Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

A tune from my youth:

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Need a Cold one... Fast?

Here's how, from the DLM Blog:

How to Chill a Hot Beer or Soda in 3 Minutes

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 06:03 PM PDT

So my father and brother-in-law were over this weekend for a barbecue. My fridge was stuffed with appetizers and salads so I was only able to fit a 12-pack of beer. Normally, this would have been enough so I didn't worry about it. After a couple hours, the stash was depleted; the old man got into a groove and well, so did we.

I did have some more beer in the garage but the 90+ degree Chicago heat had rendered it useless for at least an hour. Now what? These guys all had designated drivers and, in all honesty, they wanted more beer. Little did I know, the old man had a trick up his sleeve that I had never heard of. If I had a video camera ready, I would have taped this because it was pretty cool (sorry, no pun intended there).

Here is how he took beer from 80+ degrees to (seemingly) 40 degrees in about 3 minutes.
  1. He took 6 hot beers from my garage and he placed them into a steel pot from the kitchen

  2. He tossed in enough ice cubes to completely cover the beer

  3. He then filled the pot with water

  4. Next, and this is the trick, he tossed in (what must have been) 2 cups of table salt.

  5. He took a large wooden spoon and stirred this thing up to be sure the salt dissolved.

  6. He placed the concoction into the freezer and in 3 minutes we had ice cold beer.
Frankly, I wish I knew about this little trick years ago. Apparently this works for wine, soda, or anything. The addition of the salt does something that I am admittedly not qualified to explain. If we have any experts that want to weigh in, feel free. I do however know that this works.

Written on 7/07/20079 by me, Jay White, the founder of Dumb Little Man and an all around average guy.Photo Credit: hizonic

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

9 Lessons + 15 more from Harvey

from his weekly column:

Never stop learning life lessons

By Harvey Mackay

Gordon Dean was an American lawyer and prosecutor whose distinguished career was fairly typical for Washington types. He went to work for the Justice Department under President Franklin Roosevelt, taught in the law schools at Duke University and the University of Southern California. He was appointed as one of the original commissioners of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1949 by President Harry Truman, eventually becoming its chairman from 1950-53.

When Dean died in a plane crash in 1958, it's said that among his personal effects was an envelope with nine life lessons scribbled on the back. These lessons aren't about the law, or atomic energy, or foreign relations. Rather, they represent wisdom that should be shared and used by people everywhere. These are his superb lessons:
  1. Never lose your capacity for enthusiasm.
  2. Never lose your capacity for indignation.
  3. Never judge people -- don't type them too quickly. But in a pinch never first assume that a man is bad; first assume that he is good and that, at worst, he is in the gray area between bad and good.
  4. Never be impressed by wealth alone or thrown by poverty.
  5. If you can't be generous when it's hard to be, you won't be when it's easy.
  6. The greatest builder of confidence is the ability to do something -- almost anything -- well.
  7. When confidence comes, then strive for humility; you aren't as good as all that.
  8. The way to become truly useful is to seek the best that other brains have to offer. Use them to supplement your own, and be prepared to give credit to them when they have helped.
  9. The greatest tragedies in the world and personal events stem from misunderstandings. So communicate!
The reason I'm so impressed with Dean's lessons is that -- besides being written on an envelope - they apply across the board, to all ages in every profession. They are simple yet profound.

Perhaps you remember Robert Fulghum's runaway best seller, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," which the author says reminds us that the most basic aspects of life bear its most important opportunities. Again, the life lessons contained in Fulghum's book are not complicated. It is their simplicity that makes them universal.

You may have noticed that I end every column with a moral -- a life lesson of sorts. Some of those morals resulted from experiences that taught me that I still have plenty to learn. We have all learned some lessons along the way, including plenty from the school of hard knocks.

Through the years I have offered more than 1,000 morals in this column and in my books. Naturally, I have some favorites which have universal applications. Here are my top 15:
  • They don't pay off on effort . . . they pay off on results.
  • People don't care how much you know about them once they know how much you care about them.
  • Make decisions with your heart and you'll wind up with heart disease.
  • Pale ink is better than the most retentive memory.
  • When a person with money meets a person with experience . . . here is what happens . . . the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience.
  • No one ever choked swallowing his or her own pride.
  • Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck
  • If you don't learn from your mistakes, there's no sense in making them.
  • If you think you're irreplaceable, try putting your finger in a bowl of water and observe the hole it leaves when you take it out.
  • People go around all of their lives thinking: What should I buy? What should I sell? Wrong questions: When should I buy? When should I sell?
  • There is a place in the world for anyone who says, "I'll take care of it."
  • Failure is no more fatal than success is permanent.
  • Anger is only one letter short of danger.
  • Ideas without action are worthless.
  • We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.
Mere platitudes? No, these words hold real meaning for me. No doubt you have learned a few lessons too, and I'd love to hear them. I'm always ready to learn something new!

Mackay's Moral: We are all students of life -- pay attention and take notes!

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Video Time: Cats & Treadmill-2

Here's another one.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tech Tuesday Tip

This week's tip is a bit detailed and if you don't have Windows XP running on any of your machines you can move along.

However we have XP installed on several of our radio station computers, along with my wife's desktop and a spare laptop.

Save this info and share it with others. It comes from an email I get each week from

Preparing Windows XP for the long haul

Fred Langa By Fred Langa

Microsoft's support for Windows XP may be fading, but a loyal horde of XP users plans to stick with this venerable OS for as long as possible.

If that's your long-term goal, there are a number of steps you can take now to ensure a finely tuned XP system for months — possibly years — to come.

Windows XP is almost a decade old, which in both computing and dog years makes it very long in the tooth.

Microsoft has officially dropped support and security updates for all XP versions through Service Pack 2. The only version of 32-bit XP that still qualifies for Microsoft's security patches and major bug-fixes is the Service Pack 3 edition. (The relatively rare 64-bit flavor of XP is a special case. See Microsoft's explanation.)

XP has had a long and excellent run, but SP3 is the end of the line.

That said, XP is not dead, and it's still the best OS for older hardware designed with XP in mind. (I have XP on several of my older systems.)

If you're still using an XP box by choice (or necessity), there's lots you can do to keep things humming along until you eventually move to new hardware — which will almost assuredly come with the excellent Windows 7 already installed.

Here are some key steps you can take to get — and keep — your XP system running great! And if you move to Windows 7 (or are also running Vista machines), many of these techniques can also help you.

Start with a thorough XP system checkup

Check the hardware. Hardware? Yes! No operating system can be better than the hardware on which it's installed, and older systems are prone to age-related problems. One often-overlooked problem is dust buildup, which can cause chips and drives to overheat and malfunction. These hardware errors can masquerade as software problems, causing you to waste time troubleshooting the wrong thing.

It's easy to clean your PC. Consult my how-to article, "Getting the grunge out of your PC." (It's a few years old, but still completely apt.) While you have your PC's case open, make sure that all plug-in cards and socketed chips are fully seated and all cables firmly connected.

Check your hard drive's "physical" health. Most new and XP-era drives are equipped with Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, also known as SMART reporting. SMART data is stored within the hard drive itself and can often alert you to impending problems before they get serious.

It's easy to check the SMART data. Two tools I like are PassMark's DiskCheckup (info/download page) and Active@ DiskMonitorFree (download page). Both programs are free for personal use and also come in commercial versions for organizations.

Check your hard drive's "logical" health. Run chkdsk.exe to check the integrity of your hard drive's files and to repair any errors.

Click Start and Run, then type chkdsk c: /f into the Run dialog box. Hit OK.

Chkdsk may tell you that it can't check the drive because the drive is in use. It will then offer to check the drive at reboot. Type Y (yes) and hit the Enter key.

Repeat for all drives/partitions on your system.

Correct driver errors now, while you can. Just as Microsoft is providing less support for XP, third-party vendors are withdrawing support for older hardware. Someday soon, you may discover that the drivers you need are no longer available. Fix problems now!

Boot XP and right-click My Computer. Select Properties, Hardware, then Device Manager. (Or, click Control Panel/System/Hardware/Device Manager.) Click View and select Show hidden devices to make sure you're seeing everything.

Correct any problem indicated by a yellow exclamation mark or a red X; in most cases, you should get correct or updated drivers from the hardware vendor's site.

It might also be wise to save copies of any special drivers your systems needs; burn 'em to a CD or DVD, and tuck the disc away in a safe place.

Review and update your PC's security system

Patch and update XP and apps. Starting with Windows Update, make sure your operating system is fully up-to-date with all necessary patches, fixes, and updates. Do the same for all your non-Microsoft software, visiting the vendor sites to download any new updates and patches for your applications and utilities. A tool such as Secunia's outstanding, free-for-home-use Personal Software Inspector (PSI) (download page) can make this step a breeze.

Verify system security. Regardless of the antivirus and anti-malware tool(s) you're using, visit a competing vendor's site and run their free live or online scan to verify that nothing slipped past your usual defenses.

Next, check that your firewall is providing the protection it should. There are many good, free, online firewall-test sites, such as Hackerwatch, Gibson Research ShieldsUP, and AuditMyPC.

Give your computer a thorough file cleaning

Take out the trash — all of it. Needless file clutter makes a system harder to use and slower to operate. For example, AV scans and Windows' indexing both take longer when they have many junk files to process.

Start by deleting old $NtUninstall{xxx}$ files from XP's C:\Windows folder; these files can occupy a shocking amount of space! You need these files only when a Windows Update fails and you (or the OS) have to roll back your system. If your system is working fine, $NtUninstall files serve no purpose.

Next, wade through your hard drive, folder by folder, making sure files are where they're supposed to be and that you're not storing needless duplicates or other useless files.

Next, uninstall obsolete or unused software.

Finally, use a tool such as Piriform's free CCleaner (site) to rid your drive of useless junk files and broken or obsolete Registry data.

Rein in XP's three worst space-hogs. System Restore, the Recycle Bin, and browser caches are like black holes for data, and your system can run better if you limit their voracious appetites.

System Restore is at best a limited recovery tool, so I don't feel it's worthwhile to devote vast amounts of disk space to it. The Kellys-Korner article, "System Restore for Windows XP," tells you how to manage it.

Windows' default Recycle Bin can consume hundreds of gigabytes on a large drive. Pare this down to a reasonable size by right-clicking the Recycle Bin and selecting Properties. Reduce the size of the Recycle Bin to a smaller percentage of the total disk space. (Click the disk tab — e.g., Local Disk (C:) — to determine its reserved Recycle Bin space in gigabytes.) I set it to around 500 MB (0.5GB) on large disks and 250MB (0.25GB) on smaller ones.

To reduce Internet Explorer's cache size, click Tools and Internet Options. Then, under the Browsing History section, click Settings and adjust the cache size downward to, say, 50MB.

For Firefox, click Tools/Options and then click Advanced. Under the Network tab, look for the settings box in the Offline Storage section.

Chrome's cache-size adjustment uses the command line, as described on a Chrome Help forum page.

Defrag. Once your disk is rid of all unnecessary files and is organized the way you want, run your defragmentation tool to reorder your files for optimal performance. If your disk was badly fragmented, it may take several iterations of defragging to achieve maximum benefit. (Paid subscribers can read an in-depth discussion of defragging in my Aug. 5 column.)

Use disk imaging to preserve your new setup

Once you've worked through all the above, your XP system should be lean, clean, defragged, and fully up-to-date. Wouldn't it be great if you could somehow preserve your PC's current software state so that, should you ever need to in the future, you can bring it back to this nearly perfect condition in just minutes?

You can! Use a disk imaging tool to create a perfect, complete, working copy of your current setup. You'll never again have to rebuild your system and reinstall all your software from scratch!

XP requires third-party disk-imaging software (Win7 has it built in) such as Acronis' U.S. $30 True Image (info page), Norton' $70 Ghost (site), or — my personal favorite for non-Win7 systems — Terabyte Unlimited's geeky-but-powerful $35 BootItNG (info page).

All three programs make disk images and bootable recovery discs that can be used to restore a complete, everything-installed-and-working setup — even to a raw, unformatted drive.

There's plenty of free disk imaging software available, too. For example, see Freebyte's page titled "Free disk image software;" TheFreeCountry's list of "Free hard disk and partition imaging and backup software;" or OptimizingPC's how-to, "Create free bootable Windows XP image disk."

Run through the above steps once or twice a year to keep your system in tip-top shape, and make a fresh disk image from time to time — especially if you make any significant changes to your hardware or software. Store your disk images in a safe place (off the hard drive), such as on CDs or DVDs stored away from your PC.

With this kind of routine maintenance, your XP system will most likely run well for as long as you need it. And, should the worst (major crash, hard drive failure, etc.) happen, you can use your disk images to rapidly restore your system to the near-perfect state you just created.

You're now set for the long haul!

Have more info on this subject? Post your tip in the WS Columns forum.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Video Time: Poll Dancing?

Not really...

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Splurges

This morning I was sitting in the FireFly Coffee shop a couple miles from my home, like I do most Sunday mornings, reviewing email, writing blog posts and talking to friends.

I could get my coffee from McDonalds for less, I could brew it at home for even less than Mickey D's.

But I don't.

It's not about the coffee.

Most days I don't drink the stuff.

My weekday routine involves a Diet Mt. Dew for my caffeine fix in the morning.

It's about the atmosphere, the experience and I will splurge to do this.

Some Splurges don't cost much.

Ever buy your girl a dozen roses, just 'cause?

I'm doing that today and with the deals at the stores these days, you can get them for under $15.
And my wife, being the thrifty person that she is prefers that I pay that amount compared to the $40 or more that a florist would charge.

But that dozen roses is a splurge, no matter how little you pay, because a splurge is not just spending money, but the emotions connected with it.

The DLM blog wrote about this too:

The Tiny Things That Make Us Happy (and Convince Us to Buy)

tiny things that make you happy
My wife and I live in a modest two room apartment. We drive a used car, don’t eat out a lot, and we have a solid budget that we (usually) stick to.

Yet there are still a few things that we splurge on. For example, instead of buying regular plastic carton milk, I like to buy the locally-made organic milk that comes in a glass bottle. This typically runs $1.50-$2 more than the traditional plastic carton version, but I buy it anyway.

Why? Who knows! I know I love it, and even though I’ll maybe have a glass a day and maybe some in my cereal, it’s not a critical part of my life. I could easily go without the ritzy milk.

But I don’t. For whatever reason, this small, insignificant part of my life seems better when I have milk that comes in a glass container. The aesthetics of pouring milk from a glass container as opposed to a plastic carton are quite different.

When I’m creating, there are some things that have to be exact, and some that don’t. I’ll carefully consider the perfect pen and notebook, but I could care less about the location of where I’m creating. I’m really particular about the time of day that I write or create, but hardly ever give a second thought to what I wear.

Sometimes the things that I think mean a great deal never amount to much. Oftentimes it’s the smallest things in life that make me the happiest. The sound of my newborn nieces and nephews sleeping (my sister recently had triplets!),

Does this make sense? Not at first glance.

Think about it this way: if you were going to create something incredible, sometimes the small things make all the difference in the world.

Smart companies like Apple understand this, and even market their products to highlight these tiny things. Take, for example, the redesigned aluminum body on the new Macbooks.

unibody mac marketing

Sure, Apple’s marketing made sure to showcase “nuts and bolts” improvements on the hardware: the new graphics card, the new processor, and longer battery time. Yet they also have a page dedicated (with a video!) to the new process they use to create the aluminum chassis for the laptops. The page highlights the length Apple goes for the small improvements.

Why go to all the trouble to highlight small improvements?

These small, insignificant “features” make people feel a certain way. And emotions are what drive sales, not facts. Tiny, almost unmeasurable details can play more heavily into our thought processes and decision-making than we give them credit.

We are irrational people, after all. Or, at least I am ;)


It’s interesting to learn what small things really matter to me (like shmancy milk), and what bigger things don’t (like owning a house or a new car with all four hubcaps).

Anyway, this is what rolls through my head during a Saturday morning. What do you think? Why do the small things seem to matter so much? All I know is that they do.

Photo by athena

Your Economy

I like Harvey Mackay. I have several of his books, when I started in the business world in 1986, he was one of the authors I read.

He also writes a weekly email:
Downturns can be fair weather for business liftoffs

By Harvey Mackay

The official unemployment rate today hovers around 10 percent -- far higher if you include those who have given up looking. Still . . . things have been worse. The U.S. unemployment rate during the Great Depression reached a high of 25 percent in 1933 and remained above 15 percent through 1940.

Nobody in their right mind would have thought of starting up a business during a rocky, hardscrabble era like that. Or, would they? Research business history from October 1929 through 1940. You'll find some astonishing, I dare say, uplifting facts:
  • Howard Johnson's was a single restaurant until 1932. Through franchising, it was able to add 40 more restaurants by the end of 1936 and had a total of 107 units by 1939.
  • Boeing created the first modern airliner -- the 247 -- in 1933 at the depth of the Depression.
  • Hewlett-Packard originated in a Palo Alto garage in 1935.
  • Hormel introduced its canned Chili in 1936 and SPAM in 1937 while the Depression was in full swing.
  • The Estée Lauder company came into being in 1935.
  • The Carlson Companies -- today a multi-billion-dollar behemoth -- was founded in 1938 by Curt Carlson with a $55 loan.
Well and good, you may say, but this was all before the era of information technology. Remember the face of technology is an ever-changing one.

The world of high-tech audio today may be all about MP-3 and Super Audio CDs.

Back in 1934, while the likes of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson were spraying Tommy guns into the banks of Middle America, the Hammond organ was being invented. This seemingly tame breakthrough revolutionized the sound world from radio broadcasts to church services.

A downturn can spark great things. I've learned more than a few people who lose their jobs in a stalled economy decide to give the "entrepreneurial thing" a shot. They may end up investing their entire life's nest egg on a fling.

In 1975, at the end of another serious recession, Roger Schelper and his buddies decided to open what is today Davanni's -- a unique New York-style pizzeria in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Launching a business, especially in tough times is a high risk play which you should only consider with a cool head, a solid plan and the anticipation you will have to dedicate an incredible amount of personal work and patience.

Here are some of the things Roger learned in his venture that any budding entrepreneur will do well to bear in mind during a downturn or, for that matter, at any time:
  • Research the market carefully. Your chances often hinge on identifying an attractive, unoccupied market niche -- one you have the know-how and raw ingredients to fill with authority.
  • Know the success factors. In the restaurant business, for example, you could be the greatest chef since Julia Child and still end up chowing down your own leftovers. Running a successful restaurant has a 3-course menu: Location. Location. And location. Roger's team zeroed in on a high-density trading area of customers with ideal buying traits, finding an optimum site with the right zoning. They were cooking with all the right ingredients.
  • Be tight-fisted about raises. Starting with your own. Roger clocked 80-90 hour weeks from the get-go. He gave himself his first raise after the business retired a small loan. Get this: This was the first time the business paid him even minimum wage!
  • Do something you love. "If you don't, you won't be able to put in the necessary hours to make the venture work," Roger notes.
Today Davanni's has more than 20 pizza shops and a dedicated customer and employee base. But there's one other fact worth remembering. Roger was the kind of guy who was paying his way from the time he was eleven -- shoveling snow and mowing lawns throughout the neighborhood while he carried two paper routes. So, before you make the leap and open that bed-and-breakfast or sink your savings into a digital widget factory, take a long, hard look at your own track record. Does your past say you really have the makeup to take this kind of a pounding?

Mackay's Moral: Entrepreneurs who make it are usually born entrepreneurs to start with.

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