Charles Hardison Bagley

At 10:35 PM last night, Charlie decided it was time to join the crew...


Palm Pre

If you would have asked me one week ago, I would have said that Palm was a sad company on the brink of collapse that had somehow become irrelevant in a market that they once held 90% market share.

That was before I watched the CES product launch of the new Pre phone. Wow!

Here's my summary: They not only caught up to the other major smart phone offerings (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android), they surpassed them. The operating system is really, really cool. Don't believe me? Watch the launch.

The best features:
  1. Synergy: Unified contact list and Calendar from all your disparate sources...without affecting the sources. This isn't a scaled down version of a desktop application; it's better than a desktop application.
  2. True multitasking: You don't have to close or shut down what you are doing to do something else.
  3. One search: It pulls up everything relevent to your search and when it runs out of "local" options, it turns to the internet.
  4. The notification system is very cool.
  5. Seamless switching between IM and SMS for a continuing conversation.
  6. A real keyboard. Sorry, Apple the virtual keyboard has limitations.
  7. Inductive charging (no cables required)
Palm is going to have to get this product out FAST because now that they've shown their hand (intentional pun based on their Cards feature) the other major players can copy and respond to their innovations. Obviously, their going to need a very strong third party application community to support this, but I'm optimistic that there are a lot of nerds out there with some nostalgic fondness for Palm.

Here's Engadget's rather glowing review.

2010 Toyota Prius & Honda Insight

The Insight design looks more like a sibling to the Prius than a competitor. Maybe theyll look less alike in real life.

Early figure are that the new Insight may be more fuel efficient than the new Prius. Good news: The Insight is slated to cost less than $18k.

Cool new innovation: the Prius will have optional solar panels on the roof that run fans and some portion of the a/c to keep the car cool(er) while it is parked out in the hot sun. Very cool for AZ.


Best of 2008

Favorite Blogs: 1,001 Rules for My Unborn Son and The Jolly Porter {Christian & Stephanies b-i-l. A hilarious man.}

Favorite individual blog post of the year: A Secret Crush

Favorite musicians of the year: Band of Horses, Feist, Frou Frou, Death Cab for Cutie, Iron & Wine

Favorite Albums: Once the Swell Season, Viva La Vida Cold Play

Great Song: The Geeks Were Right The Faint

Favorite Books: Made to Stick, Super Crunchers, The Birth of Plenty, Words that Work, Wikinomics, The Long Tail, You: An Owner's Manual, Predictably Irrational, Why We Buy

Favorite movies watched in 08: Once, Juno (both watched using ClearPlay)

Favorite Financial tool: Mint (their related app for iPhone or iPod Touch is fantastic)

Favorite Web Tool: Pandora

Favorite new gadget: iPod Touch

Favorite non-Person: Roomba

Favorite Person: Becky (she has held the #1 position for over 13 years)

Please tell me what your favorites are.

Here's my Best of 2007 list.

Comparing Loan Offers

Like many people, with rates at or below 5%, I am evaluating refinancing my mortgage right now. When doing so it can sometimes be bewildering how the different offers compare to one another:

1. Interest rates differ

2. Points differ (prepaid interest)

3. Origination fees differ

4. Other fees differ

5. Monthly payments differ

I am sure there are many other similar tools available, but the comparison tool that I have been using extensively this week can be found here.

(1) Enter the two competing offers, (2) use the APR not the stated interest rate, (3) ignore the Loan Adjustments fields unless you are getting an ARM, (4) press Calculate.

I am sure there are more elegant ways to do it, but the tool also allows you to do scenario analysis by playing with adjusting the points and origination fees.

As far as generating competing offers to evaluate, Ive been using the link on Yahoo Finance here (it uses BankRate.com data). Sort on the APR column not the Rate column.

If you want to throw yourself into some serious mortgage/refinance research, the Mortgage Professor appears to offer information skewed in the consumers rather than lenders direction. (Warning: His website looks like it was designed in 1996, but the info is good and regularly updated.)


2008 Readings

I set a crazy goal to read 100 books in 2008. This really was crazy for me since not very many years ago I set a goal to read 10 books…and I think I came up short that year.

So, how’d I do? Although I didn’t reach the century mark, I absolutely crushed any prior year in my life: I read over 70 books in 2008.

So, what’s that catch? There are a few caveats:

  1. I probably was only looking at ink on paper for a few of these books. Translation: I am a HUGE audio book fan.
  2. I listen to audio books at between 1.5 and 2.0 times normal speed. Yes, I speed read audio books. Here is my prior post on how I do it.
  3. Some of these “books” are very, very short. Several of the ones on Project Management were in the 90 minute range.
  4. Some of what I am counting as “books” aren’t books. Example: The Constitution of the United States. Regardless, I’m glad I read it.
  5. Some of these are re-reads of prior year favorites.
  6. As you can see, the vast majority of these are non-fiction.
  7. I did not include any of the countless times I have read “Good Night Moon”, “The Runaway Bunny”, “Chickachickaboomboom”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, or “When Sophie Gets Angry”. P.S. Don’t tell Sophie that I frequently turn more than one page at a time.

With those caveats, below are most (I may be missing one or two) of the “books” I “read” during 2008 with brief comments for most (several aren't even worth commenting about):

  1. Joseph Smith & His Relationship with God. Enjoyed it
  2. The 8th Habit. I’m a big Covey fan, but this seemed contrived. Stick with 7.
  3. Made to Stick. Very good. Should be required reading for anyone in the business world.
  4. Great Speeches of the 20th Century. Educational
  5. The Tipping Point. I LOVE all of Gladwell’s stuff. Third time reading this.
  6. Principle Centered Leadership. Very good
  7. Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon. Very interesting
  8. The Wisdom of Crowds. One of my favorite books in recent years. This was my third or fourth time reading it.
  9. Blink. Very good. Third time reading this.
  10. Words that Work. You may disagree with the man behind this book, but his content is good
  11. 25 Things to Say to the Interviewer. Lame
  12. Analyzing Financial Statements. A snoozer
  13. Freakonomics. Interesting. I disagree with some of his findings. Second or third time reading it. Check out his research on infant car seats on TED.
  14. Rich Dad’s Guide to Becoming Rich. Simple, powerful concepts that 99% of the people don’t heed
  15. How to Make People Like you in 90 Seconds. Lame
  16. Super Crunchers. A contender for my favorite book of the year. I’ll definitely re-read this one.
  17. The Birth of Plenty. Similar tone as Collapse. I enjoyed it. The author is not LDS, but he identifies 1820 as the pivot point in western prosperity. Coincidence??? I’ll re-read this one.
  18. The Woman in White. Fiction Alert! Becky read this in her book club, so I was curious.
  19. The Blue Ocean Strategy. Started, expired before I could finish. I plan to finish in ‘09.
  20. The Declaration of Independence. Words to live by
  21. The Constitution of the United States of America. Read it
  22. The Bill of Rights. Now I know
  23. The No Ass Hole Rule. Summary: don’t be a jerk and avoid them at work
  24. A Perfect Mess. A few valid points. It received so much buzz from messy people looking for validation.
  25. Crashes, Booms, & Panics. Timely read
  26. 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. Educational. Second or Third time on this one.
  27. Living the 7 Habits. Great. At least my third time through this one.
  28. Getting to Yes. Good
  29. Stumbling Upon Happiness. Interesting. I will probably re-read.
  30. The Happiness Hypothesis. Started, expired before I could finish. Will finish in ’09.
  31. The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner. Skip it
  32. Wikinomics. Very good. Way too long. Find an abridged version. Their point was very convincingly made long before the book ended.
  33. The Long Tail. A must read.
  34. The Mormon Way of Doing Business. Good
  35. Crucial Conversations. Decent. As I am writing this I can’t remember anything about this book.
  36. Crucial Confrontations. Same as above. I can’t remember anything about it.
  37. You: The Owner’s Manual. Very good. Read it.
  38. Optimal Thinking. Stupid. I stopped after a couple of chapters.
  39. Personal Efficiency Program. Good stuff
  40. Freedomnomics. Some professor’s response to Freakonomics. It expired before I could finish it. I will probably not finish.
  41. Men Are From Mars Women are From Venus. Summary: Men, the challenges you have with your wife are not unique to your wife; you would have similar challenges with any woman. So, love the one you’ve got. There’s probably some advice in there for woman as well.
  42. Mars & Venus in the Bedroom. Read it
  43. Blown to Bits. Good
  44. 101 Best Answers to Interview Questions. Unless, of course, you are in a behavioral interview…
  45. 250 Job Interview Questions. May help to get you thinking
  46. Total Workday Control. Still working on this one…not available in audio format!
  47. Gold, Hard Money, & Financial Gurus
  48. Innovative Strategies in Risk Management
  49. Project Management: So you think you are done?
  50. Project Management: Taming wicked projects
  51. Project Management: Ten questions your sponsor should ask
  52. Predictably Irrational. A contender for my favorite book of the year
  53. 50 Killer Ideas for Delivering Successful Projects
  54. In Defense of Food. I highly recommend
  55. Talking Your Way to the Top. Summary: Chances to speak (in meetings, giving presentations) are your best chance to shine at work
  56. Work Less, Make More. Forgettable
  57. The Articulate Executive. Sadly for the authors, I don’t remember anything about this book
  58. Twilight. Fiction Alert! Stephenie is my friend.
  59. The World is Curved. Absurdly timely. The guy knows what he is talking about.
  60. New Moon. Fiction Alert!
  61. Eclipse. Fiction Alert!
  62. The Host. Fiction Alert!
  63. Discover Your Inner Economist. Good
  64. The On-Time, On-Target Manager. Weak
  65. The Secret. Forgettable: whatever the Secret is, I can’t remember it
  66. How to Talk to Anyone. Why do I keep selecting books like this? Had one piece of advice I remember: Never give empty “Thank Yous”. Make it clear why you are thanking someone.
  67. Monsters of Templeton. Fiction Alert! A very enjoyable read. Warning: Contains about 10 F-bombs and acknowledges the existence of sex.
  68. Living Well in a Down Economy. Clearly a rush-to-publish job with innovative gems like “bring a lunch from home”
  69. Buyology. Quite interesting. Anyone in Marketing should read.
  70. Why We Buy. If you interact with the retail world in any way, you will enjoy reading this book. I liked it better than Buyology.
  71. Breaking Dawn. Fiction! I was hoping for a little more action in climactic final “battle”
  72. Midnight Sun. Fiction! I’m about halfway through actually reading this (eyes on the page…or computer screen in this case)
Here are my favorite new reads for '08 (I'm excluding some of the great books, like Blink, on the above list that were re-reads for me):

  • Made to Stick
  • Super Crunchers
  • The Birth of Plenty
  • Words that Work
  • Wikinomics
  • The Long Tail
  • You: An Owner's Manual
  • Predictabley Irrational
  • Why We Buy