Thursday, August 17, 2006

Getting Things Done...various tools

I’m a big fan of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done,” which is a powerful time-management/productivity methodology.  This week Jason Clark from the Downloadsquad writes a two-part article on GTD.  Specifically, he compares using Microsoft Outlook versus web-based products as your “organizer”  Both posts are worth the read if you’re into GTD.

Part One

Part Two

In summary, Jason like the online options, citing the strength of having your “stuff” anywhere you might want it.  It’s also pretty robust, can’t be stolen, etc. The downside, and this is the killer for me and most missionaries I know, is how reliant on internet connectivity it is.  Until the whole world has broadband, and that will be a looonngg time, no web-based anything is going to be very useful.

Color-code your folders

Like you I have a lot of folders under My Documents.  Sometimes it takes me several moments to find the one I’m looking for which irritates me and wastes time.

Yesterday Lifehacker had a post on how to color-sorting your folders by color.  The little application, Folder Marker lets you:

….change folder icon (mark folders) by priority (high, normal, low), level of project completeness (done, half-done, planned) and type of information stored in them (work, important, temp and private files).

I downloaded it and tried it out.  But while looking at the Lifehacker comments I found a little application that I like better.  Try out icolorfolder for a great way to add color to your folders.  It’s a great way to make that commonly used folder pop out visually, helping you find it just a little bit quicker.  Once installed, simply righ-click on the folder you want and select the color you’re looking for.



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where is that old command in Office 2007?

Microsoft is trying hard to make sure people can successfully navigate from older versions of Office to the new Office 2007.  Personally, the new version is so much more intuitive that I don’t think people are going to have too much trouble.  BUT, if you’re worried that you’ll get lost in the new “ribbon” interface, here is hope. 

The interactive screen takes allows you to navigate through a Word (or whatever) system of menus to find your old favorite command.  When you’ve drilled down and found it, it pops up the new Office 2007 interface to show you how to find the old command.  Neat.

Here are the links:

via Marc Orchant

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Incompetence really hurts

For some reason I’ve gotten hooked on this crazy Manager-Tools podcast.  I’m not a manager, I’ve never been a manager in the technical sense of the word.  But these two guys are always putting out interesting stuff that from which I learn a lot.

A couple of weeks ago Mark Horsman briefly posted on Incompetence and an article from the Harvard Business Review.  The key findings?

Incompetence is far more pernicious than we realize. “Incompetent people don’t perform up to speed, don’t recognize their lack of competence, and don’t recognize the competence of others.”

It’s the last two statements of the drop quote that are most troubling.  Incompetence people don’t recognize that they are incompetent…and guess what, they can’t tell whether you’re competent or not either! 

I’m fortunate to work with a lot of very, very highly competent people in my organization and in my immediate team.  There isn’t a dud among them.  But articles like this, and the research a paper here always make me wonder how we handle competence and management in Christian circles.  We trust God a lot, and we trust that the Holy Spirit will straighten people out.  Fortunately God is really, really good, but maybe we’re missing some things. 


Voice Recognition in Vista shaing up nicely

Ever since Captain Kirk started talking to the "ship's computer"  voice recognition has kind of been a  "holy grail among computer users.  The ability to either dictate, or  better yet, command a computer using the human voice has had a very high "gee whiz" factor, to say nothing of productivity enhancement.
Windows Vista is delivering some really significant advancements to "voice reco," especially the ability to give the computer real world commands.  You have to check out this awesome video demonstration by Long Zheng if you're even remotely interested.  Microsoft has done some great work helping the computer do precisely what you're asking.  Long has an Australian accent and Vista rarely hesitates.

Hat tip to

Friday, August 11, 2006

Review: Picasaweb vs. Flickr

Adam Scheinberg has written a great little review/overview of Flickr and Picasa Web Albums.  I’m been messing around with Flickr for some time now, and fiddled a little with Picasa Web. 

I’ve been using the Picasa desktop version for quite a while to sort all my pictures and I’m pretty happy with it.  The biggest issue that I have with it is that you can only give a photo one tag, or “label” in Picasa parlance.  That’s a real bummer when a picture fits into multiple categories.

For instance, when we go on vacation and my wife takes some great pictures of the kids, I would tag those photos with “kids,” “vacation” and “family” in Flickr.  With Picasa (both the desktop and web versions) I have to choose one label to which the picture will belong.

For my money (and both services are free) I’ll stay with Flickr for my photo-sharing needs.

via downloadsquad

Windows Updates: Now in bulk

Reinstalling windows is a pain regardless of where you live.  It is a particular hassle if you live in a low-bandwidth place, like many missionaries I know.  Downloading endless numbers of small security patches takes forever…or is simply impossible.  I’ve often wished I could easily download one large file that I could archive on a CD for future updates, redistribution to other missionaries, etc.

According to Ed Bott, Microsoft quietly began doing this earlier in the year.

Microsoft has been doing this since the beginning of this year, apparently, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it. Security patches for August 2006 are now available as Bulk Updates in ISO-9660 CD image format. The files can be burned onto blank CDs, used on multiple machines, and archived.

This is good news for people who prefer to do updates manually. No more downloading a dozen or so individual patch files and then saving each one. Just make sure you get the right CD image(s). One is for Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003; another is for Windows XP; and a third is for IE.

If you want to go back and get earlier releases, try this page, which lists all updates in ISO image format since January 2006.

If I were an IT-minded missions administrator I would seriously consider downloading these, burning them on CD’s and distributing them to my personnel.  It would save the guy in the field a huge amount of time.

via Ed Bott

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why we don't do what we know we should.