Productivity Booster Uncategorized

Smart Warranty – How to save $1,000

I worked for 5 years in the insurance industry and one of the important points in the theory of insurance is that you should not insure anything if you can afford to withstand a total loss.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or a financial professional. If you take any of my advice just assume that you’ll be sued, you’ll lose all your money, end up in prison, your house will burn down  and you’ll probably get a really mean case of athlete’s foot.

Now that we’ve weeded out all but the fearless, and those not afraid of itchy feet, read on…

A common insurance mistake illustrates the principle – many people have comprehensive and/or collision coverage on their cars. This is a good idea for the first five years you own the car, and if you have a car loan it’s required. The mistake many people make is not reviewing this coverage when the value of the car falls below $5,000. If you look up the blue book value of your car and it’s worth $2,100 because it’s 8 years old and has almost 200k miles on it maybe you shouldn’t be paying $200 a year to protect that $2,100. Now yes, it is possible that a tree will crush your car and your insurance company will give you the $2,100, but the odds are you’re going to do that for 3 years, and pay over $500 for peace of mind that your car was protected if it had been crushed. At this point, rather than feel content, you should picture yourself content and short $500, while your other self could risk the car and be enjoying a weekend at the beach with cash to spare.

The easy way out of this is Self-Insurance. You, as an individual, can use the same strategy used by many large corporations to avoid paying insurance premiums. Every time you get offered insurance coverage at check out (say from that store with the gadgets and the guys in the blue shirts), if you actually consider it, refuse it and put that money aside in a savings account. You can do it on a whiteboard if you want to see it in action, but it’s more fun to actually have the cash sitting in an account. What you’ll find is that just like a casino, over time you will win big. A co-worker of mine has been keeping track and by the time he got to his second big screen TV he had a pool of a couple thousand dollars ready for repairs.

You’ll get to a point where you have more in the fund than most stuff costs, with the exception of your car and house – the things you do need to insure. Everything else is giving it up to the casino.

Productivity Booster

iPad Wireless Keyboard vs. Bluetooth Keyboard vs. Griffin Loop vs. A-Frame

I’ve been trying to see what works best for typing on the iPad. When I bought it I also got the keyboard dock. After using it once or twice I found that I didn’t like the fact that it held the iPad in a portrait orientation (tall rather than like a normal widescreen TV). I’ve found the widescreen to be much more useful for reading and going through my GMail.

Dave Delaney hooked me up when I mentioned this on Marketing Over Coffee, and sent over a Griffin A-Frame. It’s a nice heavy duty frame but I had seen a different model they make, the Loop, and wanted to check that out too. So, here are the final stats:iPad Stands and Keyboards

Keyboard Dock – 20 oz (note: I am using a really crummy food scale so these numbers may be way off, but they are good enough for relative measures), $60 as of this writing from Amazon. This can be your complete solution if you don’t mind looking at it in portrait orientation all the time. Another benefit – it requires no power so you won’t be foiled by dead batteries.

Bluetooth Keyboard – 10 oz. $69, that weight is including the 2 batteries it takes. I was surprised how light it was. You now add the risk of dead batteries, but if you go with a Griffin stand, now you can view the screen in Landscape orientation

Griffin Loop – 12 oz. $29.99. A single solid plastic loop that is a bit taller than the A-Frame stand, but considerably lighter

Griffin A-Frame – 17 oz. $49.99 (retail, $36.99 on Amazon as of this writing). It’s rock solid, but heavier and more expensive. It does look more heavyweight than the Loop and it folds down to be flatter. I’d consider that a benefit for travel except that I prefer the weight reduction of the Loop over an inch space saving.

End result: I’ve gone with the bluetooth keyboard and the loop. I think it’s worth the extra $30 to get a landscape view, and it’s only 2 oz. more than the keyboard dock. There is the battery risk, but it can also be used with a Mac to recycle it, the keyboard dock is a paperweight for anything but an iPad. The A-Frame is nice but more money and weight are the deal breakers for me.

Geek Stuff

A Sad Day

There is some good news first, this is the first time I have posted to the blog from iPad. I’m using the keyboard with the stand and it works very well (yes, the hardware keyboard supports the dvorak layout for any fellow typing geeks).

My only thought is that it might be better to use the bluetooth keyboard and a stand so that I can see the monitor in landscape view, the portrait view is not the best for the Gmail interface, or wordpress for that matter. Scrolling up and down works well, side to side causes problems with readability.

So… back to the sad day thing… A little more than a year ago I mentioned that I was using a PSP to watch movies while traveling, and that I had checked out a comic book application that wasn’t too bad. I could see the writing on the wall that eventually this would become a problem for the local comic shop, much the way the small local bookstore has been taking a beating for the past 5 years or more.

Fanboys like me know that Wednesday is Comic day, that’s when the new publications hit the stores. I’ve followed the stories of adventure for more than 25 years, but last Wednesday was the first time that a comic I was going to buy in the store was also available via the Comixology Application for iPad. Instead of driving to the local shop to buy it, I just clicked and had it instantly. Comic shops are like antique stores, fishing stores and hardware stores, just fun to walk around and see what’s interesting. I wish I could say that comic shops will stick around, but I think they have a lot more in common with newspapers than boutiques. Hopefully I’m wrong…

Addendum: Seth Godin wrote today in a similar vein about the quest to save the paper.

Daily Life

40 Lessons I’ve Learned

40 Things I have picked up along my voyage:

  1. My first memory is Look Park in Northampton. Not much of a lesson, but it was the day I was “switched on”.
  2. Read – My parents got me into reading. At the local library, the Berkshire Athenaeum, I had a game card that would be stamped once for each book I read. Two important lessons – reading is an efficient way to acquire knowledge, learning from other’s successes and failures, and people will do just about anything in return for worthless crap like stamps if you set up the rewards system properly.
  3. You will have to live with contradictions – Spending money on the tools of war will generate a peace dividend. My Dad’s work for the military paid for my college education. You can like the Yankees and the Red Sox.
  4. 4th of July is the best holiday – you don’t have to buy people crap they don’t need, the weather and barbecues are usually good, and if you are daring you can blow shit up.
  5. Go UMass – If you put a bunch of working class people together they will drink a lot, have fun, and maybe learn some stuff.
  6. Read things that inspire you. I still read Superman to remind me that heroes never give a second thought to helping others or standing up for what’s right.
  7. Debt is risk taking and is ok. I learned that from selling drugs (on a computer game).
  8. It’s all about how you choose to respond and how you communicate. Read The 7 Habits – you have the power to choose.
  9. Photography – Take pictures, get closer than you think, take hundreds and only show your best work, use the rule of thirds
  10. Hobbies are a stupid waste of time and money, except for mine and yours. I don’t care if my car is crappy but god forbid my Hard Drive isn’t an SSD. This is where tribes come from.
  11. I care a lot about computers, they are my craftsman’s tools (back to the 7 habits – keep your saw sharp). Tiny increases in productivity make a huge difference over time.
  12. Karma does earn interest – doing good may not pay off right away, but it pays back big over time.
  13. If heaven doesn’t look like Tanglewood I’ll ask to be sent somewhere else.
  14. Golf with my family has brought me many memories. My Uncle gave me my first clubs two weeks before he died. My Mom used to joke that on the course was the first time she heard me say “Fuck!” and really mean it. Before she passed away we had a great laugh when my brother drove  his cart over his bag.
  15. Going to see James Taylor at Tanglewood is to understand the Berkshires in one night.
  16. Remember that everyone dies and your time here is limited. Don’t waste even a day.
  17. Laugh once every day, humor is everywhere, take advantage of it.
  18. You can predict the future if you work to create it.
  19. Normal people aren’t very interesting.
  20. People hire the people they want to work with, not the ones that are best for the job.
  21. You have to balance saving for tomorrow versus having a good time today.
  22. Audio is my favorite medium, music is a gift in my life.
  23. Worry has no value at all.
  24. Character is only revealed when things get really bad.
  25. Nothing is worth more to the sick than compassion.
  26. “If you are going through Hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill
  27. Jazz is music for musicians
  28. The Boston Marathon is the only World Championship open to the common man, but the Falmouth Road Race is more fun.
  29. No one will ever love you more than your Mom, No one will do a better job of teaching you responsibility or duty than your Dad
  30. No one can make me laugh as easily as my brother.
  31. Spend all the time you can with your Grandparents
  32. Our annual family celebration is important because, contrary to what Aunt Bonnie may say, I am the best Scrabble player in the family, I just don’t brag about it because it’s at her house on Torch Lake.
  33. Faith – If I try to be a good member of my community and leave the world better than I found it, everything else will takes care of itself.
  34. Getting married was the best decision of my life. Having a big wedding? Let’s just say I’m taking “’til death do us part” seriously because I don’t want to go through another wedding.
  35. Sometimes men have to go back to their cave, they don’t talk things over.
  36. Women just want to talk things over, they don’t want you to go fix them.
  37. Read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, it explains a lot.
  38. I waited my whole life for Carin.
  39. Like most things, having children is hard work, and that’s why it’s so satisfying.
  40. Look out for each other and never give up – W.S.

The Last M Show

Back in January of 2005, I started podcasting. Since I was playing with a new technology, I didn’t give much thought to what the show should be about, so I just copied Don Imus and did my own talk radio show.

It had a pretty good run, at it’s peak around 2007 it was getting around 16,000 downloads a month. Over the 5 years I just hit a half million downloads. Just over 3 years ago I started doing Marketing Over Coffee with Christopher Penn, and that show has a real niche, instead of me playing Morning Zoo guy. MOC is getting over 20,000 a month now, and it will hit a half million in the next two to three months.

For The Last M Show, I invited a bunch of folks who were in town for the MarketingProfs event out to dinner at Morton’s at the Seaport. It was a great night, and it was fun to do one final show. It’s always been kind of a show for insiders, if you’ve never listened before but want to check it out, listen to Show 100, that explains everything.

If that doesn’t dissuade you, take a listen: