Daily Archive: May 2, 2005

Employee productivity

PeoplewareProductivity is a lot more than buying your developers fast PC’s, however I have written before about the mismatch between employees and their employers about how they value their productivity.  I have even noticed it in the Microsoft channel 9 videos that you see key developers and testers struggling along with 2 or three old CRT monitors when they should obviously have LCDs now days.  So it’s nice when you come across a company that’s prepared to invest:

Over the coming months our four summer interns are going to be developing a product that requires of a server and two clients, so we’ll need three VMs to simulate the complete environment. We bought high-end, dual-Xeon Dell workstations with dual monitors and 2 GB of memory each (that’s our new standard developer workstation) which will make it easy and fast to simulate the complete production environment on every intern’s computer. It’s probably overkill and you can run VMware happily on less pumped-up computers, but if you’re simulating a network of three machines VMware definitely benefits from lots of RAM and CPUs.

As always if you want a broader view on productivity, check out my other posts, or read PeopleWare….

Bank holiday weekend

Picture045_02May05It’s been a few months since I have been well enough to taking the kids out playing on the beach, so this bank holiday weekend has been pretty special.  We have played ball games every day on our local beach and today we went into Blackpool early (never go into Blackpool late on a bank holiday unless you like the “party atmosphere” – ie drunken louts!).  Anyway early on a sunny day is great fun.  The girls spent an hour in the amusements and we had a good root round the shops and good fun on the beach.

Uses and misuses of collaborative technology

EcommunicationsI am working on refreshing a great guide that my companies research team produced on this topic a few years ago.  I have some interesting material, and recently came across this book which seems to address a small part of the subject area pretty well.  I ordered it from Amazon.com today, so it should arrive in the UK early next week.

Get the most out of conference calls—whether you’re a presenter or participant
Turn web conferences and videoconferences into results-getting virtual meetings
A checklist of things to remember before you send your next e-mail
Deal with all the e-mail you receive
Use instant messaging to connect with virtual teams
Do’s and don’ts when using voice mail
Conduct virtual job interviews
Prepare for and conduct the conference call, and tips for following up
Minimize your legal liability when using electronic communication

Information Overload – and burn out

Eric, builds nicely on my last post on “Information Overload” and provides some nice links.  I particularly resonated with the idea of “shutting down” in the face of overload (burn out):

Have you ever found yourself emotionally shutting down in the face of a daunting project list and an overflowing e-mail in-box? I have.   The Air Force calls this Task Saturation and it can manifest itself in many ways. Some people hyper-focus on their email and new-mail alerts to the point where nothing gets done.

David and I made posts on Saturday and Sunday about the UK researcher who found that email distractions can cause a drop in IQ.

Fellow productivity blogger, Bert, from Open Loops, posted an excellent comment about how the military helps its pilots extract themselves from overwhelm before they have to extract themselves from their wreckage:

This has certainly happened to me a few times when I have been on major programmes and just unable to get my mind around what to do next.  In these circumstances I tend to take the following steps:

  • Write everything down on a piece of paper, I often never look at this list again
  • Take afternoons off for a few …

More on Metro

MetroIn this post I described my wish list for Metro, more information has since emerged and its looking like a pretty promising technology.  The first is Metro Fact Sheet from Microsoft, some key snippets follow, first on its objectives:

“Metro,” that offers a unified framework to address the growing use of electronic document-based workflows, and inclusion of advanced graphics and extended color information in everyday documents and Web applications. “Metro” offers an open document format that uses Extensible Markup Language (XML), a public standard for exchanging data between disparate systems, and other current, industry standards to create a modern, cross-platform document and imaging technologies. “Metro” simplifies creation, sharing, printing, viewing and archiving of digital documents, while also improving image fidelity and print performance.


Then more information on the components:

·        A complete specification for a fixed-layout document format based on XML that offers “electronic paper” for use by any application on any platform

·        A “viewer” to view, manage and print files

·        A print-to-file converter for creating the files from any Microsoft® Windows-based application

·        A set of application programming interfaces (APIs) to incorporate “Metro” technologies and documents with traditional applications, the Web …