Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Depth of Field


P5012342_x
Originally uploaded by Mr. Gomez
In project management, the tendency to hyperfocus on a single aspect of a project can cause you to lose focus on other items that may blindside you later on. Widening your depth of field (in the photographic sense) allows you to see what's near and far with clarity. Too narrow a depth, and you lose site of what's in the background.

Although, as this photo from Mr. Gomez (a flickr friend) shows, there are times when you need to hyperfocus on the near-term events, if only briefly, because they may be very important.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Twitter mash-ups

I am amazed how functional Twitter is, and how many little sites are popping up to take advantage of the TwitterSphere. (or is it TwitterVerse? Whatever....) Two are from the creative mind of Damon Clinkscales, a colleague who's been in Austin for many years, and is very active in Austin on Rails. Those two sites are SnapTweet and DoesFollow.

SnapTweet is truly addictive. It has all the goodness of flickr, added to Twitter, stirred together to make a yummy fajita. Here's how it works. You have a flickr account, right? You're taking photos of your life, work, entertainment, or vacations and putting them out there for the world to see. So, how to you get folks to look? Send a link via Twitter, right? Here's how the process used to work:

1) Take picture.
2) Upload to flickr.
3) Grab the URL of the picture.
4) Paste URL into Twitter.
5) Raelize that the title and the URL are longer than 140 characters.
6) Go back to flickr, get a tinyURL of picture.
7) Tweet it.

Yeah, you've done it, haven't you? Now try this:
1) Log in to Snaptweet with your Twitter and Flickr account names.
2) Choose a tag you want to use. (Default is "snaptweet")
3) Post picture.
4) Tag it with "snaptweet."
5) There is no step 5, 6, or 7 - and you only have to do steps 1 & 2 once.

So, suddenly your twitter feed starts to be populated with items like this: Rain clouds at sunset - http://snaptweet.com/8fac3

You can also just send a direct message to @snaptweet and it'll post your latest flickr upload with the title as the message. Way cool. This is the essense of Twitter - sharing events in your life with those who wish to follow you, with the least effort.

Getting a little geekier, you may want to check the "friend status" of someone you're thinking of following. Doesfollow can help. Remember, Twitter traffic is your decision. If you follow everyone, your feed will be quite busy, and you'll feel like you're being spammed. This is lunacy (unless you want that feeling of constant information!) If you see a few tweets from someone in a friends queue and wonder if that person follows or is followed by someone else, if can be a real pain to slog through the large list of some Twitter users. Damon has created a simple tool that answers quickly whether one user is following another. Simply enter their names in the correct order, and you'll get a "Yep!" or a "Nope!" (I mentioned he lives in Texas, right?) Very clean, simple, fast and easy tool to see how some of your friends relate. Give it a try.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Twitter is ruining my marriage....

I love Twitter. I think the reason I do is that it's fast and limited. The 140 character limit forces you in to a short message, and you also know those you follow are being terse in their prose as well. Only essentials are passed along. (There are those who abuse this and send frequent messages, especially during basketball season, election season, NASCAR, long boring car trips, and hockey playoffs. That is what TwitterSnooze is for.) Most people on the service just send out a quick blast every so often, to let friends know where they are, physically or mentally. It's like passing someone in the hall on Monday morning, saying "How was your weekend" and getting the short version back: "We went to the lake," or "Saw a great concert," or "Did a ton of yardwork." But instead of having to wait until Monday morning, you see it pass by in real time. Say you're reading your RSS feeds over coffee on Saturday morning, gearing up to clear out storm damage in the back yard. Suddenly, a window pops up, and a buddy two time zones away says "Looks like a yard work kinda day." And now you have a work companion. So, three days later, when you're on a call with him, you say, "How's the yard looking after Saturday's session?" You don't have to go through the "What have you been up to" thing, where the person being questioned has to remember how far back in his life the questioner wants to go in the limited time available. It's like you're neighbors, without all that having to hear their motorcycle at 2 am stuff.

Rands hit it on the money in his excellent post, We Travel in Tribes. Here's the juicy bit, for me, anyway:

Twitter is … a social network without the superpoke scrabtaculous zombie noise and, for that, I’m thankful, because I’ve got work to do. Yes, I could spend days tidying my profile and scrubbing my friends list, but to what end? I want to know more people, and sure, it’s interesting to see what they’re up to, but what I really want to know is what is going on inside their heads with a minimum of fuss.

I want to see how they see the world. This is why I follow people on Twitter. This is why they follow me.

Now, how is this ruining my marriage? Funny you should ask. My Lovely Bride, for all her wonderful qualities, has little patience. (I know, I know - those of you who know me well are trying to figure out why she's stuck around for 27 years with me, since I require lots of - um - patient understanding. Some have even called me high maintenance. It's just the power of love, I guess. I'm not about to question that now, however.... I might jinx it!) When we're out-and-about, and I'm sending tweets to folks, she doesn't want to wait for those 140 characters to be typed. She is in "hang with the hubby" mode, not "watch hubby broadcast random facts of our life to a self-selected group of his friends" mode. So we're still, in our semi-argumentative way, working out how to integrate this into our marriage. It's a process. (It took 15 years for her to stop saying "you love that computer more than you love me," so it may be a while.) I'm trying to be less obvious about things, and she's working on understanding it. Twitter is new and different from anything we've had in the online world before, so it is, as a good paradigm shifter should, challenging our conventions and making us actually think about how relationships work.

Not a bad thing, just a thing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New phrase - I'm putting it out there for anyone to use....

....but I want credit. What do you call it when you join a mailing list or chat forum and just watch what's going on? Right - lurking. So, when you purposefully join a group to lurk and benefit from the knowledge being transmitted, without answering questions or specifically asking for help, it's called "Lurk 'n' Learn."

Pah dum pow! (Thank you, thank you! I'm here all week!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

OK, This is a real blog now.

I have been told that posting twice a year and limiting myself to something like Palms or iPhones is not really a blog. So here is my little house on the internet. I will attempt to fill this with thoughts, links to things that are interesting, and links to my photos and stuff that are posted elsewhere. I look forward to your feedback.