Archive for October, 2009

All-In-One Electronic Card (travel light and green!)

I always have this big issue to deal with when I’m travelling “light”: “what should I do with the dozen of plastic cards I have in my wallet?”. I have plastic cards for almost everything: of course my credit card, ID card and driving licence, but also my various customer cards, membership card from various associations and finally frequent flyer card for different airlines.

I let you imagine what my wallet looks like at the end of the day. So it’s always a big deal, when I’m trying to travel light, to decide which card to take or to leave in a drawer.

One other issue is that every time one card expires, its plastic adds to the trash. So do the numerous receipts that we accumulate after swiping our CC.

But a wind of change might blow (soon?)…

The fundamental of the One Card Electronic Card is quite simple: it wants to eliminate the trash and give a break to our poor ever growing wallet (and resolve issues like identity theft via discarded expired CCs) by proposing to be this all-credit-cards-in-one device.

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On one end of the gadget is a Memory Card Slot that will help the user upload their various card Details.

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The other end has a turning-knob that allows one to choose the appropriate card to be swiped.

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The display on the device reflects an identical copy of the card front, while the strip on the back mimics a card’s magnetic strip. Once the transaction is completed, the receipt generated is displayed on the device (no paper receipt) and the info gets stored on the memory card.

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The concept is pretty clear in what it wants to achieve, namely combine all cards that a person uses under one umbrella, reduce generation of paper/plastic trash, identity security etc. The only block is the compatibility with various banks and the willingness of people to rely on a gadget for daily CC transactions. Yes, we do use online, virtual services, but something like this is quite different.

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As a matter of facts this concept may one day revolution our approach to the concept of wallet itself! Imagine that this all-in-one credit card may give us the ability not only to pay our goods, but also services (a virtual e-ticket for public transportations or airplanes, social security, insurance) and feature everything from our secured personal data (passport/ID card/Driving licence) to the family picture we carry everywhere…

Of course there’s always the issue of losing it with all the critical information it carries… but it is just the same problem as loosing your real wallet. Except that we can imagine that this all-in-one wallet will be able to be deactivated remotely and thus safeguards all our data.

A very nice concept indeed.

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Designer: Kim Young Suk

What happened on my twitter this week…

Internet Speeds and Costs Around the World

“Internet access everywhere” or at least in major cities in developed countries, is something we almost take for granted. Wherever we are today, we expect to be able to find this salutary buoy to the outer world, lost in the middle of this ocean of reality (as opposed to virtuality). And finding the right Wifi hot spot (aka free and fast) is the absolute condition to a fun and productive day of work outside of the office.

However it seems that we don’t all compare too well Worldwide. This awesome infographic below shows the internet costs and speeds around the world for the top 20 nations in the ITIF Broadband Rankings.

Average broadband speed and cost WWLD

Number one is, predictably, Japan, where the average broadband speed is 60mbps and they pay $0.27 per 1mbps! It wouldn’t be that nasty to be a mobile worker in the country of the rising sun!

I’m just happy that I’m not living in Mexico or Turkey, where the price of the Internet is literally obscene! I’m though wondering what is the actual monthly fee for 1mbps in China… Probably high too, as expensiveness is even a more effective way than censorship to limit the access of the masses to the Internet.

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via Gizmodo

Picture of the week: living in a small connected world

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Physical distance used to dictate how remote a place was, but no longer. Now that there are airlines reaching around the globe, bullet trains, Autobahn-like superhighways and go-fast boats, the remoteness of the location is measured by how good the transportation is between here and there. In the map above, the darker a location is, the harder it is to get there.

Created by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center in Italy and the World Bank, the map started out as a model based on how long it would take to travel from each point to a city with a population of 50,000.

Just be happy you’re not in Tibet, the most remote place in the world — you’ll travel three weeks to get to a city of any decent size, including 20 days on foot.

Now you know where you have to go if you feel like tasting the edge of a real nomadic life.

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New Scientist, via Fast Company

What happened on my twitter this week…

In a bubble of serenity: indulge yourself with a moment of relaxation

Relax

I’m a happy man. I love my digital nomad life.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to choose every day from where I want to work, how I want to organize my time, but most of all to rediscover the pleasure to ride my bike or drive a car in an empty street. Rush hours? Would you mind reminding me what that is?

Traffic congestions has literally poisoned my life for years. Beside the disgusting smell of exhausts fumes that soaked my clothes every day (I ride a scooter), stress was everywhere, all the time: stress of traffic congestion, stress of the always possible accident I could have with my two-wheels-hell-engine, stress of not being able to find a place to park,  stress of running late, stress of stressed people ridding their car… before landing in an office full of stressed people who got stressed in the same traffic jams. Damn. That was a bad era of BAD stress.

Then things went a little bit better. I did not have to ride any more to my office every day. The telecommuting arrangement I obtained from my management, allowed me then to have a 5 days stress-break every two weeks. Not too bad. However the issue was that I was supposed to telecommute 1,000 miles away from my office, and getting there was no piece of cake. Imagine a 1,000 miles journey starting after a day of work, split between metro, train, bus, airplane, bus, train again and taxi. All of that in 8 hours and following a VERY tight schedule (I only had a 10 minutes window to jump from my plane, grab a bus to arrive on time at the train station to get the last train to my final destination… If I had luck – this means no strikes in Paris or no bad ass air traffic controller in Vienna – I could expect to get home the next day at 2.00am… before getting back on-line at 9.00am.

Wow. Wouldn’t you call that “love” if all of that was for someone? Charlie and Craig Reid, you’re amateurs.

Anyway. After following this “diet” for a couple of month, I started to experience a general weariness. I was tired, easily irritable, and had the feeling that whatever I would try to do, I wouldn’t be able to achieve it. I was not experiencing a confidence crisis. I was just overwhelmed by the stressful idea of my upcoming journeys.

Sooth your mindI personally believe in all the positive effects of those Zen-relaxation-hypnosis like programs. Relaxation is perhaps the single most important key to health and well-being. It is the antidote to stress which is known to contribute to the development of many diseases and ruins the pleasure to leave our lives. When we relax, our body has an opportunity to unwind. I just thought it would be too bad not to carry something all the time with me that could sooth my mind in the middle of my stressful journey.

Then I came up by chance with “Recoding your mind”, a very effective 20 minutes podcast  I downloaded on fluentself.com. I first tried it at home and it worked so fine with me that I’m now carrying it everywhere in my mobile phone in case of stress-emergency. You can find plenty of downloadable podcasts featuring relaxation exercises on the Internet, like here for instance. Personally, I found what I was looking for in terms of relaxation programs with the following selection of MP3.

free relaxation on the go (downloadable mp3):

  • Relaxing at work or during a flight: 60 minutes of soothing relaxation (Hearing Solar Winds by David Hykes on preview on amazon.com – a special thanks to Kerolic for making me discover this great artist). Hykes is a composer fascinated by the deep connection between music and human spirituality. He’s also a pioneer in bringing certain extended vocal techniques to western music. The amazing sounds on this excellent recording are all produced by the human voice, and Hykes’ compositions bring these sounds together into a coherent and engaging whole.

I just recommend that you browse the Internet for similar podcasts, download those you find, and then make your selection on the go, keeping those which work the best with you. Each of us is different, and our preferences (tone of voice, background music, length of the file, topic, etc) vary from one person to another.

Namaste   नमस्ते

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Find your own balance

Why you should take time to relax

  • gives the heart a rest by slowing the heart rate
  • reduces blood pressure
  • slows the rate of breathing, which reduces the need for oxygen
  • increases blood flow to the muscles
  • decreases muscle tension

As a result of relaxation, many people experience –

  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • enhanced immunity
  • increased concentration
  • better problem-solving abilities
  • greater efficiency
  • smoother emotions — less anger, crying, anxiety, frustration
  • less headaches and pain
Relaxation is perhaps the single most important key to health and well-being. It is the antidote to stress which is known to contribute to the development of disease. When we relax, our body has an opportunity to unwind. The benefits of relaxation have been well researched and some of these are summarized below.

Relaxation

  • gives the heart a rest by slowing the heart rate
  • reduces blood pressure
  • slows the rate of breathing, which reduces the need for oxygen
  • increases blood flow to the muscles
  • decreases muscle tension

As a result of relaxation, many people experience –

  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • enhanced immunity
  • increased concentration
  • better problem-solving abilities
  • greater efficiency
  • smoother emotions — less anger, crying, anxiety, frustration
  • less headaches and pain

Coffee break

I just realized that in one of my last posts featuring the necessary tools a digital nomad per se should always carry with him (10 useful tools and tips to help you (better) work remotely!), I irresponsibly forgot one essential element we NEED wherever we work from. It is not exactly what I’d call a tool, nor a gear, or a working strategy. It is more than that. It is a habit for some people, and a deeply rooted daily ceremony for others. It is part of our (working) lives, just as much as the action of breathing.

I guess I could survive a day or two without it, but my productivity and mood would probably be affected by the lack of it. Just the idea of having one now, seems to have released some sparks in my brain. But I guess this is just a psychological Pavlovian side-effect.

There’s not a single blog which talks about digital nomads, mobile workers or telecommuters that hasn’t at least dedicated a post to that thing or made a reference to it.

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That’s right! Coffee is THE thing of mobile workers. THE thing that makes us enjoy working from home or a coffee shop, because we know that whatever we get, it will always be better than this dark, tepid and bitter “juice” we get at the office.

Hey, what do you expect from an engine which runs with cheap fuel? For sure, it won’t be NASCAR in your office (anyway, I’m not sure that even with a heavy dose of magic, the girls from HR or Finance will ever turn into into this)

Anyway. Just to say that coffee rules the days of million of mobile workers, coffee lovers or addicts. So why wouldn’t there be something about coffee on 52nd & West? Something that would feature the best news around coffee, coffee recipies & tips, the best coffee shops where to actually have a good coffee while surfing the web. Just the best tips from the best coffee lovers. FOR YOU!

And maybe George will be happy to share his own experience here some day…

But the best of all: it’s now time for a well deserved (coffee)break!!

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Company Off-Site: camping, fireplace, crackers & beers

Off-Sites are a tradition in many companies. This kind of two or three-days retreat generally aims at bringing people of an office together to do some brainstorming to discuss the new tactics & strategies to implement to boost the business, while giving co-workers a chance to get to know each others better.

Though most of the time off-sites don’t bring the expected results – in terms of idea generation which will actually be implemented to help the business grow… $$$ – they remain a good occasion to have a break during a hectic year and eventually to have fun. And when you’ll be planning your next off-site, forget all those “nice hotel, fancy resort,  and cast of nonthreatening facilitators” to try something really cool, unique and that will probably strengthen like never (or not, depending where you decide to settle “the camp”) the relations your co-workers have with one another.

The mad scientist who created this camp-changing device is named Becky Greenwood. She’s got this idea that will bring camping people (and co-workers!) closer together without sacrificing their privacy.

It works by connecting two “two man” tents with a helpful storage container for tools and crackers and beers (of which you’ll have plenty thanks to the $$$ you saved vs a fancy hotel) and such. Once camping is complete, the bag functions like a normal “extra” camping bag, creating a larger space to hold the tent than the bag that it comes with, making it twice as fast to pack up.

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And just make sure that you don’t forget to carry with you this magical transparent fireplace to add magic to the moment.

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The beauty of the Electrolux Fireplace is that it stands out as this opaque ceramic column that slowly turns translucent to transparent, as the flames flare up. Upon cooling down the column goes back to being the white shaft it was.

Designer: Camillo Vanacore

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I wand to know more on how to organize a successful, memorable and rewarding off-site: read Can This Off-Site Be Saved?

Snow’s Revenge laptop sticker

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the baddest b**ch of them all?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the baddest b**ch of them all?

This “Snow’s Revenge” laptop decal, sold by Vinylville on Etsy, is one of the best uses of logo integration I’ve seen. Unfortunately everyone else on Etsy seems to think so, too–the $14 sticker is currently sold out.

it is also available in a glossy white for dark laptops

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the baddest b**ch of them all?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the baddest b**ch of them all?

Those Google Street View Drivers Had No Idea What They Were In For [Humor]

One great thing about using Google Street View is that you don’t get any more bad surprises when it comes to discovering for instance your new neighbourhood or the real face of the town in which you’ll spend the next month of your summer holiday you booked on line. Quite helpful actually. Personally, I’ve used it a couple of time when searching for a new apartment and to avoid a big disappointment when discovering on-site what the building actually looked like.

But who is behind this great initiative? Do you mean that there REAL people driving Google’s cars to picture-map the streets??

Apparently, those two Google Street View drivers had no idea what they were in for…