Treo 650 Update #1

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004
Last night, I configured my new TREO 650 with the beta release of PdaNet so that I could evaluate it as a wireless modem for my IBM ThinkPad.  I was very pleased with the results. I was able to surf the web, replicate my Lotus Notes databases, connect to my server via PC Anywhere, and use instant messaging. The speed tests report throughput between 100k and 140k, which is satisfactory for these applications. I was able to do this quickly and easily, using the USB cable. I also tested this via Bluetooth. Bluetooth worked the first time, however, I could not get it to work again. (I understand that the software is still in beta.) In all, I'm quite pleased.

Another busy week ahead. I've just returned from my daughter's second robotics competition. I'll wait for them to post their blog entries before I share how the event went.  (hint: it was amazing)

Coming soon, I'll be sharing the results of my evaluations of a few on-board productivity tools that I am using with my Treo 650.
UPS delivered a shiny new TREO 650 SmartPhone today. My plan is to fully integrate the TREO 650 with Lotus Notes for a variety of eProductivity.NET applications using Pylon iAnywhere to mobilize them. I've done quite a bit of integration using Pylon products over the years, and I highly recommend them.

Lately, I have been looking into a product called mNotes by CommonTime. The mNotes product is similar to iAnywhere in many ways, however, it has a few features not found in the Pylon product that are of interest to several of my corporate customers. These include: support for multiple calendars, multiple To-Do lists, multiple email users, and on-device folder support. This last feature will apparently allow for the filing of messages on the device and to have those changes replicated to Lotus Notes wirelessly. I'll let you know how the evaluation it works out.

My primary reason for choosing the TREO 650 and the SprintPCS network is their $15 PCSVision plan with unlimited internet. Thanks to the Sprint PCS network, I can replicate data between the TREO and Lotus Notes. When changes happen at the desktop or on the device, they will be immediately replicated to the other location.  Earlier this year, I deployed this system for a client using Pylon iAnywhere and I was very pleased with the results. On the unified messaging front, I've been using and recommending Remark! Unified Messaging for the past 8 years; my next project will be to look for ways to integrate the TREO and RUMA.

BTW: The SprintPCS activation process, while mostly smooth, left something to be desired. After entering all of my data on my touch-tone keypad, I was connected over a mediocre quality VOIP connection to Ray, in the Philippines. (I sure hope Sprint's PCS voice quality is better than their customer service voice quality). Of course, I had to give Ray all of the same info that I typed in when I placed the call -- the same information I had to provide when I placed the order. So much for integrated ordering. :-(  20 minutes later, after sharing all of the information that you are not supposed to give to strangers over the phone, I was assigned a temporary mobile phone #.  As for the famous $150 rebate, the rep told me that it would take between 4 and 12 months to get  the rebate and that I would have to initiate it after 4 months. I wonder if I'll see that $ again.

There is no wireless coverage up here in the mountains where I live, so I'll have to wait until I drive down to the city to see how it really works.

Best wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.

Image:Mountaineers win Director´s award at Robotics competition!
The LEGO Mountaineers, FIRST Jr. Robotics Team #1144

Four years ago, I volunteered as a mentor for a high school robotics team in the U.S. FIRST Competition.  For the past three years, I have had the privilege of coaching a group of talented home school girls in the Jr. Robotics league.  Our team, the LEGO Mountaineers, has done well each year, winning awards in various areas such as research presentation, judges award, and team spirit award. While the girls, excelled in many areas, there was always ample opportunity for improvement. (In the past, their robot ranked 39 out of 44. Not a great score.)

At the start of this year's robotics season, the girls announced that they intended to win the Director's award -- the award given for the team with the highest achievement overall.  The Director's award is a difficult award to earn, and is usually awarded to the larger, more experienced, school teams.  (Our team was quite small this year, with only 5 girls)

As a coach, I see the strengths and weaknesses of our team. My job is to direct the team so that each child develops her skills, and is able to contribute to the team. I knew the work that they would have to do to try to win this award.

I told the girls that if they really wanted to win the Director's award, I would be happy to coach them towards that goal. With that agreement, we spent the early weeks -- while other teams were already building their robots -- focused on studying the goal (the award criteria, etc) and visualizing what it would take to win the award and what winning would be like. We created mind maps of the process and of the things we would need to accomplish to reach the goal. We then broke these down into specific next actions. (i.e. collect parts, build robot, plan mission, etc.).

For the next 10 weeks, we focused on outcomes and actions -- all moving towards the goal of delivering our best performance at the competition. (The competition consists of robot design, field competition, technical presentation, research presentation, sportsmanship, etc..)

We spent a little less time on the robot this year and more time on the theory of planning, goal setting, mind mapping, game strategy, the GTD methodology, and flowcharting. I am confident that these skills contributed to the girls' ability to be ready for anything that they would encounter at the competition.

This past weekend, the girls competed at a regional FIRST Jr. Robotics competition in Southern California. Not only did their robot finish in first place in their division, they finished 3rd overall for robot performance (score) on the field.

At the award ceremony, the judges called the LEGO Mountaineers, to award them the distinguished Director's award for top achievement in all categories.

I'm very proud of them.

The girls have been maintaining a Blog site so that they can share their experiences. This year, the girls provided almost daily updates of their progress, challenges, and successes. I encourage you to stop visit and, if you are inclined, post some words of encouragement. if you have a young person in your life, you may want to share the site with them. FIRST is a great program to inspire children to pursue math, science and technology.

We were fortunate this year to have several distinguished sponsors and partners, who helped provide the funds, software, and encouragement to help the children get things done.  We even had a visit from Microsoft's Channel 9 guy. You can learn more about all of this on the LEGO Mountaineer's Blog site.

I plan to share my thoughts on how to coach an all-girls Jr. Robotics team to success. Look for this and video clips on the girls' Blog site in the weeks to come.


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.


ActiveWords and eProductivity

Thursday, November 4th, 2004
Buzz Bruggeman, president and chief evangelist at ActiveWords, called me this morning to show me how he is integrating ActiveWords with Palm desktop. I mentioned my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes, and how I planned to add hot key control to all of the unique features of my template for an enterprise customer. Buzz quickly showed me just what I needed to know to use ActiveWords to create powerful shortcuts that integrate with Lotus Notes and my eProductivity template.

I can now quickly create a new action item from anywhere -- even outside of Notes. A simple hot key will automatically launch Notes and open a new action form. I've even set it up to automatically populate the date & time for me so that all I have to do is enter my next action, select my context, and save. (See screen shot)

Image:ActiveWords and eProductivity                    

To take things to the next level, I created a hot key that will allow me to select an email and convert it into an action in one step. Cool.

I've blogged about  ActiveWords  before, and I remain enthusiastic about the product.  Not since Actioneer came out with Actioneer Pro for Lotus Notes 4.0, have I seen such a powerful shortcut tool that I can use to quickly capture my actions. I've recently enhanced my eProductivity template to support Notes R6 for an enterprise customer. ActiveWords will help add further value to the template.

For those of you who are interested, I plan to share my ActiveWords wordbases so that anyone who uses Lotus Notes can enjoy them and enhance them to suit their own needs.

Thanks, Buzz!

Management Training for Children?

Monday, November 1st, 2004
Nik Chapapas, posted this question about teaching children how to be productive on his Living Life forum:
Management Training for Children?
As I continue to practice the methods of Getting Things Done, I'm reading of people being successful in teaching their children these methods. I'd love to see my children learning this, but question if I have the right words or practices to teach them.
Nik's question is an appropriate introduction for today's blog entry. I believe that Nik already has what it takes to teach his children, and in fact, he's already doing it.

One of the best ways that I know of to teach a child anything -- good or bad -- is simply to model it. Desirable behavior or not, they will copy what they see. I try to have my children see me in a variety of situations; one of them is dealing with clients. I will often allow one of my children to study or read in my office, just so that they can be with me, see what I do, and observe how I serve clients on the phone or even in a video conference. I never cease to be amazed and what they pick up without my even saying a word to them. It's a great lesson for them, and a good reminder for me.

This weekend, I had to take a brief trip to see a client a few hours away. I knew it would be a casual event, so I decided to invite one of my children to come along as my "helper." This time, it was Emily's turn. We had a great time, the client was friendly and gracious to her, and Emily and I got to spend several hours together in the car, just talking about stuff.

Equally, if not important to the things we discussed, were the things that she observed. I could lecture about principles at length, (been there, done that), but in the end, what is more likely to stick is what she has observed.

Image:Management Training for Children?
All dressed up and ready to go...

I consider myself blessed to be able to make a living doing what I do, and serving the people that I serve. I'm even more delighted to share this blessing with my kids.  If you ever have the opportunity to invite your child to come to work with you, consider doing it. It will be a learning experience for both of you. Whether or not you are able to do this, know that your kids are watching your every move. They know what is real and what is not and they are quite perceptive. Next to knowing that God is watching, I cannot think of anything more humbling.