It's been a while since I've had any visitors. This week, Paul Garth is here with me in the Digital Sandbox. Paul was selected to assume my role and become the new Director of Technology at The David Allen Company, a role he will officially take on later this year. As part of the transition, I'll be working with Paul to transfer the knowledge and experience that I've gained in this role over the past decade so that he can continue to support the DAC staff around the world.
We're spending the week, getting to know one another and geeking around with technology as I give him the high-level overview of the systems that I designed for David Allen and how they work. I'm introducing him to our GTD collaboration suite, including Notes, SameTime, ActiveWords, MindManager, and so on. We're also playing in the lab. And, we get paid for it. [David, Robert, if you're reading this, Paul thinks he's playing but this is all serious hard knowledge work, he just doesn't know it yet. I've not given him a single break; and we are very focused. ;-) ]
Today, I received two special visitors to the Digital Sandbox - Steve Barth and Michael Sampson. Steve's a recognized authority on knowledge management and organizational learning, especially the dynamic relationships between individual knowledge workers and their peers, teams, organizations and communities.
I first met Steve at the KM World Conference in San Jose and we immediately hit it off. Once we discovered that we were both passionate about the concept of the KM approach to self organization and personal productivity we knew we wanted to explore our common interests further. Continue Reading "Barth and Sampson visit the Digital Sandbox" »
Congratulations, Chris, you guessed it! That's my Heathkit H8 microcomputer kit from the late 1970's. I used that computer for many years; it helped launch my career in computer consulting. It served me well.
The one Megahertz 8080 CPU was fast, but I wanted better performance for my number-crunching, so I built an after-market CPU upgrade kit to allow me to use a Z-80 processor, which I then clock-doubled to TWO megahertz. Man, was that fast! I still have all the accessories for this beauty. While my classmates were buying cars and tricking them out, I built computers and poured money into upgrades. (So what's new?) The only accessory I do not have, but always wanted, was the paper-tape reader/punch. Not that I needed it - cassette was cheaper and faster - but paper tape was cool.
Here's a photo of the H8 computer today, as it sits in my office.
Things have been quite busy for me, here
in the Digital Sandbox; I'm getting ready to deploy a productivity enhancement
system for a client's organization, complete with document imaging, distributed
action management, and full wireless access using a Treo 650, SprintPCS,
and Pylon Anywhere. Right now, I'm buried in wires, software, and product
manuals. (I know, a "Productivity Enhancement System" sounds
like an offer for a vitamin pill or something you might expect to read
in a spam email. It's not. If you knew what's going into this box, you'd
want one. But that's a blog entry for another day.)
Since I don't have much time to invite guests over to the Digital Sandbox
I thought I'd treat you to a mystery tour and see if you can identify the
object in the photo.
I'll start by posting a close-up of something. Then, I'll ask for folks
to see if they can identify what the item is and tell me what they know
about it. The more "mature" readers of this blog may even remember
using some of the items that I'll post here. If no one comes close, then
I'll zoom out or add other hints.
What's a day in the sandbox without music?
As part of our office tour, Michael Sampson spotted the contraption in
the center of my office - a collection of pipes, wires, and cables. When
he asked what it was, I decided to show him; rather, I decided to play
it for him.
Listen along for a digital-to-analog treat, live from my Digital Sandbox
You never know what will turn up when you
dig around in the digital sandbox. Sometimes, even I'm taken by surprise.
In this second installment on Michael Sampson's recent visit to the Digital
Sandbox, we briefly catch up and take a quick tour of some of the tools
I use at work. Part way through the podcast, Michael opened his briefcase
and shows me his new productivity tool. Needless to say, this will certainly
change the tone of our visit and our trip across the country.
- Unified Messaging (Big Sky Technologies)
- The mother of all digital whiteboards - the Xerox LiveBoard
- The HP Digital Sender
- Michael's big surprise. (Hint: it's not a new Apple PowerBook)
- OneNote Shared Sessions
- Brief overview of the OneNote podcast by Amy & Wendy
For reasons which will become obvious in the podcast I will delay posting
the photos related to this podcast.
Many interesting people come to visit and
play in my digital sandbox. Recently, Michael Sampson joined me,
all the way from New Zealand. This is the first of several time-shifted
podcasts, full of treats and surprises.
It's a busy day here in the digital sandbox.
Allen just drove Buzz
Bruggeman up in his Mini
for a geek day in beautiful Pine Mountain Club. (David decided to drive
up the back way, on Highway 33, on windy mountain roads. I'm happy to report
that Buzz survived; breakfast intact.) I invited my friend, Paul
Edwards to join us, too. We're
now sitting in my conference room, having the most amazing conversations
about tech, productivity, ActiveWords, Tablet PCs productivity, Notes,
and getting things done.
Is there anyone Buzz does not know? David and I lost count of how many
people Buzz knows but we decided that he's definitely one connected guy.
Buzz has had a new a new Tablet PC for 40+ days and has yet to use it.
I've had new Tablet PC for 14 days and I'm trying to use it. Together,
we taught each other a few things - except how to get the external VGA
port on Buzz' HP1100c to work. No matter, there's lots to show and tell.
Eric and Buzz demonstrate Tablet PC and ActiveWords technology to David
This afternoon, Buzz plans to give us a private demo of the new ActiveWords
product for the Tablet PC. Then, we'll probably take turns sharing cool
gear, tips, and tools that each of us use.
I'm not sure if we'll do a podcast today - too much happening, too fast.
I'll try to post some highlights and photos later today. If I don't, I'm
sure Buzz or David will ...
Throughout the morning, I've received several
e-mails and Skype requests asking of today was the day. Yes!
I thought it might be fun to share my experience as a podcast. I'm not
sure how practical this will be, as it takes time to post the podcasts.
I suppose this will be a good exercise to me to test the podcast capability
of Dominoblog, too.
If there's interest in my continuing, I'm willing to give it a try.
I've promised Mark and James the first interview once I have the M4 opened
and set up. We'll probably do that later today. meanwhile, I'm happy to
share the initial experience here.
After several attempts,
David Allen and I finally got together to play
in my digital sandbox and
enjoy a good meal.
We had a great time and we got to play with all kinds of cool technology,
too. David and I have been talking a lot about podcasting lately,
so I invited him to help me test my new podcast rig. We recorded several
segments, which I will share over on eProductivity.NET
in the weeks to come.
Eric Mack On-line - March 12, 2005 (23 min 29 sec) MP3 5.5 MB
00:00 Introduction & welcome to the digital
01:24 Eric & David make a drop in on Marc
Orchant via Skype
03:57 Marc tells us about the Workforce Education
06:18 Articulated curriculum for a career in
08:02 David's vision for GTD in education
11:02 GTD check-in
13:39 Embedding GTD into the corporate culture
19:04 The hallmark of a GTD blackbelt
- can you train yourself?
Throughout the day, we received several e-mails and Skype requests to chat.
Unfortunately, we were unable to connect with everyone who tried to reach
us; perhaps we'll try again, soon. (You'll want to add my RSS feed to your
RSS Reader and your podcast client.)
If you would like to be on a future podcast, drop me a line, using the
"contact" link above.
I've received some fun feedback on my ICA
Think Station and the gear
that I use. It looks like there is considerable interest out there, so
I guess I'll add this to my "potential topics to blog about"
list. I'll try to blog about this from time to time.
One reader wrote me this week to ask who made the desk. That's a long story
in and of itself, but it's a good place for me to begin. The short answer
is that I designed it and my brother-in-law built it.
The long answer is that this desk is the most recent iteration of 8 different
personal think stations -- 2 mobile offices and 6 fixed -- that I have
designed over the years. I'm not into the furniture design business, I
just have this habit of thinking out loud "wouldn't it be cool
if ..." and before long, I have a prototype -- usually out of
refrigerator boxes and gaffer's tape -- which eventually leads to a new
workspace. My current think station is the result of over 20 years
of experimentation, mostly to learn what does not work for me.
Each think station that I have designed has been unique in purpose and
functionality. One of my most challenging designs was my second mobile
office, which I built in 1990. I designed a complete mobile office that
was hidden inside of a Ford Aerostar. I designed it to be easily concealed.
I was consulting at the Air Force Fight Test Center at the time, and I
was tired of being "randomly selected" to have my vehicle searched
each time I drove on base. (I knew the real reason for my random selection
was the MPs just wanted to see the latest gadgets. I did not mind having
my vehicle searched and I loved the chance to show off but it made me late
for work ...)
The mobile office featured a self-contained power system, Novell file server
and workstation, cellular phones, ventilation, small copier and a fax machine.
I used a WaveLan wireless link to sync data with my office whenever I was
parked at the office and a 1200/2400 baud modem for "high-speed"
cellular wireless on the road. I used cc:Mail and eventually migrated to
Notes 2.0 to take advantage of the disconnected work mode. The neatest
part of this mobile office was that the desk was designed to raise and
lower electrically; in the stowed position no one could see any of the
equipment in my van.
Several people assisted me with the implementation: A retired aerospace
worker and dear friend, Pat Patriquin, Tig-welded the chassis for me. Another
friend completed the oak cabinetry. I designed the electronics and put
it all together. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the custom
stealth antenna array that was mounted on the roof of the van. Basically,
with a push of a button, I could instantly stow the 6 antennas on the roof
of my van inside the luggage rack. (It was very cool, or so I've been told.)
That mobile office served me well for many years as I commuted between
Burbank and Edwards AFB. Sometimes I miss not having a complete office
for long trips.
Of course, I now carry all of that functionality under my arm in my IBM
I can usually be creative and productive
most anywhere, but I'm really creative and productive when I'm at
the center of my own information cockpit -- a 10' x 10' corner of my office
where,over the years, I have built my dream workspace. Here, I have assembled
a collection of thinking gear, tools and technologies, to support me as
I work on projects.
For the past week, I've been on the road, working with clients, feeling
a little constrained without some of my favorite gear. In the evenings
at the hotel, I've been thinking about how I will continue to update and
enhance my mobile
office kit for maximum productivity
on the road. As part of this effort, I've been writing about my workspace
in order to get clear on what has worked well for me and why.
Inspired by the concept of the IBM ThinkPad in front of me, I thought it
might be fun to share a little about my "ICA Think Station" -
the gear, tools, and technologies that I've enjoyed using over the years.
ICA is the name of my company,
but it represents much more than that. ICA stands for Information, Communication,
Action - three areas of focus that are part of the way that I approach
my work. From the Grahl chair at the center of the cockpit, I can effortlessly
swivel to access the various tools and technologies that support me in
collecting, storing and accessing the information that I use daily to make
decisions, communicate with clients and colleagues around the world, and
track my projects and actions.
For a long time I've been planning to launch my
eProductivity.Net blog to share this
kind of information. However, each time I plan do so, new and exciting
opportunities show up and I end up rescheduling the launch. I hope to finally
get around to posting some of these mini-essays on the blog so I can throw
the switch and go live. I'd love to know what you think.