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ISO Nexus

By JodyGilbert ·
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Gimme my e-mail? and I don't mean in a MINUTE

by JodyGilbert In reply to ISO Nexus

<p>I came across a productivity tip the other day, which--on
the face of it--sounds entirely reasonable. The suggestion is that instead of
getting sidetracked all day long by the arrival of one e-mail message after
another, you configure your mail client so that it delivers mail on a
restricted schedule. Like every hour or two.</p>


<p>I can certainly see where that would cut down on interruptions
and the temptation to slide into work avoidance mode. But after giving the idea
some serious consideration, for maybe a full three seconds, I rejected it. And
here's why: I would go INSANE thinking about all those potentially critical or at
least critically amusing e-mails washing up in some cyber holding tank waiting
for Outlook to open the sluiceway and allow them to pour into my mailbox. Not
that I ever get that kind of e-mail. That's not the point. I wouldn't know WHAT
was waiting for me, is the point. I have to check e-mail when I'm on vacation,
that's how et up with curiosity I am. So no delayed or consolidated e-mail
delivery for me. I'd be stabbing at the [F9] key for a manual send/receive all
day long like a psychotic, pellet-craving lab rat.</p>


<p>Assuming you're in the same boat I am, and I know at least
some of you are (because you answer my e-mail when YOU'RE on vacation), what can
we do to keep from becoming derailed by our e-mail? I think maybe the only real
choice is to embrace derailment as a working style and learn to function
productively even as we go jouncing and skidding across the multitasking
landscape.</p>
<p>To further choke the life out of the train metaphor (although our
journey began on a boat), it's like hopping from track to track to track:  working on Project A while answering a couple
of smart-*** e-mails, responding to a serious managerial imperative, gathering
data and writing a report while working on Project B, investigating a customer
problem, reading a series of e-mails from the person sitting four feet behind
you. Hop hop hop.</p>


<p>Not that it hurts to fine-tune your e-mail handling skills.
(Here it is, finally: my <em>raison d'blog</em>.) As long as you're
going to be wallowing in e-mail day in and day out, you might as well shoot for
some degree of efficiency and organization. I found just the system, too. It
calls for you to:</p>


<ul>
<li>Set Up a Simple and Effective E-mail Reference System</li>
</ul>


<ul>
<li>Schedule Uninterrupted Time to Process and Organize E-Mail</li>
</ul>
<ul>
<li>


Process One Item At a Time, Starting at the Top</li>
</ul>


<ul>
<li>Use the "Four D's for Decision Making" Model</li>
</ul>


<p>(That last one is my favorite part. The four Ds are Delete
it; Do it; Delegate it; Defer it. There are some excellent options there!)</p>


<p>This system is described in <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/manageinfo/email.mspx#EYB">"4 Ways
to Take Control of Your E-mail Inbox."</a> It's one of those productivity
articles describing practices that sound great and would probably work if it
weren't for the fact that you have to actually adopt them. The advice is
practical and specific, though, and I might give it a try.</p>


<p>If you have some other suggestions, please pass them along.
Or send me an e-mail. Odds are, I'll have it read before it comes to a complete
stop in my inbox.</p>

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Office 007: From Redmond with Love

by JodyGilbert In reply to ISO Nexus

<p>For awhile there, Microsoft's highly covert operations
surrounding Office "12" seemed to suggest something a little revolutionary
was afoot. You couldn't turn around without smacking into an NDA, and a leaked
(albeit flakey) early beta added a hint of espionage.</p>


<p>But now, we're being fed details, the rumble of hype is
growing louder, and the mystique is fading. Microsoft has divulged the
bundling/pricing structure, the official name, and details of the 2,709
individual applications that will make up the 482 packages of the new Office
system. This <a href="5254-6257-0.html?forumID=99&threadID=174062&messageID=1961442&id=3053951">blog
post by Jason Hiner</a> offers a great breakdown of the Office 2007 components
(okay, not quite 2,709 of them), packaging, and pricing. And I don't mention
this because Jason's my boss. No really.</p>


<p>So just now, I went ahead and registered for beta 2, after
having been denied entrance to the ultra secret society of beta 1 testers. I
feel a little silly doing it, as though I'm flipping a light switch that's not
wired to anything. But what the ****. I've got that Microsoft Passport, might
as well use it.</p>


<p>I also feel a tiny bubble of dread surfacing somewhere.
Maybe because I'm an Office luddite, resisting and despising many of the
features that arrived with the XP and 2003. (For example, the implementation of
Word's document reviewing features--something many writers and editors live and
die by--took such a thrashing in XP, you have to wonder whether the design
changes were driven by some kind of high stakes Rube Goldberg side bet.)</p>


<p>And I'm not reassured by the carefully dispensed,
meticulously spun scraps of information about Office 2007's new features, enhancements,
and radically rejiggered UI. If the goal is to surface all that functionality
that most users don't know about, I'm really not going to like it. Because I DO
know about the functionality, and I've built and customized and tinkered my way
around Office so it's like a comfortable, nicely broken-in chair. The last
thing I want is for Microsoft to give me an entirely NEW chair--one that, by
early accounts--will be nearly impossible to break in.</p>


<p>But I'm going to reserve judgment, or try to. Maybe I really
will find myself working more efficiently, staying organized, and more easily
collaborating and sharing information using the security-enhanced 2007
Microsoft Office system. </p>


<p>Meanwhile, I've been checking out Office 2007 product team blogs
here and there to try to find more facts and less hyperbole. Or at least a more
honest, in-the-trenches grade of hyperbole. I just started in on a collection
of <a href="http://channel9.msdn.com/Showforum.aspx?forumid=14&tagid=34">2007
Office dev team interview videos</a>. Also I've found some fairly interesting
blogs on this <a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/erikaehrli/archive/2006/01/23/office12bloggers.aspx">MSDN
Office 12 blogger list</a>.</p>


<p>And you know, I'm sure I'll have my hands on beta 2 before
too long. Then we'll see.</p>

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by JodyGilbert In reply to ISO Nexus

<p>What began as a <a href="5208-11183-0.html?forumID=9&threadID=185648&start=0">forum
for exchanging outrageous tales of user goofiness</a> wound up as <strong>"10
classic clueless-user stories"</strong> (in both <a href="5100-10877-6044807.html">article </a>and <a href="5138-10877-6040785.html">download </a>format),
showcasing a few of the more bizarre accounts.</p>


<p>Now I'd like to force-morph the discussion into a look at
the other side of the coin: IT pro foibles and blunders.</p>


In the <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-11189-0.html?PromoFeature=discussion&PromoByPassed=1&forumID=5&threadID=190083">clueless-user
discussion thread</a>, member peterl@... said, "Wonder
if there ever was a collection of dumb acts *by* IT people when they deal with end
users. Like asking incredibly dumb business questions or making assumptions
that make absolutely no business sense." And info@... pointed out,
"There are just as many clueless acts by technical
people that cost companies millions. Like the tech who decided to make
"one small change." A change that sent three thousand people home for
the day. Or in a regional bank where the IT dept didn't understand or believe
the business priority of a problem which resulted in over ten thousand term
deposits being voided."


<br />
<br />
Maybe our mistakes aren't quite that
colossal--or if we're lucky, they just wind up as near-misses. Like the time I
installed an Outlook 2003 beta on a production machine to do some testing and
almost caused a catastrophic enterprise-wide Exchange meltdown. KaBOOOM.


<br />
<br />
Just as users can bumble along in a
way that dumbfounds the IT staff, so can the IT staff stray into their own Clueless
Territory--and we can all learn a little from hearing about those mistakes. They
might even make us feel a little better about ourselves.


<br />
<br />
Got a good tale to tell on yourself?
Share it here or <a href="5208-11189-0.html?PromoFeature=discussion&PromoByPassed=1&forumID=5&threadID=1**049">join
the discussion</a>. Let's hear your worst.

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by zclayton2 In reply to How about a few classic c ...

<p>We had been running with a mix of WinDoze 2000 and (then) new XP installs.  My 2000 system hung on a virus scan update and the tech came over and said, "Well we've been going to migrate everyone over to XP anyway, why don't I do yours now?"  (Everyone is now nodding their heads and groaning, right?)   She hand me the install disks and tells me to go ahead.  I asked if I needed to back up and she said, "No, it will just put in a new system on C:".  I was still using Me and 98 at home so I had no idea what was about to happen.  I had a partitioned drive, C: and and all my data was on .  At the point when I realized it was going to reformat I stopped everything and yelled for help.  No help.  She said go ahead it would only format C: and would be fine.    Not.  XP wiped my partition and all my data.  My backup from 3 months ago helped, but I had just finished a major update on our field sampling SOP's and lost those and all recent correspondance on the revision rational.  Turns out I wasn't the first she had done this to - I was just the first to squawk loudly enough to get attention.  She was transfered to a remote site about a month later and although those people were warned, she still managed to hork several systems out there also.   </p>
<p>She wan't fired.  Why?  Because I work for a state government and about the only way you can get fired is to falsify your time card or "go postal".  Unfortunately, some stereotypes are true.</p>
<p>Hmm - that reminds me, It's probably time for a backup.</p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>
<p> </p>

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by james.fraser In reply to How about a few classic c ...

<p> </p>
<p>Server rack filled with servers in the server room of a certain large financial institution, one server needs a reboot. Power buttons are the kind like the top of a ball point pen. Click in once to turn on and hold in, click again to press in, and the switch will pop out to turn off. (I think this was an IBM design, maybe their lower end boxes that were glorified desktop pc's.) Some tech realized he had pressed the button on the wrong server (immediately above the one he was going for, I think) while pressing the button. The server was still on, but as soon as he let go, it was going to turn off.</p>
<p>It ended with with the server shutting down and a brief interruption in the ticker information to some traders.</p>
<p>Moral of the story, Don't ever get into a conversation while doing maintenance in a live server rack. Not that I was there for this...</p>

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by dryflies In reply to How about a few classic c ...

<p>At a large manufacturing facility in Oregon,  one of the manufacturing machines ran off two NT4.0 PCs.  to communicate, there was a private lan between them and each also had a connection to the company manufacturing network.  The whole thing was 10baseT.  Fast ethernet came out and the technicians realised that they could get an increase in output (more widgets) if they put fast ethernet nics in the machines and used a switch, getting rid of the private LAN. So far so good.  </p>
<p>The manufacturing technician made the change, and then the IT tech came to hook the whole thing up to the LAN.  When the IT tech hooked the machines up to the switch, there were a couple of extra LAN cables coming out of the wiring cabinet so he hooked them to the switch as well.  It was one of the switches with autosensing ports and the two extra cable ends were of the same cable that was too mired in the spaghetti of wires to remove.  The LAN went down for 6 hours while they tried to figure out what happened.</p>

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by rclark In reply to How about a few classic c ...

<p>This happened several years ago but is a classic, so here goes. I am a systems analyst so get called at all hours for all types of support issues, both hardware and software. Because we pride ourselves in supporting our after hours techs, we never know who will call and what the call will be. </p>
<p>One night I got a call from our IBM service rep who will remain nameless. He had been called by our after hours support tech because one of the terminals was dead. He had talked to the tech, ran diagnostics, replaced the power supply, back plane, and distribution bus on the terminal. After about two hours work, he called me and said he would have to replace the box because he couldn't find anything wrong but it was still dead.</p>
<p>Although he was a very smart cookie, and had been a field representative for 20+ years, my first question to him was "Is it plugged in?" Dead silence on the phone. Then "Thanks. The universal power cord was loose in the socket. Goodnight."</p>
<p>No, I don't have ESP or anything like that. Just customers and I didn't think about who was on the other end of the line when I asked the question. Turns out even we "Techs" have blind spots. </p>

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How about a few classic clueless-TECH stories?

by NRDickens In reply to How about a few classic c ...

During a network segregation project I managed to create a new local DNS zone that was the same as the zone provided by the company we were segregating from.  However, it only contained a third of the entries we actually needed and that included none of the production links.  All I can say is there is nothing like 'effective change control', and this change contained nothing like effective change control

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Fish gotta swim, crumbs gotta fly

by JodyGilbert In reply to ISO Nexus

<p>If you've read my confessional <a href="../../5100-10877_11-6046764-1-1.html">"10
improvement goals for the less-than-perfect user,"</a> you know that I
could never lose my laptop. It would be too easy to track it down by following
the trail of crumbs leading back to it. What else is there to do when you're
sitting at a computer, knocking out a riveting blog entry, but snack, after
all?</p>


<p>I'm not talking about spilling benzene-laden soft drinks on
the keyboard. I'm careful. Fastidious, even, for a desktop snacker. Still, the
average workday is likely to release a few parts-per-billion of snack debris
into the atmosphere, and prevailing winds sometimes carry them toward my
keyboard. It's a natural phenomenon. I accept that. </p>


<p>But that doesn't mean I'm ****-bent on dropping, say, a
pudding cup on my function keys. (Talk about living on the edge.) And because I
recognize the importance of snacking responsibly, I was especially pleased to
come across Becky Roberts' guidelines on <a href="../../5100-10877-6048609.html">"The worst
foods to eat over a keyboard (and the best ways to clean up the mess)."</a>
I might be reaching here, but judging by the items on her list of problematic
snacks (her Jell-O trumps my Spaghetti-Os, I'm pretty sure), she appears to be an
inveterate keyboard snacker herself. Unlike me, however, she also seems to be a
proactive one. Her article includes some helpful hints on keyboard cleanup,
along with links to some how-to resources. </p>


<p>So the next time your imaginary maitre d' (like you don't have
one; c'mon...) offers you a cozy seat with a view of your ThinkPad, just
remember to choose your snacks wisely. If it's on Becky's list, you could be
asking for trouble.</p>

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Do you use Google to conduct "stealth background checks" on job candidates?

by JodyGilbert In reply to ISO Nexus

<p>I just came across an article in BusinessWeek Online that
examines the potential backlash of blogging indiscretions. It cites various
cases where individuals found their reputations compromised by some salacious
personal tidbit that had made its way to the Web--often via their own brash
blog posts. The article, "<a href="http://biz.yahoo.com/bizwk/060317/b3977071.html">You Are What You Post</a>,"
also discusses the highly unsettling trend of employers vetting job candidates (or
investigating current employees) via Google, discovering all sorts of
information that they couldn't legally obtain otherwise:</p>


<p>"Googling people is becoming a way for bosses and
headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no
disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch
as employers can find out all manner of information -- some of it for a nominal
fee -- that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your martial status,
the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average
net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college,
liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your
children."</p>


<p>So here's my question (or questions, rather) to the managers
out there: Have you ever used Google to get an in-depth picture of someone you
were thinking about hiring? And if so, did you come across information that made
a difference in your view of the candidate, either pro or con? Do you have any
qualms about digging into someone's personal or financial background by using
Google to slip under the radar of our privacy protections or do the ends
justify the means? And finally, have you ever Googled your way into a discovery
that made you think, "Whew -- dodged a bullet on this guy!"?</p>


<p>Blog safely, y'all.</p>

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