Jelly co-founder, Amit Gupta, needs our help!

Today I learned Amit Gupta was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia, and he needs our help to find a bone marrow transplant. You may not know Amit, but he’s a brilliant guy who is responsible for the website Photojojo, and he’s also indirectly responsible for the coworking movement in Austin.

Jelly in Austin
Jelly in Austin

Some of you may remember back in good ol’ 2007, a meetup in Austin I used to organize called Jelly. We met at coffee shops and coworked together for the whole day, once or twice per week. Jelly is a product of Amit’s mind, and it was a combination of my desire for a coworking space, a lack of money, and Amit’s genius free Jelly coworking meetups, that inspired me to start Jelly in Austin. These meetups later broke off and evolved into our city’s first coworking space Conjunctured, which uncovered a need, that has since set in motion many other coworking spaces in Austin. So, if you enjoy coworking in our fair city, you owe Amit a bit of thanks.

Amit posted about his diagnosis on his blog. He also posted several ways that we can help. I’ve reposted them below as a quote from his blog:

I have a couple more months of chemo to go, then the next step is a bone marrow transplant. As Jay and Tony describe below, minorities are severely underrepresented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help.

A few ways to help:

  1. If you’re South Asianget a free test by mail. You rub your cheeks with a cotton swab and mail it back. It’s easy.
  2. If you’re in NYC, you can go to this event my friends are putting on.
  3. If you know any South Asians(India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, or Sri Lanka), please point ‘em to the links above.

*NEW* Organize a donor drive near you (the most helpful thing you could possibly do!) email 100kcheeks@gmail.comThey’ll send you kits, flyers, tell you what to say, and make the whole process easy cheesy.

Please help however you can. I mean come on, just look at this guy. How can you not love him and want to help?

Amit Gupta

Steve Jobs is Watching You!

Wow! Turns out the iPhone and 3G iPad have been secretly logging everyone’s GPS location in a local unencrypted database file ever since the release of iOS 4. The file is backed-up locally every time you sync your device with your computer, so it persists even if you replace your device. You can read more about the details on O’Reilly Radar.

Out of curiosity, I downloaded the app that uncovers this data, and sure enough, you can see nearly everywhere I’ve been for the last year or so.

Big Brother is Watching!

The funny thing about this is I’m the type of person who would probably opt-in to a program that tracked my travels. I like being able to visualize the map above. However, the fact that Apple did this in secret, without my permission, clearly crosses into unethical behavior, whatever their intentions were/are.

The moral of this story is Steve Jobs is watching you!

There is something you can do though! You can join (or donate to) the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation). The EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the information age.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Apple’s response should be pretty interesting.

What good shall I do this day?

My Fancy Wallet
My Fancy Wallet

For about 4 years now I’ve been rocking the Hipster PDA.  I carry a stack of blank 3 by 5 index cards in my wallet (see the pic to the right on exactly how that works) and use them for to-do lists and discardable notes. I also cary a full-size hardback Moleskine for notes I intend to keep, though not necessarily for journaling. I typically only write jornal entries when I need to dig myself out of a rut. But I digress.

Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule
Benjamin Franklin's Daily Schedule

I recently started listening to Benjamin Franklin‘s autobiography. I admire Franklin and I’d like to imitate certain aspects of his character. One thing that really struck me was his outline for a perfect daily routine. He mentioned that he himself was terrible at sticking to the routine as he must “mix with the world” and “often receive people of business at their own hours”, but one idea I really liked was the first thing he had on the schedule: ask yourself “what good shall I do this day?”

This is basically the creation of a to-do list for the day. Big deal. I’ve been writing to-do lists constantly for 4 years. But what I really liked about this notion was the phrasing and the ritual. I typically write a to-do list only when I feel overwhelmed, to help add order to my life. But Franklin’s outlook is not “make a to-do list when you feel overwhelmed” it is, every day consider what good you will do. In addition he sugests every night evaluate the good you’ve done that day.

Small Moleskine Journal
Small Moleskine Journal

So, in an effort to be more like one of my role models, I’m moving my to-do list from index cards, that I quickly discard, to a more permanent small paperback Moleskine, that I’ll cary in my pocket. By keeping my daily to-dos together in a book, I’ll be able to flip back on previous days to find items I’ve forgotten about or neglected. And, at the beginning of everyday, instead of writing “to-do,” I will write “what good shall I do this day?” I hope that by writing this it will put me in the frame of mind to not only consider my daily minutiae, but also what I can do that is truly good.

How to create a Twitter account that tweets your DonorsChoose search criteria

One of my favorite non-profits is For those that aren’t familiar with, It’s a website that allows teachers to request items they need for their class that their school hasn’t budgeted for. Depending on the wealth of the school these items could range from books to iPads. As a donor you can choose which projects to donate money to. You might choose to donate to classes in your area, or maybe based on the subject being taught, or the need of the class.

I prefer to donate to classes in Austin, but I also like to search for projects that are only a few bucks from completion and finish them. To aid my effort in finding projects that are near completion I created a Twitter account, called @AlmostCompleted, that tweets when it finds a project that needs less than $20. I have Twitter send these tweet to my phone via SMS so I know about it immediately. Why? Just for fun. I can’t afford to complete every project that needs less than $20, but you have to be fast if you find a project near completion that you want to donate to.

Creating this Twitter account was very simple. I’ll detail the steps here so you can create an account with your own search criteria. For example, you could create an account that only tweets project in your state that need less than $20. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Create a new Twitter account.
  2. Go to the projects listing page and use the filters on the right hand sidebar to find the projects you’d like to tweet about.
  3. Once you’ve got your search criteria figured out, look at bottom of the project listings. On the left hand side you’ll see a drop down menu that says “Add to your website or feedreader.” Click on that drop down menu and select “RSS 2.0.”
  4. A new tab will open up with an RSS feed of projects that meet your search criteria. Copy the URL of this RSS feed found in your browser’s address bar.
  5. Next you must create a account.
  6. After you have a FeedBurner account, login and where it says “Burn a feed right this instant. Type your blog or feed address here:” put your RSS feed you copied in step 4.
  7. Next, in FeedBurner, go to the “Publicize” tab and select “Socialize” found in the left hand column.
  8. In the “Socialize” section you can connect the Twitter account you created in step 1. In the options, for “Post content,” you’ll probably want to select “Title and Body,” and you’ll definitely want to make sure you checkmark “Include link.” Other than that, you’ll can play with the other options however you’d like.
  9. Finally click the “Save” button in the bottom left hand of “Socialize” section.
  10. That’s it! You’re Twitter account should Tweet every 30 minutes or so if there are new projects that meet your search criteria on

In FeedBurner you might also want to turn activate “PingShot.” I understand that should make your Tweets update faster, but I’m not sure how well it actually works. To activate “PingShot” under the “Publicize” tab, select “PingShot” found in the left hand column, then click “Activate.” That’s it! Enjoy!

Please give @AlmostCompleted a shout out on the Twitter! 🙂

Life-hacking Productivity Tip #1: You’re gonna’ die.

Yes my friends, it’s true. You’re gonna’ die. This is my #1 productivity tip. Don’t forget, that someday, maybe tomorrow, you’re gonna’ die. How does this help productivity? Remember all those things you’ve been planning on doing. You better do them… soon, because you’re gonna’ die.

Not only is remembering that you’re gonna’ die (and possibly soon) a good productivity tip, it’s also great for work life balance. When you think about the fact that you will die, you suddenly have a good sense of priority. Naturally family and friends come to mind first, but work is important too if you love what you do. For example, I’m a programmer and entrepreneur. I make stuff. How does this tip help me? I release my products early and often. Why? Because I might die tomorrow.

Thinking about death can be dark, and if you think about it too much you’ll make yourself depressed, or possibly find yourself in a religious frenzy. But by remembering your mortality, you’ll have the motivation to really “get things done,” the things that are most important to you.

To quote William Shatner, “Live life like you’re gonna’ die, because you’re gonna’.”