Joe Peichel

StrengthsFinder 2.0 - Strategic * Maximizer * Relator * Developer * Adaptability

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

Sunday, November 01, 2009

InfoWorld published this excellent brief overview video on cloud computing. Worth a look if you're in the dark about the cloud!

My First Google Wave

I got my invitation to Google Wave on Friday and finally had a few minutes to check it out last night and today.  Started my first wave on "cloud computing."  Seems fitting to discuss the topic in a new, cloud-based collaboration platform.  Of course, I continue to have dialogs on cloud computing in other media, but couldn't resist trying out Google Wave with such a fitting topic.

Right now I've only got about 5 colleagues in Google Wave along with me, but that'll grow over the next few days.  I'll post more observations as my community grows and I have more reasons to work in the environment.

Meanwhile, I'm in it and learning my way around.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Verizon, Motorola unveil the Droid | Signal Strength - CNET News: "NEW YORK--Verizon Wireless customers will soon be able to get their hands on the much anticipated Google Android phone called the Droid."

I have to say, I'm impressed by the features. The Droid is almost compelling enough to pull me away from AT&T and the promise that (eventually) my wife will let me buy an iPhone (she already has hers ;) ).

I say almost because, while the software side of the Droid (Google Android 2.0) shows promise as a formidable competitor to the iPhone OS (some might call it "Mac OS X mobile edition"), it still lacks the industrial design elegance and comprehensive hardware/software integration of the iPhone. I worry about the hardiness and longevity of devices with so many mechanical elements (full qwerty keyboard, slide out screen). The iPhone has only two hardware switches, no other moving parts, and so not much that's subject to wear.

Still, the Droid has some unique features (the "car-friendly UI" and turn-by-turn directions), and the fact that it's on the Verizon network with comprehensive 3G coverage nationwide makes it an attractive alternative for anyone who needs a handheld computer that overcomes some of the limitations of the iPhone on AT&T.

The Droid is one more clear indicator that the smartphone market will continue to diversify, heating up competition between carriers as well as between device makers. BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian/Nokia, and now Android, will continue to push the envelope in handheld network computing and communications.

I can't wait for Christmas to see if Santa leaves one of these gems for me!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2-Minute Tasks

One of the principles outlined in David Allen's "Getting Things Done" is that of immediately executing those items on our "to do" lists that take 2 minutes or less. Of course, this assumes you're good at identifying those things that are "2-minute tasks" vs. all the rest.

This morning as my wife was leaving to run errands she commented that she nearly decapitated herself on the metal bracket hanging down from the open garage door. This state of affairs is the result of a minor repair project I've undertaken, as our garage door opener has been broken for nearly 2 months. Unfortunately during the disassembly, I neglected to take the opener bracket arm off of the garage door, and this morning my wife encountered it while she was putting things into our Suburban, leading me to my "2-minute task."

How long does it take to remove a bracket? It should be a 2-minute task, and thankfully today it was. Unfortunately, many situations like this crop up in my daily life, and the tasks become projects (or at least longer-running tasks) for a couple of key reasons:
  1. I'm unable to quickly put my hands on the tool(s) needed to complete the task, and
  2. I misjudged the skills or information needed to achieve my goal
Today I got lucky. I knew exactly where the wrenches were that I needed, and unscrewing a bolt-and-nut combination is hardly rocket science, so I completed my 2-minute task and moved on with my day. Having done so, however, has got me thinking about ways I can better organize the tools I use and improve my access to information to assist me in acquiring the skill(s) needed to complete my various "2-minute tasks" and thus improve my productivity.

Here's to our collective "2-minute tasks" -- may we organize to get them done quickly and efficiently without letting them rule our destiny.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On My Own - Doing It By The Numbers

Over the weekend I got my first call on a consulting opportunity.  A few calls later I realized something - I hadn't figured out how to price my "product!"

It's pretty hard for someone to buy something (or even determine whether they're interested) if they don't know the price.

Of course, that realization came after I nailed down something even more resume.

I promised lots of friends, colleagues and former co-workers that I'd let them know how things are going, so I plan to catalog the steps in my process here on my blog in the unlikely event that someone else decides to pursue a similar path.

I know this has probably all been written about before, but some of us are just too darned bull-headed to learn lessons from other people and need to make our own mistakes, carve our own paths.

Step #1 - Define Your Product (aka Update Your Resume)

I know most people probably keep their resumes current by looking at what they've done every few months and then summarizing the accomplishments on their resume.  Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people.   I've never been good about updating my resume while I have a job; it's only after I become unemployed that the effort seems worthwhile, and of course at that point I struggle to recall what the heck I've done over the past months and years.

My last employer implemented a web-based goal tracking system that each employee was supposed to update quarterly.  Annual performance appraisals were based in part on performance as documented in the goals system, so the wise employee set good goals and tracked them religiously.  This type of system would be a good source for items on a resume, if only I'd taken time to 1) document all my goals and tasks and, 2) keep a copy for myself.  Oops!  Anyone who's reading this, learn from my mistake - take advantage of the personal HR information your company tracks about could come in handy as your career evolves.

The good news for me is that, in retrospect, certain things tend to stand out from the day-to-day paper shuffling (excuse me, bit shuffling!), and while updating my resume is a tedious task I'm generally able to compile a strong set of accomplishments to present to a prospective employer/customer.

Step #2 - Establish Your Brand (aka Get A Website)

I'd been meaning to do this for quite awhile, and being suddenly unemployed served as the motivation to just get the job done.  I visited GoDaddy and bought my first domain name; I'd already begun working on a site using Google Sites, and so undertook to learn how to map my Google Site to my newly-purchased domain.  A quick search of Google Sites Help and then GoDaddy Help revealed the settings I need to change on Google and at GoDaddy to make things happen.  Made the changes, then let things flow through DNS caches across the Internet and Presto!, my site was live.

Granted, it's starting out pretty barebones (resume only), but it is a start, and something on which to build.

Step #3 - Price Your Product (aka How Am I Going To Make Ends Meet!?!?)

This is the tough part, because there are so many things to consider.  Can I get someone to pay me what I think I'm worth?  Should I accept less just so I can bring in a paycheck?

If you're already being paid by the hour, you know what at least one company is willing to pay for a particular job or skill.  Those of us on salary need to take the extra step of breaking down our annual pay into an hourly rate.  I checked Wikipedia to see what information I could find about the typical number of hours worked per year in the US, and found a link to a table of statistics maintained by the OECD, which asserts that the average number of hours worked per worker in the US in 2007 was 1,798.  Dividing my annual salary by that number gave me a good estimate of what my billing rate would have to be in order for me to have income equal to my base salary.  Of course, I'd need to bill at a higher rate if I wanted to take into account my total annual income, which included performance bonuses.

Of course, if you've established a lifestyle which allows you to survive on a modest income, you can consider a lower billing rate, which is likely to make you more attractive to prospective employers/customers.


Having put some of the building blocks in place, I'm now focusing more on marketing.  Of course, I need to put together my business plan, too; I need to chart my course from "making ends meet" to "financially independent," and that only happens through planning.

Tomorrow, though, I'll be focused again on technology, as a couple of interesting items crossed my path.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sad Day For Microsoft: 5,000 Laid Off, Earnings And Revenues Down

It would seem, seeing this headline, that even the tech sector is unable to avoid the consequences of this economic downturn.  When even bellwether Microsoft must slash jobs, it must be impossible to create a sustainable business model that has the elasticity to weather a severe economic slowdown.

Then again, there's this:

and this:

I believe Apple has established a management and operations pattern that may prove a model for sustainable business operations that, while not necessarily immune to economic trends and conditions, could prove more stable and thus less prone to the "hire wildly then lay off" pattern so many companies and industries seem subject to.

Is Apple an enigma, or a new business model?  Share your comments.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Day

Started today with coffee in bed until 9am, then got down to business.

Earlier this week, after being notified I would be leaving my employer, I decided to take advantage of the company's Employee Purchase Plan (EPP) with Apple. I walked into the Ridgedale Apple Store and picked out a Mac Pro dual Xeon quad-core 2.8GHz CPU, an Apple Wireless Keyboard, a couple of 20" Apple Cinema Displays, and the 10-user edition of Mac OS X Server. I decided that, as part of defining my work, I needed to make sure my productivity wasn't hampered by under-powered technology.  I want to be able to do some serious computing, and there's nothing more powerful and affordable than the Mac Pro.

I'm happy to say that I'm writing this entry on my new Mac Pro, although I haven't yet installed Mac OS X Server (that'll come later, once I've planned out disk partitioning and digital workspace mechanics).

Working (and Living) Green

One of the things I've neglected up to now is taking advantage of the extensive power management features of Mac OS X (I know, I know, you'll find many of the same features in other operating systems, and I'll discuss Windows stuff in the future).  For starters, I've set the kids' eMac, my Mac mini, and the Mac Pro to sleep at 10pm and whenever the systems have been inactive for an hour (laptops - my wife's MacBook and my iBook)are exempt from sleep schedule as they're almost always put to sleep when not in use).  The screens are already set to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity; if only our TVs had similar features (yeah, I'm sure some of the new ones probably do, but we're not upgrading anytime and positive cash-flow are top priority now, not entertainment).

Things still on my to-do list:
  • Configure storage on the Mac Pro
  • Install and configure Mac OS X Server on Mac Pro
  • Migrate work stuff to Mac Pro from the Mac mini
  • More things that I can't think of right now...
Watch tomorrow's episode as I engage warp drive and we jump to hyperspace ;).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bless me Father, for I have not blogged

With the exception of yesterday's post about Mac OS X and Windows 7, it's been over a year since I last blogged here, and nearly two years since I've posted anything technical. I went underground during that time, focusing on writing intranet blogs and articles and neglecting the "real world." As of today, I no longer have an intranet to blog to (I was laid off), so it's time once again to turn my attention to what's going on out here on the big, bad Internet.

Watch this space in coming days for my thoughts on Apple products, personal productivity in the enterprise, mobile and remote workforce technology, and virtualization (along with meanderings into a wide variety of other topics).