Oops … I’m a bit late with the monthly round up this month. It’s been a month of travelling, prosthetic limbs (not mine!), and family funerals (again, not mine). So bear with me … but some good stuff found around and about:

Single purpose, digital Camera for kids

A couple of years ago, we bought both our kids (currently 9 & 6) digital cameras. They were £50, leading brand (for kids cameras), and simple enough to use. The problem was: they had games on them. So they were no longer cameras – they were (really bad) games consoles … and because the product wasn’t focused on the one task that it should do well, they sit in a corner unused. Boo. So, when I saw this little camera, I immediately thought … ‘Birthday presents ahoy!’:

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This great looking little cameraplugs directly into a USB port for easy photo viewing, downloading, and battery charging (no cables, no batteries). Awesome.

Standing Desks

I’ve recently moved out of my ‘home’ office into my ‘garage’ office (increasing my daily commute by perhaps 10 seconds) – and have decided to move to a standing desk. I have occasional back problems and pretty poor posture. I’m also a keen runner, but find that if I run over 15 miles in a hit, my back gives up. So, poor posture, and poor core strength. Enter, the standing desk. (And no, I didn’t buy a geek desk, or anything like that – I’m currently propping my computer on 2 large storage boxes … although our friendly kitchen man has been tasked with building something a little more aesthetically pleasing).

Two great articles (by the same person – an initial primer, followed by a 12 month follow up) helped me make up my mind: One year at my standing desk and How and why I switched to a standing desk.

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Initially skeptical, I’m turning into a convert. I’ve only done 2 weeks at it so far, and I do still work in a chair for a couple of hours in the morning … but (and sore feet notwithstanding) I’m already finding some huge initial benefits:

  • productivity has increased (much easier to focus standing up, and much less prone to drift into Facebook / other internet attention suckers. I don’t know why this is – I don’t understand the psychology of it – but it’s certainly, anecdotally, true. For me.)
  • my back feels much stronger. I haven’t tested it out with any long runs so far, but I certainly don’t have that ‘loose / wobbly’ feeling in my back that is the typical precursor to impending back problems.
  • sitting is essential. You still need to sit. Donald Rumsfeld (the heaving eejit) may have been able to stand for eight hours, but I can’t. A variety of working areas are vital.

Dealing with critics

I came across a couple of quotes regarding critics and the process of criticism this month that ring true as I start to read more around the subject of making products / writing books …

I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic – Leonard Bernstein

And this conversation with Ricky Gervais where he talks about his show Derek:

GQ: But when someone says “vile, cynical, and dishonest”? Or an “appalling piece of comedy hackwork”? Ricky Gervais: [chuckling] Both of those made me laugh when you said them. “Vile, cynical…” [laughing more] That’s something you’d say about Charles Manson, not a bloke who made a twenty-three-minute sitcom! “Vile, cynical, and dishonest”! “What’d he do?” “Did a sitcom…” [falls on his side to the sofa, he is laughing so hard] Cunts!
GQ: But can you just brush it off? Ricky Gervais: Yeah. Who said it?

GQ: I can’t remember specifically right now. Ricky Gervais: Right. But who wrote and directed Derek?

GQ: [puzzled] You did. Ricky Gervais: You remember that, don’t you?

Yahoo! Again …

Earlier in the month I wrote a bit about Marissa Meyer kicking ass at Yahoo! … I mentioned a couple of stories of how some of the Yahoo takeovers didn’t pan out quite so well for the taken-over firms. I’d forgotten about this piece from 37signals.com – perhaps the definitive piece on ‘What happens after Yahoo! acquires you’

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Professional Project Management

I’ve toyed with a few project management tools over the years – from Basecamp (which I loved, but didn’t use), to Pivotal Tracker (which I didn’t love, but had to use), and Podio, which looked great but, well, by then I just couldn’t be arsed.  But, typically, my objections to this kind of software is that you’re paying month by month, you invest time and resources into it and then it’s hard to get your data out in a meaningful format for you to work with outside of that service – should you ever need to. The longer you use them, the more you’re committed to the relationship. So I stay away from them.

However, this app (I was going to call it a ‘new’ app, but it might have been around for years for all I know), Duet, may well have been developed specifically for me.


It’s something you can host on your own server and you pay a one off licence fee – which is very reasonable at just $45. It’s written using technologies I understand (PHP & MySQL) which gives me the confidence that I can transport the data if I need to – and it seems very usable. If I fork out the $45 I’ll let you know how I get on.

VSRE – Very Short Reply Expected

Those of you who have worked with me directly on a project will know that I’m a fan of lengthy emails … or rather, I find it hard to write anything else. (And, often, with good reason … I can’t meet face to face with many of my clients, so well written, quite lengthy emails are often necessary I promise!)

VSRE is a call to action for email users to write replies that are as short as possible. It can be quite demanding writing out a reply to an email making sure it is clear enough as well as being contextually polite. By specifying VSRE in the subject line, you’re setting the expectation that just writing ‘yes’, ‘no’, or some other one word response, is just fine. I like it.  Rather than trying to become a standard way of operating, it could become an email convention like RSVP or FYI.

… and that’s about all we have time for this week!