Tuesday, May 31, 2005


One of the biggest challenges in any project is figuring out how to do things and manage the whole process. Whether it is making a film or renovating a house or developing software, if it involves more than one person, you’ve got to do some managing of the project. Scott Berkun has been writing some of the best essays and giving out lots of advice on how to manage projects and people. Through his essays and the great collected wisdom of the crowd of PM Clinic I often find useful advice that helps me a better teacher and project manager.
Now he’s got a new book, The Art of Project Management and I can’t wait to read it. It’s great to have a perspective and common sense for making things happen and keeping things going. If only more people would follow the advice, as it would be a calmer, more productive world.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

A Place For My Stuff

I go through cycles of organizing and throwing things out in the various places where I live and work. When it’s organized, it’s great, but when it’s not…it’s a bit messy. One of the problems that I have is that I tend to not throw a lot of things out. Keeping stuff isn’t a problem if you have a place to keep it, but if you don’t have a place for stuff it just piles up.
Things were more organized in my home office when I was working in there a lot, but now it’s not organized at all. What I need is to clean it out and then find a place to put everything and to put things in the proper place when I decide to keep them.
With a well-organized room, I think that I’ll use it more as well.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

All the Backpacks that weren't

One of my favourite new things is Backpack. I used it to get things organized for a trip that I took to Yarmouth today and I'm hooked. It reminded me to buy batteries and tapes, I had all the contract information I needed as well as maps of where I needed to go. It's like a magic backpack that expands or shrinks to fit everything. There is a great look at All the Backpacks that weren't on Signal vs. Noise. It's a neat glimpse into the process behind designing something that is simple, clean and works well. The 37signals rock so hard.
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Monday, May 09, 2005


I've started Geoblogging... which is putting the latitude and longitude into tags on Flickr photos, which is then combined with Google Maps to give you a map with the location of photos. It's very cool and it's something that I think should be more integrated into Flickr... the same as the date and time. It's very cool and you can see the map of my photos which will update as I add more pictures. A very cool example of the neat things you can do with information that is shared.
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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Big and Small

I've been thinking about what I buy and use and how I'll use some things a lot and other things not so much. Two things happened this weekend that showed me the difference between a large, established company and a small, dyanmic one.
I do my banking online and I want to move my bills to an electronic form so there isn't a stack of paper always piling up. So I went on the web site of the phone company and carefully clicked around and followed the directions for eliminating my paper bill. I thought that I'd start with my cell phone since the second thing (more about that later) has me thinking that I'll use text messaging on my cell phone a bit more. There is a tool that helps you analyze your usage to make sure that you're on the right plan. So I registered and followed all the directions and when I got to the final step it wouldn't work. So I called the phone company's tech support and was told that because I have a plan that includes my home phone, long-distance and internet connectivity I couldn't set that up because it was just part of the cell-phone section of the company. The other section of the company is only available during business hours, so I'd have to check back with them to see if it they could set it up. I lost interest for a while and forgot to call.
The other thing that happened (and indirectly prompted this) was that I've started to use Backpack a bit more and I find the reminders incredibly useful... I was able to send a reminder to myself that kicked in when I was at the grocery store... I would have forgotten the peanut butter... You may be thinking that I could use a paper list and it would work, but the problem with paper is that you have to look at it. If I'm moving a reminder that shows up on my cell phone is great. I usually don't have to even read it, but the timing is important.
When I was setting up reminders I noticed that my cell phone provider wasn't listed, but an affiliated company was. I tried that out and it worked. Then I dropped the Backpack team a note and they changed it to make it clearer. All within a few hours.
A large, established company can make it difficult for exciting and interesting things to happen. The structure can slow down or stifle communication.
Which of the two companies do you think I enjoyed my limited contact with?
Which company do you think I'd rather give money to?
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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Holga Photography

I’ve shot three rolls of film with my Holga so far and I love it. I went from film to digital and now I’m using both digital and film nad it’s neat to see the effect that it’s having on my photography. I love the plastic medium-format camera and it creates images that are distinctive and somewhat magical. I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t and I’m a bit up in the air of whether I like using colour or black and white film. Now I’m leaning a bit more towards colour.
Having only 12 images and working within a square frame are making me see the world in a different way again. I love it!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I think that Backpack will be very, very cool. I've used Basecamp and been a fan of 37signals (and Signal vs. Noise) for a long time and Backpack seems like the culmination of a lot of things. I've just started to play with it and I love how it looks and works and thinks. For me to use something now I really have to connect with it on some sort of emotional level and I like it when something conforms to me and how I think and not the other way around. I think that by using Backpack I may ultimately end up using Basecamp more as I feel that I've always not used it to the full potential. Backpack is personal and flexible and it will be interesting to see how it fits in with all of the other online stuff that I use. It's actually becoming more like the world we saw years ago where you don't need a computer to do a lot. But this is real... I remember when I read about the Java version of WordPerfect and thought, "Wow! You won't need your own computer!" and then I tried it out and it was slow and didn't work that well. It's different now and I'm amazed how smoothly some of this stuff works.
Simplicity is wonderful and 37signals gets it and does it the right way. We need more people like them.
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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ricky Gervais... Obviously.

I've been looking through the site of Ricky Gervais, which is a great place to learn more about the cocreator of The Office who is very funny, but is also quite talented. The site is comprehensive and fun with some nice little video bits, and it also has some glimpses and information about the new series from Gervais and Stephen Merchant, called Extras. I hope that it shows up relatively soon in Canada, but the good news is that it will be on HBO in the US, so it hopefully won't take too long to come here.
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