I’ve been Nestified: The Update

TL;DR version: A little pricy but I like the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protects.

In June, I installed the Nest Learning Thermostat in my house and over the Thanksgiving holiday I installed a few Nest Protects as well.  The integration of the Protects with the Thermostats and the application was really good although the install of one of the Nest Protects didn’t go quite like their install made it out to be. I could go on more about all of it but if you’ve read the reviews online, there isn’t more that I can say that hasn’t already been said.  They just work and work well.

I’ve been Nestified

Yesterday I made a big jump, I replaced the old hard-to-program programmable thermostats in my house with fancy new Nest Learning Thermostats.  They’re a snap to install and, currently, many energy companies are giving significant rebates when you buy one.  However, the real reason I got them was cause they’re freaking cool devices with lots of neat ways to interact with them.  Being able to control or check in on the temperature on your house from the phone is really very cool and the fact the Nest uses weather reports to help control the temperature in the house is even neater still. Once it’s been a few weeks I’ll write a little more in depth review about the Nest and if it is actually saving me any money on electricity bills. Until then, I’m saying it’s worth buying just for the tech alone. 🙂

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 Amazon.com (or free rental if you have a Kindle device), it’s well worth it.

Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

As I’ve been thinking about my career I realize I have seriously neglected the business side for many years.  As part of my quest to learn more about the business side I’ve been finding lists of the supposedly best business books, adding them to my Amazon wish list, finding them at Half Price Books and buying them there, and then reading them.  I know my brother has been doing the same thing and I know if both of us are doing it, there are many other people who are as well.  This is what has gotten me to write a review about the books I’m reading in my copious amounts of free time (haha).  Anyway, this wonderful little ditty Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. has quite a following both good and bad.  Amazon’s rating (3.3 / 5) seem to show it’s split right down the middle. Some people have said it has changed their life and others view it as trite simplistic mush not even worthy of a first grader.  And, spoiler alert, I fall into the latter camp — I’m not a fan of the book.  I’m glad I got it at HPB for $4.99 cause at it’s $19.95 MSRP it’s a complete rip-off and even at $4.99 I was a little ticked off.  I will give Dr. Johnson props for making a boat load of money off this book of common sense.

I won’t bore you with the fable, but just know it involves Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw as the characters and THE MAZE as the place they live and find Cheese.  If you have just a little bit of imagination you’ll know right away that

  • All four characters find cheese
  • When the cheese disappears Sniff and Scurry leave right away and don’t complain
  • Hem and Haw stick around complaining (obviously) until one realizes they need to be like S&S and find new Cheese in the scary maze
  • Eventually the other one decides to venture out from the original Cheese station and finds everyone else happy

Throw in some nice banal quotes about Cheese (metaphor for money or happiness) and you’ve got a best selling business book.  I’ll save you the money and give some real advice:

  • Things change, get over it
  • No use in crying over the change
  • Be sensitive to changes in the workplace, note what they are and start making plans
  • Always be looking for the next big opportunity
  • Leave on your timeline, not the business’ timeline for you
  • Spend the $5 it’d cost you for this book at HPB on a beer and the $20 it’d cost you for the full thing on a decent meal.  It’d be money better spent.

2012 Goals

Yeah, so it might be a little late to write about my goals for 2012 but what the heck?  I’ll write about them anyway, not so much for anyone else but for myself to make sure I stay honest about them.  As I wrote in my last post about New Year’s Resolutions/Goals, I felt overall I did a really good job hitting the majority of my goals for the previous year, however, I still didn’t hit them all and others I completely missed / forgot about.  So, it’s time to re-evaluate and create a list of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.

Short-term goals are goals I feel that should be completed within three months.  These would be goals such as: start eating healthier, begin to jog twice a week, or something of that nature.  A goal to break a bad habit or get started doing something new.  These, can then morph into mid-term and long-term goals such as continue eating healthy, etc.  A mid-term goal is a goal that will take six months to a year to complete.  I envision these goals to take the form of: pay off X% of a loan, save $Y, take part in a marathon.  Each month though, I might be able to move a mid-term goal to a short-term goal.  Finally, a long-term goal is something that is going to be just that.  Something that I can’t finish within the year (or even years).  These will be things like: Pay off my house payment X years early, finish paying off my car in Y years, or continue on an exercise routine and a healthy lifestyle.  And much like the mid-term goals, these could be moved as they get closer to completion.

The main goals I’ll talk about here are non-finance related ones, since I’m sure other sites explain how to handle them better and besides they’re always the same: get out of debt, save more money, etc.  And without further ado, here are my goals…

  1. Participate in Tough Mudder / get in better shape (long-term)
  2. Continue learning to play the guitar (long-term)
  3. Propose my PhD topic (short-term)
  4. Learn another programming language and brush up on some old ones (short-term / mid-term)
  5. Finish painting the rooms in my house (mid-term)
  6. Remove the children’s playset from my backyard (long-term)
  7. Brew my own beer and make it good (short-term — get one made, long-term — do it often)

If you’ve kept up with my blog, you’ll see that I’ve already started on a few of these goals such as #1 and #7, but I figure a gut check at the end of this month will really help me decide where exactly I am in each of these goals.