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Archive for January, 2011

Epidsode 30 – Productivity Systems

January 25th, 2011

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Let's face it, in this business there are two types of people: Those that deliver and those who don't. What you may not know is that the differentiating factor could be as simple as whether or not a person has a trusted system in place which allows them an easier time at Getting Things Done.


When someone is productive they tend to be goal oriented; they know what they want to achieve and more importantly how they can go about doing so. A lot of people think that these achiever-types are just "naturally gifted", however the only "natural" inclination common amongst them is that completing tasks drives them to achieving goals. Fear not! This can be learned! Try it yourself. Write a simple task list out for Saturday chores (Shovel the walk, get the groceries, fill the tires in the car, etc...). You'll find that you start feeling good by not only completing those chores, but also from the sense of accomplishment which comes in crossing them off the list. That sense of accomplishment you get drives you to do more and the side effect of all this is larger goals get eaten away bit by bit until they are completed.

The biggest trick though is building the habit to write down tasks and even more importantly: refer to your task list on a timely basis. Its one thing to write something down, its another thing to ensure you go back to that list. If you can accomplish these two basic tasks, you are on your way to becoming a less stressed and anxious person who is looked upon as being a reliable person who has their sh!t together.

Is one of your problems that you get distracted and can't focus long enough to complete even the simplest tasks? Try the Pomodoro technique. Essentially Pomodoro has you assign a block of time to a task. Any distraction or interruption eats away at your Pomodoro time. At the end of the time block, if you haven't finished the task at hand, you take a small break and either setup another time block and try to finish the task, or move on to something else. It makes you less prone to "checking twitter" until it's your break time.

Are you a visual person by nature? Perhaps the Kanban system could help you or your team as a whole. It has you separate your tasks into "lanes" which indicate the state of a task. States might include: In Progress, Needs Attention, or the most important state: Done.

What you'll find with a lot of these systems is the overarching theme of "Divide and Conquer" or "Defeat in Detail" in military terms. I for one am not good with large tasks until I can divide them up into bite size chunks. It's also a nice mind trick when you start feeling really good about completing those small chunks which comprise a large goal, even if you've only tackled 20% of the whole; it still makes you hungry to tackle more.

A lot of the productivity systems can be implemented using Pen and Paper, one we haven't mentioned is "Auto Focus", however there are a bunch of computer programs which have sprung up to help you on your way to productivity:

  • OmniFocus and Things.app for the Getting Things Done system
  • Pomodoro Timer
  • EverNote for collecting random notes and snippets, then organizing them and turning them into tasks later
  • Concentrate an app which helps you block common distractions like Twitter, Facebook, etc... Helps when implementing Pomodoro

And finally, if you are like me and have all your great epiphanies whilst in the Shower and yet have no means write them down, there is a waterproof shower notepad for jotting down those social networking site multi-billion dollar ideas :)

Thanks to Marc Jeanson who provided many of the links and his great insight on the cast. Marc's company Redline Software is creating productivity software which should be released in the near future. We'll let you know when it launches and get our listeners some sneak-peek beta demos. Marc also authored a screen cast on how to implement the zero inbox technique using OmniFocus.

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Episode 29 – Contractor vs Employee

January 20th, 2011

Got the skills to pay the bills?

Every employee has wondered what it'd be like to be a contractor at some point. Maybe even dreamed of being one. Now reverse the roles and you don't find many Contractors worth their weight dreaming of becoming employees.

Contracting is not for everyone, however it is a great way to broaden your skill set, see many different software systems and how they were built as well as experience both the good and the bad projects and take the good with you and leave the bad behind at contracts end.

A common excuse for Employees when asked "why don't you become a contractor" is that they "like the stability, and a paycheck every two weeks". Paycheck every two weeks is nice, but you know what else employers use two weeks for? NOTICE! Stability in the workspace is a thing of the past. If your company wants to cut costs, here come "The Bobs" and there goes X% of your co-workers (or you).

We aren't trying to convince you to become a contractor. However, if you're good, you like to be constantly challenged and love changes of scenery, you might be a contractor at heart.

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Enjoy!

General, Podcast

Qwest gets crapped on!

January 19th, 2011
I canceled Qwest for my business due to the nickel and diming along with high rates. So I moved to VOIP. Not even a month off Qwest and they send a telemarketer to try to get me back. They need to talk to the person who makes the decision for phone service. They were already in the black list. So guess who makes the decision?

The old coot kept Tisha LeGour(sp?) for 3:23 minutes. Cha-ching! Qwest paid for that time!

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But she calls back! The old coot got an extra 30 seconds off of her.

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General

Astycrapper craps on another one!

January 16th, 2011
I checked my asterisk spool directory and a little gem popped up. A telemarketer from CPC (Crescent Credit Card Processing) wants my business real bad. He called from 314-627-5503. Looks like he was already in the black list so guess who answered the call!

The old coot kept Brad for 1:35 minutes. Not too shabby!

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General

Episode 28 – Pass By Magic, Mac App Store & Apache leaving the JCP

January 11th, 2011
Well first off a big Happy New Years from all of the Basement Coders! We were on hiatus during the month of December but are back full force with brand new episode.

This episode focuses mostly on a concept in Java which, as we have found, is not well understood by some "experienced" Java Devs: Is Java really Pass By Value. Well of course it is! The problem however is people don't know what that means when it comes to reference types. Common rebuttals are "but a function can modify the state of my object! That's pass by reference!" Well, no its not :) That's mutability.


Why are we focusing on such a topic? Well, over on the "Java Developer" group at LinkedIn, someone asked the seemingly innocent question "Help guys!!! Java supports pass by value or reference?" which has exploded into a 274 message thread of some of the best flaming you've ever seen! For those who aren't on LinkedIn, or don't want to become a member of the Java Developers group, a new discussion has taken root over at The Server Side.

Other topics we cover are the new Mac App Store and what this means for the Mac consumer and developer as well as Apache's announcement that they are Leaving the JCP and what (if any) ramifications this will have for Oracle and Java.

Enjoy!

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