Do You Have Any Goals For 2009?

I used to set New Year’s Resolutions. I did about as much with them as many of you. My resolutions usually had to do with losing weight, paying off bills, or finishing college. One year, I decided to only set one resolution each year, and that resolution is more facetious than anything. Each year I set the following resolution:

  • I resolve to continue doing everything the exact same way I did it last year.

That resolution is facetious because I realized the first time I did it, and each year after, that it’s impossible to live up to. Each year we learn and grow and expand our horizons. Our lives and the lives of those around us change each and every year, to the point where after another 365 days, there are many things we’re not doing anymore, or we’re not doing the same anymore.

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Customer Service Redemption

Due to the frustration I went through in May when my cable modem stopped working in my computer room and my seeming inability to get the situation corrected through Comcast’s 1-800 number, I’ve been ranting on my blog about the situation. Last week when I linked the original post, a Comcast representative invited me to email the details of my situation to her. It took me through the Christmas weekend to get the email put together, but when I did, it was sent up to corporate. Corporate scheduled a technician to visit my house and investigate the problem. The tech came, replaced some coax and splitters, and checked the signal strength. I am now able to keep my cable modem and router upstairs in my computer room, safe from the kids and our Borg cat that likes to eat wires. Seriously, we had no lights on our Christmas tree because the cat ate some bulbs and the power cord.

I’ve written before about how smart businesses will monitor the web for negative incidents. I’m glad that Comcast did that. To be honest, as long as my cable modem and TV work, I am perfectly happy to stay with Comcast. There really isn’t a viable alternative to Comcast high-speed internet, but as long as it works I’m happy. I don’t have any complaints about our cable package, which is honestly a very low price. Several years ago we dumped our expanded cable to try to save money. This was right after Joshua was born in 2004, the same time we switched to DSL. After 3 weeks with a newborn baby and only basic cable, our sanity was stretched to the limits. We’d spend Saturday mornings in a half-catatonic state watching those used car commercials. I found out about a $5 value package and asked for that. Our cable and internet bill is under $60 or $70. We don’t at present see a need for a several hundred dollar a month digital package. I don’t watch sports, and as long as I have the History and Discovery Channels and my wife has Food TV and the kids have Nickelodian, we’re happy. I also recently discovered that we have Speed, which was a nice surprise. Maybe I should channel flip more often.

I know that customer service is one of the most expensive and time consuming functions of business, and no business can expect to please everybody. I was very happy to see that Comcast monitors blogs.

University of Phoenix Moves to gmail

I notice that a lot of hits come to my blog from Google searches about the University of Phoenix and gmail. I graduated from UOP in 2007 with a BSIT degree, and I have written several posts about the university. I have no idea if any of my posts are helpful, as nobody ever leaves a comment. For all I know, they click and leave.

This is the information about the UOP accounts on gmail. I notice UOP still manages to come in under the normal requirements. When I was a student, we had an 8 MB (yes, seriously, 8 Megabytes) limit on our email accounts. This included our newsgroup postings. Now they have a 2 GB limit with gmail. That's nice, but my personal gmail account is over 7 GB by now.

I'll have to wait until I get home to set up my account. I might as well. I don't know if I'll take a Master's program from UOP, but as an alumni I should have lifetime access to the online library.

Frugal Dad- Language of the Perpetual Poor

I came across an interesting blog post today. It's been up since April, but I just found it today. I was reading comments on I Will Teach You To Be Rich and found the Frugal Dad blog. I agree with the post, and linking it saves me the trouble of writing my own.

As The Frugal Dad says, there is a difference between the "perpetual poor" and those who are financially hosed due to other circumstances. Dave Ramsey uses the terms "broke" and "poor" as a contrast. Broke is a circumstance while poor is a mindset as Dave puts it.

I grew up listening to my mom telling us that we can't afford basically anything I might have asked for. Of course, there always seemed to be plenty of money when she wanted to take a trip or buy something, but that's another story. My parents never gave me access to their financial statements so I can only go on my perceptions. When I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I came across an interesting mindset. Rather than saying "I can't afford it" you should ask "How can I afford it?" I've taken this a step farther in asking "Is this a wise use of our money at this point in time?" Note that there are some issues with Rich Dad, Poor Dad, but you can read about that here. In any case, I will say that Rich Dad, Poor Dad is dead on about the mindset part of finances.

I have had several jobs I didn't like. With the exception of the Navy which had me under a contract, when I reached the breaking point of not liking a job, I got another one. In the case of my last job, I got a college degree then I got a new job. It was hard work but I had to do it unless I wanted to stagnate there until the contract ran out, which I didn't.

When you find yourself in financial difficulty, there are usually two options: cut expenses or increase your income. One way to increase income is to get a better job. Another is to freelance by offering a skill you have in your spare time. Sometimes you can only cut how much it costs you to live by so much, then you've got to find a way to increase your income. That's what I did when we had Joshua. I was working the swing shift, my wife was on the day shift, and we had no time together. I floated resumes, got a better job, and she was able to come home. Actually, it was more complicated than that. The two guys I worked with told me about a "5 year plan." I sat down to try to figure out where I wanted to be in 5 years, and I realized I did not want to be there in 5 years. That story goes on a lot longer.

If you find yourself constantly swimming upstream with your finances and just can't seem to get ahead, why not stop. Find a quite place and examine your life. Do you find yourself to have a limiting mindset? Do you place more faith in lottery tickets than in your own ability to succeed? Do you read much, or try to improve your skills or develop new ones? By read, I don't mean the mindless motivational fluff like Rich Dad, Poor Dad or Think and Grow Rich. I mean, do you read anything that will teach you something? Do you read books or magazines about your trade? Have you ever talked to your manager about what it will take for you to move up?

There are many cases when we're only prisoners of our own mindsets.

How Would You Like to Live in a Tiny House?

I stumbled across the Tiny House Movement today. Wow. I'm not sure what else to say. I guess I can say good for those who want to live this way, and have achieved that goal. I'm not sure I could do this. My books alone would not fit in that kind of house. It might be fun for a weekend, but my family would have to be in dire straights. Of course, CNN really doesn't explore the issue in this story of how families are doing.

People have a few prime reasons for moving into these tiny houses. One husband and wife had a construction business that went south. Making tiny houses was a way to boost revenue. The other guy didn't like his job and didn't want to be in debt. He lives in a 100 square foot house on $15,000 a year. Most people move into these things to be "green". Well, good for them.

I'm not opposed to doing weird things. My wife is planning to go the entire month of January without spending money, with the exception of gas and tolls. We'll see how it goes. There's no doubt we're going to see some economic changes, and we had all better adapt as they come. I don't think it's wise to overreact though.

My 2009 Productivity/Tech Wishlist

Lifehacker released the wishlists of their contributors for productivity in 2009. Rather than post this in their ever-expanding comment section, I might as well post my ideas here. This is what I would like to see for productivity and general technology in 2009:

  • A production Samsung Epix driver for the Celio Redfly (I found a beta, but it still causes problems on my phone
  • A real smtp fix for Windows Mobile 6.1- the last one didn't fix the problem on my phone
  • Outlook task syncing on the iPhone/iPod Touch
  • Better conflict resolution in Windows Mobile Device Center- stop duplicating everything forcing me to spend hours manually deleting thousands of records
  • Gmail tasks in mobile view and on Google Calendar (this could superceed the Outlook task wish)
  • Since this is a wishlist, I'd love to see my company do a tech refresh on our BlackBerries. The 7130e is, well, old.

I'll probably come back and edit this later if I think of anything else. What would you like to see for productivity and technology in 2009?

Loving Your Tech To Death

While catching up on over 150 blog posts in Google Reader, I came across a post about Loving Your Cellphone to Death. The concept seems a little morbid, but I try to avoid condemning these things. Throughout history, people have been buried with cherished possessions. Consider the ancient Pharaohs, who were buried with wealth and even servants for use in the afterlife.

All I know is that when I die, I honestly don't care what you do with me or my possessions. I once asked my wife that following the Golden Rule, I don't want a funeral procession unless it's done at 6 AM on a Sunday when nobody else is on the road. I've been held up by one too many of those things. One time I was trying to run out to pick up lunch and couldn't get off my street because of a funeral procession that seemed to be endless. Another time I couldn't get off the highway because a seemingly 20 mile long funeral procession was taking up the right lane and I couldn't exit. I'm sure all the people that would show up for my funeral could fit in one car. Consider that my contribution to the non-disruption of traffic and of other people's lives. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about that for a very long time.

OK, all that aside, is there anything YOU want to be buried with? Do you want to take your cellphone with you, or an iPod, or a Bible, or something else?