Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You Don't Have to Have an iPod to Use iTunes

iTunes

Apple celebrated the 6th birthday of the iTunes store on April28th. If you have an iPod you probably already know about iTunes or have heard about it at least. According to a story at Mashable about the occasion., there have been over 4 billion songs sold. That is an awful lot of songs to be sold in such a short period of time, especially when you consider digital music to be a relatively new market and there really wasn’t a viable paid service to use prior to iTunes. What you might not realize is that you don’t have to have an iPod to use iTunes. In addition there is a lot of content available to be found on iTunes that is without cost. That’s right free.

iTunes has recently added the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd to their already varied catalog. In addition to songs, they have podcasts, television shows, audio books, and games that you can download. Apple’s Steve Jobs got behind the push to remove DRM from music, so iTunes does offer some material that is DRM free. DRM is a control that was built into music downloads (in addition to some other downloaded material) that highly restricted the use of the download to certain machines (computers, and MP3 players) as well as the ability to burn the downloads to a cd, and thus affected the portability of the downloaded material.

Podcasts at iTunes

What is free you’re probably asking yourself? Most all of the podcasts available at iTunes are free. Podcasts are kind of like recorded radio programs for the digital age that you can play on your MP3 player or computer (and many mobile phones can play them now a days). There is a wide variety of subjects available to choose from, in addition to those that are musically themed. Many popular websites are doing some sort of podcast. You can “Get” and subscribe to many of them without cost. If you’re at the sight of a podcast that you like or would like to hear, chances are that they have a “subscribe via iTunes” button somewhere to be found. By clicking on this button you’re brought to the itunes store and you’ll see the most recent editions of that podcast. Even if you don’t find the iTunes button at the podcast site, there is a good chance that you can find it on iTunes by doing a search. If you subscribe to a podcast, every time that you open iTunes on your computer, it will search the iTunes store to see if there is a new edition of your podcast, so you don’t have to worry about missing your favorite podcasts. Because of iTunes market dominance, most podcasters want their podcasts available at iTunes.

iTunes on my computer

In order to buy or “get” anything from iTunes, you will need to install the software on your computer. You’ll also need to set up an account, which did require a valid credit card when I signed up. So before you download remember that not everything is free, so that you aren’t surprised to see a credit card bill! In case you want to know where iTunes stores the material that you have downloaded, it is typically in a path similar to …” C:\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music” on a windows based computer.

iTunes offers a lot of content and much of it is free. So remember that you don’t have to have an iPod to use iTunes. Are you using iTunes? Have you discovered any unusual uses for it? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, photography, and other things that you can use.

Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

Friday, April 25, 2008

Put the World Times on Your Desktop

qlock

Have you ever called someone half away around the country or in other parts of the world, only to find out that you had called them at an inappropriate time? Why not put the world times on your desktop with qlock?


Qlock is a great little program that I have been using for years. Because I’m usually working on international project and I have family and friends scattered around the globe, it is good to be able to look at a glance to determine what time it is where you want to call.

Qlock's right click menu

Qlock allows you to put multiple clocks on your desktop. If you’re using the freeware version you can select sizes including small, medium, and large (this is referred to as skins in the right click menu). There are a variety of colors available, so that you can easily tell your cities apart at a glance.

Qlock is available as freeware and paid editions. Looking at the right click menu, you can see some of the features that are added to the paid version. Are you using qlock or a different desktop application that shows you the time in multiple cities? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Other Posts That You Might Also Like to Read…

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Use The 2 Minute Rule to Super Charge Your Productivity

Photo courtesy of Chance Agrella



Do you find yourself drowning in things to do? Do you have a hard time deciding where to begin and what to do? Are you overwhelmed when you look at your email’s inbox or you physical inbox? When faced with a lot of tasks or things to do, why not use the Two Minute Rule to help super charge your productivity?

While David Allen might not be the person that came up with the idea, I first really heard the idea from him in GTD (Getting Things Done). I have since seen or heard varying versions of it everywhere. The basic idea is that if an item takes less then two minutes to do, why not do it now? You might even say that the Nike “Just Do It” slogan is an offshoot of the idea, albeit a very high dollar, slick advertising version used to sell sneakers and sporting equipment. Two minute tasks can be almost anything, from making a phone call, writing and email response, to a wide variety of other things. The main characteristic of them is that they don’t require a lot of preparation (much of this should already be done in order for it to qualify as a Two Minute item) and that you have to be able to fire them right off.

By taking action on your items that take less than two minutes to do as they occur (in real time, in a physical inbox, an email inbox, that are already captured for you in some sort of to do list, or via some other method), you do several things:

  • You greatly reduce the possibility that the item(s) becomes lost in your to do list, falls through the cracks, or is just totally forgotten.

  • You avoid the hassle associated with capturing it in your to do list or system. Because these are items that take you less than two minutes to do, actually doing the item will often times take you less time than capturing it your system(s) and setting up the proper reminders.
    You actually accomplish something! I can’t help but think of a scene from Monty Python's Life Of Brian movie, where they go on and on about having a meeting to have a meeting to have a meeting (I’m sure that there has to be a clip of this on YouTube).
  • Quick and dirty way of getting things done. This already makes you more productive, without having to do a lot of preparation, planning, and other work often associated with reaching the end objectives to many of the things that we want or need to do.
  • You can win one battle against procrastination. Instead of putting things off or avoiding them, you’re moving forward.
  • You build momentum and motivation! You’re now becoming an unbalance force in Netwon’s First Law of Motion (often referred to as the Law of Inertia) where a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Using the Two Minute Rule becomes the unbalanced force. Your productivity and motivation can now be that bolder building speed rolling down the hill instead of someone trying to roll the boulder up a hill. Once you get started doing something, it is easier to keep “doing” as opposed to trying to “get started”.
  • You are now “cranking widgets” and can get into a productivity “zone”, where you can focus only on the tasks that you’re doing. I’ll be going into more on “cranking widgets” in the next paragraph.

  • You can change gears. Sometimes you’re working on something or thinking about something and are at a roadblock as to where to go next or what to do next. Doing some Two Minute items can take your thoughts away from this and after you have completed some of them, you might find that break through that you were looking for occurs (either you have some new thoughts on it or something happens to influence your direction).


With so many things that you have to do, you have to define them (what it means, what needs to be done, and etc.) before you can do anything with them. In the defining of what needs to be done, it is easy to get lost in the decisions that you have to make and not accomplish anything. It is more taxing on your brain to have to make many of these decisions than to just do several of your Two Minute items. By working on your Two Minute items, you’re now doing what is referred to within GTD as “Cranking Widgets”. Cranking widgets is referring to manufacturing jobs where everything is defined and the worker knows the task(s) that they have to do, they can easily crank out 1000 widgets (or whatever the task(s) is/are) in the course of a shift as opposed to the many other people working out there that have to define their tasks. By switching from defining your tasks to doing a few of your Two Minute items, your mind changes gears and you might find that after cranking some widgets, that you can then go back to define and make those decisions about other more daunting tasks. With many of the other things that you want to do or have to do, you’ll need to define them properly so that you can get to the point where you’re “cranking widgets”.

By actually doing those small quick Two Minute items, you’ll feel productive and you can leverage this in a variety of ways. So why not use the Two Minute Rule to super charge your productivity? Are you using the Two Minute Rule and how do you use it? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

The next in my series of weight loss strategies
My next Spotlight on the web.
More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.


Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…


GTD Overview
Tips for Working on International Projects
Keep Your Projects Simple Stupid
Why Aren’t You Working Your “Someday/Mabe’ Projects?Why Not Create Tasks Right From Your Inbox?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day 2008!

A collage made of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, pictures taken in March 2006

Happy Earth Day 2008! Much will be written about today, 31 years after the first Earth Day celebrated on April 22nd occurred in 1970. It is great to see celebrations growing and more people becoming involved. As people living on this third rock from the Sun (pun intended), we should be concerned about the environment and our planet. With 6,662,855,797 people in the world (based on figures at the U.S. Census Bureau's web site at 1:56 GMT on April 22, 2008), we humans have more effect on the climate and the world than most of the natural disasters that grab media attention from time to time, just by living and the choices that we all make. As parents we should want to that our kids will inherit a home where the can lead happy, healthy lives and aren’t plagued by environmental messes caused by us. Those of us without kids should take a stewardship attitude and remember that we don’t really own the planet by ourselves; we share it with all the other creatures on the planet and future generations of people that don’t have any control over what we do today and tomorrow.

The good news is that with all the bleak headlines in the media, there are still wonderful things being done and there are plenty of things that we can all do to help out. On October 15, 2007 the first Blog Action Day was held, with over 20,000 blog posts written about the environment, reaching an estimated 14 million plus readers and 19 of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs participated. Below you’ll find some of the posts that appeared in conjunction with this event and some other interesting items related to the environment that I have found.

  • GREEN LIVING TOOLBOX: 80+ Green Sites
    from Mashable. This is an amazing collection of links to websites that:
    • Provide carbon footprint calculators and offsets
    • Include some search engines, directories, and guides
    • Allow you to play games focusing on the environment
    • Allow you to join environmentally themed communities
    • Allow you to find environmentally like minded people in networking and dating site
    • Are environmental projects
    • Are for charitable donations
    • Are some blogs based on the environment
    • And are other resources not mentioned above

  • Green” tag at Del.icio.us, to find website tagged by this social bookmarking site.

  • Adopt the Sky is a multimedia site where you can adopt parts of the sky.

Compared to that Earth Day back in 1970, there are way more things that you can do to show your support. So why not have a look at some some of these links and get started.Do you know of any other useful websites or tips that you would like to add? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why Not Have a Fruit Day?



For those of you that are on diets and maybe want a change of pace, why not have a fruit day?

I think that I first heard my wife use the expression “oh, I’ll just have a fruit day”, but it might have been another member of my family, but the expression stuck with me. This is a strategy that can be used in your diet to mix things up a little and that might allow you to you to get back on track. It does make a lot of sense, because provided that you’re eating healthy fruit only, you won’t over do it on your carbohydrates or fats, so your choleric and fat intake will be very low.

Fruit comes in many different colors, tastes, shapes, and packages so there is a pretty good chance that you can find something that you like. You could even use this as an opportunity to try out some new fruits or to have a look in the produce section at your local store or farmer’s market to see what you can find.

Fruit is nature’s desert. While the level of sweetness and taste will vary from fruit to fruit, you can often stop a craving for sweets or snacking by eating fruit. Fruit like peaches seem very sweet, while others like melons and sour apples don’t seem sweet at all.

There is a whole world of just apples. According to the University of Illinois Urban extension, there are approximately 7,500 different varieties of apples available through out the world, with 2,500 different varieties available in the U.S. When I lived in Michigan, I used to like to go to cider mills and buy freshly made apple cider. With so many different apples, there is a good chance that you can find at least one kind that you like. With so many apples there are tons of recipes as well. The University of Illinois Urban extension web site also had some nice recipes, but a word of warning, not all of them are low cal.

Eating fruit is healthy. Provided that you’re able to buy fresh fruit with little or no pesticide residue (or use), you don’t need a degree in chemistry to understand the ingredients. By having a fruit day, you give your body a chance to clean out your system. Eating the right kinds of fruit can eliminate the need to take or reduce some of those supplemental vitamins you might be taking.

Before diving in there are a couple of other things to consider. Some people have food allergies that could greatly restrict their ability to do this, my wife is allergic to peaches and apples, for example. If you’re diabetic or have any other health condition that might limit your intake of fruit, you should proceed with caution (if at all).

So if you want to mix things up a little in your diet or just want a change of pace, why not have a fruit day? Have you ever had a fruit day? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

The other weight loss strategies from the “Power of One”:

Why You Should Eat Often

12 Benefits of “Letting Go” of Your Diet

7 Tips to Reduce the Amount of Sugar in Your Daily Life

A Good Breakfast is a Key to Your Weight Loss Success

12 Tips to Help You Drink More Water

"7 Tips to Stop Eating Before You Feel "Stuffed" "

10 Tips for Reducing Fat in Your Diet

Power of One” as a must have diet book.

A Winning Attitude And Weight Loss

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Not Create Tasks Right From Your Inbox?

Figure 1.A folder in M.S. Outlook 2003


If you’re like the multitude of people out there drowning in emails, almost any tip to help you get your inbox and email under control would be welcome. For many people it would make your life a lot easier if you could just drag your emails into a task that you could track, follow, and most importantly, Do. Well this is possible within M.S. Outlook, an email system that many of you are probably using at your company. In particular, I’m using M.S. Outlook 2003.

I was recently listening toThe Productivity Show, one of a few podcasts that I listen to, and Randall Dean was the guest. He suggested dragging your emails from your “Inbox” in M.S. Outlook to your “Tasks”. This was just one of the ideas he mentioned in episode 33 of the show. I decided to give it a try and have been very pleased with the results!

Email, while a commonly used form of communication today, does not lend it self well to creating actions that you can do. Many people’s inboxes are flooded with emails that they have to take the time to process and figure out what to do with, often these emails stay in people’s inboxes, being looked at several times before anything is done with them (if all). By turning your email into a task, it immediately becomes something that you action, follow, and most importantly, Do.

Figure 2. "The New Task"

When you have an email open (in my case I’m viewing this through a preview pane), you can drag and drop it into your tasks (see figure 1). Your email will now open up as a task (see figure 2). It should be noted that the original email remains in the folder that you dragged and dropped if from. By default, the subject of your task is the same as the email. You can change this so that it is more useful to you, maybe you could describe the action that you need to do or tailor it so that it is more quickly understood. Since your task copies the email into its body, it is easier to find the original email in the future if you need to reference it. From your new task you can easily tell

  • who sent it to you
  • the name or subject of the email
  • the time that it was sent
  • the contents of the email

When looking at the area above the body of your email within your new task, you’ll notice that there is a line and a blank area. This blank area is a great place to make notes about what you need to do and track the progress of your actions, something that most email as such doesn’t allow you to do. You can assign a “Start date” and “Due date”, as well as a “Reminder” to help you better keep track of your task. You can also assign a “Status:” and a “Priority:”. Your status options include: “Not Started” (the default choice), “In Progress”, “Completed”, “Waiting on someone else”, or “Deferred”. I like the “Waiting on someone else” status because you can quickly see that you are waiting on someone else and what you might need to chase them about. If the email is something that you want to delegate or you believe belongs to someone else, you can create a task and forward it to someone else.

After you have created and saved your new task, you should move the original email to its proper location, so that it doesn’t clutter up your inbox and distract you from the other emails. You can easily move your original email to a folder if you wish by using the keyboard shortcut [Ctrl, Shift, V], or you move it via other methods. If capturing the task is all that you need, then you could also delete the email as well!

Now that you can easily create tasks out of your actionable emails, you should find it easier to process most of your email, and you’re now better able to track, follow, and Do the things that are actually needed from your emails. How do you manage your inbox in M.S. Outlook? Do you have any other tips that could be used with M.S. Outlook? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nine Observations About Our New Puppy

Hobbit showing some love to my wife's foot.

Note: This post might be considered off topic by some of you, so feel free to skip this if it doesn’t interest you. I’ll be returning to my normal posts shortly.

Last Friday we brought our puppy home and now we’re adjusting to life with a new puppy. The whole family is pretty excited and happy to have our Hobbit home. Here are some observations after a few days with our new puppy…

  • Many people love to touch puppies. Most puppies have softer fur than adult dogs, which tends to sent out “touch me” vibes.
  • Most people that walk by you when you have your puppy will ask you questions about it. I did notice one father that walked by us at the kindergarten that didn’t seem to notice us with the puppy, but he might have been in a hurry to pick up his kid and leave.
  • Like being a parent, there is almost an instant bond to your new little bundle of joy
  • If you have lost something that should not be stuck in a puppies mouth, they will inevitably find it and put it in their mouth.
  • You develop and instant feeling of pride. Both of our daughters were proudly telling the neighbors about their dog.
  • Their sense of fun and zest for life makes many things fun. It is hard to be sad for long around a puppy.
  • A new puppy will make you popular with the neighborhood kids. The first couple of days when we were only taking Hobbit into the yard, the neighborhood kids managed to find us in the yard upon several occasions.
  • Kids’ eyes light up when they see a puppy. We picked up the girls at their kindergarten yesterday and brought Hobbit with us, it was really neat to see how excited the kids got about seeing our puppy.
  • Just like babies, it is a good thing that puppies are so adorable or you might not put up with some of the things that they do! Biting and potty training are not something that most same people would like to do just for the fun of it.

We’re having a blast with our Hobbit. My wife and I are looking forward to getting the “accidents” and the biting more under control. It is amazing to me that you can spend thirty or forty minutes outside and the moment you let him loose in the house, he has an accident. I’m used to male dogs hiking their legs on plants and trees, so I was surprised to see that our puppy doesn’t hike his leg yet. I know that Hobbit and his siblings bit each other a lot in their play, but this is definitely not a behavior that we want to see continue. We’re struggling with brushing him at the moment, when the breeder showed us how she does it, that seemed simple enough, but hasn’t worked for us the same way. We plan to keep at it because he has to be able to be brushed! We have signed up for some puppy classes which start this weekend. I have done a few posts at our family blog about our puppy and have a web album at MySpace, if you'd like to see or read more about Hobbit. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it. Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Are You Using Firefox As Your Web Browser?


flickr displayed through Firefox with colored tabs

What web brower(s) are you using? The web browsing market has been dominated for several years by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, but Mozilla’s Firefox has made a lot of ground the last few years and it has been downloaded over 500 million times. Firefox is an amazing web browser that allows you to do so much more than simply view web sites. It has loads of features and allows for a lot of customization and a variety of uses beyond simply web browsing.

Firefox is the web browser unit of the Mozilla Foundation. Without getting into a lot of legalize, the Mozilla Foundation is not a traditional software company but a not for profit organization. They’re one of the newer corporate models that promote open source and community. Much of what they do is very transparent with product code being readily available to developers and much of the public. They have been a big driver in much of the open source efforts that you see today. In addition to Firefox, the Mozilla Foundation has several other projects running (email and calendar to name a few).

If you’re using Internet Explorer 6 (or an earlier version) or an older version of other web browsers, you have probably come to accept that you either have a lot of browser windows open at a time and or use your back button often, when you’re surfing the web. When I was first turned on to it, I just loved the tabbed browsing feature. Tabs allow you to open up multiple web pages within the same browser, without having to open up a new window for each web page. Prior to tab browsing you might have a million windows open from your browser, so navigating through them was clumsy at best. With tabbed browsing, a tab is assigned to all open web pages within your browser, so you can click on the different tabs to go to different pages that you have open within that browser, which is a lot more efficient that trying to find the web page you were at before. When you right click on a link, you can select the “Open Link in New Window” (the first option) or “Open Link in New Tab”. As Firefox became more a more popular, it made tabbed browsing popular and many other browsers are now offering their versions of tab browsing.

Because of an active developing community, Firefox has a whole host of handy extensions or plug-ins that you can use along with it. There is a good chance that if there is something that you would like to do when you’re surfing, that there is an extension that will help you do it. You can find some popular extensions here. At this site you’ll find extensions or add-on organized into. In a column of the left are a series of categories including things like, “Photos, Music & Videos”, “Privacy & Security”, “Search Tools”, “Toolbars” and so on. On the right side of the page you’ll find a box with headings for “We Recommend” and “Most Popular”, there are some specific extensions listed there and you can click on “View all” to see more. When last I looked there were 199 pages of extensions to be found under “Most Popular”. Here are some extensions/ add-ons that I recently found there.

Most web sites are now being written to be viewed within Firefox, in addition to Internet Explorer, so it is rare to come across a site that doesn’t load properly. If you’re using a browser that isn’t widely used, you’re more likely to come across web pages that either don’t load or don’t load properly and what you see on your monitor is probably not how the person that put that web page together imagined it would look on your screen. Because all the different browsers work differently, the standards necessary to make the web pages load properly vary, and it is often necessary for the people putting websites together to put in a lot more effort in creating web pages so that they work properly with the various browsers. For the web browsers that aren’t as widely used, it is less likely that the sites will be written to be displayed in the browser and/or that they will be tested in that browser. As new web browsers grown in popularity and usage, there will be more and more incorporation of that browser’s standards into web page design and usage, but you can kind of see a chicken and egg thing going on here. For most of your smaller sites they might test for how the page loads in different versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and occasionally in another more commonly used browser. Because the many web pages don’t incorporate all of the web browsers’ standards, you might not be able to enjoy some of the new and exciting features that you find today.

Another Firefox feature that I often use is the ability to “Bookmark All Tabs”. For those of you that are regular Internet Explorer users, a bookmark is the same thing as a favorite. This can be found under “Bookmarks” in the Firefox menu or you can you the keyboard short cut of [Ctrl+Shift+D]. To do the standard “Bookmark This Page”, you can use [Ctrl+D], or use “Bookmarks” from the menu. There are some web sites that I visit or use very often and by grouping them together in a “Bookmark All Tabs”, I can open them all up at once by going to that folder from “Bookmarks” in the menu and selecting the last item in that folder “Open All in Tabs”. This saves you the time of having to open up each site individually. It is also handy if you have done some browsing and have a lot of pages open but don’t want to bookmark them individually. if these are sites that you don’t want to keep in your bookmarks permanently, you can create a temporary folder and delete them later when you no longer need those bookmarks. It is also easy enough to manage your bookmarks through the “Organise Bookmarks” found under “Bookmarks” in the menu as well.

Lots of great features, tab browsing, customization through extensions and add-ons, and widely accepted usage that ensure most web page will load properly in Firefox are all reasons that I use Firefox. If you’re not using it, you should give it a try. Do you use Firefox? What web browser(s) are you using? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)


On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, social networking, family, parenting, health, and other things that you can use.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spotlight on 43Folders

Screen shot of 43Folders

This is the second in my series "Spotlight on the Web", I wrote about Zenhabits in my first article.

Have you stumbled across 43Folders or are you a regular reader perhaps? About a year ago I first discovered 43Folders in a Google Search. This was one of my first exposures to productivity and lifehacks on the web. One of the great things that I found about the site was that you could use many of the tips without too much effort. It wasn’t too long until I found the series that he did on Getting Things Done and his Inbox Zero series about getting and keeping your email under control.

43Folders was created by Merlin Mann. He is also the creator of The Merlin Show, 5ives, and 30 Seconds with Phone Guy. He is a host on the popular MacBreak video podcast. He appears as a regular guest on the MacBreak Weekly and This Week in Tech audio roundtables (both found on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network). There is even an entry about Merlin at Wikipedia.

Originally life hacks referred to the quick and dirty shell scripts and other command line utilities that were used by programmers to help them speed their programming along. It has since been widely adopted and spread and now tends to be applied to a whole host of tips and tricks that you can apply in various areas of your life. Many lifehacks can be used to automate routine activities and they often don’t require a lot of effort to do. When you give it some thought you can understand why lifehacks have caught on. In the project and IT worlds we’re always looking to see what has been done before so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. By making use of lifehacks you can often automate some of your more routine activities giving you more time and energy to focus and work on more important activities.

43Folders was one of the earliest blogs to make use of term “lifehack” and incorporate it into its design and content. Merlin described the approach that he planned to take with 43Folders in his first post there called “Mental Sausage, _or_ 'Hello, World.'”,appearing on the site August 31, 2004. In addition to the widely popular GTD series and the Inbox Zero series, there are many other great posts and a forum dealing with a wide variety of topics. Merlin does an occasional podcast at 43Folders. Amongst the 43Folders podcasts, he did a very good series of interviews with Getting Things Done author David Allen. You can find 43Folders podcasts at Podcastalley. In addition within the 43Folders site, the podcasts can be found here, where you can subscribe via itunes.

Merlin Mann is a highly sought after speaker. Last summer he gave anInbox Zero Talk as part of a Google Tech Talk series at Google. I’m embedding the video below. Here is Slideshow of the talk that you can view at your own pace and you can also find the audio only in the 43Folders podcasts (it is currently the most recent one)





Do you read 43Folders? If you haven't checked it out, you should do so. Are there any other productivity/life hack sites that you recomend? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.
  • More on productivity, web 2.0, family, parenting, and other things that you can use.


Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

From 43Folders...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Eighth Wedding Anniversary

Our wedding day, April 7, 2000

Today is our eighth wedding anniversary. In honor of the occasion I have written about how we met and our wedding at our family blog. If you’re interested feel free to check them out.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wiki Basics

Figure 1. A screen shot of GTDTiddlyWiki

So you have decided to take the plunge and use a wiki, now what? I thought that I’d give some basic instruction on how to use a wiki. For starters, below you'll find a nice video that explains wikis in simple terms from Common Craft.











Because there are several different wiki programs that you can use in addition to the online versions and so on, for this post I’m only using the GTDTiddlyWiki found here. For ease of explanation, I’m a single user on a single machine, and not using an online version.

In your decision of what wiki you want to use, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Are you restricted to a specific software product (i.e. you might be using Microsoft Sharepoint at the office which, I believe includes a wiki product if activated and other users are aware of it and using it)? Also your company servers might not be able use server side products because of restrictions in place or that they're unable run certain programs, and so on. This will greatly effect what wiki you do use.

  • Are there going to be other users or is this going to be your own personal wiki?

  • Will this wiki be used by you at more than one computer?

  • If you’re selecting a wiki program that will be used by multiple users, you’ll want to make sure that it fits your needs for data protection, privacy, and security (you certainly don’t want company secrets to be exposed because you accidentally put something on your wiki that you didn’t intend the world to know)

At the GTDTiddlyWiki site, under “Getting Started” you’ll see “this link” twice. If you right click the first one, you’ll be able to download a version of the wiki with some information already populated, the later one allows you to start with and empty template. Be sure to save your download to a folder where you can find it and give it a useful name (i.e. my wiki). You’ll want to make sure that the file ends with an “.htm” extension.

I've described some of the GTDTiddlyWiki's page elements below to help you navigate around

  • SiteTitle: is the name of your wiki located in upper left hand side of the page (note this and all location descriptions are excluding all elements of your browser tool bars and so on that would appear at the top of your screen).

  • SiteSubtitle: is the description of your wiki that appears at the top of your page next to the SiteTitle.

  • MainMenu: is the maroon colored column (on my screens anyways) appearing just under your SiteTitle, you can change adjust your wiki so that Tiddlers that you use a lot or want to be able to access easily are placed here. This can be very useful in helping you to manage your wiki.

  • Below the MainMenu is a box with the items “search”, “close all”, “permaview”, “save changes”, and “options”, that I like to refer to as the Search Box Area. See Figure 3 for a picture of this area.

  • The Tab Area is that below the Search Box Area listed above. This includes tabs for “Timeline”, “All”, “Tags”, and “More”. See Figure 3 for a picture of this area.

Figure 2. The MainMenu Tiddler in Edit mode

The entries in the GTDTiddlyWiki are called “Tiddlers”. You can edit any of these by clicking on “edit” or double clicking anywhere in that Tiddler. Many of the wiki programs use what is called “WikiWord”, which looks like two words stuck together, with the first letter of each word is capitalized (like “WikiWord” itself). If you look at any of the Tiddlers, you’ll notice that any words that are in the WikiWord format are automatically highlighted in blue, they will be in bold if a Tiddler already exists and in italics if it doesn’t exist yet. If you’re working on a Tiddler and you want a word or phrase of that entry to be its own Tiddler, you can enter it as a WikiWord or you can place double brackets “[[ ]]” around it. A very simple way to create new Tiddlers is to click on “CreateNewTiddler” from your MainMenu. This will automatically open a new Tiddler in edit mode (see Figure 2 for a glimpse of what a Tiddler looks like in the Edit mode). Be sure to give it the name you want in the box that says “CreateNewTiddler”. Below the "CreateNewTiddler" and the tittle you assign it is a box where you can edit your new Tiddler. When editing a Tiddler, you can cancel your changes, delete the Tiddler, or if you’re happy with your edits or entries, be sure to click “done” or [Cntrl Enter] to save your changes.


The MainMenu (found on just below your wiki title on the left) contains fast links to your Tiddlers. When you open the GTDTiddlyWiki for the first time, you’ll see things like “@Agenda”, “@Calls and Email”, “PROJECT LIST”, by clicking any of the items in your MainMenu, that Tiddler will open up at the top of your wiki on the right, where you can then view it or edit it if you wish (note: Figure 2 shows the MainMenu Tiddler open in edit mode). If there is a part of your wiki that you think you’ll use often or want easy access to I’d suggest that you add it to your MainMenu. You can do this by clicking on “MainMenu” within your MainMenu. The MainMenu Tiddler will open up at the top right side of your wiki. When you mouse over it, you'll see buttons for "close", "edit", "permalink", and "references". After you have clicked on the “edit” button, you’ll be able to make changes to it. You’ll want to leave two spaces between the Tiddlers that you want to appear in your MainMenu. You can also remove Tiddlers from the MainMenu if you there are any that you don’t wish to see there. Don’t worry about deleting Tiddlers from your MainMenu, you can put them back later if you wish, they’re still in your wiki unless you click “delete” when editing the Tiddler itself.



Figure 3. The Tab Area with "All" selected located on the left side of the wiki

Before doing too much else to your wiki, you’ll want to tailor your GTDTiddlyWiki for your use. Scrolling down and looking on the left hand side you’ll see a set of four tabs (Timeline, All, Tags, and More). Select the “All” tab, you will find all your Tiddlers listed under the “All” tab. Scroll down till you find "SiteTitle”, click on it and its Tiddler will open up, this is where you can enter the name you wish to appear in your wiki. The default title of your wiki is “GTDTiddlyWiki”, you can change it to something more suiting your needs and desires. You'll probably want to change the "SiteSubtitle" to a description that better applies to your wiki. The default description is “your simple client side wiki”. If you click on “options” (found in the Search Box Area on the left side of below your MainMenu), it will open up. Within the items that open up you’ll see a box with “YourName”, you should enter your name (nickname, or whatever else you like), depending upon which version wiki you're using, that name might appear next to the entries that you make or modify. This might not matter to you but you might also enjoy seeing "modified by" or "created by" with your name by the Tiddlers when they open up. This particular item would have greater impact if there were going to be more than one user or you were using more than one computer and you wanted to be able to know who did what within your wiki, (but remember for this article, we're single users on a single compter). Under options you can also check “SaveBackups”, “AutoSave”, and a few other options.


There are probably certain Tiddlers that you want to automatically open up when you start up you wiki, these are contained within the “DefaultTiddlers”. This is accessible from your MainMenu (also you can click on this Tiddler under the “All” tab). The template has “About GTD TiddlyWiks” set in there as default. I have removed that from my DefaultTiddlers and placed things like “MainMenu”, “@NextActions”, and so on in mine.


The GTDTiddlyWiki keeps a record of what has been changed. Looking in the Tab Area again under the “Timeline” tab, you can see what Tiddlers have been created or changed under the date that it was done. You can click on any of these to open up that Tiddler. Remember that if you forget name you've given a Tiddler, you can find all your wiki's Tiddlers under the "All" tab. You can also use the Search Box for terms that you might have used, this will open up all the Tiddlers in your wiki that have that term(s).


What are the @Agenda, @Calls and Emails, @Cleaning-Organizing, @Computer, @Waiting @Work, and PROJECT LIST, and why are they in my MainMenu? The MainMenu of the GTDTiddlyWiki is pre-populated with some GTD Tiddlers (Getting Things Done) so that you can get started with them right away. Feel free to change these Tiddlers' order, add to them, and so on, as well as all of the Tiddlers within your MainMenu, as you want.

Here are some additional notes about editing.

  • !” will put a colored box around that word or set of phrases and make it bold.

  • *” appear as a bullet before your word or set of phrases.

  • When you paste a link into your Tiddler, this will take you to that site if you click on it.

  • You can record code in a Tiddler, for reference, but be aware when viewed it will look different due to the programming associated with the GTDTiddlyWiki. The code is still there and you could copy and paste it, from the edit mode of the Tiddler.


If you haven’t selected the AutoSave (you can find it by clicking on "Options", found in the Search Box Area of your wiki), you”ll want to click on “save changes” periodically or use [Cntrl Enter]. This will create a back up of your wiki within the folder you keep it (or a subfolder, depending upon the version you’re using). That way if you totally screw up something you can go back to an earlier version. Remember to save your changes before you exit, so all your changes are present the next time you open up your wiki. To make yourself more familar with the way that your wiki works, I would suggest clicking on a couple of Tiddlers to see how they appear when viewed and looking at them in edit mode to see the varioius formating used. Finally, the best way to learn how to use the GTDTiddlyWiki is to use it and play around with it. In the worst case you can go back and download it again.

The GTDTiddlyWiki is based on the TiddlyWiki. The Tiddler “TiddlyWikiAdaptations” (within your wiki) has links to some other versions of the TiddlyWiki developed by other people. Here is a tutorial where you can learn about TiddlyWiki. Here is a Google Group where you can get additional help if you’re stumped about something or have further questions about its use.

I hope that you found this post useful. Do you have any comments or questions? I’d love to hear from you. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)


On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…


  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • My next Spotlight on the web.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We've Participated in These Blog Carnivals



Here are all the Blog Carnivals that I have participated in. In addition to my articles, there are some other wonderful posts to be read at these carnivals.

If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. If you liked what you've seen or read at the blog, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and let others you think might appreciate the blog or any of our posts know about us. Thank you. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why You Should Eat Often



In “12 Benefits of “Letting Go” of Your Diet”, I suggested a strategy that might seem unconventional at first, well here is another unconventional weight loss and health strategy that might seem to fly in the face of known logic at first glance, but it makes sense after you have had a chance to digest it (pun intended). The next weight loss strategy from “Lose Weight with THE POWER OF ONE.”, is that you should “Eat often” At first thought you might be thinking that is how you got into your current state to begin with, why on earth would I do this?

Much like drinking water and becoming dehydrated because you only drink when you’re thirsty, your body will build up a hunger and cravings that are more controllable if you don’t wait till you’re starving to eat. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression about not going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Eating often allows you to be more in control.

Eating often does not mean to eat anything you crave or like without regard of the consequences. If you eat something healthy, as opposed to those sweets or unhealthy snack foods, your body will get more out of what you eat (nutrition, energy, and etc.).

Be eating often and not allowing yourself to get “stuffed” at your bigger meals, you’re more able to go from being mildly hungry to not hungry to mildly hungry. This can put you more in control of your diet and what you eat as opposed to being led by unhealthy cravings because you’re feeling “starved”.

Most of us have been programmed by society to believe that we should eat 3 meals a day. Chances are that none of our bodies signed up for this. By eating every 2-3 hours (as often as necessary) and taking more control over what you eat, you can put yourself into a “good circle” as opposed to a “vicious circle” that only eating three meals can put you in.

By eating more often and controlling what you eat, you can also lessen the cravings to eat all those things that really kill your diet. You can also find the impact of “letting go” on those occasions when you decide to do so, is not as sever as it would have been in the past. You’re also less likely to fall off the diet wagon. You can even use these cravings to your benefit.

This strategy really supplements many of the other strategies and can be very helpful. By eating often and controlling what you eat, you can get a better grip on all those cravings that throw many people off the diet wagon and you can use the cravings to your benefit. How often do you eat? Do you have any tips about healthy snacking? If you have any other comments, I’d love to hear them. If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS or email, share it on del.icio.us or on Digg and pass it on to anyone that you think might appreciate it .Thank you. :)

On Deck…

I’ll be publishing posts about…

  • The next in my series of weight loss strategies
  • Using wikis for the net impaired
  • My next Spotlight on the web.


Other Post That You Might Also Like to Read…

The other weight loss strategies from the “Power of One”:

12 Benefits of “Letting Go” of Your Diet

7 Tips to Reduce the Amount of Sugar in Your Daily Life

A Good Breakfast is a Key to Your Weight Loss Success

12 Tips to Help You Drink More Water

"7 Tips to Stop Eating Before You Feel "Stuffed" "

’”10 Tips for Reducing Fat in Your Diet”

Power of One” as a must have diet book.

A Winning Attitude And Weight Loss