Monday, November 27, 2006

Decision-making, daily discipline and failure

I’m kind of an on-again/off-again John Maxwell fan, but this article makes a pretty powerful statement:

Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure…Successful people make the right decisions early and manage them daily.

Maxwell goes on to say some really powerful things that link decision-making with daily discipline.  Good stuff.  Someone wise once told me that a good decision made now is often better than a great decision made too late.

via Jason Womack


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Airport Wi-fi: now with international airport list

US airport wi-fi directories have been circulating for a while but the folks at TravelPost have put together a set of pretty detailed wi-fi guides for airports, domestic & international, and US hotels.  For example, I fly through Vienna most frequently and the guide tells me that at VIE I can expect:





I knew there was wi-fi at a couple of restaurants around (you can tell by the squatters sitting around outside hunched over their laptops) but I didn’t have the semi-official skinny.

via WebWorkerDaily

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Portable Apps + USB Drive = Portable desktop

For my last anniversary my wife gave me a great gift, a 1GB USB drive.  The question is, what do you do with all that space?  A while back Lifehacker had a great round up of portable applications that fit on a USB drive and don’t have to be installed onto the host computer.  I put most of the recommended apps on my USB drive before I went on a 6–week speaking tour this fall.  Plugging my USB drive into any computer and loading up my own version of Firefox, complete with extensions, bookmarks, cookies and, yes, passwords was a breeze (note: be very, very careful about your passowords on a portable device).

A couple of days ago released the Portable Apps Suite 1.0

The PortableApps Suite is available in multiple Editions for drives of every size. The Standard Edition includes the menu, backup and icons mentioned above as well as ClamWin Portable (antivirus), Firefox Portable (web browser), Gaim Portable (instant messaging), Portable (office suite), Sudoku Portable (puzzle game), Sunbird Portable (calendar/task manager) and Thunderbird Portable (email client) and runs comfortably from a 512MB drive. The Lite Edition uses AbiWord Portable (word processor) instead of Portable and runs comfortably from a 256MB drive.

If you travel much at all, and use someone else's computer a fair bit then these portable applications are the way to go.  While not part of the Portable Apps Suite, Skype is one of my favorite apps to take portable.  Find the instructions here.

via Lifehacker


Thursday, November 16, 2006

No sooner do you need something...collabrative web annotating

For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to get a “place keeping” website up for our work in Kosovo.  We had a really gifted young lady design the site for us, but getting it edited out in two languages has been really challenging.  I had been thinking that it would be great to have the ability to discuss the site with my colleagues back in Kosovo.

Then this evening, as I’m reading through my feeds, I come across this from TechCrunch.  “This” is Fleck, a new service that allows people to comment, annotate and collaborate on a website.  That is, people can view, change and add notes at any time to any website.  TechCrunch’s Marshall Kirkpatrick gives us an example of comments he made on the top a TechCrunch article here, but I also made a screen capture of the image:













This is pretty slick stuff.  Fleck is still in beta, and it currently only supports Firefox, but IE support will arrive later this year.  The tool bar at the bottom gives you options to insert notes, bulleted items and other collaboration options.

I’m always looking for tools that will allow geographically dispersed team members to collaborate on projects and this is definitely going in the tool box.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Skype 3.0 beta released...distance-learning platform anyone?

The folks at Skype have released 3.0 beta.  There are some neat new features here, but nothing earth-shattering.  But that’s not to say it’s not worth looking at and upgrading when the code goes gold.  The majority of the upgrade is in interface improvements and bug fixes.

On the other hand, there is something interesting here for missionary folks.  By clicking on the “Live” tab you’re taken to an interface for “Skypecasts” which are being billed as “live public conversations.”










You can click to enter any of the available “Skypecasts” and just listen, or interact if you chose.  There isn’t really anything earth shattering about this; other programs have offered “party line” feature for years.  I don’t believe, however, that they’ve had Skype’s quality and installed user base.

Because of Skype’s ubiquity this function could readily lend itself to distance learning.  This caught my eye after reading Integrating Technology in Leadership Training by Donald Sommer Evangelical Missions Quarterly.  Sommer profiles some of the technology being used in the missions field to facilitate distance learning given the decreasing costs of communication and the increasing availability of computers and “internet cafes” around the world.  While entry into a Skypecast cannot be password protected, you can mute or eject unwanted participants.  Skypecasts are currently voice-only and there doesn’t yet appear to be file-sending functionality.  If both were added before the beta goes gold, however, Skype might make a pretty sweet.  Add something like Talk & Write , a free Skype “extra” and you’ve got a pretty powerful conferencing platform.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hold your critics close: lessons to be learned from the "secular" work-place

While this is primarily a geek-ish blog, but I also like to write about productivity, management and work-place dynamics.  Today I was struck by something Robert Scoble wroteScoble used to work for Microsoft and was one of the most influential bloggers there.  He has also had a profound effect on the “blogosphere” around the world, co-writing a great book called “Naked Conversation” with Shel Israel and about which I wrote here and here.  More recently Scoble has gone to work for Podtech Network where he is vice-president of Media Development.

Scoble was writing about a new hire at Podtech, Chris Coulter, a long-time contrarian of Scoble.  People have reacted to that so he articulates his reasons.  The reason that really caught my eye was the fourth:

Fourth, if I’m going to grow as a manager and as a leader I need people I work with who see the world differently than I do. Translation: who can tell me I’m full of it. Why is that important? Well, beyond keeping the ego under check, it’s where great ideas come from…. Having diverse ideas on a team is important and brings better ideas.

Man.  I don’t know Robert Scoble at all, but I sure appreciate this kind of self-understanding.  Obviously this looks great on paper and will probably be occasionally painful to live with.  You have to really court honesty and forthrightness for that to come off well.  Not all leaders can handle that degree of feedback. 

I’d like to be one of them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Smart phone guide

I just spend a weekend with a bunch of a guys at a faith-based retreat; several of whom had smartphones.  The Two of the guys in our small group had the Motorola Q, with which I wasn’t familiar.  When I got home this afternoon and checked my feeds I found CrunchGear had just come out with a first time buyer’s guide to smartphones.  If you’re interested in taking the plunge this might be a decent place to start.  Oh, and don’t miss CrunchGear’s “10 things I hate about smart phones….it may change your mind.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cell-phone minute minder

From time to time we’ve all wondered how many minutes we’ve used our cell-phones.  Whether its raw telephone minutes or SMS messages, time flies when you’re communicating with people.  Lifehacker points to some Firefox extensions that helps keep track of minutes for T-mobile, Verizon and Cingular users.

A glimpse of the 'new normal'

James Kendrik has a great post “a day in the life” post about his Ultra-Mobile PC, the Q1.  He uses a Samsung Q1 as his normal, take-to-work computer, even though its only about a half a sheet of paper big and 1.7 pounds.  James is a consulting geophysicist who works for some big oil companies in Houston.  His clients are pretty big-dollar people and his schedule, after reading him for a couple of years, seems pretty full.

What strikes me about this is how normal all this will appear in a couple of years.  One should be able to fit all their data and work material into something the size of a paper-back book.

If you’re interested in how appealing all of this might be, give James a read.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Skrybe goes beta

Earlier this week I wrote about Skrybe, yet another on-line calendar options that also offers off-line editing.  Last night they went beta, which means that some people will be invited to participate.  TechCrunch has more.