Monday, June 30, 2008

New Habits, New Reading, New Tools

About four weeks ago I came down with some pretty serious headaches that were experienced in conjunction with a general illness I was experiencing that my children gave me. I didn't think much about it and figured I would get over it until I hoped on a Virgin American plane to San Francisco for a day of meetings.

Right after takeoff I had some seriously sharp pain in my neck and head and began to get pretty worked up about how sick I was. At that time I thought that I had a mild infection that was complicated by a dental issue I was experiencing. After a number of calls to doctors and dentists etc. I got on a plan and a series of appointments that put me back on track. One thing that didn't get on track though was the issue with my sinuses that I assumed was just another symptom of being sick.

After a full 3 weeks, I couldn't get the feeling of having a nail driven through my head to go away. After a CAT scan (gasp) I found out that I have a pretty major infection in the deepest part of the sinuses. Armed with that knowledge, I have been on a regimen of antibiotics, mucus reducers and nasal saline baths. Good times. The only positive benefit of this has been a lot of time at the home office which has allowed me to catch up, take a deep breath and focus on the non business development part of work as well as generally reducing the overall stress level of the organism which is me. Aside from the headaches which are coming down, things are actually very good.

So the point of this post that was in the title has yet to be addressed...

New Habits - Over the last several months I have been working on organizing my work. I have read and followed the various GTD and other things out there and am certainly a big fan of sites like Lifehacker. For all my interest in this there really are only three big items that I have found myself doing that I would call new habits that I have focused on over the last six months of this year that I would say are ingrained habits. They are use of Spaces on the Mac, use of outlines to manage my work, and staying current on email.

As far as the last two, those are pretty self explanatory. I process email on a fairly regular basis and aspire to get to zero while knowing that I never will. There is an ebb and flow of around 200 emails that are always in my email box and I keep a range open of about two months. When I am more organized than not I can leverage my outlining to capture the emails and drive the number down. When I travel a lot, I might peak up to around 600 or so. Outlining is critical for me and although I can be engaged or not at times, when I really am trying to juggle a lot of things, the outline is my best friend. We should teach outlining and mind mapping to everyone at a young age.

The Spaces one is certainly more novel for me. A lot of my engineer friends who are Linux nerds use multiple windows. When the new version of the Mac OS came out I gave Spaces a run and slowly over time found it to be a way to organize what I do as I work on my machine. My current configuration is using 9 windows in a 3 by 3 grid with Email in the top left, browser in top center, communication apps in the top right. I use middle center for music and bottom center for calendaring. I use the other winodws for docs or file management or whatever.

New Reading - I haven't been reading any books which bums me out a bit but I have adopted a couple of new blogs over time. My daily reading right now is as follows: Techmeme, Hacker News, Lifehacker, Google News and then checking my news reader. I adopted Hacker News at the recommendation of one of our engineers and have really been enjoying the stories. There is certainly some overlap with my other blogs/sites etc. but there is a pretty strong nerd flavor as well.

New Tools - Not a lot. The biggest one has been a switch for news reading. For around four years now I have been a Bloglines reader. Nothing of any significnce has changed with Bloglines as far as I can tell. While it is adequate for reading stuff, I had cluttered my reading list with the accumulated blogs of those four years and cleaning was less than push button on the interface side. I went back and checked out Google Reader, which didn't blow me away when initially launched. A quick look showed some impressive progress and I made the switch.

The only other thing that I would consider a new tool right now is Google Gears for offline access to Reader and Docs. I have been bummed about how long it has taken to roll this out but it is now here and I am waiting for that next plane flight to give it a run on both accounts. I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Death of the Tech Cell Phone Fetishist MVNO

Silicon Valley Insider has a good piece here about the Virgin takeover of Helio. It is interesting to note that in many ways this marks the death of the second wave of MVNOs (Amp'd, ESPN, Disney, Helio). It will be interesting to see how the market segments over time as the 1st wave players (Virgin, Boost) compete with fast moving low price carriers like Leap and Metro PCS. It seems that some combination of 2 or 3 of those players would make for an interesting opportunity. I think that both Virgin and Boost do a great job of marketing, but the growth that Leap and Metro are having driving low price leadership and all in pricing is certainly attractive to a big segement of the market.

I have posted previously on my thoughts around Helio and I think that the article linked above makes the most compelling point about Helio in my opinion. As I said before, I always expected Helio to be the technology fetishist MVNO with cool devices and advanced technology features. While the phones materialized, and to some extent the services did as well, the focus on marketing to the youth demographic on the one hand, while operating high concept stores on the other hand struck me as misaligned. The bottom line has become that the iPhone has become essentially the technology fetishist MVNO with a very attractive price point and soon a very fast network. I hope Virgin maintains some of the focus on the higher end on the market in a practical way but given overall price competition both from above and below I would expect that best execution is the name of the game for a couple of years ahead.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Socialthing 2.0

One of these days I will blog again. I swear. I did want to share that my buddies at Socialthing rolled out version 2.0 Last week. Check it here.