I don’t know about you but I really feel the effects of information overload at times. Much of it is self-inflicted – I’m co-owner of various programs and a member of hundreds. I have ideas, I see sites I like and want to review later, I have swipe files (a swipe file is like a scrapbook of adverts and sales copy and more that is the inspiration for ideas for my own creations), software documentation, photos, purchased resources like graphics, audio files, web templates…and that’s just a quick scratch of the top of my head!
I’m also a self-confessed ‘systems’ person – my historical ‘lack of organisation’ and sheer frustration about not being able to find things over the years has let to me imposing system after system on myself in a (mostly) futile attempt to get better at handling tons of information.
Managing your time and managing your information are probably the two biggest skills you need to master if you want to pursue an online career and make a success of it. And of those two, managing your information will definitely help your time management (I know you can’t manage time blah blah but you know what I mean)
Every other skill you need can be googled, outsourced, borrowed, plagiarized (half joking) – as a software developer (and one that doesn’t get up every day younger than the day before) that needs to work regularly in various major programming languages, various programming environments and multiple projects, the speed with which I can either recall or find information I need is absolutely key to my productivity – I can’t stress that enough.
For example, sometimes I need to create some code and know I’ve done something similar somewhere before – but where – I have literally millions of lines of code to search. Can I remember which project it was? Sometimes. Which file it was in? Rarely – that requires a search – assuming I can think of something specific enough to search for.
Say your field involves thousands of recipes. You want to recall a recipe for a cake you remember that had ginger in it. Chances are, your recipes are filed under categories that include cakes. Yes, you might have other recipes that involve ginger but you’re not looking for a Chinese stir-fry recipe here – you know you’re looking for a cake. But suppose you need to write an article about a particular spice and all the various recipes it’s used in. Now your filing system isn’t much help to you because you didn’t file your recipes under the spice they contained (even assuming they only contained one). And how would you file a recipe based on two major spices or ingredients anyway?
This is the dilemma with the filing method of information retrieval. Each item you file gets stored in one place and your ability to retrieve it depends on your ability to remember where it would be filed. You could have folders for cakes and for spices and store a recipe under both but then you might need to make multiple copies to store under all the categories you might want to search for in the future – country of origin, main ingredients, contains nuts, vegetarian or not, original creator…I’m not much of a cook but I hope the analogy works for you.
If you adopt a ‘search rather than file’ paradigm (and this only works when items are stored electronically), you wouldn’t worry about trying to remember where you stored your recipes, you would just search for terms you know appear in the recipe and narrow that search down until you find what you’re looking for.
So if you need a recipe for a main course that contains ginger, you search for ginger. If the number of results is too high to search, you narrow it down to vegetarian only or to recipes that also contain noodles.
The key to the search paradigm working effectively is search terms. Anyone that’s proficient in using search engines becomes subconsciously skilled at knowing what makes good search terms and what doesn’t. Some search terms are too vague and return way too many results for you to find the specific thing you’re looking for. Some are too specific and return too few results that the one you want isn’t even amongst them. But I search by starting broad and then adding more search terms to make the search more relevant (I also use negative terms a lot but that’s even more powerful and not relevant to this article).
But you might first search online for a recipe by typing ginger. Then you realise you’re seeing results for cats, hair and recipes so you add curry to your search – that should get rid of the felines and people. And so on, narrowing down your search until the number of results is manageable to search through manually.
Sometimes, searching with a search engine is good enough but would an online recipe necessarily contain the words ‘main course’? I imagine a desert recipe often contains the word desert but it could call itself a pudding.
Tags are beautiful and wonderful – and immensely powerful.
You’re probably familiar with tags but in case you’re not, tags are keywords that you can identify about an item. So sticking with the recipe analogy (and assume we’re going to scan and file recipes electronically), you would add tags to each recipe before you store it. Now here’s the thing: you can add as many tags as makes sense. No need to decide between filing under ginger or main course or from Latvia or curry – you just add all those tags at the time you file it. And provide you have the means to add and search by tags, your information retrieval problem is well and truly licked.
Let’s change the object of searching to emails for a moment. Not that many years ago, I used a program called Outlook to receive and store emails. Running an online business, for legal reasons I have to keep many emails but storage is cheap so even then I rarely deleted an email, it just got archived. Some emails had no immediate relevance but there’s a good chance I’d want to be able to find them some time in the future.
I agonised over how to file emails. Do you file by sender or by topic? Or by the type of email? Do I file by project or topic? More often than not, when I needed to find an email, I’d resort to the search feature to find it.
Let go of worrying about how to file and trust instead in the ability to search for what you want. If you have programs that allow you to search within documents then you may not need tags. If you use gmail or almost any email client, you can probably search in all kind of ways and find what you’re looking for easily – making it irrelevant how you filed (although sensible filing and only searching in certain folders may help).
Under your operating system, you can search for documents that contain certain words. If you use that, who cares where you decided to file it!
Contacts is another one where there’s a potential filing dilemma (assuming you have more contacts than you can easily recall why you have them just from the name) – do you file under personal/business? The company they work for? The job they do?
If we’re talking about emails, word processor documents, spreadsheets – files that contain machine readable text, there’s generally not too much problem. Those are very specific kinds of documents with specific programs for handling them.
I still have a notebook on my desk at all times – I use it to augment my short term memory. Sometimes I find it easier to think if I write something. But I long stopped expecting to be able to find something I needed in my notebooks. I started creating important notes on the computer.
When I first started, they were usually word processor documents or spreadsheets but then I discovered what I briefly thought was a panacea – Microsoft OneNote – wow, what a program! Until I started tying myself in knots because the paradigm of OneNote is that you hierarchically file your notes! So I’ve just written a great piece of code that I will probably want to refer to again in future. Do I file it under the project I was working on? The problem it solves? The client? The language? The answer for me is what is the single piece of information I’m most likely to recall in the future – and unfortunately I often remember I wrote a piece of code to do something but not always what project it was for – and by project is the usually the way it makes sense to file.
So I realised, I wasted all this time creating category hierarchies but was rarely able to find things by drilling down through categories because of the many ways I might have decided to file at the time.
These days I use a wonderful, wonderful program called Evernote. When I first started using it, I still believed that my main problem was deciding how to categorise information – so I naturally thought in terms of hierarchies – creating nested ‘folders’ to store my notes in. Don’t make that mistake – it’s pointless. There’s no harm in having some – like personal/business or for major projects – but you won’t be finding things by looking through ‘folders’, you’ll be a master at using tags!
When I want to file a snippet of code, I can copy and paste the code into Evernote or just create a note that refers to the relevant code. But the key thing that makes the system so wonderful is that I don’t need to agonise over where to file the note – I just add any tag I can think of that’s relevant to the note I’m storing. The project name, the year, the language, the client, the problem it solves (or at least the major type of problem such as ‘validating email addresses’).
I didn’t discuss it here as this post was long enough but my other criteria for productivity tools these days is that they should be able to store my information ‘in the cloud’ so I can access it from anywhere. Evernote meets that criteria so I can add or retrieve notes from my mobile devices too.
They say in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Mastering being able to find any information you want, when you need it will make you a ruler in your field. Tags are the key!
Back in 2012 I wrote about how frustrating I find the trend towards video not being an additional medium I could choose to watch, but to it being the only way I can find out about something.
Sales pages are the worst for this now.
I get an email saying, “hey – check this out” and then the link takes me to a video – with no controls so I can skip fluff and I waste 10 or 20 minutes of my life watching something when I could have skimmed a sales page to determine first whether it was something that would interest me.
I’ve discovered a seriously useful tool that lets you watch videos at any speed you like – and the audio is cleverly processed so it’s still intelligible.
You can certainly watch videos at 50% faster and still understand them. And you can speed up and slow down at will.
It’s a paid tool but there’s a free trial available – I strongly urge you to try it out.
This post was triggered by an email I received today – more on that shortly.
If you use any kind of advertising, you should be tracking. And yes, that applies to you traffic exchange advertisers – especially you!
But unless you design and host your own splash pages, there’s a problem – one that no-one really talks about.
You see if you promote xyz affiliate program using their promotional tools, you can’t track. Everyone says “you gotta track”, no-one tells you you can’t track. At least not without a very different kind of tracker.
The reason is that every tracker out there (with the exception of 2) is a hit tracker. That means it tracks hits. So suppose you send 1000 visitors to a splash page. Your hit tracker will tell you, “guess what, you got 1000 hits to your page”.
No shit, Sherlock.
What I want to know is how many people clicked on the splash page. Then I can split test and so on. “Oh, sorry Sir, we’re a lowly hit tracker, we can’t track actions”
What you really want to be able to do is track actions.
That’s why the email triggered this post – it was aimed squarely at traffic exchange users saying they must track. But traffic exchanges have a particular feature – you tell them you want 1000 hits to a specific page and they do it (well, most do). So where’s the value or benefit in a hit tracker that tells you you got 1000 hits to your page?
If you’re promoting a splash page, there’s actually very little use tracking the hits to the splash page – you normally know that. What you want to do is measure of those 1000 visitors, how many clicked through to the next page. So the call to action link on the page needs to be a tracking link. If you design and host your own pages, that’s not a big deal.
But what do you do if you’re promoting an affiliate program using their promotional tools?
You see everyone says you should track but what you should really be doing is tracking actions. THAT’s what tells you how effective your campaign is!
8 months has flown by so I thought it was time to update you on my results over that time. Remember, I don’t actively promote other than by virtue of having my referral link in all the downline builders in all the programs I’m a member of.
These are the new stats (March figures in brackets):
*Equivalent Surfers – members get 15%, 10%, 5%, 3%, 2%, 1% of the credits earned by direct, level 2, level 3, level 4, level 5, level 6 respectively. E.g. 100 members on level 6 @ 1% is equivalent to one more average surfer surfing directly for you.
So my $10 or so per month for upgraded membership now gets me circa $155 of credits every month – it’s nearly 1000 credits per day now!!
Don’t delay any longer – this is like investement funds – joining just 5 years later could halve your final retirement figure – that’s the power of compound interest!
Some multilevel exchanges you should join:
And if you really want to drive your traffic exchange downlines, discover how VitalViralPro will revolutionise how you promote!
I saw a site promoting video products today and it had this ‘fact’:
The Industry is predicted to grow ten-fold in the next 5 years. By 2013, video will account for 2/3 of all global Internet traffic including mobile phones.
So I wonder where this prediction came from?
And even if it’s true, it doesn’t say, “2/3 of all internet marketing traffic will be video”. Yet that’s their premise in suggesting I buy their product.
As far as Internet Marketing (IM) goes, there’s been a massive increase in the number of video-only sales pages. Even video-only opt-in pages – I can’t know what I’m opting in for without watching the video. Well screw you, I’m not wasting 2/3 of my life watching videos when a few bullet points would tell me what I want to know and pique my interest enough to opt-in (or not).
You’d like to think these people have split-tested a video-only version against other pages – text only, text and video. I would bet my business they haven’t.
Video-only is a lazy way to do sales pages; yes, video is great for the psychological triggers that are harder to do in text. But I buy mostly on facts, not emotion. And yes, I know according to many, most people buy on emotive triggers, not ‘boring’ details – like facts. Well why not provide both, you lazy SOBs?
This is what I think happened:
Someone added video to a sales page and got good results. Then someone started selling the idea that video increased sales or opt-ins.
Next thing, someone’s doing opt-in and sales pages where virtually the only content is the video (e.g. most clickbank products now).
And crucially, many many other people thought “this is the trend, this is what I should be doing”. And it came to pass that video-only pages proliferated, no-one bothered to split test and sales depended on an emotionally laden, factually lacking video.
OK, I’m extrapolating a lot from my own feelings, my own loathing of video-only pages; I hate being forced to watch a video with a signal to fluff ratio of 5%. I didn’t set out to make this a promotional post at all but if it wasn’t for my trusy enounce video speed control (http://www.enounce.com/), I’d have gone mad by now. At least I can squander only 10 minutes of my life at a time rather than 20.
Am I the only one? What do you think? I’d love your comments…
Here’s the solution, courtesy of howtogeek.com
It’s a very simple registry edit but if you’re not confident editing the registry then don’t attempt it.
1. Back up the Registry by creating a restore point.
2. Go to Start > Run (or Windows-key + R), type in regedit and hit OK.
3. Navigate to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Cla sses\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Wi ndows\CurrentVersion \TrayNotify.
4. Delete the values IconStreams and PastIconsStream.
5. Open up the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), go to the Processes tab, select explorer.exe and click End Process.
6. Open the Applications tab and click New Task at the bottom-right of the window.
7. In the message box that pops up type in explorer.exe and hit OK.
8. Explorer.exe will reload, and the missing icons should now be back in the system-tray where they belong.
9. Then if the volume bar isnt there, go to taskbar properties (where the volume was gray) and simply tick the box.
My Itunes stopped being able to connect to the apple store some time ago, probably after an update. And while I don’t use Safari often (just for site compatibility testing), it wouldn’t connect to the internet either.
I advise you to save any work and close all programs first – when I did this my memory went to 100% and the PC was unresponsive and I had to forcefully reset it – it didn’t cause any problem though.
Open a dos command box in administrator mode:
If your cmd box is in your start menu, you can right click and choose “run as administrator…”
you can also type cmd in the run box and press ctrl-shift-enter rather than just enter.
Now simply type:
netsh winsock reset
Followed by return of course. You’ll be told you have to reboot.
After rebooting, it will all be working!
Warning: this might seem a bit geeky and too technical for some but it’s actually really simple. And unless you’re someone like me that likes to go days without having to reboot, it probably isn’t relevant to you.
If you run Vista and tend to leave your PC on (I do because I hate waiting 10 minutes for it to start up) then you’ve undoubtedly experienced that feeling that gremlins are pouring treacle into your PC’s CPU!
I’m going to show you as simply and as concisely as I can what I do to extend my needed reboot time to days rather than being a daily occurrence.
I’ll also make the disclaimer that I have Vista Home Premium SP 2, 6GB ram and a dual 6600 2.4GHz core Intel CPU – so your experience may differ but hopefully you can benefit like I do.
My earliest files suggest I installed Vista in Nov 2006 – that surprised me! No reinstall since then. Being a programmer, I have a gazillion licenced programs I depend on and I’m hoping I won’t need to until I go to Windows 7 or 8 and do a clean install.
So it’s fair to say it’s accumulated junk, my registry has errors etc etc etc but it is totally reliable so as it’s my bread and butter, I don’t mess with it too much.
So here’s my regime, starting with power on…
I wait for the login screen and I usually wait longer until the intense disk activity has stopped – I like to give windows time to warm up and settle down before I log in. I log in and again, wait patiently (well, I go off and do something else) and eventually, everything that’s going to load has loaded and the disk has stopped thrashing again.
Now here’s how I check my memory: I use the sidebar widget that comes with Vista (if not, you’ll find it) but you could use any tool that will tell you your ‘used’ memory. This is only for reference so I know the figure includes pre-fetch programs that Windows has cached etc etc but that’s not the point. The point is I know after a fresh power on, patiently waiting for everything to load my CPU meter will tell me I have about 36% memory used (the graphic was not a snapshot of my machine). You can also use windows task manager and note the physical memory figure from the bottom status bar.
I have 3 screens so I usually have this icon visible all the time.
Like I say, all you want is the benchmark figure directly after your system has booted and settled down and mentally make a note of it.
Skype starts automatically for me because I need it constantly as I work as part of an international team and that’s our interactive means of communication. Then I start my other indispensible tool, roboform (my secure password manager, the 2 Go version on a memory stick so I can use a laptop when I need to).
Then my day starts: I fire up my programming environment tools first because they will tend to be open constantly. I’m old school and I still think of each newly started program sitting on top of the last started program, so I want to fire up the ones I leave open first.
And finally, I open FireFox. I have a useful plugin installed called Memory Restart that shows in the bottom right hand side of the status bar, how much memory FF is using. But it’s more than that – if that memory figure goes much above 600Mb (it climbs the longer FF is open, even if I’m not opening more tabs) then I can just click on the memory figure and it will give me the option to restart firefox – but it restarts it with all my tabs and windows restored and usually still logged in – only the memory is now much lower – like < 50Mb (though that quickly climbs as I start working again). But the benefit is FF is snappy and responsive again.
So that’s one part of the strategy.
Other programs I tend to open as I need them and then close them again – things life office programs, word, excel and Photoshop. And as the day goes on, while I’ve been opening and closing programs, opening and closing tabs in Firefox, my trusty CPU Meter will be climbing.
If it gets above 85%, I know I may have left it too long so I have a personal trigger level of about 75%. If I’ve closed all the programs I don’t use all the time and the memory is around 75% or higher then I do my ‘purge’ regime – it’s far quicker than a reboot and will get my system back to a much more responsive state…
I close every running program (I don’t bother closing roboform and I’m not talking programs in the system tray) – just the programs I fired up manually when I started so firefox, the programming tools and (importantly) skype.
My CPU Meter will often now show something like 45% and I want ideally to have it back to my 36% or close as.
I open Task Manager (Alt-ctrl-del to get the windows options screen) and the applications tab should be empty. Switch to the processes tab.
This may not be relevant to you but I use Firefox and sometimes, even after waiting for firefox to do its cleaning up, frefox is still running. That’s not good so right click and end process tree (end process works too with FF but end process tree might be needed with some programs).
I sort the programs by Image name by the way to make it easier to find programs.
Beware that you shouldn’t close any program that you don’t recognise that seem to be taking a lot of memory – mostly they’ll be system processes that you shouldn’t touch.
I use one program that I won’t name but it makes database connections and when closed, I get any number of instances of the same .exe running so I close them down – that’s pretty specific to me so you’re not likely to find that problem.
I’m maybe at 43% CPU – certainly above the 36% I started with. May not sound a lot but the difference between 43 and my trigger of 75 is significantly less than 36 – 75. And while it may sound a very anal thing to do, the closer I get to 36%, the longer it will be before I have to give in, beaten and do a full reboot.
And I have a culprit – sidebar.exe. This program for some reason likes to just accumulate more and more memory the longer it’s been running. It’s nothing for it to be over 250 Mb over the course of a day. So I do the end process tree on it and then restart it (I do it through Task Manager just by going file -> run and typing sidebar) and then it comes back at a disgusting, but much better 48Mb.
And if I’m lucky my CPU meter may now show less than 40% – it rarely gets right back to 36%.
But I find the more frequently, and the earlier (in terms of not waiting till the memory usage gets too high) I do it, the more times I can do it and get the memory usage back close to 36%.
And it takes a minute or two to do at most.
Eventually, the figure I can get back to after ‘purging’ climbs, 37, 39, 41, 45, even 50. At 50, I can still work ok if it’s an inconvenient time to reboot but if I need to eat or be away from the PC, I’ll tend to do a reboot.
And for me that might be now be only every 4 days instead of twice a day. That’s 160 hours or rebooting saved over the course of a year!!
Anyone who knows anything about me knows how much I nag people about the importance of leverage, about sticking with something long enough for it to reap rewards, about how powerful and valuable multi-level programs are.
It’s just a few days away from my 5 year anniversary with EasyHits4U, a program that exemplifies all the above points of importance, so I thought I’d put pen to paper, figuratively speaking, and share some of my ‘vital statistics’.
My first referral was gained on the 17th March 2007 (that’s the only reason I know my join date must have been round about the next day or so because my first referral was a long term friend and would have joined right after me).
I’d already created VitalViralPro a few months before so naturally EasyHits4U went into the Downline Builder.
I never ever promoted EasyHits4U directly, everything was done through VitalViralPro – as I promoted VitalViralPro, so some of those incoming referrals would join one or more traffic exchanges below me and then in time, others would join below those referrals.
Also, it’s easy to think that I had an advantage because I owned VitalViralPro; not so! I promoted VitalViralPro like all the other members. I had no more advantage than you have when you’re the sponsor and your referral is…well, your referral.
So my EasyHits4U downline grew. It’s interesting that even now, after 5 years, I only have just under 400 direct referrals. That’s less than 7 referrals per month. But here’s where the magic happens…
Those 397 direct referrals have referred 1356 people; they in turn have referred 2087 people!
Those 2087 people have referred 4016, who’ve referred 6531 who’ve referred 6714.
That makes a staggering 21101 people in my downline!
That’s all well and good but what’s in it for me?
Well EasyHits4U is a 6-level program (if you’re upgraded, and I of course would be mad not to be!). I earn credits from my referrals (15%-10%-5%-3%-2%-1%) – so if a first level referral surfs and earns 1000 credits, I get a bonus of 150 credits. If a level 6 referral did that I’d get 10 credits.
I always explain this the same way to people that have yet to grasp the importance of getting referrals in traffic exchanges; most traffic exchanges pay 10% from direct referrals so having 10 referrals that surf the same as you is like having another you working for you for free.
So with my downline, 400 (approx) at 15% is like having 60 free surfers. On level 2, 1350 (approx) at 10% is like another 135.
Without showing all the math, it turns out my downline is like having an army of 617 surfers!!
If that isn’t leverage, I don’t know what is!!
Of course we all know that many, many of the downline will be inactive or surf very little. Even so, it’s enough to bring me in 22k credits a month for free. At EasyHits4U prices ($5.95/1000) , that’s $130 of credits I’m getting every month without needing to lift a finger. I can’t remember what I pay per month for membership but it sure isn’t $130.
My downline grew by 21 members in the last 24 hours too – so the whole this is really starting to compound now.
It’s grown by 18% in the last 9 months and it should keep growing at that kind of rate. And remember, I have promoted this program quite passively. If it was my main business and that was multilevel, I’d be promoting a lot more actively.
And that’s one of the key learning points with anything multilevel. All of the benefit comes later – often quite a lot later. And for a lot of people, that’s unpalatable – they want results now!
Well I didn’t sit on my backside doing nothing while I waited for my EasyHits4U downline to grow – I did lots of things that had a more immediate effect. But I have always planted seeds in multilevel programs where I see them because they’re your passport to an easier life!
I hope this post inspires you to plant your own seeds now – the sooner you do it, the sooner you reap the rewards.
There was a scare recently in a field I work in – whether a hoax or not, a hacker claimed to have all the usernames/passwords from a particular site.
That’s not an unfamiliar story – some sites are sloppy and almost deserve to be hacked (not that I wish harm on their members but those owners must always do their very best to be secure – sloppy definitely isn’t good enough); some sites are maybe unlucky and become the unfortunate victims of some 3rd party vulnerability.
The also not unfamiliar story was the panic of people saying, “shit, I use that password for my online banking, I need to go change it”
Ok, I dramatised that. But it’s 100% true that a lot of people panicked because they had the same password they used for the hacked site in many other places. Paypal accounts, clickbank accounts, twitter, facebook, their blog.
I can’t think of the term right now, I’m too old and un-hip (though I do know about planking and flashmobbing (some PG content in that one)) but it’s where someone leaves their facebook or twitter account logged in and a friend, family member or work colleague posts masquerading as them. Several of my friends have changed sexual orientation and they were the last to know!
If you have different passwords everywhere then you have damage limitation – if they hack one account, there’s no reason to be worried about your other accounts (unless you stored all your passwords in a notepad file somewhere someone got access to!)
This is an affiliate link – use it or go direct but do get this product – roboform or something similar. Depending on your circumstances there are different versions (free and paid). My version is on a dongle that I can take anywhere and also includes online backup should I lose my passwords. It easily generates random secure passwords like xLr4!R7C^KdW – you couldn’t remember that if I typed it front of you, much less guess it. But with roboform the other advantage is that you don’t type your password in – keeping you safe even if you had an undetected keyboard logger trojan on your computer.
If you don’t get roboform, at the very least use a system for creating passwords on each site. if your facebook password was kokatie99ob no one is likely to spot that your password is easy to remember for every site yet fairly unguessable and fairly unlikely someone would spot the pattern and be able to hack your other accounts – though they might (that one uses katie99 always but uses the last 4 characters of the site name in reverse order, 2 in front, 2 behind).
To be honest the latter suggestion is much better than the same easy password everywhere but nowhere near as good as having true random passwords.
If someone hacks one account, they do limited damage. If they hack one of your social accounts they could not only embarass you, they could trick your friends into all kinds of things – how would you ever recover from that!
And if they hack your paypal or other important accounts…
People online are too casual, too careless, too trusting or too unlucky – whatever the excuse, thousands of accounts get hacked every day. Chances are it will happen to all of us at some point, even the most careful. All the random passwords in the world won’t mean a thing if someone hacks into a site you use through a vulnerability – make sure the only damage you suffer is the loss of that account!