A letter from myself in 5 years


2016 Me: Bruno?

2016 Me: Bruno. I’m so sorry to disturb you. You look so relax on this beach lounger with a frosty adult beverage in your hand. Nice beach by the way, where are we?

2022 Me: Whitsunday Island, North of Australia, March 2022

2016 Me: Huh, well precisely, my visit is somehow related. You remember all those nights you worked like a log, I’m glad that it paid off. You see I wanted to write a letter as if you wrote to me from your today. It’s a stretch assignment from Shannon Tipton, you know, from the Rebellious Reader’s group. It’s based on Chapter 17th From Working Out Loud by John Stepper. 

2022 Me: Oh yes, I remember, nice guy John Stepper. I remember his letter. He was here just two weeks ago, we had a good chat. Since Seth joined #WOL they are both at the top of sales. He was touring around for a month with his new yacht. How is Shannon? do you have recent news of her?

2016 Me: Sure she will be doing on her plan; sangria, content, networking and speaking engagements. Check here How did you pick this place?

2022 Me: I was inspired by a picture showing up on your browser tab back in March 2016. Joyce loved it, did you read her own letter?

2016 Me: I remember it was late after our #PKMChat on the #FutureOfWork. Future always.

2022 Me: So, get to the point. Bruno, you are always to talkative. What brings you here today? Wasn’t it a letter being asked, not an unwanted visit from my past?

2016 Me: Well I started writing and I came across several letters I wrote to you and you never replied. So I felt I better be proactive and Video-3D-Skype you.

2022 Me: Good move, I see this set you in motion, You always tend to overthink and procrastinate. Ideas as great, execution is what matter. #justsaying

2016 Me: I found this letter from 2013: You imagined yourself as a digital nomad, touring with a car around Tuscany with long stays in each place. I spare you the soundtrack.


2022 Me: Lol, yes, *blushing* Kate Bush, the sound of the bell. Collegiate Church, good memories. Connected Knowledge always. Later I realized this was too much inspired by Winck-Denken. End 2015, I understood I had to change my firmware and get rid of the last remnant of it. This tendency to dump all I know, never ending sentences and over complicate was in counter-productive. It was hindering my ability to communicate my vision. So back in July 2013, I was still rambling.

2016 Me: *listening*

2022 Me: Changes came later in the same year when I adopted the beginner’s point of view. Instead of pursuing work as usual, I stop and though: How would a young guy do such a project? I learned and restarted Kneaver that way.  I’m now again on track with the latest technology and design style: CD, TDD, NodeJS, HTML5, web app, Lean Startup, Design Thinking. It as been a great enabler for the future.

2016 Me: I found also this letter from 1982. This was when you stopped your studies but before starting Caroline, your first venture. It features something like “Hold on, don’t let you put down by setbacks, try, again harder”. There are many letters to you in fact. I’ve been lucky to rediscover this box forgotten unknown in this house.

2022 Me: Harder is not the best idea. I tried several ventures, they strived for a while but never made it. This is why I started Kneaver. When teams start, they create and discover a lot of knowledge. They have a lot to share but little time to do it. Besides this knowledge is constantly changing, contradictory and revisited. This is a great obstacle because it limits growth. Often the first ring of founders is very tight or in the case of Kneaver a single person. It becomes critical when stakeholders feedback, social media, Continuous deployment, MVP and #WOL are added. In 2013, I took this option that every past failure was just a step toward the success. I took a fresh start: learn my work again and applied. Kneaver Project is completely made like this, documented on the go. The blog is just one view of our Knowledge Base.

2016 Me: I understand but letting go of your existing business in CAD was a big risk? What if you had failed?

2022 Me: It’s true but without being fully dedicated to Kneaver I always felt I was an impostor. I was afraid to share what I think like you dare today. If I hadn’t taken this turn, I would still be surviving in this Data Translation business, doing a work I hate and with no perspectives. CAD Data Translation was a quick option I took in 2003 to get out a trap. It allowed this World Trip while working. It was not intended to last so long. I needed a new project before it was too late. Time to pivot my life. End 2012, I took this risk to kill this dying business. I stopped taking orders, arranged customers to use someone else products. I was free. I rarely think about what will happen if I fail, lost of time and energy.

2016 Me: Now I can see you look wealthy, happy, at ease on this beach. I imagine you have money on your bank account?

2022 Me: Thank you, yes I’m pretty well off. I’m saving, a new habit. Kneaver operates as  a virtual team. No offices, no hardware. We keep experimenting new ideas. @buffer approach has been very inspiring I admit. I keep turning around the earth to visit each of them, meet users and business partners. I’m very glad of my lifestyle.

2016 Me: I don’t take it, Bruno. You are an epicurean. It’s not your style to stay frugal for years just to reach a better material life afterward? This seems like a meager gain. You could as well got a well-paid job and retire asap. Where is the catch?

2022 Me: I object. I had a visit from an old friend late 2013. We started disagreeing aged 3. We worked together in my first venture at Caroline. He has this well-paid stable job in a big corporation. He’s well-off, married, children, house. I realized that me alone, often short of cash, living frugally like a monk, working nights, and days I was happy in my way. I was completely renewing myself, creating new friendships online, rediscovering my work and above all: living my dream. There was no discordance between the dreams of my 8-year self and what I was living.

*waiter comes by and brings a new glass of frosty adult beverage*

Being well-tuned with the present is my definition of happiness. Being my own boss is a requirement for me. being able to direct my life, and traveling while working: I can’t get enough of it.

2016 Me: Got it, this full circle idea. I admit I live among the happiest years of my life. I understand you have no reasons to look back it as a bad period.

2022 Me: The more so that we share this purpose: I was in the urge to break the code of the Knowledge/Learning cycle: better takeaways of learning from experience and make knowledge transfer faster for everyone in the future. We did tons of experiments in different ways. When I finally unlocked the code the situation changed completely. Kneaver found it’s public, its market. Afterward, it’s the old bowling alley story.

2016 Me: Cool, so you did find it? You mind sharing it with me, like right now?

2022 Me: Lol, Nice try. No, it would create a Temporal Paradox. You will find it soon. In fact, you have it already, you just don’t know. Go back to you last tweets.
2016 Me: Mmm. All those small fragments often lost because they are hard to relate in the fire of #WOL action.

2022 Me: You’ll have to be more clever (Hint)

2016 Me: Fair enough, I think I have enough to write this letter on your behalf. I wish I could stay, it’s snowing in March 2016. This morning I made a visualization board, as you can see above: here and there.

2022 Me: You made a great breakthrough when you defined the mission of Kneaver Corp last month “Our mission is to set you free to use all the knowledge you need to achieve your goals.“. This new tagline also: “Connected Knowledge”. Wasn’t the goal of this letter to find your purpose? It seems you made it: congratulation.

2016 Me: Thanks, I’m glad it stuck, I’m good at stucking, I’m in a 30 days stucked challenge.

2022 Me: *smiling* You will do well, I’m sure. Carry on the good work. Stay on the money. Be a bit smarter, not harder and I will see you soon. Now, you must excuse me, I’ll have to stop here. I have a board meeting.

2016 Me: Phew! Here, on the beach?

2022 Me: Of course, just before our #WOL / Kneaver Meetup. Later I have a #PKMChat as usual, good things stay. Enjoy!

2016 Me: OK, easy to say. See you, same place, same day.

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A Perfect Day

Do you remember this song from Lou Reed Just a Perfect Day? OK but it’s not the topic of this post. This is in my serie about Personal Devlopment, being more productive. The inspiration came from the last issue of Sian Richardson‘s newsletter.

The basic idea is that you map out your DREAM day, from start to finish. You then slowly start to choose areas from that perfect day that you can start incorporating into your life TODAY.

I liked the idea and started to jot down a plan. My dreams are very simple and basically rotated around achieving my goals: having customers for Kneaver. Once this achieved I may change a bit. I felt it was also the right approach to have an overview of all my processes and how the timesheet, the tinyhabits and my goals fits together. Good place also to dispell some myths. I’m not super productive, I just want it so bad as Gary V says.

I don’t know how you find the time to do everything!

Should I place on my professional blog or on my personal blog? Hard to decide, I tend to say that as soon as it involves my personal lifestyle it’s better here. I don’t recommend my lifestyle. It’s fits into the idea of working out loud and being authentic to share it, nothing more. It’s also something I want to pursue: blogging about life, lifestyle, lifehack on Sunday.

Here it goes

It’s a work day as I would like to do, it doesn’t work yet

8:30 Wake up – 5 minutes reflection – gym – yoga – pranayama – 3′ meditation
9:00 Wash – Clean the mess – prepare coffee
9:30 Drink 3 cups of coffee + 3 slices of homemade cake – listen podcast – short look to news/Twitter/FB/Mail
10:00 Set Time to start working (TinyHabit #1), prepare timesheet, allow Read 1 or 2 posts, Kneaver Moment
10:30 Write 1H, It’s the duration that counts, not if I publish zero, one or two posts
11:30 Go for a walk if time permit or gardening
12:30 Prepare meal – Check Mail/Twitter/FB – Read/Learn
13:00 Eat – Listen to a podcast
13:30 Coffee – MiniHabit #2 Read a handwritten note, copy it
14:00 Frog or Main Focus Task or Coding
This mean that I’m not really productive before 2PM
16:00 Break: Check News/Email/Twitter/FB – Reinforce Learnings on Kneaver
16:30 Focus Task or Coding
18:30 Mini Break Email/Twitter/FB
19:00 Small tasks or task for enhancing my environment or life: could be cooking, tinkering, drawing
20:00 Twitter Chats on Wednesday/Thursday
21:00 Eat Podcast? maybe
21:30 Coding or DevOps
23:30 Break Email/Twitter/FB/News/Read
24:00 Long reflective bath, or conversation on Social Media or exploring ideas or worst case scenario: try to get something out of the day
01:00 Last check of Mail/Twitter/FB
TinyHabit #3 Find a positive aspect of the day
Go to Bed

First remarks

Doesn’t look like a perfect day? Well it’s a work day. Days “Off” are the same just I start a bit later. Otherwise don’t worry I’m very happy as is and I have other plans for later, I’m excellent at spending good time.
Pomodoro don’t work well for coding or marketing cuz you need long focused periods. Some years ago I was using periods of 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes breaks or minor activities.
Coding is hardly predictable because you often get into traps, tasks that totally exceed your expectations.
I learn all the time, even when it’s written “coding” or “marketing” there is often reading, experiences, research being done. Learning is 20% of time. Most of my breaks are dedicated to learning.
DevOps (taking care of servers, installing new versions implies a lot of waiting time. It’s often multitasked with other things when I don’t need focus.
Sian design is much more stylish, I’ll try to make this page nicer. You will have to subscribe to her newsletter to get a glimpse.

How to get there<:h4>
– My days are still not regular. I tend to have a circadian cycle of 26h, so every day I will drift 2 hours later. Occasionally I sleep only 4 hours to realign myself. In 2016, I’ll try to be ready to work for 10AM. This could be done by being more predictable in my short nights. I usually sleep two cycles of 3 to 4 hours. I get asleep at once and sleep in one stretch.
– Podcasts are a new addition in my life. It took time to arrange the playback of a queue of podcasts. I queue what i’m interested it and the Karotz will play them back just by passing an RFID. If I don’t want to listen to this topic, I pass again the token, it goes to the next one. Convenient. This mean also that I gave up listening to the radio. I’m disgusted by the politics and rather pessimist on that point, some would say I’m realistic :)
– 2 hours of work in one stretch is really good, doing it 3 times a day would be really efficient. The time tracking application will allow me to check how much I fit into it. The real problem I face today is that I’m too easily distracted. I tend to switch to another window and see what’s going on. Again I have now tools for that. We will see how far it goes.
– I still struggle to find time to enhancing my environment. Cooking goes well, small DIY as well but I lack quietness of mind to paint and willpower to finalize some ambitious project I started 2 years ago. I have to be better here at staggering tasks. Meanwhile, I will do some sketches.

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My values

Wow such a pretentious post, I don’t feel I know myself enough but I’m willing to give it a try as Michelle did yesterday: https://twitter.com/MichelleOckers/status/680549713242796032

So it’s going to be an iterative process and something I wish to add to the biography I started with colors and link to from my official bio on kneaver.com. I’m going to review this page regularly as I sharpen the list.

The main problem to solve is a confusion I’m often doing between values, attitudes and traits. Could this help https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_(personal_and_cultural) or that https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_85.htm ? Not really.

The second problem is ordering those “values” as suggested. Ideas didn’t come in the following order. The order may change again.

Right to Ambivalence is a value for me. Like many people, I’m fluctuating between a range of attitudes depending on the context, the people. I changed also. When I tried to classify myself using MBTI, I realized I could fit into totally different molds. Ambivalence can go as far as being contradictory with myself over time. I’m OK with it. I claim that it is the value of people who can change opinion when they realize it’s necessary or proved to be more suited. It’s not a lack of consistency. When I look back, on the distance, I’m usually very consistent and dependable.

Love of humans and animals too. I traveled a lot, met people from totally different horizons and without intermediates. I love to share, I love to learn from others, I love to read also. I don’t see anyone as being off limits, I could talk with people with totally different views or life. The strong value behind is “sharing”. I don’t think humans are always good but also not especially bad. They are just humans and none are perfect. Connected to this love of humans and their variety is my addiction for traveling. Traveling and Working are two ways to reach out to other humans, to learn from them and to share what I have learned from others or created. This places me often in the role of connector. I believe in the complex nature of humans and humans feelings. I don’t believe there are ways to classify people or predict people. I also don’t think we can do their good against their will. We can provide help, support but not control or influence. I also think people may change under some circumstances, me included.

Questionner I’m passionate about understanding things. I like to discover, to explore. I’m willing to learn more about everything I could use, to learn languages, lifestyles, history but also computers techniques, learning, marketing. When I learn, I’m an explorer: I search, I dig, I compare and I question. I question myself continuously and I question others. Combining this curiosity with my requirement of rigorous analytic thinking, I can’t be satisfied with partial answers, or sales language. Shall we discuss, you will not convince me with weak arguments and I will come back with more questions.

Independence Taking decisions on my own, being my own master is important for me. There are risks attached and I bear them. I’m also open to listen and take advices. For me being independent is also being open for some interdependence based on well-understood relations, When Kneaver Corp will grow I don’t plan to have a team in one place, with 9AM-5PM coworkers but a network of people with competencies collaborating in a flexible way. It’s not doing everything by myself but I like having the possibility to do it. I also like to be able to cook, garden and tinker by myself.

Doing My passion is doing, inventing, creating not learning. I’m stimulated by the pleasure I have to perform intellectually. I like to use my understanding to make sense of problems to solve. I will learn to gather as much as possible from the situations, the possibilities, the choices left open. I will search for solutions, have ideas, invent new solutions and build prototypes. When I learn I’m often experimenting in the same time, try to see the limits of applicability of what I learn. I like to share my findings, my work. having users, customers fits in the pleasure of sharing my work.

Happiness and being connected. I believe Happiness is a given. On need, we should be reminded to go back to this stage. For me being happy is simply being connected to my present stage, not being in the expectative of a future wellbeing, not fearing the future, not grieving or regretting the past, not wishing being somewhere else. Just being in sync with present conditions. Of course on the way of my activities I loose constantly this balance like we shortly loose balance for every step when we walk but it should be short and go from stable enjoyable moments to another, not being constant unsatisfaction. On some occasions life, work and success are connected and it’s a nice moment to live. I have not always though like this.

Rationality I tend to consider that logic is a good way to make sense and consider the world. I’ve been to far in maths and logic to be naive to consider that everything can be solved with strict logic but this school of thought influence my decisions and judgment. Let’s call it partial fuzzy logic. Partial because I know that not everything can be understood using such approach. I know also that not everything can be explained and/or reduced to simple models. I’m perfectly ok to suspend my critical thinking and engage discussions on Kundalini or NLP or religion with Hindu monks. Just, at the end before deciding what I will take away, I will apply my rationality to it and select what I keep for me. As a consequence of this, I’m not a believer of anything outside humans. For me nobody is in charge or in control of us, we are fully in charge of ourselves. Another consequence of this strong requirement of rationality is that I can hardly cope with lies and tentatives of obscure my judgment with poor arguments. I have no consideration for lazy, group or conservative thinking.

Ethic I don’t follow many prescribed cultural moral values but I adhere to a few core ones: Not to steal, affect and abuse anyone. Stay as much as possible away from limits of privacy of others. Avoid influencing or impacting people. People have belief and I respect them, if such beliefs or attitudes are disturbing for me, I will usually resort to avoid them, not enter arguments. I don’t like violence, wars or weaponry. I’ve never been under fire but I have been several times in proximity of combat zones or armies. For me, patriotisms, armies, and borders are more ways to put pressure on people and use them than to protect communities. Being in an armed country who didn’t win a war for the last 2 centuries, failed to protect its citizen several times, I have serious doubt on the efficiency of armed forces. Being aware, staying informed is an important part of this value. On need it could lead to being involved although I have not done it often.

Importance of Feelings Feelings and sharing feelings is important for me. With my rational side I accommodate to live with my feelings and be receptive to the feeling of others. Feelings are also my connection with my fellow humans and creativity, imagination. I’m not afraid of showing my feelings. I use my rationality to prevent them to overwhelmed me or guide all my decisions. This is also a view that changed.

Live fully I like the idea of being open to everything. I can eat anything, drink anything. I like to read, paint, use my brain, my body. Life is for enjoying pleasures. Work is just one among them. Enjoying pleasures don’t bring happiness but don’t contradict either.

Simplicity I’m perfectly at ease with a very simple living. It fits well my current lifestyle of startup founder, but even if I was earning much more, my life wouldn’t be so different because I’m just not interested in shiny things. I believe also that with 7 billion humans on this small planet, all perfectly capable of doing all kinds of work, there is not work for everyone. A future society can’t be built of consumerism and promise of work for everyone. Other ways of sharing work and means of life will be necessary. Simplicity is not hard for me because I’ve always lived simply. traveling teaches simplicity and doing with very little as well. Finally, most of my richness are in my head, my connections, my inventions, not in my tangible assets.

Posted in Lifestyle, Philosophy | 2 Comments

Travelling Journal: 1978 1. The wrong side of things

Fast forward 3 years, same time of year, mid-April, last day of holidays.

6 hours I’m waiting here, stuck on the side of the road. I’m hitch-hiking back home. It’s hot and I’m on the main road crossing Yugoslavia from end to end, about halfway between Zagreb and Belgrade. It’s in the hell of nowhere: just a large cement road and trucks, one after the other.

Holidays are finished, I’m a bit frustrated, nothing happened as I planned. We left Strasbourg, 2 girls and 2 boys. The plan was exciting: 2 weeks of holidays in Bosnia and on the Dalmatian coast. Sea, sun, you got the idea. The deal was that we would go hitch-hiking from France to there. Boys would hit the road separately and the two girls together. We split right across the bridge on the Rhine. Both girls got a lift at once, we had to wait a couple of hours: predictable. The problem is that we never met them again during the holidays. We had meetings arranged at the post office of Sarajevo, next day and again next day, then every two days. I hooked with the other guy accidentally after a week; the girls never. We kept leaving messages, we could only see once a piece of paper wrapped with nothing on it.

I was just 18 years old, officially an adult. I have my new passport in my pocket. I proposed the three others to follow me in Bosnia to get a bit of Ottoman culture. I knew the place quite well, having spent summer after summer in the region with my father. I could speak some Croatian, I had several friends.

Bosnia was a nice place surrounded by mountains, like the mark left by a saber. Turkish culture resisted here since the time the Ottoman armies retreated from Vienna. As a kid, the exotism of the place impressed me. This time, I was less impressed and I could feel the varnish was thin.

Where I was hitch-hiking now, was not so nice. It was an ugly countryside, flat, few industrial building. The place was called “Gradiska”, “Border”. How could someone name a place like that a border? It’s right in the middle of the country. I’m a specialist in borders and I can tell you, it didn’t look at all like a border.

Occasionally a soldier was hitch-hiking next to me. He didn’t care raising a thumb or displaying a sign. Trucks instantly stopped to pick him. All the trucks belonged to state own companies. No way I could get a lift from them. My only chance was to get a tourist car. People going home. Perspectives were grim, I though: It’s Saturday 4 PM, most of them are already gone.

So I was there, frustrated, bored, and a bit anxious. In less than 36 hours school was starting again. It was the last 3 months before the major exam in the life of a French Student: The “Baccalauréat”. Depending on my grades my future was drawn. This was the last stop before the final rush.

I was also a bit anxious that once the sun would set, my odds to get a lift were even dimmer. Strange enough on the other side of the road, traffic was more intense and I could spot several tourist cars. In the life, we are always on the wrong side of the road, I thought. Good things always happen to the people on the other side. I’m sure that if I was hitch-hiking on the other side I would be luckier.

Proof! let’s give it a try! I thought defiantly and I crossed. #LetsDoThis

I was now in the middle of Yougoslavia on the wrong side, raising my thumb. A car stopped at once. A dark green Volkswagen combi, covered with the dust of the road. Freaks brothers kind of. Inside a charming couple, just older than me. It was my first encounter with the mythical “Deutschen Fahren Süd” archetype. German taking a long leave of their country to enjoy the sweetness of south. The girl arranged a seat for me on the bed, moved the clothes aside. I was part of the family. They were driving non-stop across all Europe as quickly as possible without spending much. They have been working hard and saving for months to get enough to spent 6 months in Greece.

We went quickly through Belgrade and reached Nish. The ambiance in the car was pure bliss. They were so happy, it was communicative. Jim Morrison was singing. I quickly forgot what I just did and just enjoyed the moment. After, the last hilltop, we were now heading toward Greece. The sun was there already, rising on the horizon, waiting for us.

A bang surprised us: the gear box just broke. It took hours until they realized there was no way to repair themselves. A repair shop came to bring us to a garage and here came the sad part: The guy was asking a steep amount of money to repair. The couple talked and talked because it was changing their plans. They couldn’t stay as much as they planned.

Meanwhile, I was staying a bit away, letting them decide and also starting to think about what I should do. My plan was to go to Istanbul and get a real glimpse of Asia and Turkey. Forget the edulcorated experience of Bosnia and live a real adventure. I was also taking a calculated risk.

First the coming examination. Younger, I have been the last of the class but now after a few years of effort, I was the first in almost every subject. I was sure to get my “baccalauréat”, the real challenge was to get it with a mention and get an entry in “Math-Sup”.

Second was how late I could be. It was now Sunday evening. Courses will resume in a few hours. Late for late, I could take the occasion. I had a reputation of being late, often oversleeping and joining the class late. The group was nice, friendly, not competitive. Nobody would do an unpleasant comment.

Third was money. I was short: It was the end of my holidays, I spent my residual cash buying the usual gifts for relatives. I had: A note of 5 French Francs ( 1 USD) and a note of 10 German Marks ( 4 USD). Not much for being traveling 2000 km away from home.

It was starting to be freaking :) yet I decided to go.

The car was finally repaired. I did the check of the work. I was studying Math and Mechanical Engineering. I worked for Mercedes-Benz and car repair shops during my holidays). It was OK, we could go.

We drove through the night and reached Thessaloniki by 7 AM. The sea was almost coming to the road, it was a busy and sandy morning, not very pleasant. My companions were not happy and not smiling anymore. Jim Morrison was not singing. They were a bit disgusted by the incident, a bit tired of me also. I knew they would have preferred to be just by themselves. I was in the middle of the way. We reached the entrance of their paradise before Kavala. They stopped, I took my bag, thank them and walked away.

I was now on this narrow part of Greece between the sea and Bulgaria. I could read the signs (Maths uses a lot of Greek characters) but not make sense of them. My goal was clear, but the situation was far from being clear. After the first souvlaki of my life, it was much better. Greece was like a new country in 1978, people were happy, willing to share their enthusiasm. I got a few lifts of just a few kilometers every time. People were not traveling far. I was picked by Greeks working in Germany. I understood quickly that my plan of going to Turkey didn’t have their approval.

Here I was again, waiting for hours in the sun when a huge Blue American car stopped in front of me. I had already seen one or two in my life, but this one was blue and gorgeous. The automatic glass went down and inside was a guy. A small guy, dark skin, a suit. The car, the suit and the guy looked at odd. He was authoritative: “Jump in, I can’t stop long”. I made a super fast call to my intuition coprocessor who issued a clear to go signal. I open the old door and sat in the car and we went.

The guy was driving like mad. The car was taking all the width of the road. He was horning all the girls on the side of the road. We crossed towns after towns without slowing down. Xhanti, Komitini, Alexandropolis: Turkey was next.

And he stopped. No problem with the car, nothing. We took a Greek coffee. He was speaking constantly, a continuous flow of words. Greece was nothing for him. Turkey was great but he was from Pakistan and Pakistan was everything a man could dream of. He was driving this car he bought in Germany from a US soldier. He had a word for everything. Greeks were like this, German like that. Islam was so great although he was not following the rules. His aim in life was enjoying friends, good life, girls, alcohol and Pakistan. He was in love with Pakistan.

During all the trip, he kept pouring into me his opinion on everything and his total love of his country. He was depicting the places, Karachi, the food, the villages, the mountains, the life in the cities. He explained how the life so cheap. As a proxy, Istanbul was also a great place. He started to describe to me everything I could see tomorrow. Sultanahmet, the great blue Mosque. He gave me the price of tea ( 1 lira = 2 cents), the hotel so cheap ( 12 lirasi = 20 cents), Turkish massage for just 10 cents. The food: delicious. A dream come true. I didn’t plan this trip at all. I never read anything on Turkey. Nobody I knew has ever been there. I had absolutely no idea what Turkey could look like.

I understood that the reason of our break was not to make my education on Pakistan and Turkey but to wait for dawn. We were going to cross a war border with a real DMZ and I felt he was a bit anxious.

We went and crossed the greek border. Greeks were more interested in me. Who was I, what did I do here. We could get our passport back and leave. They opened the door and we crossed the DMZ in the dark. It was about 10 PM.

He stopped, he turned to me and said:

– Can you drive? Do you have a driving license?

I didn’t, I passed my driving license way after, I’ve always been against driving cars.

He was annoyed. He insisted a bit, to make sure I was not lying. I started to fret. We were surrounded by miradors, the army. I couldn’t leave him there, the place could very well be mined.

Never mind, he said and proceeded to the first post.

That was fast. They talked in Turkish, hastily for 10 minutes.

Next we drove the central building. Everything was dark, obviously my driver knew the place. They also knew him. Talks started about a “carnet”. this French word came suddenly in the discussion again and again. There was a problem with the carnet. Another word was coming again and again “Backshish”. This was Turkish to me. The building was ugly, green, open from everywhere to the night. Mosquitos all around us.

Voice calmed down, they didn’t seem angry anymore. Both my driver and the customs officer went to the restroom each on their side of the separation and came back. Everybody was smiling, we left.

Last check post. Just a single soldier with a huge gun. This one was young, fresh from his countryside. He was very unhappy because he knew very well that he lost an opportunity to make some extra money. He was pointing his gun at us. My driver made an attempt to start, the soldier became angry. The air was thick with fear.

The driver turned to me:
– I have no money left. I gave everything to the officer. Could you lend me some money?

See the option: either I help him or I stay here. If he gets into troubles, I don’t even know where we are on the map, and I don’t have a map. Getting out of here is not going to be easy. This guy who looks very much like a car smuggler is the only person I know.

Should I trust a car smuggler to be an honest and dependable person?

– I have 10 DM I said,

Ok give me your 10 DM, tomorrow we go to the bank and I return them to you.

I didn’t believe him at all, but I handed him my last money.

I had 5 French Francs left. Nothing.

He gave the money to the soldier.

We could go.

We were now driving toward Edirne. 2 AM, a huge road was open in front of us, straight, absolutely no traffic. A few monkeys distinguishable in the dark.

He was again the king of the road, shouting, singing, he was exuberant.
He promised me that we would stay in his home, with his friends, that I was welcome for my stay. He claimed, he was grateful that I helped him and that made us friends forever. He would take care of everything.

There were 2 more hours of drive. Policemen stopped us and let us go after a bakshish in Turkish lira. I understood that everything was fixed like this in the life of this man. Laws just had a cost.

He explained to me that we just smuggled a car in Turkey. It was a major offense, totally prohibited because we escaped the taxes: about 5 times the catalog price of the car. He didn’t say it, but I understood that if I had accepted to drive the car, I could have spent time in prison while he was going away with the car. He bought the car $600 and was going to resell it tomorrow for 10 times more. I still doubt that he really bought it. Why not stealing it when you are it?

We reached Istanbul, he drove to a place next to the sea. We left the car.

We entered a large villa. A few men were waiting for us, guns everywhere. A much older man looked like the caid. He asked why I was there, why he brought me here. He didn’t look happy that I shared their hideouts. The driver told him obediently that I would leave early in the morning, and that was all. I’m still unsure if they envisioned another way to get rid of me, sooner, faster. They prepared some food for us, very spicy meat with flat bread. I had my first real Pakistani meal among a group of gangsters with a real talent in cooking. A couple of women heavily painted shared the meal with us. The ambiance was friendly and joyous. The driver recalled again how we passed the border. They asked my version and enjoyed it.

They found a bed for me, I slept at once after two nights awake.

I was 3000 km from home, with no money, nobody knew where I was, staying with outlaws, with a major exam in a few weeks.

I was happy, I was free, I was an adult enjoying life.

“I don’t know where I go, where I sleep
Why should I have fear, I have nothing to loose.”

Yes, Etienne, you are true.

Via @sensor63 #DigiWriMo

Posted in Ecriture, Journal, Voyage | Leave a comment

Travelling Journal: 1975 2. Meeting Asia in London

In the preceding episode, I described with humour my accidental participation to “Changing the Guards” on my first trip to London, at 15 years old. This episode is more reflective by nature before we get into the most adventurous parts of the trip.

Arrival to not so typical Youth Hostel

Barely recovered from my fright encounter with te horse guards, not so at ease riding on the left I eventually reached Earls Court Youth hostel. Very proud of myself and relieved to escape to the street, I propped in. Assertive i went directly to the reception and ask for a bed, mentioning that I had a booking.

When I bought my Youth Hostel card in France, you have to buy it your own country, I was told the rules: not more than 3 nights, bring your bedsheets, book in advance. The guy offered to use the service of the network to book my first night in London and we did.

The reception was not impressed by my booking. Without looking in his books, he told me he didn’t have such a booking and that anyway, it was all booked up. He was of course much taller than me, and I felt the sky just down on me. I was bluffed, I didn’t even imagine this case. He quickly offered a solution: there were plenty of cheap hostels around and friend of him was running one. I was even more surprised but during this short conversation I could acknowledge that there was a constant flow of guests getting in and out. They had the mechanical moves that show that they had their habits int he place. I could see laundry hanging out, signs that people were on long stay and that the place was neither concerned by the 3 nights policy wor by bookings made from France.

A bit disappointed I left and went to the nearby lodge. The first problem I faced was that the youth hostel was a cottage house and I could leave my bike inside for the night, The lodge was a 4 storey building (Thanks Google Street View) and didn’t offer this convenience. I was also a bit afraid of being suddenly in the wild, without the safety I imagined a reputed network of hostels was guaranteeing. So went in, asked for a bed and got a room without questions asked. Everything was perfectly in norms. Sure it was cheap: 1.50 pound roughly like the Youth Hostel. Still have the bill :)

Happy with my win, a bit dizzy by the night in the boat I went to visit London. Being a book worm i was mostly interested in the Tower of London. Went there get my load of inspiration, went back.

Now the next step was to get some food. Getting food in UK or US for a French guy is always a challenge. Outside from enjoying an occasional fish and chips, I had poor memories. So I started to wander in the streets and realized that there was plenty of exotic restaurant.

Get me well. I was coming from Strasbourg from a family of foodies. A place abounding with traditional winstub, bierstub as well as 4 stars restaurants. When we were travelling in Paris, Italy, Venice or Florence, my father was always able to find rarities and fine food for affordable rates. So the exercise of walking for hours looking for the perfect place was not foreign to me. Yet at home the only Chinese restaurant was held by Vietnamese. It was exotic at best: expensive, small serves, not very tasty. Indians were nowhere to be seen, spicy food was only Moroccan and I can remember of one only. Above all this food was made for Alsatian taste; almost no spices, fully cooked, nothing weird.

What I discovered in Earls Court were was real Asian food, plenty of it. Chinese of all style; Sichuanese, Cantonese, Peking style. Indian from all places, Afghanis, Turkish. I spent hours walking around and discovering, talking with all these people representing a world, I couldn’t even imagine. I could barely match with Jules Vernes stories. It was just more real. The World and its possibilities suddenly became enormous. Now don’t imagine I was analyzing things like this at 15 years old, I was just living it and collecting impressions.

I eventually settled for a Chinese Restaurant. Dumpling, Some preparation with pork and plain rice. The waiter offered me a table, took the order and served me a perfect natural. I ate, paid and left. Back to my room I fell asleep at once. My bike stayed outside, it seems me incredible now that it was still there in the morning, intact.

I left in the south direction and this part of the trip could stop there. Hang on for the next chapter with me fighting with adversities and English measure units.

And now?

I recollected those souvenirs during the last 10 days, writing the post in my mind (cheap and best) during my walks. Days after days more questions came to my mind.

Why did I want to have a separate post for this day that looks so uninteresting.

Why did I keep theses notes? I had a lot of moves in my life with often no place of my own. I could have let them go so often, I didn’t. I never opened this box until this month, obviously I didn’t need help to remember it, I’ve told it all this from my memory.

I rely a lot on my instinct, “ma truffe”. Besides being someone very rational, mathematician and software programmer, I’m also perfectly aware of the power of fast thinking. I feel very strongly during the last year that I made a full circle. I’m nearer today from the man I was 35 years ago then from the man I was 10 years ago. Of course in between I earned wisdom, experience, but this ability to empathize with my me buried inside me helped me several times. When I wonder if I can face situations I reconnect with those times I remember I could, then I do.

I realize with a small distance that this day was like a “rite of passage”.

A passage to Asia

The first passage was the passage to Asia. India was not on my map at this time. In Earls court I heard about Pakistan and China. while the rest of trip was purely English, this trip was my first step in Asia and I did it this day. Until this day my life was rich with Europe and I didn’t see the end of it. Step by steps I ended up travelling in many places in Asia, often completely unprepared. I ended up Turkey one day because I hitch hiked on the wrong side of a road and got a direct lift. Travelling and Asia as sub-tended my life up to know like a red thread. Things are hanging together as before this trip, after this encounter and so on. Finally my trips to India, my second homeland brought me so much and continue to bring me so much.

A transition between childhood and adulthood.

When you travel people don’t know you from before, they have no preconceived ideas of who you are, where do you come from or even your age. they just interact with you. I was wondering last week: how comes this youth Hostel tenant didn’t realize I was so young, a kid suddenly left to himself in such a large city. OK back in 1975 people were not thinking like nowadays but even then. The answer came to me yesterday: because he didn’t realize that I was a kid. For him I was a customer, not smaller then some old chaps. he saw me as an adult. Same with the waiter. He didn’t expect a child to come in. His framework was adult coming in and eating. I came in, I was considered as an adult, simply.

My definition of adulthood is being able to meet to one’s need without assistance and I was suddenly placed in this condition despite all the care I took to avoid it: Bookings, maps, cards, preparing in advance. I realize I was perfectly capable of doing it. This “I can do it” became a guidance for many of my ventures. Start a new company: I can do it, be my own boss? I can do it. Learn new languages, new skills: same.

Dreams and sand

So why did I keep these bills? obviously not to remember since I can do it. I thought I could use it like the madeleines from Proust: as a trigger for reminiscence and get deeper into my memories. This is why I resisted to scan them and get away with the paper. I felt the importance of this trigger to-be tangible. I imagine them more like keys, magic talisman I left myself to bring me back to the future.

A few more days later, I realized it was again different: They are more proofs that I didn’t imagine this story, I didn’t dream it or exaggerate it. This part of the story is so trite you barely need a proof, other memories, encounters are more exceptional, surprising that I’ve been relieved to find some tracks of them. Like the sand that you find in the morning, in your pocket reminds you that a dream could have been more than a dream.

I’m thankful to the young me to have been so kind and mindful to leave me those papers. We could almost say we co-write this story.

If you reached this line, note that I will do some more edits and add pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Travelling Journal: 1975 1. Biking in London

I started this #DigiWriMo by setting up a column with the hashtag on Tweetdeck and here came the first tweet. This was from @Sensor63 which although writing in English happens to be my nearest PLN member that I never met IRL. He shared his thoughts as he was wandering in the fields under a sun I experienced as well http://tachesdesens.blogspot.fr/2015/10/a-field-of-sound.html

This set me with this idea of writing on what I lived, my experience of growing myself.

Next I started cooking and set the music to Leonard Cohen. I don’t know why. It’s an artist I didn’t listen to for many years. Music from my early teens. Leonard Cohen songs were popular in our group, some playing it on acoustic guitars and used by English teachers to get us interested. This song “Winter lady” (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/leonardcohen/winterlady.html) I remembered picking some words for an early breaking letter.

Travelling lady, hitch-hiking, travelling. As soon as I reach those words, if I ever close a bit my eyes, memory starts pouring in like from a tall cascade. it’s noisy and brutal.

Travel as been the keyword of my life and could be the conducting line of a set of writings. It’s going to be easy in English since I told some already many times in English and many are set in English speaking places.

Back to Leonard Cohen, (Canada and US didn’t really exists for us) brings me back to this English class and to my first trip: A tour in Bicycle in Surrey, Sussex and Kent from London to Dover via Brighton.

Above: The roadmap, dutifully fuzzy.

I planned this trip with some care as I knew there were several challenges packed into it. Travelling by myself, in a foreign country, using a foreign language I barely knew and using a vehicle: a bicycle rather fragile and requiring physical effort (luckily maps didn’t show how much effort was need to cycle on the hills and cliffs). I planned the trip for March 1975.

I bought a Youth Hostel card (see below), I registered to the Cyclist Touring Club and bought survey maps.

Carte Auberge De Jeunesse 1975 w1500.

Carte Auberge De Jeunesse 1975 FrontSide w1500.

I took care of the bike (a road bike I received for my birthday, rather heavy but strong with gear changes).

I couldn’t learn English more. I was in my 4th year and my first 2 years were disastrous with me pointing consistently at last position in grades. In the 3rd year, I got a teacher less demanding and a more welcoming group and I started to learn really. So my English was … very minimal to say the least. Understatement was not part of my vocabulary, future tense either. I went with “to have, to be and to go” :)

The trip started with the train, day train from Strasbourg. 8 hours until we reached Calais via Lille around 8 PM. The train continued past Calais to the maritime train station: End of line. I was caught into this ambiance of being at the end. An ambiance I experienced later in many places around the world. This feeling that takes inside you that you are going to cross something. You leave behind people who never wandered on the other side, for many reasons like lack of curiosity and no interest for others lifestyle. You look forward the excitement to discover new people, new habits, new common sense, new culture.

Now it was not the first time I went to England. I went in London at 8, with my father, brother and sister on our way to Ireland. Nice trip but being the younger I couldn’t get much of it. I came again the summer before my first year of English (11 y/o) for a month of summer class. I knew nothing at all and it was in a full immersion class with kids 3 years older them me with already 2 years of English. My father’s view of what education and learning should be: put the bar high so you feel challenged to succeed.

Also, it was not the first I travelled as my father took us around all Europe on every occasion. Our trips were mostly unprepared, itinerant, and routes were chosen day after days.

I decided at 14 that I will not let it go and I would learn English my way. Loaded with the above-mentioned experience of travel, I felt I could do it. I could legally start travelling alone in Europe from 15 y/o. I started a few days after my birthday.

I realize now that trying to expand my borders is very much what’s I’ve been doing since then. Some borders are very rectangle like from one longitude to another and one latitude to another (spherical geometry rectangles, of course, for a #maths lover). Some are in knowledge space: learning maths, becoming good at it, learning software, learning languages, becoming good in English. I proceed always the same way: by expanding from what I have and eventually doing the full round trip. I usually start without maps, I wander at random in towns, places domains and discipline. Once I got the feeling of the place, I start to explore more methodically. This exploration of thoughts at random, as they come, weakly connected was what connected me to Simon’s experience today.

The boat took us across the channel and through the night.

I reached Waterloo station at around 8 AM. A while to fetch my bike from the accompanied luggage booth and here I’m: I climbed my bike and left the station to the light of the street. This image of me is still very vivid in my mind: I had my heavy green military surplus coat, the bag attached the dark and this view of a dark and narrow station with just a few lanes and a way out cut out in the wall on an end.

My first contact with the rather narrow street  (I turned on left) was the bright sun, I had been travelling for almost a day, and then a huge horn sound.

Man! They could have killed me with this enormous sound. Here I was: stopped right in front of a black cab from old ages. I knew it was a cab from my school book. “John went to London and took a cab”, I took this lesson on “to go and preterit”, see I got instruction.

So the problem here was that the cab was on the left side of the street, left from his point of view of course :), and I was on the right, my right I mean and precisely I was wrong, not in my right.

Google would have recommended the exact same route today

The small lane on the left today.

I was in a small lane (see map and picture) parallel to York Road. Past the fright and exchanging strong words with the taxi driver in respective languages, I went forward. I had a map obtained from the British consulate and I was heading toward Earls’ Court. At that time, it was a cheap place where you get affordable B&B. I had about £200 with me for two weeks, I was running on a £12 per day budget.

LondonMap w1500
That’s the original map, still folded :)

I crossed a bridge, start cycling in front. You have to realize that back in that time there were no bicycles in London. I was the only one riding a bike. There was no lanes reserved for bikes, I had to ride inside the traffic (on left #BangOnHead). trying the grasp the sense of writing on the floor: Right lane MUST turn left. My bicycle was a continental style (which is now the norm), in UK people used high pitched bikes, more suitable for promenade in parks then for countryside long distance rides. Everyone was staring at me.

I started to return the smiles, very proud and happy to be the center of interest. That’s where I ended up between two horses. Horses rode by tall men with red jackets and helmets, many of them.

They wouldn’t go around me, they carried on straight and I took a while to understand the situation. Again my school book at the rescue. I was in the “changing the guards” : 10:00 AM right on time, just I didn’t plan to be part of the show with my bike and my rucksack.

I ducked to the side of the road and continued to my hotel. From there on I gave up using my bike in London.

PS: I just realized that I have behind me an old box full of stuff I placed aside many years ago and yes, despite all my moves, this boxes contains all my souvenirs. Great for illustrating this post. My memories were rather perfect just it was in 1975, not in 1974.

Watch out for the next episode: Living in Earl’s court and my first contacts with India.

Posted in Voyage | 2 Comments

My garden is a bit messy

It’s like a jungle. I planned it very organized, in 1×1 meter (3ft) squares. I’m not alone in this garden: nature, wind, sun, rain also take care of it. Some animals as well: birds, ants, bees, rabbits, a frog, a large family of mouses. I relinquish control after a while and every year it becomes  a jungle again. I enjoy it.

In my work, I’m obsessed by keeping things super organized.  I can spend an hour to fix a badly named file, rearrange sources so that display nicely. My coding style is super rigorous, everything is commented, minimalist. I think I’m kind of a perfectionist. The good thing is that with software it pays to be careful with details. You spend less time maintaining code, it becomes more and more clear and it makes more sense.

My garden is the counterposed of my work. I love to take my breaks in front of it. That where I drink my coffee. My mind empties from the intricacies of javascript, Twitter. My eyes fill with real colors at a good distance. I feel I’m becoming a human again, the animal kind of.

It’s also that by nature I’m pretty messy, I’ve been told. Software design is like Maths or Legos. It starts like clay or random shapes and ends up perfect, well structured. It’s very forgiving with iterations, redesigns. It takes a lot of concentration, though. I think in many cases and with writing added I’m putting on a lot of pressure.

Gardening, which implies working dirt and elements with one’s hands is the place where my messy nature can express itself fully. Plants don’t like mistakes. Forget to water them it’s done, they don’t come back as before.


From the other side it’s more ruled, one can recognize lines of cabbages.

So I’m really happy when my garden is messy. I arranged a bean shape for it to start with. Not a single straight side.  It’s surrounded by grass and the largest vegetables continue their growth outside of it. Wildflowers invite themselves in. I don’t weed a lot because everything is so much one in another I can’t say what is weed or wanted. I never learned to recognize them when they are small. There are also plenty of very useful weeds like blue Borago (nice flowers), Symphytum or last year seeds coming back (I’m doing the seeds myself).

My PKM practice in regard of gardening and plants is quite lousy as well. I have several books, with nice pictures but little time to read them. I started a personal Kneaver for personal stuff but I use it mostly for cuisine. Cuisine is halfway between gardening and working. I tend to follow recipes meticulously the first time and start improvising after. Most seeds I just plant them, add water. Again there must be spaces where letting go rules.





With Legos or software, I like to combine things or ideas to see what could come out of it. With the garden, it’s the same. I place some plants next to others to create combination of effects. Zucchini will provide shelter to tomatoes roots, young salads stay in the shadow of large plants to reach maturity one after the other. This tinkering is also part of my PKM process. learning by experimenting, combining, trying.

Many of my neighbors are either agricultors  or deal with agriculture or went in an agriculture school. They can tell what I planted when there are only 2 leaves, handy when I forget. When they see my garden they laugh. They try to explain to me that it needs potassium, phosphorus or nitrate. I reply with colors, Twitter, xAPI. they give up quickly. We laugh. One should laugh.

I say: Let me be a lousy gardener, I’m too serious a worker. I need a place where rules don’t rule. That’s my piece of nature: the garden.


Posted in Jardinage | 2 Comments

Unauthorized Biography: Colors

I call it “Unauthorized” because I’m not an authority to confirm this is all true. It’s sincere for sure, but one sided. Also, I omit discretionarily what could concern other people or has not interest for my readers.

Violeta said that, we, startups founders, marketers of various venue don’t share enough about us and we are not enough authentic. Others ask for more transparency. So after all, sharing a bit about a founder could be of interest for an audience. It helps to establish a link and build some understanding from where people are coming and where they are heading to.

However at 55, I’ve already enough to write several books. Instead of writing books, my job is to write software so both are competing for my attention. Let’s start with colors as I am a man of colors. next will be animals.

There are plenty of posts about the symbolic of colors. Just found this one with both western and oriental which is important for me given I’m a tireless traveler.

As a young kid, I was perfectly fine spending hours alone, in my room, playing with colors. Mixing them, painting, coloring everything including the walls, the carpets. I had my quarter of an hour of fame regularly with my painting in K12.


So of course I knew about colors, shades, tints very early and had strong opinions.

My choice was Red!

Vermillion red, not darker like Carmin or Crimson Red.

I loved Jaguar type ‘e’ cars. I don’t how I fixed my choice on this since it was not common in France at that time. The color, the soft shapes was it.

Adults around me objected
– red is nice but only as an accent color. It’s the color of blood. It’s not of good taste.
– blood implies violence, blood is also life I learned later.

I was not convinced. Red is still one of my favorite colors. Chineses use a lot of red, and no surprise that there are a lot of Chinese artifacts in my house. chopsticks, bed covers are red. Red is happiness and I am a happy man.

As I grew, I became less interested in cars, annoyed by the proximity of violence or political view I didn’t share.


My choice, as I entered adulthood was mauve. Pale purple if you prefer. Truth is that, I loved all the colors but sometimes to paint a room you need to make a choice. It’s like for careers and companions. That was a big topic at that time.

Taking harsh decisions is not my strength. I ended up painting each room of my flat in a different color ( as a student I was lucky to have a very cheap and vast flat).

– Sleeping room: pale mauve with a wall length painting.
– Dining room and where most gig where taking place: Blue with some green.
– Kitchen: a degrade of blue waves on the wall. Take your breakfast facing the sea.
– Corridor: dark “English” green (the only color my landlord and suspicious neighbors could see).
– My desk was orange. Well, where you could see the walls: behind the books, records, drawings, painting etc. Remember: learning is orange.



As I started my professional work, in my first startup, the color was yellow. Same, after some time, each space was painted in a different color. It was very joyful. For me, Yellow is Joy.

– insert here picture of my first office –


Around 1995, I was craving for green. I moved to the countryside, started to have a garden. Green had a soothing effect on me, counterbalancing the overly stressed life I had. My painting had a recurrent presence of green. Green has never been a dominant, fetish color. Although I have sympathy for green parties I never followed their paths. Never bought green clothes. I had too much as a kid :( Take green as being my complementary color, inside me.

Where I leave know I’m surrounded by green. At any time during the daytime, when I have enough of Internet and my work I stand up and go for a walk, in the greenhood.

Green is peace.



When I restarted a new venture, blue was trendy and I wanted to play in the big pool. I had my business plan in hand and spent time pitching between San Jose and San Francisco. I was pretending I was the next super success of the web, well looking, smart and knowledgeable. Alas, I didn’t do it, something must have shown that blue was not my color and I was faking.

Starting 2008, I decided I will go my own way, be myself as I am. With my story behind me, my weakness, my failures. but also my strengths, my knowledge, and my ideas. After spending years doing projects I didn’t really like, I wanted to take a chance to go with my pet project Kneaver.

I went self-funded by doing other projects on the side. Of course, it’s not as fast as raising 5 million USD and hiring a dream team. Also, the market was not ready as it is today so good deal. My ideas matured as well, like my choice of colors.


So I gave up blue. I was tempted by yellow. yellow is bright, smart.

But yellow is also the colors of apples and I don’t like Apple. never did.
Yellow is also a sacred color in far east. more for princes and priests. I don’t have religion, but I don’t want to offend friends. I traveled a lot in the north hemisphere and I have friends a little bit everywhere and across borders.

So yellow was OK for shirts and secondary design elements.

Yellow can be too much. I wanted something I could become familiar with.


I settled for Orange.

Half way between red and yellow. A fusion of creativity and wisdom?

Orange is also the color of Knowledge, a good choice for a Knowledge Software Toolbelt business.

It took a while to accept this orange. Inside me, it was fine but I felt it didn’t go well outside. My introvert part was speaking. As authenticity rules and I want to run my business as I am, let’s go for orange.

– Wait I don’t have a picture with orange? –
The Twitter theme of @Kneaver

Ok, some may object that orange is also the color of sadhus and monks in India. Good enough, I’m sure my sadhu and monk acquaintances won’t object, given the very simple living style I follow. I’m almost living like a monk, fully dedicated to my project: I think I almost qualify. I’m known in my village for wearing regularly plain orange shirts. Time to admit it: orange is my color today.

For me, orange is knowledge, and becoming wise.


Pink is showing up

Look my last theme on Kneaver!


It has spots of deep pink as an accent color. I made it using a combination of Bootstrap and latest Google Material 1.0 with a custom palette. I called the theme “Oriental”. That was clever :)

Anyway, the presence of a new color could be the sign that a change is coming again as new releases of Kneaver are going to be rolled out.


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My Resume in a few tweets

I planned for a while to share some of my story. Since kneaver.com will trace the story of the inception of Kneaver which covers several important milestones I will take benefit of this blog to share aspects slightly outside of my work and before I worked on Kneaver.

To get it going, to give it as start from a fresh point of view, I registered today on @Somewhere, inspired by @V4Violetta.

Propulsed by their provocations, 250 char by 250 chars. I shared some details with a few tweets collected below my answers, ordered by dates to turn it into a time-based resume.

Check it on Somewhere for a full experience

1976: First job, first money earned.

16 y old, I got me a job with a winemaker in Germany. Cold calling, foreign language, no background in farming. Was a delicious summer in vineyards, lodging was free (important for me), earned 600 DM, my first pay totally earned from my initiative :)

1980: Studies

I started by study mechanical engineering in high school, followed by Mathematics in University. Graduated and started a post grad in Geometrical Topology, gave up due to lack of finance and limited perspectives to get a job.

1990: Past roles

As I young CEO of a startup I was in charge of finance, funding, business plans, defining strategies and implementation. I learned by doing and shared with my co-founders on the fly. Learning, executing, sharing, delegating, iterate like this flower

2000: Tell about yourself

I’m a Travelling Software Architect. It pretty much describe my mindset. I’m now a Knowledge Management, Social and Lifelong Self-Directed Learning enthusiast. Founder of @kneaver. I started #PKMChat host

2005: Past Positions (and first screen shot of Kneaver precursor)

I started my first company “Caroline Informatique” as I dropped out Uni after graduation with 2 friends. We were doing 3D CADCAM software.
Next I started “RadialSoft Corp”, just myself, also CAD.
Picture was my CV on Kneaver first iteration ‘PE’ :)

2010: What’s your role

Founder, Travelling Software Architect at @kneaver
I design smart solutions for smart lifelong learners and smart teams
to leverage, extend and share their knowledge in a social, connected world.

I love to paint also does it count for my bio?

2015: What are your Main responsibilities

Listening, Understanding my target market, their needs, expectations, motivations and how a solution would fit in their already packed personal organization and bring them value for sure.
Implementation and selling follow from that seamlessly.

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Taking a new Habit of morning meditation

I started this 30 days Challenge on Meditation after reading John Stepper’s post on a similar experience he did. This was on June 27th, I started on July 1rst to be aligned with a month and to make sure I was ready.

My topic here is more about sharing what I learned from the experience than to guide you into meditation which is a very personal choice. it’s a little long with some details I marked with blue italic so that can be skipped.

My experience of meditation

I’m not good at meditating, but I feel there is something to gain on me here, leading to an ultimate win for me.
My first contact with meditation was in India, back in 1978. I met people meditating for hours in meditation places or in temples. It was part of Yogic life, sadhus or Buddhist monks rituals. We talk here of hours of meditation in a row. For some of them it’s a major part of their day. Really not something engaging and motivating for the 18y old westerner of me.

As I started Yoga in 2007, in India, meditation was also part of the process. Courses started with a short 5’ meditation. It is like a corridor, a way to calm down, isolate from the external world, of our thoughts of the day. The thoughts of the night or the day before really because Yoga took place at 6 AM. You sit down, shut up and meditate. Doing it on my own, with no special explanation it was doomed but I was able to stay quiet.

Meditation is present in Indian’s lifestyle. It’s common in schools, for a conference, a talk or a course to start with a brief meditation. Same benefits as for Yoga course it isolates oneself from instant concerns, become present in the moment, create a transition, turn ourselves inside in.

Back in 2013, in a monastery, a guy, sharing the room with me, was waking up in silence every night at 4 AM to meditate 3 hours until 7 AM. A presence silent and totally still in the dark. FYI I like monasteries and I’m welcome in some places but I’m not a follower of any religion.

As I increased my practice of Yoga in India, longer meditations came into play. 30′ before, 30′ after and as a goal of Yoga. Hatha yoga stage #7, Dhyana, is precisely meditation.

Meditation in the West is more an activity on its own. Something you start almost any time in the day, possibly with the use of an app.
Meditation is also becoming a popular topic among the people I follow on twitter: Helen, Lisa, John mentioned meditation. I suggested to mention it in the Periodic Table of Knowledge as the still process (I’m a Math guy, I like to have Neutral Element in sets). So Meditation is now a western topic as well.

I decided to stick with the manual traditional meditation, the more so that I wish to retain the capability to do it with no preconditions, anywhere including while walking in the countryside or during the night and I don’t keep anything with a screen in my sleeping room. I tried to catch up on this and introduce short meditations in my day. I’m not ready for hours of meditation, but short ones (5 to 15′) to focus on being really still mentally, present and enhancing my ability to enter the stage failsafe. It works, but I’m not doing it consistently. I could forget meditation for weeks and suddenly practice twice a day and so one.

I won’t get into defining meditation or supplying links. First because I’m not knowledgeable enough, second because even very experts person I met have not been able to explain much about it, same with books. In my opinion: It’s not a rest, is not being drowsy like just before sleep or when waking up. It’s not being concentrated on thinking of nothing or repeating mantras or fixing pictures. This would imply a strong mental effort while meditation is a relaxed stage, reasons why it can be hold for hours. It has something to do with freeing ourselves from the constant intrusion of new thoughts, or repeating ones, or memories of feelings triggering old memories. Something to do with the Default Mode Network. So it must be practised in a place where one feels safe, with some quietness. I try to follow my breath via the coolness it cause in my nostrils, when something comes to my mind (and it happens) I imagine I have like a little conveyor in front of me and I place the thoughts there to go away.

A 30 days challenge to try to turn it into a habit

Last occasion this came to my mind was when I read this post by John Stepper and I was amused to catch-up the idea. An occasion to try, for free, to turn it into a habit. An occasion also to test my resistance to adhering to some discipline. I was not ready for 10′ per day, but I tinkered a goal adapted to my habits:

  • Wake up
  • 10’ Mental reconnect with past day, collecting new ideas (I blogged on that).
  • Starting from here I try to get gradually totally mindful in the practice as if meditating.
  • Some movements or postures
  • Sitting on the floor
  • 3’ Forced Abdominal breathing (AKA Vatakram kapalbhati Pranayama) Quite energetic.
  • 3’ Alternate nostril breathing (AKA Bhastrika). Sounds weird but it consists basically in blocking one nostril for a breath for inhale, exhale, then the other one, repeat. It’s done on a quiet rhythm, getting even quieter by introducing longer cycles with pauses with lungs full and empty (AKA Kumbaka).
  • 3’ Meditation. I use my breathe as only support. No music, no picture, no visualisation, no mantras. This is why having reached a quiet breathe is important. I usually face a window, I keep my eyes well open, I watch the wall below the window.

How it went

I tried a few days, but it was taking too long to start. I attached a scan of my challenge with remarks I wrote every day (In French). Lack of motivation, resistances and my meditation was tending to be mindless, absent or too rational, too concentrated.

After 4 days, the Sunday, I failed, I missed again the Monday and the next Sunday. The excuse was that on Sunday morning 9:20 AM there is the bread delivery truck. So I must be up and ready for 9AM. With my alarm clock at 9 AM, there’s no time for a wake up ritual. Sunday I typically end very late because I deploy new releases.

I decided to ignore this interruption and resume the challenge, ignoring the failure. The fact that I committed on my comment on John’s blog played as an external motivator :)

I added a small reading after the meditation, to serve as a transition before standing up and getting downstairs for coffee. That proved to be a great addition.

I fixed , for a time, my breathe to be in pear form. I wanted to make sure transitions between lungs full to retaining breathe occur imperceptibly like rounded edges of a rectangular cycle, with no locked being placed. A short retention lungs full, a longer one empty. The opposite of the normal prescription. There was an interesting effect but really eventually a constraint to further deeper meditation. That’s where instead I made my breathing exercises longer and focused more on a vertical breathing (like if air goes through me).

Then I had a week where I could follow the routine but reduced to its bare minimum. On the 14th day, I broke the routine but made it at 6 PM. I was happy that I didn’t miss one but realized I need to take corrective action. I needed changes not only to reach the end of the challenge but mostly to make a habit of it. Something smoothly installed in my routine so that I don’t need to make too many extra efforts. So here I made a great change: I put my alarm clock one hour back. Bye, bye beauty sleep. Consider that I work a lot with North America so I’m often still awake and working until 2 or 3 AM. Waking up at 8 AM means some nights with 5 hours of sleep, only one cycle. So I expected to stop earlier as well, as a natural adaptation. It occurred. Strange enough, I tend to wake up even earlier now: 7:20 AM.

From there, my routine changed. I had a full hour for me. One hour just dedicated to take care of myself, mentally and physically.

I put back an old routine I followed for years: 20 minutes of gym mostly on the back, oriented toward abdominal muscles and back pain prevention. I adapted it based on deviations that happened. Side effect it became a bit longer and more difficult now.

I added a step standing, followed by Surya Namaskar or not depending on my state of mind, but at least some stretches and fixed postures.

Then continue on above routine but changed timing 3 – 4 – 5. So it’s now 5 minutes meditation.

This worked much better. Since I have an hour for me I can make the meditation gradually longer to reach 15’.


  • I’m very happy I could arrange a new routine and include meditation. It was a pending goal somewhere neither important or urgent.
  • It increases my eagerness, my appetite to work. I reach the coffee machine in a brilliant state, I barely need the extra push of a coffee. I’ll try to stop with coffee for some time.
  • I don’t need the usual email and Twitter rush of the morning (the adrenaline moment). This little time you check if something new happened while you were away.  I also stopped listening for news during my breakfast so I’m much more serene.
  • I added ability to cool down, stop to almost still at once.

What did I learn

  • Link pranayama and meditation, gradually moving into it. At least for me, it did great.
  • Important and Urgent queues for private matter and work matter should be kept strictly isolated. Otherwise for a self-employed, solo entrepreneur, startup owner there are no limits. Any private goal competes with job related tasks.
  • 30 days allows slight tweaks to be experimented and slowly adapt into something workable and sustainable. It gives the time to re-enter the habit taking with successive slight changes. I compare again with Yoga. When you try some new or challenging postures, you often push toward the limits of your flexibility. while retaining the pause start breathing. Slow, long breaths will have two effects: Large intakes of air acts as a pain reliever, the posture slowly becomes more comfortable. Breathes will let your muscles relax as well and the body will end up fitting into the right posture, the one without forcing or pain. 30 days works a bit the same, as breathing in postures. By allowing some minor and smart changes we gradually evolve between the preconceived naive goal into the smart goal: sustainable, achievable.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria
  • The idea of ritual meets discipline. Something stronger than a routine, a placeholder with hooks for installing habits. The morning routine is more like a ritual, it must take place in a strict order to include all the hooks for habits. I wish to dig into this another time. It’s also important in product design to make them stick.
  • 30 days challenges are not good candidates for Working Out Loud. Holding resolutions is really a discussion with oneself. I felt that by sharing the progress there was a risk of diluting my resolve. I went as far as not reading blog posts mentioning meditation.
  • 30 days don’t forge strong habits, it’s just a leading line. It depends very much in which condition you are at the end. If like for the posture you found your marks it will be easy to continue without thinking, your agenda is now ready for it. If you forced, it will be like releasing the cow head pose.: A huge relief when you stop and you forget it.
  • You can only follow one plan at a time, don’t try to add them because it looks tempting and simple at start. It’s after day 15th that it gets harder when life incidents come into play, special occasions, distractions. I was tempted to start another challenge before the end and I felt it this was a wrong idea.


Meditation is pure willpower. There is no external pressure, no social pressure, no short term benefits in your work, You need internal motivation to go for it, to start, to find the time and to keep it focused. Adding new habits can be a challenge, achievable but challenging. To adopt this one, it took me to change my schedule by 1h. My next challenge may impact my schedule even more but with a clear, measurable benefit in term of business.

Next plans:

Precisely my next challenge is to write every day: I’m starting a new plan to get into the habit of writing daily. As you canwill see the sheet is almost empty. See what I did here :) It’s my first post of my new challenge I started on August 1rst.

Continue reading about my 30 days writing challenge.

Final routine

  • Wake up
  • 10’ Mental reconnect with last day, collecting new ideas (I blogged on that).
  • 20’ gym (abdominals, back pain prevention)
  • Starting from here I try to get gradually totally into the practice, as if meditating.
  • Some movements or postures, standing, stretches.
  • 3’ Forced Abdominal breathing
  • 4’ Alternate nostril breathing
  • 5’ Meditation. Will try to reach 15′.
  • Reading on Yoga, Meditation or Self development.
  • Start the day
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