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First looks at WorkFlowly for Todo list, planning and GTD

This is my initial thoughts on WorkFlowy intuitive productivity app that I started using a week ago for my todo lists, project planning, requirements and Getting Things Done system. Curious if anyone else is using WorkFlowy and what your tips and thoughts on it are?

I got the Pro version of the app free for a year from this AppSumo offer http://www.appsumo.com/workflowy/ 

Stewart Butterfield and his team used WorkFlowy to brainstorm and implement the first version of Slack.

I have organized my todos/planning many ways over the years, I wasn't satisfied with my prior methods, so I thought I would play with WorkFlowy for a week to see if I liked it. Turns out I love it!

What is WorkFlowy and what do I love about it (++ items below)?

  • Half to-do list, half planning software
  • folding editor for indented lists - so easy to hide stuff you are not currently focused on
  • web, Android and iOS versions
  • ++ no extra fluff features or bloatware (I am looking at you Evernote!)
  • ++ no need to create notes or save documents - just type in your stuff
  • ++ search across list
  • ++ smart tagging using # and @ (more on how I am using that below)
  • ++ Fast zoom in and out of lists from details, projects, 30,000 foot level using the levels breadcrumbs or clicking on the little bullet icon at the front of every list item
  • ++ It is freeform - you can create your own structure of list hierarchy, tags, starred pages.
  • can share just parts of your lists with others eg for requirements

Other organizing tools didn't work for me

Other organizing tools I have used and issues I had with them

  • Just remember it (human brain)

    • +instant notes even in the shower or other places where you don't have computer/phone/notebook
    • - limited to about 7 items in short term memory, long term memory is apparently infinite but retrieval is spotty, uses up a lot of CPU if you have more than 1-2 items to remember, no checking off an item satisfaction when task is completed, hard to share with others unless you shell out for the telepathy 2.0 addon
    • can be improved with mnemonic devices plug in (costs extra learning time to install) to remember long lists, still waiting on chip implant for direct storage to cloud
  • paper notebook 
    • + fast to add items, free form, satisfying to check to do off
    • - can't move items around - have to rewrite lists, can't add space if a list grows, undone items get orphaned pages back from current page, no organization to notes
  • planner pad/other organizer systems
    • + organized sections and prioritizing built in, include calendar
    • - same issues as paper notebook
  • separate pieces of paper/index cards
    • +only have to carried one piece of paper with you
    • -very limited storage, tends to get a mess once you have a bunch of cards/pieces of paper
    • bar napkins can expand storage but tend to be hard to read later 
  • Evernote
    • +can organize with tags/notebooks/titles, search all notes, todo check boxes, bullet lists, web, PC, Mac, Android, iOS
    • -has gotten bloated and buggy over last 18 months, search, typing and adding notes can hang for a minute or more
  • Word or Google docs
    • +expandable, lots of formating tools (too many for list making!), can include images, google docs easy to share
    • - too many features/bloat, hard to zoom in or collapse lists without using advanced features
  • Basecamp/other PM software
    • +great for project task lists, deadlines, seeing calendar of all tasks, good discussion features
    • -heavy weight adding new items vs just typing a list, no sub-sub lists or tagging, hard to just share parts of a list with others

[images from article http://iterationz.com/2013/07/09/task-management-with-workflowy/ which is also a great review of WorkFlowy ]

WorkFlowy tips

  • Just start dumping items from your brain, paper, planning docs or other GTD systems into it for the first day or so. Then figure out what top level sections make sense for you. It is easy to drag and drop or cut/paste lists around, so no need to "get it right" the first time
  • For GTD I use # tags for #today, #waiting, #week, #someday-maybe, #goal, #NextAction
    • I love that tags automatically get added to a smart drop down list so when I start typing #t up pops #today.
    • Also love that tags are hyperlinks to search by that tag
    • When you search by a tag it shows all items with that tag across all lists. This is super powerful if you just want to focus and bang out stuff. Or if you want to take a 30,000 view of your goals
  • To track delegated items I @ tags eg @John
    • again you can search by tags to see all the tags you delegated to John
    • I also use for location specific tasks eg @phone, @shopping, @UK
    • To prioritize put *s in the list item. * = important, **= super-important, *** = mega-super-important. These are not WorkFlowy tags and the cool thing is that when you search for * it shows all of these list items, then as you enter another * it narrows down to more important items and so on
  • There are keyboard shortcuts that can speed up your work eg Esc = search, Tab = intent, Shift-Tab = Outdent, ctrl- Space = Collapse/expand list, ctrl-? = display/hide keyboard shortcuts
  • Hovering over the bullet at the start of any list displays a little menu for completing a task, exporting that sublist , sharing, duplicating list etc.
    • Clicking the bullet drills down to just display items in that list. At the same time you see a "breadcrumb" menu of list sub levels so you can navigate fast back up to a higher level view
    • Clicking the + or - expands or collapses that list, so you can see the big picture or details fast
  • You can star any list that you use a lot (note that staring is not the same as typing *s that I mentioned earlier)
    • Hitting the star shows all the starred lists
    • A starred page remembers the last search you used in it - useful for regular GTD searches like Today's tasks
  • You can duplicate a list and all it's sub items  - great for templates of common tasks
  • You can share sublists with other users (I haven't tested this yet)
  • Use it for both current todo items, longer term planning, jotting down ideas or business/life planning. Easy to move items around during your weekly GTD review or 30,000 reviews.

Conclusion

If you haven't tried WorkFlowy I highly recommend playing with it for an hour to see if you love it or not. I was skeptical at first at Yet Another GTD app and figured it is free, let me play with it. Their 5 minute onboarding training/try it out had me hooked!

What are your WorkFlowy tips and thoughts? How do you stay organized with your todos, requirements and planning? Let me know in the comments.

Why you want ideal developers on your team

Why is it so important to have ideal developers on your team?

In a survey I did last year 17% of participants said they had incompetent staff on their projects. Which means bad code, more bugs and bad team dynamics. Ouch!

There is a ten to one variance between the worst programmer and the best programmer. And the worst programmers actually have negative ability because they introduce more bugs than they actually produce good code!

Paradox: 85% of a programmers success is due to human factors rather than pure technical skills.

What are the true costs of bad developers?

  • Bad code, more bugs, even server crashes
  • Bad hiring increases turnover cost
  • More management headaches
  • Other team members moral goes down
  • Learning curve and training time
  • Days lost to changing team members in and out

So you are probably asking yourself what is an ideal developer like? 

Ideal Developer

Here is my take on this:

An ideal developer:

  • Writes great programs that users love to use
  • Code is easy to maintain
  • Works well in teams
  • Has few bugs
  • Is good at solving problems in a simple way

But you only find this out once you have hired them. So! I look for character traits that predict this behavior ahead of time in the interview process.

What 7 character traits does an ideal developer have?

  • Humble
  • Curious
  • Honest
  • Communication
  • Coding conventions
  • Lazy
  • Thinking and Planning

For example Humble

  • My brain can’t take in the whole program at once - uses coding crutches
  • Egoless programming - doesn't take their code personally if others need to change it
  • Rewrites complex code to make it simpler to read
  • Gets their code reviewed by another developer
  • Asks for help if stuck for more than 15 minutes on a problem
  • Holds back Murphy’s law with defensive coding methods
  • Gives examples in comments
  • Reference Change Tracker issue# and Description in comments
  • Documents algorithm used in comments

These traits are from a user group talk I gave on "Guru Coders". If you want to read about the other 6 traits in more detail I posted the slides on my LinkedIn profile.  And if we are not connected on LI already I invite you to connect with me while you are there!

How to make Conscious Decisions in Software Development and Hiring

You have a close decision to make on hiring a software developer or several different ways to architect a program.

If one sucked and the other was brilliant it would be easy (pick the brilliant one!)

But often there are two or more options that are really close and it is hard to decide which is best. And the ramifications of a bad decision could be thousands of dollars of extra cost, a failed project and wasted days of work...

How to decide?


Some common ways are

  • The pros and cons list. List out the benefits and drawbacks of each choice. Pick the one with most benefits and least drawbacks

 

  • Weighted pros and cons. Same as previous method but give each aspect of the choice a weight depending on how important it is. Pros get a number +1 to +10 and cons a number -1 to -10, depending on how good or bad they are. Multiply the score by the weight and add them up. Pick the option with the best score. eg in hiring you might have one aspect of the choice is database design with weight 3. Candidate A is a +5. Candidate B is -2. So the contribution for for A is 3 x 5 = 15 and for B is 3 x (-2) = -6. Add these to the weighted scores for all other aspects of your decision to get the total scores.

I have used your weighted scoring system successfully too. Hey I was a mathematician by training at college! :-)

I give extra weight to a decision is easily reversible/gives early feedback on whether it is the right course/can be course corrected down the road.

Particular areas I have found this useful for are:

  • Scoring job candidates on the different skills and characteristics in the job req
  • Scoring clients by idealness (ie easy to work with, have budget for our kind of task, communicate clearly, appreciate quality software development etc) and then "firing" the bottom 10% each year.
  • Scoring prospects the same kind of way and focusing my energy on the top scorers.

  • Flip a coin. If the choices are really nearly equal it doesn't matter. Pick one at random. Then see how you feel about the decision. If you feel good, great go with it. If you get a bad feeling in your stomach the it is not a good choice, pick the other one! (You just realized new information about the first choice).

 

  • Test them out with a trial. Perhaps you can hire there different candidates for a few hours of paid work to see how you get on and what they really can do. Or if you have different program designs you can hack out the essence part of the algorithm (with no UI) and throw together some realistic volume of test data and compare speed (or does the algorithm even work at all!).

All the above methods are pretty common in management and software development. Here are two further thoughts on close decisions:

1. The time value of decisions. The values of the different options are usually not fixed over time. Often they decline over time.In addition the days and energy you spend making a decision are time and energy you could have spent on other productive tasks in your business, so they have a cost too.

For example in hiring, the slower you are at responding to the different candidates the less enthusiastic they are about the job, and the more likely they are to pick another company. Plus the more time you have lost to other money making tasks.

Suppose you have two candidates A and B with values of 51 and 49 on Day 1 and that they loose 3 points each day you wait/it costs 3 points in your energy used each day.

Here are the values of the options over time:

Day 1 A 51 B 49
Day 2 A 48 B 46
Day 3 A 45 B 43

 

In this case making a fast "bad" decision on Day 1 by hiring B at 49 points is actually better than the slow "correct" decision of hiring A on Day 3 at 45 points.

True sometimes the value of the choices might not change over time but the cost of continuing to spend your time/energy on the decision day after day definitely applies. Time that could have been spent making money for your business other ways. So there is still a time value to a decision.

The only way to avoid that is to not worry about the decision or spend any time on it at all until you next consider the choice. A deliberately delayed decision. I have seen entrepreneurs successfully do this when they realize that they are too busy/lack resources to implement yet another change this year and "consciously decide not to decide" until next January.

I also did not include the lost opportunity cost of a delayed decision. All the profits/new deals you could have made in the days (weeks?) spent decision making using either choice A or B.

We are not just comparing choice A to B. But also to choice N - do nothing. In the case of a 49/51 near equal decision I imagine the value of N is much less than either A or B.

In sales often clients don't take the cost of choice N into account because they have had the problem and been in this choice for so long. It is my job wearing my salesperson hat to help them see the true costs of choice N, as well as the costs and benefits of choosing buying from me. Bringing more consciousness to their buying decision.

 

2. Intuitive decision making. When a decision is pretty equal and complex then using intuition processes all the complexity at a subconscious level, saving my conscious processing power for other thoughts. It is also fast to do.

This is one method for making intuitive decisions, or at least giving you extra info for your conscious decision process.

Heart based decision process (example for picking from 4 choices)

  • Drop down into your heart (imagine your consciousness is in an elevator from your head).
  • Hold each of options 1 - 4 in your hand one at a time.
  • Bring your hand to your heart and notice what you feel.
  • Then bring option 5) Something else (that I don't consciously know right now) to your heart too.
  • Pick the option that makes your heart feel most open and happy.
  • Notice any extra info you get on each option eg heart feels heavy, a color or sound that appear, other body sensations, new inspired thoughts that come to you
  • If you get the "Something else" option then be ok to be patient a few days and see what occurs to you or synchronisities that occur that point to what it is.

(Exercise from the book "Beyond Human").

There are many other ways to access your intuition, pick what works for you.

 

 

 

How to not create shelfware - webinar 7/8/2014 1pm EDT

If you don't get users involved early in the project, you risk ending up with shelfware. That means that you wrote some great code, the operation was a success but the patient died on the table. None of the users want to use the application and it's left on the shelf.  What can you do about this? 

Some of the keys to successful projects are getting

·        executive support

·        having a project champion

·        early user buy-in

·        early usability testing

 

 

 

Presenter bio:

Michael Smith is the founder and CEO of TeraTech, a private custom software development company. Since Michael founded it in 1989, TeraTech has become the ColdFusion specialist company:

“Custom ColdFusion apps on budget and on time, guaranteed.”
He has been programming and managing projects for over thirty-five years. 
Michael has used ColdFusion since version 1.5 in 1997 and has advanced the ColdFusion developer community:


·         Presented at over 50 conferences and user group meetings,
·         Written over 20 articles on ColdFusion software development,
·         Founded the highly successful CFUnited Conference which ran for 11 years with up to 900 attendees annually, and
·         Ran the Maryland ColdFusion User Group for 12 years. 
Reach him at michael (at) teratech.com, www.teratech.com or +1 (301) 424 3903 x110.
Connect with Michael on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/abundantmichael.

 

Register to the webinar:



July webinar 2014
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July webinar 2014
Webinar

Streaming Video to a Browser with no plugins 6/24/14

The world of streaming video has been constantly evolving, with solutions moving from one browser plugin to the next (Real Player, Windows Media, Quick Time, Flash, Silverlight, etc.)  However, with advances in the open standard MPEG-DASH as well as extensions to the W3C specification, it is now possible to stream video directly to a browser without the need for any plugins.

This session will explore the leading edge in the world of video delivery, an open standard, supported by the industry’s biggest players, named MPEG-DASH and its companion project dash.js. While we are constantly building DASH players offers the promise of high-quality streams in a JavaScript client for platforms including:

  • Desktop
  • Browser
  • Flash
  • Connected TVs and Mobile Devices
  • dash.js

As the lead architect on the dash.js project, Jeff has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of this project, and he is actively collaborating with contributors from Microsoft, Google and others.

The technology for dash.js is new, and it’s not yet supported on every device, but we are working with many of the key players to make it a reality and the list of supported devices grows daily. So join us as we explore:

  • DASH standard
  • discuss how dash players are built
  • dig through the dash.js codebase
  • see dash playing on mobile devices
     

Presenter bio:

Jeff Tapper has over a 19 years of experience developing Internet applications for a myriad of clients, including ESPN, Major League Baseball, CNBC and many others. He is actively involved in the Streaming Media industry, and is a frequent speaker at NAB, IBC, Streaming Media East and West. He has authored over a dozen books on internet technologies. Jeff is a founding partner at Digital Primates and the lead architect of the dash.js project.

 

Register Now:



June Webinar 2014
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Wbnr - Streaming Vid. to Brwser w/ no plugins 2014

Hiring Secrets For Getting Great Developers On Your Team - webinar Tues 5/20/14 1pm - 2pm EDT

  • Do you have incompetent developers on your team?

  • Do you find it hard to hire the best developers?

  • Are your developer turnover costs too high?


Hiring Great DevelopersLearn the secrets of hiring great developers in this webinar. 

Unfortunately, not everyone does programming as well as everyone else.  There is a ten to one variance between the worst programmer and the best programmer.  Some of the worst programmers actually have negative ability because they introduce more bugs than they actually produce good code! 

Incompetent developers are not just a technical issue of poor code quality and missed deadlines, but they also tend to demoralize other people on the project.  Bad hiring relates to increased turnover cost. 

Learn how to hire great developers for your team. What to avoid in the hiring process. Or if you are searching for your new job, how to increase your chances of being hired.

 

Presenter Bio

Michael Smith is the founder and CEO of TeraTech, a private custom software development company. Since Michael founded it in 1989, TeraTech has become the ColdFusion specialist company:

“Custom ColdFusion apps on budget and on time, guaranteed.”
He has been programming and managing projects for over thirty-five years. 
Michael has used ColdFusion since version 1.5 in 1997 and has advanced the ColdFusion developer community:
·         Presented at over 50 conferences and user group meetings,
·         Written over 20 articles on ColdFusion software development,
·         Founded the highly successful CFUnited Conference which ran for 11 years with up to 900 attendees annually, and
·         Ran the Maryland ColdFusion User Group for 12 years. 
Reach him at michael (at) teratech.com, www.teratech.com or +1 (301) 424 3903 x110.
Connect with Michael on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/abundantmichael.

Do they think you are are a super human developer?

Have you been in this meeting?

The big boss pressures the PM to pressure you to say that you can code anything.

After all you are the expert right?

They believe that developers can do anything, even the most ridiculous tasks. Of course, developers always do; they can do anything.

They will ask you to build a rocket ship with pebble stones. They will give suggestions on how to do it, and they often end up confusing you and embarrassing themselves as well.

Developers need to be left alone with the how's. You can, build a rocket ship, yes -- maybe not with a pebble, but you'll get your rocket ship in the end.

Just listen to your developers when they point out the impossible like the "green" red lines...

 

Intro To Couchbase For Caching And NoSQL - Webinar Tues 4/8/2014 1PM EDT

 

  • Do you want to increase performance using data distributed around the world?
  • Do you want to store documents in your database efficiently?
  • Is it critical your app is always availability?

 

 

Interactive applications have changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Today, they must support millions of users simultaneously and downtime is no longer acceptable. Three mega trends – Big Data, Big Users, and Cloud Computing – are driving the adoption of NoSQL technology over traditional relational SQL.

NoSQL document stores are reinventing the way we design our databases and cache layers. Couchbase open source server is a unique database with unparalleled performance, automatic replication and failover. 

In this webinar:

  • how document databases differ from the traditional RDBMS
  • the benefits and tradeoffs they bring to the table
  • a hands-on look at the new CFCouchbase CFML SDK
  • native caching and session persistence via the Railo Couchbase Extension.
  • Q&A

PRESENTER BIO:

Brad grew up in southern Missouri and after high school majored in Computer Science with a music minor at MidAmerica Nazarene University (Olathe, KS). Today he lives in Kansas City with his wife and three girls. Brad enjoys all sorts of international food and the great outdoors.

Brad has been programming ColdFusion for 12 years and has used every version of CF since 4.5. He first fell in love with ColdFusion as a way to easily connect a database to his website for dynamic pages. He enjoys configuring and performance tuning high-availability Windows and Linux ColdFusion environments as well as SQL Server.

Brad is the ColdBox Platform Evangelist at Ortus Solutions

You can reach Brad at @bdw429s 

Title: Intro To Couchbase For Caching And NoSQL

Date: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/676554479

Release management secrets with Jenkins and Ant - webinar Tues 3/11/14 1pm EST

  • Are you spending too much time moving code changes to your development/staging/production environments all the time?
  • Do you have issues with certain files needing specific settings and having to be careful not to overwrite them when FTPing your code?
  • Would you like to automate running unit and/or integration tests?
  • Do you want to let your client know when updates are available for testing?

Learn the ins and outs of release management from start to finish as Wil and Mary Jo from CF Webtools tag team this webinar. Wil will present an overview of release management and how we use SVN and Jenkins to run  builds and then Mary Jo will talk about ANT and creating builds that will automate the entire process including updating application settings, FTPing files, clearing caches, and emailing the team when the process completes. We'll finish up with a Q&A where you get two experts for the price of one to cover whatever questions you might have on Jenkins, Ant, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Presenter Bios
Mary Jo SminkeyMary Jo Sminkey has been doing web application development for over 15 years and ColdFusion since the Allaire days. She is particularly skilled in the area of ecommerce, through her experience writing and supporting CFWebstore, one of the first stand-alone ecommerce platforms for ColdFusion. She now works for CFWebtools, LLC in Omaha, NE as a senior web developer, overseeing a large million dollar client. In her free time, Mary Jo is well known as a talented dog trainer, judge, and competitor in a wide range of canine sports, such as agility, flyball, obedience, rally, herding, and musical freestyle. Her other varied hobbies include playing handbells and a variety of other instruments, folding origami models, and baking fancy and delicious cakes and cookies.

 

 

 

 

Wil GenoveseWill Genovese has been doing ColdFusion development and ColdFusion Server administration since 1998. Experiences ranging from troubleshooting and debugging to general application maintenance to architecting web applications and databases. Wil has been involved in managing and maintaining code publishing systems and SVN at CF Webtools. More recently Will has been doing server security investigations and web application security testing. Some of the technologies he is proficient in include ColdFusion server 7, 8, 9 & 10, CFML, CFC, PostgreSQL server, MS SQL, MySQL, Linux and Windows servers, Apache, IIS, XHTML/HTML, CSS, XML, and server administration and installation.

 

 

 

Title: Release management secrets with Jenkins and Ant
Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
 
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
 
Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet
 

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/282979767

 

Undo Almost Anything with Git - webinar Tues 2/11/14 1pm EST

Wouldn’t it be great if you never made a mistake? When you know how to undo anything in Git, you can create an aura of perfection! If you’ve ever fat fingered a commit message, forgot to commit a file, wanted to clean up your history or even re-order your commits, this is the session for you.

Take control of your source code with Git

In this hands on class we’ll learn how to undo almost everything using Git

  • commit
  • amend
  • reset
  • revert
  • rebase
  • reflog

Git is a free open source distributed revision control and source code management system with an emphasis on speed. Git was initially designed and developed by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development in 2005. Every Git working directory is a full-fledged repository with complete history and full version tracking capabilities, not dependent on network access or a central server. (From wikipedia)

Register now:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/917179927

This month's presenter is Peter Bell.

Peter BelPeter is an experienced entrepreneur, technologist, agile coach and CTO specializing in EdTech projects. He's finishing up a book for Pearson on "managing software development" and working on another book on git and github. He presents regularly at national and international conferences on ruby, nodejs, NoSQL (especially MongoDB and neo4j), cloud computing, software craftsmanship, java, groovy, javascript, and requirements and estimating. He is on the program committee for QCon in New York, Code Generation in Cambridge, England and the Domain Specific Modeling workshop at SPLASH (was ooPSLA) and reviews and shepherds proposals for the BCS SPA conference.


He has presented at a range of conferences including DLD conference, ooPSLA, QCon NY, QCon SF, RubyNation, SpringOne2GX, Code Generation, Practical Product Lines, the British Computer Society Software Practices Advancement conference, GraphConnect, DevNexus, cf.Objective(), CF United, Scotch on the Rocks, WebDU, WebManiacs, UberConf, the Rich Web Experience and the No Fluff Just Stuff Enterprise Java tour.

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