Hacking Your Life

http://www.flickr.com/photos/4terra/344119502/Hacking has a negative connotation these days to most people. It once was just a complimentary term in the tech world for fixing a tough technical problem of programming code, but then hackers started trying for "unauthorized access to a computer system (e.g. website) or network by manipulating code" and it became more widely used as a bad thing.

Then there are life hacks. You might look at life hacks as a kind of personal productivity. (That is unless you spend so much time online looking at this stuff that you get nothing else done - insert deep bow to my wife here.) They are those little technology tools, gadgets, websites, widgets and such that make you life a bit easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable.

If you look at the most popular blogs at Technorati, you'll find a plethora of sites that would have once been in the "self-help" aisle at the bookstore. Now they are life hacks.

Of course, someone grabbed the URL, so lifehacker.com might claim some credit as the home of all this. They say "Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and web sites that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live."

You can find there phone interview tips as well as info on Forbes' new site called OrgChartWiki, where you can create organizational charts for your company, school, team, department, club etc.

I guess I have included some life hacks on this blog in my recommended sites and online apps and something like OrgChartWiki fits quite well here, though my hacks generally has a teacher's life in mind.

If the gadgets are more your interest, Engadget or Gizmodo may be better for you. if you need info about a lightning detector or about your Macbook Pro's battery problems. These sites also have information for EdTech types such as about schools banning iPods to try to curb digital cheating.

A very popular blog (with a number of companion sites) is 43 Folders by Merlin Mann which has gadgets, software, news and life hacks too.

One of his posts sent me to read Getting Things Done:The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, a book by David Allen that has ways to increase your personal productivity.


If you want your life hacks on paper, you might also try the book that came from the web site Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day.

It's full of hacks, tweaks, mods, mash ups and other tech slang repurposed for your life as shortcuts in easy how-to's. There are 88 of them categorized by cost, platform, and level of geekiness and though they are tech in nature, remember - they are designed to help use all this technology that is supposed to simplify your life. (Samples: scripting repetitive e-mail responses, securely tracking all your passwords, capturing web clippings with Google Notebook, getting back deleted files.)

And what kind of World 2.0 would it be if the book that came from a web site didn't have itself a web site about the book! It's at lifehackerbook.com and has updates, links, references, and additional tips and tools for the hacks described in the book.

OK, my last life hack for today - make a cup of green tea, go to zentences and take a few minutes out to sip and consider a few of the tech-generated koans there... now close that browser, close you eyes, and follow your breath. Simplify your life.


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