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Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Purchase and Watch Your Every Move

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RFID technology is incredibly convenient. Imagine making it possible to make your clothes, your car keys, and even items in the fridge talk to sensors in your house. You'd always know where your socks are, never lose your keys, and be able to take inventory of your fridge with a quick scan from your phone. All of this is possible now with RFID, but it also assumes that no one is using it maliciously.

Spychips explains not only what is possible, but what is happening now where companies are testing and evaluating uses for RFID that are creepy, invasive, and downright wrong. Like many other advances in tech, we can't stop RFID and shouldn't either, but we do need to make sure it's used responsibly and that requires understanding the threat.

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Are You Listening?

A book about avoiding business failure by listening to your workforce.

This is a place-holder for the book I'm writing about the importance and power of listening to your workforce. By treating employees like allies instead of adversaries, you can find and eliminate waste, improve operations, and save massive amounts of money.

It's going to take some time and effort to complete, but stay tuned! I guarantee it will make an impact!

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The Gift of Fear

The Gift of Fear
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Ever had a "gut feeling". Have you ever felt irrationally afraid of a person or a place? What if you learned that fear is a protective mechanism and that paying attention to it could save your life or the lives of your loved ones?

This book is all about intuition (though they call it fear). He doesn't offer any apologies, no theology, or theories, just the simple fact that intuition, whatever it is, exists. And if you pay attention to it, you can prevent some bad, bad things.

My favorite example from the book (paraphrased):

Say you're waiting for the elevator and when the door opens, there's a single man inside. For no reason that you can identify, you feel suddenly very afraid to get in the elevator. "That's stupid", you say to yourself. "I have no reason to be afraid of this person. I'm just being irrational."

Which makes more sense? To get into a sound-proof metal box with a stranger who makes you feel fear, or to wait for the next elevator and risk offending said stranger?

Learn why fear is valuable to protect your personal safety and that of the ones you love.

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The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover
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I have heard of the philosophy of not needing a credit history or credit cards, but never really believed it could work for me until I read this book. Ramsey describes many carefully planted myths about money and money management that hurt normal people and benefit companies and how our ignorance of this is killing us financially. We are trained by meticulous marketing techniques to live a lifestyle that will keep us in debt forever (a lesson I've lived personally).

Read this book to get a practical and easy-to-implement plan that will get your personal finances under control. Stop wasting money, stop worrying about the future, stop being a slave to your debts. And, yes, I'm debt free and have been for more than four years now. Never again.

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The Five Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages
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Does this sound familiar? Married person X comes home to Spouse X and hands them a gift with a grin. Spouse X looks in disgust at the gift, and says "What is this? How much did it cost? You know we can't afford to waste money!" Sad isn't it? This is a love language problem where one expresses affection through gifts and the other very obviously doesn't.

If that didn't sound familiar, what about these phrases:

A: You never spend any time with me!
B: I work hard to provide for you and the family, but all you do is complain!

A: Will you cuddle with me?
B: Why do you always have to be so clingy?

A: I made your favorite dinner tonight!
B: That's great, now let me finish this last e-mail.

Reading this book was quite literally life-changing for me. It's one of those things that divides your life into before and after:

  • Before, I didn't know my brother is a "Physical Touch" person and needs to hug me when we first see each other after a long parting. Now that I know this, I can let him do it without feeling uncomfortable or making him feel uncomfortable. It's really improved a situation that used to be very awkward for us.
  • My mother-in-law had a problem with a co-worker who would always buy her small trinkets (kind of like how a cat brings dead animals to your doorstep when they like you). She didn't know how to handle it so I told her about the book. I explained what it meant to be a "Gifts" person and some tips for handling it and the awkward situation cleared up.
  • Now, when someone is trying to express love or affection (romantic or not), I can more easily recognize it and react/reciprocate appropriately.

The key is that without this knowledge, you may feel you've done everything in the world to make someone feel special and appreciated, but they don't because you're just speaking the wrong language! To learn more, click the book's pic above.

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The Definitive Book of Body Language

The Definitive Book of Body Language
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I suppose some people are naturally good at reading others, but that's definitely not me. I bought this book to learn what people might be telling me without words and it was a huge help! Since reading it, I've been paying a lot more attention to the signs and signals given off by my co-workers and it's amazing what I can read without them even knowing.

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Protecting The Gift

Protecting the Gift
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All parents face the same challenges when it comes to their children's safety: whom to trust, whom to distrust, what to believe, what to doubt, what to fear, and what not to fear. De Becker helps parents find some certainty about parents' highest-stakes questions:

  • How can I know a baby-sitter won't turn out to be someone who harms my child?
  • What should I ask child-care professionals when I interview them?
  • what's the best way to prepare my child for walking to school alone?
  • how can my child be safer at school?
  • How can I spot sexual predators?
  • What should I do if my child is lost in public?
  • How can I teach my child about risk without causing too much fear?
  • what must my teenage daughter know in order to be safe?
  • what must my teenage son know in order to be safe?
  • And finally, in the face of all these questions, how can I reduce the worrying?

What this book actually does is teach you how to listen to your intuition and stop living in denial. DeBecker found that many instances of child abuse by neighbors, babysitters, and dare care providers were preventable if the parents had just paid attention to the little signals.

For example what if the old man nextdoor starts giving your young daughter candy, but only if she'll kiss him on the cheek first. You say to yourself, "he's just lonely, it's harmless". But if you have to rationalize a behavior, that means you see something wrong! It's a real eye-opener and something I would highly recommend for all parents.

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How to Complain for Fun And Profit

How to Complain for Fun and Profit
When you’re ready to scream, "I’ve had it up to here and I’m not going to take it anymore", you’re ready for How to Complain for Fun and Profit, the best guide ever to how to write complaint letters to airlines, hotels, merchants, manufacturers and more. Yes, you’ll learn how to vent your spleen. but much more importantly, Bruce Silverman will teach you how to get something back for your troubles - everything from free airline tickets, luxury hotel suites and south sea cruises to thousands of dollars in cash!

One of the most frustrating situations is when you have been nailed by some company and just don't know what to do about it. The fact is that if you know the simple skill of writing the complaint letter, you can save a lot of frustration and time.

In this book, you learn how to draft your position such that it's a convincing plea for them to make it right rather than ignore you. Venting may be satisfying, but not productive. Getting a lawyer is costly and often isn't necessary.

The main reason I like this book is that I've already discovered some of the techniques in here, but there's several I didn't know. This book is full of actual letters he's written as well as the exact results. Benefit from his experiences and see some results with a minimum amount of your time and attention.

To read more about the book, go to their page (note that it's an E-Book and you'll just download it rather than receive a hard copy).
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A More Clever Way to Get Customer Satisfaction

Unscrewed: The Consumer's Guide to Getting What You Paid For
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Here's a new book on my list: "Unscrewed. The Consumer's Guide to Getting What You Paid For".

The Consumerist has a great interview with the author that describes some of the techniques in the book. Check this one out:

BURLEY: As you know, none of the techniques require anyone to scream or yell or spit at great distances. As a matter of fact, those are disqualifiers. There's an old-school belief, yes, walking into the middle of a showroom and screaming at the top of your voice, "They cheated me!" These days that will get you escorted out by the security guard. A lot of the techniques in the book put a twist on the old techniques of being a squeaky wheel. Such as writing a letter. Writing a letter to the president of the company these days is not going to get you anything. They've got legions of people and the president of the company is never going to see that letter. But I have a letter-writing technique that's called "Spokesperson For The Competition." You don't write a letter to the company that's causing you a problem, you write a letter to the president of the company that is their number one competitor, telling your true story and offering to become their number one spokesperson, and giving them permission to give a copy of your letter to every one of their sales people. Now before you send that letter to the competitor, you send a copy of that letter to the president of the corporation that's causing you a problem. And now they do the math. They say, ok, instead of losing just that one customer, our competitor is going to have evidence of just how poorly we treat our customers. And since we're in a highly competitive business, and we're trying to get those business accounts and fleet accounts or whatever, if every one of their sales people have evidence of how badly we treat our customers, how much business will we lose? You see what's happened there, it's the same technique, you're writing one letter, but you have somehow multiplied the effect, because you're not now one individual against the company that is causing you a problem. Using this technique of writing a letter to the competition, and offering to become a spokesperson for the competition, you've now multiplied your impact, your effect, a thousand fold? Ten-thousand fold? And suddenly, once again, it becomes more cost-effective for the company to take care of you than to ignore you.

That's quite brilliant actually. I should definitely get a copy and see what it's like.

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