Sunday, March 28, 2010

Android application missed part of my run

As I blogged earlier, I am using the My Tracks application on my Android phone to track my running training.

This Saturday I took a route that I thought would be approximately 10km long so that I would get practice at the distance for a forthcoming race. I was much surprised to see that the track had been measured as only 5.2 km long. When I looked at the associated map, it was clear that the application had simply stopped recording about half way during my run. As far as I remember a call cam etro my phone about this point in the run, I didn't answer the call, but it still seems to have caused the tracking application to halt.

I didn't want to miss out on credit for this long run, so I measured the full length of my run by manually tracing on http://www.runningmap.com/ and then I updated my tracking spreadsheet. My route was 9.83 km which is slightly short of the race route. My time for the run was almost an hour, so I will have to speed up if I am to meet my race target of finnishing under the hour mark.

My training runs have not been as frequent as I would like, but at least I have been doing longer runs and still managing to keep my pace up.

Weekly Report for the week ending 28th of March

Last week I said I would:
  1. Plan a communications meeting for my newly enlarged team (planning started - but it won't happen until week after next)
  2. Help all of my team get PBC goals written up (partly done - mine are agreed, but many of my team have not yet finalised theirs)
  3. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API (Portal plan nearly finalised, but Mashup maker not yet)
  4. Try to get a clear plan on Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better (no real progress)
  5. Help with testing ST 8.5.1 on Linux - particularly Pulse Audio support (done - but ongoing)
  6. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team. (put this action on holdm because bigger issues to be solved)
  7. Continue using Notes as a GTD tracking system (done)
  8. Blog about using BlueTwitSidebar (done)
Next Week I will to the following actions:
  1. Plan a communications meeting for my newly enlarged team (the following week)
  2. Write report on HR investigation
  3. Get get PBC goals agreed for all of my team.
  4. Help make plans for OSS Bar Camp
  5. Finalize the plans for Portal to move to the latest Sametime API and finalise technical direction for Mashup Maker integration
  6. Try to get a clear plan on Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better.
  7. Help with testing ST 8.5.1 on Linux - particularly Pulse Audio support
  8. Set up Sametime 8.5.1 build environment on my PC so that I can learn more about Sametime internals
  9. Write a Q1 review on my blog
  10. Continue using Notes as a GTD tracking system (and write blog post about my experiences)


Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Template Design

I noticed that it was difficult to read my last blog post because the site template I was using too much space for the decorations at the side and allocated a relatively small amount of space for the real content in my blog. Therefore I switched to a simpler template and I used the new Blogger in Draft Template Designer to tweak the column with to give as much space as possible to the actual blog content.

I think it looks much better now. Do you agree?

Using BlueTwitSideBar for microblogging on several platforms simultaneously

Since I am a user of several different microblogging platforms I have tried out several tools that help me manage my interactions on all of the platforms in one place. I recently came across a useful Firefox plugin called BlueTwitSideBar which is very handy because it allows you to manage your status updates from within Firefox. If you are like me you probably have Firefox running pretty much all of the time so using BlueTwitSideBar means I don't need to launch a new tool to read or write a status update. Unfortunately it is only available inside of IBM for now, but this might change in the future.

This plugin is fairly easy to use, but since there is no user guide associated with it I thought I would write up a short description of how to use it. The first thing you need to do after you install it is configure your settings. To do this you will need to select the Firefox menu option Tools\Add-ons.. which will bring up the following dialog showing the list of add-ons that you have installed.



Clicking on the preferences button for BlueTwitSideBar will bring up the following dialog in which you specify  the details of the services that you will be using and the feeds that you would like to appear in your stream of updates. The URLs shown in the screenshot work for the IBM internal services.



After you have installed and configured the plugin you will see a small icon at the bottom right of your Firefox window which shows you whether or not you have BlueTwitStattusBar Alerts enabled or not. If you have alerts enabled then you will get an alert window appearing every time someone sends an update to your stream (which I personally find annoying because the alerts are pretty constant). When you right click on this icon you see a menu to toggle alerts on or off, and you also see an option to open/close the BlueTwit Sidebar.

           

You can see below an example of what the sidebar looks like. The sidebar shows the updates in your various streams and you can also post an update simultaneously to the BlueTwit, Twitter and Lotus Connections Profiles service. You can choose the target platform(s) for each update by simply selecting the check box beside each icon.


 
In the screenshot above I am sending an update to all three services at one. The two most recent updates are both on the Twitter platform - you can tell this because a small Twitter Icon is overlaid on top of the user's icon beside the tweet. The following screenshot shows what a few updates look like on the BlueTwit and Lotus Connections Profile service - I deliberately smudged part of  these screenshots since I cannot assume that the employees are happy to have their status updates seen outside the firewall.




You will see that as well as seeing the updates, you also get a few more options:
  • Retweet: Clickingon this button will simply copy the text of the update with the "RT @user" prefix into your status update box. You will get an option to manually edit the text before posting it (potentially to services other than the one the update was originally posted to).
  • Follow/Invite: Updates on the Twitter and BlueTwit services have a Follow button which can be used to add the user in question to your following list. If the author of the status update is already in your following list, the button changes to become an Unfollow button. The Lotus Connections Profile service does not allow people to follow anyone they want, instead their model is that you must invite people to your network and they must accept this invitation. Therefore the updates to the Lotus Connections Profile service have an Invite button in place of the Follow button.
  • Reply:Updates on the Twitter and BlueTwit services have a Reply button which can be used to compose a reply to this update i.e. it places @user at the start of a status update in your own update stream. The Lotus Connections Profile service handles replies slightly differently from the Twitter and BlueTwit services. Unfortunately BlueTwitSidebar does not (yet) implement a reply service for this platform.
  • Translate: Clicking on this button will invoke a machine translation engine to translate the text of the status update into your preferred language (in my case English). I don't know much about this, but it seems to work quite well for me. It translated a few  tweets from my Japanese colleagues, but since I don't speak Japanese I can't comment on the quality of the translation.

What do I think of BlueTwitSidebar
  • In general I think it is a very useful tool for keeping up with the different microblogging platforms I use.
  • I think that using a Firefox plugin is very handy for reading status updates, partly because Firefox is an application that I typically have already running when I decide to check status updates from my neotwork. It is also handy that when you click on links in status updates it does not need to launch a different tool to display the link contents.
  • One minor issue is that fact that ReTweets containing "@user" references can be confusing when the appear in another platform can be confusing. For example, if I posted something to BlueTwit and you decided to ReTweet it to Twitter, you would not be able to use the @bodu1291 as a link to my tweets, because my user ID on Twitter is @bodonovan.
  • Unfortunately BlueTwitSidebar does not allow you to use multiple instances of the same type of service. For example, if I use it to manage my interaction on the IBM Internal deployment of Lotus Connections Profiles, I can't also use it with the BleedYellos service.
  • The bottom line is that BlueTwitSidebar will be my tool of choice for now (but I am fickle and so this might change again if I can find anything better)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smart Signs (NOT)

Irish property developers love to put up signs helping people to find the developments that they have just built. This is a picture I took recently which is an example of how useless these signs can be. At first glance, it looks like a very useful sign telling people that they should turn left if they want to get to Tyrellstown, go straight ahead if they wish to visit the Park Plaza Hotel and turn right if they wish to play golf at the Hollystown Golf Club. However, if you were actually on the ground at the place where the sign is located you would be very confused because it is situated at the side of a straight stretch of road where there is no option for drivers except to go straight ahead.

The Lat/Long coordinates of the sign are 53.4142/-6.3867. The Yahoo maps service have up to date maps of the location and the following screeenshot of their map of the sign location illustrate how the sign is not at any junction.


To get a clue to the as to why this sign was put there, you should visit the Google maps service which has slightly out of date maps. If you look at their map you can see that at some stage in the (presumably not too distant) past there was a junction which was removed when the roundabout was constructed immediately to the south of it.

It is a pity that the people responsible for eliminating the junction didn't also go to the trouble of either removing the sign or else adjusting it so that it gave some useful guidance to drivers. In case you are wondering:
  • Straight ahead (North) will still bring you to the Park Plaza Hotel
  • The Tyrellstown estate is to the left of the sign as the crow flies. But unless you are willing to climb over a fence you will have to access it via one of the new roundabouts to the North or South of the sign
  • Straight ahead (North) will bring you to the Hollystown Golf Club.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Weekly Report for the week ending 21st of March

Last week I said I would:
  1. Meet with the remaining people affected by the org changes (almost done - met with all but 1 of my new direct reports)
  2. Plan a communications meeting for my newly enlarged team (not done yet)
  3. Help present to a visiting executive who is starting a new project in the Dublin lab (done)
  4. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API (Not done. The technical direction and who will do the work has been clarified, but still not clear on when the work will be done)
  5. Continue high level discussions with Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better. (meeting held - but no plan yet)
  6. Help with testing ST 8.5.1 on Linux - particularly Pulse Audio support (done - but have not yet got a stable enough build to roll out to a wider Beta)
  7. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team. (discussion held - but no decision yet on future plans)
  8. Blog about my experiences of using Remember the Milk  and then switch back to using Notes ToDos with following the advice from David Allen's guide(done)
In addition I did the following thinks not on my list:
  1. Created PBC goals and shared them via IBM internal blog.
  2. Started using BlueTwitSidebar (which is only available inside IBM) - I will write up my experiences soon
Next Week I will to the following actions:
  1. Plan a communications meeting for my newly enlarged team
  2. Help all of my team get PBC goals written up.
  3. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API.
  4. Try to get a clear plan on Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better.
  5. Help with testing ST 8.5.1 on Linux - particularly Pulse Audio support
  6. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team. (discussion held - but no decision yet on future plans)
  7. Continue using Notes as a GTD tracking system (but will wait a further week before blogging about experience)
  8. Blog about using BlueTwitSidebar


Thursday, March 18, 2010

IBM Dublin Hosting OSS Bar Camp on 17th of April

The OSS Bar Camp is a series of informal unconferences on the topic of Open Source Software which Laura Czajkowski organises. It is very informal, but normally great fun. IBM has offered to host the next event at their city centre offices on Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge.

I am expecting/hoping that IBM will also support the event by having IBM employees speaking about some of the projects we are doing that involve open source.

Everyone is welcome to come along and although attendance is free, people must register for a ticket here to give us an idea how many people to exepct. I am glad to see that over 25 people have registered already.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Evaluation of Remember The Milk as a System for tracking tasks in a GTD way

As part of my quest to find the best GTD task tracking system I have been using Remember the Milk (RTM for short) for the last two weeks. In summary this web site is very straight forward and easy to use. I found that it was less complex than ToodleDo. RTM seems to have fewer possible options and this allows the interface to me much cleaner and less cluttered.

The associated Android application for the phone was also very slick and easy to learn. Unfortunately this is only available to people who have subscribed to the Pro version of the RTM service, but the 2 week free trial for the Pro service allowed me to use it during the evaluation without having to pay anything.

The one limiting factor with RTM for me was that I could not get my RTM tasks to show up on either my Google or Notes calendars. The web site gives the URLs for the webcal and ICS feeds, but neither of these seemed to work for me despite several attempts. I think this would stop me from adopting RTM full time.

For the next two weeks I will try using plain old  Lotus Notes with the additional guidance from David Allen's guide to how to implement GTD with Notes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekly review for the week ending 14th of March 2010

Last week I said I would:
  1. Announce changed responsibilities and hold meetings with people that will be reporting to me in the new structure. (new org structure announced, I had meetings with some of the people affected, will have more next week)
  2. Deliver ISKS talk at the University of Limerick. (done)
  3. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API. (still not finalised)
  4. Start high level discussions with Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better. (meeting held but discussion could not be completed in tie available - another scheduled for next week)
  5. Work with the Open Client teal to build new CF1 SUT kit for Linux users within IBM (done - expect new kit will be released within a few days)
  6. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team. (discussion held - but no decision yet on future plans)
  7. Continue to use Remember the Milk to evaluate its ease of use - I will need more time using it to make a proper evaluation before I write up my assessment
  8. Micro-blogging on multiple platforms (nothing done this week)
    • Debug problems with WildFire 1.3.
    • If I get above item done - persuade them to implement a pluggable interface for additional services so that we can add support for IBM internal services
    • Evaluate Bluto and write up on my blog
Next Week I will to the following actions:
  1. Meet with the remaining people affected by the org changes
  2. Plan a communications meeting for my newly enlarged team
  3. Help present to a visiting executive who is starting a new project in the Dublin lab
  4. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API.
  5. Continue high level discussions with Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better.
  6. Help with testing ST 8.5.1 on Linux - particularly Pulse Audio support
  7. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team. (discussion held - but no decision yet on future plans)
  8. Blog about my experiences of using Remember the Milk  and then switch back to using Notes ToDos with following the advice from David Allen's guide
  9. I will postpone all work with Wildfire (realistically I don't have time to make progress)


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Running Practice

I like to occasionally go jogging to keep fit, and as you can see from my running pictures on Flickr, I also like to occasionally enter for road races. I am currently just starting to train for the Great ireland Run which will be held in the Phoenix Park on Sunday 18 April.

I recently upgraded my phone to a HTC Hero and since this is an Android based phone I have been having great fun trying out the numerous applications that are available for this platform. One cool application that I have begun to experiment with is My Tracks from Google. If I turn this application on when I am running it will automatically keep a track of exactly where I am running and plot it on a map. At the end of each run I am given the option of uploading the track to Google where it will automatically be registered in a personal training diary.

By default the training diary is private, but I have no reason not to share my training data with the public so if you want to see where I have been running, just click here and you will see an automatically generated spreadsheet showing details of each training run I go on. It includes details of how long I ran and how fast, it even includes a link that you can use to see my exact route tracked on a google map.

I don't always remember to use the application and so it under estimates my running totals, but I think I will start using it in earnest as I begin to train for the upcoming race and then I will be able to see how much I am improving (if I improve that is).

Weekly review for the week ending 7th of March 2010


Last week I said I would:
  1. Announce changed responsibilities (some of the people affected by the organization change have been informed, but the formal announcement won't be done until next week when my boss returns from vacation)
  2. Prepare talk for ISKS talk at the University of Limerick (done - I will publish a set of slides on my blog before Tuesday, I believe that the talk will be recorded so everyone will be able to hear what I say even if they don't come along to heckle support me)
  3. Hold more meetings with product teams using Sametime APIs to see how we can help them update to the latest features (done - but this will be ongoing so I need to set a more specific goal for next week)
  4. Build new SUT kit for Ubuntu users within IBM to bring them up to the CF1 code level (I worked on this, but ran into problems. On second thoughts I might need to enlist the help of the Open Client team to get this done)
  5. Update the Sametime Linux kit build process to address the issues raised by the Open Client team (had meetings to discuss the various options but no clear decision on technical direction yet)
  6. GTD Tool selection project
  7. Micro-blogging on multiple platforms
    • Tryout WildFire 1.3. (done - but it is not working for me - I will need to debug)
    • Persuade them to implement a pluggable interface for new services so that we can add support for IBM internal services
    • Evaluate Bluto and write up on my blog (not done yet)


Next Week I will to the following actions:
  1. Announce changed responsibilities (probably via the lab all hands meeting scheduled for Thursday) and hold meetings with people that will be reporting to me in the new structure.
  2. Deliver ISKS talk at the University of Limerick.
  3. Finalize the plans for Portal and Mashup Maker to move to the latest Sametime API.
  4. Start high level discussions with Lotus Connections about how the two products can work together better.
  5. Work with the Open Client teal to build new CF1 SUT kit for Linux users within IBM
  6. Discuss with Sametime team the possibility of changing the Sametime Linux kit build process and install process to match what has been requested by the Open Client team.
  7. Continue to use Remember the Milk to evaluate its ease of use - I will need more time using it to make a proper evaluation before I write up my assessment
  8. Micro-blogging on multiple platforms
    • Debug problems with WildFire 1.3.
    • If I get above item done - persuade them to implement a pluggable interface for additional services so that we can add support for IBM internal services
    • Evaluate Bluto and write up on my blog

Friday, March 5, 2010

My talk in University of Limerick next Tuesday

Next Tuesday (9th of March) at 4pm in the University of Limerick I will be giving a talk on the topic "Confronting the Crisis: Can Technology Save Us?" as part of the series of conversations hosted by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS).

The instructions I received from the organizers were that this should not be a prepared lecture, but should instead be more in the style of an informal conversation between the invited speakers (myself and Prof Liam Bannon) and the audience. I received quite a few suggestions in response to my earlier blog post looking for ideas about what I should say (although most of the people with suggestions were too shy to post public comments). I will now need to create a set of slides to accompany my 20 minute opening address. The slides won't be a series of bullet points that I read, but here are the  bullet points I supplied to the organizers to summarize the main points I will be making.
  • One of the main gains from the Celtic tiger years is the fact that Irish people have the self confidence to start their own business rather than look for a safe job.
  • Maslov's hierarchy of needs applies to nations as well as individuals, because the nations needs change as the nation develops. Hence our goals should be different from those of our parents.
  • Technology will play a vital part in our future. However, the people who will benefit most from new technologies are not its inventors, but the people who understand the best way to use it.
  • The open source movement and the arrival of web 2.0 has taught the IT industry that radically different business models are possible. If other industries learned these lessons we could improve lives in ways that are much more powerful than either socialism or unfettered capitalism.
Anyone who is in the Limerick area next Tuesday is more than welcome to come along and join in the conversation. The talk is scheduled for 4-6pm and will be held in the East Room of Plassey House.

Why I chose not to use the "GTD for Lotus Notes" tool

If you have been reading this blog, you will know that I have been experimenting with different ways to implement the GTD methodology in a way that best fits my personal preferences and needs. Thanks to some helpful comments from readers I found out that there is a community inside IBM that is focused on helping people implement GTD best practices. Since the members of this community are all working inside IBM, I find that their advice and best practices are very relevant to my situation. One tool that seems to be highly recommended by IBMers is GTD for Lotus Notes which was developed by Brett Philp and is available for use by IBM staff only. I tried out this tool briefly, but after a short assesment I decided not to use it for real task management. This is not because I don't doubt that this is an excellent tool, but because I don't think that using it will give me any advantage.

When you install Brett's tool, it will create a new database for you to use for storing your task information. This database has several excellent views that allow you to manage your tasks in much the same way that you could with RTM or Toodledo. However, moving my task information into a database other than my email database causes me two problems:
  • It is no longer possible for me to drag an drop emails onto my ToDo list like I can do with the latest version of the Notes email template (requires Notes 8.5.1 or later). I know that several people have described you to create a SmartIcon which will copy an email into Brett's database with a single click, but I could probably create a similar SmartIcon to copy details from the email to RTM or Toodledo so I lose the benefit of sticking within Lotus Notes.
  • My Notes email is hosted on a clustered server so I am confident that I can gain access to it at anytime and I am re-assured that regular backups are being done. This would not be the case with the database created by Brett's tool where I would need to back it up myself and I would not be able to access it from different computers unless I set-up a server to hist it myself.
Through the IBM GTD community I also found a pointer to a publication from David Allen Company which advises people on how Lotus Notes users can best  implement GTD practices. I purchased this guide (for US$10) and it seems to provide excellent advice. The only complaint I have about it is that the document is based upon Notes 6.5. with a short addendum on Notes 8. This means that it does not mention some of the newest features of Notes such as the drag-and-drop support or follow-up-flags. It is easy to use drag and drop once you know the feature exists, but follow-up-flags are more complex. I suspect that they can be very useful, but I would appreciate some advice on how to best use them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Proposed talk at the Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS) in University of Limerick

I have been invited to give a talk at the  Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS) in the University of Limerick on Tuesday March 9th as part of the series of talks entitled "Confronting the Crisis". The topic I have been asked to speak about is "Can technloogy help solve the current crisis?". This blog post is an attempt to outline what I will speak about and to solicit feedback in advance from my colleagues.

Initially was very unsure about whether or not to accept this invitation, because the subject matter is not really within my core expertise. In addition, when I listened to the recordings of the previous sessions I realized that the speakers were mainly eminent professors whose talks were littered with phrases like "as I said my latest book" -as a result I was worried that I might not be able to do myself proud. However, after reflection I decided that I have opinions to express and it would be silly to waste this chance to have them heard. I hope that with the assistance of my peers I will be able to come up with an interesting an thought provoking talk.

The topics that I intend to cover are:
  • Ireland's historical context:
    • Legacy of colonialism and the lingering inferiority complex
    • Desire for a safe job as distinct from a fulfilling career.
    • The obsession with ownership of physical assets
  • The international context
    • The ongoing debate between socialist and free-market philosophies. 
    • How the cold war experience led us to believe we needed to choose Boston or Berlin
    • How the tendency for economists to put numbers on all measurements of value can lead us to confuse value and money
    • How services are becoming much more important than manufacturing or other physical production
  • Developments in the Information Technology sphere which have wider impacts
    • How open source has moved from "social good" to a hard nosed business strategy
    • How the internet and the world-wide-web have disrupted business models:
      • New business models based upon giving stuff away free
      • Possible to outsource smaller chunks of work
      • Economy of reputation
    • How web 2.0 style collaboration is changing the nature of large multi national enterprises
    • Information technology becoming more ubiquitous
      • A flood of data from sensors makes a Smarter Planet possible.
      • A radical change in what we think of as computing devices
      • Free access to the internet is being equated to free speech
I will reference the following sources (I may need to refresh my memory by re-reading some of them):
Are there any additional topics that I ought to cover or additional references that I should read before finalising my talk? Any comments or feedback would be much appreciated.