Saturday, February 28, 2009

Windows Error Message Haiku

It's said on the internets that Microsoft has replaced its Japanese Windows error messages with Haiku poems (5-7-5 syllables). Apologies to Basho and to the creative souls who made these originally.

Your file was so big.

It might be very useful.

But now it is gone.

The web site you seek

Cannot be located, but

Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.

Reflect, repent, and reboot.

Order will return.

Program aborting:

Close all that you have worked on.

You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.

I am the Blue Screen of Death.

No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked.

Today it is not working.

Windows is like that.

First snow, then silence.

This thousand dollar screen dies

So beautifully.

With searching comes loss

And the presence of absence:

"My Novel" not found.

The Tao that is seen

Is not the true Tao--until

You bring fresh toner.

Stay the patient course.

Of little worth is your ire.

The network is down.

A crash reduces

Your expensive computer

To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:

Death, taxes and lost data.

Guess which has occurred?

You step in the stream,

But the water has moved on.

This page is not here.

Out of memory.

We wish to hold the whole sky,

But we never will.

Having been erased,

The document you're seeking

Must now be retyped.

Serious error.

All shortcuts have disappeared.

Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Guerilla Collaboration with Mindtouch Deki?

Aaron Fulkerson, the CEO at Mindtouch - makers of the awesome mashable wiki "Deki" - writes about the state of collaboration in his post Three Decades Later. Revolt Or Die.

As Aaron mentions, the current state of affairs with regard to collaboration is very much email centric. However, email is terrible for collaboration. If you have never given this much thought, sit a moment and really think through what it means to try to manage a project, with file versioning, in email. When you do, you can see how easily email can snowball out of hand, with nobody on the team knowing what file or which piece of info is the current, latest version.

I know this from painful experience. I have and my firm has had to manage very large projects via email, because of the strong resistance at the client to any web-based applications. People have been adamant: "we use email for everything." Yikes. There are even project management applications that cater (pander?) to this attitude, like Wrike.

My own opinion is strongly against the use of email for any attempts at collaboration, as it is simply the wrong system, but this all reminds me of an anecdote.

A scientist working on animal behavior rigged a gorilla cage with a banana, hanging from a string at the top of the cage where it would not be reachable. He put a ladder in the cage, propped against the side. The gorillas would figure out how to use the ladder, and just when a gorilla would reach for the banana, the scientist would spray the gorillas with cold water. The result? Enraged gorillas. Enraged and hungry gorillas.

But that wasn't the point. While doing this experiment, the scientist would swap out a gorilla, and repeat. Grab-spray-enrage, grab-spray-enrage. Eventually, the experienced gorillas were preventing newcomer gorillas from going for the banana.

Peer pressure, at its finest. Like the gorillas, our habits become entrenched, and there's a lot of "that's the way we always do it" in corporations worldwide, especially when people introduce new systems to use. That includes wikis.

I think Mindtouch might sponsor some demos to decision-makers, to show how great their technology is, how it's easy to adopt, and why email is most definitely not The Answer (tm). I thank Aaron and company for leading the charge.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Various OmniGroup Applications Now Free

From "The Omni Mouth", Omni Group's blog, OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter are now freeware. This decision is relayed in Omni Group's usual light, irreverent manner, but it's a big one, in my opinion. Software development is hard work and requires a lot of investment, so I'm grateful Omni Group decided to make these fine programs available for free.

If you are on a Mac, and have never checked them out, take a test drive of Omni Group's very high quality commercial offerings, like OmniGraffle, OmniOutline, OmniPlan or OmniFocus. I use these regularly. They're worth it, so go buy some.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Backup Your Twitter, Friendfeed or other RSS Feeds

The furor over Facebook's ill-advised and since-rescinded claim to own all your content made me think whether my Twitter tweets and FriendFeed posts have any sort of value. While their value to anyone except me is questionable, perhaps we can say that they may be of value as an archive, and, that they may gain in value over time, as more and more are built up.

How to Backup FriendFeed, Twitter or other RSS Feeds

Using a similar technique to this previous post, we can use an RSS-to-email service like FeedBurner to essentially backup RSS feeds via email. This will give you a pretty-good backup to IMAP, or, by using email-to-blog services, a post of your posts.

Here's how I plan to do this:

  • Create a mail distribution list or "forwarder" in my ISP's dashboard, something like: A DL will forward mail it receives, to list members.
  • Make a blog in Blogger or another service that supports email-to-blog. Note its email-to-blog address.
  • Create one or two backup IMAP accounts, like, and add their addresses to the distribution list.
  • Add the backup blog's email-to-blog email address to the distribution list.
  • Burn a feed in FeedBurner for each RSS URL I want to back up: FriendFeed, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Adjust each republished feed, including publishing the feed via email on the Publicize tab.
  • Subscribe my DL email address to the feed. On the Feedburner feed page, there is a link to "subscribe by email" and you can enter the address there.

Finally, note that you'd need to be sure to check the first email you get from Feedburner, as you have to verify the address. I hope this idea helps you backup your FriendFeed, Twitter, and other RSS feeds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook: "Oops, reset, that was a mistake"

I wrote yesterday about the furor over the new Facebook Terms of Service statement, but Facebook has gone and reverted to their old terms while they figger out which end is up. I can't even access the Facebook blog, so forget an URL, but here's what the top page says:

Terms of Use Update

A couple of weeks ago, we posted an update to our Terms of Use that we hoped would clarify some parts of it for our users. Over the past couple of days, we have received a lot of questions and comments about these updated terms and what they mean for people and their information. Because of the feedback we received, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.
We'll see what happens. I think FB should charge something for their service. Why do people assume bandwidth and hardware is free anyway?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Facebook TOS Furor - "Just Trust Us"

Facebook changed its terms of service, and there's a furor rising up about it. Despite the subsequent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's attempt at explanation to smooth over ruffled feathers and downplay Consumerist's original post about this, if you read the TOS, it says that you grant a perpetual, fully-paid license to Facebook to all your content you share via Facebook or its partners, and even to your "likeness" and name. The wording is clear. Further, they make sure you, the poster, are responsible for the content.

My Reading of the New Facebook TOS

My reading of this language is that it unambiguously means, Facebook can use your content when and how they like, and, if you have uploaded something that is copyright someone else, you're responsible for that content (and presumably any legal action against you for doing that). Nice. Here's the section in question:


You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

Other TOSs

By way of comparison, here's links to PDFs of the terms of service for Twitter, Google Docs and Facebook at the time of this writing. The other guys make it pretty clear that you own your content.

Facebook has issued waffly post-furor statements that the TOS does not really mean that Facebook owns your content and that nothing bad will come of it. However if that is true, then there should be absolutely no problem for Facebook to change the language of the TOS to something that clearly states that I own my own content. Pretty simple. In the end, I think if the TOS does not change in short order to something reasonable, then it's time to seriously considering cutting ties.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rick's Picks (weekly)

  • An outstanding compilation of youtube links. -- Rick Cogley | The 50 greatest arts videos on YouTube. YouTube is best known for its offbeat videos that become viral sensations. But among its millions of clips is a treasure trove of rare and fascinating arts footage, lovingly posted by fans. Ajesh Patalay selects 50 of the best - Joy Division's TV debut, readings by Jack Kerouac, a Marlene Dietrich screen test, Madonna's first performance... and much more

    tags: youtube, arts, music, observer, literature, education, lists, media

  • "Zaditen", an allergy medicine from Novartis, is now available over-the-counter in Japan. Last year it was by prescription only, but I'm blogging about it because it works for me where little else did. It's about 1800 yen for a 20 capsule pack, which seems expensive but "welcome to Japan" eh?

    tags: zaditen, allergy, novartis, japan

  • Just as the sign says - "twitter hall of shame". Some interesting stuff here. Makes ya think. -- Rick Cogley | From the site: Twitter is a fun Web 2.0 communications tool that allows users to deliver quick messages of 140 characters or less. The hastiness and ephemeral nature of these messages means that Twitter has become more than a communication tool — it's a source of angry, funny and awkward messages that would be sometimes best left unsaid. Whether they're embarrassing or just interesting, these tweets are worth preserving.

    tags: pop-go, twitter, hall of shame

  • An outstanding set of photographs of directors and actors by Annie Leibovitz. A must-see with good commentary next to each photo. -- Rick Cogley | From the site: Something Just Clicked - Some of these actor-director teams have a history together—remember Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’s breakthrough, Splash, a quarter-century ago?—while others produced their first mind-melds in 2008. Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet even brought marriage and kids to the Revolutionary Road set. But in each case the chemistry was profound, the effect exponential. From Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn to John Patrick Shanley and Meryl Streep, Annie Leibovitz photographs 10 partnerships that helped generate more than four dozen Oscar nominations this season. Related: Krista Smith goes behind the scenes at the shoots. Plus: Video from the photo shoots.

    tags: Annie Leibovitz, vanityfair, hollywood portfolio, photography

  • Excellent intro to the types of problems organizations hit when they try to go Agile. -- Rick Cogley From the site - Agile Adoption Patterns Published by richard durnall on Feb 10th, 2007 in Coaching with No Comments I find the patterns that emerge from repeated tasks really interesting. When I first started coaching teams there was no way I could give the team or the organisation any predictions about what they were about to go through. A few years later I find it’s a very different story. I’ve found that no matter the industry, city, size or culture of the organisation, things always break in a common order…

    tags: agile, richard durnall, adoption

  • PM software centered on graphic design firms. --Rick Cogley Project Management Software for Graphic Design by: Shel Perkins from: STEP Inside Design, July/August 2007 A good system for budgeting and tracking projects is absolutely essential for every graphic design firm. However, the process of finding the software that’s most appropriate for you can be very confusing. There are lots of competing project management systems out there and each has different strengths and weaknesses. This research guide will help you sort through the options by asking some key questions and sharing comparative information about several of the systems currently available.

    tags: pm, projectmanagement, project management, design

  • Every morning on Japanese TV lately, there's a commercial segment that plays a cover of "Top of the World" by The Carpenters. I knew that The Carpenters were popular here, having seen their songs on many a karaoke menu and heard them played pretty consistently. I had mentioned their popularity in Japan to an American friend, who was baffled by it, and I laughingly mentioned this to my wife this AM. She told me that their songs have been played for years in our local Gumisawa Elementary and in other Elementary Schools around Japan.

    tags: the carpenters, japan, school

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

How to Tag Wiki Pages - A Best Way?

A friend of mine came to me with a frustration, which was that he is attempting to use Apple Wiki that comes with Leopard Server, and was stuck understanding the concept of tagging. Apple made a conscious decision to step back from hierarchy in their Wiki server product. All the pages are lumped into a folder, and it's up to you to create index pages if you like, and to tag pages.

So What's the Best Way to Tag?

I think the whole concept is confusing at first because it is so flexible and because most people don't think about categorization like librarians might. Basically, you can tag pages based on attributes like:

  • Page Type - article, tutorial, reference, "meeting notes"
  • Page Content - "restaurants in Tokyo", Rhinocerii
  • Workflow State - "to do" or WIP" and so on, if you are trying to use your wiki as a GTD system.

These are different "data dimensions" one would use to talk about the content on a page. A page could also have more than one type of tag - there are no rules for it and no best way. Once you have your pages tagged, you could make index pages with links to the tags if you like, or just rely on search. The lack of a hierarchy in Apple Wiki in Leopard Server is powerful once you "get" it.

This challenge reminds me of Google Gmail's concept "search not sort", which is in opposition to the sort paradigm of systems like Yahoo mail. Gmail's concept was hard to stomach at first, and may still be so, for people who like to sort things.

Rick's Picks (weekly)

  • Access Wireless at 6000+ Locations across Japan, for 380 yen per month. (Japanese only website)

    tags: yodobashi, wireless, gate, wireless gate, wi-gate, wifi, japan

  • Looking at the basics of Agile in more detail to help me apply it to general, non-development project management, the principles behind the Agile Manifesto are readily available for us to read and learn from. -- Rick Cogley

    tags: rickcogley, rick cogley, agile, principles

  • To help my Japanese colleagues understand the concepts of Agile more easily, after the jump, I'll translate the principles into Japanese, under the original English from the Agile website. The Japanese translations and any mistakes therein are solely my responsibility. Further, I'll take the opportunity to comment on what I see as important in the principles. For instance, do the principles allow for or even demand a lazy, free-for-all approach? Can an inexperienced team do Agile effectively, or, is mentoring needed?

    tags: agile, rickcogley, rick cogley, principles, japanese

  • The "pomodoro technique" is a sort of "personal scrum" technique for getting things done. Check out the paper written in English on this page - it's a link to a PDF. --Rick Cogley From the site, in Italian - Abstract - Per molte persone il tempo rappresenta un nemico. L'ansia relativa al "tempo che passa", soprattutto in presenza di scadenze, genera comportamenti non efficaci nel lavoro e nello studio e, per questa via, sviluppa la tendenza a procrastinare.

    tags: pomodoro, pomodoro technique, pm, project management, personal scrum

  • Many people on Twitter ask for recommendations for a good online project management solution. There are many such web-based applications out there, and it really depends upon your needs and intended project approach - are you "agile", do you want to use "scrum" or "kanban", or are you PMI all the way. Do you want it SaaS, or self-hosted? Do you need time tracking? Should a wiki be integrated? The list goes on. My requirements to make it through the "first cut" are listed in the article.

    tags: rick cogley, project management, pm, online, agile, kanban, scrum, pmi, cogley

  • PSNext seems like a very comprehensive, cross-platform project management solution based on the PMI standards. -- Rick Cogley From the site - PSNext is a full-featured and an exceptionally easy to use enterprise Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solution, giving you extensive insight into all your projects and resources across the enterprise. PSNext is entirely web-based, and can be used regardless of your geographical location, operating system, or browser, making it the ideal choice for organizations with single or mixed IT environments. PSNext’s rich graphical interface, multi-lingual nature, robust project management functionality, high degree of configurability, flexible licensing, and simple automatic deployment ensure a smooth startup and a rewarding journey to project management success. PSNext is based on Sciforma’s 26+ years of project management and software development experience, and from hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.

    tags: psnext, sciforma, project management, pm, java

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Japan WiFi Access for 380 Yen per Month

Yodobashi Camera has a nice wifi access plan called Wireless Gate, with 6000+ access points across Japan for 380 yen per month according to the pamphlet I have. Wireless Gate looks like a good plan, and here's how you can sign up (but in Japanese, so get some help from a friend if you're kanji-impaired): In the pamphlet I got at Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku, they advertise it as working with the iPhone too, so if you do not have the all-you-can-eat plan from Softbank, this might be of help.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On the Principles of the Agile Manifesto

Looking at the basics of Agile in more detail over the last weeks, to help me apply it and other philosophies and methods to general, non-development project management, I discovered that the principles behind the Agile Manifesto are readily available.

Agile Principles, Translated, with Some Commentary

To help my Japanese colleagues understand the concepts of Agile more easily, after the jump, I'll translate the principles into Japanese, under the original English from the Agile website. The Japanese translations and any mistakes therein are solely my responsibility. Further, I'll take the opportunity to comment on what I see as important in the principles. For instance, do the principles allow for or even demand a lazy, free-for-all approach? Can an inexperienced team do Agile effectively, or, is mentoring needed?

Please have a look at the short article and commentary. Put your comments on this blog post; I'd love to hear from you, and I hope this article helps someone. Enjoy!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Rick's Picks (weekly)

  • A good bunch of design-related iPhone Apps related to color, fonts or time tracking. --Rick Cogley From the site - For designers, the iPhone (and the iPod touch, which runs the same software but doesn’t include phone functions) is turning into a valuable sidekick. Amid the games, utilities, games, novelty programs, and, yes, games on Apple’s App Store are lots of apps geared toward designers. Here are several that stand out. (Note that URLs in some cases lead directly to the App Store within iTunes.)

    tags: creativepro, iphone, designer

  • App wireframing webapp. Cool. Kind of like balsamiq. With iPlotz you can create clickable, navigable wireframes to create the experience of a real website or software application. You can also invite others to comment on the designs, and once ready, you can then manage the tasks for developers and designers to build the project.

    tags: iplotz, navigable

  • WOW, this is a cool tool. Circos is designed with genome data in mind but can be used for visualization of any data sets. --Rick Cogley From the site: Circos is designed for visualizing genomic data such as alignments, conservation, and generalized 2D data, such as line, scatter, heatmap and histogram plots. Circos is very flexible — you can use it to visualize any kind of data, not just genomics. Circos has been used to visualize customer flow in the auto industry, volume of courier shipments, database schemas, and presidential debates. The creation of Circos was motivated by a need to visualize intra- and inter-chromosomal relationships within one or more genomes, or between any two or more sets of objects with a corresponding distance scale. Circos is similar to chromowheel and, to a lesser extent, genopix.

    tags: visualization, perl, bioinformatics, software, science, data, mapping, genetics

  • Effective estimation method. From the site - How does Planning Poker® work? ... The idea behind Planning Poker is simple. Individual stories are presented for estimation. After a period of discussion, each participant chooses from his own deck the numbered card that represents his estimate of how much work is involved in the story under discussion. All estimates are kept private until each participant has chosen a card. At that time, all estimates are revealed and discussion can begin again.

    tags: agile, poker, tools, projectmanagement, scrum

  • Corey Ladas of "scrumban" fame does a presentation on Lean thinking for Agile. Very interesting and informative. -- Rick

    tags: corey ladas, scrumban, agile, xpdx

  • Vasco Duarte is using a "personal scrum" to manage and "eat his own dog food" so to speak. He says - I'm using Scrum patterns for managing my own work. Let me explain this a little bit. I'm following a method for the management of my personal work that resembles and is largely based on the patterns that we see in Scrum.

    tags: scrum, personal scrum, vasco duarte

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.