Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Lazarus Effect – or what does 40 cents / 20 p get you?

Great campaign video:

I say it’s great, because I am hoping it is going to get you to go to the (RED) site and learn (and do) more.

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Some creative ways to use Microsoft Project for Brainstorming

It seems odd to use Project for brainstorming, I admit. But there are advantages to it, as well. The one obvious one is this: when you are done, you (potentially) have a plan of what to do in front of you! But there are other advantages as well. But first, let’s start with how I do this.

Let’s take an easy example. Say I was planning on doing a major personal project (E.g. run a marathon, take 6 months off and travel, buy a new house). I would start by listing major activities. Write out as many as of them as I can, from start to finish. Then once I had my major activities down, I would start adding underneath them all the major tasks that I had to do.

  Now I have the outline of a plan, with the major activities and the major tasks associated with each activity.If this is going well for you, great. However, if you are getting stuck with coming up with activities, try this: start planning project X, execute project X plan, complete project X. For example, you might have: start planning to run my first marathon, train for the marathon, complete the marathon. It’s pretty sketchy, I know. Often times when you are planning to do something you have never done before, it is. If you have more activities, great: add ’em.

Once you are done with your activities, you need to have tasks. If nothing else, have two tasks per activity: start activity Y and complete activity Y. (If the activity is so small as to take little time, perhaps you can convert it to a task to stick under another activity).

If you don’t can’t come up with any tasks, then one could be: define tasks for this activity and list the tasks you need to do to accomplish this (talk to experts, do online research, etc). Some tasks are:         Research/Investigate X, Review findings with others, Plan next steps, Complete this activity, Document / record something, Present something,         Change something, Test something

I also try to use clear descriptions for your tasks, so they standalone on the Calendar view of Microsoft Project.

I recommend that you make your tasks imperative, specific, and measurable. (e.g. Do Something, Visit Someone, Go Somewhere)

Drawing within a photo

I have seen this done with old photos, but this is the first time I have seen it done with drawing.

It would be good to see people overlaying dramatically different scenes. In the meantime, there’s more at Drawing Within a Photo – ReflectionOf.Me.

How Goldman Sachs is about to become the leverage for FinReq

Perhaps Lloyd Blankfein is a smart guy. It’s hard to tell. I wrote this awhile back, The Big Banks blow off Obama « Smart People I Know,  and commented how he and some others blew off Obama in the winter before HCR. Perhaps Blankfein and the rest of his team should study what happened during HCR. They may find that they are now going to play the role that Anthem did. Obama and his team used Anthem and their rate hikes as a concrete example of why Health Care Reform was needed. It was very effective. It helped pass Health Care Reform.

Now Obama wants Financial Reform legislation passed. He is now going to use Goldman Sachs the same way he used Anthem. Goldman Sachs may think this is about the law suit. But to me, it isn’t. It’s about getting the legislation passed and a good way to do that is to find a concrete example of why it should be done. And Sachs is going out of their way to provide that example. If they were smart, they would have shown some humility and contrition. Instead, they are going head to head with Obama. This will end up badly for them. And Obama and company will get the FinReg regulations they want.

Meanwhile, I expect to see Blankfein gone within a year, if not six months.

May 20th, 2010 is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

It should be interesting, to say the least. Via The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper and Andrew Sullivan.

Holy Cow! Maybe they should call blippy leaky!

Wow! This is bad. Really bad. According to this, Blippy unwrapped users credit card numbers | White Hat News,  “it was found with a Google search, Blippy leaked a lot of users credit card numbers, the data actually can see the HTML source code directly, the current official has the problem and quickly fixed the same, at least there are four currently known to be affected customers”.

As in this!

If you are using blippy.com, find out if your card was leaked. And generally speaking, be reluctant to share too much personal or financial information on web sites.

Some thoughts on the importance of buying lottery tickets

I thought this yesterday when something promising happened at work and I thought: if this works out, it will be really good!! I left the day excited, happy, looking forward to the future. In short, I was hopeful. Now there is a good chance it won’t happen, but that, strangely, gives those feelings more power.I don’t buy lottery tickets often, save for the really big jackpots. But when I do, I find myself having the same feelings. Having the ticket inspires my thinking and bends them towards the positive. This feeling can last for days. I know I won’t win, likely. But I can suspend that disbelief in order to enjoy the positive feeling.

In many ways it is similar to buy a movie ticket or a theatre ticket to watch a performance. You suspend your belief in order (usually) to enjoy the feelings and ideas you take away from the performance. That ticket doesn’t enhance your life materially. But it does make your life better in a lot of ways.

A lottery ticket is the same. It is very unlikely to benefit you materially (though sometimes it will). But it can allow your imagination to soar, your spirits to be lifted, and your thinking to turn towards the positive. You can imagine taking trips to far away places, living in better surroundings, and helping people you love. If you pay attention, it can help you realize what is important to you and what you love (and what you do not). A lottery ticket can do many things, including providing a low cost insight into your own thinking (much cheaper than psychotherapy).

It has been said that lottery tickets are a tax on stupid people. I think that is short sighted and condescending. Most people who buy tickets know the odds. If anything, that makes it better. There is something transformative in hoping against great odds. What is religion and belief, if not the greatest of all hopes? The simple will to believe, to hope that our lives can be better, that will can uplift us and remove us from the ruts we are trapped in.

My son is 8. He likes Justin Bieber and he wanted to buy his CD because there was a golden ticket in one CD and the winner of the golden ticket gets a person visit from the Biebster himself. (This is devilishly good marketing taken right from Willy Wonka’s playbook). We had a great chat about this beforehand. I tried to balance his excitement about the idea of it with the fact that it would be very tough to win it. I also told him that even if he didn’t win, he would still have the CD and that would be good. For some adults, they might say: you shouldn’t let him get all
excited for nothing. But to me, the ability to be hopeful is like a muscle: if you don’t exercise it, it atrophies. I want him to have an awareness of the world and despite all its limitations and setbacks, I want him to be capable of being hopeful. The capability of being hopeful is the treasure left in Pandora’s box. It is a something we should treasure, among the many gifts that we, as human beings, possess.

Anyway, these are some things that I thought on a slow Saturday morning and that I hacked together on my Blackberry while lying on my couch. Thanks for reading it.