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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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                                            1 How To Start a Conversation with Anyone 2 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context 3 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day 4 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 5 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

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                                            Last Updated on August 12, 2019

                                            How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

                                            How To Start a Conversation with Anyone

                                            The hardest part of socializing, for many people, is how to start a conversation. However, it is a big mistake to go about life not making the first move and waiting for someone else to do it [in conversation or anything].

                                            This isn’t to say you must always be the first in everything or initiate a conversation with everyone you see. What should be said, though, is once you get good at starting conversations, a lot of other things will progress in the way you want; such as networking and your love life.

                                            Benefits of Initiating a Conversation

                                            First thing is you should acknowledge why it is a good thing to be able to initiate conversations with strangers or people who you don’t know well:

                                            • You’re not a loner with nothing to do.
                                            • You look more approachable if you are comfortable approaching others.
                                            • Meeting new people means developing a network of friends or peers which leads to more knowledge and experiences.

                                            You can only learn so much alone, and I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits of learning from others. Being able to distinguish the ‘good from bad’ amongst a group of people will help in building a suitable network, or making a fun night.

                                            All people are good in their own way. Being able to have a good time with anybody is a worthy trait and something to discuss another time. However, if you have a specific purpose while in social situations, you may want to stick with people who are suitable.

                                            This means distinguishing between people who might suit you and your ‘purpose’ from those who probably won’t. This can require some people-judging, which I am generally very opposed to. However, this does make approaching people all the more easier.

                                            It helps to motivate the conversation if you really want to know this person. Also, you’ll find your circle of friends and peers grows to something you really like and enjoy.

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                                            The Rules

                                            I don’t have many rules in this life, for conversation or anything; but when it comes to approaching strangers, there are a few I’d like used.

                                            1. Be polite. Within context, don’t be a creepy, arrogant loudmouth or anything. Acknowledge that you are in the company of strangers and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. First impressions mean something.
                                            2. Keep it light. Don’t launch into a heartfelt rant or a story of tragedy. We’re out to have fun.
                                            3. Don’t be a prude. This just means relax. This isn’t a science and conversation isn’t a fine art. Talk to people like you’re already friends.
                                            4. Be honest. Be yourself. People can tell.

                                            Who To Talk To?

                                            I’m of the ilk that likes to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone has a story and good personalities. Some are harder to get to than others, but if you’re on a people-finding excursion, like I usually am, then everyone is pretty much fair game.

                                            That said, if you’re out at a function and you want to build a network of people in your niche, you will want to distinguish those people from the others. Find the ‘leaders’ in a group of people or ask around for what you’re looking for.

                                            In a more general environment, like at a bar, you will want to do the same sort of thing. Acknowledge what you actually want and try to distinguish suitable people. Once you find someone, or a group of people, that you want to meet and talk to, hop to it.

                                            Think of a few things you might have in common. What did you notice about their dress sense?

                                            Building Confidence

                                            The most important part of initiating conversation is, arguably, having confidence. It should be obvious that without any amount of self-esteem you will struggle. Having confidence in yourself and who you are makes this job very easy.

                                            If you find yourself doubting your worth, or how interesting you are, make a few mental notes of why you are interesting and worth talking to. There is no question you are. You just have to realize that.

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                                            What do I do? What is interesting about it? What are my strong points and what are my weak ones? Confident people succeed because they play on their strengths.

                                            Across the Room Rapport

                                            This is rapport building without talking. It’s as simple as reciprocated eye contact and smiles etc. Acknowledging someone else’s presence before approaching them goes a long way to making introductions easier. You are instantly no longer just a random person.

                                            In my other article How Not To Suck At Socializing, there are things you can do to make yourself appear approachable. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are going to flock to you. You’ll still probably need to initiate conversations.

                                            People notice other people who are having a blast. If you’re that person, someone will acknowledge it and will make the ‘across the room rapport’ building a breeze. If you’re that person that is getting along great with their present company, others will want to talk to you. This will make your approach more comfortable for both parties.

                                            The Approach

                                            When it comes to being social, the less analytical and formulaic you are the better. Try not to map out your every move and plan too much. Although we are talking about how to initiate conversation, these are really only tips. When it comes to the approach, though, there are some things you should keep in mind.

                                            Different situations call for different approaches. Formal situations call for something more formal and relaxed ones should be relaxed.

                                            At a work function, for instance, be a little formal and introduce yourself. People will want to know who you are and what you do right away. This isn’t to say you should only talk about work, but an introduction and handshake is appropriate.

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                                            If you’re at a bar, then things are very different and you should be much more open to unstructured introductions. Personally, I don’t like the idea of walking directly to someone to talk to them. It’s too direct. I like the sense of randomness that comes with meeting new people.

                                            However, if there is rapport already established, go for it. If not, take a wander, buy a drink and be aware of where people are. If there is someone you would like to talk to, make yourself available and not sit all night etc.

                                            When someone is alone and looks bored, do them a favor and approach them. No matter how bad the conversation might get, they should at least appreciate the company and friendliness.

                                            Briefly, Approaching Groups

                                            When integrating with an established group conversation, there is really one thing to know. That is to establish the ‘leader’ and introduce yourself to them. I mentioned that before, but here is how and why.

                                            The why is the leader of a group conversation is probably the more social and outgoing. They will more readily accept your introduction and then introduce you to the rest of the group. This hierarchy in a group conversation is much more prevalent in formal situations where one person is leading the conversation.

                                            A group of friends out for the night is much more difficult to crack. This may even be another topic for discussion, but one thing I know that works is initiating conversation with a ‘stray’. It sounds predatorial, but it works.

                                            More often than not, this occurs without intention. But if you do really want to get into a group of friends, your best bet is approaching one of them while they are away from the group and being invited into the group.

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                                            It is possible, like everything, to approach a group outright and join them. However, this is almost an art and requires another specific post.

                                            Topics Of Conversation

                                            Other than confidence, the next thing people who have trouble initiating conversations lack is conversation! So here are a few tips to get the ball rolling:

                                            • Small talk sucks. It’s boring and a lot of people already begin to zone out when questions like, “What do you do?” or “What’s with this weather?” come up. Just skip it.
                                            • Everything is fair game. If you are in the company of someone and a thought strikes you, share it. “This drink is garbage! What are you drinking?” “Where did you get that outfit?”
                                            • Opinions matter. This is any easy way to hit the ground running in conversation. Everyone has one, and when you share yours, another will reveal itself. The great thing about this line of thought is that you are instantly learning about the other person and what they like, dislike etc.
                                            • Environment. The place you’re in is full of things to comment on. The DJ, band, fashions; start talking about what you see.
                                            • Current events. Unless it’s something accessible or light-hearted, forget it. Don’t launch into your opinion on the war or politics. If your town has recently hosted a festival, ask what they think about it.

                                            Exiting Conversation

                                            Although I’d like to write a full post on exiting strategies for conversations you don’t want to be in, here are some tips:

                                            • The first thing is don’t stay in a conversation you’re not interested in. It’ll show and will be no fun for anyone.
                                            • Be polite and excuse yourself. You’re probably out with friends, go back to them.  Or buy a drink. Most people will probably want to finish the conversation as much as you.

                                            Likewise, you could start another conversation.

                                            If you’d like to learn more tips about starting a conversation, this guide maybe useful for you: How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                                            Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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