New Testament reading plan to close out 2014

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This is sort of a cross post from the Graham Friends Church web site, but figured I would post here as well about my Bible reading plan to close out 2014. The plan is to read the New Testament starting today and ending on December 31st. I suppose if I had been a little more on the ball I would have started it on Labor Day. Even with my late start, I had planned to start it by Wednesday, but Amazon uncharacteristically failed to ship my order of a new Bible on time, causing an additional delay. Continue reading

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A summer of baseball productivity experiment

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Since last summer, I’ve been on a semi-constant search for “noise” generators to help improve my productivity. I think I first came across the concept of background noise being used to help improve concentration, and thus productivity, when I ran across focus@will and coffitivity.com. Apparently studies have been done to show that the background noise generated in a typical coffee shop can help you stay focused on a task that requires some mental concentration. Meanwhile, focus@will operates on the theory that certain types of music are more suitable for certain types of situations, like trying to focus on a task.

It doesn’t stop with coffee shops though. There are all kinds of sound generators out there, not only to aid concentration and focus, but to help people relax, fall asleep, and probably other stuff. My favorites tend to be the sounds of thunderstorms or rain. Continue reading

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A Google Glass, Indiegogo update

Just sharing a couple things I’ve run across as I try to get myself more up to speed on Google Glass while my Indiegogo campaign continues.

Yesterday, the Livestream service announced the availability of streaming live events from Google Glass using their new app. All it will take is a simple command, “OK Glass, Livestream”. I think that could be pretty useful for me. I could do things like stream portions of a soccer games so folks could watch what is happening in real time. I know last year during some State Cup matches those who were present had to text updates to those who had to be in other places. I can also see using this for some MINI events possibly just to be able to share the fun we have.

I also ran across a funny parody of Google Glass you can check out below. Hopefully I won’t turn out like this!

If you want to help out with my campaign, be sure to hit the Indiegogo site. It has been rather slow since the last update, although great progress has already been made. If you can’t help financially, keep spreading the word. It is much appreciated.

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Crowd funding Google Glass

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I got this posted on Facebook and Google+ and Twitter, but figured I better add it here on the blog. I’ve received an invite to be an “Explorer” in the Google Glass beta program. That’s the good news. The bad news is this means I need to come up with the $1,500 needed to purchase the device.

Since Google in their own post about Glass myths says some people have used crowd funding to pay for Glass, I thought I might give it a try. In fact, it was that bit of information that got me to sign up for Google Glass. I thought I might have a few months before getting accepted (if I even got accepted). Instead, it was a few days.

To try to make it happen, I decided to setup a project on Indiegogo. Hopefully enough people will decide to help make this happen as I really would like to take advantage of the opportunity.

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A rework of Todoist

todoist_iconSince last summer when I wrote about end-of-life’ing MyLifeOrganized, I don’t think I ever wrote about my new selection for task management. That ended up being Todoist. Although I generally try to stick to a GTD framework, Todoist is not designed specifically for GTD. That meant I had to do some configuration on my own using the features available in the app to implement GTD, notably Projects and Labels. Fortunately, Todoist is quite active in the development of the app and it has already received a major overhaul since I started using it as well as a slew of small improvements. These helped make the task a bit easier.

During the time I’ve been using Todoist, I’ve gone through at least one revision of the Projects setup although I had still been using the initial set of labels that I created. For Projects, I had basically setup those up to correspond to people or other major life “areas”. The people were mostly related to work projects, while the other areas corresponded mostly to things like the soccer team I manage, the MINI club, church, and some others. The problem was that didn’t leave a lot of room for specific projects, like the 2013 CAFR I am working on for my job. This does tend to be one of the shortcomings of GTD from what I can tell – an explosion of projects to an unwieldy number. Continue reading

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THMMC New Year of Motoring Run 2014

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For the second year in a row, I managed to put together a run on the first Saturday of the year for the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club. During the first few years of my belonging to the THMMC, the club usually did a run in January called the Stone Mountain Run as that was where they always went. I managed to make it one year. Continue reading

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Micah 5:5 and the Ushpizin

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I don’t think I have written about it on any of my blogs, but for the Sunday School class that I lead we are doing a study that takes us through the entire Bible over the course of a year. In general we do one book each week, although some weeks we’ll do multiple books. Last week one of our books to read and study was Micah.

As we have been winding down, hitting the books of the lesser prophets, we have been getting more and more into text where we have to figure out whether the references are to the current times of the prophets, the coming messiah, or the Millennial Kingdom. So when we came across Micah 5:5, there were some questions about who was being referred to:

And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men;

The question had to do with who the “seven shepherds” and “eight princes” are, especially since the numbers are a little unusual.

As my study of the passage revealed, the answer seems to be pretty simple. There seem to be two options. The first is that it could be a reference to the Babylonian dynasty and some of their rulers as the shepherds. That would be consistent with some translations that use terms like “ruler”.

The second option, which seems more likely to me, is that it is a reference to the Ushpizin. The Ushpizin are a group of historical figures from the Old Testament – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David. According to Jewish tradition, during the Festival of Booths (or Tabernacles), the family will include a prayer each night that invites a different member of the Ushpizin to visit with the family. Supposedly the group always travels together, but a different member will take the lead each different night.

What about the “eight princes of men”? I didn’t really find anything about them other than this is likely a reference to kings or governors or possibly military leaders of the time.

Maybe not some deep meaning in this passage, but it was an opportunity to spend some time studying. And it does show us how important the figures we are familiar with from the OT were to the Jews even in the time of Micah.

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MLO reaches end-of-life for me

mylifeorganized_logoMy last blog post about MyLifeOrganized (MLO) dealt with my thought process in selecting MLO as the tool to support my implementation of GTD. The transition occurred back at the beginning of 2013 when I went ahead and moved off of ToodleDo. I do feel like MLO was a powerful tool and after going through the learning curve, I think I had it configured to the point where it was useful. One of the main goals was to get tasks to rise to my attention when they needed to, but not before, and certainly not after (as was starting to happen with my old GTD implementation). MLO handled that well, especially once I figured out how to build the appropriate queries. The only downside to that was that I had to check three different screens in the Windows client to assess everything that needed to be addressed.

You may note I said it worked in the Windows client, albeit not as smoothly as I wanted. That was about the only place it worked and that probably was the biggest factor in its undoing. As I noted when first implementing MLO, they didn’t have a OS X native client. I thought I might be able to get around that using a remote desktop connection, but it ended up not being an effective solution. If I only had a couple tasks to address when on my home computer it might have been ok. But I had way too many things to tend to when at home to rely on a remote desktop solution, especially when I just wanted to quickly mark something as done or needed to quickly capture something to the Inbox. Though the email to task function worked well, that tended to just introduce an extra step in the process.

MLO may possibly have been able to retain its status as my tool, even at home, had I had a decent solution apart from my MBP. Unfortunately, the Android app is really a mess. I’m not even sure what kind of design standards or guidelines MLO is trying to follow, but with so many of my apps converting over to the new Holo guidelines, MLO was annoying to even look at. And as I mentioned before, MLO’s tendency to want to charge for everything caused me to not upgrade the app to the “Pro” version, thus crippling it.

So, as my annual week-long beach trip was scheduled for the first week of July, I decided the time had come to make another switch. With the MLO experience under my belt, I knew I definitely needed to stick to the requirement of something being cross-platform (though a web interface would suffice). I also knew I would need something with a decently well-developed and mature Android app. Of course, the other requirements continued from earlier in the year, like the ability to support GTD.

I’ll let you know what the results of my search ended up being in my next entry in this series.

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Checking out The 12 Week Year

the_12_week_year_coverOver on Google+, one of the communities that I belong to is the Productivity community. It is actually one of several related to productivity that I belong to and is probably the most active. Over the past few weeks, there have been quite a few mentions of The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington. In fact, Bob Stanke is in the process of implementing The 12 Week Year and has been blogging about his weekly results.

I’ve decided I’m going to give it a try as well. I think my interest is more in how I can use it to help guide my staff at work, although I’m sure I’ll pick up some benefits for my personal productivity efforts as well. As August has opened, I’ve actually been kind of pleased with my productivity during July since I did a bit of a “reset” while on vacation. At least part of that is because (I think) I was finally able to find a tool that helped support my efforts when I came across Todoist. Writing about the switch from MyLifeOrganized to Todoist is a subject for another post.

Back to my team. Overall they are productive folks and I think we get quite a bit done. However, I sometimes feel like we get bogged down in addressing the routine “tasks” that so easily consume our focus instead of those issues that could really add value to the organization. Probably my biggest clues that this is happening are the balanced scorecard initiatives that seem to linger indefinitely on our collective “to do” board.

I just started reading the book this evening. I’m hopeful I can get through it quickly since I had to forego a monthly strategy meeting today. The plan is to read through The 12 Week Year, work on some goal-setting, and then next Monday set the team on their way in a more structured and focused manner than what we have been doing thus far.

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