Tagged: HomeWorkSpace

Skype experiences so far

I have been increasingly using Skype and decided to share my experiences to date: Overall Summary Closest I have had to the perfect phone while working from home,  but still issues that I have to work around Skype delights I can sit at home with my headset on listening to...

VMWare 5 and productivity

I have just installed VMWare 5 on my main desktop machine (2GB) and my TC1100 Tablet (1.5GB) and I have been very impressed,  I have also along the way been very impressed by the latest crop of Microsoft Servers.  Here is a quick run through of the last couple of days.

I have been feeling really rotten for the last 48 hours due mainly to a short lived virus that has wrought havoc with my already screwed up immune system.  As a result I needed some distractions, playing around with VMWare 5 seemed the ideal solution.  Here’s how I spent the worst hours of the last 2 days:

  • Installed VMWare 5,  that was very easy – my best VMWare experience to date and so much better than my experience with Virtual Server 2005 the day before.  I liked the idea of Virtual Server because it would allow me to use its Active X control console to embed live Windows Sessions in my PowerPoint presentations.  In the end I hated Virtual Server so much by comparison with the ultra slick VMWare that I gave up on the idea.  Later I remembered I could probably do the same thing with the RDP …

HotRecorder, Skype and My Life Bits

HotrecorderInspired by listening to talks about the Microsoft Research project, My Life Bits, I decided it would be a good idea to record my telephone conversations when I can. Fortunately it turns out to be really easy if you use Skype and the free program HotRecorder.  The product is not the prettiest I have ever used, and the UI is a bit quirky but it gets the job done.  Recording quality is good, and you can add key words and the name of the person you called to each recording making retrieval easy.  The ad-supported version is free and the premium version is only $14.95.  Well worth trying out, if only to listen to the different responses you get when you tell people you are recording the call, from the slightly guarded/worried to the “where can I get a copy”, so far!

If you want to get up-to speed on My Life Bits I recommend the recording on IT conversations, which I listened to on my Treo while walking along the beach last week.

My Life Bits progress so far:

  • Photo’s
  • Emails
  • Web pages
  • Documents read
  • Documents reviewed
  • Audio listened to
  • Contacts talked to, or want to talk …


HouseworkSince I started working from home I have increased the amount of house work that I do, my share is:

  • Washing the clothes and putting them away
  • At least one set of washing up
  • Tidying the kids rooms
  • Bed time stories

I don’t mind doing it to much,  but I have recently found that I actually quite enjoy it because I listen to technical conferences or pod-casts on my Treo to keep me occupied (except when reading the bedtime stories :-)).  Today I was listening to the 2nd Tablet PC Podcast that JK has just started, more details on his blog.  and I found that I was actually looking around for more cleaning to do so that I could listen to the end.  Debbie (wife) was pretty pleased when she got home!

New workstation design!

DeskI have gradually refined my workstation design, and its changed quite a lot since the last time I posted.  So I thought I would provide an update.  This first image shows an overview of the whole environment, there are some key points to look out for:

  • First I two PC’s shown at the bottom, the one on the left is my desktop, running Windows 2003 Server, with 2GB of memory and VM Ware Workstation and all of my other applications.  This PC drives the three monitors via two ATI graphics boards.

Behind the PC’s in a curtain that my wife made for me that hides one hell of tangle of cables!

On top of the centre monitor is a USB web cam.  On the CRT monitor is my headphone jack and volume control and my Secure ID token (dual factor authentication) for my company VPN connection.

The two monitors centre and left are 19” TFT’s that run at 1280*1024.  The one on the right is a 19” Flat CRT.   I tend to use the one of the left for email, reference materials, instant message discussions etc.  The one in the middle for writing, presentations and reading, and the one …

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 …

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 …

Ink, Typing and Creativity

In his podcast today on Tablet PCs James mentioned that studies have shown the creativity is reduced when typing with both hands (which use both sides of the brain) which explains why many people find that their creativity is increased when using ink as the input method to capture ideas.  In addition the freedom of expression enabled by ink also increases creativity.  I have also seen this, and noticed a similar effect when mainly using my mouse and minimal typing to create Mindmaps on my desktop.

Its interesting how this interesting observation links together posts from yesterday on thinking and on report writing here and here.

More about SwimMP3

I wrote a short article yesterday about how my SwimMP3 player has transformed the way I swim.  In this article I will provide a better review of the device itself.

First off it looks quite strange, you get lots of looks whilst swimming.  If you like to chat to people then it’s a good ice breaker!

It has 128MB of memory, which is reasonable for music, if you set it to random then most people won’t get bored even if they swim every day.  If like me you listen to talk shows, conferences etc then 128MB is more than enough, in fact the way I use it I tend to load it up with just 2 * 30 minute MP3 files, less than 30MB, why 2, just in case I don’t fancy the the content of the first one and need an alternative.  Each day I just delete the talks I have listened to and download another.

My main source of talks right now is IT Conversations

I find that lots of the things I want to listen to are too long for my swims, so I split them into 20-30 minute sessions depending on how long I want to …