Productivity blog postings

Productivity Postings

Earliest: July 14, 2003Latest: December 3, 2017Total: 44

November 15, 2015

QA Meme Pictures

Here are a couple of Bill Belichick photos with some meme-type text appropriate for Quality Assurance Engineers. QA is always looking for more test cases from our engineers. Perhaps a funny graphic will stir them to perform some action!

Give me that Test Case
"Give me that Test Case!"

Where is It
"Where is the Test Case?"

October 16, 2015

Using Pixelmator as a Canvas

I have been using Pixelmator a lot over the past few weeks. I really like some of the flexibility that it offers over other graphic applications. I take a lot of computer screen shots, and I like to touch up and combine some pictures in Pixelmator.

I have checked out SnagIt by TechSmith, and it?s a pretty cool application, as I used it all the time on my Windows computer. The problem is that I have a pretty old license and in order to use it on my Macintosh I would need to pay for an upgrade. So, instead of paying for an upgrade, I decided to use Snapz Pro X. I paid for my copy about 4 years ago and the license still works! It cost $60 to purchase Snapz Pro. That's expensive for a screen capture program. However, since the license still works 4 years later - I now see it as a great investment!

My Productivity Hack

In Pixelmator, I created a blank 1950x1080 image and saved it in my Documents folder. I then put a shortcut of the document in my desktop dock. This gives me a quick access to a blank canvas where I can drag and drop screen shots.

Pixelmator Canvas

By having a canvas, I can easily combine screen shots, so If I want to show before and after changes, or if I want to show how functionality is broken in Staging but working fine in Production. I can use the Layers Style functionality to add drop shadows. When I am all done, I crop the image before saving to eliminate any unused space.

January 20, 2015

Photo Cloud Storage


Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing service is now offering one full terabyte for users, enough storage space to hold whole swathes of the world's photos. The service is offering this benefit in addition to its full resolution photo storage service.

While the average user will probably not touch the outer limits of this storage space in a lifetime, this alone is probably enough to draw dedicated photographers to the service and, more important, bring lapsed users back to the Yahoo fold.


Only photos over 2048x2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes count toward your storage limit. This is much better than Flickr and Amazons offering since Google is the only cloud service that offers free storage for videos.

Videos take up a lot of disk space and having an online resource to store the videos is excellent. About 90% of all my video clips are less than 10 minutes. So I'll certainly be storing my videos on Google+ instead of my computer.

The downside is that Google will reduce the resolution of photos to 2048x2048, which is similar to taking photos with a 3MB camera. If I wanted to print these to an 4x6 the photos will be fine. It's a good repository to store photos that I may need to use online later.

Amazon Cloud Prime Photo Service

Amazon Prime now includes free storage in Amazon Cloud Drive for your entire photo collection. Enjoy secure photo storage, automatic photo and video backup, and anywhere access. It's very easy to access photos from the Amazon Kindle devices.

March 1, 2012

Three Things To Do When You Have 5 Minutes or Less

If you?re going to the Post Office or someplace else with some time to waist, don't just stand there and read the wall posters. Be more productive, here are some creative ideas to make your short wait time a little more productive:

Fill out some store surveys!
Got a smart phone? Take one of the receipts from Starbucks/Pizza Hut/wherever and visit their website and fill out the customer support survey. The few minutes of time may actually net you some extra cash.

Clean out your jacket, pocket, or purse.
Take a few minutes and clean out. Throw away the gum wrappers and receipts that you save thinking that you would need it, when in fact you probably forgot the reason you saved it.

Make a List of things to get done
Got a buzy day ahead? Why not spend at least five minutes to organize your thoughts about what you need to get done. Then plan your time.

I am sure that you can come up with some ideas on your own. The best thing to do is to have something planned when you know you?re going to be sitting around a while.

August 23, 2011

Four step strategic planning model

In her presentation, Wilma Matthews, the Co-Author of On Deadline: Managing Media Relations, described a four step strategic planning model:

  • Set a goal: the business outcome. What you want your communications to achieve.
  • Establish strategies: The broad approaches you are going to take in order to achieve the goal.
  • Define objectives for each strategy. Objectives are the measurable tasks that will be undertaken in order to realize the strategies.
  • Develop tactics - the tools that will be used in order to achieve the objectives.

Wilma used the example of World War II in order to illustrate the application of these concepts.

  • Goal: Win the war.
  • Strategy: Surround Germany to choke off the resources that fueled its military force.
  • Objective: Invade France. This is measurable. You?ll know if you?ve succeeded and to what degree.
  • Tactics: What will you use to do this? e.g. ships, planes, soldiers, etc.

In summary:

  • Goals = the broad outcomes
  • Strategies = the approaches you will take
  • Objectives = the measurable steps to achieve the strategies
  • Tactics = the tools you will use

March 3, 2010

Home Office

We are in the process of building a home office. A very exciting and rewarding home improvement project. We have painted the ceiling and walls, added Ethernet and phone jacks and updated the electricity in the room.

One of the problems that I have encountered is when I moved my desk into the room, it was going to block the Power and Ethernet jacks. We had a flat power plug power strip available, but I haven't been able to find a flat Ethernet cable.

I have search several websites for a flat Ethernet Cable and the only thing that I keep finding is a flat cable that goes under a rug. I haven't found a low profile cable anyplace. I know there was a company that made these, I just can't seem to find them right now.

One of the places I was looking at is they sell all sorts of cables and the popular Power Strip Liberator Cables, which I have plenty of in my power supply bin in the basement. 

Another good source is CyberGuys, they have all sorts of great technical products. I was not able to find any Ethernet cable products that would fit my needs. Still a great place to shop, lots of neat things!

July 21, 2008

Parkinson's Law

How true is Parkinson's Law?

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

Which basically means that if you plan 2 hours for a project, then the project will take 2 hours, regardless if others can do it in half the time. Something will make the project last as long as you schedule it.

If your into Productivity, you should read more about Parkinson Law and the famous Cobb-Webb theorem.

March 8, 2008

Quote of the Day

I saw the following quote on someone bulletin board today:

Do the things that you have to do
so you have time to do the things you want to do
The quote was attributed to someone, but I didn't write down the name.

January 16, 2008

PDF Central

I am working on updating the PDF Section on my website. There's a fair amount of traffic going to the page, but the content hasn't been updated recently so its time to step up!

So the goal is that by January 31st, I'll have at least 24 new and exciting PDFs on the site. This should be an easy and manageable goal since I have plenty of creative PDFs on my computer that I can share.

Here is the list of the top five downloaded PDFs from last year:

  1. Gulf War - A PDF version of my popular 1991 Gulf War page.
  2. Blackjack - A handy Blackjack guide to learn the basic blackjack strategy.
  3. Planner - Going on a trip? Use this Packing Planner to make sure you don't miss anything.
  4. Hollywood Sign - Everything you could possibly want to know about the famous Hollywood sign.
  5. VegasHotels - General information on the various hotels in Vegas, including hotel reservation numbers.

Check out the PDF section for more exciting documents!

August 16, 2007

Effective Space Management

In an effort to improve my home office I am planning on doing more organizing this weekend. My desk drawers are filled with junk and the top of my desk has lots of clutter.

Effective Space Management, is a very similar concept to Time Management. Effective Space Management is managing existing space more effectively. With a clean and organized space, personal productivity should be improved. A clutter space is not a workable space. However, the solution is not to throw everything on top of your desk into the desk drawers. This only leads to spending time later looking for things, thus causing unproductive time in the future.

There are three categories that the contents of my desk falls under:

Its time to throw away receipts that I don't need any more. I have a habbit of keeping CVS receipts because they usually include a coupon that I may use. If I come across any coupons that haven't expired yet I'll put them in my wallet and stop at CVS tomorrow morning.

Computer Supplies
I have some PCI cards and CD Sleeves in my desk drawer, however there's no need to keep these in the drawer. I have better things to put in its place. I have several computer supply bins that I'll be using for these items.

Office Supplies
I shouldn't have to keep all my office supplies in my desk drawer. So extra staples and envelopes will go into my office supply bin. Any time I need any office supplies, I know where to check.

Having a cleaner and organized office makes it much easy to be productive. I won't be spending needless time finding office and computer supplies.