January 31, 2010


Are you old enough to remember when Apple meant the record label of The Beatles. Now Apple means the iPod, the iPhone and the new iPad. There's such anticipation when Apple does something new. Fans speculate on what's coming, guess at product names (iTablet, iSlate) and even create prototypes. What rare devotion.

People trust Apple to do something that matters. How can you be like Apple too?

Let's start with a review of their latest product.

The Year of the Tablet?
2010 looks like the year of the tablet computer. A tablet lets you use a computer without a mouse and perhaps without a keyboard. Instead, you touch the screen with a pen-like stylus or maybe even with your fingers if you have a multitouch display.

Tablets never sold well. Why? Price and performance. Even now, a business-grade tablet from Dell, Fujitsu or Lenovo costs $2,000 or more. The designs trade speed and graphics for longer battery life and lower heat. Maybe Apple can make a breakthrough

What if consumer tablets were enhanced netbooks with multitouch displays? They'd be budget-friendly and easy to use. Wishes answered. These devices are starting to enter the market now. Some ditch the keyboard and stylus, which may be fine for portable web browsing and ebook reading on the 10" screens they typically have.

Apple's Magic
Cinderella and the garden of Eden point out the folly of biting into an apple. That doesn't stop the masses from lining up to bite into the latest from Apple. It's as if life isn't worth living without their latest gadget. What anticipation. Good for Apple and their shareholders.

Types of Tablets
Some tablets have no keyboards and are called slates. You use a stylus instead. This leads to a thin, light device. An attention-getter but limited in capabilities. If you want your handwriting to be converted to text what do you do? You can use Windows 7, which has tablet support (as did Vista and a special version of XP). Or you can type on a virtual keyboard, which lacks the tactile feel of a real keyboard.

The iPad is a slate but has no stylus. You use a virtual keyboard instead. Pounding on a flat screen instead of pressing down on real keys can't be good for you. There's no speech recognition either, which means you can't have what you say converted to text.

The most functional tablets have keyboards. They look like and can be used like a normal laptop computer. That shortens the learning curve and lets you do more. Typing can be faster and more accurate than handwriting.

Since websites aren't optimized for tablets, you might have trouble clicking on some buttons unless you have a stylus, touchpad or trackpoint.

The Success of the iPad
The iPad --- which is not even available yet --- has been called
The reality is that Apple left out features normally found in cheaper netbooks: multiple USB ports, expandable memory, removable battery and webcam. The prices are higher (starting at $499 US). There isn't even a widescreen display (just 1024x768). On this blog, 55% of you use better displays. Would you like to step back to the 1950s and a 4:3 aspect ratio? Maybe.

We can't tell how well the iPad will sell. That didn't stop Apple from launching it.

How Can You Be Like Apple?
Look at what Apple has achieved with the iPad already
  • "A" for effort (maybe not "A+")
  • innovation without risking the company's future
  • shaking up the marketplace for ebooks, tablets, publishing and maybe cable TV
Perceptions affect reality. Imagine if your audience (clients, management, strangers) had high expectations of your next project. They'd expect the best even if you were doing the new. They'd forgive your mistakes --- they might even be blind to them. You'd a high balance in your Emotional Bank Account (a concept from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey). You make deposits from a history of past successes, even if small.
I saw it once in a cartoon, but I think I can do it.
--- Stephen Wright
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? You've probably heard this annoying question which points out we don't live up to the light we have. Suppose we harnessed more of our potential without worry of failure. The way a kid does. You may not succeed, but more risk usually leads to more reward. If you mess up, you can try again. If you fail like Apple.


Podcast Episode 52 (6:29)

direct download | Internet archive page

PS You can turn your current computer into a pseudo-tablet by adding a Wacom tablet like the Bamboo or Intuos.

January 23, 2010


Transport Canada recommends that passengers heading to the United States arrive 3 hours prior to their flight time to allow for security screening.
--- gtaa.com, Jan 21, 2010

Flying from Toronto to the United States used to be easy because you'd clear US immigration before boarding. You'd then arrive as if you took a US domestic flight.

That changed on December 26, 2009.

Now, you're advised to arrive at the airport three hours before departure. You go through US immigration screening and then the usual security screening where you walk through a metal detector while your outerwear, computer, metal objects and carry-on get x-rayed. There's more. On the way to my gate a surprise security inspection took place. Again, items out of pockets and on to the table. This time there was a physical inspection.

You wait and wait in line after line. There's no room for jesting or commenting on the delays. You don't want to draw attention to yourself.
Without any carry-on (none was allowed!), the whole process of arriving at the airport and getting to my gate only took 40 minutes (which included walking). The additional security measures were more bark than bite. But that still meant hours wasted at the airport. You may experience longer delays. Arrive early.
Travelling can have other other nuisances
  • adjusting to different time zones
  • speaking the language
  • concerns with safety and food
  • expenses (you're treated like a walking wallet)
Stay Home?
Why bother travelling? The destination is worth it.

Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.
--- Viktor Frankl
Besides, we have no choice at the airport. We can't negotiate. Other forms of travel are probably impractical.

The Life You Control
Other parts of our lives aren't subject to stringent rules. Think of
  • improving health
  • learning marketable skills
  • investing quality time with family
  • giving to society
  • networking
Without rules, we do less. Unless
Let's turn to finances. We need self-control to
  • set aside money now for retirement later
  • stick to our plans while others quit
  • explore our options so logic can help guide us
When we care about the destination, we'll make sacrifices now and along the way. You may now put your shoes back on and head to your gate. All aboard?

Podcast Episode 51 (3:55)

direct download | Internet Archive page

PS Returning to Canada was a breeze. I brought my netbook and all my luggage as carry-on (they entered the US as checked luggage). Nothing triggered an alert. The process took mere minutes, which meant more time waiting at the gate.

January 16, 2010


Talent hits a target no one else can hit.
Genius hits a target no one else can see.
--- Albert Schopenhauer

Stand up if you're a genius.

That's not (m)any of you. At The Linchpin Session, Seth Godin asked geniuses to rise and got the same result. He was the only one standing, but that's not because he was the speaker. This was not his way of putting us down and no dunce caps were handed out. His question had a point. His explanation was like a Shawshank Redemption but without decades in prison.

An Example
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
--- Albert Einstein

If you're not a genius, then who is?

How about Albert Einstein? You won't get many arguments by picking him. Remember the photo of him sticking his tongue sticking out? Only a genius, celebrity or boor would do that. You can stick your tongue out too. You can have messy hair (or wear a messy hair wig). That's as close as most of us can get to the E=mc2 level of genius. Luckily, there are other degrees.

What Genius Does
It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
--- Albert Einstein

Let's look beyond IQ and worldwide acclaim. What does a genius do? A genius solves a problem in a way no one else could. A genius gives the world something it didn't know was missing. A genius looks a problem with fresh eyes. A genius changes the rules.

Here are examples of genius in varying degrees
  • Velcro: based on burrs sticking to fur
  • Post-it notes: a use of a glue that was too weak
  • Super glue: an adhesive that was too strong
  • tooth brush and dental floss
  • preshredded cheese
  • the computer mouse and now the touchscreen
  • chocolate mixed with peanut butter (actually, chocolate mixed with anything)
  • the stapler
  • the spelling checker
  • heated car seats

Like Einstein, we can also work on problems longer. We can find help, which is much easier in today's interconnected world with a wealth of online information. We can then come up with our own solutions.

Second Chance
Are you a genius?

When Seth asked near the end of his session, the entire audience stood up. We were immodest about our brilliance, but we felt uplifted. How about you?


January 9, 2010

Your Favourite Posts of 2009

Welcome to 2010. Let's start the year by looking back at what you read here on Riscario Insider in 2009.

The trends look great once again. Your visits more than doubled (increased by 2.4 times for the second year in a row) and 82.2% of you were new. You stayed 18.3% longer per visit and viewed an average of 1.5 pages each time.

The Top 10 Posts
Here's what you read
  1. PersonalBrain 5: data to information to wisdom (a surprise)
  2. Quotes related to Stephen Covey's Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People (a must-read book)
  3. Does Warren Buffett "Buy Term and Invest The Difference"? (#1 in 2008)
  4. Six Basic Fears From 70 Years Ago [Napoleon Hill]
  5. Secret 7: The Best Tax Sheltering in Canada
  6. Does billionaire Seymour Schulich help you "Get Smarter"?
  7. How advisors fool you (and what you can do)
  8. Surviving an audit: two lies and three tips
  9. Should you switch to an actuarial career?
  10. Three reasons why financial literacy eludes us
Worth A Peek
These 2009 posts didn't make the most read list but might suit you
If you prefer, you can listen to the podcasts. Here are the top five:
Other statistics follow.

The Top 5 Countries
You read from 139 countries (up from 99). Here are the top five.
  1. Canada: Toronto, Ottawa (was #3) Vancouver (was #2), Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal
  2. United States: California, New York, Texas, Florida (was #5), Illinois (was #4)
    (by city: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta)
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Australia (was #5)
  5. India (was #4)
Source of Traffic
  1. Search Engines: 46% (down from 61%) (94.0% from Google, 2.3% from Yahoo, 1.8% from Bing)
  2. Referring Sites: 40% (TheBrain, Canadian Capitalist, Canadian Personal Finance Blog, StumbleUpon, Thicken My Wallet, The Globe & Mail)
  3. Direct: 14%
Here are the key words typed into search engines to get here.
  1. seymour schulich
  2. 7 habits of highly effective people quotes
  3. personalbrain 5 review
  4. dwayne daku
  5. six basic fears
Browser used
  • Internet Explorer: 48% (down from 59%)
  • Firefox: 34% (unchanged)
  • Safari: 8% (up from 4%)
  • Chrome: 7% (up from 2%)
Operating System
  • Windows: 85% (down from 91%)
  • Macintosh: 12% (up from 7%)
  • Linux: 2% (up from 1%)
Some visits came from portables such as iPhone, iPod, Blackberry and Palm devices.

Screen Resolution
  • 1024 x 768: 23% (down from 35%)
  • 1280 x 800: 20% (up from 18%)
  • 1280 x 1024: 15% (up from 12%)
  • 1440 x 900: 11% (up from 9%)
  • 1680 x 1050: 9% (unchanged)
How's that for detail? Thanks for reading.

For more frequent updates, Follow @riscario on Twitter.

Podcast Episode 49 (7:10)

direct download | Internet Archive page