Rands has me pegged:

You’re swimming in everyone else’s moments, likes, and tweets and during these moments of consumption you are coming to believe that their brief interestingness to others makes it somehow relevant to you and worth your time… Each one you experience, each one you consume, is a moment of your life that you’ve spent forever… These are other people’s moments.

I’ve spent time reflecting on how I spend my time and if that reflects what I want my life to be. Too often, it doesn’t.

It is too easy to slip into my Twitter stream and feel like I accomplished something, or let an hour pass in Pocket on inconsequential moments.

I’ve been thinking about the Spanish word hacer lately. It’s an interesting word in that it has two distinct English translations. It means ‘to do’ and ‘to make’. So if I ask you ‘¿que estas haciendo?’ I am asking what you’re doing/making. I’ve been thinking about my life’s ratio of doing vs. making, or The Hacer Ratio.

How often am I doing something but not making something? And am I OK with that relationship?

Some things that I do:

  • Read through RSS feeds
  • Show up to school to teach
  • Watch TV with my wife
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Observe while my daughter plays

Things I’m not making when doing the above:

  • Writing here, in my journal, or anywhere else
  • A difference to individual students, or my classes as a whole
  • A healthier, stronger marriage
  • Connections or new ideas that only come with a relaxed, undistracted brain
  • A strong, lasting relationship that enriches my life and pays dividends when my daughter is older

I find myself going through the motions, letting life happen to me instead of making mindful decisions. Too often I sit idly by doing things without consequence, instead of taking action to make.

I’m making changes around here. Eliminating distractions that enable doing and focusing on making. I am going for new addictive highs that come from building instead of observing. I am tipping the Hacer Ratio from do to make.

Hoy, que estas haciendo?
What are you making today?

Beginning with the iPad Air in November of 2013, T-Mobile began offering a free 200MB/mo data plan for iPad owners.

While great for iPad Air owners, this is also exciting news because the same plan works on any LTE enabled iPad. The Verizon and AT&T iPads both come unlocked, so all you have to do is get a T-Mobile SIM card to take advantage.

T-Mobile’s data is great in some areas, and not-so-great in most. But if you live in an area where T-Mobile has LTE or HSPA+, this is worth checking out.

T-Mobile data plan details for iPad Air

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Step 1: Order a T-Mobile SIM Card

First step is to pick up a T-Mobile SIM card. You can do so online at T-Mobile.com.

Check below to see which SIM card you need for your device, or view the source Apple documentation.

SIM Card diagram for iPad models

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Step 2: Replace Your Old AT&T or Verizon SIM Card

Our next step is to replace the AT&T or Verizon SIM card with the new one from T-Mobile. Find a paperclip to eject the SIM card on your iPad casing.

Your iPad will notify you that there is No SIM Card Installed, as pictured:

No SIM Card Installed

Step 3: Insert Your New T-Mobile SIM Card

Place the new T-Mobile SIM card into the tray and insert it into your iPad. Wait a few moments while the iPad activates the SIM card, and you’ll get a T-Mobile signal as pictured below.

T-Mobile SIM Card activated

Step 4: Set Up Your T-Mobile SIM Card Account

Open up Safari and navigate to any page. You will be redirected to the T-Mobile Mobile Internet Management account system. Set up a new account (FREE!), and you’ll be all set.

Set Up Your T-Mobile Account

Step 5: Enjoy Your Free 200MB/mo

200MB/mo isn’t going to let you stream Netflix or Spotify, but it is plenty to check e-mail, Twitter, and surf the web when you don’t have Wi-Fi.

If you need more data, you can buy more from T-Mobile, or quickly swap your AT&T or Verizon card back into the iPad and use either of those.

Have fun!

We are not optimized for change, and resolutions based on a five minute brainstorm when the calendar flips won’t fix that. Writing down resolutions is a great start, but it’s just that, a start. It’s comparable to saying you’re going to run a marathon. You have to register for a race, make a training plan, and follow it for the duration, if you want to make it to an actual race, let alone stand a chance of running 26.2 miles. It requires concerted effort to create systems and design new habits into your life.

Regular people sit down around this time of year and write out a few things they hope get better in their lives. Most are lucky if they spend more than 15 minutes going through the ‘Resolution’ process.

  • “I want to lose 15 pounds”
  • “I’m going to keep my apartment clean”
  • “I will go out on 25 dates with my wife”

And that’s that. The goals, if written down, end up in a drawer or in the garbage. And that is why most resolutions don’t work.

Taking the Time

Chris Guillebeau writes a great series every December about his Annual Review process. He takes weeks to map out the year ahead, setting specific objectives, considering unexpected obstacles, planning for dependencies, and creating systems (we’ll get to systems in a minute) to make his vision a real possibility.

Chris’ annual review series is beyond the scope of this post, but if you want a great place to start with setting up for a great year, go read it.

The lesson learned from Chris is that he takes weeks, not minutes, to craft his vision for the year to come. Not everyone can do a multi-week planning session, but at the very least you can take a weekend.

Using Systems to Improve Your Odds

High achievers use systems to improve their odds of success. Systems make up for our lack of willpower, and they are usually automated. The difference between a goal and a system is as follows:

Goal: I want to save 10% of my income

System: 10% of my paycheck is automatically deposited into a separate online savings account each month

See? I don’t have to want to save 10% of my income in August. I don’t have to log in to my bank’s website and move 10% over to my savings account. When I wake up on the 5th, 90% of my income is sitting in my checking account, and 10% is in a separate online savings account.

Total willpower required: none.

Research in behavioral change shows that information alone isn’t enough to motivate us. Researching weight loss doesn’t create a calorie deficit that burns fat. Learning about marathon training doesn’t tie your shoes and get your feet on the pavement. Having a list of resolutions isn’t enough to achieve them.

When you are designing your upcoming year, leave time to create systems that will eliminate the need for willpower. Automate as much as you can. Use tools like Omnifocus, IFTTT, or Keyboard Maestro to manage projects, send reminders, or automate your computer contexts to help.

Let’s look at a few more examples of systems towards a specific goal:


Goal: Lost 15 pounds by August.

This is a super common resolution, and one that most people fail year after year. What are some systems we can put in place that will eliminate the need for willpower to get this done?

System: Automate food and activity tracking.

Use a device like the Fitbit or Fuelband to automate activity tracking. You can set the devices to vibrate or alert you to milestones during the day. Sitting down for 20 minutes? Fuelband will tell you to get up and move. Play basketball with some friends? Fitbit keeps track and credits you for it.

You can use apps like My Fitness Pal to enter what you ate for each meal. Eliminate some of the required willpower for this by setting automatic reminders every 2 hours to enter anything you’ve eaten.

System: Hire a bi-weekly personal trainer at your local gym.

This eliminates required willpower by creating a commitment. You’ve now paid for the obligation to be at the gym at a specific time. You’ve also paid for the opportunity to feel super embarrassed if you don’t do anything to improve your health in between those bi-weekly visits.

System: Commit with a friend to go on a weekly bike ride on Saturday mornings.

You are making a personal commitment to be somewhere with someone important to you at a specific time. Odds are, you won’t unplug the alarm when it goes off at 7AM on Saturday.

System: Ask your server to box half of your meal before bringing it to the table when you go out to eat.

How often do we eat because the food is sitting there in front of us? Eliminate the need for willpower by getting half of your meal boxed to go before you even sniff it. You’d feel foolish digging into your styrofoam box at the table, so you won’t do it.


With 15 minutes extra minutes, you have a solid foundation to build on. The vague ‘Lose 15 pounds’ has now presented specific action items, many of which you can set up once and get repeated benefits down the line. Have you lost any weight because you thought through this? Not yet. But you now have a map instead of a destination.

Identify New Habits, and Learn How to Build Them

It is useful to look at goals as building a new set of habits, but habits are hard to make (or break) for most people. When you are setting resolutions or goals, you must also look at the new habits that you need to make to achieve them. Then you can use a system to train yourself to do those habits.

BJ Fogg, a Stanford professor of behavioral psychology, has spent the last few years developing his Tiny Habits system. He gives a free online class each week teaching people how to create habits, and it works. I know what you’re thinking… “I don’t have time to take an entire class!” But the Tiny Habits ‘class’ takes 15 minutes to get started, and less than 3 minutes a day. In a nutshell, BJ teaches you to identify triggers and celebrate when you do the new habit you are trying to create.

I’m not kidding. It’s 15 minutes and 3 minutes a day. Go sign up at the Tiny Habits website. You’ll spend a whole lifetime building habits, so spend a week learning how to control which ones, so you can build the habits you want.

In Resolution

This isn’t meant to be a deep dive into setting goals. There are entire libraries dedicated to that. But I invite you to dig a little deeper.

Go beyond your New Years Resolutions. Spend the time to truly design the year that you want to have. Develop systems that take willpower out of the equation. Identify the habits required to reach your goal. Spend some time learning how habits work and how to develop the ones that you want. That will lead to success.

Have a Happy New Year, and much success.

League Pass and Blackouts

You love watching games live, but you hate paying for cable. Seems like the only reason to pay for cable anymore is for live sports. NBA League Pass Broadband seems like it’d be the perfect solution. $129 to stream every game of your five favorite teams to your Apple TV, iPad, Roku, whatever.

It’s perfect. Except for stupid blackouts. If you live anywhere that shows Jazz games on cable, they’ll block you from watching the games live on League Pass Broadband.

Since getting married, I’ve never paid for cable. But I didn’t want to miss Jazz games. After messing around with streaming sites of ill-repute (and many ads, and super low quality streams), I had to figure out a way to get League Pass to work.

The Solution

The trick is to make the NBA League Pass servers think that you’re outside of Utah. You can use a service like a VPN or proxy server to do that. Basically, a VPN sends all of your traffic to a server, and then that server sends your internet requests for you, receives responses, and then sends those responses back to you.

Sort of confusing. Here’s a picture of what happens with blackouts:

NBA Blackout Blocks Your Request

What the VPN Does

And what the VPN does:

VPN disguises your location to the NBA servers

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So how do I get a VPN?

There are a few VPN services you can pay a couple bucks a month for. But they typically limit how much you can stream through them. I wouldn’t recommend them.

You can run your own, which is what I do, using a cloud server like Digital Ocean. I’m including instructions on how to set this up below. But it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’ve never heard the words Ubuntu, shell, or terminal before, this is probably going to be too hard. You’re welcome to try though!

E-mail me, shoot me $30 bucks on Paypal or Venmo, and I’ll send you a username and password that you can use to access my VPN. For what it’s worth, I don’t make a bunch off of that $30. Just covers bandwidth for 80%2B HD games of basketball.

The Hard Way

Ok. Here’s the meat and potatoes. You’re going to be setting up your own Linux server, PPTP for tunneling, and setting up a personal VPN account through your own server.

Sign Up for Digital Ocean

Step one. Go to DigitalOcean.com and Sign Up for a new account. Once your new account is set up, log in to your Admin Panel.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Sign up for Digital Ocean

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DigitalOcean Control Panel

Step two. You should see a giant blue Create Droplet button in the top-right corner. Go ahead and click it.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Create a new droplet

Choose Your Server Options

Step three. Choose your server options. First, enter a Hostname (this can be almost whatever you want, but I recommend a joke about Ty Corbin or Locke). Choose the cheapest option. That little machine is more than adequate to stream some games to you.

This next decision is important. Digital Ocean currently offers servers in New York, San Francisco, and Amsterdam. You will be subject to blackout rules for whichever area you choose. If you choose San Francisco, that means Golden State. If you choose New York, that probably means the Knicks, or Nets, or maybe both. If you choose Amsterdam, well, that’s not any of them. Having never tried one from Amsterdam, I’m not sure if there would be major lag or not. Go crazy. I choose New York 1. I don’t really have time to care about Knicks games on a regular basis.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Choose droplet options

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DigitalOcean Control Panel

Choose Ubuntu 13.04 x64, and leave Enable VirtIO on (I have no idea what this is, but it’s free!). Any version of Ubuntu should work, but I’m doing mine on 13.04, so if you want to follow along with my specific instructions, choose what I choose.

Click Create Droplet.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

More droplet options

While You Wait, Check Your E-mail

Step four. Wait for your server to set up, and check your e-mail for your Root password.

The e-mail you get is important. It has all of the information you need to connect to your server.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Check your e-mail for login details

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Connect to Your Server Via SSH

Connect to your server via SSH. If you run Windows, you will need to download and use something like [PuTTY] to connect. If you run a Mac, then you can use the Terminal (use Spotlight to search for Terminal if you are unfamiliar with it).

Open your SSH client, and type ssh root@[your server’s ip address] and press enter. If your IP address was 192.241.145.95, then you would type:

ssh root@192.241.145.95.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

SSH into your server using Terminal

Copy and Paste Your Password

Copy and paste your password from your e-mail into your terminal window and press enter. You’ll be logged in and ready to go.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Enter your password to get started

Smart People Use Security

There are entire professions dedicated to locking down servers from people who would use them to do bad things like send spam. We could spend all day on that, but I’m not going to. We’re going to set this up in a way that you can easily blow it up and start over again if anything bad were to happen to your server.

I’m not smart.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Instal PPTPD

PPTPD is the application the server will use to tunnel your requests. We’ll install it using the apt-get command:

apt-get install pptpd

Confirm you want to install it by typing

y

And pressing enter

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Install pptpd

Configure PPTPD

Type the following command to edit the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/pptpd.conf

Scroll to the very bottom and remove the # sign from the front of the following lines:

#localip 192.168.0.234-238,192.168.0.245
#remoteip 192.168.1.234-238,192.168.1.245

Leaving:

localip 192.168.0.234-238,192.168.0.245
remoteip 192.168.1.234-238,192.168.1.245

Save and exit by typing Control X and pressing Enter when it asks to save.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Configure pptpd

More PPTPD Configuration Stuff

Next type:

sudo nano /etc/ppp/pptpd-options

Find the lines containing ‘ms-dns’ and add

ms-dns 8.8.8.8
ms-dns 8.8.4.4

This will set up the server to use Google’s fast DNS service. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, it’ll work.

Save the same way as with the last file. Control %2B X, Y, then Enter.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

More pptpd configuration stuff

Create a VPN Account

sudo nano /etc/ppp/chap-secrets

Go to the bottom line, and put a username, pptpd, password, and an asterisk, putting a tab in between each.

Save and exit.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Create an account to login with

Allow IP4 Forwarding

sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf

Remove the # symbol from the line with the following text:

#net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Leaving

net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Save and exit.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Allow IP4 forwarding

Reboot, Just for Kicks

I don’t know if this is actually necessary. But I like to do it.

reboot

You will need to log in again using the steps before.

ssh root@[youripaddress]

Then copy and paste your password.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Configure Your Mac to Connect to Your Server’s VPN

Now let’s check to see if we got everything set up right. Here are the steps for your Mac:

Open System Preferences.

Click on Network.

Click the + button in the bottom left corner.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Add a new VPN connection on your Mac

Configure Your Mac: Select VPN Setup

Select VPN and choose PPTP as the VPN Type. You can name the Service whatever you want.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Choose VPN option

Enter Your Password and Connect

Click on Authentication Settings and enter your password. Then click ‘Connect’.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Enter your VPN server information

Check Your Connection Status

Google

what is my ip address

We want the result to say the address of your server that you set up. If you’ve done it right, then you’re golden! No more blackouts!

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Check your IP address

Save Your Droplet as an Image

I mentioned above how we weren’t going to be too worried about Security. That’s because we’re going to save an image that you can use if anything goes wrong. This will save you all of the above steps, in case you set up a new server down the road. This also means you can turn your server off during the off-season, and turn it back on once the season starts (like I did!).

Log back into your Digital Ocean account, and click on Images and Take a Snapshot.

Digital Ocean will ask you to power off your server to take the snapshot. Open up the Terminal again and type:

sudo shutdown -h now

Then try again.

After it creates the snapshot, you will be able to create new Droplets (or servers) using that Snapshot. No more configuration needed.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

Create an image so you can shut it down and restart it

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Connecting Other Devices

You can use the same VPN settings to connect any device that allows you to connect via VPN.

Any Mac, Windows, or Linux machine. iPads, iPhones, Android devices. All of those are easy. Just find the VPN settings and enter the username and password you set up earlier.

AppleTV’s, Roku’s, and others may require a little bit of extra setup, as they don’t give you VPN settings. You can change the settings in your Router, but that may push ALL of your traffic through an unsecured server, which is something you probably don’t want. E-mail me and I’d be happy to help look into this.

Did you have a problem with this step? E-mail me so I can fix it.

The End!

Wow. That was long. They say it takes a great writer to keep things concise. Today, I am not that writer. I felt it would be better to make sure I fully explained everything, and I didn’t have a lot of time to edit it down to the essential steps.

This is a Version 1.0 of this tutorial for you Jazz fans. It’s a work in progress. I’m happy to update it if there is any confusion anywhere.

Additionally, I plan to add the following:

  1. AppleTV support and directions
  2. Roku support and directions
  3. iPad/iPhone screenshots and directions

If you want to thank me, why don’t you give me a follow on Twitter (@calebhicks for general stuff, and @kelubonsports for Jazz stuff). If you don’t want to hassle with setting up your own VPN server, but still want to avoid Jazz blackouts on League Pass Broadband, e-mail me (calebhicks@gmail.com) and we can work something out. I’m thinking $30 for the season and I’ll give you access to my own server.

GO JAZZ!

So you’ve found someone to buy your old Mac, and now you’ve got to clear off your data.

Here’s how I prep my Macs for sale in less than 5 minutes. No Recovery Partition necessary.

Open System Preferences and Create a New Administrator User

The first step is to create a new user with Administrator rates.

Open System Preferences. Click on Users. Unlock to allow changes. Hit the + button to create a new user with Administrator rights.

Open System Preferences

Log Out and Switch to Your New User

The next step is to delete your old user account.

Log out. Log in to your new administrator user.

Login Screen

Open System Preferences and Delete Your Old Account

Open System Preferences. Click on Users. Select your old account, and click the minus button.

I’m assuming you already have a backup, so click on Delete the home folder, and check the Erase home folder securely.

Important: You are securely erasing your account. If you do not have a backup, you will lose everything. You do keep backups, right? Go double check it before deleting your account.

Erase Old Username

Bonus Step: Securely Erase Empty Hard Drive Space

Open Disk Utility. Select your Macintosh HD partition. Select the Erase tab. Click Erase Free Space. You can choose from 3 options ranging from Fastest to Most Secure.

Erase Empty Space

Congratulations, Your Computer is Ready

After completing this walkthrough, you have a fresh user with the default settings, and you have securely wiped your personal data.

Nice work.