Entries in technology (93)

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

 

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.

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.

 

Friday
Mar272009

replacing S92A in NZ's Copyright Act

I have been thinking through what to recommend as a replacement for S92A in NZ's Copyright Act, but I can't think of any better contribution than that provided by Stephen Franks just after the #blackout campaign. Some key quotes:

"... The new law upholds copyright holders’ property rights. It is fair enough, as far as it goes. ... [an] industry code is not the cure. It looks useful, but no lawyer with respect for the rule of law would suggest that a private code of procedure is the cure for a law that is incomplete and licenses abuse. As drafted it may be suitable for the ISP professionals, but it is too cumbersome for customers to master. ... Completion of the regime requires only an equivalent and balancing protection for the ISP and the customer’s property rights. That is straightforward - compensate the customer whose ISP is obliged to interfere without adequate reason, and compensate the ISP for any reasonable costs of investigating copyright claims that prove to be unjustified. The compensation rules can be clear enough and tough enough to discourage most if not all abuses of the new copyrightholders’ rights. ... Because the normal court system has become hopeless at enforcing remedies (other than in huge commercial disputes) the system may need a copyright claimant to post a bond for a pre-estimated cost of compensation, and perhaps a quick and dirty simplified adjudication system. ... The copyright claimant should have parallel rights to recover its full costs where a customer or ISP have unreasonably resisted a justified claim. ...These are not novel or radical ideas. They were the basic principles of British freedom for centuries. Leave people free to do what they wish, but if they wrongly harm others they’ll have to pay. ... Freedom plus liability is specially valuable for evolving circumstances where the lawmaker can’t predict how a prescription might warp future conduct. ... Too often reforming lawyers and politicians would much rather draft detailed prohibitions than balance the incentives, then leave discretions with the people involved, weighing the costs and benefits of their actions. ..."

Monday
Feb232009

#blackout protest has had some success!

yay for democracy!

the #blackout protest has had some success

I'm putting back my avatar on Twitter and Facebook now

Dave: "Great news. Section 92A of the Copyright Act has been delayed until 27 March so a voluntary code of practice can be nutted out. If there is no agreement on it, S92A will be suspended. Even if an agreement is reached, the Act will be be reviewed and monitored by the Government in the first six months. That's what happens when a group of people get a viral protest going, it gets support and gets into the mainstream media before midday and into the Aussie papers and into the Cabinet agenda."

Internet NZ: "New Zealanders can breathe a sigh of relief that their Internet access is no longer under threat due to unproven allegations of copyright infringement. Section 92A still needs to be fully repealed. It is disproportionate and unfit for purpose. But this deferral is a good start."

Monday
Feb232009

#blackout

Tuesday
Feb172009

My New Blogging Strategy

I took a month long break from blogging from early January, and have struggled to get back to anywhere near my previous target of writing an article per day. Partly this is because a lot of my writing last year was prompted by the election, but I'm also finding my online habits are changing - and I've decided that my blogging strategy needs to change accordingly.

I will continue to write here at GavinKnight.com, but less frequently. I am currently targetting at least one substantive article per month for each of my four major themes - Politics, Christianity, Technology and Effectiveness.

It will be interesting to see what this does to my Tumeke NZ Blogosphere and M&M NZ Christian Bloggers rankings seeing as their methodologies have a bias toward high frequency posters - although my rankings couldn't go much lower given my reduced writing frequency over recent months!

So, my new blogging strategy revolves more around the following ...

I have been on Twitter since March 2007, and I'm now posting there more frequently - typically multiple times per day. I'm finding I can often say something just as effectively in a succinct 140 characters as I can by taking the time to write a full article here at GavinKnight.com! So, I encourage you to sign up on Twitter (if you're not already) and 'follow' me there. If you're one of my personal friends on Facebook most of my Twitter posts also appear there as status updates.

A lot of my articles here at GavinKnight.com used to be simply to share interesting items but as most of my online reading comes to me via RSS I'm going to move my sharing of them to sharing from Google Reader. Sometimes I will simply share an article, but I'll try and add a brief comment to some too. To see these, and everything I'm doing online go to FriendFeed (no account required, but it makes for a richer experience).

Are you experiencing a similar change in online habits?

Sunday
Dec142008

Powered by a Revolving Door

Now this is smart. A cafe is using their revolving door to provide power.

"So, while the coffee powers the customers, the customers are powering the coffee shop."

Makes you wonder how much potential power we just let go to waste!

 

 

Wednesday
Nov262008

escape

Thursday
Nov062008

solved Blackberry sync crashing reading Outlook calendar

Blackberry sync had started crashing when reading my Outlook calendar but a quick google search for "blackberry desktop manager crashes reading outlook calendar" turned up this helpful post = problem solved, once I'd reset my sync settings.

Saturday
Nov012008

updated About

I have updated the About GavinKnight.com page to reflect my recent move to self-employment through Jireh Consulting Services and Top Performers

Friday
Sep192008

I'm attending Oracle OpenWorld 2008

This Saturday I'm off to San Francisco for Oracle OpenWorld 2008 to find out the latest regarding JD Edwards (JDE), Oracle Fusion Applications and the wider Oracle applications and related technologies portfolio.

#openworld08

Thursday
Aug282008

my last day as an HP employee

Today was my last day as an employee of HP.

I am now embarking on the world of self-employment. My primary role will be with Jireh Consulting Services where I will be adding an applications consulting capability to Jireh’s current JDE technical consulting specialty. I'll also be doing some coaching and training around some of the skills I've developed - like Project Management - with Top Performers, a business coaching/training consultancy. I will also be continuing to work with HP on specific projects – the first of which is continuing to be Project Manager for a current client project.

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I embarked on my consulting career in 2000 by joining Ernst & Young Consulting. I had spent most of my prior career as a tax and systems accountant. I had only ever worked in New Zealand, for firms with less than 20 people, on smaller projects, and the largest client I had worked for was privately owned and relatively small. Since then I have been privileged to work on a breadth of projects for a wide range of clients around New Zealand, Australia and AsiaPacific. My consulting journey through Capgemini, CGNZ and more recently HP has been for the most part enjoyable. I don’t regret the last eight years in any way. Sure, there were times I’d rather not have gone through, but every job has those. As is usually said, the most enjoyable element of my time has been the people. I have regularly been astounded at the quality and talent of the people I got to work with.

I intend to write further about the journey I am embarking on ...

Monday
Aug252008

Twitter "a huge multiplier of effectiveness"

Thursday
Aug212008

Space Shuttle Launch seen from a commercial flight

Sunday
Aug032008

Twitter Followers Counter

I've added a Twitter Followers Counter to the right side bar which shows my current Twitter follower count.

It is currently: TwitterCounter for @gavinknight.

Saturday
Aug022008

Colossal Squid Cam Coming Back

Te Papa's Colossal Squidcam is coming back for a day next week.

We’re moving the colossal squid out of formalin and into its new display tank. Webcam viewing will be available live on Wednesday 6 August starting 9am NZ time (USA: Tuesday 2pm to 5pm, UK: Tuesday 10pm), for one day only.

Tuesday
Jul292008

has Apple jumped the shark?

Has Apple jumped the shark?

Last week I linked to a David Pogue NY Times article in which I said he was "surprisingly tough" on Apple. I also called David an Apple sycophant, and he objected to this in a comment on that post.

David now has an even stronger article further blasting Apple for their non-responsiveness to the MobileMe debacle. Non-responsiveness in the technical sense of not fixing it promptly, and non-responsiveness in the sense of being uncommunicative about fully acknowledging there is a problem and what they are doing about it.

Maybe releasing the iPhone 3G handset, the iPhone 2.0 software, the iPhone Apps store and MobileMe all at the same tune is the moment Apple has jumped the shark. It certainly seems to have stung a journalist who has been a fan of them and their products and turned him into one of their strongest critics.

Jumping the shark is the moment when something "fundamentally and permanently stray[s] from its original premise" (wikipedia). Remember, Apple's byline for years has been it "just works".

Friday
Jul252008

Apple: "MobileMess" & "no clue about crisis management"

surprisingly tough words from usual Apple sycophant David Pogue of the NY Times about the ongoing debacle following Apple's recent re-launch of their ".mac" cloud service which has been re-branded "MobileMe" and had its feature set extended

Wednesday
Jul232008

Lifehacker, working together in the cloud

Lifehacker has a great article in Macworld describing how they run their virtual office using web based cloud applications.

I particularly like their passing phrase, the "placeless office" - it is so much more meaningful than "virtual office".