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Things happen on the Net

Things happen on the Net

I had just had an great idea for the post to end all posts at lifehack.org and all I needed was a one really good image to illustrate it. So I go over to my favorite cheap stock photography site – iStockPhoto – only to find the home page gone and this garish octopus ripping the head off some sort of cartoon figure with the message: “iStockPhoto is down for maintenance. Please try again in 15 minutes.” Bummer!

iStockPhoto is down

Then a cold chill ran down my back: just how much of my largely digitalized life was at risk of smashing into the same brick wall?

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I had so gotten used being a Lord of Digital Creation – able to grab cool photos from any one of a hundreds of thousands of photographers all over the globe with the wave of a credit card – and suddenly I’ve been stuffed into the Internet WayBack Machine and now it was 1997 or even earlier.

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Photos. Music! (remember CDs?). Diskettes. Windows 98. The horror!

Getting a grip on myself, I realized:

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  • Every brave new world has brave new problems. Get used to it.
  • The problem wasn’t iStockPhoto; the problem was me making the newbie assumption that what worked yesterday will work today on the net.
  • I could cope.

I admit, I may be being overly dramatic here, but here’s the unvarnished core of this post: Adopting a few new habits and ways of thinking before you need them will serve you well in the Digital World. Like the Internet itself, you need to be able to route around temporary blockages and permanent failures:

  • Email. You send your boss a super critical (your job depends on it) email while they are on the road, with an attachment. Don’t assume she gets it – the spam filter at her hotel may have it for lunch. Send her a “Just to confirm you got it” email immediately thereafter.
  • Web Services. Don’t depend on just one web service for something you need to do your job or live your life – be it iStockPhoto, Yahoo News or even Google. Get to know your alternatives – like imagepick, BBC News and the many Google alternatives at Alt Search Engines.
  • Online Backup Services. Whether it’s .Mac,Mozy or Iron Mountain, backup services can fail, or more likely you forgot to read paragraph 17 and the backups you thought you were doing you weren’t doing. Test your backups, and verify monthly that they are working.

Hopefully, you’ll never get a digital stop sign thrown up in you face when you least expect it. But if you do, a little preplanning and a little preparation will unruin your day. Now, if I could only remember what I was going to post about!

Bob Walsh runs a consulting firm for microISVs and startup software companies at 47hats.com, authored Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality and Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them and is currently working on a secret project.

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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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