More than 50 things you can replace by getting an iPhone

10 12 2010

Hi friends,

I came up with this list of items you can replace by owning an iPhone…

Any things you think I missed? Let me know. I’ll go more into details on all these items (and any you add) in a later post.

50 things you can replace with an iPhone
1) calculator
2) digital voice recorder
3) alarm clock
4) flashlight
5) calendar
6) address book
7) document file folder
8) ebook reader
9) dictionary
10) dictation secretary
11) iPod/audio player
12) DVD player
13) still camera
14) video camera
15) watch
16) stopwatch
17) egg timer
18) photo viewer
19) password notebook
20) business cards
21) frequent buyer/club cards
22) boarding passes
23) travel itineraries
24) grocery list
25) newspapers/magazines
26) calendar sections for movie showtimes
27) scanner
28) first aid book
29) radio
30) guitar tuner
31) cook book
32) yellow pages/phone book
33) menus
34) home phone
35) restaurant guides
36) wi-fi card
37) currency converter
38) pen and paper
39) USB drive
40) wireless mouse
41) remote control (for presentations or media controls)
42) GPS devices
43) compass
44) portable game player
45) pedometer
46) white noise generator
47) credit cards (sort of)
48) to-do list
49) magnifying glass/reading glasses
50) vanity mirror
51) Pantone color guide

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THIS PAGE HAS MOVED!!!!!

19 09 2010

I have officially moved this page to its own domain:  http://www.nextbesttime.com

All of the posts have been migrated and all new posts will only be put onto that site.

Please join me on that new site (http://www.nextbesttime.com), and become a subscriber so you can be notified whenever new blogs are posted.

Thank you, and all the best…

Dylan Stewart





A Leap of Faith: Part III – The Knock

4 03 2010

So here I am, on this gorgeous beach in Costa Rica, fulfilling one of my lifelong dreams… that of learning how to surf, and through it all I am haunted. The thought of returning to that job, to that life, to that identity seems unbearable, and so I worry… and panic… and I stress about it.

One day, I am mid-conversation with my father and his girlfriend, Judy. We are discussing happiness in life, when the question comes up… “Why don’t you want to go home?”

It’s not as easy to answer in that moment as it is today. At that moment I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was all about. I lied to myself and said the weather was too beautiful here, and I wanted to keep surfing, but the truth was that it had been pouring rain (I mean real rain forest rain) in buckets for days now. There was no surfing, and the weather was shit. Finally I said it, “I hate my job and I can’t bear the thought of doing it for a single moment longer.”

“So what would you rather be doing?”

I thought about it. I thought about Kurt Simon, and making $75/hour to teach computers. I thought about how easy it was to fix technological problems. I thought about how much I had learned being in relationship with Kurt, and other clients of mine. And I knew it… I knew what I wanted to do. “I want to do my computer work full-time.”

“And what would it take to make that dream a reality?”

I thought about it seriously. I knew it wasn’t out of my reach… A stretch yes, but not out of my reach. What would it take? Money, pure and simple. Money to pay the bills for at least the first two months while I built up my client roster. Money to buy some parts and print business cards. Money to promote myself. Money for business licenses and DBAs. Money, money, money…

I thought about working at my job day after day, wasting away in an office building making someone else rich. I thought about leaving the house for work at 7AM, and walking in the door with my daughter, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken Bag under my arm at 8PM or sometimes even 9PM. Too tired to do anything but collapse on the couch and turn on the idiot box. Too broke to fix my car, or own nice clothes. Barely making rent. Fluorescent lights and parking cards and frustrated, obnoxious co-workers and short lunch breaks and brown bag or fast food lunches and and and…..

ENOUGH!!!! I turned and looked my Dad and Judy right in the eyes and said “$5,000. For me to make that dream a reality would take $5,000.”

I don’t know what I expected to gain from blurting this number out. At the time it seemed like an unattainable sum of money, $5,000. In retrospect, by today’s standards it’s not all that much, but it seemed like a lot to me then, and I certainly wasn’t expecting what Judy said next:

“I’ll get my checkbook.”

And she did. She got up right then and wrote out a check for me for $5,000. I was just getting to know this woman, and she was handing me a check… and it wasn’t a joke. I knew the check was good. I promised to pay her back as soon as I could and she just waved me off…

“Whenever you can… no rush.”

And just like that I had a lot of things to do and think about and prepare for. Just like that everything looked different. I called my boss and told him I had been unavoidable detained and stayed an extra week.

I enjoyed that last week of the trip the most. I had the best meals, great times with my Dad and Judy, went out to discotheques and danced the night away, surfed, and explored. We even went on a canopy trip riding on ziplines through the treetops of the rain forest… and then it was time to come home.

That first day back at work is seared in my mind. I will never forget it. I walked up the steps, and into my bosses’ office and looked him right in the eye. He said it first.

“You’re done here, aren’t you?”

It wasn’t said in a mean way, or in an angry tone, it was just complete acceptance…. it was clear that something had changed in me. The boy who had left LA 3 weeks early was not the man who walked back off of that flight, or into this office.

His words hung in the air for a few moments. I savored them, heard them echo back in my ears, felt the true power behind them….

“Yes. I’m done.”

“But what about my computers” he asked, “Who’s going to take care of them?”

“I will.” I said, “I’ll just be on the clock.”

And I gathered my things and I left. And that was that.

NEXT: A Leap of Faith Part IV: The Career






A Leap of Faith: Part II – The Wave

16 02 2010

Costa Rica was beckoning to me….

Since setting the plan to leave town in motion, it seemed everything in my life was pulling against me simultaneously. By now, work on the film “Hollywood Homicide” was in post-production. In layman’s terms, that meant the filming had been completed, and now we were editing the footage, and trying to get the movie ready for the cineplexes. Everyone on the crew had figured out we were making a bomb, and money was being thrown around every which way to try and staunch the bleeding. Several previews had been cut and sent out to theaters with all the common cliches we’ve come to expect from buddy pictures: “In a world where music and crime collide…”, or “In Hollywood, no one is who they really want to be..” or “On the toughest case of his career Joe Gavelin has been assigned a new partner…” You get the gist. Cheese coming out of every opening. Trailers that were completely misleading about the movie, and could only hope to draw a few unsuspecting cinema goers into it’s web. In short, it was a slowly unravelling disaster.

I was working crazy hours, rushing home, picking up my daughter, feeding her, getting her homework done, getting her to sleep, and collapsing into a heap on the couch with some useless pop-culture show streaming from the TV. And then I would wake up and start it all over again. Each night I would dream fitfully, hoping everything would just change, and I would be magically transported to some paradise in the middle of South America with endless white sand beaches, beautiful women and unparalleled sunsets. And each morning I would awaken in my own house, my own bed, my own life… and I would go through the motions all over again.

As we got closer to my departure date I could feel it in my bones. I needed to get out of here. Nothing could hold me back, not the craziness of booking airline tickets in the post 9/11 world, not making an emergency run to get a valid passport before the trip, not even finding a way to get my daughter cared for while I was gone. Slowly, day after day, I got closer to the end of the tunnel.

Then, suddenly and without warning, I found myself at the airport, tickets and passport in hand. A stuffed backpack and a single carry-on by my side. And what on earth was that? A smile? A real, genuine, no bullshit smile peeking out from behind my lips? It felt like it had been years since I had smiled… and just like that, the journey began. My shoulders relaxed. My bags seemed light compared to the weight I had been carrying. This trip… this moment…. this opportunity was just what I needed… Everything was possible… and everything was about to CHANGE!

I arrived late that evening, and was picked up and whisked away by a friend of my father, who brought me to the gorgeous villa my father was staying in with his girlfriend. I slept hard, and dreamed of escaping… no really… it was one of those being chased dreams. I ran through a strange town, breaking into people’s homes, and attempting to hide out and evade my pursuer… who was none other than Harrison Ford. I had barely escaped him time and again, when he finally caught up and grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt and lifted me off the ground… at which point I gratefully awakened to find myself in a strange new land… completely free.

That morning we left that part of Costa Rica and embarked on a long and winding path through the rain forest in an old beat-up bus. This was the main road that ran through this country, and it seemed there had been a teacher strike, and a necessary bridge had been blocked by the protesters, so we had to take a side road around the blockade. We stopped at a roadside shanty, and grabbed a coke before heading further in. The whole journey was surreal, as if each moment you were going deeper and deeper inside yourself, peeling away layer after layer of societal underpinnings, until we finally arrived at our destination…. and I was figuratively naked… a newborn.

This undiscovered, remote part of Costa Rica was like a film set… unpaved roads… trees everywhere… people selling shells and trinkets from bamboo stands along the street… I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In a land of so many opportunities and experiences, I wasn’t sure where to begin… so I made a list of all the things I wanted to do while I was here and free from the constraints of my normal everyday life. At the top of my list… LEARN TO SURF….

So the first chance I had, I walked into town by myself, and talked to some locals, who put me in touch with Alvaro, a one-time professional surfer who had never made it to the big time, and now took odd jobs teaching locals and tourists the way of the wave.

He was rough around the edges. Tall. Dark skinned. Dreadlocks. His eyes were perpetually squinched tight, as if he had spent an eternity staring at the sun. His name meant Nobel Guardian. And he spoke with a thick Jamaican accent that was sometimes absolutely impossible to decipher. I was a little intimidated by him to tell the truth, but I had trust that this was where I was meant to be.

We grabbed a surfboard, and walked together out of town, and into a small inlet alongside an old dock. The waves were small here, and the place was practically deserted. He showed me the basics…. how to hold the board… how to stand on it (while on the sand just to get the feel of it)… how to paddle… then he took me out into the water.

This first day was miserable… try as I might, I could not even get close to catching a wave. I could stand for only a second before loosing my balance. Paddling was pure torture, and the board was rubbing my chest and my thighs raw as I swam. I was never going to figure this out… Sensing my discouragement, Alvaro pulled me out of the water. “Dat’s enuff for t’day.” He said, “Tomorrow we figure ‘dis ting out.” And he took me out for a rotisserie chicken at some local joint.

The next day I awoke with my passion and commitment renewed. I met Alvaro and we went out to the same spot. For the first two hours it was just like the day before.. that’s when Alvaro pulled me aside:

“What’s your problem man?” He asked, “This is simple stuff. You a smart guy. Just watch da wave, follow da wave, catch da wave. Dat’s all. Simple. I told him I was doing my best, but he just shrugged… “Theres somet’ing on your mind… somet’ing dat’s distracting you…”

He was right, there was something distracting me… a lot of somethings in fact. I had come to know them collectively as “my reality”. There was the shitty job I would have to return to at some point, the unfaithful fiancee taunting me from Amsterdam, the daughter I was doing my best to raise, the bills I had to pay… you name it, and it was one of my distractions. I told him this, and he laughed… “You still don’t get it man… Surfing is like life… it’s simple… watch da wave…. follow da wave…. catch da wave… everyt’ing else is just distractions…”

Something in his words rang true… so I paddled out, and I cleared my mind. I waited until I was focused, my only thought catching the next wave. Everything else was quiet. No, not this wave… not that one… here it comes… I saw it on the horizon as it closed in on me, and I just watched it. It was beautiful, perfect, majestic. My eyes took it all in, and I followed it as it approached. Then I paddled… and I paddled hard, pulling my arms through the water, forcing the board into motion with each stretch of my arms, and then suddenly the wave was upon me, and as the surfboard got carried by it, I stood up… and I caught the wave… riding it all the way into the shore, never losing my balance or my focus. And when I stepped off the board I understood what Alvaro had truly meant…

It’s simple. Life is a wave. And there’s only two things in life, the wave you want to ride… and everything that keeps you from riding it. I knew what my wave was now. I knew where I wanted to go. And more importantly I knew what the distractions were that were going to try, time and time again, to toss me off that wave.

NEXT: A Leap of Faith: Part III – The Knock






A Leap of Faith: Part I – The Job

6 02 2010

It was 2003, and at the time I was working as an assistant to a manager in the film industry. In his day, he had been one of the big wigs that they wrote novels and fictional stories about. He was the man who made Arnold Schwarzenegger the superstar he would later become, he had managed Gena Rowlands and Christopher Plummer through the bulk of their careers. He had been a top agent at ICM for years… but that was then, and this was a whole different era for the film industry. It was an era where agents were becoming managers, and manager were becoming producers, and here I was as an assistant.

This was the third in a series of frustrating jobs helping someone else build THEIR company. Somewhere along the way of this job, my life had gone through the ringer…. I had broken up with my fiance while she was on a semester abroad in Amsterdam, the World Trade Towers had been attacked, and I was trying my best to maintain my sanity while raising my 8-year-old daughter single-handedly. It was around this time that I got a karmic break. My father’s landlord (who I’ve spoken about in other posts, and will no doubt speak of in many, many more since he was the initial inspiration for this blog) called my father, asking for a recommendation of a computer trainer. Now, I was doing computer tutoring and fixing a few Macs on the side, and I certainly knew what I was doing, but I hardly considered myself a professional computer trainer. That being said, opportunity is where luck meets preparation, and I wasn’t about to pass this chance up, so I took the job.

I quoted my price at $75/hour, and was shocked to get no resistance to that price. And so began the job that would change everything. I would work at my day job during the week, and then work with Kurt every weekend. I was not there to teach Kurt computers, nearly as much as I was there to give him new things to think about. We explored all sorts of technology, ways of communication, and electronic solutions to everyday needs. Along the way, I learned as much as he did. Then I would go back to my day job….

My boss was in the process of finalizing a deal to produce a major motion picture, his first. He had secured Harrison Ford as the lead (a big win in anyone’s book), and had an offer out to Josh Hartnett for the other main role. Everyone in the office was excited, myself included… then I read the script, or as much of it as there was. Having been raised by a screenwriter, having been to USC film school to become a screenwriter, having read hundreds of scripts, and worked professionally to analyze scripts for major film studios, I knew what a good script was supposed to look like, and I knew how the process of writing a script was supposed to go… this script was a mess.

Harrison Ford had been sold on the concept of the script by the manager and the film’s fairly well known director. He hadn’t even read a page. This was because there were only 20 pages of the script so far. As the writer would finish pages he would email them to us fresh off his computer, they weren’t proofread, they weren’t edited, and they weren’t very good. We were in a rush to start the filming so that it would work with Harrison’s schedule. He had another film he was supposed to start on shortly, so it was a mad dash to get him in front of the camera. My spider-sense began to tingle… this was a slow-motion train wreck, no doubt about it. I tried to tell my boss the script was off pace, and the structure of the script didn’t work. I offered suggestions, criticisms, warnings, but it all went unheeded. Before we even had a final script, the shoot dates were set, and we were going into production.

I had long enjoyed watching bad movies, just to laugh at them… Ishtar springs to mind (a movie I’ve seen more times than I should ever admit in print) or Howard the Duck, or Waterworld, or Gigli, you get the point… And as I would watch these tragedies of modern filmmaking and egos run amok, I would always ask the same question: “Did they know they were making a movie this BAD?” Now I had a definitive answer… YES!!!! But once a bad movie is in motion it takes on a life all it’s own, and all you can do is hang on for the ride and hope your instincts are all wrong and that the box office will redeem all the time and effort.

This was the moment I realized I was done with this job, and began to think daily about escape. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to formulate a good game plan. I needed the money to raise my daughter and pay rent, my computer work wasn’t going to cover my needs, plus I couldn’t desert my boss in the middle of this disaster… after all, during filming I would be running his office’s day to day needs almost single handedly. I was screwed…. Or was I?

BRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGG!!!! BRRRIIINNNGGGGG!!! My phone started to ring. I picked it up, and my Dad was on the other line. My savior. He was going to Costa Rica for a vacation with his girlfriend, and they wanted me to come along. They would even pay my way to get me there. They were hoping I could come for the entire 6 weeks they would be there, but there was just no way I could do that. But an idea began to coalesce. I went into my bosses’ office, and told him I was going to take some vacation time. I would wait until the movie was released (only a few weeks away), and after the initial opening weekend I would take my vacation time of 2 weeks. This way I could be there for the initial weekend, but be gone before the inevitably huge second weekend box-office drop. It was perfect. He didn’t want me to go, but he didn’t really have a choice, after all I had almost never missed a single day of work, and he knew that he owed it to me.

And so the plan was set.. I wasn’t sure how this was going to get me out of this job, and get me back into a place where I was happy in my life, but getting out of the country was a good start. And I needed any help I could get….

NEXT: A Leap of Faith: Part II – The Wave






The Longest Journey Begins with a Single Step

30 01 2010

I have made several commitments to myself and the people in my life lately. I intend on doing amazing things in this, the 37th year of my life. Among those things are two specific goals I have ALWAYS wanted to do. I will discuss one of them here.

Ever since I was a young boy I was a musical fanatic, and I watched the guitar players with awe. Not just the guitar players in bands, but even the schmoes on the Third Street Promenade, or in random coffee shops… Guitar slung over one shoulder, or guitar case in hand, they just reeked of coolness. Even if they couldn’t play for shit, they were cool by association to that mysterious and magical instrument. The girls would flock to them time and time again.

You knew they got laid whenever they wanted to. They could always entertain themselves and those around them at will. They were always learning how to play new songs, or noodling around with grooves for their own material…I watched, and dreamed.

When I was in college and had an open elective to take I tried to learn, but the teacher I got was just some kid. He wasn’t inspirational or motivational, or even that into it… and I had to drive all the way to his house for the lessons, so before long I stopped going and it just became another wistful dream of mine.

When I had my daughter, I tried to push her into learning the guitar, I bought her a guitar. I bought her lessons. I tried to inspire her, but it just never seemed like it excited her very much, it never seemed like her thing. So the beautiful acoustic guitar I had bought her never left it’s case. It sat in her closet, and got moved with us from house to house without ever seeing the light of day.

Now as a point of knowledge about me, I belong to what’s known as a Men’s Circle. I’m sure I’ll talk about this more in depth on another post,m for now let me just sum it up by saying it’s a place where i get together weekly with a circle of men committed to helping each other become better men and achieve our dreams and goals in life. During a meeting, we were discussing just that, and men chose to make commitments about goals they were interested in moving towards in this new year. I decided to commit to taking up the guitar, after all, I already had a beautiful acoustic just sitting there.

One of the men on my team was recently out of work, and looking for any odd jobs to help him gather some funds. As it so happened, he was also a great guitar player who had brought his guitar to many meetings and had composed several songs about the team, particular men on the team, and our experiences together. I realized that this was a perfect opportunity,… synergy… a chance to kill two birds with one stone. I would hire him to teach me guitar, giving him some much needed cash, and starting on my quest to learn this instrument that has fascinated me for 30 plus years.

So, we’ve had about five lessons now, and what I like is that we’re not getting hung up on musical theory, or learning all the chords, or scales. We’re actually learning songs. Three so far.

We started with Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Simple. Three cords, easy progression. Then he added Get Back by the Beatles…. an opportunity to learn some power chords. Now we’re working on John Lennon’s imagine, which has a few chords I haven’t learned yet, and some pretty tricky chord changes and picking techniques.

I haven’t gotten any of the songs down yet, but for the first time today, when I sat down to practice, my fingers didn’t start aching right away. I think I’m starting to get some callouses and getting the hang of how to properly hold the guitar, and push my thumb up against the back of the neck for leverage.

Now if I could just get that damn E to B7 chord change down…. oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.






The Best Time to Plant a Tree…

30 01 2010

Ok, First up, let me explain the title of this blog… My name is Dylan Stewart, although I also go by the moniker of The MacWhisperer. I am, and have been, a professional freelance macintosh consultant for the past 7 years. Over that time I have created a mazing relationships with many, many of my clients…. But none of these relationships have ever surpassed that of my first full time client, Mr. Kurt Simon.

Kurt was an amazing man, and when I first started working with him, he was 90 years old. He was eager to dive headfirst into the world of technology, and over the 4 years I worked with him before he passed, my life would be greatly changed by my connection to him. At the start I was holding down a full-time job as an administrative assistant to a film industry producer, and I was doing a little tech work on the weekends. On average I was charging $50/hour, but more often than not I was just doing it for free. When my father told me that his landlord was looking for computer training on a regular basis, I told him I was $75/hour, certain I would never get it… but I was wrong. Through my time with Kurt, I would quickly raise my price to the $125/hour I now receive, and I would quit my job and start doing computing full-time.

This was all based on one of Kurt’s simple life long philosophies. In fact it was this philosophy that had inspired Kurt to learn computers in the first place. The philosophy was this: “The Best Time to plant a tree is 20 years ago…. the Next Best time is RIGHT NOW!!!”

So Kurt had long wanted to take up computers, and as he was aging, parts of his body were no longer working as well as they once had. Also, he had a very strong mind and was concerned about losing it to Alzheimer’s. He felt the time was now to stretch and exercise his brain by taking on as much knowledge as he possibly could, and I was going to be the way he would do that. He was tired of waiting to begin learning the computer… the Next Best Time was right now. And so over the years, I would fill his mind with new ideas and concepts. We would scan, learn about ipods, organize his photographs, write and compile all his favorite quotes in a searchable printable database, communicate via email, skype and video-chats with his contacts all around the world. We would teach him everything he ever wanted to know about technology… and then some. It was truly inspirational.

So inspirational in fact that I realized the next best time to start doing computers as a career was right now. The next best time to raise my rates was right now. The next best time to… you get the point.

So that explains the title of the blog. Now let me explain the purpose….

It’s been several years since Kurt passed, but his words continue to echo in my head, and I find myself thinking about all the things I’ve always wanted to learn, or do, all the places I’ve always wanted to go, all the experiences I’ve always wanted to have… and although it would have been nice to learn the guitar 20 years ago, the next best time is right now. I grew up in Malibu, and should have learned how to surf when I was 10, but the next best time is right now. I’ve always wanted to be a podcaster, a blogger, a writer, you name it… the next best time is RIGHT NOW!!!!!

So in this blog, I will chronicle my experiences as I begin to learn new things, experience new things, take chances and risks, all in the name of not waiting any longer to do it.

I hope to inspire others to do the same, and add their comments and experiences to this forum. Together, we can all have the lives we have always wished and dreamed of for ourselves.

The first step is to identify the dreams and desires. The second step is to make the commitment to move confidently in the direction of our dreams. The third step is to keep moving forward don it. Write your experiences, keep track of your progress, make your commitments and share how you are building your new dream life RIGHT NOW!!!!