US-centric: What if you could use your computer for more than writing up the latest TPS report or surfing the webernets for last night's Family Guy episodes? You can, with the many excellent charity and volunteer organisations that have placed their services on the web. More than ever before in recent history, you can literally use your computer to make a difference in someone's life...indirectly, hands-on through your computer, or showing up in person. Let's take a look at just a few of the sites and services that are striving to help somebody out.
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DIYer Bruce Maki describes how to create a simple but sturdy workbench for less than $20. For this project, you'll need a few 2x4s, Oriented Strand Board, and deck screws. Size can vary depending on your personal preference. The end result: a workbench that can handle your weight and then some.
Build a Basic Work Bench
Windows only: Inspired by our very own workday QuickLogger script, developer Joshua Tallent's released QuickLogger 2, a full-fledged graphical work journal application. Keep track of what you worked on today in a plain text file or Excel spreadsheet with QuickLogger 2, which supports both pre-set "static" tasks and unique one-time activities. QuickLogger 2 sets runtime options in its interface—no more hand-editing scripts—like your preferred window position and whether your log will contain static and/or dynamic tasks. QuickLogger 2 can even rotate your log every day, week, month, quarter or year. After the jump get two screenshots of QuickLogger 2 in action.
If you've got a task list as long as your arm, it can be overwhelming. Self-improvement site Better Life Forum suggests that you do the absolutely most important task first and then tackle the rest: I have a rule that before I check my email or read my feeds, I have to do my Most Important Task first. I do it first thing in the morning, and then no matter what happens after that, I've done something very productive today. If you've been procrastinating on a very important task for some time, I suggest you do that first. Don't allow yourself to do anything else until it's done!Not only are you defeating the procrastination monster with this practice, you're also learning the fine art of prioritising. How do you conquer an overwhelming list of to-do's? Let's hear in the comments. 20 Procrastination Hacks
Don't trash broken stuff; send it back"Rather than just sending your broken stuff to a landfill, pack it up and ship it back to the manufacturer with a letter asking for a new one. You will be amazed by the results."Technophilia: 15 ways to get more out of Pandora"I've got 15 ways to get better music - and better performance - out of Pandora."Control spending with the 30-day rule"For the next thirty days, think whether you really want the item, but do not buy it."Geek to Live: Get local copies of your online research (del.icio.us, digg or Google Notebook)"Sure, storing your data on the web is great for from-any-online-computer access, but in an age of cheap, enormous hard drives and powerful desktop search, why not replicate the data you keep on the web to your computer?"Geek to Live: Improve your web site with Google Analytics"I've tried practically every free web site stats analyser under the sun - and none has come close to the utility, richness and depth of Google Analytics."Hack Attack: Side-by-side Windows and Mac OS with Parallels"Using the previously-mentioned virtual machine software, Parallels Desktop for Mac ($US79.99), you can run Mac OS X and Windows (XP, Vista, you name it) side-by-side."How to create the grunge effect with Photoshop"Veerle's blog offers a helpful tutorial on creating a grunge look in an image in Photoshop..."Hack Attack: Get more from Google Desktop"I love Google Desktop as a desktop search app, but I'm more interested in it as an application launcher first and search tool second."
You can free yourself from stress caused by the "burden of perfection" by embracing imperfection, according to the Daily Cents weblog. The post discusses these ideas from a female perspective, but a lot of the ideas are just as applicable to both sexes. For example:A lot of pressure if self-imposed - This was a great point made by Leslie Bennetts and illustrated poignantly with an anecdote about her friend, a successful lawyer, who broke down and decided to quit her job after she was informed that it was her turn to bake cupcakes for her child's class.The author suggests that becoming an imperfectionist—or at least embracing the the idea that not everything needs to be perfect—can dramatically lower your stress levels, and I think we can all agree with that.
Imperfection -- and other great thoughts
Some of the best stuff here at Lifehacker happens not in posts, but in reader comments. The wisdom of this crowd surpasses that of any other community on the 'net, and now we're making it easier than ever to stalk follow your favourite commenters. Next time you see a comment on Lifehacker US that's brilliantly illuminating and life-changing? Click the "Follow Commenter" link next to it.
Without a doubt, Wikipedia is one of the most useful and amazing sources of information on the internet—but chances are you aren't using it to its full potential. Thanks to its freely available content base, lots of Wikipedia-related projects have sprung up that offer easy access to information every which way you need it. Whether you want to do a quick lookup on your mobile phone to settle a debate at the bar, mind map related articles, integrate Wikipedia lookups into your media player and instant messenger or simply need better and quicker search tools, check out our list of top 10 Wikipedia tricks.
Productivity blogger Leo Babauta is paring down all the stuff in his life to the barest essentials, and calling the new system "haiku productivity." English majors out there know that haiku is 3-line poetry which contains an exact, short number of syllables per line. Babauta applied haiku-style limits to his own life and distilled his goals, email processing sessions, feeds, Most Important Tasks and other tasks and information to specific amounts. While most of these numbers feel arbitrary, the concept of limitation and focus to encourage productivity is solid. What can you haiku in your productivity system? (Don't say number of Lifehacker posts read per day. That would hurt our feelings.) Haiku Productivity: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential
Install bleeding edge applications easily with Source-O-Matic, a web application that dynamically creates the file that manages what repositories you can install packages from sources.list. Besides the typical Ubuntu repositories, you can add additional repositories that make it a snap to install the newest versions of KDE, Koffice, amaroK and Wine.
Ubuntu sources.list generator
Information overload doesn't have to be overwhelming, and author Ross Dawson shares eight principles that will prevent you from drowning in the surplus of available information. For example: Set information objectives. You can't begin to sort through the 'infoglut' unless you know what is most important to you. To set effective information objectives you need to start from your own objectives.... Putting thought into identifying the key areas you need to be informed on, and prioritising these by importance and timeliness will let you know what you should be focusing on.
Dawson also suggests keeping an open mind, aggressive filtering, and developing strong note-taking abilities (among others). These skills can help you gain a competitive advantage and enable you to cope in a world where excess data is becoming increasingly more difficult to deal with. If managed properly, Dawson claims, you can achieve great success. The "problem" of information overload doesn't have to be one at all; it could open doors and present itself as an opportunity. The article is written from the perspective of a business director or other high-level position, but most of the ideas are equally applicable to any of us.
Eight Steps to Thriving on Information Overload
Now you can post to your blog or Twitter account, schedule an appointment or post to a Yahoo Group with previously mentioned voice-to-text phone service Jott. Jott can now transcribe voice notes and post them to WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal and Blogger; for social updates, Jott now integrates with Twitter and Jaiku; and for scheduling, there's 30 Boxes support (please to add Gcal?). Somewhat less exciting, you can also post to Yahoo Groups and get real estate estimates from Zillow. We've heard both positive and negative feedback from readers about the accuracy of Jott transcriptions, but with all of the new web integration, there's no question that Jott's making huge strides in innovation. Thanks Bryce!
Danny Gorog tells us this morning that "Yes, my iPhone is hacked and working on Optus".
He used a hardware-based crack- the TurboSIM - and says he hopes it will last longer than the software cracks - which may be easier for Apple to fix.