Wow, this guy is trying to do the same thing as me. Except he's given himself 20 years to do it (I'm shooting for 10). And he's way ahead of me. And he's a couple years younger than me. And he's single with no kids. Sheesh...guess I have my work cut out for me.

Great website, though!
On Lifehacker: Understanding camera basics: ' has not experienced the 'true joy' of photography until one has adjusted the aperture dial based on depth of field desired and light available, gently twisted the focus ring, then clicked the shutter release to hear that beautiful, hollow, mechanical sound of the mirror and shutter moving out of the way so light can reach the exposure plate at the back of the camera. It's kinda like that first drink of coffee in the morning, or clearing all the dots on a level of Pac-Man, or when the lawnmower starts perfectly on the first pull, or when you land the bat right smack in line with the centroid of the get the point.'
One year ago today, my Grandfather died.
I love Pandora. Listen to my station, LemonHooverKraft. It's built on Lemon Jelly, Kraftwerk, Hooverphonic and Portishead, with a lot of custom selection of songs.
Comment at Lifehacker: Pickle jar time management.
The Future Is Free (haven't we heard that before?) A few months ago my hard drive crashed and I was forced to do a clean install of Windows XP. Thankfully I was able to save all my data. I used the crash as an opportunity to revisit my software choices. The result of this is that, excluding the operating system and a few games, I now have only three “non-free” applications installed on my computer: Outlook (personal information management & email; I'd probably use a different program if I didn't sync with a PocketPC smartphone), Quicken (personal finance), and Pinnacle Studio (video editing). These are the only three applications for which I could find no suitable free/open-source replacement. Here are a few of the notable programs installed on my system:
  • Firefox - replaces Internet Explorer
  • - replaces Microsoft Office
  • GIMP - replaces Photoshop
  • Ad-Aware, Spybot S&D, ZoneAlarm - security, cleaning & firewall
  • Computer Associates EZAntiVirus - anti-virus
  • iTunes - music player (syncs with iPod; if I didn't have an iPod I'd likely use WinAmp)
  • Others worth mentioning: WS FTP LE; CCleaner; TMPGEnc; Trillian; uTorrent; MultiMon Taskbar; ObjectDock; Yahoo! Go for TV; Google Desktop; MAME...
It feels good not to pay for anything.
Comment at Lifehacker: Cooking at Home.
I recently finished reading "Flow", and for the most part greatly enjoyed it. As I neared the end of the book, I found Csiksczentmihalyi's reconciliation between "being fully in the present" and "creating ambitious long-term goals" a bit tenuous, but I believe he did just barely pull off his point of view. However, some of the author's discussion of "flow experiences" makes me wary, and reminds me of me one of my least favorite passages in the "Tao Te Ching":

"Not praising the worthy prevents contention,
Not esteeming the valuable prevents theft,
Not displaying the beautiful prevents desire.

"In this manner the sage governs people:
Emptying their minds,
Filling their bellies,
Weakening their ambitions,
And strengthening their bones.

"If people lack knowledge and desire
Then they can not act;
If no action is taken
Harmony remains."

This passage recalls the author's contention that we are happiest when we have challenges appropriately suited to our abilities--the underlying thread throughout the book. This is the danger of "flow"--that we engage in experience that is challenging and enjoyable, but never push our striving to the next level, since this inevitably involves some pain or unpleasant (as opposed to flow-like) hard work.

To his credit, however, the author does make clear that it is important to strive for "ever increasing complexity" in our life-challenges, implying that this will lead to more fully developed selves.

If you're interested in other non-trite, fairly well researched books on the topic of "how to live in the world", I can heartily recommend "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell.

(Original post at Lifehacker here.)