We often think of the 'calm before the storm', but rarely do we recognize or even witness the 'calm after the storm'. This sunset occurred less than an hour after a severe storm, near Otter Falls, MB, that brought down a hundred trees near a cabin we had rented. The clouds became soft like cotton balls (mammatus clouds) and the sky was at peace.
I try to always share truly useful technology and apps when I find, test, and discover they help save me time or solve a problem.
In doing my taxes this past year, I was able to NOT have to pull my gas receipts out of a shoebox and was easily able to tally up my expenses for my accountant faster than I ever have before.
Time Saved: Approximately 2-3 hours
As an experiment, I started taking pictures of my gas receipts with an app called OneReceipt. Which allowed me to tag the picture “GAS” and after each fill up simply throw away my receipt and forget about it. It also works on any other receipts as well. Their technology actually pulls the #’s off the receipt and stores them securely in the cloud. It also can analyze your spending and a few other things I haven’t tried yet
When it came time to do my taxes this spring. I logged in to their site clicked on the tag ‘GAS’ and voilà… done! All my gas expenditures exported as a PDF with a TOTAL. No calculator or eye straining required!!!
New Years Resolutions have had a bad rap. I see many a blogger, author and commenter suggesting resolutions just don’t work! I’m curious as to why. What makes CHANGE so difficult? Why do New Years resolutions fail more often than not?
I have a theory!
No one hands us an easy RECIPE FOR CHANGE. We have plenty of books, blogs, courses and gyms that will happily take our hard earned money. But they never come with that bonus coupon that guarantees they will also motivate you to butt out, wake up early after a long sleepless night to work out, slap your hand when reaching for a bag of chips, or to not work late and spend more time with your family.
Let’s face it! We are hardwired to resist change. The short term pain too often trumps the long term gain. Having said that, I believe there is an effective recipe for change that works more often than not! It is so effective I am often afraid to use or invoke it in my own life. I’ll let you be the judge.
The most effective agent of personal change is TRUE FEAR of failure!!! Let me explain. When failure is personal and silent it sucks big time, but is easily dismissed. When failure is public and forever in the eyes of your closest friends, family and co-workers the mere thought of it is like trying to imagine jumping out of a plane without a parachute, swallowing a scorpion or gnawing off your own arm. Sorry for the horrific visuals, but the latter examples are clearly not easily dismissed.
Use this recipe to your advantage! If you REALLY want to change, subject yourself to potential personal and public humiliation. If you want to lose weight; bet your 10 closest friends and family members you will achieve your goal by XYZ date or you will pay each of them $(painful amount of money). Need motivation to work out four times a week; send an email with the plan to your co-workers detailing how you if you fail, by XYZ date, you will work an entire week wearing pajamas and will make a $(painful amount of money) donation to a charity or association you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want to publicly support!
You can achieve this on your own or, for those that truly understand and accept their lack of motivation, YES there is a website that will force you to comply. Use www.stickk.com and increase your success odds from a mere 30% to a whopping 70%. Complete your recipe for change using the digital equivelant of eating humble pie.
For the remainder of 2013 I look forward to bringing you digital rockstar style RECIPES for life, food, tech shortcuts, and digital goodness that will help make your, and my, life better in 2013! I too plan to eat my own humble pie.
Happy New Year!
PS. Blog Update: I will slowly be adding my favourite slow carb and cheat day recipes here: /recipes/ ( If you are into slow carb please share your favourites and I would love to hear feedback on the recipes I post). If you are not into slow carb… here is my original post on the diet/lifetsyle. /slow-carb-diet/
It’s been too long since I have blogged… It’s good to be back!!!
Time to highlight my best digital tips, life tricks and apps that have helped me in 2012. I hope you are looking forward to 2013 being your best year ever!! FYI some of these tips I really had my GEEK HAT ON so if one doesn’t interest you…skip on to the next!
This list is in no particular order, but these 10 are the ones that have had the most dramatic impact for me and I know you will benefit the most from. Each one is truly worthy of its own post.
Although from a geek stand point I am probably a few years late to the party, I truly discovered the power of short codes in 2012. The power of never having to type the same thing twice has literally saved me 3-4 hours per week. These two programs that cover both PC and Mac have the power to change the way you work and or play. Why type out lengthy email addresses, frequent comments, passwords, paragraphs, templates, follow up emails, complaint letters, and the list goes on and on and on!
As a recap the efficiencies you can create are nothing short of amazing. I saved 3-4 hours a week in unnecessary typing this past quarter alone.
* my motto is ‘Never Type Twice’ * What follow up emails, meeting notes, marketing, or anything else can you create short codes for? * Remember to create short codes that you won’t commonly type. For example I use ‘xm’ to bring up my meeting note template.
Let me know if you need any help with this.
PS. In typing this entire email I only had to type your name and ‘xbreevy’
I have been using the cloud to store data for a few years, but until mid 2012 never truly integrated into my digital life. This is the year I took the plunge and decided to move my entire PC to Dropbox.
Why? As I am using windows computers (desktop and laptop), an iPhone and an iPad I wanted access to everything on my computer regardless of platform (device agnostic I also no longer wanted to have to worry about backing up various computers and devices. Now I don’t have to! Everything is available from any device and even if a computer blew up I seriously don’t care as I have EVERYTHING important to me in the cloud.
Call it digital peace of mind.
3. Slow Carb Diet:
Although this has been a previous tip of mine, and is now very main stream, I still come across people who have not heard about how to lose 20lbs in a month with out feeling hungry! This is a lifestyle must have for me as I am frequently on the road, eating in too many restaurants and too often am not able to exercise ( an excuse I know)! I frequently eat slow carb and drop 10 lbs in two weeks mostly after falling of the healthy eating bandwagon at Five Guys Burgers and Fries
My three favourite slow carb foods are Indonesian Scrambled Eggs, Black Beans w/Red Peppers, Onions and Jalapeño, Curried mashed Cauliflower. Drop me a line if you want t o share recipes.
4. For Songwriters: My Voicelive 2 has changed the way I write music. No longer do I have to wonder how a chorus would sound with a female harmony in 3rd or 5th, a gang vocal in the bridge, a lower baritone harmony in that pre-chorus is all just a click away. It will never replace the real thing, but has become an essential tool for me to work out song ideas!
5. Gmail: Year after year stays on the top of my list as the best free email platform on the web. If your still stuck with an email address and held hostage to the monthly bill from your Internet provider… You’ll never regret the switch!
Earlier in 2012 I had a great idea for a mobile phone app after sending my associate pictures of receipts for expense report, as we had hit a deadline and was out of town. Wow! wouldn’t that be a great app; just snap a pic of your receipt, tag it and throw away the receipt knowing it is in the cloud forever, properly dated and tagged gas, office supplies, etc! Again my brilliance was trumped by someone else who HAD already created an APP for THAT! Never lose a receipt again … Priceless!
7. Mint.com and Mobile Apps: Although slightly depressing at times when I realize just exactly where my cash is going each an every day or month. There is NO SIMPLER way to get a grasp on your household budget. Just securely input your bank accounts and automagically your inflow and put flow of cash is crunched for you. Easily see where your cash is going, set alerts, and work towards having your money work for you, instead of the other way around!
8. Jotpro: Allows me to write on my iPad as seamlessly as I do on paper.
This one is specific to tablet users and I will not lay claim to discovering such a life changing product, but it has allowed me to ditch paper entirely during my work day. I only carry a real pen these days for emergencies or when a server at a restaurant forgets to bring one along with the bill. I use the following note taking apps on IOS; Notes Plus and Daily Notes (integrates with Text Expander for pure digital utopia!)
9. GoToMeeting (PC, MAC and IOS): I often do 20+ meetings per week. I had dabbled with GoToMeeting in previous years with minimal success, but the latter part of this year I pushed remote clients to truly buy in to meeting with me more regularly on a virtual basis. The result has been astounding! I have found that the 100+ meetings I have done have been nearly as productive as face to face meetings. If you meet with or could be meeting with people (anywhere in the world) GoToMeeting should be on your must try list! To try it Free for 30 days: CLICK HERE
10. Skype:I know almost EVERYONE uses Skype for free video chatting. Skype is so much more! Probably 2% of the calls I do are video calls, 20% instant messages and 80% of the calls I make are outbound phone calls to long distance numbers in North America. Skype long distance calling is cheap as borsch and the call quality is 100x better than the cell phone reception I get in my basement home office.
Again, Happy New Years and I hope 2013 will be your best year ever.
In the blink of an eye I married the girl of my dreams, created my hit songs Emma, Hanna & Grace, accepted my most important job as a Dad , succeeded and failed in business, wrote an unsuccessful book, cried through two heart surgeries, recorded an album, partied at the Playboy mansion, experienced too many funerals, and learned way more than the five lessons that will guide me though the next 40 years (assuming I am so lucky)!
You can do ‘ANYTHING‘ you put your mind too!!!
Be present and live for today. You can’t change the past or predict the future!
LOVE with all your heart, but remember it’s not everything! Love is about what YOU put in.
If you’re not changing you’re dying! “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi (Embrace change even when its uncomfortable)
Life is not about the destination. It’s about the journey… you can’t take it with you when you’re gone!
I have had a long standing picture album on Face Book called my Weird & Wacky album that I have decided, rightly or wrongly, to share with you and the rest the world wide web. These are pictures I have taken over the past few years that made me laugh, scratch my head or were just so whacky I had to keep them. Hope you enjoy Weird & Wacky Wednesday!!! As I take more random pics I will post them on Weird & Wacky Wednesdays.
I have released the first single from my upcoming album. Its a rock song, with an east coast feel, entitled ‘Alexander Keith’. As this is my personal weblog, I will leave it at that and ask you to check out my artist website:
For all you AWeber users, and for anyone else running an email newsletter service, ‘Consistency is King!’ This may seem obvious or even an overly simplistic tip, but if you are not consistent with your email newsletter you will fail. Consistency only means your subscribers will receive valuable content when they are expecting it. In today’s world of a million distractions, you must not only meet your readers expectations, but exceeding expectations is the new normal.
Decide today how frequently you will send out your email newsletter.
Every day= You better have awesome content or a bestselling book! Too much for most readers!
Once or Twice Every week= suggested!
Every Two Weeks= OK, if that’s what your readers expect!
Once a month= Too little and forgettable.
Once a Year or When you think of it= Failure.
Add to your calendar the time line you decide on sending out your email newsletter and stick with it. If at all possible, always know what next 5 topics you are sending out. An ounce of prevention in this case is worth more than a pound of increased subscribers to your list.
Well 2011 is gonzo and now 2012 is the year the world is suppose to end, and what really matters after that statement! I don’t believe it for a second, but lets ponder for a moment if it was true for YOU or I as an individual. After all, who knows when your or my personal number comes up! You or I could die tonight… right?
I haven’t blogged in awhile for a very good reason. Outside of time with my family, I have been spending my time writing music and recording my debut album to be released some time in 2012. Even if you could care less as to what I spend my time doing, please read on, as this pertains to YOU and every single person on this PLANET.
Why am I recording an album? Simple answer; I CAN… and next to my absolute best creations, my children, my music is something that will live on forever after I am gone. You see my children are my ultimate legacy, but I can only live on through them to the extent they pass on my teachings, memories and my genes. I am recording an album, because the music I create is part of my personal legacy I will leave behind when I am gone.
If the world ended for me in 2012 I am confident I have done everything I can for my legacy to live on.
What if the world did end for you in 2012?
What will you leave behind?
What is your legacy?
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter if you do not write, paint, sing, or have an artistic bone in your body. Legacy is not defined by enduring material you leave behind, but rather it’s YOUR WORK or LIFE’s impact on the living. Every person can leave a legacy!
This is my 7 Day Unplug Challenge. I hope you’ll join me in scheduling your own week to truly unplug. Please read on to unplug.
You may need to unplug if you are anything like me and:
Wake up and have a smart phone in your hand within 5 minutes.
Own an iPhone & a work Blackberry. (multiple phones and Internet connections)
Deal with multiple Internet related responsibilities from the time you wake to the moment you sleep.
Deal with 100+ emails per day.
Recognize that technology & the Internet, sometimes, is hurting the people you love the most; including yourself.
You may also need to unplug if you are:
Feeling the Internet is affecting your personal relationships in any negative way whatsoever.
Feel technology is getting in the way of you eating, exercising, sleeping or relaxing.
Find that the Internet is interfering with your career or schooling.
You may need to unplug if you even think for a second that ‘you need to unplug’!
We’ll get to the actual 7 DAY UNPLUG CHALLENGE in a moment, but first let me give you some background information as to how you can imagine it recently came about for me, and at the end, I hope you will join me in some fashion or another by accepting the 7 day Unplug Challenge.
With a two week holiday just coming to the half way mark, Tanya, my awesome wife, was kind enough to encourage me to relax on the first week of my vacation, do all the things I want to; like play with the kids, stay up late watch movies, post a few blog articles, write some music, and spend quality time as a family in general and even putter around on my computer gadgets! Yipppeeee!!!!!!
Her request for my second week of my vacation was to PLEASE, PLEASE TRULY relax and 100% UNPLUG.
So my first response was, “OK, so you mean no computer?” Nope she said, “100% UNPLUG meaning No computer, No Blackberry, No iPhone, No tablet, and NO INTERNET PERIOD. So if someone wants to get a hold of you they are just going to have to do it ‘Old School’ and call our home phone number!” I can actually count all the people on one hand who actually call my home phone! In the moment the thought of me actually fully and completely unplugging was making me a little queasy with worry how I would cope, and for that very reason alone I accepted the challenge. I knew in my heart it was time to unplug.
Now reality sets in and I am minutes away from the 7 Day Unplug Challenge. I guarantee I will go out of my skin for a few days with probably some fairly realistic withdrawal symptoms; phantom vibrating blackberry syndrome, iPhone envy, and even a little ‘what do I do now’ whining!
Here is my quasi plan:
All devices off.
Absolutely zero internet.
Out of office response on all my email addresses (don’t ask how many
Three books to read (The Hunger Games Trilogy)
A pad of paper and pen.
My wife and three beautiful children.
Your guess is as good as mine how this will turn out (I’ll post an update next week) , but I am hoping that I come back a week from now relaxed , invigorated and ready to take on the rest of 2011. Thank again to Tanya for making this happen and my apologies in a advance if I’m a grump for a day or two
Hope you’ll join me and create your own 7 Day Unplug Challenge.