5 years later: Photoshop for iPad Live Demo (Eric Reagan/Photography Bay) | Bricin

Another sign that the iPad is moving closer and closer to replacing many PCs. I assume the small screen size will be a blocker to some actions being simple, but those aren’t mainstream. My guess is…

Source: Photoshop for iPad Live Demo (Eric Reagan/Photography Bay) | Bricin

The two things that stand out from this post from five years ago:

  1. The iPad has not replaced laptops at work. While Apple has sold that vision and is still selling that vision if you walk into any office building you will see people using laptops. Why? At a guess the deciding factor is still the keyboard. While some people like me will invest in becoming good at typing on an iPad for most a keyboard and mouse is still critical. Maybe in five years the new iPad Pro + stylus will change this but for the moment that doesn’t seem to be true. And I was certainly more enthusiastic about this iPad reality then than I am now.
  2. The news source from which I originally gleaned this story doesn’t appear to exist anymore. It’s amazing that a business could be up, running, and then gone in the span of five years. That *shouldn’t* surprise me but it does. Somehow I thought web content would be more robust than other businesses in the sense that it’s often easier to simply let it linger on an isolated, dead-end server than to take it offline.

Not just for remote-work… everyone should ask these questions

Many of you may have noticed that there’s a new “perk” or “category” that’s been popping up in job listings a lot more l…

Source: 6 things to ask when interview for a remote job — Medium

The gist of this article is that remote-work requires a certain amount of dedication and thoughtfulness. The truly interesting part is that your co-located work (i.e. what most people think of as work) should be asking these same questions. To paraphrase and revise this list then (skipping #1 which is purely about remote-work):

  1. How do you typically communicate with your team? If you don’t have a strategy for communication it will devolve into a morass of emails that don’t quite reach everyone or hallways conversations which are guaranteed to miss someone. Have a strategy, evolve the strategy as your organization changes, and understand which tools work and which don’t. Hint: email is not it.

  2. How much does the team use Slack/HipChat on a daily basis? Good teams communicate. The tool itself doesn’t matter as much as the fact that everyone understand how to do asynchronous communication (i.e. when you don’t need an answer right away) vs. synchronous. In the old days when we needed an answer we’d call someone. Now you can use Slack, HipChat, any of the various IM tools out there, or even text messaging if needed. But the team needs something. Hint: email is not it.

  3. How do you work through ‘collaborative problems’? This list notes that doing this on a whiteboard means someone is left out. That’s true in a co-located office as well because 90% of the time someone is sick, on vacation, in another seemingly-endless meeting, etc. In other words 100% of the people who need to be involved won’t be. So you need to capture the heart of the discussion and outcome and communicateCapturing this could be a quick photo of the whiteboard + notes. Or it could be using a nice wireframing tool like Balsamiq. There are many techniques but the key is capturing the information and then communicating it. Hint: this might be a decent use for email but probably better for a shared server/Dropbox or similar.

  4. What time do people usually sign off for the day? Every culture is different. Developers tend to come in late and stay late. Others come in early and leave early. That’s okay. Have a known rhythm and stick to it. Fire-drills should be rare and not repeated (i.e. fix the problem so it never repeats). Death marches (this is when you command a team to work nights, weekends) are a function of poor planning and bad executive management most of the time.

  5. How many tools do you use with your remote workers? What are the tools you need? Have they evolved with the times and your business? Does everyone have access and does everyone know how to use them? Are the tools a sensible part of the workflow; if they aren’t you will never get adoption. Hint: you need some combination of shared storage (Dropbox, Box, Git for engineering teams, etc.), asynch communication (email, forums, Slack, Yammer), and synch communication (IM, Slack, HipChat, etc.). Beyond that the tools will vary between designer tools like Adobe/Sketch or source code tools or project management tools (Smartsheet, TeamGantt, JIRA). Know what these tools are and make sure you are evaluating new tools.

Wish I read this sooner…

Seth Godin had a nice blurb today…

Don’t finalize the logo before you come up with a business plan that works.

Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your vacation policy before you have a product that people actually want to buy.

I am still noodling over a longer post mortem write-up for the fact that my startup didn’t get off the ground. But part of the reason, one of many, is that I forgot to think about the big questions all the time and so often thought about the smaller things.

Sure, sometimes it’s fun to work on the logo and you need a break from the business plan. But too often I focused on the logo (or the email system or ….) before I focused on the product. I feel stupid in hindsight, but then again everything is easier in hindsight.

Invest in good video-conferencing tech: Remote Working – 3 Year Retrospective

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, if you only do *one* thing in this section, invest in decent video conferencing. When you have remote employees, *every* meeting they are in will necessitate a video conference.

Source: Remote Working – 3 Year Retrospective | blog.jonliv.es

Of all the common points involved with remote work, this one always stands out. Whether your team is 100% remote, partially remote (i.e. some people are remote while others work in offices), or distributed (everyone works in an office but the offices are geographically different) the most common complaint is video conferencing.

There are two avenues that I have seen that fail:

  1. The company goes the cheap route and invests in nothing. The employees muddle through with Skype, Google Hangouts, or whatever random solution they can get through the expense reporting system.
  2. The company invests in tech but a) it’s usually poorly designed, b) it’s poorly maintained, or c) the rooms in which video conferencing (VC) tech exists are too few and usually booked.

It’s hard to believe in 2016 that most small, remote companies haven’t latched on to a solution*. It’s even crazier that big, distributed companies still struggle with VC tech. As the author of this piece notes “If it takes 20 mins out of every meeting to get people dialed in, it frankly sucks.” And worse, sometime during that 20 minutes inevitably someone will announce “let’s go to voice only”, the team switches to an antiquated conference calling number, and voila… you have an inefficient, frustrating meeting that reinforces the belief that remote/distributed work cannot work as well as co-located.

What’s the solution? Easy, set a goal for VC meeting efficiency and monitor as you would anything else. Imagine you had a build system or source code repository that broken between 12.5-25% of the time (i.e. 1-2 hours daily) and cost your engineering team that much productivity; would you allow that? If the tool isn’t meeting your company’s goals… replace it with something that is.

5 Years Later – Podio Threatens To Replace All Your Project Management Tools | Bricin

Podio Threatens To Replace All Your Project Management Tools Project management software is essentially in the same place it was ten years ago. When pushed most people use an Excel spreadsheet (pro…

Source: Podio Threatens To Replace All Your Project Management Tools | Bricin

Five years ago I wrote this blurb about Podio, an up-and-coming app designed to replace all of your other project management tools. Guess what… it didn’t. And that’s not a knock on Podio; I’ve lost count of the number of project management tools out there. Some survive by filling a particular niche (e.g. Smartsheet for Gantt charts and end-to-end planning) or by getting bought (e.g. Wunderlist). Podio hasn’t done too badly: $4.6mm in funding and then acquired by Citrix in 2012. That’s a success.

But we’re still not where we need to be with project management tools. Some of the requirements:

  1. Ubiquitous – a tool needs to be everywhere that a worker is. Mobile, laptop, tablet, etc. Moreover it’s not good enough to simply cobble the same tool into each platform and call it good. The scenarios using a mobile device are very different than on a laptop.
  2. Integration – Most companies cannot simply move their other processes to your stack. Any tool then needs to integrate with Slack, email, GitHub/BitBucket, JIRA, etc. You could do fairly lightweight integrations via Zapier but if you want to truly succeed you need to make the seams between your app and the other pieces of the workflow disappear.
  3. Multiple workflows – Kanban boards are great for some purposes. Gantt charts are great for other purposes. Story-pointing and other agile techniques need to come into play. You can’t dictate the workflow or you will break adoption. Your tool can *definitely* suggest a great workflow where none exists but don’t force it.
  4.  Reporting up and down – the tool needs to be useful in all areas of the management chain. As an individual contributor you need to get all the mess out of the way and get your job done. As a senior manager you want visibility into progress (or velocity or KPIs or whatever your org needs to be successful). Any tool needs to provide this both directions otherwise you wind up in a world where either a) workers are forced to use a tool that hurts productivity or b) someone manually cobbles together the visibility senior management needs which is wasteful.

There are plenty of other requirements; I should at some point really write all this down. But it’s a good start and it helps clarify why it’s so hard to build something for project management.

Slow Cooker Brisket with Brown Gravy Recipe

Get the recipe for Slow Cooker Brisket with Brown Gravy via @FoodNetwork:

Source: Slow Cooker Brisket with Brown Gravy Recipe : Sandra Lee : Food Network

I made this recipe last week and it was a hit. I was skeptical about how a brisket would come out; usually I use the smoker with a brisket. The result was great, family loved it, no mess or hassle to prepare.

Note: I don’t know what “pot roast seasoning” in the ingredients list means. There was nothing like that at the grocery store so I dumped in a little extra salt, pepper, and brown gravy mix.

Ingredients

  • Avocado oil, for searing. Original calls for canola oil but I don’t like using that.
  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) brisket
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch parsley, stems reserved and leaves chopped
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (.87 ounce) packet slow cooker pot roast seasoning. I still don’t know what this is. I just used a little extra brown gravy mix.
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages mixed wild mushrooms. I forgot to put these in. Oops, would have just made the dish better.
  • 1 (.87-ounce) packet brown gravy mix
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Special equipment: a slow cooker

xkcd: Time Management | Bricin

xkcd: Time Management It is almost cliché now to post XKCD if you are a geek, but I assume this one is a free pass.

Source: xkcd: Time Management | Bricin

The things that catch me about this post are:

  1. XKCD has been doing this for at least five years. Wow, never occurred to me.
  2. This pretty much sums up 50% of the blog posts I write.
  3. Did I tell you about Wunderlist + Pomodone, my “get it done” method? I will. Soon.

New word to me: ‘phocine’ – Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Source: Amazon Kindle: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

One of the enjoyable things about reading a good writer like Theroux is he stretches my understanding of the language.

post office, where he was a senior official. Though elfin (or even phocine)

Phocine – of, relating to, or resembling seals. I’m not sure how many times I can use this word but I’ll try.

Interesting phrase – Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Source: Amazon Kindle: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

I try to record interesting notes and highlights as I read. I am re-reading “Ghost Train” right now. I know I’ve read it before but for some reason Amazon pushed this book to my Kindle during a recent upgrade. As I started to skim the book it occurred to me that I truly didn’t remember anything from this book. So here I go again.

I came across this lovely sentence:

Why is the motorway culture drearier in Europe than anywhere in America? Perhaps because it is imitative and looks hackneyed and unstylish and ill fitting, the way no European looks quite right in a baseball cap.

Motorway culture, especially along an Interstate, is not all it once was in America. But the baseball cap thing… is spot on! It’s just impossible for a European to wear a baseball cap and not look ridiculous. It’s similar to an American wearing a scarf (with the caveat that an American in Europe can carry this off at times).

Want Safer Passwords? Don’t Change Them So Often

The tyranny of mandatory password resets only makes security weaker.

Source: Want Safer Passwords? Don’t Change Them So Often | WIRED

tl;dr changing passwords often doesn’t make things safer. In fact it encourages people to pick weaker passwords they will be able to cycle through and remember.

The longer version of this article is that, like TSA, this is security theater. Most IT groups cannot justify their existence with simple things like “use a good password tool like 1Password”. They need large, complex, and costly processes to ensure that… well… there is good security theater.