22 June 2006

Breaking News: Tom Raftery's Mac Crashed!

Astonishing news from Tom Raftery IT's blog: his Mac crashed!.

16 June 2006

Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood

The Christian Monitor carried yesterday a most fascinating article on It's all about me: Why e-mails are so easily misunderstood. I came accross the article in the Slacker Manager's link fest. I could not agree more and I speak from experience.

14 June 2006

A few thoughts on Improv after the Life Hack podcast

Matt Cornell commented on my earlier post on by telling me that he is finishing the book now and that it is neat.

I must say that after listening to the new Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org, I really feel like trying and getting hold of the book, if it is available in Britain. What I have heard about the book in this podcast has inspired a number of comments I would like to make. Here they are.

I must say that the thought which came to my mind, whilst listening to the podcast, is that what I perceived as having been some of the best lectures I ever gave at the university were those when I had forgotten my lecture notes at home, or the time when the university network was down a few years ago and when I could not use the powerpoint presentation I had prepared, and had to speak from the top of my head, after spending a couple of minutes drawing a very basic mind map.

I also sometimes, when I have difficulties writting a paper and I feel really stuck resort to using a digital dictation system, and improvising a 15 minutes lecture. Transcribing what I said may take time but it is a very good way to get un-stucked

When it comes to actually delivering papers at academic conferences, I have in the last 4 years increasingly resorted to separate the text of the actual paper, which is destined to be published, and the actual "talk" I give. I have usually used either powerpoint presentations or a series of OmniGraffle showed as pdf files. My key idea, is to improvise on the spot, summarizing the argument of the paper which would be much longer, and which most of the participants would either have read before or will read after the conference anyway. This form of improv can be scary at times, but it does get the adrenaline pumping and on the whole seems to be a much more effective form of delivery. This is especially so when the visuals used in the slide presentation do play a reinforcing role.

Thinking of it, there is nothing more sad and depressing, than someone reading a paper, never lifting one's head from one's notes. Very few university teachers would get away with it in the lecture hall. It is however not so uncommon to hear colleagues doing just that at academic conferences. I have done it in the past but I have since realised that it was not a good way to go about things. The less so when you try and read a paper which is not written in your mother tongue.

My advice to younger colleagues I meet at academic conferences is always to tell them: be yourself! Ignore the fact that you will be addressing colleagues who are a lot more senior than you are! Try and speak in the same way you would normally speak to you students in the lecture hall! Most paradoxically, easy does it!

Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org

Friend Chris Brogan is announcing the new Life Hack podcast for Lifehack.org:

"The Life Hack podcast covers weekly productivity tips, insights into how to speed up your life, interviews with people who can help you develop yourself, and highlights from our community platform. Lifehack.org is the creation of Leon Ho."

I have just finished listening to Episod one, which consists of an interview of Patricia Ryan Madson, the author of Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up. This sounds like a fascinating book, which really seems worth reading.

12 June 2006


One of my daughters has recently acquired a DVD of The Man of the House, staring Tommy Lee Jones as Texas Ranger Roland Sharp. This is very light entertainment but there is there a wonderful one liner from the main character which will surely appeal to all university teachers, the more so if they have had to deal with plagiarism.

... and yes! The internet does make plagiarism easier ... to detect!

It is so much easier to uncover plagiarists who lift stuff from the internet than from a book!

Thank you Google!

The quotation from the character is :

"Plagiarism is an academic crime. It is punishable by academic death."

11 June 2006

GTD® on MindManager Template

My GTD® on MindManager template is now available for download as a zip file. Update: Please follow this link to the most recent version.

All feedback most welcomed.

For more information on Getting Things Done ® visit the website of the David Allen Company, read his books and attend his seminars.

There were problems with the file download earlier, but it now seems to be solved. If not please leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

GTD on MindManager screenshot

Coming soon: GTD® on MindManager Template

A few words to announce that I am currently putting the finishing hand to my Getting Things Done on MindManager Template, which I hope to post on this blog later today. I am preparing it using the all singing, all dancing Mind Manager for Mac OS.
... Watch this space!

09 June 2006

OmniGraffle and MindManager

Commenting on a recent post on the new MindManager for Mac OS, Eric from Organisation et méthode, the French GTD blog, asked: "Have you tried to use OmniGraffle for mindmapping?
Using the automatic layout and the outline functions, building the map is as fast and easy as with any specific mindmapping application. And the graphic possibilities are much richer. You can also go back and forth between OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle.

I have indeed tried OmniGraffle, which I use for two main things:

It is nice for creating simple mind-maps.

MindManager seems largely superior for mindmapping for several reasons:

  • Branches can collapse. This is essential to manage very complex maps (for instance, the MindManager mindmap I use for my implementation of GTD).
  • MindManager is both available for Mac OS and Windows, and my other computer, at the University of Salford is a wintel machine! :-(

Before MindManager for Mac OS, I was using Freemind which is a brilliant open source software.

03 June 2006

The time of the day