APLN Leadership Summit Dallas…

January 30, 2008

The Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) is having their leadership summit here in Dallas on February 21-22 and Improving Enterprises is lucky enough to be the title sponsor for it. As a result, I’m able to pass along a 10% discount if you register thru this link. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty intense event with some great speakers – you can get more information from their site.

David O’Hara is a Senior Consultant with Improving Enterprises in Dallas, Texas.

MacBook Pro Speaker Freakout…

January 25, 2008

I’ve had this happen twice now and couldn’t find anything about it. While happily working away on my laptop, the speakers made a loud, sudden pop. After that no sound would come out of them – no iTunes, no notifications, nothing. I turn the volume up and down several times with no effect. Mute caused the popping noise though so I knew the speakers weren’t dead just freaked out. On a whim, I plugged in my headphones and mashed the mute button again. Viola! Sound worked fine in the headphones. Upon unplugging them, I now have sound again. Uh…ok.
Not sure if it warrants a trip to the Apple Store (when am I NOT looking for a reason to go there) but since I can’t exactly reproduce the issue I’m guessing I’ll have to wait for a reoccurrence.

David O’Hara is a Senior Consultant with Improving Enterprises in Dallas, Texas.

Announcement: DDNUG – ASP.NET MVC

January 22, 2008

In ramping up for the new year, I knew this was a topic I was really looking forward to learning more about and sharing with others. On February 20th, I’ll get a chance to do a bit of the latter. I’ll be giving my “ASP.NET MVC – What does it mean to me??” presentation at the Dallas .NET User Group. We’ll be covering Model-View-Controller (MVC) concepts and the benefits of utilizing it in creating your web applications. As always, I’m going to try to be light on the slides and heavy on the code so that you can see the framework in action.

As a bonus, Rob Vettor will also be presenting, “What is LINQ and how it can help you” so you’ll get a chance to enjoy 2 topics for the price of one (free!).

Go sign up!!

David O’Hara is a Senior Consultant with Improving Enterprises in Dallas, Texas.

Setting up GTD Contexts…

January 6, 2008

When breaking down your “stuff”, tasks get assigned a context. These contexts are an important piece for a functional GTD system since they allow you to quickly move to the next task based upon certain criteria without having to re-process your entire list of work. Given their key role in the system and highly personal nature, they’re also a big point of contention among practitioners. Here are a few things that I’ve found.

Context Types

Contexts generally fall into 3 types:

  1. Location based contexts – “Home”, “Work”, “Errand” (specific store)
  2. Tool dependent contexts – “Mac”, “Browser”, “Phone”
  3. People specific contexts – “Boss”, “David”, “Spouse” (please use their name)

Given the broad range of people and tools we interact with on a daily basis, this list could get out of hand really fast. If you’re trying to figure out what contexts For people contexts, I’ve found that keeping the top 5 people I see the most and the least handles most cases. If you’re unsure what your contexts should be, keep a log for a week. Record where you went, who you saw/talked with, what tools you used at regular intervals throughout the day and the compile your list from that. Don’t forget to record the weekend.

Be Wary of “Anywhere”

“Anywhere” is a catch all and can be a dumping ground so be careful. It should only be for “thought” items since your brain is probably the only things you carry with you 100% of the time. Personally, I skip it so I don’t have to worry about it getting out of hand but you could always rename it to “brainstorm” a la Merlin Mann. Don’t put “Read & Review” items on here – that’s just redundant.

One and Only One

Nothing should ever have more than 1 context. If you think it does, you haven’t thought the task through completely. “I could do this at home. Or at work if I have [noun]”. That noun should be your context not “Home” as it is your real dependency. Often times envisioning yourself completing the task will help in finding the right context.

Too Much

If a context gets more than about 15-20 items, it may be too general – or you may have committed to too much. Go back and do a fair assessment of your current commitments and see if you shouldn’t put off or turn down some of your projects. Trying to function with a list of that many items means you’ll have to re-process the whole list in order to figure out what to do next and that’s wasted effort.

To Tag or Not To Tag

Ok, so they’re not EVIL really unless you try to use them as contexts instead of what they’re really meant for – metadata. And, in my opinion, tags are not helpful since they simply expand the metadata around the task rather than adding to the effort to get it done. If you’re a total report monster, they’re cool to slice and dice but then I’d question how much work you’re getting done. I know I’ve burned numerous hours tweaking reports and graphs that later were completely useless.

Evolve your system. Change your contexts if you think that it will help – if you don’t like it, change it back or try something different. GTD is about find a setup that works for you within the framework.

David O’Hara is a Senior Consultant with Improving Enterprises in Dallas, Texas.