The word “meditation” often invokes images of a man sitting cross-legged, arms folded in his lap, smiling peacefully. It encourages reflection, introspection and personal exploration. While this is all perfectly acceptable, there’s a form of meditation that not a lot of people choose to explore or even understand as being a form of meditative practice. The ironic thing is, it’s something that all of us are doing at every waking moment of every single day.
While the term “free software” seems self-explanatory, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the actual definition and usage of “free.” Before we define it, it’s important to know that free software is usually used interchangeably with open source software. Free software is exactly what it says on the tin; you can download it and run it without having to pay the owner a dime. Although the software is free to use, it may contain restrictions that make it difficult to modify, distribute, or resell. Open source software eliminates these restrictions by not only allowing the user the download the software, but also to study and change the source code and redistribute the modified program. The Latin words “gratis” and “libre” are often used in place of “free” and “open source” to prevent ambiguity.
Change can be a scary thing. Over the the past century alone our world has been shaped by countless changes: we’ve experienced two global wars, discovered new realms of practical and theoretical science, and watched in real-time as human beings left footprints on the surface of the moon. The Industrial Revolution catapulted us towards technological singularity: today it’s difficult to imagine a world without credit cards or pocket computers. Considering how long it took us to reach this point as a species, one begins to wonder: what kind of effect is this rapid change having on our relatively primitive brains? Is technology moving too quickly for the human mind to keep up? And perhaps more importantly, will we reach a point where technology will no longer adapt to our behaviors but force us to adapt to its behaviors?
The proliferation of the Internet has led to a very different world than that of our parents. If someone told you 30 years ago that there would be a cheap, reliable, portable way to share music, movies, and information with anyone on the globe at any time of day, would you have believed them? In the decades since the first email, we’ve seen massive strides in the development of fast global communication. From the first web site to the latest tweet, our world – and our perceptions of our world – are being shaped in the context of a global network of thoughts and experiences.
It’s rare for a Buddhist to hold any single day higher than any other day. Every moment is precious and should be valued as such. What sets December 8th aside for most Buddhists is that our practice wouldn’t exist the way it does now, had a particular event not occurred some 2500 years ago.
As the resident computer geek in my family, I find myself explaining a lot of abstract concepts to people who might not have the background knowledge to fully understand them. I’ve had many people ask how I fixed a problem or what a hashtag is, and the most common response to my answers is “err, nevermind, forget I asked.” Despite this, one of the most common trends I get asked about – and perhaps one of the least understood – is cloud computing.
Distractions are everywhere. As a society that embraces digital technology and global communication, we’re challenged by distractions that our parents and grandparents could only dream of. Our modern workstations are gateways to an infinite source of gossip, news, opinions, and cat pictures. Despite this new, seemingly endless influx of information, we tackle the problem of distraction in the same fundamental ways as our ancestors: we define the task at hand and we reduce factors that don’t directly contribute to completing that task. This post demonstrates some of the ways you might minimize distractions in your digital workspace. Whether your a Mac user, a Windows user, or you use something a little more esoteric, these guidelines can help you focus more easily and be more productive.