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7 Uses for a Virtual Machine

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine

VMWare has announced the release of VMWare Server 1.0 for FREE. Formerly known as GSX server, this product allows you to take a reasonably powerful server (say a box with two processors and 4 GB of memory) and lets you serve up virtual machines. Virtual machines, by the way, are best thought of as little instances of a computer, acting as if it’s a whole computer with network IP and everything, running on a bigger box. So, you can load the software, build virtual machines, and those machines (software) will act like they’re full-fledged computers in their own right.

This isn’t dual-booting or partitioning. You can access these all at the same time. (The more running at one time, the slower things will eventually get). You can network them together with a virtual network switch.

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Who cares? Too techy! Stick with me, kids.

Uses for Virtual Machines

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  • Try new operating systems– Want to try out Ubuntu? Put together a VM (shorthand for virtual machine) and build Ubuntu on it. Suddenly, you can launch and try dozens of operating systems without much hassle.
  • Test your software– Are you the next 37Signals? You can use VMs to try your software or web app or even site design on a variety of boxes by just building virtual machines and running the tests there. Because the “machines” boil down to a couple of files, the cool thing is, you can copy them, you can back them up. You can burn them to a DVD and ship a fully configured system to someone across the globe.
  • Set up an office quickly– Imagine you’re gearing up for a political campaign, or you’re going to build a retail store in a new town. You need an office with a mail server, a print server, a file server, and some desktop systems. You could have your people on the ground go buy a server from the local computer store (or ship one, whatever), and ship them the DVD with your images on it (or a hard drive). About a half hour later, you could have everything configured and running. Imagine emergency management logistics with this in place?
  • Small Biz disaster recovery– This isn’t highly recommended, but it’d work if you’re bootstrapping. Say you’re hosting a few webservers with your amazing app on them. Your house gets hit by lightning. Your site is off the air. Now, imagine that scenario but you’ve got virtual backups of the latest build and configuration ready to install and deploy wherever else you’ve got a point of presence. Poof. You’re online again.
  • Build kid boxes– Build Edubuntu (a kid flavored Ubuntu) on a virtual machine for the kids (the specs I mention above are for heavy users, but you could get away with a lot less if you only ran ONE VM). If (when) things go sour from one too many “tweaks,” just drop the VM and restore from your pristine copy. Talk about easy. You can get them back on the net in under 10 minutes.
  • Backup your system– When you get ready to move from XP to Vista, you can use VMWare to make a backup of your old system. If things go horribly sour, you could have the VM version up and running in short order. By the way, you can have TWO servers, and have a copy of the VM on both. This would give you even more business continuity, should something happen to the server.
  • Save Legacy Systems– Offices and data centers often have an old box around that just can’t be mucked with. There’s additional software you can use to do what’s called a P2V switch, a physical-to-virtual conversion, where the old box’s “image” gets copied onto the virtual machine files, and thus, gives you a hopefully-operational clone of the old grandpa box in the corner.

This is on the techier end of life hacking, I admit, but you might be able to glean some ideas from this that translate to what you’re doing in your own world. And believe me, virtual machines do make your life easier, if you have to work with lots of moving parts. I use the big daddy version of this software in our enterprise systems, and it’s a lifesaver.

And not for nothing, the people who WORK for VMWare (owned by EMC), and who represent them in sales and in customer service, are really nice and helpful. The community around the product is really good. The documentation and forum support is good. This is a robust software you can really put to some good uses.

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Download Squad is where I saw this first, so I’ll give them the link. VMWare.com is where you get this software, but read Download Squad’s thoughts first:

VMWare Server 1.0 Now Free – [via Download Squad]

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–Chris Brogan has 16 years experience in telecommunications and wireless technologies. He attempts to forget about it from time to time by writing for Lifehack.org, and also at [chrisbrogan.com]. For whatever reason, he wants to be a podcaster when he grows up, and does that kind of stuff out of Grasshopper Factory.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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