Today’s magic

When I left home in the morning, I just said: “Hey Siri, turn off the lights”, and that was it. I looked on my phone for a car, which I don’t own, booked and opened it without even touching it. My destination was already loaded on the GPS-Nav, I only had to follow it to get the airport.

Thousands of people go through the Vienna Airport every day, and large metal pipes with wings take them all over the world with absolute precision. Two hundred people are easily fit into one of those winged pipes and delivered at destination.

On my economy class seat I have a power supply for my laptop, USB charging plugs for my devices, the WiFi works slow but steadily on this Lufthansa flight across the Atlantic Ocean. I’m currently at 11052 meters above the water, and I’m working as I was sitting at my desk.

I exchanged a few emails, read the news, connected with my colleagues, crunched numbers, and published results. All of this flying.

It’s amazing how quickly technology is improving our lives but what amazes me is how quickly we adapt to it. To the point that when Siri misses one of my commands I get annoyed. I mean, it misses one command every ten or so, and I have to repeat myself. Then I realize that I’m giving commands to a machine, and it understands, and it executes. How can I get so annoyed if missed a few words now and then?


How I ended up with a longboard on the wall

When men reach fifty years of age, they get the so-called middle age crisis and buy a Porsche.

Not all of them, but some do. I haven’t got to fifty yet, but I already had my aging crisis. I was 31, so we can call it a third-age-crisis, perhaps.

Not having enough money to buy a Porsche, and not being interested in fancy cars, I bought a longboard. It’s essentially a skateboard, but bigger, longer, and tougher.

The relevant piece of information: I had never skateboarded before, nor I had ever possessed a skateboard. I had never spent time with skaters, nor I had played any video game of the Tony Hawk’s franchising.

It all started when I was in Amsterdam with Letizia, earlier that year. It was the beginning of 2011, and I was attending a conference. We took a few days off, as sometimes we do, and explored the city together.

We ended up visiting a modern art gallery; I don’t even remember which one, I just recall it was in front of a canal, which is no use of reference when speaking about Amsterdam, where everything is basically in front of a canal.

At this particular art gallery, there was a video, looping every few minutes. It was featuring two guys, wearing suits, riding their longboards downhill on an empty Californian road. I was hypnotized, I couldn’t help, I needed a longboard.

I ended up riding it for a few weeks, enjoying the new experience. However, it’s not hanging on the wall, covered in signatures. I quickly figured out that I need to turn it into something interesting, once the enthusiasm was gone. So I asked my friends to sign the bottom of the board, and now it’s a nice hipster touch on my wall.

By the way, this is the video I was referring to. Enjoy!


Take your time

There are days when going out seems so difficult. Every item on the schedule gets easily paired with a compelling excuse. They don’t even need to be too complicated to justify staying in.

This happens to me on weekends, when being alone in the city is the only option. I’m a social person, outgoing most of the times, but every now and then I need to take my own day off.

I don’t shop, I don’t go out, I don’t write, I don’t take pictures. However this little writing commitment is breaking the flatness of this Sunday.

I guess pushing myself away from the known territory was part of the deal, so here I am, dedicating these ten minutes on the metro to this blogpost.

Yes, at the end I got out because there is a concert I have a ticket for. This band played ten years ago in a club we used to go every Saturday.

Ten years after I’m going to assist them again, in a different city, with different people, it’s a different me and most probably it will be a different experience.

I’m kinda happy I decided to go, I mean, 15 minutes ago, when I was almost on the border of calling myself sick. If this writing excercise is supposed to take me out of my comfort zone, it’s totally working.

I took my day off and now I’m taking time for a well welcome performance. Take your time, it will turn out well. No worries.


Momentum, Continuity, Commitment

I got quite some feedback about a previous post about career choices. In particular about the idea of quitting as the hardest decision.

We live under the constant pressure of success. The definition of success is unclear, for some is money, for others it’s the job title they have, others find success in the relationship with the loved ones. But we all agree that strength is the key to success..

We celebrate momentum, continuity, commitment. Which makes sense if we consider life as a straight path, where the goal is clearly located at the end of it and the only action required is to keep going.

The truth is that our goals, even when well determined, are never in sight. They are not at the end of a straight tunnel; they tend to be somewhere hidden in a maze. The ability to navigate the maze is the real key to reaching them.

So it’s true that momentum, continuity, and commitment to the action of discovery are key to find them; the ability to make choices is crucial to be effective at solving the maze.

Real choices are never about what we pick, they are rather about what we decide to leave behind, understanding that going in one direction, precludes all the others and very often there is no turning back.

Here comes the necessity of developing the ability to quit. As soon as the condition change and new information show we are heading in the wrong direction, we need to adjust the path. Keeping the old route would be unreasonable, stupid, and plain wrong. More often that we would like to admit, the route needs to be completely recalculated and letting go is the most reasonable choice. The hardest for sure, but the best in the long run.

Only developing the ability to quit, we find the true value of momentum, continuity, and commitment on what matters now.


Five months with Apple Watch

When I got my Apple Watch, I was simply curious about it. I’m an Apple fan, it’s not a secret, and the Watch was just the latest gadget available.

However, I got fond of it over time. It’s just a watch, and it’s the great thingĀ about it. I mostly use it to check the time but having the next event on the schedule is very handy. I also like the quick access to timers and alarms.

Some people like to have all their notifications on their wrist, but not me. I have been notification free for two years now; on my phone they are completely disabled, so are they on my watch.

Apps are in general still useless; I didn’t even reinstall them after the last reset, which was needed when I paired it to my new phone. However the Wallet (the former Passbook) is super cool at airports.

I track my workouts, it’s nice as an alarm clock, it’s great for timers. I also enjoy the easy access to Siri and now with the new Philips Hue system, I vocally control all the lights in my apartment. I can specify single actions like “turn on the light on the table”, “dim lights to 25%”, “turn red the light in the entrance”, and I can recall scenes like “set up for movies”, getting a nice TV friendly lighting preset.

I might get a new sport band, just to give it a twist, now it’s black on black, I might go for purple or light blue (Cerulean FTW!). But again, it’s just for pure aesthetics, like a watch should be.

The Apple Watch is the least gadgetty gadget I have, and probably it’s the real beauty of it.

Luca Sartoni - selfportrait

Who are you?

Traveling this much, I have to identify myself often. Every time I board a plane, every time I cross a border. In countries like Italy, I have to identify myself in hotels. They take a scan of my ID card because the law requires that.

Sometimes I wonder how cool it would be not to depend on a paper passport or a plastic ID card to proof our identity. There must be a more effective way to proof who we are in front of strangers.

Humans had this problem since forever, and as soon as machines appeared we simply formalised different stages of our identification: identification, authorization, accounting, right management and so on.

It’s complicated because so many aspects of our social interactions are involved. It’s not just about having a picture and a name next to it, it also depends on who made that document, who verified that information, who accepts those credentials as true.

I find very obsolete having 10 to 15 different ID cards in my wallet. At the end of the day, my credit card is just an ID card, which claims I’m entitled to credit rights. My Drive Now card just identifies me against random cars in the street, so I can rent one when I need it. My gym membership card just ensures that a male guy named Luca can access the club premises at specific times of the day and access specific areas, instead of others.

It would be cool if there were just one card, or maybe zero cards, that would simply identify who I am, and all the other services would simply authorize transactions to it, depending on subscriptions or properties associated with it. However centralising all that power can be worrisome.

It’s an interesting problem, worth to be explored.


Unite and Prosper

When Julius Caesar wanted to conquer Gaul, used a warfare technique called “Divide ed Impera”, which means “Separate and Conquer”.

He was heading the most impressive army of the world, very prepared, well equipped, and extremely organized. They had a definite hierarchy, the chain of command was solid from the last footman to the General itself.

On the other side of the front, there were hundreds of tribes, spread over a large surface of land, related to each other with weak family bonds, but not very well interconnected.

The game was simple for Caesar, he made sure they were not talking to each other, and leveled every single tribe against him, just crushing them with his impressively organized force.

Europe kept this attitude of being fragmented for the next 2000 years and maybe it’s the very identity we have. Every country has a different culture, different language, and until recently, a different currency.

Our generation forgets how divided Europe was until the Schengen trait. Now we fly smoothly across the continent and most of the time we don’t even have to change the money we have in our pockets.

We still have a few barriers with languages, but English is helping a lot.

We should build more bridges and dismantle more walls.

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