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How I Work (by “Big-D”)

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Last week, I wrote about How I Work by following the Lifehacker outline. A regular reader, Big-D, loved it, and suggested readers could do the same. Within a couple of hours he had submitted the following for how he works. At the end, I'll give some editor's thoughts about what I'm going to take away and try to incorporate into my life/routine.

Location: Indiana

Current Gig: IT Security Professional, College Professor, Small Business Owner (Rentals, IT Consulting, Author, etc.)

One word that best describes how you work: “Sitting” Down

Current mobile device: LG Volt

Current computer: Errr … I have several I use daily: HP laptop at my day job, Dell laptop for home/teaching, Frankenstein 8core desktop with 32GB RAM running multiple virtual machines, an HP MicroServer running my domain website, mail server, file share, etc.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without? Why?

I use Firefox for my browser. I install uBlock, Ghostery, BarTab, NoScript, and FlashBlock as my add-ons. Being in IT security, I hate cross site privacy data contamination, thus the Ghostery. uBlock blocks advertisements, and FlashBlock and NoScript stop scripts and flash stuff from firing unless I approve them. BarTab takes tabs that I will get back to later, and unloads them from memory, helping performance on my systems.

I read my news from a Tiny Tiny RSS (ttRSS) feed program that I have installed on my personal web server. I have about 90 sites that are scoured through RSS feeds and read when I have time.

Jinzora is my home media application that I used on the road to listen to music. I have a ton of music and I serve it up from my home PC network through this application.

As for applications, I use MS office and basic apps like that for typical office productivity tasks.

I use Kali Linux for anything that I need to do when it comes to security application. I just use a live CD in my laptop and I can go to town to diagnose anything.

I use pfSense as my firewall at home. I have a small Intel Atom box running this as my firewall.

From a personal finance perspective I use gnuCash for my accounting software for my company. I have excel spreadsheets as I have hated the direction that Quicken has gone and it is just too hard to manage data as I like it to be seen in there. I guess you can call me an advanced user so I have migrated back to spreadsheets. I don’t use any online sites (outside of billpay at my credit union) due to privacy concerns.

I don’t use any apps for productivity except maybe notepad if I need to write a reminder to myself. I have a pretty good memory so I don’t forget things like what I need at the grocery store, etc.

What’s your workspace setup like?

My workstation at my 9-5 job is a laptop with dual 24” monitors and an old keyboard and trackball I got when I worked for Microsoft back in the day. At home, I have a dual 22” monitors and an IBM model 70 keyboard and a MS intellimouse (their first laser mouse) hooked up to a KVM for my 3 PCs in my rack. When I am watching TV or on the road, I use my laptop to multitask.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

I automate everything. Here are examples of this:

  • All of my utilities pay monthly for free on my credit cards.
  • All of my credit cards pay monthly out of my checking account without me doing anything.
  • I use timers for things to save time and money. My coffee maker is on a time, my hot water heater (to save money when I’m not home), my furnace/AC has a timer.
  • I sit down on Sunday and select which shows I am going to record on my Windows media player, and I have them to watch when I get home and have time to watch TV.
  • I have my food portioned out (meat, veggies, etc.) from buying in bulk, so I plan my meal before I leave in the AM, I pick out the food, put it in the sink to defrost, and defrosted when I get home from work. Usually eat 20 minutes after I get home from work.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Notepad. When I write stuff down, I need it for a short period of time, and then it can go away. I have a pretty good memory. If I need it longer, I make a MS Word file out of it.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?

My Xboxes. I have a couple xbox 360 and an xbox one. I game on my one mostly, and my 2 360 boxes are hooked up to my 2 TVs. They are basically my DVR, home Media servers, etc. I have remotes for them and can watch tv, movies, anything I want. I have 3 jobs and when I am home, I just want to relax.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?

Planning efficient use of time. I am really good at knowing what I have to do, and how long it is going to take to do it. When someone asks me to do something, I can give them the precise amount of time it is going to take to do what they ask, and what other priorities I have at the moment will slip, etc. This comes from experience and planning your time efficiently.

What do you listen to while you work?

Anything that I find. I have 2500 CDs which are all ripped on my Jinzora server. I play what I want. Today is Paul Van Dyk, yesterday was Spiderbait, day before was Slayer. Whatever I am in the mood for.

What are you currently reading?

I read articles on the internet, the 90 RSS feeds mentioned above. I don’t do well with books because I just cannot get the time to read them all. If I ever get engrossed in a book I don’t sleep so that really becomes an issue. Last book I read was “Currency Wars” and all 7 of the Harry Potter books when I was on vacation in July/August.

How do you recharge?

Sleep at night if I can. I take walks around the office, drink water so I have to take pee breaks, etc. I have a hot tub which I get in several times a week after dark. Plus a glass of whiskey helps, but not too often (thus it is a treat ;). I drink decaf coffee and permit myself only one diet soda (diet mt. dew is my vice) a day at lunch so I don’t worry about ups and downs of too much stimulants or depressants.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I try for 8 but between 6 and 7 usually since I am too much of a night owl. I usually go to bed about 1:00am and get up at 8:00 on work days. I am at work by 8:45. I usually get home from work around 6-10pm depending on if it is a school night. Then I do my stuff for my own company.

On weekends, I usually go to bed at 4 am and wake up at noon. That is more to my natural body rhythm.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.

I could say someone like my father but I know most of the answers. I don’t really believe in celebrity as they are just normal people who have had fame thrust upon them. Maybe someone like Vinton Cerf (Father of the internet) as he would be someone interesting.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Others have done the Golden Rule, and things like that. I am going to go with something a little different which has helped me a LOT in my career. From a psychological perspective, there is only one reason a person ever gets angry. That is when you trample on something that they think is a “right” of theirs. You can skin that cat, and peel the layers back but it always comes back to someone doing something which that individual feels they are owed.

So how does this apply? When you are negotiating and the other person gets angry? When a child is throwing a fit? When a significant other is angry? There are many reasons. Anger takes many forms, and 90% of the time it is not the reason they are yelling about. Getting to the key issue as fast as possible diffuses the situation, and allows for you to make a constructive progress in easing the anger.

Editor's takeaways

  1. I don't know how Big-D manages to find the time to read my site, but I'm glad he does.
  2. That 8-core 32GB RAM, monster sounds really impressive. I wonder if I should invest in powerful desktop just to alleviate the load from my laptop. I'd probably still gravitate to my laptop for convenience.
  3. I feel like I don't get enough done after reading this. Three jobs? Wow!
  4. Great final advice about understanding why people get angry. I need to think more about this...

    I'm reminded of the great quote by River Tam in Serenity: "People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."

Last updated on February 29, 2016.

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