Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mind Mapping

I have been using mind mapping software for many years now and it has often been a great boost to get clarity around thought.
I know that I've often been told that my mind needs a map to get around and I've agreed with them. I know I  think the same way everyone else does. Do you memorize your phone number by turning it into a complex calculation? Of course you do and my wife's statements that I'm somehow different is just well, silly.
But back to mind maps.
I have a copy MindJet on my computer at home and pull it out occasionally to help me formulate some thoughts. i3Often this results in only a half a dozen links before I know where I'm going with my thoughts and can take it up from there. Sometimes it takes a very large map that I export to an outlined document where I can fully document the thoughts that are now concisely laid out before me.
However it wasn't until I started using mind mapping on my iPhone that real map production became a reality. Now I can take those ideas and problems that arise during the work day and map them out on the train ride home. Next morning I can export all of those linked thoughts into an outline document and produce my paper.
I've tried several systems on the iPhone from a straight outliner (CarbonFin Outliner) to specific mind mapping programs. There is no doubts on my favourite for the iPhone and that's MindNode. This is a simple clean interface that's good for all you can and need to do on an iPhone while sitting on a moving train. I love the fact that the points are not boxed (which to me, makes them harder to read) and each base node is a separate colour. I can even choose sub nodes to be different colours as well.
The ease of transferring the maps to my computer is as simple as selecting to email them (to myself) as an attachment. I have the choice then of several formats including graphics, as an outline document or one of a few standard formats other mind mapping software recognizes.
The only down side is that so far there is no way I can then copy maps back onto the iPhone unless I have an apple computer (which I don't). They say they are working on it and I hope so because this is a very powerful business function for the iPhone.
While I'm at it, why did I choose the iPhone? I've used the Psion, a PalmPilot, a Windows Mobile phone and the Blackberry. All work very well but I just like the simple nature and use I'd the iPhone. If I could I'd have perhaps gone with the Palm Pre but it is yet to be seen in Australia so I opted for the iPhone and so far, apart from the short battery time, quite enjoying it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cloud Computing

I went along to a cloud computing seminar last week to see what the fuss was all about.

CloudcomputingCloud computing is a term bandied about a lot in recent times and I really didn't fully understand what it was. When NetSuite put on a free seminar, that is to say; "a free sales pitch", I took the opportunity to go along and learn more about it.

I'm not putting down a supplier who would put on such a seminar, in fact I applaud it. It is a good way to learn the different technologies. However as in all such cases, we must weigh what we learn knowing that a fair bit of sales pitch comes along with the facts. This case was no exception to that rule.

So what's all the fuss about cloud computing? Well, it turns out not much at all … and a whole lot, it depends on your perspective.
Cloud computing is the name given to the industry springing up around hosting applications and data on the Internet (the cloud). The idea is that it allows a company to get away with just having the laptop or desktop PCs with no need for servers or the infrastructure normally required to support them. All email, scheduling, accounting and all other company software will be a matter of simply accessing the Internet.

Gmail is a good example of Cloud Computing where the small business can leave all their email details up to Gmail. No in house mail servers; everyone is automatically using the latest software; no backup issues; and no need for an administrator to keep it all protected and current.

The seminar hosted a few guest speakers who had moved all their corporate accounting to the Cloud (by sheer coincidence, NetSuite products - who would have known). It was interesting hearing first hand how they were able to make the change. I was especially interested to hear one company who had international offices and international currency issues and yet still made a successful change to Cloud Computing.

The only part of the evening that really annoyed me was hearing  Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite repeat often his favourite saying "why would anyone want to use applications designed before the Internet?". Zach repeated this several times and was obviously very proud of this saying but all it did for me was succeeded in getting my goat. Often applications are not built on the Cloud because of serious reasons. They may be very forward thinking applications that have some serious non-Internet uses. To me Zach Nelson's unfortunate comment displayed his ignorance of the wider business requirements and showed a very narrow view of the world. I will taper this a little though as his view as a Cloud Computing supplier with server based corporate software as his competition, he will naturally be narrow in his outlook.

There are no doubts in my mind that Cloud Computing will have a large future and it will be interesting to watch how fast the take-up will happen.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Sydney This Time

The photo was taken on my iPhone from our apartment towards the Blue Mountains one evening.

Here we go again. I'm really looking forward to buying a house and settling down in one place again. A luxury that has been out of our grasps for a while now.

After a great year in Melbourne we've moved again, this time to Sydney.

I've taken on a position as Product Manager for a spatial data (mapping) company in North Sydney. It's an interesting position and one that has enough challenges that will keep my interest and allow me to learn heaps. It is the first role I've takenon in many years that does not have a team, the last role had a team of around 40 people based all around the world so this will be a little different.

I'm looking into some exciting technologies and some interesting discussions which I hope to write about soon. The last year has been so disruptive that this blog has suffered from lack of postings, a situation that I hope to rectify in the coming months.

My interests reside in technologies that help companies and people, in leadership, and in company management so if you have something that you want me to look at, or simply want to meet up sometime and you live in Sydney, then drop me an email (from my profile section) and I'd love to talk to you.