From the feeds: entrepreneurship, teaching, biking, riding

  • Tim Ferris writes about how to estimate your market size using Google and Facebook so that you can see if your business idea might have a million dollars’ worth of customers. I like reading about entrepreneurship, although I’m postponing getting started because I’ve got a lot of projects going on right now. It is possible to build really cool things in one weekend, so that’s tempting…
  • Alas, A Blog writes about making a school appearance over Skype. I think it’s awesome that videoconferencing makes it possible for teachers to bring all sorts of role models into their classrooms. I hope J-‘s school tries this out.
  • David Seah shares a template for outlining books. I like the idea of using the physical structure of the book (pages) to build its logical structure. The template takes more space than my “dogear and then transcribe into an Org text file” approach, though. (I’ve tried book darts, but they’re hard to place on the go.) Maybe I’ll try this template for some of the nonfiction books I’ve got on the shelf…
  • The New York Times describes the bike culture in the Netherlands, and how it permeates life. It’s in the little things, like how Dutch drivers learn to open their doors with their right hand, forcing them to turn and look for bicycles. I had a lot of fun biking in the Hague when we visited friends, and I wish Toronto was as much fun to ride in (and as flat!). Hat-tip to Ben Casnocha for sharing the link.

From the feeds: Saving money, making money, balancing life, reading books, and making rainbows

  • PassionSaving shares ten money-saving tips: focus on getting over the $100,000 hump (yay!), add income tax when you consider costs, multiply by 25 to estimate capital needed for each of your spending categories, translate money into time, have short-term savings goals, focus on your goals, save for particular changes you want to make, think of saving as a normal thing to do, spend consciously, and be mindful of your limited savings potential.

    I started calculating the time cost of things when I came across that tip in Your Money or Your Life (Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, Monique Tilford). I calculate my rate after I take out my savings and fixed expenses. To avoid getting confused about whether I’m using an 8-hour workday, a 16-hour waking day, or a 24 hour day, I calculate a daily rate instead. It makes it easier to stand in front of something and think: yes, that’s worth a day of my life; or no, I’d rather be financially independent a little bit earlier.

    Hat-tip to Lifehacker for the link!

  • David of Money under 30 shares how he makes money blogging. He focuses on affiliate advertising. If I develop a blog as a part-time source of income, I probably wouldn’t want to deal with the hassles of filtering Google Adsense ads that I don’t agree with or that I find offensive, so affiliate advertising, information products, and/or services might be the way to go.
  • David Seah’s diagram of work-life baselines nudged me to visualize my time and figure out more about my activity requirements. I don’t have the kinds of rules of thumb that he has, but maybe someday! So far, I know that I’ve got about 4 hours of discretionary time to work with on weekdays, and that sleep hovers between 7.5 and 8.5 hours. Going to bed at 11 means I’ll get up at around 7 or so, and that means I’ll be at work by around 8:30. An hour of tidying is enough to start laundry, sweep the bathroom, and put away clothes. Homework help and socializing takes around an hour, too.
  • We’re always interested in good books to read, so I’m looking forward to checking out Katie Zenke’s recommendations for geeky books for kids. The comments are great, too.
  • This rainbow layer cake looks great. It makes me think of Nyan Cat.

Lots of interesting posts turn up in my feedreader. I’m thinking of sharing highlights weekly so that I nudge myself to go back and review them, see what I’ve done with the information, and share the ideas with you.

From the feeds: Ramen, personal assistants, productivity, co-schooling, and being yourself

  • Ever since we realized that instant noodles are a great way to get through lots of vegetables from our community-supported agriculture box, I haven’t made a regular salad. It’s all about the Nongshim udon piled high with shredded rapini and other leafy greens, sliced onions and radishes, and (if we haven’t used up our egg quota yet) one or two soft-boiled eggs. Ramen love is rampant on the net. Patricia of Baon Ko Bento writes about stir-fried instant ramen. Gizmodo(!) shares suggestions on things you can add to ramen, Serious Eats shares ramen hacks, and Seattle Weekly gives you ideas for every meal of the day. I haven’t tried the other recipes yet, but I’m tempted to. (Hat-tip to Lifehacker for the other links.)
  • Fluent in 3 Months shares how a personal assistant can make travelling much easier. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone sort out local arrangements for you? For our trip to the Philippines, everything was sorted out by my family (my sister’s awesome at planning trips), but I might take advantage of this idea if we travel anywhere else.
  • Matthew Cornell shares 24 productivity experiments he tried. I’m fascinated by the way people measure and improve their lives. Thoughts on his experiments:
    • Two-by-two charting: I should try this. Tasks? Interests?
    • Daily planning: Might be good for getting back into the hang of using Org as a planner, not just as a notebook.
    • Estimated versus actual completion times: I’m getting pretty good at this when it comes to work. Maybe I’ll extend it to personal tasks, too.
    • Task input/output: That’s a nifty idea. Work is fine (burndown charts, etc). I wonder how I can track that in my personal life, too.
    • E-mail: I’ve gotten much more responsive when it comes to social e-mail. I think it was a matter of setting aside 15 minutes each day to manage my personal mailbox.

    If you like these kinds of experiments, check out Quantified Self. There are meetup groups around the world – great for show and tell, and great for inspiration.

  • Tracy Kenny (Talecatcher) shares stories about home-schooling and co-schooling. J- goes to school, but that doesn’t mean learning stops there. We help her with homework, we sneak learning into everyday conversations, and we host study groups so she and her friends can get extra practice with math or other subjects.
  • Cate Huston shares her talk on being yourself on the Internet. From time to time, people ask me about personal brands and blogging. I tell people to focus on being themselves and becoming better. Cate does too, but she illustrates her talk with XKCD comics, so I think the end result is funnier.

Lots of interesting posts turn up in my feedreader. I’m thinking of sharing highlights weekly so that I nudge myself to go back and review them, see what I’ve done with the information, and share the ideas with you. Working through my backlog!

From the feeds: Writing, more writing, journalism, and automation

Seth Godin shares how to get past writer’s block by pointing out people don’t get talker’s block. Write every day, even if it’s not brilliant. Low standards are useful. I’m working on writing even more – some posts for my blog, some notes for myself.

Chris Guillebeau writes about writing 300,000 words a year – a book, lots of blog posts, and assorted articles. Writing 1,000 words a day is a great way to use time. I’d like to get better at organizing this stream of ideas, too.

Jonathan Stray shares a computational journalism reading list. I’m interested in analytics, visualization, and using data to help tell stories. The new breeds of journalists are too. Yay!

Lifehacker features the AutoKey text expansion tool for Linux. AutoHotKey for Windows (a different tool) has become one of my favourite ways to automate everything from text shortcuts to transferring information to slides using a template. It boggles me that a similarly geeky tool has not yet become popular on Linux. AutoKey looks interesting. Does anyone know of anything better?

Lots of interesting posts turn up in my feedreader. I’m thinking of sharing highlights weekly so that I nudge myself to go back and review them, see what I’ve done with the information, and share the ideas with you.

From the feeds: Selling benefits, not features; caramel apples; graphic novels for kids

ccattrib_sharealike_2009_llstalteri

Elizabeth Sandberg’s story about a savvy pie pumpkin seller reminds me of the advice to sell benefits, not features.

She wasn’t actually selling pumpkins. She was selling the only remaining ingredient I needed for an easy, award winning recipe — two pie pumpkins. She was selling me what I came to the farmers market for — not individual produce items, but a delicious meal.

Speaking of food, Laura Grace Weldon shares an intriguing inside-out caramel apple recipe on GeekMom. I like the occasional caramel apple, but the store-bought ones are enormous, and we’re slowly phasing out sweets and desserts. This might still sneak into one of our experimental kitchen days, though.

Another GeekMom find: Amy Craft recommends graphic novels geared towards kids. J- likes graphic novels, and has been working her way through the Toronto Public Library’s manga collection.

Enjoy!

Photo of pumpkins © 2010 llstalteri, Creative Commons Attribution License

From the feeds: Friendship, planning ahead, and crossroads

ccattrib_sharealike_trees_2006_lincolnian

One of the great things about spending time with my family is seeing them with old friends, the kind of friendships developed over decades and despite distance.

Mel Chua shares this poem by James Hayford:

Time to plant trees is when you’re young So you will have them to walk among – So aging, you can walk in shade That you and time together made. – James Hayford, "Time To Plant Trees"

Greg Wilson writes about friendship and running partners in life:

In the end, the search for that feeling is the common thread through
almost everything I’ve done. … We are none of us long in this life,
and I think we all want to believe that when we have to run our last
lap, we won’t have to run it alone. I think we all want friends to
keep pace with, day after day, while we’re alive, so that we can be
sure that someone will be out there, still running, when we’re not.

I want to enjoy and be inspired by great friendships through the decades. It’s easy to be insular, but if no man can really be an island (or at least be healthy doing so), I might at least be a peninsula. =)

Speaking of planning ahead, Trent (The Simple Dollar) has great advice on what to do at life’s crossroads. Living a frugal life and keeping expenses down means that we can take more risks, yay.

Photo © 2006 lincolnian, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License