Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm not here at the moment, but...

I'm on holiday and paternity leave at the moment, enjoying the French Alps, and learning to live without sleep (I'd love to know when babies biorhythms start to match those of their parents). A couple of days before departing, a colleague in our Human Resources department asked me to deliver a presentation on the corporate intranet (as a communications and knowledge management tool) to our graduate work placement intake...two days into my break.

However, I hesitated to decline as there would not have been anyone to do this in my stead. So, as quickly as possible, I cobbled together a variation of the absentee acceptance common to awards ceremonies ("Kirk Douglas cannot unfortunately be with us today, but he recorded the following message...").

The limiting factors were time and the need for the presentation to be delvered in a known format (as the HR team would be delivering the presentation). However, armed with a couple of pieces of software, a headset and webcam, it was just over an afternoon's work to put together.

  • Microsoft Powerpoint to advance the slideset (using insert > movie and embedding Flash movies using the activeX Flash object and the Flash rewind plug-in);

  • Blueberry software Flashback Express to record the video screen-capture and voice over;

  • A Logitech webcam to record a few short video introductions;

  • Snagit for some static screen captures as slideshow graphics

I settled on using Flashback Express for the main voice-over as I found the quality of Powerpoint's record narration function to be severely limited (although given the time constraints, I didn't have the chance to check out whether this is a known limitation or an indication of my own inexperience with the function).

The great thing is that I was able to hand the HR department - 5 minutes before heading off on holiday - a single package where the only input required from their team was to advance the presentation slide-by-slide. I haven't yet heard how well the presentation went down, but in the absence of available time and a replacement speaker, I would recommend this as a very useful tool, which, once you have got into the screen-casting habit can be very rapid.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Change in status...on becoming a dad

I haven't had the opportunity yet to write up my thoughts on KCUK, as my wife and I have been busy with our new son, Theodore, who chose the auspicious date of 07/07/07 to mark his entry into the world.

There are very few "Thristan"s in the world (obviously not including the Christian name), so I think Theodore may take us up to a count of about 15 worldwide.

I will blog on KCUK and other things soon, but in the meantime, may try to catch up on some sleep!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Knowledge Management Presentation

I was over at Ark Group's Knowledge and Content UK this week, along with a colleague, and will try to write up a lengthy post regarding this within the next few days. However, given that it's my wife's due date tomorrow, and she has already been having contractions, it may take me a few days to find time to gather my thoughts and reflections and get them up on the blog.

My presentation went pretty well, although - as I had a graveyard slot - the audience was perhaps smaller than anticipated (but appeared pretty engaged with the discussion on best practice management).

This year's conference seemed generally to mark a refocus on the "people" elements of KM with a healthy dose of social software and Web 2.0 references sprinkled in. I would have liked to hear a few more tactical KM war stories, rather than so many similar strategic approaches, but there were some excellent speakers, and I had some engaging discussions during the breaks.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

MyBlogLog and Wink

Idly meandering through the Yahoo Developer Network, I clicked on MyBlogLog - which I signed up for ages ago, but never did anything with. It's an interesting conceit - so if you do read my blog, feel free to sign up to say you do...Likewise, I'm trying to sort out a Wink profile as I like its use of MicroID - again, feel free to engage!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Web Project Management Best Practice

I was contacted to take part in an e-consultancy review of Online Project Management a short while ago, and received a link to their report on best practice in this area today. [UPDATE 16/05/07 - Linus Gregoriadis, Head of Research at e-consultancy, let me know I was pointing to a link for survey participants only, so - just in case you have bookmarked this, the link has now switched.]

I have to say, having skim-read the first-half, that it very much matches my experience. For instance, as a PRINCE2 qualified practitioner, I would have to agree that the PRINCE2 "exception"-led model of change management (and over-reliance on detailed specifications) can work against managing rapidly moving Web projects (where XP and other Agile methods build this into a rapid and iterative loop).

The great thing about a Web project is that you can manage the overall project with one methodology and branch off (in a controlled manner) software development, for instance, in a slightly different direction. I think it pays to be cute and take a pick-and-mix approach, rather than try to adhere to a monolithic approach, all in the name of getting things done. I don't think this has to be at the cost of losing control of time, cost, quality and associated risks; this is one of the reasons that I enjoy Basecamp as a Project Management tool: it helps me control the project while being flexible enough to stand setting up PRINCE2-type methods, controls and stages as categories.

Note: prince2 link updated on 10/03/2010 thanks to helpful comment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Recognise pattern, fail to change

I'll probably write this up in more detail when I have two minutes to myself, but reading a recent copy of Wired last night on the plane from Geneva to London, I was just very aware of one very major strength in the human psyche, and another - related - weakness.

It's not a surprising revelation, but I feel that sometimes it is worth stating the obvious: people are great at recognising patterns, but hopeless at turning these patterns into action. I think that therein lies the failure of many a great, intellectually cogitated strategy.

Friday, March 09, 2007

So much for digital whiteboards

Via Mike Kuniavsky, here's an interesting toy which allows you to interactively project drawings in real-time. I know the intended audience is for kids, but this is a very cool way to make a big drawing in real-time when you don't have a whiteboard available. Just project on the wall.

This very much reminds me of a play of a Neil Gaiman book called "The Wolves in the Walls" which my wife did some digital compositing and projection work on where an After Effects animation was composited and projected onto the stage using Watchout software. The effect was to enable the actress to "draw" on the stage in real-time. Depending on the artistic skills of the actress, this toy would have been a simple replacement for this one effect. Scientific Progress does not always go "Boink" to mis-quote Calvin and Hobbes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Scrollable, multiple selection checkboxes

Via Bim Egan of the RNIB, and passed on to me by my colleague, Sonia Carter, is this nice little accessible solution to multiple checkbox selections and saving space (i.e. "making it look good") at the same time.

This was, as pointed out by Bim, discussed on the webaim discussion board a while ago - to be honest, I was stuck back in the days of thinking that CTRL+ multiple option selection was fine for the "select" element. But, care of Bim is this neat solution on C82: "check it, don't select it". I really like this - neat and easy to code.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Screen Recording - Flashback Express

Having trialled Techsmith Camtasia Studio as well as Adobe Captivate (both great tools, fully featured, but costing $200 plus), I've been on the look out for lower cost replacements for a while.

While I haven't fully trialled this yet, Blueberry Software's Flashback Express looks like it could be a useful alternative (at $49) if you're interested in recording .swf or .avi demos. It's been pretty easy to use thus far, and works nicely with a headphone/mic set-up on my laptop.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sheer Marketing Genius from the Fitzwilliam

In a perfect example as to how to make the best of a bad deal, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambrige (UK) - my personal favourite museum - has launched a jigsaw postcard. "So what?" you may be thinking to yourself: well, the genius behind this is that the two priceless Chinese vases (I forget which dynasty) were accidentally shattered into hundreds of pieces by a clumsy/unlucky visitor. This pratfall hit the headlines in the UK (particularly as there was CCTV footage of the incident), and I think it is a masterstroke to allow visitors to buy a postcard so that they can piece the vases back together again themselves...!

As an additional note, if you are ever in Cambridge, do drop into the Museum, it has a great Hogarth before/after painting, a beautiful Picasso drawing of Lydia Lopokova, and many other treasures.

[UPDATE]: It's Qing dynasty, and you can purchase the cards at the museum shop online!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Social Networking Silver Bullet

Via Headshift and via Marc's voice, I came across Social networking: Time for a silver bullet, which comes to some similar conclusions that I came to a couple of years ago. Namely, personal profiles (secure, of course) to represent a changing "you" and XFN or some other standard to establish the connections (or "predicates" in RDF speech, "verbs" to the rest of the world!) between them. It would be better to have "entity profiles" and "entity predicates" rather than remaining people-based as this would also allow organisations to keep an up-to-date profile (potentially with individual "person profiles" indicating a staff member relationship). It's all pretty interesting to see what direction the social networking and semantic web space is taking - although I dearly wish for the removal of the "Web 2.0" nomenclature, it really irritates me - personally, I like microformats as a first-footing into the space, and tend to agree with the KISS factor (keep it short and simple) which has led to RSS actually having an impact in this space.