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The Lifehack 2008 Gift Guide

The Lifehack 2008 Gift Guide

The Lifehack 2008 Holiday Gift Guide

    It’s that time of year again – time to sally forth in search of the perfect gift for the special and not-so-special-but-they’re-family people in your life. Given the economic situation this year, I made up a list with a few criteria in mind:

    1. Nothing crazy expensive. Everything on this list is under $400, and most is way under. Sure, a 48-foot LCD TV would be nice, or a 64 gigapixel DSLR, or that 128-core gaming PC you’ve been looking at for your teen, but in these uncertain times, I felt it would be best to keep things a bit more reasonable.
    2. Lots of style. Good design doesn’t have to be a luxury. In the past, style was what you traded for affordability, but these days it’s easy to find fashionable classics for everyday prices.
    3. Practicality first. With one exception, I tried to find things that your loved ones will actually be able to use regularly – things that will make their lives a little easier, a little nicer, or both.

    Most items link to Amazon for quick shopping, and when I had a choice I made sure they qualified for Prime shipping (Prime members pay about $70 a year for “free” 2-day shipping on every Prime order). Prices are in US dollars.

    Feel free to share your ideas in the comments – let’s help each other make the best of this holiday season!

    Productivity to Go

     

    Acer Aspire One netbook

      Acer Aspire One netbook

      This tiny laptop, barely bigger than a hardcover book, packs everything you need to work wherever you might find yourself. 1/6 GHz Atom processor, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB hard drive, and built-in wi-fi power a laptop with one of the larger keyboards available on a netbook and a lovely 8.9” screen. Runs Windows XP (although there’s a Linux-powered model for about $20 less). ($350)

      Fujitsu Scansnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner

        Fujitsu Scansnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner

        Small enough to travel just about anywhere, the ScanSnap is favored by paperless office devotees for its ease of use. Powered by your computer’s USB port, the ScanSnap scans documents directly to PDF, allowing instant capture of important papers, receipts, articles, and whatever else you want to keep. ($360)

        RichardSolo 1800 portable charger for iPhone

          RichardSolo 1800 portable charger for iPhone

          The geek’s charger, the Richard Solo 1800 is stylish and functional, providing just about a full charge to your iPhone’s famously short battery life. If that strikes you as all too pedestrian, consider this: it also has a built-in LED flashlight and laser pointer. Useless, of course, but doesn’t the uber-geek in your life deserve something useless and shiny? ($70)

          SimpleTech Signature Mini 250GB Portable Hard Drive

            SimpleTech Signature Mini 250GB Portable Hard Drive

            250 gigabytes in a case smaller than your Hipster PDA? Tiny, sleek, and sexy as hell – that’s some kind of backup! ($85)

            TomTom ONE 125 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator

              TomTom ONE 125 3.5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator

              The Tom Tom one is a super-affordable yet full-featured GPS, with full US maps and points of interest, turn-by-turn directions using built-in voices or downloadable “celebrity” voices, and both “official” and community-contributed updates. ($100)

              Practical Productivity

               
              Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen

                Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen

                Perfect for students and people who attend a lot of meetings, the Smartpen takes taking notes to a whole new level. Sensors detect where you are on the special paper, allowing you to not only capture your analog notes in digital form but control the built-in recorder as well. Notes and recordings can be imported to your computer and even uploaded in sync, meaning that clicking a spot in your notes brings up the recording at exactly that moment. ($200)

                Field Notes “The Kit”

                  Field Notes “The Kit”

                  Field Notes pocket notebooks are thin enough for the back pocket and have great retro, Indiana Jones-y charm. “The Kit” comes with 6 notebooks, 6 wood pencils, 6 ballpoint pens, and a Field Notes mini-calendar. ($27)

                  Asus Eee Box PC

                    Asus Eee Box PC

                    Asus has crammed all the components of it’s popular Eee PC netbook (sans the screen) into this compact desktop computer, perfect for students and other casual computer users, especially when space is tight. ($320)

                    USBCELL AA Rechargable Batteries

                      USBCELL AA Rechargable Batteries

                      Unchain yourself from wall chargers with these AA rechargeable batteries. To recharge, simply pop the top and plug into any USB port! Great stocking stuffers for the gadget geeks in your life. ($20)

                      Staple-Free Stapler

                        Staple-Free Stapler

                        A great stocking-stuffer for the office jockeys in your life, this cute little device attaches up to 5 sheets of paper without a staple. ($7)

                        Epson Artisan 800 Wireless Photo All-in-One Printer

                          Epson Artisan 800 Wireless Photo All-in-One Printer

                          Epson brings its photo printing expertise to the home in this all-in-one printer. Best of all, it’s wi-fi enabled, allowing you to set it up anywhere in your home and print – or even scan – from any computer on the network. Two paper trays allow you to switch from plain to photo paper (or between photo sizes) and Epson’s archival-quality inks produce pictures that will last for decades.($230)

                          Productive Style

                           
                          Give & Take Card Box

                            Give & Take Card Box

                            Anyone who has ever juggled the task of accepting a card from someone while fumbling around for your own cards will appreciate this card case – one compartment holds your cards, the other holds the cards you’re given. Of course, its modern styling doesn’t hurt, either.($20)

                            Blomus Notepaper Roll Holder

                              Blomus Notepaper Roll Holder

                              Keep your thoughts straight with this ultra-modern twist on plain oldnotepads. Addingmachine rolls allow you to jot notes, make lists, and doodle as long as you want! Mounts vertically or can be used on a desk- or countertop. ($25

                              Bubble Calendar

                                Bubble Calendar

                                This giant wall (48”w x 18”h )calendar combines stylish looks with the most satisfying activity known to humankind: popping bubble wrap. Pop each day’s bubble as it passes! ($50)

                                3-Bay Charging Station

                                  3-Bay Charging Station

                                  Another Vat19 product, this charging station has spaces for three gadgets with a concealed power strip underneath and space to hide all those ugly power cords and convertor “warts”. Comes in glossy black finish. ($45)

                                  db clay Version 3.1 Wallet 1
                                  db clay Version 3.1 Wallet 2

                                    db clay Version 3.1 Wallet

                                    db clay wallets combine function and artistry, with beautiful imagery printed onto each waterproof, eco-friendly wallet. They’re already sold out online, but they’re now available in stores; check out their store locator to find a location near you. ($45 – $85)

                                    Just for Fun

                                     
                                    iPod Building Block Speaker

                                      iPod Building Block Speaker

                                      Our friends at Vat19 sell these funky, fun little additions to your iPod accessory case – tiny clip-on speakers for your iPod. They require no batteries, look like Legos, and sound decent given their size. ($20)

                                      xkcd “Actual Size” stickers

                                        xkcd “Actual Size” stickers

                                        Highlight the obvious or mock the small with these snarky stickers from the snarky folks who bring us the xkcd comic strip. (5 ea. 1”, 2”,and 3”, $5)

                                        image

                                          Samsumg YP-S2 1GB MP3 Player

                                          Samsung takes on the iPod shuffle with these cute-as-a-button (and almost as small) 1 GB mp3 players. Available in 5 colors,the S2 plays mp3, wma (including protected wma) and ogg files. Bookmarking allows you to pick up where you left off, making this a nice player for listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

                                          ($34)

                                          Sony Cybershot T700

                                            Sony Cybershot T700

                                            10 megapixels, 4x optical zoom, image stabilization – everything you’d expect from a digital point-and-shoot these days. What sets the T700 apart is two things: it’s super-slim body, of course, and 4 gigs of internal memory, enough to hold thousands of pictures. You can display all those pictures on the big 3 1/2” high-resolution screen. ($350)

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                                            Last Updated on June 12, 2019

                                            Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

                                            Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

                                            Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

                                            With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

                                            #10. Look for Joy in Life

                                            An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

                                            • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
                                            • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
                                            • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
                                            • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

                                            #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

                                            If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

                                            • 13 Movies
                                            • 11 TV Shows
                                            • 5 Words or Phrases
                                            • 19 Personal Stories
                                            • 5 Cartoons
                                            • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
                                            • 11 Comedians
                                            • 7 TV Personalities
                                            • 7 Funny Photos
                                            • 7 People You Know
                                            • 15 of Anything Else
                                            • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

                                            Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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                                            #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

                                            Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

                                            • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
                                            • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
                                            • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
                                            • Times of change or learning
                                            • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

                                            When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

                                            #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

                                            Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

                                            Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

                                            • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
                                            • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

                                            #6. Understand Your Audience

                                            Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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                                            • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
                                            • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
                                            • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
                                            • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

                                            In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

                                            #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

                                            There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

                                            Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

                                            • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
                                            • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
                                            • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
                                            • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

                                            With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

                                            #4. Get over Yourself

                                            Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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                                            You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

                                            • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
                                            • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
                                            • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

                                            Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

                                            #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

                                            The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

                                            As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

                                            • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
                                            • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
                                            • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

                                            #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

                                            If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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                                            Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

                                            Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

                                            #1. Dive into the Fun

                                            Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

                                            • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
                                            • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
                                            • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

                                            Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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