Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I Owned Facebook

I would do 5 things:

1) Real Email
Email within Facebook is nice, but I should be able to get email outside of Facebook. As a matter of fact they should make it real email where I can send and receive email just like normal. I just looked at is available. Buy it and give everyone an address like Email has got to be the number one activity on the Internet, this is your virtual address. Facebook will create real staying power by giving people their address to call home.

2) RSS Reader
This one is such a no brainer I can't believe it. Now, I'm talking talking about an RSS reader application that posts feeds to your profile. I'm talking about a program like Google's Reader where I can import feeds for me to read. Then if I like something I can either star it (then it shows up on my profile) or share it with my friends. When I share I should be able to leave a comment and then allow others to comment back. Again, I see this as tool for me, not just to show off on my profile. Inside this reader I would embed the normal news feed within Facebook. I might even include email and notifications. Then this becomes the homepage where I consume and share content. This is content from all over the Internet, not just what I do on Facebook.

3) More Servers
Facebook is slow. Really slow. Honestly, it's not getting faster and even though they are buying servers they really need to ramp this up. People get frustrated with this and they need to get rid of this problem.

4) Universal Search
Facebook has a ton of information. They have pictures, hobbies, wall conversations, email. Well, I want to search this! I want to be able to easily find old conversations or events. With all this information inside of Facebook, in a formate they control, this should be easy. Heck, team up with Microsoft's Live search to get this done. Furthermore, Facebook (via Live Search) should be able to pull in search results from the outside world. Can you image finding my LinkedIn profile result when you search my name? With all the demographic, behavior and interests information these pages should be perfect. Oh yeah, the ads on the right hand side of these search results should also be the most relevant of any search engine.

5) Make nice with Google
Look, I know Microsoft owns part of facebook. I know they think they're competing with Google to become the backbone of the web. I know these things. However, this doesn't mean they can't work with Google to make something even more awesome. It just isn't worth making enemies in a virtual world where open source and sharing is become a fundamental tenet of the web.

It's a tall order, I know. However, if Facebook can accomplish these I foresee a great future where Facebook truly becomes a power player worth multiple billions. If Facebook doesn't figure these out, I don't know how long it will be before they become out done by someone else. Being a one-trick pony at the level they're playing at just isn't good enough.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good, Fast, Cheap - Pick Two

I'm sure this concept has been around for a while, but I saw it for the first time today and really liked it. The premise is that projects are made of up these three elements, but you can only choose two of them. Let me spell it out.

Fast + Cheap = Bad
If you do a project really cheap and still want it to get done quickly you're going to suffer on quality. It just won't be a good finished product. A good example is of Monster Garage where they need to finish a project fast and cheap which is why the finished product is never really polished.

Good + Fast = Expensive
Now, if it has to be high quality but on a short time line, it's going to cost money. I run into this with my shirt business. Customers will run to me asking for a bunch of shirts in a short amount of time. My answer is yes, but it'll cost more because I have to rush, give up other things and work off-hours. Another example is American Chopper's OCC: they have nice bikes which they build fast, but you pay for it.

Cheap + Good = Slow
I must admit, this is my favorite. Lots of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects fall here. People don't want to spend the money to put someone on it full time or pay a professional. As a result it's done on free time which takes a very long time. Typically though, the products comes out pretty nice in the end. An example is Professor Joe King of Pacific University who made a model of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks. It took him 5 years and 110,00 toothpicks, but the end results is awesome.

So, given the project you're working on, what's the right mix? Knowing this simple framework will help you set your expectations and hopefully lead to more successful projects.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ear Plugs

This last week has been fairly busy for me. I've been working pretty hard at HP trying to get some work done. I must say, working hard, even if it is just typing at a computer, is really tough. It's a good thing my work load is cyclical otherwise I don't know if I'd make it. It's at times like these my respect for what Jessi does every week magnifies.

Also, I've started sleeping without ear plugs lately. This is a big deal for me because I've been sleeping WITH ear plugs since I was just a kid. I mean, I got to the point where I couldn't fall asleep without ear plugs. So why the change? Well, for a little bit now I've been wanting to ween my way off of them. I don't know why I want to. It's not like it's an expensive or self-destructing habit. Perhaps it has something to do with getting married and subconsciously I think it would be weird. Who knows?

At any rate, this time I just decided I was going to make it without them and so far it's worked. It's amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it. I literally had them in my hand one night and decided to put them down and not pick them up. I've actually tried this before and then around 2am I realize I'm still awake, and miserable, and I throw them back in. Maybe it is that feeling of an addiction I don't like - the idea that I HAVE to sleep with ear plugs. Well, it looks like that will no longer be the case. Yes!

So there you go. Insert some mind over muscle inspiration here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Job Identity

I have been struggling recently with the concept of titles defining who I am. For example, am I a teacher, or do I just happen to be teaching at this point in my life. I think it is very much the latter option. Although I have the correct skill set to accomplish the tasks set forth in educating a group of students and I am gaining experience, I still do not view myself as a teacher. James said it best this morning when he reminded me of a scene from Stardust. (which by the way is a fantastic movie that you should watch) In the movie there is a boy who is looking for so much in life, for love, for passion, for success. He works as a shop boy taking orders and money from customers day in and day out. At one point in the movie he says that he is not a shop boy, he just happens to be working in a shop for the time being. I love the potential behind that statement. He is not bound by the title of "shop boy" even though that is how he is making a living. Instead he has the freedom to be a shop boy for the moment and something else maybe tomorrow or maybe next week.

There are so many things I want to do, so many things I feel called to do in life that it is unfair to limit my potential by saying "I'm a teacher". My struggle has been fueled by many sources the past few weeks and it has caused me to think about my profession, identity and future.

As I teach every day I realize more and more that although I touch my students lives and am an example for them, my influence can only reach through the hours we spend together. They will remember me, at least some of them, but there is so much that I want to fix, so much they need from me and I feel so helpless that I can't give that to them. It is humbling to try to impart knowledge to someone that has less clothing, less food, and experiences less love than you. I feel a conflict when I am asked to teach my students knowledge yet they are holding their stomachs in hunger because their family did not have enough money for food that month. My goal as a teacher according to the state and district is to teach students to perform on assessments and remember lots of information that should be beneficial in their lives, at least it was determined to be beneficial for them by some outside source. If that is who I am supposed to be as a "teacher" then the dissonance between my profession and identity is monumental.

I continue to struggle as a teacher because I feel limited in the potential I have to make a difference. I see opportunities in two other areas of my life to use my passion, creativity and motivation for the benefit of others that have so much more potential for change than teaching does that it is hard for me to continue to go to my classroom each day and fight the ongoing battle that will not be won after one year.

I recently achieved a rank of success as an independent associate for a natural supplements company, called Univera Lifesciences, that I am involved with. The mission of the company is to bring the best of nature to mankind and to not only improve health but to also improve quality of life through their products and programs. One of my favorite aspects of the company is our Serve First Foundation. This foundation provides food, homes and support for communities in the United States. I see the potential to make huge change and improvement for those around me in a company that can improve life, how we experience it and how we live it. My success is sweet and welcomed, but it also motivates me to continue growing my business in order that I might someday affect the lives of my students with change that is permanent and meets the needs that they have on a deeper basis than just treating the symptoms of their poverty.

I also have a passion for creativity and art and hope that this desire can be woven into the other things I pursue. My goal is to open my own ceramics studio and gallery. I have not worked out any details, right now it is just dreams. But I think I would like to include some form of teaching ceramics classes, or having family creativity nights. I am not sure how profits from the company will work, but I would at least like a portion to be used to create renewable income for someone who needs it, be it a family, an individual, a church, who knows.

After all of that I realize, as I have many times before, that I really only have one identity. I am a daughter of the risen king. My purpose is to be aligned with Christ's purpose and plan. Without his plan mine means nothing. I am relieved that my identity is not based on my imperfect titles of "teacher", "independent associate" or "artist". My purpose is to love, to be an example and in this moment I can fulfill that purpose through teaching. I am not a teacher, I just happen to be teaching. Who knows what tomorrow has in store.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Google Documents

OK, I have to love on Google just a little bit. Even though gmail has been loading very slowly lately and taking its time to send emails. Even though Google Talk has been randomly turning off and on the last couple week. Even though Google Calendar doesn't sync updated events from Outlook, but everything else giving me a false sense of security. Even though Google Desktop is such a memory hog I decided to take it off my computer.

Is this going anywhere? Eventually.

Despite some problems which I see as serious flaws, Google does do most thing right, and some things flat out excite me. I think my two favorite (not what I use the most though, interestingly) are Google Notebook and Google Reader. I really like the way they help me aggregate everything I see on the web. It's just so cool to find something neat and save it to Google Notebook. Often times I end up using Google Notebook for making lists which I then share with others, such as birthday wish lists. It's dynamic and therefore I love it. I also like Google Reader because it brings the content I care about to me. My latest habit has been to subscribe to site's blogs where I either use or might potentially use their products. It's so much fun to read about a new update to Twitter and then go try it out instead of waiting until I stumble upon it.

Actually, I've yet to hit my point. Sorry for the delay.

Lately I have been more and more impressed with Google Documents. Every time they come out with something new I get VERY excited. Probably too excited... Here's an example: they came out with offline access and I couldn't wait to try it out and yes, it is that cool. What's also cool is that Google reads my mind. Actually they do because I recently filled out a survey for them and they added 2 of my 3 requests plus a whole bunch of others I didn't even know I needed. My first gripe was that printing something off looked like garbage. I said I didn't like the fact that there was a URL at the bottom of each page. Well, now you can print it off as a PDF, which gets rid of the URL. Very nice. I also said I wanted more control over the format of the page. I made it clear that in Word I could move text around, add bars of color and insert pictures where ever I wanted. Google went ahead and added that feature too (though it's not as easy as Word, but that's OK). Now all they have to do is figure out how to collapse the top part of the browser so I can see more of my work. Currently I have a Code Monkey plug-in in Firefox doing it for me so I guess I can wait a little longer.

Google has added a whole bunch of other features which I'm excited to check out - embedded video into presentations is one. I must be a total office geek because these features are really exciting to me. It's been a long time since I opened up Microsoft Office and it'd be nice if it stays that way.