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Showing posts from 2009

Upgrading from XP to Windows 7 on the HP Mini 5101

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I decided to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional on the HP Mini 5101 from its base install of Windows XP so sent off for the "free" upgrade from HP which requires US$19.99 for postage and handling.  From the time I placed the order until the DVD arrived in my hands in New Zealand was 9 days.

Since I do not have a DVD drive for the HP Mini I copied the Windows 7 installation files to a 4GB USB Stick using WinToFlash (which had been recommended by a work colleague) on another machine that did have a DVD drive.  WinToFlash creates a bootable Windows install on the USB Stick, was reasonably intuitive to use, and took about 30 minutes to complete (I suspect my Anti-virus program slowed things down).  Upon completion I noticed there was 409MB remaining on the USB Stick.

I checked in the Bios on the HP Mini and by default the option to install from a bootable USB device was turned on but changed the ordering so that USB Hard Disk and USB SuperDisk were prior to the Hard Drive; I wasn…

Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Sir Richard Branson

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from Richard Branson.  This is a good inspirational and motivating book that is very easy to read.  I knew that there were a number of Virgin companies prior to reading this book, however I was not aware of how many different industries Virgin is involved with (music, mobile, space travel, planes, trains, finance, health clubs, …).The culture of Virgin is a key component of the why the Virgin companies have been successful.  Whilst there is not a step by step guide for how to build a successful company, there are many useful insights and lessons learnt.  Caring and Encouraging your people, Customer-focus, Innovation, Embracing leadership, Fun, Learning from mistakes and Social Responsibility are key attributes I now associate with the Virgin brand.

My base Windows install

I have just gone through the process of setting up a new Windows PC and thought I would jot down the current applications I have installed:
The machine came with XP pre-installed and, for now at least, I've decided to keep it.Downloaded the latest Windows UpdatesInstalled Firefox, with the add-ons of Delicious and IE Tab
Tweetdeck (which also installed Adobe Air)Upgraded the Flash Player (when prompted by the browser)Installed AVG Anti-virus Free and removed the previous anti-virus solutionIrfanview

In terms of other software I expect to install in the imminent future:
Notepad++Open OfficeVideo viewing software and codecs as requiredCanon Camera Software
WAMP Server (for if I decide I want to do development on the machine)

Nokia E71: How I use mine & thoughts in general

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I have had a Nokia E71 device for several months and thought I would share what apps I am using on it and experiences so far.  All the applications mentioned in here were freely available for download.I previously had an Okta Touch (aka HTC Touch) which was a touch screen device so I wasn’t how I would find the E71.  After one day with the E71 I was however pleasantly surprised to find that I was really enjoying the E71 and was not missing the touch screen much at all.  This still holds today although I must say I am tempted to get an iPhone.ConnectionsOne of the best applications I installed early on was Birdstep SmartConnect.  This enabled me to create connection groups and to then put a number of my connections (e.g. HomeWifi, WorkWifi, Telecom Data) into a group and prioritise them.  This group is then treated as a standard connection for any of my applications.  This enables me to then be using Wifi if I am in range of one of my known Wifi spots or if not to use standard Mobile …

Sliders: What’s important for your project?

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I was recently in an excellent session with key stakeholders for a project, the aim being for the key stakeholders to jointly agree the importance of each of Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, Users and Team and how fixed or flexible each of these is.  Represented by Sliders that cannot be at the same level, this aids in providing a basis for the rest of the project to aid in decision making when trade-offs are required.Source: Rob Thomsett, Agile Academy http://www.agileacademy.com.au/agile/sites/default/files/aboutpdfs/AgilePracticesSlidersAgile%20Academy.pdfGetting agreement by all key stakeholders as to what is important for the project should be achieved in a single session, but what is interesting is the discussion required to get agreement and the information that all parties glean from the process.

Barcamp Auckland 3 Synopsis

Following on from the largest tweetup I've ever attended on Friday night with 50+ people in Auckland (and was awesome), I attended Barcamp Auckland 3 (#bca3) today (which was also awesome). These were both excellent opportunities to network with a wide variety of people, have some great discussions and learn from them.

If you want to know what a Barcamp or Unconference is check out my synopsis of Barcamp Auckland 2.

I attended a number of sessions throughout the day. My key notes (as aggregated from my twitter stream):

Easy iPhone Game Development
cocos2d-iphone is a framework similar to Flash.The Spaceship Tutorial (based on cocos2d-iphone ) sounds like it is worth checking out as an introduction to iPhone game development.Augmented Reality
Different types: projector based, window based, retinal display (most common). Augmented Reality Phone requires GPS + Compass + Video + Accelerometer.More information can be found at http://www.8degrees.co.nz/2009/07/12/is-augmented-reality-reall…

Be Remarkable, Focus on the Innovators and Early Adopters

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Having read Tribes from Seth Godin and enjoyed it I decided to give Purple Cow a go. Written in a very similar, easy-reading style, I took away two key messages from Purple Cow:1. Be Remarkable
2. Focus on the Innovators and Early Adopters Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff, a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. By building remarkable features into products (as opposed to thinking of marketing as just slapping some paint on top of the product or service) the idea is that the Innovators and Early Adopters (aka the “Sneezers”) will essentially sell the product or service for you. It is therefore important to ensure that it is an easy sell for them. I found many of the examples to be a bit too US centric but the key points were still easy to comprehend. Whilst the message is very simple, this book provides some great motivational passion for creating products that stand out and make a difference. A recommended read.

Web hosting providers impact language usage: Understand the constraints

There are a significant number of web hosting providers that support PHP or .NET, but I am continually surprised at how few support Java EE, or even basic JSPs.Some providers also then offer a shared tomcat version which is then only reloaded once a day for changes to deployed apps, which is definitely not ideal if you want to rapidly release a new application.There are definitely valid reasons for why some languages are supported and others aren’t. In the case of Java it is probably due to the fact there is no safe way (as far as I know) to deploy code into a share VM and it is probably significantly more resource intensive (particularly with what remains in memory). This then drives a higher price point which is often not appropriate for the hobbyist just tinkering with a site.Google App Engine’s support for Java is definitely a welcome addition, although therefore are many other languages out there that are likely to more commonly used if a significant number of bulk w…

Moving Firefox Profile to another drive or directory: How-to

In many organisations a user's Profile size is restricted to a certain size and there is a constant juggling act to try and keep under your Profile quota.

Firefox is an example of one application that was taking up lots of space in my quota, but I found that there is a nice and easy way to relocate the Firefox Profile to another drive or directory.

Check out Mozilla's Step-by-step instructions for how to do this. This worked fine for me using Firefox v3.0.8 on Windows XP.

Make it easy for your product to be evaluated

I often evaluate products to determine their fit to the requirements I am trying to address.  I do find however that I am often disappointed at how hard it is to find the information I am looking for.I tend to have lists of functional, technical, operational, commercial and financial criteria I am trying to assess against and the first step is to identity a list of Solution Option candidates upon which I will then rapidly do an initial assessment and triage.My ideal is to be able to easily find one or two pages that contain the majority of the information I am looking for.  Some sites however make it a very painful process.  Having to watch a video or look through piles of documentation is not desirable.  http://drupal.org/features is a great example of what is good; this is a simple page that contains lots of useful information, and links to further detail.  I was using a major Software vendors site recently and knew they had a product covering what I was looking for, but couldn'…

Keeping Informed: Will Facebook and Twitter bring RSS mainstream?

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At the end of January this year there was a poll in LinkedIn asking people how they wanted to be informed about LinkedIn's new features and I was surprised to see how low RSS rated in terms of a preference, particularly when compared with Email Alerts.

Source: http://polls.linkedin.com/poll-results/18536/aihrw (as at 22 March 2009)

This reminded me that despite the fact that I have been using RSS for many years, it just hasn't become mainstream. I moved to using RSS when I found myself going to the same web sites every day to see what was new and that they were commonly starting to have a RSS logo. The beauty of RSS is that the information comes to you in one place rather than you needing to go to each site individually. For more information about how I keep up to date with what's going on in the world, check out "Keeping up with what's happening in the world".

I wonder whether the terms "RSS" and "feed" are just too geeky and this is enou…

Values & Your Personal Brand

Two months ago I read a blog post from Tony Hsieh (the CEO at Zappos.com) titled "How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person" about values that has shaped the way I communicate.

Zappos came up with 10 core values to define their company culture, and Tony has then used these same values as his own personal values as well:
Deliver WOW Through ServiceEmbrace and Drive ChangeCreate Fun and A Little WeirdnessBe Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded Pursue Growth and Learning Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit Do More With Less Be Passionate and Determined Be HumbleBy embracing these values as his personal values, this has meant that Tony is less likely to complain or vent in his communications (be that Twitter or in face-to-face communications), because it is not in line with the Zappos core values. He instead will step back and try and find humour in a "bad" situation and re-frame the experience in…

The buzz of KiwiFoo: some of my takeaways

I had the privilege of spending the weekend with lots of great energising, exciting people doing great stuff in New Zealand at KiwiFoo 2009 (aka Baa Camp).

Run in an unconference style, the topics were wide and varied and included a variety of topics such as the opportunities of Real-time data, the Economy, Section 92A, Cloud Computing, Sustainability, Broadband, Building Communities, Working globally from New Zealand, OpenID, Utility 2.0 and the list goes on.

There were so many exciting sessions that one of the biggest challenges was working out what to go to. The conversations during, in-between and after the sessions went early into the morning on both Friday and Saturday nights and were packed with great intellectual discussion and debate.

Some of my takeaways (respecting the FrieNDA rules i.e."what goes on tour, stays on tour") included:

Working globally from New ZealandIf we can work out how to work well remotely then this can help to keep smart young people in New Zeala…

3 simple questions: Challenge yourself, challenge others, question why

Having worked in a corporate for many years, I find that it is often useful to step back from the every day process and ask a few very simple questions:
If this was my money would I spend it on this?If this was a startup what would we be doing different?Is this really a Must Have requirement / Do the stakeholders understand the impact this has to cost, timeframe and/or complexity?Challenge yourself, challenge others, question why.

Different leadership styles are required for different stages of team development

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"The One Minute Manager builds high performing teams" by Ken Blanchard, Donald Carew and Eunice Parisi Carew is an excellent book that simply explains through examples the four stages that teams go through and that a different leadership style is required in each; namely Orientation, Dissatisfaction, Integration and Production.

For each stage, it is clearly articulated what the Characteristics are, what the Needs of the team are, what the Issues are that need to be addressed and what type of leadership style is appropriate.

It is a very quick and easy read, written as a conversation, and I found it very easy to relate to when I looked at various projects I had been involved with. I will be re-reading this again.

NZ newspapers are embracing New Media

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Impressed by all the ways the NZ Herald is allowing people to get the latest news (Twitter, RSS Updates, Widgets, YouTube, Digital Replica, Email Updates, RSS Feeds, Mobile, Paper Delivery), I decided to look into what some traditionally Old Media newspapers are doing with New Media in New Zealand; The New Zealand Herald, Otago Daily Times, The Dominion Post, Waikato Times, and the other "Newspaper" sites hosted on the Stuff.co.nz platform.

The New Zealand Herald - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/

At the base of each page, the NZ Herald promotes all of the ways they allow people to get the latest news.


Each post enables people to distribute the content further via Email or IM.


Blogs are also a component of the site where people can comment on a variety of topics. There are however no general commentary features for non-Blog news stories.


Otago Daily Times - http://www.odt.co.nz/

The Otago Daily Times has an RSS Feed and also sports an Online Poll.


Another feature it that they enables u…

Embrace change, be a heretic!

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"Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" is an easy read from Seth Godin that presents the case for why You should be leading. Everybody can inspire a tribe towards collective action, regardless of where they sit in an organisation, and this book challenges you to step up, lead and challenge the status quo.

There are some great snippets of information throughout, and I agree with most of what he is suggesting re Leadership, although there is also a hate message re Management that I think is a bit too strong. It is a good book for motivation and whilst not prescriptive in how to lead provides some good pearls of wisdom for leading in the digital age.

BlueAnt Supertooth 3 & Selecting multiple contacts on Windows Mobile 6 - Arghhhh!

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I purchased a BlueAnt Supertooth 3 bluetooth handsfree kit yesterday and spent several hours trying to find an easy way to get the Contacts list from my Okta Touch (aka HTC Touch) which runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional and failed.

The BlueAnt Supertooth 3 is a nice device and pairing it with the phone was super easy (I was up and running in about a minute!), but getting the contacts across was a challenge with Windows Mobile 6 since there is no option to select multiple contacts to Beam (send via Bluetooth) across. The benefit of having the contacts on the device is that when there is an incoming call, the callers name will be announced.



I tried a variety of methods, including trying a piece of software that claimed to enable selection of multiple listings. Well, to be fair it did allow selection of multiple listings, but trying to do anything with them as a group failed.

I then tried sending the contacts directly from my PC via Bluetooth but for whatever reason had no joy that way e…

Reciprocal Status Updates between Facebook and Twitter

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John Battelle raised a discussion on his blog on the connection between Twitter and Facebook for status updates, and that Twitter is a Facebook Application but Facebook is not a Twitter application (but should be). I totally agree.

I update my Facebook status with my Twitter updates and have found that it has generated some good discussions on Facebook. This is however a one way update and conversations do not span across both systems which is not ideal.

I predominantly have a different set of people on Facebook than Twitter, so find that sharing the status works well for invigorating discussion. It would however be nice to be having one conversation, and not conversations independently on each platform.

The thread based approach of comments on Facebook aids in providing more structure that Twitter could benefit from, and for conversations to nicely span across both platforms, I think this needs to be addressed. Between this and Facebook Connect, I think there is a solution if the vari…

If you call a meeting you should be responsible for the Meeting Minutes

I am of the opinion that whoever calls a meeting should be responsible for ensuring that Meeting Minutes are circulated to all attendees.

It is a good habit to get into, and can aid in reducing issues being relitigated and having a record of when decisions were made. It does not need to be an onerous task and only the key points need to be captured.

Meeting minutes should be circulated within 24 hours of a meeting occurring, whilst the information is still fresh in people's minds; I often strive to get them out within an hour or two of meeting completion.

I use a standard (yet simple) template for my meeting minutes which aids in me being able to quickly type them up. I tend to in fact usually type up the vast majority of the meeting minutes during the meeting and then tidy it up and distribute afterwards.

If it is a regular meeting I usually have the first agenda item being agreement of the previous minutes, and sometimes will include the full list of open issues, risks and decisio…

How Social Media applications helped me this vacation

The end of my Summer vacation has come to an end, but it is interesting to think back on how this holiday was different from others, primarily due to the use of Social Media.

Social Media applications are based around the concept of user-generated content and include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Photo sharing and Review sites, all of which I utilised this holiday period.

We spent the holiday period in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand in a few different locations (the Waikato, Whitianga, Napier & Taupo). At these locations we often did not know what restaurants and cafes were good, so other than just using the Internet for what to do in an area, we used http://dineout.co.nz (a restaurant/cafe review site with user-generated content) extensively to validate or find what restaurants and cafes we wanted to try. I also submitted my own reviews for a large number of the places we visited to dineout (see here for my reviews).

Jane & I also wrote a number of blog…

Why & How I share what I'm doing / finding

I am a big advocate for sharing information, be it personal or more business-oriented information. I share information from experiences at restaurants, what I thought of books I have read, where I am, links to things I think are interesting, productivity tips, experiences with programming languages and the list goes on. There is obviously also information that I do not share widely (if at all) due to confidentiality reasons, or if I do share it I only share it to a closed community.

Why?

I share information for a number of reasons, including:
Sharing enables others to learn from my experiences.I can learn from others, and by Sharing this lets others know what I am up to or what information I am finding that I think is interesting. I may not even know initially that they have knowledge or interests in a particular area.Communities of Interest and Friendships evolve by finding people with similar interests. If you don’t convey to others what your interests are, you are closing out a po…

"Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell Book Review

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Based around the concept of thin-slicing, this book promotes the idea that your initial thoughts / gut feeling are often the right way to proceed (but not always). There are many case studies to hammer in the point and look at it from different perspectives. I feel the concept was a bit oversold, confused, and not pulled together nicely at the end.

In terms of the fundamental concept that we can learn to make better and faster decisions when we filter out excess data, I agree. This particularly holds if you are experienced in the field (i.e. with experience comes intuition).

As for the "Compelling", "Astonishing" and "Brilliant" words being used to describe this book, I think that maybe "Thought Provoking with Interesting Stories" might be a better way to describe it.