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Pimp Your Work

July 27th, 2007

Want your question answered? Ask it last.

My friend Ben Yoskovitz laments a common problem we all have faced dealing with folks via e-mail…not getting a critical question answered:

And that’s frustrating. You can’t keep asking the same question over and over, and presumably you’re asking the question because you really want an answer.

Tip: The last question you ask in an email is the one that will get answered.

People will skim your email, get to the bottom and see a call to action. If you’ve peppered your email with other questions, it’s very likely people will miss them, or won’t bother responding. They will key in on the last question. Source:Simple Email Hack: Get Your Questions Answered : Instigator Blog

 Is it that simple?  Yeah, it is.  People like action items.  And when reading people tend to forget stuff along the way of an e-mail (remember people read 30% slower on screen and with 50% less comprehension-you might also like to know these other quirks in our brains).  By the time you reach the end, yeah a reminder of the question is needed.

I think the same thing works for proposals.  At the end of the document, just summarize the next steps.

Simple tips, but it might save a bunch of “you still haven’t answered the key question that I need to move forward…” e-mails.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 26th, 2007

Vista SP1 delayed for two years!

 This is not the news or rumour I wanted to read this week:

Valleywag reports that “Microsoft has apparently told executives at one of the world’s largest PC makers not to expect a formal release of Windows Vista SP1 — the first major set of upgrades and bug fixes to its Vista operating system — until 2009 at the earliest.” Source: No Vista SP1 Until 2009?

Look I do like Vista.  Okay on a system with only a gig of RAM it does get a tad sluggish, but at this point I don’t switching back to XP will be a fun thing.  However, there are bits in Vista that need to be improved.  Stuff like when using a flashdrive as a ReadyBoost cache, putting a laptop to sleep, and coming back up, there are serious delays.  Molasses in February pales in comparison.  After a few minutes it’s okay, but wow.

So a delay in SP1 is just not welcome news.  Sure putting more RAM into my machine will help a bit, but it doesn’t fix the underlying code issues.  Will this make Vista upgraders like me switch back, regardless of the downtime cost?  Come January it just might.  Heck when I get my laptop back (the AC adapter blew this weekend, so I had to send the whole bugger to Staple for the warranty repair) maybe I’ll be singing a different tune.

Beginning to think, after using multiple machines with XP this week, that maybe it’s worth the switching back cost…

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By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 18th, 2007

Best advice for using your laptop outside

It’s summer, well in the Northern Hemisphere at least, and some of us might be tempted to use our laptops outside occasionally.  Web Worker Daily has a few tips for this and this one is my favourite:

Give up, have a beer, and decide that the summer sun is more important than work. You probably need to stop billing in this case, though. Source: Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive How to Use Your Laptop Outside «

In all seriousness, using a laptop outside is a bit of a pain.  Between power, dirt, and the sun … really I’d take a pass.  Yes I’ve worked outside once and a while, but I’ve found that dealing with all the other stuff isn’t worth it.

Take a break.  Enjoy the sun-without your computer.

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By Tris Hussey -- 4 comments

July 17th, 2007

Make technology suck less-Do your part to save energy

Folks always wonder why the monitors are off in my house (at least asleep).  I do keep CPUs running, but printers are all on power-save mode.  Why?  Because I try to save energy with my tech gadgets.  Lifehacker has easy energy saving tips for tech.

Frankly, not much else needs to be said…just do it.

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By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 16th, 2007

Online storage has come a long way, worth another look

Sometimes you just need to stash a file somewhere.  Somewhere online, where you can get to it on another computer, or share, or back it up.  Lots of reasons.  Storage costs have dropped so much that online storage solutions have been getting better and cheaper.  That and our Net connections faster and faster.  I have 10 megs down and 1 meg up, which believe me makes a huge difference.  The added upload speed has made my WordPress installs go a lot faster.

Regardless, and back to the topic at hand, Frantic Industries has a nice look at five online file storage products:

When it comes to online backup of your data, there’s probably more options than in any other web 2.0 space. However, recently I’ve tried some of these services out and found out that many have become unnecessarily complex, some are ad hells, and some don’t work at all. I’ve gone through this mess and chosen 5 simple online backup services that just work. Source: 5 Simple Ways to Store Your Files Online

I’m taking a good look at the list and seeing which one I’ll try first.

I have used Gmail for a moving a file here and there, but given that my Gmail account is beginning to creep up in the old disk usage department, I don’t think I’ll be doing that often.

You know, though, sometimes a nice little flash drive is easier for “sneaker net”.  Now, if the person is far away…

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 13th, 2007

And it all started with a :)

We all use emoticons in IM and other electronic conversations.  They’ve just become a part of how we express additional feelings.  How did they start?  Who was the first … here’s your answer:

That originated in a conversation posted to a CMU message thread dated September 16, 2020. Fahlman suggested the sequence :-) as a way to designate a post as one with humorous intent, presumably for the humor-impaired. Source: 25 Years Of The Smiley | WebProNews

Go read the whole interview with Prof. ScottFahlman on Yahoo!’s blog.  It’s pretty cool.  We go from text to pictures to pictures that move to pictures that move and make noise.  Ah the advancement of technology ;)

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By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 11th, 2007

Download the beta of CrossLoop early…try the new features early

CrossLoop is a simple and easy remote access and control application that I’ve tried and used before…with great results.  I got an e-mail from them this week letting me know that some new features were on the way.  Profy.com beat me to the punch with a review…

So what’s new in this release? First of all, now you can share a file with another user while sharing your desktop. I have not heard of any service providing free file transfer without any limitations in file size or type (you can even transfer folders via CrossLoop as well). Files are transferred by dragging and dropping a file (or multiple files and folders) onto the CrossLoop dialog box. The only possible problem is that CrossLoop does not scan transferred files for viruses - so you will need to scan them yourself when files are received. 


If you are already willing to try out this new version or you already use CrossLoop but would like to upgrade it you can use this link (user name: xlbeta, password: filetransfer) and share it with your contacts because otherwise those people using older CrossLoop versions will not be able to use the newly introduced features. The link will expire on Friday (5 p.m. PST) so you need to hurry if you want to participate in this limited release.

Source: CrossLoop Further Enhances Screen Sharing and Online Collaboration

Go and grab the release and give it a shot.  I’ve used CrossLoop successfully to help friends with their machines.  Because it is a small download and fast install, you can get going in just a few minutes.  My experience has been about 5 mins between saying “Download CrossLoop..” and help out.

This new version extends the P2P model with file exchange and can now be used for presentations as well.  I’m going to be installing it on a friend’s mother’s new machine.  I have a feeling that I’m going to need it there.

By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

July 9th, 2007

Find open-source alternatives to commercial software

I like using open-source and commercial software.  Sometimes when you’re trying to get someone set up on a new machine and you just have to have something like Photoshop, what are you going to do?  If they are only going to use it once and a while (or just once) why buy it?

There are great alternatives that work very well in both a pinch and for every day stuff.  I like Paint.Net myself for general image editing and creation.  Okay, great, but what about when you don’t know what the options are?  This is where OSalt comes in.  It’s a directory of open-source applications matched with commercial versions.  Looking for a PDF creator, or firewall or VPN?  Just browse the categories, click on the app you’d like an alternative for and there you go!

No, the list isn’t complete.  I’m sure they will take suggestions for new apps to help round things out.  But in a pinch, you might find what you’re looking for.  I certainly found some apps that I might try.

By Tris Hussey -- 0 comments

July 9th, 2007

Make some cool buttons to jazz up your presentations and websites

 There is nothing like nice graphics to make a presentation or website pop.  Sometimes, however, making those graphics is a real challenge.  When I wanted spiffy glassy or 3D buttons I would open Photoshop and start with one of my many plugins and tricks I had learned.  That was then, this is now.  Now I don’t have Photoshop.  So what do I do?  Find online alternative, of course!

This online service let’s you create shiny buttons to look just the way it’s “cool” now. Each part of the button is customizable, including the size, background, all colors and roundness of your unique piece. It’s good to set rendering speed to “zippy” for preview and “wicked slow” for the final rendering. At the end you simply download the result as a zip that includes jpg, png and gif files. When putting the button on a website it looks best along with a hover effect achieved by using CSS. Source: Glassy buttons without touching Photoshop

I made these buttons this morning:



So the purple one would be the standard and flip to green on hover.  If you’re put

ting these into PowerPoint, then you only need one.  If you’re making these for a website, then you’ll use the handy CSS tricks to make it all work.

By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

July 5th, 2007

Pimp your presentations with these tips

For most folks, public speaking is a fate worse than death.  For me, not so much.  I enjoy public speaking.  I didn’t always.  Knees knocking, mouth dry, and voice quivering I ‘d muddle through presentations.  After a while, and a few really good presentations, I just step up, say my thing, and enjoy.  Regardless of what business you’re in, presentations are important, sometimes vital, to your success:

If you are a budding entrepreneur, live presentations are great ways to test your content, build relationships and get to know the needs of your target audience.  You can start very small, with a handful of neighbors in your living room, or if you are more experienced, in a larger setting such as a regional conference.

If it is all new to you, it can be very intimidating.  So here are some tips to help you get a running start Source: Escape from Cubicle Nation: Presentation tips for budding entrepreneurs

Here are Pamela Slim’s tips for good presentations:

  1. Involve your audience in the planning stages
  2. Never forget, it is about them, not you
  3. Create a ritual to get yourself “in the zone” and ease jitters
  4. Create a crisp personal introduction that establishes credibility but doesn’t bore
  5. Amplify your true personality, don’t change it
  6. Keep your message simple 
  7. Arrive early to meet and greet
  8. Ensure your visuals support your talk, not dominate it
  9. Present in a full-body mode
  10. Plan open ended questions at various intervals in your talk
  11. Don’t “vend” your services
  12. End with a call to action

I have a ritual of sorts.  Purple shirt of power.  Quick glance at my notes.  Remind myself that nothing can be as bad as a Masters thesis defense.  Remember, if you were asked to speak they want to hear you.  Even if it’s just a few slides about a project in front of the boss or an auditorium, you’re there to say your piece and people want to hear it.  Relax, enjoy.  Oh and don’t picture the audience in their underwear…I think that’s more distracting than relaxing ;).

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By Tris Hussey -- 1 comment

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