Monthly Archive for January, 2006

Designing the homepage

The Homepage – thoughts about designing that all important homepage from ALA. Good thoughts.

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What do newspapers do???

What do newspapers do???? – Wake up newspapers. This is your wake up call.

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Blogtimize!

Blogtimize! – from Google. Look for mass change on blogs as far as ad placement over the next week or two… here included probably.

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Advice for new managers: part 1

Advice for new managers: part 1 – great read.

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speed up windows

Make Your Windows Fast As Never Before! – lots of great little tips for Windows users.

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Tank Battles

Tank Battles – this gets an old tanker totally psyched… man this would be a time consuming but totally cool hobby!

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Bootstrapping

The Art of Bootstrapping – required reading for anyone looking at starting a business without funding. (and probably good reading for those of you with funding too).

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Model World

Model World – some really cool aerial photographs that honestly look like photos of tiny models.

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PhotoDesktop

PhotoDesktop – very cool way to put multiple photos on your desktop for Mac users.

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How To Use Your Weaknesses To Sell More

In “How To Use Your Weaknesses To Sell More” Jim Logan makes us go through a great excercise:

First, pretend for a moment you’re your main competitor. What traps would you set if competing against your offering? List everything your competitor is likely to say or highlight in positioning your product, service, and company in a way that makes your offering weak and theirs the better option.

Second, stand in the shoes of your prospective customer and list every objection they are likely to raise in evaluating a decision to purchase your solution. This could be everything from lack of time in business to size of capitalization, market share, service and support capabilities, and terms of sale and pricing models.

Now, combine the lists and weigh the most likely objections to your offering…

If you sell anything that requires a face to face meeting, stop what you’re doing, and do this. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps you close sales while still sitting in front of the client instead of having to follow up later (which greatly reduces your chances of closing the sale, btw).

The Most Downloaded Konfabulator Widgets

The Most Downloaded Konfabulator Widgets – good list if you’re a Konfabulator fan.

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Converting a color photo to a black and white stencil

Converting a color photo to a single layered stencil with Photoshop – neat tutorial

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Caring for Your Introvert

Caring for Your Introvert – the funny thing is I’m a sales person, which normally requires people to be pretty extroverted, and I’ve always considered myself an introvert. Good read for managers, btw. (Hat tip: Andy Bourland’s about me page)

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How to be a demo God

How to be a demo God – by Guy Kawasaki.

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Need Representation?

If you’re building or launching a new website, and want someone to sell the ads for you (that is, to represent your site) you might want to look at this list: ABC’s of ad networks. Not 100% comprehensive by anymeans (there are plenty of niche networks out there like Active Athlete Media and the Travel Ad Network – just two good examples) but it’s a good list to start with.

5 Tips for Organizing Your CSS

5 Tips for Organizing Your CSS – finally some tips for CSS that I understand ;)

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160 Highest Paying Search Terms

160 Highest Paying Search Terms – good list.

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How to do what you love

How to do what you love – one of the best essayists around, Paul Graham, teaches us how to do what we love to do. Love it Paul!

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Windows on Intel OS X

Run Windows on your Intel OS X Box – at near native speeds supposedly. Cool!

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Always be ready to pitch

I learned something this week about pitching your business idea to an Angel: “One of the rules I’ve learned about being an entrepreneur is that you have to always be ready to pitch” from Scott’s Accomplishment of the Week post.

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Deconstructnig the Newspaper

Deconstructnig the Newspaper – yes, yes, and more yes. Newspapers should really think about the way they operate their businesses if they want to be relevant in the next 10 years.

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Good images

Where to find good images online – good list of stock art images for sale and for free.

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Getting Things Done with PHP

Getting Things Done with PHP

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1500

1500 is a great number.

1500 is a number that means a lot to lots of people.

1500 is the designation of Chevy’s standard 1/2 ton pickup truck. A Chevy 1500 is a good truck.

1500 is 3:00 p.m. in the Army. 1500 is a good time to have a meeting in the summer time (it gets you out of the heat) or a good time to be doing maintenance on your tank in the winter (it’s usually the warmest part of the day).

$1,500 is how much I spent on the engagement ring I gave my wife (realize I bought it from my uncle and got a good deal, in my opinion) 10 years ago (has it been that long?)

$1,500 is the amount of money we had budgeted for a cruise vacation in February.

$1,500 is the amount of money I’m going to spend on my cat this week. The cat a kidney stone and will be having major surgery today.

Damnit.

update: the kitty is doing just fine… turns out the kidney stone was actually in his bladder, and was three stones. Without the surgery we’d have had to put him to sleep… which wasn’t an option.

Wozwear t-shirt

This Wozwear t-shirt is too cool.

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Purchasing Car Parts

This story comes from my Father-in-law, and since I’m really short on time to write up content, I’m posting this here. Hope you enjoy, and that you learn something:

The best advice I can give is shop around. Not just for lowest price but also for highest quality. Normally you wont find both quality and low price in the same place.

As an example, lets take a recent repair requiring parts.

My 1995 Toyota Camry had 144,000 miles on it when the radiator started leaking. In addition, the battery was over four years old and needed replacing to make sure the car would remain dependable. Unknown at the time, the alternator was also ready to fry its regulator and needed repair. I ended up replacing the radiator, battery, repairing the alternator, and installing a new timing belt, waterpump, and camshaft oil seal.

Toyota recommends timing belts be changed out every 60,000 miles. Since these really are belts and not chains, the chance of the belt actually breaking is a real possiblity. If this happens when the engine is running at speed, the loss of syncronization could damage pistons and valves.

The waterpump is hidden under the timing belt cover. The camshaft seal is pressed into the block behind its shaft pulley. Since the timing belt cover needs to be removed to replace the timing belt it makes sense to also replace the seal and waterpump at the same time.

I always like to get the parts I need before I start the job. Sometimes I dont use all the parts I get but they can always be taken back or used at some later date. The important thing is that I have what I need to get the car running again because I will be without decent transportation when the car is partially dissasembled.

So I found myself shopping for radiator, waterpump, timing belt, alternator, and oil seal.

I first checked eBay and on-line internet car parts stores to get an idea of prices. New, genuine Toyota waterpumps were price over $200. Genuine toyota timing belt kits were also offered in the over $200 price range. Genuine Toyota alternators were also $200 plus items. I did not bother to check the radiator prices.

Both the alternators and waterpumps were available as remanufactured for about half the cost of genuine Toyota parts. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing what you get with a remanufactured part. You dont know who did the remanuafacturing, where they are located, or to what specifications they were tested.

No, the brand name is not a sure way of finding out because it is quite possible that one faclity rebuilds on contract for multiple brands. Also, there is no way of being sure that the core that was rebuilt was a genuine Toyota core and not some cheap third party knockoff. Third party knockoffs were also available new at prices less than Toyota was asking. Not surprizing, the warrantys on the the rebuilt and cheap knockoffs were measured in months while the genuine Toyota parts had warrantys measured in years.

You can avoid the high cost of genuine parts and still get genuine parts by buying from a salvage yard that salvages from late model, low milage cars. Of course there is no way of knowing where a salvaged part came from. Most likely it was from vehicle similar to the one being repaired but that is about all that can be determined with any degree of certainty. There is a big difference in price. For instance an alternator for my Toyota could be purchased at a salvage yard for as little as $50. I dont live next to a slavage yard so there would probably be anther $10 t0 $20 involved in shipping the part. Then there is the possible delay involved in waiting on its arrival. Sometimes even a $150 savings may not justify the added work and inconvenience involved.

The alternator was finally taken to a local alternator repair shop. The regulator was replaced and the alternator was tested for proper operation. Cost was $70 including tax.

The timing belt, waterpump, and oil seal were purchased from NAPA along with some degreaser and anifreeze. The total for that came to just under $90. The timing belt was one of the long life, high nitrile belts, costing $34. The waterpump was a well known Japaneese brand and cost $32.

A new radiator was priced at $150 at NAPA. We elected to take the radiator to a radiator repair shop. The shop wanted $100 to repair the radiator. One of the tanks was cracked and the repair was non-trivial. They also offered to sell us a new radiator (aluminum) for $100. We settled on the new, aluminum, radiator.

The battery should have been a no-brainer but turned out to be an education in how badly a consumer could be taken. It would have made sense to go back to the place the old battery had been purchased. After all, it only cost $50 and had served well for over four years. Unfortunately that place was no longer in business so we decided to go to the better known Pep Boys.

The Boys had the battery we needed. They had it in two flavors. One at $56 with a one year warranty, and one at $66 with a two year warranty. We figured $10 bucks up front was better than another $56 after 12 months so we loaded up the $66 battery and headed for the checkout counter. After exchanging some information they claimed they needed for the warranty, the final total came to $87. We declined. There had to be other Mexican battery makers that were not as proud of their product.

Turns out we were right. Walmart offered the same battery with two year warranty for $37.99. We got out of there for $50 and a voucher for a $7 refund if we brought the old battery back.

It took two days and $340 to service the car. Low estimate on having the work done at a garage, a qualified garage (not a dealer), was $1800. You can save quite a bit of green by getting your hands dirty. You can also save quite a bit of green by shopping for parts. The parts we used were of Toyota quality. Had we used genuine, new, Toyota parts, the bill for parts alone would have been upwards, of $700.

There is another way to look at this experience. We like to view this experience from the perspective of having saved money. The other perspective is that you can be taken to the cleaners in a significant way if you are not careful.

Hopefully, I’ll find some time to start posting regularly again soon ;)

Building 9rules.com

Building 9rules.com with WordPress… extending WP to be a full-blown CMS.

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Don’t buy an Apple product…

This is response to a Jason Kottke post about buying a Macintosh three weeks ago.

Everyone prospective Macintosh buyer should know three things about buying a Macintosh and the timing of that purchase:

1. Don’t buy a Macintosh one month before: a) A Apple Expo, c) WWDC.
2. Use the MacRumor’s Buyer’s Guide to guage when products were announced and when they think new products will be announced based on a product line’s history.
3. Don’t buy a new Macintosh when you don’t have to have one. If you have to have a new machine, buy one, and never look back. New hardware comes out all the time, and there is always something better soon after you bought your last machine (soon is relative there folks, but it’s bound to happen).
4. (okay, I said this was a list of three things, but this can’t be over looked) Don’t buy a new Mac on the first version. Wait for the second version of a new model, as those first versions almost always have a bug or two in them.

Enjoy your Mac the day you buy it. If you don’t think you’ll enjoy it in a month, don’t buy it… wait for the next great Mac product to come out… it might take 6 months, you never know with the great Steve.

Comparison Shopping

Apples to Apples and Apples to Oranges – a comparison chart showing the new MacBook Pro (stupid name) to the latest Powerbook version, as well as to an Acer with pretty comparable specs. Interesting. update: you should also read this little post noting all the new stuff that’s missing on the MacBook Pro (did I mention that’s a stupid name?)

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Heh… Injured Bad.

Go watch Injured. Injured bad. – hilarious.

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Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Innovation

The Art of Innovation from Guy Kawasaki, one of those guys I’ve always wanted to call a mentor.

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Google Earth for Mac

One announcement that I haven’t heard a lot about today is that Google Earth is now avaialble for Macintosh users. Cool, downloading now. (Sidenote: the funny thing is that I have a IBM Thinkpad that I use for work that runs Windows, and I’ve never been interested in downloading Google Earth for the PC, but I’m all about using it on my Mac… weird)

Virtual Coin Flipping

Ever need to “flip a coin” with a co-worker, and don’t have a quarter handy? Turn to the virtual quarter toss – very cool.

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The Mailroom Guy

I just love our mailroom guy at my company. I just got this email from him:

Ladies and Gents:

I’m writing this note to inform you that in our constant duty to keep cost down on Fedex’s, we’ve came up wit a system although not perfect, but then again what is? that will make everybody here more aware and conscientious of Fedex’s expenses which by the way are very high and this needs to stop, and in the long wrong start saving money to the company by limiting the frequency on outgoing Fedex’s. So please do consider the following underlined rule and iformation herein.

FEDEX’S WILL ONLY GO OUT EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY. However, if you have a Fedex that really has to go other than on those days please let me know and I make sure that it does go out that day. So please let’s make sure that something’s really has to go out before we send it out, as a matter of fact to give you an idea as to how high Fedex’s expenses are, let me just let you know that if this was war we would’ve been losing it hands down. So let us stop the bleeding and be more smart about sending stuff out and in the long wrong we will come out on top and win this expense war, sort of speak. Remember the note that I sent you out yesterday on the new rates for the U. S. POSTAL SERVICE? and the reason behind it, because of the waste and we are the ones ending up paying for this, every year they cry trying to always justify a raise on stamps, and it’s amazing how they play with our heads with this new 39 cents stamp, always leaving room to go to the next step, and that is to increase it into in the 40 cents.

Because ladies and gentlemen, if we don’t watch out our expenses not just here but in our personal lives as well, what sense would it make in trying to become a big of a company as I know we will or a successful person; if you are to waste it all away? entire nations and empires have gone down throughtout history because of this type of reckless behaviour not just for the crazy ways on expending moneys but the irresponsible dominoe effect that it has on people’s lives. So think about it. This is all for now thanking you in advance for your cooperation on this matter.

The prose is eloquent, and totally on target.

Don’t you think it’s more fun to read that email than one that just said “We’re changing our mailing policy, see me if you have questions.”

I’m really glad our mailroom guy cares as much about his job as he does, and I wish more people did the same (not just at my company, at all companies).

The world would be a better place!

Does everyone in your company care this much about where the company is heading? Are they doing their part to make sure it gets there?

Waiting on the Keynote

coffee cup

Tomorrow morning I’ll have my coffee in hand tomorrow morning, just waiting to hear what happens at the keynote.

Here’s a list of predictions from ThinkSecret. Let’s see how accurate they were after the keynote.

How to add a Google Map to any web page in less than 10 minutes

How to add a Google Map to any web page in less than 10 minutes – I had no idea it could be that easy.

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Streams of dusty light Photoshop tutorial

Streams of dusty light Photoshop tutorial – too cool.

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Free up Hard Drive space on a Mac

This post is also for Scott, but I broke up these two entries because they really are two seperate subjects.

I’d also highly highly recommend that you free up a lot more space on your computer. You should ideally have at least 10 Gigs free of hard drive space on your computer. It’ll just work better if you do for lots of reasons…

First we have to find where the space is being used and for that we’ll use WhatSize. Use it to figure out what directories on your machine are biggest, and drill down to start deleting what you can delete that’s hogging up all of your disk space.

Here are some applications I’d recommend that can help you trim down the various file hogging applications on your Mac:

  1. Monolingual – very handy way to free up a gig or two of space that you won’t use unless you converse in more than one language on your machine.
  2. Garageband Anywhere – I personally just deleted the entire Garageband application after I realized I’d never use it.
  3. ShareIpod – cool little application that let’s you listen to music on your iPod through your computer, which is helpful when your iTunes library is taking up lots of space. Manually move songs to your iPod, then delete from iTunes and save some disk space on your laptop.
  4. iPhoto Diet – I saved 2 Gigs of space getting rid of crap in iPhoto with this app.

Oh, and to fix your Firefox problem, Scott. Drag the entire app to the trash, and reinstall.

Graphics Editors on the Macintosh

nip for ScottThis post is for Scott, in response to his questions about a good graphics editor for the Mac.

List of good stuff for you on the graphics side:

1. Graphic Converter (cheap, easy, but very powerful if you want to get into it) and it’ll probably feel a lot like PaintShoPro when you start using it (it always felt like a crappy windows-only graphics editor to me back when I used it ;)). And your Mac might have come bundled with it. Look in your Applications folder for it.

2. ArtRage – works well for “painting” if that’s what you’re into.

3. LiveQuartz – very simple, totally free, and built on top of a lot of the CoreImage stuff in Mac OS X. It might not perform that well for you if you have an underpowered machine (ie. an iBook, but check it out and see… I don’t have an iBook to test it on anymore).

4. Image Tricks – freeware image editor based on Core Image again.

YMMV.

I personally always use Macromedia Fireworks for web graphics work that might need animation at some point, and Adobe Photoshop for real graphics work… just so you know. I use Graphic Converter really only for batch graphics conversion and other batch work.

ExtraTasty

ExtraTasty.com – drink recipes. mmmmm.

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Starbucks Economics

Starbucks Economics – I’m going to have to start ordering short cappucinos, not because I’m cheap, because I really like the little powerful versions I’ve had in more European coffee houses.

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Lifehacker: Photography Tips Roundup

Photography Tips Roundup – includes links to these nuggets: Avoid Backlight, Find Your Picture, Edit ruthlessly, Move it from the middle, Lock the Focus, Spot the light, Get in close.

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M and M and M

It’s all about the middle: M & M & M – “In most things it’s how you start and how you finish that seem to matter most. What I’ve come to realize is that in software development it’s all about the middle. The middle is about morale, motivation, and momentum. It’s easy to get excited when you first start something, and even easier to get excited when you’re about to launch something, but if you can’t maintain that excitement during the doldrums, then you’re in deep trouble.” Good read

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Tips for Increasing Sales

Small Biz 101: Tips for Increasing Sales – Part 4 of this Small Biz series. Basics on sales, but basics are always good.

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Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job

Why I Quit Entrepreneurship and Got a Real Job … and what I learned from the experience. – great post. Very insightful nuggets in there… go read it.

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Rediscovering Macintosh

Tom Hespos, a fellow internet media guy in NY, just started rediscovering the Macintosh.

It’s fun to read Tom’s comments on how he bought a cheap Mac Mini for himself for Christmas, but he also paid for the Apple mouse and keyboard, and a bunch of other stuff, even though he kept from being upsold to the PowerMac G5 that was $3000 … I predict now that Tom will be back in there buying a PowerMac within a year.

Then reading how easy the Mac is to use, and how fun it is for him is a joy.

And then, to read his story about how easy GarageBand is to use is just priceless.

Yes, Tom. It just works™ is what I’ve been saying for a long time.

You need to get yourself an iProduct.

Parenting Advice

101 Tips For Improving Children’s Behaviour – want my advice? Got a kid that acts up and/or talks back? Take away the car, the cell phone, and the earings. Make them play outside, not in front of the TV or on the computer, and get a strong leather belt and a dozen wooden spoons. Apply both liberally.

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Productive Procrastination

HOWTO: Be more productive from Aaron Swartz dovetails nicely with Good and Bad Procrastination by Paul Graham.

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buzzzzz

Buzzwords – as compiled by a consultant working for a big-box retailer, heh.

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Pinewood Freak

Pinewood Freak – a blog for pine wood derby racers. Man times have changed since I was a cub scout! Good job Adam. Keep posting the tips. I’ll need them in about 10 years when my Jack is in cub scouts.

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