- Product highlight
- Brainpower tip
- Time tip
- Finance tip
- Security tip
- Health tip/Fitness tip
- Thought for the day
1. Product Highlight
translator and travel assistant|
The iTravl is about half again as large as an
iPod. This product is made by Ectaco, not Apple. It has controls
familiar to any cell phone user.
You can translate 9 languages with it:
English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese,
Russian, and Spanish. This device is also available (at a
lower price, of course), in
Spanish versions. Other languages and more accessories are in
The iTravl features full text translation (enter your own sentences), voice output, speech recognition, a
language learning program, and an extensive travel guide. Over 3.37
million words and 63,000 categorized phrases. Color touch screen
with adjustable color schemes and adjustable font sizes.
Perhaps what sets it apart the most is the travel assistant part.
Click on the image of the device and read the details.|
Another exciting new development is the Language
Teacher feature. On the main screen, you'll see "Learn Language
Basics in 4 Steps." This tool takes you through each of those steps,
and provides a structured approach so you don't get lost or
confused. Here are five screen shots. The first one is the main
menu. We provide a screenshot, in sequence, for each item on that
Click an image to
2. Brainpower tip
It's easy to become flustered and feel overwhelmed by the challenges that face us. Too many things are vying for your attention and each one seems insurmountable. Within that very problem lies its own answer.|
The reason those things seem insurmountable is each one is getting a small
slice of your processing power. This causes you to solve each one more
slowly and more poorly.
Here's how to get out of that situation:
- Quickly make a list of what needs to be done.
- Rate each item with a 1 (urgent), 2 (important but not urgent), or 3 (neither urgent nor important).
- If your list has urgent items, pick one and devote your full
attention to it. Think of nothing else--all of the other needs are
listed in an Outlook appt or a text file or maybe <gasp> on a sheet of
- Once you've completed your urgent items, you can turn your attention
to the important items. Which one is most important? Do it first.
Can't decide? Then just pick one.
If this whole process seems like something you'd find in a time
management tip, you're right. You will get things done much faster this way.
But it's also a brainpower tip because you will be able to focus your mind
on one problem at a time. The results will be better and your stress will be
language translation devices. I have found that those people who who
can't figure out the device and say say the manual isn't helpful are not
focusing. They try to jump in and learn everything at once, skipping around
in the manual instead of using it sequentially and methodically. But as soon
as they calm down and take a methodical approach, they suddenly find the
device is easy to use. The device didn't change. Only their approach
If you're ever feeling flustered or overwhelmed, stop. Determine
what is most important and focus on that. Ignore everything else, so that
your mind is fully there.
3. Time Tip
4. Finance tip
OK, OK, I give! You win. I'll write more about energy savings.
Let's focus on the use of air conditioning. If you are the typical
homeowner, you can reduce your cost of home cooling by 50% if you follow
these tips. So that you can address them methodically, I have grouped
them by subtopic.
- Clean your air conditioner condenser. A dirty condenser is the
#2 reason for underperformance, the #1 reason for excess energy
consumption, and the #1 reason air conditioners fail during a heat
wave on Saturday when repair rates are double and parts aren't
available until Tuesday.
- Replace your filter, or if it's a permanent one then clean it. A
dirty filter is the #1 reason for underperformance, the #2 reason
for excess energy consumption, and the only reason blowers fail
prematurely. Check it every single week. Don't wait for material to
build up on its surface. If it's dirty, take action. Also, a clean
filter means you spend less money on remedies for colds, allergies,
- Check your windows and doors. Make sure they are properly
aligned and not leaking air. You can buy an infra-red heat gun for
not a whole lot of money these days, and it's an excellent
investment. Inspect all openings, including pet doors, for leaks.
Consult a carpenter if you are not trained and experienced in fixing
these leaks. Many DIY types just waste money on non-solutions or
even make matters worse. Don't use cost as an excuse. A leak that is
costing you $50 a month easily justifies an hour service call from a
carpenter. You may also be able to get free advice from your
electric utility company--contact them and ask about it.
- Do hot things at non-peak cooling times. People have a tendency
to run the dishwasher, cook meals, make popcorn, etc., while trying
to cool the house for the evening. Run the dishwasher at 0300 by
setting its timer. If you can't do that, then run it as soon as you
- Go without. Summer movies and popcorn traditionally go together
(assuming you are making popcorn on the stove with olive oil and not
using that toxic microwave crap, this is OK healthwise). But there
isn't a law saying you must have popcorn when it's raging hot
outside. Save that for cooler times.
- Take it outside. If you like coffee in the AM, great. Take the
coffee maker outside and plug it in on your patio. This means less
heat to get rid of. If you boil batches of eggs, as I do, put them
in bowls and set them on your patio to cool.
- Time it. In suburbia, people wash their cars in their driveways.
The water has as cooling effect, but this is normally wasted. That
driveway is a huge heatsink. While you are trying to cool your house
in the evening, it's radiating heat at the building. Washing the car
after supper means you are going to get rid of a lot of that stored
heat, making it easier to cool your home for that critical sleeping
Another way of timing it is to change your reading hours a bit. I
realize most people don't set aside time to read (which explains a
lot about our society), but for those of us who do, try moving
reading hours to the sunnier times of the day. In the USA, we have
Daylight Wasting Time shifting the clock in exactly the wrong
direction so we are forced to use lights in the AM. Many of us also
go to bed during sunlight in the PM. Even with DWT, the light in the
evening is hardly sufficient for much reading. Lights add heat
during the prime cooling time.
- Wash smartly. Humidity is a major factor in cooling efficiency.
Americans tend to shower in water that is hotter than it needs to
be. We also have a tendency to wash our hair daily, which damages
Use cooler water. Brushing your hair gets it clean without damaging
it, meaning you can cut back on the cost of hair products while also
giving yourself the luxury of a good brushing. If multiple people
are in your home, try to get showers done back to back so you're not
adding humidity all day long. Run the bathroom fan when done. The
last person should also use a bathroom squeegee (available at places
like Home Depot) to quickly swipe most of the water off of surfaces.
Don't use a towel to dry the surfaces, as a wet towel left indoors
will still have the moisture and you are still running the bathroom
lights to do the wiping..
- Has it really been that long since Jimmy Carter advised the
nation to change thermostat settings? You won't die if you have to
sweat a little.
- Back when Jimmy Carter was giving us stagflation and despair, we
didn't have programmable thermostats. Now they are everywhere.
When programming your thermostat, think in terms of critical
cooling. For most of us, this means cooling down our bedrooms so we
can sleep more soundly. You'll need some time for the stored heat in
bedding, etc., to be removed. Keep in mind that you are programming
a switch, and the settings have nothing to do with the actual rate
- When you are in cooling mode, as in getting the bedroom(s)
habitable, close bedroom doors and adjust registers appropriately.
Using this method, I get my bedroom 5 DegrF cooler than my living
room and other areas.
- Take a look at your air return vents. Do they make sense? Add
new vents, if needed. Make sure all of your air return vents allow
you to open and close them. Ensure you have one vent near the
ceiling paired with one near the floor. Typically, builders put only
one or the other in. During winter, close the upper return vent so
you are returning cold air. During summer, close the lower one so
you are returning warm air. If you have this backwards, you waste
- Run your whole house fan all the time. Mine runs at a lower
(energy-saving) speed, adjustable in the furnace controls. This
eliminates hot spots and cold spots, thereby allowing less use of
heating or cooling for comfort. It also keeps everything cleaner,
because you are continually filtering your air. Be sure you use a
high quality air filter and change it often.
- Use summer sheets in the summer and winter sheets in the winter.
Generally, the lower threadcounts (e.g., 400) are summer sheets and
the higher ones (e.g., 600 and 800) are winter sheets. Some people
buy the highest threadcount sheets they can find, thinking that they
are getting the best sheets--that isn't so. Some people buy crappy
sheets at K-Mart (now Sears) or Wal-Mart, thinking they are saving
money with 180 count cotton/poly blends--that isn't so, either.
- Note that a good set of sheets, properly cared for (washed
weekly and not put in the dryer) should last you ten years or more.
Using the right sheets allows you to use a more moderate thermostat
- Keep blinds or drapes closed. All day.
- If you have a master bath off your bedroom. use a different
bathroom (if available) for showering during the really hot weather.
- Trees act like cooling towers. Use a rootfeeder to water them
when it's blazing hot outside, and they will actually cool the air
around them. Keep your trees properly pruned. If you don't have
trees on your property, don't run out to Wal-Mart and pick up what's
on sale. Plan the layout, using the services of a reputable
landscaper--you won't regret it.
- Lawns act like giant cooling fins. Keep them weeded and watered.
The average suburban home with a lawn also has net zero carbon
emission. Follow the lawncare recommendations for your area. Consult
with your local nursery for the lawncare schedule of your locale.
You can also find this information in the free lawn and garden
newspaper or tabloid that garden shops carry and libraries usually
have as well.
- Plant groundcovers around erosion-prone areas. Most of these are
leafy, and it's this leaf surface that gives you the cooling. People
who control erosion with cement pay higher electric bills than
people who use vegetation. Consult your local nursery or garden shop
for what grows best in your area and in the conditions where you
need to plant (e.g., shady vs. sunny).
This is the most capital-intensive approach. But it's worth it.
- Upgrade your HVAC system to one that uses a heat pump and a
multi-stage gas furnace. This is the most efficient set-up
available. It is common for people to see their home energy bills
drop 50% after the upgrade.
- Trane and Carrier are the leading brands. They are not the
cheapest, but they are the most cost-effective. Don't mess around
with the cheap stuff. You can save money with a cheap unit, but you
will do so at great cost!
- The best deals on new HVAC units are in February. So, plan now.
Start looking at what's out there. It takes a long time to learn
about these systems, and February will be here before you know it.
- Installation is critical. Don't let just anybody install your
new system. Make sure they are factory-authorized installers and
routinely put in these kinds of systems.
5. Security tip
Each year, airlines lose the luggage of millions of
people. All kinds of things are inside this luggage. Some of those items
contain sensitive information, information that's hard to replace, or
content that is personally very valuable (for example, graduation
Here are some examples of what gets
lost, and how to increase the chances for recovery:
- Address books. On the inside cover, write a
short message instructing the finder how to reach you. Try to use a
work number, rather than a home number. Include e-mail address and
either a PO box or the address of a trusted third party. Repeat this
information deeper into the book, in case the cover gets torn off.
- Briefcases. Buy two of those laminated
information tags and put your contact information on it. Affix one
to the handle or carrying strap. Affix the other one to something
inside the case.
- Cell phones. Create an entry called "Owner"
and put contact information there. Put a sticky label with your
contact information inside the battery compartment.
- Digital cameras. On a sheet of paper, write
"RETURN ME." Then, write your name and contact info below that. Take
a photo of this. Then, use your camera's lock feature to prevent
that photo from being erased. When someone turns on your camera,
that image will be one they see if they are curious enough to look
at the images. And everyone is... Also, write this information on
small labels (cut a folder label to size) and put one on the inside
of each compartment door on the camera.
- Flash drives. Write your contact information
on one of those labels used for file folder tabs. Then affix this to
the body of the drive (not the cap).
- Laptops. Create a text file called "Owner"
and make a shortcut to it on your computer desktop. When someone
turns on your computer, this shortcut will be visible on the
desktop. This file would have all of your contact information.
- Paper files (from the office, presumably).
Put your contact information on the back of each critical sheet.
- PDAs. Same as for cell phones.
- Suits. Sew a cloth label onto the inside
pocket. Use an indelible marker to put contact information on that
label. For other clothes, adapt as needed.
Do you see the pattern, here? It's this:
- If an item is valuable enough that you want
to recover it, label it.
- Use contact information that doesn't create
security problems by, for example advertising your home address or
phone number while you are away.
You can implement the basic concept for anything you take with you
anywhere. And that isn't just airlines. For example, you can
easily set down a digital camera at a gathering and not remember you
left it there until you are long gone.
6. Health tip/Fitness tips
Here's an article on a commonly misunderstood topic:
Forget the hype put out by manufacturers and the
grossly inaccurate stories put out by the so-called news media. This
article gives you the truth.
- Sales of antacids increase by as much as 20% the
day after the Superbowl. So, the drug companies make millions, the
football players make millions, and the fans end up poorer.
We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get
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8. Thought for the Day
Unnecessary steps in any process means that process costs more and reduces your
effectiveness. Have you looked at your work processes, lately, to see what you
are doing that doesn't really need to be done?|
Wishing you the best,
The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.
Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).
Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.
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