Clean Out Your Inbox Week Wed 16 Jan 08

Inbox_2 In early December I wrote "Getting Control Of Your Email - Break The Addiction" and I mentioned Marsha Egan's list of tell-tale signs to see if you are addicted to email and her book, "12 Steps to Curing Your Email E-Ddiction".  Egan's company is focused on working with individuals and companies to make the most of email and to regain lost productivity.

As part of this, Egan has proclaimed January 28 - February 1 as Clean Out Your Inbox Week.  As she states in her press release announcing this:

Every January, we set personal goals and attempt to make a fresh start and begin the New Year with our best foot forward in both our personal and professional lives. In the spirit of this fresh start, email productivity expert Marsha Egan is challenging businesses everywhere to take control of their email overwhelm by participating in “Clean Out Your Inbox Week.” 

Whether you use Egan's kit (commercial product) or just try to do it yourself the idea of cleaning out your inbox certainly sounds like a good way to start the year.

If this topic was of interest, you might also like these:

"Inbox" photo by Mike Schaffner (looks like I've got some cleanup work to do)

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Getting Control Of Your Email - Break The Addiction Mon 03 Dec 07

All_business_kenyee"You've got mail" has become one of the more famous phrases of our times.  Email, it seems, has taken control of our lives.  If someone doesn't respond to an email we start thinking - what is wrong?  If they haven't checked our email in the last 10 or 15 minutes some people start to get very anxious .  Have you ever been tempted to email the person across the table absorbed in checking their Blackberry so you could get their attention back to a real face-to-face conversation?

Matt_moran In an earlier post I suggested one way to get your email addiction under control was to check your email only at regular intervals.  To help do this I suggested that you go into your email device settings and set them to "off" or "none".  By doing this you remove the constant reminder - a new email just came in - "look at me".  One of my favorite bloggers, Matt Moran, recently wrote in the ITtoolbox blog about a great refinement to this technique.  Matt has modified his email signature to include:

====================================
IMPORTANT NOTICE ON EMAIL & REACHING ME:
- as of 11/20/2007
As an exercise in effectiveness, I will begin checking email less regularly - once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.

If your message is critical, please call. If it is not critical, please be patient and I will get back with you.

The great thing about this is that by doing so he is starting to set the expectations of the people he communicates with.  Not only does this reduce the pressure to respond immediately it may also help reduce the "did you get my email?" emails.  It changes the whole tone of the conversation from frenzied to timely which is rather nice I would say.

No doubt you're thinking - what has all this have to do with me,  I'm not addicted to email.  Fortunately, I found some great indicators to see if you are addicted and also to ways to "cure" yourself.

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Accomodating Those A**hole Censors Mon 08 Oct 07

Stop_signs_high_springs_adobemacI recently spent some time re-editing a post because of the problems it was causing with Internet filtering programs.  Back in July I wrote a post, Take The Test: Are You An IT A**hole Or An IT Hero?  which is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek test based on Professor Bob Sutton's Work Matters blog which discusses his book "The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't".

Actually, the problem is that in the original post I used "ss" instead of "**".  As a result I've learned that some Internet filtering programs are blocking my blog due to "offensive language".  When I wrote this I considered self-censoring it but after reading some of Professor Sutton's posts on how his book title was being handled in the media I decided to follow his lead and leave the "ss" in.  Those that know me do know that I do use strong language from time to time but I don't use it as a normal part of my conversation.  However, sometime using substitutes don't just convey the same meaning and intensity which is why I agree with Sutton on using the term.  For an interesting discussion on how Sutton has handled this see "The Decent Thing to Call My Book"

Apparently some IT administrators and/or web filtering providers don't agree and as a result this site was blocked.  Interestingly enough I've been told that when the package blocks my site for "offensive language" it lists the offensive terms which is ironic.  It kind of makes you wonder how you filter the filtering software.

While I do think that Internet filtering should be used in the corporate world I don't think it should be overused.  Here are some suggestions for using web filtering effectively.

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Another New Wrinkle In User Interfaces Mon 01 Oct 07

Keyboards_drb62_2A couple of months ago I wrote about what I considered the most significant thing about the iPhone, namely its user interface.  The touch screen  concepts of the iPhone along with the  types of technology used in surface computing and Microsoft's Center for Information Work indicate some exciting new possibilities in my opinion [see the original post for videos demonstrating these new technologies].

The folks over at Scientific American blog recently reported on yet another emerging interface, "The keyboard is dead; Long live... Whatever".   The blog references an Electronic Engineering Times article "Text-entry algorithm takes aim at Qwerty".  It seems that the folks at kannuu have developed a potentially easier way to type.  The technology is a one thumb device where after you enter a letter it uses predictive technology to present choices for the next letter and ultimately the full word.  As kannuu describes it:

With our elegantly simple Partial Word Completion™ technology, accessed by using an up, down, left, right and centre choice or 5 way directional selection control such as those commonly found on mobile devices, kannuu delivers a fast, seamless, and error-free search experience. And being software-based, it works with any mobile device.

The Scientific American article shows how the word "technology" can be entered with only 7 clicks using kannuu compared to the usual 13 on a traditional keyboard.  You can also see a demo of this at kannuu.com.

Like these other technologies it is too early to tell if this technology will truly work or if it will catch on.  However, it is interesting to see how computer interfaces are changing from the keyboard and green screens to a GUI/mouse interface to new and different touch and voice interfaces.

It will be fun to see where all this goes don't you think?  Who knows, maybe being "all thumbs" will be a good thing.

"keyboards" photo by DRB62

If this topic was of interest, you might also like these:

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PowerPoint: The Good and Bad Mon 16 Jul 07

Welcome_to_powerpoint_garethjmsau_3The jury is still out on PowerPoint as far as I'm concerned.  I can't make up my mind if it is one of those technologies that has changed our life for the better or instead has filled us with fear and loathing.  People seem to dread going to PowerPoint which is a shame because it has so much potential for good.

Last Thursday Kent Blumberg posted a number of links including a great video on how NOT to use PowerPoint (video below).  This is "Life After Death By PowerPoint" by Don McMillan.  It is a great send up of everything wrong you've ever seen in a PowerPoint.  The really funny part about it is that most of it really happens.

In a quirky bit of timing, earlier that week I mentioned to a colleague a presentation (video also below) I'd seen by Dick Hardt, Founder and CEO of Sxip Identity.  This is a great presentation on 2 fronts.  First the topic "Identity 2.0" is very interesting.  Second and most important in terms of this post is that the presentation is simply amazing.  I've never seen anyone give a PowerPoint like this before.  Finally someone has truly tapped in to the potential of of PowerPoint.

Lastly, I've included a bonus video about PowerPoint that you might like.  So on to the videos.

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The Real Significance of the iPhone Wed 04 Jul 07

Iphone_markhillary_3 Now that we've seemingly survived iPhone Friday I thought it would be useful to take a closer look at the iPhone in terms of its real significance.  As I said earlier"

It really doesn't provide new functionality.  Existing phones provide email, Internet access, movies, music and you can even make phone calls on them.  The iPhone as best I can tell doesn't add anything to this.  What it does add is what appears to be a much better interface in that it is easier to use.  If this new interface lives up to the hype this could be a big step forward.

So while the iPhone is basically a phone (admittedly a very cool one) the interface is a very interesting new wrinkle.  The interface has had some criticism ranging from the touch keyboard is too small and cumbersome (and here too) to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer's comments on the lack of a regular keyboard make it impractical for business customer wanting to use it for email.  The criticism may be valid but I suspect the touchscreen concept will be improved and overcome these problems.  For me it represents the first real widespread practical roll out of this technology and that is what I think is the most important significance of the iPhone.

For a good demonstration of where this could eventually lead take a look at Microsoft's Center for Information Work.

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Should Corporate IT Be Afraid of the iPhone? Wed 27 Jun 07

Jobs_iphone_2The iPhone is coming!  The iPhone is coming!  Is this the modern day IT equivalent of the "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"?  Personally, I don't think so.  It is however, a lot of hype and rhetoric which is what I assume Apple wanted all along.  The whole discussion is just more of the Macophiles vs. the Macophobes debate.  From what I've seen it really is cool but in the end it won't be that big of a deal for corporate IT.

From the Macophile side we are told resistance is futile.  Over at Apple 2.0 in their post  "The Coming Battle: Apple's iPhone vs. Corporate IT Departments" they argue "But what both these articles also concede is that resistance may be futile. Increasingly, it's users who drive the adoption of new technologies within corporations, not IT. And when the user is a VP or maybe even the CEO, all bets are off."  Their absolutely right although I'm guessing they maybe over estimating the CEO demand (wishful thinking perhaps?).  I haven't found a lot of articles or blog posts written by the Macophiles (maybe I'm looking in the wrong place) but if you read some of the comments in the articles below you'll get a sampling of the religious fervor surrounding this.  On Tuesday afternoon NPR did a story talking about people lining up at the Apple stores 3 days in advance to get an iPhone as soon as they become available.  It would appear that a number of people have "drunk the kool-aid" that Steve Jobs is pushing. 

From the Macophobes it is one horror story after another:

Again, this all may be true but irrelevant.

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The End of Spam? Fri 01 Jun 07

Spam_computers_thalling55 Some good news.  The feds have indicted Robert Soloway for his alleged spam activities.  Jeffrey C. Sullivan, U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington issued a news release stating:

“Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners.  Our investigators dubbed him the “Spam King” because he is responsible for millions of spam emails.”

A quick Google search reveal a lot of articles regarding spam and Soloway.  Apparently he has been getting a lot of attention in this area for quite some time.  Sullivan's press release indicates that Soloway sent out "tens of millions" of email messages.

So if Soloway is stopped does that mean we will finally see an end to spam?

Continue reading "The End of Spam?" »

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Realizing the Impact of Technology Thu 31 May 07

Pict2227mrw_robenalt The other day I had one of those moments where you suddenly are struck by how technology has changed your life.  It's not anything new, it is just a sudden appreciation of how things have changed.

I've been in my new job for 2 months and had just completed my expense report online.  After doing this you have to mail the hard copy receipts to Accounts Payable.  And that's when it struck me.  I'd been in this job for 2 months and this was the first time I had to actually mail something out.  Up to this point the phone, email, and online systems had met all my communications needs allowing me to sign up for company benefits, schedule meeting and exchange information.  Two months and never needing to mail something, now that is a change from the way business used to work.

Interestingly enough when I asked someone who at been working in the building for over a year where the mailroom was - they didn't know.  Things really have changed!  But this wasn't the first time I had this kind of experience.

Continue reading "Realizing the Impact of Technology" »

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Breaking the BlackBerry Addiction - Going Cold Turkey Mon 23 Apr 07

Onlineaddictionbobdegraaf_2Last Monday I posted an article suggesting that one way to break the habit of constantly checking email on your BlackBerry (a.k.a. "Crackberry) or laptop was to set the notification option to "off" or "none".  This would remove the temptation to stop what you were doing and instantly review each new incoming email. 

As the saying goes, "Timing is everything."  The day after my post came the sudden and shocking "BlackBerry outage".  It started Tuesday night and lasted for almost 12 hours.  We were forced to face the real world cold turkey.  Scary isn't it.

It did however lead to some interesting observations:

Continue reading "Breaking the BlackBerry Addiction - Going Cold Turkey" »

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