rapid prototyping life 2.0

February 26, 2008


What is rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is the automatic construction of physical objects using solid freeform fabrication (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_prototyping).

Rapid prototyping machinery has largely replaced traditional prototyping techniques due to speed and cost advantages. 

It is often used in the automotive industry.

How does this apply to life?

Writing has always been in my blood.  I spent the first 15 years of my “working life” trying to fight it.

These days at work, I am writing about things *I do not care about*, on *someone else’s schedule*.  I am working for someone else, making lots of money for someone else, while someone else raises my children at daycare.  We cannot live where we choose to live, with the freedom we desire. 

I decided back at the very beginning of 2007 that I would become a professional writer.  I have several great ideas for books and stories.  If I did that, I said to myself, we could live anywhere in the world.

One day, I woke up – and it was 2008.

Like many, I allowed the minutia of life to interfere with my transition plans, and I let myself fall into an endless planning stage.  I had written a lot of material, but not gone anywhere with it.

No longer.  I launched myself out into the world, via this blog.  I am meeting many wonderful people through this experience.  I am interacting with them, learning at an exponential rate.

I have to thank many of these people for encouraging me to do this, people like the Men with Pens who encourage us to write our novels, like Michael Martine for the kick in the pants to try a starter blog, or Christine O’Kelly who challenges us to stop existing and take action.  Not only these people, but the many people who comment and interact.

Thank you.

Yesterday, I took “the machine” for a test drive.  I was at home, with two of my four children (they were ill with cold) and I was writing.  I was mind mapping my books, my blogs and my business plans.  I was also interacting with my friends from around the world, and it was amazing.

Sure, there were interruptions from the kids, but there were also interactions.  When they were playing together, I was amazingly productive.  It was like we knew how to take breaks together.  They are an inspiration.  They know not fear of failure.  They know only action.

It was a glimpse into the future I will build for myself.  I must build for myself.

Build your own rapid prototype – today.  Just start now.  It will not be perfect.  That is not the point.  Make some mistakes right away, you will learn quickly and in the end, the payoffs will more than outweigh the initial costs.  Test drive your machine, see how you like it, kick the tires, adjust the seat and the mirrors, try out the radio.

This is my rapid prototyping machine – from my thoughts, to the world.


reflective perception

February 24, 2008


Take a look at yourself in the mirror.

Now imagine that your reflection, standing on the other side of that threshold, sees things differently from you.  And well it would, as it has a different perspective, thus a different perception.

Now.  Step through the Looking Glass, just as Alice did.

How does your life look now?  Remember, your reflection is freed from your fears, your limitations, your every mortal weakness – everything that may prevent you from achieving that which you desire to achieve most.

Think about all those things that you want to do in life, but have not done.  Do not think about why you have not done them, but think about how you will do them.  Further, imagine that you already have achieved your wildest dreams, but as that reflection.

Now step back across the threshold again.  Look at yourself, and smile.

Smile, for you are capable of achieving all of those things that you knew possible when you were playing the role of your reflection.

You can, and will achieve those things, for you are a real, thinking person, and that was but a mere reflection of you.

make "one day", today

February 21, 2008


So I was chatting back and forth with some of my friends on one of my favourite blogs, Men with Pens, and the more I thought about something I said there, the more I thought it should be the cornerstone of what I am doing.

Of how I should live my life.

I have often said things like, “one day, I’ll be a writer”, or “one day, I’ll go to New Zealand”.  Well, I eventually did go to New Zealand, last year.  The picture above is one my wife took of me standing at Mudbrick, a restaurant and vineyard on Waiheke Island near Auckland, New Zealand.

“One day.”  I have used that line many times, as part of a never ending list of excuses for why I am not doing something.  Not why I can’t do something – no, why I *won’t* do something.  I might say, “one day, I’ll do this, but I have four children”.

Yes, I do have four children.  But they do not hold me back.  They inspire me, because when they want to do something, they just try it right away, fall, and get back up again.

Perhaps it may take longer to get things going with a full-time job and a large family, but that is okay.  It is all too easy to give up, unless you see that others who have had wild success did not do it overnight.

I honestly never thought I would get to stand atop that hill, by the vineyard.  But I did it.

Today, I am writing these words on my blog.  I had often said, “one day, I’ll have a blog”.  I have one, today, and I am on my way – I am a writer, and I will succeed.  I am writing two books as we speak.

I am personally inspired to write by two successful authors – John Grisham, who took three years of his spare time to write “A Time to Kill” – and J.K. Rowling, who took about five years to write “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, on a manual typewriter no less!

Both authors had their manuscripts initially rejected.  Both persevered, and became wildly successful.  They turned “one day” into today.

And I am inspired by all of you, who take the time to come here and read my words.

It is possible to find the time.  We are all given the same amount of time, it is what we make of it that counts.  In “The Assault on Reason”, Al Gore claims that the average American watches 4 hours 35 minutes of television every day.

I do not watch television much, but I spend a lot of time reading other people’s work on the web.  Much of it inspires me, but inspiration without action…

Now, if I took Harry’s 10 minute approach to any particular task, and turned it into 1 or 2 hours a day, imagine where I would end up.

I would turn “one day” into today.

And that is what I am doing, right now, today.  It works.  Thank you for the inspiration, my friends.

Take 10 minutes.  Write down whatever it is that you want to do “one day”.

Start doing it today.

farmer, or fisherman?

February 18, 2008


Are you a farmer, or a fisherman*?

I asked myself that one day.  What is the difference?

A farmer creates something of great value, a crop, out of seemingly nothing – small seeds, and dirt.  The crop can feed not only the farmer and his family, but other people and their families as well.  And it can go even further than that – seeds from the farmer’s crop can be given to other people, so that they too can become farmers.

So, a farmer creates things of value, and passes them on to others, while giving back to the earth.  Much like an artist, or a writer.

A fisherman is different.  He takes something that already exists.  He does not have to cultivate and care for it.  He merely takes it.  Now, he may pass on some of the fish to other people.  But, unlike growing a new crop from the seeds, you cannot do this with fish.

A fisherman takes things of value, and may pass them on to others.  But he does not give back to the sea.  Much like a consumer.

So I started writing.

I used to fish, but I am learning how to grow crops.  These words are the seeds, that will grow.  Welcome to my farm.

Are you a farmer, or a fisherman?

(*apologies to any women out there – of all the women I know, all are creators, and pass things on, rather than consumers)

reboot (redux).

February 13, 2008


Today I found all the inspiration I’ll ever need to change my life.

I have been commenting on some really great blogs lately (today, for instance, at Men with Pens), and I’ve been getting some incredible encouragement – thank you people!

And today, I found all the inspiration I’ll ever need to change my life.  One of the tasks at my “day job” is to write a revision to a document which details facility requirements for the future of my company.

The original document was written in 2006.  It references another document, which was written by THE SAME AUTHOR in 1981.

Nothing has changed in 25 years.  Absolutely nothing.  Nothing to show, really, for 25 years of that person’s career.  (This reminded me of Harry’s comment today about staying in a crappy job at Million Dollar Leverage)

This is not my life.

My life lies somewhere else, and I am going out to find it.


February 13, 2008


I have not written for several days, which is okay.

Last night, I decided to reboot my brain.  To change my paradigm.  Clear out the cobwebs.

I think sometimes, the brain is like a computer.  The longer it runs, the slower it becomes.  It fills up with the cruft of daily life.  It slows under the load of running services.

This is especially true if you (like me) assault yourself with media.  I don’t watch a lot of television (perhaps 2 hours a week), but I am constantly reading.

More recently, I have been reading many blogs concerned with life change, personal productivity, freelance writing, and so forth.  I have been doing this because I, like you perhaps, am seeking change.  I have set off on the path to personal independence, to become self-employed.

However, I have found of late that I have not been particularly productive – I have not been moving forward towards my goals.  The main problem for me is that I have been a consumer, not a creator.

I have spent many, many months reading about how to change my life, but I have done nothing about it, really.  I know that for me, personally, the way forward is to write.  All I want to do is write, just as I am now.  For a time, I was good about it.  I was writing 1000+ words per day.

And then I stopped.

Last night, I decided to reboot, to discover why.  I stopped reading my RSS feeds, stopped looking at web pages, and I went to bed very early.  I woke up today at 4 am, and sat down to think.

In the peace and quiet of the early morning, I sat down to think about what I truly wish to accomplish, and how I will do that.  Like a computer, I just needed to clear my memory of the temporary files, restart all of the services that were running in the background.

Other writers have suggested creating a daily schedule to achieve personal productivity – I have done this, but I have not been following it.  I believe, in my eagerness to change, I had become so obsessed with collecting and consuming information, that I neglected to apply it.

So, early this morning, I reviewed my daily schedule.

Today, I am following it.

The solution to change is quite simple.  Write down what you want to achieve.  Write down the steps necessary to achieve that.  Assign timelines for achieving your goals.  Create a plan for knocking off one or two of the steps each day.  Stick to the plan.

The difficult part is sticking to the plan.

There is hope, though.  Give yourself a reboot.  Unplug for a day, two days, a weekend.  Think about what you really want to accomplish.  Look around you at people who have successfully made a change.  They are really no different from you.  They have likely already gone through this same stage, and they survived, and thrived.

My personal inspirations are people like James & Harry, Naomi, Tim, Leo.

They failed early, and failed often.

As I am doing now, and as you can also do.

The end goal of this for me is to be able to look back at this time in my life, 20, 30 years from now and say, “this is when I made the decision to change, and I am happy that I had the courage to do it”.  I will not look back and say, “I wish I had…”

Go ahead.  Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete.



February 10, 2008


What does it mean?

Hypertracking is that which is faster than fast-tracking.  From the old mantra “work smarter, not harder”, I believe in general that fast-trackers are just working harder.  They do not work smarter.

I have to work smarter, for many reasons, personal and professional.

In the traditional sense, those who work harder tend to only work longer, using normal methods – inefficiencies and all.

For me to succeed, I have to work smarter than those who work harder.

I do not believe that this is difficult.  In all of my years of experience in the “normal” work world, I have been successful – more so, sometimes – than people who work twice as many hours.

I see emails and documents written at 3 am by the “fast-trackers” – emails and documents full of rather obvious errors.  These people pound away endlessly, and do not ever rest.

They do not seem capable of identifying that which is important, and they lack focus.

This is what I will teach you, in the weeks to come.


Time is something we all have in equal proportions.  It is what we do with that time, which makes us different.  It is what we do with that time, which allows us to succeed.  Sometimes, we want something so badly, we forget to take the time to reflect, to unwind, to spend time with loved ones, to recharge.

I did that last night.  I had a very nice dinner with my family, drank a big cup of coffee, and then went to bed.  Today, I slept in (yeah, yeah, I know, I normally get up at 4:00 am and I will do so again tomorrow, to write some more).

But if you want to cut wood, sometimes you have to sharpen the saw.

I have a lot of wood to cut.  And now I am ready.

failure number one

February 7, 2008

I had intended to write a piece about who I am, why I’m here, what I plan to do with this space – where I want to be, when I get to the end point.


No matter.  I still have the words and ideas in my head, and partly written down, and I will expand on it tomorrow.

What is important, is that I am writing now.  I did not follow through with my plan today, because I once again I spent too much time consuming, rather than creating.

No matter.  No sense crying over it.  Because, in a sense, I did follow through with my plan – I wrote *something* – and I learned something.

Fail early, fail often.  I know how to make this work.  I have already laid out a daily schedule for myself, to make this work, and I have consistently failed to follow it for a month.  Rather, I have taken the easy route, spent evenings reading the work of others, rather than creating my own.

I don’t know how to do trackbacks yet, or a lot of other stuff.  I have not made an “About” page or anything like that.  But I will flesh this out as I go.  This is a learning experience for me, and I will learn quickly.

No matter.  I will get better at this.  I will fail, again and again, but I will improve.

Now where’s that dishcloth?

It’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

February 6, 2008

Henry Frankenstein: Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!


I thought that this was more appropriate than a simple “Hello world”.  I am here because of the encouragement of many – family, friends near and far, co-workers good and bad.  I am here because I am changing my life.

And I am here because I have decided to “do it now”.  I have spent far too much time in a perpetual planning phase.  Nothing will ever be perfect.  The time is now.

So here it is, nuts and bolts and all.

It might not be pretty, but it is here – it is out there, finally.

And now it can’t be stopped…

(PS – I do *NOT* look like this before my morning coffee.  Honest.)