IBM is listening... Thanks Alistair

Sunday, October 27th, 2013
I've just returned from my second IBM Leadership Alliance Conference in Boston.  

20130825-IBMLeadershipAlliance.jpg
The IBM Leadership Alliance (formerly known as the "Lotus Leadership Alliance/LOLA") is a small invitation-only event in which IBM Collaboration leadership share what's happening in their world and engage the aforementioned groups in intimate discussion about topics of interest. By creating an environment in which we can hear from and communicate with key players (without the big stage and teleprompters!) we can learn from one another. It was a rich experience. Much of this, will no doubt influence the products and announcements at the next public Connect conference.

In this day when "social" business is promoted -- and often confused to mean social tools only -- it's nice to see that IBM's Collaboration division really gets the value of "social" as in connecting with your ecosystem in order to share, learn, and do smarter business. A quick word of thanks to Alistair Rennie and his team for creating and hosting an environment rich for knowledge sharing.

While I am not at  liberty to share what was presented or discussed at the conference I think it is appropriate to point out one of the many ways that IBM communicates with key people in its ecosystem, including customers, developers and business partners to name a few.

Before you ask, there is nothing further that I can share. It's an invitation only event and we are asked to not share the contents of what was presented. I do not know who invited me or what got me on the list, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate.

Overall, it was a worthwhile trip for me. My hope is that the information that I learned and the experience that I was able to share in conversation will have an impact on how we all do business.

Thank you IBM.
ManDrowingInBox115.jpgI've been socially disconnected since returning from Lotusphere. This is mostly due to big changes on the business and personal fronts. For starters, on the business side, we launched a new product, a new business model, and a new web site to tie it all together. If you have ever done anything like this you know how time consuming any of these can be, not to mention all three concurrently. I'm fortunate to work with an awesome team and Ryan Heathers, my director of consumer sales and marketing  did an amazing job coordinating all aspects of this project.

Things are busy at the Mack's, too. A move, a wife recovering from surgery, homeschool for the kids, two daughters getting ready for college, and Amy's world debut of her first orchestral score on Saturday. Her score will be performed by the GBC Praise Symphony Orchestra this weekend along with the West Coast Premier of Dan Goeller's presentation of The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. I'm excited about all of these.

If you are in Santa Clarita on Saturday and want to attend the concert, let me know. If you use Lotus Notes and want to learn about eProductivity and the new free Essentials version, please check out the new site. If you want to tweet about either, I'd appreciate that, too.

Anyway, there's an update. I do plan to get back to the social side of things soon.

2011: Ringing in the New Year

Saturday, January 1st, 2011
A quiet day of reflection at my desk today...

2010 was a whirlwind of a year, with many challenges, opportunities, and blessings. If you received our 2010 Christmas letter, then you have a glimpse at what our year was like.

Looking back at 2010
  • A great kick-off at Lotusphere; IBM even spotlighted our product in the technical keynote! (Thanks, Ed Brill)
  • A new product launch and continued business development; looking forward to closing some larger deals in 2011
  • Thankful for our consulting clients and eProductivity customers around the world. I enjoy reading the emails and letters of thanks we get. Neat to know our product is changing people's lives at work and at home.
  • For my blog readers, thank you for sharing and for your emails and tweets of encouragement.
  • Many opportunities for music for the girls, including the a handbell festival, multiple bell choirs, vocal ensembles, choirs, and orchestra. All of this was rounded off by a week of performances at The Master's College "Come Christmas Sing" events followed by a weekend of Candlelight Christmas concerts at Church and topped off by a Hallelujah Chorus sing at the mall. (It was billed as a "Flash Mob" but when thousands showed up to participate it lost its "flash" status. It was just a mob. It was still a lot of fun.
  • I was able to attend two knowledge management conferences and speak at one. Exciting things happening there as I test and refine some of my materials and concepts for a future book.
  • I taught my best class ever (Technology for business decision-making) at The Master's College. I really enjoy serving in this capacity. It's a great college with a great mission.
  • I did not have much time to pursue hobbies this year, but I made progress moving some of these forward to do in 2011
  • I am in awe of the many ways that the Lord provided for our needs this year, many times even before we knew we had a need. I am thankful for the many friends and family who helped and encouraged us in 2010.
  • A great year of home schooling our four girls. I so enjoy seeing my children learning and growing. I also like flirting with their teacher (don't worry, my wife doesn't mind). ;-)
  • After 10 years of study, Amy & Wendy each earned an Awana Citation Award. I'm very proud of them.
  • Emily & Kelly were baptized this year; I enjoy seeing my children delight in the Lord. Kathy and I are praying for their friends and future spouses.
  • Amy & Wendy turned 18 this year. I'm very proud of them and thankful for the godly women they've become.
  • I still can't watch Steve Martin in Father of the Bride with out getting angry (or at least frustrated). Not sure that will ever change.
  • My love for my wife continues to grow as we celebrate our 50th anniversary for the 21st year. So cool to be married to my best friend.
  • I realize how blessed I am to have a loving wife and children, great team mentors and advisors, and the most talented bunch of people to serve with at work, and an encouraging group of friends and family.

Looking forward to 2011
  • One of my many goals this year is to become more active on my blog and social networks. I value the learning I get from these activities and I will plan to spend more time here. Thanks to everyone that takes the time to engage.
  • Amy & Wendy are wrapping up their senior year of high school and are looking forward to college. I'm still getting used to the idea. A big shift from our one room school house where we've learned and laughed together for the past 18 years.
  • Looking forward to big enterprise sales in 2011 as more business recover from the financial downturn of the past few years.
  • I have a few new projects and products I hope to make progress on in the productivity/personal knowledge management space.
  • I'm thinking about joining either our church orchestra or choir this year. (I'm not sure the orchestra will want a Tenor Kazoo  so it will probably be choir.)
  • I am still working my way through Janet Goldstein's Publishing Reset program for writers (Thanks, Jason for the tip!). I look forward to putting what I'm learning into practice and sharing with others through this blog.
  • I look forward to dating my wife and daughters more this year. They are each special to me and I am blessed to be surrounded by five lovely ladies.
  • I'm going to try to make 2011 a year of simplicity. I've shut down all but one server at home and I'm even simplifying the tech and apps I use at my desk. Of course, to achieve the level of simplicity I desire, I will probably have to venture into new levels of technological complexity to accomplish it. Go figure.
  • On the spiritual side, I'm excited to try a new approach to reading through the scriptures; I'll be using Prof Horner's Bible Reading System, a schedule of 10 parallel reading themes that promises a new perspective of God's Word. I have a new ESV translation of the Bible, a gift from Pastor Sumrall when I spoke in Manilla.
  • Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing how the Lord will work in my life and those of my family. Last year, we saw so many things (and those were just the ones we took the time to enumerate).
  • Finally, This year, I hope to be more quiet and observant as I seek to honor the Lord and serve him.
It's time to do a yearly review; clean up the old and organize myself for action 2011.  Tomorrow, I will begin to reorganize my office, computer, and files for the new year.

I'm looking forward to getting started!

I've long been a fan of visualization tools (e.g. mind mapping, charting, etc.) and I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words but this video takes that concept to a whole new level...

Presentation Zen recently blogged about a thought-provoking piece entitled, Visualizing the consequences of sugary drinks in which they describe a 30-second Public Service Announcement by the New York City Department of Health to encourage people to reduce (or eliminate) sugary drinks.



Feeling thirsty?

Think twice before you reach for that soda and consider a refreshing glass of water instead.


Looking back on 2009; Looking Forward to 2010

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
2009 has been a whirlwind year for the Mack Family and for me personally and professionally. I took some time to reflect on a few of the accomplishments for this past year as well as some of the goals that I have for 2010:

LOOKING BACK: A few notable accomplishments for 2009


January, 2009

- We launched the commercial version of eProductivity at Lotusphere
- David Allan and I presented at Lotusphere on using Notes Productively
- Ian and I received honorable mention in the TeamStudio Spotlight Award
- Ryan and I launched the Inside eProductivity Blog

March 2009

- Attended the GTD Summit to present eProductivity; Amy & Wendy helped
- Moderated a Productivity Panel at the GTD Summit
August

- Earned my Master's Degree in Information and Knowledge Management
- My emphasis was on enabling high performance knowledge work
September

- Attended the National Knowledge Management Conference

October

- Kathy and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary for the 20th time
- Taught MGT 430 Technology for Business Decision Making

November

- Presented a workshop on High Performance Knowledge Work
- Moderated a panel on Personal KM and Social Networking

December

- Bloggers post over 75 blog posts about eProductivity
-  And one I am very proud of: People in over 900 organizations in 50 countries are using eProductivity to get things done with Lotus Notes.
- I read all the way through my 1-year Bible in only 366 days!

I'm grateful for the love of my wife and children and I'm thankful to be able to serve with an awesome team of professionals at ICA/eProductivity. I also grateful for the group of key business and personal advisors; godly men who have provided guidance and mentoring along the way.

LOOKING FORWARD: A few goals for 2010

Lord willing, there are several goals on my list for 2010. These include:
  • Launch of eProductivity 2.0, (based on Notes 8.5.1)
  • Presenter at Lotusphere 2010 on using Notes Productively
  • Introduction of eProductivity versions for mobile and cloud apps
  • I look forward to teaching for The Master's College again: MGT 430 Technology for Business Decision Making
  • Travel with my family
  • I hope to present a paper at the National KM Conference
  • I plan to present a workshop and main session on High Performance Knowledge Work at KMWORLD
  • I will be working on my book on High Performance Knowledge Work
  • Now that I'm done with school, and time-permitting, I hope to spend some time on my hobbies in robotics, CNC, mechanical music, and vintage computing

How a virus invades your body

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

This animation from the folks at NPR shows how a flu virus can trick a single cell into making a million more viruses.


It's a good thing that most of the time our immune system works even faster to keep them in check.

Still, I'm not sure I ever want to sneeze or inhale again.

Achoo!

Source: Flixxy


On Saturday, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, causing the worst flooding in more than 40 years in the capital city Manila and other areas of the northern Philippines. As my readers know, I had the delightful opportunity to visit Manila two years ago to deliver the Beyond Planning Conference. During my stay in the Philippines, I got to know many people and to see first hand the beauty and challenges in this nation. I Skyped my friend, Pastor David Sumrall, of the Cathedral of Praise (COP), and asked how he was doing. he reported that they got 15 inches of rain in just a few hours.Today, 80% of Manila is under water and more rain is on the way. As I have written before, I've grown attached to the people of Manila. As I have written before on this blog, the people I met are resilient and have a strong sense of community and service, even in the midst of trials and storms.  My prayers are with the people of the Philippines and the COP community and those affected by this Typhoon. I'm sure that as things stabilize, Pastor Sumrall and his staff will organize opportunities to minister to those in need and I pray, too, that this will be a time of great testimony as people experience God's love through the service others in the name of Christ.

In the past, having no direct or personal connection to places such as this I would say a prayer and be about my business -- not for lack or concern or compassion, but for lack of connection. Now, with a personal connection to the people of the Philippines, this is more personal, I ask you to consider including them in your prayers and with your financial support. (I believe the Red Cross will take your donations to help survivors.)

Each of us face storms of many kinds and these can test our faith.

I know that God is in charge and our faith remains unshaken even though the storms rage around us -- Life is precious.

How's your faith?

ObamaCare Is All About Rationing

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting OpEd piece on the proposed health care overhaul, by Martin Feldstein

If Man Landed on the Moon Today

Sunday, July 19th, 2009


I remember watching the first lunar landing, narrated by Walter Cronkite. Exciting, yes. What would that same landing look like 40 years later? Here's one look that imagines how TV news would cover that historic event if it happened today.
Eric's Goals Bracelet for 2008Last December, I received this engraved Road ID goals bracelet. In 2008, I made great progress on items 1-3. That leaves only 'Buy a Mac' and 'Visit New Zealand.' Perhaps this will be the year for those two.

For now, I've just returned from a very successful Lotusphere 2009, where David Allen and I gave a presentation. I now have 1000 accumulated emails to process (I've already deleted the easy & obvious stuff), several hundred new business cards & leads to deal with, and a list of Lotusphere 2009 blog topics to edit and post.
Spammers have to get really creative to get my attention, these days.

Yeah, like I'm really going to lose 20 pounds drinking OREO shakes. I wish!
UPS delivered a box from Amazon today. I have been expecting several knowledge management books but it turns out it was just a book by Michael Sampson.

Michael Sampson!?

Yes, that's right, Michael can now add published author to his list of accomplishments. (Sort of like being blessed with a 9th child.)
Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft SharePoint to collaborate, innovate, and drive business in new ways, by Michael Sampson.

Seamless Teamwork: Using Microsoft SharePoint technologies to collaborate, innovate, and drive business in new ways.

But wait! There's a problem. Kathy just walked into the room and I handed her the book. Her first comment was "Where's his picture?"

Even if you are not a SharePoint user, you can still learn a lot from Michael's book. I did. You'll learn about the capabilities of SharePoint and the lessons learned from collaborative implementations gone well and those that didn't go so well.

Continue Reading "It's here! Seamless Teamwork, by Michael Sampson" »

Oh no, here comes another bubble?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Sitting through recent KM conferences and listening to all of the attention on collaboration and social software (stuff we've been doing in Notes for decades) made me wonder if we are not headed for another bubble. I think this video adds some perspective.

A beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
View of the Pacific Ocean from Pepperdine University
The Southern California Knowledge Management Exchange is taking place this week at the Graziadio Executive Center on the Campus of Pepperdine University. It's beautiful. From the terrace, we have a beautiful view of the Pacific.
Perhaps this post should have been called, "Microsoft may force me to switch to a Mac" (If you want to help and are short on time, follow the link at the end of this post.)

I have been running Windows XP for many years. Other than my unfortunate experience with Toshiba and the Tecra M4 Tablet, my experience with XP has been excellent. Since moving to my Lenovo T60p I have had the most reliable and productive work system in my experience. As many of you may know, Microsoft has announced the end of XP, however, their replacement, Vista, has not been well received by the IT community. (I do run Vista on my wonderful Lenovo X61 Tablet PC and as a Tablet OS it's the best, but I do feel like my productivity has taken a huge hit compared to XP.)

If I were forced to choose between Vista and a Mac OS on my primary machine,
Continue Reading "Microsoft: Save Windows XP! (or I'll switch to a Mac?)" »

Behind the scenes at a typical dial-up Internet Service Provider...

Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
I crashed hard last night at about 7:30 PM local time. Now, it's 3:43 AM local time and I'm wide awake. I'd rather be on this side of jet lag. Anyway, I enjoyed a nice quiet time, reading my Bible and listening to my favorite hymns and worship songs in my hotel room. I'm normally a late night person, and while getting up early for a quiet time has long been a desire of mine, it does not happen as often as I would like. So, I'm thankful for opportunities like these when I actually get up before the clock sounds.

Focusing on the outcome
This conference has required so much work and preparation that's easy to forget the purpose of the conference itself and focus on mechanics and delivery. The purpose of this conference is about helping people. I desire to be a part of that process, by sharing some of what I have learned in the past 25 years in business with the hope that others will find some of it useful and learn from it, too. I'm really excited about the vision that Pastor Sumrall has for these conferences that he does each year to help the people of Manila and I'm honored to be invited to be this year's featured speaker. It's an awesome responsibility and opportunity.

Continue Reading "Musings on jet lag, conf prep, and favorite hymns" »

Foiled

Saturday, November 17th, 2007
This past week, Michael and and I have been working through the content for the Beyond Planning - eProductivity Conference in Manila later this month. I'm generating content, uploading into Notes, and Michael's generating slides and ensuring thematic consistency...  and, apparently, a whole lot more. I really have to stay on top of this, however, as Michael keeps slipping surprises into the slide decks...

A new brain and cake for my birthday!

Thursday, July 26th, 2007
I spent the day today with Knowledge Management expert, Steve Barth. We're preparing for our upcoming KMWorld presentation: Knowledge Worker Productivity: Strategies & Techniques.

Now there's a unique birthday card!

Upon checking my email, I found that Shelley and Harlan had sent me a birthday brain:

20070726BirthdayCardTheBrain.gif

Seeing my name misspelled, I Skyped Shelley to ask if she spelled my last name as "Mac" on purpose.

Continue Reading "A new brain and cake for my birthday!" »

Yes, it’s true

Thursday, July 26th, 2007
EricAtOneyearOld.jpg

It's hard to hide from the web.

Thank you, Michael, my friend, for your kind words and birthday greeting.

Ojai Pink Moment

Friday, July 6th, 2007
One of the neat things about consulting for The David Allen Company is that I get invited to participate in some of the staff meetings and attend some really nice banquets. Tonight, we dined at the Ojai Valley Inn where we got to see a "pink moment."

Ojai Pink Moment - DavidCo 2007 Summer Staff Meeting

Situated in an East-West orientation, the Ojai Valley provides for awesome sunsets. Most remarkable is how the low rays of the setting sun paint the tops of the mountains surrounding the valley, causing them to briefly glow purple for about 10 minutes -  the "Pink Moment."

Continue Reading "Ojai Pink Moment" »
I learned a very painful lesson today about sitting on your wallet and I'd like to share it with you and perhaps save you the extreme pain and a visit to the doctor's office.

Photo source: www.walletsciatica.net

When I got off the plane in Boston for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, two weeks ago, I was barely able to walk. The pain was almost unbearable - so much so that I even called my wife and mentioned that I might need her to fly to Boston to help me return to California. My roommate, Michael, got me some Motrin and ice packs and I rested for the night. By morning, I was feeling a little better, and I was able to make it through the conference with small recurrences during the week. I was even able to blog the conference with Michael.

Continue Reading "Leg Pain? You may be sitting on the problem!" »

Why I’m not afraid to speak in public

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
A potential client called me this week and asked if I would be interested in delivering an eProductivity seminar to a very large audience in Asia. I told him I was. He seemed most interested to know if I was comfortable speaking to a very large audience - like 5,000-8,000 people. I said that I was and I shared that I had a life-changing event many many years ago that gave me great comfort speaking in front of large audiences. Here's what happened...

Continue Reading "Why I'm not afraid to speak in public" »
Fellow productivity blogger, Dwayne Melancon, wants to know if he can watch his legally purchased DVDs on his iPod.

Well, the fair use laws might permit him to repurpose his video, however, as Dwayne points out the DCMA gets in the way.

I covered this topic in a business law class I took a few years ago when I went paperless for 8 weeks, which meant that I had to scan my books. I posed a similar question: Is it legal to scan your books to read on a tablet PC? It was a busy thread with may comments and even more off-blog emails traded. Ultimately, and after much research, I concluded that the fair use laws would permit this for personal use and I presented my research to my class in a presentation called, Wallpaper, Toilet paper, or ePaper.

But my research only addressed fair use of paper/books, not media. What Dwayne needs is a different kind of presentation.

Fortunately, I have one.

The clever and creative folks at Stanford University, in collaboration with Professor Lawrence Lessig, have recruited help from a few Disney characters to explain why Dwight can't legally record his DVDs to his iPod for personal viewing.

Watch the video.

Thoughts on technology from Archibald Putt

Thursday, April 26th, 2007
I've been focused on key client and eProductivity projects for the past two weeks; I do plan to resurface next week. Meanwhile, I'll leave you with this thought on technology.
Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
Putt's Law
You may still have a few Marshmallow Peeps lying around. What should you do with them? Wikipedia has some interesting ideas but why not advance the cause of scientific research?

Link: Peep Research

Thank goodness for heroes

Sunday, April 1st, 2007
Today, I had a near death experience that will no doubt change me forever. I will certainly never ride a horse again. I have never really liked horses anyway; now I have good reason.

This afternoon, after church and shopping, I agreed to take my daughters horseback riding.  Everything was going fine until my horse started bouncing out of control.  I tried with all my might to hang on, but I started to slide out of the saddle. Just when things could not possibly get worse, my foot got caught in the stirrup.  I fell head first to the ground. Fortunately, I  hit my head on the horse riding next to me. This broke my fall as my head hit the ground. With my foot still stuck in the stirrup, my head continued to bounce harder and harder as the horse did not stop or even slow down. I tried to scream for help but the blood rushed to my head and I could barely make a sound. I tried to reach for the reigns, dangling in front of me, but everything kept turning around and around.

Just as I was giving up hope and losing consciousness...

Continue Reading "Thank goodness for heroes" »
I recently delivered a speech to the incoming students at The Center for Professional Studies (CPS) at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California.

This was an exciting opportunity for me to encourage the incoming students by sharing my experiences in the Organizational Management program and to offer some secrets for success in getting through the program.

While the speech is directed to students, and adult learners in specific, the principles I share could be applied to anyone in any situation.

This week, business cohort had a reunion and my colleagues encouraged me to share the speech, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it.


Five things you probably don’t know about me

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
The tagging meme has caught up to me. I've recently been tagged by several people, including Jason Womack, Brendon Connelly (SlackerManager), Katy Whitton, and several others; I've lost track. (sorry).  Here, a little late, is my post in response.

Five things you probably don't know about me.
  • I almost got blown up by terrorists in Mons, Belgium
  • I used to produce championship wrestling videos in Barbados
  • I once got in trouble for "visiting" a computer center uninvited
  • I gave up "playing with computers" to became a professional
  • I have living proof of the power of prayer
    Continue Reading "Five things you probably don't know about me" »
This year marks my 25th year as a technology consultant and eProductivity specialist. In that time, I've learned a lot about working with staff, being self employed and, in the past 12 years, about working from a home office.

As I reflect on the past and think about what I want to accomplish in 2007, I decided to make a list of some of the things that I enjoy about my work and about working from home.

Some obvious aspects that I enjoy are the ability to follow my interests, choose my clients (that's a big one) and my work, and work from home.  

Here are a few more ...

Twenty-five things I like about my work:

Continue Reading "25 things I like about my work and working from home" »
A bicycle wheel that is out of balance won't run true. Neither will a life.

Just as a bicycle wheel must be adjusted periodically to run true, in life it's important to focus on the areas that require daily attention to stay in balance. Otherwise, the bumps in the road will get you.

20070101ZiglarPriorityWheel.jpg

I've kept a record of both and I find that the gap between my stated priorities and my actual priorities can be large at times. I needed a better way to manage and track my performance so that I could see if what I did matched up with my stated priorities.
Continue Reading "Is it time to rebalance your life's priorities?" »

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 31st, 2006
As I close this chapter, called 2006, and I look forward to 2007 I am thankful for the many blessings I enjoy. One of them is the friendships which have developed as a result of this blog. I'm delighted to have been able to help and encourage so many and I'm truly thankful for those who have come along side to do the same for me.

2007 marks the beginning of a new adventure for me - big changes ahead. Lots to blog about.

I would like to wish all of my readers good health and happiness in the coming year.

Eric

Clueless

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006
Michael's always trying for a way to capitalize on my words, especially when computers are involved. Today, as part of his relentless campaign
to get me to buy a Mac, Michael's just launched a new line of apparel for  clueless Mac users.

20061122clueless.jpg
Remember my recipe for homemade productivity juice?

20050323 - Eric's Productivity Juice for M4.JPG

Details here.
I've just surfaced from 6 weeks of intense work, presentations, and client travel. Two weeks in Ojai with the David Allen Company, two weeks to complete and work on my eProductivity business plan, and two weeks of client travel to meet with clients who waited patiently during my absence. This, punctuated by a memorial service for my grandpa, my business plan presentation (miracle did occur),  a dinner meeting with Marc Orchant and a delightful visit from my good friend, Michael Sampson and his Mac. (We enjoyed a very quick Thanksgiving dinner and church the next day, followed by a brief visit aboard a special aircraft.) Blog posts on all of these, coming soon.

I am going somewhere with this.
I'm setting the stage for typically serious post-travel overwhelm. Whenever this happens, I apply the GTD work flow model to processing my stuff.  I'm now wresting with last 100 emails (out of thousands) and a small stack of papers, 33 draft blog topic ideas, and a business plan to revise.

So, what does all of this have to do with using a 24" LCD Panel as a tool for visual project mapping?


Continue Reading "24" LCD Panel as a tool for visual project mapping" »
How do you keep your audience awake and attentive? Here's an extreme approach that one of my professors used to keep his students alert.
Continue Reading "Keep your audience attentive. An extreme tip." »

Fit and Effective: visualizing fitness

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006
This afternoon, one of my mentors, Jason Womack, began a our group conference call by asking each participant how they were doing and where they were calling from. I responded:
I'm sitting in my living room, at the coffee table, calling via Skype, looking out the window.
Oops. Given that Jason's coaching series is called Working Out, While You’re Out Working, let me see if I can do better:

Continue Reading "Fit and Effective: visualizing fitness" »

Sampson Family Quiver Expansion

Friday, June 2nd, 2006
The Sampson family quiver continues to expand. I won't be surprised to receive a robotics challenge from across the pacific for a Sampson vs. Mack.

At this rate of growth, the mini-Sampson population will soon be sufficient to support not one but TWO teams, a company of research analysts, or something grand. All kidding aside, I'm excited for Michael and Katrina. As the parents of four daughter's, we've learned that children are indeed a blessing from the Lord.
"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..." (Psalm 127:3-5, NASB)
I've known Michael for close to 9 years and I'm honored to count him among my closest friends.

Congratulations to Michael and Katrina, on this latest addition to the Sampson family.

Photos of Sampson quiver can be found
here.
I'm looking forward to taking a few items off my projects list and moving several Someday/Maybe items to my active projects list. For those of you that find my blogging challenges entertaining (or amusing), stay tuned, I have a few new ones coming.

On the completion front, I've recently completed my last final exam in managerial accounting & finance. While the A that I earned in this course only raised my GPA, by  .001, I know that the information I learned will be invaluable. I wish I had taken this course many years ago. That knowledge would have saved me more than my tuition.

I'm presently working on my capstone management project, which I will present this summer. Once I mark that project off as completed, I plan to move several projects from my Someday/Maybe list over to active status.

These include:
  • The next release of the ICA eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes
  • My own 10-week start-up school adventure
  • A Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) project
  • A few other interesting projects, some using MindManager and ResultsManager.

Continue Reading "Completion on the horizon. New challenges ahead" »

Comments working again

Saturday, April 1st, 2006
Sorry. Comments turned off by accident. All better now.

Can your choir do this?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006
Kathy and I met in the choir. We've done some interesting things vocally, but never anything like this...

Check out this commercial from the folks at Honda UK. It will tickle your ears and your imagination.

Click on "Watch Civic" and wait for the flash file to download. It will start automatically.

I wish I was still in choir. I bet my choir director would have a field day with this.

Update: Apparently this site has more reliable viewing.

Don’t debug the computer, debug the building

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005
I received this e-mail from the campus computing center:
Faculty/Staff/Students:
Due to fumigation of the computer building, the computer system will be shut down beginning December 23rd through December 26th.  The system will be turned back on on December 27th.   Thank you for your understanding.
I wonder what operating system they are using? No, best not to go there.

Perhaps this is only funny to me because I remember listening to Commodore Grace Hopper explain the process of debugging a computer.

If this makes no sense, but you are still remotely interested in why I would find fumigation and computer debugging funny, click on the link at the end of this post and search for the word "debugging."

Continue Reading "Don't debug the computer, debug the building" »

Problem with RSS feed - please be patient

Friday, November 4th, 2005
This blog is running the latest version of DominoBlog. I'm helping Steve test several new features. Please be patient while he helps me sort out the RSS issue. Thanks. Eric

Maggie Bushway in the News

Thursday, October 13th, 2005
Our efforts to help Maggie redecorate her hospital room made the news today.

Rob Bushway writes:
The Channel 5 (NBC) news crew came by Maggie’s room today to interview her and us about her story and these tremendous web cards. If you are in St. Louis or you can pickup the Channel 5 NBC station from St. Louis via satellite, be sure to check it out. Its’ a great testimony of the tremendous love people have for her and God’s wonderful Grace ...

20051010MaggieBushwayGetWellCards.jpg

Continue Reading "Maggie Bushway in the News" »

Not something you see every day

Monday, October 10th, 2005
Just a few hours ago, while driving down I5 to a Human Resource Management class in Santa Clarita, I noticed a low-flying airplane near the tower at Magic Mountain. (20 years ago, as a flight student out of Van Nuys, the flight instructor used to make me fly out to practice maneuvers over the Newhall area, which at the time, was sparsely populated. I thought it odd that a small plane would be flying so low, but I did not give it much thought.) I thought it might be a CHP aircraft on a spotting maneuver. A moment later, the plane was gone.

Continue Reading "Not something you see every day" »
I have a favor to ask of all readers of my blog: Please take two minutes to help Maggie reach her goal of wallpapering her hospital room with e-cards before her next scheduled brain surgery, this Wednesday.

Fellow technologist, homeschool father, and Tablet MVP, Rob Bushway, has been sharing his family's ongoing experiences as they care for 9-year old Maggie, who's suffering from brain cancer. Maggie's presently in Children's hospital in St. Louis undergoing additional treatment. Rob's blogging the experience from the hospital.

While she awaits another brain surgery, Maggie's decorating her hospital room and she would like your help. Please take a moment to learn about Maggie, then take two minutes to send her (and her family) an e-card via the hospital web site. (Maggie Bushway, Room 104)

Continue Reading "A personal request for a friend and his daughter" »

Real-time Air Traffic Monitoring

Saturday, September 17th, 2005
I'm a big fan of visual mapping tools. I constantly use my white boards, my tablet. and yes Michael, even paper, to map out and visualize my thoughts and ideas. As a visual person, I lean towards tools and technologies that allow me to "see" what's going on.

I understand that folks who drive in Los Angeles traffic like to look up the CalTrans real-time traffic information to "see" what freeway conditions are like. The freeway is 18 miles away and the nearest traffic signal is over 50 miles away so, I usually don't need that kind of information. From my vantage point high in the mountains, however, I see another kind of traffic information. Day and night, I see number of planes in flight corridors overhead at extremely high elevations. Although cannot usually hear them, I've often wondered where they were going. I don't have to wonder any more...

Continue Reading "Real-time Air Traffic Monitoring" »

It’s time to be very efficient

Saturday, September 3rd, 2005
Sometimes, the best boost in productivity comes during a crisis. Why? Because true priorities become very clear, allowing goals reshuffle themselves according to new priorities. The unimportant things become truly unimportant allowing the important things to surface.

Continue Reading "It's time to be very efficient" »
This afternoon, my wife walked into my office to find me wrapped in a towel, headset on, and engrossed in a conversation. Not knowing who was at the other end and careful not to interrupt my conversation, Kathy quietly stepped around the side of my desk and handed me this note:

20050729-note-from-kathy.JPG

There is an explanation. Earlier in the day, I went to take a shower. Even before I turned on the water, a flood of ideas came to mind. I leaned out from the shower and started to brainstorm on my white board that I keep for this purpose. Realizing that no one was home (my wife and kids were at VBS) I decided to wrap myself  in a towel and walk back to my desk to quickly map out the rest of my ideas before returning to my shower. I had only one objective - not to lose the ideas in my head before I could write them down.

Well, I finished mapping out my ideas in just a few minutes; but then, one great idea led to another... I was about to leave when the phone rang. Then, it was time for a conference call with a business associate.

Then my wife walked in ...

She's still laughing.

Complete the sentence

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005
Kathy and I watched one of my favorite movies last night. We enjoy adventure, drama, and the opportunity to laugh. When a movie provides all three, it's a real treat. Yesterday, I enjoyed a day of nonstop greetings from friends and family. (Thank you!) It was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday, topped by a movie that ended with these words:
"This world is an uncertain realm filled with danger, honor undermined by the pursuit of power, freedom sacrificed when the weak are oppressed by the strong. But there are those who oppose these powerful forces, who dedicate their lives to truth, honor, and freedom. These men are known as ..."

I love these closing words. They inspire me to do more: to do what is right, to serve others, to imagine a different time.

See if you can finish the sentence - without looking it up on the internet.

Yes Michael, that’s cake you smell

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005
My good friend, Michael Sampson, wants to know if he smells cake? Yes, it's true. I'm old enough to remember watching Niel Armstrong step onto the moon.

The week of my sixth birthday, NASA's Apollo 11 crew gave me a treat:

apollo11landing.jpg

I remember sitting front of our black and white television to watch the Apollo 11 crew land on the moon. I remember Neil Armstrong slowly climbing down the ladder of the lunar lander, stepping on to the moon's surface and saying the famous words that will be forever etched in my mind: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Too bad you weren't around to see it, Michael. :-)

Well, at least you can see how NASA celebrated my birthday this year.

shuttlelaunch.jpg

And the cake? Double Chocolate. Mmmmm. Delicious.

Thanks for the birthday greetings, Michael.

GTD RoadMap preview

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005
In case you've been hiding under your in-basket, the big launch is this Thursday. This evening, Amy and I drove over to David Allen's office. He was putting the finishing touches on his new GTD RoadMap seminar and he treated us a sneak preview of some of the materials. Very cool.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to make it to the launch in Santa Monica this week, but I need to focus on some big projects behind the scenes. That's OK, serving David and his team as an eProductivity consultant, I get to see this stuff in action all the time. It's real, folks.

If you have the opportunity to attend, do. I think Rachelle's got a few seats left. You'll walk away inspired and motivated; you'll learn a new way to think about your work. More important you'll learn how to get things done, so that you can truly be ready for anything!

Missing photos in my DominoBlog RSS feed?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005
James Kendrick just sent me an email to tell me that the photos from my blog are not showing up in his RSS reader. I thought this was a problem unique to me. Is anyone else having this problem?

This may be an issue with the way that DominoBlog handles photos. I'll check with Steve Castledine to see what he can do to help me fix this.

Congratulations Shawn & Robin

Friday, July 8th, 2005
This morning, Kathy and I witnessed the marriage of Robin and Shawn Sawyer. Shawn's a colleague in my management cohort and for months we've been hearing about the preparations for this day. The wedding ceremony was beautiful and unique in may ways, from the message, to the invitation, to the horse and carriage that brought Robin to the altar and whisked Shawn and his beautiful bride away. The happy couple never stopped smiling. We wish you the best. Grace to you.

20050708-Shaun-and-Robin-wedding-carriage.jpg

Watching the horse and carriage ride away, I was reminded of my efforts to arrange for one at our wedding in the theme of the Princess Bride. Then, I remembered my four daughters... and decided that perhaps I should encourage them to be more practical. But then...

A sense of mission

Friday, July 1st, 2005
Over on David Allen's blog, there's an interesting discussion about corporate mission statements. A topic that started as "hey, this is cool"  has generated considerable discussion about the value and effectiveness of corporate mission statements.

I agree with some of the remarks shared about the disconnect between some organization's actions and their mission statements. However, I think that's the fault of management and how they work to develop or carry out the organization's mission. Surely some mission statements may end up to be just a page of sweet words, designed to attract uninformed shareholders or employees alike. For a mission statement to work, it must become a part of the fabric of the organization; and, it must represent the ideal and be referenced voluntarily at all levels. It's the leaders job to bring this about. The mission statement provides a sense of purpose and meaning; when an organization's behavior does not match it's company mission statement it's worse than if no mission statement existed at all.

In 20 years of independent consulting I've served many organizations where the mission statement did not appear to match organizational behavior. Fortunately, however, I've also served an equal number of organizations that ARE their mission statement. To me, these organizations redeem the concept and value of the corporate mission statement. The key is leadership. The leaders in these organizations play in active role in defining and communicating the organization's mission through their behavior and decision-making.

On a personal level, I've found that a personal or family mission statement a powerful tool for personal decision making. Many years ago, Kathy and I developed our family mission statement. We set out to describe the successful outcome of our role as parents. That simple effort, and the sense of mission that resulted, has completely transformed our family. Though we don't have it posted on the wall anywhere (we probably should), we do refer to our mission statement often enough to remember what it says and to evaluate how we are doing, both as a family, and as parents. The result is that decisions that we make are made in the context of our family mission and we see these decisions as capable of enhancing or detracting from the picture of our ideal family outcome. I've found it much easier to make decisions about what to be, do, or have when my sense of mission is clear.

The other value I've found in a personal mission statement is that is forces us to think about what we will leave behind. Again, the mission statement, used correctly, can be a powerful tool.

Back to the topic at hand - corporate mission statements. I believe that they can be powerful or a waste of paper. Their success, I believe, depends entirely on how they are created (who's involved) and how they affect behavior within the organization (Behavior changing or lip service?)

Several years ago, I gave David a copy of a book that I enjoyed: "The Mission Statement Book" by Jeffrey Abrahams. This books takes a look at 300+ corporate mission statements from America's top companies. It also offers guidance in how to create and implement a corporate mission statement.

It's an interesting and inspiring read.

Eric Mack Back On-Line 6/28/05

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005
I've just returned from a road trip with my good friend and colleague, Michael Sampson. Michael flew up from New Zealand to spend a day in the digital sandbox with me. From there, we headed off together for meetings in San Francisco, New York, and Boston. We met with David Ferris in SF, spent 4 days at the Collaborative Technologies Conference in NYC, where Michael presented his 7 Pillars of IT Enabled Team Productivity workshop, and then a day with David Marshak at the IBM offices in Boston for a series of product briefings on the new offerings from IBM. (Neat stuff coming from IBM!)

A combination of Internet and Tablet PC issues prompted Michael to remark that this blog would be more appropriately named "EricMackOffLine." I won't go there right now ...

While I've not made any blog posts in the past 10 days, I apparently showed up on several other people's blogs - mostly in conjunction with the CTC conference and the GEEC dinners around the country - so search around.

Meanwhile, I've queued up a bunch of draft  posts and podcasts. I'll try to edit and post these soon. For those of you who've written or posted to ask about the Tablet PC, I did take it and use it. More on that later. I did do several impromptu demos of Tablet PC technology, mostly OneNote and MindManager. In fact, Michael and I did a live demo to OneNote shared sessions at the CTC conference. While, there, I sat with Mike Jetter of MindJet and I made my case for MindManager as a visualization tool for Lotus Notes. Let's see; what else? The highlight of the trip was hanging out with Michael for a week. Lots discussed, lots to share. more to come.

Yes, I wore all of the shirts and ties.

Michael Sampson arrives topside

Saturday, June 18th, 2005
Michael Sampson's just arrived in the United States from New Zealand. First stop: a visit to the Mack's and a day in the digital sandbox. We plan to record several podcasts and post some blogs about tablets, collaborative technology, OneNote, and MindMaps, so stay tuned. (It may take a while for me to get these up on the web; we've got a lot going on over the next 10 days.)  For one of the first podcasts, I've asked Amy & Wendy to join us to talk about their experiences with OneNote.

Here's a picture of the welcoming committee at LAX:

20050616_Michael_Sampson_at_LAX.jpg

Has it been that long?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005
I wrote an email to somone and I compared a computer address book to digital Rolodex.

"Rolodex" is not in the MS word Dictionary.

On another note, I'm mapping out a paperless challenge.  I'll post some details, soon.

First spamware; now threatware?

Friday, June 3rd, 2005
Many of you know how I feel about hardware manufacturers forcing me to use or remove their unwanted software from my new computer. I call it spamware - unsolicited commercial programs.  (My most recent adventure with this was last night. I installed a Creative WebCam on my tablet. guess what I got back, absolutely free ... AOL. No further comment. You know how I feel.)

Here's a twist from Adobe:  I downloaded and evaluated Acrobat 7.0 for use with a document imaging application. This morning, I learned that my evaluation period has expired. (No problem, I've got the product on order.) But, take a look at the last sentence ...

AdobeThreatware.jpg

Isn't that odd? Am I to fear that an expired evaluation will harm my system? If that's true, should we ever evaluate Adobe products? Or, is this just an idle threat from Adobe to coerce me to buy their product? Either way, I think it's wrong.

Jason, Tech, Tablets, & Gadgets

Saturday, May 28th, 2005
Last night, I enjoyed a delightful dinner with my friend, Jason Womack, his wife Jodi, and some of their friends. After dinner, Jason and I played with the M4 and we showed his guests how to use Skype to make a call over the Internet - well, at least across the room. You might say it was a geek dinner, or at least a geek dessert. It always is, when Jason and I hang out. (Actually, as Jodi will attest, Jason and I were very well behaved: we did not talk one word of tech for the first two and a half hours.)

As I left the their home, I noticed that Jason had a bike trainer (or whatever you call it) by the door. This is a device that supports the rear wheel of the bicycle so that Jason can practice for the cycle portion of his triathlons in the living room. Impressive?  Yes, but does he have one of these?

I had no idea ...

Friday, May 20th, 2005
For a long time, I've kidded that I have at least a dozen readers of my blog. I guess I was wrong.

Recently, my blog traffic has skyrocketed - boosted by yesterday's podcasts about my Tablet PC experience.

Some highlights of what people are saying:

Eric blogs the Tecra M4 Tablet unveiling (James Kendrick)

Watch for The Tablet PC Show- Eric Mack interview (James Kendrick)

Eric Mack starts opening his Toshiba!!!  (John and his dog. This is funny)

Eric's Out of Box Experience Continues (Warner Crocker)

And, of course, Robert Scoble always has something funny to say.

Thanks. I'm honored.

I'm delighted. If nothing else, it's an opportunity for me to help add value to the community and to the people, many of whom have become friends, who have taught me so much.

Sweet

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
I'm back home, after a few days in Ojai to serve David and his staff. David and I had a nice meeting. David showed me some hysterical videos about office productivity. I hope he'll post references on his blog.

Meanwhile, Buzz is organizing a geek day up in Pine Mountain Club, so it looks we'll all be playing in my digital sandbox in the next few weeks.

As long as I'm rambling ... on the way home, I passed through Ventura county. I stopped at a roadside fruit stand an picked up a flat of strawberries.

webStrawberries.jpg

$13 for the entire flat.

StrawberryCloseUp.jpg

Weekend update

Monday, May 9th, 2005
I've just wrapped up a productive weekend in Ojai, topped off by a delightful dinner earlier this evening with David and Kathryn, Kathryn's mom, and Greg Fisk. We started by the fireplace in the outdoor "living" room, while David grilled up some lamb and vegetables for our dinner. Then, we moved inside to continue our discussion around the table, talking into the evening.

There are many exciting developments in the works at DavidCo and I've been very busy planning for new ICA* technologies for our expanding team. In fact, I'm writing this from the new world headquarters. Ojai is beautiful this time of year. It's not too hot [yet] and there's always a spectacular sunset to watch.

It's not my preference to travel often, and whenever possible I try to avoid being away from my family on weekends or for more than a few days; however, a great place to work and great people to work with make the experience a treat.  I consider myself blessed to be a part of such a dynamic team of wonderful people.

This trip has also been a good time for me to think about some of the projects and products that I've got on my plate. I've decided to look into recruiting some Notes developers to join me on a product in the works (more to follow) and to slow down on new business development efforts. Between work, family, and school, I'm very busy. I'm also excited.

I guess that's a good place to be.

Have a great week!

Eric


* Information, Communication, Action

This made me smile

Thursday, April 28th, 2005
Turn up your speakers. Spin your mouse around, then release for a greater effect.

Elastic baby

Have fun.

Towards a Better Understanding of History

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005
This weekend, I finished reading Towards a Better Understanding of History, by Bernard Norling.

In nine chapters, Norling provides an excellent overview of how to study history. While all of the chapters contained valuable information, I found chapter four (What Can We Really Know About History?) and six (The Role of Ideas in History) most interesting.
Chapter outline:

  • Why Study History At All?
  • How to Study History
  • Things Always Change: But Always Remain the Same
  • What Can We Really Know About History?
  • Is History the Work of Great Men?
  • The Role of Ideas in History
  • How Organizations Influence History
  • Economic and Technological Factors in History
  • Man and His Physical Environment
At 124 pages, the book offers an excellent overview of the events and thinking that have shaped our world. More important, it provides a framework with which to examine "historical" information, or any information about people and society. It's not light reading, but recommended all the same

Intelligent Design

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
Many scientists are coming to the conclusion that the theory of evolution cannot explain life as we know it, and that the universe bears the fingerprints of a Designer. It's a fascinating subject with startling implications. There will be a seminar on this topic in Santa Clarita, this Wednesday evening. Interested? Send me an email.

I’m disgusted

Monday, April 11th, 2005
I'm sick of a certain high-profile case that has been all over the media. I'm not going to name the parties involved - I won't even link to today's article in the news - because, in my book, they don't deserve any more recognition.

Until now, I've refrained from joining this discussion, largely because I did not want to add to the circus. Plenty of people are commenting on the lewd details of this trial. I won't go there.

The jury will decide the innocence or guilt of the individual on trial.

But, what about the parents of the children involved? Should they be on trial, too?

When I read that several parents allowed their children to spend time, unchaperoned, alone, overnight, with someone, just because he's famous and he begged them to, I cannot help but wonder who might have committed the more serious crime.

Parents need to be more responsible; they must protect their children.

I believe that children are a gift from the Lord. They are entrusted to us, as parents, to train, nurture, and protect. What a tragedy when the trust of a child is betrayed by their parent.

Parenting is a great  responsibility. It is also an opportunity for great blessing.

It’s good to be home.

Saturday, April 9th, 2005
It's been a busy several weeks. While I enjoy traveling and visiting with clients, I am always glad to return home to my family.  

We've been plunged back into winter, with snow and heavy fog for the past two days - so much for our Southern California weather.

I'm still making progress on a variety of projects, including  plans for a new site launch, my eProductivity podcast series, a template update, and, of course, my continued adventures of life without a Tablet PC.

I've enjoyed the emails and Skype calls I've received over the past few weeks; it's been fun to connect with some of the readers of my blog. Thanks for your encouragement!

I've collected a long list of things I'd like to blog about. Most of the items on my list require that I do some research before I write, so all I have to offer you right now are these less-detailed posts.

I'll try to post something more interesting very soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Eric

PS. In-line comments for this blog will be available very soon. (Thanks Tanny!) This will make it easier for you to join the discussion on this blog. Meanwhile, you can click on the "add comments" link below to post your thoughts.

Digital pet names

Friday, April 8th, 2005
The Sampsons have a new house guest:

Yes, it's true, there are four more little feet at our house at the moment. Welcome Nibble!

What amuses me is Michael's choice of a digital pet name name:

A Nibble = 4 bits - 1/2 a Byte. I'm not sure that's what Michael had in mind.

Growing up, I gave most of my pets digital names:
  • Cats, "Bit" and "Byte"
  • Hamster, "Nibble"
  • Sheltie, "Prefix Notation"
Prefix's name was selected by choosing a page and line number from a computer dictionary at random.

Prefix Notation - A method of forming one-dimensional expressions without the need for brackets by preceding, with a string or vector of operator, an operand string or vector that may itself contain operators upon operands.

You are probably not surprised, coming from a geek like me.

Who’s on your A-List?

Friday, March 25th, 2005
Jeremy and Marc recently blogged about their A-Lists - people they look up to in the blogosphere. Since my name came up, I guess it's my turn to continue the trend.

Here's my current A-List:


Kathleen
- My sweetheart; the love of my life; she will forever be at the top of my A-List. (Sorry, unlisted blog.)

Tanny O'Haley  - Tanny's been a brother to me for the 20+ years that we've known one another. We've collaborated professionally at many companies and we've pioneered innovative software together. Tanny's a great dad to his children and he's been a real encouragement to me. This summer, my daughter, Kelly, and I were honored to be a part of his wedding. Tanny was instrumental in helping me get my blogs set up a few years ago, and he and I continue to look for new ways to make and break technology. I'm honored to count Tanny as a friend. Tanny's blog, like mine, is an eclectic collection of posts. He's also awesome when it comes to style and design.

Michael Sampson - I first met Michael in 1997. Michael was a panelist in a session I moderated on Unified Messaging for the Electronic Messaging Association. (Wouldn't it be fun to go back and listen to that tape?) Little did we know that our shared interest in collaborative technologies would lead us to develop a strong professional and personal relationship. We have other interests in common, too. Michael and his wife, Katrina, also homeschool their wonderful children; six of them. They are a lovely family. This summer, Michael will fly up from New Zealand so that we can spend a day in the digital sandbox. Michael's blog on collaborative technology, Shared-spaces, is my favorite way to keep up with news and analysis in the field of collaboration. It's among the first I read each day.

David Allen - Friend, client, mentor. David's a neat guy and an overall fun person to hang out with. Like me, David loves cool gear, gadgets, and technology -- anything with wires a lots of flashing LEDs. When we get together, we are never at a loss for things to talk about. As David's technologist, I have the delightful opportunity to share my expertise and passion about using technology with a guy that loves to help others. David's assembled a neat team, and I'm honored to be among such good company. Though he doesn't blog often, (I'm working on that) I always look forward to reading what he has to say.

Jason Womack - To say that Jason is energetic would be an understatement. I first met Jason, through my work with David, and we hit it off right away. Each time we get together, amazing things happen. I can always count on Jason to ask me hard questions, such as "as a result of what you learned least year, what will you do differently now?" We like tech, GTD, and mapping out extraordinary visions for the future. Jason's become a prolific blogger, too; I really like the way that he integrates his work into his life -- or is it the other way around? In any case, another must-read.

Marc Orchant - I met Marc through his Office Zealot GTD blog site. We've had many late-night discussions on technology and how to put it into perspective. I'm in awe of Marc's communication skills. No wonder he has the [well-deserved] title of chief story-teller at his work. Lately, Marc's been providing me with validation for all the reasons that I have decided I must have a TabletPC. With Marc's help, I have hopes of becoming YABHTU soon.  Marc's blog, and now his podcast are on my daily list.

Buzz Bruggeman - What can I say? A day without Buzz is like a day without a good internet connection. Yes, that's it. Perhaps we should call Buzz, Mr Internet. In any case, I'm thankful for the conversations I've had with Buzz, each one yielding at least 180 new contacts. OK, at least 3. We'll talk about that soon, on a podcast. I think there are probably only a handful of people left in the world, who do not use Buzz' product, ActiveWords. Shame, shame. Perhaps I should list them by name on my D-List, just so that they will call Buzz and order. :-)

Nick Duffill - I met Nick as a result of some research to see just how well his product, ResultsManager mapped into GTD. That encounter led to a delightful acquaintance and many extended conversations. Nick's been blogging for just a few months. His blog, Beyond Crayons, is short on posts but long on quality of content. Nick and his business partner, Nik, were sponsors of our Children's robotics team this year, too. I look forward to having the guys from Gyronix on a future podcast.

Michael Hyatt - I've only exchanged a few emails with Michael, so I really only know him mostly through his blog. Oops, not true. Before the turn of the century, I used both of Michael's Y2K-related books as part of a preparedness presentation that I put together for my church. (Turn of the century; wow; I feel old.)  Michael's raised 5 daughters, so it must be possible. An inspiration. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael's company, publishes many of the books in my library and now he's pushing the envelope in the area of corporate blogging. A definite bookmark. Like David, Michael doesn't blog often; when he does, I schedule the time to read what he has written. Michael is also one of the inspirations for my move to the TabletPC. Hey Michael, here's an open invitation to come over and spend a day in the digital sandbox.

And my honorary A-list. Although they do not blog, they remain an inspiration to me.

Bill Gates
- I remember attending NCC in the early 80's. There you were, in your classic [geek] sweater, sharing your vision for the future of computing. I also remember the detractors -- people who thought that the things you predicted would never come to pass. Thank you, Bill, for sticking to your vision and proving them all wrong. You've changed our world. I admire you for what you have accomplished. Though I've never met you in person, I have enjoyed being alive in the era of personal computing and I look forward to telling my grandchildren ... "I was there when Bill Gates said ..."  You are welcome to come over to the digital sandbox anytime you want. Bring the kids.

Commodore Grace Hopper
- As the mother of modern computing and the first tech evangelist, you remain an inspiration to me. I still miss the elegance of COBOL and how much of an improvement it was to program in common English - even on Hollerith cards. I remember your speeches, your story about the first computer bug, and time I met you in Washington D.C.. I know that if you were alive today, you would be blogging now as prolifically as you spoke then. I still have the nanosecond that you gave me over 20 years ago. It hangs on the wall in my office.  (I plan to blog more about Grace Hopper in the future. Meanwhile, here's an excellent biography of Grace Hopper, by Marianne McKenzie.)

Who's on your A-list?

Why not buy a Fujitsu TabletPC?

Saturday, March 19th, 2005
Well, since I cannot have the Toshiba M200 TabletPC that I want anytime soon, I'm now considering the Fujitsu T4010D TabletPC.

What it would take to make me
YABHTU
  • Convertible format
  • High screen resolution  (I 'd like to have 1400x1050)
  • Fast processor, Low power mode (Intel Dothan?)
  • Fast video for document management/imaging/demos
  • Excellent support for simultaneous external monitor
  • Very fast hard drive, 60 gigabytes minimum
  • 1-2 gigabytes of RAM
  • Wireless 802.11 abg, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, LAN, Modem, Dock
  • Reliable hardware; excellent service available, when needed.
  • Excellent TabletPC OS driver and utility support
Possible advantages of Fujitsu over Toshiba TabletPC:
  • Internal Dual-layer DVD-RW Drive
  • Option for second battery pack. (trade-off of weight vs battery)
  • Option to have nothing in the drive bay to lighten things up.
  • Optional indoor/outdoor wide view screen (XGA model only)        
  • FireWire support
  • Free scanner, free shipping, I can have it soon. :-)
Possible disadvantages of going with the Fujitsu TabletPC:
  • The Fujitsu weighs 22.75 lbs.  (OK, Just Kidding)
  • Slower hard drive, no high-speed option.
  • I'm not sure if shared-memory video card is better than the M200
  • Dual mic array vs triple mic array
  • I still have to wait 10 days from order. :-(
Am I missing anything?

UPDATE 1: Marc and James, over at the the Tablet PC show, just posted a link to this review. Perhaps they will have more to say on their next show.

UPDATE 2: I just spent an hour reviewing posts on the T4010D at Tablet PC buzz. Looks like I need to choose between XGA wide angle indoor/outdoor vs SXGA plain vanilla. It seems like the wide angle would be important when writing with the Tablet on a desktop. Likewise, in brightly lit rooms, the indoor/outdoor option might be the way to go. Ahh choices, choices. Why can't I have it all?

The adventure continues, one year later

Thursday, March 17th, 2005
Just one year ago, today, my friend, David Allen, welcomed us into his salon. I suppose I'm partly to blame for that. What a launch! It wasn't planned, the launch that is; we have Scoble and Buzz to thank for that. You can read about what happened, here.

David's been using the web to converse for years, however, a year ago, he suddenly jumped to a new level. Hundreds of thousands of page visits and millions of RSS hits later, the adventure continues.

Happy one year blog-anniversary, David!

Happy birthday, Michael

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005
Wishing you the best on this special day.

gty

Look who’s on the plaid couch

Friday, March 11th, 2005
My friend, David Allen, drove up for a Geek Day -- a chance to hang out and talk about anything that shows up, eat good food, and play with cool gear. It's a rare opportunity for two boys to play in the digital sandbox.

Eric and David on the plaid couch

We thought it might be fun to do a podcast and perhaps even connect with a few folks we've met along the way. I'll be up on Skype; you can send me an email if you would like to connect.

Stay tuned.

Podcast test 1

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005
I've been working with Steve Castledine over at ProjectDX to add full podcast support to DominoBlog, my web content and blogging tool of choice. Soon, I will have the ability to quickly add a podcast to any blog entry and have the proper enclosures automatically appear in my RSS feed.

My objective is to streamline my podcast encoding and content delivery process so that I can audiocast and videocast on a regular basis about various topics of interest.

This 28 second podcast test is the first part of that development process.

Eric Mack On-line Podcast test #1

Introduction and podcast test of podcast enclosure tags in RSS.
Format: MP3 Size: 356KB  Duration: 0 minutes, 28 seconds

For those of you, who maybe inclined to help me with the test today, please add my RSS feed to your podcatcher software.

Did your podcatcher software automatically download my podcast for you?
 (i.e. iPodder, Doppler, or others)

The podcast enclosure support is still in development, but I am hopeful that Steve will have it fully operational by tomorrow.

Thank you for your patience as we iron out the wrinkles in this process.

Comments and suggestions welcome.



Will the Pope Podcast?

Saturday, March 5th, 2005
Father Roderick Vonhögen hopes so and he's sharing his journey to meet the Pope and convince him to Podcast. The Podcasts narrate his journey, including confrontations with Vatican security, unexpected trips to the hospital where the Pope was hospitalized, and now, his discussions with Vatican Radio to show them how to Podcast - all in the space of less than 2 weeks!  Amazing.  

For the past few weeks, I've been listening to the stream of Podcasts coming from the Vatican city, as this high-tech priest shares his journey to meet the Pope and present the first Papal Podcast. I won't summarize the Podcasts here, because I do not want to spoil it for you. There are amazing and unexpected twists in the Podcasts as the events unfold. I will tell you that the Vatican is now involved and that the new few Podcasts should be even more interesting - more than you might expect.

What I find most interesting and compelling about these Podcasts is the use of descriptive narratives and soundscapes to pull the listener into the experience. Hearing the feet walking across the cobblestone streets, the water splashing in the piazza, the crowds waiting to see the Pope, or the dripping water deep inside the catacombs under the city.  Vonhögen brings a sense of realism and wonder as well as the certain charm and suspense that could previously only be found in a classic old-time radio broadcast.  Yet, all of this is being produced by one guy, one mic, and a minidisc recorder.

These Podcasts are not produced by the Vatican, but by Father Roderick Vonhögen. Vonhögen's set up his blog site, Catholic Insider, with the mission "Podcasting from the heart of the Roman Catholic Church." The content is not focused as much on those of the Catholic faith as it as on giving the ordinary person a glimpse inside this priest's world.

Althought, I'm not a Catholic, I have appreciated being able to "listen" in on the adventures of Father Roderick  as he uses his mobile Podcast setup to bring soundscapes from the Vatican city.

Best of success to you, Father Vonhögen!

If you are going to listen, I recommend that you listen to the Podcasts in sequence. Here are the current links as of this morning:

Catholic Insider February 23, 2005

Catholic Insider February 24, 2005

Catholic Insider February 25, 2005

Catholic Insider February 26, 2005

Catholic Insider February 27, 2005

Catholic Insider March 1, 2005

Catholic Insider March 2, 2005


You can subscribe to the Podcasts with this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/catholicinsider

Tech Rag Tear Outs

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005
I just a had a delightful Skype call with Steve Holden.  Steve produces Tech  Rag Tear Outs - a daily 1-3 minute Podcast on the latest tech news.  It's an easy (and quick) way to keep up on developments in IT.  Thanks, Steve!

Sign up over at Tech News Radio.

Tony wins DEMOgod award!

Sunday, February 27th, 2005
My friend, Tony Fascenda, was named as one of the top 10 demonstrators at this year's DEMO@15 conference, where he successfully demonstrated four products in six minutes! Tony's an exciting person to be around, a true visionary. The walls of his office are covered with patents for various technologies that he's invented.  Most recently, Tony invented a technology, now embedded in his SecurEdge TrustChips, that can provide an end-to-end secure connection between IP devices and applications. The beauty and simplicity of this technology is that it is device and application independent -  meaning that you can secure just about any internet technology (Laptops, VPN, VOIP, PDA, etc.) without touching the existing applications or devices!

The folks at DEMO think it is an innovative approach to network security. I think so, too!  
Check it out.

Congratulations, Tony, I wish you and your team the best!


I first met Tony back in 1992 at Newspager Corporation of America (NCA). I had approached Tony, and his colleague, Dan, with the idea of using their wireless database receiver as a platform for mobile messaging and wireless databases. (Their current products were primarily focused on financial news and stock information.) Tony and Dan were particularly interested in my activities in the messaging field, particularly the ICA Information gateway -- a tool which I had developed to extend corporate messaging to the mobile workforce. At he time, I was the guy, walking around with not one, but three large pagers on his belt. I know, I looked like a geek. That's OK, it led to some interesting meetings; the most memorable of which was with Hubert Lipinski, founder and architect of cc:Mail. That meeting launched my formal entry into the wireless messaging space and my involvement with Peloria Technology Corp.

A few years later, Tony hired me as a consultant to NCA, to serve as their Director of Advanced Messaging Applications; my mission was to develop and promote wireless messaging technology. We were a little early for the marketplace. The biggest challenge at the time was convincing the carriers that wireless messaging really was a good thing - something people would pay for - and that these huge messages (in those days, 80 characters was a long message) would not kill their networks. I designed and promoted the Flash! wireless database publishing tool for cc:Mail and Lotus Notes, which allowed data to be published to the wireless device. That was 10 years ago. The closest thing I've seen since is the Pylon iAnywhere application. One product, which I helped promote for Tony was a small handheld database receiver, called Compass. It was much like a Tungsten C of today but developed long before color PDAs and 802.11 anything. The Compass was huge compared to the Palm but it did have an 8 color screen and really was the ultimate geek accessory. Here's a photo of [a much younger] me with the Compass unit. (You can read more of the story here.)

I had a blast working with Tony and his team, and it was an honor to help his company and to see Tony in action.

I have no doubt that Koolspan has a bright future ahead.

Everyone needs a blog critic (or two)

Thursday, February 24th, 2005
Everyone should be so fortunate as to have their own personal blog critic - someone who will point out things done well along with opportunities for improvement. I'm very fortunate, I have several in my virtual camp.

I received several emails this week  in response to my recent  Podcast on delegated tasks. One of the interesting messages was from  Adrian Trenholm, a web development consultant in the UK.  (Be sure to check out Adrian's work here.) Adrian's comments and suggestions could be applied to most  any of us who blog or podcast on technical subjects. With Adrian's permission, I've posted the email here: [URLs added]

Eric,

Just finished listening to your Podcast (over the speakers on my PC - I don't own an iPod - in case you are collecting user data). Congratulations.  You asked for feedback, so:

1.  I enjoyed the clarity and precision of your presentation - I am in Toastmasters so that kind of thing matters to me.

2.  You used the "tell 'em what you going to tell 'em; tell 'em; tell em what you have told 'em" technique, but I think you could have been even more explicit in the way that you divided up the parts of your presentation, in fact I wonder if there is a way of saying: "in the first two minutes I will deal with x, at two minutes I will deal with y and at four minutes I will tackle z."  This would enable users to shuffle through your presentation to relevant material.

3. Content-wise, "people first, then processes, then technology" is always the right message and bears repeating at every possible opportunity, so well done on that.

4. The four point plan for implementing delegated tasks seemed a bit generic at first listen, but on reflection, I think you pitched it right, because you want the team to discuss between themselves the mechanics of how they are going to use the technology and that discussion becomes an important part of setting up the right process. A prescriptive "press button a, then button b" approach will likely discourage that discussion of process and protocols.

5. Didn't like the jingle - it's a personal thing.

For future material on this subject, you might consider reading To Do, Doing, Done by Snead and Wycoff.  They offer some excellent thoughts on delegation: their model is ARC - authority, responsibility and commitment. The book is from Franklin Covey, but the best bits works within GTD, which I am using at the moment (or rather getting back on the wagon with).

The other thing that you didn't mention (outside the scope, I guess) is that increasingly teams include freelancers, and people from different companies, so not everyone is on the same technology anyway, eg I use LifeBalance to track projects, next actions and calendar, I still use Outlook for email, with a system of dated flags and a filtered in-box, to tickle appropriate mails to future dates.  I regularly work with people who use Gmail, Thunderbird and Barca, and who use Mac and PC. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on that and also on Web based project management applications like Basecamp from 37 signals.

You have certainly got me thinking that a discussion between team members and the establishment of protocols for delegation is an essential action at the start of any project, regardless of the technology used.  Yes, the people and the process are the most important things.  The technology is secondary.

Well done, looking forward to hearing more.

Best regards

Adrian Trenholm

Thanks, Adrian, for the helpful feedback! Suggestions noted and added to my checklist for future Podcasts.

I will look for your comments (and suggestions) on future posts.

Glad to know I've got at least one fan outside of the family.  :-)

PS. Was the intro music really that bad?  I tried for something short and energetic.

Firefox now supported

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005
My colleague, Tanny, just called and told me that he had a fix for the Firefox compatibility issue on my blog.

For over 20 years, Tanny has been a terrific friend and resource to me as I push the eneveope on technology.

For those of you who have written to me, thank you; I hope that this fix will allow you to enjoy my blog.

Thanks, Tanny!

Top-down or Bottom-up?

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005
Steve Pavlina, in his recent post, entitled: "The Essential Missing Half of Getting Things Done," suggests that "what's missing from GTD is the high-level part of the system." Steve is quite articulate in his explanation of what he means. (If you've not read his post, I encourage you to read it here.) In short, the first part of Steve's post suggests that while he's found GTD to be invaluable to him, GTD does not provide the process for defining mission vision and purpose -- the compass.  I agree. But then, I don't think David Allen ever intended GTD to provide this.

Much of Steve's post resonates with me. I agree that GTD, as a methodology, does not provide the mission or vision that a person ought to have for their life. I also agree with Steve that it is important to know where you want to go so that you can make sure that your actions and activities support your vision and that you are ready for anything. In an ideal scenario, we would start at the 50,000 foot level, working on our life purpose all the way down to our runway of next actions.

In my experience, however, it is often difficult to consider focusing on the larger issues, such as life purpose and objectives, when I feel overwhelmed by the day to day; I simply cannot see the proverbial forest for the trees.  While it certainly seems logical to start with the big picture and sort out actions later, I submit that for many people it's simply too huge a task to start detailed planning at the top when then tedious distractions of the day to day -- unclarified and ambiguous thoughts and ideas -- are consuming energy that might otherwise be spent on strategic planning. I believe that this is why I read of so many people who, after attempting to implement the 7-habits, feel let down and find themselves more overwhelmed than when they began.

Let me share a little from my own personal experience: For much of the past two decades, I've designed and developed action management systems for highly productive individuals and organizations. You would think that with this effort I would have had total and complete clarity early on about my mission, vision and purpose. Well, I most certainly did not. It was not for a lack of trying either. I really wanted to have a defined mission (one that I believed in), I wanted to embrace the 7-habits, and I wanted to get my high-level strategy mapped out.  None of my productivity systems, while effective at managing actions and projects, could provide me with the direction that I needed. I knew  that I needed to have clarity at a higher level. I just found it difficult to get past the day to day to really think clearly and objectively about my higher purpose; I was continuously distracted by the low-level stuff (both physical and mental) that I kept piling on my plate. As a result, I found it difficult to devote the attention required to the big picture to develop my personal and family mission statements. High level thought in this area became frustrating and unproductive. (Some of you may know what I mean.)

It was at this basic level -- my need to focus on personal high-level thinking -- that GTD really helped me out the most -- not by allowing me to start from the top down -- but by allowing me to start from the bottom up. By allowing me to clear the decks of low-level items that were consuming mental bandwidth, I was able to achieve the clarity that I needed to sit down and think about bigger issues, such as: "Why am I here?", "What's my life purpose?", and "What will I leave behind?".  With the answers to these questions clarified and objectified, I was then able to revisit my projects and actions and evaluate whether or not they were still relevant to my big picture.  You see, even if I had put life on hold to work out my big picture plan, my focus would have been distracted by the small stuff that I had not yet resolved.

In 1998, Kathy and I wrote our family mission statement. This document, along with my personal and business mission statements have served as guide for making decisions that affect our family.  While I do not refer to these documents often, I know that they are there; they provide me with great clarity when I need to make key decisions. It has been a wonderful process to go through and I highly recommend it.

For those of you who can put everything aside and focus exclusively with the big picture stuff, I salute you; it is a powerful process and the ideal way to begin. For the rest of you, do not be discouraged if day-to-day distractions keep you from developing your big picture for a little while.  I want to encourage you and let you know that you can get your big picture goals mapped out; you may just have to do a little mental house cleaning first.

UFO Spotted at 11 o’clock

Saturday, December 25th, 2004
My WeatherCam received an unusually high number of page hits last night as people repeatedly hit refresh throughout the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the night sky.

Most of us saw only the darkness of night punctuated by the glow of Christmas lights on the homes on the valley floor below.

A few people sent me urgent messages to report that around 1:15 in the morning, they briefly observed a long object moving slowly across the night sky.  

This morning, I went through the directory of images captured last night and I think I have found what they were talking about...

Image:UFO Spotted at 11 o´clock

If you look very closely in the top left you can see something.

If you listen very closely, you might even hear the bells.

We do.

Increasing frame rate

Friday, December 24th, 2004
Tonight, I will decrease the sample interval on my WeatherCam overlooking the valley. The moon should be bright tonight and it may be possible to catch some air traffic.  It gets dark around 5:30 so be sure to check back throughout the night. You never know what you might see.

Christmas surprise in Ojai

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004
For the past many week's I've been immersed in a large client project, one which has required several trips and which will culminate with a series of meetings this week in Ojai. I do not like to be away from my family, especially during the holidays, but sometimes I must travel at this time of year to accommodate my client's schedule. In addition to being tired from a string of very long days, I've been feeling a little melancholy as I return to the hotel room at the end of each day; no Lassie to bark hello, no kids to greet me, and no kiss from my sweetheart.

Image:Christmas surprise in Ojai

Tonight, I returned to my hotel room to find that something was very different; it was not as I had left it. Indeed, for a moment I thought I must have walked into the wrong room. While I was away, a live Christmas tree -- complete with lights tree-skirt, and ornaments -- had been placed in the room and home-made cards and decorations had been put up around the room. Wow!

Apparently, during the day, Kathy had contacted the hotel manager to work out the details before she drove the few hundred mile round-trip to carry out her mission to decorate my room and return home. You can imagine my surprise when I returned exhausted to find this cheery welcome. It's not a substitute for being with my family, but it is a delightful reminder to know that I am loved, and blessed.

Making time to blog

Monday, November 15th, 2004
It's been a busy few weeks. Quick summary: 200+ user deployment of the eProductivity for Lotus Notes currently underway with others planned for 2005, the local AWANA season just ended (including another special appearance by my alter ego, Cubbie Bear) and another season has just begun, a large system deployment for a client in Ojai, the Jr. Robotics team that I am coaching is now in full-swing and we have our first competition this week, I'm into my 3rd week of my Organizational Management upper-division courses with many papers to write, a visit from Channel 9 Guy, and finally, a new  wireless mobility project for the Treo 650 in the early stages of planning. All of this, on top of everything else that a homeschool father and geek has to do.

How does he do it? Sorry, no magic pill - like the Geritol commercials on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

I am simply blessed to have an amazing wife, a supportive family, a great team to work with, the GTD methodology, and eProductivity help me keep it all together.

I've collected and started to draft at least 6 new blog topics. I hope to start posting these in the next week or two. Stay tuned.

Eric

Mental laundry - follow-up

Saturday, September 25th, 2004
It's been a busy week -- lots of consulting and client projects to deliver and work to do for the kid's robotics team. I was pleasantly surprised to return to the many encouraging comments and e-mail that I received to my recent entry, Minds ready for action. The Bible is full of wisdom and admonition concerning the effective use of time and effort - productivity. While not a trivial task, a cover-to-cover survey with this focus promises to be most interesting.

The concept of collecting these notes in one place has been one that I have been kicking around for about a year. While I spend most of my time as an eProductivity Specialist, showing my clients how to put technology to work for them, I also invest time researching methodologies and systems that I can put to use. I can think of no better place to start looking for key principles. While I do not claim to be a Bible scholar, I am an eager student in this area, and this subject has my interest.  

For those of you who took the time to write this week, thanks for your words of encouragement. I'll think about moving this off my Someday/Maybe list.

In the mean time, I'll continue to share my observations from time to time. If you would like to receive a ping when I do, or if you have any further thoughts or observations, feel free to post a comment or send me an email, using the contact link above.

Eric

Minds Ready for Action

Sunday, September 19th, 2004
This passage of scripture inspired me today; I'd like to share a portion of it:

Therefore, get your minds ready for action...
I Peter 1:13 (NET Bible)*

I became intrigued by the concept of getting one's mind ready for action, so I decided to research it further.

According to the study commentary in the NET Bible, this figure of speech refers to the Middle Eastern practice of gathering up long robes around the waist to prepare for work or action. In the Greek, it literally means "binding up the loins of your mind.”

The idea is that the wearer of long flowing robes would find it difficult to move about swiftly or with agility. By picking up the loose ends, as it were, we are free to move about with ease.

When we pick up our mental laundry, we are able to quickly focus on things of importance.


Back to minds ready for action: Think about your mental robes... What are the things that prevent you from being ready for action?

I have been thinking about blogging about some of the other productivity principles that I have learned in my personal Bible studies. I wonder what public interest there might be in this subject?

Comments welcome.

* For my friends, some of whom are Bible scholars, I realize that I have quoted only the first few words of this verse, and those out of context; I do not mean to imply that these words are more important than the rest of the verse; far from it.

Correction 9/22/04 6:47 PM PST

I goofed. I pasted in the wrong reference for the passage above. I originally provided James 1:13; the reference should have been 1 Peter 1:13.  Fixed.

Hi-tech magic

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004
Sometimes, my little red ball cannot solve all of my client's remote support issues. When this happens, I rely on another tool, which I keep nearby in a pencil cup.

Today was one of those times...

The same client, who shall remain anonymous, called again today to ask for assistance. Thanks to the internet and a brief wave of the tool, her problem was soon solved and we were both able to get back to work...

Image:Hi-tech magic

Happy client = happy consultant.


I love it when things work out for everyone.

Y2K - 4 years too late?

Saturday, August 21st, 2004
For the past two days, my faithful laptop has been resetting its on-board clock to 4:00 PM on December 31, 1999. Each time I reset the clock back to the correct date/time, it reverts to December 31, 1999 within a few hours.

Image:Y2K - 4 years too late?

Spooky.

I've been unable yet to isolate this to Windows 2000 or to the ThinkPad hardware itself. The only recent software change that I'm aware of was to run a WebEx session for a client test. (I've no reason to suspect Webex; still I've no idea why this is happening and why now.)

Michael Sampson suggested this would not have happened if I had purchased a Mac. (There's always one out there!) Bruce Elgort, will probably just say that it's because I have not updated my photo since then.

Perhaps it's just my system getting back at me for my concern over whether it would see me through Y2K.

Has anyone seen this before?

Can you relax under a fire hose?

Monday, August 16th, 2004
I have. I even paid good money for the privilege.

Recently, Kathy and I saw the most interesting machine on display at a kiosk at the Ontario Mills Mall.  It looked like a high-tech medical device with a translucent blue cover. It was actually a computer controlled water-jet massage machine.

Image:Can you relax under a fire hose?

Kathy encouraged me to give it a try. Not sure of what I was getting myself into (literally) I took off my shoes, stepped up, and paid my $10 for 7 minutes. The attendant took my money and pushed a button. Soon, the shell of this kooky contraption began to open, revealing what basically looked like a chiropractor's massage table, complete with hole for my face. I climbed in and laid down. With another button press the clam-shell closed, exposing only the top of my head. Inside, a giant Mylar sheet protected me from what was to come next.

Next, the attendant put a pair of headphones over my ears so that I could listen to some delightfully soothing music. She also handed me a remote control so that I could control the machine or stop it quickly. Then the fun began.

Pulsating water-jets began to move from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. Then the row of jets cycled in the opposite direction from my head back down to my feet. With a click of the remote, I could pause this motion to precisely focus where the high-pressure water jets would land.

Seven minutes is about all I could take for my first water massage, although I imagine that I could work up to longer runs. When I exited the machine I felt tingly and energized.

Imagine starting and finishing each day under the fire hose. I guess it is all a matter of perspective...

All in all, a good massage without getting wet or even sweaty.

I want one.

Aqua Massage

Ministers using GTD?

Sunday, August 15th, 2004
There is an interesting discussion in the David Allen GTD forum on the topic of Ministers using GTD.

I enjoy reading about how productivity principles can be applied to various aspects of our daily lives. The book of Proverbs is packed with wisdom about this.

I've added my two cents to the discussion.

Quick update from Ojai

Sunday, August 15th, 2004
I've just wrapped up a busy but productive week, working with the fine folks at The David Allen Company. The team has concluded a week of staff development, training, and relaxation. I did a lot of work behind the scenes, deploying new technology and planning the systems that will help the team move the company forward. As a virtual organization, with staff constantly on the move around the world, there are many opportunities for me to show them how to use technology to better support the work that they do.

While I serve many of these folks on a regular basis, most of our interaction is virtual so it's always nice when we have the opportunity to connect in person. I enjoy what I do, and whenever I get to work with nice people doing life-changing work, it makes my efforts all the more rewarding.

Ojai is wonderful place for fine dining, and David is a delightful host, treating us to some truly outstanding meals. Thanks, David!

David, Jason, and I also talked about our blogs, the feedback that we have received, and some of the things that we each plan to write about in the future.

More to come.

Italian food and children’s software

Sunday, August 15th, 2004
Last week, I took my family out to Buca di Beppo for an Italian Dinner, served family-style. Kathy took my daughters to the rest-room. Apparently, in the ladies rest-room there were several pictures on the wall.

Emily pointed to a reproduction of a painting and said, "I know the name of that painting, it's the 'Birth of Venus.'"

Kathy asked her how she knew that, and she said she learned it from JumpStart Second Grade.

Cool.

The dinner? It was fantastic. Recommended.
Challenging Entropy

Have you ever wanted to drag all of the messages in your in-box into a folder just so that you could see what a clean in-box looks like? I have. Sometimes, I have even wished that I could drag my whole office into a folder - just so I could see what a clean office looks like.

As a technologist, I take great pride in my ability to help my clients design and implement systems to help them organize their information, communications, and actions digitally. Sometimes, however, my skill at organizing bits and bytes does not always consistently carry over from my digital life into my paper life. If you are like me, and you sometimes get out of control, there is hope for you.  The key is learning what clean feels like and knowing how to get back to it.

Hello, my name is Eric Mack, and I have a messy desk. (At least whenever I am completely immersed in a project, which is most of the time.)

Last week, in a moment of such intensity, I shared that I had misplaced my in-box. My post apparently struck a chord as several people have written, posted in forums, and even blogged about their messy desks.  Others wrote that my post inspired them. One individual even picked up on my attempt to blame my situation on entropy. I have seen the enemy... and his reflection is in my monitor.

Well, I am pleased to report that I did manage to locate my in-box -- It was right there all along, hiding under a pile of incompletion and ambiguity. All it took was some dedicated in-basket processing using my modifed GTD workflow diagram to get back to clean.

Image:Sometimes, I wish I could drag my office into a folder

A few days ago, David Allen made some of us uncomfortable by posting a photo of his office. Yes folks, David's desk really does look like that -- except when I'm sitting at it; but don't tell David.  (I often work in David's office, and I can honestly say that in all of the years that I have been going to his office I have yet to see observable signs of entropy at his desk; or even creeping out of his in-box.)

What do David and I have in common?  We both like cool gear and systems and we both know how to get back to clean.  What is different between us? Well, David's desk always looks like a finely manicured garden, mine is often much more organic.  

Thanks to David's GTD Methodology, however, I know what "clean" feels like and I know how to get back to that state quickly enough.  I am grateful to David and his example in this area. If you have not read David's book, I highly recommend it. It's been a great help to me.

My office? It cleans up nicely.

Image:Sometimes, I wish I could drag my office into a folder
For the past several minutes, I have been wrapping up my independent research paper entitled, "CP/M and OS/2 - Key trends in 8 and 16 -bit computing."

This paper evaluates the impact that the CP/M and OS/2  operating systems will have on the future of collaborative computing.

For my research, I dusted off my 20+ year old Heathkit H-8 Computer, with its over-clocked (2.0 Megahertz) Z-80 processor, 64 kilobytes of RAM, and a dual floppy sub-system with an amazing 720 kilobytes  of off-line storage. To move files to/from the Internet, I used my reliable Hayes 300 Baud external modem. (see below)

Image:I will not be publishing my latest research report
Yes, that is what personal computers used to look like.
Note the original Heath/Microsoft Manuals in 3-ring binders:
CP/M, Basic-80, COBOL, Fortran-80, WordStar, and SuperCalc,

Regretfully, I have come to the conclusion that the current climate is unfavorable to the publication of yet another independent research report. Therefore, I have decided to suspend indefinitely the publication of this report. I am concerned that this important work might not receive the consideration that it merits. Worse yet, it might show up as the subject of the next independent research rebuttal coming out of New Zealand.

I am not sure if my work could stand up to the scrutiny of Michael's objective evaluation and commentary. (Besides, my web server might not handle the traffic his rebuttal would surely generate -- at least not until I added a second 2400 baud modem connection to my ISP.)

IBM and Microsoft will now never know what I have to say, and the direction of group computing may be forever changed.

;-)

Cooking with Intel Processors

Friday, July 23rd, 2004
Intel deserves credit for creating a huge after-market for creative computing products...

As the heat output of the latest Intel processors continues to increase, new opportunities for combined cooking/computing appliances will undoubtedly surface.

Imagine: Rotisserie chicken while you surf.  A current drawback is that these new appliances are still costly; however, as market demand increases. I expect manufacturers will scramble to bring lower-cost alternatives to the market.

Grateful for Notes and Ghosts

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004
Last week, my laptop hard drive crashed; I mean it really crashed. Somehow, while working at a client's crowded desk, I managed to get my foot caught in the power cord. As I got up from the desk and walked away, I not only pulled my laptop onto the concrete floor, I accelerated its descent. It was powered on - at least until it hit the floor ...  The hard drive was destroyed, and the laptop is only slightly better.

You can learn from my misfortune and from my preplanning for disaster.


Disasters such as this never seem to happen when I have free days on my calendar. My busy schedule made recovery more challenging. Fortunately, the night before, I had made a backup of my documents, and just a few months ago, I had made a routine Ghost (I use Symantec Ghost 2003) of my entire laptop drive to a spare hard drive. Since I use Lotus Notes, which is constantly replicating with the server, I did not lose a single email or document. I was able to take Kathy's laptop, login, and continue working. It took me about a week to find the time to restore my Ghost and backup to a spare laptop and to reinstall the programs that I had added since my last Ghost. Even though it was an inconvenience not to have immediate access to my files (those, not stored in Notes), it was comforting to know that I had them. Further, because I used Ghost, rather than just a file backup, I did not have to reload my system from scratch.

Lessons affirmed:
  • The time I spend Ghosting my laptop to a spare drive  is time well invested. I plan to do this more often.
  • It was very helpful to have my key documents stored in my Notes Document libraries.
  • Having Notes to replicate every 15 minutes is definitely worth it.

Next actions:
  • I plan to make Notes my file store; I will look into products like SWING or Notes 6.x tools to accomplish this.
  • I plan to look into a directory replication  solution, so that I can keep files that are not in Notes synchronized between my laptop and my server.
  • I will check out the latest Veritas remote (WAN) backup solutions for laptops.
  • I plan to purchase a third spare hard drive, make a ghost of my system, and keep it with me for instant recovery.

Do you have a current backup and Ghost image of your hard drive?


How quickly can you recover from a drive failure?

If you would like to share your $.02, please post a comment.

PS. I have several blog entries in the queue. As soon as I get caught up, I'll proof and publish them.
As a technology consultant, I have influenced many corporate customers to purchase IBM products and services for more almost two decades. I have usually been very pleased with the response, value, and quality received. (As an independent eProductivity consultant, I do not profit on the recommendation of one vendor's products over another. I am simply paid for my expertise to design what I believe to be the best solution for my client's stated objectives.) Outside of this, the only tangible benefit to me personally is another happy client -- which is worth more to me than any consulting fee I may receive.

Unfortunately, this is changing, and I believe that the IBM's decision to outsource and their method of doing so is at least partly to blame:

Somewhere, in the process of outsourcing their most vital sales function, IBM's hardware division seems to have forgotten that customers (and their technology consultants) want to speak with people who are both knowledgeable about the products that they sell and who have access to the information and internal support services to complete the sale.


Let me share just one recent personal (and painful) experience:

Many weeks ago, I set out to order 2 rack-mount servers and 12 high-end ThinkPad laptops from IBM. I will spare you the almost unbelievable details, but I will simply say that it took over 100 communications with IBM over a 6-week period to complete the order for just the first two servers. Much to my amazement, no one that I could reach at IBM had the "information" (to be extremely polite) to be able to assist me in helping my client with their purchase. Calls to IBM management resulted only in e-mail from first level sales reps being sent back. After doing some research, I found out that I was not dealing with IBM, but an organization, located in a Southern state, to which IBM had outsourced operations.
I cannot believe that outsourcing saved IBM any money here. At least not in my case.

Disclaimer: This is not an essay about the evils of outsourcing offshore to some group that does not speak English fluently. Nor is this a rant about the potential costs in terms of U.S. jobs lost as a result. This not a rant against any particular individual at IBM or any of its outsourced divisions. This is a rant against the experience of being a technology consultant who has to deal with an outsourced organization that apparently does not understand the products, information, and process of serving its customers. The outsourced "IBM representatives" that I dealt with were --  to their credit -- all English speaking and all very polite; and, they usually responded to my email or calls within minutes. I have come to realize that these people were doing the best that they could do with what little information (or perhaps product training?) that they had access to.

The problem appears to be a complete lack of information and knowledge to complete the sale or satisfy the customer, and the unwillingness of IBM management to get involved. The walls between the outsourced organization and IBM are apparently quite high. This reminds me of why I do not shop at a certain chain of electronics store -- well-dressed people, some excellent products, but little or no information or experience on the part of the people I have to deal with to complete the sale.

If I were trying to purchase a $19.95 floppy drive or some other generic, low-markup, computer part, I might try to convince myself that there was no need for IBM to care about what I thought about the purchasing experience of their customers. This was not the case.  Just one set of purchases that could initially have reached $50,000, not to mention all of the follow-on business from this and other clients. While not a Fortune 100-sized purchase, this is still nothing to sneeze at. I'm sure that competing vendors would have been delighted to have the business.

What astonishes me is that I had previously made an almost identical purchase, apparently directly from IBM, with outstanding results. The entire process (with an IBM contact) took less than 10 days with just a few calls and emails to complete.  Both the customer and I were very pleased with the transaction. In fact, it was because of the resounding success of that purchase that I did not hesitate to give the next server order to [what I thought was] IBM again.

NOTE: Long before I decided to share this experience publicly, I tried to reach anyone in management at IBM who might have sufficient interest and authority to help me resolve my customer's problem. Finally, after 6 weeks, and after threatening to cancel this and all future orders, I received a call offering some assistance. Was it really necessary for my customer or me to go through all of that?

For any of you who have bothered to read this much of my rant, thank you. It probably will not change anything at IBM, but in a therapeutic sense, I at least feel a little better for having shared it.

As far as I can tell, IBM does not appear have an Ed Brill or a Robert Scoble on the hardware side of the house. That's too bad. Both Ed and Robert (two of my favorite bloggers) write about various software and marketing issues and they have the integrity and willingness to honestly examine the goings-on of their own companies. They are not afraid to call things as they see them - even when it concerns their own companies or divisions. In fact, Ed just blogged about this. I can only hope that this blog might encourage someone on the IBM hardware side to start blogging and change my (and my customer's) perception of this experience.

Do I plan to ever purchase or recommend IBM services to my clients again?
Possibly. I may try one more time.  Personally, I own several IBM servers and many IBM ThinkPads. ThinkPads are my favorite laptop, and I hoped to purchase a new ThinkPad T42p soon.  I even still have my first IBM PC! Many of my corporate customers are all IBM shops. IBM makes great stuff -- I just wish they made it easier for me to give them money.  Customers want to deal with people who know something about the products and who have access to the information to facilitate the sales and delivery process.  As an independent  technology consultant, I will direct my clients to purchase from those companies that provide the best service.

I am amazed that in this economy, any company would not do cartwheels to ensure that a customer -- or even a technology consultant that heavily influences his client's purchases -- was happy and that there were no impediments to receiving business from them. Happy customers and consultants will tell a few others. Unhappy ones, well,...

I believe (at least I'm hopeful) that my current problem has now been resolved. But, I still have 12 high-end ThinkPads to purchase for my clients. I really do not want to switch to another brand of Laptop. (The T42p is an awesome machine.)  So here I am, representing many IBM customers, cash in hand, trying to give IBM money, yet I'm terrified at the prospect of a repeat experience. When I told this to one sales manager that I spoke with at IBM, I was told that I would never know whether the next order experience would be better than the last unfortunate experience unless I placed the next order with them.  I will stop here.

I cannot help but wonder what the move to outsource services has "cost" IBM and other companies that have made the same choice.

I know what it has cost my clients and me, and I challenge IBM and other companies to consider that the true cost of outsourcing can be best measured in terms of their customer relationships.


What do you think? Should companies measure the cost of outsourcing in terms of customer relationships? I'd like to hear from you.

Blogging at a new level

Friday, May 28th, 2004
With the release of his new blog, friend and associate, Greg Fisk, has just raised the bar on what an aesthetically pleasing blog site can look like. Greg and I first started working together many years ago, when the web was still in its infancy and companies were still trying to figure out how to leverage this new medium. His business site says that he brands people -- just take a look at David Allen's site to see what he means.

Greg has a tremendous gift for communicating visually what would otherwise take a thousand words to do.
 Once you have seen Greg's work, you will remember it - it is always remarkable.

Here's a sneak preview of the image Greg is creating for me for the upcoming launch of my new eProductivity.NET site.

Image:Blogging at a new level

I love it! Visual Simplicity.

See the stick man in the corner of this site? That's Greg's work, too. I simply described a concept for a personal site and a few days later Greg had packaged the concept in what has become my favorite personal logo.

I look forward to working with Greg as we upgrade the design of my other sites.  I hope you will add this site to your RSS feed and check back soon.  

PS. Greg, the tattooed guy in the corner of your site? Is that you, or a client? (Just kidding )

Where am I?

Thursday, May 13th, 2004
Two weeks ago, I blogged about my positive experience using Pylon iAnywhere. Gabe and I have been discussing a prototype mobile sales force productivity  application for the Real Estate industry.  Since Gabe and I have other interests in common, besides just using Lotus Notes productively, we scheduled a meeting at what has become one of my favorite places to entertain my out-of-town clients and their families. (The other is the Magic Castle).

See if you can figure out exactly where we met from these clues...

Image:Where am I?

Think you know?  Here's another...

Image:Where am I?

The final clue. (If you did not get the first two, this won't make any sense at all.)

Image:Where am I?

eProductivity.NET is coming!

Thursday, April 8th, 2004
I've not been making too many posts to this blog lately, as my attention has been focused on an upcoming client presentation and populating my new eProductivity.NET web site. This new site will become the place where I plan to make regular posts about gear, tips, tools, and software that can be used to improve personal and group productivity. For those of you waiting for the launch of my eProductivity with Lotus Notes discussion forum, this is probably where it will start. In due time, I hope to bring my Notes on Productivity newsletter into this site.

The plan all along has been that this site, Eric Mack On-line will remain my personal blog site and the new eProductivity site will maintain more of a business focus. Of course, things always take longer than they do.  

Stay tuned.

Look at Eric’s Shoes!

Sunday, March 28th, 2004
Last week's blog entry: Is the Chicken Cooked? now has wings of its own. Within days, bloggers all over the world were linking to it and several people even wrote me e-mail to share how the story resonated with them.  (Michael Sampson, Dennis Kennedy, Libby Ingrassia Schwarz, Skingery, to name a few)  As a result of your encouragement, I will share another important lesson that I learned early in my career; but first, I would like to share some good news....  

After posting my blog entry about cooking chickens, I looked up Jim Hill and gave him a call; I wanted to personally thank him for the lessons he had taught me so many years ago. To my delight, Jim was home and when his wife told him I was calling to thank him for something, he said "you must be referring to cooked chickens...." We had a great conversation and agreed to get together in person soon.

Now the lesson:  In the early 1980's, at the ripe old age of 20, I began one of my first consulting assignments for The Air Force Flight Test Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.  My assignment was to help the communications squadron deploy some of the first microcomputers in the U.S. Military. (see below) Part of this deployment involved an initial presentation in the base theater with 750 people in attendance, along with a live video link to Hill AFB.  General Pete Odgers, who was the commander of the Flight Test Center at the time, talked about how microcomputers would revolutionize work at the Test Center, and then for the next hour and a half, I gave a presentation (using Harvard Graphics - sorry, no PowerPoint in those days) about how the technology worked and how we would be equipping the people to use this new technology

I worked for six months to develop a series of technology seminars for the 2-letter chiefs and their civilian counterparts as well as the base personnel to bring them up to speed on the capabilities of the new microcomputer technology.  One of the seminars that I developed, was a 3-day computer management course for senior managers.  Keep in mind that while I certainly knew my stuff, I was still the "young" computer wiz -- probably about 1/2 the average age of my audience.  I wanted to make a good impression and I worked hard in preparation.

The seminar began at 8:00 AM each day, and I drove up each day from Los Angeles, which was a few hours away. On day two of one of my seminars, the managers began passing around a note while I was speaking; this went on for much of the morning while I presented.  Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I stopped my presentation to ask what was so important.  

A person with a sheepish grin held up the paper for me to see:
Image:Look at Eric’s Shoes!
I looked down at my shoes and this is what I saw...
Image:Look at Eric’s Shoes!
Apparently, before I left Los Angeles at 5:00 AM on that dark morning, I grabbed two similar but different color shoes from the closet and headed off for my presentation a hundred miles away.  It was too late for me to do anything about it so I smiled, quietly took off my shoes, placed them on the floor next to the podium, and gave the rest of my presentation in my socks which were fortunately the same color.  

At the end of my lecture, I was presented with the note that you see above. I have kept it as a reminder for these past 20 years, and as a result, I have never repeated the experience.

Needless to say, it was a very valuable lesson.  Fortunately, it did not hurt my presentation, and I continued to successfully deliver services to the base for another 10 years after that event.

Lesson learned: Whenever I pack for a seminar, I always check the color of my shoes. Twice.


-Eric



For those of you who are still reading, this is the actual computer I used for my work at Edwards.  I keep it on a shelf in my office.  It's a Zenith Z-100: a "powerful" Pre-IBM PC dual-processor 8085 and 8080 2 megahertz design with a whopping 64K RAM!  Sorry, no hard drives in those days.  There wasn't much to fill them up with anyway.  A typical word-processor, WordStar, only needed 32K (that's kilobytes) of RAM, and could be run from a floppy. The was also before the days of the 300+ megabyte MS Office installations. No color either.  A green screen CRT was state of the art at the time.  When Zenith called it a desktop computer, they were not kidding. You needed a desktop to use one. Still, it was better than using punched cards, but that is another story for another day.
Image:Look at Eric’s Shoes!

Shifting Gears

Thursday, March 18th, 2004
Up until now, I have used this personal weblog primarily as a private demonstration site for clients and friends while I work to launch eProductivity.NET, which will probably replace my company site.  This site presently has several hidden links to archived video presentations as well as links to live video of my office and digital whiteboard, which I use these to allow me to give real-time presentations to clients.  I've also been posting various topics of interest, but less with the focus of true blogging than to have a place to park my stuff for family and friends.

Tonight that all changed. With the unexpected launch of David Allen's weblog, my site activity has jumped again.

I guess it's time for me to get serious and post something of real interest beyond my WeatherCam.

A sign from God

Thursday, July 3rd, 2003
I am on my way up North to visit some family today. While driving on Interstate 99 North of Bakersfield, California, I was contemplating some business decisions and thinking to myself, "God, just give me a sign."

As I rounded the corner...

Click to see the sign...

Advice for Gatsby

Monday, March 10th, 2003
I am presently completing a course in American Literature, which I have found particularly interesting.  This is not your typical AM Lit course.  We are studying American Literature from a Christian Worldview and specifically, the influence that the Bible had (or did not have) on the writers and their works.
Image:Advice for Gatsby
For the past several days I have been in hiding as I work on the outline for my final paper.  My assignment is to write about F. Scott Fitzgerald's work: "The Great Gatsby," and how the wisdom literature of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes would relate to some of the character's dilemmas.

I'm tired and punchy, so here's a bit of my own advice for Gatsby on the consequences of sin:
"If a man is having a relationship with a woman who's husband is having a relationship with a woman who's husband owns a gas station and a gun, it would be unwise for the man to let the woman drive his car when she is not sober. He just might end up getting shot by her husband."

I guess that pretty well wraps up the moral of the story, huh?  Now, all I have to do is expand that to 8 pages, double-spaced.  I wonder if I can use 36 pt...

Office Web Cam

Friday, January 24th, 2003
Web users around world got a rare glimpse of me at work today.
Image:Office Web Cam
In preparation for a web demonstration to a client, I asked a bunch of friends from Our Piazza to login to see if the images displayed in their browser. Using a robotic camera, visitors were able to drive the camera around my office as well as select from presets.  It was a weird feeling having someone watch me while I worked and I'm glad the test is complete and the camera is now off. The best part of this test is that my office is now cleaner than it was yesterday.

Bible Places

Thursday, August 8th, 2002
This evening, in my Old Testament Survey Course, I had an unexpected treat. We have a guest professor for the next two weeks  - Todd Bolen. This evening he presented part one of a lecture on biblical archeology, geography and history.  What I found fascinating was the photos and stories which Todd had to share.

Todd is an American who has lived and taught in Israel for the past 7 years. One of his activities is a web site, Bible Places, which features photographs and descriptions of sites in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece with an emphasis on biblical archaeology, geography and history.
Image:Bible Places
During the lecture, we were treated to a PowerPoint presentation of all of the places which he was discussing in his lectures. It really gave me a new sense of perspective as well as a greater interest to learn more about Israel and the Middle-East.  This evening I learned more about the geographic and climatic aspects of the region and its impact on the history.  One of the things that Todd has been doing is to retrace the various journeys taken by famous people of the Bible so that he can share not only a photographic perspective but a narrative as well.

Anyway, his web site shows some of his work and I believe that the smaller images are available for free download.

Eternal Twinkies?

Friday, August 2nd, 2002
It may be possible to extend your life by eating Twinkies.

In my conference room, I have a display case with various computer parts from computers I have worked on. (All are now antiques)  10 years ago, a friend brought me a package of Twinkies and 2 cans of Jolt Cola to display in my "museum."  

Eric's Computer Museum Display Case
Recently, I decided to drill holes in the Jolt cans to drain them. I noticed that the cans were now bulging out and I was afraid that they might explode.
     
Oh, the Twinkies - they are still there on the bottom shelf, sealed in their wrapper. Other than being hard, they look the same as they did when I put them in the case 10 years ago! I wonder what preserves them so well?

Twinkies on display in Eric's Computer Museum, since 1992

It must be the plastic filling.

Wrestling on the Island

Tuesday, June 11th, 2002
Here's a chance for me to share an interesting opportunity I once had -- something, which may surprise you.  I was into championship wrestling.
Image:Wrestling on the IslandImage:Wrestling on the Island
Before I got into computers, I was into video using 1/2" B&W reel to reel video tape. Remember that? In the late 70's, I had built a small video production studio. I landed a cushy job for a year, video taping -- of all things -- championship wrestling in Barbados. I got to fly to Barbados every two weeks, videotape a match and return to LA to edit the tape. The tapes were apparently shown in places where the promoters could not stage live events.

We were not on the tourist side of town. I was probably one of 3 white guys I saw on the island each time I was there. My client, Joe Osborne, a black man, invited me to stay at his home during each trip.  We became friends and I was treated as part of the family. The islanders were the nicest I had ever met. I never felt uncomfortable being the lone white guy in fact I felt more welcome than I do in LA. I made many friends during my visits. It was a wonderful experience.

As far as the wrestling goes, I had a blast. I had never really seen [or cared about] this type of wrestling before. It was amazing to see a stadium full of people who took it so seriously. Fortunately, I met a young bejan (SP?) boy who taught me all the tricks of how to know who was going to do what move when. I'm not going to say that it was rigged but...

I met some of the wrestlers of the Caribbean wrestling circuit such as  Carlos Colon, Abdulah the Butcher, Gorgeous George, and a guy named Mill Mascaras, the man of a thousand masks.

It was a special time in my life, and I am thankful for the new friends I made.

I hate plumbing!

Thursday, January 31st, 2002
This month, I learned more about plumbing and septic systems than I ever wished to know.  Our system had been improperly designed and it failed on us, just about the time several of our pipes burst in the freezing weather. A few thousand dollars later, the pipes were replaced, and we were able to shower again.

Welcome to my weblog!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2002
Image:Welcome to my weblog!
I feel like I must have felt in that picture, only a few years ago.  I've got a new toy to play with and I get to share it with everyone: my shiny new weblog.  

I've actually been blogging in one form or other for many years, only it wasn't called that yet.  Now that the cyber-community is starting to blog, I plan to jump on the bandwagon too.

Unlike the stuff I've posted on my corporate site or forums, here, I plan to share little bit about me and my family, as well as my interests and activities.  No guarantees as to what new information you will find here on any given day, but I plan to update it with increasing regularly as time goes on.   You are welcome to have a look around.  You may view/add to the discussions on any of the posts.  If you want to send a permanent link to any post in this blog, simply click on the subject of the entry and then bookmark the URL.

This is an experiment with a new form of Weblogs -- using Lotus Notes & Domino to manage my content.  After deciding that I did not want to write my own blogging template, I evaluated several Domino-based Blog templates and settled on DominoBlog. I am very pleased with my selection. I am presently migrating posts from my previous blogs into this database.

Thanks for visiting!

-Eric

Ambulance Ride

Thursday, November 30th, 2000
Well, I found out what an ambulance ride is like (and how much it cost) to get through the mountains to Santa Clarita, over an hour away.  I was having severe heart palpitations, and of course our fear was that it was a heart attack.  I spent the day in the Henry Mayo hospital ER, while doctors poked and prodded, tooks X-rays, and CAT Scans.  I was discharged with a clean bill of health, but confused.  I believe that I had a negative reaction to the medications I had been prescribed. Not fun.
Oh, in case your are curious, the door to door fee, from my house to the ER -- $1750. Now THAT is painful.