It's in my nature. I can't just lay back and relax, see how things simply work. Its not in my nature to be a conformist.
I'm always looking into that extra twist, that next thing to do, improve or fix. This has brought me some issues on the past. The team I work with is already used to this, but it can be hard to have me constantly saying "yes, but...". It is also very hard on my management, since I sometimes give the impression of trying to climb the corporate ladder and other times I give the impression of "unhappiness".
This also reflects on my blog; I'm a ranter, a critical poster. I really mean what I say, I don't filter much and I can be rather "raw" while expressing myself. This also applies to face to face interaction; I'm not too good at hiding my feelings, and I'm rather tactless with one exception: when other people's feelings are at stake.
A couple of readers of this blog (which makes it 50% of my audience) showed concern after I stated I might need to flee this city. To all of you: thank you! I won't say I exaggerated, since those are my actual feelings, but I have to say that I don't feel life is unbearable, I'm overall very happy, but always looking for ways to improve; might this be at work or related to my personal life and what I (we) want to do with it.
Sure, I'd like to move some place that goes more accordingly to what my desires are, but is my life impossible? Not at all.
I came back to a more purist look and feel. White background, dark type, switched the navigation to the left... more "adjustments" to come in the future, although I don't think anything as radical as now. Maybe just the top image I'm not too happy about.
Let me know what you think!!
Summer time. The time when one needs to flee the city as much as possible. Thus Luciana, me and 3 Lenovo co-workers decided to run away to Mar del Plata for the weekend.
We left Friday directly from the office. Weather was quite uninviting, it had rained all day; but we had our minds set and decidedly started the 400km road trip.
It took us a bit longer than expected to make it all the way, but we finally got there. We left Luciana at a friend's house, since they needed to have some girl's time together, and went for a couple of beers and some sleep.
Saturday was cloudy and windy, which didn't prevent us from heading to the beach and just lying around and eating. At night we went to a Disco that was far beyond just crowded. Just hanging around on such places isn't as fun as it used to be, probably due to age and being retired from chasing women.
After a couple of hours of sleep and since the day was plain spectacular we went to the beach after picking Luciana and her Friend back. There was a band playing, we spent some time on the ocean and we headed back for a shower, some dinner and the drive back home.
Finally went to bed at 4AM, yeah, it was a short night, but well worth it.
Friend and colleague Jim, asks What goes on the homepage? I'll try to give my point of view on the issue as smartly as I can, which actually means this will probably be a dumb post
Homepage content depends, of course, on what your site's aim is. There's no generic rule-of-thumb for a successful homepage that can apply to every single site out there. Google's homepage, for instance can be regarded as highly effective, since it's main, most visible and almost only content is what made google what it is: a text input for a Web Search. Plain brilliant. I really think this minimalistic approach has paid off for google; Yahoo, in contrast is a very popular portal, but not as popular as a search engine. That might well be because it's almost hard to find the search field amongst all that content. I'm not saying this is wrong, but the aim is different; yahoo's interest resides in all that additional content.
For my reader's sake I'll stick to analyze homepage of sites that do specialized sales (or niche). Some general principles can be applied to this "kind" of sites.
The main Aim should be to generate desire and expectation. This can be achieved in a number of ways, you can have excellent prices or promotions, you can have state-of-the-art products or product previews (which people really love), you can have a combination things. This can only be achieved through one thing: excellent design. You can have the best product, price or combo, but if you don't catch the user's eye (remember we're talking homepage here) and generate interest you are lost.
Homepages should have links to the main areas of interest or the main areas that drive traffic to a site. That being said I consider that main pages should be as clean as possible. Toss in too much content and people wont find the link they are after. You should really know where your focus must be, and aim to that. Don't distract customers with too much, but give them simple categories they can follow and understand. For example "SMB offers", "Home office and home offers", "Large enterprise offers", "Special offers", "Winter Offers" can all be grouped into a unique "Offers" link which lands in a pretty page describing and linking to all of the above. Another solution can be graphic queues like rollover menus or similar design / graphic solutions. The old "Less is more" principle applies.
The homepage can be regarded as the an online showcase. When you go to malls, and look at clothing stores you'll notice that they don't just toss every single peace of cloth they have, but rather select a couple of offers or their best products. They invite you to see more, since you need to get in to purchase.
The same principle can be applied to sites: you want to hook people and get them to take a deep dive into your site. You wont hook them by putting everything you've got out there, but rather by exposing content that will make them click. In order to do this you need to really know your audience, but that's a whole different story.Summary.
Home pages should not have too much content (just main, generic, categories), highly stylized and well thought design and must invite users to click through.
Now, whats your point of view, Jim?
Lately Buenos Aires has become more savage than it used to be. And it's already starting to bother me.
I moved to Buenos Aires area ten years ago, because I wanted to attend University. After that I started working & studying, met my wife, got hooked up by her, then got hooked up by Lenovo. But, the truth is I was never too fond of Buenos Aires. And I guess I'll never be.
I grant it has great things, culturally speaking it can't be beaten; there's usually too much going on and there's no shortage on alternatives. It has beautiful places, sights, and "promenades". There are also plenty job opportunities, learning opportunities and other interesting things to do. That's not the issue
The thing is, people are a little bit more aggressive and crazy each new day. In my same block 2 people have been hit by cars in a single week (in Argentina 20 people die every day for traffic accidents; I think we're the third worst ranked in terms of deaths / total population).
Add to that the increase (real or media-boosted) in crime. You keep hearing this stories of people being robbed on the bus / strain / tube every day, news are filled up with car thefts or kidnapping or breaking and entering which, quite usually end up with someone dead.
Other factors come in play for being über frustrated about Buenos Aires are the lack of mountains, the impossibility to perform many of the sports I enjoy (Mountain Biking, Snowboarding, and so on), and more on the long term that, having being raised in "the wild" and having experienced youth in the city as well, I'd really wouldn't like my kids (none in the way so far... but it will happen in some time) to grow up in such an environment...
I really don't know how to solve this, since I really like my job, but it would be pretty much incompatible to move; more thought on this on the time to come.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling increasingly frustrated by the ever-growing size of my to do list; which made me feel I wasn't actually doing much, just accumulating projects and TBD's. I wasn't too happy about this all, since I like to think I'm a tad productive.
Instead of whining about it I decided to take a couple of steps towards working out this issue and trying to get the "to do" list seriously truncated giving me both peace of mind and time to do stuff I like doing. So I came up with a short list to tackle the dreaded list:
- Set up a TXT file (I love plain text) with the whole list. Order it from top to bottom in order of importance / urgency. Each item has a short description of what's to be done as well as a reference to where to find the detailed descriptions (for example, emails, docs in a folder, web pages and so on, on my Notes email client I've set up a couple of "to do" folders as well).
- Decide which things can be delegated in part or totally. If things need some more work before I can delegate them mark them up.
- Attack items one by one. A serious mistake I usually make is to "diversify" my mind too much. Thus focusing on one thing until completion is the thing to do.
Things that are more easily written than done; particularly because my job responsibility's usually are different from what is important in my mind. That must be the hardest part, since I often consider some things important (and/or more fun to do) but clients and my team lead have their own agenda which must be respected; I work, after all, in services.
Luckily for me I have half the "to do" list now; and I ave most of the fun part pending.
For a while now I've been trying to TinyMCE's wordpress tool bar without much success. Looking for documentation on the subject I came across WordPress Rich text Editor plugin, which works with TinyMCE allowing WordPress to do a lot more things in terms of text edition, for example:
- Adding Colour to texts
- Changing background Colour
- Bold Italic and Underline
- Superscript and subscript
- Inserting Special characters (¥€¢µ≥≤Š)
- Changing Font Size, font family
- As well as changing indents, adding horizontal rules, anchors, images, search and replace, and other neat stuff.
If you are interested in it's functionality, read the documentation, since you need to drop files in a couple of folders, not just WordPress' plugins folder.
Only downside so far is that while using the blog on 1024 x 712 the main text input area extends bellow the left bar on wordpress.
Nice to see that Michael Bergman came across some of the same issues I faced, but he was able to solve them!
For a couple of days we've been trying to spot comet McNaught, the brightest since 1965. The first afternoon: nothing, we went to the river to try and see the thing to the south-west with no luck. The next day it was overcast; thus it wasn't even worth trying. Finally yesterday we headed back to the river, waited for about an hour and couldn't spot it. While we were walking back home, Luciana saw it after I said "why can't the thing be just there, between that two buildings, we could easily see it then". And it was.
We head back home and to our surprise we could see the comet from our balcony. We opened a couple of beers and watched the sun, Venus, the moon and McNaught set. Quite a pleasant Dawn.
I tried taking some pictures, but my lousy camera refused to be sensible enough to picture the phenomenon.
First of all I might be biased here. Not only I work for Lenovo, but the computer was a gift from the company, thus that's two good reasons to speak nicely about my new T60. Te very first impression was: "this thing can endure an atomic blast". I was too used to my old R50 (which is robust, believe me, I've abused the thing) but not as solidly built as the T.
Power up, OS configuration, and off I go to start setting it up. First thing installed: Photoshop (trial); since I wanted to prove the graphic Designers that the machine can quite handle heavy Graphic Design use. Thus, we tossed in a couple of 100MB PSD files and it reacted as swiftly as a desktop. Once I was done with evangelization I started prepping it for my daily routine. Moved bookmarks and other stuff to the new PC, installed Lenovo software and headed home.
Next good impression: ThinkVantage connections easily got connected to my home's WiFi. Why is this good? several people struggled quite a bit with my home's ultra-secure ultra-encrypted Wireless, spending about one hour to connect. I had already set up my mind to do some heavy configuring. I was more than glad to be able to spend that time doing something else.
Finally and as a recovering game-addict I tossed a shooter into it. ATI handled the graphics wonderfully, but I noticed some freezes from time to time... what the... turns out I was being too emotional dodging bullets and, from time to time, the Active Protection System would kick in and halt the hard drive; thus I changed the sensitivity and the freezes were one.
The last step: putting the new "ThinkPad" Stickers in place; luckily I had three sets of them.
For a while now I've been reflecting on how blogs work. What's their intent, their aim, why people write them and why people read them. How is it that something that started as people posting in what can be regarded as on-line diaries, became this massive "movement" embraced by big corporations, individuals, professionals, and so on, with posts talking about every subject you can possibly imagine.
The engine behind it all is peoples desire to communicate. Most of us think we have something that is worth listening (or reading), either for a close family and friends group of people or by a broader audience which might be interested in what you have to say on a specific subject. The internet, as we know, allows unlimited access to what people post. Bloggers are driven by a desire to be listened. This is the one thing all blogs and bloggers share. The internet provides the means to be listened.
Luckily for us, bloggers, there are also a lot of listeners out there. Thus one can build an audience. The interesting thing is that a lot of people are both readers and writeers, as a result "communities" are built. So if someone finds someone else's blog interesting and/or relevant, a link will be added. With some luck users cross link each other and stay in contact visiting each other's blog, commenting and cross-posting.
Cross posting and trackbacks are, I believe, one of the nicest things in blogistan; they allow "threads" to happen and develop around numerous postings and blogs; this way a discussion takes place, and bloggers add to each other's points of view and ideas.
How is this any different from Forums? Well, it differs in many ways. Forums usually have administrators or moderators who monitor postings. They are usually hosted by someone who has complete authority over what happens, who can delete, move or censor entries at will. Blogs, on the other hand are owned by the blogger (even if hosted at places like wordpress.com, blogger and so on);who have complete authority over his/her blog as well as over comments or trackbacks. This gives authors a sense of comfort, quite encouraging at the time of writing, the blog is like "home"; one has some control over it, we feel cosy there, thus we open up our minds (and hearts at times). We feel blog posts belong to us, something that rarely happens on Forums. Besides people post longer entries and take more time to post or reply, since on your own post you can have a text as draft for as long as you need it.
To further expand on trackbacks and replies one could draw an analogy with classical Greek forums. Those could exist and be successful since the community that integrated them was small enough -remember that only free males could participate-. As populations grew larger this concept was no longer applicable (besides not being on the best interest for Emperors and Kings). Of course political decisions are not taken on blogs, but a lot of ideas are discussed and exposed on them. Some threads are very interesting going back and forth from blog to blog involving quite a number of people. Usually such discussions are held on a very friendly manner, even when blogers have opposite opinions.
A lot of attention has already been drifted form mass media to blogs. People tend to rely more on guys they somehow know (since they read them on a daily basis) than in huge media conglomerates that have been subject of questioning since they allegedly serve their own agendas which are, usually, tied up to their owners, investors and advertiser's interests. The golden time for Newspapers was when they could be regarded as truly independent and would write about anyone / anything (I am aware that this is a romantic view on the matter, but Media was much more independent on the turn of the 19th century than it is now). This way, "Mr. Doe's blog" might be more respected by their readers than the Washington Post.
Even companies dare to say things on their blogs that they would never post as a press release. And the more honest (aka, unfiltered) corporate blogs become the more respected by the community they become. If a company were to blog cheep advertising pitch lines instead of from-the-core honest and insightful posts, the attention would quickly divert away form them. Blogs are viral in nature, and if you give the wrong impression with a corporate blog it'll take a lifetime to rebuild the confidence from the audience once people have flagged you as just another advertising channel.
Although Corporate Blogs are Marketing they are not, and must never be regarded as advertising. People already spend good bucks on gadgets like TiVo to avoid publicity, hence they won't doubt in skipping your blog if they even "smell" advertising.
Blogs allow conversation with the audience; this must be unfiltered and honest; otherwise it's the same to have a "news" page than a blog.
Blogs have become increasingly important from any side you look at them. If you belong to a corporation you must think about blogs to keep current and give your potential customers insights on what your company is up to. If you think you are a scholar on a certain subject a blog is a very good way to spread your knowledge (and it could provide some income as well). If you just want to post personal experiences a blog is a nice way to share with the rest of the world, friends and family included. If you just want to keep up to date and informed, watch for blogs, they are usually more up-to-date and more reliable than mass media (if you can find the right blogs... even media-hosted blogs are better reading than many newspapers that host them).
I will do some follow up on this post covering the subjects of how people find blogs, the fuzz and tools around them, and I might even dare to try some futurology.