Friday, August 31, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Say goodbye to the old-fashioned snail mail. New web services make it possible to subsist on electronic mail alone. For most of us, the majority of our correspondence has been done electronically since Juno first offered free email. This does not however, stem the flow to the mailbox that clutters your desk and inbox and fills the garbage can.
Switch to Electronic Statements
Make a list and check it twice:
Nearly all business prefer to have you set up on electronic statements. Notable exceptions are government institutions and those with stock in the paper companies (I think?) Contact those that you do business with. Make a list of all your paper bills and as you change these to electronic statements, notate the date, time, confirmation numbers, etc. File this list for reference later. This does require some initial legwork on your part. Not all bills can be switched over by means of their websites. Some will require telephone calls.
Follow Up, Follow Up:
Next, you need to devise a way to make sure that those statements actually make it to you each month. “I didn’t receive the bill” is not a valid excuse and it is up to you to find out if and why a statement/bill is not making its way to your inbox. To help with the initial setup and make sure that you are receiving all your bills, I recommend that you set up a Google Calendar specifically to remind you to check for your latest statements a few days after the billing dates (find this on your statements or you can call customer service).
Opt out of Junk Mail
Do Your Paperwork:
Direct Mail - The Direct Mail Association offers a form to opt out of mail from members of their association. You can get the from online (www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html), but you still have to submit it through our favorite subsidized postal system. “Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, N.Y. 10512”
Credit Card Offers - Opt out of credit card offers through the credit reporting agencies at: www.optoutprescreen.com
Others - The Center for Democracy and Technology has a general form to mail to those that continue to send you mail after completing the above steps. Download the customizeable forms at:
Or be Devious:
“One way to stop the offers is to sign up for so many cards and run up such high levels of debt that you become a credit untouchable. That is not a good plan.” NY Times Damon Darlin
You could also mail a box of rocks to the Republican/Democratic National Fundraising address with the “Postage Will Be Paid By Addressee” envelope and your return address taped on the front. This should guarantee that you never receive these envelopes again.
Cancel the Magazine Subscriptions
Rivaling TV (I don’t have one) and radio, magazines will probably subject you to more advertising than any other media outlet (if you use adblock plus). This is not only a waste of time, but can end up being a drain on the pocketbook. Print magazines normally have websites with rss feeds to grab their content without the paper version in your mailbox. Another option is to find another website or blog that covers the same information. You will normally have the news faster than the larger print magazines can deliver.
Now that we have done what we can to reduce the amount of mail coming in, we all know that there will be some correspondence and junk mail that will always be sent with a stamp in the upper right corner. (Grandma’s birthday card, local mass mailers, your favorite magazines)
Here is where a relatively new web service steps in to help us out. Earth Class Mail (previously Remote Control Mail) offers to e-mail you scans of your postal service mail with options to open and email you a scan, shred, recycle, and forward to a different address. All this does come at a price. The lowest plan (Bronze) starts at $9.95/month when prepaid for 12 months all the way up to the Gold plan for $49.95 (paid monthly). No monthly plan includes the shipping for forwarding mail.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Why waste time re-searching for lost records and information, take advantage of these services to keep your brain from overheating this summer.
Usernames and passwords:
10 free ways to track all your passwords - Lifehack.org
Firefox extensions and bookmarks:
Firefox Extension Backup Extension
No need to rebuild your personalized browser from scratch
Software licenses and serial numbers:
Where did that CD jewel case go?
Backup your cell phone contacts - Dumblittleman
When your cell phone falls in the drink, how will you rebuild your contact list?
...but I'm sure you remember every rebate you have sent out....
The alternative is to rely your memory in which case, you may be able to increase the horsepower with some of the brain games at Lumosity. Hopefully these tips can make your life a little easier.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Blogger Earnings Report - from Paula Neal Mooney
20 Dead in India Bus Crash - Fox News
Who Really Owns That Plane? - New York Times
iPods and pacemakers do not mix - Fox News
Is your shredder good enough? - The Raw Feed
Oxycontin Makers Plead Guilty to Misleading Doctors and Patients - New York Times
How-to Design a Logo (from theartisthideout)
How-to "Present Like a Rockstar" (from Lifehack.org)
How-to Download You-Tube Videos (from Mashable)
How-to Bite Back as a Consumer (from Consumerist)
How-to Find Great Sites (from DumbLittleMan)
How-to Make an Instant Hammock (from Make)
Cool, weird, and awe inspiring digital and mechanical marvels:
Wondering how many people are checking you out? Google's EyeBox counts eyes with a beam of IR light. Google's EyeBox Counts Eyes in Public (from Engadget)
A luxury sports catamaran powered by turbines and electric motors. The A0 isn't just cool because of the "green" power system. Check out the pics and you'll see why it made the list. A0: The Hybrid-powered Luxury Sports Catamaran (from Gizmag)
Just plain weird! If you are looking for an outlet for all that negative energy you have toward junk mail, the "SpamTrap" is just for you. Spamtrap (from Make)
High Speed Helicopter from Sikorsky Aircraft uses dual rotors and rear propulsion to move this machine at an estimated 284MPH cruise and 334 MPH top speed. High-Speed Helicopter Revolution (from Popular Mechanics)
From Wise Bread -
Secret Discount Codes - Discount codes for 19 different online stores to take off 10-30%
XM Satellite Radio Receiver and Car Kit - $5.99
From Techbargains.com -
8GB Jetflash USB Drive - $69.95
From Dealhack -
22" Samsung Widescreen Monitor - $305 with Shipping
External Drives 200-500GB - $79-$149
More complaints over KFC ad that had people talking with mouths full than over Gay Police Association ads portrayal of Christianity as a bloody religion. Ad Complaints Hit Record Number
Atheist entrepreneur offers to deliver post-rapture messages, since he is sure he will be left behind. Apocalyptic Postman - from twoorthree.net
Saturday, May 5, 2007
OneTipADay put together a list of seven tips to make your cell phone battery last longer. Obviously, all these tips won't work for everybody(I rarely have my phone off vibrate), but you ought to be able to find something helpful.
Are filing cabinets overrunning your office? Do papers pile up on your desk because you will be filing them "later"? Maybe it is time to move to an electronic filing system. I must admit that I have not done this myself. The main holdup is the cost of a good document scanner. Prices are coming down and I will spring for it soon. I have been moving the majority of my correspondence to e-mail and rarely use my printer. E-mail is extremely easy to archive and search and rather than physically print a confirmation or registration code, I just print to a PDF and archive that file. The Simple Dollar has an interesting article in how they moved to the electronic filing system. Check it out and let me know if you have any improvements, ideas, etc.
These are two subjects not often covered by Lifeperqs, but two articles this week caught my eye. I thought that you readers might enjoy. These articles don't really break any new ground, but it is nice to see other people saying something you agree with.
If You Love America - Question Its Institutions by steve-olson.com
Churches Shouldn't Change by twoorthree.net
Friday, May 4, 2007
This is how Contacts Sidebar looks once it is installed.
Now, without opening the a separate window, you have the ability to:
For more information and keyboard shortcuts, visit the Contacts Sidebar Web Page
Download the latest version of Contacts Sidebar
Downloading and installing extensions in Thunderbird is not as simple as in Firefox.
Once you find an extension that you want, download the file to your hard drive. If you just click on the "Install Now" button on the pages in the Mozilla Add-on/Extension Database, the following window will pop-up and will attempt to install this extension into Firefox. The extension is obviously not for Firefox, so we want to avoid this.Right click on the button and select "Save Link As". Save the file to your hard drive in an easy to find place.
In Thunderbird, select Tools...Add-OnsFrom the Extensions pop-up window, click "Install..." in the lower left-hand corner.
Find the file that you saved to the hard drive earlier and select "Open". A "Software Installation" window will pop-up and after a 5 second countdown...
...you can click the "Install Now" button to add the file.
Click on the "Restart Thunderbird" and when the program is running again, so should your newly installed extension.
First, select File...New...Account
Select what type of account you are adding. I guess Gmail is not merely e-mail. Select the most appropriate option.
This is the information that will be visible to those that receive your e-mails.
Here is where you input your server information. If you are unsure about your info, check out this link.
This is what will show in your sidebar as the label for this account.
You are all done.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Are you tired of Windows Explorer and looking for something with a little more functionality. Check out the Xplorer2 Lite. The best part about this simple file manager is the list of keyboard shortcuts. I have used this program for a while and have forgotten what Windows Explorer looks like.
Keyboard Shortcuts from Lifehacker.com
Download from Download.com
Nobody likes a meeting with Smokey the Bear, especially when your wallet ends up a little lighter. Here are some posts that can keep you out of or help you out of trouble when it comes to traffic citations.
Bear Trap Guide via Lifehacker
A guide to speed traps broken down by interstate
How to beat that traffic ticket via Lifehack.org
Tip on getting out of traffic citations
USAA has a relatively new service that allows their customers to deposit checks in their accounts without ever physically mailing the check to them. This new service allows you to scan checks at home and they are deposited in your account. Just void the checks after depositing them. The money shows up in your account for use that hour. I tried this service for the first time yesterday and had a little trouble in my Firefox browser. The customer service rep said that some of the extensions I was using were keeping the Java applet from working properly. Rather than disable my extensions and reactivate them one by one to find the culprit, I decided to do the deposit in IE. The whole process went smoothly and I don't plan to use deposit envelopes anymore. Check out the screen shots to follow.
The link for this service is on the right hand side of the page when viewing your account activity:
Here is the intro screen:
Next you select the account that you are depositing to and enter the amount of the check:
After you enter the amount of the deposit and continue, the Java Applet will pull up and allow you to press a button in the browser to scan the check.
Make sure that the check is properly oriented according to the scanning bed of your scanner. Once the check shows up, click on the lower right corner to crop the check. A red outline will appear around the check. Click "Next" and repeat the process to scan the back.
In the end, you should receive a confirmation screen that has an overview of the deposit information. I always print this screen to a PDF and archive it for my personal records.
I know that not everyone has access to a USAA account because of the restriction on membership, but I thought that some would be interested in how this works because USAA is the first to offer this service and more companies might follow. Let me know if you know of any similar services or if you bank with USAA let me know how this works for you.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
I am constantly changing multiple passwords at work that have to include x ammount of letters, x ammount of numbers, and a symbol. It can be a pain to keep track of all these passwords, but considering that I work at a bank. They want their information kept as secure as possible. I know that changing passwords to keep your info secure can be a pain, but it is probably worth it. There are programs or browser addons (keepass, roboform) that can help keep track of your usernames and passwords, or just create a password protected spreadsheet to keep track of them yourself. If any of your passwords are on this list, change them immediately. Also, license plates are not a good password(maybe old ones). Here are some hints on how to create a secure password.