Friday, May 30, 2008

Turn your lists into mind maps

Text 2 Mind Map has a great application to help you turn your list into mind maps.

Mind maps are something I've read about for years now, but I've never had any success with hand drawing them, because my thoughts come out better in jumbles and lists than they do in pictures, whenever I would try to draw a mind map, I would run out of space and and up writing over other things, or putting my additional items into really odd places.

I've looked at some software for this over the years too, but it's always come back to the fact that it took me too long to arrange the lines and the boxes so I could see everything.

Now Text 2 Mind Map has a beta application out that lets you put your list into their text box, and they will make a mind map that you can download. This is pretty cool. It may even open me up to thinking about my tasks in a different way.

Enter your data and see if you like it. It looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Be aware though, even though it says you can download an image, the image produced for download has issues. I created a list that was larger than the page. The image that downloaded was cut off. When I downloaded in the full page mode, the image was downloaded but the text with the images were not.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

City declaring bankruptcy a bad sign

The city of Vallejo California is declaring bankruptcy. This is a very bad sign. Not only are they blaming this on the economy, they are not owning up to the fact that they are and have been running a negative budget for a long time.

What's worse is that there are many states, Illinois included, that are probably not too far from the same kind of actions.

The government already gets all of it's money by taking it from the people it's supposed to server, now it also screws them over by not putting that money back into the community with the businesses that it deals with. That's like ripping the people off twice.

There needs to be a law that no government can be run on a negative budget. Period. The national debt needs to be paid off. You want Social Security to exist in the future? You better demand that the government live within it's own means.

Speak up, tell your elected officials that you want less government and a future.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Funny words from Jaden

Erin called Jaden pooky bear, he said "No I'm Jaden, not Poopy Ear"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What is your company culture worth?

Lots of companies talk about wanting a culture. Often nobody in those companies ever has a vision of what that culture should be. The company just kind of coasts by never getting where they want to be, because they don't know where that is.
If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ~Lawrence J. Peter
I think that too often this is the case. Zappos however has a very clear vision of what they want their culture to be, and they are willing to pay people to quit in order to keep it that way.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the companies that know what they want and pay to get it and keep it that way are the ones that are the most successful. Google, Zappos, and Southwest are a few examples.

It's not as important what you want the culture to be as having that vision and sharing it, preaching it, evangelizing it, and hiring, firing, and encouraging the employees in every way possible to meet that culture.

Do you know what your company culture is? What is it worth?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Programmers are people too

I read an interesting article yesterday stating that the reason there may be bugs in your program is that programmers are human.

I read the article and agreed with almost all of it, until I finished, then I realized that it doesn't matter. The stress we are under to meet a deadline doesn't matter. The pressure to finish to meet an arbitrary date doesn't matter. Or at least none of it should matter. As a programmer, we owe it to the people who will be using our software, to not allow it to break unnecessarily. We will not be able to prevent all bugs, but we should test the software before we deploy, and we should not deploy with known bugs in the software. Tweaks I can live with, but a bug, as far as I'm concerned, is something that causes the system, program, or computer, to crash.

We are under time constraints and stress for our projects, and we always will be. But being a developer we owe quality to our customers. I will not compromise my integrity and produce a shoddy product to meet a deadline, I will not be bullied into it. At the risk of losing my job, I believe that I owe that quality to both my company and our customer. Putting a bad product out immediately hurts the user, but ultimately hurts the company and it's own image, I will not do that.

I have finished and deployed projects under immense time constraints, and some of my solutions have been somewhat forced upon me, but thankfully, I have never been to a point where I was pressured to deploy a solution with known bugs. It's a good thing too, because I think I'd have to start looking for another job.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is paper more creative?

Is paper more creative than typing?

I love typing my notes up, and quickly capturing thoughts that I have, but when I've got a pencil in my hand I also feel like doodling.

Strangely however, I have more one off creative thoughts when I'm writing with paper, I'll write an down my thought, but the pencil will just keep taking me on a journey of randomness, down a path that I didn't even realize was there.

When I get going with writing I sometimes will think of "The Dark Half", thank you Stephen King for providing me with a character to identify with. A person that becomes somebody else completely when he's writing with a pencil. I'm not the whole psycho thing, but it's the best I've got.

Have you noticed your creativity waning lately? Maybe you just need more time with you, a pencil, and a piece of paper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another reason why not Hillary

Another reason I don't want Hillary, is that she cannot run her campaign within the means of the funds she has. She put the campaign 20 Million dollars into debt.

Not that it matters anymore, Obama has the democratic nomination locked up unless something colosal happens. But if she were somehow to be the one elected, I think her campaign would just be foreshadowing her fiscal responsibility.

No more online GTD

For months I've been trying to use an online to-do list to help me track the things that I need to do. I love it, it's easy to enter, I can enter from either work or home. I've tried several different ones, but for what I need and ease of use has worked wonderfully. I love their printing option, which prints to a page that with a few folds and a cut, the page turns into a booklet.

However, I'm done with online GTD apps. It's not that I don't like them. I love them. I love all the things that they bring to sorting the lists and ease of deleting items. I like not having to rewrite things.

Unfortunately, I don't like that I don't get on the computer for a day or two on the weekend. On those days, I feel completely and totally disconnected from everything. I don't know the news, I don't study, I don't check my to-do lists, I don't update anything. That's the time when the to-do list is the most important to me, and I don't get to use it at all.

I've decided to try and go with a paper version of GTD for now. If it turns out that I still don't touch the to-do list for a day or two (Friday, Saturday, sometimes Sunday), then I'll switch back to online. If I'm not getting to have it for full time availability I may as well make it the one that I find easier to use.

So for me, it's back to paper.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's ok to fail

As I was driving Jonas home Sunday he was drawing pictures in the back seat, and he started pouting. It was something he did a lot of this weekend, but this is about his failure. I asked him what was wrong and he said he didn't like his drawing.

"It's ok to fail. You don't have to get it right the first time, or the next. In order to be really good at something you have to practice a lot and keep getting better. Uncle Teddy is good at drawing, but he wasn't always that way, he went to school and practiced a lot for many years before he got as good as he is.

I'm good on the computer, but I wasn't always this way, I've had to work really hard and study really hard to be as good as I am. And I run, and you know I run a lot, but I didn't run all winter, and I got worse at running. If you don't keep practicing something that you do, then you lose some of your ability to do it. You have to keep practicing in order to stay good.

It's ok to not like your drawing, just don't give up at it. It's ok to be upset"

Monologue over, but seriously, it's a lesson I want my kids to know, and know well. I want them to try to achieve, and I want them to fail. It's OK to fail, it's OK to not win, it's OK. But set your sights high, and when you get knocked down, get back up. It's not about how many times you get knocked down, it's abut how many times you can get back up and keep pushing, that's what winners are made of.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How would you live if...

How would you live if you were wildly successful in what you are doing?

Just over a year ago I was at training where I was asked this question. I came up with a list of things that I would want my life to be like if I were living wildly successful.

I then went through and wrote down goals at different levels in life. In a year I was happy to see that I had accomplished several of my goals and that most of the rest were still relevant to help me get to the point that I am living my life the way I would live it.

What would you do if you were wildly successful?

How much vacation would you take? What would your savings account look like? What does your work/home life balance look like? What does your fitness look like? Would you travel? Where to? How often? Will you own your own business?

These questions are different for everyone. Even the list of questions are different. Some people are extremely devoted to their family and would rather work less and spend more time with family, others are workaholics and would rather be wildly successful at work. But thinking about where you are and where you want to be with everything will help you see what you would like.

Take this state, the one that you would love to achieve and then set up some goals to help you get there. Even if you can't get all the way there, the goals will help get you moving in the right direction. You'll never get to the life you want to live until you take the first step.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leno finds the worst of us.

How many Senators are there? Millions. No wonder nothing gets accomplished.

A man named Henry discovered the Hudson River and named it after himself who was it? Um, I don't know... oh Hudson. What was his first name? Thomas. Two questions later, he asked the same girl. What is the first name of the man who discovered the Hudson river. "All these rivers, I don't know. I guess I have to study who discovered rivers".

In what war was the Battle of Gettysburg fought? The Gettysburg address. (what?!? seriously?) Who gave the Gettysburg address? We did. Who's we, America? Yeah.

What is Moby Dick? A book. (Isn't she proud of herself). What's it about? Moby (just as proud). The other woman (who missed the river question) A Whale. Have you read it? No I saw a cover once.

What's terrible is that these are people who are in college.

What should you tweet?

I started using twitter back at the beginning of April, with a goal of making it 30 days and actually using it.

I've made it the 30 days, and you can see my most recent twitter posts (tweets) in my sidebar. If you want to see all of my posts, click through to find everything that I've had to say.

Lately I've been trying to twitter more, but I'm still struggling with, what should I tweet? What should anyone tweet?

Twitter itself asks "What are you doing?" If I were to answer that every time that I post it would be, "I'm interrupting something else to just shout out that I wanted to sit at the computer and let you know what it is" or "I'm tweeting". but a thousand posts that say, I'm just typing aren't that useful. What would you care about me?

Maybe the questions are all wrong. What do I care about someone that I follow on twitter?

For people that I don't know personally:
I want to know when someone has an AHA moment or a cool thought.
I want to know what people think about current events.
I want to know when something interesting happens to them.

However, for people that I do know:
I want to know what you are doing and why
I want a glimpse into your life so I can have good personal conversations with you
And I want everything from people that I don't know.

As I write this I think that blogs are the same thing. I have the exact same reasons for following blogs, they are talking about topics that I want more good information about, or they are people that I know and are talking about the things going on in their life. Maybe everyone should have 2 twitter accounts the same as people can have multiple blogs. One for each of the types of information, so you can follow the information that is appropriate to your interest in the person.

What do you think I should tweet?

but with people that I kno

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversay to my wonderful wife. I'm sorry I'm not there to celebrate it this year.

This year, she has gone above and beyond. I had a training class that I wanted to take, but it was only offered at times that I also had other plans. Missing our anniversary was the only way that I could get to this class.

Erin, my love, I thank you for supporting me in all of my nerdy ways.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To all the women who are mother's in my life....


You have helped to raise my kids, and I love you for that.

You have helped to raise me and I love you for that.

You have had to endure the pain and fear of raising your own kids to be good people, and I love you for that.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A sweet little girl

My little girl is so sweet. I was able to spend good quality time with both Jaden and Ady tonight, but Ady is especially sweet. Maybe it's because she can be such a pain in the butt from time to time. She does start throwing fits or tantrums when she doesn't get her way, however it never ends up in her getting her way. She can talk incessantly and not stop talking even though I'm already in the middle of a conversation and it's not her turn to talk. She can be annoying when she's got to go to the bathroom and she refuses and proceeds to dance around hoping to hold it off. All these things can be annoying and tiring, but they are all part of her.

What's lost in all of this is the sweetness she has, it can easily be overlooked by a casual observer. Stand back and listen to her play with her imaginary friend Dora. Listen to her sing the songs she's learned at pre-school, or practice the dance that she's learning for her upcoming recital and it's amazing that she can be focused and practice doing good things on her own with no direction for 15 minutes sometimes even longer without any direction at all.

She tries so hard to catch the baseball that I'm trying to teach her for her upcoming t-ball. She's overcome her fear of the water with her current swimming lessons. Even the slight akwardness that she had with her legs not being the same strength seems to have been overcome with her abundant activity. Now she knows her letters, she's trying to read words, she draws and colors great, and with all of this she's only 4.

Bill Cosby had a great set about a 4 year old. That's what I had expected when I had kids, anything better than that is a blessing. She's 4 years old, but she's so much better than what I feared could be.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ozzie Guillen is done

I'm tired of Ozzie Guillen. He's been in Chicago too long. I didn't like him as a player. I don't like him as a manager. I'm glad we got a world series, but honestly, given the choice between waiting a few more years and having to listen to him one more time, I'd rather wait. I know Cubs fans are probably warning me right now for even talking like this, but c'mon.

Ozzie, here's the facts. The team that you have can't hit. You rant about small ball and using speed, but nobody hits at all, everyone goes up to the plate swinging for the fence and you don't steal.

I'd say you have a complete failure to accomplish your stated goals, now is as good of a time as any to replace you with someone, anyone, who will at least attempt to do what he says he will.

And Greg Walker, I wouldn't be surprised if you go before Ozzie. Players seem to hit worse the more they work with you.