Monthly Archive: March 2005

Personal Information Lifecycle Managemenet

Information LifecycleMy company is currently re-launching its knowledge management environment, so I thought it would be useful to re-think my requirements from a personal and then (in another blog post) from a team/project perspective. The diagram on the left represents a simplified view of the personal information management lifecycle and I will step through each phase looking at the commodity tools that I think all knowledge workers should have, by right, in todays world.  Then I will discuss some of the more advanced tools that may only be applicable to certain high value processes or industry segments.  First off I make no apologies for the simple model I have chosen to use.  More complete lifecycles have been modelled, for example this one by David Pollard which is a more comprehensive view of the creative process, and if you want to dig deeper go read his work as it’s better than mine!  However I wanted something that was visually simple and easy for people to relate to.

I will be testing my companies project against the content of this document,  it should be interesting!

First off lets deal with the coloured groups,  the green hexagons (subscribe, search and discuss) are ongoing activities …

Health Update

ArthritisAs readers of my blog know I suffer from Adult Onset Stills, a rare disease that affects 1 in about 200,000 people.  Since my last major flare about 13 months ago a combination of Steroids and Immune System Suppresents have managed to get the primary inflammation under control leaving me with chronic pain and fatigue which varies from day to day.  I cope pretty well with this by working from home etc, and its all well documented in this blog.

Right now I just slowly turning the corner after a couple of bad months, but the recovery is very slow and is going in fits and starts. 

Last few monthsThe graph shows the daily symptom levels for the last 6 months.  However progress has been made as follows:

  • I have reduced my Prednisolone levels to 5mg, which is a safe level
  • I have increased my Methotrexate level to 15 mg and the 2 weekly blood tests are showing that I am tolerating it well, ie its not having a toxic affect.  It has however given me migraine headaches every week that last about 48 hours.
  • Luckily my GP also gave me Amitriptyline 35mg for the pain, which also has a common side …

Treo 600 – what do I think of it so far?


I usually end up disappointed when I buy a new gadget and must admit I was a little disappointed with the keyboard.  However in all other areas I have been very pleased.  A combination of the built in software and the fine tuning done by third parties makes it a superb phone, and the integration of “phone and media player” and “phone and address book” and “address book and calendar” are excellent.  The one handed navigation is also top notch with a combination of the application buttons, touch screen and that 5 way nav-pad allowing stylus free navigation for most functions.  Battery life seems excellent as well. 

There is so much great software its difficult to know where to start,  but the neatest (and simplest) I have found so far is Call Director.  If you are unfortunate – like me – to live in a poor mobile reception area this is a perfect utility.  As soon as you pop the Treo in its cradle at home,  it diverts your calls to your home number, in my case between the hours of 8:00 and 22:00, take it out the cradle and call divert is cancelled.  If you plug it into the charger …

Ok, yes I did buy a Treo!

600C_127dialpad_medOnly a few weeks ago I sold my old Pocket PC,  a fairly new Ipaq 4150 and an old Creative Zen MP3 Player.  I got about £450 for the whole lot and included quite a few bits of software and other bits like headphones and stuff I had acquired as free gifts along the way.  I wanted to de-clutter my life and was looking to free up enough money to upgrade my TC1000 Tablet to a TC1100.  Well browsing through eBay I saw a Treo 600 which I though was a great bargain,  for less than £200 I got the Treo, headphones that also work as a headset, and all sorts of other bits and pieces including a 1GB SD card. 

It arrived today and so far I am very happy, here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Great phone, good media player, great Lotus Notes integration, the touch sensitive screen is easy to use with my small fingers, so I hardly need the stylus.  Replaces everything I sold in one device and adds a phone into the bargain.

I made a few upgrades:

  • Using an existing licence for mNotes that I had purchased to sync with my Ipaq …


A week ago I blogged a little about InfoPath and the fact that Bill Gates had said that InfoPath will probably be the closest thing today to the dominant Microsoft forms technology moving forward,  so Bill why not just buy InfoView and leave InfoPath for forms design and offline usage scenarios.  What’s InfoView:

With InfoView your organisation can:

  • Publish InfoPath forms to the web – providing external users who do not have InfoPath on their desktops the same rich and dynamic user experience of InfoPath forms with web forms
  • Leverage XML standards to capture data via web forms and route data into back-end systems with no manual operation

The business case for portable computers

Just recently I read a blog post (which I can no longer find) that cast doubt on the business case for portable computers.  The basic argument went like this:

  • Portable users worked for 14% more hours
  • Portable users produced 13% more work
  • Therefore portable users were 1% less efficient

Assuming I remember this correctly it seems a pretty strange analysis, so here is my counter analysis.  First the case for portables and productivity:

  • Portable users do more hours when they have a portable device because it allows them to work when they would otherwise be undertaking some leisure activity, depending on the portable device in questions, these times are most often, whilst waiting in airports, travelling by train, sitting in front of the TV etc.
  • Portable users do more hours because its easier to “just spend an hour” working at the weekend, than it is to drive to work and do it there
  • Portable users spend more time with access to time critical information sources, email, IM etc and so respond faster reducing lead-times, and improving decision making
  • Portable users make better use of their time in the office, processing email, expenses and other low low importance high volume tasks tend to …

Paperless, the enduring dream of computing

I remember writing my first “paper reduction” based business case about 15 years ago, and using the “paperless office” phrase in a business case for the first time about a decade ago, it’s interesting to see how much “progress” we have made.  It seems that the average office worker in the USA now consumes over 12,000 sheets of paper per year!  In cost terms that’s probably well in excess of $500 a year. 

Last year I had the opportunity question my own usage of paper and was staggered by the extent to which I depended on it.  I also came across an interesting article that discussed why no one seems interested in solving the problem which I discussed in my blog last year

However I am now able to say that I live an almost paper free life, and briefly here are the things that have made it possible:

  • I use a Tablet PC for all reading and reviewing
  • I use a 3 screen environment at home which means I have plenty of screen real estate available to have multiple documents open at the same time
  • I have a great scanner, and the even better PaperPort Pro which lets me scan every …

Why I love working in the end-user and work-group computing field!

I have worked in this area for most of my working life and it continues to amaze me that it is still an area of IT that has the – untapped – potential to transform peoples lives.  Most of the customers I work with are struggling to deal with all the information they have to cope with in their work and home life (which are becoming more integrated).  They live high-bandwidth lifestyles!  Its with great interest therefore that I read the following results from the Information Work Productivity Council (IWPC) which is an independent group of companies and academics that have joined together to study the issue of information work productivity. The goal of the Council is to build a model that measures productivity in today’s information-centric business environment. 

They recently published the results of a survey into how the average user spends their time at work.  According to the study, the average user:

  • Spends 3 hours and 14 minutes a day using technologies to process work-related information—just over 40% of an 8-hour work day
  • Devotes 1.58 hours/day to e-mail (49% of the information processing time, and 20% of an 8 hour day
  • Spends 47 minutes, or 24% of IP time on telephone and voice mail
  • Receives …

Microsoft doing it right …

These two great video (one and two) interviews with Scott Guthrie on IIS7 and ASP.NET show off Microsoft at its best, you might even go so far as saying a new Microsoft.  The IIS Team and the Indigo team seem to have learned some key lessons about standards compliance and compatibility (not always the same thing).  Of course it’s a key requirement of their market segment, and they don’t dominate it,  but its still nice to see the focus in these areas.  Two other things stand out for me in the interviews:

  • The continued focus on making IIS a great platform upon which people can build additional infrastructure richness and of course great applications. This is achieved by modularising the platform and documenting the APIs of the standard modules and allowing new modules to be easily created.
  • The second is that with IIS a raft of the most common open source applications are going to be provided, and integrated,  from forums to blogs, another really great move.

I just wish they had given him advanced notice of one of the key questions, how do you differentiate yourself against apache (which is didn’t really now how to answer) and asked …

What is Product Management?

I just came across an interesting article that discusses the Product Management role.  As you can see from this post it’s quite topical, so I have commented on some extracts below.

What is Product Management?

Most people accept that “product management” is a term used to describe the sum of diverse activities performed in the interest of delivering a particular product to market. Such a broad definition, used by many companies today, is the root of much grief because it dilutes the professional focus necessary to achieve successful results and allows virtually any product-related task to be assigned to the product manager.

I agree that this definition is too broad,  I believe we address it in my company by assigning project managers to do the delivery management and focusing on ensuring that the lifecycle management activities can be achieved effectively, rather than trying to do them all ourselves! 

The overall perceived obstacle that the typical product manager encounters is the pervasive lack of professional focus. One can be adequate at many things, but it is difficult to excel at many. Many product managers therefore view themselves as trapped in a never-ending juggling routine. Having too many tasks to juggle eventually …