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Zen Habits had a thought provoking post on the differences between habits and tasks, and how and when you might include habits (or tasks-you-want-to-become-habits) on your to do list.
The thing I really appreciated about this post was the idea of identifying or choosing 'triggers' for habitual behaviour:

"I wake up at 4 a.m., after being triggered by an alarm clock. My getting up triggers my habit of starting my coffee and drinking water. Now, I’m using the drinking water as a trigger to exercise."

That gave me a "lightbulb over the head" moment, and an idea for training myself to exercise every day, rather than just three days a week. Yay!

6 Rules for Dealing With Habits vs. Tasks


If Firefox has a flaw to get bummed about, it's that it slows down your machine after a few hours of steady computing. Digital Inspiration has a workaround for this that (yay!) does not include any sort of restart: Start Firefox and export your bookmarks as a file on your hard-drive (we'll need them later).Type firefox.exe - P in the Run box of Windows. Click the Create Profile button without making any modifications to your existing profile (which is normally called "default") That should do it; now, when you start Firefox in your new profile, you should be up to speed (get it?). Sure, it won't have all the tweaks of your old profile, but if you're just looking for a CPU break, this might be the way to go. Firefox Running Slow? Make It Fast Again Without Re-Installation


The CyberNet weblog details a reliable Windows standard: How to map an FTP drive in Windows Explorer using the Map Network Drive dialog. It's a very simple process provided you've already either got a hosted FTP server or set one up yourself, and when you're finished you'll be able to access your remote FTP server like you're browsing any other drive on your computer. The one thing you won't get is the ability to mount the FTP site with a drive letter that shows up in My Computer, so if you need that for some reason you might want to try out NetDrive instead. If not, this is a very simple, useful solution.
CyberNotes: Map a FTP to a Drive in Windows


Last time we mentioned the search-as-you-type service SurfWax we lamented not being included in its blog and RSS index. Happily that's all changed! Lifehacker's site search isn't always—what's the word I'm looking for?—adequate, so head over to SurfWax LookAhead's Lifehacker search, which comes in two flavours: one which searches just recent RSS headlines, the other, headlines and post bodies. Only the last couple of weeks worth of posts are available in the SurfWax interface, but it's a super-fast way to get to the recent good stuff. Thanks, Tom!
Lifehacker Blog Post Headline/Body LookAhead SearchLifehacker Feed Headline LookAhead Search


Windows only - Melbourne-based Tumbywood Software has released Text2Go, a text to voice reader for the iPod.

Text2Go integrates with Internet Explorer and iTunes to convert text from the web to speech and transfer it to your iPod.

You can listen to the samples of the (Australian) voices on the website.

The downside is, it costs $25, but there is a 30 day free trial available to download here.

Text2Go's creator Mark Gladding blogged about using his software to access free downloadable e-books to pass the time on long drives:
"My tip for surviving these road trips from hell is to load up your iPods and mp3 players with a collection of audio books. There is a wonderful collection of free eBooks available at Project Gutenberg and if you’re a science fiction fan, there’s the Baen Free Library. You can use Text2Go to convert these eBooks to speech and transfer them to your iPod."
He includes links to some of the children's books that are available to download, as well as some of the English Lit classics.
Thanks for the tip, Mark.


Taking effective notes is not necessarily a built-in skill. Productivity blog Lifehack.org has a nice write-up of exactly how to make your notes—whether they be for school, work, or whatever—the absolute most useful notes ever. Two things to remember: Write down what is new to you (there's no point in writing down stuff you already know, right?), and write down what is relevant (what's going to be of use to you later).
Advice for Students: Taking Notes that Work


Screwing up at work doesn't have to be a career-ender, and the Life Learning Today weblog runs through how you can quickly recover from your mistakes and save face. Most of the tips involve sucking it up and taking responsibility. The important thing to remember is that mistakes can not simply be ignored. They must be dealt with. How you deal with and recover from your mistakes can say lot about your character and your work ethic. Is honesty (and acceptance) really the best policy? Let us know how you handle workplace mistakes in the comments.
Recover from a Fumble at Work


Tipster Tom told us about a website called The Money Orb.
The site has two main tools, an advanced loan calculator and a more simple tax calculator. Lots of websites offer these kinds of tools, but here's what's cool about The Money Orb - it helps you factor in "what if" scenarios so you can think about forward planning for changes in your financial situation.
The loan calculor helps you answer questions like "When am I going to pay off my home loan?" or "What if my husband/wife stops working or goes part-time?"
For example, I created two loan scenarios, to compare how much more quickly a loan would be paid off if I paid in fortnight instead of monthly increments, and paid off an extra $500 a month. The calculator shows you several different graphs including this one to help you compare the scenarios:

The tax tool is a bit more rudimentary - it can calculate your tax for the 2005/2006 financial year onwards. It can include the effect if you have private health insurance, but doesn't allow you to take HECS/HELP repayments into account.

The site's still in development and it's planned that users will be able to store and update budget information onsite. They're also planning a property investment calculator which will give estimates on the amount of money people can borrow for a residential investment property based on their equity.

Thanks for the tip, Tom!


Want to make a quick and dirty Karaoke track from an MP3 or make a new instrumental-only ringtone for your newly-hacked iPhone? Prolific YouTube how-to video maker jimmycron steps through how to remove the vocal track from some MP3s using the free, open source Audacity. Getting rid of the vocals won't work on all songs (it should work best on stereo tracks with the vocals centered), but if you just need a quick vocal removed, this method is worth a try.

Remove Vocals from Mp3s using audacity (Win/Mac/Linux) Free