Thursday, March 26, 2009

3 Options for Free Higher Education

Don't have a trust fund full of cash sitting around to send you to the finest universities?  Don't have 4 years of your life to throw at a degree?  Want be educated by top schools and experts in the field without the typical investment of time and money?  I've discovered 3 options to get you started on Free Higher Education.

[caption id="attachment_462" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(flickr credit: Peter Shanks)"](flickr credit: Peter Shanks)[/caption]

1. MITOpenCourseware

Several years ago,MIT introduced Open Courseware, which was the sharing of some MIT courses so that anyone with an Internet connection could have access to lectures exams and videos.  Scanned in notes plus lectures allowed anyone to recieve an MIT education (minus the credentials and the long lineups to get into courses you want.)  I studied a little bit of queueing theory out of my own interest in the efficiency of traffic flow.  Now I wasn't pursuing this learning seriously, so I was just "browsing" so to speak.  If someone was disciplined enough to study and do the reading and assignment they could really benefit from MITOpenCourseware

2. Personal MBA

This last year I learned about  "Personal MBA" and began pursuing this myself.  Over at, in a nutshell the claim is; "Business schools don't have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you're serious about learning advanced business principles, the Personal MBA can help you master business without the baggage of b-school. "  Surveyed MBA program graduates sometimes share that the greatest benefit of the MBA came from the reading list and interacting with "some of the finest minds in business" through the reading list.  Check out their "Manifesto" here:  For those of you eager to cut to the chase, here is the link to the reading list.

3. AcademicEarth

And even more recently I have discovered  There you can watch videos of lectures from the following universities;

  • Berkeley

  • Harvard

  • MIT

  • Princeton

  • Stanford

  • Yale

on the following subjects;  Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer,  Science, Economics, Engineering, English, Entrepreneurship,  History, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Religion


I've always found it sobering that I will not live long enough to learn everything that I would like to learn, or read everything that I would like to read.  These options offer the same challenge in that there are many good things you could pursue and learn, so you must choose well and ignore the rest.  I love that these three options truly level the playing field in terms of learning.  You may not get a degree from these options, but you can certainly use these tools for accessible quality education.

Happy learning!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

10 Strategies for choosing a Secure Password You Can Remember

Having seen my fair share of "bad passwords" and understanding that for many IT departments password resets can account for 20-30% of all calls, it seems there is the need for a post on this topic that might help people choose good passwords they can remember.  


[caption id="attachment_449" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(flickr credit: ferran.pons)"](flickr credit: ferran.pons)[/caption]

There are two very different perspectives

From the IT side of things, generally the focus seems to be  on security, so this results in policies that;

  • make users change their password every 30-60 days

  • require more complex combinations of; UPPERCASE letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

  • lock out your account if you get your password wrong a few times in a row (ever left caps lock on?) 

On the user side of things, generally the focus is on the utility of being able to log in so that you can get your work done.  This focus leads towards;

  • Folks who have forgotten their passwords using others' accounts so they can get their work done.

  • Passwords on post-it notes by their monitors

  • Users re-using passwords between systems to reduce the number of passwords they need to remember

  • People picking "easy" passwords to help remember them.

So it is easy to see how either side could view the other with disbelief.  The IT group shaking their head at people choosing poor passwords and showing disregard for security.  The users shaking their head at an IT group that appears to care more about complicating passwords than helping them perform their daily tasks.  It doesn't have to be contentious, there is hope.  More and more, users are becoming educated about the importance of good security practices, and security professionals are realizing that the best security is the kind that works for users rather than against them.

What makes a password good?

Put simply, anything you can do to make your password difficult to figure out is good.  So if your password is really long, and composed of many types of characters, it becomes very difficult to "guess".  If your password is short, a real word found in the dictionary, or something an attacker would know about you, then you make it easier for someone to guess your password.  But having a "good" password is only part of the challenge.  The best password in the world does you little good if you can't remember it.  Locking out all the would-be hackers is only part of the equation, making sure the account is accessible by the right person is the other.

[caption id="attachment_448" align="aligncenter" width="208" caption="(flickr credit: guspim)"]ForgotPassword (flickr credit: guspim)[/caption]

10 Strategies for choosing a secure password you can remember

So here are some strategies for picking a strong memorable password.  Read through them all, and pick 1 or 2 that will work for you.

1. Plan ahead

Have a strategy for picking passwords that you can use across many systems.  That way when you go to a new system that asks you to pick a password, you can appyly your strategy rather than having to wrack your brain for a new password.

2. Take your time

Taking 60 seconds to think about a great password you will remember, rather than typing the first thing that pops into your brain will pay dividends.  Apply your strategy pick something you will be happy with.

The next 3 get you to try not thinking in terms of a pass-word.

3. Think in terms of a pass-phrase.  

It could be a line from a song, a poem, a story, anything, but of course you will modify it by adding punctuation, truncating the sentence or swapping in a word you like better like;

  • "The dish ran away with the poon"  

  • "I'm dreaming of a white Xmas"

  • "AllIwantforChristmasismy2frontteeth!"  

  • "Thyme4Golf!"

  • "4getaboutit!"

  • "NowwhatwasmypasswordCharlie?"

4. Think in terms of a pattern.  

A very popular pattern is to apply a prefix, a root, and a suffix to your passwords.  here is my version of "the pattern" 

  • The prefix modifies the root, so you might want to relate it to what it is your are logging into.  If you logged into a system for email, you might use "email" or "Email" or "e-mail" or "E-mail" as a prefix.  

  • A good choice for the root is a non-dictionary / non-name word like "selebrait (yes exactly, it isn't in a dictionary)

  • The suffix is something you add to your pattern to add the required "non-letter" characters so that your password is "complex" enough.  Lets choose "$4".

  • For email your password might be "emailselebrait$4";  for AOL it might be "aolselebrait$4", for gmail it might be "gmailselebrait$4" etc...

5. Think in terms of a simple puzzle.  

Where am I, who am I, what kind of login is this could yield unique results. for every login while requiring only a little bit of mental gymnastics.  For a gmail login it might be "gmailGregWebmail"

6. Anticipate being asked to change your password.

So if you have picked out a fabulously strong password that you can remember well, don't let the "prompt to change your password" cause you stress, build a "counter" into your password which you can simply increment.  It might look like;

  • "Sallysellsseashells!1", "Sallysellsseashells!2", "Sallysellsseashells!3"

which is a reasonably complex password you could remember and which would allow you to "survive" the password change without having to think of a new password.  Note, lots of password systems won't let you simply tack on a number (too easy).  So I recommend you resort to one of two ninja password moves I've come to appreciate.  The first is to us a numeric increment, but not on the end;

  • "Sallysells1seashells!", "Sallysells2seashells!", "Sallysells3seashells!" 

Or you could use something other than number to increment.  If you held down "SHIFT" while pressing the numbers 1-9 you would see "!@#$%^&*(",  so using our Sally example again it might look like this;

  • "Sallysellsseashells!!", "Sallysellsseashells!@", "Sallysellsseashells!#" 

Or you could substitute letters for numbers along the lines of A=1 B=2 OR Q=1 W=2 E=3 (look at your keyboard to understand why I'm choosing those letters. 

7. Use your muscle memory.  

What do the following 4 passwords have in common?

  • ajskdlf;

  • quwieorp

  • zmx,c.v/

  • 17283940

OK, that last one should have given it away.  The fingers type the same sequence in a different row of the keyboard.  by mixing up the rows and columns on your keyboard you could easily come up with dozens of "muscle memory passwords" that feel the same to your fingers but would leave a potential hacker scratchign his head.  NOTE: Left to right rows of keys like "qwerty" and "asdfg" are REALLY bad passwords.

8. Test your password strength.

Not sure if you picked something strong enough?  You could always try typing it into the Microsoft password checker;  Don't worry, if you are a bit paranoid like me you won't like the idea of typing your password into a webpage.  Microsoft assures you; The password is checked and validated on your computer, but is not sent over the Internet.

9. (Guys only) Write all your passwords down on paper in your wallet.

We are talking about the wallet that never leaves your front pocket.  If you lose your wallet, treat your passwords like your credit cards and get them all changed.  (Ladies, nothing personal here but the purse left slung over a chair in your office is nowhere near as safe as the wallet located in a guys pocket.)  Guys, if you don't trust the people living in your house this might be a poor choice.

10. Use password safe software

Password safe software can hold all of your passwords.  These tools use a master password to encrypt all of your passwords.  If it fell into the wrong hands it is useless to the bad guys, but in your hands, it can help you not only remember passwords, but also usernames, URLs for logging in and other details you record with the entry in a searchable "password database".  I recommend KeePass which I've discussed previously.

Hopefully these 10 strategies for choosing a secure password you can remember will lower your password stress, raise the strength of your passwords, and save you some time chatting with the nice guys at your company's IT support desk.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

10 Challenges Facing Homeless Folks

There is a great article over at "" addressing the challenges and barriers that sometimes keep homeless folks from receiving the benefits of shelters. Having had the opportunity to twice visit PLOW (Portland Learning Outreach and Worship) with teams of youth where we could learn firsthand about the issues facing homeless folks I can start to appreciate what is being said in this article.

Clearly it is a tough arena to examine and improve.  With many of the organizations providing support on a voluntary basis from their own altruism, from their own budget, it just doesn't make sense to insist on a certain "quality of service".  Certainly the customers they serve don't have circumstances that make serving them easy and the work can be thankless.

Since "something" is better than nothing (an incremental improvement but not a perfect situation).  Organizations meeting the social needs of the homeless receive thanks, and the clients are not generally in a position where they necessarily feel safe suggesting improvements...  With the needs of the homeless being so immediate, the idea of feeding someone is measurable and can be achieved.  With limited resources, the idea of feeding less people to make the meal experience more humanized seems foolish.

Given the creativity and dedication of the staff I've encountered serving the homeless, I can't help but wonder if some kind of "Council of Best Practices" couldn't be established to provide a code of excellence in addressing the needs of the homeless.  Like a Kaizen Practical framework for evaluating the quality of services provided to the homeless folks.  Not some "far removed" academic bureaucratic regulatory agency imposing unrealistic standards on overworked volunteers who are already stretched thin...  My 2 cents.  If that concept interests you, please comment below.

Anyways back to me recommending you read the other article...

So head on over and check out: "Ten Reasons Homeless People Choose Homelessness".



Monday, March 9, 2009

Carpooling Etiquette

Carpooling makes sense, you've been enjoying the benefits of carpooling for a while, you've adjusted to sharing commuting space and what seemed like a brand new adventure now seems normal.  Overall it has been good and you want your carpool to carry on, but there are these "minor annoyances" that are making carpooling a little bit tougher.  It started with the really strong perfume that made your car smell like... really strong perfume, then there was the coffee spill on your uphostery.  Life happens you know it could easily have been you, but then there were those surprises where some in your carpool just didn't show up without letting anyone know.  You waited patiently at first, now its almost a running joke that the carpool does not leave at the time you all agreed to.  You have put up with these annoyances, ascribed them to personal style or just plain ignored them thinking that maybe the behaviour would improve.  It hasn't...

Does this sound familiar?  I hope not, but for thousands of carpoolers, that is the reality of their carpool.  The carpool finds itself held hostage to bad behaviour, rudeness, inconsideration and the ambiguity of unclear expectations in order to retain the benefits of carpooling.  With the possible exception of a cement truck with no brakes, nothing will kill your carpool faster than carpoolers who don't respect each other. Let me encouage you to prevent that situation through the following approach to carpool Etiquette;  

[caption id="attachment_428" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Bono Holds the Door (flickr credit: dpnash)"]Bono Holds the Door (flickr credit: dpnash)[/caption]

Clearly outline your carpool's rules

It is only fair.  Otherwise one person's high standards and another's low standards could be in conflict even though nobody is actually intending disrespect or breaking a rule.  By letting everyone in the carpool know about the expected standard of behaviour, everyone can be absolutely crystal clear when they are not respecting the group.  Writing things down tends to make things much more clear than just chatting about them in the carpool lane at 110km/h.  Since carpooling is optional, a member of the carpool who doesn't want to abide by the rules can either negotiate, or find a carpool with more lax rules.

Abide by and enforce your carpool's rules

The strongest teacher is example.  If you are always "running a couple minutes late", you shouldn't be surprised if the others in your carpool also "run a couple minutes late".  If you can't follow the rules, then don't have them.  Rules are actually there to be followed.  On the other side of the equation, if there is no consequence for not following the rules, or the group is so fearful to point out infractions, then you might as well not have rules at all.  If the carpool feels free to point out violations, it sends a clear message that disrespect is not accepted by the group.

Carpool Etiquette - Rules you might choose for your carpool

So what rules should you have for your carpool?  maybe your carpool is composed of like minded individuals who share the same values, or perhaps there is a real diversity of backgrounds, and what means respect to one person is completely optional to another.  I've been hunting online for a list of carpool rules and drawing from my own experience to give you the following selection of rules to strengthen your carpool and improve everyone's experience.

  • Be prompt.  Perhaps you think 5 minutes is nothing, but when it happens twice a day and 3 other people are waiting you just wasted 30 minutes of other people's time.  In our carpool, we wait up to 5 minutes then we leave. Leaving work on time after work is as important as being on time in the morning.  That providential meeting in the hallway at the end of the day needs to end before carpool is scheduled to leave.  If carpool leaves at 7:30, then 7:32 may be fine for everybody getting settled and buckled in, but 7:39 is clearly not "on-time".

  • Don't run errands when you are driving the carpool.  This includes not stopping at the gas station.  Always have your car full of gas so you don't make your carpool sit at the gas-station while you fill up.  The point of carpool is getting to and from work effectively.

  • Safety first. Everyone should feel safe, so the whole carpool adjusts towards the driving style of the safest driver (not the most hesitant driver).

  • Avoid strong fragrances; perfume, hairspray, scented hand lotions all have fragrances which the others who are enclosed in the air-tight vehicle may not choose.

  • If your work requires you to sweat or otherwise get dirty, respect your carpool by covering their seats with towels to protect the vehicle.

  • The car should be reasonably clean and odour free in preparation for the carpool.  Clean seats give your fellow carpoolers confidence when they sit down in their best business clothes for the commute.

  • Be sensitive with the choice of music.  No music is easier to manage.

  • Life happens.  Call if there is a problem.  Communicate early! Lots of warning lets people plan. Remember they are counting on you. So have everyone's contact information.  Yes you can phone my house at 6AM if there is a problem.  Getting to work is important enough for my phone to ring.

  • Let the driver drive.  His job is to keep everyone safe in traffic by paying attention and using his judgement.  Backseatdrivers need not apply. (imaginary brake pedals for the passenger are fine, call it a reflex).

  • Set food rules;  Is coffee or food allowed in the car? (each car may have different rules).

  • Don't have long cell phone conversations while you’re in the carpool.  It says something if you are ignoring the person beside you while having an enthusiastic conversation with someone who is not present.  Short calls to check in at home, leave reminders and take care of telephone errands are usually acceptable. (remember your audience includes those present).

  • Avoid discussing controversial topics like religion or politics unless you know your fellow carpoolers well. While some people enjoy debating the issues, others may prefer a quieter commute.  Depending on the enthusiasm of co-workers in your carpool, you may want other rules to limit the amount of "work" conversation that occurs en-route.

Carpooling is about relating with others.

Rules are useful and necessary for bringing order and predictability to your carpool, but be sure to employ them with flexibility for maximum impact.  

  • Think in terms of equity, fairness and putting yourself in the other person's shoes.  

  • Discuss carpool costs together. If members agree to rotate the driving equally, then money doesn't have to change hands. But if only one person drives the carpool, passengers generally chip in to cover the costs of gas and parking.

  • Compromise where you can - They want to leave at the crack of dawn, you want to leave 30 minutes later.  Try leaving at 15 minutes after the crack of dawn. 

  • Realize that not everyone in a carpool has the same degree of flexibility.  While some members may be leaving a "spare" $23,000 SUV in their driveway, others may be single car families with much less flexibility since the rest of their family may have plans for the car when it is not driving the carpool. 

  • Keeping money out of the equation may move you from a transactional carpool which is interested in the exact dollars and cents owed towards a relational carpool where you focus on giving and receiving a benefit.

  • Consider seating arrangements.  Those needing more space or prone to car-sickness up front, and the most compatible or compact folks in the back seat where there is less room.

It is my hope that the tips I've shared above make your life and your carpool better.  If you have tips or carpool experiences to share, hit the comments below.  Thanks! Greg.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Choosing and using passwords badly

If you want to pick a bad password you have come to the right place.  A password is only useful if it is something you can remember and nobody else can figure out.  Today we are going to discuss as several common password mistakes so that your passwords can be;

  • Easy for hackers and others to guess

  • Easy to disclose

[caption id="attachment_407" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="Password (flickr credit: Bruno Santos)"]Password (flickr credit: Bruno Santos)[/caption]

For picking a bad password try...

  • Making your password the same as your username

  • Use a meaningful name, like your name, your middle name, your mother's maiden name, or the name of your children, the name of your pets. Basically choose anything someone could read off of your facebook page.  Remember if you are really tricky you can REVERSE the name.  I'm sure nobody would think of that.

  • Use significant numbers like a date.  Your postal code, your birthday, your aniversary, your kid's birthday.

  • Use 0bscenities.  No decent hacker would dare type THAT.  (Most password cracking software will try them early on because they are very common.)

  • Science fiction terms, greek letters and mythology. Like;  "Data," "Spock," "Borg" and "HAL." "Epsilon", "Venus", "Aphrodite"

  • Computer terms: stay away from "keyboard"; "mousepad"; "megabyte"; etc.

  • Line-of-sight terms: e.g., "Gateway" because that's the brand of your computer, or "telephone" because there is one on your desk. Though this can help you remember your password, it is a trick that password crackers are on to. To play it safe, avoid any reference to common objects found in households and offices.

  • Common phrases: in particular, those pertaining to greeting or getting down to work, such as "Good morning," "Wake up", "Hey you" or "Get going."

  • Anything related to your login ID: It's relatively easy for other people to get your login - don't let it provide a clue to your password! For instance, if your login is "basset" don't make your password "doglover."

  • When choosing an ATM PIN, make sure that the (4) numbers you pick spell a word like "Love" (hardly anyone would think of that one... Sorry if I'm giving all your secrets away.)

For bad password management try...

  • Put your password on a note and tape it to your monitor.  This way an unethical coworker could read and use your account pretending to be you.

  • Use the same password everywhere.   This way if someone gets into one of your accounts, like an online email account, they could figure out what other services you use and use the same password to access those other services.

  • Base your password on something that will change over time, like the date.  "MyBrandNewPasswordFor2001" made sense in 2001, but 8 years later you may find yourself trying out all the intervening years.

  • Share your password with people who need to "borrow" your accountt, then don't change the password even after it may have been discovered.

  • Use an unmemorizable password like; awnf65ayr8f9as6df584 as nobody will argue that it is not secure.  This way you will have to write it down.  Maybe in the front cover of your daytimer, or in a file on the desktop called password.txt. 

  • When you forget your password, you can rely on the "security questions" like what is your favourite colour to recover your password.  Choose easy or predictable security questions.  In response to "what is your favourite colour?" choose "Blue" rather than Oceanic815.

  • Type passwords slowly in full view of those around you.

  • Never look around at ATMs for hidden cameras which may be watching the keypad.

  • Do not shield the keypad when using your bank card

  • Don't change passwords on electronic door locks with push buttons so the worn buttons can remind you of the numbers in your combination.

  • Leave Laptop locks and safe combinations "set" so that you can open these items more easily.

There, those should be enough tips to get you started on choosing poor passwords and using them badly.  I hope you found this informative despite the tongue in cheek delivery.  Watch for an upcoming article on "Choosing and remembering really good passwords".

Cheers, and safe computing!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

8 Suggestions for Starting to Carpool Successfully

So you are interested in the idea of carpooling but you aren't sure it will work for you.  Don't worry, you aren't alone.  Most carpoolers have stood in your shoes and wondered about the benefits and costs of carpooling.  With some encouragement and a little experimentation you can make carpooling work for you.  The following tips are born of my experiences and are provided to help you increase the success of your first foray into carpooling.

[caption id="attachment_411" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="carpool lane (flickr credit: Richard Drdul)"]carpool lane (flickr credit: Richard Drdul)[/caption]

1. First of all, take "Baby steps" and "try before you buy".  Rather than committing to carpool full-time right away, test-drive the idea of carpooling.  With some of the friends from my office, we started with carpooling a couple days a week.  This meant that 3/5 of the days were business as usual, but 2/5 were trying out carpooling.   Even if you only end up carpooling a couple days a week, you realize many of the carpooling benefits which might include; saving money, less stressful driving, carpool lanes, less wear and tear on your vehicle.  Pick a duration for your carpool trial and re-evaluate at the end of that time.  Say; "Well, I'm just not sure how I will feel about not having my own space on the commute, but I'd like to give this a try to see how well I do with this.  For the next month, lets carpool on Mondays and Tuesdays, and evaluate at the end of the month." Did you notice how the language was around your own experience, and not around the other person's driving or conversational skills?  This way you can easily say "No" without anyone feeling judged.

2. Pick good people, set yourself up for success.  Try carpooling with people you know.  Sharing a common office environment and of course knowing the people increases the safety of the situation.  You might find it harder (and probably should) to drive off with a stranger in their car. Sharing an office also improves the chances that you share common working hours and will have very little conflict regarding when the carpool arrives and leaves.  Choose people you are comfortable with, people you can get along with who you won't mind having in your commuting space.  Good people make all the difference in the world.

3. Schedule driving days in advance.  Unless it is Christmas, nobody likes surprises.  If the people in your carpool are forewarned about which day they are driving, they can; have gas in the car, have the car clean, and not promise the car to their wife that day.  Having members of the carpool drive on certain days, (I always drive on Mondays) gives a rhythm and predictability to the carpool routine that reduces stress. Naturally you will want to keep things fair so on some days there will be variation in who drives. (Wednesdays could be Greg, Jen or Mo) That variation should be predictable too, so break out your favourite spreadsheet tool and build a schedule (to keep at your desk, on the visor of your car, and on the back of your door at home) so everyone can avoid being "surprised" when it is their day to drive.

4. Clearly agree on how the carpool will work.  Will it be like a carpool bus-route, where the driver goes to several houses to collect people in the morning and drop them off at night, which requires only one vehicle to be in motion on a given day.  This is the most car efficient, but depending on driving direction and distances, may not be the most time efficient.  Will your carpool meet centrally so everyone is responsible for getting "down the hill" to the rendezvous point?  This could mean adding a couple minutes of buffer to everyone's schedule prior to rendezvous so they don't keep anyone waiting.  Will your carpool meet at the house closest to destination with cars left on the street or in a driveway?  It means a lot less hassle for the person with the handy house, but uses more cars and may mean those furthest away may be commuting many more minutes a day just to make the carpool work.
5. Be flexible.  Life happens.  Communicate early! Lots of warning lets people plan. Remember they are counting on you, so if something comes up lead time is really valuable.  Chances are you are carpooling because of the benefits you will receive or because you recognize the opportunity to make a positive impact through how you commute.  Keep this in mind when your carpool has complications.  Refuse to be "high-maintenance"  Did someone miss a day because of medical appointments? Relax, adapt, next time you might be the one requiring grace.  The need to keep a running total of how EVEN everyone is may be a sign that your carpool is headed for trouble.  That being said, it must be fair and feel fair. 

6. Drive well.  You just found some people that were willing to trust you with their lives on the morning commute. Honour that trust by keeping everyone safe.  In fact strive to raise the safety of your driving to match the safest person in your carpool.  Nobody should be scared in the carpool, and if someone expresses their fear, say "Thank you" and take it as a compliment that they felt you would be open enough to receive constructive criticism. Drive "Silky smooth". Richard in our carpool coined that term and we look forward to a "Silky Smooth" commute every time Richard drives.  This helps everyone feel comfortable, saves fuel and helps those prone to motion sickness to not feel seasick after the commute.

7. Bulk up your carpool for resilience.  If you have a 2 person carpool and 1 of the 2 people can't make it, the carpool is dead for that day.  If you have a 3 person carpool and one person can't make it, the carpool lives on.  3 and 4 person carpools are very resilient and able to continue on even if one person is sick for a week and another person has random work schedule changes...  You carpool when you can, and your carpool extends benefits to whoever can carpool on a given day.  Some days our carpool saves $10 in gas, other days it saves as much as $30 in gas.

8. Enjoy yourselves.  It's about community and it's much more than a business transaction.  If  you are social with carpool, after a short while you will find yourself  looking forward to the time you can spend with friends on the ride home.  Some of the tools to improve your carpool's enjoyability include; agreed upon audio books, baking or coffee in the morning, carefully selected music, the odd DVD movie (back seat only), and the normal exuberant conversation that comes after a long day at work. You'll have inside jokes and your own secret carpool language in no time... Well OK maybe just some inside jokes.

Carpooling is about achieving something together that you could not on your own.  With the 8 suggestions above you will greatly increase the chances that you can start carpooling successfully.  Then you get to enjoy the benefits that brings.

I hope that helps!  Leave your suggestions in the comments below so others can benefit from your experiences.