I have a new blog so this blog is now closed down!
Wait a sec and you should redirected automatically, if not click below
If you want to know why I switched have a look here
Having been a loyal user of Radio Userland, with all of its quirks, for 6 months I have finally made the switch over to blogmedia who host the blogware platform. I did a trial switch over to typepad a month or so ago, but it did not go too well and I decided to stick with Radio. But yesterday I ran out of disk space on the Radio Userland server and it went like this …
- So without any notice in my event log, I see that uploads are failing because I have used up my 40MB allocation. 40MB seemed a huge amount for text blog entries, but apparently radio has lots of different renderings and archives it maintains.
- I thought this should be easy – tidy up – but this has proven almost impossible to do cost effectively
- So I thought I will get more disk space, but it’s incredibly expensive. For the same price as I pay for 80MB of space on Radio I can get 1 GB on blogmedia.
I really was not keen to change, because of the effort involved but I was so annoyed last night with trying to free up disk space, (still not resolved 18 hours later!), that I did it.
I made a list of the features I missed in Radio:
- I wanted to be able to create secure areas, multiple authors etc
- I wanted more control over the layout
- I wanted more disk space, I have 1GB now, I used to have 40MB
- I wanted FTP publishing
- I wanted better search
- I wanted better usage statistics
- I wanted an easier to remember url
- Radio performance was dreadful
- There were too many bugs in the client, and I disliked the delay between publishing locally and getting the file published on the web. So I wanted to go web based. I still wanted the option to use a local client, so blogger API support was needed.
In the end I chose blogware for the software, and blogmedia for hosting. I didn’t have much time to make the decision, but I have not regretted it so far! It has taken about 3 hours to move the data over!
I have moved my blog over to blogware. Go check it out!
If you want to know why I switched have a look here
I came across this site in the OneNote forum, it has some nice concise tips for studying and note taking
of particular note is the Cornell Note Taking Method, which although not fancy does provide some insight into the fact that learning does not stop when you finish taking notes!
I was seduced, (for the third time), into installing the Microsoft Outlook Domino Connecter for the following reasons:
- I wanted a single place to manage my RSS feeds, personal email, tasks, calendar and work email
- My trial of mNotes completes in a few days and I needed to decide whether to buy it, or whether I could use Active Sync alone, (as my Local Notes replica would now also be in Outlook)
- I would get a unified search environment, (because X1 would search my Notes data, which would now be in Outlook)
- Graham said it works fine for him
I have tried it twice before, and had to give up both times, despite considerable effort. I kept telling myself the problems were to do with the sequence I did things, by interactions with mNotes, X1 etc, because I did not leave it alone – i.e. I tried to use it! Having tried again a few times these are some of the problems I have had:
- Synchronisation is painfully slow
- It does not synchronise according to a regular schedule, it just does it in the background, but not as frequently as I would like
- It affects the stability of Outlook quite badly, Outlook has hung on me at least 3 times today
- It created duplicate email and calendar entries, (never did figure out why, but assumed it was some sort of cascade effect caused by replica’s and mNotes).
- I ended up with a corrupt document in my Local Replica, I am currently creating a brand new local replica to see if I can fix it
- It does not handle standard s/mime signed documents, (gives a security subsystem error)
- Formatting of some message is a bit strange
- X1 tries to index entries as soon as the headers arrive, then triggers a pull of the body causing a dialog to keep opening up, very annoying
- if you do a full synchronisation, you can not use Outlook until its complete, (either that or Outlook was hanging).
It’s the stability problem that was the killer for me. I could have carried on trying to work through the other issues. I also got worrying that there were some version issues, Windows 2003 Server, Outlook 2003, Notes 6.51 is hardly a combination that has been well tested!
So I have just trashed it yet again and gone back to good old Notes! Which is surprisingly refreshing because it does work reliably. I also like the fact that it’s nice and colourful, especially when you use custom colours for emails from certain people, and colour different calendar entry types! I just hope this new replica works ok!
There are two discussion threads active on the GTD forum on Offices. The first is asking people about their home offices and I have replied to this with some links to my blog. Inspired by the interest people seem to have I have updated some of the pictures and added a couple of new ones. Of particular note is my new baby spider phone, (brand new and 2/3 off retail price off eBay!):
I cope with this by having a designated untidy area:
My wife and kids also have a desk each, and share this one in my office, which helps keep them away from mine:
Jonathan Schwartz writes another great article about what's important about the word Open in an IT context, he does this by comparing and constracting Open Source with Open Standards. he goes further by showing the great work Sun has done to create reference implementations of their J2EE standard, and provide tools to verify compliance. He provides a few real world illustrations of how the difference affects real business decisions.
Definately worth a read.
I had promised Jenny a "1 to 1" trip to the cinema which is always really difficult to organise as the other kids always want to come along as well. So I chose a movie that I thought would only appeal to Jen, "13 going on 30", I was not really looking forward to the film, but was really looking forward to the time with Jen. As it turned out we both really enjoyed the film, and not for different reasons. The film synopsis follows:
Jennifer Garner (Daredevil, TV's "Alias") and Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) star in this hilarious flash-forward romance about a pre-teen girl who goes from geek to glamorous. With the help of some magic wishing dust, 13 year-old Jenna Rink (Garner) becomes 30 and gorgeous overnight, with everything she ever wanted, except for her best friend Matt (Ruffalo). Now, this grown woman must create some magic of her own to help the little girl inside find the true love she left behind.
Whilist its true that there was a romantic theme to the film, I think what Jen and I liked most was that the girl re-invented the woman, sort of as follows:
12 year old girl knows her own mind but is starting to be seduced by the need to be popular
On her 13th Birthday she is desperate to get the "6 chicks" to her party, they end up letting her down in a big way
Just after her let down, she wishes herself 17 years forward to herself at 30, and finds that she has achieved all her ambitions, she becomes a member, in fact the leader of the, "6 chicks", becomes editor of her favourite, (when she was 13), magazine, get the hunky boyfriend etc
However her 13 year old self, starts to dislike her 30 year old life, she no longer takes calls from her parents, misses family christmas, is rude and ignorant, betrays her magazine to further her success etc.
The 13 year old re-invents herself by re-branding the magazine. More on that later
She tracks down her best friend from when she was 13, who she was very cruel to, he falls for her all over again but in then end stays with his existing girlfriend because he says, "he made decisions he has to live with" ...
She goes back to being 13 again and decides to live her life, rather than chasing an empty dream
She marries her best friend
Ok, slightly different from the official version, one of the cutest bits of the film is how she re-brand the magazine. This is a teen magazine, it goes something like this:
All fashion models
She realises that this is the rubbish she pushes at kids every month, its the stuff that got her hooked on the empty life she ended up with at 30. She talks to kids, she get her old best friend, (who is mad on photography), to help out, she re-images the magazine, to focus more on:
Real people that kids can relate to and admire
Success in meaningful areas, sort, music etc
She says to kids its all right to be normal, to enjoy simple things, to have friends and family, to help each other, to not have enough money and to make do, to work hard etc. Thats what I took away from the film.
This is a posting that I made to the GTD discussion forum.
I am about to start a small research project into personal productivity, I am going to be looking at the following main areas:
- Personal knowledge management
- Time, task and action management
- Communication and collaboration
- Team working
- Subscription and research
As you can see these are quite relevant to exponents of the GTD methodology, and so I need your help.
First I wanted to explain a little about my personal experience with GTD and history in using similar techniques.
“I love to be organised”
I am one of those people who likes a clear desk, who like kids to have tidy bedrooms, who likes to be in control. I invest a lot in my IT, and a lot of my time in researching how to be organised. I can also invest a lot of time in establishing a new system. But once that new system is established, I find it hard to keep going. Here are some of the reasons why:
- I only tend to be motivated to create my list of, “everything that needs to be done”, when things are out of control. The process of creating the list brings me back in control and that tends to last about a month. During that month I gradually begin to feel that I am working for my system rather than my system working for me, so I give up.
- I find that although they all seem important when I write them down many of the items on my, “everything that needs to be done list”, never actually get done, as new things keep being added. So in reality I am only ever working with the things that filter to the top. In most cases I already know about the things at the top of the list. It’s the 80/20 rule all over again, I only ever work on the top 20% of my list, and most of the stuff in the 80% never gets touched because new items keep adding themselves to the top 20%.
- During the times of my life when I am not following a GTD like methodology, I find I value the fact that my Brain forgets the 80% that’s never going to be done, and lets me keep my sub-conscious focussed on the 20% that is, and my conscious on the 5% I am working on. When I do follow GTD, I find myself distracted by the 80% feeling it’s important and must be progressed, managed, tracked, researched etc. For example for a month I captured research notes in Microsoft OneNote on everything related to my GTD list. Most of that time was wasted because in the end I never got around to the tasks. After the month was up I ended up deleting most of it because I wanted a tidier and better organised OneNote.
- I find my Brain balances, “Important/Urgent” , pretty well
- I generally always do some form of daily and weekly review and I get close to the “mind like water”, feeling.
- I have seen lots of projects suffer because of too much project planning, and too little project management. By that I mean the project manager and project team start to serve the system, they spend all of their time and energy on task definition, tracking, reporting etc and not enough time on requirements, millstones, dependencies, estimating.
- I think the above problem with projects is the same problem I see with GTD. Too much attention to managing your tasks and not enough time managing your time and goals.
Ok so you sort of get the idea of where I am coming from with the above, but I said I needed help. Well I have seen a few posts in this forum that really got me thinking. I will repeat a few of the key points here:
- Someone said that it was the act of making the list of things to do that was key, not the resulting list. They tested it with for example shopping lists. If you make the list and then forget to take it with you, you still end up buying everything you need.
- This was built on by someone who said that if you forgot the list you might actually do better because you might respond more openly to inputs/ideas that you have while out shopping, and maybe reassess your needs more openly as well, (i.e. decide not to buy things, whereas if its on this list you feel compelled to buy it).
- In a critique of presentations someone reported how PowerPoint stifles many meetings. The bulleted list stops people thinking, because it trivialises issues, and the slide by slide format constrains discussion and debate. I have actually tested this myself by presenting on an eWhiteboard and its amazing how liberated you feel.
- Discussions comparing “Putting first things First”, top down methodology, (which works like my Brain, but perhaps not everyone’s brain), and GTD help to bring the debate into focus
- A few people have pointed to Life Balance and there is certainly a lot of thought gone into that software. I tried it for a while, but again concluded that I was likely to end up being controlled by the software, and spend a lot of my time working for it, rather than it working for me!
- Finally its obvious that a lot of people love GTD more than I do, I want to understand why!
I was hoping that in discussion of this post more nuggets like those above might help me work this topic through in my mind in a more open way that I have been able to do by just reading the GTD books.
The final problem I have is the systems that support these processes just don’t work for me. When I look at my starting list again:
- Personal knowledge management
- Time, task and action management
- Communication and collaboration
- Team working
- Subscription and research
I really need an integrated system that supports all of these. I have not found such a system. Although if I were able to use Outlook for my email maybe I would get close with the combination of NewsGator, Outlook, Outlook GTD plug-in and OneNote.
On our walk today we were playing Spy's. The kids used my Pocket PC to get instructions from Spy Central, and the camera to spot losts kids, (who glowed green), and other enermy spys, (who glowed red). There were several model planes flying on the beach and they 'radioed' the owners to get them to take out the spies and rescure the kids. They spent the rest of the day playing spys up in the twins bedroom, we are just off to go scooting on the promenade on their 'hover scooters'.
Tessa, Anna, Jenny and me went on a long walk today. The weather was glorious so we trekked to Fairhaven Lake, the kids had an Ice Cream, (I am on a dairy free diet), and then we walked back along the beach. I bought a very cheap low resolution camera last week and the kids clicked away with it as we walked. Most of the pictures were rubbish, bit I liked a couple of them. One was one of my favourite cafes, right on the beach:
The other was the library at the end of the road.
There is a great message board available for people who suffer from Still's. Nic responded to one of my articles asking for more info on my early history. Here is my answer:
It just started out of the blue. I was in London at a conference, I started with a sore throat in the morning, by lunch time my legs were hurting, I managed to walk to the train in the evening, but could not get off the train by 10:00. The doctors had no idea, and just gave me anti-histamines for a week, but they had no effect, after a couple of weeks I was mobile again, although it took 6 weeks for symptoms to really damp down. After which I was essentially symptom free for 18 months. I had a few aches and pains but I did not really relate these to the Stills flare.
When I had my second flare it too was triggered by a sore throat, again it was not diagnosed, but this time died down after about 2-3 weeks without medication.
My third flare was about 12 months after and was also triggered by a sore throat. I managed to get into hospital this time, it was much worse, and they said I had strep throat. It took about 3-4 weeks to get a diagnosis, of Stills and then they put me on the steroids. Within 2 days I was out of hospital although it was a few weeks before I was well again.
Last year and early this year I had 2 flares that were not triggered by a sore throat, interestingly they did not have the high temperatures either, just the pain and fatigue and loss of concentration.
However the last of these flares has taken a very long time to clear, its been over 6 months now and I am still on 20MG of steroids, and still in a bit of pain. Also every time I get the slightest bit of a sore throat, or cold or cough I have a mini-flare again.
There is more detail in by blog. I have a category specifically on Stills.
1. Joe Blogger writes something and publishes it to his blog.
2. Joe's Blog system updates his site's HTML, updates his RSS file and sends a 'ping' message to the 'Aggregation Ping Server' indicating that his site has updated.
3. Search engines like Google and RSS specific services like Feedster, Technorati and PubSub periodically ask the Aggregation Ping Server, "Which sites have updated?".
4. Since Joe's site sends pings and has an RSS file and is easy to update frequently, Joe's search engine rank is higher than a 'normal site'.
5. Techie Teresa uses a program called an RSS reader to subscribe to Joe's site. The RSS reader checks Joe's RSS file for updates periodically (usually once/hour or once per day) and notifies her of Joe's updates. Teresa no longer wastes time manually surfing Joe's site. She just checks her RSS reader.
6. As a result, Teresa's information flow is more efficient and she can monitor more sites in less time.
7. Joe Surfer (who is not related to Joe Blogger) still can access blogs the old fashioned, slow and less efficient way using his web browser and search engines.
A lot has been written about the history of Microsoft. This article reviews a new book that looks at Microsoft from the perspective of the changes that it has had to introduce and continues to push forward as a result of its legal difficulties and "evil empire" image. The full article is worth reading but here are a few of the more interesting quotes:
"They need to get the outside world to learn to accept them without thinking that there's something shady going on there all the time. That's a very long-term process," he said. "There's an awful lot of cynicism out there. No matter what Microsoft tries to do, nobody's going to turn around overnight and say, 'Well, we accept them now as good neighbors.' "
One of the best insights:
In simple terms, some of Microsoft's critics might characterize the ongoing changes as an effort to shift the outside perception of the company from "evil" to "good." But Slater said he doesn't see it that way.
"I don't think they were ever evil," he said. "I think they were unable, or unwilling, to curb the zeal that was always part of the Microsoft culture." He said the company seems to be starting to make the shift from "excessive zeal" to "reasonable zeal."
And the bottom line:
"Before the last couple of years, Microsoft never talked about these types of things," he said. "The idea was to be as competitive as possible, and that was it."
The Radicati group recently published a report titled
"IBM Lotus & Microsoft--Corporate Messaging Market Analysis" (June 2004), available at www.radicati.com/reports/single.shtml.
Its a truly awful report, as many people have commented. It breaks all normal reporting rules:
- It does not compare like with like
- It commends Microsoft for the same things it criticises Lotus for
- It does not provide its sources
- It uses emotive language to commend Microsoft and Criticise lotus
I actually looked forward to reading it when I first heard it had come out because I had some concerns over Lotus Workplace and how Lotus Notes/Domino would transition to the new architecture. However the report was so biased I ended up feeling much more positive about Lotus than I had before. The basis for my change of view "IBM must be on to something with Workplace if such bad analysis is the only tool available to make Microsoft look good". I was also left even more uncertain over what Microsoft is up to with Exchange, as I have already blogged on here and here.
The last straw for me in this report was the criticism of IBM/Lotus over migration to Workplace and the commendation of Microsoft on the same issue, lets look at a few examples:
- How seamless was the migration from Exchange 5.* to Exchange 200*, having just done a major project to do this the answer is NOT VERY, admittedly it was a pretty complex environment that we migrated, (with lots of consolidation and some Lotus Notes migration as well).
- How easy is it to migrate from SharePoint Portal Server 1, using the Web Store to SharePoint Portal server 2003 using SQL Server. Impossible without significant loss of functionality.
- How easy will it be for developers who used the Microsoft's Web Storage System, touted by MS as a "Notes Killer - ha ha ha", to a future version of Exchange based on SQL Server, (pretty near impossible probably, if Microsoft failed to do it themselves with SPS what hope does anyone else have!)
- Who believes that the Migration from Exchange Public folders to some future SQL server based environment like Windows SharePoint Services is going to be seamless!
The bottom line is that Microsoft's record in document management and collaboration type technologies is appalling, with very little strategic continuity and even less product compatibility. Lotus's record is second to none.
I am guessing that the Radicati group wished they had never gone near this subject, it has damaged their credibility no end. What is interesting is the power of blogging in bringing this issue to the fore and brutally analysing this flawed work in public. If you want to read the gory details follow this trail:
Eric Mack as always does a superb job of pulling the whole topic together in his blog
And IBM finally gets around to a formal response, which is the final nail in the coffin: