Jabra Bluetooth Headset

OK, I feel bad giving this thing any criticism since I haven’t actually used it, but I would like to know how you’re supposed to read the display with the set jammed in your ear.


Am I expected to take it in and out? How about a voice that reads the phone book entry name or phone number instead to help with my decision to take the call? Ooh, or maybe a HUD that emblazens a picture of the caller on my retina! Thoughts?

Quick GTD with Gmail Tip

Check out this beautiful little URL: fancy!

This brings me to my Next Action list.

Big deal, right? Well let’s rope in some other technology (that I’m already using) to sweeten the pot of gold:

  • I posted the aforementioned URL into del.icio.us (a social bookmark manager that you definitely should be using) so it can be accessed easily by me from anywhere.
  • Since my Firefox installations all have a live bookmark on the bookmark toolbar to the RSS feed of my del.icio.us “daily” tag, I tagged the Gmail Search for Starred messages URL as “daily.” Since I perform a Firefox “Open in Tabs” on my “daily del.icio.us” live bookmark at least once a day, I have an automatic actions review reminder.
  • Since I use Quicksilver to launch applications do all of my work for me, and I have the del.icio.us module installed, I can now type: “cmd+space, a, c, t” and have my action list in seconds.

Wow, I’m easily excited.

Wachovia’s Brilliant Customer Disservice

I’ve a new Evil Empire for the list: Wachovia. I know that they’ve always been evil, but I wasn’t a customer of theirs until a few weeks ago when they finally completed their acquisition of Southtrust Bank.

The first shameful act of Wachovia is that they purchased and squished one of the best financial institutions I’ve ever done business with. Southtrust employees were courteous, their service was excellent, their product offering was wonderful, and my experience with them was just wonderful as a whole.

The second shameful act of Wachovia requires a bit of backstory…

To prevent little cash flow hiccups, my wife and I set up a line of credit on our Southtrust checking account and paid a small enrollment fee to eliminate a per-transfer charge for automatic transfers from our line of credit. This service was wonderful because we have a number of auto-draft bills that get paid all at once during the month rather than being evenly split between paychecks. Sometimes we’d drop to the red the day before payday and this would prevent NSFs (for free) and we’d pay the debt back in a day or two.

Wachovia doesn’t care. It has been my understanding that when you buy a business, you buy their liabilities as well. Southtrust offered this service to us on a per-year basis. We’ve paid for our year, which doesn’t end for several more months. Wachovia doesn’t care. I talked to a “Wachovia Representative” on the phone who was able to give my $5 back and then reiterate (in her own words) the aforementioned mantra of this fine bank (read: Evil Empire): “Wachovia doesn’t care.”

In the end, what they do is what they do. The minute I heard that my wonderfully customer service oriented bank was being bought by this giant, I started my search for a new financial institution for my day-to-day banking. This transition is nearly complete, so I need not worry about my $5 a pop transfer fee again.

So, to Wachovia: You had your chance and you blew it. Now, Bryan doesn’t care.

Out here in the fields…

…I fight for my meals.

I could probably write a book quite effective at helping people prevent making the same mistakes that I have made in the past 8 years or so. This is especially true for financial mistakes. Considering a book deal is pretty much out of the question, I’ll drop a few tips here.

Many of these are common sense. To many you’ll reply “duh, Bryan.” But even if you’ve considered every one previously, it may help to see someone vouch for their validity. These should be especially helpful for those of you just graduating from college. Many of you have student loan debt. Many of you have something worse: leftover debt from the last couple years of college when you said to yourself “Oh, I’ll have a job soon to pay this off.” Many of you now have a job that pays you twice (or more) what your parents made when they graduated. This described me well. And after making plenty of mistakes, I can tell you how to deal with it.

What not to do…

  • Don’t act like you’re rich, think like you’re rich. – You aren’t rich. Your offer letter may seem to be a gold mine relative to your old college retail job, or even your posh internship but the real world is expensive. You’ll soon see that if you don’t consider every dollar you spend, it will be all gone and you’ll rely on Citibank to buy your groceries.
  • Don’t go buy a new car. – Overheard at college graduations everywhere: “Dude, my starting salary will pay for a Boxter!” Dude, no it won’t. It’s all too easy to forget that you have to pay taxes, buy groceries, and have somewhere to live. If you absolutely need a new car, go buy a reputably reliable car off of lease, program, fleet, or whatever else you can find. A year-old car has already taken its near 40% depreciation hit. Buying new basically puts you upside down on your financing instantly.
  • Don’t fully fund your retirement account. – This happens to by my biggest regret. Read carefully: if your employer matches money into a tax deferred savings plan of some sort (401k, etc.) then you’d better be contributing up to that matching amount. It’s free money! However, if you’ve still got debt (I know you do – remember student loans, auto loans, mortgage, credit cards, store cards, etc.) then the measly return on a 401k that you’ll see in thirty-five years is far outweighed by your annual finance charges. Fully funding your retirement is important, but only after you’re debt free.

What to do…

  • Pay for what you need in cash. – If you can’t afford it, then you don’t need it.
  • Eliminate debt, and then save. – Saving and building wealth through assets is very important. However, there are very few invesments that will outgrow your debt, and those are very risky. Pay it off, smallest first. If you maintain a list of your debt (liabilities) it’ll be empowering to check those demons off the list. The old saying “money makes money” is true, but mathematically, if money in the black makes more money in the black, money in the red makes more money in the red.
  • Educate yourself.Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey are two wonderful books that will inspire you to buckle down now, and enjoy a wealthy life later.

What gives?

Robert T. Kiyosaki calls it “charity.� Catherine Ryan Hyde calls it “paying it forward.� Christians call it “Love.� The basic principle seems to be this: Give away what you’re good at, what you need or what you hold close to your heart and the eventual reward will be greater than your initial gift.

No matter how you look at this – academically, spiritually, sociologically, or through personal emotions – you’ll see that while the process of giving of yourself is counterintuitive, the logical product of selflessness is self-benefit.

  • Academically, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay it Forward shows how, mathematically, if each recipient of your ‘gift’ pays 3 new recipients, statistics are good that you’ll be paid as well.
  • Spiritually, charity and gifts of love offer the greatest reward: unity with God. I won’t go too much into specific theology here, but every world religion I have any knowledge of puts a high priority on how loving and giving can only result in a greater gift.
  • Sociologically, there’s a unified societal psyche, if you will, that benefits from individuals freely giving of themselves. Drawing from the statistical statements above, what if everyone treated each other that way? I’m not calling for utopia here, but why not do what we can?
  • Personally, what brings more joy than the ability to give a gift? I can think of few examples of pure joy that even come close to gift giving. Many wealthy people are criticized for donating wings on hospitals, buildings on university campuses or fancy pipe organs in churches because they want to “show off their wealth and get their name on something.â€? I say “good for them.â€? If they really just want recognition, they can plaster their names on billboards; it would probably more exposure for less money. If you’ve criticized someone for their charity, it might be time for you to make a donation.

Thank you, Jonathan. Your gift was well received.


According to answers.com there are two mathematical definitions for an intersection:
1. The point or locus of points where one line, surface, or solid crosses another.
2. A set that contains elements shared by two or more given sets.

In all of the tasks, people and places that make up life, sometimes intersections can save us time, but we often overlook them.

My friend and colleague, Jonathan is traveling soon. Since his last moleskine is nearly full, he considered rush shipping a new one for the space to adequately journal his travels. I had an extra, and offered it to him as a solution so he wouldn’t get robbed on shipping charges. He found an intersection.

This is good; however, I missed the next intersection. My wife was coming into town (we work ‘in town’) to drop off our daughter at my office for the afternoon. Why didn’t I think to have her bring the moleskine to the office with her? I predict that we miss lots of these intersections that would save us plenty of time. I’m sure there is some extremely over-studied facet of psychology that attempts to explain all of this, but it’s a phenomenon that has only recently surfaced in my conscious.

How can we save time by noticing these intersections and acting on them in time? My example intersection was obvious to me only when it was about 10 minutes too late: the “why didn’t I think of that earlier?” zen-slap.

Hopefully in the future I can post ways to hack into that part of the mind, but for now please offer your suggestions.

An Antithetical Matter

It has been brought to my attention by friends, people I’ve never even met and by the little voice in the back of my head that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. While this is true, there is good reason.

I set out here to offer, support, and field good ideas on productivity and on making life better for like-minded people. Productivity is a high aim.

I could probably find a reason to post every day.

Since my posts on GTD with Gmail, my readership has gone way up, and it seems I’ve stumbled across even more clever ways to implement GTD. I’ve seen several people bouncing all over the place on their implementation schemes. I won’t spell out the irony. Merlin and others noticed it and posted on it before I did. Expounding would be unnecessary.

My goal here isn’t to provide people with something to read so that they can avoid work. The goal here is to provide and collect ideas so that we can get our work done and move on to more important things.

So, worry not, I’m still here. From time to time I’ll be selfish and ask you for feedback or a solution. Today, now that I’ve thoroughly wasted 5 or 6 minutes of our time with this exercise in hypocrisy, I’ll ask that you go do something that’s been hanging out on your action list or project list with no progress for way too long.

Evil Empires

I’m feeling especially angst-driven today. As a result, I’d like to offer up my short-list of evil empires of the world.

  1. Wal-mart: Steal from the poor and then offer up sub-standard employment to the poor to keep up the vicious cycle of work to buy (and then buy again because the junk you bought breaks).
  2. Microsoft: If we consider that Windows has corrupted the minds of roughly 90% of the computer using population into thinking that their way is best, no further commentary is required.
  3. Auto/Health Insurance Companies: Insert your favorite one here. Ask yourself “why would an insurance company be in business?” Some of my favorites (who have screwed me over in the past) are Blue Cross/Blue Shield and State Farm.
  4. Auto Manufacturers/Oil Companies: So ‘in bed’ with each other that the technology required to move us into a cleaner tomorrow is at a near stand-still.
  5. These are just a few. I’m sure I’ve made some people mad but I’m just in a bad mood today.