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Opportunity to Share
national-day-of-prayer-day I recently had an opportunity to share about a few answered prayers.  My life is full of answered prayers, so my first challenges was to limit the number I spoke about.  I wanted to share those same stories with the online community.  Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer.

Complications
A few years ago I receive a call from my brother that his wife and he were at the hospital, getting ready for the birth of their first child.  This was extremely exciting, but just the beginning of the night, so my wife and I went to bed.  I told him to call me when things got closer.  We all know how long it can take for the arrival of someone’s first child.

A couple hours later, I received another phone call, with a trembling voice on the other end.  I could tell something was wrong, but could barely hear it what it was.  I was told that there was blood, and that some complications had risen.  All I could do was let them know that I was on my way for support.

Relief in Prayer
At the end of that brief call, I fell to my knees in prayer.  I then continued to pray while I got dress, and continued to pray in the car on the way to the hospital.  This was one of my most intense prayers, with tears running down my face.  About half way to the hospital, my tears dried up, and I was felt this wave of calmness come over me.  I knew that everything was ok.

My Niece is Born
emma-sitting Upon my arrival at the hospital I was greeted by my mom, and told that they had just finished an emergency c-section, and that mom and baby were healthy.  The nurses were just cleaning up and doing their first rounds of vitals.  My niece was born (pictured right) and sister-in-law were both doing well.

Instant Prayer
This prayer was answered instantly, and I was comforted by the answered prayer, but not all prayers get answered this quickly, or even the way that you want them to be.

Job Interviews
Every job interview that I have ever gone to has been a prayer drive before and after.  Often I pray in the car.  It is a great time to give praise and to talk with God.  So on my way to every job interview I pray.  And on the way home from every job interview, I pray.  After praying on my way home, I forget it about and trust that the opportunity is in God’s hands.  If he wants me to work there, he will open the door.

I have been blessed with many fantastic opportunities, all of which of toned by skills and provided new ones, but not all jobs have been great.  I have worked for companies that have bounced paychecks, missed payroll, been evicted from their buildings and one that went through a hostile take over while the owner was in Hawaii.  God has always put me where he wants me and provided amazing opportunities.

9153703052 These job prayers were often answered in unexpected ways.  I could see many people asking God why they would be in a situation where they were working hard and not getting rewarded.  Or worse, working hard and going into debt.  Add a family and kids into the mix and the stress can be overwhelming.  God will never give you too much to handle.  You need to just pray about the situation, and ask him to help guide you and to open the doors for you.  He wants the best for you, and those prayers will be answered.  Cast all of your cares on him, and relax.  He is in control.

Partial Prayers
Sometimes answered prayers may look like partially answered prayers, and sometimes we feel like giving up.  I spent my 10 birthday receiving my first chemotherapy treatment.  When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone cancer.  The doctors told me and my family that I was going to have to go through 3 years of treatment and that the best way to make sure that the cancer is gone, is to have surgery to remove the bone.

boy-praying The cancer was on the back of my right shoulder blade and the size of a softball.  At 10 years old, that is about the size of the entire shoulder blade.  Removing that bone with the cancer would render my right arm useless.  I was right handed and not ready to lose my arm.  The doctors said that since my arm would just hang, and that it would be useless, that it would be best to remove the arm so that it wouldn’t get caught on things and wouldn’t get in the way.

Pray Without Ceasing
My entire family began to pray.  This was the start of tremendous prayer warfare.  Day after day, week after week, we prayed.  We prayed alone, we prayed with others, we prayed at home, on the road, at church, at other people’s homes.  Everywhere we went, we prayed.

One particular evening, we went to a prayer concert.  I remember being excited and nervous.  I was excited to pray as I felt myself getting closer to God, and nervous as there were hundreds of people there and I didn’t know what to expect.

Cancer Shrinking
paintball-shooting The following week, I had another doctors appointment, and the doctors were completely surprised.  That softball sized tumor was now the size of a golf ball.  God had shrunk that tumor.  He could have just as easily healed me, but instead he just shrunk it.  The doctors changed the 3 year plan to 1, and I had radiation therapy instead of surgery.  A year later I went into remission and still had my arm.  My right arm is about 4 inches shorter than my left, but I’m still right handed and can still play sports with the best of them.

God used that year to bring me closer to him.  I was able to share and encourage many other children at the hospital and at Oncology Camp, a camp dedicated to kids with cancer and their families.  This was one of the most amazing experiences in my life, and looking back, I don’t regret it.  I don’t wish that it hadn’t happened.

Cast ALL of Your Cares
real-men-pray Sometimes prayers are answered immediately, other times we need to pray without ceasing, entering into a prayer battle.  Sometimes we need to pray and forget, trusting in God, and other times we need to continue to pray.  Answered prayers are not always what we want, but God’s plan for us is far better than what we would want for ourselves.  It is important to trust in him, and that when you pray… ask that his will be done, and that you are able to see where he wants you, and remember, he will not give you more than you can handle.

 

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I would like to thank CG Lynch with CIO for this posting
Guest Blog By C.G. Lynch
Posted on Success Full Thinkers Meetup by Josh Shackelford

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While you can use Twitter’s search tool to find specific people, companies, and their messages (“tweets”) on the service, Hashtags allow users to sort topics into useful categories to revisit later.

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a hashtag before. A “#” symbol sets off a hashtag. For instance, if you wrote a tweet about Google, it might look like this:

Here’s a look at how to utilize Hashtags to organize information that you contribute and consume on Twitter. As the tweets pile up, the extra time you take to thoughtfully categorize your tweets with a hashtag will help the greater Twitter community (and you individually) make the most of the service.

The story behind Hashtags

Twitter (the company) didn’t create hashtags. The Twitter community’s early adopters came up with the idea to put a “#” in front of topics to add context to tweets. The tag would also help filter and sort them out for future readers.

According to a Twitter fan website, the hashtags achieved significant notoriety with Twitter users in 2007 during the San Diego fires, when users designated their tweets with “#sandiegofires.”

The trend to use hashtags led to the community-driven site hashtags.org, where a semi-official index of Twitter’s hashtags now resides. To access the site, Twitter users merely need to opt-in (for free) by following @hashtags on Twitter.

If you’re writing a tweet about a topic you think might have a unique hashtag assigned to it, you can visit hashtags.org to find it.

When you arrive at the site, choose “Tags” on the right-side menu. After the menu drops down, choose “directory.”

Hashtags are listed alphabetically, but the directory won’t be helpful unless you have a lot of time. It’s jammed with obscure-looking hashtags (many are acronyms). As a result, you might have better luck searching the site for your hashtag of choice.

Say, for instance, that you want to assign a tag to a new product that Google released. To find the official hashtag, type “Google” into Hashtag.org’s search bar. It will return results with a list of Google-related hashtags.

 

 

The site also keeps analytics for popular tags, showing recent messages in which people used the tag, the people who tweeted it, and related tags.

 

 

How Hashtags Are Born

The Twitter community organically and collectively decides what a hashtag should be as it pertains to a certain topic. Third-party sites, such as tagalus and HashDictionary allow Twitter users to define hashtags. HashtagNation facilitates discussions around how certain hashtags should be defined and formed.

 

 

All of these user-generated sites have drawbacks. For one, they often fail to return definitions for common hashtags on Twitter. This could be due to the fact that some are really obvious — if you type #facebook into tagulus, for instance, no results appear, as no one bothered to take the time to note that it would be used for a tweet about the social network.

Secondly, because multiple dictionaries chronicle Twitter hashtags, definitions for the same hashtag can vary.

Use Twitter Search to Find Hashtags

As Twitter hashtags became more popular, Twitter integrated them into its search tool. You can search for a hashtag in two ways.

The first: If you perform an advanced search, under the “Words” section, you can search for a hashtag.

 

 

Or, you can simply use Twitter’s main search bar (which they recently made available on people’s home pages), and put a “#” symbol in front of your hashtag.

 

 

Whichever method you decide, Twitter will return back results with tweets where users employed the hashtag. The upside to an advanced search is that you can define dates, so you don’t return hashtags since the beginning of Twitter time (unless, of course, that’s what you want).

Use Hashtags Judiciously

Hashtags can be overused. Chris Messina, a San Francisco-bases social media consultant (who was credited as first formulating the hashtag idea in his blog), noted some of the drawbacks in a post about how to make the most of hashtags.

“Already it’s been made clear to me that the use of hashtags can be annoying, adding more noise than value,” Messina wrote. “Some people just don’t like how they look. Others feel that they encumber a simple communication system that should do one thing and one thing well.”

As a result, he said users should make use of hashtags sparingly and only when they bring additional context to a tweet that would otherwise be absent. For instance, take these examples:

“@google gave a nice presentation. #CIOconference.”

That tweet, with the hashtag, would provide better context than:

“@google gave a nice presentation.”

In this case, the writer of the tweet informs people that his message is meant within the context of a conference he is attending. The benefit: his followers do not need to read past tweets in his Twitter stream to find out where he is or what he means.

My Two Cents

Twitter’s hashtagging system remains a nascent form of organizing the Twitter world. Messina’s contention that they should be used sparingly is well-taken. Hashtags have largely been employed by Twitter’s first adopters, and their overuse has two unfortunate consequences.

First, hashtags can give Twitter an insular feel that will detract people from staying on the service, as evidenced by Twitter’s poor retention rate of new users (60 percent bail not long after joining, according to recent Nielsen research). Second, it’s presumptuous (and ironic, considering Twitter power users’ championing of social technologies) for these folks to assume they know the best way to organize the service before more average Joe Web-Users have their say.

 © 2008 CXO Media Inc.

 

Guest Blog by C.G. Lynch, CIO, CXO Media Inc
Original Post on CIO, Guest post on Successful Thinkers Meetup by Josh Shackelford

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Twitter’s growing popularity has yielded one unusual result: It has exposed the frailty of writing skills in the business world. You can fudge bad writing in a 20-slide presentation, but not in a 140-character tweet. From abbreviation-laden tweets with no discernible value, to tweets that fail to compel followers to click through on a link, examples abound. The process of constructing a good Twitter message takes careful thought, time and analysis.

More Twitter Tips on CIO.com

Twitter Etiquette: Five Dos and Don’ts

Twitter Tips: How to Safely Blend the Personal and the Professional

How and Why to Launch a Business Presence on Twitter

Clearly, the 140-character limit adds a degree of difficulty for people who already struggle with writing for less restrictive, more long-form friendly mediums, such as e-mail or blogs.

While we failed to find a panacea for constructing the perfect tweet — since the “perfect tweet” largely depends on your audience, your profession, and how you use Twitter — we compiled some guidelines from industry analysts and people who tweet uncommonly well.

Avoid Abrevs

Every day, we all receive work e-mails that are littered with improper grammar, spelling and all-lowercase letters. Given how many e-mails most of us receive in a day, such messages become, at best, an unwelcome sight, and, at worst, disrespectful of our time.

Twitter is no different. Some people follow thousands of other people on Twitter, populating their streams (home pages) with, in some cases, hundreds of tweets a minute. Obviously, people will skip over sloppy tweets, or trivial tweets, because they simply don’t have the time.

“If you sound like a 13-year-old in an instant message conversation, that’s not going to make people want to read your [Twitter] messages,” says Susan Daffron (@susandaffron), president of Logical Expressions, a company that helps people self-publish books.

As your user-base diversifies to include people from different backgrounds, you should avoid abbreviations unless it’s absolutely necessary, says Laura Fitton (@pistachio), who runs Pistachio Consulting, a firm that helps companies utilize Twitter.

“I generally go out of my way to avoid abbreviations,” she says. “There are so many abbreviations you really can’t always assume people will know what they are.”

Twitter power users can be particular offenders with regards to that rule. Despite the fact that Twitter’s user base has broadened substantially during the past six months, the majority of its users descend from a technical background. Depending on how your follower list has diversified, people might not know a lot of the Twitter lingo.

“I had people asking me what are these “#” signs,” Daffron says, referring to Hashtags, which Twitter users employ to categorize topics, such as #sanfrancisco. “By writing things that are more obscure to new users, you essentially block them out.”

Take Your Time

Twitter allows you to publish information instantly. The open field to tweet a message sits in your web-browser or in an app on your desktop. Since it’s such a short message, the natural inclination is to post away without much thought. Much like you’d proofread an important e-mail message, you should consider sitting on a Tweet, Fitton says.

“Don’t feel shy that, even though they’re short, they [tweets] can be a lot work,” Fitton says. “If you take your time, you will most likely put more thought into it. Thoughtful tweets are more likely to be appreciated.”

Due to the fact a tweet must measure 140 characters, a quick writing job combined with lack of context can create misunderstandings. If you take time to not only construct the tweet, but also analyze your audience to see how it might be received, you can avoid upsetting people, Fitton says.

Tweeting Links: Headlines Matter

On Twitter, people often tweet links to their own published work, or articles that they have found relevant. In fact, so many people tweet links now that it requires a lot of work to get people to click on them. As a result, you must have a headline that sets your Tweet apart for the other stories of the day, says Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd), a social media analyst who writes the /message blog

“It could be humorous or topical,” he says. “But you also must pare down to the absolute minimum.”

One key differentiator can be pulling a quote from a piece that might entice people to read it. For instance, if everyone knows the general news of the day on a certain topic, tweeting an article with a general headline on the topic (“Democrats Reach 60 Seats in Senate”) might not be as compelling as a new quote from President Obama or a Senator. In other words, assume people already read the nuts-and-bolts news story that first hit the wire, and show them why you read something that has greater depth or value. This approach also shows what about the article stuck out the most for you.

On Pistachio’s website, a guest blogger, Marshall Thompson, published a helpful guide, seven steps to writing a successful Twitter headline. In the piece, he includes the following guidelines: keep it short, no puns, use keywords, use hashtags, don’t consolidate stories (one tweet per story), link directly to story (not home page — don’t be a page-view monger), and don’t use subheads.

Learn from Past Tweets

Twitter’s web-based version, and its ecosystem of apps such as TweetDeck, track every time your Twitter handle appears in a tweet. After you tweet a link or make a statement, watch how your followers receive it and whether they retweet it.

In addition to following your retweets on Twitter’s search tool, other tools help you track the pervasiveness of the links you share. TweetDeck users utilize bit.ly to shorten URLs they tweet. If you visit bit.ly’s website, you can track the performance of links you tweet.

Over time, you should notice patterns for what material your followers receive well. In many cases, it will depend on the audience, which can be quite diverse. Figuring out what makes your Twitter followers click and retweet is a process Boyd calls “micro-psychographics.”

In his blog post explaining the phenomenon, Boyd observed that, based on anecdotal evidence, Twitter users respond to tweets differently. Some engage more heavily with questions or declarative sentences, while others prefer emotional prompts evincing anger or happiness. “I have noticed very different responses to different styles of URL-ed tweets,” Boyd wrote. “And I think it has to do with the psychological makeup of the recipients of the messages, just as much as the text in the message.”

Staff Writer C.G. Lynch covers consumer and social technologies for CIO. You can follow him at @cglynch.

© 2008 CXO Media Inc.

 

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Syndicate-Logo In order to get the most out of your blog you need to get it seen by the most amount of people as possible.  Many bloggers setup a new blog on a free service such as wordpress, typepad, blogger, successful thinkers, or even just utilize facebook.  Each one of these sites as a unique following and a new network of people that follow them.  To get the most exposure you will want to reach out to each of these communities.  Here are a few quick tips on getting your blog out to the most number of people, or sites.

Understanding RSS Feeds
RSS feeds are how sites pickup your syndication.  RSS provides a standard xml formatted feed in which thousands, if not millions, of RSS readers can pick up.  Be sure that which ever blogging site you use supports sending out an RSS feed of your posts.  Successful thinkers supports RSS feeds of everything you do.  From blogging to comments, posts, forums, our calendar, announcements and even searches.  Most social networks today, support sending RSS feeds, and many support RSS readers.

rss-best-practices Setting up your RSS
Once you have a blog setup, that you know supports RSS, you will want to register your blog’s RSS for syndication through Feedburner.  Feedburner is powered by google, and will convert your RSS blog syndication to multiple standards.  As standards evolve, feedburner will be sure to syndicate your blog in the format best formatted for the receiving end.

The next challenge is to find out where to plug in your RSS feed for blog syndication.  Some sites such has facebook have built in utilities for merging your blog syndication directly into your wall and the sites content.  Other sites such as myBlogLog (powered by yahoo), technorati, blogged and Google Reader make it easy for you to claim her blog, simply by entering the URL address to your blog.  Remember to always use your feedburner RSS syndication address in all sites, so that you can easily make changes and control your feed. 

rss-burning Force feeding other Blogging Platforms
Blogspot, friendster, and wordpress are all great blogging platforms.  Each one of these has its own audience, and you should include your blog on each one of these sites.  The challenge here is that they don’t always provide an easy way for you to just cross post your content.  You can add an RSS reader widget to the side bar so that your blog posts will be indexed and listed on the side of that blog, but cross-posting is much easier.

My favorite blogging site is successful thinkers meetup blog, which is why I post there first.  Within the configuration of your blog, you can even set it up to cross post your blog to multiple sites, beyond the typical RSS feed.  Cross-posting is an easy way to post once, and to have your blog automatically post onto other blogs.  This simplifies getting your content the most exposure.

Adding your blog to Feedburner
To add your blog to feedburner, start here.
The steps are really easy, so I’ll let you follow their online guide.

facebook-rss-logo-300x300 Adding your blog to facebook
It is a little harder to find where to add your blog, so I have outlined the steps below.
To add your blog to facebook follow these steps. 
Create a facebook account  
Add your blog to facebook
     a. Click Profile
     b. Click on settings (on the far right next to "All Posts"
     c. Click on "Automatically import activity"
     d. Click on "Blog/RSS"
     e. Paste in your URL to your RSS feed to your blog

Setup MyBlogLog
MyBlogLog, powered by yahoo, is a great way to keep track of all of your blogs and sites.  By now, you have probably setup at least 6 different accounts, and are starting to loose track of where your blogs are.  It is best if you create an account on MyBlogLog so that you can easily keep track of all of these accounts and sources.

Another Shortcut to Cross-posting
If you are still having trouble getting your blog syndicated to multiple blogging sites, try using Microsoft Windows Live Writer.  Once you set up each of your blogs within the application, you can quickly switch over to each of your blogs and click the post button to send your post on its way to multiple sites.

More Information
For more information about syndicating your blog to multiple sites, check out my post on Maximizing your blog.

Feedback
If you are posting, cross posting, or syndicating your blog to other sites, that I have not yet mentioned, please list them below in the comments section and I’ll be sure to update this post with your blog.

 

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Google Analytics API Announced
visitors-data-Overview-Returning Google announced its new Google Analytics API today.  As a developer, this means more work.  As a business owner or executive, this means more information.  Many of you are already familiar with Google Analytics, as it the best tracking system for free.  When you first started using analytics, you probably learned more about your visitors wanted to know.  But over time, the information wasn’t enough.  You started thinking outside of the box, and began wondering how the tracking information that you saw related to your business data.

filter-data-fine-grainWith Google’s new Analytics API, you are able to pull data out and match it with data from your proprietary or existing database.  The new API is a read only interface into the life of your website.  All of the information that is available through Google’s Analytic reporting engine, is also available through the API.

Beyond Simple Reporting
Beyond making the data available for merging with your internal reports, you can now expose your web traffic reports to other medias or platforms.  For example, if you want to access Google Analytics from your phone, you can with this Android application from Actual Metrics. Accessing Analytics from your desktop is also an option like Desktop-Reporting as developed. 

See What Others are Doing
Others are well on their way to enhancing their business, like MailChimp who integrated Google Analytics into their email marketing platform and ShufflePoint® who provides a service for adding Google Analytics data into PowerPoint® presentations. Also check out youcalc who has created apps that allow you to mashup Google Analytics, AdWords, Salesforce.com and other enterprise data.

men-outnumber-womenThere are plenty more customer examples for you to check out on Google’s developer site. These apps demonstrate only some of the creative possibilities and I’m sure you’ll discover other interesting ways to use the Analytics API. 

Start Developing with Google Analytics
If you are ready to get started, you will want to jump into the code at Google’s developer site Google Code.  There are developer guides, example code, FAQ’s, and more.  The complete API is available and ready to use.  With Google Analytics API being so new, you will want to join the Google Analytics APIs Group so that you can reach out the developer community for some assistance.

Please let me know if you are looking into doing any Analytic API projects.  I would be interested to hear about them and would be willing to publish them here, if you’d like.

 

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Google Yourself
google-yourself We all have googled ourselves.  Some more often than others, and most not because we have big ego’s, but we are curious to see what it is that the world sees about us.  Google has offered little to no support in controlling what it is that googlers see about us, until now.  By simply searching “me” in Google , you will be given the opportunity to create or edit your profile.

Who are you?
Social networking is all the buzz.  And I’m sure that if you are reading this you have profiles on mySpace, Facebook, twitter, and linked In.  And now… you need to maintain your Google profile.  Often these social networks allow us a little more control of expressing who we are.

google-holic-logo
Set Up a Google Profile
Setting up a Google profile is very easy and pretty quick.  So if you haven’t done it yet, I’d recommend doing that as soon as you finish this short article.  Google has modified their search results to include profiles at the bottom of the page.  These profiles show up like regular search results, and while it is at the bottom of the page, and you have little control over what is delivered on the top half, you can control what is delivered at the bottom and what Google says about you.

So maybe this isn’t as reassuring as we’d all like it to be, but it is a start.  With the improved profile options, it makes it even easier to link to your Google profile, and to control what is shared through this profile.

Get Found on Google
personal-social-network I left my Google profile settings as default, but you will notice that it says “If you want your profile to appear in Google search results, make sure you’ve selected to display your full name on the Edit profile page. Adding more information will help you improve your profile’s rank.”  If you take this a step further and verify your name (either by credit card or phone number), you can get a verified icon near your name, showing that you truly are who you say.  This isn’t completely reliable yet, and I have not done it.  These Google profile searches will appear at the bottom of the first page regardless of whether your name has been verified or not.

Google software engineer Brian Stoler explains, "These results offer abbreviated information from user-created Google profiles and a link to the full profiles. We’ve also added links so it’s easy to search for the same name on MySpace, Facebook, Classmates and LinkedIn."

 

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tempurature-rising These last couple days have been got.  We are breaking records, and the cool weekend can’t come quick enough.  Yesterday it was 97 degrees, breaking the old record of 94 degrees set in the 80′s.  It normally isn’t this hot this early.  At work our air conditioning is only working in half of the building, so it is working overtime just to maintain a tolerable temperature.  So what does all of this have to do with project management?  Happy, comfortable employees work harder. 

Big Things Coming
We have a big event coming up on May 23rd, and plan to release about 7 new products.  Only half of these are even ready for full production.  And if they all were all ready by now, we probably would have already launched them.  The fact that these products aren’t ready is not an issue.  The challenge is that we need to get all of them created, reviewed by legal, and then sent to print.  Once the products are ready we need to create all of the marketing material, such as web promotions, print promotions, flyers, postcards, store display signs, video for the internet, and videos for the live events.

teamwork-puzzle Adjusting to Cuts
I’m sure that IT departments across the US have made cuts over the last year.  We have all had to deal with the reality of the current situation.  So how do you deal with the staffing adjustments you made in the past, and compensate for the increased work load of the current?

One solution would be to pick up some temps.  Without committing the long term work force, you can hire some very well qualified individuals to help get you over that hump.  We have had tremendous success with Pride Staff, and Express Employment Professions, both of which are temp agencies here in Stockton, California.  Though we use Express nationwide, as we host events across the US.

Having a strong workflow management is the only way to adjust to increased work load, without adding additional staff.  IT receives projects from just about every imaginable source within a company, and even outside of a company.  If all of these tasks are not funneled through an easy to manage task management list, you will lose too much time.

Lost Time
lost-time-spiral-clock Your staff needs to be effectively communicated to.  Without an easily managed task management system for all projects to funnel through, your staff will have a lot of dead time between projects, and questions will not be addressed very quickly.  In addition, if people are allowed to circumvent the task management system, tasks will not be completed on time, and your days will be chaotic.  Often executives of companies feel that their tasks will be completed more quickly if they circumvent management, going directly to the laborers that perform the task.  While their personal task might be completed slightly a head of schedule, the company will suffer.  They do not see the impact on the overall workflow.

Team Work Project Manager
teamwork-wallpaper About two weeks ago I started putting our current projects into a site on www.teamworkPM.net, and then 3 days later, I introduced the site to our graphic designers.  The following day, to our programmers, and the next to the balance of the IT department.  This site was met with excitement from everyone.  It was rolled out in stages to the department to ensure a smooth adoption, and was a complete success.  The next step would be to start introducing the site to the rest of the company.

All of the staff that have begun using this site have really enjoyed it.  I was glad to see that the adoption went so smooth.  I had been exploring various project management applications and task management resources, when I stumbled on teamwork.  It is very close to Basecamp, but came out a head.

Hopefully within the next couple weeks, I will be able to introduce a login for management throughout the company, so that they can track the progress on their projects, without being able to interfere with our workflow.  For now, I just meet with them regularly to give them updates.

 

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secure-computer-lock Security is a big issue for all IT leaders.  Whether your a CIO, CTO, IT Director, or an IT manager, you are constantly battling security.  It can be very difficult to work on projects to move you forward, when you are constantly fighting to maintain a secure network.

New Sources of Attacks
US infrastructure remains vulnerable to cyber terrorism.  While the US seems to behind as a country, many of our corporations practice much stricter polices than our governing agencies.  Government agencies will always be targets, but more so by terrorists and other countries.  These criminals are not the same criminals that we, as corporations, need to protect against.  Don’t get me wrong, we still need to be protected, but our focus needs to be on fraud, identity theft, financial theft, etc.  Most of our attacks will be geared towards financial gain.

 

Jump Start your Policies
In a slower economy, often security takes a back seat to corporate priorities.  Most projects are going to be focused on saving money or generating money, but security at a time like this is just as important, if not more important.  We need to stay aware of the increased risks that are brought on my a recession.  There are more qualified, intelligent people in circulation that are getting desperate for income.  We need to watch out for threats from past employees, current employees, desperate unemployed, and the casual hacker who is just bored.

So how do you enhance security when your time is already so limited?  Here are a couple of tips of increasing security, without having to spend too much time devising your own.  When constructing security policies, take a look at Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  The SANS Security Policy Project and NIST are also great sources. While these policies might not work for you untouched, they give you a good place to start.

 

Security-Systems Rising Attacks
Attacks are on the rise.  There are even reports of attacks on US power companies.  We need to minimize our risks as much as possible and if you are on the internet, have eMail, eCommerce, or just a static website, you need protect yourself from these points of risk.  Try starting with something as basic as a Web Agreement like, "By using this website, you agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement"

A well-drawn Web Wrap Agreement can help you to significantly reduce your legal risks. The most basic thing that you should put in every Terms and Conditions is a limitation of liability clause. So even if you get sued and lose, at least the maximum damage award against you is nominal. I’ll typically limit damages to something like $50 to $100.

To further insulate you from the claims of users, have them agree that use of the site is at their own risk and that you disclaim all warranties. Also, include a clause making them liable to you if they upload things to the site like copyrighted or trademarked material that they don’t have a right to use. This gives you some protection if a third party sues you for something posted to your site by a user. Try including a clause requiring that any lawsuit be filed in my client’s home state, not the user’s, to discourage getting sued over nonsense. Using the courts looks a whole lot less attractive as the mileage increases.

 

Be Proactive
security-records-300x350 Once you get sued, you can’t require the other side to come to your home state if you didn’t have the agreement already on the site.  Don’t be like the people that put in the burglar alarm after the burglary. A little preventive law is much cheaper and less stressful than crisis law.  Try starting with some basics.  Here are 10 steps to improve security within Internet Explorer.  Don’t be hesitant on implementing new security practices, even if they seem dumb.  Often people reserved when implementing simple security practices, as they now change is always met with resistance, and many people fear being hated.  But even the SEC is has many basic security challenges to overcome, such as plain text passwords, or shared security accounts.

 

And if you’re still looking for an extra little oomph to get that financing for that security project that you just can’t get past… Try going back to some of your current vendors and ask for a discount.  You might be surprised how many are willing to negotiate.  Then try some scare tactics.  Often security is on the back burner because decision makers aren’t aware of the true risks.  Try looking into 5 things you can’t see on your network.

Move Forward
opportunity-next-right Even though you might think that your IT security is at a stand still, try working on some basic, free, and time optimized tasks.  Some of these things might be new policies, such as the above mentioned password or data policies, or others might simply be applying new updates to your software.  Software updates are often free, simple ways to maintain your security.  Oh… and read about the updates.  The holes they find and fill, might give you ideas about other holes that you need to fill in your own network and applications.

 

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So I’m a 24 addict.  If any of you are following this season or caught the episode from 11:00PM – 12:00AM, then you had a chance to see a pardon document produced and signed by the president in just minutes.  For those of you that don’t follow the series, you are missing out and I’d like to explain to you what happened.

cisco-webex-lady-sitting Request a pardon
The FBI Director requested a pardon from the President, who then asked for him to draw up the documents and send them over to her when he was done.  Of course he was already prepared.  I imagine that the document was drawn up in MS Word, and converted to a PDF.  I would also imagine that this would normally be a template, so this part isn’t impressive, but what happens next was pretty hot.

Remote desktop and file sharing
The director tells the President that he has the document and pulls it up to show her the document through a Cisco Webex.  I would have opted with a different solution, one that was less expensive.  But if you’ve got the funds behind you, Cisco’s Webex is a very reliable and robust application for sharing.  It was pretty cool that they had 4 different people up on webcams for the conference, and had full control over their applications.  You’ll also notice that they are using Logitech Webcams.

logitech-quickcam-delux From here the President was able to add her digital signature to the document by signing it through the webex session.  She used a Wacom tablet to add her signature.  It caught my attention since I had just blogged about the newest Wacom tablet.  This is so awesome that they were able to quickly produce and sign an official document all remotely.

Send document to helicopter agent
While the document was still at the FBI, now with the Presidents digital signature, the FBI director needed to get the document out into the field so that his field agents wouldn’t restrain and arrest the person that was just granted immunity.  He was able to send the document wirelessly to his agents while they were in transit in a helicopter.

 

What makes all of these even more amazing, is that all of this technology is publically available.  You could even have all of your templates stored on Microsoft Live, or Google Docs for quick access from anywhere.

 

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wacom-intuos4-tablet-set Like the mighty pen for a writer, our mouse is our tool that we bond with and bring our dreams to life.  I had the experience of using a wacom tablet a few years back, and unfortunately I don’t have one right now, but I wanted to take a moment to share a few details about the most recent release.  The wacom tablet is the perfect tool for a digital graphic artist.  If you really want to expedite your graphic design projects, get your designers the new Wacom tablet, INTUOS4 professional pen tablet.

I’m sure that there would be no argument that Adobe’s Photoshop is the perfect tool for creating original photo quality artwork.  The latest version, Adobe’s Photoshop CS4, is phenomenal.  All of the new features will speed up productivity immensely.  And coupled with the next generation, Wacom Generation 2 tip sensor pen tip, your designers will be unstoppable.

While Wacom’s Cintiq has an LCD surface and can display your screen, I think that most designers would make the transition to the Ituos4 more easily so that you can gain speed without losing focus on the screen.

Since I don’t do much design work myself, this would definitely be a luxury item.  I find myself spending most of my time in long documents.  Whether it is programming, reading configurations, schema’s, reports, or data documents, my files tend to run really long.  My mouse preference is Logitech’s MX Revolution.  The endless scroll really speeds up time, and the comfort has no other match.  I’ve tried many Microsoft Mice, and while I use a Microsoft keyboard, I prefer the Logitech mouse.  On my laptop I use a Logitech’s VX Nano, again with many of the same features, but mini for the laptop.

The right keyboard and mouse will make all of the difference in your work day.  In fact, I just went out and picked up a new mouse for a CEO.  His old mouse was slowing him down.

Which mouse and keyboard combination do you prefer?  How about for work versus play?  Leave me your comments.

 

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