Another view on the story that someone sent me.

IMG_1647My friend Lee left me this comment on one of my posts (you know the one with a story of a professor who talks about the things that fit into a jar):

Nice message. It’s only too easy (maybe more so for men) to have only 2 contents in the jar, pebbles and sand. Instead of golf balls I may fill my jar with only a few tennis balls as any free time is spent with my immediate close family, I need to make an effort to visit my parents, brother and sister, and further extended family. People I sometimes come across in my work life make me forget that I actually work to live and don’t live to work!

Lee and I work in the same organisation so I am going to avoid talking about specific people, but how true he is. Work is about work for so many people, they are focussed on work and little else. But I believe that there is so more to life than that. I have been trying to formulate my thoughts over a few posts, these are all under the “My Time” category.

It's blog clear out day

IMG_1595I’ve decided that it’s blog clear out day. I have been inspired by a number of posts by people talking about procrastination and information overload.

So I have decided to go through the list of blogs I subscribe to and weed them out. There are a load that I have in my list because they once wrote something I was interested in, but have now fallen into ones that I scan over. The primary reason for this is that they are new regurgitator, they don’t add anything to it. If I want ‘news’ I’ll go to the feeds from The Register or the BBC and look (because I like them), what I want is intelligent comment. But there are other reasons, some peoples comments aren’t worth looking at. There are also a number which haven’t been updated for a while.

Some examples for you:

  • Computerworld Feeds – there are a load of well broken down feeds but for the last few weeks all they have given is the SAME information and that’s been from partners trying to sell me stuff.
  • IT-Director.com Feeds – most of the feeds don’t tell me anything new.
  • Windows IT Pro magazine – again more news, but also loads of information that I’m not that interested in anymore because it’s at the detail level.
  • ZDNet UK – of and more news. You’d hope that the ones that are marked ‘comment’ would be commentary but I’m afraid from my perspective they aren’t.
  • Spiderwebwoman – again, I’m sorry but it isn’t commentary or added value, it’s more news.

The one I am leaving in there for now, but it’s under review is Scobles link blog. I still have a bit of the ‘what if I miss something’ in me.

There are also a number of blogs which have ended, can I please have a ‘clean up dead blogs’ option in NewsGator.

What makes you look at something in a different way

Tree on Fernyhalgh LaneI have walked past this tree hundreds of times in the past. It’s on a route I regularly use in morning to get me up and about. I sometimes take a camera with me while walking about and this morning I saw this tree and something attracted me to it.

It always amazes me that we can see the same things in nature every day, but in many mays these things are different every day. The light is never quite the same, the season is never quite the same, the growth is never quite the same.

It’s just an ordinary tree in an ordinary little wood, but this morning is said to me.

“Do you know, I’ve been here on this earth longer than you have. I was here before any of these houses were here. I was here before this road had tarmac on it. I may still be here after you have gone. You humans you run around and strive and build and break. But if you will just sit back and rest in God, He will provide for you.”

The Bible (Message) says:

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” Matthew 26

How much we have to learn. I need to make sure I include this in my thoughts for connecting with the purposes of God.

Working for Others

IMG_1503

As part of studies in to my mission statement I recently listened to a sermon from Knox County Vineyard in which the Pastor references studies about happiness during retirement for people who volunteer.

It’s one of my objectives to “Devoting my time to the service of others and in so doing discover God’s purposes for the Cross of Jesus Christ”. I’ve not set myself this objective in order to get a happy retirement, I have set it because I believe that it is the call of the Christian to serve others. But it’s interesting to note that God honours those who connect with His purposes (even if they don’t know they are).

Is market consolidation a good thing…

Another mega deal is announced, this time between Adobe and Macromedia. Is that a good thing I wonder? The IT market likes these big mergers, but they never seem, from my perspective, to work out that well.

  • Compaq buy Digital – remember that, not the best story for Compaq so much so that:
  • HP buy Compaq – umm, and that wasn’t so great for HP.
  • IBM buy Lotus – where are their productivity tools now and even Notes is withering.
  • Novell buy WordPerfect – and a disaster ensues. Novell are fortunate to survive.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are loads of examples of large companies buying smaller companies that do work.

  • Microsoft buy Visio – Visio becomes the standard business diagramming tool.
  • Cisco buy all sorts of companies – and the small companies product becomes the standard.
  • CA keeps going by buying something – anything.

Recently we have the purchase of Veritas by Symatec – we’ll see, I reserve judgement on that one. And now Adobe and Macromedia. They may be in ‘similar’ fields and overlapping fields but are they in the same business, are they really the ones in a position to take on Microsoft. I’m not sure that the way to take on Microsoft is via one big company. I would take them on with lots of little companies. A bit more like gorilla warfare rather than power warfare. What is more likely to happen is that Adobe slow up Macromedia so that Microsoft will find it easier to catch up.

Office Efficiency

One of my ‘other’ jobs is to help a volunteer organisation in their use of IT. This organisation is only small and consists of six members of staff. My daytime job is to help large corporate to get the most out of their IT investments.

Both of these jobs give me an interesting insight into the ways that people interact with IT. One of them is all about detail, the other is all about high level big picture. On a personal level I tend to use one as a counter-balance to the other.

Large corporation try to increase office efficiency by investing huge amounts of money in large projects. These projects tend to focus on a radical change across a whole corporate base; new email system, desktop refresh, application upgrade, new application. In most instances the training for these changes focuses on the way that the change works; this is the way that you send email in this new system; this is the way that you schedule meetings; etc.

In my work with the volunteer organisation I have realised how diverse the use of IT is in the day to day things. There are now many different routes to achieve the same thing. In Windows (for instance) think of the different ways that you could open an existing Word document; you can use the folder views via something like ‘My Documents’; you can open up Word and do a File-Open command. Previously people would try to assess the efficiency of these types of operations by looking at the number of steps that needed to be undertaken; the one with the least steps being the most efficient. While in theory this is correct, I have come to the realisation that actually the one which is the most efficient is the one which works best for the individual. The biggest efficiency problem these days is not the time it takes for the computer to undertake an operation, it’s the time it take the individual to map out in their head the operations. And the pictures and maps that people use to do this are not linear ABC type maps, they are more like mind maps.

The only truly inefficient thing is the task map that someone has in their head which takes them on a route around the task, rather than getting straight to the task. So the challenge for corporate training is to find these inefficient tasks and routes and assist people in finding a new route. This type of education and learning is radically different to the way that we educate people today. Firstly, we need to make people realise that their productivity is their responsibility and not the responsibility of IT. But that is a difficult one to sell to some people. We then, also, need ways of understanding the ways that people are using their IT. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say “I notice from our logs of the system that you keep going to your “My Documents area by first opening My Computer” did you know that you can get there quicker by doing this.”

That type of logging is clearly not available today, all we get are ‘event logs’ which tells us about problems and issues, but tell us nothing of the way that people are working.