Monday, September 09, 2013

Of Google+ embedding and fountain pens


Just saw an announcement on Google+ indicating they have enabled the ability to embed Google+ posts on a web site. To test it out, I wrote up a relatively long post over on Google+ about a fountain pen, a Lamy Safari specifically, that I have on order. You should be able to read it all below:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Micah 5:5 and the Ushpizin


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.

Friday, August 09, 2013

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.

Monday, August 05, 2013

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.

Monday, July 29, 2013

More evidence the 80's were a peak

[caption id="attachment_15" align="alignright" width="214"]Senna movie poster Senna[/caption]

Sitting here watching Senna as I prepare dinner just thinking to myself how unfortunate it is for the generations that are younger than me in regard to the sport of racing. The race footage they are showing is a joy to watch and reminds me why enjoyed watching racing back in the day. Of course, it was kind of funny that Senna was complaining after the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix that Formula One is all politics and money. I guess some things don't change.

Then I started thinking about the ESPN 30 for 30 film Survive and Advance about Jim Valvano and N.C. State's 1983 championship run. If I remember correctly, though in that film is not the only place I've heard this, they mentioned that back in the 80's, the game of college basketball reached it's peak. Since then athletes have gotten better, but the game itself, especially from a fan pespective, has never been good as it was then.

That makes two topics where a decent argument can be made that quality has declined since the 80's. I believe twice makes a coincidence, three makes a pattern? What could be added to solidify the 80's as the greatest decade?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Converting to MyLifeOrganized for GTD Part 1

MLO Inbox

If you happened to read my entry about my new Samsung Galaxy Note II at the beginning of the year, you know one of my goals was to become even more paperless than I was before. That was not the only thing I was working on though. In general I wanted to become more productive overall and start to take advantage of some new tools and technologies. For instance, I started to implement some of the concepts in Death By Meeting in managing my team at work. Combined with my paperless efforts, preparing for and recording the results of the meetings pushed me over into Evernote more than I had ever used it in the past.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Half a decade...

[caption id="attachment_739" align="alignleft" width="300"]Bumper damage Bumper damage[/caption]

Five years ago, on a Saturday, February 16th, my wife and I were at Flow MINI in Winston-Salem. Went home that evening with a brand new MINI WUF. Now 125,000 miles later, a few repairs - some major, some minor - and still motoring on. Currently leaking oil and coolant, scratched up rear bumper (thanks hit and run driver), some dings on the side, and two chips in the windshield, still plugging along as a daily driver.

I figure about 15% of the miles have been "motoring" miles with many of those at various events along the Eastern seaboard. Been to the two highest peaks east of the Mississippi (Mt. Mitchell and Mt. Washington), summit of Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock, traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway end-to-end five times, been to the easternmost point in the continental U.S. (West Quoddy Head Light), ate a bunch of ice cream, and an untold number of twisties. I even have a couple drawers full of t-shirts as proof.

Looking forward to another five years with the MINI WUF.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ack! - I need a January post

So the start of 2013 has come and gone. In fact, we are getting close to the end of January already - only a few more days. And I still have not posted any new entries here on the blog (until now!). Since I'm suffering from some combination of writer's block and procrastinationitis, I figured I should just start writing (as my former pastor taught us) and eventually something useful or noteworthy may find their way onto paper (or computer screen as the case may be). This post is what you get using that method.

Monday, January 14, 2013

THMMC New Year of Motoring Run Recap

On the one lane bridge
On the one lane bridge
Lots of changes in the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club during 2012 with some of the older members moving on to new chapters in their lives. With this change comes the need for some transitions and folks to take over things previously handled by others. So, since the club has traditionally done a run to Stone Mountain in January, I figured I would try to keep that going. For the 2013 version, I went ahead and moved the date up to the first Saturday in January and dubbed the event the "New Year of Motoring Run". Since my Turkey Ramble route had been run three times over the previous two months, I decided to look for something different. Plus, running to Stone Mountain would have been a stretch to then get the gap runs back into an overall route.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Welcome Samsung Galaxy Note ll

[caption id="attachment_1021" align="alignright" width="409"]samsung galaxy note ii My new Samsung Galaxy Note II[/caption]

2013 is upon us! Before 2012 came to a close though, I had one last item to take care of. That was to pick up a new Samsung Galaxy Note II. The GN2 replaces my HTC EVO 4G that I have had for two years now. I think the EVO is probably the first cell phone I've ever owned that by the end of the contract term I wasn't completely frustrated with it and ready to absolutely toss the thing. For about the last nine months or so I was constantly battling a memory shortage on the phone which was quite annoying. Probably the worst part of that was it would cut off my GMail delivery on the phone. For probably the last three months, I started to note some degradation in the battery life. I could still get about 5 hours of regular use out of the phone, but that was quite a bit less than normal.

I became eligible for an upgrade in November, but I was hoping to hold out for a price reduction on the GN2. The Galaxy S III came out over the summer and by October and November there were already specials in place. Unfortunately, the GN2 has proven to be very popular, so there weren't really any discounts over the holiday shopping season.. As I watched football games over the weekend before New Year's Day, I kept seeing ads for the GN2 and knowing how popular they are, realized price reductions were probably a ways off. So I went ahead and took the plunge with a run to the Sprint store on Monday afternoon.