30 Things I’ve Learned

  1. Life is not all about money.  In the end, you can’t take it with you anyway.
  2. Do what you must to take care of your food and shelter.  Then do what you love.
  3. Before taking your next step, be certain it will maintain or improve your quality of life.
  4. Be honest, kind and forgiving of yourself and others.
  5. Love those around you as you would want them to love you.
  6. Leave everywhere you go better than you found it.
  7. Everyone has a unique and fascinating story – and they want it to be heard.
  8. Love is a verb.  Do so often, fully, devotedly, and well.
  9. In just 30 seconds, you can say and do things that can *never* be undone.  Stay calm and think before you act.
  10. Life will always provide what you need to have or know before you need it.  Sometimes *just before* you need it.
  11. You don’t need to know the exact path you are going to take to get somewhere.  You just need to know that it is there.
  12. Under-promise and over-deliver.  Your friends, family, coworkers, and customers will be surprised and delighted every time.
  13. Praise in public, reprimand in private.
  14. At least once a day, do something kind for someone you’ve never met.
  15. Be patient with children and the elderly.  Some are seeing the world for the first time; others have seen far too much of it.
  16. You will never “have time” to do the things you love.  Make the time.  Do it today.
  17. Eat healthy and exercise.  Not for vanity, but for the burst of energy and sense of accomplishment you get *every time you do it.*
  18. Look people in the eye when you speak with them – and listen to what they have to say.
  19. Repeat someone’s name immediately after you meet them.  Use it at least twice more within the first conversation you have with them.
  20. The 2 most powerful words in the English language are “thank you”
  21. Music is the fastest way to change your mood.  Keep your favorite songs close by.
  22. When you make mistakes (and you will), apologize for them, and make things right.  Learn from your mistakes and see #4
  23. You are what you *read*
  24. If you don’t know what your goals are, then how do you know you haven’t already achieved them?  Write them down!
  25. The world is a noisy place.  Savor silence.
  26. What others think about you matters far less than what you think about yourself.
  27. Trust your intuition.  Studies have shown that it’s usually right.
  28. Thoughts become words.  Words become actions.  Actions become habits.  Habits become your character.  Your character becomes your destiny.  Change your thoughts to change your destiny.
  29. Smiling at someone can be all it takes to brighten their day.  Plus, it doesn’t cost you a thing.
  30. “Luck” is when preparedness meets opportunity.  Be ready.

Steve Jobs nervous for one of his first television appearances

It’s nice to know that all of us start somewhere.  The video below shows a young Steve Jobs before one of his early television interviews.

The man who now dominates product launches and press events was once a “mere mortal.”  It’s a nice reminder that through our collective successes and failures we become the individuals we are today.  Through perseverance, courage, focus, and discipline, we can overcome our fears, challenge the establishment, and literally change the world.

What is your plan?  In twenty years, how will your personal and professional development impact your friends and neighbors?  How about the world?


Where the new Apple TV got it wrong (and how it can be made right)

The new, streaming-only Apple TVApple just announced an updated Apple TV with some promising new features, and at a $99USD price point, it’s a tempting device, but unfortunately, they missed the mark on several counts.

The new Apple TV is 1/4 the size of its predecessor, a welcome change as most users will need to find space for the device in their already-cramped media cabinets alongside A/V receivers, DVD/blu-ray players, and video game consoles.  It also adds $0.99 TV show rentals, available almost immediately after the show airs (currently limited to Fox and ABC).  Movie rentals are also available in HD starting at $3.99.  Users have up to 30 days to start watching the TV show or movie, and once started, 24 hours to finish watching.   The new Apple TV also includes the ability to stream instantly from Netflix, a much-longed-for feature that has finally arrived.  Finally, the new Apple TV includes HDMI output, although only at 720p maximum output resolution, and eliminates component output ports used in older HD televisions.

Unfortunately, the new Apple TV doesn’t include a built-in hard drive (hence the smaller size).  Previously, users were able to sync all of the music from iTunes on another computer to the Apple TV, and then turn off that computer.  The Apple TV would then be able to play all of that music, along with the users playlists, even while the other computer was turned off.  This resulted in not-insignificant power and costs savings over the course of a year.  Now, with the Apple TV as a streaming-only device, Apple has essentially stripped away one of the most appealing features.  Further, the device, which is designed to support streaming HD video, for some odd reason only includes a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet connection (why not Gigabit?)

In short, here are my Pros and Cons for the new Apple TV:


  • Smaller size
  • Nearly instant TV show rentals at $0.99 each (although we already have this via Hulu for free)
  • Commercial-free TV shows (definitely better than Hulu)
  • Netflix streaming!!! (finally!)
  • HDMI port


  • Rentals only – can’t buy music, TV shows, or movies through the Apple TV
  • Apple TV no longer syncs to existing iTunes libraries, so you must have other computers on and iTunes open in order to listen to the music you already own
  • No component output support
  • Only 720p (not Full HD)
  • Only 10/100BASE-T Ethernet

Suggestions for Improvement

Apple should seriously consider using the micro-USB port on the back of that thing for more than just internal use.  Right now, it’s just wasted space and could easily be used for an add-on accessory camera (rebirth of the iSight?) to bring Face Time to the living room.  Also, 1080p output and Gigabit ethernet are standard at this point, and leaving them out is a regretful omission.

Further, and this has been mentioned countless times over the past few years, what customers really want is a flat-fee, commercial-free television-, movie-watching and music listening experience, similar to Hulu and Pandora, but without the ads.  The ideal would be Netflix + Hulu + Pandora on the Apple TV interface, seamlessly synced to all their devices, commercial-free, with unlimited watching/listening for a reasonable fixed price per month ($30 – $50).  If Apple can bring more networks, labels, and studios onboard, make some carefully calculated acquisitions or agreements, and provide a true cloud-syncing experience for users at a reasonable price, then they will own the future of media.


Overall, Apple has made some impressive design and feature enhancements to the new Apple TV, but certain decisions are questionable.  Regardless, at only $99, the new Apple TV will most likely sell very well.


A Simpler Valentine’s Day

It’s true that Valentine’s Day is more of a Hallmark holiday than anything else.  But I’ll gladly accept any excuse to focus on love and the happiness that it brings.  This year, like many others, I am skipping the cards, chocolates and flowers.  Instead, I am looking forward to an evening at home with a glass of wine and some good poetry.

Looking for something fun, free and simple to do tonight? Print out two copies of the questionnaire below and fill them out with your beloved.  Maybe you’ll learn something new and get ideas for ways to celebrate your love the other 364 days of the year!

Click to download A Simpler Valentine’s Day Lover’s Questionnaire


To Buy or Not to Buy: Needs vs Wants

Marce and I tend to be pretty good at planning our purchases and avoiding “impulse buys”, and I realized that what we’ve developed over the years is sort of an informal decision-making process that helps us determine whether or not it’s time to lay down some cash for an item, and I thought I’d share it here with you.

Essentially, what we have is a 2-part process. First, we determine whether it’s a Need or a Want; then, we determine the best method of getting whatever it is we need or want to buy.

Part 1: Need or Want

The very first question we ask ourselves: “Is this purchase necessary to *maintain* our quality of life?”  If the answer to that is “yes,” then the purchase falls into the Need category; otherwise, it’s a Want.

Some examples include:

  • Brakes on our car
  • Groceries
  • Replacing worn out shoes
  • Dental cleanings

Needs are, as you’d expect, immediately prioritized over any Wants.  If it’s a big ticket purchase and we need to save up for it, that one item becomes the focus of our attention and savings.  Until that Need is satisfied, our Wants are put on hold (with some exceptions).

Part 2: What to do with Wants

Okay, so what if there’s a purchase that is not required to maintain our quality of life?  How do we determine if/how we should buy it?

Well, we ask ourselves a series of questions, as follows:

  1. Will this purchase fundamentally *improve* our quality of life?
  2. Will this purchase save or make us money?
  3. Do we really need to own this item (or can we borrow it from or share it with someone else)?

If the answer to any/all of those questions is “yes,” then it usually passes the “impulse buy” test, and we go through our pre-purchase planning process.

Once we’ve decided that something is worth buying, but not necessarily a Need, we take the following steps:

  • Add the item to our Want list (I like to add it to my Save for Later shopping cart list)
  • Research online to find out if the item has good reviews or if there is a better alternative
  • Compare prices ( is a great general reference, but we also check local stores)
  • Find coupons or discounts ( is great for this!)
  • Save up for the purchase, sometimes for months or years in the case of high price items (In those cases, we re-evaluate the alternatives since in the time we’ve been saving, something better than our original Want may be out there.)

As you can see, this informal process can sometimes take days, weeks, months, or even years, but using this method, we’ve been able to consistently have all of our Needs met, continued to improve our quality of life, and purchased some pretty neat Wants over the years (all while avoiding consumer debt).

To be clear, this is not a strict procedure, but more like general guidelines and considerations.  We’ve also applied this method to purchases other than products/items, such as whether or not to take a trip, so the system is fairly adaptable to different situations.

I’d love to hear if you have any ways to filter your Needs and Wants in the comments below!


Interview with Evernote CEO @ TUAW

I came across this article today at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).  Evernote CEO Phil Libin talks about the history and future of what he calls the “universal human memory extension.”

Now, if they’d only add an “Archive” feature similar to Gmail, I’d be thrilled!

Read the full story @ TUAW


Hulu – Free TV on your Computer

Did you miss your favorite TV shows again last night?  It happens to most of us at one point or another, and up until recently, unless you were blessed to have a Tivo or some other DVR, you were out of luck.  Sure, you could always go to the websites for each of the individual shows, but if they are on different networks, that’s such a hassle!


Save Time on your Mac with Quicksilver

How many clicks or keystrokes does it take you to launch your favorite web browser?  How many seconds does it take?

Most Mac users just add Safari or Firefox to their dock and then when they want to go online, they reach for their mouse, look for the appropriate icon and then click it to launch the application.

Well, if you’re like me, after a while, you end up with over 2 dozen icons in your dock, and over 100 applications installed on your machine.  Trying to find the correct icon in the dock (if it’s even there) becomes a tad tricky, especially if you only use that application once in a while.

The solution: a free utility called Quicksilver.


[CCS2009] Day 1 – Sustainability in Media, Religion, and Anthropology

As expected, the 4th Annual Campus and Community Sustainability conference has brought together a group of exceptional speakers who are presenting on a number of thought-provoking topics.

My first session of the morning, entitled “Sustainability in the Media,” began as an exploration into the (limited) coverage of sustainable stories in the media.  The panelists consisted of radio, television, newspaper, and website correspondents from the Tampa Bay area, and each weighed in on the challenge of reporting during such a dramatic change in the journalism industry.  What started as a focused look at sustainability developed into a sometimes heated exchange regarding the shrinking size of newsrooms across the country and their increasing inability to validate and report on various technical issues due to staff reductions.  We were unable to reach any definitive conclusions regarding the role of the media in educating the public (especially with the growing effect of “blurring the line” between fact and opinion that is taking place at many major news media outlets), but we all agreed that the main focus should remain on fact-checking, vetting, and confirming all sources and stories in order to retain integrity and credibility.


4th Annual Campus and Community Sustainability Conference – October 8th and 9th – Tampa, FL

The annual Campus and Community Sustainability Conference is one of the most fascinating conferences I have ever attended.  It is probably the only place you will find elected city, county, and state officials sitting right next to undergraduate students, business owners, and professors, each of them discussing the importance of creating a more sustainable future for Florida.  With topics ranging from Urban Planning and Design to Organic Gardening, there’s something for everyone.