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Get a Head Start on Windows 8…for Free

Get a Head Start on Windows 8…for Free

    Since we know 57% of you are Windows users

    , sooner or later you are going to upgrade to Windows 8. For some it will be the day it is released, while for others it will be when it comes time to get a new PC. But at some point in the future you are going be in the new environment that is Windows 8.

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    Windows 8 will employ the Metro environment that Windows Phone uses. That means big icons on the screen and no “start” button. There will be a traditional desktop, but it won’t be used very much other than Office apps. Windows 8 will work on both Intel-based and ARM-based processors so tablets will be able to run it. Unlike the Apple ecosystem — where iOS and OSX are not the same as far as user interface — Windows 8 users will be able to seamlessly go from tablet to PC. Like Apple, however, there will be an “app store” that allows the user to buy and download vetted apps. Gone are the days of the wild west of computing, when it was hard to tell if the app you were downloading had malware in it.

    If you are like me you will have the new version of Windows the day it comes out.  And if you are an early adopter Microsoft has made it easier than ever to get a head start on learning the new version of Windows. With that in mind, here are some ways you can get your hands dirty with Windows 8.

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    Download the Consumer Preview

    The consumer preview of Window 8 is what you’ll want to download. Simply choose between the 64 bit or 32 bit version and start downloading. This download is about 2 gigs, so it might take a while depending on your connection speed. You’ll notice that the download will come in ISO form, so if you are a Windows 7 user you can burn the ISO file onto a DVD as a disk image.

    Install in a Virtual Box

    If you do not have a spare PC laying around, I strongly recommend you install the consumer preview in a Virtual Box install. Windows 8 Consumer Preview is nearly finished, but it still a beta version of the finished result so there will be bugs. Installing on a production machine runs the risk of losing data. Virtual Box is free and fairly easy to use. Since you’ll be using Windows 8 in a virtual environment, you’ll notice some lag (and maybe graphics issues). But you’ll get more or less the full effect of the new operating system. If you have more than one monitor you can run your virtual Windows 8 on one of the monitors in full screen and still be able to use your older version of Windows. There are also more uses for using a virtual machine that we’ve told you about in the past here at Lifehack. So it’s not a bad idea to know how to use virtual machines.

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    Install on a Spare PC

    Any PC that will run Windows 7 will run Windows 8. So if you have a computer lying around that is not mission-critical for you, back up your data and format and install Windows 8. This is truly the best way to experience Windows 8 — but, that said. most of us don’t have a computer that is not mission-critical.

    Windows 8 will change the way we think about operating systems. It is wise to get a head start on learning if you can — and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is the best way to do that.

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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