Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Wireless electricity – the ultimate cable control!

Cable clutter, your days are numbered!

Cable clutter, your days are numbered!

Why do they call my printer “a wireless device”? Though it communicates with my computer via bluetooth technology, it still must be plugged into the wall.

Now on the horizon: the promise of a truly cable-free future.

Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity, presented the future of wireless electricity at  the TED Global 2009 conference. (See the entire video here.) Engineers, designers, and scientists are understandably excited by this revolutionary technology. Imagine electric cars that charge whenever they’re parked in the garage!

And believe me, professional organizers are excited, too!

  • The new wireless technology promises to be more environmentally friendly, doing away with the millions of batteries we dispose of each year.
  • The technology would be convenient – no more remembering to charge the smart phone. If it’s in your home, office, car, or wi-fi hot spot, it’s charging.
  • Aesthetics improve. Would you like that flat-screen monitor wall-mounted, with no cords trailing? No problem.
  • Safety and reliability improve as cords disappear.

The technology originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developed by a team of physicists led by Professor Marin Soljacic, who was recognized with a MacArthur “genius grant” last year.

Giler notes that the first question he often gets concerns safety. He answers that the technology makes use of a magnetic field, and does not rely on any kind of radiation, making it completely safe.

What could change for you in a world without cables?

Five productive jobs for Evernote

Evernote‘s logo is the elephant, the creature with a reputation for never forgetting, and it’s true that Evernote allows me to capture tasks and to-dos whenever I think of them and funnel them into my task management system.

Evernote logoThe logo could just as well be a lasso, though, since what Evernote does best is to capture information from multiple sources — web pages, whiteboards, snapshots, twitter messages, scribbles, and notes; display it on your computer or smartphone, or on the web; and sort it.

While some new tech tools make us scratch our heads and wonder why, the uses for Evernote are immediate and obvious.

Here are a few really useful things that Evernote can do.

1. When a client asked for help setting up a new and bigger filing system in their new headquarters, I searched online for storage options for large paper media such as surveys and architectural plans. I tagged each entry with the client’s name. Then the client and I sat down at their computer and looked at all the options I had found for them, with no hit-and-miss web searches along the way. The client was able to see the styles and prices available and make a fast decision.

2. While working remotely with a colleague, she wrote on a whiteboard, snapped photos of the board, and loaded the photo into Evernote. Because access to Evernote is available on the web, computer (Mac and PC), and mobile phone, and because Evernote recognizes text in the image, I could access the notes and search them to use in my part of our project.

3. When I planned a recent trip to the Napa Valley, I captured websites of restaurants, wineries, chocolate shops, and olive oil producers. I photographed wine labels to remember. I pasted reviews and “top 10” lists, all tagged with the name of the trip, plus “travel”, “wine”, “reservation”, and a few other words. While on the road, I used my iPhone to check the reservation confirmation for the Schramsberg winery tour and click the link to get the exact address.

4. When a friend flew out of the airport a few hours before her husband flew in, she used her smart phone to photograph the location of the parking space where she’d left the car and pasted it into Evernote. When her husband landed, he accessed the note on his phone, saw where the car was waiting, and drove it home, trading a few hours’ parking for two taxi fares.

5. Evernote could make a searchable recipe file,  with scanned or downloaded recipes tagged with main ingredients, cuisine, and appropriate course.

The basic service is free; a premium service, with no ads, more collaboration capability, and more file types synchronized, costs a modest $5 a month or $45 a year — who knew you could keep an elephant for peanuts?

Have you used Evernote? Tell us what it does for you by leaving a comment here.

Four no-excuses ways to exercise for better productivity

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish. – Charles Dickens

Balancing stress and recovery is essential to high performance, and I am in need of a tune up before I, in the words of Dickens, “explode and perish.”

<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbwalker/381143282/in/set-72157594536673233/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=Yesterday I sat on a rock at Pescadero Beach, watching the waves give my ankles an icy bath, then retreat, pulling the sand from beneath my feet. The waves were mesmerizing, yet I was struggling to sit still for more than a minute. My mind and my body were both unfocused and twitchy. And I know why: I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon.

In their book The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz write that one of our most essential needs as human beings is to spend and recover energy. Lately, I’ve been spending all my emotional and mental energy without recovery while spending very little physical energy. It’s a toxic combination.

It’s not all my doing, of course. Sometimes life throws a lot our way, in my case a parade of welcome and unwelcome changes beginning with a canceled vacation in early June. So now it’s time to hit the reset button and recover my productivity by recommitting to physical exertion, along with an extra dose of mental recovery.

If you, like me, need to make physical activity a priority, here are four no-excuses programs to make it happen every day.

1. Walking

Accusplit pedometer (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Accusplit pedometer (photo courtesy of Amazon)

The simplest, and the one endorsed by Dickens, is walking. Open your front door and exit. Keep going for 15 to 30 minutes, maybe longer, then turn around and go back. If you’d like to include some fancy equipment, spend about $20 on a pedometer so that you can count your steps. Aim for 10,000 a day.

If it’s too dark or too wet out, consider a rebounder.

2. Rebounder

Bola Odulate, a marketing specialist and owner of Evangelist Marketing, has been using a rebounder for years. Every day she logs at least 20 minutes on the small trampoline-like equipment, jogging in place. The very low impact aerobic exercise was recommended to her by Dr. Robert Young, co-founder of the pH Miracle. Adherants say that rebounding is good for improved bone density, lymphatic health, and balance, as well as aerobic benefits.

(photo courtesy of HealthBounce.com)

(photo courtesy of HealthBounce.com)

In the intervening years, she has worn out a set of springs through consistent use and had to replace them.

Rebounders vary in quality. Good ones are available for under $250. Look for one with sturdy construction, replaceable springs, a support bar, and a design that allows for easy folding. One good source is ReboundAir.

If you’d like more strength and flexibility training in addition to aerobic exercise, consider a Nintendo Wii Fit.

3. Wii Fit

Professional organizer Janine Adams, owner of St. Louis-based Peace of Mind Organizing, did some calculations.

“I’m truly a couch potato,” confessed Janine. “You pay to belong to the Y, and then you don’t go.” She looked at the Nintendo Wii Fit, and decided that the video system suited her style.

Four activities of Wii Fit (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Four activities of Wii Fit (photo courtesy of Amazon)

The basic Wii Fit includes four categories – yoga, strength, aerobics, and balance. Janine’s favorites are the balance exercises, including slalom skiing, snowboarding, and “table tilt”, a labyrinth game played with the whole body.

Clocking 30 minutes every morning with her Wii, Janine stays motivated by entering stamps on the calendar for every day she works out, then keeps herself motivated to see how long she can keep an unbroken chain of days.

The initial cost of the Wii plus the Wii Fit (which includes the balance board and controller) is currently about $ 340 at Amazon.

If you like the core strength of Wii, but would like a teacher to go with it, consider The Bar Method.

4. Bar Method

Currently available in just a few states, I rely on Bar Method classes to build strength and maintain aerobic fitness. I have impressed my soccer- and softball-playing great-nieces with my pushups, and for getting rid of the shoulder hunch that comes from a day at the computer, Bar Method is excellent. Classes do include some stretching, especially some deep and effective hip flexor stretches.

(photo courtesy of Bar Method)

(photo courtesy of Bar Method)

I have described the 60-minute classes as “one hour of agony followed by 23 hours of feeling supremely virtuous.” Despite the quip about agony, I consider the classes to be very safe. I have known people who injured themselves in yoga and pilates classes. Though it is more strenuous than either, I have not yet encountered an injury at the Bar Method.

The Bar Method offers unlimited monthly classes for about $250 at most studios, ten class packages for about $210. Though it is the spendiest option of the four, I love the Bar Method for its ability to  produce big results for the time invested.

Do you get regular exercise? Is so, what’s your routine and why do you like it? If not, what’s your excuse? Have you, like me, neglected exercise recently? Are you ready to get back in the game?

%d bloggers like this: