Thursday, February 21, 2008

sometimes it's better to just shut up

In any technical environment it's very common that the most technically sound individuals are given leadership roles. There should be two career paths. One for leaders of people and one for leaders of technology. Technically brilliant individuals should be recognized for their efforts and hardwork. However, recognizing the one talent at the expense of the team and its goals is not worthwhile. This is what can happen when technical individuals become managers.

The need to display one's technical supremacy comes at a cost. When the cost is de-motivating the members of the team - that cost is too high. I've often looked at ideas and thought about adding my own spin on it. I did add some value, but then the person with the original idea doesn't feel the same ownership. Might they have worked harder and come to the same conclusion on their own? Seems like a solid growth opportunity. The leader must sublimate himself or herself for the greater good.
Achievement is about me. Leadership is about them.-unknown

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

watt is in the bag?

I was at my local library yesterday picking up some reading material. I went to the check-out desk and found a a small stand from the power company. There were about two dozen packages. Within each package was $$$

What a fantastic idea on multiple fronts. The campaign to conserve energy is all well and good but you need to enable people to understand their drain on the system their footprint etc. I've seen many sites on calculating offsets but that was estimation and felt more like guesswork. This watt reader allows you to plug any device into the wattreader which plugs directly into the wall. From there the reader will let you know exactly how much current is being drawn.

This will allow you to understand the phantom load of many common devices. A great application to help people better understand their footprint, and how much it costs them on a daily basis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

book review: Don't Make me Think by Steve Krug

This book is an absolute must-read for all developers. Especially pertinent to web developers but incorporating the principles of usability into your development process of a client or server app would be invaluable. Krug is a usability expert and that's how makes his living. However if you're not prepared to shell out the big bucks fortunately for you he provides tonnes of examples and even tells you how conduct usability testing yourself.

Another aspect to this book is that it's a complete joy to read. This is not the case for most technical books. There is a light-heartedness to it that helps keep you engaged. Of course, the layout is straight-forward and easy on the eyes. Krug recognizes the hypocrisy of many books that preach about being engaging and interesting in a dull prose.

This was a book I had heard a lot about, but never got around to reading it. I wish I had read this sooner. There are about a dozen projects I can think of off-hand where this information would have been a huge help.

Go get it, read it now. If you've already read it, pick it up again, keep it close at hand. Looking at the majority of what I see at work and online, this should be required reading before people can develop anything.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Much is made of the power of the people in blogging. Now there's microblogging like twitter. Twitter enables you to post brief (< 140 chars) messages to the twitter universe. The social aspect is that users can follow whoever they please. Following a person means you want to receive any updates they post. Thanks to it's API you can use twitter through a web page, mobile and even IM. In a nutshell, your IM or Facebook status is now an entire application in itself.

Similar to blogging, one wonders, what's the point? Is the fact that I finally built those shelves in the garage of concern to anyone? I'm stuck in traffic - who cares? In this ultra-connected time where we have so much information at our fingertips -how can we prioritize and validate sources of information? How can we filter information better? We have friends we trust and value their opinions. Using social networks we validate information for each other. All sorts of recommendations on links, websites and applications. Blogging enables people to share insights and ideas. If I'm looking for a particular service I could throw a question out and get a response within minutes.

Going back to my shelves, let's say a friend is planning on putting up shelves in their own garage. They contact me directly to gain advice on insight on how they should proceed. Stuck in traffic on the DVP? good to know, I'll go down Bayview instead. Twitter enables instant messaging in an open forum. There's that open word again. Instead of messaging a friend, you message the world. You're real-time broadcasting from any computer or net-connected device. Are all updates that worthwhile? Probably not, but it allows us to stay connected over the large net expanse. That's the whole point of this whole social media revolution.

Twitter is definitely still in it's infancy, but there appears to be a groundswell. It might still be too early to tell if micro-blogging will catch on. I think it will, but the tools will need to mature. Searching & filtering must and will improve. From a little poking around, I get the impression that many people have visited and left. I don't think this is too far ahead of it's time, but it is ahead of the curve.

Be sure to hit me up : twitter/ebala