Monthly Archives: June 2007

Linux Tip: Tune your system for faster performanceLifehacker

Swappiness.pngThe Webs Best explains how you can tweak your Linux system for better performance. The tutorial includes several performance tweaks, but one particularly useful and easy tip is to reduce your “swappiness.” Swappiness is the variable that determines when your system stops using internal memory and switches to using the hard disk as virtual memory, similar to the page file concept in Windows. Since your hard disk is considerably slower than internal RAM, reducing your swappiness and forcing your system to use internal RAM can result in considerable performance increases.

You can reduce your swappiness from the terminal with one command.

sudo sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10

The command shown above is not a permanent fix. However, if you are satisfied with the performance boost, The Webs Best explains how you can make it permanent and do a whole lot more. Although the guide is written with an Ubuntu slant, you can perform these tasks on just about every distro.

Searching file or directory excluding NFS mounted file systems.

Sometimes I need to find a file or directory on my local machine and I don’t want to scan large NFS file systems connected to my machine.

I am using following syntax for do so:

$ find / -path /net -prune -o -type d -name *gcc*

This command line will search for any directory on my local machine with name included “gcc”. It will not search below “/net”.

You can add any number of “-path … -prune -o” in front of “-type” to add more directories to exclude from search. For example:

$ find / -path /net -prune -o -path /proc -prune -o -type d -name *gcc*

The I Will Teach You To Be Rich series on women and personal finance beginsI Will Teach You To Be Rich

Today, I’m launching a short series on women and personal finance as announced here. Why? Part of it is wanting to balance out the ratio of male and female readers. Part of it is anecdotal, with my female friends seeming to pay just as little attention to money as my male friends.

You’ll notice in the comments of my last post that certain commenters were worried about this being a hit job on women. Please, give me a break. That’s exactly why I asked for real women to interview about their money habits. While not scientific, this is hardly about berating women for poor money management. If that were the case, I’d rather berate women and men. Why limit it?

But let’s also keep it real. Too many people tiptoe around the gender issue when it comes to money, pretending that men and women are the same. I prefer to live in a world of what is rather than what should be. The whole idea of men and women being the same is ridiculous — we’re not. We earn different amounts, we worry about different things, we have different attitudes towards money, and we buy different things. So before we begin, I thought we’d just list all the stereotypes about women and money out there so we can dispense with them once and for all. To get these, I asked female iwillteachyoutoberich readers what society thinks of women and money.

Stereotypes about women and money from female iwillteachyoutoberich readers

“Women buy clothes, purses, and makeup”

“Women are flighty and not conscientious about their money”

“Women actually handle their money just as well as men. They just don’t make a big deal out of it.”

“Women just don’t care about money.”

“Women are more generous with their time than men. Men prefer to write a check, but women will donate their time.”

“Women just want a rich guy to take care of them.”

“Financial media is geared towards men. For example, I read Kiplinger’s Magazine and it seems like there’s a guy in the suit on the cover.”

Some of these are patently absurd, like the idea that “women don’t care about money.” Talk to any woman and you’ll see that’s not true. But let’s not be so quick to dismiss all of these stereotypes. I guarantee that there are going to be commenters who flame this post, saying “RAMIT, YOU’RE SO STUPID/INCONSIDERATE/IGNORANT FOR LISTING THOSE STEREOTYPES. DON’T YOU KNOW THEY SET WOMEN BACK 50 YEARS?!?#*%#*@!*#?”

Sorry, but I’d prefer to address these head-on instead of pretending the stereotypes don’t exist. So here’s what I’ve learned from my interviews so far:

Women are intimately concerned with money. Not just the self-selected ones who responded to my post, either, but even their friends. It’s just that many choose to ignore their concerns for another day. Sort of like men.

Emotion and money seems to be inextricably tied together for the women I spoke to, much more so than for men.

There are few good role models for women and money when it comes to sensible banking, budgeting, investing, and saving. I read Oprah, I read Cosmo, I read a bunch of women’s magazines. The pieces of advice are trite and patronizing. “Put aside $10 for a rainy day!” The women I spoke to commented time after time that there are few accessible comprehensive places for women to learn about money. Also, parents don’t seem to instill the idea of financial education into daughters. Almost every woman I spoke to mentioned that she had had to learn about money on her own, a daunting task.

With that said, all the information anyone needs to get started is available online for free. It’s too easy to say “nobody taught me what to do.” The personal-responsibility zealots have a point: We do need to step up and learn this stuff on our own, and it’s easier now than ever before.

I hope you can see that I’m trying to be fair about what I’ve learned so far. But I’m not an expert on women and money: I started researching this about a week ago, I spoke to a few women, and I read a few books/magazines. If you think I’ve stepped over the line or you have data to contradict me, please leave a comment.

But I want to use this to start a dialogue about why I have so few women readers on iwillteachyoutoberich.com (and why few of my female friends talk about money).

Please tell your female friends about this series on iwillteachyoutoberich. If you can do one favor for me, please ask your female friends to come and comment on the series. This should be less about me and more about the comments of real women who can tell us what’s on their mind.

Coming up: interviews with female iwillteachyoutoberich readers, female entrepreneurs, and anything interesting that readers submit.

Leo’s writing, elsewhere: organization, reading, writing, and morezen habits

I thought I’d share some of the articles I’ve been writing for other blogs, in case you’d like to read them:

Dumb Little Man: 7 Secrets of the Super Organized & 39 Ways to Live, Not Merely Exist

FreelanceSwitch: 10 Essential Steps to Getting to the Top of Your Field

Lifehack.org: 14 Ways to Cultivate a Lifetime Reading Habit

Web Worker Daily: 10 Free Minimalist Word Processors 

Let me know if you like them!

How To: Prioritize quickly and intuitively

Matrix.png

Not sure what project you should work on next? The All About Agile weblog’s got a pragmatic method for setting priorities: by charting your projects on an importance/difficulty matrix, pictured above.

Once you’ve got all your things on the grid, think about the four quadrants. Things in the top left are “No-Brainers”. These things are clear priorities. Things in the bottom right are potentially for the bin, as these things are of the least value.

How do you get your priorities straight? Let us know in the comments.

How to prioritize quickly and intuitively [all about agile]

Featured Windows Download: Run Linux apps in Windows with Xming

Xming.png

Windows only: Open-source app Xming is a Windows port of the X Window system used in most popular Linux distributions.

Xming runs Linux applications without a virtual machine window. Xming is a port of the windowing environment, not a bundle of Linux apps, which means you must be running a Linux distribution remotely or in a virtual machine to use Xming. The installation is a breeze which includes a wizard to help you decide how you want Xming to display Linux apps. Xming is light, portable, and weights in at just 2.1 MB. Unfortunately, there is a high learning curve if you haven’t used Linux in the past. Xming is primarily used to control remote Linux computers using SSH, however, it can also be used with a virtual machine to run Windows and Linux apps side-by-side. Xming is a free download for Windows only. Thanks, strangeweather!

Xming [Sourceforge]

A Simple Guide to Setting and Achieving Your Life Goalszen habits

Question from reader Bob:

I’ve finally realized that I need to put together a 5-year plan to continue my personal development and reach goals. I’ve found your post, Think About Your Life Goals , and it’s started me in the right direction, but left a lot of open questions. To start, I really don’t know what questions I should ask myself to get to the items I really want (if I even know what I really want in the first place). Is there some sort of personal plan worksheet that you know of that would cover the complete realm of development? I feel that I would be more successful if I could easily view my goals and track my progress within one main document.

A great question, but to tell the truth, since I wrote that article, I’ve simplified my goal-planning system. A lot. I’ll get into that simple system in a minute, but let’s break Bob’s question into three parts:

  1. How to choose life goals
  2. How to get there
  3. How to keep track of all your goals and actions

How to choose life goals
There is no perfect answer here. Some people have known for awhile now what they really want, but just haven’t pursued it, and for them, it just takes a little contemplation to realize what they’ve wanted all along. Others will have a more difficult time, as they have never figured out what their dream is, or what they’d like to accomplish. For them, I’d make a few suggestions:

  1. Take some time for quiet contemplation.
  2. Think about what’s important to you.
  3. Think about what you’d like people to say about you when you die.
  4. Brainstorm — make a list of all the things you’d like to do in life, things that sound fun and exciting and wonderful, and then choose the best of the list.
  5. You don’t have to come up with your life goals right now. You could just think of something you’d like to achieve over the next 6 months to a year, and continue to explore different things until you find your dream.

How to get there
If you know your goals, the next question is how to get there. A great method that I’ve seen numerous times, most recently by Mark Joyner in his Simple*ology system, is called backward planning, a method used by the military. Basically, here’s how it works:

  • Have a clearly defined goal with a clearly defined outcome — you should be able to visualize what it looks like when you’ve accomplished the outcome.
  • What is the last thing you’ll need to do to achieve that outcome? If your goal is to publish a novel, for example, the last thing you’ll need to do (before the publisher does the layout and design, printing, marketing, etc.) is edit and submit the final draft.
  • What is the thing you’ll need to do just before that step? In the above example, you might want to get an outside editor to review your draft and give your criticisms and suggestions and edits.
  • What is the thing you’ll need to do before that step? In the example, you’d need to do a revised draft to submit to your editor.
  • And so on, until you get to the first step. The first step is what you need to focus on. In the novel example, you might have “brainstorm novel ideas” as your first step.

If you follow this plan, you’ll have a step-by-step guide to achieving your goal. Now you just need a way to track your goals and achieve them.

How to track and achieve your goals – a simple method
As Bob suggests, it would take a well-planned form or software to track a bunch of goals, broken down by periods of your life (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc). That can be very complicated, as I’ve discovered myself.

So how can you simplify this? Of your life goals, choose one to accomplish within the next 12 months. If none of them can be accomplished in 12 months, choose a sub-goal of one of your life goals to accomplish in 12 months. And only choose ONE goal. Here’s an example:

Life goal: build my dream house
1 year goal: save $5,000 towards a down payment for my dream house

Once you’ve chosen your 1 year goal (and remember, only choose one — not one for each area of your life, but just one), then choose a medium-term goal that you can accomplish in 3-6 months. It should be a big chunk of your 1 year goal. For example:

medium-term goal: save $2,500 in 6 months

Then choose a short-term goal you can accomplish in 1-2 weeks. For example:

short-term goal: set up automatic deductions from my paycheck to go straight to savings — amount: $200 per paycheck.

The reason you should only focus on one goal at a time is that it’s hard to track a whole bunch of goals, and it’s hard to maintain focus on more than one goal at a time. If you just have to accomplish one thing this week, you can really put your energy into making it happen. But if you need to do 3-5 things in the next two weeks, it’s much more likely that you won’t do any of them.

So, focus on your short-term goal (1-2 weeks) and then when you complete it, choose the next short-term goal to get you to your medium-term goal. Once the medium-term goal is accomplished, choose a new medium-term goal to get you to your long-term goal (1 year). Once your long-term goal is accomplished, set your sights on a new long-term goal. Keep this up, and you’ll achieve a lot.

Here’s another example:

1 yr goal: Quit my job and work from home
medium-term goal: start an online business that will bring me income
short-term goal: brainstorm and research ideas for online business

I’ve found that this simplified system does a lot to helping me stay focused. It’s also hard to only choose one goal, as we always want to do 10 goals, but I think it’s worth it to decide what’s most important.

And the goal-tracking system is simple: on a simple 3×5 index card (or any sheet of paper), write down three things: your 1-year goal, your medium-term goal, and your short-term goal. When you accomplish the short-term goal, just cross it off and write a new one. It doesn’t require any fancy software or planning system.

The key is to maintain focus on your one goal, and to put all your energy into achieving it. Don’t forget it, don’t be distracted from it. Let it be the point on the horizon that you continually keep in sight, moving around obstacles but constantly heading towards that point. Maintain your focus, and you’ll achieve it.

What are your thoughts on this? Have a simple method for achieving and tracking your life goals? Let us know in the comments.

See also:

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10 Ways to Avoid Speeding Ticketsdigg

The worst possible thing you can do is combine all the no-no’s in this list by driving a flashy car too fast, late at night when you’re the only car on the road while looking like you just robbed a bank. If you do that, expect a ticket. And expect no mercy.

10 tips for working from homedigg

Here are a few suggestions to those of you who have told your bosses that you are “working from home” today: Some of my favorites: 1. DO NOT leave your cell phone back in the living room when you step out to the diner for a couple of hours. 2. DO take your BlackBerry and cell phone when you go to the bathroom.

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