Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Thanks Sandy, I’m Diversifying Now

Did you ever have one of those moments when you realized that you’ve been sitting in the same place for so long that you stopped caring about moving?

I had one of those moments a few weeks ago when I was sitting in the dark after Superstorm Sandy took out our power. It wasn’t the power outage itself that caused this sudden realization, it was when I went to call the power company and add us to the growing list of houses without power and my data network connection was out.

That’s right the little 4G icon was not there, not even a 3G, and without it my initial call didn’t go through as I couldn’t access the Google Voice system.

That’s when it struck me, not only had I become reliant on Google Voice, but a quick rundown in my head revealed that I am using pretty much just Google products and almost nothing else. The thought process didn’t stop there though, I also realized just how much I’m dependent on that data connection and the need for it to power what I do with my phone.

I have always prided myself on exploring software, figuring out problems and being willing to not “run with the crowd,” and what I began to realize is that I had become the very thing I had been trying to avoid from the word go.

So, where to begin? How about with the immediate need? As soon as I was able to get some kind of data connection up and running I did a quick search and got Twitter updates from the power company to start showing up as SMS messages – no more data connection dependency. It’s a great option and I’m now using it to follow selected brands and individuals, instead of bringing up a Twitter client I just wait for the SMS – it feels more efficient this way and I know I’m not going to miss something.

That was an easy one, the more difficult and potential painful part then started and is still going – moving beyond the Google-sphere I’ve grown accustom to and diversifying my tools and applications.

This isn’t a quest to remove all of Google from my life, it’s about picking a tool that will do the job well enough that I don’t have to use something from Google. Will I still use Google products? Yes. Will I be all in with Google going forward? No, that’s the challenge and the goal.

First up, my browser. I’ve been a Chrome user almost since the day it hit the Internet but if I’m going to break my Google dependency I feel I should start at the core. I’ve been experimenting and trying things out and will post about my choice in the coming days.

So, do you spread yourself around or are you ‘all in’ with just one company? Have you kicked the Google habit entirely? I’d be interested in what you’re using and how you did it.

Death, Irene, and Scouts

It’s been some time since I’ve lasted posted, I’d like to say it was planned and that I had been off enjoying life but alas that is not the case on many fronts.

I titled this post, Death, Irene and Scouts because I wanted to touch on those events that occurred in the last month that are still impacting myself and many of those close to me.

Death

Less than a month ago I lost my mentor and friend. I’m sure many of you have someone who fills one or both of those roles in your life for me that person was my father who passed away August 24th. I had thought to write a post about that when it occurred but as arrangements were made and family demands began to rise the blog, like most other things, took a back seat. His passing is still a sore spot for me, I’m still expecting my iPhone to ring with another “challenge” he needed help on or just to talk and catch up with want had been going on with the family, especially the kids.

I could go on and on about who he was, what he meant to all the volunteer groups he supported with this time, how proud he was to support this country even after retiring from the military, but words along can’t express it and there is no way I could sum up his life in something as short as a blog post.

I will pass along to all what he told me a week before he passed, “Love those kids Scot, you just don’t know how much time you have.”

Irene

The day after my dad’s services, Irene hit the Northeast.

The clean up is done and for most the storm is just another memory but for my family, it will live on for a long time. It was the first time we lost power in our current home for any length of time. The challenge wasn’t the loss of power, it was the loss of water as we are on a well and no power means no water. At first we managed to cope but as we passed into our second day and with the outlook grim we opted to give in and get a hotel room for the night. The biggest reason for the hotel room wasn’t to make our lives easier it was because the school was due to start and let’s face it, you don’t want to send kids to school when they haven’t had a chance to clean up or get a good night’s sleep.

So, after a swim in the pool, take-out food, and a shower the kids were off to bed. The following morning we continued the tradition of a ‘first day of school photo,’ this time in our hotel room instead of in our driveway – the stories my kids are going to be able to tell in the future.

Scouts

I wanted to end this post on a more positive note. Shortly after school started the Scout year began and I have to say see my kids involved in Scouting not only makes me happy, I’m also sure that my father looking down would be proud as he was a Scout and a Leader during his life. The values that Scouting passes along to those that participate can’t be measure but they are visible in how they act and carry themselves.

The only issue with Scouting is that like everything else the cost keeps going up. Every year I know we struggle with what we will and won’t do, not from a schedule or desire stand point but from a financial one. I know of families that don’t participate at all because they can’t afford the dues, let alone the uniforms and activities.

So I’m going to ask for some help. Every year my boys participate in the annual popcorn sale fun raiser. A portion of the money goes to support their scouting activities but more importantly a portion also goes to fund scholarships for those that are not as fortunate. It makes it possible for those kids to experience the spirit of scouting and maybe get a taste of the outdoors (yes, we actually leave the electronics at home).

So here’s where you can help, below are two links, one for Alex and one for Chris. Both boys are looking forward to continuing past Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts, in Alex’s case he’s already looking to earn his Eagle Badge – I ask you to click on one of the links and support them and all the kids in our area by either purchasing something or by making a Military Donation.

Thanks for listening to me and all my doom and gloom, I appreciate it, and for those that do click below and support the Scouts, my sons thank you as well.

To support Alex: http://www.trails-end.com/estore/scouts/email_referral.jsp?id=8311662
To support Chris: http://www.trails-end.com/estore/scouts/email_referral.jsp?id=8311748

Sorry, but I’m unfollowing you

Last week I posted about how I needed to get back on track with my targets for this year, posting and tweeting to be specific. So I started hitting my twitter apps on my iPhone, doing some check-ins and reviewing my twitter feed.

So far it’s been going pretty well, I’ve managed to increase my frequency back up to at least a tweet a day and redeveloping the habit I tried to establish at the beginning of the year. I also have to admit there’s a fair amount of “noise” in my stream and I need to do something about it.

Over the next few days I’m going to be carving out some time to “clean the stream” which mean that I will be unfollowing a number of folks. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not doing this out of spite but out of a need to be able to actually make sense of my stream and gain some value from it. I’m also not going to declare “twitter bankruptcy” and just unfollow everyone as there are a number of individuals in my stream that I want to continue to follow. I’ll be evaluating everyone I’m following before I hit the unfollow button.

How do you make the cut? Here’s some of my criteria, in no particular order:

1. Be active

I’ve already begun this part of the cleaning process, if you don’t tweet why follow you? There are some exceptions to this rule, the school system, organizations and online services for example.

2. Tweet something other than just affiliate links

I love it when folks share things but if your entire stream is just a series of links that all lead to your latest affiliate program sorry but your fishing the wrong stream. I’m not saying if I see an affiliate link here and there I’ll unfollow you, only if the bulk of your tweets are that way.

Word of warning – don’t DM me with an affiliate link, I’ll unfollow you immediately. ┬áSee my Twitter Policy.

3. Respond if I DM you

I don’t often DM folks but if I do getting a response is cool and I appreciate it. I try to do this the best I can but sometimes you just can’t and I also understand that too. If you do respond, your stock goes up in my book.

4. Keep it clean

Most folks do this already but I felt it important to include it. I understand that folks should be able to express themselves in any manner they feel appropriate but as I often have folks look over my shoulder (including my kids) so keep it clean and I’m more apt to continue following you.

5. Tweet about things I’m interested in

I saved this one for last as when I took a quick scan of my stream earlier I think this is the one that most will trip on. When I first started using twitter I followed everyone and their brother trying to build a following (I follow you, you follow me) which helped build my initial following and has also helped create my current stream challenge. So if you don’t tweet about a topic I’m interested in out you go.

Once again, if I unfollow you keep in mind I’m not doing this out of spite but out of need and if for some reason you feel compelled to stop following me I understand that as well.

After I’m finished with this pass I’m going to let the dust settle and then determine if I need to do anything further to “clean the stream” or if I just continue on and let my Twitter Policy (which will also be reviewed and updated if needed) be my guide.

Do you “clean the stream” or just let it flow? Please share in the comments.

Help I’ve fallen and I need to get up!

It happens to everyone, you set a goal, lay out a plan, line up your task list . . . .

And then fall off the wagon before you even get to the first turn on the road.

I know it’s a bit early for a mid-year check in but I figured the time was right as I recently noticed I haven’t posted in some time. So let’s dive in an look at the three main goals I set for this blog back in my post – Do you have any 2011 targets?.

1. Post once a week.

Yeah right. I just got through mentioning that I haven’t posted in some time and looking back at my RSS feed for this blog it would appear that I’m batting about 25% on week’s with a post – that won’t cut it, I need to improve on this.

I have been collecting ideas over the weeks but haven’t sat down to grow the ideas into a full postings which means it’s either motivation or time that’s impacting this. While I can plead the case for time we all know that ‘lack of time’ is really an excuse so I need to find a way to motivate myself to write more and be more consistent.

2. Tweet once a day

This one I’ve done a bit better with, I’ve tweeted on about 73% of days this year (110 out of 151) with some of those days having multiple tweets. While I have been missing my goal I am doing better that I have in the past but I need to raise that tweeting average a bit.

In order to do that I’m going to adding some javascript to my blog. I’ve been tracking my tweets using dontbreakthechain.com and they have a script that will post the last four weeks of my ‘chain’ in a box over in my sidebar so that everyone can see if I’m keeping it up. So, please check back regularly and call me on it if I break my chain.

3. Double my RSS Readership

Okay, let’s be honest here, posting is down, tweets are off the mark and I haven’t done any real marketing of the blog – there’s no way this has been increasing. Alright, maybe an extra subscriber or two but nothing to write home about. We’ll just have to wait and see where this goes as I feel that if I get the first two on track this goal will be obtainable.

I guess it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get back to work. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can improve any of the above please feel free to sound off in the comments.

Daily action leads to daily habits

About a month ago I posted what some of my 2011 targets were, and among those was a goal to tweet every day.

So here I am, a goal in site and not really sure I could keep it going. What I needed was a way to not only track my progress but visually remind myself that I needed to keep going, something that I feel was missing in my failed 365 day project. So I went on a hunt to find such a tool and came across the site, Don’t break the Chain.

The site is simple to use, and follows the productivity secret of Jerry Seinfeld – create a chain of daily actions and you will improve, or in my case develop a new habit. Each day I send out a tweet I log it on the calendar at the site (okay I use the Chrome extension) and I can see the growing chain – it will be 33 days long as this post goes live. I have to admit, there is now this need to keep the chain alive, to not miss a day – it’s like a competition against myself and I’m looking forward to finding other ways to use this site to develop habits and improve myself.

Don’t break the chain is free to use – go ahead, how long can you keep a chain going?