Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't park like an asshole

If you park like an asshole, I think you should be sited for it.  Luckily, exists with not only some notices that can be printed out and put on cars, but also with a gallery of people that park like assholes.  There's a guy in my building with a relatively nice car that blocks 2 spaces every morning and there's not a lot of parking in our lot -- there are people in my building with $100K cars that manage to fit in one space.  This weekend some jerk parked so close to my driver door that I had to climb in the passenger side and there were 3 empty spaces on each side.

bad parking

Feel free to print out some of the notices and keep them in your car -- I like Notice 1.

Link --

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why Firefox 3 is super-cool and why you might want to wait


I've been a Firefox fan for years -- I load it on every machine that I sue, regardless of operating system (and usually regardless of whose machine it is).  Generally I don't get into playing with the beta versions of Firefox, but due to the amount of buzz around Firefox 3 beta 4, I went ahead and installed it.

First things first, and this may be the reason you don't want to install the beta: most of the add-ons that I use were disabled as they are incompatible.  Luckily Greasemonkey is compatible and most of the Greasemonkey scripts are compatible, but things like Google Toolbar and the toolbar haven't been updated; while I don't mind some of the things not working, the toolbar is what I miss the most.  (P.S. -- I did install the nightly tester tools to override and enable all the extension, which was a totally bad idea as Firefox got into an infinite loop where it wouldn't boot -- luckily I found out how to launch it in safe mode from the Terminal in OS X and disable all the add-ons).

Here's what's cool about Firefox 3: it is really fast.  You can search around for benchmarking and read all the reviews, but the simple fact of the matter is that I can observe it rendering and loading pages faster.  Further, it seems to interact in a more snappy manner with my heavy-use Google services such as Gmail and Reader.  I also like the history that comes up as I'm typing in a site.

Interestingly the search box did not install by default and I never realized how much I used the search from the toolbar until it wasn't there.  Luckily that was easily fixed by simply dragging and dropping it on the toolbar.  I'm guessing that if the Google toolbar was installed, that would have been automagically taken care of.

The Firefox 3 interface is cleaner and tighter and the buttons more closely resemble the OSX interface, which is quite nice.

Bottom line:

  • If you are a user dependent on your add-ons, wait for the actual release, which is supposed to be June some time.

  • If you are nervous about being bleeding edge and beta scares you, then wait for the full release.

  • If you are like me and get along without most of your add-ons and love relatively stable bleeding edge stuff, then download it by all means.


Lots of subscribers

Wow, I haven't checked Feedburner for a while, but I now have 600+ subscribers to this blog.  I remember when I first started playing around with blogging that I could hardly break 100 people, so I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you that currently subscribe and to offer the opportunity to subscribe to all of you that don't by simply clicking the icon above.

Again, I certainly appreciate your readership.



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why we're using GoogleApps (and why you should think about it too)

google appsI recently moved the company that I work for from e-mail being provided for free by our hosting provider to Google Apps Standard Edition -- here's why:

  • Better reliability.  The e-mail service we were getting from our web host was horribly unreliable.  Even worse, the IMAP support was shoddy at best and we kept getting SSL certificate errors when trying to encrypt connections.  Although we're not getting the guaranteed uptime that we would with Google Apps Premium, Standard seems to be about as good as what we had before.

  • Centralized, sophisticated management.  User creation, account lockout, password reset, distribution lists, etc. -- basically all we could do with the e-mail from our host was create addresses and reset passwords.

  • Calendars.  Shared calendar functionality is key in organizations and we got nothing from our web host.  Now, with Google Apps, people can share calendars and with the Google Calendar Sync, they  can get 2-way sync between Outlook and Google Calendar.

  • True web-based e-mail.  Our host offered it, but you had to choose between SquirrelMail and Horde and it was totally confusing.  The Google Apps interface is the same as the Gmail interface and is very easy to use.

  • Google sites.  We were able to create a universally accessible intranet site without having to host it on our server. 

  • Mobile access.  True IMAP support makes the BlackBerrys work like BlackBerrys are supposed to.  Google Sync for BlackBerry allows the BlackBerry to sync in real-time with the Google Calendar, which, if you use Google Calendar Sync, also means that Outlook is in syn -- all over-the-air and in real-time without having to plug the BlackBerry in.  Google Mail for Mobile allows full access to the Gmail interface so that users can perform searches on all of their archived e-mail.

  • IMAP.  Just set up IMAP on Outlook, then drag all the mail from your PST files into the IMAP folders.  Once everything's uploaded, it can be searched using Gmail and all header information is preserved -- probably the easiest way to get e-mails out of Outlook and into Gmail.

We're not currently using Docs & Spreads, and I'm not sure that we will in the near-short term.  There are a number of employees that have actually abandoned Outlook in favor of Gmail, which is compelling as we look at future software upgrade paths.

Rumor has it that Google may be quickly releasing offline access to Gmail through Gears, which will likely speed adoption of Gmail and cause more people to leave Outlook.  There are further rumors that Google may develop and extremely low-cost server option that will compete directly with Exchange, which would evaluate.

Finally, it's nice to know that we have the ability to upgrade to Apps Premium at any time.  The mailbox sizes and the features offered by Postini as part of the package with an annual recurring cost of only $50 per user are quite compelling.

Here's the bottom line: if you have a business with a domain, go activate Google Apps and start looking more professional; nothing looks worse than someone using an "" address as their business e-mail address.  If you're not comfortable doing this stuff yourself, find someone like me to help you out -- it's a worthwhile investment.

Link -- Google Apps 

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Beyond Booked Solid

BBSI frequently receive books to review on my blog and always disclose when they have been provided to me, so here's my disclosure that I received Beyond Booked Solid (in this post I'm going to refer to the book as "BBS" to make the writing easier) from the author's assistant free of charge for my review. Please note that I only will actually review books that I enjoy reading, so maybe 1 out of 10 actually gets any sort of mention.

When I received the book in the mail, I was immediately concerned that I had not read the preceding book, Book Yourself Solid (and this one is going to be "BYS," again for the ease of writing), but once I got in to the first few pages of BBS, I realized that reading BYS was not a requirement and that BBS stands just fine on its own. However, here's some quick background: BYS is about how to market and sell even if you don't like to market and sell, and how to fill up your time with business prospects to increase your revenue; BBS is about moving into building a bigger and better business by focusing on processes, systems, measurement, leadership, and other core functions.

The book is a good read for several reasons, not the least of which is that you get the feeling that Michael Port, the author, writes as he talks -- even though I've never seen his presentations or spoken to him directly, I can as easily envision him speaking in exactly the same way the words are set forth on the page. I like that Port ties in ideas from some of my other favorite authors such as Seth Godin and Timothy Ferriss and shows how those ideas apply to his core ideas (as a side note, if you read The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss right before you read this book, you may tend to see a lot of parallels, which leads me to believe that great minds think alike).

Here's the core theme of the book is simply this: You need to work on your business, while working in your business, while working on yourself. Port not only details how to work through designing effective systems, leadership, project management, and other core business functions, but he also spends an appropriate amount of time reminding the reader that work is not the only thing in life; he provides the framework and the tools to ensure that your business can run effectively and efficiently and profitably, and still leave you time to spend on personal endeavors.

One thing that I truly enjoyed about BBS was the real-life examples spread throughout the book, and specifically the last chapter of the book that profiled several companies that used the techniques throughout the book to build and maintain successful businesses. Too often business writers expouse about theory and technique, but are unable to provide concrete examples of application; Port succeeds in providing very concrete examples of techniques in practice by successful businesses.

Release date for the book is April 18, 2008.  To those of you at the 24 Hour Fitness in Centennial that watched me read this early in the morning asked me about borrowing the book, you have my sincerest apologies, but I do hope that you will purchase a copy when it comes out and that my descriptions of the content along with this blog post were enough to whet your appetite. 

Link -- BBS website

PS -- as with many of the books that I review, I received a pre-production copy. The copy of BBS I reviewed was actually a simply bound 8.5x11 document . . . it was perfect to be able to read on the treadmill and stair machine at the gym. I thought about 2 things in that regard were I to publish a book:

  • Size can matter. If books were available in a simple 8.5x11 edition by themselves or as part of an upsell with the hardback, I would buy it just to be able to read it at the gym.

  • There's a marketing opportunity here. How easy would it be to walk into your local gym with a 8.5x11 copy of your yet-to-be-published book and put it on every machine with a magazine/book holder? You could ask people to read it, send feedback via e-mail, and leave it on the machine for the next person to read when they were done.