I already posted this a few years ago, but it is still valid (or even more).
I already posted this a few years ago, but it is still valid (or even more).
Image taken from Luis Suárez
Last weekend I attended the Evento Blog España conference in Seville, and one of the more attractive talks on the schedule was called 2.0 services and technology in business by Luis Suárez, technology evangelist at IBM.
Luis explained how he stopped using e-mail completely and replaced the functionality by a variety of web 2.0 tools, each specialized for a specific task. When he started talking, I remembered how Tim Ferriss also ‘attacked’ e-mail in his book.
In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim explains how he only reads his e-mail a few times per day while an autoresponder tells the senders to use the phone instead for more urgent messages. I have read it several times, but I still can’t see where the productivity increase comes from. I’d rather check my e-mail twice a day to reduce phone calls. In my opinion, phone calls are a bigger time waster that e-mail. When someone phones you, that person decides for you that the issue he is phoning about is at that moment more important than all other issues you are working on. A phone call is almost always an interruption in your workflow, while e-mail is part of the workflow. Of course, there are times when a phone call is justified, for example when a customer is having technical problems that stopped his business. The idea is to use the right tool for the job, and in the past years I have spend quite some time explaining that the phone usually is not the right tool and that e-mail or IM for more time-dependant questions are more adequate.
Using the right tool for the job is exactly why Luis Suárez stopped using e-mail and changed it for instant messaging, wikis, blogs, rss, bookmark services, quickr, etc. In principle I agree with Luis that e-mail is not always the best tool to use, but at this moment there is a scattering problem when using web 2.0 tools. I already noticed this when I try to convince people to stop phoning me and use IM instead. There is a myriad of IM tools and protocols available, and to be able to communicate with all my customers I need ICQ, AOL, Yahoo!, Messenger, Skype and GTalk. All of them! I am a tech savvy guy, so I can handle this (all accounts are nicely accessible from one client: Digsby), but this surely is no option for many other people, who already find it very difficult to install one IM client.
Now imagine the same thing happening with all other functions of e-mail. To collaborate on a document there are dozens of services available. Of course I will choose one of them, but will me customer also use that? Of course not, they use Google Docs instead of a wiki. And as I cooperate with more people, my shared work will be shattered across the internet. I remember a customer send me a link to an interesting article, but where is it? I need to maintain a database to know that this particular customer uses Delicious to share bookmarks.
You can say a lot about e-mail. It is not the perfect tool for collaboration or status reporting. But it is a standard. Everybody has e-mail, and everybody knows how to use it. And if you work together with many customers, using web 2.0 solutions will not be an option in the majority of cases, until there will be a common protocol or tool such as Digsby for IM that allows people using different services for a functionality to cooperate.
Lately I notice more and more cards driving around in Lleida with the Apple logo, and each time I see one I think by myself “why on earth would somebody stick that onto his car?” I also have that sticker at home, but it never occurred to me to stick it on my car.
Of course, Apple is a cool brand, is different and has a very nice logo. But whichever way I look at it, I see it as a profitable company, and sticking that logo on your car is free publicity for this company.
I guess it is the same people buying Bikkembergs shoes (if you remove the logo nothing is left) and certain Nike sportswear (a manufacturer logo on clothes should never be bigger than 2cm and preferably not visible at all) without asking any payment from the manufacturer in return.
In fact, the only logo I wear on my clothes is the logo of my employer, and only because they pay me to do so!
In my opinion, driving around with an Apple logo does not make you look cool, but rather stupid for making free publicity for a company.
This is just a short post to commemorate the eleventh birthday of this blog. Eleven years ago I decided to post short notices on my personal site, not realising that this habit would become very popular eleven years later. I still like it, and probably will continue blogging for a long time.
Since I started writing on my Spanish productivity blog El Canasto, I had less time to write on Brain Tags. But it looks like it was worth any minute of my time, as today I received the good news that El Canasto has been nominated for one of the Premios Bitacoras.com, the Spanish Bloggies.
The past month, Spanish blog readers could vote for their favourite blogs in several categories. El Canasto quickly took the lead in the Best Business Blog category, and maintained the first position until the end of the voting period.
Tomorrow the jury will be announced, and they have until Friday to choose among the top three of each category, which means that I have about 33% chance of winning the price.
What makes me even more proud is that El Canasto ended at the 10th position on the list of most voted blogs, which in my opinion is really good for a blog in a not so mainstream niche.
The final winners will be announced this Saturday in Seville, and of course I am going to be there to see whether I won the price and to meet a lot of other bloggers. The winner will take a statue and a Toshiba NB100 home.
Sometimes you have to let go some good habits to adapt yourself. When I came to live in Spain, I was used to drive all day with the lights of my car turned on for better visibility.
However, the people over here do not have that custom, and friendly as they are, they tried to warn me to tell that I forgot to turn off my lights. That is nice if it happens a few times, but actually it happened several times a day, and after a week I was getting quite fed-up with it. So I stopped driving with the lights turned on during daytime.
This week, the Spanish government started a campaign to tell people about the enhanced security when driving with the car lights turned on. Guess who is happily driving around with the lights on again?
The EBE is Europe's second largest blogging event (after Les Blogs in France) and will take place in November in Sevilla. And yes, on November 14 I will take the airplane to Sevilla to be present at this event.
When the event was first announced I doubted whether I should participate due to the high costs (plane ticket and accommodation; the EBE itself is free) and decided not to go.
What made me change my mind? Well, part of the program is the election of the best Spanish blogs, and my blog El Canasto makes a very good chance of being elected as the Best Business Blog! In the last partial rankings I held the first position, while previously I was number two.
Of course, the EBE is also a great place to meet some people in real life, people I have been working with for quite some time. I am also looking forward to meeting tons of new people, making new connections and new plans…
I am looking forward to participate at the Evento Blog España.
Today is Blog Action Day, a day on which thousands of bloggers write about the same topic to raise awareness, and this year's theme is Poverty.
Just like last year, I signed up to participate without thinking. But now that I start writing I realise that I am by far the right person for writing on this topic. Right now I am sitting in my own house behind my €1400 Macbook with a high speed broadband internet connection. What am I supposed to know about poverty? I (and all my readers as well) probably belong to the richest 1% of the world.
For me poverty is something they show on TV. Only once in a while I see poor people begging for money on the street, and I know that I can ignore them because I happen to live in a country with excellent social services that will take care of these people. For my own conscience, I make my contributions to some NGO's to pay of my guilt debt. When I read back these lines, it sounds very cold, which is not how I am, but there is a great deal of truth in it.
Only twice in my life I actually saw poverty with my own eyes, when I visited Lesotho and Thailand, and it greatly affected me. More than that, it made me realise how lucky I am. We dedicate about 2% of our income to charity, which is an amount we won't even miss, but which makes a great difference for the people depending on it.
I encourage everybody reading this to do the same: realise how lucky and incredibly rich you are, and donate 1-2% of your income. Together we can stop poverty.
I just found a very interesting plugin for Movable Type: TagSupplementals. As the name says, the plugin provides extra features for working with tags.
I am using the plugin on El Canasto to create a Related Entries list on each individual entry page. The related entries feature of this plugin has two weighing modes: constant gives each tag the same weight and simply sums up the number of tags the entries have in common, while idf gives each tag a weight of
freq is the number of entries tagged with that tag.
Other features of the plugin, which I currently don't use, are: a tag count, related tags, a listing of all tags used in an archive, tag last update date, etc.
I have been using Delicious for a long time, but lately I have started using Google Reader more and more, basically because I can share items without having to open the site.
But yesterday I found out that I can make my links in Delicious available in Quicksilver, which means that I have a ton of information available with just a few keyboard clics. Instantly I am very interested in Delicious again, and surely will start bookmarking more sites again.
I’m presenting myself as a candidate!
Today I launched the new design for Brain Tags. For a while I have been using the default theme provided by Movable Type, but after updating the blogging engine to version 4.2 I decided to make some changes to make fully use of the new features offered by this version.
The theme I used is called Mid-Century and is a good example of the possibilities of the latest version of Movable Type Pro. To improve speed and stability, I used a static publishing model, while using cached modules for some of the sidebar widgets. That way I can easily update for example my Latest Comments widget without having to rebuild all individual archive files.
With this redesign I also stopped using Google Adsense, as the income generated was simply too low to justify its use.
In the coming days I will probably be making some little adjustments to adapt the new design to my tastes and needs.
For a long time SmartFTP was my favourite FTP application for Windows, and I have recommended it to many friends. However, SmartFTP suddenly has changed their licensing structure and is now obliging me to purchase a license. Of course, I immediately uninstalled the software and installed FileZilla, which for sure is going to stay for free.
My macbook has been without backups for several months now, so I started looking for a backup solution. Time Machine is out of the question, as I don't want to hook up a USB hard disk while I'm working (and when I don't work I don't want to leave my macbook switched on) and the Time Capsule is out of my budget.
On my PC I happily use Carbonite, but they haven't released a version for mac yet. I have read some good things about Mozy though, so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for the MozyHome Free account to test the service, installed the software and selected some backup sets to start with. A few hours later the initial backup was ready (I only selected 250Mb).
Happy with the results, I changed user to do the same, but Mozy could not find any files because it was still looking for files in
/home/Jeroen. This very much surprised me, as I was used to Carbonite running as a service and being able to backup files from all users. I assumed that Mozy would not work the same, but that I could configure the files to backup on a per user basis. I couldn't find how to do so... I checked the FAQs on the Mozy site, but most of the texts have been written for Windows users.
And today I received an e-mail from Mozy explaining me how to get started with Mozy… on Windows.
I am not sure what to do with the software. The initial backup went fine, but it is a real bummer that the backup is limited to only one user.
That is the question I have been asking myself a lot this year. In the past I always had a clear answer to this question, but lately I struggle with the aim of this site, which is why it has been very silent over here.
The first incarnation of Brain Tags was simply to inform my friends abroad about what was going on in my life, which was a very novel idea back in 1997. The second incarnation of Brain Tags in 2001 still had the same aim, but intense due to my emigration to Spain.
After some years the content started shifting to include web design and other technology topics. I got settled in Spain, and my daily life was not so interesting anymore…
And now that blogging has become very mainstream (my wifes mobile phone comes with a blogging client installed!) and there are a thousand blogs writing essentially the same, I wonder what the place of Brain Tags is.
For a while I thought about closing Brain Tags, but then I decided that I do have a very clear and sometimes unique opinion about many subjects. So I do want to continue writing here, but probably in a different format. I think that shorter articles with some original thinking (less copying/forwarding stuff from others) will be the way to go. I will also incorporate some other things such as Twitter steams etc. in the blog design.
Be prepared for changes, Brain Tags is alive!
For a while I have been using TwitterFeed to automatically announce new blog posts on Twitter, but I stopped using their services and am considering to stop following others who are announcing every single post on Twitter.
I love Twitter to follow what people are doing, and what they are thinking, but in most cases I am not interested in every blog post. And if I am, I simply add their blog to my feedreader. It is OK with me if you point out some of your excellent blog post in Twitter, but, please don't make it automatic. In my opinion, TwitterFeed only adds noise to Twitter.
Exactly three years after starting the Wizard Of POS weblog, I leave it. Followers of the Wizard probably already noticed that it has been very quiet ultimately, with the last posts in February 2008 and October 2007!
The past three years The Wizard of POS had established itself as the leading weblog about Point Of Sale software and hardware, but I simple lacked the time and focus to continue working on it. When I got pinged about the possibilities of selling the Wizard I did not have to think a lot. Today I moved the Wizard over to its new home, and will leave it up to the new owner to further develop the weblog.
Goodbye Wizard of POS, farewell!
Notes 8.5 will have fewer icons in the Notes Mail template:
So, in Notes 8.5 you will see an Inbox that's easier to scan, with 10 improved icons for mail message types. The biggest changes are removing the icon for read mail and using a blue star for unread mail. We also adjusted meeting workflow items so that the most time-dependent ones (e.g., new invitation, reschedules, cancellations) stand out and those that are not so time-dependant (e.g., an invitee has accepted your meeting) are subtler. No other changes were made to the icon grid.
This is something I want to see a lot more: manufacturers removing things from their product instead of adding.
I am multi-lingual: born Dutch, living in Spain and speaking English for most part of the working day.
In the past it was easy to choose the language to use: Dutch, unless the other person doesn't speak Dutch, in which case I spoke English. I also choose English as my preferred language for everything related with IT, as more software and documentation is available in English, and because of the horrible translations in the first Dutch operating systems.
When I moved to Spain, I only knew a little bit of Spanish, so I decided to dive into it, and convert my whole life to Spanish. I wrote my own personal notes in Spanish, my PCs had the Spanish version of Windows, my to-do lists and calendar were in Spanish, and little by little my Spanish improved.
Now that I have lived here for a little bit more than six years, doing everything in Spanish started to feel a little bit forced. A few months back I changed the language of my mobile phone to English, and suddenly I realized that it is indeed possible to fit the texts on the tiny screen. My phone instantly became easier to use.
Then I got a new laptop. Though initially and by habit installed in Spanish, I felt more at home when I changed it into English (fortunately, in Mac OS X the operating system language is a user preference, so I didn't need to reinstall). And since the tools I worked with are in English, I also enter the data (to-do items, appointments, etc.) in English.
For each aspect of my life, I choose whether it is best to do in Dutch, English or Spanish. For example, whenever I am writing on El Canasto, I prefer that everything is in Spanish in order not to lose any time translating. Therefore, my brainstorming, saved text fragments and Movable Type are in Spanish. I also found that even though I am fully trilingual, you can't beat 37 years of experience in a language. Deeper thinking and difficult tasks are thus easier to do in Dutch.
You see: each language has its place.
I just realised that I have been ignoring my good ol’ blog for a long time. Of course, I am still actively blogging at El Canasto, and you can find some signs of life at Twitter, but over here it has been awfully quiet.
Next action: plan some posts for Brain Tags.
Just came across this on YouTube. How I wish more presenters would think about how they use PowerPoint.
Get back to basics and remember you need:
First there where blogs, then came the e-books and now there are Interactive Learning Environments (ILE). Building an ILE is a novel way of sharing your knowledge. For the last two months I have been following the Teaching Sells course, and I am very enthusiastic about it.
The course is divided into five parts: Instructional design, marketing, creating multi-media content, business models and building membership sites. The more technical parts are not that interesting for me (just some links to the software used is enough for me), but the other three courses are well worth the money. Furthermore, the forums already brought some very good contacts, and I might be setting up some joint-ventures to start building membership sites.
My first ILE project will probably be a Spanish productivity course (what else?), on which I will start working in a few months (of course I am already doing some brainstorming now…)