Quick Takes: SMS Notifications From the Auto Shop

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Nerdery, Quick Takes | No Comments

text-message-automotive-shop

I recently took my car to the shop to be repaired. When the mechanic needed my approval to purchase a part, I received an SMS notifying me that I needed to call. They also called my phone, but the number wasn’t saved as a contact, so I ignored it (which made the SMS very handy).

When I called about the part, I asked the person on the phone how they were doing. They responded, “I’m doing pretty good, but we’re still trying to get set up on this new computer system.”

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Building Process: Top Down and Bottom Up

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Work | No Comments

Onboarding new employees is a fun and challenging part of growing a business. Your first few days on the job are always exciting and full of learning. One tricky part for the leaders actually performing the onboarding is coming up with training systems that are broad enough to apply to everyone (for efficiency), yet flexible enough to be valuable on an individual level.

Many times the individualized part of that equation means simply spending time with new employees. At a fast-growing startup, though, many new hires at once can throw the balance off quickly. Like most things in business, creating a really good onboarding process is just plain difficult.

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What Apps Are On My iPhone?

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 in Life, Nerdery, Work | No Comments

Last week I wrote a long post about how I attempt to steward my time, attention and technology. In that article I mentioned that I intentionally removed social applications from my iPhone and set up barriers that made doing things like surfing the web or browsing the internet a bit more difficult than just tapping.

I also mentioned that I’d share what is on my iPhone, just in case anyone might be wondering. (Personally, I find these sorts of ‘inside looks’ at the way people do things differently fascinating.) Two points that aren’t in the app explanations, but are worth mentioning:

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Making It Count: How I Steward Time, Attention and Technology

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Work | 2 Comments

This is the fifth post in a series called Making it Count about getting things done and using our precious hours wisely .

The last post in this series discussed the mechanics of distraction—specifically, I considered how the context of the tools we use personally and professionally makes stewarding technology difficult. Here’s the summary:

My point in all of this is to highlight the context in which we experience distraction. There isn’t a clear dichotomy for many of us—we don’t simply quit what we are doing and go outside and play. For me, at least, distraction is much more subtle and the vehicles it uses are many times intertwined with—or the same as—the tools I use to get stuff done.

At the end of the day the question I need to ask myself is: “Am I using these tools with purpose—using my limited hours intentionally—or am I using them in reaction and allowing them to distract me (even when it doesn’t feel like it)?”

In this post, I’ll cover the specific ways in which I attempt to steward time, attention and technology. I use the word ‘attempt’ because unless you have 100% control over everything in your life, which no one does, stewardship is always going to be a journey of adjustment and refinement.

Everyone faces a different flavor of distraction, so I want to make it clear that this is what stewardship looks like for me—I’m not necessarily prescribing these principles as rules everyone should follow. People are wired together differently, so naturally the practical implementation of stewardship is going to vary.

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Thank You Culture

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 in Work | No Comments

Sometimes decisions made about what a company’s culture is going to be like are significant. Will we or won’t we allow employees to work remotely? What does our managerial structure look like? How do we communicate?

Each one of those decisions can make a critical difference in what it’s like to work within a business. Many times, though, culture consists of small repeated actions that most or all employees make on a daily basis.

One thing I’ve noticed at The Iron Yard is that we say “thank you” incredibly often. I’m not positive, but I think the habit grew out of the partners of the company agreeing to act on the things we thought should have been different at previous companies we’d worked at. One thing we wanted to make sure of was that people felt appreciated. We’ve all been in situations where we feel like we are working hard, but no one notices. People leave jobs because of a lack of appreciation.

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User Experience Win: Skype’s “Install on Quit”

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

skype-update

I’ve said before that I’m not a user experience or design expert. Even so, I do tend to have a pretty critical eye when it comes to using software, so it’s fun for me to find small details that make a big difference.

One frustrating thing about updating certain apps on your computer is that your workflow is interrupted by a dichotomy: either ignore the prompt to update the software (even if you want to), or stop what you are doing and go through the process of downloading and installing the new version of the app.

I recently opened Skype after not having used it for a while, and the app was out of date. I noticed, though that they gave me the option to “Install on Quit.” That’s the best of both worlds: I can continue what I’m doing and know that the app is going to be update.

On their own, small details can seem inconsequential, but they really add up.

The Inevitable Ubiquity of the Web

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

I ran across a story not long ago that is a shining example of the exhaustive reach of the internet. A company in Turkey is producing donkey-mounted solar panels that can be used to power devices and run lights. Fascinating.

turkey-shepherds-solar-panels-connect-to-internet
Image from the Hurriyet Daily News.

A solar panel producer in western Turkey has said recent international media coverage of their “plug-and-play donkey” project proved that they are on the right track.

BBC News reported on June 24 that sheepherders in western Turkey have now equipped their donkeys to cart around solar panels that will enable them to be connected 24/7.

Our own experiences always influence our view of things. As a result we tend to think about accessing the internet as common when that isn’t necessarily the case. (more…)

Quick Takes: Why Coffee is Nicknamed Joe

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Nerdery | No Comments

Etymology is the study of the history of words. I’m no language expert, but uncovering the origin of words and phrases—especially common slang—can be really fun.

Some time ago I was sipping a cup of coffee and wondered why “joe” was such a common name for the drink. Turns out, the nickname is relatively new:

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Interview with Technology Advice at BDConf in Nashville

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Work | No Comments

I had the chance to sit down with Clark from Technology Advice at BDConf in Nashville this week. We talked about the history of The Iron Yard, where we’re headed and the great things happening in the Southeast. Southern Alpha published a summary article on their website as well.

From the Comments: Can Distraction Be a Good Thing?

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Life, Work | No Comments

Earlier this week I wrote a post called Distraction is the Enemy.

The article argued that unfelt distraction robs us of precious time:

My point in all of this is to highlight the context in which we experience distraction. There isn’t a clear dichotomy for many of us—we don’t simply quit what we are doing and go outside and play. For me, at least, distraction is much more subtle and the vehicles it uses are many times intertwined with—or the same as—the tools I use to get stuff done.

At the end of the day the question I need to ask myself is: “Am I using these tools with purpose—using my limited hours intentionally—or am I using them in reaction and allowing them to distract me (even when it doesn’t feel like it)?

My friend Ryan asked a very interesting question in the comments:

Do you think there’s any point in which distractions can be useful or inspiring?

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