Took the Nikon D3000 out for it’s first adventure to Furman this evening. Liked what I saw from the first batch of photos, going to be uploading them to Flickr over the next few days, I’m sure. This one was especially cool, just because it’s always fun to capture something that you’ve never seen before, and have to go home and hit Google to see what it is!
With the way the wings fluttered, at first we thought maybe it was a very tiny hummingbird, but after capturing this, we realized there is no way I could have gotten this, especially in low light with a flash, of an actual hummingbird. Luckily the Internet let us know what it was. Technically, we believe this is a White Lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth.
How do you get buy in for technology tools that make legal work more efficient from people who are being “measured” by the number of hours they bill?
This is not a silly question for those of us working in this field. I can sit here all day and talk about the benefits of using technology to get some of these tasks out of the way quicker, so they can spend time on the more interesting aspects of law, but if you’re an associate struggling just to met your billable hour goals, what’s more likely to motivate you? Yeah, something that takes longer!
Which, of course, just goes to show the inherent problem with the billable hour as the measuring stick. Efficiency is punished, not rewarded. As I’ve said many times about helpdesk tickets, you will get what you measure. If you measure the number of tickets, you’ll get closed tickets, but not good support service. If you measure billable hours, you’ll get hours, but not productivity. Plus, if you’re in a firm that is doing more alternative fee arrangements, you will find that efficiency is rewarded on those matters, while also being punished on matters where you bill by the hour.What’s an attorney to do?
Throw on top of the situation the ever-growing demand by clients to be more efficient, and you’ve got a real mess on your hands.
Now, as someone who has always worked at a faster pace than most, I’ve seen where this actually gets punished even outside of a billable hour arrangement. I’m not trying to brag, when faced with a repetitive tasks I’ve always managed to find a groove and get my share of it done faster than others. This, of course, only leads to doing more work than other people, as you typically finish before they do and are asked to pick up the slack. Even outside of a production environment, people who can manage their time well, and keep on top of their workload are often “rewarded” with more work, because they seem less busy than those who don’t manage their time and workload well.
For law firms, however, we can only wish it was a matter of being rewarded with more work to help us show increasing numbers of billable hours. The fact is, in a firm where you are a young associate, paralegal, or even a Lit Support professional who has billable hour goals (for the record I do not..), and maybe aren’t bringing new work to the table yourself, you are at the mercy of others to bring you work, and getting that work completely quickly can be quite detrimental to you if there isn’t more work lined up behind it. How do you convince these folks to not only use the tools, but maybe even allow someone like me to take some of the work so that it can be accomplished more efficiently?
As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ll be one of the presenters in the ILTAU session about Personal Knowledge Management, on Weds. Aug 25 at 9:00AM. In preparation for that, I wanted to throw an idea against the wall here, and see what folks thought.
I actually decided to start our session (actually it’s two sessions, a two-parter if you will) with a hands-on demonstration with Outlook. The reason I’m starting there, is that I believe that people who struggle with managing their email, and don’t understand how to use things like rules to filter out the low-priority items, are going to struggle the same exact way when it comes to using other KM tools. If you don’t understand the how’s and why’s of filtering when it comes to your email, how can we ask you to suddenly grasp those same ideas when you move to things like RSS readers, Twitter, Social Bookmarking, etc?
I find that the biggest reason people give me for either not using those tools, or having given them up once they’ve tried them, is the inability to locate good sources, and then filter them appropriately. RSS feeds, or anything other source, just becomes another pile of information that they don’t have time to look at. There’s no sense of how to filter and prioritize what they are getting.
Typically, I find that these same people have had the same exact struggle with email for years, with no end in sight. Thus, my thought is “Let’s start there.” Let’s dig into where most people in law firms live, in Outlook, and try to help them get an understanding that there is a better way than simply slogging through 100′s of messages in the order they came in. Let’s get them to look at it in other ways, and help get them out from the email pile. Then we can talk about all the other great tools that are out there.
So long as people are looking at the incoming email stream as a one or two-dimensional flow, to be passively consumed and dealt with as it comes in, they will be forever limited when it comes to truly being able to filter, sort, and make sense of the information they are getting. If we can change their view of the one tool that they all use every single day, then we can begin to open up the greater world of social learning and knowledge management to them. We can take that stream of “receive, read, act and reply”, and turn it into a three-dimensional strategy to help prioritize, make sense of, and apply what we are seeing to our own lives.
If we can accomplish that, we will have done something! We’ll see how it goes!
If you’re going to be at ILTA, be sure to look me up and say hello!
I missed this over the weekend, but Dwight Silverman does a good job of breaking down the $100 PC available during the Thanksgiving Shopping spree.
Surprise, surprise, the $100 for a PC really isn’t quite the deal it appears to be. It would be nice if retailers could go the route Dwight suggests, and just make buying a PC as uncomplicated as it can be. It’s already complicated enough for someone without a lot of tech knowledge, why make the shopping experience confusing too?
Has anybody else using Windows Live Writer to post to their blog noticed occasional slowdowns? Like when it’s autosaving a draft, and you’re typing, the program doesn’t keep up with you, and then fills in behind with what you had been typing once it recovers?
For someone like me, who doesn’t type real well, it can be rather disorienting!
I’ve been thinking about a couple of things for awhile now and I feel like I should share with you some of the reasons why I am doing things the way I am.
First, the switch to Flickr from the galleries, that will be taking place bit by bit over the next few weeks or months. One of my main motivations for signing up with Google Analytics was to see what kind of traffic was being generated by the photo gallery and other non-blog areas of the site. I use StatCounter on the blohttp://www.mikemcbrideonline.com/blogger.htmlg, and didn’t want to add that to all the other pages and skew those numbers, and I really wanted to see what Google Analytics had to offer.
I learned that the galleries, themselves, really weren’t getting much attention, or traffic at all. In fact, I really wasn’t seeing much for all the work I was putting in to getting the photos on-line, and as much as I enjoy taking the pictures anyway, sharing them is part of the whole deal for me. So, I decided to make the upgrade to Pro on Flickr and get some more exposure simply by having them available on the service. I’m also looking forward to using some of their tools to really get a feel for what people like, what they’re commenting on, etc. So, keep an eye on the Flickr, you’ll be seeing batches of new photos every few days!
The other things I’ve been thinking about, because I really felt like Mark Cuban nailed the problem exactly last week when he wrote Blog Pimpin:
“It’s all about Big Pimpin for traffic baby. Welcome to trying to make a living in the Blog Game.”
That right there explains exactly how I feel about the idea of putting advertising on my blog. I simply don’t want to be that guy, the guy who’s constantly scouring TechMeme or Scoble’s sites to try and get noticed and get traffic. I want to write about what I want to write about. I want to talk about working in IT, about neat technology, about things I really like, and if you happen to find that interesting and come along for the ride, great. If what I write about doesn’t interest you, good luck finding a blog that does. Now, I’ll devote some time and energy to trying to get new readers, and have more of an audience to use as a resource. Like I said about the photos, sharing is part of the whole deal for me, but having money involved changes everything.
Putting ads up, or doing anything that changes that simple dynamic, just doesn’t interest me. It would change what I write and how I write. I’m honest enough with myself to know that. I would spend what precious little mental energy I have to spare concerned with getting traffic and getting click-through’s, etc. That’s not why I started this, and it doesn’t really interest me right now. It’s simply not a concern I want to add to my life.
This has been a week of problems. Seems like everywhere I turn things aren’t working the way they should, or used to, whether it’s an on-line tool, technology at work, or at home, it’s following me around!
The wireless network card in my laptop is being finicky. I can create an explorer.exe crash in two clicks by trying to change the advanced settings while the card is connected. I tried updating the drivers, which completely wiped all the advanced settings that were stored, but didn’t really solve the problem. It just made me have to remember the encryption passcodes for work and home again.
I’ve noticed lately that Ping-O-matic is being difficult for me as well. I don’t use it that often to ping the various services but every once in awhile I like to let you all know I’ve posted something, but the ping form stops loading after 3-4 results. My assumption is that nothing past those first 3-4 is ever getting pinged, but I don’t really know. Their blog’s last entry is a promise to add Bloglines to the web form from April. I’m starting to wonder if this tool has been semi-abandoned. Anyone know differently?
Lastly, I tried to install the Gmail mobile client to my Blackberry 7730. The install went ok, and I can log in, but I can’t send anything. I get a Java unhandled exception, internal server error, every time I try. Blah! It’s just been that kind of week. Hopefully the weekend will be better, I have some home tech projects I’d like to get done, and I don’t need anymore problems!
Although, truthfully I did get paid in Guinness and made from scratch cookies, but all the work I did on that laptop paid off in an unexpected way today.
I was sitting at the helpdesk early this morning, when our network admin came by with a laptop. It had been one of our pool laptops for a remote office before it got completely hosed by trojans and spyware. He had been working at cleaning it up off and on for a few weeks and had gotten to the point where there was just one trojan left on it, and he was having a hard time getting it cleaned, because the .dll that McAfee was identifying was attached to winlogon.exe. I agreed to take a look at it using some of the tools I still had on my thumb drive.
When I booted the laptop, and McAfee told me I was dealing with Adware.Virtumonde, the same exact bit of crap that I had struggled with on that other laptop, I knew I was only going to need one of those tools. The VundoFix tool. I ran it, let it do it’s thing, rebooted and voila, no more trojan warnings from McAfee.
Took me 15 minutes to do something our network admin had been struggling for weeks with. Tell me that doesn’t make me look good?
I spent a little more time knocked out from the Vicodin this past weekend than I planned to, but I started the process of getting the pictures loaded up on Flickr, so if you’re a visitor to my Flickr page, it’ll keep growing and growing throughout the week and probably into next week as well. Right now the galleries from Philly and Louisville are up there, the rest will be forthcoming, and then I’ll start redirecting my links and updating the 404 for this site to point folks to Flickr for the photos.
Sheesh, that’s a lot of work!
Yes it seems like every time I turn around there’s something new in this space. Today it’s the preconfigured Virtual Hard Disks available from Microsoft.
I wonder, combine this with what I had written about VMWare Converter being able to convert VirtualPC virtual machines on Friends in Tech last week and all the other news around both VMWare and VirtualPC and this is definitely a technology that allows us IT geeks to have a whole lot of fun playing with different Operating Systems and setups. Now if we only had enough time to play!
Looks like I’m going to have some extra time on my hands over some of the next few weekends. I’ll be laid up after my little surgery tomorrow for the rest of the weekend, then my wife will be leaving me home alone for a couple of weekends in the near future, so naturally I’ll be working on some projects.
Now, granted, I’m not taking on any of the projects that require a lot of mental concentration this weekend, I’m afraid the painkillers will keep me from doing that very well, but I do believe I’m going to work on upgrading my Flickr account and begin the process of moving over all the pictures I’ve been hosting here. Nothing against the stuff I’ve been using to host galleries, I just feel like Flickr has reached the point where I want all those features for all my photos. So I’m moving them there.
I also am toying with the idea of creating a free Flickr account for the Friends of the Library site while I’m messing around in there, just as a place to put the extra photos that I don’t have room for in the journal entries. I’ve got some photos for that now, hopefully I’ll continue to get photos to make it worth my efforts.
I’m looking forward to spending some long hours working on some tech projects. It’s been awhile since I had the time or energy for that.
I saw this post on Lifehacker today, which is a great site for finding tools and ideas to simplify your life. It was titled “Automatically Download and Install your Favorite Software”, which got my attention.
They’re talking about InstallPad, a tool that will allow you to set a list of software and will go out download those applications and install them while you go on about your life. This could be very useful in setting up a new machine, or in setting up security apps on a machine you’re cleaning up for someone. For example, I could have had Ad-Aware, AVG, etc. in an InstallPad list, and this tool could have grabbed those and installed them while I watched TV or something equally productive like that. *L*
Anyhow, I think I’m going to grab this and give it a go the next time I’m setting up a new machine or something like that. It could proof helpful!
Speaking of helpful tools, I posted over on the Friends in Tech blog about the Vmware Converter Beta, which also seems like it could be a very exciting tool!
Gee there’s a whole little Firefox extension that changes styles based on website, etc. that I didn’t even know about until I came across this post about adding attachment icons to Gmail on Download Squad. Why didn’t someone tell me about Stylish?
Or did someone tell me and I just forgot?
Either way, I’m enjoying the icons in Gmail, and am looking forward to seeing what other styles are available.
Angela took a break from vacation photos on Flickr to post a few pictures of our Halloween costumes, Elvis and Priscilla. I have to admit, stopping for fast food on the way home after the party in full Elvis outfit was fun. I may just have to take that mask and outfit for our next trip to Vegas. *L*
The photos from the latest vacation adventure are up. I’ve done some reconfiguring in the galleries, so the photos from both trips to Las Vegas are in one gallery, while the Grand Canyon pictures from the previous trip have been moved to their own gallery, and our day trip out to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are in yet another gallery.
As always, Angela does things the easy way and is putting hers up on her Flickr account. My own Flickr account doesn’t get left out completely though, it gets the handful of extraneous odd photos, like Pete Rose signing autographs in Vegas:
It’s the second annual edition of the Server Room of Horrors from Friends in Tech.
I was impressed with last year’s special, but having had the opportunity to record a few lines for this one and see how much hard work goes into putting all of this together, I have a whole new respect for how difficult it is to do a show like this, but also how much fun it is to be part of it, as small as my part was.
See if you can find my voice, and be sure to listen all the way through the credits, m’kay?
It really has. There’s just been so much going on at work, and outside work with doctor visits (nothing serious, no worries), board meetings, website updates, etc. But now we’re off the Vegas for 5 days of forgetting that I even have a job! I’m taking the laptop though, taking lots of photos, and I might even post a thing or two here even something really strikes my fancy, but mostly, we’re going to enjoy the break before we come back to weeks of more packed schedules.
Hope you enjoy your weekend!
It’s one of the areas of working in IT, specifically on the helpdesk, that no one ever prepares you for. They don’t cover it in the tech magazines, they don’t talk about it on tech podcasts, and you don’t hear much about it when you’re training for your career, but at some point, you will have to do it. You will be asked to look into something, and figure out why something doesn’t work, and you’ll discover what it is, and then you’ll have to fix it.
Fixing it will involve taking that information and presenting it to the one person you don’t want to. You will have to go talk to a coworker, one you like and get along with, one who works as hard as anyone you’ve ever known, and you will have to tell them that they made a mistake.
You will have to look someone dead in the eye, who has poured their heart and soul into a project, and tell them they did it wrong.
But then, you get to help them correct the problem, you get to work side by side with them, guiding them to learning how not to make the same mistake again, and if you’re really good, you get to help turn their mistake into a minor problem and a thing of the past, quickly.
That doesn’t suck.
I got an email over the weekend from Jacob Rheuban, one of the founders of a new news aggregation site called Newgie. The site promises to be a smarter news portal and RSS feed directory. From their press release:
Newgie co-founders Jason Windebank (29) and Jacob Rheuban (29) began work on the new product six months ago after recognizing a large gap in the emerging world of Web 2.0 newsreaders. “On one side you have tech oriented websites like Digg and Slashdot that rely exclusively on user-recommendations and are tightly focused around technology topics, and on the other side you have the slew of robotic news aggregators that harvest anything they are instructed to grab, but ignore user input entirely,” said Windebank, “and in the middle of these two extremes you have a hole the size of the Grand Canyon”.
As interesting as it sounds, I don’t think I’m going to have time to really dig into it and do it justice. Anyone else want to? I’ll gladly host your comments on it, either in the comments here, or if you send them to me, I’ll post them to the blog. Or you can always post them on your own blog and I’ll do some linking.
I’m going to be a bit busy, traveling to Vegas at the end of this week, and working on a number of other personal projects, so I’m delegating this one to my readers. How ’bout it?
There’s one less laptop in our pool this week, at least for now. It seems this particular laptop was a victim of a miracle. It was in a padded laptop case, just stuck in a car, and somehow the front of it (all the way across the base) got cracked and the touchpad doesn’t work. It’s truly amazing how that could happen just sitting in the car, isn’t it? But that must be what happened, since it was fine when it got packed up..
Anyway, Dell is sending out a field rep later this week to take a look at it. I hope they can get it working, because the hours I spent doing a full reinstall of Windows on that very laptop a couple of weeks ago seems like such a waste now!
Update: Dell rep had it fixed in 10 minutes. I didn’t even get to see him. Nice.
On the new Google Reader, Jason Clarke says:
“It also solves the biggest knock against Bloglines, which is that clicking on a feed doesn’t immediately mark every post in that feed as read – they’re only marked read as you scroll past them.”
While Steve Matthews, in a post talking about the 5 things he hates about the new Google Reader says:
“I have to manually mark everything I read by scrolling over it. A big waste of time.”
So which is accurate Google Reader users? For the record, I’ve been a Bloglines user for years and have never, ever seen the behavior Jason describes as a Bloglines “knock”. In fact, one of the reasons I chose not to use Google Reader way back when was because, as Steve points out, you can’t click on a category folder and load everything in those feeds and have it all marked read.
I saw this little utility on Lockergnome today and just had to try it out.
It works pretty much as advertised. It automatically filled in the server details for Gmail and Yahoo, but not Hotmail. I could set-up any SMTP server manually though. I could easily right-click any file and use the “backup to email” function to email that document up to the mail server for safe storage, which would be nice for some very important files. Obviously, I couldn’t possible use this tool to replace my external hard drive that backups my thousands of digital photos, but it could be a pretty useful tool.
A couple of things I wasn’t overly impressed with. One, it seemed slow. I test E-mailed a 32kb file and the process of opening the program and sending the email took a good full minute. Secondly, the set-up screen’s text needs updated. The program supports many different email servers but refers specifically to Gmail in the set-up screen. That will confuse some people!
OK, so the first, obvious question, which Mark asked in the comments, and Steven Vore referenced in his blog post, was why go through all this? Why not just reformat the drive and reinstall Windows?
Well the answer to that is multi-faceted.
One, if I had just reformatted I wouldn’t have near the blog fodder that I’ve gotten out of this.
Secondly, you have to remember the background of this laptop. I was asked to clean up the annoyance that Brave Sentry had recently brought about. She has used this laptop with Kazaa and then Limewire for a long time, obviously she had accepted, at least at some level, adware running on the machine. So, while I felt an obligation to clean this machine to the best of my ability, I wasn’t actually asked to lock it down 100% securely. Had I been asked to do that, I would have been much more likely to reformat.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I was dealing with someone who did not have any of the CD’s and the only install key she had was for XP. She did not have one for the Wordperfect Suite, Office XP, and a bunch of other software she had installed. I had a choice. Was it going to be more work trying to find drivers and replacement software than doing my best to get this laptop 95-99% clean? Again, since my main focus was getting this laptop to a point of usability I decided to go with cleaning, rather than screwing up whatever usability this laptop had before this latest infection.
Anyway, it’s always been my belief that when working on someone’s computer, I listen to what they want, and make my decisions based on what they use their computer for. I wouldn’t necessarily have made these same decisions for another person’s or my own PC’s, but I’m not the one who took this laptop home and worked with it every day.
It also underlies the importance of having your software installs and keys available as well as a good backup of your data, so that you can easily wipe an infected drive when necessary, if not a Ghost image of your machine.
In related links:
Ed was kind enough to email me this link to CastleCops, with a bunch of anti-malware tools, while Neil commented that he uses Trojan Hunter, which isn’t free, to combat these really deep-level infections. Thanks for the suggestions guys!