HP’s Touchpad Makes the Ultimate Business Dashboard

Business Dashboard
Real-time Business Dashboard

The picture above is my HP Touchpad setup to display my business’s dashboard when my Touchpad is charging and idle. With a simple glance to my left I can see the current status of my entire business. My dashboard shows me recent tweets, sales, website visitors, uptime, errors, and will soon include more metrics as I continue customizing it.

The ingredients for this setup are simple.

  • HP Touchpad – A lot of people have one of these lying around now since HP’s fire-sale. This is a good way to put it to use.
  • HP Touchstone – If you own a Touchpad, get a Touchstone charging stand! This thing is amazing. It does NOT require that you plug or dock your tablet into it. Merely placing your Touchpad on the stand begins charging the device. It’s voodoo magic, pure and simple. Additionally, the stand makes interacting with the tablet much easier if you’re at a desk.
  • Geckoboard.com Account – This is the software behind the dashboard. It’s hosted, and they create a unique URL for you to access your custom dashboard.
  • webOnEx – This webOS app ties everything together. When your Touchpad has been idle for awhile on the charging stand, it goes into Exhibition mode. The webOnEx app allows you to display a webpage during Exhibition mode instead of the default clock or photo album. Our webpage is our customized Geckoboard dashboard.

You can get webOnEx by going to “settings” on your Touchpad, then to “Exhibition.” Next click on the “Find More…” button at the botom. Finally lookup webOnEx and install it. After it’s installed, go back to the Exhibition settings and select webOnEx as the default. When your tablet goes into Exhibition mode, you can change the URL of webOnEx to your Geckoboard dashboard.

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’.”

Twitter's Timeline #TADD

I’m writing a book for the popular “For Dummies” brand by Wiley, Twitter Application Development for Dummies, #TADD for short.

While doing research for the book I compiled a brief timeline of Twitter’s company history. I was about to remove it from my notes when I realized it was kind of interesting, and I might like to refer to it later. So, I’m throwing it up on the blog for you to enjoy. 🙂

Google Calendar “Quick Add” Firefox Add-on FTW!

I just found my new favorite Firefox add-on (extension, plugin, whatever). Using the Google Calendar “Quick Add” Firefox Add-on, press “cntrl” + “;” and your Google Calendar “Quick Add” box will popup in the middle of your screen no matter what tab or page you’re on.

So, you heard about a great event on Twitter? Hit “cntrl” + “;” type in the event and you’re done. I love it!

If you use Google Calendar you need to know about the “Quick Add” feature. It’s by far the easiest way I’ve ever seen to enter an event into a calendar. Somehow it can magically parse dates, times, locations, and even repeating events out of a one line description. It understands things like “every Friday,” “next Tue.,” and “noon – 3” Check it out in this short video demo to get the idea.

Unfortunately, as of this blog post, the Google Calendar “Quick Add” Firefox Add-on isn’t compatible with FirexFox 3 beta. 🙁

A rule of thumb on how much to charge per hour for contract work.

When I graduated from college and began looking for full time work, I made ends meet by doing freelance contract work. Mainly I did web design and development. The biggest obstacle I ran into (besides finding work) was determining how much I should charge after I found it. There are several methods of billing clients for contract work, but for this blog post, lets say you and your client agree that you’ll be paid hourly. How much should you charge? It’s very hard to find a good answer for this on the internet. But I’m gonna’ break down what I’ve learned into a relatively simple formula.

The first thing you need to do is define what you are doing then figure out the equivalent title for your job in the salaried world. So let’s say you are building a website for a local small business. In the salaried world your title would likely be “Web Designer”. Now you need to find out how much other Web Designers are being paid. If we use salary.com and look up Web Designer, we find that that Web Designers in our area get paid somewhere around 51k to 70k per year.

Now you need to pin down a number in that salary range. Lets say, like I was, you’re fresh out of college. In the salaried world your pay would probably be close to the 51k side of the spectrum. So let’s stick with 51k per year. Your first impression may be to take that 51k and divide that by the amount of working hours in a year. But there are a few perks that come with that 51k that need to be taken into consideration. Things like health insurance, vacation time, sick leave, expense accounts, and et cetera.

Let’s say we want 3 weeks of time off for vacation and sick leave. There are 52 working weeks in a year. We need to subtract 3 of those from our year to cover our time off. So we’re left with 49 working weeks.

Next we need to cover health insurance costs. Let’s say we found a policy for $200 a month. Multiply that by 12 months and we get $2,400.

Finally lets consider hiden expenses that a salaried employee may take for granted. Things like pens and paper, toner, and binders. For a nice round number lets estimate we need 5k per year to cover things like this.

So now we just need to do the math.
$51,000(salary) + $2,400(health insurance) + $5,000(supplies) = $58,400
49(weeks) * 40(hours) = 1,960(hours)
$58,400 / 1,960(hours) = $29.80 per hour

It’s pretty simple when you think about it. But it can be difficult to figure out where to start when you’re new to freelancing. I hope this is helpful to someone. Leave me a comment if you have any philosophies of your own for calculating an hourly rate for your work.

** UPDATE **
** 8/8/2006 **

Wow! Mike Costello wrote a really cool web calculator based on the formula / strategy I wrote about above. Check it out here. He was also kind enough to reference my blog post. Thanks Mike!