I’m sitting here working on a presentation on AspectJ and listening to Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles. I’m trying to convert a completely awful presentation (almost all bullet slides, way too many words, no pictures) into an engaging presentation to give via Webex. It all started when I followed a link to Kathy Sierra’s essay Stop your presentation before it kills again! I gave the awful presentation to a lunch time get together with some of my colleagues last week. They kindly overlooked the deficiencies of my slides and one of them looked me up afterwards to ask me to present to a more formal technical exchange that he regularly attends. This got me motivated to rework my slides.
I’m also using Dave Winer‘s OPML Editor to organize my thoughts before I attempt to translate them into something visually appealing. The hardest part of preparing a talk like this is narrowing the topic to fit in the time allotted. The second hardest thing is structuring it so that it can become a dialog instead of a lecture. The main reason I’m creating a Powerpoint presentation is that I am giving the presentation remotely and I want to have something to talk to.
This brings me to the title of this post. I believe in the things that Kathy says about not using Powerpoint slides. I am, however, intimidated by the fact that I am presenting to people “above” me in the hierarchy that expect slides. I feel a need to meet their expectations. I hope that I can come up with something that both meets those expectations and at the same time is visually exciting. I’m not holding my breath.
Here I am, avoiding work because it is so depressing. Waiting for my copy of Getting Things Done to come in so that I can make an informed attempt at getting organized. My car is officially on its Very Last Legs so I am desparately looking for another one (in better shape than this one) that I can afford. I hate buying cars, shopping for clothes, and waiting on anything.
I usually do a pretty good job of finding something constructive to do. Is blogging constructive? In the sense that it is practice writing, I guess it is. It all depends on what (and whose) goals you’re trying to achieve.
There is so much that I want to do, it’s ironic that I’m sitting here at work unable to do most of it. I suppose I can call writing this blog “taking a short break”. It certainly helps improve my mood right now.
I got back on the photography kick this weekend. I took a number of pictures, mostly of my in-laws new house. I have been accumulating quite a collection of contacts on Flickr. Many of them are extremely talented artists. They inspired me to actively pursue photography as art again.
While I was in the bookstore the other day I discovered that Tom Ang’s book Digital Photographer’s Handbook was out in trade paperback for a good bit less than the hard cover edition. It covers the spectrum from a brief explanation of how digital imaging technology works, through a catalog of the different photographic genres, a section describing common photographic challenges and tips for how to use image manipulation software to overcome them, and an extensive section on output options.
I joined a Flickr group called Utata. They publish a web zine that links to their images and discussions on Flickr as well as hosting original content. According to the about page,
Utata is a collective of photographers, writers, and like-minded people who share a compelling interest in the arts. We began (and continue to exist) as a salon-style gathering of photographers who came together on flickr. As a group we are continuously evolving; Utata is more of a process than a final product.
I hope this group helps me get into the swing of things.
I’m listening to Dave Slusher’s Evil Genius Chronicles for July 30, 2006. He’s talking about Getting Things Done today. He is giving the hipster PDA a chance to organize his GTD implementation (check out pocketmod for some cool blank form magic). I resonate with many of his comments about GTD. I have to get a copy of the book and read it. I have looked at the tools and I agree that you should start with the simplest thing that could possibly work (with a tip of the hat to the XP folks).
I am getting to the point that I have too many things that I want to do that I’m not getting done. Life is too short. I owe it to myself to be more organized. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are stagnating (and stupid).
I think I’m making progress on the psychological front with the realizations that I have had about anxiety being orthogonal to happiness. You can be both anxious and happy at the same time. Sometimes you can’t eliminate anxiety but you can manage it.
Enough rambling for today. I think I’ll work on making each day a little bit better than the previous day. I’ll try to record at least one improvement per day for a while to get in the habit. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve been taking notes on AgileWiki, a wiki implemented in Java by a team lead by Bill la Forge based on Rolonics theory which was developed by Norman Kashdan. The funny part about it is I was using instiki to take these notes. I have to admit, instiki is one of the best and easiest wikis to install and use for person use. I don’t know how to install it on my webhosting site yet and I don’t know how it scales but I’m going to use it for personal notes on my local system.
I discovered a new free public wiki site today. It is called wiki.com. It has a lot of neat features. My test wiki is called occasional. Three guesses what the inspiration for that was. I liked a lot of the features of wiki.com but there was one thing missing. I could find no way to download my content to back it up. I emailed the support folks to see if I missed something. I’ll let you know what they say.
I’ve got this idea that a wiki would be a good way to develop the back story for a television series. I’m playing with instiki on my local system. I’ll figure out how to get it hooked up to apache and try and move it up to wildroseandbriar soon. Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any one wiki that is the clear winner in terms of simplicity and features yet.
Prioritization is an activity that takes a lot of attention. I feel that I have only recently started practicing it. I’ve been making lists and checking them twice. Actually, I’ve only been checking them once at most but twice has such a nice ring to it :-). I’ve also been reevaluating and reprioritizing which is something that I always neglected before for the most part.
I’m also multitasking a good bit more. For example, right now I’m writing this blog post and catching up on one of my favorite series of YouTube videos. I am watching “Telling it all Part 6” by geriatric1927 right now. This delightful old British gentleman has been sharing the story of his life, 8 minutes at a time. It is wonderful.
I have to get up very early tomorrow morning to take my daughter in for outpatient surgery so I have to wrap this up. I couldn’t let another day go by without writing something here. Right now, I’m going to go watch the rerun of Dog the bounty hunter getting married on TV.
I couldn’t understand why none of my podcasts were downloading today. Then I tried to download one of them manually and discovered that the external drive that I’ve been saving them to was full. I’ve been burning CDs all morning. I should have my free space back up to a reasonable level by the time I go home. Some of these podcasts I really want to listen to but I don’t have time during the day. I’ve got to figure out how to listen to them some other way, like at night when I go to bed.
At this point, I suspect I’ll never catch up but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. Thus, I burn discs to sit in a spindle until a rainy day when I try to figure out what they are and why in the world I wanted to save them.
My heart jumped a little when I saw that there were 3 comments awaiting moderation. Then I went to moderate them. All 3 were spam, probably from the same spammer with three separate addresses. The comments all read “Nice…”. I am so disgusted. Way too disgusted for the severity of the slight. If it weren’t for the fact that I feel like I’m getting some very good practice writing from posting to this blog, I’d give up. So much for a conversation. I probably just haven’t said anything very engaging yet. Yeah, that’s it.
No, not the board game. I’m talking about taking risks in life. In order to accomplish anything out of the ordinary, you have to take risks. The key thing to remember is to do everything you can to bound your risks. I’ve been thinking about how to do this a lot lately.
I want to pursue other career options but I am over 50 and I have to think about the risk of age discrimination. Not in the careers that I have in mind, which are all variations on the theme of self-employment, but rather as relates to my fall-back position. What if I don’t make a go of being self employed and have to go back to work as a (gasp) employee? How do I mitigate the risk that I might not find anyone that wants to hire me because I’m over 50?
So I’ve been thinking about how to ease into this change. How to dip my toes in and test the water before I quit the day job. The problem is, I don’t know if I have the stamina to hold both a day job and work on a start-up at night anymore. And the other consideration that looms large in my mind is the cost of insurance. I have good insurance where I work. How do I ensure that I have uninterrupted insurance when I take the leap to self-employment.
It certainly is a lot to think about. Right now I’m not real worried about these issues because I’m a long way from taking the plunge. But if I plan on ever doing anything of this sort, I need to start making progress in that direction.