Tons of work. And when I finish with that I have to edit a video for my Wife's grandmother 80th birthday. The plan for the rest of the week? Buenos Aires till thursday, then a 4 hour bus to Junin (Luciana's hometown) working from there on Friday. Then party on Saturday, and a bus back on Sunday.
Given this I don't think I'll post anything till Monday! And I have a ton of things on the forge.
I have always though of myself as being of the solo type. I take care of my business and like to have a deep involvement on anything that is going on around what I do. Yet time and experience have showed me the value of teamwork. I don't want to sound cliché; but the whole is really more than the addition of the parts on well functioning teams.
Yet having properly functioning teams is not an easy task. It is not that hard, but it takes some work and requisites:
- Some Good Projects: Good as in exiting. You just can't do fun stuff all of the time, but people should do fun stuff every once in a while .
- Payment: should be decent enough for people not to look elsewhere most of the time.
- Clear goals: Both individually and group-wise. Without a clear aim there is no
- Commitment : Team members should be have conviction in the overall direction, trust in what's done collectively and trust their leadership.
All of the above can't be achieved without:
I can't stress out enough how this is key. You can have some of the above bullets, but teams will fall apart if there isn't good, flat and fluid communication. As a matter of fact commitment and clear goals can't possibly exist if there isn't a good word flow going around.
Open minds, and willingness to listen (even to concepts contrary to one's ideas, or specially to concepts contrary to one's ideas) should cement team's idea sharing.
Communication is the glue that sticks teams together. Communication builds trust. Trust creates bonds. People with bonds make up teams.
Goals are fundamental for success-driven individuals. All people like to feel they are part of something bigger; but it's those that want to push things to the next level that strive on having a clear direction and aim. Otherwise people just get frustrated and leave (or start performing poorly).
Of course all teams have different kinds of members: natural leaders, creative people, hard workers, good communicators and, sorry to say so, bulk members. Those in charge should be able to discern what each individual is capable of and willing to do. Few things can be more unmotivating than the feeling of being "misused". One of the most common mistakes leaders make is feeling threatened by the people they manage, feeling that their progress can go in detriment of their own aspirations. Good leaders, on the other hand will provide opportunities to others, proving themselves greater by doing so.
All of this generates motivation. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that motivated people work harder and better than those that aren't. It is practically impossible to keep top motivation all of the time, it is like trying to stay awake on caffeine for too long, you'll just collapse on a given moment (I used a different analogy... decided . Administering motivation is also key to achieve things on the right moments. Master the timing and arts of motivation and nothing will be able to stop you.
Teams are powerful forces; they can achieve tremendous goals but they can also be torn apart as easy and as quickly as a bad call spreads around.
Mark has written on how blogs have become part of our resumes, David has written about corporate management blogging personally and unfiltered on their own private spaces, and how that makes corporation-employee-rest of the world relationships change.
I thought I'd share my points of view regarding how blogs improve relationships amongst co-workers, providing a very interesting tool, particularly for those who work "oceans apart"; although it does also help a lot to get to know people who seat only a few feet away as well.
The relationships people have with their blogs is quite amazing. I am no psychoanalyst; yet you don't need to be one to get to notice the way bloggers open up when writing; some things will remain undisclosed, yet many will be told, if not directly, at least in between lines. Even those who have a strict non-personal blog policy can say a lot more than they consciously intend to.
Most non-professional bloggers will have a wide span of interests and topics, that can span from work related to hobbies going all the way through music and personal, just to name a few. Through all of this one can get quite a broad idea of what's on other people's minds, way beyond what would be considered polite asking.
As with most things in life, this is a two blade weapon. On one side, through posts and comments, relationships can be built, opinions can be exchanged and conversations can take place. All of this can enhance team spirit, boost collaboratin and bonding. On the other hand it can be quite easy to mess things up.
Yet, messing things up (or watching others do so) can also teach and help relationships. As with marriages, it is only through crisis that the real potential and skills show up.
The real treat about personal blogs is that people write about what they are actually interested in, as opposed to what they are asked to do. In a perfect world, there should be a coincidence there, but that is not always the case. On the other end, people only read what they are interested in; it actually is one piece of a democratic way of communicating.
Finally blogs also help to tear down some hierarchical barriers. The useless ones at least. While blogging, both managers can notice what's on their managed people's minds, and employees can see what the management is thinking about. That way horizontal conversations can, and will, happen.
You can get to know a great deal about the people you work with through blogs. This might sound odd, but in today's flat and globalised world it can be the only place where off-topic conversations can happen.
I ask my non-argentine readers a concession, I'm going to talk about Roberto Fontanarrosa, Argentine author and cartoonist. He left us today, aged 62.
Fontanarrosa was a very ironic observer of the reality around him. His acute observations were always brilliant and right on spot. This was a guy who, on the 3rd spanish language congress and amongst the most brilliant Hispanic writers, etymologists and philosophers, stood forward and made a defense of curse words:
I don't know who defines what is vulgar from what isn't. I think curse words provide other colours. (...) There are some of the so-called curse words which are irreplaceable, by sound, strength and physical texture. It is not the same to say that someone is silly or dumb than saying "he's an asshole".
No sé quién define lo que es vulgar y lo que no es vulgar. Pienso que las malas palabras brindan otros matices. (...) Hay palabras de las denominadas malas palabras que son irreemplazables, por sonoridad, por fuerza y por contextura física de la palabra. No es lo mismo decir que una persona es tonta o sonsa que 'es un pelotudo'.
I will surely miss him and will forever be in debt with my good friend "Negro Gomez" for borrowing me most of his books.
Liferea (my weapon of choice for a desktop feed reader after I dumped Akgregator) tells me I have 638 unread items in my subscriptions.
Either everybody is writing too fast or I'm being slow at reading.
Every now and then you are faced with a situation that requires a leap of faith; moments in which what you actually know is not enough to make a rational decision.
What do you do on such situations?
I admit it: I am a control freak. I like to know everything that's happening around me; have a conscious understanding on every little variable. Information overload is the water I swim in. Yet I'm fully aware this is not always possible, as a matter of fact in most domestic and work situations there are blanks in information. Under most scenarios this blanks are easy to cope with; it is information you don't need to make the smart choice.
As facts grow dim, uncertainty kicks in and intuition starts to take an increasingly predominant role. Intuition is the way our mind plays "fill in the gaps"; replacing facts with speculations. Our our consciousness needs something similar to a complete picture to take a decision. When the real stuff isn't there we just make it up, if what you make up comes close to the real thing you are an intuitive person.
Sometimes you have to just disregard advice and common sense and take a step towards the void. Those are the moments worth living for, the turning points. In occasions they pay off; and even when they don't the ride is usually fun.
Do you trust your gut?
The Deadly Syndrome.
Sorry, this is the best quality YouTube has to offer:
Some more videos at rehearsals.com. (BTW, they should offer the option to embed videos as YouTube does)
The idea was simple, present the exact same search results on 4 different UIs: Yahoo, Google, Live and an In site design; then see what the feedback is from a study group.
Quite (un)surprisingly "Google's" and "Yahoo'" results were considered to perform better than the remaining two, although the results were identical.
The ABC explanation to this is branding. Google and Yahoo have a brand that is regarded as trust worthy, innovative and reliable; whereas live search has a worst brand public perception (probably due to the fact that it is part of the Microsoft family).
The interesting thing is that both Google and Yahoo built their brands online. They were born in the internet, live and breathe internet and provide services that are accessible through the www.
Live search, on the other hand is an attempt from an non-internet native company to make a break trough in the web. It's service isn't bad. I personally use the 3 engines for different searches. For instance I intuitively feel reluctant to use live search for Linux-related searches. That also is a result of branding.
This proves that on-line branding is possible, at least for on-line devoted companies. Can non-internet companies build a brand on the web? My personal answer is a yes/could be/no answer.
For tech-related companies it is quite possible to build a brand on-line. The internet is the natural ecosystem for techies. Most (if not all) technically oriented people will use the internet to research and/or buy anything that interests them. Thus it is only natural that the web is the main place for brand building and marketing initiatives.
For non purely technical companies that can provide on-line services and information. If the strategy is good enough most companies can enforce their branding, if not building it altogether.
For companies that have nothing to do with the internet. That being said, they can still support their branding strategies with web, but not building it. For an orange juice brand, for example, chances are they should go different ways to build their brand.
Internet's penetration on everyday life keeps increasing. It's reach is broadening. People spend more and more time on-line. As a reflection to this most company's web departments gain authority and budget. This raises natural questions of spending awareness. The interesting thing about the internet is that it can be both a marketing and a sales channel; thus ROI is much easier to track (on some cases) than on traditional marketing.
The same happens with branding. Search engines, social networks and word of mouth provide means to acquire measurable data on the web. This allows branding gurus to react fast. You can see if action "A" is generating the expected reactions and take action if the figures turn out to be not so good (or better than expected!).
Branding in the browser wars 2.0 era presents it's own challenges and problems. Although the ability to measure is an advantage, the competition is wild. In order to be successful a company must re-invest and re-invent it's concepts as technology and trends change. and, boy, do they change quick.
I was never a TV guy. Except for sports and movies I hardly ever watch anything. Internet access only made this worst. If I want to watch almost anything I go to YouTube. Still there are some other things I enjoy every now and then, documentaries for instance. Although there are some fully featured documentaries on Google Video and YouTube, quality is usually poor and not everything is available.
Then I applied to beta test Joost. And for some months now I've been using it sparsely. My first impressions were not that great, but I decided I'd give it some more time; it paid off.
With the latest version (0.10.7) they solved many of the issues that prevented the experience from being ideal. Speed is excellent; quality is just surprisingly good, content is OK and ads are not annoying (I'll give my opinion on ads further down).
Overall Joost will trim down my "traditional" TV time even more.
Sure enough it does have some shortcomings and bugs, yet the experience this far has been very positive. I think Joost can have a bright future, even though the fact it is not browser embeddable (I happen to agree with the First law of Churbuckean on-line success: make it available through a browser to be popular). Yet this might work in a similar fashion iTunes does it, the added value you get outweights the annoyance of a download and installation.
Now the observations and "advice":
- The interface looks great, the loaders (3 coloured lines that "play" during the couple of seconds each program loads) are awesome; yet it is not very intuitive. It is not hard to learn, but at first glance you struggle a little bit to get things down. Besides it took me a whole week to realize there were more channels available than those listed under "My Channels". Make a couple adjustments to make things more intuitive and easy to access and you'll have a real winner.
- Full screen from launch is not a good idea. I like watching things on full screen but I usually use smaller windows, see, I multitask. I get the sense that programs that launch full screen by default are a little bit invasive.
- Think internationally (yes, I know you are Europe-based). The one thing that is preventing me from getting my wife hooked up with Joost is lack of subtitles. I can understand English on documentaries and other programs, but my wife needs the aid of subtitles. I'm aware this is a shared responsibility between Joost and content providers, yet I haven't seen the option within the program to turn subtitles on or off. Even if content providers are reluctant to pay for subtitles, I'm pretty sure the community would take care of it. It already happens on illegally distributed movies and series.
- Personally: I need a Linux version.
Now, to hook a couple of you out there, here's a shakeoff between Mitsubishi's Evo 6 and Evo 9 (to those connoisseurs the outcome will not be a surprise):
My username on Joost is stevie.glas; and I have a couple more invitations left in case anyone needs them.
Edit: I forgot my paragraph on Ads. I only saw a couple of them during the whole experience, and they were un-intrusive, on-topic and un-annoying. Joost might want to consider giving the alternative of a "pro" paid subscription with no ads as well. I would stick to the regular ad-enabled version, but I know many people who would give off a couple of bucks to avoid them.
I have just started to write up a series of tutorials on Ubuntu and Apache. Not much is written so far, but I plan to make it grow as I find some time to spend on it.
You can access it here or through the link on the masthead of this blog.
My aim is to get a centralized step-by-step series of tutorials to get a fully working Apache under Ubuntu, providing some insights on different tweaks and adjustments.
As usual all comments and suggestions on what points to cover are more than welcome.
Some more tutorial ideas other than Apache are in the pipeline as well.