As a follow up to my last post, I thought I’d share more details with you.
As before, I’ll start my day at midnight. I’m reading about motivation and reward, and it’s role on organizational behaviour. If you’re really interested, I’m reading Karabenick and Urdan’s 2010 book, and specifically, it’s chapter on expectancy theory. If you want the skinny, here is the Wikipedia entry on Expectancy Theory. You can see it relates to a lot of things, including how people solve problems on computers. There’s some research that suggests that the usability and user adoption of a computer solution depends on a few things, including the user’s self-confidence and the expected usefulness of the solution. As an architect who builds BI, data science and data-oriented solutions in general, this is important to me since it helps me to understand what decision processes people go through when they decide whether to use software or not.
1.30am – Sleep
6.30am – I am woken by doggy licks and demands for cuddles by Copy and Paste, who, somehow, have managed to break out of the dining room and break into my bedroom. I am sure that there is some teamwork going on somewhere. I let them outside, and I shower. The three of us eat breakfast in my back garden.
7am – Due to the heatwave, I’m taking Copy and Paste out early in the morning, and then again late at night.
8am – Back home, and it’s time to start my day. Plenty of fluids for Copy and Paste and for me, and then C + P go and hide from the heat.
Dealing with the Hot Spots at work
If you know anything about FlyLady, you will know she’s an online coach who helps you to declutter and clean the house. Why am I talking about this? Because there is a lot of home-spun common sense in her materials, which can apply to different things. Take, for example, a hotspot. According to FlyLady, we have hotspots in our home that just collect clutter and junk, and her advice is to go for progress rather than perfection so that you eventually work through it. FlyLady’s advice is that you should make a daily effort to spend an allotted time, even just minutes a day, working on a hotspot.
A hot spot is an area, when left unattended, that will gradually take over. My favorite analogy is of a hot spot in a forest fire; if left alone, it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. – FlyLady
I think we all have hotspots in our work, which we hate doing. For me, it’s my accounts, and, in particular, my expenses. So, today I’m dealing with my expenses so I can give them to Anja, my rather long-suffering personal assistant. We work together remotely and my hated job is getting the expenses in a format she needs so she can upload the expenses and add corresponding details into Receipt Bank so they can be billed back, where appropriate. So, today’s hotspot is to do that job.
I have dealt with my mental hotspot, and it’s a good thing. I feel as if a weight has been lifted and it puts me in a better state for the day.
So, now to actual work, after having grabbed a coffee. Copy and Paste get a wipedown with a cool cloth, and I refresh their water bowls.
This morning, I am working on a remote data visualization project, which I love. It feels like a hobby. I am using Power BI to create the dashboards and templates. I have done a series of wire-frames to show how, and why, the artefacts have been laid out as per my design. The difference here is that everything looks quite different from the original work, so I need to explain the Why as well as the How.
Since I’m doing my MBA, I have access to online libraries so I can dig out the research as I go along. I need to prove myself since data visualization is an art as well as a science, and the science is backing up my rationale.
After grabbing another coffee, I have an online meeting with Peter, a developer who is helping me on a project. We need to work together to swap skills in order to deliver a piece of work. I have the Azure expertise, and he has the development skills that I need. So we use GoToMeeting and we share screens and share the control of the keyboard.
I have started to get ‘silent’ phone calls again, with someone breathing down the phone at me. I pick up the phone and I take it to another part of the house, and I leave it there. They are breathing down the phone to my empty hallway upstairs.
I come back downstairs, and I apologize to Peter for the interruption and we keep going, until I knock off to grab a drink before my next meeting.
11.55am I check on the phone, and the caller is still there. He’s quiet now but the call is still open. I don’t say anything and I just hang up. It’s not welcome and it’s a nuisance more than anything else. I need my phone back for my next call.
I have a meetings with lawyers and representatives from a company who have asked for my expert opinion with a number of things. The actual content is confidential, of course, but I thought I’d share it because I had a meeting during my last post as well.
For various reasons, I have a mistrust of lawyers and the police, which readers of my MeToo blog will no doubt guess at. I was let down. I don’t even bother reporting the calls because all the police do is give you false hope that they will do something. If the mysterious caller reads this, know this: really, you do not bother me. I have been through much worse. Find something better and more fruitful to do with your life, and if you want my attention and respect, you have to earn it by doing good, clever, intelligent things. In the meantime, I am going to continue to ignore you so hard that even you will begin to doubt your own existence.
So, I have been nervous all morning about dealing with lawyers. That said, this lawyer is very direct right from the bat, and that helps put me at ease.
Normally I’d like to take a walk again, particularly after calls which I find stressful. It’s too hot for the dogs, though, and I don’t want to leave them in this heat. So I do a little yoga instead, and I have a light lunch before diving back in to work.
I’m using PowerPoint and Power BI, and creating the template for my customer. The customer are not using Power BI but they are interested in adopting it, and, if they do, it will go worldwide so it would be great to empower people to use their data in such a great and impactful way. Note: I am not selling Power Bi and I am not a reseller. The customer will have to go and work with Microsoft directly. I’m not financially incentivized to recommend it but I do here, because it is a great fit.
Here are a few things I’m thinking about:
colour-blindness – I find Coblis, the colour-blind simulator, essential to my work. Under some conditions of colour-blindness, some shades of blueish green can become quite grey. If I’ve used grey elsewhere in the dashboard which shows bar charts, for example,, then the viewer will not be able to distinguish between the legend and the bars properly.
Golden Ratio of Design – I am thinking about the design layout.
Using statistics to combat dual axis – You can read more about the problems of dual axis over at Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s blog here. I am looking at indexing the data in order to show it better.
I have an internal community call with some Microsoft team members. There will be more news on this in the future, but for now, all you need to know is that I am very excited!
It’s time to eat something, so I make a simple light meal of noodles, veg and I crack an egg in it. While I was at University, I lived with some girls from Malaysia and Hong Kong, and we used to share cooking tips. Miyana I have not forgotten your advice and yes, ginger makes everything taste better! I also make some ginger tea, which I can cool for later.
I eat at my desk, and I clear out some emails. I have been asked by someone to nominate them for an MVP Award and I don’t mind doing that, of course, but I don’t know them at all and I have the barest of details. For some reason, they seem to assume that I have influence over the program. So, I confirm in an email to them that I have no influence over the Program and that I don’t officially work for Microsoft although I do community volunteer (non paid) work. I think that the perception has come from the fact that I’m a Microsoft Regional Director so people make all sorts of assumptions. I figure out that they have some misunderstandings of the MVP Program and I point them to do some reading and to come back to me with more precise details. This takes a lot of my time and I’ve spent about half an hour sorting it out.
Time to walk the dogs. It’s cooler now, and the dogs have been extra quiet and mopey today because it is so hot outside. I decide to take them out for a couple of hours.
I am passionate about the environment and I care about reducing plastics, wasting water, and maintaining a good environment. So my dogs and I walk in a local park, and I pick up litter as I go. Today, I pick up four plastic bottles, a container which has held stacking crisps, and a plastic wrapper, which are just laying around. I hate people sometimes. I usually pick up at least one plastic bottle a day, so that adds up to 30 plastic bottles a month which I pick up and recycle as a minimum – today was four bottles that were missed. It makes me angry; it’s such a simple thing and the waste all adds up. It all adds up if we all do our little bit of good, you see.
The park has recycling facilities so I recycle as much as possible except for one bottle of water, which is nearly full. Instead of tipping the water out, I take it home and I put it on my petunias and my geraniums so that the water isn’t wasted, and I recycle the bottle.
I am striving to reduce my purchase of anything plastic in the first place, so I am switching to non-plastic packaging as I go along. Examples are:
Solid shampoo and conditioner bars rather than bottles – I use Lush shampoo and conditioner bars, wrapped in paper, so it means I am not buying plastic bottles. We are used to foaming up shampoo and getting things in lather, but that is normally just sodium laurel sulphate. So, to lather it up, just rub it in your hands and on your hair. This works great. Instead of bottles everywhere, I declutter and I have a few simple bars of soap, which smell amazing.
Travel tip: Solid shampoo bars are better than bottles for the plane, since they get through airline security just fine.
I am switching to purchasing toilet rolls on subscription from Who Gives a Crap? that don’t use plastic wrapping paper. Plus, 50% of the profits go to building high sanitation solutions around the world in the most deprived areas. Examples include: WaterAid Australia, Sanergy, Shining Hope For Communities and Lwala Community Alliance
This chimes with my concern to save water and if it means that I can switch my purchases to help someone else, then, why not?
I am back home. I am recording YouTube videos at the moment, and my surroundings are now quiet enough that I can actually record my voice. The videos are in the can, but the audio needs reworked. I do this until midnight, when it is time to read my MBA work again.
I use Techsmith Camtasia which is amazing for producing videos. For me, it has no real competitor and I love it. It has a lot of settings but it is worthwhile taking the time to learn them. If you are looking for video software, just get it. You won’t regret it. It will save you a lot of time.
I also use Audacity in order to finesse the sound. It is open source, and I export the audio back into Camtasia.
Over to you
I’d be interested in more ways in which I can help the environment in my daily life, so please feel free to leave comments and thoughts. I’m always looking for new things to do.
Karabenick, S. & Urdan, T.C., 2010. The decade ahead theoretical perspectives on motivation and achievement 1st ed., Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group Pub. Ltd