29 Sep

Discovering MS Office 2003

I’m "playing" with Office 2003 and the overall feeling is rather good. I’m surprised though that consistency across applications is not more advanced by now. How is it that Project has just one level of Undo, or that its row grouping feature doesn’t work like Excel’s? (In Excel you can group/ungroup all your groups with a single click, while Project’s outline mode is much cruder). Or why is the Redo feature available only (to the best of my knowledge) in Powerpoint and Word?
Project and Visio do feel like Office applications, but for Microsoft to successfully upsell users to the fatest and latest versions of its suite, integration and consistency really need to go into the smallest cracks. I haven’t even looked at OneNote or Infopath yet, and I don’t even plan to bother with Frontpage (though I hear it’s significantly better than in the past) so I can’t comment on the whole thing yet.

26 Sep

There’s Only So Much Attention You Can Split

CIO Magazine: Why More Is Less:

"The inutility of multitasking as a productivity tool makes perfect sense when understood in terms of attention and available resources. "Current cognitive models suggest that people have a limited amount of attention available at any moment," says Seth Greenberg, a professor of psychology at Union College. "Attention could be thought of as a fuel that can be dispersed. Thus, tasks can be performed simultaneously with efficiency as long as the required attention for both tasks does not exceed the limit." In other words, a person can multitask effectively as long as any given task doesn’t require too much attention and thereby exhaust his resources."

01/01/05 update: Get Organized at Work

24 Sep

Notes on Photoshop Album

Michael Sippey:

"Where it shines, though, is its application and use of photo metadata. Adding categorization to photos is a drag-and-drop action, or a right-click action, or a menu-driven keyboard aware action — on a single photo or multiple photos at once. Recognizing that facial recognition software hasn’t quite migrated to the desktop, Adobe has made it dead simple for the user to add labels to their photographs. Not only that, the design of the UI encourages the use of those labels, making it easy to filter a contact sheet view of photos by one or more labels (categorized by "people," "places" and "events"); or by time, through a sliding timeline or a popup monthly calendar."

Looks like a good replacement for ACD See, which we haven’t found to be very stable.

18 Sep

Trillian plugs back into Yahoo, MSN

CNet:

"Cerulean Studios has released new software patches that will allow its popular Trillian client to support MSN and Yahoo’s instant messaging services, according to its co-founder. […] Both Yahoo and MSN cited the need to improve security as the primary reason for the upgrades."

The "need to improve security" that everone knew was a laughable excuse when AOL evoked it years ago while Yahoo and MSN wanted to interop.

18 Sep

Will IM Ever Properly Interop?

CNet: Yahoo IM update Shuts Out Third Parties
For all the aggravation brought by incumbent telcos, the thought that organizations such as Yahoo or MSN could replace them to provide our basic communication infrastructure is even scarier. Here’s a simple action plan to send a clear message that we’re not going to let them lock us in their gated communities:

  • download and use Trillian and create meta contacts for all your contacts (i.e. combine their various IM accounts into a single contact)
  • create an AIM account
  • make yourself familiar with IRC in case AIM "upgrades" itself too
  • download Skype
    AIM is interopable with IChat and supported by Trillian. Skype supports voice chat. The only thing that’s in Yahoo and MSN’s chat clients that isn’t supported in the solution outlined above is webcam support, which is fun but not terribly useful to start with, at least in a business context.

  • 16 Sep

    The Truth About Torture

    The Atlantic Monthly: "Mark Bowden, the author of "The Dark Art of Interrogation," on why the practice of coercion is a necessary evil".
    Interesting interview. I’m especially in agreement with this quote:

    "[Q] Was it difficult to do that? You’ve written very candidly about torture. And I imagine that some of the people you interviewed, such as the people from Amnesty International, would find this article inappropriate or even morally wrong.
    [A] I expect that some people will condemn me for not having adopted what is generally accepted to be the humane line on this. But I think that’s too easy – I think that Amnesty’s position in this particular instance is too easy. They equate someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with a teenager on the Ivory Coast who had his hands lopped off. I think that there’s not a moral equivalent. I believe that there is a special issue posed by terrorists’ plotting mass murder and that we have an obligation as a society to think long and hard about these things."

    Read More

    15 Sep

    Cool Recent Software Releases

    In the last 10 days or so Trillian Pro 2.0 and Helium 1.7.1 were released. Essential software in both cases. Trillian’s meta contacts are useful, while Helium’s album cover management is quite cool. As to Skype, no I didn’t try it yet (last week was spent struggling with, then making tons of phone calls with Vonage) but I’m about to, as I’ve recurring problems with voice support under MSN Messenger.