Listen Up & Lighten Up

Lessons come from everywhere.  This journey is about hearing them and learning from them.

When I get advice to not take my customer’s requirements to heart so much, that’s valuable.  It’s great to care, it’s great to want to do the right thing, but there is always reality to balance against at the same time.

I have always listened to and honored my customer.  I have always been an advocate for my customers, sometimes referred to as “users”  (Debbie has pointed out that only I.T. people and drug dealers call their customers “users”)  But perhaps it’s also valuable to to lighten up.

This advice was particularly valuable as it came from the customer herself!

Or Not

Almost exactly one year later, one of my favorite sources is repeating a quote, and this time my reaction is completely different:

On June 23, 2010 I posted, without comment:

“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill via

That was a particularly dark time for me, and I liked the idea of some kind of valor in my serial failure.  Courage?  Sounded good to me.

But now, one year later I don’t feel that way at all.  It’s not about going from failure to failure with a good attitude.  I am much more interested in going from failure to success, from sadness to happiness, from darkness to light.

I do realize that this is about the journey, the process, the “now” of it all, and this this is a big circle or spiral, not a line.  But the next time I am in a hole, I want to be about getting out, not about decorating the space.

Shift to Neutral

I love coincidence.  Or cosmic alignment.  Or grace.  Or whatever you choose to call it.  The blurb, below, titled “Shift to Neutral”, came into my email inbox just as I was appreciating an amazing time of watching pieces fall into place, in a work setting, just by not acting, by being quiet, by truly watching and letting things happen as they need to happen.

For those of us who want to DO, the doing may be shifting,  Shifting to not doing.

In this case, I learned that I had already done that, and that it was awesome.

The article below is more about how to downshift to quiet in a specific setting, the start of a yoga practice, and that’s good to learn too,

From Yoga Journal:

Shift to Neutral

When do you practice yoga? For many of us who attend classes during the work week, our practice has to fit into whatever time is available, whether that’s before work in the morning, during our lunch break, or after work in the evening. And those of us who don’t work at a formal job still must balance many activities during our busy days.

So how do you bridge the gap between your frantic life and the peace and calm of the studio?

If you find yourself impatient at the start of your practice, anxious for something to happen, just recognize that you’re bringing some of that outside mentality into the classroom. Once you see what you’re doing, mentally reach inward and downshift your gears. If you’re in overdrive, downshift to fourth gear, then third, second and finally neutral. Relax inside, breathe deeply and savor the way it feels.

What Sally Learned from Oprah

This is from my favorite blog, Sally and the City:

” Lessons learned from Oprah

Over the year, I’ve watched, read, and ignored Oprah.  Here’s what I’ve learned from her:

  1. It’s ok to make yourself the center of attention.  If the magazine is named after you, take that chance to put yourself on every cover!  Seriously!  If you don’t grab it, someone else will take your spotlight.
  2. Leverage your job to help your friends.  Of Oprah’s friends, I love Rachael Ray the most.  But I also just appreciate the idea of helping your pals achieve their goals, even if it means you have to find a new host for that segment.  (Or a new Senator for Illinois…)
  3. Use your power to make good changes.  In this case, I care about the way Oprah brought new voters to the polls in 2008 and made reading cool with her book club.  Speaking of which…
  4. Hold people accountable.  I just finished reading A Million Little Piecesto see what all the controversy was about, and WOW that book should not have been marketed as a memoir.
  5. It is better to give than to receive.  Let me just say, no one likes giving things away as much as this chick does.  I’ve never seen someone so excited about getting a car, nevermind giving one.  And I watch a lot of “The Price is Right” so that’s saying something.
So long, Oprah, and thanks for the memories.”

Blurry Around the Edges

We all worked so hard on the design of the new website, the user interface for a survey program for pediatric patients and their families.  We worked with the media group to come up with a color palette that would be comfortable for the little kids yet cool enough for the teenagers.  All this, only to have the project logo go all blurry around the edges, as though parts of it were flaking off.

Was it the monitor resolution?  Nope.  Was is the browser?  No again.

Eventually the lead developer figured this out: There was NOTHING wrong with the application nor the logo and it would look just fine in production for our end users.   The problem was that we kept sharing it with and looking at it through WebEx, which works great but does not provide a crisp image.  When we tried it directly it was fine.

Lesson learned: What you see, via WebEX, is not necessarily what you get!

Wait a Second!

Every cell phone has it, and now I’ve found it on the iPhone: how to inject a “pause” into a dialing sequence to that you can dial a conference code AND the access code all at once.

On the iPhone, it’s the comma!  I read that each comma was 2 seconds, but I found that it’s much shorter and that I needed three of ’em to make it work.

I added entries for each frequently-used dialin, in my address book.  So I have an entry with a last name of  Dialin Jane and one that says Dialin Mary, etc.  The quick lookup works for any of those words.

The phone number entry looks like this:


In this example, 4444 is the access code.

This will let me dial in quickly from my iPhone.

Don’t dial and drive!  Don’t text and drive!

Avoiding Meeting Madness

So many lessons from one event, and the first one learned by me about a thousand times so far,, and counting.

1. VERIFY the meeting time!  Otherwise, a leisurely trip may turn into a big crisis, needlessly!  It’s as easy as counting on the calendar, rather than my memory.  Just do it!

2. Comm Ave at Kenmore Square is a great place to catch a cab

3. A cab ride is that saves the day is worth its weight in gold.  Well…maybe not quite that much. But possibly the more than the number on the meter, and I can split the difference.  Well… maybe not split it in half, but I can certainly afford to show my appreciation for having my day saved.

4. It feels really good, when going to a new place to meet with new people, to arrive early.

Adobe to PowerPoint in very few clicks

Hey!  I learned how to pull an Adobe document into a Powerpoint slide!  It’s so easy!

1. Open the .pdf file.

[on my version of Adobe reader, which is 9]

2. Tools > Select & Zoom > Snapshot Tool

3. Click the corners of the area you want .  This automatically copies to the clipboard and says so!

4. Paste into PowerPoint.


Way Too Private

I learned that if you send an Outlook invitation and mark it “Private”, then the people they have delegated calendar functions to will not see it.

So if someone has an assistant who accepts all their meetings, this one will not make it to that person.

This could be a feature, but not if your recipient ignores calendar invites, thinking someone else has that covered.

Skype Hype

I do like Skype.  It’s free and it works very well.  Kat introduced me to it years ago, and we talked for free, with amazing sound quality, when she studied in Bologna years ago.  I use it all day for instant messaging at work, and it works flawlessly for that.

But when it doesn’t work, it’s terrible.  I just participated in a large conference call which the presenter was using Skype for voice.  We couldn’t hear a thing!  Actually, we heard every other word or so, which was almost worse.

The lesson here is to use and enjoy Skype for what it does well, and don’t count on it in settings in which voice quality matters!