i need a reality check

Moving Locations

Posted in random by josh duncan on March 8, 2009

Having been thinking about this one for a while and finally made the decision to move the site over to a hosted location so I could add more plugins.

Here is the new link (and new name):  A Random Jog

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Vacation (with no cords)

Posted in Product, random by josh duncan on February 25, 2009

Have I mentioned I am way overdue for  a vacation (as I am sure most are these days)?

Unfortunately, the timing is crap.   There are a million things going on with my product, key launch dates are approaching, and there is an endless request for Power Points.

Nevertheless, the tickets are purchases and the rooms are booked.  It is only a short 4 day trip but I am going to do the unthinkable and not bring my laptop.  This will be the longest I have been off work email in three years.

I have to admit it feels good and terrifying at the same time.  The idea of not getting any red hot urgent issues for a few days sounds amazing.  The thought of coming back Sunday night with a thousand emails to read, not so good.

Anyway, I am off.  Will worry about that on Sunday.

Take care,

Josh

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MIAW + SmartTime

Posted in random by josh duncan on February 16, 2009

cal

I am failing at “Making It All Work”, David Allen style.  The last week has been crazy and I have had to focus all my energies on just staying afloat.  So, instead of having my own personal review of MIAW, here are some great ones I found before I bought the book (at this rate, Allen will have a new book out before I finish):

LifeHacker

As usual, Allen’s approach appears to be a combination of business-speak and Zen enlightenment (with a sprinkling of sports metaphors about “winning your game”). The concept of self-management alone connotes the idea that you’d manage your monkey mind they way you would an unruly underling at the office.

Buzzard Blog

I found the book full of common sense brilliance. Reading this book in conjunction with a two day re-booting my GTD system for the start of a new year was extremely helpful.

The Simple Dollar

In fact, when I put it down, my initial reaction was “Getting Things Done is stronger for engineers and left-brain types – Making It All Work fits better with right-brain types.”

Jason Spenser

Seven years later David Allen still remains a fresh and insightful voice in the field of business and personal development. He electrifies his reader with his profound and poignant down home style that is at once practical as it is philosophical.

On a side note, I am testing a new iPhone application called SmartTime.  The app lets you scheudle tasks and events and synch with Google Calendar.  It has several cool features such as filtering by tags and managing multiple projects and calendars.  I can’t say I have figured it all out yet but I am working on it.  For $9.99 it is worth checking out.

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Are You Making It All Work?

Posted in random by josh duncan on February 2, 2009

tetris

Just started listening to the new book from GTD guru David Allen, Making It All Work.  Billed as a companion toolkit to the now classic, Getting Things Done:

David Allen shows us how to excel in dealing with our daily commitments, the unexpected, and the information overload that threatens to drown us. “Making It All Work” provides an instantly usable, success-building toolkit for winning “the game.”

It is still early so check back in a bit for a review/recommendation.

I have been off and on again with GTD for quite some time.  I have found that when I am not swamped, I am too lazy to keep up with a system and when I am swamped, my system is not ingrained enough to keep up.  Basically, I am still at level 1 GTD, list management (trying to find a spot for everything hence the Tetris reference).

In an effort to improve my GTD skills I am going to try and be explicit on what I am tracking and how I am doing it.  Here is my current system and tools:

  • Evernote – Vacation ideas, gift ideas, and other long term items that I will want to look up at some point in the future.  You can access Evernote on your computer, on the web, and even on your iPhone so there really is not an excuse not to use it even more.  So why don’t I?  It may just be me. but it seems like overkill when you are trying to quickly capture something.
  • TextPad – work to-dos. Have been using TextPad for years since it is so light weight and you can manage multiple tab lists for different projects.
  • Outlook – work calendar.  When there is something I have to get done (reports, presentations, etc) I try to schedule time in advance on the calendar to make sure I get it done in time.  I am getting better at email management but quite a ways away from “InBox Zero”
  • Google Calendar – family events.  My wife and try to put all our events online so we can track all the b-day parties, dr. apts, soccer games, and other out of work stuff.  Its great for helping to avoid double bookings.
  • iPhone Task List – for errands.  I don’t even know the name of this app but is really nothing special.  Just something to track all the stuff I need to get next time I am at Target, Costco, etc.
  • del.icio.us – web site tracker.  Used for saving good web articles, web references to access at a later time.

More to come here.

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Would You Pay to Advertise on Digg.com?

Posted in random by josh duncan on December 22, 2008

200979_sign_2_men_at_work

TechCrunch ran a story over the weekend with a review of Digg’s financials and it is not looking that good (also on Silicon Alley).

The first three quarters of 2008 Digg had revenues of $6.4 million and losses of $4 million. That implies total 2008 revenue of $8.5 million, with $5.3 million in losses.

The big question that TechCrunch asks is what are the estimated 35+ engineers working on at Digg?   With a smaller staff, their massive web traffic (estimated at 16 million worldwide unique monthly visitors)  should enable them to squeak out a profit of some kind.

The speculation is that they are trying to build some sort of advanced advertisement platform similar to Google’s AdSense that will enable them to insert targeted adds into their user generated posts.  In the theory, that sounds like a good idea, but will it really pay off?

I am a fan of Digg and visit the site daily (If you don’t know much about Digg and their founder Kevin Rose, Inc.com recently published an overview).  It is one of the best places on the web to find all the current popular news, stories, and latest gossip and follies.  But that in itself is the issue.  “All” is a very broad market to target on the web and Digg hangs it all out there to see.

Here is a sample of a few of the stories on the front page today:

  1. Independent Investigation: Special Olympics Fixed (A farce from the Onion.com)
  2. The Wine development release 1.1.11 is now available (Software for running Windows on Linux)
  3. Kids Say The Most Existentially Terrifying Things (A cartoon from Cracked.com)
  4. Warner Brothers Pulls All Videos from Youtube (a news story update from cnet.com)

This is the best part of Digg.  Right next to serious social/political issues are irreverent, silly, outrageous, and sometimes, offensive posts.  That’s great for users of Digg but make a tough sale for corporate advertisers.  Now, I am not saying that corporate advertisers will not post ads on Digg.  In fact, right now there is an ad for a Ford Flex featured in the top right banner.  But note, this is right above the ad from GIftCardFreebies.com (view screen shot here).

There are a lot of brands out there that are not going to like having their products squashed between jokes on Marijuana and SMBC comics and these brands have deep pockets.

So what about Google then?  They have targeted ads and they can have much more offensive material on their site so, why are they such a success?  Because Google search starts with a blank canvas and you give it a target.  It knows that if you are searching for Teddy Bear vs. Teddy, what is acceptable and what is not.  Plus in situations where there is ambiguity, the lack of banner ads help keep the site neutral.

The hardest part of this for Digg is that even though they helped drive this GroundSwell of user generated content, they don’t control it (see HD-DVD encryption fiasco). Any effort to mainstream the site or push edgy content off the front page will not be met with a quiet response.

Thoughts?

Social Networking

Posted in random, resources by josh duncan on December 18, 2008

Alora Chistiakoff  at The Pragmatic Contextualist has a great discussion on the values of social networking.

I have recently become a huge fan of Twitter and its ability to let you connect with groups of people with common interests (that’s how I found the Pragmatic Contextualist).

Facebook on the other hand is a different story.  As Alora points out in her article, you need to carefully walk the line between your work life and your home life and with Facebook, and it is very hard to keep these separate.  When I joined Facebook, I accepted invites from everyone I knew and before I realized what was happening, filled up my friend list with fewer friends and more associates.  Now I have to think before I a make a post whether I want John in accounting to know what happened over the weekend.  I am sure there is a way to fix this by cutting back my friend list but it seems like the easier choice is to just stop using the site.  Isn’t it about time for the next Facebook anyway?

Read Alora’s full post here.

How Many Blogs Have You Been With?

Posted in random, resources by josh duncan on December 17, 2008

According to Technorati’s “State of the Blogsphere 2008”, 184 million people WW have started a blog (even more impressive “77% of active Internet users read blogs”).

To tell you the truth, this is actually my third blog.  The first two didn’t go that well so I usually don’t like to mention them (it is always a bit awkward at the end).   But for the sake of openness, I will divulge.

My first blog was a family blog.  I started it on Blogger back before they were bought by Google.  It was fun and great for keeping the family up on the latest but eventually, the novelty wore off and it just became a site for photo updates.

The second blog started when we moved to Texas as a way for us to help keep family and friends up-to-date on all the new things we were discovering in Texas (rodeos, scorpions, breakfast tacos, monster trucks, BBQ, etc).  As hilarious as this was, after a year it started to get old and hard to keep it entertaining.

So, this brings us to blog number three (the one you are currently reading).  I am still working on my overall goals for this blog but the one that sticks out the most right now, is to be part of the conversation on a topic that I am very excited and passionate about.

Will this one last?  Will anyone care?   If not, maybe blog number two will take me back……

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Genghis Khan GTD?

Posted in random by josh duncan on December 14, 2008

The January edition of Real Simple has a hilarious article poking fun of to do lists.  This parody includes lists of Khan, Annie Oakley, Mozart, and Bill Gates.

A few of my favorites:

Khan

  • Pillage
  • Plunder
  • Have shirt taken in
  • Pillage

Mozart

  • Powder wig
  • Powder face
  • Compose symphony
  • lunch

The article is not online yet but should be shortly.  Check back and I will post the direct link.

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More on Bill Miller

Posted in random by josh duncan on December 11, 2008

Still thinking about Bill Miller and found several blog posts with thoughts on what can be learned from his mistakes.  So, if you are in the mood for more, read on here:

FinanceProfessor.com :

It is fascinating that the big collapses (he financial debacles that are studied years later as well as the crushing military defeats) often happen after a long period of wins. Why? Because the decision makers fall in love with their ability (over confidence) and believe that just because it worked in the past, it will work again.

Random Roger’s Big Picture:

It seems pretty clear that he really believes (maybe now it would be believed) in buying more as they went down. This was a contributing factor to his success, and make no mistake he was wildly successful for a long time, and also a contributing factor in his..what should we say..fall from grace or whatever.

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