out of ghosts on the Internet. Get yourself a Harley and join the Hells Angels instead.”
Accept the wounds of ugly ideas
“So it is not too much to ask of Americans that they not be censors, that they run the risk of being deeply wounded by ideas so that we may all be free. If we are wounded by an ugly idea, we must count it as part of the cost of freedom and, like American heroes in the days gone by, bravely carry on.”
Appreciate very simple occasions
“He said that when things are going really well we should be sure to notice it. He was talking about very simple occasions, not great victories. Maybe drinking lemonade under a shade tree, or smelling the aroma of a bakery, or fishing, or listening to music coming from a concert hall while standing in the dark outside, or, dare I say, after a kiss. He told me that it was important at such times to say out loud, ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?”
Be aware
“Notice when you’re happy, and know when you’ve got enough.”

Available from Amazon

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huskerboy
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The Story of Two Monks and a Woman

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Something shitty just happened to me. (Don’t worry, I’m alright!) But after it happened, I was pretty preoccupied by the whole thing: feeling victimized, rehashing the stupid mistake I’d made in my mind, wondering what I should have done differently, feeling shame about it all. This incident was on its way to ruining my day and perhaps even my next few days. Then I remembered one of the stories from the lovely Zen Shorts, a book I used to read with the kids.

The tale of two monks and a woman is a well-known Buddhist parable. The story goes that two monks were traveling together, a senior and a junior. They came to a river with a strong current where a young woman was waiting, unable to cross alone. She asks the monks if they would help her across the river. Without a word and in spite of the sacred vow he’d taken not to touch women, the older monk picks her up, crosses, and sets her down on the other side.

The younger monk joins them across the river and is aghast that the older monk has broken his vow but doesn’t say anything. An hour passes as they travel on. Then two hours. Then three. Finally, the now quite agitated younger monk can stand it no longer: “Why did you carry that women when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?”

The older monk replies, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

The story is a reminder to not dwell on the past in a way that interferes with living in the present moment. I’m glad to have remembered it today — I’m feeling much better now.

Tags: books   Buddhism   Zen Shorts
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‘Delegate but the buck stops with you’: how to end the housework wars | Oliver Burkeman

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Approaching the division of chores in a businesslike way could be the key to domestic harmony

In my house, obviously, we don’t need Fair Play, a recent book by the Harvard lawyer and organisational expert Eve Rodsky on the perennial question of how to get men (in heterosexual relationships) to do their share of household chores. That’s because I already do my share. Or I genuinely think I do – and will assert it, with the tiniest hint of bitterness, if challenged. Then again, how could the matter be definitively settled, without hiring a team of clipboard-wielding consultants to monitor my partner and me around the clock for a month?

Even that wouldn’t resolve things, really, because it all hinges on expectations. The reason I don’t vacuum as much as my partner is that I’m fine with less-vacuumed floors; meanwhile, a significant portion of the domestic labour I pride myself on doing consists of tidying that she, a non-neat-freak, considers unnecessary. Who is right? It’s a question as unanswerably profound as any philosopher might ponder, if she didn’t have so much damn laundry to do.

Related: What drives the ‘moral grandstanding’ that has infected our politics? | Oliver Burkeman

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huskerboy
3 days ago
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Making Work Visible at Parts Unlimited

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By author Dominica DeGrandis.


When Demand is Greater than Capacity

Rarely do I use the word always, except when it comes to requests on my time. Requests always exceed my capacity to meet the demand.

As I write this blog post, two other blog requests sit idle, along with two workshops to prepare for, and three books to read. They all need to be completed in the next two weeks. But, I am not alone in this regard.

Surveying Parts Unlimited, one of the top replies as to why work isn’t completed on time is that, “there is simply too much work to do”. The Phoenix Project isn’t done yet because people are drowning in work, largely due to Unplanned Work and Conflicting Priorities.

Maxine’s dev environment took how long to get? That’s because 45 different people have a part to play (Thief Unknown Dependencies at your service), and they all have different priorities.

Randy, Maxine’s boss, can’t approve Maxine’s Dev environment request (Unplanned Work) until the end of the day – after he’s finished with his higher priority meetings.


Just like proper maintenance keeps cars in shape, maintenance for environments, databases and ways of working are needed too. #makingworkvisible
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Likewise, Brent’s name shows up on more critical action items than anyone else and everyone seems to have him on speed-dial. He is constantly interrupted with Unplanned Work. It is not surprising that Brent has no capacity to work on features when he is fixing high-priority defects, stabilizing the codebase, and responding to outages most of the time.

When the oil in the vehicle is not changed regularly, disaster is inevitable.

Important But Neglected Work Calls for Revisiting Priorities

Just like proper maintenance keeps cars in shape, maintenance for environments, databases and ways of working are needed too.

Important non-functional requirements work (revenue protection work) can fall victim to Thief Neglected Work, if they are overpowered by the promise of revenue generation.

Important work morphs into urgent work as the neglected work evolves into an emergency – like the database meltdown during the Phoenix release – where the database migration took five hours to complete instead of the expected five minutes.

Unhealthy systems and infrastructure signal future decline from technical debt – the more debt, the longer it will take to deliver even the smallest change. Consider a prioritization strategy for company health to reduce debt from neglected services and infrastructure.

Investing in Debt Signals Future Momentum

Here’s how to get your organization out of the debt mess – reduce the cost from Thief Neglected Work by enabling teams to allocate time to make daily improvements, such as investing in the reduced reliance on big, centralized Phoenix databases.

Fixing debt is an investment in improving flow. Fixing debt includes fixing technical debt, cultural debt, and improving ways of working. Investment in debt has huge paybacks, but it requires consistent effort and is best done daily – just like exercise. Exercising 10 min daily is more beneficial than exercising for 90 minutes one day per week.


Unhealthy systems and infrastructure signal future decline from technical debt #makingworkvisible
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Make small improvements daily to reduce work evolving into urgent Unplanned Work. If the only time people have to do their most important work is late at night or on the weekend, you may find them updating their resumes or showing signs of exhaustion (a symptom of burnout).

How many people have left Parts Unlimited this month?

Enable WIP Limits for Debt & Daily Improvement Work

Allocate capacity for debt work and daily improvement items with Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits. Create a work item type for debt and set WIP limits for them. Track and measure to see the impacts of making time for improvements.

Are there less outages? Are employees happier?

It’s not that people aren’t talented – it’s that they are constantly interrupted. Leadership must support a strategy that allows staff to focus for 90 – 120 min at a time (several times a week, if not more) with no interruptions. This approach will help keep the mind from wandering and keep energy where it belongs – focused on completing important work. We lose creativity when we keep projecting forward into the future or back in time.

Maxine spends five hours in a one day attempting to build Phoenix while all stressed out. Remember, true creativity flows from a state of relaxation and openness, not from a state of stress.

Keep the time thieves away with a healthy prioritization strategy and WIP limits that allocate time for daily improvements.


Watch the full presentation below. (And download the slides here.)

Learn more about Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow.


Dominica DeGrandis is the foremost expert in Kanban Flow within the IT industry today. Her work has shown working IT teams how to effectively improve workflow and optimize throughput to produce the best result throughout the value stream. Her passion involves the use of visual cues and transparency across teams and organizations to reveal mutually critical information. As Principal Flow Advisor at Tasktop, Dominica combines experience, practice, and theory to help teams level up their capability. She blogs at ddegrandis.com and tweets at @dominicad.

The post Making Work Visible at Parts Unlimited appeared first on IT Revolution.

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BAD BOYS: Before “A Michael Bay Film” Was A Thing

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Back when "Bayhem" meant only a handful of explosions!

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6 days ago
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