Headlines for Saturday:

  1. Setting priorities (314 words)
  2. Happiness evangelist (52 words)
  3. How to make a complete map of every thought you think (68 words)
  4. Notes from Mentors: Technology evangelism (406 words)
  5. Weekly review (392 words)
  6. LEGO (210 words)


Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated.
AC@10:00 Young Drivers co-driver education, 36 Eglinton Ave West, Suite 705A



1. Setting priorities: 00:20

For once, my random Emacs symbol is strangely apropos. There will never be enough time in the day, and it's easier for me to say no to low-value tasks if I have other things to do. Here are my best-value tasks over the next few days:

  • Prepare for the start of my new job by reflecting on what's worked for me before and what hasn't, and figure out what I want. If I can help my manager learn about my strengths and weaknesses, then he'll be able to manage me more effectively.
  • Work on my book. I should be able to complete the Org section if I just sit down and write. The Planner section can follow a similar structure. It pays to complete a rough draft of the chapter as early as possible, because I can get more feedback from beta readers. I need to give myself permission to skip the parts that I _really_ want to include but for which the code needs to be written practically from scratch. My job is to show people interesting hacks, not fill in all the holes or fix all the bugs.
  • Connect with my family and catch up on stuff from last week.
  • Braindump what I learned from my chat with Ian Irving. Plenty of nuggets there, and sharing is the best way of thanking him for his time.
  • Do my weekly review. I feel uncomfortable if I don't have time to reflect and share.
  • Build in some quiet time and some relationship time. I don't want that to get lost in a long list of TODOs clamoring for my attention.

These are my essentials for this weekend. It's like the way you manage money: plan for the important stuff first before you spend on luxuries. =)

Random Emacs symbol: schedule-day-remainder - Variable: The number of seconds remaining today.

2. Happiness evangelist: 08:49

Michael Nielsen pointed me to The Happiness Project, a terrific blog/project by Gretchen Rubin. Last August, Gretchen realized that she wasn't just doing the Happiness Project; she was a happiness evangelist. Isn't that the best title ever? =)

Random Emacs symbol: url-gateway-method - Variable: *The type of gateway support to use.

3. How to make a complete map of every thought you think: 08:53

Michael Nielsen is also responsible for telling me about How to Make a Complete Map of Every Thought you Think, a book about the clarity that comes when you record everything you think. That's way more than I'm doing right now. Fascinating, though! More about this after I read the book. Random Emacs symbol: apropos-sort-by-scores - Variable: *Non-nil means sort matches by scores; best match is shown first.

4. Notes from Mentors: Technology evangelism: 10:37

Here are notes from a conversation I had with Ian Irving on technology evangelism.

Ian Irving had plenty of stories to tell about the time that he was helping companies adopt Lotus Notes. As a technology evangelist, his job was to not only show people how to set up their e-mail infrastructure, but also to help them adjust to the cultural changes facilitated by these technologies. He told me how he would switch to a new, unfamiliar office every week with the mandate to find the key influencers and help them adopt e-mail. He also told me how different companies had different cultures that either helped or hindered this adoption, and had similar problems that motivated the exploration of possible solutions. Although companies believe their business problems to be unique, a consultant with a wide variety of experiences can create much value by seeing patterns.

One of the key things he did as a consultant was to translate the technology into human terms. "I was a talker to suits," Ian explained. Technologists have a tendency to focus on the software or tool, and to try to give as much information as possible. Ian consciously developed the ability to talk to business people who had other priorities and perhaps less technical backgrounds. It was important to realize that they didn't need to know all the technical details, and that overwhelming them with data would be counterproductive. Recognizing his tendency to over-communicate, he adopted the habit of asking people what level of information they needed, and frequently checking if he'd said enough.

His experiences helped me remember that with all the fuss about Web 2.0 and the next generation workplace, it's easy to forget that similar widespread changes have happened before. While e-mail and intranet instant messaging are now entrenched in company culture, they weren't always that way. Stephen Perelgut told me how he once conducted a workshop for people learning how to use Lotus Sametime, IBM's enterprise instant messaging system. Like other technologies such as the telephone, these things were once new and disruptive.

The conversation with Ian Irving helped me learn more about one of my favorite professions. I'm glad he shared those insights with me. And to think that that conversation came about just because I wished him a happy birthday the other day... People are amazingly helpful! =)

Try sitting down for coffee with one of your role models. You'll learn a lot, too!

5. Weekly review: 11:03

I had *awesome* conversations again this week. I greatly enjoyed meeting Jennifer Dodd, Jamie McQuay, and Hartwell Fong at Farcoast last Wednesday. We talked about so much: science outreach, Second Life, quantum computing... Then there's yesterday's conversation with Ian Irving about tech evangelism and consulting. This is amazing stuff. I want more people to enjoy these great conversations! =)

I've been getting ready for my job at IBM, which starts on Monday. I checked the public transit route to 3600 Steeles, and Stephen Perelgut is right: it's not complicated. I'm getting used to wearing grownup clothes, too! ;) Yesterday, W- complimented my pairing of a gray cashmere turtleneck with a gray dress. I'm finding myself drawn to neutral bases (white and gray for the most part, with a bit of black), and I'm now looking for a few accessories to add color and whats-it.

I made more progress on my book. I spent some time learning how to use Org, and feel comfortable enough with it to write the section on planning my day. I think I understand it now. I'm also comfortable with planner-appt, and I'm going to recommend that over the little hack I put together before.

This has also been a great week for exercise. I went to trapeze classes twice thanks to W-'s encouragement, and have successfully been able to hook my knees over the bar or hold my legs extended over my head without assistance. Whee!

My goals for next week are:

  • Finish the raw text for the first chapter in my book.
  • Get on board smoothly: find out my manager's expectations, help him figure out a great way to use and develop me, finish the onboarding paperwork, and set up direct deposit
  • Make it smoothly onto the bar in trapeze classes
  • Attend the Toronto Public Library board meeting to see if I'll make it my primary charity this year
  • Contact the U of T Career Centre; also, see if I can access the contact directory
  • Connect with Mohan and see what I can do to help, or what holes there are in my Web 2.0 network
  • And if there's time, I want to figure out how to blog using Org, too.

On Technorati:

Random Emacs symbol: backward-delete-char - Command: Delete the previous N characters (following if N is negative).

6. LEGO: 22:03

I had a lot of fun at the rtlToronto LEGO contest today. All these grown-ups (and one kid) had built robots that could swing from two ropes suspended from a beam. The banter and the stories were hilarious. Most robots were built around the same concept: motors and gears swung a weight back and forth, similar to the way children swing their legs in order to amplify their motion.

What made it even more fun was that I had suggested the swing challenge to Wayne when he was brainstorming an idea for the LEGO Challenge, so it was great seeing all these people make a crazy idea of mine happen. <grin>

One of the club members told me that when the idea was raised over an rtlToronto dinner, people laughed and said that it was going to be so easy. Then a week before the contest, people started panicking. Trips to the playground, physics tutorials on the Net, and sheer trial and error helped these LEGO fans learn more about pendulums than they did in high school. Just goes to show you that some things that kids can do aren't that easy!

Good stuff.

Random Emacs symbol: term-input-ring-file-name - Variable: *If non-nil, name of the file to read/write input history.


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