This is my weekly collection of the best stuff I saw on the Internet. You can follow this list of links as I post them on Friend Feed or on Twitter. Or you can get the weekly update by subscribing to Internet Duct Tape using RSS or using email.
- [AMAZON] Amazon Discounts: Secret Amazon Discount Finder, deallocker.com
- Cool tool for finding discounted items at Amazon. Works in Canada. Also has a coupon blog.
- [AMAZON] Top 10 Amazon Power Shopper Tools, lifehacker.com
- If you’ve ever shopped on the Internet, then you’ve used Amazon. Here are ten tips to help you use amazon from building wishlists to finding discounts/free shipping/coupons to getting refunds for items you’ve bought.
- [BLOGGER] Jerry Springer For Programmers: Only A Matter Of Time, gilesbowkett.blogspot.com
- From the article: ” It’s awesome to get a free burrito every 11,429 times somebody decides to read your blog. But that awesomeness doesn’t translate well to full-time careers.”
- [BLOGGING] More Bloggers Raising Money. Here Come The Politics. And Here Comes My Rant., techcrunch.com
- Arrlington on the business of blogging. Very honest.
- [BLOGGING] The Art Of Heresy (Or How To Thrive Under The Benevolent Rulership Of King Gabe Rivera), chartreuse.wordpress.com
- From the article: ” If your audience can view you anytime, anywhere then you have to be good all the time.”
- [CODE] Forced To Write English Syntax Code – Simplicity or Burden?, codesqueeze.com
- How being forced to write code in English makes things simpler for non-North Americans. You almost have to appreciate the strength of his opinion about the French…
- [CODE] The Programming Style that Saved my Marriage, ourdoings.com
- Programmers get grumpy when interrupted. Functional programming is a style that handles interruptions better than procedural programming
- [COPYRIGHT] Free your mind, stevenpoole.net, via:codinghorror.com
- Copyright should be renamed to RightToEat.
- [FACEBOOK] Facebook knows who you are, and that’s worth more than you think, paulbuchheit.blogspot.com
- If you don’t think Facebook is going to be a profitable company, then you’re underestimating the value of identity.
- [FLICKR] The definitive collection of Flickr tools, plugins and API applications, flickrbits.com
- Huge list of tools for working with Flickr
- [GAMERS] Grand Theft Auto IV Activity Book For Kids, the-minusworld.com
- And they thought Mass Effect was bad…
- [GEEK] stackoverflow, stackoverflow.com
- New podcast by Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood and Joel Spolsky FTW
- [PHP] Rails for PHP Developers, railsforphp.com
- Great idea – it looks like the PHP reference, but it shows you how to do the same task in Ruby.
- [SCREENSCRAPING] Automating Firefox for Web Application Integration, urbanhonking.com
- [TWITTER] Shout about the best of Houston at PlaceShout, blogs.chron.com
- Interesting, like Twitter but for location. A bit rough around the edges, needs to support non-US zip codes.
- [WEB2.0] The noise in Web 2.0 is mainly a Tech Elite problem, vanelsas.wordpress.com
- Real people don’t suffer from information overload because they can walk away from the computer.
- [WEBDEV] Web pages have ‘come alive and started breeding’, telegraph.co.uk, via:gilesbowkett.blogspot.com
- Interesting idea: the design of the web page evolves based on how people interact with it.
- [WINDOWS] Tray It, teamcti.com
- Great little free windows application that lets you minimize ANY software in the system tray.
- [WINDOWS] Upgrading from Vista to Windows XP: A Review, dotnet.org.za
- Worth reading :)
- [ZUNE] 5 reasons my Zune is dead to me, crave.cnet.com, via:raganwald.com
- Remember the Zune? Me neither.
The roots of clutter come from the same social forces that said collecting comic books and stamps were an “investment”. I don’t know if it comes from corporate greed or from a post-World-War-2 generation where things were so scarce that suddenly everything had value and hoarding became a way of life. But collecting for the sake of collecting is a life habit that you have to break before you find yourself retired and living as a shut-in because cardboard boxes are blocking your doors.
Why declutter? It frees up your house and it frees up your mind. Your possessions own you as anyone who has ever had to move repeatedly over the course of several years can attest. It was moving twice in one year that finally got me to get rid of CDs I no longer listened to and textbooks I hadn’t looked at since university.
Tip #1: Your material goods hold little resale value no matter what you paid for them. This is a hard lesson to come to terms with because you know how much you paid for something. It is particularly hard for electronic goods since they are so costly upfront but become obsolete so fast. Good luck re-selling your bulky CRT monitor set in the age of LCD.
The media format wars means that even if you build up a VHS, DVD, CD, vinyl or cassette tape collection then it will be obsolete in ten years and within twenty years you won’t even own a device that can play them back. Does your new computer have a 3’5″ floppy drive? Changing media formats mean that owning a media collection for the sake of collecting is a useless endeavor.
Tip #2: Digitization is your friend. Photos, music, TV shows and movies can all be stored compactly on your computer hard drive or on DVDs. Have a good backup strategy though because hard drives will eventually fail on you.
Tip #3: “Have I used this in the past year?” is the question to ask when it comes to clothes, shoes, kitchen appliances, all that stuff in the garage or the work shed. Only keep what you really have use for. Your brain plays tricks on you like telling yourself you can lose that 20 lbs in only a few months.
Tip #4: “Will I watch or read this again?” is what should go through your head when it comes to book or movie collections. Lifetime collections should consist of only the favorites you will re-watch or want to share with others, everything else is collecting dust.
Tip #5: Don’t be overly sentimental! When I was 9 years old I convinced my parents to haul a lobster trap back home with us from our summer vacation. It sat in the back of the yard falling apart for years if not decades. Did it inspire any memories of the trip? Not anymore than the easily portable and easily storable photos we had taken with it. Sentimental is keeping things that have special meaning to you — not keeping everything you’ve ever come in contact with.
Tip #6: Renting is more economical than owning. It might not be true when it comes to real estate but it’s definitely true when it comes to books, dvds and any other form of media. Libraries are free. A $6 rental fee is still much cheaper than $25 new or $11 in the bargain bin. Even if it the movie or book is worth becoming part of your lifetime collection then you are still ahead because of all the times when it wasn’t.
Tip #7: Find your downstream ecosystem. When I declutter my only concern is passing things on to someone who will make use of them. It would be nice to recoup some of the cost but the sad fact is most things lose value so fast these days that the effort to regain any of the initial value is wasted.
For small items there are sites like Amazon, Ebay and specialty sites. For large items there are local listings on Facebook and Craigslist. Clothes can go to second hand stores and the Salvation Army. Childrens books and stuffed animals are well appreciated by schools. Local libraries accept books, CDs and DVDs which they then resell to raise funds. With a little digging you can find a non-profit organization that refurbishes computers for underprivileged youth.
The secret to learning how to live a clutter-free life is to realize that items don’t hold their value, that economically renting is cheaper in the long term for single-use goods, and to know how to get rid of stuff in a way that it doesn’t go to waste.