Tuesday, June 13, 2006

When technology fails

I am traveling for a few days and am going to rely heavily on Remember the Milk and Google Calendar and SMS notifications.

I didn’t get my reminder for my flight 3 hours in advance. Don’t worry; I did make it to the airport on time.

Beginning to get worried, I sent myself a test event from my phone. It was sent back, saying that my cell phone wasn’t registered with Google.

I decided to blog about this experience and the first time I tried to make this posting (from my mobile phone) the mo-blog posting got kicked back.

I wondered if something was wrong on Cingular’s side. To check what was being sent via SMS, I sent myself a quick email, planning on checking it when I got to my hotel. And then it was time to get on the plane.

When I turned my phone back on in Oakland, there was an SMS notification waiting for me, reminding me of the phone number to call for the shuttle to take me to the hotel. Luckily, I wasn’t reliant on this, because had already printed out the email with that information.

I had a conference call shortly thereafter and I got reminded about that one too. So SMS notifications were working. But when I got to the hotel room, their wired internet service wouldn’t assign me an IP address.

Argh. I’ve really come to rely on this technology and this is unfortunate. I almost didn’t set my alarm this morning, planning on relying on my SMS notifications. Good thing I didn’t. One of the lessons I learned in the Army (which is still holding true): communication gear will always fail in the moment that you need it.

Finally, the internet in my hotel room is working. My apologies to those who read the partial post from my phone. I can't tell where it will stop when I moblog!


Monday, June 12, 2006

Am I slipping into a pit of 'work at home' disrepair

I didn't shave today. I don't think I shaved yesterday. And maybe the day before that too.
I didn't shower yesterday. I didn't shower today, either, and that was after going for an early morning aerobic walk with my wife.

But I worked a lot today and completed some tasks prior to their deadline. I started working at 5:45 am.

I'm not sure if this is right. But being funky is better than being in a funk. Maybe.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

Google just released a web-based spreadsheet application. When that happens, I blog about it.

This time, I'm not so hot on what Google has done. I mean, it is a great web application, but there are several (two come to mind) really great local PC based spreadsheets.

Users can drop their current email clients and calendar applications and move to Google's respective apps. I don't think that is the case with spreadsheet. Sure, its in beta, but it just doesn't do it for me.

One of the nice things that it offers is online collaboration. That's a nice feature, but the people you are collaborating with have to have Google Accounts. Now, I can't imagine why anybody wouldn't have a Google Account (unless they are an employee of a rival IT company), but there are still those that don't.

You can't make charts with Google Spreadsheet. Yet.

And for hardcore spreadsheet users, they are already well versed in the in's and out's of their spreadsheets already. I couldn't figure out how to calculate an interest payment.

My recommendation stick with Excel or OpenOffice. This is a nice tool to play with, maybe make quick and simple spreadsheets. It isn't an Excel killer, but it is one more app in the productivity suite...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Assorted thoughts for the day

On Customer Service...

Yesterday, I blogged about Remember the Milk. Well, because of the order I did things, it didn't work the way I expected the first time. I posted to the help forum and within 10 minutes there was a response from one of the founder/designers. All this with a free service. Now that's customer support. Oh, and yes, we identified what was going on and most of it was my fault. Check it out - it is great.

On consumer recalls and bonus packs...

They suck. We are going on a trip this weekend (travel swim meets now) and I ran out of contact lens solution on my last trip. Well, I found a bonus bottle in the gigantor pack from Costco. For a moment, I was happy. Then I read the package a little closer; it was the Baush and Lomb solution that was recalled. I didn't pay much attention to the recall because it wasn't the kind of solution I used. Good thing I paid enough attention to it. I don't want to use that stuff in my eyes. Some kind of bonus, huh?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Remember The Milk

I've migrated my personal email to a great web based application, gMail. I've stopped using Outlook for my personal calendar (inter-twined with my work calendar) and started using Google Calendar. But this post is not about those.

I've found a great task list manager application, again web based.

Remember The Milk

It lets you create multiple lists, prioritize, tag, set due dates, everything that a task list should do. You can send tasks to other people (as long as they are members, too). It will remind you in a variety of ways, including Text Message, Email, Instant Message (in almost every protocol). And on top of all that, it has a slick web interface. It will also export your task list to lay on top of any calendar that supports the iCalendar standard.

And it is all free.

This has allowed me to move my task list (both personal and work) out of Outlook.

With it all being web based, my task list is at any computer attached to the internet, be it at the library, one of the several in my house or...

There are some really great apps out there on the web and this is counted as one of them. Check it out. Manage your life.