Max

After 18 grueling hours, Maximo Alejandro “Max” Yulo Medina was born on April 11, 2015 at 6:11PM in Mt. Sinai/Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, New York.

We’ll end up spending the next four days in the hospital due to complications  during labor. It started with my wife and I getting trigger happy with the epidural button, her tiny pelvis and Max ingesting some meconium when he got distressed. It was the longest day, and during the labor my father-in-law and I chose to wait at the ground floor lobby – after being told that they had to bring Rica to surgery to perform an emergency c-section. As soon as we got a message from my mother-in-law that Rica finally gave birth, we were relieved.

As it turns out, Max wasn’t breathing when he first came out. After performing  an emergency procedure to facilitate breathing. Rica just had enough time to see Max before they brought him to the NICU. Needless to say, we were pretty much worried at this point.

Thanks to the amazing team of doctors and nurses in the hospital, mother and child recovered well, with Rica managing to walk a few days later. It was pretty moving to see Max for the first time and holding his hand (he got his dad’s giant hands). Max started feeding and breathing well, and would eventually get a clean bill of health from the hospital. I can’t imagine how Rica and I would survive if it weren’t for the support given to us by our in-laws. It really made all the difference in the world.

It’s been a little over a month since we welcomed Max. He’s been great, sleeping for 4-5 hours straight and loves being breastfed. Max has gained a bit of weight since he was born and his cheeks are starting to swell up. We typically get a day where he’s extremely fussy, then get rewarded with a pretty relaxing, zen-like day after.

I jokingly told my friends that we’ve pretty much hit our quota for life changes this year, having moved offices, had a baby AND moved to a slightly bigger (but cheaper!) apartment in the Upper West Side. We can’t deny the fact that we’re exhausted, but it’s balanced out  by  the sheer joy of Max’s presence. We think he’s going to enjoy the rest of the year, now that it’s starting to get warm.

Assigning Task Clusters Across Different Browsers

I’ve been finding myself opening multiple browsers types (say, Chrome, Safari and Firefox)  just to run specific workflows at work. This was brought about by a recent acquisition by my company that required me to log in to different accounts from the same website. Going through this process was pretty hard, considering that  I had to log-in to some sites where I actually have a personal account (case in point, Amazon). So as to preserve my cookies and a rock-solid Chrome workflow that relies heavily on the Bookmarks bar, I’ve resorted to opening Safari and Firefox just to perform a series of tasks.

Having said that, I’m totally fine with this until a better solution comes to Chrome (or a better approach). I find grouping tasks by browser pretty productive as well since I have a different set of browser-specific bookmarks that I can just click in sequence. To illustrate, I currently use Firefox for Payroll, Accounts Receivable/Payable and updating our monthly P&L. Safari on the other hand, is used for tasks that require me to regularly check account balances. It’s just easier this way. I once used the Incognito Window in Chrome for this, only to realize that I’m just wasting so much time trying to log-in and out of these accounts. So the obvious solution? Multiple browsers.

So let’s get this out of the way, Chrome remains to be my default browser but I’m not happy with the way they supposedly improved the native bookmarking feature. I find it really hard to manage multiple bookmarks and organizing them to workflow specific folders. It’s a classic case of list view doing the job pretty well.

Panic's Status Board

Revisiting Status Board

I first talked about almost forgotten apps in my last post with the OS X Dashboard. Since then, I actually took some time diving deeper with OS X’s notification center. Maybe it’s wasn’t them (Apple) all along and I was just being stubborn, hanging on to this to feature. I cleaned up my notification center a bit and still find more value in getting some stuff done via the OS X Menu Bar (with an active developer community around it).  I’m still using my Dashboard.

Another ghost town that I’m still rooting for is Panic Software’s Status Board App. Released in April of 2013, it  reached #1 on the AppStore charts when it launched. Like a lot of people back then, I was a big fan of the original blog post that inspired the creation of the app. Paying $9.99 for the base app was a no-brainer.  I’ve always dreamed of  a dashboard as my third screen so a few days later, I ended up buying a gooseneck mount in Amazon.  Community driven sites like statusboardapp.info had a steady stream of DIY panels in its database.  Apps like Vigil (which I still use) and GoSquared played really well with the board with native support.

The Status Board app got its last update in October 2014 and by this point, I’ve stopped using the app. Some fans have expressed their disappointment too, it seems. On the app page, you’ll see 1-star reviews from users complaining about how Panic just abandoned the app. My interest in the app came back when I upgraded my RescueTime account to the premium version and learned that they have a custom panel for Status Board. Awesome! Almost two years after first installing Status Board , I’m rebuilding my board again and looking for panels that I missed.

So maybe it’s not really a ghost town, it’s still ranked pretty well in the Productivity Charts. My only wish at this point is for SaaS developers to allocate some time and resources (I don’t think it’s that complicated) to add Status Board support. After all, it was what prompted me to sign-up for services like Vigil and GoSquared before.  Sure, there are a lot of DIY panels out there in the wild, freely available on Github but adding these to a Status Board still takes a lot of work (except for the awesome Fitboard.me ).

Developers should also be incentivized here, like a simple app-store for Statusboard panels. IFTTT and Zapier support would be great too.

The OS X Dashboard

I’ve been a fan of hot corners on OS X since I switched to a Mac in 2006. On the top left, I have Mission Control, Notification Center  on the top right, Desktop on the bottom right and on the bottom left, you’ll activate OS X’s legacy Dashboard view. Yep, the one with the widgets.

Some people have been declaring the Dashboard’s demise for quite some time now.  While people are celebrating its evolution to the notification center, some are shocked to learn that it still shipped with the latest version of OS X with no new features or improvements whatsoever. While OS X has transitioned to a flat aesthetic, the Dashboard seems to hang on to its Skeumorphic UI. Not even Apple could be bothered to change it. And oh, have you seen the Throwback Thursday feel of  Dashboard website?

Is this the equivalent of an OS appendix? 

Well I’m quite happy with my appendix thank you very much. Despite the obvious lack of support, I still find myself using the dashboard only because I’ve built certain habits around it through the years. It’s just easier to browse stocks and foreign exchange rates, use the calculator and view my the world clock instead of scrolling down notification center.

I still see no reason to decommission my Dashboard. It has served me well. The fact that Dashboards have a full screen view dedicated to it means that you can focus on each and every widget. It’s just a shame that we’re not seeing new widgets for stubborn ones like me. Maybe it’s time to develop meaningful experiences again on the dashboard?

2014: A Year in Review

2014 brought a renewed focus to things that matter. I’ve been blessed with a vibrant professional career and a family that’s due to expand early next year (read: my wife and I are having a baby boy!). It’s the last day of 2014 and I’ve booked a Breather room in Central Park South . My yearly planning session begins with an honest review of how I spent the past 365 days.

It’s been almost 3 years since I moved to New York. Since then I’ve gotten married (2013), stayed in 5 different apartments and consumed a lot of pizza. I made it a point to write again this year so hopefully I can keep this up despite the distractions of Social Media, Tumblr and Medium. It just feels good to talk about anything on my own site. While this post may not cover everything that happened in 2014, it pretty much represents some of the notable ones.

Open for Business: The Year of the Side Hustle

I didn’t really have a concrete game plan in 2014 in terms of rekindling my love affair with personal projects. I just knew that I had to do it again, having left a hybrid corporate/entrepreneurial life in the Philippines. Who would’ve thought I’d end up with 3 new ventures? I talked about my remittance-in-kind website AndyanAgad here and a few days ago, I wrote about my hot sauce project Traydor. Since I plan to do more projects in 2015, I partnered with my long-time collaborator Jeffery in setting up a software foundry in the Philippines called Tweeklabs, with 3 employees and counting.

It’s been a great learning experience, considering all three businesses have different revenue models. Most importantly, these businesses have generated enough revenue to make them all worthwhile.

Analytics

It’s all about adding a new practice layer every year. In 2013, I decided to be a web designer and bill man hours for it. This year, well, I wanted to develop some expertise on web analytics. There’s a huge analytics talent gap in the market right now and while data science requires a special aptitude in Maths and Statistics, Google Analytics provided me with an accessible training plan (through Analytics Academy) and more importantly, a lot of opportunity to practice through my clients. After going through the initial course and doing lots of self-study, I got my certification from Google in less than a month. Devoting a couple of hours daily to learn this skill has proven to be useful in numerous situations at work.

Writing

JC and Seth Godin

Of course I had to do content marketing this year. It was inevitable. To be honest, I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about “corporate blogging” becoming a thing again. But it was more than that. After completing the Copyblogger Authority course at the start of the year and actually doing content marketing at work, I can confidently say that content should be the cornerstone of anybody’s marketing plan. Key highlights include flying to Denver to attend Authority Intensive and almost reading the Buffer Blog archives in its entirety.

In a past life, I used to write for Entrepreneur Magazine Philippines. Did it for almost 5 years. Getting back to writing and applying what I learned has helped scratch that itch.

Here are some select articles from 2014

Blueprint: How to Create a Secure Downloads System in WordPress
Better Social Media Measurement with Google Analytics Solutions Gallery
Get Qualified People with 4 Facebook Advertising Strategies

Reading

The writer should also be a reader. I’m on my 3rd year of doing the Goodreads reading challenge and for 2014, I read a total of 24 books. I could’ve read more but my Instapaper reading list got in the way. Standouts include Tracey Thorn’s Bedsit Disco Queen, a pretty candid memoir from the other half of Everything but the Girl and Greg Sestero’s “The Disaster Artist,” which was an entertaining read, given that it was also my first time to view the Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” at the Landmark Sunshine.

View the full list here.

Music 

jcmedina_listening_trends__5_

Music provided a lot of warmth during colder months as shown by the squid-like graph above. Critics have officially declared 2014 as a horrible year for music but I personally loved Yumi Zouma, Little Dragon, Basement Jaxx  and La Roux. Yes, there was an obvious shortage of great music, but that also meant revisiting old favorites like Everything but the Girl and Gonzales.

Rica Zouma

Travel

travels

I go where my friends and family want me to go. Due to its proximity to New York, we found ourselves escaping this year’s Polar Vortex to Cancun, which turned out to be a real vacation where you stuff yourself silly, drink frozen margaritas the whole day and not leave your hotel. Bermuda, a trip we took during Summer, had the most amazing beaches.

Work, on the other hand, allowed me to see the rest of Murica with me visiting Phoenix and Denver for the first time. I had a short trip to San Francisco in the first half of the year and actually considered moving there. But for now, NYC is home.

GR Caribe by Solaris Cancun Mexico

Niagara Falls

Bermuda 2014

Montreal 2014

Movement 

I fell in love with running again this year and clocked in over 400 miles with my old pair of Lunarglider 2s.  With an apartment conveniently located between two amazing public parks (Riverside and Central Park), I had no excuse to run. Weekend runs have turned into a 3x a week morning running habit, and I push myself to do longer and longer runs. With baby Max on the horizon, it’s time to get fit.

So I tried crossfit…it was a disaster.

JAM-fitbit-2014

A record setting year for fitbit miles. Thanks to running!

 

JAM-nike-2014

Slower but more or less consistent.

Productivity

I’ve always been obsessed with ambient activity tracking (I am my own personal NSA) so upgrading my Rescue Time account was a no-brainer.

RescueTime_-_Your_Yearly_dashboard

A productivity pulse of 73 is okay, by any standard…considering my Macbook Air also doubles as a personal machine.

Here are some boring stats (in bullet points):

  • Work Email – 189 hours
  • Work Chat – 125 hours
  • Basecamp – 88 hours
  • Photoshop – 33 hours
  • Facebook – 87 hours (yikes!)
  • Twitter – 30 hours (yikes!)
  • Spotify – 22 hours
  • Soundcloud – 10 hours
  • Evernote – 18 hours
  • Wikipedia – 14 hours

Meal of the Year

Excellent Pork Chop House

Eating out in New York can really put a dent in your wallet. My wife and I decided to eat out less and just cook dinner (roughly 5x a week).  Still, we had a chance to enjoy meals at Perla, All’Onda, Maialino and other restaurants that had restaurant week promotions. We’re cheap!

Speaking of cheap, New York will never run out of cheap meals that make eating out truly worth it. I’m a creature of habit so it’s no wonder that my favorite meal of the year was the Porkchop over Rice at Taiwan Pork Chop House in Chinatown. For a little over five bucks, it gives you an amazing piece of pork with some pickled vegetables, an egg on top of rice. A close second would be the my happy $21 meal at the Flatiron District’s  Taste of Persia, composed of Kabab, Fesenjan with Saffron Rice paired with their signature Ash Reshteh. The graciousness of its owner, Saeed makes the meal extra good.

Kabab, Fesenjan and Ash e Reshteh

 The Year Ahead

The beginning of 2014 had a lot uncertainty to it until it emerged as one of my most productive years.  2015 brings about a lot of change with fatherhood as my flagship project. My wife and I already repurposed some space in the apartment, we’re putting stuff into storage and anxiously waiting until our little winter baby  pops out. It’s going to be amazing.

While I already have an idea on where I’d like to bring myself professionally (), it’s time to experience new things and make the most out of the new year. The objective is to sustain all these small projects, drop the distracting ones and keep on creating value for my companies, employers and employees.

And probably reduce Facebook time by half.

Baby Max

We’ll see you soon Max! From our family to yours, Have an awesome 2015!