Delegating: The Case for Personal Outsourcing

Does the thought of hiring a virtual personal assistant in Bangladesh for 5 bucks an hour make your skin crawl? Entrepreneur Ryan Norbauer explains how he got over his hang-ups and got super-productive with hired help. He writes:

What is the part of your work (whether personal or professional) that only you can do? And what if you could somehow force yourself to do only that work? In my case, doing precisely this with the help of outsourcing has radically improved my effectiveness.

I've essentially cut out steps 1-7 of my daily routine above, so I'm freed to focus exclusively on what was previously just a bonus &mdash even though it was actually my most important work.
As someone still stuck in the "outsourcing? icky!" stage, Norbauer's article is a great take on why hiring help can help you bypass busywork and focus on your big picture. What's your take on personal outsourcing? Let it rip in the comments.

How To: Change Your PC's Registered Owner in Windows

When you've inherited someone else's PC and want to make it your own, you can change the registered owner's name in the Windows Registry. The How-To Geek runs down the steps; in a nutshell, using the registry editor (Start->Run->regedit.exe to get there), change the RegisteredOwner key value located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion. As always, back up your registry before making changes, just in case.

Featured Windows Download: Compress and Extract File Archives with jZip

Windows only: Freeware application jZip, based on 7-Zip technology, creates and extracts archives with a click of a button. jZip supports RAR, TAR, ZIP, G-Zip, and other archive formats. Additionally, files can be encrypted with a passphrase for added security, and heavy archivers might find the shell integration feature handy.

Archiving and extracting is a breeze with jZip, and I was able to create a 360MB ZIP file in less than a minute. jZip also sports an interesting feature: the ability to view any file within an open archive with a desired application, such as WordPad for TXT files, for example. jZip is a free download for Windows only.

Ask The Readers: What's Your Best "Advanced Common Sense"?

Getting Things Done author David Allen calls any kind of productivity trick or system "advanced common sense"—using the smart part of your brain to help out the dumb part in its most feeble moments. The Getting Things Done weblog lists some of its best "advanced common sense," like writing things down, ubiquitous capture and setting up to-do's in their right contexts. For me, hanging up the car keys on the keyrack is the advanced common sense that keeps my dumb future self from running around the house looking for them when it's time to go.

Some other pieces of "advanced common sense":

  • Keeping pen and paper available in every room of the house and in the car to write stuff down easily
  • That extra $20 bill in a secret hidden wallet compartment
  • SMS reminders that it's time to leave or that the weekly meeting's starting in 20 minutes or that it's Mom's birthday

What about you? What are the best bits of advanced common sense that keep you on track during the day? Let us know in the comments.

Interviews: The Globe and Mail interviews us for an article ...

The Globe and Mail interviews us for an article on the productivity media boom, in an article called Too busy organizing to be productive. Here's the full interview transcript.

How To: Make Better Coffee

This morning's cuppa joe a big letdown? Self-described "coffee snob" Brett Kelly says you can make a fabulous cup of coffee for a reasonable price yourself. Kelly's nuts about making his coffee—the guy uses bottled water and roasts his own beans, people—but he makes a great case for home roasting and grinding. How do you perfect your coffee? Let us know in the comments.

Mac Tip: Turn Your Mac into a DVR

Mac only: Start watching, recording and burning live television to disc on your Mac with the right hardware and software. A USB TV tuner (like the $150 EyeTV tuner), Roxio's Toast Titanium ($100) and a big hard drive will get you started. Record shows with the EyeTV software which will transfer them to your iPod automatically and export to Toast for optional disc-burning. Macworld has the details. Anyone out there using their Mac to get their TV fix? Tell us about it in the comments.

How To: Turn a Paper Clip into a Safety Pin

There's never a safety pin around when you need one, but in most offices, there are plenty of paper clips. Turn that paper clip into a safety pin with a pair of pliers and some ingenuity. DIYer ISR RAVIV demonstrates how in the video above. The end result isn't the perfect safety pin, as paper clips are thicker (and probably less comfortable if worn for prolonged periods of time), but if you need a backup in case of emergency, this hack should do the trick.

Lifehacker Top 10: Top 10 Ways to Put Your Remote Server to Good Use

An always-on server can come in all kinds of handy for running automated tasks, syncing your data, remote controlling downloads and acting as a proxy. Lot of us have access to a remote computer—if not a hand-rolled home server, most Lifehacker readers said they couldn't live without their hosted web space—but most of us probably aren't getting everything we can out of it. Check out our top 10 ways to put your remote server to best use.

What's your favorite use for your remote server? Let us know in the comments.

From The 'Duh' Files: Computer thief unknowingly uploads Photo ...

Computer thief unknowingly uploads Photo Booth images to Flickr thanks to the FlickrBooth plug-in. Looks like there's more than one way to turn your iSight into a security camera.

Featured Windows Download: Track Price Guarantee Refunds with Amazon Price Watch

Windows only: Track your latest Amazon purchases for price drops qualifying for their 30-day price guarantee or just watch your wish list for price drops or availability with freeware application Amazon Price Watch. After you've installed the application, Amazon Price Watch can automatically track any item you add to your cart or wish list. That means that as soon as you click the add to cart or add to wish list links at Amazon, Price Watch will prompt you and ask if you want to watch for price changes. Then the application will track the price for 30 days and alert you via email if and when there's a price drop (or change in availability, Wii hunters). Amazon Price Watch is freeware, Windows only, works with Internet Explorer only (bummer). For web-based price protection at a variety of online stores, check out Price Protectr

MacGyver Tip: Make a DIY Portable Stove

If you've got the DIY outdoors-y bug, you can make your own portable miniature stove using two aluminum cans, sandpaper, a thumb tack, razor blade, coat hanger, fiber glass, and Heet (I'm sure that's all just sitting in your go bag, right?). It's a very cool project, but if you undertake it, make sure you proceed with caution. Lifehacker prefers its readers keep their eyebrows. If you've got less goodies on hand but still need a fire, check out these alternatives.

How To: Get Your Boss's Job

If the next rung on your corporate ladder belongs to your boss, you're probably not going to get promoted until your boss does, and Wired's How To Wiki details how to secure this kind of promotion. In a nutshell, it's a two-step process: 1) Learn your boss's job, and 2) Train your replacement. If you give your boss the opportunity to look good by helping him/her do a better job, your boss is more likely to get a promotion, which frees up your prospective job. If you've already been grooming a replacement, who better to slip into your boss's position than you? If you've ever successfully secured your boss's job using a similar or completely different method, tell us about it in the comments.

Windows Tip: Restore the Run Command to the Vista Start Menu

Restore the trusty Run command to your Windows Vista Start menu with the simple step-by-step instructions at weblog IntelliAdmin. Just right-click your Start menu and click Properties. Then go to the Start menu tab, click Customize, and tick the checkbox next to Run command. Your reliable Run command will return to your Start menu where you've come to know and expect it. Then again, you can always get to the Run prompt with the ever-useful Windows-R keyboard shortcut.

Featured Windows Download: Monitor and Automatically Upload a Folder's Photos to Flickr with Foldr Monitr

Windows only: Freeware application Foldr Monitr watches any user-defined folder and automatically uploads any new photos to your Flickr account. After installing the program and authenticating with Flickr, just select the folder you want to monitor and that's that. If you've set Foldr Monitr to start with Windows and point it to your main photo folder, the app will automatically back up all of your new pics to Flickr as soon as they hit your hard drive. I hacked together a similar solution for automatic folder monitoring and uploading to Flickr that works across platforms, but this freeware, Windows-only solution brings a much friendlier user interface and many more advanced options to the process.

Clever Uses: Clean Inkjet Printer Cartridges with WD-40

Dried ink on printer cartridges can render your expensive ink unusable, but blogger Bucky decided not to toss the cartridges out and instead soaked the base of the cartridge in WD-40. The result: a cartridge that works again.

I got a brain-storm of an idea the other day and decided to try soaking the base of the cartridge in WD-40 to see if it would soften and clean the dried ink and holy crap - it worked!!! (I soaked it over-night and then wiped it off good before reinstalling it in the printer.)

I had to run the printer through three head cleaning cycles afterward, but it cleared the clogged nozzles and it is now working perfectly.

Since printer cartridges are rather expensive, this tip should help save you money while helping you get the most out of your ink. Thanks, Lacy!

It All Comes Together: Desktop Show and Tell Roundup

desktop show and tell
We love looking at your killer desktops, and after three weeks of saucy submissions we're convinced that Lifehacker readers definitely know how to put together an excellent desktop environment. If you happened to miss any of our Desktop Show and Tell series—whether it was the Windows, Mac, or Linux version—hit the jump for an all-in-one roundup of the best submissions we received at Lifehacker HQ.

Keep your eyes open tomorrow for your fellow readers' must-have system tray applications in our System Tray Show and Tell.

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