This is the fourth of a series of reports I’ll be posting monthly about my own life hacks.
Why would I do this?
Because I not only want to deliver great life hack related content, but I want my fans to know that I don’t just talk the talk, I also walk the walk and often apply many hacks in my own little piece of reality; some of them work, others don’t. Either way, I’ll let you know.
I really hope these reports help you understand that you don’t have to be a world class athlete, NYT best-selling author, or Fortune 100 CEO to be a Life Hacker and I also sincerely hope my life hacks can inspire you to question the status quo and start living life on your terms.
This report will be a bit shorter than the December’s, mainly because I focused the majority of my time in January getting a new website ready for launch for one of my businesses, which I’ll discuss below. But first, I’ll show you a few other small things I hacked.
Life Hacks for January
Health & Fitness
That’s what friends are for update
Back in October I talked about how I had recently started working out with a friend (who was new to weight lifting) and how it helped motivate me to work out more while my friend reaped the advantage of my guidance.
At first we were working out at his home in a spare bedroom with equipment another friend of ours had stored outside but brought to workout buddy’s home a few weeks prior. The room was too small for a weight bench, all the plates, dumbbells, etc. and it was difficult for both of us to work out in the area at the same time. Since the equipment had been kept out doors for a while, there was rust on some of the weights, which made it hard to insert/remove plates from the bar and often left rust marks on our hands.
Within walking distance from both of our homes is a recreation center with a nice variety of relatively clean (and rust-free) weights, equipment, benches, treadmills, pool, etc. I had been a member of the rec center on and off since I moved to the area in late 2001, but my membership had lapsed over a year ago and I never renewed. Due to the limitations of working out at his house my friend and I decided it was time to move our operation to the rec center.
Yes, it sounds totally cliché to join a gym right after the New Year and I remember the place often being more crowed than usual in Jan and Feb along with some of the conversations I had with other members mocking the New Year crowd, but this time around it wasn’t so bad. Plus, we both have flexible schedules that allow us to work out at off-peak times like 2 or 3 in the afternoon while most people are at their jobs.
Since moving to the gym both of us have experienced strength gains.
Take the flat bench for example. Before the rec center, I was able to do 1 set of 2-3 reps at 225 lbs. (after doing 2 sets of lighter weight). Now, I’m putting up 3 sets of 7-8 reps. I haven’t officially maxed out yet, but if I had to guess my max on the flat bench I’d pin it somewhere between 275-300 lbs. Sure, there are some who can bench a lot more, but I’m 5’ 10” with a medium frame and work out 2-3 times a week, sometimes less depending on the week.
The right equipment, atmosphere, and company can make a big difference if you’re trying to get into shape.
DIY/Lifestyle/Parenting/Where should I put this???
I want you in my rearview mirror
My wife and I recently had our first child, making us first-time parents. Those of you who have been there know that being a new parent is a time of happiness and joy, but also can be a time of paranoia and over-protectiveness.
Shortly after installing car seats in our cars, we purchased 2
baby mirrors (is that what these things are called?) where the mirror (made of plastic and soft material) can be mounted facing the baby (who sits in a rear-facing car seat) so the driver can see the baby in the rearview mirror.
The mirror has a tether on it that anchors to the car and also a long tongue made up of a flexible, yet semi-stiff, wire frame with fabric sewn around it on the back where it can be bent to conform to the curvature of the top part of the back seat and tucked in between the back seat and the rear deck or shelf. This is supposed to help keep the mirror in place in the event of an accident if the car doesn’t have the anchor points.
My wife drives a 2009 with the anchor points on the rear deck, so safely attaching the mirror was a breeze. However, I drive a car from 1999 which lacks these anchors, leaving me little options to secure the mirror in the event of an impact. That is, until an idea hit me.
The idea was to take a U-bolt I had laying around and install it on the rear deck of my car, thus making an anchor point with more than enough strength to hold the mirror in place if a crash occurs.
First, two holes were drilled into the rear deck. The back window made it impossible to keep the drill bit plumb to the deck, but I was able to make it work. Then, the U-bolt was inserted and bolted into place from the inside of the trunk.
I had now performed my first parenting hack in about an hour of my spare time.
In the spring of 2014, we “upgraded” our ecommerce website. The version of Joomla (a free content management system/framework used with some websites) the site was built on was outdated, as was the version of Virtuemart (free shopping cart software) the site used. The thought was that we would redesign and release a more up-to-date, secure version of the site that was also be easier to use and more search engine friendly. We would then invest more heavily in SEO (I’m currently writing a series of articles about this topic, the first of which is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 101 for Non-Techies) and kill it in the rankings and our business.
Or so we thought. The redesign turned out to be a disaster for many reasons. Customers complained about the site and after a few months our rankings in the search engines started to drop. The full magnitude of the problem didn’t reveal itself to me until about a year after the launch. We needed something and we need it soon.
I found a new developer and started rebuilding the website once again in October 2015. This time, we were a lot more careful and went through the whole site product by product (there are hundreds of them) to be sure everything was perfect. And no more Joomla or Virtuemart.
Don’t get me wrong, Joomla and VM are great tools and the price is right. If you’re toying with the idea of starting an ecommerce site and are on a budget, these solutions may work well.
The problem was that we had A LOT of products with A LOT of complex options.
Getting the business logic with the products and all their options proved to be very challenging with Joomla; I’m no web developer or programmer, and we’d often have to pay someone to write custom PHP code (a programming language sometimes used with ecommerce & other database driven websites) to make things work.
Needless to say, going through every product and every page on the website with the developer and restructuring the site took some time, and Mid-December through early Feb 2016 were the crunch times where most of my energy and thought was focused on getting the task done.
The launch actually occurred in early Feb, so I’ll leave any other news that develops for February’s report. Meanwhile, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that rankings recover quickly.
After the launch, we’ll be investing more in SEO to help get the rankings up quickly and maybe a little PPC. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to do some other things like invest time in the blog which, as of this writing, has no opt-in forms or any way for people who may want updates to sign up for them plus the design could use some work. I also plan to try to monetize the site a bit in the future. Hosting, domains, web design, and many WordPress plugins aren’t free after all. But don’t worry, I won’t plaster it with crappy ads.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? How are they going? Comment and let me know. Maybe I’ll have a hack or two during the year that can help you achieve your goal.