published on Monday, February 12, 2007 in The Miami Herald
How to use technology, common sense and shortcuts to get your life and career moving in the right direction.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
Lifehacker: 88 Tech Tricks to Turbocharge Your Day. Gina Trapani. Wiley. 300 pages.
First of all, the word ''hack'' has been hacked. It alternately has meant to cut or chop; a person who regularly did a job without excelling at it; and using or modifying a program, network or device for malicious or illegal means. No more. Now a hack is a shortcut; a modification or improvement. It's a positive thing, though the term ''hacker'' may still have some residual pejorative connotations.
No matter; Gina Trapani, the editor and main contributor to the website Lifehacker.com is a saint. Maybe not in the religious sense, but I value her ability to present solutions to a variety of problems using a mixture of common sense, technology and compassion, conveyed with a positive and encouraging tone. Furthermore, as a writer, I admire anyone who can turn techno-babble and geek-speak into simple, comprehensible language. (And one senses a good soul behind the words, hence the saintly designation.)
So what kind of stuff gets life-hacked? Backing up data, tracking passwords, making your ''To Do'' list doable, blocking time-wasting websites, taking great notes, decreasing e-mail response time, future-proofing your e-mail address and so forth. Many of the hacks involve the computer and Web browser, and Trapani's catholic (in the secular sense) outlook incorporates all popular browsers and operating systems, so Mac and PC people will collectively and individually find plenty of great ideas for increasing productivity and reducing actual and virtual clutter.
If you want to find out if this book is worth picking up, let me offer my own hack: Check out her website first. It will give you a good feel for the dead-trees edition. In addition, there's http://www.lifehackerbook.com offering additions and updates.
Like business books? Join the club.