Getting Things Done the right way in a techie world

Have you every wondered how we can be focused the right way in a techie world?  With the mass amounts of information on your iPhone / Android or other mobile device?  Have you struggled trying to find the right path for organizing your life.

My Background:

My kids go to Upwards Soccer for learning some great skills for sports (and life).  While during the devotional time, the speaker mentioned the acronym, G.E.M.  Which stands for “God, Everyone else, and Me”.   Well that spawned a few personal goals in my life.  Amazing what you learn at something that’s not really for you!!  Go upward sports!!

  • How do we get organized with that GEM concept in life?
  • Ever find yourself working too much on the wrong “bucket” in life?   I have..

Well here’s a solution for you and your mobile world.

Getting Organized

I have an iPhone, and also use a great iPhone app called Gee Tasks.  In the past, I struggled with organizing my daily routine in this GEM concept until now.

Getting Things Done (GTD) concepts

Here are some quick solutions based around the GTD concepts by David Allen.  This was a great way to organize my life not only at work, but also at home.  I actually found a set of GTD cd’s at my local library, which cost me no money!  As a side note, if you want an AWESOME way to organize your life financially, check out Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University.  I’m taking this course right now.  More of that to come in the future.

Quick Concepts

  • Next Action List (primary and most active todo list)
  • Projects (A project is defined if there are more than one task associated with the “item”)

GTD Workflow

Lists

As you see below, I’ve ordered them alphabetically and prefixed with “a”, “b” and so on.  This allows me to keep on track with things that are important the most.

I have two priority buckets:

One is the “Great Bucket List”.  This is my running list of things that I think of during the day that grow my faith and help others around me.

Secondly, is my “Next Action To Do” list.  This is my primary focal area where I want to get the most done from my time.  I constantly go to this one.  When, I need to move one to the next, it typically goes into my “Next Action” list.

Above, looke at the “proj” lists.  This is a GTD concept that works well.  If any task requires more than one item (IMO: typically > 3), then create a “proj Something”.

Below is my “Great Bucket List”.  This is my list that keeps my faith walking down the right track.  Typically this is where most of my most treasured ideas and thoughts are stored.  This is my “God” first section of the GEM concept.  Notice how I prefix things with “gd”.  This is important on the next screenshot.

Next Action List

Below, this is my main line so to speak.  This is my tracks that keeps me on course, and on track.

Now most things are prefixed, and suffixed as well.  This allows me to do several things:

  • Quickly gauge which “project” is getting the most attention.
  • Time suffix allows a quick gauge of how I can knock off a few quick items, or “burn down” some minutes on a big time task.

With Gee Tasks, it allows me to quickly sort / move a task from one item to the next as well.  Also, since it’s integrated with Google Tasks (add email), you can quickly add a task via google tasks, then synchronize them with your Gee Tasks automatically.

With GTD, this article barely scratches the surface on how effective you can be with lists.  I’d highly recommend looking into the concepts.  It’s the only solution that’s helped me clear my mind on ideas, thoughts, and todo’s.  And then, you need to focus on most important, which is your “next action” list.  In many cases, you must frequently (at least once a day) scan all projects for activeness or status.

I hope this keeps you better focused with life’s most important things.  Time is valuable so choose it wisely.  I’ve found learning about my faith in god takes time.  That time is so rewarding what the lord offers me in life.  It’s changed my life.  That’s why I’m writing this..  I hope it helps you now.

Guide to Internet Filtering for my LAN for Free

Do you need internet filtering for your entire home LAN?  Do you want to rid your entire family of internet porn?  Even your mobile devices that connect to your WIFI hotspot?   For FREE?

Well, I found a great solution with awesome benefits that will secure your entire LAN instead of on a per computer basis, or per browser basis.  On my LAN, I have 1 Mac, 2 laptops, and 2 Linux boxes, 1 XBox and 3 iPhones on my network at any time.  The solution I have works by customizing your home internet router as the primary way of securing.

Here are my original goals:

  • Eliminate all internet pornography from entering my Home
  • Centralized securing mechanism
  • Ability to lock ALL computers with a pulse (or an IP Address)
  • Preferably Free
  • Not a browser based solution.
  • Not a single computer based solution.
  • Can’t be circumvented by the savvy teenager

Many of the solutions that I found, were either browser based solutions or computer based solutions.   This has the following drawbacks:

  • Each machine can easily have another browser, which requires MORE configuration and maintenance.
  • New Computers on the LAN will need more configuration to be secure.

I’d suggest before reading my directions below, read through the Open DNS Basic Setup page first.

Why implement such a broad solution for you Home?

  • Does you child / teenager have a laptop?
  • Is the computer in an open area where you know exactly what website they are on?

Research and Statistics on Pornography

Here’s a few quotes for you, which will hopefully lead you to attempting to set this up at Home:

  • 9 out of 10 children aged between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, in most cases unintentionally (London School of Economics January 2002).
  • Largest consumer of Internet pornography: 12 – 17 year-old age group (various sources, as of 2007).

Here’s some great sites where you can learn more, based on my research:

The Easy Configuration:

This configuration is intended to be generic and not a complete solution for every single router on the planet, but will get you started in the right direction.  I have a customized ASUS router with custom firmware by:  http://dd-wrt.com/ It allows complete control over anything on my router.  I wouldn’t advise this for any average user.  You can easily brick (permanently destroy) your router if flashed improperly.

Here’s what I did to configure my router to make this happen:

  1. Create an account on http://opendns.com/ This will allow you to modify / add DNS server entries into your router.  Also, they have some slick advanced solutions to update a domain name with your dynamic IP address for hosting services on your computer at home.
  2. Log into your home router.  In many cases they will commonly be the following:  http://192.168.1.1/ or   http://192.168.1.254 or something like that.
  3. Go to your LAN section that will contain the DNS server entries.  This is vague, but intended to be used for any router.

Here’s a screen shot of my admin screen:

The primary changes are the DNS 1/2/3 entries pointed to opendns servers.  The 3rd one is the most important (IMO).   That’s an IP address that doesn’t exist for a DNS server.  Basically, if it can’t find DNS 1/2, the dns entries won’t be served up to your LAN.  If you default to 0.0.0.0, then if opendns 1 and 2 aren’t available, the DNS entries will be served up by your local ISP, which will not be content filtered.

This is almost exactly what I did to configure my router, but scaled down a bit for the intermediate guy figuring this out.  I implemented the DNS-O-Matic solution to update my dynamic IP address to a domain name.  This allowed me to host some upcoming solutions, such as a WebDAV server, Apache server forwards to a Java stack for a Grails application I’m working on.  That’s on the nerd / techie side of things, so it’s not covered here.

Here’s exactly what I did on this page:  http://dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/OpenDNS#Basic_Setup

Alternative Solutions

Here’s a few other alternative solutions that’s possible as well.  Some of them offer free software downloads.  This may require installing on various home computers though.  This was one of the reasons why I chose a router based solution.

http://www.safefamilies.org/download.php


LED Lights

I just recently purchased some awesome LED light bulbs even from a major retailer, Sams Club. They were a bit high in price. 2 for $14. Not bad for the little amount of energy (4 watts) they sip instead of even compact flourescent light (CFL’s) bulbs. Most CFL’s consume around 12-14 watts, where incandescent light bulbs consume a whopping 60 watts of power.

SSH on linux

I just enabled my linux box (Ubuntu) with SSH server. I needed a way to remotely connect to my business remotely while at home.

One of the things I wanted was:
*Something secure
*Something easily accessible inside any network.
*Dynamic Host IP to connect without having a static IP address.
*Modify Hardware Firewall to only allow inbound traffic to this new port.

Here are a few quick sites I used to setup my environment:

Setting up OpenSSH Server
https://help.ubuntu.com/6.06/ubuntu/serverguide/C/openssh-server.html

Changing default SSH Banner.
http://www.webhostgear.com/26.html

Missouri Renewable Energy

This is one of the best places to learn about the latest in Renewable Energy in Missouri. They have workshops about bio-diesel, hydrogen fuel additives for cars, solar energy, etc. Also, they have several energy fairs to quickly learn about all of the technologies. Some fairs are located in New Bloomfield, Marshfield, and St. Louis, MO. I’ve been to one so far and it was worth every minute of the drive. Take a look at: http://www.moreenergy.org/

Missouri’s First Hydrogen Fuel Station

wow, the first Hydrogen station in Missouri. What a great thing to see. It appears to be located in Rolla, MO

http://news.mst.edu/news/2008/hydrogenday08.html

First Blog of the Blog

My first blog. Wow, hope no one reads my worthless junk. This is in hopes of my dream to become completely self sufficient as a consumer.

My goals of the blog:

  • Linux blogs: A great place to remember all of great “other” sites out there where I can remember how I mounted my secondary drive, installing print drivers, getting VMWare loaded for Windows, finding a DVD burning solution. BYE BYE WINDOWS. I’m tired of you.
  • Solar blogs: I’d like to learn even more and spread my knowledge of solar in the state of Missouri. Right now, I know enough about solar to start building a bigger community of solar in the state. More to come on what I have and my goals of solar.