Turning Down The Volume

During the holiday season I often find myself reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year ahead. What went right, what could I have done better, and what can I do help stay on the path I have set for myself.

Today I read a post on Bruce Keener’s blog titled The Noise in Our Lives that struck a chord in my mind. Bruce mentioned a couple of sources of his mental noise such as Twitter and Google Reader feeds. I’ve certainly found myself under an avalanche of RSS feeds all too often. How many tabs are open in your browser right now? Yeah, mine too ...

In these days of constant contact to the world through our wireless gadgets, it has become increasingly hard to maintain focus on the larger picture as we are distracted by the chitter-chatter of the electronic noise. It has become easy to lose our vision of the long-term goal and be swallowed by the immediacy of the information piled upon us relentlessly.

If you had to build a bucket list right now, how many rss feeds would be on there? Podcasts to listen to? Blogs to read? New friends to add on Facebook? Forum posts to read? Emails to respond to? Then why is it we fill our lives with these self-perpetuating activities that aren’t what we really should be doing? I don’t even want to mention how many times I checked my email while writing this post. Uugh.

So I think one of my goals for the coming year is to find better ways to turn down the volume of my electronic noise.

XMind Now Opensource

XMind Screenshot
During my morning news feed reading this cold and rainy Saturday morning, I saw an article on TUAW that XMind has gone open source. XMind was a commercial mind mapping tool, and I guess it still is, as there is still a Pro version which includes online collaboration, a few extra report types and support. It’s written in Java and there are downloads available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, including a “portable” version that runs from a USB stick.

During my quick evaluation I saw no performance issues despite XMind being written in Java. Adding new nodes to the mind map was quick and easy. This is definitely a quality piece of software that I plan to add to my list of productivity tools.

Thank you XMind Ltd. for making this application open source!