long thought that our society should patronize and develop more services on the
model of not-profit-motivated WordPress, Wikipedia, Drupal, and craigslist if
we want a better world. I'm not condemning venture-funded and profit-motivated companies. They've done
and will do great things; but in a macro sense, it'd be better to develop more
companies oriented toward the public good than to maximizing profit. We need to
bring the ethos of open source to services that we use day-in and day-out like
banking, investing, housing, food production, and transit. Crowdfunding
companies such as Kickstarter help this business model have new such
opportunities. With the combination the two principles where companies don’t
put profit first and where they are crowd-funded, we have a new opportunity to
build institutions we can trust to do its users, society, and the planet right.
Web or app-based
services like Facebook and Twitter are venture-funded and will likely be ruined
by the company's monetization efforts. As an example, when asked why I don’t
use Flipboard, I replied that they are venture funded and don’t give their
users a method to export their data. When Wall Street decides Flipboard needs
to start actually making money, I want an option to move my list of feeds to
which I subscribe. Since they don’t allow export (an OPML file is a standard
feed export/import format), I'm not going to use them.
Did Facebook do
anything for its customers with the billions it got from its IPO? It seems like
they effectively just sold us out. They added ads everywhere. They are worth
twice the combined market cap of the Big 3 auto makers largely because they say
their ads are targeted and relevant. Have you found the ads they throw you to
be relevant and targeted? Are
the huge valuations of Airbnb, Uber, and WeWork a good thing?
The founders of
WordPress, Wikipedia, Drupal, and craigslist made big money and great
reputations. They may not be billionaires like the founders of many of these
venture-backed services, but they have enough money. They monetized, but they
did not sell out. They institutionalized their corporate culture by exclaiming
to their user community and in their corporate documents such as by-laws that
they are not going to sell out. That reputation they developed for not selling
out is reputational currency in itself. Billionaires make huge money and then
often give it back to charity later. Why not be like Craig Newmark of
craigslist and decide that a largely-free service, ethically run, gives him and our society y the highest
lot to this, and I don’t feel these few paragraphs do the idea justice. And
yes, I see the irony (or hypocrisy) of my working with Microsoft's products and
espousing the use of the opposite above. More to follow.
I enabled the
Clutter function in Outlook and OWA about a month ago. It uses artificial
intelligence to puts mass emails and emails that you don’t usually open into a
new Outlook email folder called Clutter. It works well. It's been better than
most Junk mail filters at deciding what to remove from my Inbox. I had thought,
"I do want all my mass emails that I receive" and I still do, but
having them in a different folder works.
The best part is, it
puts everything which I wouldn’t want to be notified of in my Clutter folder.
So, now I can set my phone to chime when personal emails come in, because my
Inbox now only registers a new email when I get a personal email (since the mass
emails now go into the Clutter folder).
I have an Inbox, a Clutter folder, and a Junk folder to check, but
that's working out better than having just an Inbox and Junk.
I've started doing
Office 365 tasks within my projects that I used to have to farm out. There are
still plenty of Microsoft Mysteries, but I think everyone occasionally assumes
something would work out of the box that is actually difficult. The creativity
in finding the best solution for a process in SharePoint that was previously
otherwise-handled is the fun part.
With Office 365 now
free for non-profits, small firms can now have the tools that used to take
major investment and geekery to install and maintain. Getting EDs to understand
what they can do for project management and collaboration is my challenge.
I'm looking forward
to starting another SharePoint Boot Camp in mid March and have been developing my
Microsoft Partner credentials.
I occasionally look
at classified ads of companies seeking employees. In a large number of them,
two things stick out as compromising the productivity and competitiveness of
firms. Small decisions or non-decisions that lead to failing to change, add up.
First is location.
Are you going to get creative employees if you're located in an out-of-the-way
location? How about not being on transit lines? Or being located distant from
your desired hires? No. Heard about a non-profit that moved out of Dupont Circle, "Why would I want to stay? There's no train, no parking, nowhere to eat lunch, and no one nearby to each lunch with!"
Second is technology
choice. If you have too varied, legacy, or just plain unappealingly technology
in your job descriptions, good candidates are going to look on to ads asking
people to work with tools that will better develop their career potential. Cold
Fusion and Lotus Notes come to mind. Consolidating on as few technologies
attracts competent specialists. When I see an ad looking for someone to
maintain a long list of software titles, I think, "Good luck finding
someone willing to do that - never mind someone good at it."
If you think you are
saving money by having low rent and retaining old technology, you are likely
being penny wise and dollar foolish.
I was enjoying the
audiobook The Year Without Pants so much
that I was hoping it would never end. Despite that, when about halfway through Pants, I began trying to decide between two
books to listen to next. I was really torn between two.
serendipitously, as I finished the last few minutes of Pants, the book I would listen to next was pretty much decided
when Pants referred to one of the two
books I was thinking about reading next. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford had been on my reading/listening
list for 4 years.
Soulcraft is related to Pants. They are both about the future of work.
Pants is about how WordPress succeeds at
remote work, and Soulcraft is about how
on-site work is important. For a 2013 technology book like Pants to refer to the (ancient by technology
book standards) four-year-old and not hugely-popular Soulcraft decided it for me. That tie between Pants and Soulcraft sealed my decision to
listen to Soulcraft next.
past month I've studied 3 days at Ignite
DC downtown, 2 days partner training at the Microsoft offices, and 30 hours at Mack
Sigman's SharePoint Boot Camp. If I can fit in my schedule, I'll do Mack's
SharePoint Admin course in Dec or Jan. These all involved prep and follow-up
These studies are all in Microsoft technologies of Office 365. The
Project/Program/Portfolio Management methodologies have been of a particular
interest. Why spend so
much time studying Microsoft Office 365? Two reasons: we've been concentrating
our practice on Office 365 because it's now free for all 501(c)3 non-profits
and because Google Apps is not even free for small organizations anymore.
Many thanks to Mack Sigman and other FEDSPUG/WSPDC
volunteers Bisi Adebesinx and Nikkia Carter for their many hours of community-building work and teaching.
If you concentrate on writing clearly and
concisely, when it’s your role to weigh in, to only the people who need that
information, you and your co-workers will get less email. When someone multi-tasking fires off an unclear email to 8 people, that will often
generate 10 more emails rather than settle a matter as intended.
By trying to
multi-task you often make your entire organization less productive. I often
think, "That email was great for 2 people on the email list and completely
confused the other 12. Now, someone is going to spend a lot more time cleaning
that mess up." All the recent studies have shown that multi-tasking is
much less productive than deep concentration.
I can’t tell you how
often I hear someone say that they can’t get any work done at the office. They
have to get their REAL work done at home or on a plane. That's a corporate
communication culture problem that needs to be addressed. I'll often say. "I
don’t think that's a meeting issue. We can solve that by email or phone in less time than it would
take for us to prep and gather for a meeting." Death by PowerPoint.
responds to "How are you?" with "Busy" every time, I see
that more as a time and lifestyle management problem than a point of pride.
Skipping sleep does not make you more productive. All these little behaviors
Almost every non-profit I go into has kluged-together technology. As they grew and shrank over the years, they picked up a website run on one platform that doesn’t talk to their data. Their program management doesn’t talk to their accounting. Their accounting doesn’t talk to their CRM or the link is so tenuous it takes hours every month to get anywhere. Their intranet is on a 5th platform. Three servers are new and they don’t even know what's on the other ones. Many tactical decisions were made that add up to a bad work environment.
That mess is usually quantifiably negatively affecting their productivity. When presented with this situation, shown how that can be improved over a period of time, and in a way that saves money, strategically focused management is willing to go through the changes to make it happen. Getting to that point is a lot cheaper than it used to be. Most of the issue with too many firms is getting over the fear of changing how things are done.
I hate texting for the below reasons. This opinion is, admittedly, out of the main stream. I thought I'd document and explain.
Everyone I communicate with has email to their phone. Email has many more capabilities. Most people lose their text archive when they get a new phone.
I’m sitting here next to my computer happily typing away and the cell phone over by the door makes this unfamiliar noise that means I have a text message. Texting's the only medium that one can’t use on a full keyboard.
An exception is that some workplaces use Chatter, Skype, or Yammer successfully. Those are usually answerable multi-modally by computer or phone..
Texting got popular when people were too cheap to pay for minutes to talk and I think a lot of this continued because early iPhone weren't very good for voice. Now, minutes are cheap and most phones actually work as phones.
Texting is supposedly less intrusive than phoning. But a call goes to VM and you answer when you choose. One is expected to promptly answer a text. If the sender or receiver happens to be in a different country you pay more.
Can’t we just simplify. Between phone, email, Facebook chat, Skype, Skype chat, and Twitter, there are plenty of ways to reach me. And call me "old fashioned", but I think spelling and punctuation actually contribute to understanding. Half the texts I get make no sense.
I don’t have a texting plan, and I don’t really want one. Each text sent and each received cost me the ridiculous sum 20 cents. That usually costs me less than the ridiculous sum of $5 for the min 200 texts a month plan. Texts cost the carrier almost nothing.
I did some sys admin work, last night: transferred the recovery partition on my HP Envy X2 to a USB drive, deleted that partition, and used the Windows Store web installer to install Windows 8.1 Preview. Belarc Advisor gave me my Windows Key. When 8.1 RTMs, I'll probably have to re-install 8.0 from that USB to get the final 8.1.
I'm hoping the version of SkyDrive that comes with 8.1 will allow me to sync a micro SD. I may have to make some symbolic links to fool the OS into thinking that additional space is on this 64GB hard drive.
I'll probably change my Office 365 subscription from P1 to Small Business Premium. I'll, then, be renting Office from MS. Next year, I might rent Windows (with Intune) too.