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Notes for the new year

It is the time for new resolutions, hope and also to indulge in something quirky
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First Published: Tue, Dec 25 2012. 09 00 PM IST
Word Clock.
Word Clock.
In our house we begin the New Year by replacing the calendar on the wall. Every year, my wife asks her cousin in Boston, US, to bring her a calendar from the Museum of Fine Arts. This year’s calendar has paintings by Mark Rothko; in 2013 it will be Claude Monet. It doesn’t matter who the artist is; all she needs is a wall calendar with spaces to jot her work schedule and reminders like “return library books” or “order Xmas cakes”.
Not many people I know use calendars and diaries in this digital age. Nor do I; my to-do list is on my cellphone. But when I am working at home and I need to check a date, I invariably look up at the calendar above my table. It’s a habit, I guess.
Recently, my friend Tushita Patel gifted me a Bubble Calendar (www.bubblecalendar.com). It’s a poster-sized calendar overlaid with a sheet of bubble wrap, so you can pop a bubble each day of the year. I am looking forward to the New Year’s Day to pop the first bubble. Purely for fun, I might wait four weeks and then pop all 30, one after another. The test, however, will be to limit myself to just one pop a day!
A New Year is a time for new resolutions: I’ve made many in the past with the best of intentions, but each time I gave up just a week down the line. I have very little willpower.
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The Bubble Calendar.
And yet there are a few things I need to do (lose a bit of weight, for instance), and I wonder if I should try out this interesting app called Lift (available on iTunes only) that helps you “develop a habit”. It can be any habit—exercise, change your sleep cycle, drink more water, drink only three cups of coffee a day, meditate regularly, and so on and so forth. You start by declaring what you want to achieve, check out how many others have logged in with the same goal, and monitor your progress.
The developers of the app describe it “a simple way to achieve any goal, track your progress, and get the support of your friends”. You can choose to develop more than one habit, fix the duration of how long you want to go on, and the app creates bar charts of your progress so that you can see which habit requires more work. You share your progress with other people using the app. What’s also nice about the app is that it’s very easy to use.
A New Year is a time for hope: If you don’t like to begin your day with depressing news about crime, conflict, unemployment and rising inflation, you now have an option. Open your browser and go to OdeWire (www.odewire.com), where you will find only “positive” news. They call it “news to inspire intelligent optimists”.
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Helvetictoc.
The stories “focus on solutions rather than problems, and on positive changes rather than negative ones”. To give you an idea of what they mean by that, here are some headlines I came across on the website on Monday: “Diabetes remission possible with diet, exercise”, “China talks reform as transition begins”, “Apps help extend the battery life of devices”, and how India is harnessing solar power to reduce emissions and fight poverty. They pick up articles from 100-odd publications and channels across the globe. It’s not a replacement for your daily newspaper; read it the way you would go to a blog.
A New Year is a time to experiment with minimalism: This one is purely for fun—clocks that spell out time. I love the minimalist design. When it’s 7.05 (am or pm), the Word Clock app for iPhone and Android (www.timeanddate.com) spells it out as “It is five past seven”. I have also bookmarked another ultra-minimalist clock called Helvetictoc (http://helvetictoc.com) that was designed as a tribute to the Helvetica typeface. These clocks may be off by a few minutes, but they look really cool.
Happy New Year.
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.
Write to Shekhar at thesmartlife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Dec 25 2012. 09 00 PM IST
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