Book Review: How to Light Up A Room

After reading the not-so-hot Who Moved My Cheese?, I picked a book on how to be more charismatic.  I feel I’m a very good socializer and communicator, but at the same time, I also know I can become introverted. So, any book that can provide a tip or a hint is a good thing in my opinion.  There are a few things that this book really has going for it.  First, it’s cheap, at $2.99, it’s hard to really go wrong.  Secondly, it’s short.  I read the entire book in under a few hours.  However, don’t let the fact it’s short put you off.  A short book can be bad or it can be great when it’s to the point.  And that is the third thing I like about the book, it’s to the point.  No building up, just all the information you need to know and none that you don’t.

Now with the introduction, let’s get to the meat of the review — which I’ll keep short and sweet — much like the book itself.  It contains a very small introduction about the 55 tips discussed inside of the book and then jumps right into the tips which are split into six different categories but fall into two major ideas: being upbeat and interacting with people.  Each tip is a simple sentence with a paragraph or two of explanation of how to use the tip in day-to-day interactions.

Chances are you’ll blow through this book in one sitting and to me that is fine.  It saves me from having to read all the other books about building charisma since this book has already summarized the majority of these books.  For the $2.99 that it costs from (or free rental if you have a Kindle device), it’s well worth it.

Programming and chairs

Recently the handle on the back of my Humanscale Freedom chair broke and got me really annoyed.  How could a piece so small that I never touch just break the first time I use it to pull the chair?  After getting over the annoyance of broken, sharp plastic, I emailed Humanscale and they sent me a free replacement handle.  Now, you’re wondering why I’m talking about a broken handle on a chair, and I’m getting to the meat of the post.  It made me think about how important the right desk setup and chair is when you’re programming.  You’re spending over eight hours a day in this chair.  Why would you settle for something that is so uncomfortable?

Many people, have written and debated about the perfect programming chair and I think it’s a worthwhile investment.  Granted, you can’t find Herman Miller Aeron chairs for $100 like you used to during the dot com bust but a really good chair can be found for a reasonable amount.  Personally, I’m a fan of the Humanscale Freedom with a headrest.  It wasn’t the cheapest, but it is by far the best investment I’ve made in my career as a programmer.  The ability to stand up after a coding marathon and feel like you just sat down is a wonderful feeling.

If you can’t afford or don’t want to spend money on a chair, think about setting a time and getting up and moving around for 10 minutes every hour or converting your sit-down desk to a standing desk so you can at least move around a little during the work day.  Your body and your mind will thank you for it.

Fixing that ‘Computer Guy/Gal Posture’

A little warning, I might get a little ranty on this.  It’s sad to see people in my profession ignore common health issues and completely neglect our bodies.  It isn’t good now and it becomes even worse later on when you’re retired.

Programming might be life but at the same time, it isn’t everything (or shouldn’t be).  You’ve only got one life and you need to take care of your body.  One of the biggest issues with us poor saps who sit in front of a monitor all day is the dreaded computer gut you get from weak core muscles.  Simply put, when you stand up, if your belt buckle points to the floor, you’ve got some exercises to do.

On Twitter, I follow CompSciFact and they posted a link to some exercises to help you fix that computer posture.  You can find them here and you can thank me later. 🙂

Of course, I suggest you do more: get a gym membership, start working out (and don’t stop going after February!), trade your cokes in for a glass of water, and eat healthier.  As engineers and programmers we spend so much time improving our brains we completely ignore our health.  It’s time to stop doing that — become a healthy person your brain will thank you for it.

How Important is Writing Down Your Goals?

You know, it’s kinda funny how writing things down and checking them off when you finish mentally makes you feel pushed to do them versus just saying you’re going to.  I found that out when I spent all of last year telling myself that no matter what I’d set goals and work toward them each month and talk about how far along I was in that goal.

Well, a few days ago a graphic artist , Allison Morris (sorry you never gave me a link to your website), sent me an email and asked me if I’d be interested in sharing an infographic she created for another website.  I found the infographic had facts worth sharing and was well done, so without further ado, here is the infographic (and why you SHOULD write down your goals).

Setting Goals Infographic
You can see the original article and infographic here.

Write down those goals and make 10x more money than your friends who don’t write them down. So my dear readers, are there any other tips you have to make and keep those goals?

Edit: the 10x more money about the Harvard Business School Study is a myth.

2012 Goals – December / Full Year Retrospective

And I made it through an entire year of doing retrospectives.  I’m not quite sure what that says about me other than I can write a few sentences on a blog one time a month updating my progress toward goals I have. 🙂

#1 Getting in Shape

I’m getting more in shape. Still need to start jogging again though.  I found some nice exercises about how to fix the computer guy posture that the majority of us all suffer from here.

#2 Propose PhD Topic

I’m ready to go but I’ve run into a few roadblocks and working on getting those resolved.

#3 Learn a New Programming Language

This got put on the back burner for the past few weeks with school taking a priority.

#4 Learn Guitar

I’m still going to lessons but I slacked off a bit on my week off from work to take care of house work that needed to be done.  I picked up an Apogee Jam and Rock Prodigy to help me get better at the guitar.  I’m really liking Rock Prodigy and it’s lessons that you can do while just sitting around the house.  I’m hoping to get back into a schedule where I can do the practice for it at a set time.

#5 House work

This ended up taking some of my time during my holidays to clean up my house.  It’s a lot better than it was before but there is still some more work let to be completed.  I guess this is the joy of home ownership.


I’m glad I kept this blog up at least chronicling my attempts at New Year’s Resolutions and forcing myself to act upon them, even if I didn’t finish all of them at least I got myself on a track to complete them.

2012 Goals – November Retrospective

And one more month to go this year…

#1 Getting in Shape

I’m using a personal trainer and it’s definitely a killer.  I’m feeling the burn every time I go there, so I think if I keep it up I’ll definitely be in great shape for another Tough Mudder.  I haven’t however been doing the jogging that I need to do.  So, I’ve gotta get back on the horse with that.

#2 Propose PhD Topic

Rounding up the professors is like herding cats.

#3 Learn a New Programming Language

Haven’t really had a chance to touch on this at all this month.  It’s a little depressing but I’m sure I’ll get back to it soon.

#4 Learn Guitar

The songs I’m playing are actually sounding like songs now (albeit a little slower) so I think I’m making good progress.  Still need to work on changing chords since I can only do them at Neil Young speed and not Rush or Led Zeppelin speed.

#5 Housework

Not much going on in the housework front other than trying to keep the crepe myrtles alive.


I think 4 outta 5 ain’t bad. 🙂