Archive for the ‘Toys & Tools’ Category

Jesse Schall Design Outside the Box talk

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Jesse Schall Design Outside the Box talk from DICE 2010.

Video Description: Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell, dives into a world of game development which will emerge from the popular “Facebook Games” era.

I’m catching up with some blogging that was inexcusably put on for months now. This is part of a follow up to the dual themes of play, games, and innovation which I had been tracking across the WWW and blogosphere. I just think that we miss out on how important this is to learning, business innovation, changed consumer behavior, and generally a brave new world. We in the corporate IT side of things cannot disregard these trends if need to we properly serve our business masters. Things are moving fast and better get on the train before it runs you over….

Another cool tid-bit is that Jesse Schell has a connection to one of my heroes, Randy Pausch. Among Randy Pausch’s legacy is Alice a wonderful world….maybe if it was around instead of 15-201, things may have been different for me? Hm.


High-Tech Time Management Tools

April 13, 2009 1 comment

So I start my day, a bit late, but I figure it is still my holiday so does it matter?  I guess so – because I came across a special section on BusinessWeek Online about Time Management.  How funny is that – after I just blogged yesterday about how I don’t think tools helps with people behaviors but maybe Grafitter will… and maybe just in case I did not get the message, I’m getting it twice!

A pretty interesting set of articles on time management – all very useful where we’re trying to do more with less, especially with our time …. and as far as I know we still only have 24 hours in a day.   However, on the part of tools, they used a Lotus Notes example and this caught my eye like in “huh?”

The system—which is still in the research phase—lets users of IBM’s Lotus Notes take fast action on e-mail messages by turning them into reminders with just a couple of mouse strokes, or append relevant files so workers don’t have to switch back and forth to read things later.

I thought you could already do that easily (certainly in my old version 6.5.x) where you just click the menu button “Copy Into New” to create a new to-do or calendar entry … ?  That’s just one click??  I must be missing something in the translation. Sometimes, most times(?) maybe or probably (?) it’s “luser” error ?  We have more nifty tools and gadgets and functionality in them that we don’t know what to do with.  Sounding like a luddite here, but look at the mobile phone – as in the iPhone – it’s not a phone anymore, they just call it that because it’s marketing.

The article further goes on discussion email and IM as major time wasters.  It is and it is not – “depends” is probably a better characterization.  Let me point out the obvious that much of what we do at work is communicating.  Whether or not we’re effective or efficient at this is a separate question.  But we do a lot of communicating and there are various ways, tools, techniques, human preference that make us do it a certain way.  So what’s wrong with using email or IM or Twitter or Facebook or other Intranet/Social Network tool to communicate to our virtual and non-virtual teams?*  Isn’t the question, are we effective or efficient at communicating?  If not, then what tools or personal behaviors can we fine-tune to make it more effective and efficient?

At the end Count Results, Not Hours.  The “Just Get It Done” Rule.**

* Social Networking is the Internet “growing up”. We used to have debates whether on-line was real or not real vis-a-vis IRL (aka in real life).  My opinion is that one’s on-line life was just as real as the so-called IRL one.

** Time + Physical Presence = Results. This is something that I’ve been on a mini-crusade against since landing in this part of the world. My experience to date can be described as being “sisyphusian”.

Grafitter: Smiley Award Winner – Carnegie Mellon University

April 12, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t twitter, or twit, or whatever it is that people do nowadays other than facebook their life away (disclaimer: I’m one such guy who’s in need of a FB 12-step program).

In answering an email from my alma mater to participate in some studies for their researchers, I clicked about and landed in Homepage Stories -> Next-Generation Computing where the twitter based tool called Grafitter grabbed my eye ’cause it said it could make weight-loss easier….  Any tool that can help me change my behaviors is definitely worth checking out.  That’s what innovation is really about — effecting human change.  And any manager and leader would definitely welcome something to help make his or her life easier in this aspect in the work-place.  The last technology that I know which could really change behavior was the gizmo that shocked Pavlov’s dog….  Hopefully we’ve moved on since then.

Well-done Ian Li!  Check out his winner HERE.

Now, having read this, I think I’m forced to eat my words because on another forum, I had written that in my job, one aspect I do alot of, is managing business change and proclaimed that technology tools can’t do it.  Maybe I was a bit too hasty in firing away before engaging my brain because it’s axiomatic that in the corporate life, people aren’t moved by technology.  Business processes and people’s mind-sets must first be changed before introduction of technology tools (to support the changes).  Tools such as software and other business systems so often end up being white elephants because users simply don’t use them… and the business tries again and invests more money and effort into making business improvements through technology.  Probably true, but here we might have a simpler tool that’s more focused to doing one thing rather than many things, according to Ian:

Keeping track of one’s activities detracts from actual work, but awareness of activities can help in managing productivity. I created a system that tracks activities around the work table and correlated them with self-reported measurements of productivity.*

Anything that can make us more effective and more results oriented can’t be all that bad.

Your company’s favorite “intranet” is a social network site?

August 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Social network popularity around the world by Pingdom is very interesting.

Some interesting observations before we get started
While we were collecting the data we noted several interesting, and often surprising, pieces of information. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:

Facebook is most popular in Turkey and Canada.
Friendster and Imeem are most popular in the Philippines.
LinkedIn is most popular in India.
Twitter is most popular in Japan.
LiveJournal is more popular in Russia than it is in the United States.
Orkut is more popular in Iran (10th country popularity-wise) than it is in the United States.
MySpace is the only social network which is most popular in the United States.
MySpace, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Xanga, and Twitter are the only social networks in this survey which have the United States in their top five countries, popularity-wise. That is just five out of twelve.

What does it says exactly? Hmmm. But if I were the IT Manager, I’d (1) be pissed off and aghast, (2) figuring out exactly what I need to do to get something like this going in my organization!

Oh… wait…

Disclaimer: I’m not a customer of Pingdom, nor do I use their tools. But, they do seem pretty cool.

Be a gamer, Be a leader!

July 18, 2008 Leave a comment

w00t! I hear the clicking noises of electronic gear being powered up like say the warp engines of the Enterprise… Scotty would be proud! And you might be wondering what does this have anything to do with leadership?

In fact, a lot more than meets the game console. Many of my own leadership lessons began with games (sports as well)…which I didn’t know at the time. Fast forwarding 15-20 years later, throw in some hindsight science and a cool article from Forbes, From MMO To CEO, to prompt a trip down memory lane on how gaming and leadership skills are one and the same. In particular, two games I really loved and stood out for me – Classic Sim City Classic Sim City

and Netrek (the Netrek official homepage states that the game is more like a sport such as basketball which I agree 100% with – the two best games to learn teamwork, IMHO).
Netrek screen shot

So…how does leadership skills come from playing these games? To oversimplify a bit, you’ll find two basic components to business leadership:
1. people or personal related capabilities and
2. business or strategic capabilities (e.g. management)

How do the games help with developing these skills? From Netrek, it’s very easy. The simple goal of the game is to genocide the other race. There’s 8 of you versus the 8 of them. To genocide the other race, there’s only one way – take all the other side’s planets. Sounds simple right … but not so simple to execute. And that’s the beauty of the game. To successfully achieve this goal, there’s a simple strategy:
1. Gain the capability to carry armies on your ship – kill others or bomb sufficient planets to gain this capability.
2. Take enemy planets by using your own armies that you carry.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

So the whole game is all about executing these 3 basic steps over and over again until there’s a winning side. The more efficient and effective you are at it, the probability of winning goes up. As you might guess, the other side is furiously and vigorously performing these same three steps to achieve the exact same mission as you and your team. Their ability to be better at it than you, will naturally frustrate your progress…and vice versa. So what happens during the ebb and flow of the battle? Many things – a test of will by the combatants to win, team work, communication, subjugation of individual glory and rank against team goals, team mates coming and going (because to genocide and win may take hours(!)) changing team chemistry and skill level, game glitches such as computer crashes or network instability giving one side a bigger advantage against another, changing tactics, different in-game strategies depending on game environment… so much more. A simple game with significant game complexities! In the first week that I played it, I spent 80+ hours in 4-5 days over Thanksgiving holiday week. Totally addictive this game and even today, my memories of it are pretty fresh – feeling the energy of the game and the intense camaraderie one builds during battle with your teamates to stave off genocide and defeat whilst trying to achieve victory at all costs (because you sat in that computer screen for hours and you better have something to show for it!). What happened during the days I played was we had created intra-collegiate teams and league games and even a “playoff” system. That means teambuilding skills were also developed and tested as you built your team of 8-12 to battle for supremacy.

The following leaderships skills were developed:
1. Communication – Listening skills, clear communications, negotiate amongst teammates to achieve tactical and strategic objectives,
2. Drive for Excellence – personal development to improve gaming skills, commitment to team goals, self-sacrifice of individual goals for the team, resilience and perserverence (emotional, physical, intellectual),
3. Achieve results – team building, uses expertise to support team goals/objectives, manage change, take initiative, deliver results,
4. Develop successful relationships – foster cooperation and partnerships, support individual diversity, guide/coach teammates etc.

To be honest, the time I spent was really extreme, had alot of fun, and learned many practical aspects of leadership along the way.