Monday
Jun082009

Reminder: Topic Specific RSS Feeds Expiring

Reminder (re-post from Mon-11-May):

If you are one of the (very few!) subscribers to any of the topic specific rss feeds I used to provide, namely:

  • Christianity articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-christianity
  • Effectiveness articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-effectuate
  • Politics articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-politics
  • Technology articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-tech

... then please note that I will no longer be providing these topic specific rss feeds, and in 30 a couple days they will expire.

Instead, you will need to subscribe to the new rss feed for all GavinKnight.com content, or one of the other feeds in the left & right side bars at the new GavinKnight.com.

Friday
Jun052009

Tumeke! Rank = #100

I have returned to the Tumeke! Top 100 New Zealand political and news blogs with a #100 ranking in April.

 

Saturday
May232009

What Do I Write About?

I write on the intersection of Effectiveness & Technology, on the intersection of Politics & Christianity, and on anything else I find interesting.

I provide this succinct description of what I write about because it has occurred to me, while tidying up GavinKnight.com following my recent move to Squarespace hosting, that the theme of my writings might not be self-evident.

To a degree this doesn't bother me as one of my primary reasons for writing is that it helps crystallise my thoughts, and so brings further clarity to my own thinking.

However, given I currently have around 25 daily visitors and 50 subscribers, what I write must be of interest to others too - so I should be clear on what I write about.

My About page describes in further detail what drives my interest in Effectiveness, Technology, Politics and Christianity - but it only became clear to me while writing this post that it is not just an interest in those four separate topics, but an interest in the intersection of two pairs of them.

Image found on newsday.com using google images.

Tuesday
May192009

Solved: Missing RSS Subscribers

A helpful reader (thanks Paul) emailed me overnight to explain where my missing RSS subscribers might have gone when I moved GavinKnight.com from Google's Blogger service to Squarespace.

It seems that when you use a custom domain with Blogger (as I was) there is a setting to tie your Feedburner hosted feed to the native feed provided by Blogger (but under your domain - in my case GavinKnight.com). I don't remember specifically enabling that integration, but must have done it. When I moved from Blogger to Squarespace this integration would no longer be active, those subscribers would have been getting a 404 'not found' error - and would have dropped out of my Feedburner subscriber count.

So, I have now created a redirect within Squarespace pointing the old GavinKnight.com RSS URL published by Blogger to the new one published by Squarespace for the Blog - those subscribers should now see my blog posts coming through their feed reader again.

Monday
May182009

Odd RSS Subscriber Stats

Update: dilemna solved

I am not quite sure what is going on with the statistics for the RSS feed I maintain through Google's Feedburner service.

However, as you can see from the graph, my reported subscriber numbers declined from 50 to 30 at the very point I moved GavinKnight.com from being hosted by Google's Blogger service to Squarespace.

I could understand the subscriber numbers for this feed steadily reducing over time as people move to the RSS feed(s) hosted directly here at GavinKnight.com - but a sudden decrease makes me suspicious that somehow Google inflate the numbers for their own service. Can you shed any light on what is going on here?

By way of context, I now provide the following RSS feeds hosted directly here at GavinKnight.com:

I will also continue to provide the following feeds through Google's Feedburner service:

I previously provided RSS feeds for each of my main topic areas, but decided to close those down when I moved my hosting to Squarespace.

Saturday
May162009

Evernote + Blackberry now fully functional in NZ

Yes! My Blackberry Bold has just downloaded a new version of the Evernote Blackberry application (now 3.0.155).

My initial testing indicates it now also works over Vodafone New Zealand's mobile data network, as well as over wi-fi (which it already did).

This means I hold high hopes for how it can play an increasing part in my daily workflow as part of my current project of refining my implementation of GTD.

I will write further on this after trialling it as part of my daily workflow.

Wednesday
May132009

Evernote Blackberry App only works in NZ over WiFi

Update: Evernote + Blackberry now fully functional in NZ

I have trialled the Evernote Blackberry Application further and can confirm it works on my Blackberry Bold over my home WiFi internet connection.

This means I will proceed with assessing how it can play an increasing part in my daily workflow as part of my current project of refining my implementation of GTD.

However, as I found this morning when I first downloaded it, it doesn't work over my Blackberry's mobile data connection - which means it as not as useful as I had first hoped.  I have asked Vodafone New Zealand why this might be in the hope it can be made to work.

On balance though, I applaud Evernote for making available a directly downloadable release of their Blackberry application today after spinning their wheels yesterday by only making it available to those in the US, Canada and UK.

Wednesday
May132009

Well Done Evernote re Blackberry App!

Today I am very happy with Evernote!

They have now also made the Evernote Blackberry application available for direct download.  This sidesteps Blackberry's App World which is only available in the US, Canada and the UK - ie not to me in New Zealand - hence my disappointment yesterday.

I have just downloaded it direct to my Blackberry Bold, will test during the day and post my thoughts tonight.

Hat Tip: Sean via Twitter

Tuesday
May122009

Disappointed in Release of Blackberry Evernote App

Earlier today I was very interested to see via Twitter that Evernote has released a Blackberry application.

I have been waiting for such an application for some time as I think it could be the key to making Evernote a tighter component of my daily workflow, and my current project of refining my implementation of GTD.

However, having tried to install it, I am very disappointed to find it is only available in the "US, Canada and UK" as those are the only countries allowed to install the Blackberry App World, which is how Evernote distribute their application.

I'm hoping that either Blackberry extend Blackberry App World to New Zealand, or Evernote provide an alternate way of downloading their application.

Monday
May112009

Topic Specific RSS Feeds Expiring

If you are one of the (very few!) subscribers to any of the topic specific rss feeds I used to provide, namely:

  • Christianity articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-christianity
  • Effectiveness articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-effectuate
  • Politics articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-politics
  • Technology articles only: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/gavinknight-tech

... then please note that I will no longer be providing these topic specific rss feeds, and in 30 days they will expire.

Instead, you will need to subscribe to the new rss feed for all GavinKnight.com content, or one of the other feeds in the left & right side bars at the new GavinKnight.com.

Sunday
May102009

successful move to Squarespace

I have just switched the host for GavinKight.com from Google's Blogger to Squarespace - if you are seeing this it has worked!

Friday
May082009

Host Behind GavinKnight.com Changing

This weekend I will be changing the host for GavinKight.com from Google's Blogger to Squarespace - as signalled last month when I sought feedback on the prototype.

You should see no issues if you surf to GavinKnight.com on the web or if you are an RSS or Email subscriber - although they might be a transitory hiccup or two while the changed DNS settings propogate, which can take up to 24 hours.

Friday
May082009

Inbox Zero, but not quite Getting Things Done

My journey with Outlook and GTD continues, and is settling into a nice routine at the level I have currently achieved.

I am sleeping much better, and heading into work each day with a clearer view of what it might contain!

I astounded a client project meeting the other day when the client side Project Manager said he had hundreds of unprocessed emails. He went on to speculate in front of the full project team that I must be in a similar position as a service provider PM. I took great delight in stating I clear my email inbox each day! and therefore always have a clear view of all the actions I need to take.

I have reverted to using my Filofax as my primary note taking tool for meetings, etc. I bought one day per page sheets and use those for my notes each day, which I transfer into Outlook daily. Side bar - I got 75% off from my stationer simply by pointing out at the checkout that the year is nearly half gone!

However, my frustrations with further tuning GTD to my workflow and tools continue:

  • I still haven't got my GTD definitions right (for me), particularly Projects v Actions v Contexts;
  • I still can't meaningfully view my tasks outside of my primary copy of Outlook (on my main laptop) which is an issue for a mobile worker like me who isn't always sitting in the same place in front of the same PC;
  • I am still wading my way through my accumulated physical inboxes to extract all the projects and actions buried in them.

image courtesy nerd merit badges

 

Friday
May012009

The Expanded Bible, initial thoughts

Thomas Nelson will soon release their new Expanded Bible.

I write these 'initial thoughts' in the hope I will be one of the first to do so, and so qualify for a free review copy.

Wayne Hastings, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of the Bible Division for Thomas Nelson Publishers, wrote earlier today on his blog (I first saw it on Twitter) what they are trying to achieve:

Why is it different?
  • It meets the needs of the contemporary student of the Bible by combining devotional reading and in-depth study in a completely new way. Users can now study the Bible while they read with study aids and resources placed in-line with the text of the Bible.
  • It joins Bible text with traditional wordings, explanatory comments, additional wordings, literal meanings and expanded word definitions, all integrated within the text of the Scripture.
  • It offers readers a unique Bible study experience by making them a part of the process and decisions made by scholars while developing a translation.
The end result is a Bible that is highly readable for devotions or study purposes that includes a richer in-text explanation of the Scripture. The experience will help customers grasp all that God is saying and give them a complete meaning of words and their alternative wordings. It’s like having a robust Bible reference library at your fingertips without having to flip a page or grab another book.
I remember when I was a young christian trying to discover for myself what the bible was saying, and so think through my faith. I assembled a personal library of different bible translations to compare and reference books like concordances, commentaries and bible dictionaries to look things up - and would regularly find myself sitting in the middle of a pile of them spread around me all open at pages relevant to what I was looking into. It seems to me the 'Expanded Bible' would have been of enormous assistance to me back then.

Even now, with over 20 years under my belt actively thinking through my faith (and teaching others), I am sure the 'Expanded Bible' will help re-ignite my understanding of God as revealed in scripture. The free New Testament .pdf eBook you can download from a link in Wayne's blog post certainly encourages me to think so.

I look forward to receiving my free review copy, and writing further on how useful it turns out to be.

Sunday
Apr262009

Using Outlook for Getting Things Done

I have been sharpening my implementation of the GTD behaviours recommended by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done*. Until recently this had been supported by a kluge in the way I use Microsoft Outlook - it worked, but it was clumsy, and I was getting very frustrated with it.

So, I am now using - and am very happy with - NetCentrics' Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In. I was motivated to do this because my close friend and pastor Paul has been experiencing phenomenal results with his implementation of Eric Mack's eProductivity tool for Lotus Notes to support him in applying GTD to his life. Paul has written extensively about his GTD and eProductivity journey on his blog and his twitter.

I am happy with Microsoft Outlook; which I have been using for many years. I have integrated Outlook with a number of web-based 'cloud' services for online access, backup and syncing with my Blackberry. It would not be easy to replace Outlook in my workflow. However, I desired getting something like Paul's results, and sought a GTD add-in for Outlook. I contacted Eric and he recommended Netcentrics as he has no plans to also adapt eProductivity to Outlook.

Here are my observations after nearly a month of using NetCentrics' Getting Things Done Outlook Add-In:

  • it is a solid tool which has facilitated my quick extraction of commitments from emails, meeting notes, etc - so I now increasingly run at 'inbox zero' and have an increasingly reliable list of Tasks respresenting the commitments I have made to myself and others;
  • I am not yet happy with how I have defined my Projects and Sub-Projects - the main issue being it also blends the Roles I perform as well as the Projects I'm working on - I need to better learn how GTD and Netcentrics supports Roles as distinct from Projects;
  • I haven't yet nailed the concept of a Context (Action in Netcentrics) but for now suspect this is more that I am still learning GTD concepts and applying them to the complex mix of roles, clients and projects for which I am responsible as a husband, father, consultant, entrepreneur, writer and church leader - rather than any issue with Netcentrics itself;
  • I have started undertaking a type of Weekly Review, usually every couple days, and Netcentrics provides useful support to it - but I would also like a tool like the eProductivity wizard Paul has described to me;
  • I have stopped syncing my tasks to my Blackberry as I haven't yet found a way to filter it across all dimensions of Project, Sub-Project, Task and Action - while the Blackberry continues to be my almost ubiquitous capture tool (I have another post coming on the different modes in which it performs that role for me) I can't yet trust it to tell me at any given moment what I should be doing, or even to present me with a contextually relevant filtered list to choose from - so I'm not yet at the 'empty brain' point where I can rely solely on my GTD system as I still tend to carry my immediate task list in my head;
  • the Someday functionality does not seem to be consistent within Netcentrics - a Task seems to get flagged differently when you 'Someday' it compared with when you simply change its Action to Someday - and this flows through to the ability to filter out those Tasks;
  • I would like to bring the Netcentrics icons on to the front toolbar ribbon of the various Outlook forms I use (emails, tasks, appointments) rather than having to constantly switch toolbars - I'm pretty sure this is simple using standard Outlook but haven't yet made time to find out how.
I will continue to write about my GTD and Netcentrics journey.

* I will receive a 10% commission if you purchase this book through this link.

Saturday
Apr252009

We Do Remember Them

This morning I reverted to my normal ANZAC Day practice and attended the dawn parade at the Cenotaph near Parliament in central Wellington. Last year I missed it and my friend Mark, who was with me this morning as he is most years, was in Gallipoli for the commemorations there. One day I hope to go too.

As usual there were thousands at the Cenotaph, no doubt in part because it was a stunning clear morning. The service was the usual dignified memorial to those who served in various theatres of war and conflict. Particularly those who died, but also those who were injured or traumatised and also those who kept the country running back home.

Mid-morning my son Joel and I, with other members of our church, marched in our local Johnsonville community ANZAC parade. The march ended at the RSA club where a service was held on the forecourt. I'd have to say I was astounded. There were over a thousand people there, with strong representation of all sectors of our local community. The photo to the top left is part of the crowd arriving at the RSA at the end of the march.

The Johnsonville service itself was in some ways better than the earlier dawn parade. I actually thought it was better in terms of raw quality of the speaking, singing and remembering. But that is not the only way in which it was better. This was a community celebration, and in all senses our community was together this morning.

Today has very much echoed the words I wrote last year

April 25 is ANZAC Day here in New Zealand (and Australia). The date commemorates the attempt to capture Gallippoli in 1915 during WWI, but over the years the day has evolved into a remembrance of all Kiwis (and Aussies) who have gone to war - any war. It is, in a very real sense, the day on which we feel most united as a nation.

Each year ANZAC Day gives me pause to think of those in my extended family who served in the various wars of the last century. In particular I think of my Poppa; my Mum's father. He served in the Pacific during WWII. He never talked much of war, and by the time I was old enough to want to ask, he was too ill. He passed away 27 years ago.

In no way did either of this morning's services celebrate or glorify war itself, and neither is that the point in my writing about today. War is horrific, and often wrong. I long to live in a world where international disputes can be settled without going into armed conflict.

However, we should remember, and thank God for, those who did (and do) serve.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

We do remember them!

Thursday
Apr232009

please review my Squarespace blog design for me

I have grown tired of the tedium of maintaining my GavinKnight.com template on Blogger (Blogspot), and don't like that there is no way to get rid of the Blogger bar at the top of the page (correction, you can, done, hat tip Madeleine). I have considered Wordpress but it looks too daunting and techie, and Typepad just doesn't look like me.

So, I am contemplating moving GavinKnight.com to Squarespace having heard good things about it on recent TWiT podcasts. It is a paid service, but I am happy to pay as Squarespace will give me better control over my site using powerful yet simple tools.

I have setup a prototype at http://gavinknight.squarespace.com/, and would be interested in reviews from my readers. Please leave a comment here, or send me an @GavinKnight tweet on Twitter, or email me.

The http://gavinknight.squarespace.com/ prototype incorporates the following design changes compared to the current GavinKnight.com:

  • the home page is a static landing page with links off to the Blog, ‘Short Thoughts’ and my professional life – this gives me a more predictable outcome for those who follow the link in my email signature (for example);
  • the daily collation of my tweets has been moved into its own section ‘Short Thoughts’ so as not to clutter the blog;
  • there is much less clutter in the right hand column;
  • for now I’ve gone for a very clean/simple style/interface (actually it's the SquareSpace default!).

The only thing I’m not really happy about yet is RSS:

  • I don’t like the way the feeds show on the home page – it’s simply not as visually elegant as everything else I’ve played with so far on SquareSpace;
  • I don’t seem to be able to get an aggregated feed combining both the Blog and ‘Short Thoughts’;
  • there doesn’t seem to be an easy subscribe by email option - only one which requires the reader to register with my website, which I don’t want to force;
  • for these reasons I think I’ll stick with Feedburner for RSS & Email subscribers, including using Yahoo!Pipes to get an aggregated feed.

Note, at the moment links within articles might take you back here to the current GavinKnight.com, but those on the home page should be OK.

 

Thursday
Apr232009

Increase your Effectiveness using Twitter

I've been using Twitter for over a year, and like many Twitter early adopters I get my fair share of friendly insults from friends and colleagues who just don't get it.

For me Twitter has facilitated closer friendships - especially with friends in other cities, including internationally. Twitter has become significantly more useful to me in recent times as more and more of my real world friends have started using it too. By way of analogy, I've always wondered what the first guy to buy a fax did with it!

Twitter has also given me another access point to news on topics I'm interested in, and the integration with other online services like Twitpic, Facebook and Evernote increases its power even more.

Today my friend and pastor Paul Gardner has written about how he has increased his effectiveness as a leader using Twitter and regrets missing an opportunity to share how.

Lifehacker has also recently written on Six Ways You Should Be Using Twitter. I particularly like this:

Twitter has become a phenomenon, and like any phenomenon, all the Twitter talk grows quickly tiresome.

But despite what you may think, Twitter isn't just for narcissists; it's actually insanely useful.

So let's assume that you already know about the navel-gazing uses of Twitter—the aspects of Twitter that most people criticize when they complain about the site.

Discounting Twitter altogether because you think it's ridiculous that people tweet about what they had for breakfast is like claiming that email is useless because of forward chains.

It's a mistake, and you'd be missing out on a great tool if you let that put you off Twitter completely.

the image above was sourced from Lifehacker article linked above

Sunday
Apr122009

Review: The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham

Some months ago I accepted a free review copy of Marcus Buckingham's "The Truth About You" but have only just got around to completing my reading of it.

This is quite a different style of 'book' as it also includes a DVD and a notepad to assist you with putting the book into action. This makes the book so much more useful as it helps cement learning by making it more than a passive activity.

The book would be of most use to those early in their career, or for anyone frustrated with their career and wondering which direction to move in next.

Much of the content Buckingham's book is good solid useful stuff, but when reading it I couldn't help but feel it is a bit simplistic. On reflection I think this is because it uses a self-discovery technique - which I am wary of if done alone. So, maybe the missing dimension that would make the book most useful would be to use it as a coaching guide - with a 'coach' guiding the self-discovery process.

Buckinghams centres the book on 5 key career advice points: Performance, Strengths, "What" v "Why" & "Who", the Perfect Job and Weaknesses.

My feeling is that the performance chapter gets a little lost, and becomes more about what you are interested in than about the substantive point - that your employer pays you to do a job.

This is a good book, particularly if used in conjunction with some coaching through the self-discovery process it walks you through.

Other reviews of this book can be seen at The Truth About You's page on the Thomas Nelson "Book Review Bloggers" site.

My apologies to the TN BRB team, as I should have completed this review a long time ago.

Sunday
Apr122009

Makara (Twitter Poetry)

Love Makara
Rugged beauty
Soaring seabirds
Blustery winds
Crashing waves
Families walking
Boys rockpooling
Peaceful solitude

this is my first attempt at Twitter poetry, wherein a poem is naturally constrained by Twitter's 140 character limit

I first posted it on Twitter yesterday

how about you write a Twitter poem too - preferably posting it on Twitter itself (and also linking to it as a comment below)

the photo is one I took of my son Joel and his friend Daniel enjoying Makara's wind on a blustery day last June

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