Photo of the Week: Blowfish

Blowfish - Photo of the week
Yesterday we spent the morning in Virginia Beach. A little girl walked over with this in her hand and showed us what she found. After I took this photo, she carried it into the beach house to show her mom, who I’m sure was more than happy to have this fine specimen in her kitchen.

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Business Entertainment

Cracking the Millionaire Code Review

Cracking the Millionaire Code
Tonight I read (or rather skimmed) the book Cracking the Millionaire Code by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen (authors of The One Minute Millionaire) at Barnes and Noble (strangely enough they have the book out 3 days before it’s supposed to hit the shelves). It’s an interesting book.

The entire book is scattered with word and number puzzles and codes and things you’re supposed to figure out. I’ll admit I didn’t try to do any of them–to me they seemed too gimmicky. The authors also have a penchant for creating new words and use them often in the book. Among them, “loverage.” I found both the puzzles and new words to be a distraction from the content of the book, which was, from what I gathered, pretty good.

The goal of the authors is to create what they refer to as “enlightened millionaires”–millionaires who give back to society. One of the key tenants of their strategies is to look to a Higher Power for inspiration and to find a noble and virtuous reason for obtaining wealth. Once you’ve found this, essentially the rest of the job of making a million dollars should fall into place, provided you follow some other advice.

Some of the notes I took are on not breakthrough ideas, but on things that are meant to get you thinking seriously about your product and company.

They outline the five major areas or types of products and use the acronym PRISM to describe them.

  • Primary Products (e.g. a car)
  • Related products (radar detectors, spare parts)
  • Information Products (signage, consulting, manuals etc.)
  • Services (manufacturing, protection, sales, repair)
  • Media (advertising, entertainment, racing, collectors).

It’s an organized way of determining what market you’re in, and what your target market could be.

Later they give ideas to help you think about how you might change your business or product, asking you to ask yourself questions such as:

  • How would a Higher Power change this?
  • How would a billionaire redesign it?
  • What will this look like 100 years from now?
  • How could this be multi-sensitized (sight, taste, touch, sound)?
  • How would the worlds leading scientists improve this?
  • Where in the world could we take this? What in the world could we bring here?
  • How would a 5 year old improve this?
  • What if we could see like the blind and hear like the deaf?
  • What if we could bring back the past? (nostalgia)

In addition, they suggest considering doing one or some of the following to increase profit potential from an idea;

  • Enlighten it
  • Residualize it (make it work for you)
  • Create multiple streams of wealth
  • Combine it
  • Add to it
  • Subtract from it
  • Multiply it
  • Make it grow exponentially
  • Divide it
  • Maximize it
  • Focus it
  • Make it faster
  • Slow it down
  • Undo/Reverse it partly
  • Connect it to something else
  • Appeal to the sender
  • Attract its opposite
  • Make it “planet friendly”

Again, nothing revolutionary, but very good starting points for thinking about how to change. Overall, I don’t think there’s a code that’s broken by the book, but it is definitely a strong motivator, inspiring people to do seek to create wealth for noble causes and giving many good ideas on how to begin.

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Getting Cringe Tasks Done

cringe chart png
Merlin Mann at 43Folders posted an article on how to get those persistent tasks that never disappear from your todo lists done and off your mind. Being guilty myself of having many such tasks, I decided to take his advice to heart. To help me remember to go through and get one “cringe” item off my list each day, I created a visual chart of the process. You can download a PDF version of the chart here.

Web Services

Tasktoy – GTD Done Right

Tonight I stumbled across tasktoy (after following links from 43Folders, the mecca of GTD). Tasktoy is a web application that tracks tasks by context, date, recurring date and project. This may not sound like anything revolutionary, and in fact, it doesn’t look revolutionary but the implementation of Getting Things Done is almost flawless! If you haven’t read Getting Things Done, I recommend it, if you have read the book and haven’t seen tasktoy, you’re missing out!

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Make Your PC Work (not look) More Like a Mac

I recently switched jobs and went from working on a Mac all day to working on a PC. It was (as you might expect) an unpleasant shock to the system. I’ve spent a bit of time over the past few weeks making my PC run a bit more like a Mac. Here are some of the solutions I’ve come up with.

Sharpkeys – I used this to switch my left ctrl and alt keys. No more pinky-aches at the end of the day from reaching over for ctrl shortcuts. The biggest downside I’ve found is that it makes “alt+tab” awkward at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. I also physically removed the “Windows” key that sits between the left alt and ctrl keys to avoid accidentally hitting it and popping up the start menu, and losing focus from whatever app I’m currently working in.

Winroll – This is a feature that even OS X doesn’t come with, but that I found to be one of the most useful feature in pre-OS X Macintosh operating systems. It lets you to right-click the title bar of any window to “roll” it up, making the entire window the size of the title bar. Right click it again to expand it to normal size. If you’d like this functionality in OS X, WindowShadeX by Unsanity offers it.

Top Desk – You’re never going to get a perfect Exposé effect in Windows, but you can come close. I’ve tried everything out there and Top Desk is the one I’ve ended up keeping. It works smoothly and does not affect other applications,

Atnotes – If you like using stickies in OS X, Atnotes gives you all the functionality of stickies (and then some).

TaskSwitchXP – There are several alt+tab task-switching enhancers out there, I’ve settled on this one which is similar to the task switcher in OS X. As a side note, for OS X, check out Witch if you haven’t already.

PDF Creator– If you miss being able to print to PDF at any time, get PDF Creator. It lets you print to PDF anything you’d print anywhere else–and you don’t even have to reboot, imagine that. Make sure you download the file ending in AFPLGhostscript.exe.

Approcket – One of the most useful apps in OS X for productivity is, in my opinion, Quicksilver (or Launchbar if you like to pay). Approcket attempts to match some of the functionality and look good at the same time, and in many aspects, succeeds. Initially it isn’t nearly as smart as Quicksilver, but with some training can become a useful part of your windows workflow.

FlyAKiteOS – If you really want to make your PC look like OS X (personally I don’t care to do this), FlyAKiteOS is the way to go. It is fully customizable and uninstallable and adds about every visual OS X hack you can imagine (or only those you choose) to your windows system in one fell swoop. For example, if you’re a big fan of the Dock, there are a couple windows clones to choose from, it will make your boot and login screens OS X’ish, change your desktop, cursors, folders, icons, theme and more to emulate (to some extent) OS X. I find that while it’s a novelty to make Windows look like OS X, I always end up reverting back to the windows look to maintain some consistency across applications and because the speed hit you take with all the customizations isn’t worth it. Their site is always down, but you may be able to find it by searching.

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There are plenty of other resources out there that will make your system look like OS X (Konfabulator etc.) but these are the ones that I’ve found to actually be useful in increasing productivity in the Windows environment when I have to use it.

One last tip is to move your taskbar to the top of the screen. If it isn’t locked, you can just drag it up there. I set mine to auto-hide, otherwise applications get “stuck” underneath it. It doesn’t do a ton in terms of productivity, but it does at least feel a little more like home.

Hopefully these tips will help you become more productive in Windows. If you have other tips and tricks, feel free to post them in the comments.

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Flash Class Library Directory Listing

Various sites that host Flash classes and Flash class libraries that I’ve found useful.
AnimationPackage – Supercharged animation, tweening and drawing in Flash. Comes with a learning curve, but well worth it.

Betriebsraum classes – Status Box (modal dialog), Tree Menu, Text writer (typewriter effect) and others.

FLASH.INIT() – LocalNet, Elastic Engine (resizing window and UI components), Shortcuts Engine (keyboard shortcuts), Hints Engine (tooltips), JS Class (JavaScript/Flash/HTML functionality)

XFactorStudio – XPath for ActionScript 2. Makes processing and searching XML much more intuitive.

ASCB by Person13 – Various and sundry Flash classes. Examples include: Color Selector, Calculator, Audio Queue, Form Manager, Table, Window, Pen etc. etc.

Rober Penner Tweening Classes – Many drawing and animation classes rely on these tweening classes.

Layer51 Proto – Flash classes and prototypes. I highly recommend XMLSA (XML Simple Array), Tooltip class and though I haven’t used it extensively, LoadQue Class.

LuminicBox – Debugging in Flash. Many, many improvements over using trace. The website is in Spanish, but if you can find the download link the documentation is in English.

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Dashboard Widgets Anywhere on the Desktop

Tiger (Macintosh OS X 10.4) Dashboard Widgets can be displayed anywhere on the desktop, it only requires a simple command to be run in the Terminal (don’t fear the terminal!)
defaults write devmode YES;killall Dock

This command does two things
1. It changes the preferences of Dashboard to development mode (simple enough)
2. It restarts the Dock

To get the widget onto your desktop, press F12 to show your widgets, click the plus sign at the bottom of the screen, drag a widget up out of the bottom area and press F12 before you release the mouse button.

To get rid of them again, hold option and mouse over them. You’ll see the X show up in the corner. Just click it. Simple enough. There’s also a piece of software that does this, currently it’s in Beta and free, but they’ll be charging for it after July.

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