Archive for August, 2011
I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t find the amazement in something unless I experience it personally. In this case I’m referring to the savings that I’ve experienced since riding the bus to work. Given that I’m not a seasoned public transportation commuter, I think I’m lucky in that I ride a “flyer” (non-stop) bus that takes me from my neighborhood’s park & ride directly to downtown Austin. I’m kicking myself in the ass for not having ridden the bus for the 3+ years when I was working at another job that was located downtown. I say I’m lucky because given my limited research, if I had to catch a bus and meet connecting buses in between on my route to my destination, I can see how public transportation wouldn’t be cost- or time-effective (it would take 1 hour and 40 minutes for my ~12 mile ride to the office if the flyer route weren’t available). My bus stop is 2.7 miles from my house, so I ride my bicycle to the bus stop. I get a bit of exercise in the morning while listening to some tunes on my iPod. The bus travels the same exact route that I would take should I drive myself. The bus blows cold AC, has free WiFi, the seats are comfy, and, best of all, I don’t have to contend with traffic. I can sit back and read a book, catch up on Facebook on my phone, look out at the landscape and angry commuters, or just sit back, relax and think about the money that I’m saving.
This aren’t hard, “final” numbers, but more of an approximation given that we know what our monthly car payment was (we’ve since sold one of our cars), and what gas and insurance were costing us per month:
- $275 car payment
- $200 monthly gas
- $60 insurance
Now, if my math is correct, since I started riding the bus in mid-June, we’ve saved $1,329.80 in just me driving to work (well, and a few miles on the weekend)! Subtract the two bus passes at $30 each that I’ve since purchased, but those barely put a ding in the cost savings.
It really puts into perspective how much transportation actually costs us. Now, I’m not apposed to personal transportation. I love having a vehicle, I love driving, having my own space & music, but when you take a few minutes and look at the numbers, it’s pretty easy to see where a large chunk of your money is going. To me, I see: I can spend $535 per month to drive myself (with stress), or $30 per month (without stress).
Since riding the bus, I’ve learned that Google Maps in my very good friend. Google’s bus schedule is far more accurate than Austin’s Capital Metro schedule. Google also gives you a handy “Estimated Driving Costs” calculator for each bus route you look up. Google tells me that my route just to get to work would cost me $5.13. That number doesn’t take into account a car payment, and it’s allocating the average cost per mile allowed for tax deductions by businesses — our car gets terrible gas mileage (~10 miles per gallon).
Savings like these get my wheels spinning (pun intended). In April 2010 I paid off our student loans in full, 14 years ahead of schedule. After being unemployed for the better part of 2010, my first goal will be to rebuild our “oh, shit” fund. Then it’s onto how to get that money to work for us; that’s while keeping my fingers crossed that our home’s air conditioner doesn’t fail on us before the end of summer.
"One of the most important things that Steve Jobs did in Apple 2.0 is rebuilding the culture…"
It’s no secret that Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s chief executive yesterday. I’d completely forgotten that he’d been on medical leave since mid-January. I sincerely hope that he’s in both good health and spirits. I was just reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited yesterday while on the bus and read where Gerber quoted Theodore Levitt in that, “Creativity thinks up new things. Innovation does new new things.” Apple was and always has been creative, but it wasn’t until Jobs took the helm again in 1997 that the company became the business dictionary definition of innovative. Four years later, in 2001, the very first iPod was announced among a growing sea of other MP3 players. I had my own MP3 player at the time and had long-since been a Windows PC guy myself, but it wasn’t until seeing and holding one of these iPods in person when I knew that this product was going to revolutionize the technology and business world. I bought an iPod for myself and shortly after I bought one for my wife. Shortly after that, I purchased shares of common stock in Apple, Inc., and I paid a little over $20 each back then.
In 2004, and after having been encouraged to wait for a couple years, my wife bought me a 14″ iBook. I’ve been an exclusive Mac user ever since (worth noting that my family’s very first computer was an Apple IIGS Woz Edition, circa 1984). There are 4 Apple computers in our house, two iPhones, a handful of iPods and a pleasant looking stock portfolio, with AAPL shining at the top of that list.
It wasn’t until late last night, after putting our daughter to bed that I hopped on Facebook and saw where people were talking about Steve Jobs resigning as CEO. CNN.com confirmed what I was hoping to be a sick rumor. While my jaw didn’t necessarily hit the floor, a flood of thoughts came rushing through my head. My first inclination was to log in to my Ameritrade account and put in a sale order to cash in all of our Apple shares. That thought dissipated as quickly as it came on. I’m no investment guru, but have stood by a simple mantra that I heard years ago when I first purchased my own shares in a company: Invest in companies that you know and love. Just because Steve Jobs is no longer going to be the face of Apple (although I’m sure he still will be, unofficially, for years yet to come), I’m sure the Board will keep him on as Chairman and as an employee. While Tim Cook might not be the same pitch man as Jobs, he’s done one hell of a job on the operations front as far as Apple’s retail stores and supply for product launches. Cook has Jobs’ blessing, and that has to be worth it’s weight in platinum iPads. My two cents: let Cook sustain the business as it is today. Let Jonathan Ives run keynotes and product launches. As a consumer, I firmly believe that Ives can keep Apple’s face sexy, creative and innovative. Watching Cook deliver a keynote or product launch is up there, for me, like watching a presentation on podiatry (no offense, podiatric professionals).
In the aforementioned CNN.com article, Mike McGuire, analyst at Gartner said, “One of the most important things that Steve Jobs did in Apple 2.0 is rebuilding the culture.” And other articles I’ve since read talk to the culture of Apple, the foundation of which Jobs laid, which will hopefully carry on for years to come. It reminds me of another chapter (or two) in The E-Myth Revisited, where a common paraphrased theme is: your business is not to sell a product or a services. It’s to sell your business. Love or hate Apple, you know that they’re an innovative company the delivers consistent products and results. For me, Apple has recreated and embodied the business ethos of consistency, quality, reliability, innovation and sexy. I “bought” Apple as a company when I saw the iPod in person. I have proudly been an “Apple Fan Boy” ever since. And I will continue to be a die-hard Apple fan with or without Steve Jobs, so long as the company gives me reason to be.
I feel I have absolutely no reason to sell a single share of Apple stock. In fact, I just might drive over to the local Apple retail store this evening and buy something, just to show some love and support.
I’m a long-time fan of VisualHub. I’ve been using it to encode videos into FLV format (Ack! – yeah, I know) to post on my websites. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit, and when I was looking for a smaller file format to encode videos of our daughter so our family around the US could watch them, VisualHub was (and still is) exactly what I needed. And the user interface is insanely easy to use. It just does what I need it to do as far as converting and encoding videos and I had absolutely no problem paying the $32.23 for the really great software that VisualHub is.
I upgraded to OS X Lion a couple weeks ago, and it’s been quite a while since I did any video editing and encoding. I created a new video this evening of our daughter’s first day at Kindergarten, and fired up VisualHub to encode the finalized video. VisualHub greeted me with the registration screen. So, I found my registration email from years ago and copied over my name, email and license ID. Those didn’t work. I figured this had to be yet another Lion “thing.” A quick search and I found today’s Macworld article stating that Techspansion had released a Lion update for VisualHub! Woot!
It’s very cool that Techspansion released an update to their long-since-retired VisualHub. I really wish they’d keep working on, updating and supporting VisualHub. Oh well, kudos to them for providing this Lion update.
You can download the Lion update for VisualHub directly from Techspansion’s site.
Everything Apple does, everyone else has to follow.
Perhaps LinkedIn has had this feature for a while and I’m just now noticing it. There is a nifty new export to PDF feature on your LinkedIn profile:
I don’t know why I get a kick out of this feature, but I do. I think if you’re at a loss for how to start on or update your resume, this PDF export might be a good place to start. What I find most valuable is when you export the PDF from LinkedIn, it will also include all of the recommendations that have been posted on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t have any recommendations? What?! Go ask some folks to recommend you on LinkedIn! And better yet – you should recommend folks on LinkedIn as well; It’ll help folks in getting that next great job, it’s great for karma and hell, who doesn’t like getting a glowing recommendation?!
If you already have a great resume, a thought might be to edit the PDF that you export from LinkedIn so you’re only left with the recommendations. Then you could use the standalone PDF for your “references”, or you could just append them to the PDF version of your resume. Here’s a link to a discounted version of Adobe Acrobat on Amazon. I honestly have no experience with any other PDF editing software so I’m short of recommendations beyond Adobe Acrobat. I’m sure there are plenty out there, but Adobe invented the PDF so I stick with the folks who know best.
I do the majority of the work for my day job in Microsoft Excel. One thing that chaps my ass since upgrading to OS X 10.7 Lion is that Apple has assumed that I no longer need those helpful little arrows that I once used to horizontally scroll through my Excel spreadsheets. I need to move left or right, one cell at a time in Excel. I’ve been left with the horizontal scroll bar, which allows me to quickly move left or right by many columns, but I need to scroll once cell (with one click of the arrow) at a time. Where, o’ where did you go little horizontal scroll arrows in Excel?
If I go into Preferences > View, I can check/uncheck “Show horizontal scroll bar”, but that’s not what I need. I need my arrows back!! Does anyone know how I can get the horizontal scroll arrows in Microsoft Excel in Lion?
Warren Buffett is going to be my write-in US presidential candidate. Of course, I'm sure he'd say, "uh uh, I ain't touching that with a 10-foot pole"
I recently purchased a website theme and was having a hell of a time getting it to work. After doing some poking around in the developer’s forums, it sounded like a lot of people were having the same problem, and the root of it was a hidden .htaccess file that wasn’t being uploaded to the site’s directory. Lo and behold, I did some more searching to find out how to show hidden files in OS X, and there was that hidden .htaccess file.
So, the quickest and easiest way to find hidden files in OS X is by using Terminal (and don’t worry… it’s not daunting in the slightest):
- Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal.app)
- Copy and paste the following into the prompt: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
- Hit ‘Enter’
- Restart Finder by holding ‘Option’, click and hold on the icon. Click ‘Relaunch’
- To re-hide the files type “defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE”
- Then restart the Finder again.