Paper is not going anywhere

(This post is a response to this Cyprus Blog Network Together!)

Eight years ago or so I had a major argument with my wife about the future of paper. I was an extremely excited Computer Science student back than, and my visions were very polarized. I saw only black and white. And when I looked at printed media and digital media I saw them as mutually exclusive. Of course, I was on the side of digital media. One of my most far taken statements was that all paper will disappear in the nearest future. And by nearest I meant next 10-15 years.

Shocking, isn’t it?

Well, at that time I was rarely seen far away from a computer. Real world meant little to me. And I didn’t have any understanding of office work outside of IT industry. I still don’t, by the way.

Needless to say, my wife was laughing at me. She still does, by the way.

But all these years weren’t in vein. I looked around, I talked to people, I learned. And here is what I came to realize: I was wrong. Paper isn’t going anywhere. At least not in the near future. And by near future I mean 20-30 years.

There are, of course, applications of paper that are being and will be migrated to digital media. Storage of vast amounts of data, with indexing and searching comes to mind (databases). Billing and invoicing (accounting). Reporting (management). Lots of communications (emails, blogs, forums, chats).

And there are also other applications of paper which paper suits perfectly well. Many people prefer paper books to any digital format. Quick note taking and sketching works best of all on paper. Photography is yet another area – no matter how good the image looks in digital, some people would still prefer it printed out, framed, and hanged in the living room (yes, I know about digital photo frames).

Coming back to my statement, as I said, I was wrong. I should have phrased it differently. Paper won’t disappear. And digital media will continue to evolve and improve too. But the two will co-exist for a long time. And they will be helping each other to improve too. Many applications have already been tried with both paper and digital – some were converted instantly, others remained and secured their positions. There is some healthy competition, but there is enough partnership for the whole thing to move into the right direction.

So, I was wrong. And I’m glad I was.

The business card surprise

I was very surprised to find out that a bunch of 500 business cards costs about 30 CYP (much less than a $100 USD). Of course, there are many variations – single side or double side, black and white or color, quality of paper, and so on and so forth. But overall, the price range is quite accessible.

If I knew business cards were that cheap, I would have ordered some for myself years ago. I have a long and foreign surname. I have an email address. The URL to my web site contains my long and foreign surname. I it’s painful to think that I am that silly. I could have get rid of all that pain for mere 30 CYP per 500 contacts. Oh, boy…

This makes me think of all the lost possibilites. I mean, this is just one example of the product so many more people would use if they knew about it. What about other example? How many are out there? How can we find out about them?

Web, and blogging in particular, comes to mind. Web provides the cheap and easy way to tell the world about your products, and without annoying anybody. But I am biased here – my background is in technology. It is really cheap and easy for me to start a web site.

What do you think everybody else should do?

Xperimental 5 – the film festival

Yesterday I went to Nicosia in a company of Vladimir, Michael, and Maria. Our destination was Xperimental 5 film festival.

Pantheon Gallery was quite easy to find, despite my attempts to direct our expedition into the maze of one-way streets and dead-ends of Nicosia downtown. So we even came on time.

The festival was all about experimental film and animation. And so was the setup. In the large empty room there was a projector and a white pulldown screen. For the audience there were a couple of sofas, a few chairs, and some pillows on the floor. Not something you would see in your regular cinema.

In about 15 minutes enough people arrived to occupy all chairs and sofas. Some were already making themselves comfortable on the floor, grabbing the pillows. Overall there were, I’d say, about 50 people in the room. Maybe fewer.

The program of the festival was broken into four parts. 40 minutes of film shows, then 20 minute break, then another 40 minutes of films, then another 20 minutes of rest, then another hour or so, and then some more.

The films were all short. The longest one we saw was 13 minutes. Most of the films were under 6 minutes though.

What can I say about the films? Well, there were a couple that I really liked. There were a few OK ones, and the rest weren’t worth the time. It was tiring to watch so many of them one after the other. They weren’t meant for the large screen, and most of them were shot with handheld camera. The idea behind I guess was “I don’t want to use a tripod, so we’ll mask all shaking into a special effect”. I think that before going into advance techniques of camera shaking one should master the still standing camera. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure I’m not alone…

Because it was so tiring on our eyes and brains, we left after the first two sections. We’ve seen enough though. Altogether we saw 16 films in two hours. Not bad.

Which ones did I like? A few.

The best of all, of course, was “Business as usual” by Canadian Joe Hiscott. Excellent idea, great photography and sound, nice special effects, and overall very very pleasant.

“Washing up liturgy” by Leo Earle from UK was second best on my list. Without much philosophy, this film was a nice exploration of macro photography and slow motion. Great compositions, interesting subjects, and lots of color – as close to photography as film should get.

“A little meditation” by Myriam Thyes (Germany) made everyone in the room smile.

I also enjoyed “Beta test” by Greek George Drivas. But it was more of a photosession than a movie. Great images and nice story.

“Disconnected” by Karl Lind (USA) was somewhat cliche, but nicely done. It was very pleasant visually.

Michael Brynntrup’s “The Hong Kong Showcase” had nice atmosphere and stability. As boring as it was, I wasn’t bored at all. I don’t know. It was one of those films which are hard to describe. It reminds me of dancing leaf and dead bird clips from the “American Beauty”.

Overall, I’m glad that we went to the festival. It was a refreshing experience. It also gave me some food for thought. But I’ll post about it later…

Things that I love about Google Calendar

This post started as a comment to Andrey’s post about self organization and time management. I just wanted to list a few things that I particularly love about Google Calendar, and then decided to do to it here instead, for the benefit of greater public.

As I mentioned some time earlier, I’ve been using Google Calendar for a few month now. I started playing with it for this and that, but now it is the only tool I use to manage my time. Here are the features that make it so useful for me:

  • SMS reminders. I am one of those people who need a reminder for practically everything that needs to be done. Google Calendar is about the only web service at this time which supports non-USA mobile numbers. SMS reminders mean that I have to duplicate and synchronize that much less data.
  • Sharing. Google Calendar has great sharing facilities. I can have a private calendar, allow certain people to read my calendar, have a public calendar, etc. I can sent invitations and get confirmations to people who don’t even have Google Calendar account. And I can allow those people to invite other people to my events, and I know when they do so too. No username and password hassle. Also, calendars are available in iCal format, RSS feeds, and even can be easily integrated into web sites.
  • Multiple calendars. I can have several calendars of my own, and I can subscribe to a whole lot of other calendars. Holidays from different countries, sports events, cultural happenings, calendars of my friends – all these can be added to my subscriptions. And I can manage them easily hiding and showing only those parts that I want to. And I can assign different colors to events from different calendars. And I can easily copy events between calendars.
  • Interface. I am among those people who absolutely love the interface of Google Calendar. Almost everything is perfect – from the quick add event form to the default view which can be customized. There are a lot of small things which make it so much easier to use. For example, when specifying the time of the event, starting time defaults to know, and ending time defaults to 1 hour from now. And it works nicely with events that span across the midnight too. Although the display of such events needs some more work, I think.
  • Integration. I do enjoy the integration of the Google Calendar with GMail. When inviting people, I get name completion from my address book. When someone emails me the invitaion to some event, GMail recognizes it (in most of the cases) and provides an easy way to add it to my calendar. Daily agenda emails and reminders have this nice formatting with links to appropriate parts of my calendar. And so on and so forth.
  • Secure HTTP. I wrote about it earlier, but it’s worth another reminder. In order to encrypt all communications between your computer and Google servers, simply change “http” to “https” in the URL. It will work out of the box, and you won’t even have to login again.
  • Reoccuring events. Google Calendar has some flexible and easy ways of configuring events which happen more than once. Year, month, weekly, or daily; weekdays or weekends or selected days, by date, or by day of week, or by day of month – all these and much more are configured in a couple of mouse clicks. I’m using plenty of these to control my daily and weekly routines.

There is plenty more of course. But the above list is something that I can’t live without.

The only thing that I’m missing now is a tasks or TODO list manager. Everything else is in.

The shortest Christmas wish list ever

We are have the Christmas wish list Together! at Cyprus Blog Network. Although, I’m admitably late for last week’s topic, I figured I’d have something written before the new topic is posted.

My Christmas wish list is short and generic this year. Not like always. Usually I’d join the shopping rush on the net – surfing from shop to shop, converting currencies, comparing prices, and estimating delivery dates. But not this year.

This year is very different from many other years in my life. There is so much stuff going on that I don’t have the time or the will to sit down and dream about Christmas. I’m having tonnes of fun already.

But since I promised you my wish list, here it goes:

  • Time. I want to have a break. I want to take a few days away from any work related activites and spend them with my family and friends.
  • Money. I want to have just enough money to have a nice Christmas. I don’t want millions or anything like that. Just enough money not to think about them at all, even if for such a short period of time. I’ll earn more later. I know.

As much as these wish list looks generic and cliche, this particular year it’s not so for me. I never wanted those two things so much as I want them now, and I probably won’t want them so much ever again. But this year, this year is different.