October 27, 2006

Bulk view

Don’t sell; help people buy

A book I’m reading right now (151 Quick Ideas to Get New Customers, by
Jerry R. Wilson) notes that people hate it when you sell to them, but
love it when you help them buy. That could be why Microsoft’s
evangelists are now called advisors, which makes sense in the
more-about-helping-you kind of way.

I’ve gotten many positive comments about the unofficial title of
“evangelist” that’s in my ~/.signature and my business card. I’m
thinking of changing that, though, to reflect market trends. ;)

I’m not too keen on “advisor” because I’m younger than most people,
but “advocate” might be a fun word to try. There seems to be an
interesting distinction between a technical advocate and a technology
advocate. I feel that a technical advocate is someone who’s on your
side, and a technology advocate is on the technology’s side. Hmm…

Something to think about and test on other people.

Heavy stuff nearer floor = good

I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this earlier. The perfect place
for my heavy suitcases is, of course, *on the floor* instead of on the
top shelf. Granted, the suitcases very neatly fit on the top shelf and
that’s the best way to keep them out of the way, but it was just such
a mission (and a hazard!) getting them up there in the first place.
The sweater organizers I use to keep matching clothes together easily
squish up to accommodate the suitcases under them.

Slowly figuring out how to organize my stuff.

Random Emacs symbol: eval-expression-print-length – Variable: Value for `print-length’ while printing value in `eval-expression’.

Keeping track of the age of messages

I can get pretty bad at responding to e-mail. This is an experiment to
see whether the negative reinforcement of seeing just how old a
message is will help me be more responsive. Either that, or I can
strive for a Mean Time Between Responses of whatever… ;)

Hmm, maybe I should combine this with my blog and start distinguishing
between E-mail to and Reply to…

(defadvice gnus-post-news (around sacha/gnus-track-message-age activate)
  "Insert a header showing how old a message is, to shame me into replying faster."
  ;; Before you post the news, figure out how old it is
  (let (days)
    (when article-buffer
      (setq days
            (- (time-to-days (current-time))
               (time-to-days
                (gnus-date-get-time
                 (mail-header-date
                  (gnus-summary-article-header
                   (gnus-summary-article-number))))))))
    ad-do-it
    (when days
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (when (re-search-forward "--text follows this line--" nil t)
        (forward-line 1)
        (insert "In reply to a message sent by "
                (mail-header-from message-reply-headers)
                " "
                (cond
                 ((= days 0) "today")
                 ((= days 1) "yesterday")
                 (t (format "%d days ago" days)))
                ": \n\n")))))
(setq message-citation-line-function nil)

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Random Emacs symbol: tramp-perl-directory-files-and-attributes – Variable: Perl script implementing `directory-files-attributes’ as Lisp `read’able

Planet Emacsen

http://planet.emacsen.org/ by Edward O’Connor. ‘Nuff said! =D

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Random Emacs symbol: ido-subdir – Face: *Font used by ido for highlighting subdirs in the alternatives.

Livin’ la Vida Emacs

Squee! <bounce, bounce, bounce>

Democamp10: Back at Mars

Last, and certainly not least was Sacha Chua. If we could harness it I’m pretty sure we could power a few small cities of the energy that’s contained in this one, tiny person – especially when you get her talking about Emacs. Sacha’s demo, entitled, “Livin’ la vida Emacs” was hands down the most entertaining of the evening. Sacha has basically taken this simple, extendable text editor and pushed it about as far as it can go – at DemoCamp10 she pulled back the curtain and showed us all her little systems and apps she’s created in it. I like my GUI/Windows so the whole text-based thing isn’t for me but it certainly was interesting to see just how strung out she’s got that machine.

DemoCamp10: Congratulations

DemoCamp 10 was held last night, and three of the five presentations were from U of T. Sana Tapal (now at Jonah Group) and Andrey Petrov led off with the Online Marking tool; Jonathan Lung (who was part of the student team that presented at DemoCamp 5) showed us all how productive PHP procrastination can be; and Sacha Chua tried to convince us that Emacs isn’t actually bad for you. The other two demos were a social networking/quotes site called Quotiki.com, and Broken Tomb, which advertises itself as the world’s first commercial Smalltalk host. There wasn’t any new technology, but the presenters were entertaining, and it was fun to read the stuff that flashed by on the screen during their demo; the Smalltalk demo had a lot of technical and other difficulties.

Demo Camp Toronto 10 : The return to MARS

Sacha Chua showed off what can be done in the scriptable environment, in this case emacs, as she went from Text editor, to a.i. doctor, to game engine to task / email organizer and beyond. Sacha was six feet tall on that stage, even though she did not actual levitate at anytime (although she came close, as always). A Tour de force of the Emacs, a text editing tool built in a interpreted lisp language environment, bascially a personalized productivity platform which allows for massive customization. Sacha had the crowd entertained and enthralled. (Sacha blogged her own impressions and mentions that Emacs was speaking to her!)

What would you do with Sacha Chua?

Within Toronto’s Web community, Sacha Chua has become one of the leading “personalities”. Armed with infectious enthusiasm, charm and smarts, she would be an excellent person to hire once she graduates from UoT. The key question is how best to use her talents. It would probably be as a “super customer service rep, who can come into a bad situation and get everyone happy by the time she leaves. If I was an HR person from Microsoft, IBM,, etc. I’d be knocking on Sacha’s door ASAP.

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Looking for a personal board of advisors

I won’t be going to the Free Software and Open Source Symposium tomorrow because
I’m meeting Stephen Perelgut and a possible mentor for lunch.

I’m really lucky to know people like
Stephen Perelgut, who reminded me in his
e-mail:

And, for the record, you are in a rush. You may not know it yet, but you’re
very ready for a mentor. Just accept that the inner-parent in me “knows”.

I need a mentor. I need more than one mentor, actually. If I’m
thinking of being in Canada for a while, I’ll need a whole new
personal board of advisors. I miss talking to my parents, my
godparents, and other people back home. It’s hard to talk about
everything, though, because so much context is missing. I can’t blog
everything, and it’s hard to explain things over the Internet! I need
people I can talk to here.

I’m growing rapidly, and opportunities unfold everywhere I turn. I
need to make sure that I’m growing sustainably and in the right
direction(s). I have a lot of hats on at the moment, and I’m having a
hard time fully living up to some roles. Here’s what’s on my plate:

  • Graduate student (MIE1402, KMD2004)
  • Researcher (IBM CAS project, University of Toronto)
  • IBM 2.0 evangelist – I could do a whole lot more than I am right now
  • Graduate House Council member – sustainable
  • VP Education, Toastmasters – I don’t do enough to help out with this
  • Daughter, sister – I don’t keep in touch well enough
  • Friend – I don’t keep in touch well enough

And somewhere in there is the networking I also care about and love
doing…

I have a number of goals, too, and I need help figuring out which
goals really matter to me and how I can go about accomplishing them.
My short-term goals are easy to figure out:

  • Finish my schoolwork.
  • Finish my thesis.

But I’m not spending all my waking hours doing these things because
I’m also trying to build a few more things before I need them. An
excellent professional and personal network. A personal brand. Useful
skills.

I remember how my very first roommate finished her project with CAS,
looked up, and found herself without any job offers despite having a
MS from the University of Toronto. I don’t think I’ll be in that
situation, and even if I were, I have confidence in my contingency
plans. (I can do a lot of cool stuff in the Philippines!) So it’s not
that I’m in a rush to do all of these things, to write that
bestselling book, etc. I know there’s time.

I have to admit, though, that it’s *very* hard to resist the urge to
focus on things outside my short-term goals. I feel that I could make
such a difference if I concentrate on, say, IBM 2.0 evangelism: pour
myself into it, devote my energies to it, make it happen. I feel that
the time would be right for such things, too. Thanks to the constant
reminders of my research manager (Hi Julie!) and the occasional
restraining hand placed on my head (Stephen’s figured out how to get
me to stop bouncing, at least temporarily), I do manage to resist it.
Barely.

This is one of the reasons why I really need a board of directors whom
I can tell about opportunities, ask for advice, think things out loud
with, hold myself accountable to…

And I’m surrounded by wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people whom I am
glad to have as part of my life and whom I would love to include in
whatever successes I may have.

Quinn Fung, Dan Howard, and Jed Smith have taught me so much about
love and friendship. I owe them big time.

Stephen Perelgut is practically on my board already, what with all his
help and support. I’m really, really grateful for his help.

Gabriel Mansour has volunteered to be on my board. He’s my crazy-idea
go-to person who can enthuse about my crazy ideas and help me figure
out how to make things happen.

Ian Garmaise has taught me a lot about networking and speaking, and I
look forward to learning more from him.

There are others, but it’s 2 in the morning and I need to sleep at
some point. =) And of course, there’s my extended circle of mentors,
and that could include you reading my blog: thank you for putting up
with my random thoughts and telling me about everything from how to
prepare really good oatmeal to free software evangelism opportunities!

So yeah, I need a board of directors. They don’t have to read my blog
(I write way too much), but I’d like to keep in touch with them
quarterly at least. Probably monthly, as I’m changing so much. I need
that help as I’m growing. I also need to find role models who have
succeeded at the things I want to do, so that I can learn from their
insights…

I’m 23 years old. I haven’t quite figured out life yet. With your help
and theirs, I’m slowly getting there.

E-Mail from Stephen Perelgut

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Random Emacs symbol: ps-mule-plot-composition – Function: Generate PostScript code for plotting composition in the region FROM and TO.

UPDATE: Changed “directors” to “advisors” now that I understand more. =) Dec 10 2009