Archive Page 2

Voicemail Usability: T-Mobile Doesn’t Get It

Aside from my general distaste for the voicemail aspect of my T-Mobile service, their voicemail “menu helper” must be taking some crazy pills. By “menu helper” I’m referring to the kind lady who says “To replay this message, press 1″, etc etc. The problem is that the kind lady spouts off 3 useless actions before getting to what I want to do. I’m told how to forward, call back, and page before I’m told which number to press to simply delete the message. Seems I would be told how to delete the message and most by the 2nd option. But I digress. Maybe one day they’ll get it.

Tips for getting to sleep faster & sleeping better

For practically all my life I’ve had trouble going to sleep. I’m not an insomniac…I just think a lot. I’ll lie in bed thinking about what I want to do tomorrow or what I should have done today or how much I love eating cold pizza or how absurdly messy my desk is….you get the idea. And when I say I have trouble going to sleep…I’m not talking 20 or 30 minutes…I’m talking 2 or 3 hours. Because what will happen is after about 45 minutes to an hour of trying to go to sleep, I start thinking about how I’m not asleep but I should be…and thus the cycle begins.

Now, I may be a bit of an extreme case here, but I know for a fact that there are others out there who have trouble going to sleep. So, I’ve pieced together various bits of advice I’ve received over the past few months that have not only helps me get to sleep faster, but helps me get a better nights sleep.

  1. Don’t watch TV or even so much as look at a computer screen atleast 30 minutes before you lie down. The light from both a television as well as a computer monitor mimic the same intensity of light as sunlight. This fools your body and brain into thinking it’s nowhere near time for sleep.
  2. Drink milk. Milk has an amino acid in it called Tryptophan that increase the levels of serotonin and/or melatonin in the brain which slow down brain activity. It’s science folks.
  3. Go to bed when you are tired. Different strokes for different folks here. Just because your wife goes to bed at 9PM doesn’t mean you are ready. You might only require seven and half hours of sleep while she might require ten. If you aren’t tired, do something low-key until you are, like read a book, play solitaire (NOT on your computer), or play with some legos.
  4. Reserve the bed for bed things (ie sleep and sex). I for one don’t strictly follow this rule as I’ll read some before I go to sleep, but for some people this is a must.
  5. Meditate. No, don’t cross your legs and hum, but focus on relaxing…if that makes sense. Take deep, long breaths. Tense each muscle one at a time from head to toe. Focusing on doing this takes your mind off of other things and you’ll be in lala land in no time.
  6. Excercise during the day. I emphasize during the day. Excercising at night just gets everything going instead of shutting down for sleep. But excercising during the day tires the muscles out and makes for a solid nights sleep.

These are the majority of the things I have either tried or actually do routinely. What are some things that have worked for you?

(Note, this was originally posted by me over at To-Done, but since To-Done is shutting it’s doors I thought I’d move the content of my posts there, to here…I hate seeing good tips go to waste!)

Business Goals for 2006

I always find it both interesting and useful to set goals for the year to come.
At any rate, here are some goals:

  1. Launch and turn a profit with Fugitive Toys
  2. Redesign/Rebrand The Apple Blog
  3. Redesign/Rebrand/Refocus/Relaunch Indie Riot
  4. Launch Mediajot and have 1,000 paying users
  5. Rely soley on Sabotage Media endeavors for income (as opposed to client work)

And there we have it. At this point it’s a fairly short list. None of these goals are really things that I could sit down and do in a day or even a week. They take time and dedication. And time, dedication, and a freaking ton of work are what will make these few goals so rewarding.

When setting goals, think both big and small. The goals I’ve mentioned are the large, overall goal. But also be sure to set small “sub-goals” if you will. For instance, on turning a profit with Fugitive Toys I’d set monthly sales goals. You get the idea.

Tops of 2005

So everybody’s got their top whatevers of the year…and I’m a sucker for bandwagons. So here we are.

Top 6 Albums

  1. Chasing Victory - I Call This Abandonment
  2. As Cities Burn - Son, I Love You At Your Darkest
  3. Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree
  4. Acceptance - Phantoms
  5. Emery - The Question
  6. The All-American Rejects - Move Along

Top 2 Books - Note…these books were released prior to 2005…but I used them the most in 2005…and that’s what counts

  1. Sonic: Visuals for Music
  2. Taschen’s 1000 Favorite Websites

Top 1 Personal Computing Device

  1. Dual 2.0Ghz Powermac G5

Top 4 Significant Events

  1. Marriage
  2. Moving to Denver, CO (from Mississippi)
  3. Getting a dog…not just any dog…a pug…you can hardly even consider them a dog
  4. Going full-time with Sabotage Media

Top 3 Beverages

  1. Mountain Dew
  2. AriZona Green Tea
  3. Starbucks Caramel Macchiato

Top 6 9 Apps

  1. Adobe Photoshop CS2
  2. Adobe Illustrator CS2
  3. Macromedia Dreamweaver 8
  4. Adium
  5. CocoaMySQL
  6. Quicksilver
  7. Macromedia Flash 8
  8. Mail 2.0
  9. Studiometry

Die branding! Die!

Okay…branding shouldn’t die. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it showed up at the most inconvenient of times.

I, like millions of other loving husbands, purchased my wife fun goodies. And I did it all from the comfort of my leather office chair. The process took all of 10 minutes and I didn’t wait in a single line or have to awkwardly hand the check-out lady “female” attire. Great for me, right?

Well not really. 3 days after the easiest purchases of my life my wife walks in the door with 2 packages in her hand that she just picked up outside from the delivery man. Initially this isn’t so bad. The bad part comes in when the packages she hands me are completely covered in the logos of the 2 stores they came from.

To those companies, and any others shipping out items around Christmas, how about you not plaster your boxes with your logo for the entire month of December…seriously. It would keep you from being the evil grinch who spoils Christmas and I’d like a lot more and me liking you or not is extremely important.

Chuck Norris is my hero

A good friend of mine emailed this to me a while back and it’s quite possibly the funniest stuff…ever.

About Chuck Norris:

1. Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.
2. Chuck Norris once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean.
3. Chuck Norris does not have AIDS but he gives it to people anyway.
4. Chuck Norris has yet to get a Jeopardy question wrong. Jesus has missed two.
5. Rather than being birthed like a normal child, Chuck Norris instead decided to punch his way out of his mother’s womb. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard.
6. When Chuck Norris plays Oregon Trail his family does not die from cholera or dysentery, but rather roundhouse kicks to the face. He also requires no wagon, since he carries the oxen, axels, and buffalo meat on his back. He always makes it to Oregon before you.
7. Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK’s head exploded out of sheer amazement.
8. A man once asked Chuck Norris if his real name is “Charles.” Chuck Norris did not respond, he simply stared at him until he exploded.
9. Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.
10. The original theme song to Transformers was actually “Chuck Norris — more than meets the eye, Chuck Norris — robot in disguise,” and starred Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a pick-up. This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.
11. To prove it isn’t that big of a deal to beat cancer. Chuck Norris smoked 15 cartons of cigarettes a day for 2 years and acquired 7 different kinds of cancer only to rid them from his body by flexing for 30 minutes.
12. Chuck Norris was the fourth Wiseman. He brought baby Jesus the gift of “beard.” Jesus wore it proudly to his dying day. The other Wisemen, jealous of Jesus’ obvious gift favoritism, used their combined influence to have Chuck omitted from the Bible. Shortly after all three died of roundhouse kick related deaths.
13. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
14. Chuck Norris once shot a German plane down with his finger, by yelling, “Bang!”
15. The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.
16. Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
17. If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

Daily routine and focus

Do you have a routine/schedule that you try to follow each day? I know for me, being self-employed requires large doses of discipline and motivation. A routine, of some sort, helps keep me in check and from just hitting refresh on my RSS feeds all day (I’m an information junkie).

Generally, I’m not really a creature of routine. I usually find that term associated with monotony and boredom. But here, in this case, it actually brings some freedom to my work day.

So what’s my routine?
1) I get up at 6:30AM every Monday thru Friday. Period. It’s pretty easy to make excuses to sleep 30 more minutes when your alarm is screaming at you, but this first thing is a must.
2) Shower. Some people are night shower people, but if I don’t have a shower in the morning then I don’t wake up.
3) Breakfast. At this point my wife is frequently off to work already and so sitting at the dinner table by yourself gets a bit lonely. This is when I usually head to my desk and start browsing through the various RSS feeds I subscribe to and doing some casual reading as well as catch up on the plethora of message boards I’m involved with.
4) Email. After my relaxing breakfast and news reading, the work day begins. At this point it’s usually between 7:45 and 8AM. The first thing on my agenda for the day is email. I read through all of the items in my inbox and then delete and/or archive what doesn’t need any sort of action. Then I respond to what needs responding to. After this I do the same with voicemail.

At this point my work day is off to it’s official start. One major key to actually having a productive workday is to actually…yes…work. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked much or next thing you know you’ll have followed 37 different links and read 56 different articles and it’ll be lunch and you won’t have a single hour of profitable work to show for it.

I think one of the main keys to a productive day is focus. There is just so much information on the web that it’s easy to get into a little bit of information overload. With 97 RSS feeds that updated every 30 minutes and your email auto-checking every 30 seconds, it’s no wonder we find ourselves stressed out with to much on our plate…we’re pilling the stuff on as fast as we can.

So what do we do? We focus. We focus not just our mind on the task at hand, but we also focus our information intake. Clear out those RSS feeds you don’t really read and set your email to only check every 20 minutes. You and your overloaded mind will thank you.

Holding a contest: How to get free stuff to give away

The Overview

Over on one of the sites I run we’re having a huge contest where we’re giving away over $1500 in stuff in the winner. Did we shell out $1500 to buy the stuff to give away? Heck no. And we’re not just giving away 800 small items donated by small companies. We’re giving away items from Wacom, Adobe, Computer Arts, and iStockPhoto. So the question lies, “How did you get all of those companies to give you stuff for free?” Ah, good question.

First, what exactly we’re giving away, just so there is no confusion:
1) Wacom 4×5 Graphire3 tablet
2) Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium
3) A one year subscription to Computer Arts
4) iStockPhoto goodie bag (free credits, tshirts, bags, etc etc)

That’s it…just those 4 things. Also note that I didn’t have a single contact with any of those companies other than the fact I use their products.

The Process

So what’s the process for getting this sort of thing? Well it’s actually fairly simple.

  1. First, come up with a contest or giveaway idea. Decide what it will actually be…a contest or a giveaway. Will the participants actually need to complete some sort of task (write a review, design something, etc)? Or will they just simply need to send in their email address or register on your forums? Write your details down. And by “details” I mean every little aspect you can think of. From deadlines to file sizes and more.
  2. Second, 5-6 weeks ahead of your contest date, compile a list of the companies you’d like to be involved in your contest. Do you think the new The Movies game would be a killer giveaway for your movie community? Then add Lionhead Studios to your list. At this point all your doing is making a list, you’re not contacting a soul just yet. I would also advise going ahead and actually getting contact info for each company, just to save yourself some time. You’ll want the contact info for the marketing/PR department.
  3. About 3-4 weeks out from your contest, start contacting the companies on your list. I’d advise calling over email as your first attempt at contacting. The marketing/PR folks get tons of email from people everyday and your chances of actually getting a response (and a positive one) are much more likely if you can get a hold of them on the phone. But make note, do them and yourself a favor and cut right to the chase. Don’t talk about the weather or what you did this weekend. Tell them quickly what it is you’re calling about. Something like, “Hi, this is Josh from SITE NAME. We’re doing a contest over here and would be interested in involving COMPANY NAME in the contest in some way.” At this point they’ll either say “No, thanks” and hang up or inquire more about the contest as well as your site. Be prepared with site details such as traffic and demographics and make sure you have your contest details handy.

    While you’re explaining all the details of the contest be sure you don’t forgot to hit on a very important point…how will this contest benefit them? As nice as people can be, Adobe isn’t going to want to give $1000 worth of software just because you are nice to them. They need for this contest to benefit them more than it benefits you. So be sure to come up with some way to really push the companies that are involved and let them know that you plan on pushing them and that this really will benefit them.

  4. At this point, if everything goes as planned, you’ll have yourself a few nice prizes to give away in your contest. Most companies will just ship the product to you and let you ship it out to the winner. You’ll do yourself a favor if you keep them up-to-date on how the contest is going as well as when it’s over and who the winner is. Many times they’ll like to send the winner a little “congrats” email or letter. Plus, keeping them up-to-date will generally form a good relationship with them for future contests.

The Closing

What is so great about a contest is that pretty much everybody wins. You get increased traffic, the prize providers get publicity, and the winner(s) of the contest get some sweet gear. So what are you waiting for? Get that contest moving!

Shower ideas

All to often I find myself thinking of great ideas at the most inconvenient times…specifically when I’m in the middle of my morning shower. Half the time I forget my idea by the time I make it to my desk. So what does that mean? That means I’ve potentially lost THE idea that could solve world hunger. Well okay…maybe not something that extreme, but still important nevertheless.

So how do we solve this problem? We write down our ideas in the shower! Obviously the problem comes in when our trusty paper and pen don’t exactly make friends with water. So to fix that, you simply get a hold of something that not only can take the beating of water but also lets your write on it. Who has/uses something like this? Scuba divers no less!

This Divemaster slate is the perfect answer to that and works wonders:

Simply scribble your ideas right in mid-pit-scrub and then once you’re done showering, take your notes right to your desk! Simple as that!

Last.fm

Not sure if you have/haven’t checked out Last.fm…but you should. It tracks what you listen to and does sweetness things like create personalized radio stations. Here’s my profile.