Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Better Travel booking with HIPMUNK?

As a long time Kayak.com browser I was of course skeptical when yet another aggregator comes into the mix. However, since Pogue seemed to like it i gave it a quick look.
search results on hipmunk.com
With a straight forward GANTT based view the options available are clear from the first search. With a clear visualization of the legs of the journey and layovers one will avoid the debacle of accidentally booking the flight that was cheap because of the over night stay in the airport or the bus ride to ORLY from CDG.

Of course the novel "sort by agony" button is a clever winner where the price, duration and number of stops are taken into consideration. I think I will probably lose my link to KAYAK.com on my Chrome shortcuts bar and have to add hipmunk.com

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Funny? or Sad?

What passes as humor these days and for some people is a little puzzling.

Recently my employer had a marketing event (seminar) that was attended by a former colleague, who is currently employed at a customer. Apparently, he decided it was in the greatest humor to fill out his satisfaction survey in my name-making many snide comments and leaving generally negative feedback.

Never mind that during his tenure with my company I stood by him and took many bullets for him; or that I put my reputation on the line by advocating his strengths, as others pulled down on his alleged weaknesses; but the event was attended by a number of people in our industry who should be always thought of as potential future employers or customers.

There have  been days that I have done similar, but I usually made sure that such "Mock" surveys made their way in to the hopper and did not get turned in.

  • Sorry, I did not find it funny to see my name attached to the survey
  • Sorry that I am not held in high enough regard to keep you from making an ass of yourself
  • Sorry you mistook me for somebody so disposable that you can use my name that way
Respect of oneself and others was a lesson that some people still need to go back to kindergarten to learn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are Tradeshows still relevant?

StringGirl as a Tradeshow booth babe
Sitting in the Convention Center blogging--I guess that is part of the answer to the question of relevancy. My brother-in-law asked me if the show is worth it; and unfortunately I did not have a clear answer. Certainly if we did not attend at least one show in the sales region we would probably wonder if we have missed anything or anyone important. But I can't say that definitively. In the past 5 years I think I can only track back 4-5 definitive sales contacts that were started with the trade show.

However, I can also say that the tradeshow did allow us to make deeper contact with some people who were already engaged in the sales cycle. Maybe the show did offer a chance to quicken that pace or increase the overall turnover from that sale.

Time spent with customers, and gauging the reaction of prospects and non-prospects together is very valuable, practicing the shtick and the 30 second pitch is definitely a self improvement bonus I get from being at the show.

Go to the shows, don't be heart broken if you don't leave with a set of A quality leads, but don't let the boat sail by either without sharpening your saw on the pitch and freshen up on your selling to the non-believers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Performance Measurement

It is a painful period in the growth of youngish companies, from that of a start-up to that of a SME (Small Medium Enterprise). With this transition come many growing pains come many challenges:

  • how do we measure ourselves toward our goals?
  • what goals are worth following?
  • what happens if people don't meet these goals/expectations?
  • are the people who go us this far still the people we need tomorrow?
Plainly, you get what you measure and you measure what you get.

If your goal is not measurable it probably is not objective (knowledge, faith, confidence are all highly subjective but too often in peoples goals).

Goals should link to our bottom line, short, medium or long term. After all, if it doesn't help us ,make money it can't really be that strategic (I recently heard a person remark that strategic is often used as a euphemism for not profitable).

Have to be willing to call people to the carpet if the goals are not met, and that includes making very hard decisions linked to the last question.

The people who may have gotten you out of the gate might not be the people who should take you all the way into port. Just like the people who you need right now, might not have been the right people when you were boot-strapping the business.

One of my acquaintances, recently on noting that many of their companies technical staff might not be up to snuff on some of our more recent offerings, asked what would happen if we were to institute a "testing" or "assessment" of skill and capability. Unfortunately, my answer was that we would first have to decide what we should measure, what would make a good technician? And for that the company is still, not out of the dark.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Airplanes !!!

The Oatmeal has more good flight annoyances in this cartoon (link)
Other annoyances

"My bag should not get crushed, so yours will have to": The person takes the "rollerboard" and places it sideways in the overhead compartment when it can fit wheels first (yes, "rollerboard" is the airline business colloquialism for the Rolling carry-on, go figure).

"What no liquids?": It is not like it is a brand-new rule to ban liquids in containers larger than 3 ounces from planes. Are we still confused about it?

"I paid for a seat so I get both armrests": If you haven't noticed that little arm rest between each of us is technically for both of us, but when you put your elbows comfortable resting on them you actually are quite a way into my space.

What are yours?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Customer Service = untapped oppurtunity

Recently Simon Sinek posted a view regarding Customer Service Re:Focus: You Shouldn’t Need To Wield A Gun To Get Customer Service. There he asks:

My question is, why do I have to hold a proverbial gun to a company’s head before I get a decent level of service.  That's not good customer service...  
 Customer service is when a company works everyday to keep your business so that they never face a threat of losing it. 

Each call from a customer represents an opportunity, to further your position with the customer or go backward. One truth to consider when putting together the customer service philosophy at any business is to remember there is no benefit to the idea that customer service is about maintaining customers. In business, you are either growing or shrinking, but generally you cannot ever hope to stay the same. After all, staying the same means you are losing to the people who are growing--even modestly.

If the phone rings at customer service, you already have what is most likely an incipient disgruntled customer--an embryonic pissed of user, or future flame mail sender, or angry blogger in the making. It should be your mission to convert that call into a [insert your company name here] super fan, Facebook fan, or follower.

It is an opportunity to interface with your customer, one who took the time to call you (before they voted with their wallets and feet). Embrace that opportunity and make it matter, instead of looking at it as a chore.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pretending that what you think is worth reading....

And the question is "What is Blogging?" (either full scale or micro--like twitter).

A friend from college (a Brother of Sigma Pi-Zeta Epsilon Chapter) recently expressed an interest in writing a book. I quickly suggested that he follow-up by looking into CreateSpace.com (tm) an Amazon company that offers Print-on-demand services and marketing support.

I had also looked into Lulu.com and some other PODs but so far am liking the CreateSpace.com the most. But here is the rub, I myself have not attempted to publish anything. So how can I say which I like better. Suffice to say that CreateSpace.com did not frighten me away with it's rules and fee structure.

So now I have to get down to the business of writing. Which this blog was supposed to be a test bed for. Now I need to follow the advice of many other bloggers and authors on how to get this done.

Write everyday and write everyday. Whether or not anybody cares about what you write, you can leave that up to them for a while.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Business Travel and organization

Keeping track of you travel itineraries while on the go can be very complex. Carrying about printouts of hotel confirmations, flight information, transportation requirements and other trip essentials can be downright frustrating and risky. After all, losing those pieces of paper leaves you at the mercy of the hotel, airline, and can put in arrears in a hurry.

Lately I have been using two different business travel tools, WorldMate Live and TripIt.

Each has mobile applications that assist in keeping track of itineraries. Merely email your official itinerary from any number of air carriers, hotels, or travel agents and your itinerary automatically updates. Once the itinerary is loaded you will be able to view your travel plans via the mobile application or any web browser.


From the mobile app you can quickly find:

  • Dates and times of flights and hotels bookings
  • confirmation numbers (as long as they were included in your confirmation letter
  • accommodation names
  • Maps (based on addresses included in confirmations

For the most part they both provide the promised itinerary details, well and serve their need. So it comes down to the other value-adds.

In this I prefer the Worldmate Mobile for its:

  • currency converter (3 currencies simultaneously)
  • world clock (4 cities at a time)
  • weather look-up
  • hotel booking (direct from hotels.com)
TripIt is a little quicker with the loading of new itineraries, and has more social networking plug-ins (if you care), and an online calender that Outlook or other iCal or *.ics feed readers. This means that you automatically get the itinerary added to your Calendaring application. Pretty handy.

Maybe in a few thousand more miles I will have a better read on which is better, but for now they each have their merits, Worldmate on my BB and TripIt on the web.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It really works: Coccoon organizers

It happened again..... sitting in the Skyteam lounge in the "D" and had another person ask about my laptop organizer. In a previous post I had only just purchased the Coccoon Grid-IT organizer and could not necessarily claim all that much experience with it.

Since that post I have 30,000+ more miles on the thing and no less than 25 trips through the scanner belts with not only our TSA but also the ranks of security at many more international airports.  To date nothing gets more appreciative nods for the security personnel and passengers alike than the Grid-IT.

Available in different sizes and configurations you should be able to use it to clean up you D-SLR bag, your laptop case, Game-Boy rig or any other clutter you might have in your life.

My Grit-IT 15 holds:

Try it and you'll like it. If you have any other travel tips let me know. Still have a few more flights before I reach Diamond Medallion this year. For still more shameless commercialism see what other stuff I try to hock.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to Pack you suitcase like a Clown Car

I'll have to give this method a try. Looks like about 2 weeks worth of stuff.

Only issue now is what to do with all the SWAG I have to transport for my colleagues:

  • Tent
  • Running Shoes
  • GPS for bike
  • Ski Hat
  • Gloves
  • Case for DVD drive
all of which was ordered via my Amazon a-Store.

Survival 2000 feet underground

Newsweek (sarah-ball: Amazing. Click to enlarge. ...)

The Story of the Chilean miners trapped for the last few months has brought us many bizarre twists and turns; Stories of the miners wifes and mistresses meeting at the vigil site, the on-going drama of 33 people living in isolation for so long, the outrage that they are not getting the cigarettes they asked for.

In any case the most interesting aspect of the story for me is the relatively straightforward stopgap put into place by the rescue workers to getting these guys as much comfort in their situation as possible all through a hole smaller than a grapefruit. I guess they can have kiwi but not full melons down there.

It's a bit different story than when the media had all but written of any hopes finding the miners let alone a rescue back in August.

Now we get to read about their diet, their psyches, their love lives. Too bad we did not get a crew in there for a Big Brother or Survivor type show going. We could amp up the story by gradually reducing their rations each day and seeing how long it takes to resort to cannabalism...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting ready to get on and off airplanes.... AGAIN

SO, after a whopping two weeks at home, I get to start the cycle of planning for the next two weeks trip to Europe. Thank goodness for "The Oatmeal" and his reality check ...The crap we put up with getting on and off an airplane - The Oatmeal

Thanks to the Oatmeal for this dose of Sanity
Getting ready to travel again and preparing for the round robin of Intercontinental travel. Last month I had to go to Japan and wrapped up my long summer in Europe. Both of those trips were quite a departure from my normal mode of travel (I spent 8 consecutive weeks in Europe and only one week in Japan), now I have to prep for a two week trip.

Pack light or Pack well?
Two weeks is a bit long for a pure no-checked bag trip (unless you have laundry facilities or like wearing hotel sink washed clothes), but nobody likes having to do the whole bag check fiasco. But am I the only person who finds the advice on the "ONE Bag" or "travel with no bags" sites a little over the top? Really, who likes wearing clothes to work that you just washed and dried in the sink last night?

So it seems that even after accumulating 100,000 actual miles this year, I still am not a qualified road warrior. I waste time in baggage claim, and carry too much shit; But then again, THEY smell funny.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why working at home is both awesome and horrible - The Oatmeal

My big  brother, a long time Techni-HO, was recently cut loose from one job and landed another. His new job has offices in "CheezHead-land" while he resides in "West Mittenton". One aspect of his new position is that he is the lone Mittentonian employee and will be working from home.

Matthew Inman (a.k.a. The Oatmeal) recently made another brilliant comic that addresses the situation. Why working at home is both awesome and horrible - The Oatmeal

For my bro, and others in similar positions I offer my advice; culled from a few years of personal failures
  1. Behave just like the home office is still at "THE OFFICE"
  2. Commute 
  3. Keep regular office hours
  4. Leave the home office 
  5. Find an office space

1. Behave just like the home office is still at "THE OFFICE":
Many people are tempted when envisioning the Home Office of the glory of being able to work in ones undershorts. This is IMHO a big mistake. Break from home habits;  Shower, groom, and dress just like you are going to the "Office". Make a mental start to your day by following the exact routine you would if you had to meet with the boss at the main office, avoid falling into lazy patterns that you will have to unlearn later. Additionally, you start the day prepared for that late call to head out to customer site.

2. Commute 
To assist in the break from home habits to work habits give yourself a commute; even if it is only a walk around the block or a short bike ride. Mentally gather yourself for the working day and make a clean break from the home front.

3. Keep regular office hours
Determine when you are on and off the clock and stick to it (at least try). Set expectations among your co-workers for when you are working and when you are not. Follow repeatable and predictable patterns. If you don't like having the Hong Kong Office call you at 7:00 PM then don't send them emails at that time, or call them on the evenings that you are breaking office hours. You are most likely not getting paid for a 24-hour day so don't work one.

4. Leave the home office
Otherwise you will always feel like you are at work and never be able to relax even on holidays and weekends. That is the curse of the home office, you never leave work. Consider setting up an alternative phone line as the "Office line" (get one free from Google if you have to). And have people call you there during office hours; leave the home phone unanswered during business hours and do the same for the business line during off hours. If you make a clear distinction of office time to home time others will follow the lead.

5. Find an office space 
Working from home is no picnic and makes being home less enjoyable sometimes. Make an office space specifically for work; Rent one near home, set up shop in the library or Coffee house, or set aside space in your house ONLY for that purpose. I find it impossible to leave the work behind if my workspace is the Kitchen Counter or the same computer desk I sit at for chatting it up with buds on the Social Net. Likewise, it is hard to get to work in the space you also use for leisure.

Good luck if you are making the move from Cubicle Hell to working from home. But make sure you set yourself up to be successful in both walks of life--by keeping them as separate as possible.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Creativity Malaise?? Time to road trip!

A friend of mine recently shared this observation about his start-up:
the most frustrating part of it: we have difficulty finding time to sit together and "reinvent the world/future" of the company. Probably a lack of oragnization, and certainly too many things to do, which in itself is a good problem to have I must say. (Mathieu, you did sign that disclosure agreement? Didn't you??)
My suggestion. Take a Road Trip, and do it now.


When Mathieu and I worked together, we used to have to drive 4 hours each way to get to customer and prospect demos. On those drives we used to bubble up some of our best ideas, practice our spiel, get good at verbalizing the raw and unformed ideas, and generally have a great time in doing so.

On the way home we would debrief the demo then, fall back into the creative BS line we had on the way out, and try to imagine what we could do next.

So, Mathieu set an appointment (real or imaginary) to call on a prospect about two hours outside of Marseille. On the way out just get the ideas out there, make the sales call (or if you are inventing an imaginary one set your phone to call you shortly after you arrive to have the prospect cancel on you); Then use the ride home to make action items from any ideas you had on the way out.

Might as well make the trip worthwhile.

Sell the problem (borrowed from Seth)

In a recent post Seth Godin suggests that we need to be good as selling the problem (before we can sell the solution).

Getting your clients or prospects on the same page as you, by demonstrating your understanding of their pain, and then suggesting that you have a remedy to that pain is one of the keys to successfully changing them from prospect to customer.
If the customer does not at first recognize the problem or pain the resistance to change is certain to go to infinity. If we do not have a reasonable alternative to the current situation that too sets the resistance to infinity.

Both points Seth is good enough to mention in hist blog. But I would add that we cannot forget to include the ever important W.I.F.M. (what's in-in for ME) and the desire to feel that it was their idea.

Get them on board with the problem, present them with a beneficial alternative, that makes the individual succeed as well as the company and let them THINK it was their idea.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Grade Point, and S.A.T. Scores? REALLY

While trolling about the internet and the number of Social Sites I use: LinkedIn, FaceBook, Buzz I stumbled upon a job listing for Google. Looking for somebody in the Sales Department in Mountain View to do Partner Sales-Technical Account Management.

I followed the link and filled in my first GoogleJobs application/resume/posting. Now I am a little disappointed that I did find that I had to post my G.P.A. which is really quite poor (2.72 I think I actually have long forgotten what my G.P.A. was) and My S.A.T. Scores (I recall that I had an 1100 +/- 50 points), but that was 15 and 22 years ago.

Just how these metrics track to the potential I have to support a company like Google, is well beyond me. In fact, I am quite certain they are well beyond relevancy. The only interesting thing about my grades in University is that I got them, and they let me out anyway; And that since then I have been employed, despite them, and succeeded well beyond what some people would have assumed possible with those types of numbers.

Maybe more important would be the trend (not visible in a single number) of the Grades:

  1. 3.0 freshman
  2. 2.0 sophomore
  3. 1.2 sophomore
  4. 2.2 junior
  5. 2.7 junior
  6. 3.1 senior
  7. 3.2 senior

But then I would have to expose that I was a really poor student at first, then a lost student for a few years, but finished (a miracle on it own) and actually finished strong, once I found my niche--Technical Training and Communication about Technical Content. Oh and yes, that is just under 7 full years to graduate from Michigan Tech (which in my defense has accepted the fact that they are a 5 year school, and that explains at least 1 of the extra years).

What makes good employees after all?
  • Grades? (not good for me)
  • Test Scores? (not great, but not bad)
  • Good looks? (Rats!)
  • Height? (Ouch, that would suck)
  • Ability to survive adversity? (Hey, I used to suck but look at me now!)

I hope that Google, or whoever we try to find work with in the future, will recognize whether or not they are creating for themselves a "quarterback problem" when trying to fill their jobs. At least long enough to get our foot in. At least then the rest is up to us in the present--just how it should be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Specify the Outputs, Not the Inputs | Thought Leadership Leverage

Specify the Outputs, Not the Inputs | Thought Leadership Leverage

When we create outlines for business, engineering, life-hack or any other processes what ratio of time do we spend thinking about the desired outcome when compared to the process steps or procedure?

My guess and subjective recollection is that we tend to get mired down in the details of How-to-do instead of Why-we-do or Where-we-want-to-go.

This question posed by Peter Winick in a recent blog post, stirred for me a recent hornets nest of activity where we have been spending many hour discussing and defining the "beneficial outcomes" that arise when people use our software, and what other beneficial outcomes they might need to complete their job. And funny enough it turns out that our product development has been focused very much on the what and not the why.

Thanks Peter.

Baggage Bonanza: international flights and Codesharing FAIL

If you are taking an international flight on Delta or any other US based Carrier that requires a stopover and change to one of their Code Share partners- BEWARE. The baggage allowance that you think you get on the way their may be different than on the way home.

When booking apparently you must read ALL the SMALL PRINT, regarding their codeshare partners on international flights. For the rules that govern your check-in on the way out, may be differently enforced on the way home. That's right, you fly out with your two bag allowance, or your 70 lbs. per bag, or your total weight allowance and special sporting items; on the way there the desk attendant gladly lets you check-in with the aforementioned bags. BUT on the way home, the "partner" airline handling your check-in informs you that you actually only have one (1) bag allowed, or only 23kg (50 lbs) per bag, or that skis and other sports equipment are extra.

IF you complain to the carrier you will get responses like this:

I apologize for the carry on and checked baggage discrepancies between other airlines. Each airline determines their own allowed allowances and fees. When airlines create working agreements between each other (such as SkyTeam), these agreements do not change or homogenize the baggage allowances.
The easiest way, Mr. Kam, to keep on top of Delta's airline partners' baggage allowances is to go to this link: http://www.delta.com/traveling_checkin/baggage/general_conditions/index.jsp
Scroll down to Airline Partner Notice and click on "codeshare partners." From there click on the "SkyTeam Partners" and scroll to the airline of choice and click on that airline's "baggage policy."
Air France routinely offers four classes of service on its long haul flights, e.g., between Europe the U.S. or other continents such as Africa and South America. In the first class cabins (La Premiere, La Affaires (business), and Premium Voyageur (economy) Air France allows two carry ons up to 40 pounds. In coach (Voyageur) the allowance is one carry on not to exceed 26 pounds (12 kg). KLM on the other hand allows one carry on whether in coach or first class. That airline's distinction is that it's a maximum of 26 pounds in coach and 40 pounds (18 kg) in first class.
Checked baggage is again different. For instance, in first class KLM allows three free bags not to exceed 70 pounds, and in coach one free bag not to exceed 50 pounds (23 kg). In coach the second checked bag is 
$50. Air France, on the other hand, on 'Long Haul' flights permits three free in La Premiere and La Affaires but they cannot exceed 50 pounds each, not the 70 pounds per bag as on KLM or Delta flights. In Air France's Premium Voyageur or Alize classes, the allowance is two free bags, and in Voyageur (economy) it is one bag at 50 pounds. 
Since baggage policies are all over, it is best to check the delta.com website when planning to fly in foreign countries on their national airlines.
Mr. Kam, please accept our apology for the unfavorable impression you have received. Your selection of Delta is appreciated and we consider it a privilege to be of service to you.
Daphne Jensen
Medallion Desk
Suffice to say, I am out $150 dollars for the overweight bag that I clearly would have expected to carry home, since it is the same bag I flew out with. But apparently, Delta feels it is OK to allow me to have the notion that when I fly out with them on a Delta Ticketed flight, that the return home flight (which is also Delta Ticketed) my not allow the same treatment.

So don't learn this lesson the hard way like I did. Make sure that all your legs of the flight are with the SAME CARRIER if you can, or if you find that you will be check-in with one of the "partners" find out what the lowest common denominator rules are, and follow those.

And yes pack lighter if you can--which is hard to do when traveling with 3 women for 6 weeks. All my personal gear fit in a carry-on sized bag and my PC backpack.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now hiring

My employers US operation recently lost two engineers to the "jobless" recovery of the US manufacturing sector. Which leaves me to ask who are they going to find to fill those jobs?

The two engineers each had more than 6 years with the company and were among the first hires made by the current General Manager and Technical manager (back when our team was only 6 people in the US.

They were young (very) and green (straight off the post grad turnip truck). Each having their first real job. Now we are faced with replacing the assets we spent 14 man years developing.

What will they do?

Hire an experienced user? Apparently they have started courting a former customer

Hire a 'noob' to fill their shoes? They tried this when I moved to another team with disastrous results. Had to fire the 'noob' after he didn't fit in one year. This also lead to some of the dismay that puts them in their current shortage.

Hire two bright new shiny kids like we did 6 years ago, and develop new assets and grow from within? That would require faith in the engineers who are left.

Beg my boss to let me help them build up their existing team and break in the 'noob' whether bright and shiny or old and crusty? That would require the humility they lacked 2 years ago when I left and most recently when these nest two went 'native'.

They have forgotten how to obtain, gain, retain talent; while they benefited from atypical stability in their engineering team 10 years + with only two previous departures from a team of 10 applications engineers.

They need to now remember that technical people are not easily replaced and we need to nurture them, and protect our investments greedily. Even when that means spending more, giving greater autonomy, and providing purpose in what they do. They will not be able to just find a replacement for these guys. We will have to build them.
Eric Kam, broadcasting from an undisclosed location via BlackBerry

Thursday, July 1, 2010

engineers: the Cory Doctorow definition

Engineers are all basically high-functioning autistics who have no idea how normal people do stuff.

Art Eastern Standard Tribe
a Novel by Cory Doctorow

 or download for free at:http://craphound.com/est/
Audio book @ http://www.podiobooks.com/title/eastern-standard-tribe

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seth's Blog: The sugar cane machine

A small island grows sugar cane. Many people harvest it, and one guy owns the machine that can process the cane and turn it into juice.

Who wins.....

Another simple but worthy parable from Seth. If in a market that has reached a competitive parity, competing on price or efficiency can only get you so far. At some point the differentiation needs to come from something else. Something the other don't have, don't value, and haven't thought of.

Finding that thing for you and your company will never be easy, since after all, if it was easy to recognize somebody would have already started.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When an oil spill is easier to locate on the map than some of the countries still vying for the Word Cup, then you know your in trouble.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Leadership Equals:....

Simon Sinek posted recently, Re:Focus: The Best Leaders Teach Others To Lead.

In too many places management has replaced leadership as a value. To manage implies that those around you require outside influence to do even the most ordinary and mundane things (i.e. shepherds have to manage their flock. If not the sheep wander off, fall down holes, and get eaten by wolves).

Leadership, implies that the "flock" chooses to follow. Leaders are often selected by the "lead". So when we build a culture around leadership, the leaders as well as the leader should aim to do the right thing and go the right way because it is just that the right way. Leadership, is not a carrot and stick mentality but one where-in the motivation comes from within.

Ideally, the leader inspires the lead to become the next leaders. Managers, never inspire little else but dissent.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Airports have your been too and how do you rate them?

What it's like to own an Apple product - The Oatmeal

What it's like to own an Apple product - The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal once again hits the nail on the head, such a clear lens on the world is the OATMEAL.

alternate reality 1977: we are not time travelers

Cool pics of what it would have looked like if the tech of the current era was inserted into the style of the '70's

mondaydots: Information Gap

Jeff Monday @ mondaydots makes another simple elegant explanation of ideas. This time from the Theory of the Information Gap and how to use it.

In reading "Driven" & "Made to Stick" I stumbled across an incredibly interesting idea. It's called Information Gap Theory. Dr. George Lowenstien wrote a paper about it in 1994 and it works like this: when we come across something new that is not explained by our previous knowledge or experiences, an information gap is formed. If you are a designer, creator or communicator, understanding how to use this gap will have great rewards.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Global roaming = Frustration

using a roaming prepaid sim card has on this trip been absolutely frustrating. I would still like to find a reasonable solution for using a mobile phone in EU without having to pay an arm and a leg, or having to swap phone cards every time I enter a new country.

WorldSim: had promise but it turns out that my sim got messed up. In fact the number assigned to the sim changed twice so far, so that now I can't seem to top it up.

Telestial: this is the service I had the first time and it has so far worked the best. I only tried the worldsim because it was available at the airport store when I landed in Amsterdam

You will want to have an unlocked GSM tri or quad band phone to use one of these cell phone SIM cards.

There are certainly other providers out there which I have not tried yet. But I need to find one solution, soon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seth's Blog: Goodbye to the office

Extracting a few points from his observations

  • How many meetings are important? If you didn't go, what would happen?
  • You can get energy from people other than those in the same company.
  • Of the # people in your office, how many do you collaborate with daily?
Another consideration into the future of the office is:

  • SYNC or ASYNC?

There has long been a push to get everybody in the world to telecommute (I have had much pressure to stop getting onto planes and start working with Telepresence. But, a consistent roadblock to effectively running an organization via telepresence is the effectiveness with which we manage our synchronous and asynchronous working habits.

Synchronous work is that which requires that you and I be working/thinking/discussion simultaneously
Asynchronous work is that which allows that we do or things independently at different times/locations

Logitech ClearChat Wireless USB Headset - Black I have logged enough hours in the Headset to tell you that sitting through "updates" for the web meeting is one of the most painful things in the world. Updating is an ASYNCH activity. I don't need to hear the update the same time as anybody else as long as I hear the same thing.

Discussions, as long as they are two-way channels of communication. Many emails threads of conversation we've had could have been much better if we bothered to make that conversation SYNC. But email is ASYNC. The Feedback mechanism as to whether or not your colleauge is listening or giving you proper attention is not clear.
Logitech 2 MP HD Webcam Pro 9000 with Built-in MicrophoneCameras are good for having telepresence. It is funny how the appearance of somebodies face on the screen makes a difference. They can also make the ASYNC aspects of telecommuting better, as I think if you need to monologue to get your point across you might as well record it to ensure that the body language and facial ticks are present to make sure that your nuance is not lost in the typing of an email, or chat window.

Make use of collobarative tools if you want me tuned in during these SYNC events online. Like Dabbleboard.

Would this help you tell your story more or less effectively during the telephone call or web conference?

Before we can kill the office we need to find what are the activities that really require us to be SYNC'd or ASYNC in our communication. Strip out the ASYNC (and ensure people do their meeting prep) and maximize the SYNC experience. Making sure we can be interactive and collaborative.

How not to solve problems

I wish there was some higher lesson in problem solving I could offer as a moral here, but instead I am stuck between laughing and crying.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Did you read the instructions?

it's not just the instructions that need to be read. Surprisingly computers have this thing called a user interface, which graphically indicates what to do. Many times the buttons have text on them that explains what the button does.

"How do i print?"
"Have you tried the button labeled print?"
"That might work."

SethG: 16 questions for free agents

Seth Grodin's Blog recently post the questions that I had long sought to consider in this blog. But of course since he is Seth and I am not he gets props for saying to more people. I would however like to consider his post:

16 questions for free agents

1. Who are you trying to please?
2. Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?

8. Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?

11. Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask...

15. How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we're on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)
16. What does busy look like?

I wish I had posted it first, but it is a good list.
Check out Seth's Blog or search here for other consulting and free agent suggestions.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the tarmack again

Frequent flier programs are more beneficial for travel companies than business travelers, Christopher Elliott says.

After the longest travel hiatus of the last two years--i am back in the airport awaiting the boarding to Nashville for the SME annual meeting.

Trying to remember why I participate in the Society. Hopefully I am able to recharge my batteries in regards to the professional society. Lately, it has been a drain on my time, my creativity, and patience as fewer people actually seem to be actively participating.

In any case, plugged in and tuning out.
Panasonic RP-HC55-S Noise-Cancelling Earbud Headphones (Silver)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What motivates employees?

RSA animates video, discussing motivation

Around 6:00 into it runs into some very valuable example of how a software company increased motivation and spurred innovation.
Autonomy day = 24 hours of free reign for the developers to work on whatever their little hearts desired, so long as they shared what they worked on during that period in a special meeting at the end of the 24 hours.

Result??? New ideas, fixes to old ideas, high  performance.

Lesson, Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose.
Great video. Now i need to figure out how to put it into action.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is it for Real?

Apparently Honda is reinventing the wheel.

Honda U3-X Personal Mobility Device

Some of the video footage looks staged, but it could be real.

If this is for real it will be the ultimate geek toy for the next few years. Even better than "it" when the Segway came out. Trippy. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Delta: WTF?

Every travelers down day: Getting their reservations hosed up when the agent at the check-in F***s up.

Thank you Delta Airlines check-in staff at Detroit Wayne International Airport McNamara terminal for messing up my travel arrangements that I had made MONTHS in advance. First off, even if when I check in you see a duplicate record for the same flight, same seat, same day .... don't try to clean things up by deleting one of the entries. You'll leave me in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport again not knowing if I have a flight anymore. Since you essentially deleted me off the plane.

Next, why bother having twitter if you don't check your @delta or @deltaairlines tags/replies/mentions. After all i was stuck in the airport due to your foul-up.

Finally, thank your partners at KLM and the kind staff at the desk who did help me get on the plane. With a business upgrade.

And please whatever you do, don't forget to credit me my miles for that flight. I don't want to have to recall any part of that trip.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What's in your Bag?

Again having to think about everything that is packed into my laptop case. Do I need all this stuff, why can't I just carry the laptop and power adapter in one of those "cutesy" little sleeves?


That's all i can inventory now, gotta go and unpack it for security.

Laptop life: Clutter

In the Airport again lamenting the fact that I am not one of those people who can survive with only one of those very slim notebook computers, and the power supply. I carry around such a pile of accessories that I just don't understand how some people get along with only one of those neoprene sleeves.

Inevitably I end up having to unpack all the cords, adapters, accessories and other swag at the x-ray belt and end up looking much less like the seasoned traveler I imagine myself to be.

Now I found this wonderful invention. It has elastic loops that are stretched over  the rectangular body. It comes in a variety of sizes to accommodate various laptop cases or other bags.

You use it to take all you cord clutter and accessories that end up floating all over your bag, or collect at the bottom and band it into place.

For the weary traveler with a laptop this means no more over stuffing the few accessory pockets in your case , or leaving to chance the packing of all the cords. Give it a whirl.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dabbleboard: collaboration tool

I just stumbled upon Dabbleboard and I am immediately blown away

This could be one of the neatest things i have seen on the Cloud yet.

The embedded drawing in this link, is fully editable by guests, sharable but wholly unique. I can save it, store it locally, and distribute it. Just like you see here. Can lock it down as view only, or let others like you draw on it.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Re:Focus-- Don't Let The Price Get In The Way

Re:Focus: Don't Let The Price Get In The Way @simonsenik
Makes a good point on the biggest pain in sales, which is dealing with the price question.

However, his dodges to try to postpone the question still seem to be dodges of the direct question.

Would it be better to re:focus on the "Why" and put it back to them with a response like "Less than you risk by not using _____, Buying ________, Hiring ________." Then move the conversation back to Values and the why.

After all they will buy what they believe in, at perhaps a higher cost than you might give them credit for.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Creeping Determinism

Listening to What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by M. Gladwell and just got the part where he discusses the concept of creeping determinism, where he highlights the pitfalls of the many post-mortem analyses that people do of well documented outcomes and the way people seemingly fail to "Connect-the-dots".

Gets me thinking about how we spend mountains of time and effort dissecting computer simulations and analyses and models after the fact and point fingers at what people did not see. But we rarely talk about the other things that were in the view as well. The mountains of other data and circumstances, and boundary conditions of the day we first do the analysis and interpretation.

Brilliant stuff.... but it hurts my brain a little.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Traveling Teddy bears: Send your stuffed best friend to Europe

Want to give your loved one a special gift--a trip to Europe, sightseeing in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, or Spain--but your budget is more in line with a nice bouquet dinner out or something much smaller. How about this send your loved ones a special friend who will send them correspondence from  overseas, daily MMS, e-mails, and a photo-blog of a soon to be new best (stuffed) friend who will soon return home to them?

Following the lead of World-traveling blogger StringGirl and the "Toy Traveling" travel agency in the Czech Rep. Techni-Ho is proud to offer similar world traveling trips for you and your special "friends". Upcoming trips and tours include Switzerland (Zurich, the Alps), Italy (Torino, Milan, Florence?), Spain (Barcelona), and Germany (Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich).  Future trips could include Tokyo, Seoul, Hydrabad.

Contact StringGirl via her blog at http://stringgirl.blogspot.com to find out more.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Complaining in the public forum: At least do it well

In today's iCommunity where everybody is fewer than 6 degrees of separation from anybody else, why would we post something that could come back to haunt you.

Todays example: Nasty ill informed e-mails bouncing around the PTO

Turns out there is an email campaign in my district where a disgruntled family is trying to get people on board some Quixotic mission to teach either the school or the lunch vendor a lesson; under the heading of "school is starving it's students". You see, the lunch vendor for the district has a policy that if the students account is more than $5 in the negative, the kid does not get lunch. But will instead get a bowl of cereal, milk, and fruit "du jour".

The kid showed up for lunch, repeatedly with his/her account in the negative, and on this latest trip the child was sent to the office to call home to let the parents know of the issue (courtesy not policy). This apparently incensed the family, who has recently been emailing all the members of the PTO board, every teacher in the school, the principal, members of staff of neighboring schools, other districts, and claims that he will notify the press.

Over what?

  • you don't pay your bills?
  • you did not prepare your kid for school?
  • your kid does not like having cereal? (actually the kid has tree nut allergies so cereal is off limits. Hello, if you child has bad food allergies PACK YOUR OWN LUNCH)
  • the school cannot effect policy with its vendors?
  • you don't take care of your own kids? (yes, that is a second mention)
In case anybody is considering slamming me for not caring about underprivileged kids getting their lunch. NOT THE CASE. Our district fully takes care of those who are in the Gov't Lunch program separately. No this is for the "cake eaters" who can't remember to send in the 2.50 per lunch per kid per day.

Please stop emailing me to prove you are stupid. Please stop CC and reply all, please don't forward me the message. I don't really care. But I do care that you are trying to make your problem, my problem.

p.s. there are only so many days in school. Figure out how many days, figure out how many lunches, and pay in advance. Really difficult. If you spent half as much brain power on solving the problem as complaining, you'll have not problems.

p.p.s. part of me hopes he does get it on facebook or some other forum as they had threatened. A good forum spanking would be very much worth it.