Monday, December 31, 2012

Change is the Challenge



Change is difficult for most of us. How convenient it had been to simply pick up the receiver and tell the operator who we wanted to "ring up." We remember fondly watching the reruns of Andy picking up the receiver and saying, "Sara, would you ring over at Floyd's Barber Shop?" I can only imagine the resistance when the new rotary phone replaced what had been so comfortable and so familiar.

Looking back allows us to look forward. What practices do we cling to because they are familiar, yet years from now, people can hardly believe how we resisted the change?

In a wonderful book entitled Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers, author Debbie Silver included the following quote that so eloquently goes to the heart of why change is so difficult:

It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.

—Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy
 
It's a reminder of one of my favorite quotes:

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and you are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.
-Patrick Overton

As a new year approaches for us all, change is a given. There will be those times when you feel you are between trapezes. There will be those times when you feel you about to step off into the darkness. In no time, you have learned to fly!

What worries you about the year ahead? What excites you?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gift Cards: How Will You Make Sure You Use Them and Not Lose Them?

Christmas has passed, and if you are like me, you have received gift cards to your favorite restaurants. In addition, you may be a subscriber to Groupon, Living Social, or a similar program allowing you to buy meal vouchers at great discounts.

As great as these cards and vouchers are, they are no good if they are not used. Each year, billions of dollars worth of gift cards go unused because people lose them or simply forget they have them. The Wall Street Journal estimates $41 billion in gift cards have gone unspent between 2005 and 2011.

How can you keep from joining this crowd? Wouldn't it be great if you had a place where you could put these little gems, a place where they would periodically hop up and say, "Remember me? Spend me." The solution is actually very simple.

All you need is a set of tickler files plus one more blank file folder. Label the additional file something like "Gift Cards," or whatever appeals to you. Put all of your gift cards in that folder. As for the Groupons and other vouchers, put them in that same folder and organize them by expiration date. The voucher with the most immediate expiration goes in the front of the folder.

Put the entire folder in the tickler file for the next time you would like to be reminded that you have gift cards and vouchers to spend. Saturday has always proved to be a good day for me. On that day, the file folder of gift cards and vouchers becomes a trigger to sit down with your spouse and decide which ones you may wish to use during the next week. Pull those candidates from the folder. Place them in the tickler files for the days you decided you wanted to use them. Pick a day you would like to see this folder again and put it back in the tickler file. That's it.

Nothing slips through the cracks. Periodically, you are reminding yourself what gift cards and vouchers you have remaining and any expiration dates. The process can take as little as one minute. Having that file folder appear in the tickler files means you never have to think about it.

Every year, people waste billions of dollars through lost or forgotten gift cards and vouchers. This year, the situation need not describe you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

King's College "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

King's College (Cambridge, England) was founded in 1441. The building of the chapel began in 1446 and was completed in 1544, almost 100 years later, during the reign of King Henry VIII. The choir is composed of male students from the college along with boys from King's College School.

Each year, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is enjoyed not only by audience in the packed chapel, but by listeners throughout the world.

Enjoy this rendition of "O Come, All Ye Faithful."


Friday, December 21, 2012

King's College and "O Magnum Mysterium"



O Magnum Mysterium is one of the season's more beautiful works. This performance is by a truly spectacular group. Enjoy the King's College Choir.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.
Alleluia.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Take Time Now To Save Time Then

If you want to "get organized," plan on spending a little extra time now. The time you save comes later. Maybe that's why so many people avoid getting organized. It's easier to leave things in disarray...right now anyway. But, we pay the price later. So many people are so hard pressed to simply get through the day, working a little harder now to make things easier later is not a concept they want to hear.

At this time of year, one small example comes to mind. Our Christmas decorations include the "Sheltie Tree," a metal tree on which we hang a collection of decorative Shetland Sheepdog ornaments. Each ornament fits into its own particular cutout in a Styrofoam container. Putting the ornaments on tree...now that was always a breeze. Taking them down and putting each ornament in the correct place in the Styrofoam holders, now that was a different story! I would spend for what seemed like an eternity turning and trying to fit an ornament into this hole or that until finally I got it right. I always dreaded that part of the process.

One year, I got smart. As I was taking the ornament out of their containers, I took the time to write the description of the ornament beside the spot where it would be returned. When Christmas was over and it was time to pack it all away, the job I had dreaded was a snap. The Sheltie holding Santa's list went here. The Sheltie tangled in the Christmas lights went there. The annual ornament for 2007 goes here and 2009 goes here.

When all was said and done, the Sheltie ornaments were back in their protective boxes in a fraction of the time I normally spent. The time I had spend on labeling had been more than recouped.

Every year when I take those Sheltie ornaments and look at the hand-written description of the ornaments, I smile, knowing that the time I spent on the front end several years ago now saves me time each and every year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook

One of my earliest memories was the funeral of John F. Kennedy. As a junior high school student, I stepped off the bus to news that our governor had been shot and was fighting for his life. As a college student, I was on my way to band practice when I heard that President Reagan was in surgery following an assassination attempt. I was a principal reviewing with our PTO the steps we had taken during that year to make our school safer, and then heard a few minutes later what had happened earlier that day at Columbine.

Throughout my life and yours, tragedies have caused our entire nation to pause. However, I can recall nothing to match the horror of young children being murdered in the place where their futures were being molded.

From all reports, Sandy Hook Elementary School had done everything it could reasonably do to keep its students safe from intruders. Yet, on this day, the best plans did not stop evil which has its own careful plans.

Without a doubt, school districts across the country will be re-visiting their own safety plans. Reviewing plans to be sure they are sounds, that people know their responsibilities, and that we practice executing our plans is a good thing. However, I hope that knee-jerk reactions do not result in procedures which turn schools into prisons. And even with the most stringent of procedures, none of us can guarantee  we will be immune from a determined killer.

Can we do a better job of keeping weapons such the one used in this incident out of the hands of people who have absolutely no business with them? According to sources such as MSNNow, the rifle was a semi-automatic weapon first used in the Vietnam War. It has the capability to fire six shots per second. I have a hard time understanding how any civilian would have a need to own this type of weapon.

Can we do a better job of identifying those whose behavior suggests they may be responsible for the next tragedy? It seems on the heels of each mass shooting, people who knew the killer talk of characteristics that probably should have raised red flags.

I wish I had answers to those questions. What I do know is that there were heroes at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The principal, one of those who died that day, had been vigilant about safety. Even her Twitter account shows this evidence.


Teachers took swift and appropriate actions to protect their students, including standing between students and bullets. Had it not been for the actions of the staff, this tragedy could have been so much worse.

President Obama said, "There's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do...Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown or a shopping mall in Oregon or a temple in Wisconsin or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children."

Each time our nation is rocked by one of these killings, we ask the question, "Will this one be the last one?" I pray the answer be "yes."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Night Before Christmas for the Band Director

This poem, written by Russ Haag, appeared in The Instrumentalist magazine years ago. I clipped it then, long before the days when we all could easily scan items and share them with the world. I post the poem here for all of my friends in the band world.

Before his retirement, Russ was an outstanding middle school band director in Brewton, Alabama. Russ, if you happen to stumble upon this post, I hope it brings a smile to know that your poem is still circulating.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Free Pages for Your Paper Planner

While I have been organizing my life digitally for over a decade, there are still many people who prefer paper. A paper planner, when used correctly, is a great tool to put everything which requires your attention into one place. Perhaps a paper system is your choice, but you have not found page formats which suit you. Perhaps you don't want to spend money for commercially-prepared pages. If either of these descriptions are applicable, this post is for you. The Free Resources page of my website lists four forms you can download, print, and use. Since it is on the "Free Resources" page, that's a pretty good indication that the price is right. 

Paper Planner Daily Page
Time ManagementThe layout for this page matches the concepts I teach in my workshops and in my books, Get Organized!:Time Management for School Leaders and Organization Made Easy!: Tools for Today's Teachers. Items should be worded clearly. Like items should be grouped together. You will find a space to list your "Fab 5" for the day. Of course, the page provides a space for appointments. Finally, you have a dedicated space to answer the all-important question, "How did you make today count?" The page size is 8 1/2 X 5 1/2, meaning you will get two pages per sheet.

Put the pages on a paper cutter, punch holes, and you are ready to go. The back of the page is intentionally left blank. This page is where you take notes from meetings, phone calls, etc. Documentation is easy when you have this space available.

Montly Calendars
Click the tab for each month and print. Put the pages on a paper cutter, hole punch, and insert them into any notebook designed for pages which measure 8 1/2 X 5 1/2. Use the back of each page for additional information related to that month.

Goal Planner 
 Goals or projects are different, in that they are accomplished through a series of tasks. We need a place to house all of the tasks and related information for the projects we undertake. We then "farm out" the specific tasks to specific days. Having some Goal Planner sheets in the back of your book gives you control of the big picture.

Master List
We all have those tasks we want to accomplish "sometime," but do not want to assign a specific date. The "Master List" is just such a parking place. Put some of these sheets in the back of the planner, and you will never be at a loss for a "parking place" for the random tasks which come to mind.


What tool do you use to stay organized? Is it paper or digital? For those who organize with paper, what commercial pages do you use (if any)? For those who organize digitally, what software do you use?


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Have You Voted in the Edublog Awards?

The Edublog Awards began in 2004 as a way to promote blogging and showcase outstanding examples. This post is about introducing you to my favorite school administrator blog and one that is a finalist for the Edublog Awards.

I invite you to explore the Raymond L. Young Elementary School blog located at http://RLYoung.blogspot.com. After you have had a chance to get a feel for the blog, I hope you will vote it in the category “Best School Administrator Blog.” Anyone can vote. Go to http://edublogawards.com/vote-here and select “Administrator blog” from the list. There, you will see a list of the finalists and make your selection. Voting is open through Sunday, Dec. 9. Also important is that you can vote more than once, but the limit is once per day.

Five years ago, Pattie Thomas became principal of this school in the middle of the year. From the very beginning, she used this blog as a way to share the good news about happenings in the school and to provide a way to keep parents and community members informed.

As one example, upon receiving her appointment as principal, Mrs. Thomas realized tardies, checkouts, and absences due to frivolous reasons were far too frequent. It was on the blog that she introduced the "Top Dog Club." As the prestige of being a "Top Dog" caught steam and attendance improved, the blog was right there to celebrate that success.

Elementary schools are places where memories are made, and this blog captures every one of them, whether it be a celebration of the holiday season, the sights and sounds of the Fall Festival. or the words of a student serving as a guest blogger.

Some administrators use their blogs to give their opinions on topics of global concern. This blog takes a different route. It does not try to influence a national audience. Instead, it's focus is telling the school's story to the community it serves. In doing so, it provides a shining example of what other principals can do in their own communities.

Across America, educators are doing great things, yet are discouraged when nobody seems to care. Pattie Thomas demonstrates that schools are in charge of telling their own stories, and that a blog is the perfect tool to do so. While the blog makes no attempt to influence a national audience, the example it provides may do just that.   

Take a moment to meet Pattie Thomas through her Principal's Message. Enjoy the blog, most of all, cast your vote today and each day through Sunday.

I just cast my vote. Want to join me?



Friday, November 30, 2012

Source to Create Social Media Buttons

If you have a website or author a blog, chances are good you also have other social media outlets. You want a set of small, clickable buttons which will take readers to those others outlets. At least, I did.

You could spend the time designing the buttons, uploading them, and writing the html code that will not only make those buttons appear, but will take readers to the correct site when clicked. Another option is to find where someone else has done the work for you.

I ran across a site called addthis.com which did exactly what I needed. You can get to the exact spot on the site needed with this link. For each button you wish to add to your site, enter the username in the appropriate blank. Click to get the code.” Copy the html code that is generated and add it to your site.

In just a few minutes, you have an attractive set of social media buttons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just When I Thought I Had Seen All The Scams...

By now, we all know there is no Nigerian princess in need of help. Our best friend has not been mugged in a foreign country, and we do not need to send money. We have figured out if we forward an email to 10 people we are not going to get a free iPad or an all-expense-paid trip to Disney World. We are too savvy to be taken in by those scams.

Just as soon as we get one scam figured out, however, a couple of more take their place.

You have a broken link...

If you found a broken link on a friend's blog, you would let them know, wouldn't you? But what if a total stranger communicated that same information? Here is an email I recently received:

Hi Dr. Buck, 
I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren't aware of it. The link on frankbuck.blogspot.com/2008/02/blogs-in-plain-english.html which links to http://www.commoncraft.com/show is no longer working. 

I went to that post, and she was right. The link was dead. The first red flag, however, was that it was not a big deal. The domain was still good. Only that one page was no longer available.

Next comes the kicker:

I've included a link to a useful page on Pop Culture that you could replace the broken link with if you're interested in updating your website. 

Thanks for providing a great resource! Link: (I am omitting the link)

Best, 
Hannah Edwards 

Thanks, Hannah, for not only reading my blog and clicking through to other sites, but also for personally emailing me and doing my research for me to provide other resources. What a good neighbor!


When in doubt, Google it

A total stranger suggesting a link sounded over the top, so I did what I always advise others to do...Google the message and watch the fireworks. I copied the first couple of sentences and pasted them into Google. The results showed the exact same wording in other places. Here is one of them. Here is another. That second link provides good insight on what Hannah and her friends are actually doing. It's not malicious, just an attempt to increase their own page rank in Google.

Finding broken links in your own site can be done with Google Webmaster Tools. Once on the site, click on the "Crawl Errors" and then click to download the errors. You can even find broken links on other sites, but let's not even go there. I will leave that one to Hannah.

Bottom line: If you get the email I did, it's not a good neighbor. Fix the link and go on. No need to even send Hannah a thank you note.

The guest blogger
I have guest blogged for other people and offered the same opportunity in return. I was flattered when I received an email from a woman identifying herself as "Marina Salsbury." She complimented my blog and asked if she could submit a guest post. Her post was actually quite good and very much in keeping with the theme of my blog. You can read that post here.She did make a reference to "online school courses," which seemed a bit out of place, especially when it linked to one particular online learning site. However, I did not think any more about it. Perhaps I should have.

I recently received this email:

Hello, 
You currently have a link on your site pointing to our OnlineSchools.org website. We have recently received warning from Google that they are suspicious of link trading schemes surrounding this, and we want to make sure that you are taking the necessary precautionary measures so that your site is not adversely affected. 

We are requesting that you remove the link back to our site. The link to on your page can be found at the URL below 

http://frankbuck.blogspot.com/2012/02/guest-post-staying-organized-with.html 

This is the second time that I have sent this message. Please let us know once the link has been removed. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. 

Best regards, 
Eric Bergstrom 
ebergstrom@onlineschools.org 
OnlineSchools.org

Sorry, Eric, but this was the first time I had ever heard from you. I happily removed the link, but this little voice inside my head said, "Google it."

"Google it" I did
I pasted the first couple of sentence from Eric's email into a Google search. I got results such as this, letting me know that Eric, and others like him, have been very busy.

By the way, I emailed both Eric Bergstrom and Marina Salsbury to let them know what my Google results found and give them an opportunity to respond. Of course, I have heard nothing from either one.

Bottom line: If you get a request from a stranger to guest post for you, don't be flattered. There may be another motive. AS the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on thee. Fool me twice, shame on me." That's one I shall not fall for again.

The one that almost got me
During my days as a school principal, I encouraged teachers to Google a message to determine its validity before passing it on. I was pretty good at spotting hoaxes. This one, which arrived just prior to the holiday season, was one I almost passed on:

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year,
please include the following:


A Recovering American soldier
C/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

The e-mail had come to me from an official representative of a respected institution, and my first reaction was not only to follow the suggestion, but to forward this message to everyone in my e-mail contacts. I do not forward mass mails, a personal decision I made years ago, and usually delete them unread. This one was different, or so I thought.
At that moment, a still, small voice somewhere inside said, "Check your facts." The voice was that of teachers from days gone by, teachers who had so carefully taught me and my classmates to think for ourselves. Instead of proceeding with the e-mail message, I used the same procedure that I have used and suggested to others for quite a few years:
  1. I highlighted a portion of the text in that e-mail message and copied it (Control-C). In this case, the first three lines of the message looked like something which would return on-point hits.
  2. I went to Google, clicked in the search window, used the "paste" command (Control-V), and hit "Enter."
Within seconds, the verdict was obvious. It was a hoax. The most compelling evidence was a link where Walter Reed addressed this topic, saying:

Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' that Walter Reed cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

The Walter Reed site goes to say:


Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You" website, www.americasupportsyou.mil
Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:

http://www.usocares.org
http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/tooursoldiers

http://www.redcross.org

At a time of year when we are giving thanks for our many blessings and approaching a season of giving, perhaps the message from Walter Reed is the one worthy of spreading.

What would have happened had I not checked it out and simply forwarded the e-mail and sent a few cards. My cards would have never reached the eyes of any solider. Instead, my good intentions would have added an additional load to the personnel charged with disposing of the glut of mail which they currently receive. Rather than being part of something good, I would have only added to an already existing problem.

Bottom line: It only takes a couple of seconds to separate fact from fiction. Google it.

Scams are nothing new. People have been trying to deceive each other since the dawn of mankind. What is new is the forms the deception takes. Just as soon as we are wise to one, another will take its place. Generations of wise people have advised, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Perhaps the mantra for our time needs to be, "If it sounds too good to be true, Google it."


Monday, November 26, 2012

Is Content from Pages You "Like" Showing Up in Your News Feed?

When we create a Facebook  "fan page," we naturally assume that when someone "Likes" the page, the content posted to that page will show up in their news feed. Right?

As it turns out, that's actually not true. I am not sure about the actual algorithm, but it seems that it requires people not only clicking "Like," but also interacting with the content, commenting on it, sharing it, etc. All of these factors seem to play into whether or not the content from that particular page shows up automatically in the news feed.

If you currently like my page (Facebook.com/DrFrankBuck), but are not seeing its content in your news feed, here is what to do:
  1. Go to the page.
  2. Hover over the "Liked" button. Hopefully, you will see a drop-down menu.
  3. One of the options is "Show in News Feed." Select that one.
I am not sure if taking that action will bring all of the content to your news feed. It seems this is one of those "moving targets" social media brings our way.

By the way, if you have not already "Liked" the page, why not do so now? The content you will find there consists of quotes I have collected over the years, notices about new blog posts, and links to other content I think readers would like.

By the way, when the page reaches 200 "Likes," I will give away a copy of  Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders or Organization Made Easy: Tools for Today's Teachers. Right now, we are at 180 "Likes." Only 20 more to go! If you have already "Liked" the page, you are already eligible. If you haven't, come on over and get your name in the hat.


Time ManagementTime Management

Friday, November 23, 2012

Something Else to Be Thankful For...American Public Education

I just saw this clip, published on YouTube less than two weeks ago. Dr. Willard Daggett is delivering the keynote address at a PLATO Learning EdTech Conference. Education has become a political target. After listening to this clip, you may agree that in this season where can have counted those things for which we are thankful, American public education should be counted among them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer from Linus

I have been watching "Peanuts" since second grade. Here is a scene from one of the classics...Linus giving his Thanksgiving Prayer. These Charles Schultz holiday specials are timeless and continue to to be enjoyed one generation after another.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Edublog Nomination for Best School Administrator Blog

Just a couple of years ago, the Edublog Awards began including a category for the "Best School Administrator Blog." I think it's a great addition. Speaking from personal experience as a principal, few things were as worth the time as blogging. It provides the opportunity not only to influence the direction of your own school, but to share with readers whom you may never meet. My nominee is a shining example of how a principal in a small town can use a blog to make a huge difference both to those in the community and potentially to a world-wide readership.

Five years ago, Pattie Thomas became a brand new principal in the middle of the year at Raymond L. Young Elementary School. I wrote this post to describe the impressions of what I saw in those first days.

Over the last five years, the school has improved in a every way imaginable. Test scores and attendance rose, and early on, the staff and the community realized that "a good place to learn and grow" is not just a motto, but reflects the child-centered approach at the heart of every decision made.

Through it all, Mrs. Thomas has used a blog to share the triumphs, the needs, and feeling of community at Raymond L. Young. Upon receiving her appointment as principal, she realized tardies, checkouts, and absences due to frivolous reasons were far too frequent. It was on the blog that she introduced the "Top Dog Club." As the prestige of being a "Top Dog" caught steam and attendance improved, the blog was right there to celebrate that success.

Following a newspaper article where Mrs. Thomas was quoted on the subject of bullying, it was the blog that allowed a concerned parent to write a lengthy, yet thoughtful comment. It was on this blog that Mrs. Thomas was able to respond with an equally thoughtful response that communicated not just to one parent, but to anyone anywhere in the world who chose to tune in, the philosophy and warmth that permeates the school. You can read that exchange here.

Elementary schools are places where memories are made, and this blog captures every one of them, whether it be a celebration of the holiday season, the sights and sounds of the Fall Festival. or the words of a student serving as a guest blogger.

Maintaining an 80-year-old building is no easy task, and with funding being tight, the school relies on outside supporters. Whether the project is the restoration of an auditorium, the replacement of a "mud pit" with fresh sod, or providing laptop computers for students, this blog has used the power of technology to open the doors of this elementary school to friends both near and far.

Some administrators use their blogs to give their opinions on topics of global concern. This blog takes a different route. It does not try to influence a national audience. Instead, it's focus is telling the school's story to the community it serves. In doing so, it provides a shining example of what other principals can do in their own communities. Across America, educators are doing great things, yet are discouraged when nobody seems to care. Pattie Thomas demonstrates that schools are in charge of telling their own stories, and that a blog is the perfect tool to do so.

And while the blog makes no attempt to influence a national audience, the example it provides may do just that.   

Take a moment to meet Pattie Thomas through her Principal's Message. Most of all, enjoy the blog, and see why they call Raymond L. Young Elementary School "a good place to learn and grow."

I am proud to nominate in the category for
"Best School Administrator Blog":

Raymond L. Young: A Good Place to Learn and Grow


Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Carve a Turkey

For those of us who are into time management, one of the great time-savers is seeing an example of something done well and replicating it, rather than using the old trial-and-error method (with emphasis on the word "error"). Thanksgiving is approaching, and the job of carving the turkey may be falling on you. If so, here is a video that should make the job easier.




Hope your Thanksgiving turkey is delicious
and carving it turns out to be a breeze!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bridging Our Future

How is technology impacting education? What are the possibilities there now or in the very near future? These are questions we often ask. There is probably no more compelling argument than a video showing what could be, either right now or in the foreseeable future.

This video, entitled "Bridging our Future" is produced by Intel. It's worth watching...several times.




What do you see you could be doing right now?
What possibilities excite you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On This Veteran's Days

In the United States, we call it "Veteran's Day." Countries throughout the world have different names and celebrate it in different ways. In England, they call it "Remembrance Day." The playing of Nimrod, one of the movements of Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, is a tradition on this day.

Veterans Day is a opportunity not only to carve out some time from our lives who remember those who gave their own, but to celebrate all that we enjoy. Today is also my Davonia's birthday, my wife of 23 years. Nimrod happens to be one of her favorites.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Never Again Miss a Good College Football Game


Around this time of year, rivalries are being played, conference championship races are coming into focus, and the hype for the road to the national championship is in full swing. Every Saturday brings with it must-see games.

How do you stay on top of who is playing who on TV and when? Television schedules are not set far in advance. Even games as close as two weeks out are listed as "TBA."

I found a site that gives me the information I need in a very concise form:


As you see, the site lists games only for the future, so as the season progresses, I am not scrolling through past events. The game time (listed in Central Time) and television network for each game is listed. Games for the future, along with time and television commitments as known, are listed.

In my digital to-do list, I created a task that reads "Plan football games to watch." In the note section of that task, I pasted the URL for this site. The URL is a clickable link taking me straight to the schedule.

I set the task to repeat weekly, with a start date of Thursday and a due date of Friday. So, every Thursday, viewing the schedule of games for the weekend is a task which is available for me.

Sure, I would probably wind up seeing advertisements for the big games anyway. But that one task on my list serves as a trigger to go to the schedule, plan the games I want to watch, and put them on my calendar. One less thing to remember. Putting the little things like this on "autopilot" is one of the chief ways I am able to give my attention to many things, yet keep the stress level very low.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Why Don't You Know?

I enjoy Seth Godin's blog, somewhat because of the Twitter-like brevity of the posts, but more because of the power in the message. One recent post almost echoed the words of a former professor. In a post entitled The Curious Imperative, Godin opens with the following statement:

"Now that information is ubiquitous, the obligation changes. It's no longer okay to not know."

Sixteen years ago, I was working on my dissertation. Dr. Gene Golanda was one of two chairs on my dissertation committee, and he was a master of asking the question that would cause one to examine even a routine problem in a unique way. During one conversation related to my dissertation topic, he asked me a question for which I had no answer, and frankly one I had never contemplated.

All of my training to that point had said to me that when you don't know the answer, you simply say you don't know. Then. you get busy finding out. I confidently followed that plan, admitting I did not know the answer, feeling proud of myself for not trying to bluff my way through. The response was one I will never forget:

"Why don't you know?" he said.

He had a point. This teacher had also just ratcheted up the standards. Finding an answer was no longer good enough. Solving the problem once it presented itself was no longer good enough. At this level, the expectation became to find answers to questions yet to be asked and solve problems before they occur.

I learn something new every single day, and hopefully you do too. Much of what I learn comes through professional reading, followed by thinking, followed by Google searches to gather the bits of information needed to complete the puzzle.

For each of us, there is that niche in which we long to become expert. The information we need to get there has never been easier to find. Not knowing is not good enough. Not adding our own contributions to that body of knowledge is not good enough. A creative mind that goes beyond the obvious, the skills to search the body of literature available on the Internet, and the discipline to push the envelope every day...now that's not only good enough, but could be enough to change the world.

Yes, I get still get those questions to which I have to say, "I don't know." And when I do, I hear that little voice from 16 years ago saying, "Why don't you know?"

Discovery exists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought. —Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Monday, November 05, 2012

Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

We have all just finished the annual practice of "falling back" with our clocks. Why do we have Daylight Saving Time after all? CBS News composed this piece giving the history of the practice. The story also questions whether or not Daylight Saving Time really saves anything.

Friday, November 02, 2012

"The Process" and the Book Which Explains It

Tomorrow, the defending national champion and #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide lines up against the LSU. The two have much in common. They are both from the SEC. They played for the BCS National Championship game in January. They have both won national championships in recent years. Finally, they both won national championships under Nick Saban (with LSU winning another under Les Miles).

Two and a half years ago, I posted about Saban's book, How Good Do You Want to Be?  The book was interesting for two reasons. First, Alabama just won a national championship, and therefore the team and its coach were news.

Secondly, even though the cover pictured Saban dressed in Alabama crimson, the book was clearly written just after his LSU team won the 2003 BCS National Championship. How does what Coach Saban wrote eight years and two coaching stints ago relate to the present Alabama team? How does the book relate to a blog about organization and time management?

Chapter 2, entitled "The Competitive Spirit," opens with the subheading "Don't look at the scoreboard." Saban argues that the focus should be on the process not the product. If the process is solid, the product takes care of itself. That thinking is very much in line with what the coach has been saying each season since arriving at Alabama. In the book, Saban goes on to say, "It is natural to be affected by where you are in life, but looking at the score and results can only take you away from your competitive spirit. Not only should you not concern yourself with the score, you should also avoid setting the bar or establishing benchmarks for success" (p. 58).

Much talk centers around a possible repeat national title for Alabama, a third on four years. In the book, Saban says, "One of the hardest things to do in sports is to repeat as a champion. It is exceedingly rare in college or pro sports these days. Part of the reason is parity, but part of it is champions lose focus because of the distractions that success brings. The championship becomes the focus--not what it takes to be a champion" (pp. 68-69). Furthermore, he says, "We don't talk about repeating as national champions and we don't spend time thinking about the targets that are on our backs" (pp.71-72).

Writing a blog whose focus is time management and organization, I am particularly interested in the three-page subheading in the "Being a Great Leader" chapter entitled "Organization." Saban says, "And to be the most effective leader, you have to be organized." Saban offers these examples of what he does to stay organized (pp.129-130):
  • Every practice plan and set of game notes, going back as far as I can remember, I organize into huge binders that I can refer to when I need to.
  • I keep a pen and paper with me at all times during practice to quickly write down items we need to correct.
  • Our pregame routine is organized down to the minute, and areas of the field are assigned for position groups. For example, no matter where we are playing, the running backs are always warming up at the 20-yard line opposite our bench.
  • I prepare an agenda and a list of items to cover the day before all daily staff meetings so nothing is left out.
Saban goes on to say, "Organization is critical to efficiency. If I have a pet peeve (and I have a few), it's wasted time..." (p. 130)

This year, talk about the Saban "Process" has gained momentum. Money Magazine has written about it. Sports Illustrated has written about it. Forbes has written about it. The Huffington Post has written about it. The Wall Street Journal has written about it. It was all in the book way back then.

How Good Do You Want to Be? is a good read whether you are pulling for the team Saban coaches now or for the team he coached when he wrote the book. You have time to pick up or copy and read it before the game. It might not only give you a better insight into the game, but also how you can come closer to achieving your own goals.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Leads to Succeed? It's These 8 Things

What are the traits that lead to success? This TED Talk by analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an 3-minute presentation on the real secrets of success.




Is there a 9th one you would like to add? Please comment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Need a Quick and Easy Homepage? Try This

What's your primary web presence? With all of the options social media provides, most of use have multiple accounts. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest each provide ways to communicate what you have to say to those who need to hear it. But, if you had to point to one tool which serves as the hub for your online presence, what would you say?

For me, this blog was my first online presence and remains the most powerful. It tells the stories which cannot be told in 140 characters. My website serves as a place that presents the over-arching picture of who I am and what I do.

But, what if you don't foresee writing numerous blog posts? What if you don't need the complexity of a web site? What if all you need is a simple "home base" that provides a space to introduce yourself to the world, provide contact information, and link to your social media pages?

If this description sounds like you, take a look at About.me. The following you provides an overview.



Many people need a web presence but don't want to spend a great deal of time maintaining it. This service could be just the thing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Motivational Quotes

Great quotes say alot in a few words. Enjoy this video featuring a collection of some of the best motivational quotes.

To give credit to the creators of the video, read more great quotes at http://www.allgreatquotes.com/motivational_quotes.shtml. The video was produced by http://www.themediapro.com.


Friday, October 19, 2012

I Do It When I Think About It

Time Management"I do it when I think about it." When I hear that statement, it always scares me. At the same it gives me a "heads up" that I am talking to someone upon whom I did not need to depend. Things are going to slip through the cracks because the person doesn't think about it at the right time. This podcast explores the subject.

 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Chicken and the Eagle Story

Dr. Eldon Taylor tells this story, a parable about the great potential locked hidden behind low self-expectations.


How many eagles do you know who are living in the chicken coup?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Here's What You Missed




If you are not a newsletter subscriber, here is what you missed this month.Want to get the newsletter coming to your email every month? Click here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Using Google 2-Step Verification

When someone else has your password, it's bad news. Even if you use different passwords for different sites, just having a compromised password for one of those sites is bad enough, especially if it's a site where you have stored valuable or sensitive information.

Several weeks ago, I read this account of Mat Honan's plight. Teenagers hackers were able to access Honan's iCloud, Gmail, and Twitter account. They destroyed data and sent offensive Twitter messages on his behalf.

Google has provided a 2-step verification method for it's users. Two-step verification is optional. This video explains the process:




Anyone using 2-step verification now? Have you found it easy? Anyone have a horror story about a compromised password?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Close Your Eyes and Listen

Click the video, but close your eyes as the music starts to play. Enjoy the this 2 1/2 minute of "Toccata on Hymn to Joy." After the piece concludes, open your eyes and replay the video.



The organist is Mark Thallander,  performing his Toccata on "Hymn to Joy" at the Church on the Cape in Cape Porpoise, Maine.

Mark Thallander was assistant organist at the Crystal Cathedral. Some years ago, Mark lost his left arm in an automobile accident. If anyone had a reason to give into hopelessness, he did. Instead, he uses what he still has and rearranges standard organ repertoire for one hand and two feet.

I share this video for three reasons. First, Mark visited our church one Sunday about six years ago. I have never forgotten the incredible technique I heard that day.

Secondly, Davonia and I have just returned from a vacation in Maine. On a Sunday morning, we visited the Cathedral of St. Luke, located in Portland, Maine. Much to our surprise, Mark Thallander was a guest that Sunday, playing both a prelude and postlude. We had an opportunity to talk with him at length following the service.The coincidence added a special touch to our visit both to that church and to the state in general.

Finally, if his technique on the organ is incredible, his story is even more incredible. If you or I had sustained the sort of injury he did, would it ever occur to us to try to continue a career so dependent upon the use of both hands?

When we look at the problems which we confront each day, how small they must appear in comparison. Perhaps we cannot become a nationally recognized artist. But, can we become better than we are?

There are other videos of Mark on YouTube as well. You can learn more about Mark and his foundation by going to www.markthallanderfoundation.org.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Data that Matters - Gathering, Organizing and Making Meaning of Data in a Professional Learning Community

On November 2, I will be presenting a full-day workshop through the McGill University Distinguished Educator Series. During the day, we will focus on data. We all have plenty of it, but how do we gather it, how do we organize it, and how to we turn those numbers onto meaning? We will look at how we can use data, not just as individual educators, but in a community of learners.

If you would like to register, you can download the form here.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Free Tech Tools That Increase Productivity: A Hands‐On Day to Make Life Easier

If you are a reader in Quebec, I hope you will join me on November 1 for a hands-on day that will change the way you work. The Internet offers us many free tools. We will focus on a few that make a huge difference in terms of increasing productivity, decreasing stress, and having more fun along the way.

To register, you may download this form.

Time Management

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Myth of "That's the Way We've Always Done It"

When you or I question a practice that seems to defy logic, the answer is likely to be, "That's the way we've always done it." The response shifts whatever blame there may be to some unnamed person at some unnamed time in the past. The response also indicates no thinking is going to go into whether or not what has been done in the past is the best course for the future.

Time Management At best, "That's the way we've always done it" is only partially true. Consider the story of the young girl helping her mother prepare Easter dinner.

Before placing the ham in the oven for baking, the mother cut off both ends. “Why did you cut off the ends of the ham?” asked the daughter.

“That’s the way my mother always did it,” was the reply.

The daughter quickly vanished. In moments, she was on the telephone to the grandmother verifying whether or not what she had been told was true. The grandmother replied that she did, indeed, always cut the ends off the ham. When asked why, the grandmother replied, “That’s the way my mother always did it.”

As fate would have it, the next week brought about a visit from great-grandmother. Overcome with curiosity, as young children often are, nothing would do but to pose this same question.

“Great Grandmother, Mommy always cuts the ends off her ham before she puts it in the oven. Mommy says she does it because that’s the way Grandmother always did it. Grandmother says she did it because that’s the way you always did it. Is it true, Great Grandmother? Did you always cut the ends off of the ham?”

“Yes, indeed, my child, I always cut the end off the ham” replied the elderly woman.

“But why?” asked the young girl.

Holding her hands about 12 inches apart, she replied, “Because my pan was only this big.”

Decades ago, Great Grandmother was confronted with a set of circumstances. Her pan was not large enough to accommodate the ham. She came up with procedures to handle those circumstances. She did the best she could with what she had.

What if we were to confront today's challenges the way Great Grandmother in the story confronted hers? What is we did the best we could with what we have? What we have keeps getting better, meaning what was "best" back then is far from "best" by today's standards.

What if we re-framed "that's the way we've always done it" to embody a standard of quality rather than a particular act? I imagine we would spend more time challenging outdated practices, more time learning the tools at our disposal, and less time carrying on with practices which worked in a bygone era.

If we look to the past for examples of doing the best they could with what they had, we also throw down the gauntlet to generations to come. We issue the challenge not to mindlessly carry on as we did, but to build on our accomplishments.

Our circumstances change. Our procedures must change with them. Our ancestors understood that. Do we?

Monday, October 01, 2012

How to Avoid the Christmas Rush

Time Management
In January, "Why You Should Start Buying Your Christmas Presents Now" appeared on this blog. One reader and personal friend sent us this message:

Just wanted to let you know that thanks to your inspiration I finished my 2012 Christmas shopping for my brother's family of five yesterday --- a great feeling! (I'm giving my sister-in-law an antique tea pot, and yesterday found a very pretty half price wooden tea bag box at one of your favorite places.)

Working ahead of deadlines gives us freedom. When it's Christmas Eve and I have three gifts still to buy, I have no choice but to stand in the long lines, navigate crowded parking lots, and pay whatever price is being asked.

When Christmas is still two months away, I have a little freedom is to "not today," "not here," and "not at that price." Throughout the year, we all pass by just the right gift at just the right price. The only trouble is that we don't know it. We will think about it later. When later arrives, it's often too late.

Go back and review the nuts & bolts talked about in the "Why You Should Start Buying Your Christmas Presents Now" post. Now you have your plan. Maybe this Christmas season will just a little less stressful and a little more merry!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Navigating the Digital To-Do List

The last post talked about the digital calendar, the extent to which I am seeing them used among the people attending this summer's workshops, and recommendations for how to move to better productivity with them. This post looks at a second pivotal part of the organizational system—the digital to-do list.
Time Management

While audiences are approaching a 50/50 split between those who keep paper calendars versus those who keep digital ones, far fewer are keeping to-do lists digitally. In an average group, less than 20 percent raise their hands when asked who keeps the to-do list digitally. I believe several factors contribute to this relatively low number.

We have always been better with calendars
Our ability to use a calendar effectively has always been superior to our ability to construct a to-do list, regardless of the form in which it is kept. The average person can pull out of a pocket or purse a calendar, navigate quickly to a date, and read to you any appointments on that date. When adding a new date, the average person can flip to the correct date and quickly jot the new commitment.

When it comes to the to-do list, ask someone what tasks are scheduled for next Thursday, and you likely receive a blank stare. To-dos are jotted on scraps of paper. Many claim they can simply remember their to-dos. Is it any wonder when our ability to organize a to-do is weak using paper, it will also be weak with its digital counterpart?

The literature on time management reveals conflicting strategies on how to construct the to-do list. Some authors recommend ABC priority codes. Others recommend scheduling tasks for specific times on the calendar. Still others recommend listing to-dos according to the contexts or locations where they will be performed. We have none of this conflict with the calendar.

Digital to-do lists can be confusing
The methodology for using a digital to-do list has been lacking. The flexibility offered by the software adds complexity. When entering a new task, we can select a start date, a due date, and even set a time. We can set a reminder, a context, and a repeating pattern. We can add tags, indicate the task's status, specify a location, and add an expected length. We can add contacts to that task, as well as related notes. Sometimes, we feel it would take less time to do the task than to enter it in the first place.

Which fields do we really need to complete? How can we get in and out of the list as quickly as possible? Until we can answer these questions for ourselves, we are likely to resist the digital list.

Syncronization is more complex
The ability to synchronize our phones with our computers presents a second challenge. Synchronizing calendars and contacts has been something the makers of smartphones have made easy. The task list has been a different story. Those who use the Outlook task list have always been able to sync with a Palm, and later, the BlackBerry. Syncing with the Outlook tasks list with the iPhone was a challenge until iCloud, and syncing with Android devices requires third-party software as a go-between.

Many people have been on their own to figure out a solution. The Catch-22 situation is to make a good choice on software, one needs to have some experience with digital to-do lists. But how do you get experience without using the software? Rather than wade through a research project on available options and the nuts & bolts of making synchronization happen, it's simply easier for most people to stick with paper.

Finding direction
I made the transition from paper calendar and paper to-do list to digital calendar and digital to-do list almost 11 years ago. The software then was good and had all of the components I would look for today: start and due dates, the ability to handle repeating tasks, a note section to record details about the task, and the ability to search the list for a particular word or phrase.

The thing that made the digital system work was the ability to synchronize data from the computer to the mobile device. I could type on the computer with all of my fingers and make small additions with two thumbs on the mobile device. When I got up from my computer, I was taking all of my organizational information with me on my mobile device. As smartphones have become more the norm, more people have the ability to do what I was doing way back then.

In the next post, I will share suggestions for those getting started with a digital list. In the mean time, I would welcome your comments. How to my observations stack up with your own? What parts of your system are digital and what parts are paper?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Navigating the Digital Calendar

This summer, I enjoyed presenting at the Forum for Innovative Leadership in Memphis, the Alabama Educational Technology Conference, the Fort Bend Leadership Institute, workshops for the Lewisville Independent School District, the Huntsville Center for Technology, and Fort Bend's Ridgemont Elementary School. Working with that many people from such a variety of locations keeps in touch with the trends in tools people are using to stay organized and manage their time. It also lets me know where the holes exist in peoples' systems.
Time Management

Smartphones are the rule. Whereas the tipping point on cell phones happened some years ago, we are ow seeing the vast majority of people having a phone hich also sends and receives email, and has the capability of the serving as the owner's calendar and to-do list, along with performing many other functions. While Android devices account for over half of all Smarthones in the United States, iPhones seem predominant among the audience of educators. The number of BlackBerry users is considerably less than a year ago, a trend we are seeing nationwide.

The percentage of people using Smartphones to keep their calendars is growing. The audiences are generally split 50/50 with half keeping paper calendars and half keeping digital ones. While many have a good system for syncing the phone with the computer and other devices, many have calendars only on the phone, and are doing all entry with two thumbs.

I am interested in how adept people are at navigating on their digital calendars. One of the activities we do during my flagship workshop is to ask give people a date in the future and ask them to navigate to it as quickly as they can using their calendars, regardless of whether it is paper or digital. When they have found the requested date and time and can tell me whether or not they are free, I have them stand. The time between the first to stand and even the point at which 50% are standing is remarkably large. I know from experience that if using a tool is difficult, we don't use the tool, whether we admit it or not. Human nature dictates we do what is easy. We have got to make using our digital calendars easy.

Paper-based people flip a few pages and are looking at the requested date. Some of the digital folks are able to access the calendar with a single stroke, are instantly on the monthly view or can get there with one more tap, and can fly month-to-month with one tap per month. They arrive at the requested date as quickly as their paper counterparts.

Far too many people, however, spend far too much time trying to figure how to get to that future date. Without a doubt, in their day-to-day lives, they are finding themselves telling people, "I will get back with you," because finding the information is too cumbersome. Or, they wind up keeping both a paper calendar and one on the phone, doing double entry, so they can see the "big picture."

The most surprising—and disturbing—are the ones who stand almost immediately, and when asked how they found the date so quickly, reply they know the date is free because they simply never schedule anything that far out. Imagine the glass ceiling they have imposed upon themselves and the opportunities which invariably be missed. I could not image operating that way. My calendar includes those dates which are firm, dates that my wife has commitments on a second color-coded calendar, and FYI dates and a calendar of a third color, all displayed together on my digital calendar and available to me on my computer, tablet, phone, or on any computer anywhere which has Internet access. My calendar traps those dates—the ones which are firm as well as the potential opportunities. My brain is free to handle more creative ideas.

My calendar has been in digital form for over 10 years. I offer three suggestions to help make functioning with a digital calendar satisfying:

Practice navigating
Spend the few minutes it would take to learn the quickest way to navigate to a future date. In short, it will involve opening the calendar with the fewest strokes, getting to the monthly view, and moving from month to month to the date in question. This procedure parallels what we have always done with paper calendars.

Practice searching
Learn to search the calendar. The area were the digital calendar shines is its ability to find that appointment without the person having to visually scan the screen looking for it. For example, if someone is looking for the next hair appointment, a search will turn up every hair appointment as far into the future as they have been scheduled, and do so quicker than someone attempting the same with a paper calendar.

Get the phone "in sync"
Sync the calendar with the computer. If I had to do all of my entry with two thumbs, I would go back to paper. But, if I can do the entry on the computer and then sync it to my phone, that is easy enough I will do it.

Back in the days when the Palm was the only game in town, the company recognized entry on the computer and then syncing the data to the handheld was the way to go. Performing a "hot-sync" was a key element, and they even provided the desktop software to do it. They also realized Outlook to be a giant in electronic organization and included the ability to sync with it. RIM realized the importance of entry on the computer, and to this day includes software which will sync Outlook to the BlackBerry.

Other Smartphone manufacturers have not emphasized synchronization to the same extent, and have left that job to third-party manufacturers. With many phones and many software programs available, the job of figuring out how to get the phone syncing fall more on the owner.

Do not let that situation be a deterrent. The Internet is full of videos and sets of instruction for getting your Smartphone syncing with whatever calendar you are using. The bottom line is to make getting that sync happening a goal, and don't stop until it's happening. The flexibility you gain from being able to enter information here and see it there is worth any research you have to do.

In the next post, we look at keeping to-dos digitally.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Social Media Right Now...By the Numbers

Want to know how fast things are happening in the world of social media? Watch the change happening just in the seconds you are reading this post.



This tool was composed by Gary Hayes. For more information, go to the original website and check out Gary's Social Media Count.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Great Time in Quebec City

Time Management
Davonia and I spent a wonderful several days in Quebec City. Thanks to Marielle Stewart for bringing me in for a full-day workshop for the Central Quebec School Board administrators. What a great group!

Quebec City is a beautiful place, and we were glad to have able to spend a day seeing the historic city with it's many restaurants and shops. Despite differences in location and climate, we share the same challenges when it comes to staying on top of the demands of our work.

We covered a great deal of ground during the day, addressing everything from handling the paper in our lives to using Twitter more effectively. When asked to complete the thought, "If I had one more hour every day, I would..." here are some of the answers we got:

...exercise
...read
...take a walk
...finish work an hour early
...regularly clean out my e-mail
...meditate
...have "me" time
...sleep
...play the guitar
...rest
...walk my dogs
...spend more time with my grandson

 I hope that as a result of our day together, you have just found that time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Case Against Multitasking

Sure, we want to accomplish a great deal in a short time. It is the nature of our fast-paced world. Many brag of "multi-tasking"——originally a computer term—as being the answer to their problem. More and more research suggests multitasking is the problem.

This infogram from Online Universities.com provides illustrates the demands we face, the solutions we try, and what multitasking does to our brains.


Digital Stress and Your Brain

Do you see yourself in any of these statistics? What changes can you see yourself making?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Welcome Assisted Living Association of Alabama

Thanks to everyone visiting here for the first time following the session at the Assisted Living Association of Alabama Fall Conference.

In the sidebar, you will see a number of ways to keep the conversation going:
  • You can subscribe to this blog, so that new posts come straight to your e-mail.
  • You can follow me on Twitter. Tweets normally consist of additional information about blog posts, material I find other places which I think will be of interest, and motivational quotes.
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  • Follow me on Pinterest. The pictures link to blog posts related to the topic of that Pinterest board.
  • Subscribe to the newsletter. You will see a button you can click a little ways down the sidebar. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Changes Coming to reQall

I have shared reQall many times during workshops over the past several years. It allows me a quick way to take information received on the fly and get that information into my organizational system. Specifically, I grab my mobile phone, hold down one speed-dial key (which calls reQall), and speak. My vocal message, which can last up to 30 seconds, is transcribed into a written message and delivered to my email inbox. When I handle my email, I am also handling the information from reQall.

This video demonstrates some of the capabilities of reQall:




Changes coming...
Changes seem to be coming to reQall. Going to reQall.com reveals information about reQall Rover, a new service which is similar to as Siri and Vlingo. Here is a video demonstrating the capabilities of reQall Rover:

 

Can I still have the old reQall?
Yes! When you go to reQall, you will notice a message on the right-hand side of the title bar which says, "Looking for the old site? It's here." Clicking that link takes you to reQall.com/app. You can create an account, manage your account, and do everything reQall users have always been able to do.

I know about Siri, what you mentioned something called "Vlingo"?
Yes, anyone with a television knows about Siri. (If only it worked as well in real life as it works on the commercials...) Vlingo is a similar service, and one I have been using for well over a year. I have written about it in this post and this post. The videos you see in those posts demonstrate the capabilities of Vlingo. It's free for BlackBerry, Android, and iPhone.

For years, we have wrestled with how to get information into our mobile devices with two thumbs. As voice recognition programs continue to improve, keyboard input may become a moot point. But...we still have a long way to go to get to that point.

How many of you use some type of voice input app? How well do you like it? What are your favorite uses?