For about a year now, I've been very punctual. Before making a concerted effort to be on time to everything, I was like any other average person-- sometimes on time, often a few minutes late, occasionally very late. When I identify something I'm bad at, especially something with a prescription that requires little more than willpower, I get very excited about it. That isn't to say that there are so few of these things that they're hard to find, just that introspection can be difficult, making identifying personal weaknesses tricky.
My initial impetus to become punctual was partly that it was an easily correctable deficiency, and partly that it seemed like a trait of a champion. Would most people I admire show up on time to things? Yes, they would.
As I thought more about it, especially during the early phases where being on time was a bit of a challenge, I realized that punctuality is more than just being on time. It's an extension of your honesty.
It is very important to me to never lie. I'm not perfect, of course, but because this is such an important thing to me, I do a good job of it most of the time. When I thought about it, though, if I say that I'm going to be somewhere at ten thirty, and I show up at ten thirty-four, that's a lie. It's a small lie, but it's a lie nonetheless. Even small lies have an effect, both on others and myself.
A more tangible way to think of this sort of honesty is to call it trustworthiness. Let's say I have two friends, Bob and Rob. Bob always shows up to everything exactly on time. Rob sometimes shows up on time, but is sometimes late. Even with no other information, I'd be more likely to trust Bob with a secret or an important task.
Being on time is also a sign of respect. I feel respected when people show up to things on time, and I know others feel the same way. If I'm not willing to show someone the respect of showing up on time, should I really even be meeting up with them?
The first part of becoming punctual, like all habits, was to have a good reason for it. After mulling the above thoughts for a while, I came to the conclusion that being late was unacceptable.
Once the mental part was taken care of, the practice of being on time is very easy. All you have to do is show up five minutes early to everything, and then just read a kindle book on your phone until it's the exact right time. This is a very basic hack that will make you appear to have perfect timing.
Sometimes you get stuck at a long red, or you have to wait for a train, or you need an extra minute to find your keys. Giving yourself that five minute buffer allows for that, meaning that on average you're "paying" only three minutes per trip to be on time. That's a minor cost to become a punctual person and never feel rushed.
It's a dangerous night to be walking outside. Not for me, but for the tiny little frogs that dot the gravel road. I swish my overpowered Surefire flashlight across the dark gravel trying to avoid stepping on them. When I get close they freeze in their tracks, making them harder to see. This would be a good reflex if I was trying to eat them, but it's working against them tonight.
I'm walking down to the beach for old times' sake. It's 2am and I'm in Milton, Vermont. Calling it a beach is generous. Shale rocks densely scattered over green outcroppings of weeds lead up to murky water. There are a few docks and a few boats pulled up out of the water. They're not locked to anything - they're just sitting there.
I crouch, pick up one of the little green frogs, and watch him slowly climb around my wrist as I rotate it. I probably haven't touched a frog in ten years. Playing with frogs used to be my favorite thing to do when I was in Vermont. I liked to catch them in a bucket and then empty it into the nearby creek and watch them swim away. Sometimes we'd throw them in the air so that they'd land in the lake. That seems a bit inhumane now, but we didn't know better back then. We were kids. I lower my arm to the ground and nudge the frog off of my wrist.
Earlier this week I wrote a post about "Project Stargate" - our attempt at an "always on" telepresence solution between our DC & SF offices.
Justin Thorpe of Clearspring suggested I contact Rob Bailey at SimpleGeo after reading my post, because SimpleGeo has also implemented a Stargate type solution. So I did.
Rob was kind enough to show me SimpleGeo's implementation. And it rocks! They have an office in Boulder, CO & in San Francisco, CA.
Some suggestions from Rob & Team:
Earlier this week I wrote a post about "Project Stargate" - our attempt at an "always on" telepresence solution between our DC & SF offices. Justin Thorpe of Clearspring suggested I contact Rob Bailey at SimpleGeo after reading my post, because SimpleGeo has also implemented a Stargate type solution. So I did. Rob was kind enough to show me SimpleGeo's implementation. And it rocks! They have an office in Boulder, CO & in San Francisco, CA. Some suggestions from Rob & Team: Don't use the standard webcam microphone (too much feedback). Instead, they use the Polycom C100S USB speakerphone (it's meant for Skype, but it works for iChat too) Speaking of iChat, SimpleGeo uses a Mac Mini with iChat, which lets them connect up to 4 parties. As per my post earlier this week, I opted for Windows machines since Skype HD 5.0 Beta is only available on Windows. Turns out that the Logitech Vid software works better than Skype anyway, and that's also only available on Windows too. However, iChat was running beautifully on the SimpleGeo setup, so it looks like you have good options whether you choose PC or Mac. Rob also recommended the unit be put on a cart with wheels. "We wheel it around all the time," he said. They even bring it over to another part of their office for all-hands meetings. They also keep it on all day, and so I asked them about the "creep factor" that I was very worried about in my last post. But they said it's no big deal. It helps to keep the unit in a corner away from people, but Rob said it's "just like having someone in the room." So, having the rig on a cart with wheels that can be moved seems to be working well for SimpleGeo. Videos are coming showing the SimpleGeo implementation. There's a big opportunity here for a startup to solve this problem. There's no really good software solution out there for an "always on" type setup. If you're a soon-to-be-funded Y Combinator company, or definitely take a look at how you could solve this problem. What's missing is: Ability for screen to be blurry unless someone "wakes up" the system, meaning you can still see people & movement, but not make out specifics - think of a translucent effect. I'm thinking this would help with any potential "creep factor" arising from this being always on A software + hardware solution that would allow for it to be muted all the time (also something SimpleGeo said they often did) and a big red easy-to-push button (think the size of the Staples button) for muting & unmuting the audio + good audio, like from the Polycom. This way people could quickly & easily ping the other side. Maybe the software interacts with the hardware so when the audio is un-muted, the screen goes from blurry to clear. Ability to connect with multiple parties in realtime Have a resizeable box of your video feed, to remind people that it's on and they're on camera. Currently no software implementation seems to have a resizeable thumbnail box of your feed. Anyone up to the challenge? Here's video of Rob discussing the Skype Video Phone (he doesn't like it): And here's video of the Stargate implementation that SimpleGeo uses: