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11 wonderfully horrible modern productivity anti-patterns

You are a modern web-worker. When the internet in your office goes offline, it is a major drain on your productivity. Here are some things you may do or see in your daily life that are "anti-patterns" or behaviors which are counter to productivity. Please, don't do them! If someone else does one of them, maybe send them this post (it includes solutions).

When people break these rules (especially via email) it just makes me feel like Billy Sorrels: DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.

1. Putting Screenshots into Microsoft Word Documents

You make a screenshot using the "PrtScr" key and want to share it. How do you do this? You open Microsoft Word, paste the screenshot into the document, and send it via e-mail. It's an image, not a document. Save it that way.

The Problem: Bloat and speed meaning fewer people read the message. It takes way longer to open a document than to open an image. It also takes up more space in my inbox. I mostly don't care about e-mail/inbox size these days, but when I'm on a slow connection (via phone, via internet in a foreign country) it can be an issue.

The Solution: This depends on the operating system you use. Windows users: take the screen shot, open "Paint" (or another graphics program like Gimp) and paste the screenshot there. Save it as an image. If you are going to do it often I humbly suggest Skitch or AwesomeScreenshot.

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Lost: The Drinking Game

We started watching the tv-show lost a while ago on netflix streaming. This is great because we can watch episodes back to back which gets rid of the anxiety over what will happen "next week."

We found a few occurrences that were uncommon enough that they could be used as a pretty decent game.

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Technology things I threw away today (2011 Edition)

I am an early adopter, packrat. When people need an extra phone charger or connector cable they come to me.

So if I throw something out, that means it must be old as dirt. Here is a list of things I threw away today.

  • A Dell PS2 keyboard I got for free with my computer in 1997
  • Palmrests for two keyboards I'm not even sure I own any more
  • A Belkin vga/ps2 KVM switch I purchased in 2004
  • A IEEE1394 (Firewire) PCMCIA card I purchased so I could connect my first generation ipod to my Windows XP powered 2003 HP laptop (I'm keeping the laptop)
  • A PCI E-Sata connector - I think I got this with a 2.5" hard drive enclosure that ran on USB2.0 or E-sata (actually, I'm so keeping this if I can just find the e-sata cable!)
  • 2 RJ11 (yes, 11!) cords - one approximately 10 feet, one 20 feet. Wired telephones??!?! Ha!
  • A 6 foot long USB extension cable (i.e. male to female) that we bought in 2002 so we could put the computer behind the couch and the monitor on the side table like a TV
  • A serial to ps2 connecter that I got for free from upenn.forfree so I could plug in a serial mouse I got somewhere...I don't even remember how this story ends
  • A plug that goes from UK to standard power supply - WTF did I need this?
  • A USB to Sony Ericcson T-9(?)00? connector cable I purchased in 2004. The software it came with sucked
  • A PCMCIA adapter for compact flash I bought in 2000. This was awesome. But, it turns out that compactflash is the biggest kind of flash. Also, I have another 9 way flash adapter that has compactflash in it! :)
  • Not one, but TWO power chargers for mini USB phones. Too bad the industry just standardized on micro USB.
  • An adapter that takes USB/PS2 power and uses that to give energy to an external 2.5" hard drive enclosure just in case your USB1.1 doesn't give the drive enough power. (Yes, USB 1.1!). I bought this in ~2005.
  • A PS2 mouse from a computer I bought in ~2005
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Halloween costume trends 2010: Southern University of Denver / Hampden Hills

I like to keep track of things. For halloween this year I tracked when people came and what their costumes were. You can see the google spreadsheet or download it as an OpenOffice.org spreadsheet.

For me, the interesting things were:

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Ghost of jobs past: Crazy documents from HR/Accounting

A few years ago I started a company to do some website building (gvs). When it was just me we didn't have any "HR" or "Accounting" process really because it was...just me. Our project process was really messy and I didn't necessarily bill hourly, nor flat fee, nor...whatever. Now we're a little more serious. We've got serious benefits, it's a team of 5 people, we do pretty solid work for a lot of different top tier companies.

That said, I found these two documents as I went through some old files today. These are from a company I worked in 7 years ago that was a startup, but had some serious "process" so they could feel like they were a real company. GVS is not now and probably never will be this kind of "serious."

equipment checkout list

holiday schedule for 2002, with clipart

I mean seriously. Look at how much time must have been wasted on that. And I get that a "holiday" list without some sense of design input is just plain depressing, but I don't think the clipart really got anyone into a festive mood.

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