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Category: Life

Is Your Web Server Green?

17 March, 2008 (14:49) | Life | By: Nick Dalton

Since it is S:t Patrick’s Day today, I thought I’d go with a green theme post.

Is was shopping for a new web host recently and I came across several companies offering “green” servers. I wondered if that was just Greenwashing, or if it’s a real benefit.

“Green” is of course a poorly defined term. The manufacturing of computers is a very toxic business. (Tangent: Cringely had an interesting column on how all our electronics are going to fail now that lead has been removed from the solder that holds electronic components together.) But for this post I’m going to focus on “green” as it relates to keeping a server running, i.e. reducing the amount of energy required.

Moore’s Law is an observation that computer processors become twice as fast and half as large every two years. One of the main challenges for chip designers to keep making chips faster and smaller is heat: the faster a processor runs the more heat it generates, and the smaller the chip is the more concentrated the heat is. This is why we have heat sinks and cooling fans on processor chips.

One way to reduce the amount of heat generated is to make the processor work less. This may sound like a pat answer, but when you think about it most processors probably spend most of their time just spinning cycles. For example, right now while I’m thinking about the next sentence I’m about to write, my computer could just as well take a micro-nap. Even between key strokes there is plenty of time for a processor to take nano-naps.

Chances are that your web server is not doing all that much most of the time. Even if you have 10,000 page views per day, most of the time the server is just waiting for the next incoming request. If you have a really large site with multiple servers to handle peak loads, that probably means whole servers are being underutilized at, say, 2 a.m. Several of the Fortune 500 companies I’ve consulted for had disaster recovery sites on “hot standby” (i.e. servers running, ready to go, but not actively doing anything) just in case a disaster would strike their primary hosting facility. Talk about energy waste.

A good way to approximate turning off your server between page requests is to use shared or virtual hosting instead of a dedicated server. On these hosting plans many web sites share the same physical server and it’s unlikely that all web sites are going to see a burst of activity at exactly the same time.

Green Web Hosting?

Since the web hosting company has to pay for the energy required to power all the servers in their data center, as well as the cost to keep them cool, you would think that it’s in their best interest to purchase the most energy efficient computers available. Unlike food, where green/organic can be more expensive to produce, web hosting services that are green should be cheaper.

But instead of using low cost in their marketing, green web hosting companies have gone a couple of steps further: some data centers are run entirely on wind or solar energy, some will purchase carbon emission offsets on your behalf to offset the pollution your server creates, others will plant trees on your behalf. Next time you’re looking for web hosting, take a look at the green alternatives.

How green is your web site?

Happy Pi Day!

14 March, 2008 (13:59) | Life | By: Nick Dalton

Today is March 14th (3/14 in American date format) which has a striking similarity to an approximation of the mathematical constant pi (3.14159265…)

Therefore math geeks are of course celebrating Pi Day today.

Stay Fit With xFit

27 February, 2008 (13:38) | Life, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Most Internet business entrepreneurs spend a majority of their time in front of a computer. It is important for both your health and your productivity to get some exercise into your daily routine. But you don’t always have access to a gym or other exercise equipment.

I know you have heard all this before and you’re probably paying as much attention to me now as you did the other times someone told you to exercise more. So why am I telling you this? I’m one of the developers behind a cool little program called xFit. It’s a complete workout program in your phone. It contains 50 exercises that use your body weight as the resistance. No equipment is needed.

Incidentally one of the company founders is currently in Antarctica. Down there it’s obviously a little bit hard to get to the local gym. And bringing your own Bowflex or Stairmaster is not really an option either. Here’s a picture of Joel doing one of the xFit body weight exercises in a very remote location:

Joel exercising in Antartica with xFit

To check out if xFit is available for your phone and to download a free trial of xFit goto: www.mobileXware.com

If you decide to purchase the program, use the promo code “nick” and you’ll get a 20% discount. I’m not sure how long they’re going to run this “friends and family” promotion, so if you’re interested in a new and easy way to get some exercise into your daily routine, check it out now.

Interview with Brendon Burchard

31 December, 2007 (16:28) | Life | By: Nick Dalton

Ken McArthur has finished writing his book Impact: How to Get Noticed, Motivate Millions, and Make a Difference in a Noisy World. (You can still listen to the recordings of his sessions with the writing coaches at Awaken the Author Within. Their goal was to do all the actual writing in 12 hours. Very useful information for any aspiring writer.)

Ken is now following the new book promotion model where you give away a ton of good stuff to generate interest and spike sales of the book. The book is not out yet, but you can sign up to Ken’s site now and start enjoying his freebies.

First out is an interview with Brendon Burchard. I’ve written about Brendon before and his excellent book Life’s Golden Ticket. Listening to Brendon always gives me a boost of positive energy. Highly recommended!

Go here to download the interview: theimpactfactor.net

Review – Life’s Golden Ticket

21 November, 2007 (12:28) | Life, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Have you ever met someone who’s personality is so exuberant with the joy of life that you can’t help but wonder what their secret is? I had the pleasure of meeting Brendon Burchard recently at jvAlert Live in Long Beach. He gave the most amazing presentation of the entire conference.

Brendon used to work for Accenture where he was on a fast-track to becoming a partner. (I used to work for a big consulting company so I can tell you that becoming a partner is a *big* deal.) But he left his career at Accenture to write an inspirational novel: Life’s Golden Ticket.

The premise of the book is:

If you were given a ticket that could magically start your life anew, would you use it?

Stop and really think about that for a moment. Would you? Why or why not?

If there are aspects of your life that you are not entirely happy with, how much pain do you need to experience to change? Do you have to be attacked by lions like the main character in the book?

On the surface the book is an entertaining read about a young man’s visit to an amusement park. But each adventure in the park is a not-so-subtle metaphor for things that have gone wrong in his life. In the bumper boats ride kids self-select into two different groups: the explorers who set out to reach the other end of the pool as quickly as possible to explore new areas and new experiences, and then there are the spinners who spin their boats around and around in one place. Are you an explorer or a spinner?

Life is a wonderful gift, you must not waste it! Brendon was given a second chance after surviving a car accident ten years ago. Since then he has made it his mission to not waste a single moment, live life to the fullest and return the gift by giving to others.

Tomorrow the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the U.S. But you should not limit giving thanks to one day per year. Every day is an opportunity to give thanks for the fortunate life that you’re living. Every day is an opportunity to give back to others.

Can You Learn (But Not Master) Any Programming Language in 1 Hour?

7 November, 2007 (11:51) | Life | By: Nick Dalton

Tim Ferriss has a fascinating post today about how he deconstructs any language to determine if it’s feasible to reach fluency in that language within 3 months. Being the technology geek that I am, I wondered if the same principles can be applied to programming languages.

The foundation of Tim’s process is that you already know at least one language and what you’re really trying to discover is how different the language you’re investigating is from the languages you already know. If you are able to read Tim’s post it is safe to say that you already know at least one language (English). The same does not apply to people reading this post and programming languages. Going from 0 to 1 is always the most difficult. For this post let’s assume that you already know at least one programming language and you’re interested in picking up a new one.

Who’s in your family?

Is your target language on the same major branch of the computer languages family tree as a language that you already know? Learning Lisp from Basic is going to much more difficult than going from C++ to Java.

Looking at evolution of a language is much more useful for programming language than spoken languages, since the former typically has a very logical evolution. After all programming languages have to be understood by computers.

Functional or Procedural?

Most programming languages are procedural, i.e. code is roughly executed one line at at time in an order that resembles the order of the lines in the code. Some languages, e.g. ML, simply evaluate mathematical functions. At my university we had to learn ML as our first programming language. The theory was that going from a functional language to a “regular” programming language would be easy. I can’t vouch for that theory, but I know that the opposite was true: all of us in the class who already know how to program, were really struggling with ML.

Maybe the notation and language of higher mathematics compared to English is an equivalent analogy in the non-programming world.

Symbols and Tokens

Most programming languages use the western set of characters to write tokens (reserved words) that make up the language. The notable exception is APL, the Chinese equivalent in the programming world.

In a programming language you also need to pay special attention to the use of symbols. In many cases a semicolon is required to terminate a statement, or brackets are used to surround blocks of code. But some programming languages have an over-reliance on special symbols: parenthesis in Lisp comes to mind.

In a spoken language punctuation and diacritical symbols do not nearly carry the same weight as special symbols do in programming.

Side Effects

Unintended side effects are the hidden land mines of programming languages. For example changing the value of a global variable in one place, could have an unintended effect on another piece of code. As programming languages have evolved the goal for each new language is often to minimize the possibility to shoot yourself in the foot by limiting the side effects.

One of the few ways to really learn the side effects of a programming language is through painful hands-on experience.

Vocabulary

A larger vocabulary comes with practice both in spoken and programming languages. The size of the dictionary or available libraries of a language is not a major factor in the initial learning of the language. Unknown words or functions are easy to lookup.

Attitude

Finally there is one more crucial difference between learning a spoken language and a programming language: People who you interact with are often likely to go out of their way to try to understand what you’re saying when they realize that you’re trying really hard to learn their language. Computers are not so forgiving. Even the smallest error, for example a missing semicolon, will cause the computer to discard your entire program, even when it ’s obvious to the computer where it should be placed,

The Art of Follow-up, Follow-through and Digging Wells

29 October, 2007 (23:38) | Business, Life | By: Nick Dalton

A week ago I attended the jvAlert Live conference in Long Beach. Typically you return from a conference with a head full of ideas and a pocket full of business cards. If you leave it at that, you have just wasted a lot of time and money on the conference.

My goal was to follow-up with every person I met at the conference within a week. This seems like a simple, and courteous, thing to do. But I’ve been amazed at how few people even take that simple action. In the past week I’ve received a total of 3 emails from other conference attendees. Two of them were from speakers – they obviously know the importance of follow-up. One email was a form email that literally began: “It was a pleasure meeting with you at [Event Name] in [City and State].” But maybe I’m just not a very interesting guy to keep in touch with…

One of the main benefits of attending a live event is to make personal connections that can lead to future joint venture deals. Even though the name of the conference is jvAlert you need approach new potential JV partners with tact. Here are some suggestions.

Learn something about your potential JV partner

Each evening when I get back to my hotel room I always write down notes about the people I’ve met during the day. It can be things like when their birthday is, or a shared interest that we discovered during our conversation. Mention some of this personal information when you contact the person again.

You should also sign up to any mailing list and blog RSS feed that the potential JV partner has. Read regularly to learn what topics are common, how often third party products are promoted, etc.

If you are really serious you can purchase a product, or join a coaching program if there is one. Becoming a customer will give you an instant relationship.

Offer to do something for your potential JV partner

Ask if the person has a product that you can promote to your list. If you have a very small list a better option might be to write a review of the product on your blog.

If you’re good at writing offer to write a guest blog entry for their blog. Make sure that you write on a topic that fits the blog.

Harvey Mackay has written a book called Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. The premise is that you should become valuable to your network of contacts before you need to request something from them. Some people call this The Law of Reciprocity. It’s the same basic premise: if you do something nice for somebody without asking for anything in return, they will feel compelled to reciprocate the favor.

Do something unusual

Everybody in this business gets an avalanche of emails every day. Be different. Send a postcard or a handwritten note instead of an email.

If you want to send out a lot of cards you may want to use a system like SendOutCards.

21 More Tips

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has a great post today called How to Pitch to Bloggers – 21 Tips. Most of the tips apply equally well when you’re approaching a potential JV partner. Highly recommended reading.

Follow-up

Even though you had a great meeting with somebody at the conference it is very likely that you’re not at the top of their priority list when they get back to the daily grind of running their business and catching up on all the tasks that stacked up while they were spending a few days at the event.

Send an email as soon as you get home thanking the person for a great meeting, include some information to refresh their memory of who you are, and a recap of your conversation.

In the daily deluge of emails it’s very likely that your first email will be put in the “I’ll get back to that later” pile. Send a friendly reminder. Be polite, but persistent.

If you show that you are persistent and that you follow-up, you demonstrate that you will do the same in a future joint venture deal.

Follow-through

When you say that you’re going to do something, make sure that you follow-through and do it. Your failure to do so will create a long lasting impression. Consistent follow-through will put you ahead of 98% of your competitors. JV partners will come back wanting to do more deals with you because they know they can count on your actions.

What have you done to follow-up on the latest conference that you attended?

Is it worth your time and attention to attend conferences?

22 October, 2007 (22:56) | Life, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

The reputation of Internet marketing conferences is steadily declining. In many cases it’s for a good reason: you pay a lot of money in conference fees, travel, hotel, etc and you end up sitting through presentations that are just thinly disguised product pitches. So it was with some trepidation that I attended Ken McArthur’s jvAlert Live in Long Beach this past weekend.

Beforehand Ken said multiple times that his jvAlert Live event is different. It’s more like a family reunion than a marketing event. Ken even organized an online family reunion for old and new attendees. That all sounds great, but which event organizer (or affiliate promoting an event) would not say that their event is better? I’m known to be skeptical, and somewhat jaded, but I love being proven wrong.

And boy was I wrong! The quality of the speakers and the attendees was outstanding and their accessibility was exceptional: I had lunch and dinner with world class speakers and Internet business legends every day. Yes there were product pitches at the end of most presentations, but only after some real and useful content had been delivered. Since the presenters pay their own way to the conference I think this was a fair trade-off.

It was a fairly small event, around 60-70 attendees, so I had a chance to speak to almost everyone there, from seasoned multi-millionaires to beginners who had not yet made their first dollar online. I learned something from each and every one.

I came home not just with the usual stack of business cards, but with real connections and real friends. I also came away with two million dollar projects, not just ideas (they’re a dime a dozen), but real projects. I’m starting work on the first project this week. It’s in stealth mode for now, but stay tuned to this blog for future announcements. It will democratize one of the remaining bastions among media empires.

Thank you Ken for inviting me into the jvAlert family!

The Top 4 Writing Tips To Get Your Book Done

10 October, 2007 (09:42) | Copywriting, Life | By: Nick Dalton

I just finished writing a book: 101 iPhone Tips and Tricks. I didn’t follow Ken McArthur’s system, so it took me considerably more than 12 hours to write. Nonetheless, I discovered these tips along the way that helped me with writing the book, and most importantly finishing it.

1. Select a topic you’re passionate about

Writing a book is hard work and you’re going to spend a lot of time writing. So you’d better make it as enjoyable as you can by selecting a topic that you like. Sure you can write something just for the money – ghostwriters do it all the time. But your passion, or lack thereof, will show through in your writing.

Thinking about the money you’ll make from the book can be great motivator or an inhibitor when you’re writing. Robert Allen once said that based on his previous books’ performance he knew that he was going to make $20 (don’t recall the exact amount) for every word that he wrote. So to him it was a joy writing every word. Douglas Adams on the other hand knowing how much money he’d earned from the Hitchhiker series agonized over every word he had to write. Because if it was worth so much, people expected every word to be very, very good.

2. Schedule time for writing

Writing a book is a large project and as with any large project it’s easy to put off taking the first step or getting sidetracked during the project. Therefore schedule 2 hours every day for your writing. It’s hard to be productive for longer stretches than 2 hours at a time. If you’re on a tight deadline, schedule multiple 2 hour block during the day with significant breaks in between. But don’t stop just because your timer says your 2 hours are up if you’re in a groove and your writing is just flowing, Conversely, and more importantly, don’t stop before your 2 hours are up because you’re struggling with the words that day. Every writer struggles some/most days, and if you start making excuses for why you don’t feel like writing today, then you will never finish the book.

Find a time during the day when you’re most productive at writing. For me it’s in the morning after I drop off my son at daycare and before I read any email or get engaged in the daily work of running a business. Tim Ferriss prefers 12 – 4 in the mornings. Find what works best for you and stick to it every day. During this time slot you isolate yourself: no phone calls, no emails, no Internet, no interruptions whatsoever.

3. Research first, write later

The Internet is a great tool for doing research, but it’s also an endless well of information. Before you embark on a new chapter in your book do all the necessary research to gather the information you need for that chapter. Set at limit on how much time you’re going to spend on the research. When you’re done, disconnect from the Internet before you start writing.

If you’re constantly switching between writing and looking up things on the Internet you lose your focus and your writing mojo. Should you find that you need some additional information just make a note in your text to get the exact quote from that famous person, or to research a specific topic further. The important thing is to keep moving forward, to keep that text flowing.

4. Write rough, edit later

Don’t struggle to find the exact words that perfectly convey your idea. Write the first words that come to mind. Don’t worry about spelling or perfect grammar, just keep the words coming. When all the writing is done you will go through the text many times to edit, improve, proofread; repeat. That magic word you spent so much time finding and committing to paper may not work in the larger context.

One of my favorite words is automagically. Since it’s not a real word it should be used very sparingly. My editor pointed out that I had used it 13 times in my book. You only get that perspective after all the text is written and you go through it again with an editor’s mindset.

Speaking of my book…

If you have an iPhone you want this book. The iPhone is a wonderful product with a gorgeous user interface, but it’s a first generation product. This book will help you get around some of the rough edges, discover many of the hidden features and make you more productive. It is chock full of tips and tricks; I guarantee that you will learn something new.

Sign up to my notification list on this web page. You can’t miss it – there’s a big hand pointing to it.

How do you write a 100 page book in 12 hours?

20 September, 2007 (10:08) | Copywriting, Life | By: Nick Dalton

Preselling a product before you create it is usually a good strategy. That way you can determine if there is a viable market before you spend time and resources on developing the product. My friend Ken McArthur (famous for jvAlert, jvAlert Live and his digital watch) has managed to presell his upcoming book so well that a major publisher is making it their headline book this spring. A big advance has been paid, full color ads are being printed, everything for a big book campaign is in motion.

There is just one little problem: Ken hasn’t written his book yet! Maybe he took this preselling concept a little too far…

I’ve written many reports and ebooks so I know that writing a full length book is a lot of work, at least it is for me. So I would feel under pressure and be a bit worried if I was in Ken’s shoes. When I’m embarking on a new venture where I have no prior experience I always try to find a good mentor who’s already successful at what I’m trying to accomplish. For his book writing project Ken has engaged one of the best in the business: Glenn Dietzel and his team from Awaken the Author Within. They are confident that Ken will be able to write a bestselling book in just 12 hours.

12 hours for a hundred pages is 8 pages per hour, or about 30 words per minute. Whoa! That’s half the speed of a good typist doing clerical work. Ken has not only have to type this fast, but presumably also put some thought into what he is writing. I’ve got to see how this system works! At that speed I could crank out 10 long posts per day for this blog…

Ken has invited me (and you) to watch over his shoulder as he’s writing his book. You will learn the tips and tricks Glenn and his team use to make Ken a bestselling author in record time. If you’re doing any amount of writing this could be a very interesting and educational journey to watch. Ken is a big and generous man, but there is limited space to watch over his shoulder. You can sign up for a spot at www.BooksMeanCredibility.com