Things I've actually tried that actually work - Things I've actually tried that actually work

Free Gift Hidden in This Post

(Those who read through this post will get a special free gift.)

What you see below is my first nervous step into the world of online video.

This “production” was sparked by my participation in the online Quick Start Challenge for 2014. When you watch the video you’ll hear me ask for your input and suggestions about the kinds of information you’d like to see on a blog like this.

Now for those who have gotten this far, I have a special treat: A free online utility you can use to strip out ads, related videos, and other extra stuff you don’t want but that YouTube includes in your uploads.

Just go to my friend Shane Melaugh’s site and use his free online tool “Better Online Embeds by IM Impact.” All you need to do is copy and past your YouTube URL into the utility and preview your improved video.

I’ll be sharing a lot more useful tips and free information in the coming weeks, so bookmark this site and drop by again to see what else I have for you.

I’d like to know how you’re doing online. Please leave a comment.


Trello: Flexible, Intuitive, Simple Visual Task Management

modern times 2 300x225 Trello: Flexible, Intuitive, Simple Visual Task Management

I have tried and rejected more than half a dozen task managers. I rejected some because they were too expensive. I dropped others because they were way too counter-intuitive. Some seemed extremely powerful, but I was put off by their very steep learning curve. Then, one day, I found Fog Creek Software’s Trello.

To my great and instant relief, this web-based white board is so intuitive that I could do everything I needed with it with hardly a tiny speed bump on the learning curve.

Did I mention that Trello is currently free to use? Yes it is!

Trello not only aids individual productivity, it also serves as an online collaboration tool. It accomplishes this by organizing projects into boards on which you create, copy, or move “cards” for every project or task with the information you need on them.

If you’ve ever seen an organizational diagram, a magnetic sign board, used a desktop publishing application–or a white board–you’ll immediately get the idea behind Trello. In one glance, Trello tells you what tasks you are already working on, what team members are working on, and the state of completion of any part of a process.

Thanks to Trello, effectively wrangling the many details of projects large and small has suddenly become easier. You can make any changes to your boards on a dime, keep participants informed automatically, see bottlenecks and rabbit trails at a glance, and watch your teams’ productivity increase dramatically.

Have I mentioned that having a highly visual task-managing system also eliminates a lot of distraction and helps workers and business owners maintain focus on their priorities?

In Trello, projects are represented by boards, which contain lists (corresponding to task lists). Lists contain cards (corresponding to tasks). Cards accept comments, attachments, votes, and checklists; and they can have due dates. Cards progress from one list to the next via drag-and-drop–mirroring the flow of a process from idea to implementation–but many other concepts can be represented by this flexible system. Multiple users can be assigned to cards to represent work groups. And users and boards can be grouped into organizations.

The DNA behind Trello’s intuitiveness comes from Kanban. This project management model originated at Toyota where it was used for supply-chain management in the 1980s before spreading more widely through industry and commerce.

Trello can also be synced with smartphone apps in real time. Developer Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software released Trello at a TechCrunch event in 2011.  A Lifehacker review said Trello “makes project collaboration simple and kind of enjoyable.” By July, 2012, the cloud-based app had more than 500,000 users.

On the down side, Trello has limited support for tags (in the form of 6 renameable colored labels). Trello does not support Gantt charts. Trello does not support custom fields or Google Apps integration yet, but it does have an API. At the moment, Trello supports mobile both Phone and Android, and Trello’s website is accessible in most mobile web browsers.

If you’re stressing about reaching all of your goals, a tool like Trello belongs in your resource kit.

A New Start with The Quick Start Challenge

Responding to a challenge

This is the start of a new journey. Let me quickly describe where I find myself: A couple of years back my dream job ended when the company I was working Logo for the Quick Start Challengefor moved out of the state where I live.

That sudden change in employment–and income–made me finally realize I needed to take charge of the “work” part of my life.

I’ve got a funny feeling this story may apply to you as well.

Yoast to WordPress Users: Add Value

WordPress plugin author, blogger, and SEO authority Joost de Valk, better known by his nom de blog, “Yoast,” gives away dozens of tips for optimizing WordPress sites in the above video, taken at a 2011 conference in London.

With a no-nonsense style, de Valk offers opinions on plugin best practices, suggests several plugins worth using, and gives coding suggestions that could improve your site. He left me with 2 major takeaways: Get your site speedy or get left in the dust, and give your visitors value or get eaten by the Google Panda. Joost de Valk’s blog is here.

An end to Facebook annoyances

Facebook Logo 300x300 An end to Facebook annoyancesRemember when the Facebook timeline was a single column, and photos didn’t appear in a “lightbox”? You probably have your own set of Facebook annoyances. Now you can fix all your Facebook annoyances for free with Social Fixer. [] Lifehacker has an article that goes into detail about how Social Fixer works. [] Added bonus: you can set Social Fixer to show which Facebook “friends” unfriended you, so you can cross them off your Christmas list.

A Mighty Wind

I may not know what I like, but I do know art, and here’s some serious art from 19th century Japan that combines earthiness with serious political commentary:

japanese scroll frame600 300x138 A Mighty Wind

If you can’t tell what’s happening here, perhaps this frame from the same scroll will make it more obvious:

he gassen 600 300x175 A Mighty Wind

Mid-19th century Japan was just beginning to open up to foreigners, and this scroll is actually a commentary on the failure of the political structure to resist foreign encroachment. Titled He-Gassen (“The Fart Battle”), it shows that neither people, nor politicans, have changed much in the ensuing decades.

More here, here, and here.

Facebook Profiles Can Predict Job Performance

Facebook Logo 150x150 Facebook Profiles Can Predict Job PerformanceHere’s another reason for recruiters to be nosing through your Facebook page: Academic studies from Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville, and Auburn University suggest that your Facebook profile can predict on-the-job performance.

Researchers say they found a strong correlation between job performance and Facebook profiles that had previously been scored for traits like conscientiousness, agreeability, and intellectual curiosity.

If the academic studies are correct, Facebook could become a job-screening tool, actually taking away the ability to create a fake personality for interviews that doesn’t match a candidates typical behavior. 

More details at Gawker and The Wall Street Journal.