Jan 24 2008

Life is so fragile

Jamie Barrows

Yesterday my sister in law got in a car accident. She was only a few miles from home when her car spun out of control and smashed into a guard rail. Thankfully she came away from it with only a gash in her forehead and a mild concussion. The gash required a trip to the emergency room for some stitches, but that is minimal compared to how bad it could have been.

All of that just reminded me how fragile life is. Every day we get up and take our trains, buses, and cars to work. And each time could be our last time. We get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget how quickly it could all be taken away. I know I don’t think about it until something like this happens.

Jan 10 2008

People are the issue

Jamie Barrows

I’ve been reading a programmers blog called Coding Horror recently. It can get pretty technical in some of it’s articles, so if you aren’t into programming I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are into programming, it really is a great blog and one you should start reading. Despite the programming focus, the latest article I think is one that applies to a lot of different industries. Not just IT based ones. So I thought I would post about it here.

The article is called, No Matter What They Tell You, It’s a People Problem. The gist of the article is that the main reason why software projects fail is a lack of a cohesive team. It’s not the only reason, but it is a big one. And it’s a reason that is hardly ever looked at or considered. No one wants to think that the reason their project isn’t going well, is because they don’t like or can’t get along with their coworkers.

Here is a quick excerpt from the article that I thought was really telling.

“Do you like the company of your teammates on a personal level? Do you respect your teammates professionally? If you were starting at another company, would you invite your coworkers along? Do you have spirited team discussions or knock-down, drag-out, last man standing filibuster team arguments? Are there any people on your team you’d ‘vote off the island’ if you could?”

So who would you vote off the team in your office?

Nov 12 2007

Status Reports

Jamie Barrows

Dilbert Status Report
Sometimes Dilbert hits it right on.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to prepare a status report on a project. And too often that status report is nothing more than a status of the missing status report because I don’t have time to prepare a real status report on the project.

Some weeks it feels like my whole week is spent preparing status reports on the projects I didn’t even accomplish anything on.

Aug 29 2007

Can we dispense with desktop apps?

Jamie Barrows

Yucca Plant

How much of what you do on a computer every day is online? Do you really need many of the desktop apps you have on your Windows, Linux, or Apple computer? Depending on what you use your computer for, you may be able to ditch many of the apps you use for online ones.

ZenHabits, a really excellent blog has an interesting and highly useful post about moving your computer needs and work online. It has a lot of good applications and ideas for doing all your computer work online. I’ve actually been moving a lot of my computer work to web based apps myself for a while. But until I read the article, it was mostly unconscious. I wasn’t really putting an effort into moving online, it was just happening.

The advantages of moving your work online, are significant. No longer are you tied to a specific computer or location. Any computer with an unrestricted Internet connection is theoretically “your computer” since all of your stuff and work is online. And the applications you are using are not OS specific. So you aren’t tied to a specific operating system or platform.

The disadvantage is of course that all your stuff is online. Which is actually the advantage as well. But when you don’t have a connection, you can’t get to any of your stuff. And if the web based app you are using is experiencing downtime, you are out of luck.

In my case, I’m online most of the day. So I think the advantages, at least for me, outweigh the disadvantages. Of course, I’m not able to completely ditch all my desktop applications. I still have to use Visual Studio for my work, and there are a few small applications that do things I haven’t been able to find online substitutes for. But over all, most of the things I use my computer for, can be done online.