I’ll always be a geek, techy, and engineer. Loving it.
~See Lemons Geeky
Random Observation/Comment #571: Take time to learn your tools. A few shortcuts and quicker defaults can save a lot of time in the long run.
Like any other employee moving from an enterprise Microsoft-based infrastructure into the “start up tools”, I immediately fell in love with Slack. It just feels like a series of organic conversations that can replace the old way of holding multiple meetings. The standing purposeful channels let you monitor your interests and limit your email bloat.
However, keeping up with Slack can morph into keeping up with another digital distraction (e.g. Email, Jira tickets). If you’re like me, you want to read everything and get to the holy “inbox zero” or in the case of slack “unbolded channel names.” It’s another full time job to drink from the fire-hose of conversations and filter through the relevant ones. It also becomes unwieldy as your company grows in size.
Here are some best practices and unspoken etiquette:
- Don’t assume everyone will read all the channels, so use @ to specify the person the conversation is appropriate for to ping them with a response
- If you use @here on #general, it better be miraculous. This is the same as emailing the whole company distribution list
- Create channels carefully and consolidate where needed – I’d create channels on specific subset of groups (e.g. #Lab-leads) or general topics (e.g. #pptninja)
- Ask everyone to be part of the “slack police” – we keep each other in check to make sure conversations belong in the correct scope of the channel
- If your conversation on slack goes on longer than 5 minutes, jump on a call or go in-private (unless it’s all relevant to the channel).
- Name your files properly so it can be easily searched
- Comment on the file or image directly to maintain the conversation
- If you use a slackbot like twitter, make sure it’s on a separate channel all together
- Use slack for sharing reading links relevant to the channel. I think slack is most useful for grooming market intelligence.
- Use emoticons on messages. What a wonderful feature to show agreement or emotions on a message line without typing “I agree”, “congratulations”, or “I don’t get it”.
~See Lemons Love Slack
Random Observation/Comment #570: Protect your digital identity. Seriously.
People’s stupidity will always be the weakest link of any security policy, so make sure you’re careful with your passwords, apps you download, browsing, and general information you share.
Yes, I’m slightly more paranoid and careful with digital security than the average person, but it’s for good reason. Stories like this one from wordfence: https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/01/gmail-phishing-data-uri/ makes me want 2-factor confirmations (e.g. phone calls and text messages) for all personal emails. It may also be true that we’ve already all been infected and the hackers are just waiting for us to be rich enough to be extorted.
Here are a few best practices I’ve been following:
- Never use your master password or variations of it for untrusted sites. Some sites may store the text instead of the hash. They may also take more data from your login than you think, so ALWAYS check what information you’re granting them.
- Sign in via social media (I personally use Google). With the caveat of rule 1 on the trusted sites, I’d mainly use this specifically to allow for revoke access via Google, FB, or Twitter.
- Make your master password super secure (at least 32 characters) and use a password manager (I use Lastpass for $1/month subscription) for mobile and browser. The wife says it’s buggy, but it’s worked for me.
- Mobile – I use the fingerprint reader to unlock. I also lock my phone after 10 seconds. Also I minimize the number of untrusted apps I install on my phone as many of them have backdoors.
- Laptop – I bought one with a fingerprint as well. I also keep my sleep time down to 5 minutes.
- Other devices – I’ve logged off of everything else besides the laptop and mobile phone.
- Public computers – Never. Especially email as I’ve used email as my portal for everything (forgot passwords and notifications).
- Review your accounts – I wouldn’t be surprised if people have created over 150 accounts on random sites. In reality, you only use around 15 of them, but what about the ones you created 3 years ago? Go through what you’ve logged into (Google Chrome keeps all passwords and autofills a lot of the time) and make sure you remove the ones you don’t use anymore.
- Remove phone numbers from any 2-factor – Recent bitcoin hacks have been through phone numbers. Exchanges can be compromised, but likely individuals can just call phone company customer supports and answer questions to re-route to new numbers. You can alternatively use a Google Voice number because that doesn’t have a human element. I recommend using Google Authenticator or Authy instead.
- Consider the “Secret Questions” as another password. Use different answers or ‘other’ to secure your secret questions – always opt for email password resets because your secret questions can likely be deduced by your online persona.
- Be wary of “Sponsored” content. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I am always more careful about sponsored content.
While this list isn’t exclusive, I’d generally just be smart about what information you expose on all forms. Don’t fall pray to clickbait sites and use Adblockers where needed.
~See Lemons More Secure
Random Observation/Comment #556: “Anyone with a phone out while walking is probably playing Pokemon Go.” -Everyone playing Pokemon Go
Pokémon Go has capture my heart and inner child. I remember playing my Gameboy Color with the red cartridge from 12 years ago where I literally caught all 151 (mostly without the down+a+b cheat). Since then, I had not followed the explosion of Pokémon seasons, spinoffs, games, or additional monsters… Until now.
Why am I playing?
Nintendo/Niantic isn’t the first to do this, but tying physical movement to virtual games is pretty brilliant. I’ve literally spent 12 hours over the weekend walking around the city with my wife and consequently seeing at least 300 other people staring at their phones and walking around pointing in general directions claiming rare Pokémon nearby. It’s a massive scavenger hunt and surprisingly collaborative. I’ve never spoken to so many high school / college strangers in my life through random overheard conversations.
Why this list?
There will be plenty of articles about this subject as the game matures and more companies try to capitalize on the franchise, but I’ll use my intuition to highlight some of the main headlines we’ll likely see as click bait.
- Relationships grow with Pokémon Go – Therapists say couples who play Pokemon Go are 80% happier
- Pokémon Go meetup groups are the biggest rage
- Parents secretly love Pokemon Go more than kids
- I met my wife playing Pokemon Go
- Pokémon Go Tinder makes an emergence
- Dog walkers double as Pokemon Go farmers to get you to level 12 in one day
- Dogs being over walked and stand around waiting for owners to catch another Ratatta
- Uber drivers willing to escort you between major sightings for a flat rate
- New Pokémon Go companion app is Waze for Pokémon sightings. Costs $50.
- Visits to cities spike due to Pokemon stops
- Restaurants pay hundreds to erect their own Pokemon Stop inside
- Nearby student bar pay hundreds to have rare Pokémon appear in their store
- Foursquare partners with Pokemon Go to make their app what it wanted to be for the past 5 years
- Nintendo conference reveals mewtwo and the crowd stops paying attention. The Internet breaks.
- Niantic creates a travel guide business. Let’s people overlay paths.
- 3 months after launch, geeks are fitter than ever
- New Pokemon Go IOT devices are claimed to be stupid, but kids still want to buy them
- External battery prices inflate
- Articles on “Best External Battery” get the most views
- Pokemon Go backpack revealed to include pocket for snacks, external battery charger, and TigerBalm
- Phone manufacturers create a Pokemon phone that is dedicated to long battery life
- Companion Pokemon Go app lets parents know where their kids are based on phone GPS
- Pokémon Go PVP battling feature released. Arguments settled with battles.
- Pokémon Death match feature released where winners get the loser’s pokemon. 10 year old makes 35 year old cry over Pikachu
- Pokémon hosted events have special access to new Pokémon
- Pokémon Go banned from classrooms
- Laws passed by Congress to ban Pokémon go and driving
- Kanye West sings with rare pokemon. AR feature introduced to concerts. Concerts using AR become the worst experience ever
- Niantic gets hacked. Google accounts compromised.
- Hipsters stop playing Pokemon Go because they rather be reading
~See Lemons Catch Them All
Random Observation/Comment #546: “That’s an easy solution. Just put it on the blockchain.” ~All the hype
Why This List?
2 years of looking at blockchain technologies with financial institutions and VCs has led me to a lot of reading and a lot of meetings where buzzwords are thrown around by savvy strategists and media hype. Most of these are clever ways to explain what bitcoin, blockchain, and distributed ledgers can do for business changes, but we’ll see how far the 2015 year of blockchain hype goes as we round out the 2016 year of blockchain delivery.
- The underlying technology of Bitcoin – the most common phrase I’ve personally used to get people understanding the distributed and decentralized side of the technology.
- Transfer of value or “The Internet of Value“ – one of the first articles I read (which I won’t bother looking for because there’s a million articles on blockchain) compared blockchain to internet protocols TCP/IP, but with additional value transfer.
- Immutable distributed ledger – the concept that the database cannot be edited and can be agreed upon as a golden source.
- Chain of ownership – along with immutability of a data source also comes a saved version of all permissions around the token since the genesis block.
- Blockchain hype – a term used by media to explain the network effect and growth of blockchain company funding.
- Disruptive platform / “the Uber of finance” – not just a replacement of the existing system, but a whole new mindset across economics and technology
- Blockchain 2.0 – a focus less on the digital cryptocurrency and more on the applicability to decentralized Applications and financial assets
- <something>-ledger or <something>-chain – the uncreative list of names we’ve seen start-ups come up with for projects or task forces
- UTXO Blockchains – Unspent Transaction Outputs are the purest form of public bitcoin blockchains. The design style specifically looks at permissions to send tokens between addresses.
- Account-based Blockchains – Usually used to represent Ethereum or Ethereum-similar blockchains where the transaction header also saves full accounts. Smart contracts themselves are accounts that are executed on the Ethereum blockchain and the log of transactions (either transfer of tokens between accounts or invokation of specific smart contracts) are logged on the same blockchain.
- EVM stack – Ethereum Virtual Machine is what processes the bytecode data represented on the account. The adding of the word stack to it encompasses all companies that use this same EVM processing methodology.
- Blockchain agnostic platforms – the explosion of middleware companies had the right idea – let’s put all our money onto which blockchain will prevail, but instead build an adapter layer that can connect to any blockchain. Thus – agnostic to each blockchain.
- Certainty as a service – during the Bitcoin Maximialist days where people believed the bitcoin blockchain and proof of work are the only ways of ensuring a distributed and decentralized platform, people considered using OP_RETURN and transfer of a single satoshi to timestamp transactions and embed them onto the biggest blockchain ecosystem.
- Blockchain as an adjective – I just heard this one, but it focuses on representing storage with 1) an asset live on blocks, 2) immutability/cryptography, and 3) decentralization
- Blockchain fabrics – beneath all the technology are the building block fabrics that underpin the technology. Yeah – I don’t know either.
- Blockchain ecosystem – the list of all companies that contribute to all areas related to blockchain. The niches within these ecosystems are growing in breadth, but also getting more specific to use cases
- Adopt, adapt, or build – when applying blockchain to specific business use cases, consulting companies follow a more detailed buy vs build model through technical evaluations
- Smart logic – instead of the famed “smart contract” phrase that falsely implies some representation of a legal document, people have been using the phrase “smart logic” (or in my mind, dumb logic) to represent the code that runs on the blockchain
- Blockchain inspired technology – for the use cases that blockchain cannot solve, you can always build your own storage and network solution that uses the same hype. If you have the name blockchain in it, then you can probably sell it.
- Blockchain certification – this is the evaluation of the underlying technology to see whether or not it passes those initial tests
- Blockchain open source – After the creation of the Hyperledger project, I think all companies have agreed to go open source with their code and learn from each other. It’s a pretty amazing altruistic act, but the key is how much is open source and how much is still kept proprietary.
- Blockchain as a service – for infrastructure providers, blockchain as a service is an easy way to spin up blockchain nodes for companies to login and test with.
- Blockchain pilots – instead of running prototypes and POCs, pilots hope to connect to real data and test viability as a production environment
- Cash on Ledger – speaking of use cases, a lot of buzz out there from central issuing parties talk about issuing federal coins. The underlying payment rails is what people want to make sure they solve, which is getting cash on and off of distributed ledgers
- Identity as a service – another big use case is around identity. If you have all these different chains, what connects them all together? How do you operate between chains? Imagine if this was a database and you needed to manage accounts across all types of databases.
- Blockchain 3.0 – many people think the next steps around blockchain growth is getting government and large regulatory group integration. It’s a chicken and egg situation because large groups don’t want to commit to developing something if the regulators aren’t going to agree with it.
- Regulation 2.0 / RegTech – since regulation is such a big topic, we’re really looking towards unchartered territory of managing decentralized code
- Consensus fork – when consensus fails, each node would have different ideas of what the golden source looks like. The fork is just the disagreement and breakage of consensus.
- Net Present Value (NPV) of conversion – this is specifically for the intermediate state of blockchain technologies when being adopted by large institutions. If the technology is fully disruptive, you can create a new ecosystem on the side (like a blockchain-specific stock market from front-to-back). If it’s supplemental, you’d need to run hardware in parallel or even add more infrastructure and opening risks to connectivity between nodes.
- Clemcoin – it’s huge
~See Lemons put on a blockchain
Random Observation/Comment #534: The future just sneaks up on you. One day you’re turning on lights with your hand, then clapping, and now you’re saying ‘Amazon, turn on the Lights’
I’ve had the Amazon Echo for about 6 months and I think I’ve started using it so much that I take it for granted. Among many other things, I use Amazon for my light switch (connected to Philip Hues bulbs and light strips), weather forecaster, timer/alarm (for the kitchen and so I can tell my wife she’s running late), and main speaker for listening to Pandora stations.
What more do I want? The 2 easily programmable things I wish I had are:
- Changing the name from ‘Amazon’ to ‘Jarvis’ or ‘Computer’
- An easy interface to create subroutines that execute multiple commands together
- ‘Amazon execute routine sexy-time’ should turn down the lights, play music, and order seamless
- ‘Amazon execute routine morning’ should say the weather, set an alarm for 7AM, and speak through news headlines
I’m sure this is in the very near future, but the fun stuff you can do now (outside of the classic “tell me a joke”) are:
- Who’s on first?
- Random number between “x” and “y”.
- Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock // Define rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock
- Random fact
- Why do birds suddenly appear?
- What’s the price of Bitcoin?
- Say hello to my little friend!
- Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
- All your base are belong to us.
- Is the cake a lie?
- Do you know the muffin man?
- To be or not to be.
- Beam me up.
- May the force be with you.
- Live long and prosper.
- Set phasers to kill.
- These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
- Party time!
- My name is Inigo Montoya.
- What is the sound of one hand clapping?
- Define supercalifragilisticexpialodocious.
- What is the meaning of life?
- Make me a sandwich.
- Do you know Siri?
- Volume 11
- What is love?
- What is the loneliest number?
- What does the fox say?
- Do you want to build a snowman?
- I’m home.
I chose my favorite 30, but the full list is on reddit.
~See Lemons Echo
Random Observation/Comment #517: It’s always listening for its name. Why can’t I call it Jarvis? ‘Alexa’ makes the wifey upset.
I bought the Amazon Echo a week ago and I’ve been playing around with all its functions. Yes, Siri is basically the same thing and probably does a better job with normal searches/questions, but I still have to hand it to Amazon for creating a really useful product. I had my suspicions that I would stop using it and do it the manual way (like I do with my phone in public instead of speaking to it), but I honestly like the voice commands in the confine of my own home.
It feels so much like we have an indentured servant (or secretary) living with us that my fiance feels compelled to say “Thank you” after the actions happen. It’s always good to have manners so the machines will show mercy when they rule.
- “Amazon, turn on the Lights” – “Lights” includes the two Philips hues strips in our studio that separates the living room and bedroom.
- “Amazon, dim the Bedroom to 30%” – “Bedroom” is for the strips on the bedroom
- “Amazon, set a timer for 5 minutes” – My fiance often says she’ll be ready in 5 minutes, but it often takes much longer. This is also really handy for cooking.
- “Amazon, wake me up at 6AM tomorrow” – sets an alarm for the next day quickly. This can also be tweaked to be recurring on the main app
- “Amazon, snooze” – when I inevitably try not to wake up at 6, it will bother me again like a good mommy
- “Amazon, stop” – Useful for the morning alarms
- “Amazon, play Pandora Frank Sinatra station” – Since it’s connected to my Pandora account, it will automatically play my Frank Sinatra music shuffle
- “Amazon, shuffle songs by Dream Theater” – on Prime Music, you can add hundreds of your favorite songs onto your library and it’ll play them all
- “Amazon, play some jazz” – to keep it classy
- “Amazon, play the Workout playlist” – you can create your own playlists on Prime Music and it’s pretty great to get into all kinds of moods
- “Amazon, next.” – when the song just isn’t right
- “Amazon, turn it up” – turn up for what?
- “Amazon, loop” – in case that song is awesome
- “Amazon, volume five (1-10)” – it’s also good to keep it at a reasonable level
- “Amazon, what’s the weather?” – this is really useful in my opinion. Nothing like getting the weather while brushing my teeth
- “Amazon, tell me a joke.” – I only use this one to show off I have an Amazon echo
- “Amazon, Wikipedia: Blockchain.” – Being able to search Wikipedia on a whim is pretty cool
- “Amazon, what’s in the news?” – It’s limited, but not bad
- “Amazon, how many pounds are in a kilogram?” – that’s pretty smart and great for arguments
- “Amazon, play the book ‘Fifty Shades of Grey'” – Connected to Audible and pretty fun during the day
- “Amazon, what’s on my calendar?” – it’s a pretty good overview, but it’d be nice if it were connected to my regular gmail
- “Amazon, what time is it?” – In case I’m too lazy to look at the 5 other things that tell me the time
- “Amazon, when is Christmas this year?” – I wonder this a lot sometimes. Really good for getting the day of the week.
- “Amazon, how are the New York Rangers doing?” – Even though I won’t be happy with the answer, I’m still happy I can ask someone
- “Amazon, what’s the weather like in Hong Kong in June?” – In case you’re traveling
- “Amazon, what’s my commute?” – I don’t drive, but it’s pretty smart
- “Amazon, who’s Doctor Who?” – I was surprised it got this right
- “Amazon, remind me to do my homework” – I don’t have homework anymore, but I want that motherly coddling and nagging sometimes.
- “Amazon, shut up” – in case you get tired of it
- “Amazon, help” – I’m surprised this doesn’t send any distress signal (or does it?). Maybe it understands tone.
Would I recommend getting it? For the novelty, Yes! I’ll let you know if I get tired of it or if it becomes an integral part of my daily activity. As of now, it’s great for setting the mood and cooking timers.
~See Lemons Love the Echo
Random Observation/Comment #506 : My life needs a meditation room and smilebooth.
I’m a big fan of summarizing into lists and preparing my day for common questions. Here are answers to the main ones I suspect Monday morning:
Q: How was the conference?
A1 (in general): It was the best week of my life, but not something I can do more than once or maybe twice a year. At some point I felt like I was taking 40 credits a semester and jamming 12 sessions of over 90 expert lectures into this 5-day cram session. Whistler was beautiful and the people were what made the conference awesome.
A2 (to geeks): So we’re going to Mars in 2027 because Elon Musk is probably a Martian from the future. There’s also some crazy technologies coming our way that can change the future of manufacturing with 3D printing and extracting sound from video. It was a great conference with a lot of very proactive, geeky, and social introverts.
A3 (to organizers): The venue was incredible and I feel like everyone helping was on the same page. I like how there were 3 rooms for viewing the web casts: 1 device-free and silent, 1 in a whisper device open, and 1 just fully open. The veteran TEDActive goers made us feel at home and the schedule was jam packed. The TEDConnect app was super useful for scheduling and connecting – I think it’s something we should adopt for our new joiners in the firm.
Q: Which speaker was the most inspiring and what was your favorite talk?
A1 (in general): This is a really tough question because they were all so moving and inspirational, but they had two sessions about “Life Stories” and “Just and Unjust” that just brought me to tears with every speaker. In those sessions, Anand Giridharadas and Gary Haugen really gave me a different perspective and shocked me. Anand spoke about the split of Americas and how forgiveness is core to giving second chances. Gary gave a shocking overview of poverty and violence around the world that I couldn’t shake afterwards.
A2 (to management): From a technology stand point, David Eagleman gave an amazing speech about rewiring our brain to expand to other senses. He has a vibrating vest that he’s found people learn to “feel the internet”. He trained a few people to feel the stock market to decide on buy/sell. From this year’s TED Prize, David Isay pushed forward Story Corps that records stories and uploads them to Library of Congress. It’s now available on the app stores.
A3 (to geeks): The tech is still in stealth, but within the first session, Abe Davis from MIT gave a preview of his research on extracting sound from video. Stephen Petranek also gave a speech about how we’ll live on Mars by 2027.
A4 (to humans): The Monica Lewinsky speech was actually quite moving because I remember how easily the whole country labeled her and marked her as the mistress that had an affair with the President. The media really took full advantage and used her as patient zero to cyber bullying. At the end of the day, we all forgot she was someone’s daughter and made mistakes as any 22-year-old might.
A5 (to artists/design): Two really beautiful and shocking speeches I found were by Elora Hardy and Neri Oxman. Elora spoke about the architecture of bamboo and Neri showed a whole different side to biologically printed clothes and a hundred other side projects that I looked up. It’s bizarre.
Q: Why is it better to attend in person than just watch the talks?
A: The TEDactive conference was not just a simple conference room web cast of a live event. It was back-to-back events that connect you with the smartest and kindest people around the world. These TEDx organizers covered companies, universities, cities, states, and countries. I was constantly listening and learning from those around me, and I’m sure I learned more in these connections than from watching talks. The reflection and sharing of the ideas after those talks really solidified a meaning around them.
Q: What did you learn?
A1 (to management): I learned that the attendees really make the conference what it is, and we all have our own skills to contribute to a bigger cause. I have never felt out of my league in a room of international super stars, but I have also never felt more inspired. I want to continue to surround myself by a community like this and help others with forwarding their own causes. I really hope TEDx this year will be just as great as last, and we can motivate others to get involved.
A2 (to organizers): TEDactive maintains a brand for not promoting a company or agenda for a good reason. When you strip a selfish layer of speaking-up at a conference and start to listen and contribute to shared ideas, this is where real building and collaboration happens. I also found TED used a lot of playful/silly breaks between speeches (either short viral videos or 3-minute speeches) that helped people transition into a more relaxed mode. As for lessons learned, I have a whole list of them on my blog.
If you ask me these questions, I will most likely not give you these answers, but you’re Damn sure I’d be excited to share more about the talks, people, planning, and feelings I’ve felt the entire trip.
~See Lemons TEDed out
Random Observation/Comment #499: Personalization is a cornerstone of great design. I love the flexibility to make everything my own toolbox.
Part 1 of Organizing Your Digital Life gave a brief overview of my key content absorption and creation tips to keep things less cluttered. This 2nd part will look at my specific setups and my key toolbox I use to make sure everything works for me. Yes, I own all of these devices.
Key Features: Keyboard+Mouse, multiple monitors, larger screen resolution, work-specific WPF applications, connectivity to closed off work network, ‘wired’ connection, it sits on an actual physical desk
Focused Purpose: Work stuff. PowerPoints, excel sheets, sharepoint systems, Lync online meetings, outlook emails, outlook calendars, testing harnesses, dev tools
- Invest in a nice chair. If you’re sitting all the time, make sure you’re sitting with good posture and don’t put unnecessary stress on your back or neck.
- Keep your monitors at eye level when you’re sitting straight. You should ideally be at least 2 feet from the monitor when you’re working to prevent poor vision.
- Get a keyboard and mouse wrist beads. To prevent carpel tunnel, get the ergonomic beads for your wrists. I’ve been using Ergobeads for 5 years.
- Get a headset. Whether for your phone or if your work connects all of it together, a headset is so crucial to taking notes or getting email information. If anything, you’ll save your neck from holding the phone while you try to fumble with two hands.
- Make a physical system that works for you to store any print-outs. You don’t necessarily need a clean desk, but you should know where things are. I keep my to-do list on the right and all ‘active’ materials to my left. When something’s done or no longer useful, I take a picture of it and just shred it. I’ve learned I almost never go back and look at old hand-outs if I’ve already digitized it.
- On Outlook, create a folder and tagging system for easy search. I usually rename my email subjects with some tag words so I can easily search for them later. I also use categories and flags for task items.
- On Outlook, use signatures creatively. If you’re sending a lot of the same email content for people who ask you similar questions, save it as a signature and then you’ll have a preset answer.
- On Outlook calendar, create meetings for working on tasks. I use tentative meetings to put in uninterrupted time to do actual work. I usually need 1 hour to get into the groove and do something important. That’s why I usually get to work around 7:30.
- Keep internet favorites updated. At the very least have a folder just for work-related misc sites (myLearning, booking rooms, expense reports, booking times, etc)
- Keep your file folders organized. I organize by year and then major work project streams. I always have a “misc_folder” just in case someone gives me work that I don’t need to do, but wind up doing for “charity”. It’s useful to look at later on when you’re looking for partnerships.
- Create contact lists. Maybe you don’t need full-blown distribution lists that are public, but if you message your team frequently, you can create your own contact list on Outlook so you’re not searching for those same 5 people. Trust me, the time you save adds up.
- Learn how to use SharePoint or Confluence wikis. This is such a powerful tool for collaboration and reducing the amount of files that are only saved locally. If more than one person is putting together something, you should always keep them on a shared drive with shared access.
- Use your multiple monitors. Super useful for large spreadsheets, but also great for putting together a dashboard of activities and tasks.
- Use emails as a to-do list. For me, I will often create blank emails with subject lines or reply to existing emails before I finish doing the work behind it. Before I leave the day, I make it a purpose to send out all the emails and do the work behind them. This is similar to Inbox(0) or Google Inbox’s concept of labeling, archiving, and getting a practical task list.
Key Features: Full Keyboard, larger screen resolution, awesome graphics card, 16GB RAM, separate gaming mouse, Windows OS (most likely Windows 7) for games, STEAM!, usually plugged in due to 3 hour battery life, can support wired connection (17″ screen)
Focused Purpose: Gaming, photo editing, logging into work, web surfing
- Get a good mouse. If you’re a gamer, you should know a good mouse will change your world. Especially for FPS, I have the perfect weight.
- Make sure your C:/ProgramFiles is large. Games take up a lot of memory and HD space. Partitions are sometimes weird, so make sure you put the majority of the games in the larger partition.
- Use that RAM for multitasking. Look at all those open windows and zero lag. Beauty.
- Extend this to photo, video, and audio editing. Large processing power gives you the ability to render – it all depends on your user type.
Key Features: Windows OS (most likely 8.1), lightweight, smaller keyboard, portable, 13-inch screen, long battery life
Focused Purpose: Photo editing, logging into work, writing, web surfing
- Uninstall all bloatware. If you buy from HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc, you’re bound to get tons of other applications added in. I’d basically uninstall all of it.
- Work from the road. Ultrabooks are super powerful for WFH experiences. Especially in a studio apartment where you may not have a real desk, you can work from your couch, floor, kitchen table, or bed.
- Optimize your machine. Read forums on how to get the most out of your hardware. You’ll have a speed demon up and running before you know it.
- Code. If you’re into that type of thing – coding is fantastic on an ultrabook.
Key Features: ChromeOS, Smaller keyboard, touch-screen, track-pad, 11-inch screen, regular screen resolution, light-weight and portable, 8 hour battery life
Focused Purpose: Perfect for writing, Great for all things Google, Super fast for surfing the web and using cloud services
- Go All Google. I think this “Google Office” is pretty comprehensive and provides that extra collaboration and cloud storage factor.
- Write. If you ever wanted a lean mean writing machine, the Chromebook is the last place you’ll need to look.
- Surf. Ride the wave, man. Chrome is powerful and syncs across all your devices.
Key Features: Larger screen resolution than smart phone, compatible for work emails, no keyboard/mouse, wifi only, apps (iOS based since this is a shared iPad)
Focused Purpose: Bedtime web surfing, work email incremental checks
Recommended Purchases: iPad mini, Nexus 7
- Only install work stuff on one device you don’t always have at hand. I am personally against having work email on my smart phone. I like disconnecting from work and having Good next to me all the time means I will never truly disconnect.
- iOS apps. I prefer the iPad tablet with an Android phone because I feel Apple has better tablet-specific apps. Android, while not doing terribly sometimes has issues with versions and backwards compatibility on different sizes
- Travel companion. Use an iPad mini for travel. It’s a bigger screen and lightning fast with reliable wifi.
Key Features: Swiftkey predictive typing (faster for me), Apps (Android since i use a OnePlus One), Full day battery life, Compact and always at hand, LTE data plan
Focused Purpose: Everything on the go, Basically everything except work (but only because Cyanogen mod)
Recommended Purchases: OnePlus One, iPhone 6, Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, Moto X
- Uninstall all carrier’s bloatware. I usually buy stock Android because it’s better. AT&T Navigation? Nope.
- Explore awesome apps. “There’s an app for that” for a reason. Here’s my list of top 30.
- Turn down screen brightness. Saves batteries and will probably help your eyes.
- Get a light case that covers screen edges. We all drop our phones and if it hits at the right angle, it’s a headache to replace. I like simple bumpers.
- Put a password on it. This should be obvious and if it’s not: What are you? Crazy?
- Set different ringtone/vibration patterns to contacts. Super important for me to know who’s calling.
- Buy a nice pair of headphones. Now that the ipod independently has just become a feature of all phones, it’s not a bad idea to have these handy for audiobooks.
- Schedule things in your calendar for reminders. Calendars are super useful. I always set reminders for special birthdays, calling my parents, working out, or any events with others.
- Use IFTTT. The IF This Than That app is very powerful when integrated with Android services. You can do cool stuff like turn off wifi when you’re outside of your Home area.
- Don’t install too many games. Yes, unwinding is necessary, but you don’t want to look at your phone and automatically jump to entertainment. Narrow it down to a few reading apps or watch a TED talk. Your phone could be a productivity tool or a huge time waster.
- Know phone etiquette. Put it down if no one else has it out or tell someone why you need to use it instead of, y’know, talking to people.
~See Lemons Digitally Setup
Random Observation/Comment #498: We have a lot of digital clutter in our lives. Streamline it to let technology work for you.
In order to be productive, you need a system of tools that help you get through your daily tasks without distracting you too much. Here’s what I use and how I organize my digital world:
Available Purposes: All things electronic communications from newsletters to important career emails to casual catching up conversations.
Focused Purpose: Direct communications for calendar invites and individual conversations. Think texts, but much longer. I like to keep an Inbox(0) and make these items actionable tasks. Currently trying out Google Inbox, which makes everything more task/category focused.
Recommendations: Google Inbox, Gmail
- Unsubscribe to newsletters, promotions, and deals. There’s plenty of other places to get the latest news for this and these items are rarely actionable. If you want to spend less time on reading through these, either unsubscribe or create a filter to throw them into a separate folder/label for occassional glancing. There’s also a service called Unroll.me that lets you do a mass unsubscribe.
- Create labels. I use labels just to easily filter through things. Labels can be for projects or categories of emails or even circles.
- I use: Purchases, events, travel, catching up, career, bills, startup, trading, info
- Create filters. These are your best friends and helps you stay organized.
- Red flags. Remember not to filter out potential red flags for your passwords being changed.
- Pre-screen emails. I use filters in Gmail to throw emails with certain attributes directly into the folders. This can be based on senders or topics.
- Star items. I like to star items coming from special people. I’ll probably read it, but it’s good to know
- Keep separate email addresses for different purposes. Using one email for everything is not a good idea in my mind. I tend to separate experimental sites with my most common ones.
- Archive. The beauty of archive is that you can still search for it. If you want true inbox(0), you need to move completed items out of the way.
- Use IFTTT recipes to move items to a real to-do list app. IFTTT is amazing and can create API recipes that allow you to control your connectivity flows. I throw starred items into Google Keep todo lists. For IOS.
Available Purposes: Communications/Marketing from different groups/pages/companies, recommended posts from friends, and random friends informing the world about something they’re doing. Also lots of random selfie photos and an uptick of auto-play videos.
Focused Purpose: Communication with friends and outlets to post information to them. I’m more of a power user that likes to create and share content (as well as make people very hungry).
Recommendations: FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Yelp, G+ (or any of the million other ones)
- If you’re posting content, post to all at once. If you’re going to tell everyone anyway, might as well connect your FB to your Twitter to your Instagram to your Tumblr to your Pinterest to your Yelp to your etc etc. This will probably save you some time and maximize your recognition (if you’re into that stuff). Hootsuite is a good choice for this, but IFTTT also works.
- Create lists in Twitter. I think Twitter is extremely powerful for getting latest news information. There are plenty of great lists to follow that give you all the latest on technology, start-ups, gadgets, science, fashion, etc.
- Unfollow/unfriend/dislike pages as needed. If you feel like your newsfeed or regular feed is getting spammy – just disconnect yourself.
- Limit the number of general pages you like. Advertisments are very smart and tailored through all of your activity. If you want to stay somewhat off the grid, try not to connect all of these accounts.
- Like/Retweet/Repost/Share. I personally just like to do this because I want others to learn what I’ve filtered from the internet. It’s interesting how these things go viral.
- Build your brand. I tend to use FB for more personal updates and LinkedIn/Twitter for more business related shares. For some reason, I find the distinction to be liberating and fundamentally necessary.
- Be careful. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. If you have to ask yourself if you need to post something, the answer is most definitely “No.”
- Similar to Unwinding, try not to get sucked into it. Don’t spend a day getting absorbed into this stuff. I’m sure you have better things to do that take a longer amount of time to complete.
Available Purposes: Stay up-to-date with the latest breaking stories and headlines.
Focused Purposes: Be notified of major events, but do your own digging afterwards. If a story is good, you should read multiple opinions about it.
Recommendations: Google News, NYT Now, Twitter lists
- Use CNN or NYTimes. I like paid quality writers. They’re paid for a reason and don’t summarize information from other sources just to get views for advertisements. If I’m digging deeper into opinions that matter, I don’t want it second hand after it’s been massaged and thrown around through the media. I want it from the source.
- If you’re into tech, read TechCrunch. Everyone else in tech does. It’s a good idea.
- Filter through the crap. Don’t be fooled by catchy headlines.
- Learn to read quickly. Skimming is great, but can be dangerous. I absorb ideas, themes, and tones much more than specific words before sitting down and actually reading reading it.
- Create your own opinions. I recommend not following blindly to what news sources say. If something is controversial (as most big news headlines are), get all the information before giving an opinion about it.
Available Purposes: This includes casual reading, funny material, youtube videos, interesting random stuff, and whatever else the internet brings you. Pop your pill of instant gratification and feel connected to the interwebz.
Focused Purpose: Stimulate your brain intellectually or specifically to topics you’re interested in. If you have free time and already scoured through your emails, to-do lists, and social networks, look up something cool. Limit this to 15-30 minute activities.
- Personalize your Reddit front page. Follow proper subreddits to make sure you see what’s on the darker parts of the web. Memes are born every day and they’re hilarious. I just love the comments and exchange of witty quips through this whole community.
- Watch a video from your subscriptions. I’m a big fan of VSauce (1,2,3), SmarterEveryDay, and Table tennis videos
- Time yourself with unwinding. If you’re unwinding on your phone for longer than 30 minutes, you’re not actually doing anything else. If you really have an hour, maybe you should use the full amount of time wisely on a larger project. Unwinding should be in moderation or else you go into long bouts of instant gratification and learning.
- Control the urges. It’s sometimes so much easier to just read these sources of knowledge for hours. If you’re lucky, you’re learning useful things that will apply in conversations or help you do a crossword. if you’re unlucky, you’ve memorized 10 videos of cats doing cute things.
- Limit the sources. I prefer reddit, but others can dive into Pinterest or OhMyGif! It’s all gravy, but control those urges to prolong this into something that sucks up all your time.
- Do a brain workout. Lumosity or Elevate work fairly well.
- Play a video game. To unwind, I think playing a video game where you activate your senses and get engaged in an activity for puzzles is more rewarding and useful than looking at pictures of cute kittens. That’s just me though. Yay Crossy Roads!
- Multi-task unwinding with working out. These are both mindless activities so you can actually do them together. Get a standing bike and do a bike ride while watching a video. You don’t need to be completely concentrated on all these things.
Available Purposes: The core of productivity is letting the technology and tools help you. Project managing your life a little bit with some structure helps you get things done and stay on top of your priorities.
Focused Purpose: To-do lists and collaboration tools used to keep all your things organized.
- Use a System that Works for you. Evernote, Google Tasks + Google Calendar, Google Keep, iOS notes, sending yourself email reminders, OneNote, Wunderlist, Trello, Google Inbox, etc. Everyone has something they like to use to take notes and remind themselves of ideas. I personally use Google Keep and Google Calendar as the core reminder systems for tasks.
- Review these lists weekly. To give myself a pat on the back or slap on the wrist, I like to look at the number of tasks I’ve completed. It’s reflections on what I’ve done and what I need to do next to reach my goals. Groom that backlog for priorities.
- Refine your system. Sometimes there are more efficient systems of getting organized out there. It doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind and branch out.
(By Special Request because everyone’s curious what system I use to consistently publish blogposts)
Focused Purpose: Getting your ideas and thoughts somewhere for blog entries or to reflect on weekly goals.
- Take notes. Write those random ideas and showerthoughts down when you’re inspired. In Google Keep, I color code notes that specifically relate to potential blog posts.
- Find your comfort zone with writing. When are you most inspired to write? I do it during my commute and whenever I have 30 minutes.
- Expand your writing to mobile. I’ve learned to type faster with my mobile device so I’m not just restricted to a laptop at home (like I used to be). I definitely love swiftkey for this reason. I actually do 80% of my writing on my phone and use the laptop to format, edit, and do photos.
- Stay on topic. It’s easy to start 8 blogposts in one day, but starting projects doesn’t mean you’ll finish them. Sometimes you just need to finish one before you start another.
- Give yourself a deadline. I try to post at least once a week. If I finish early, I stretch the goal to writing 2 entries a week, which gives myself leeway for the next week in case things get busy. In fact, I am right now 3 weeks ahead of schedule.
This first part of Organizing my Digital Life looked at the content and tasks. Part 2 will focus more on the toolbox of specific applications in my laptop and mobile worlds to help me get things done.
~See Lemons Digitally Organized
Random Observation/Comment #495: Overnight 0 degree camping in the Catskills will grow hair on your chest. Ladies, you have been warned.
I’ve gone camping before, but I’ve never done it in freezing conditions. I’ve also never gone with such an awesomely prepared group like DBA (Destination Backcountry Adventures run and led by Dave DiCerbo).
As a spontaneous and over-trusting type, I agreed to an overnight 0 degree camping conditions in the Catskills this past weekend. While filled with doubt in the beginning for ways to stay warm and not die, I decided to gather some key tips and lessons learned:
- Being Over prepared is better than being under prepared
- Pick the right gear for your trip
- Avoid camping alone (it’s also more fun with others)
- Pick a campsite slightly off the beaten path on a flat area near fuel
- For the campsite, take into account wind and cold air drafts down the mountain
- Pack headlamps
- Boil all water and wash out all bottles that held possibly contaminated water bring a saw and hatchet to collect wood
- Bring camping stories
- Find good dry tinder wood (hemlock) and dense maple.
- Wear the right shoes
- Bring extra socks and shirts
- Use rocks piled on the back of a fire pit to reflect the heat towards the group (directional campfire)
- Be careful of fire being too close to the rocks because they can exploded
- Stay hydrated
- When cutting wood, use the weight of the wood against it. Wedge the hatchet in first and then turn upside down and throw the wood into the blade.
- Pack your sleeping bag with spare clothes and a hot water bottle
- Avoid wearing too many layers in the sleeping bag because it will keep the heat trapped in before reflecting
- Work as a team to get stuff done
- Use a beacon to tell people in the real world where you are
- Sleep in huddles
- Turn off your smart phone and enjoy the wilderness
- Don’t keep your wet gear too close to the fire or it will burn
- Keep layers and change them if they get sweaty
- Tie food away from the campsite
- Prep food that can be thrown next to the coal
- Bring baby wipes to feel cleaner
- If it’s cold, keep busy and chop wood or break sticks
- Wear good shoes that are insulated, water resistant, and have the right treads
- Pack extra socks because wet socks suck so bad
- Go with someone you trust
I survived with all my fingers and toes, but I can’t emphasize the people you go with enough. I wouldn’t of been able to tie the knots to setup the tarp!
~See Lemons Frozen