Just how loud is the Tecra M4 Tablet PC fan?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
I get asked this question often, both in email and in the comments on this blog.

I've noticed that my fan noise levels have been increasing lately, probably due to a bad fan. I thought I would document the noise levels and answer the questions of many who have asked at the same time.

Listen to this 2.5 minute podcast and hear for yourself.

MindMap: Using the IRAC Method to analyze cases

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
There are many ways to analyze a legal case (or any issue for that matter). One of the most popular methods for law students is the IRAC method:
  • The facts of the case suggest an Issue
  • The issue is covered by a Rule of law
  • Compare the facts to the rule to form the Analysis
  • From the analysis, develop the Conclusion as to whether the rule applies to the facts
To help me organize my thoughts when considering the issues involved in decision-making, I created the above mind map, based upon the very helpful information on the Law Nerds web site, The IRAC method and this map have become valuable critical thinking tools for me, not only for my current business law course but in how I approach a variety of business and personal decisions.

[I'm presently having trouble getting my embedded MindManager map to display properly. It appears to only work when you view the permanent link for this page, Click here.]

Note: You will have to allow the Active-X control to see the MindManager viewer in Internet Explorer. You can move around, resize, print, or even download the map to your own PC. I recommend that you click on the menu button and open the map in a new window.

Use the links below to download my original map or PDF file:
20051127 - Using the IRAC method to analyze cases - Eric Mack.mmap
20051127 - Using the IRAC method to analyze cases - Eric Mack.pdf

A special thank you to Ben Templin, owner of lawnerds.com for allowing me to share this map on my site.

Happy Birthday DA!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005
I hope your day is a special one.

Don’t debug the computer, debug the building

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005
I received this e-mail from the campus computing center:
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" »
The answer may not be as simple as you'd think. If Michael Hyatt is right about the death of traditional book publishing, then it stands to reason that many people, armed with an array of PDAs, Tablet PCs and ePaper devices (like this one) will want to put digital copies of books they already own on these devices. In fact, I believe that they will expect that they should be able to do so.

My recent blog articles about my paperless challenge, specifically scanning my textbooks to read and markup on my Tablet PC, prompted a question about the legality of doing so. University Lecturer, Pascal Venier asked,
Is it legal to scan a textbook?
Creating such PDF+text versions of the book would make be a very useful tool. However would scanning "Law for Business" to produce an electronic version be lawful or are there copyright law issues?
Pascal poses a particularly relevant question. I am not an attorney, but given the specific subject and my interest in the law, I feel obligated to look into this further. Furthermore, I promised to look into it and share my discoveries on this blog.

As I began to research this topic, I found considerable information and opinions, but few answers. I've already created a large mind map with the information and references I've collected on this topic. [My business law professor encouraged me to change my final project to deal with this topic, so I have increased motivation (and a grade) riding on what I learn along the way.]

The answer to this question could greatly affect how people use emerging technologies such as the Tablet PC, PDAs or other ePaper Devices.
Below, I've mapped out my response (or defense) to this question. I hope you'll read along, comment on my thoughts, and join in the discussion. This is a topic that will affect all of us.

Continue Reading "Is it legal to scan your books to read on a Tablet PC?" »

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2005
It's now recorded in the blogosphere; I've been politically incorrect, at least according to some.  It won't be the first time.

It's on the record. It's my blog and, as stated in the banner for this site, I've promised to write about my adventures in life, work, and spirit.

I know, from my own personal experience, that many people who will celebrate Christmas this year will do so without a clear (or perhaps any) understanding of what it is we truly celebrate at Christmas and why Christmas is a holiday - a holy day.

In the past one hundred years or so, this holy day, has morphed into a commercial free-for-all, and now, often, a source of confrontation. But that's not Christmas; that's commerce.

Christmas is a celebration

Continue Reading "Merry Christmas!" »
Is it legal to scan and read your own books on your Tablet PC?
It's easy to do, but is it legal?
A reader recently posted this question on my blog. I've been researching the answer (it's not an easy or clear one) and I'd like to get a discussion going on this topic.
(If you have an opinion, feel free to comment.)

There are a number of other topics that I plan to post updates on, including:

Status report on my 8-week paperless challenge
It's going extremely well; must better than I anticipated!

Michael's second visit and our jousting experience
Michael did not fall off the horse.

MindManager as a dashboard in Notes
Excellent progress in this area; I hope to share details, soon. A big productivity boost.

My switch from the eProductivity Template back to vanilla Lotus Notes as a tool for getting things done.  
It was a big step backward for me, but a good learning experience.
I'll be switching back to the eProductivity Template shortly.

And, finally, a popular question on this blog:
"How loud is the fan noise on your Tecra M4?"
I'll post a 3-minute podcast so you can hear for yourself

And the big question of the year, "Will Eric ever become YABHTU?"
I'm much closer. Let's just say I'm YAVHTU for now. (podcast coming) This will take a few posts to explain.

I hope you'll join me in these discussions. If you haven't done so already,  be sure to sign up for the RSS feed so that you don't miss the discussion.

Did I miss anything? If there's a topic you'd like me to discuss , post a comment.

Top Ten Signs You’re a GTD Disciple

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005
I routinely scan many of the GTD forums to get a pulse on the interests and applications of people who apply the GTD methodology to their projects and actions. It's not uncommon, at the end of the year, for various top ten lists to emerge. Here's one that made me laugh...

Top Ten Signs You're a GTD Disciple

10. While driving home from work, you have to pull over three times to jot it down and empty your mind.

9. You put your weekly review on a Someday/Maybe list. … NOT!

8. You go to McDonalds for lunch but – before ordering – you draw a mind map of what an ideal fast food meal would look and taste like.

7. You use a Brother P-Touch to label your kitchen drawers.

I think you get the point ...

Oh, there's this gem:

3. You know that the "two-minute rule" has nothing to do with the conclusion of football games.

You can find more signs and interesting discussion in the Yahoo Groups Getting Things Done Forum
This year, Amy & Wendy had the opportunity to perform with a new handbell ensemble, Fusion:

- Fusion Bell Concert 2.jpg

Continue Reading "Fusion Handbell Ensemble: The Original Heavy Metal" »

The Mack Family on the Wicked Stage

Friday, December 16th, 2005
The 1st Annual Life On The Wicked Stage Ink Blot Awards have been handed out and the Mack's received several of the highly distinguished awards. (Well, we did not actually receive anything - like money or a golden statue - but it's an honor nonetheless. *)

Ink blot awards host and Tablet PC MVP,  Warner Crocker, had this to say at the ceremony:
The Tableteers that make up the Tablet PC Community are an amazing collection of individuals who know and work with the Tablet PC platform. They are fiercely protective of it, insatiably curious about advancing it, very intelligent, often wickedly funny, at one time very forgiving and patient, and in the same breath, scathingly critical when the need arises. They are also exceedingly willing to evangelize the platform to anyone who will listen, and in my humble opinion, have helped keep the spotlight on The Tablet PC in ways that may, in the long run, prove to be responsible for keeping the platform thriving.

Here are the awards we received this year:

Best Exhibit Of Restraint When It Comes To Opening A New Tablet PC:
  • Eric Mack  (#2)
Best Kids Explain How To Use OneNote And A Tablet PC:
  • Amy and Wendy Mack
Best Running Battle With Toshiba Technical Support: Best Tablet PC OOBE: (Out of Box Experience)
  • Eric Mack with Those Tablet PC Podcaster Guys.
Best And Most Famous Tablet PC Acronym: YABHTU
  • Eric Mack (Sorry, Marc!)
I had no idea I spent so much time blogging about my tablet.

Thanks, Warner!

* I hoped I might receive a coveted Tablet PC guy; apparently, these guys are extremely difficultt to come by so I'll just have to keep on wishing... (Hint, Hint)

Using MindManager as a Dashboard for Lotus Notes

Thursday, December 15th, 2005
The power of mind maps as a visual planning tool is undisputed. MindManager brings that power to the personal computer. Lotus Notes is a tool long-used by highly productive organizations for managing their communication, collaboration, and coordination of information-related activities. Hmmm. Can you tell where I'm going with this post?

Here's a screenmovie of my test mind map with embedded Notes

Notes Doclinks in MindMaps bring together two powerful tools for information management:

One of the Lotus Notes productivity features that I use regularly is doclinks. In Lotus Notes, a doclink can be created to jump to a Notes document,  database,or view. The ability to embed these doclinks in my project and action lists gives me a quick and easy way to link to all of my support material regardless of where they are located. The beauty of Notes Doclinks is that the Notes client will locate the target regardless of whether it is located on the local machine or a remote server.

Continue Reading "Using MindManager as a Dashboard for Lotus Notes" »

Mountaineers succeed as a virtual team

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005
It was another busy week for our robotics team, as they competed in the U.S. FIRST Central Valley Robotics Competition, in Clovis, California. (CV Robotics)

20051204 - Clovis Competition Presentation.jpg

This year, the team faced a formidable challenge; they had to split up so that Kathy and the girls could care for Kathy's mom. The team decided to have Amy & Wendy work on the research and presentation in Northern California, while Faith and Lucy worked on the robot locally. The girls were only able to meet in person a few times, relying instead on Skype, phone calls, and email. They worked hard and accomplished a lot.

Continue Reading "Mountaineers succeed as a virtual team" »

Stepping back to jump forward

Monday, December 12th, 2005
Lotus Notes and GTD; productivity combination or curse? If you frequent the Getting Things Done forums you'll find many posts on this topic with differing both points of view.

As I have written before, I believe that the ideal solution for getting things done involves both the technology and the methodology of productivity. It does not matter if you use a napkin, pencil and paper or a powerful tool like Lotus Notes; if you don't have a logical method for organizing your projects and actions any system will become equally dysfunctional. Likewise, if you do have a good methodology in place for getting things done, then you may wish to consider any of a number of tools, including, pencil & paper, a napkin, or even Lotus Notes. I've used all three and I find that each offer key strengths. This blog post however, is about using my current favorite, Lotus Notes, as a tool to support the GTD methodology. (At the end of this post, I've included a link to some helpful information on using NOTES & GTD.)

Lotus Notes and GTD

For the past fours years, I've been using a custom template that I developed to support my use of Notes to manage my lists of projects and actions. Gradually, I've added to or improved upon many of the features of the standard Notes forms and views to make it easier for someone familiar with the GTD methodology to jump into using Lotus Notes as their information management tool. (Note that I did not say that the other way around. if you already use Notes and do not understand the GTD methodology, my template will not necessarily make you a better organized person, though it may help. If you are unfamiliar with GTD, I recommend that you consider this book.)

Given the nature and level of my work, I'm somewhat removed from the challenges that many people face trying to implement GTD in vanilla Notes. Migrating from Palm Desktop or Outlook or even a paper-based system like Time Design into Lotus Notes can be a frustrating experience both due to the new way that work is done and the need to create new habits. I spend so much of my day using my eProductivity template for Notes that I sometimes forget that Lotus Notes out of the box is not as intuitive as it could be for managing projects and actions with the GTD methodology. In short, I want to re-experience what it is like to move to and use vanilla Notes to manage projects and actions. I want to revisit what does not work, what's improved since I last did this and what still works well. I believe that the only way I can truly do this is to jump in with both feet.

Continue Reading "Stepping back to jump forward" »

So simple you can do it on the back of a napkin

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
I frequently share with others how the clarity of David Allen's methodology for Getting Things Done has influenced my work as an eProductivity specialist. Given my role serving The David Allen Company, I have a unique inside perspective on how this productive team uses GTD. In short, it's real, and it works.

As I've written before, great technology is nothing without a sound methodology for getting things done.

A few days ago, I met Travis Robertson at a business management presentation. Travis shared some of his significant goals with me and he explained that he was finding it a challenge keeping a handle on his projects and actions. Naturally, I recommended GTD as an approach to consider for organizing his life. A few days later, I received this email:
Eric, I want to thank you for recommending Getting Things Done.  I picked up the book over the weekend and had an "Ah ha!" moment with it.  I've tried numerous methods that involved the purchase of someone's planners and products--all to no avail.  They always seemed like they were trying to make me fit their mold.  Getting Things Done really makes sense to me and I think it will change my life.  I'm not an organized person by nature, but I'm confident this is a system I can actually use.  You piqued my interest when you said, "It so simple, it can be done on the back of a napkin."
It’s easy to buy the latest and greatest in technology, but that does not guarantee a boost in productivity. Without a method for its effective use, the potential benefit of a new technology will be limited. Technology might even get in the way.

I'm glad to help, Travis. Best of success to you!

Update on Kathy’s Mom (12/05/2005)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
Our family's been going through some amazing times as we deal with helping my mother-in-law recover from her stroke. We could not have made it this far without the prayers and assistance from friends and family. While I'm grateful for the assistance we've received, I'm most touched by the prayer support from many faithful people - many of whom I have never met. God is sustaining and strengthening not just Kathy's mom, but all of us. Here's an email Kathy sent me from the hospital to share.
As many of you know, our world changed dramatically at the beginning of August.  While traveling with our family, my mother suffered a stroke.  A CT scan in the emergency room revealed that she had a 9x4 inch cyst in her brain, and surgery was scheduled to remove that cyst and take the pressure off of her brain.  The surgery went well, but Mom was in a coma for ten days.  A frightening time, as you can imagine, as some told us she might never come out of that state.  She did, and I believe God listened to the prayers of many.  

Twenty-six days later, we took Mom back to her home town via ambulance and checked into a nursing and rehabilitation facility.  Unfortunately, we were ignorant as to their lack of care, and Mom came down with pneumonia six days after arriving there.  That night, when they wheeled her into the emergency room, my sister and I had to decide whether or not to stop life support.  God gave us both a peace that we should keep fighting.  Mom left that hospital two weeks later, and we transferred her to a different nursing facility.

Continue Reading "Update on Kathy's Mom (12/05/2005)" »

GTD Fortune Cookie

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005
Great advice for managing projects and actions: