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Living a Passionate Life

December 30, 2013 1 comment

milkcarton

You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been visibly absent from posting over the past few months. The long and the short of it is that quite a few things have happened in my life which have led me to focus on, well…, my life.

The biggest impact was the loss of my mother to lung cancer back in October. For those of you privileged to know her, she was quite the lady and she kept her wit and humor intact to the very end. For the most part, her passing was relatively quick and heaven truly gained an angel that day. She was a profound influence in my life and I will miss her deeply. I kept this event pretty much to myself, but for those of you who were aware and comforted me during this troubling time, thank you. My mom always kept things to herself (including her health issues); maybe I am more like her than I originally thought.

NewCaledoniaTrip

Not long after her passing I had to travel out of the country for business.  My journey took me to the island of New Caledonia – a French territory northeast of Australia. That was roughly a 22 hour trip and during that time, I was able to think about my life, where I currently was, and where I wanted to be.

What I realized during that time is that in many areas of my life I was simply going through the motions.  I was reminded of the following quote from Steve Jobs,

 

Steve Jobs

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet,  keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find  it.”

Our time on earth is too short to live without passion but that is exactly what I was doing – and exactly what I promised myself I would never do. I came to the realization that I was settling in way too many areas of my life and it was time for a change.

pas·sion

noun \ˈpa-shən\

: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

They say that you should never make big decisions right after a life changing event, but I have never been one to listen to advice when my heart tells me otherwise.  As such, I resigned from my job at Continuum Labs to return to the pursuit of my dreams. Continuum is a great company and I truly believe in their products and services; I just didn’t feel like my contributions were enough to warrant my being there. And those that I was making were not aligned with my passions; it was time for me to reboot my career. I will always be their biggest fan and can only hope that in some small way my tenure has made a positive impact. I will no longer work with my close Continuum friends on a daily basis, but something tells me that we will work together again some day; I look forward to that day. (BTW, if you haven’t had a chance to check out their latest app, CareSync, I HIGHLY recommend it. You will never look at your healthcare the same way again.)

So what am I doing now? My LinkedIn profile says that I am an independent consultant with a company called ForgeRock. What that essentially means is that I am refocusing my career on those areas that make me want to jump out of bed each morning: privacy, identity, trust, and making the Internet a safer place to be. I am continuing to work on the security projects that helped make me Platinum with both Marriott and Delta this year, but I am using my downtime to work on my own security-focused applications and services. While they might not be as sexy as CareSync, I believe there is a definite need for what I am envisioning; but only time will tell. In the meantime, stay tuned.

moretime

An unexpected benefit behind all of this is that I am now working at home and am spending more time with my wife and kids. We talk more. I drink morning coffee with my wife, and I am actually there when my kids have a problem. I now see things around the house that need my attention (and what my family has been putting up with as I travel to work each day). Rather than making excuses that I am too tired, I now have the time to fix those things that need fixing. I have the time to make a healthy lunch (or gorge on the box of Oreos if I so desire). I also have time to reboot my exercise life and have the flexibility to take walks with my family as well. Simply put, I have time.

So does this now mean that I will spend this time on blogging, tweeting, and participation in online activities? Maybe. But as with any precious asset, time must be invested properly and spent wisely. With the passing of my mother, I have been reminded that one of the wisest investments you can make is in spending time with others and investing in friendships is never a bad investment.

So who knows where I will devote my time the only thing guaranteed is that it will involve others.

Again, stay tuned.

The Dimishing Non-Digital World (or How to get Outed by a Photo Booth)

August 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently attended a high school reunion where a major draw involved the use of a photo booth. You remember photo booths, right? Kiosks where one or more people hide behind a curtain and take pictures of themselves in all sorts of poses. At the end of the session, the kiosk spits out copies of the pictures much to the chagrin of those who aren’t quite as photogenic as they initially thought they were. In our case, reunion attendees were treated to an assortment of funny hats, glasses, and mustaches before entering the booth. They posed with silly expressions, engaged in silly activities, and in some cases even took silly actions to the extreme (I will leave that to your own imagination).

The point I am trying to make is that once the curtain was closed and the camera light came on people began performing in ways that would be considered unheard of in other settings. Adults who mere minutes before were prim and proper were now raving exhibitionists behind the privacy of a thin veil of cloth. When the curtain was once again opened, they returned to their “normal” behavior and giggled as they left the booth with memories in hand.

So why the sudden change? How did a thin piece of cloth make any difference as to how they acted? The difference was not the curtain, the difference stemmed from their perception of privacy and the context of the situation. People tend to act differently in settings where they feel their actions are private and when the context of the situation is known, they oftentimes let their guard down and act more naturally (or more boldly as the case may be). Just think about Congressman Weiner and his Twitter outing, Alec Baldwin and his fatherly advice to his daughter, or even conversations that you may have had over email, chat, or text when you didn’t think anyone was looking. When people feel more secure in their settings (privacy) and know the rules by which to play (context), they oftentimes act in totally different ways.

The problem with this behavior in a digital society is that you are never truely off the grid and it is all too easy for things to be taken out of context when information is shared inadvertantly. In our current digital society privacy is a facade as few companies take privacy seriously and there are fewer online places where your information is truly secure. Unfortunately, that can also be said of our offline world as more and more of it is becomming digitized as well.

Even within the sacred confines of a photo booth our privacy is not really private at all. Ironically photo booths now take digital photos which are then stored on the kiosk’s computer hard drive. While this expidites the printing process, the possability of those photos being shared with unintended parties is very real. At least that is what I observed shortly after the reunion when pictures from the photo booth began appearing on Facebook. At first I thought that attendees were scanning their own photos and posting them. This thought was immediately dismissed when I saw my own pictures start to appear.

From what I can surmise, the operator of the photo booth provided digital copies of everyone’s photos to one of the reunion committee members who took it upon themselves to post the pictures to Facebook. I am not going to get into the legal, moral, or ethical issues behind this action, but suffice to say, no notice was posted and no permission was granted. Now, I truly believe that those involved had the best intentions of the reunion attendees in mind, but the problem is that they did not have the right to make that decision on their own.

Intersection cameras, movies on demand (on any device), automobiles that act as WIFI hot spots, Internet connected scales, and yes photo booths – these are only a few examples of how every aspect of our life is becoming affected (or even consumed) by digitalization. All of that content is finding its way into the hands of people who may have good intentions, but who do not understand the ramifications that disclosure of such information may have. As such, they may not take the same care that you or I might take with our own information and may share it with others – all under the guise of good intentions.

So what happens to our privacy when our information falls into the hands of others? Is it even possible to assume that they have our best intentions in mind when their own companies make money by selling our data to the highest bidder? Can we assume that the context in which we operated is even valid when it may simply be a ruse to get us to let our guards down? Like Rip Van Winkle awaking from his 20 year slumber only to find a world that he no longer recognizes, we too must take care that we resist our own apethetical slumber or we too will wake up to a world we no longer recognize.