I'm a project manager, software developer, Apple evangelist and geek from South Africa. I'm passionate about web and mobile application development, usability, productivity, physics, astronomy, science fiction and fantasy.
As a freelance software developer, potential clients often ask me to sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) before they're willing to discuss the details of a project with me.
Although I understand these clients' concerns about intellectual property, I always refuse to sign.
Trade secrets that would give employees an unfair advantage in their future careers are categorically not the same thing as ideas for websites & web applications. Clients like to think that their ideas are unique, innovative, and ground-breaking, but 10+ years in the industry has unfortunately shown me that they rarely are.
I once made the mistake of signing an NDA, only to discover that the client wanted me to build an application that was, quite simply, an email-like messaging system. The project didn't incorporate any innovative ideas, and it wasn't unlike similar components that I'd previously built for other systems. Even though the idea behind the project was commonplace, ever since then that signed NDA made me feel uncomfortable whenever I had to build messaging components for other projects.
Somehow the modern world has assigned the meaning of the word "effective" to the word "busy".
For some people being busy is a status symbol – a badge of honor that marks them as important, a go-getter, an achiever. The problem with this mindset is that they never end being busy: to-do lists keep growing, emails pile up, phone calls go unanswered, and they're always rushing towards some imaginary destination.
Being busy doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting work done. To be productive, you have to deliver.
In this video Jason Fried, owner of 37signals and creator of collaboration products such as Basecamp, presents a talk on how, if you’re constantly staying late and working weekends, it’s not because there’s too much work to be done. It’s because you’re not getting enough done at work, and the reason is interruptions.
In this video Merlin Mann, a well-known productivity guru and creator of the popular 43 Folders website, talks about the importance of getting your inbox to zero as well as strategies for dealing with high volume email.
When the Lord of the Rings movies were released a few years ago I'd hoped that it would spawn a wave of adult-oriented fantasy movies. Sadly, most of the fantasy movies that came out since then (Harry Potter, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Golden Compass, Eragon, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) were weak adaptations catering for younger viewers.
Additionally, Red Eagle Entertainment is planning to release a line of stand-alone Wheel of Time games for all major videogame platforms, as well as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game encompassing the themes, characters and world of the Wheel of Time novels.
I'd previously heard great things about Neal Stephenson, and the first of his books I tried was Anathem.
After reading this book I can say with confidence that Neal Stephenson has earned his place amongst the ranks of my favourite science fiction authors!
Anathem plays out on the world of Arbre, where thousands of years prior to the events in the novel mathematicians, scientists and philosophers (collectively knows as "avout") were cloistered away in monastic concents, stripped of all possessions except the Bolt and the Sphere, and tasked with the role of nurturing all knowledge whilst safeguarding it from the vagaries of the irrational saecular world.
Once every 10, 100, or 1000 years the Concents' decade-, centennial-, or millennial gates open during the ceremony of Apert, allowing the avout to receive visitors and see how the world outside their walls has changed.
The second Neal Stephenson book I read, Snow Crash didn't fail to impress after Anathem.
Snow Crash plays out in a not-too-distant future where super-inflation has ruined the world economy, the United States of America exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, the Mafia controls pizza delivery, and the Internet is virtualized as the "Metaverse", an online world where hackers rule.
When Hiro Protagonist, a hacker, samurai swordsman, and pizza delivery driver, witnesses his best friend frying his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash, he sets out to track down its origin.