Archive for the 'Personal' Category

RIP Robert Müller

Robert Müller ist tot.

Ein langer Kampf, über die Verlängerung hinaus ist zu Ende. Freund Hein hat im Penalty doch gewonnen. Schade.

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Multitasking

is the fastest way to mediocricity. Says Jason Fried of 37signals.

I feel the same at the moment. But, after all, I am in a transition from my old job into the new position and have not yet been able to had over much of the old tasks.

Could be out of my mouth, after all (sorry for the fullquote):

I’ve been buried under a lot of work lately. I don’t know what happened, but in the last 10 days or so I feel like I’m working three jobs. Paperwork, administration work, design work, vision work, writing work, misc. work.

My desk is a mess. My desktop is full of icons. My inbox is overflowing. I have a list of people to get in touch with. I have what feels like a hundred decisions to make.

I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. And the primary observation that comes out of all this is that multitasking is the fastest way to mediocrity. Things suck when you don’t give them your full attention.

I’m not thrilled with the work I’ve been doing lately.

This isn’t a breakthrough, it’s just a reminder. If you want to do great work, focus on one thing at a time. Finish it and move on to the next thing. It means some things aren’t going to get done as fast as some people may want. It means some people aren’t going to get your full attention for a while. But doing a bunch of crappy work, or making a bunch of poorly considered decisions just to get through the pile isn’t worth it.

Guides to better presentations

I have mentioned a few times (and have him in the blogroll) the blog of Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen.

He is incredibly inspiring, especially when pointing to (and analyzing) presentations. If you haven´t yet, go and read his latest book:

For me, this was an eye-opener. Too bad, the present company template for presentations we have to use does facilitate better presentations only to a limited extent.

Another good book that might help in creating better presentations (and that is not bashing the tool for what the users do with it) is Clear and to the Point.

Stephen Kosslyn presents 8 psychological principles that you should apply in order to make your presentations better. Though Powerpoint is mentioned on the title, this applies to all presentation programs.

The 8 principles:

  • How do I connect with my audience?
    • The Principle of Relevance
    • The Principle of Appropriate Knowledge
  • How can I direct and hold attention?
    • The Principle of Salience
    • The Principle of Discriminability
    • The Principle of Perceptual Organisation
  • How can I promote understanding and memory?
    • The Principle of Compatibility
    • The Principle of Informative Changes
    • The Principle of Capacity Limitations

Also recommended to read, albeit not as inspiring as Garr´s book.

Ross Brown gives feedback to a presentation he has received that did apparently not followed the hints and guidelines from either one of the experts above (via):

Your ransom-note-like use of multiple fonts and sizes on each slide led us, the viewers, to identify not with the content but with the feeling of being trapped and held hostage, our freedom being contingent on our ability to appear to understand your many indecipherable charts and graphs. With this quick nod to Stockholm syndrome, we began to feel for you as our captor and, eventually, as our fellow prisoner.

Beware of such presentations!

Varia

The Scoverity Scan Open Source Report 2008. Here.

Mythbuntu – a Ubuntu based home entertainment addon .

And the XBMC Media Center, which is multi platform. Anyone having experiences?

The Sopranos, uncensored. Consider yourself warned.

Overview of WebOS. From Palm for the new Pre. Interesting Stuff.

The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan – Open Funding. Hard Rules, but hey, if you want some of his money, you have to play according to his rules. (via)

Jakob Nielsen: Macintosh: 25 Years. Love this quote:

During its first decade, the Mac offered clearly superior usability compared to competing personal computer platforms (DOS, Windows, OS/2). Not until Windows 95 did the PC start to approximate Mac-level usability.

Despite this Mac advantage, PCs have sold vastly better in every single year since 1984, and the Mac has yet to exceed a single-digit market share.

The Mac’s miserable marketplace performance seems to pose a strong argument against usability. Why bother, if it doesn’t sell?

The counter-argument is that usability is the only reason Mac survived.

Programming Sucks! Or at least, it ought to. From Alex Papdimoulis of the Daily WTF. Lots of truth in that piece. Developers, developers, developers!

A brief summary of GTD. Shit, I am still not disciplined enough.

Coding Horror: The Ferengi Programmer. Who has not seen at least one from that tribe? And: The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. Love this one:

#208: Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.

NerdGuru Pete Johnson: The Software Sales Pitch – Choosing Wisely

It’s a common tale:  Some business need arises for capability your IT department doesn’t currently offer but there are multiple commercial alternatives available and maybe even an open source solution that can help you fill your gap.  Then again, you could always write the thing yourself.
Build? Buy? Both?

A cheat-sheet for WordPress. Worth a look if you haven´t one already.

That´s for now. More maybe tomorrow. Potential topics: Cloud Computing, Better Presentations, Microblogging and Social Networks.

Sunday Mix

Sorry, been too busy in the last weeks. Will see if I can improve on posting frequency, too many things pile up. But here we go:

New York Times (registration required): Meetings Are a Matter of Precious Time True, so true.

Waferbaby asks people “What do people use to get the job done?” Insights from John Gruber (daringfireball.net), Alex Payne (Twitter) and others. Interesting.

Dare Obasanjo discusses an important difference: Platform as a Service vs. Utility Computing.

  1. Utility Computing: In this approach, a vendor provides access to virtual server instances where each instance runs a traditional server operating system such as Linux or Windows Server. Computation and storage resources are metered and the customer can “scale infinitely” by simply creating new server instances. The most popular example of this approach is Amazon EC2.
  2. Platform as a Service: In this approach, a vendor abstracts away the notion of accessing traditional LAMP or WISC stacks from their customers and instead provides an environment for running programs written using a particular platform. In addition, data storage is provided via a custom storage layer and API instead of traditional relational database access. The most popular example of this approach is Google App Engine.

His conclusion:

As it stands today  platform as a service offerings currently do not satisfy the needs of people who have existing apps that want to “port them to the cloud”. Instead this looks like it will remain the domain of utility computing services which just give you a VM and the ability to run any software you damn well please on the your operating system of choice.

However for brand new product development the restrictions of platform as a service offerings seem attractive given the ability to “scale infinitely” without having to get your hands dirty. Developers on platform as a service offerings don’t have to worry about database management and the ensuing complexitiies like sharding, replication and database tuning.

An important distinction if you ask me and a clear crossroad if you want to go into cloud services.

If you want (or have) to enable a web-application with offline-capabilities, Google Gears is often the tool of choice. Eduard Martini gives some good insight on O´Reilly InsideRIA: Google Gears—A Great Tool to Enhance Web Applications. Recommended.

Jeremiah Owyang, Senior Analyst at Forrester gives a great overview of the Social Network Industry on his private blog:  Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Jan 21, 2009

And Nicole Simon explains why LinkedIn will fail in the german market: Linkedin taking the traditional approach in Germany and why that will fail (as usual)

Most of the time, they just make a translation and try to tell everybody how awesome they are everywhere else, as if this is enough.

Jason Scott: Fuck the cloud:

So please, take my advice, as I go into other concentrated endeavors. Fuck the Cloud. Fuck it right in the ear. Trust it like you would trust a guy pulling up in a van offering a sweet deal on electronics. Maybe you’ll make out, maybe you won’t. But he ain’t necessarily going to be there tomorrow.

Yeah, you should know where to place your bets. And backup is not for the fainthearted only, also real men do backups (off the cloud, in this context).

Dare´s take: Asking “should we trust the cloud” is like asking “should we trust horseless carriages”

We all love HAL, our friend from 2001: A Space Odyssey from Stanley Kubrick. Find the HAL project here.

Looks like the new POTUS is not hesitant to use juicy languange. Find some examples here, from an audiobook that he read in. (via)

Whoever wanted to know how David Allen gets things done, here a movie on Youtube (via):

Tabbloid. Converting personal feeds into a personalized magazine. Free. From HP. Not tested yet, though.

From the TPI blog: Quick Savings AND Minimal Operations Risk? Try Facilities Management Outsourcing

TPI has also a german blog now, from the office in Frankfurt.

Garr is great to find (and comment on) extraordinary presentations. This time:  Bill Gates at TED 09: How do you make a teacher great?

TED is the best and most inspiring conference series in the world, if you ask me. Fantastic speakers, great presentations. Awesome.

Tim Ferris explains how to learn any language in three months. Interesting approach to attack the challenge.

Year wrap-up

2008 is coming to an end. Time for a brief wrap-up.

I have been on business travel for almost 100 days this year, staying over 60 days in hotels. Been to a quite few countries this year, a lot to Norway (no surprise), but also to the USA, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium and the UK.

And next year will be a as well a busy year with difficult economic conditions in our industry.

From Jan 1st, I will take over as acting Head of Infrastructure Services in Information Systems and report to the CIO in Norsk Hydro. This promotion from my current position came quite as a surprise before Christmas. I am thankful for the opportunity given and the trust that my bosses have put in me throughout the last year.

But the biggest thanks this year go again to my wife and my two girls that support me all the time, whether I am at home or traveling. Without their love and support, even when we face difficult situations, this would not be possible.

Blogging will resume in January, but I cannot promise that the frequency will increase over what you have seen this year. But anyway, if it´s interesting for you, stop by and share your reflections. That´s what makes it interesting, communication is no one-way street.

Having said that, all the best for the New Year, take care and see you on the other side!

Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference

in Oslo, this week. By coincidence, I am staying in the same hotel as a lot of the delegates.

And when meeting the delegates in the hotel, you see the pride in their faces to be part of this important step forward.

What still makes me wonder, why countries like the USA, Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan are not willing to join this convention – at least not at this point. History has shown that using Cluster Munition most of the harm comes over the civilians living in there area where the munition deployed. Hard to see the benefits towards military targets. And, looking at the global threat picture as again confirmed a few days ago in Mumbai, absolutely useless when it comes to fight against or defend terroristic attacks.

Find the final convention text at the conference website.