Monday, December 29, 2008

Time is relative to fun!

Why is it that time seems to go so slow when you are involved in something boring or tedious and seems to speed up when you are enjoying yourself? I have found this to be true for as long as I can remember. I have been away from work for four whole weeks. Doing everything I enjoy, surfing, reading, catching up with family, eating, relaxing, running, shopping. Those four weeks have absolutely flown by.

I remember being a child and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Christmas morning to come around. Then when Christmas finally arrived it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

I would be very interested in hearing any theories as to why time seems to speed up and slow down on these occasions.

Any way, lucky I enjoy my work because I am back here for another whole year.
I trust you all had a fabulous Christmas and wish all readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Vacation

Sorry for the lack of posts. I am currently on vacation and will not be back fully online till after December 29th. I have just returned from a fabulous break on Queenslands Gold Coast where my partner and I had a fantastic time.
Christmas is a very busy time for most people and it gets a little more so for me as my son Simon has his birthday on Christmas Eve. To ensure Simons birthday is always special I arrange some kind of party activity for him and his friends. Last year it was Go Kart Racing, this years it is Laser Tag. Followed by a family party at my parents house.
I hope you all have a very happy and safe Christmas and I look forward to more blogging in the new year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kinetic typography - Love it.

I religiously follow Garr Reynolds blog. Thanks to Garr and his fantastic book "Presentation Zen" I have been able to make my conference presentations stylish, entertaining and enormously more effective. His latest post draws attention to the use of Kinetic typography. Using only animated text to deliver your message is a powerful and creative way to add emotion, create mood, add emphasis. The presentation below is a fantastic example of this method. The particular message in this presentation is an important one and the way it is conveyed is outstanding.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Should we allow PDF content on our Intranets?

I recently was asked the the following question about using PDF documents on the Intranet.

Apart from not complying with accessibility requirements (although I hear technology is on the horizon, making PDF files readable) what other reasons are there for not creating PDF links on sites? What is the better alternative?

On our Intranet site we have so many information contributors that it is impossible for me to impose strict formatting rules for content published.

My preference is for HTML, Flash, ASP and other mainstream web formats. However if I was to try and get all contributors to only publish in web friendly formats I would be perpetually training content managers and doing much more information formatting myself. I am also confident that the amount of content contributions would greatly diminish.

I have had to compromise by allowing the contributors to create and publish their information in the format that is easiest for them and their divisions.

Instead I have focussed on training staff across the business to create better optimised PDF, Word and even PowerPoint documents using only compressed images and paying close attention methods of reducing the final file sizes.

We enjoy a very wide bandwidth internally and have minimal problems with viewing these file types over the Intranet.

I would be interested in others views, opinions and solutions to the problem of best Intranet content format that I am sure many have experienced.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Attacking the Email Monster

This article contains lots of useful tips to handle the ever increasing number of emails we all receive. Many are common sense but did find a few new ones that I am going to try out.

"Exploding email in-boxes are an ever-increasing source of suffering and frustration for today's knowledge workers. In my one-on-one coaching with clients I sometimes see daily email loads hitting 200-350 emails per day. How is anyone supposed to keep up with that!?

I've collected below several ideas for how to overcome email overwhelm. The ideas focus on the basics of how to manage an inbox, and the practices individuals can do to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the emails they send and receive."

View the complete article on Michael Dolans blog "On The Road To GTD (Getting Things Done)" Attacking the Email Monster

Monday, November 10, 2008

Amazing Japanese Fountain

Many of you may have seen this already however for those who have not it is really amazing. Obviously computer controlled and operating in a kind of dot matrix (remember the old printers?) this fountain is in a mall Canal City Hakata in Fukuota, Japan. Mesmerising.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Addicted to Alltop

I have been using Alltop for a few months now and find that it has become one of the few site that I religiously visit every day.

Alltop is a Internet information aggregator that gathers together loads of news and information about specific topics in one place. It is described as being a "digital magazine rack" of the internet. You can search on a specific topic and are presented with an extensive list of information from hundreds of Internet sites about that topic. Everything from politics (US of course) to surfing to shoes. The list of topics aggregated grows daily. Unfortunately as yet there is no topic covering Intranet but I am sure one will come over time.

When you view a topic it provides a couple of suggestions for additional topics that might interest you. One thing I found very funny is that when you view the topic of Australia it suggests that you might also be interested in the additional topics of Beer and Rugby. They certainly seem to have Australian popular culture accurately summed up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to use social media in the workplace.

I came across this via a tweet from guykawasaki. It is quite an old item but one I found very interesting. Its an excerpt from a Forrester webinar talking about Incorporating Social Media Techniques Internally. The webinar was originally held in October 2007.
Here is a taste:
"General Motors used social media to embrace community members. When they previewed their new Camaro on the Fastlane blog, they posted a video of one of the designers driving and giving users a look at what it’s like to be behind the wheel. Not surprisingly, users then commented and created a dialog with the people at GM about what features or downloads they would be interested in seeing. GM was then able to incorporate these things into the new design."

View the complete piece here

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Internet Censorship for Australia? this morning reports:

"The Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia. Australia's level of net censorship will put it in the same league as countries including China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter when it is introduced."

Read full article here

I am of two minds with this. We all are aware that there are a lot of sick sites and people out there on the web. Every kind of sick pornography imaginable, instructions on how to commit suicide, racist propaganda, how to build bombs etc etc etc. As the parent of a very smart teenager I know that he has probably come across some of this garbage already and as a caring parent I would prefer that he was not able to get to any of this stuff. On the other hand however, censorship has the potential to suppress the exchange of radical ideas and inhibit creativity and art. Who makes the decision as to where the censorship line is drawn and what moral measure do they use? Will be watching this issue with great interest,

The Urban Legend of Corporate Intranets

I just read an interesting article in Design Mind online magazine from frogdesign that outlines some of the myths about corporate intranets. I certainly recognised a few truths from my own corporate experience and I am sure anyone who has been working with Intranets for some time will have come into contact with people who believe that all the businesses problems can be solved with the latest software or technology. This article was discovered via twitter thanks to intranetwatch.

"Case studies that tout Facebook as a successful corporate Intranet are a variation on the Intranet Business Urban Legends (BUL). In this version, the marketing and sales teams become best friends when both groups realize a common love of golf and baby animals. A bit older is the legend that a wiki will stop information hoarding, as everyone moves to swap secrets about key client relationships and brownie recipes. Or one of the original myths: an effective content management system will turn everyone into articulate and succinct writers."

Click Here for the full article.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More of the same please

I live in Cronulla, a beach suburb in the south of Sydney Australia and have been a keen surfer for more years than I like to remember. We have been suffering from a prolonged flat spell for many weeks. It gets very disheartening to rise before dawn intent on getting some early waves only to discover that the effort has been wasted due to a lack of swell. Well Saturday broke the drought and my friends and I enjoyed a long morning session of fabulous 4 to 5 foot waves. Its been so long and we were all keen to repeat the effort on Sunday morning only to find that the swell had once again dropped to disappointing 1 foot. I am sure the waves will return sometime and at least we have had one day of great surfing in the past 8 weeks.

This is how I like to see it.

It can still look fabulous even if it is too small to ride.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Do schools kill creativity?

I was shown this presentation originally as a demonstration how effectively some people can present without the assistance of slides, props and whiteboards. Indeed ,Sir Ken Robinson shows that this can be done to great effect. I also however found the content extremely entertaining and profound. In it he makes a moving case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity. Since initially seeing this presentation (first published in 2006) I have shown it to numerous friends and colleagues and everyone who has seen it has thought it to be one of the best. It is little wonder that it is one of the most viewed presentations on the website.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A List of Business Uses for Social Media

I came across this list of Companies using social media tools and was quite surprised at the number. This is quite a list. Companies are using Facebook, Video, Wiki's, Blogging, Photo Sharing and more for a multitude business uses from Marketing to Recruiting. Some really interesting examples from very large companies are amongst those included. View The Resources List Here as it appears on Ray Schiel's Blog, The Social Media Network - Social Media Marketing. The original research was done by Peter Kim and published to his blog, Being Peter Kim, in September 2008. View original here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I wish I was young and talented!

I have a 16 year old son named Simon. He is a very accomplished guitarist and I have to admit that his guitar skills overtook mine a few years ago. Simon is lucky enough to attend a school that actively encourages creativity in music, dance, drama and film. I firmly believe that this is a fabulous thing as it encourages the students to explore their creative side rather than wholly focus on the standard academic pursuits of Maths, Science and English.

Simon has a friend at school named Matt McGuire who, as well as being an accomplished musician, also excels in movie making. Below are a couple of films that this boy made recently. If you take the time to watch these films, keep in mind that they were made by a 15 year old teenager. I am astounded at the concepts and the technical quality of these examples. We need to consider that the production resources required to create this kind of film 20 years ago were simply not available to everyone but now all that is needed is a video camera, a computer and an imagination. That aside, this lad is destined to be a future Baz Luhrmann.

Bus Trip


Three ways to update the staff directory

James Robertson from Step Two Designs has published an article on methods of keeping your staff directory up to date.

"Internal phone directories and staff directories are only useful if the details in them are complete and accurate. This is not easy, and a mix of approaches will be needed. In general, there are three ways of keeping staff directories up to date:
  • centralised updates
  • self-service updating
  • integration with other systems"
Ensuring the accuracy of the Staff Directory is very important in our organisation but due to the large number of staff and the high attrition rate we have with casual hospitality workers I know there are many amongst over 12,000 records that are incorrect. Our Intranet staff directory gets over 40,000 hits a month and is the most used tool on our site, so in our case it is worth putting some time and effort into ensuring its accuracy. We currently use 2 of the methods James describes and are working towards a full intergration with the pay system in an effort to improve accuracy and reduce the maintenance requirement.
Check out the full article here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Is Wheat & Chaff?

When trying to come up with a name for this blog I had what I considered to be an inspired idea. I have heard the phrase "Separate the Wheat from the Chaff" many times while growing up and understood its meaning to be to separate the Wanted (wheat) from the Unwanted (chaff - the name given to husks and stalks). So the blog name Wheat & Chaff means you will get information that you might want or need along with whimsical items that may be of no use to you at all but I found amusing or interesting.

I have come across many very bright people of late who have never heard the expression so I thought it might be a good idea to provide clarification. BTW, I did check my understanding of the phrase to be sure I was not using it incorrectly and the definition can be found many places on the net including

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Still Love Musicovery

Although it has been around for some time now, I have recently rediscovered Musicovery the fabulous interactive web radio flash application that allows you to find music to match your mood. You can select from a list of genres, decide if you want popular songs or slightly more obscure and even select the desired time period you would like the results to come from.Finally, decide on your mood and musicovery will map out a playlist to match you criteria. Worth checking out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Web 2.0 - In Plain English

Wiki's, Blogs, RSS, Social Media, Social Bookmarking the list of terms seems never ending and though Web 2.0 has been bantered around for some time now there are still many people who nod and smile knowingly without really having a grasp on what is being discussed. As my partner often points out "not everyone has a job that allows them to spend each working day in front of a computer connected to the Internet".

There was a time not so long ago when I had to find out what these things were and that's when I came across CommonCraft. These guys make short clever animations that explain lots of the Web 2.0 tools and concepts in a way that is both entertaining and informative.

I have used these short videos numerous times in the past as they are an excellent way to pass on the idea of these newer technologies to people not experienced in the internet world.

I have included below two of the videos. The first is an oldie but one of my favorites explaining Wiki's and the other is a newer video explaining Web Search Strategies. Check out the CommonCraft web site for others. Well worth it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Intranets Live - The world’s first intranet media channel

Checking my Twitter streams this morning I noticed and interesting overnight tweet from intranetwatch about Intranets Live. To quote "Intranets Live is a new online programme that will bring the world’s best intranets live to the desktops of intranet managers around the globe".

The Intranets Live Site states "Intranets Live, the world’s first intranet media channel - unmissable for anyone interested in intranets, portals and information workplaces"

The first Intranets Live world wide virtual forum is due to take place on November 4, and free guest passes are available for programme 1 (see the site for details).

I have submitted a registration request and am awaiting for it to be processed so I really do not have much more information however it does sound interesting.

Will keep you posted as I find out more about this.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Skills Analysis Star Chart

Every Intranet team I have worked in has been ridiculously under resourced. The business expects content to be maintained, development to take place, new sections to be created, content managers to be trained, new solutions to be explored and implemented and much, much more. In order to fulfill these expectations I have in the the past had to rely on the kindness of others to provide the specialist skills needed to carry out specific tasks. This is usually always done as a one off or favour because "that is not part of their PD" (man I wish I had a dollar for each time I have heard that one).

Recently, I was told I could enlist the assistance of some other people in my division (on a casual basis of course) to help with "The Intranet". The skills these people had varied greatly so I needed to choose people who had particular skills that I needed. Enter the "Skills Analysis Star Chart".

I came across this visualisation concept a few years ago thanks to Dr Jianzhonh Lu, a fellow member of the Intranet Leadership Forum. It is simply a way to plot the skills already present in your team and to graphically identify areas where you could use help. By quickly rating some of the key skills on this speadsheet, I can produce a graphical representation of skills that can be shown to managers, included in submissions or simply used to decide yourself what type of people to recruit.

The tool linked below is a simple speadsheet. It can be easily modified to add more or reduce the number of skills shown. If you need help formatting this tool, contact me via the email link included in my profile (click my picture).

Monday, October 13, 2008

SharePoint - Tell Me The Truth

I spoke last week at the ark group's "Advancing Effective Use and Management of Intranets in the Public Sector" conference (quite the mouthful) and heard from many people in various sections of the public service. Many attendees mentioned they were going to implement SharePoint specifically for the collaboration functionality, however few seemed to have concrete ideas as to how this is to be done, why they are doing it, how it would be managed and what benefits (if any) they could expect.

My advice to anyone fostering the idea of going down the SharePoint path is to learn as much as possible from Michael Sampson. I have spent a little time with Michael as well as heard him present on SharePoint and so far have not met anyone as knowledgeable with the product, its advantages, its features as well as its flaws and limitations. Michael has no barrow to push as far as MicroSoft goes and I find his information and advise unbiased and helpful. So for anyone toying with the SharePoint solution, subscribe to Working with People You Can't Be With and purchase his excellent book Seamless Teamwork to reap the benefit of Michaels experience.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Start here: Intranets - Step Two Designs

Its no secret that I have long been a fan of Step Two Designs. The people who work there are highly knowledgeable about all things Intranet and many have become very good friends of mine over the years.

The sheer volume of information that has been produced by these guys has become so large that finding exactly what you need when you need it can be difficult. To address this they have created an entry point for intranet teams. Start here: intranets is a new section of the Step Two Designs site that brings together the key resources into a single location, giving quick access to best practice thinking on intranets.

Taken from original article on James Robertson, Column Two blog. View Original Here

Paris for President

Hate to admit it but these did make me laugh.
I absolutely loved the west wing too so I am a little biased.
Really not so far fetched a concept either. Have you seen Sara Palin interviewed???

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Financial Crisis Explained

Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are apparently partially to blame for the current world wide financial crisis. What are they and why do they matter? Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch whiteboards a simple 6-minute presentation he calls Financial Crisis 101: CDOs explained.

Thanks to Garr Reynolds for publishing to his Presentation Zen blog.

Well Hello

Well I have finally gone and started a blog. Never really thought I would get round to it but I find I discover so many things on the net from day to day that I think this will be a good way to share rather than sending links to people.