Words To Live By

Contributing Editor at Inc. Magazine and Inc.com. I also write for Fox News.com, Popular Mechanics, Wired, Men’s Journal, Outside Magazine, CIO, TechHive.com, Connected Fridge Quarterly, DIY Dentistry, We Love Cheese! online, and this here blog. I live way too close to Fargo for my own comfort level.

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My Ode to Vinyl

In 1978, I owned over 500 albums. No one used the word vinyl back them. We figured the black plastic material was made of ground up tar pieces found in a driveway or some transmogrified version of black Lego blocks melted down at a factory by evil corporate overlords and reanimated as a Captain and Tennille record. Ahhhhhh!!!!! We also didn’t know anything about recycling. All products in the known universe either existed in their current form or were transported out to the city landfill to rot in a state of perpetual doom. Recycling was something you did with a cassette tape when you recorded Deep Purple over The Who.

I hate to admit this in public, but the first record I ever purchased was by Barry Manilow. I’ve been racked with guilt ever since. The album cover showed a picture of a gold statue of a guy wearing tailcoats while playing the piano. It didn’t really make any sense...

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The Great Paradox Of Working Alone

I have a pack of Hubba Bubba strawberry-watermelon bubble gum sitting on my desk right now. One of my kids didn’t like the taste of it so they offered it to me. Win, right?

Sadly, it tastes like strawberry-watermelon linoleum. I’ve sampled paint chips that had a more satisfying flavor. It makes me want to upgrade to fluoride treatments at the dentist or suck on asphalt chips I’ve broken off from my own driveway. But it’s sitting there for a reason.

That’s right, I find comfort in a pack of chewing gum.

See, after writing an article recently about how to Feng Shui your desk, which included the ill-fated use of that term as an action verb, I’ve decided to outfit my desk with paraphernalia again. Things were starting to look a little sparse. Now, in addition to the aforementioned flavored floor tile/asphalt chip chewing gum, I have a Korg mini keyboard here (for when the moment...

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Why Blog?

Blogs were invented in the mid 1800s by really bored Indonesian monks. This was before Blogger and Typepad, so they had to do all of the HTML coding by hand. In my field, we trace the arc of blogging through the burgeoning years in the 60s and 70s, up through the 80s and 90s heyday period until about a decade ago when blogging died a slow, painful, and widely misunderstood death. There were quite a few personal tomes written about the demise of blogging. The irony is not lost on anyone except Al Gore, but then again he’s just getting the hang of written journals.

I started my career as a sleeping bag/router tester in 2001 but saved myself for bigger, better and more noble things like, for example, this blog. I’m not sure why I started doing this. As I’ve said many times before, I’ve written about 8,000 articles in the last 13 years. Half of those were router reviews. Why, in a...

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Driving The Big Red Van

The Big Red Van arrived with little fanfare.

Squealing brakes, like the sound of a preteen getting a text from her boyfriend, made me sit up and take notice. There’s a Big Red Van in my driveway. Someone pinch me.

I climbed in right away. Chuck, the kind retired gentleman who drops off vehicles for me to test, handed me the keys with a grin. “Be careful with her,” he said, as though we were talking about dating or ice sculptures.

The 2014 RAM ProMaster Work & Cargo Van has a massive V6 3.0L ECODIESEL I4 engine, can carry a 4,400 payload, and can tow 5,100 pounds. You can go 18,500 miles between oil changes, and if that doesn’t scream “impulse buy” to you, I’m not sure what will.

Ostensibly, the ProMaster is designed for a delivery business to transport their stuff from one point to another. Bags of rocks, printers, dinosaur bones, airplane parts. Circus performers, other delivery...

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6 Ways to Fix The Lone Ranger

I had the unpleasant opportunity to watch The Lone Ranger on DVD last night. For those of you who have had a colonoscopy done using a video guidance system, get out the buttered popcorn: your video is more entertaining. It might actually have a plot. There are films done by third graders using a feature phone in a dark room blindfolded while eating Fruit Loops that are more character-driven and suspenseful.

As a journalist, I live on the cutting edge of “research” and “writing” about current events. It’s a hairline fissure, let me tell you. I am constantly analyzing everything in life, including how much I analyze things. As I watched the complete lack of story unfold and listened to the unusually stunted dialogue, I came to the conclusion that the movie is almost completely unwatchable. That was during the opening title sequence when the comma next to the date appeared like it was a...

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My Official CES Evening Reception Rejection Letter

Dear media participant,

We’re sorry to inform you we are not accepting your application to our January event “50 Diddy Dinner Blog Reception Yo Dog With Snacks – Invite Only” in Las Vegas at this time. For the reasons we have listed below, you do not meet our media credential requirements.

For accreditation, you must provide verification for the following:

  1. At least one published article in a major newsstand magazine, blog, grocery store supplement, high-circulation neighborhood flyer, or medical journal. We also accept hand-written notes, parchments from ancient times, retweets, a casual comment at another 50 Fiddy dinner party overheard by one of our coordinators and/or recorded on an iPhone using the Voice Memo app, or a hall pass.

  2. Full-time working journalist who makes a living covering one of the following subjects: travel, technology, business, medical procedures (nothing...

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Infiniti Ninja

I made a video with a few friends showing how the 2014 Infiniti QX80 can stop automatically in reverse when it sees some objects. We crushed a few leaves in the process, that’s about it.

https://vimeo.com/78287714

You can read the whole article here:

http://www.techhive.com/article/2059755/i-reversed-it-saw-it-braked-hands-on-with-infiniti-qx80s-backup-intervention.html

To buy the car in one click (not really):

http://www.infinitiusa.com/suv/qx80

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What Is It Like To Test 8,000 Gadgets in 12 Years?

Her name is Katie. She has a pleasingly abrupt manner, a voice like a rubber hose being snapped. “Howdy!” she’ll say to me. A few times, when she comes to the door, she’ll hand my border collie mix a doggie treat and pat her head. “Feed her the good stuff,” she tells me.

We have a distant relationship, like a weird cousin you’ve only seen at family reunions but lives on the other side of town (thank the Lord).

I don’t know her last name and I’m not sure where she lives. Our conversations last 90 seconds. We’ve discussed the fact that my house is still not listed on Google maps, which is irritating to those in her profession – like a dull, throbbing ache in your lower thigh. “I can’t believe you write about technology and you’re still not on Google Maps!” she told me once.

I like her. But then...

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Mr. Sanford Saves a Paceman

He pulled up in a dusty red 1997 Chrysler Town & Country minivan. A German Shepard, about the size of a small giraffe, sat in the front seat. The driver smiled a toothy grin and rolled down his window.

“Got yourself a flat, huh?” he said.

He was right. I was sitting at a Casey’s gas station in a small town in Iowa called Story City, pondering my unfortunate lot in life. The 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman I was testing had the equivalent of a soft-flesh puncture wound in the front left tire. I was with two friends named Wayne and Pete.

The guy in the minivan? His name was Mr. Sanford.

Full disclosure here: Three guys over 6-feet should not drive a Paceman to Kansas City for any reason. No recommendo. You’re gonna look goofy. People will chuckle silently behind your back. You’ll also need a wooden paddle to wedge people out of the backseat. I will admit it was my idea,...

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10 Tips For Writing A List Article

I don’t know why this is, but people love lists. I mean, they want to marry lists and have children with them. There is an article on the top ten sci-fi horror movies starring Val Kilmer and one on the six ways to cure sleep-walking if you are an alien fixated by late-night Star Trek movies and are drunk. And, now: there is even an article on the top ways to write a list article. Done, and done. The universe can safely implode on itself now, thank you.

Side note: Thank you to the fine folks who have contacted me lately suggesting more list ideas. I’m also now compiling a list of the top ten pitches for list ideas. You have me pretty well pegged, oh e-mail champions of the public relations cyberverse! Keep those list ideas coming! Group hug.

1. Start big
Make a slam dunk right away. Boom! Just do it! Start strong! If you’re making a list article about poodle outerwear, don’t save the...

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