Deadlines and Successful IT Projects

One post I’ve always wanted to do, is my reflections on the types of deadlines make the most successful projects out there.  In my experience, these rules are inviolate if you want a successful IT Project.  These are:

  1. There must always be a deadline, projects without deadlines go nowhere
    • This deadline must be respected by all, a deadline that is acknowledged as “useless”and “not going to happen” is not a deadline.  Reset your deadline.
    • A deadline that has been passed is not a deadline, reset again for a new deadline after following some of the other rules below.
    • One occasionally allowed exception, vague deadlines on farther horizon projects of lower priority.  Be sure to firm up deadlines as they near.
  2. Deadlines must be agreed upon by the parties under pressure to perform by the deadline
    • A deadline imposed on someone against their will is absolutely asking for trouble.
    • A deadline suggested, coaxed or otherwise persuaded upon these people in any fashion is only a slightly lighter shade of grey, making a project person stand up to you may get you in trouble depending on the bravery of the people under pressure to perform.
    • If there is a firm limit to how long a project can continue (budgetary constraints, etc.) do not mention it to the people under pressure to perform by the deadline.  Let them estimate the project, then do battle with fitting the features you want within the timeframe you can afford.  Do not “Timebox” the project by giving the people under pressure to perform the hours in budget and watch them get just within the amount of time in a subconscious desire to please those up ahead.
  3. There must be carrots for those who make it on or before the deadline and sticks for those who are late
    • Bonuses and perks about for the early finishers, cuts in bonuses, pay, even termination in extreme cases for the latecomers, provided rules #1 and #2 above were followed.
    • Some exceptions can be made if a project wasn’t completed due to no fault of the people under pressure to perform the deadline (acts of god, third-party developers, etc.)
  4. Retrospectives on every successful and failed project are key, one must learn from their history so that one shall not repeat it.

These rules are traverse any methodology (Agile, Waterfall, etc.), technique, etc.  If these rules are violated, do not hold me responsible for your project failure.

My Treatise With Every Internet Content Provider Out There

It seems more and more these days, content providers are doing things to turn me off to their sites.  The recent offender has been Yahoo.  They put some annoying ads on “My Yahoo” portal site, I install Adblock Plus, they try to sneak around that, I stopped visiting and decided Google News was worthier.  So let’s get this straight websites, here are the rules, and I think they apply to everyone who provides content out there.

1) I want your content, I don’t need your content.  This rule is paramount, above all else.

It falls upon the website to give me content that I find pleasing that I may visit again.  If this premise isn’t met, I’ll never visit, or visit once and never again.

2) If your content is pleasing to me, I do hope your website will thrive, and will do what I can to make it thrive.

This can include:

  • Paying for better content
  • Allowing you to insert relevant ads into my content

3) Advertising is content too

It is rated on a similar pleasing or not pleasing scale.

4) I control the content when it comes in.

This means I can often filter and block what is pleasing and not pleasing.

5) What is non-pleasing content, is simply noise.

Noise can include, but is not limited to:

  • Ads that don’t please me
  • Attempts to hurt me (Malware, scum ware that tries to advertise even if I’m not on your site, etc. this is typically a capital offense)

6) When there is noise, I will block noise, I prefer to see and hear what is pleasing.

This is when you see Adblock plus going on duty on your site

7) If this doesn’t solve the noise problem, then you are no longer pleasing to me and I leave your site

8) Premium content is held to a higher signal to noise ratio

After all I’m paying now for this.  I expect my signal ratio to be very high here.

9) For premium content only, in correlation with rule 8, the noise threshold at which I’m willing to leave is much higher.  Ergo I weigh your prices vs. the noise and content I receive from your site.  If the benefit comes out too low (possibly you’re putting in more clutter, or raising prices), I leave your site.  Probably the reason I no longer subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online.

10) If you want my money more than I want your content, likely you need to resolve this equation by wanting less money or providing better content.

Sadly, both with Yahoo and Wall Street Journal this is functioning backwards.  They ask more and provide less.


Card Fraud Strikes Me Again

So 2 days ago, someone apparently lifted my PIN Number, copied my debit card number and was hitting up ATM’s in Florida for my daily withdraw limit.  Good thing I caught it early or I would have had an empty checking account.  As it is, I’ll be OK even before my stolen balance is refunded.  However while it is the thief’s fault I couldn’t help but stop and reflect on a few things that bank could have done or let me configure to stop a lot of this kind of problem.

1) How hard would it be to implement some more common sense in the ATM/Credit card system?  Or if that day I bought lunch in Colorado, then in Florida someone is hitting up the ATM’s with my card, shouldn’t a brain somewhere state “Ok, we had one transaction in Colorado, his home area, and one in Florida 20 minutes later, he can’t be in 2 places at the same time, so we better deny the one that appears highest risk.”  Right there, that could have saved the bank some grief.

2) Better still just let me configure what physical locations my card can be spent in.  With most of my card transactions in the state of Colorado and a few on the Internet and my occasional visits to Wyoming, this could be livable.  Maybe let me override by calling an 800 number and fully unlocking the card.

3) How about a configurable daily withdraw limit?  I don’t like to carry that much cash, so throttling the cash out per day to $100 instead of $600 would have been easy to live with,  and saved the bank some money out and grief.

Hopefully someone will add some more common sense to the system some day.

Referral Checking and the World of Employment

So today on LinkedIn I stumbled into this article.  Couldn’t help but think if you’re thinking that if all you’re going to get from a candidate’s referral is a group of polished candidates he has chosen for you, then you are getting referrals wrong in the world of HR.  When I’ve been on the interviewing/hiring end there have been a few things I’ve done to maximize what a referral gives me, and getting the “bad news” as well as the good.  Two of them offhand:

  1. Make sure you clear it with legal and HR before actually doing this, but ask the candidate for some “tough” referrals where the referral in question may not have just good news.  This one is dicey, may get you in trouble with a lawsuit happy candidate, but there is no law against doing this.  So make your potential candidate confess one sin.  We’ve all had them.
  2. Ask the referral you’re calling “Did anyone else at your company/school/whatever also know the candidate that I may not have in my notes?  Do you have a phone/email for them?”  Sometimes a referral from a reference (or 2 levels down) may be a bit more candid having less time to form his thoughts and polish up for his referral statement on your candidate.


Congratulations Amazon

Welcome to the world of the Smartphone, you have created a phone truly drool worthy by me, all sorts of cool features and a free prime membership to boot with purchase.  There’s just one problem, you’ve married your phone to AT&T.  AT&T charges me an arm and a leg compared to Sprint, ergo I’m not that compelled.  See you when you decide to lose your exclusivity Amazon.


Sorry for my long hiatus.  Lots of stuff been going on my life and that’s the joys of having a one-man website team :-) some of it great and some of it downright horrid.

Anyways for those of you who don’t already know I’ll be speaking on a mix of 2 of my favorite topics  or “So you want to be a SharePoint Tech Trainer”.  At SharePointFest in Denver, check this out for more information:

Promise I’ll start writing more soon.  Take care everyone!

Checking in…

I’m still alive.  Just suffering a case of temporary writer’s block on my blog.  Hope to have it fixed soon.  Take care!

Computer Security and Apathy…

Increasingly I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with me and computer security.  I’ve become somewhat apathetic.  My parents are telling me not to shop at Target anymore because they disclosed a zillion credit cards.  My response is “Meh, damage is already done, if anything Target is more secure now.  I think the more logical response is to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart because they haven’t been targeted for massive Credit Card  theft, yet.  So they’re not as conditioned to the response.”

Though the reality is,  near as I can tell, no major credit card or identity breach has hurt me directly yet.  I do follow my credit reports semi-regularly and haven’t seen a thing yet.  Chances are the bulk of Americans never will.  In fact I’ve had nobody who’s been a victim of Credit Card fraud in recent times tell me they could link their fraud incident to the Target data breach definitively.  Wonder why I just shrug my shoulders and think “Much Ado over nothing?”

So far my one credit card fraud incident I suspected was a local guy who ripped off my credit card when he had it in hand.  In fact I think I had a sneaking suspicion of which restaurant it could have been given my legitimate charge history at the time.

So folks, live life, take some comfort that the credit card companies are responsible for eating any fraud losses and move on.  It’s likely you’ll have a credit card issue at some point in your life so just be vigilant so you can catch it early.  With credit reports being free and banking accounts online where you can see up to the minute transactions, there really isn’t an excuse.

In Defense of MS Office

So I caught this disturbing article today:

Seems to think that MS Excel is the only reason people still buy MS Office.  NO!  Reasons I still like MS Office are below.

First of all, I like my PC, which throws anything from Apple’s Office Suite out the window to use offhand.  The interface for Windows 7 is nice and clean and I’m not inclined to change.  I’ve used Macs, and I find them no easier than a PC to use.  But this is a separate argument.  So why are the PC Users still on MS Office as opposed to Google Docs or OpenOffice.  Well here we go.

First, please find me an email/integrated calendaring platform that has offline viewing capability that doesn’t say MS Outlook.  Gmail/Google Calendar is good, if I have a WiFi connection, and I’m not always 100% connected.  So tell Google to come up with a decent desktop email platform where I can at least view my email and Google Calendar offline and I’ll consider MS Outlook dead.  No a Droid/Google Tablet isn’t a substitute, I like big views that are easier on my eyes and my standard keyboard.

Second and I know you’ll all laugh: Macros.  If I need to build automation for a repetitive task in an office platform, there is no easier way right now.  Going deeper than that both platforms have API’s and I know the OpenOffice people will argue “But you can even modify OpenOffice if you wish!” sure if I wanted to expend the time.

Third, Lync.  The OpenOffice and Google world does not offer a better IM Client for in-house use.  The ability to take my assigned work number with me on my computer is unduplicated and very convenient.  There are no free alternatives to Lync server out there that match up and it’s integration with MS Office is outstanding.

E-books and Paper Weights

Awhile back I wrote about why I don’t like the E-Book format.  Mostly afraid that when the creator of an E-Book technology (Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, etc.) goes out of business, your Ipad, Kindle, Nook, etc. is now a paperweight and soon you’ll lose access to your Ebooks.  Here is a perfectly vivid example of why:–nook–2009-2014-183424551.html

So Barnes and Noble has effectively stopped developing Hardware for its Nook platform in an effort to survive.  If you were a Nook owner, how would you feel?  You should be nervous granted Barnes and Noble has no stated continuity plan for its Nook platform should Barnes and Noble not survive.  There could be a very real possibility that your Nook platform will be discontinued, you’ll be unable to purchase new E-books for your nook, and eventually when your Nook and any platforms that read Nook Books die, that you’ll never be able to access your Nook E-Books again.

Well, I own a Kindle, but even then I’m a little nervous.  Sure Amazon gives no sign of going out of business anytime soon.  All the same any books I’m hoping to keep more than 5 years down the line I buy in paper still.  Sure Amazon is mighty, but so was Sears 30 years ago.  If you asked anyone even 30 years ago if Sears would go under, they’d laugh at you.  Just like today if you asked if Amazon would go under, they’d laugh at you.

What can Barnes and Noble do to help its format?

  1. The easy way: Partner with a winning E-Book platform and offer books for that platform, offer their hardware in the store (Picture buying an Ipad in a Barnes and Noble and offloading your Nook books to the Ipad).
  2. The way it could survive indefinitely: Open the platform up a little, let others build Nook Hardware, let others create Nook Books freely and open competing bookstores on the Nook Platform.  It won’t make much money, but it’ll keep Barnes and Noble creating E-Books and competing in a thriving marketplace.  I know I’d get more interested in owning a Nook if I could buy books and competing Nook Hardware from multiple sources.  At the very least I’d be assured of some continuity if Barnes and Noble went under.

Anyways that’s my 2 cents…