Setting up bill pay

Online banking call to setup bill pay

Me: hi I just tried to register online for online bill pay and it says I am already registered but it is not working
CS: please verify your account and user I’d for me
Me: account is xxx-xxxxxxx-xxx and the userid is zzzzzz
CS: thank you. Are you using online banking now?
Me: yes thats why I have a userid
CS: let me speak to the online banking group
Me: ok but isn’t this the number for online banking customer service
CS: yes but I can’t do that. One minute while I put you on hold.


CS: you were not active so they are activating you now.
Me: thanks when will it be active.
CS: not sure I think 24 hours. Try back then if not call and we will activate you.

Minimal Mac makes me spend more money

I love listening to the Minimal Mac podcasts with Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley. I was listening to episode 36 of the Minimal Mac Podcast called Enough I re-learned more about a product called ScotteVest.

I had heard about their products for a while but dismissed it as a piece of geek tech clothing that I could do with out.  As I was listening to the podcast I found myself flipping through their website and learning about the options that they make and how the product line has expanded.

I broke down and ordered a tropical weight jacket/vest that was on sale.  It was lightweight and packed into a small pocket if needed.  The jacket arrived the next day.  Opening up the box I realized that this was a very high quality product.  I tried it on and it looks like a straight-up windbreaker with no signs of what lies underneath.

With the coat I noticed that there were couple of things that really impressed me that I did not catch on the website.  One was in the right hand side pocket had a built in keychain with an coil clip to prevent you from loosing your keys.  Another thing was in the glass case pocket.  I reached in and there is a glass cleaning cloth attached to a string.  I really liked this as I have a pet peeve about fingerprints and smudges on my sun glasses.

Photo1The thing that really impressed me was in one of the pockets was a small pack of what looked like business cards. I opened it up and there were 10 customer testimonial reference cards. These immediately reminded me of “Brag Tags” to share with friends and create a W.O. M. conversation that the folks at Church of the Customer spoke about. These are a great conversation piece. Overall I am very happy with it and hope that wears well.  I have not had the opportunity to fill all the pockets but will give it a shot. I love the quote from Myke  ” thank you very much sir for making my wallet a little lighter. ”

And thank you for making my wallet a little lighter as well
P.S. : I love Minimal Mac and the Enough series!

Make your own Picks

I have not played guitar out in public for a long time.  When I did I always made sure I had 5-10 picks in my pocket. Where were these when I needed them – because regardless of how prepared you are – you need another pick !

Pick Punch From Core77

Reading: Kindle versus iPad

iBookestore vs Amazon Kindle Image from GottaBeMobileI think the only fair way to start this post is. Hi my name is Austin and I have a problem with books.

I am a huge reader. I have too many books.
Sometimes I feel like I own a small library. ( can you charge to loan books out like a library?  have to look into that)

Primarily I like to read books on design, business, case studies, technology and sustainability.

Recently I moved to a smaller place and storage of books is an issue.  As a result I have to pick and choose what book I want to have in my collection.  Also the cost was becoming an issue as well because tradtional paper based books are more expensive then e-books.

So in order to make the best of my spacial situation I have been buying 95% of my books in electronic format since January of this year.  I also think that there is a benefit to the environment now by not having to use a paper based resource for all these books. There certainly is a cost savings as well – but that is clearly offset if you end up purchasing more books like myself.

The problem I have run into now is where do I get the books and which device to I read them.  I have both an iPad2 and a Kindle. I think both devices have great merit for different reasons.  The Kindle is a wonderful single purpose device that is easy to read for very long periods of time on.  With the addition of the Amazon integrated case/light reading is bed is also very nice.  And of course Amazon has the largest selection of e-books available.  The iPad is an amazing device – allowing me to work, listen to music, get email as well as read on it. The addition of the Apple iBookstore is also wonderful as well.  The iBookstore does not have as many books in it as Amazon but it continues to grow.  The added bonus is that Amazon has created the Kindle app for iPad.

Although the reading is a similar experience I enjoy the iBooks animation for page turning more than the blink of the Kindle.  The flash of the black screen really bothers me – I did get used to it but in terms of user experience its not my favorite.

So know when I want to read a book now I go through these gyrations of rules before I purchase a book

  1. Do I want to own the paper based version of this book?
  2. Is it available in iBookstore?
  3. What is the cost relative to Amazon Kindle version?
  4. Where do I have credits (iTunes or Amazon)
  5. Where will I be reading this book primarily? (home, work, travel)

Since January I have been tracking my purchases and so far it is a 50/50 split between the 2 book platforms. I really have no complaints and I do appreciate the the options that are afforded to consumers for reading.  I guess I am wondering if other people who have a similar process they go through for their selection of reading material.

Small scale wind

I love the fact that smaller scale wind turbines are coming out. I hope someone comes up with a smaller unit that is reasonably priced for residential areas. I know many people think that if you can not provide all your houses electricity that it is not worth it. I disagree and think that anything that can help you offset some of the reliance on the grid and reduce carbon emissions is helpful. I would love to get one of these for a house.


From Design Buzz

Categories Eco

A re-newed appreciation for podcasts


For the last two weeks I have re-started listening to podcasts.  Early on I listened to several and either the podcasters quit or they did not have a consistent enough voice to deliver their message.  I also noticed that in the past I used to listen to these podcasts in a dedicated fashion – meaning I was listening to them while commuting or just sitting and and not doing anything else.  My commute got much shorter so I never really got the benefit of listening to longer podcasts.

A couple of weeks ago I launched a podcast while I was surfing the web, researching digital collection software (Yojimbo and Evernote) and let it play in the background. All of a sudden I was reminded of how enjoyable they were.  Now part of my new routine is to listen in the evenings when I am working or responding to email.

Lately my favorites are the following:

The B&B Podcast with Ben Brooks and Shawn Blanc *

Minimal Mac: Enough with Patrick Rhone and Myke Hurley

These guys put out really quality conversation worthy of listening to and I recommend them.

*If you become a member at Shawn’s site you also get access to a short daily podast called Shawn Today as well which is also quite good.

In Search of: A better computer bag (Part 2)

RistrettoSo after a lot of thought, too much thought , I plunked down my money and ordered the Tom Bihn Ristretto.  Of course as soon as I ordered it they were back ordered for a few weeks.  But I figured that was due to the large amount of press they had received from bloggers and fans.  I was fine as the site told me right up front. I had to travel in about 2.5 weeks so there should be plenty of time.

As my trip approached I got a phone call from the Eliam in the shipping department telling me that the order was complete but one of the little organizer pouches was not available in the color I wanted.  He asked me if I wanted to wait for that color and get it later or swap it out for something else now.  He left me a very detailed message and number to call back.  I can not rememember when I got a proactive call like that telling me about an issue and offering to help correct it.  And it was a phone call ! not an email.

I immediately called back and spoke to Katy and made the adjustment to my order and they told me it would ship out later that day.  I inquired when they thought I would receive it and they told me on Tuesday.  “Damn I will be on travel” I thought to myself.  I politely asked is there was a was to expedite the shipping so I could get it on Saturday before I went away.  I figured this would be a great time to try the bag out.  Katy to said Sure I can help you with that !  (again I expected to have my head bit off by changing an existing order). We made the shipping changes and they shipped it out for me and it arrived the next day.

There are so many picture on the web of people unboxing their products, so I will spare you that, but it was a great feeling. Everything was there, a few little extras and on time.

Immediatley I emptied out my other bag and looked at all the crap I had accumulated and thought to myself – I think the bag is too small.  I sorted through the odds and ends and grouped them into the things I really needed.  I proceeded to load the bag up with all my computer needs, paying close attention to what I need – and resist the urge to through everything and the kitchen sink in the bag.  13″ MBA went in, iPad2, Moleskine, pens, cleaning cloth, mints, business cards, lens pen sidekick, wireless keyboard, magazines, keys etc.  Now loaded up I lifted the bag and realized how light it really was.  The absolute strap with the neoprene on the shoulder was amazing.

Now I had to face my biggest fear.  Did it look like a Murse? While there is nothing wrong with a European Man Purse I was not a fan overall of most of the styles.  I have always had bags with a horizontal orientation so this was a HUGE change for me.  Before I looked I actually did not care because this bag was exactly what I was looking for.  A well organized system bag that allowed me to swap pouches in and out without concern.   Glancing in the mirror I reviewed it and it was great – no issue !

The bag is great – quality is amazing – the customer service was incredible – the company stands behind its products.  I am  fan now for life.  Now how to see how well it travels.

In Search of: A better computer bag (Part 1)

I have owned more computer bags and cases then I care to admit. Many times I created a story in my head that would allow me to purchase (read justify to myself) a bag for a particular need. But then I end up being let down.

Before I purchased another bag I wanted to make sure I was clear what my needs were.

Why did I need another bag?
What worked with the old bags?
What did not work?
What is my goal?
Do I like the design aesthetics?
Will this solve my problem or end up in the closet?

I wanted to be able to carry my MBA and an iPad, a moelskine notebook, a magazine or two – some small accessories and power supplies. I wanted to lighten up – work for the 80/20 rule instead of trying to pack for every scenario when I travel or go tot a friends house to collaborate on a project. Basically I was and am tired of carrying everything I own everywhere I go.

I looked at many many bag makers. I started with companies I had used before – as well as bags I had seen others use. Manufacturers like – Targus, Booq or Waterfield bags were on the top of the list. Each time I looked at a design I went back to what my needs were and what I was going to use it for and made sure it was a fit. Most times I felt like I was back at that talking myself into a bag point wehre I had been so many times before.

As I was reading The Brooks Review blog I came across a post that Ben had written on purchasing a new bag. He did an excellent review of fit and finish as well as functionality of a new bag he had recently purchased from Tom Bihn. I knew of Tom Bihn products but I had never owned any products or knew anyone who did.

I read the post over and over looking to poke holes in his story – or the story that I had created in my head about the bag. he was also paring down his needs and wanted to be what I like to call functionally minimal. When I got to the end of the review I realized it was for a Tom Bihn 13″ Ristretto. Immediately I went to the site to take a look for myself at the products and others options that existed. But I kept coming back to that one bag. It was a little unconventional for me – ok a lot. With is vertical orientation compared to the more common horizontal orientation I was concerned that it bordered on “murse like” qualities.

Then a funny thing happened I started searching for reviews of this bag and was blown away on how many there were. Blog posts, editorial reviews and user generated videos on you tube and vimeo. I found myself watching lots of videos about all their products.

It was clear that Tom Bihn created very high quality products and in doing so also created a huge network of customer evangelists that were happy to talk about the products. All aspects, the quality, the nice touches, how they use them, recommendations for add-ons and more. Many times when you see a product it is hard to gauge what you can get in the bag; no issues there. There were at least a dozen videos of customers packing and unpacking their various bags to give you a real world demos of what can actually fit. I was actually surprised because it reminded me very muck of Apple “p0rn” (sic) of unboxing new items.

So I ordered my Ristretto.