Friday, October 29, 2010

The Twenty Dollar Micro Business Challenge

Everyone dreams about making additional income, but the idea of setting up a your own business can be overwhelming. That's the problem! Before making a single dollar, we tend to buy business cards, start building websites, designing logos, writing business plans, looking for investors, and scouting for employees. We burn out because this "additional income" just became another full time job. Stop it! There is no need to open 40 Jamba Juice locations, when a simple lemonade stand would suffice. Start small and let your business grow as needed.

How Small? Well....$20 dollars goes farther than you think.

Go to the bank and withdrawal $20 bucks cash. Put it in an envelope and write the date on it. You now have everything you need to start your own micro business. Below are some examples of micro businesses to get your creative juices flowing:

Antiquing-Go to a garage sale to see what you can find for under $20 bucks. Resell this item on Craigslist or Ebay for a profit.

Walk dogs - Buy some poop bags, doggy treats, and make some cheap fliers.

Hauling- Got a Truck? Put an add on craigslist offering to help someone move, or to take a load to the dump for a profit. Dump fees are $20 in my area, but Yard waste is free, you do the math.

Car Washing - Get some soap, an old towel and a Soft sponge.

Tour Guide- Do you live near a tourist hot spot? Try showing out-of-towners to the local must see sights.

Hobbies - If you already have a hobby like knitting, painting, photography, pottery, tying fly-fishing lures, or have a vegetable garden. Use the $20 to market these products.

Skills - Do you speak another language, know how to cook, understand Math, or great with computers? Try becoming a tutor for others that do not posses the same skill set.

Shine Shoes- Try hanging out in the financial district with some shoe polish, a cloth and a brush.

Bakery- Spread the word to co-workers, friends and family that you are willing to make custom baked goods for any PTA meeting, retirement party, or birthday for a nominal fee.

Find a Micro Business that works for you, and try running it for one month. If you are successful, than you can think about how to earn more. The simplicity of a micro business will earn you money quickly, without the complexities of a small business.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

IVI Inc. Brings Live TV to the Internet

The Seattle based company IVI Inc. may have finally bridged the gap between Television and the Internet. For years we have been able to watch previously recorded episodes of network TV on Youtube/Hulu. Then Slingbox came along and offered a way to stream your local cable channels from one location to any laptop or desktop. But until now we haven't been able to stream live local network TV from various locations around the country, to any computer in the country.

After downloading the IVI Player a Redsox fan living in Arizona can now watch the same live local NY broadcast of the game just like he was a block away from the stadium. During the commercials he can flip channels to check out the Mariners game and get local Seattle news and weather. Various local channels are now just a click away, no matter where you are. IVI lets you choose which brocast location of Fox you want to watch. It also allows you to pause fast forward and rewind live TV.

IVI makes it possible for me to watch live TV on my laptop during my commute on the train, just like I was sitting at home.

Here are some of the Pros and cons that I found:
1.) User interface is very easy to use.
2.) Picture is Clear, but not yet HD.
3.) Currently limited to NY and Seattle but more stations are coming.
4.) No buffer delay or pause when flipping channels.
5.) First month is free, but it costs $4.99 or $5.99 per month. (Still cheaper than basic cable)
6.) No Box or Equipment.
7.) It can be installed on multiple computers, but only one will play at a time.
8.) Includes all the major networks ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX
9.) Does not yet have all the regular cable channels.

Overall I am very impressed with the IVI player, and recommend it for couch potatoes on the go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Emergency Waterproof iPhone Case

My friend and I regularly go salmon fishing on the local rivers. While wading across the river he accidentally submerge his iphone. Now the screen is dark and the button doesn't work.

On our next outing I decided to carry my phone in a zip-lock bag as a safety precaution. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the touch screen still works while inside. The display can also be easily viewed through the plastic. This no-brainer actually works quite well.

The next time you go near water, try putting your cell phone in a zip-lock bag. It is a cheap way of avoiding a costly mistake.

Fight Quasimodo with a Yoga Ball

Minding your posture can be a difficult and daunting task, especially if you are tall like me. At 6'3" I've started to realized that my old high school slouch is becoming a full on Montgomery Burns. I've never had back problems growing up, but as I get older there will be days when I feel soreness and tension. I consulted a Chiropractor, who recommended arching my back over a yoga ball twice a day. As embarassing as it was, I went out and bought a yoga ball. Now it has become my new favorite past time. After a long day, I look forward to coming home and stretching out my back. I've been sleeping better at night and my posture is improving.

How much time do you spend lounging on a couch, leaning over a desk, or stuck in traffic? When was the last time you stretched out your back. Maybe its time to swallow your pride, be a man, and buy a yoga ball.

Friday, May 14, 2010

RFID blocker

Maybe I am just overly paranoid, but these days RFIDs are everywhere. They're in your credit cards, your cell phone, employment badges, public transportation passes, electronic toll booths, retail packaging. They are used to find lost pets, track livestock, and in some cases implanted in you.

If you are worried about someone stealing your identity or credit card information using a RFID reader, here is a simple trick for you:

Cut a piece of aluminum foil about the size of a dollar bill, and place it in your wallet. When your wallet is folded up in your pocket, any credit cards or ID badges wrapped inside the foil will be impervious to an RFID reader. I experimented at work, and sure enough my proximity card won't open my office door if there's a sheet in aluminum foil between the card and the reader.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Great Marinades and Seasoning for Free

The summer grilling season is almost here, and the only thing better a marinated tri-tip, is not paying $4.00 for a bottle of marinade. Here's how:

We've all seen the marinaded meats behind the glass at our local grocery store, but what you may not know is that most butchers will happily add your choice of marinades, and seasonings to any meat you buy for free.

Our local Safeway, has a very friendly butcher. He's always talking about what's on sale, grilling techniques, and all his must try recipes. It seems like every time we go in he's got a new marinade. Routinely we'll select a nice package of ribs, steak, or chops, and bring it to the butcher counter. He'll ask us what kind of marinade we want, put the meat in a zip lock bag, and add a generous portion of marinade. The marinade begins soaking into the meat before we have even finished shopping, and it is usually ready to cook when we get home.

So, the next time you buy grilling meat, try having the butcher add a marinade or seasonings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Understanding Time Constraints

Always strive to do your best, but take into consideration uncontrollable factors like time.

Suppose we are entering a sand castle making contest, and the lucky winner will receive a new pick-up truck. You are probably already thinking about how to build your castle. Now ask yourself how time can affect the quality of your castle. If you were given a week to build the castle, it would probably include a tower, a mote, windows, and a working drawbridge. If you were only given 30 seconds, the castle would probably resemble a square shaped ant hill. In this example, time plays a significant role in the outcome of your castle, regardless of your effort. This concept carries over to many situations in life.

When you are confronted with any task, the first question to ask yourself is how much time and effort is needed to accomplish it. If while hiking, you come across a stream, you may want to use a log to make a temporary bridge. But if this stream was on your property and used daily to get to your house, it might make more sense to construct a proper bridge.

Trying to build the Great Wall of China in a day will surely lead to disappointment, just like using chewing gum to fix a plumbing leak is a bad idea. The appropriate time and effort must be factored into every task to get adequate results.

If my boss asks when I'll have a report ready, I usually estimate the time and add another day or two. This way when I finish early, I look like a hero, and if I run into problems I can still get it to him on time.

By understanding time constraints, you can better allocate you time and paved the way to achievable success.
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