A love letter to Stitcher

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Stitcher is a service that allows you to “Listen to over 40,000+ radio shows and podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, Android or PC -anytime, anywhere”. I discovered Stitcher about two week ago, and I feel in love with it immediately. Then a problem struck and Stitcher was gone for several days.

Below is a letter that describes my feelings

Dear Stitcher

Even though it was only been a short time, I’m so glad that you came into my life. You and I seem to be such  great fit. You completed me.

Every evening we would go walking together. I would listen intently as you told me stories of the world. You educated me, and introduced me to people who had their own interesting stories. Because of you, I became a new person. A person that I liked.

I loved that we always traveled together, and that you were always there for me. You knew exactly what I needed. Sometimes I needed to know what was happening n the world. Sometimes I needed advice and inspiration. And sometimes, I just needed to relax. Whatever it was, you always came through. And I loved you dearly for it.

And then, Stitcher, you were gone… You didn’t tell me that you were going, or why. I wasn’t even sure if, or when you were coming back. I felt pain. I felt loneliness. I felt lost. Oh, why did you go? Were you OK? Were you hurt? Or was there another reason that you left? I searched for answers, but there were only hints and rumors.

Dear Stitcher – you were the world to me. I didn’t know how I was going to handle this “emptiness” that I was now experiencing.

But you know what happened, Stitcher? After a short period of feeling sad, and sorry for myself, I started looking for something else that could fill that space that you left. It wasn’t easy. You were perfect. All the others failed in comparison. But I needed something that would educate, and entertain me the way you did. And I found it. It wasn’t able to give me that warm feeling that I got when I was with you, but it was able to help me from feeling so lonely.

Stitcher, I have heard from friends that they have seen you around, and that you seem to be doing OK. And I’m really happy for you.

I’m not, however, sure if I’m ready to let you back into my life. It still hurts too much.  This might change over time. I might be able to love you again, as I once did. You will always have a place in my heart, but let me go through this process. Time has a way of healing everything, and I truly hope that we will be together again one day.

With All the Love in my Heart

– Mark

 

 

 

MarkJOwen predictions for 2016

ogRib

What follows is a small selection of my predictions for this year…

  • There will be change

In 2016 expect things to change. This won’t happen for everything, but for the things that do change…expect it.

  • Some things will become less popular

This year there is a very good chance that some things will become less popular. You’ll see a movement of the crowd away from these things and there will be less conversation about them in the various channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

  • There will be growth

A lot of movement is expected this year. Growth will be observed in many different areas (with some surprises).

  • Expenses will continue

Something that will most likely affect big companies, small companies, and individual consumers alike. Expenses will continue to occur, with no sign of a turn-down in this area.

  • Discoveries

At some point in the year, something will be discovered. The item discovered, or the person making the discovery, might, or might not, be publicly announced.

Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ

(Please note: these predictions might, or might not, be accurate. No responsibility will be  taken for any consequences that arise from using these predictions as a foundation for planning one’s future, life, finances, weddings, conception or education.)

“Work-life balance” is so wrong!

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When I hear someone talk about “work-life balance“, I fight back the urge to push the person to the ground and slap them over and over, while screaming, in a high-pitched, maniacal, way “Shut up, shut up, you silly person!”

The reason I get this urge is because the whole “Work-life” balance thing is a load of crock. It works on the idea that “Work” and “Life” are two separate things.

Well, my friend…they are not. “Work” is part of “Life“. You cannot separate them. It’s not as if you stop living when you go to work. It might feel like it to some, but, whether you like it or not, you are STILL living.

Andy Clark describes it well in his video on YouTube. It’s well worth a look. He points out exactly what I stated above – that “work” and “life” are NOT separate things. And, in the comments, was this …

Just the fact that the expression puts “WORK” first says it all.

Writing Functional Requirements for the Paper-clip

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David Ordal mused, back in 2008, about what would be necessary to write the functional requirements for the humble paper-clip.

He feels that it should be an easy task, and promotes the idea of “keeping it simple”. The less detail there was the more creative the developers could be.

While I find the idea of writing functional requirements for a paper-clip amusingly fascinating, it’s interesting to take a look at the “short-form’ requirements for this “paper binding device”. Is it really enough? Or is what David describes an “agile” way of looking at it?

Go read David’s article now, and then come back and tell me what you think. The comments at the bottom of his post are also rewarding to read.

Downtime messages – When “making it personal” makes it personal

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NZPost has a tracking facility (as most postal services do). One of their offerings with this tracking service is to send automated tweet notifications from a Twitterbot when the status of a tracked item changes. Pretty cool, definitely handy. 

To set this up requires “following” @nzposttracking. You are automatically followed back and send you a direct message when the status changes.

On the Twitter homepage I got to read some of the public tweets that this account has been sending out…

NZPostTracking_tweets

These “friendly” tweets that were sent out, for “routine maintenance“, made me smile.

 

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5 MarkJOwen Predictions for 2015

 

predictions_2015

What follows is a small selection of my predictions for this year…

  • There will be change

In 2015 expect things to change. This won’t happen for everything, but for the things that do change…expect it.

  • Some things will become less popular

This year there is a very good chance that some things will become less popular. You’ll see a movement of the crowd away from these things and there will be less conversation about them in the various channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

  • There will be growth

A lot of movement is expected this year. Growth will be observed in many different areas (with some surprises).

  • Expenses will continue

Something that will most likely affect big companies, small companies, and individual consumers alike. Expenses will continue to occur, with no sign of a turn-down in this area.

  • Discoveries

At some point in the year, something will be discovered. The item discovered, or the person making the discovery, might, or might not, be publicly announced.

Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ    Φ

(Please note: these predictions might, or might not, be accurate. No responsibility will be  taken for any consequences that arise from using these predictions as a foundation for planning one’s future, life, finances, weddings, conception or education.)

 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The best no-bullshit “Rules of Networking”

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The question was asked, on Quora,  “How do I get better at networking?

There were 38 answers. The response that got the most upvotes, was the one by Zach Freedman. Someone who tells it like it is. His response was certainly different from the other responses, and garnered the most comments (and, as mentioned, upvotes)…

  1. Networking is bullshit. You don’t “network”, you meet people. Get out of the results-oriented mindset and enjoy the conversations. Be a goddamn human about it. Put down your phone, because…
  2. Comfort zones are bullshit. The only network worth having is one that has a diverse group. Wide and shallow is the name of the game. With a wide network, you have more interesting conversations, more options for solving problems, and more ears on the ground to spot trends. Grow some balls, leave your silo, and make friends with people who are utterly unlike you. Twitter and Facebook shield you, which is why…
  3. Social media is bullshit. Talk to people in the real world. A lot. Expand your options using meetups, clubs, mixers, and getting friends to drag you along to their social stuff. Try and talk to everyone at the event. Ignore your business cards, because…
    Business cards are bullshit. There’s exactly one reason to use a card – you take their card because you want to follow up on something they said. They like old Benzes and you have a friend who collects them? Ask for their card, write “Connect w Jeff re Benzes” on the front, pocket the card, and follow up with it. Don’t give out your card unless asked, because…
  4. “Let’s talk later” is bullshit. They’ll never follow up with you. The ball is firmly in your court. If the conversation went well, call them back within two days, link them with what you wrote down, and check in every two weeks or so. Two weeks?! Yes, because…
  5. You never stop selling. You never stop shipping. Your life is vibrant, fascinating, and fast-moving. Every week, you have new people to connect and new developments to tell others about. And you do so.

Your regular contact builds friends. Your excitement makes them want to listen. Your activity spreads the word that you get things done.

Conversations aren’t “How are you doing? Fine, how are you?” They’re real, visceral, and worthwhile. Most importantly, you’re actually helping people, and that’s why you start networking in the first place.

 You can read the original in Quora here.

A insightful observation on communicating with technology, or “What’s better than texting”?

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Text-speak came into existence in December 1992.  It was a quick way of typing SMS messages on mobile phones, back in the days when it was slow and laborious, having to bash away at the keypad with your thumbs.

Thanks to more modern phones, texting has been on the decline. There are, however, still people who use it. Even adults! They claim that it’s quick to type. That may be true, but it takes longer to read it….

An adult I know insists on sending out cryptic messages using Viber, an instant messaging/VoIP app. I often have trouble translating these. And they annoy me – effectively, the responsibility is upon me to work out what the message is about. It should be that the responsibility is on the sender to make sure that their message is clear.

After partaking in a transfers of messages with this person (in which I pointed out that txt-speak is very dated), the person sent me a voice message that I actually had to listen to. Her message was…

As I see it, technology has moved forward so much that we can now actually talk with each other.”

I smiled.

Simple advice – How to Make Ugly Slides Beautiful

This slidedeck presents some fantastic tips on turning slides from dull to wow. I really like this one.

Collection of interesting infographics for those touring the world


In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, here’s a collection of interesting infographics that accorhotel.com has made about the following popular travel destinations:

Continue reading

Is Agile a Cult?

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Agile: a set of software development methodology principles in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

Agile software development is very popular at the moment. It offers a responsive way of developing, and companies are adopting it at a rapid rate.

I’m not going to talk about the benefits of agile – a simple Google search will tell you more than you need to know.

What I do want to touch upon is a comment that someone made to me –Agile is too much like a cult“.

So, let’s have a look … is Agile a cult?

Continue reading

Now this is the right way to do it – webinar times in a big world

Kudos to ProjectTimes.

The Internet is a global thing. This means that anything that you publish on it could be read by pretty much anyone in the world. As a result, it is incredibly valuable to offer times, dates, et cetera, in a way that can be easily “localised’.

Project Times promoted a webinar, and were good enough, with the time, to add the offset to GMT. This meant that I could easily calculate what that time was in my time zone. (Rather than having to try and google a translation.)

webinar instructions

My only grumble with this, is that UTC should be used rather than GMT.
However they are both aligned so it’s not that bad.

Look Down

In a recent post (“Is being Socially Connected online really that damaging?“), I discussed a response to a video on YouTube that preached the sadness of the way people are constantly online.

I’ve just discovered another response to “Look Up”. This one is called “Look Down“.

And here’s the link to another good one:

 

Journalism with Data

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If you browse through the posts in this blog, you’ll see that there are several that are related to “telling a story”, “using pictures to present data, and similar:

Because I want to be able to present data graphically, in a proper way, I have started an online course titled: “Doing Journalism With Data: First Steps, Skills and Tools“.

It’s a 5-module online (MOOC) introductory course  that “gives you the essential concepts, techniques and skills to effectively work with data and produce compelling data stories under tight deadlines.

Awfully exciting stuff! It’s actually being taught by 5 tutors (one for each module) from Britain, America, and France. Here are the five modules:

Module 1 – Data journalism in the newsroom
Module 2 – Finding data to support stories
Module 3 – Finding story ideas with data analysis
Module 4 – Dealing with messy data
Module 5 – Telling stories with visualisation

You can read more about the course here.

I’ve just started module 1 (along with 21,280 other students), and I’m keen to work my way through the rest of the modules.

At the end, I’ll give an idea what I thought of the course along with any real gems that I got out of it.

 

 

My short rekindled love affair with Microsoft Paint

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Yes, I am not ashamed to say it, but I had a short-lived affair with Microsoft Paint.

 

My first love

Back in the heady days of Windows 3.1 (if you can remember it, you were never there), I was a big user of Paint (or Paintbrush, as it was called then.) It was cool to be able to create works-of-art.

 

Love Lost

As I started finding my way in the world, I started using Paintbrush less, and less. I was never a graphics designer, and didn’t really need to use such tools. At most, I needed to be able to take screen shots, and manipulate these if necessary (things like trimming unwanted parts out, slicing sections out of the middle, adding text, etc.). For this I found Snagit to be an excellent tool.

Snagit is my door

 

New Worlds

Then I moved into the world of Business Analysis, and wire-frames, and mock-ups. If an existing system needed changes to the user interface, it was often necessary to be able to demonstrate what the interface would look like once the changes had been incorporated.

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Love, rekindled

I had started a new position at a financial company, and my beloved Snagit was no longer available. I was required to document web site/application changes, and what did I have available…Paintbrush, (or as it was now know, Paint). “How can I work like this!?” I screamed to myself.

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Having no choice, I started using this infantile tool. And, you know what? I was amazed at what I could do. Once I got the hang of it, I could easily paste in a screen shot, trim out unwanted elements, move elements around, even replace text. (This last one was not straight-forward – it involved getting the new text to look like it was the same as the old.) I quickly became a MS Paint advocate.

Love

It didn’t last long

This adding the next text bit, however, got me frustrated. it was clumsy, and required a lot of fart-arsing around.

That’s when I discovered what I could do with a browser’s Developer tools …

…to be continued