8 Lessons Learned in 2013

  1. Signs that life is short are all around us.  Last Tuesday morning at 3:37 AM (Central), while standing on a step ladder, I pulled out the smoke alarm battery and squinted out my own handwriting: “6-24-11”. I could pass a lie detector test swearing I change these every 6 months – always between the hours of midnight and dawn.Vancouver, BC - Feb 2013
  2. The Apple handcuffs have finally been broken.  Since moving to Spotify eight months ago, I haven’t purchased a single iTunes song.  (…and yes, you can access your playlists without being online.)
  3. No more passwords!  Our “secret” password notebook has been rendered useless since moving to LastPass (for a whopping $12/year!). Between the time savings and security, this is beyond a no-brainer.
  4. Shopping online is mainstream (duh!).  I bought EVERY single holiday gift online this year. Again, Amazon Prime rocks, even though I had to use a couple other sites to ensure there were a few surprises (for the snoopy co-member of the account).
    St. Kitts - April 2013
  5. Google Drive (Docs) is truly the best and getting better every week.  For the everyday low price of nothing, 99% of all Word/Excel tasks can be done with Google, and by the way, you also get real-time collaboration, instantaneous backup, and secure sharing as an additional free bonus.
  6. Social media can be fun again.  After some introspection into why I had all but stopped interacting on the public Interwebs, I decided to introduce some discipline and am enjoying the benefits with several blog posts, tweets, and pics in store for 2014.
  7. Paperless is now a reality.  Thanks to the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 (2014 edition), notebooks (both kinds) are becoming a thing of the past. Admittedly, the paperless option is going to lie in the early adopter phase for most at this point in time, but the writing apps are becoming quite good.
  8. Bye bye little boxes.  In the words of Malvina Reynolds (via Jenji Kohan):  “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same…” To avoid sounding rantish and/or brash, we’ll simply summarize by saying those rules, ruts and rituals can all be broken. Bold changes and crazy adventures have served the Lunt’s well in 2013, and we’re planning on even more healthy disruption in 2014!

Puerto Rico - April 2013

Kate in sample of 2013 holiday pics

Kate - holiday pics 2013

Social media charter

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been doing a bit of social media housecleaning and really trying to answer the question of what to post and where to post it.  Through the course of investigating best practices in combination with defining some new objectives, the following outlines the latest game plan.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Twitter

  • Work and industry related, specifically around software and IT
  • Colleague connections and conversations
  • Postings from blogs, if relevant to above

LinkedIn

  • Work and industry related, specifically around software and IT
  • Career related
  • Colleague connections
  • Postings from blogs, if relevant to above

Google+

  • Still in flux as it’s the grey area between friends, family, work, and career
  • General topics such as tech, career, odd current/local events, etc…
  • Postings from blogs
  • Public photos on topics listed above

Facebook

  • Family & close(r) friends
  • Non-public photos and comments
  • Targeted life postings based on audience
  • Postings from blogs
  • Non-techie subjects

WordPress

  • As the title suggests, improvement ideas, suggestions, things that really helped us, etc…
  • Landing/launching point for other social media outlets

Retrofitting existing networks may cause some unintended ruffling, but hopefully, this blog post explains the reasoning well enough.  Honestly, why anyone peruses my content is baffling to me, but having this cheat sheet should provide some consistency and revive my previous zeal to post more.

Simplifying our travel experience

After having someone walk off with our luggage a second time in 2 years (both times by accident), we decided to add luggage tags to all of our suitcases.  Originally, we tried the store-bought tags, but they often fell apart after a few trips, and the customized online tags seemed like a poor ROI, as we wanted to place two tags on every bag and not have to add/remove the tags every trip.

The solution was to have business cards printed on colored paper – double-sided.  This can be done with a MS Word template, or you can actually have business cards created via several methods.  FedEx Office (previously Kinko’s) will laminate the cards and provide the plastic loops for ~$2/each.  In fact, you can walk into any FedEx Office and ask them how to do the entire project if you want to avoid the smallest amount of cognitive discomfort.  We’ve been using these for about 8 years, and only one has broken in all that time.

No Parking

Pros:

  • The total time to complete the project was less than an hour.
  • The tags were completely unique and high quality, unlike the store-bought items.
  • The solution is cheap enough to have extras made for new bags and broken tags.
  • Since implementing, no airline has ever lost our bags, and no one has ever taken our bags.
  • With two on each bag, we can always see our bags on the conveyor from a distance. (i.e. No more checking bags that look like yours.)
  • With these, there is no more scrambling to fill out the airline-specific tags while impatient passengers wait on you at the check-in counter.

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Printed Grocery List

About 5 years ago, we decided to streamline the repetitive nature of our weekly shopping trips. (…and by we, I have to confess I’m not the key grocery shopper in the family.) After several renditions, the list has evolved into much more than an alphabetized ordering of our most used items, here’s an example of our most recent version.

A couple of mentions about the subtle metadata within the list:

1) Red text allows for blue/black ink or pencil to be visible.
2) Organization is by department within the store, including the typical route through our neighborhood store.
3) Yellow indicates a “staple”, which is something that is needed almost every trip, whether marked or not.

Typically, we print 5-6 off at a time and update the sheet as our habits change. At first we tried to do this with an online version but found there was no substitute for the quick checkoff via pen/pencil. Keeping this in Google Docs allows for editing to be done anywhere, but for those preferring a retro approach, Excel will work fine.

Video #2 for Zenoss

Netflix Culture

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