October 23, 2007

Practice evangelist

October 23, 2007 - Categories: work

I joined Aaron Kim and Bernie Michalik’s team in IBM last week, and I
*love* what I’m doing. It’s such a terrific fit with what I’m
interested in and what I want to get really good at. I’m helping
people discover the benefits they could get out of emerging
technologies, and I’m looking for good practices we can share with
other people. And it’s amazing just smoothly sliding into the role,
with my network already in place… =) Happy happy happy.

It’s a little bit scary sometimes, too, this being a little bit
famous. I dropped into a Lotus Connections workshop earlier because I
was curious about who might be there. I liked the story Kathryn
Everest told about how she came to appreciate Dogear, and I wished I
could explain things as clearly as she did. <laugh> Then she
went on to say that in organizations, there are usually people who are
avid whatever-ers, people who bookmark thousands of sites and whose
bookmarks are useful. And then she cited me! That makes me feel warm
and fuzzy. And it challenges me a lot, too. There are many
opportunities just waiting for us to step up to them. That’s the scary
part, but it’s also the fun part.

So here’s what I want to get *really* good at:

I want to find or make good practices, and I want to spread them to
the people who can make the most of them.

I love sharing cool tips that solve people’s problems or help them
imagine other things they can do. I can find cool tips by coming up
with them on my own, but the best and most fun way for me to do this
is to catch other people doing good stuff. I can bring out their
experiences with my questions, write about and spread their advice,
and bring them other ideas as well.

I can spread good practices through articles, tutorials, podcasts, and
presentations. I want to know my audiences well, and to be able to
customize this content to address their particular concerns.

I want to do this for both internal and external people. For external
clients, I can bring the good practices we’ve found within our company
and at other companies, and I can help them adopt the ones that make
sense for their organization.

Hey, that’s interesting… Maybe I’m not a technology evangelist. I’m
a practice evangelist! (Gotta find a better way to describe that.)

Random Emacs symbol: display-time-mode – Command: Toggle display of time, load level, and mail flag in mode lines. – Variable: Non-nil if Display-Time mode is enabled.

Why Emacs

October 23, 2007 - Categories: emacs

Now that I’ve joined the wonderful world of the office workplace, I
find myself missing my Emacs-based life.

I miss using Emacs to manage my day. There’s something about being
able to open a text file and type in a line to create an appointment.
It’s clean and it’s simple.

Hmm. Maybe I’ll bcc myself on event invitations and I’ll just parse
that into my calendar. Maybe I’ll install Emacs on my work computer
and figure out how other people are doing their synchronization.
(Maybe I’ll write an Emacs interface for Activities! Well, that
would be the day… ;) )

Why do I like managing my schedule in a *text editor*, when there are
perfectly good groupware clients out there?

First, I really love the keyboard-friendly interface of Emacs. Don’t
get me wrong: C-x C-c is hard to type even on my keyboard, and
keyboard combinations involving Ctrl *and* Meta at the same time are
Not Fun. But it’s easy to define new keyboard shortcuts, and the
commands themselves don’t require any mouse movements. There are no
complicated fields I need to TAB through. Everything can be done
practically without looking. This is good for me.

Second, I like the customizability of it. If I invested some time
figuring out how to extend Lotus Notes 8 and I put up with the
edit/compile/run cycle, I might be able to get the kind of custom task
sorting and schedule highlighting that I have in my Emacs. Here’s what
tweaking looks like under Emacs:

  1. Get an idea. “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”
  2. Use C-h a (apropos) or C-h k (describe-key) or C-h f (describe-function) to get to some function that does something similar to what I want to do.
  3. If the change is easily encapsulated, write some function advice in a scratch buffer. If the change requires more complicated hacking, copy the function into a scratch buffer and start playing with it.
  4. Evaluate the new function. Try it out. If it doesn’t do what I want, use edebug to find out why. Build up from small changes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Fun stuff.

Random Emacs symbol: muse-colors – Group: Options controlling the
behavior of Emacs Muse highlighting.