Working Up

Working Up in Project Management, Systems Engineering, Technology, and Writing

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Don’t Try so Hard

January 26th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I try hard at everything. Sometimes I try hard too much.

<start advice>

Slow down.

Back away.

Breathe.

Drink a cup of coffee.

Relax.

Take a nap.

Find your own little zen thing that helps you to not try so hard.

<end advice>

→ No CommentsTags: Breathe · Choose · Coffee · Health · Problems · Process · Thinking · Time

The Resource Manager

January 22nd, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

What else would a person manage other than resources?

I continue to be unemployed. Hence, I look at a large quantity of help wanted ads. Some of the job titles are absurd. One that sticks with me is:

Resource Manager

What else would a person manage. Managers manage resources—the end. Resources include:

  • time
  • money
  • material goods

What else is there? Of course there are people, but I don’t use the words “manage people.” I prefer the old adage,

manage things, lead people

Of course, I am still unemployed, so it is obvious that I don’t understand all this works, so heed my advice at your peril.

→ No CommentsTags: Communication · Employment · Management · People

The Parchment vs the Portfolio

January 19th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Online education may one day make it, but for now, we have excellent online learning. You must, however, prove you learned something. Enter the portfolio.

A parchment is another name for a diploma. We get a diploma from some education organization that says we spent time and money at that organization. Everyone assumes that we learned something while in the education organization, but, well, you know. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.

There are many online education organizations now. The MOOC is here or about to be here or something like that. I tired an online education outfit this year with bad results. I learned  a few things, mostly that the outfit was far more interested in money than educating.

There is another way. That other way is not new. It is called Google. Actually, Google is the doorway. Search a topic on Google (or any equivalent), read everything, and practice.

The practice is the key. Otherwise, you can’t show anyone that you learned anything.

Learn a new technology or technique? Learn a new programming language? Learn how to use an application? Do something, and put the result in an online portfolio.

The online portfolio demonstrates to persons that you have learned something and can practice it. The online portfolio can replace the parchment.

→ No CommentsTags: Competence · Education · Learning · Portfolio

They Can Read It at Home

January 15th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

One thing teachers today have to realize is that the learners can read it all at home at their leisure.

The title of this post will haunt educators of all types. It has haunted college professors for decades.

They can read it at home

So why “lecture?”

I remember the TV show “Room 222.” The cool teachers didn’t teach like my teachers. Their students read the boring stuff from the textbooks at home. Classes were all free-wheeling discussions—F U N! Well, it was just a TV show, and we all knew that TV and reality just weren’t the same.

Fast forward from 1969 to today. All the knowledge in the world is online—free to read at your leisure.

So what does a “teacher” do “in class?” That is for each teacher to figure out as an exercise on their own (I hated to hear that assignment; I love to assign it.).

→ No CommentsTags: Communication · Education · Knowledge · Learning

Emotions in the Coffee Shop

January 12th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I go to a coffee shop every morning. Why? I guess there is a community there.

I go to a coffee shop every morning at seven o’clock. My hashtag is #coffeeandwifi. I do the 21st century equivalent of reading the morning paper and I put notes and links on a blog.

I like the coffee shop. I like the people who work here (see some of their happy faces here), and I like the interaction with the other customers.

For example, one morning:

I hear a woman exclaim, “Oh look, how cute!” I expected to see a small child come in the door with a parent. That happens often here. That, however, wasn’t the case this time.

I see a woman staring into a laptop screen show an expression of horror on her face.

I see an elderly woman smiling broadly as she drinks coffee with an elderly man.

What was so cute? What was so horrifying? What brought such broad smiles? What indeed is influencing the lives of strangers brought into a common place? What creates community.

Perhaps this is a sentimental tribute from a naive older man to a place a like where people gather and show emotions of life.

→ No CommentsTags: Coffee · Communication · People

Adjectives, Nouns, and Persons

January 8th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

When we turn an adjective that describes a person into a noun, well, we make a big mistake.

We describe persons with adjectives:

  • tall man
  • short woman
  • active boy
  • new employee

Sometimes, we use the adjective-person pair so often that we transform the adjective-person pair into a noun. One silly example is:

  • “new user” to “new-bie” to “noob”

Another, sometimes silly, but sometimes discriminatory example:

  • “gray bearded person” to “graybeard”

Now we delve into the mistake area:

  • “bitterly hard use of strength person” to “bitterly hard use of strength” or “coolie”

In America, “coolie” is what whites called imported Chinese laborers in the 19th century. Instead of people who worked hard, they were coolies. Today, “coolie” is a bitter racial slur in some parts of the world.

Now we go into deeper mistakes:

  • “a dark-skinned person” to “darkie”

I could go on with more examples of how adjectives describing persons became nouns attached to persons. It becomes ugly quickly.

The “noob” example is a recent short-hand method of describing a person. No harm intended and no harm taken. I suppose, but then I have not been called “noob” so often that it irritates me. One day, perhaps, “noob” will shoot poison arrows at some persons.

It all started innocently without harm intended or taken.

Don’t shorten adjective-person to noun.

→ No CommentsTags: Communication · Culture · People

iPad—part 0.12—Microsoft Writing

January 5th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

The iPad gets even better with a no-cost version of MS Word.

This iPad device, wow, I have to give Apple credit for constantly improving it. Now it comes with MS Word (and Excel and other MS stuff). What a great addition Apple has made.

Well, maybe Apple didn’t make this no-cost addition to the tablet. I guess Microsoft had something to do with it, but still, the tablet is so neat. And along with MS Word comes this OneDrive online storage for all those Word documents I can create and edit.

I guess Apple has something to do with this MS Word application. The iPad infrastructure—all that technology and interface and such—enables Microsoft to connect OneDrive and Word and such to the tablet.

I still can’t type worth a darn on that virtual keyboard that shows up on the screen. I have to use an external bluetooth keyboard, but I can deal with that.

→ No CommentsTags: iPad

One Benefit of Personality Surveys

January 1st, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

The one benefit of personality surveys that I have always seen is that people gather and talk.

I have been part of organizations, yes, several of them, that initiated big projects wherein everyone answers personality questions. MBTI is one such set of questions; strength finders is another. I have yet to be part of an organization that completed its grand plan for the use of such sets of questions.

Regardless of plans and lack of success, there is one benefit to these question sets that I have seen in every instance:

Persons gather and talk.

Persons learn that their colleagues are persons, too. They learn that someone else likes german shepherds, roses, or Sherlock Holmes. They learn that their fears and dislikes don’t exist. They learn that they can work with that odd person across the room who always had that funny look on their face and wore the wrong kind of shoes.

Anything that helps persons understand the other persons will help an organization in its endeavors.

→ No CommentsTags: Communication · Culture · People

Kids do the Strangest Things—So Watch

December 29th, 2014 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

People with no experience in a situation do the unthinkable. Often, the unthinkable leads to the impossible, and we want to know about the impossible.

Kids do things that are just, well, I struggle to describe them as they are out of the ordinary. Here are a few examples:

  • My oldest son once chipped a tooth with the knob end of a baseball bat while hitting a baseball. I still don’t understand how that is physically possible.
  • College students write and submit long papers, but don’t write their name on the paper.
  • A big brother is given a “time out,” and his little sister punishes herself because she always imitates him.

I could go on. The point is that kids do things that make no sense. Their inexperience leaves a void in knowledge.

No knowledge is often the best kind of knowledge. It leads to discoveries, to knowledge that no one has.

My advice:

Spend time around kids and other inexperienced people and learn from them.

→ No CommentsTags: General Systems Thinking · Ideas · Knowledge · Learning

Christmas 2014

December 25th, 2014 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Do not take anyone in your life for granted.

I am writing this post on December 2nd. Such is the wonder of WordPress and all that.

It happens that Christmas Day falls on a Thursday this year, and Thursday is one of the days of the week that I post to this blog. Hence, something different.

There are people who are important to me who I saw last year at Christmas, but I won’t see this year. They died unexpectedly during the year.

Then there is my mother. She suffers from dementia. My wish for Christmas this year—a wish not granted—is that I could spend an hour talking to my mother with her full mental faculties. I wish I could tell her about the last five years and share with her the joy of life these five years.

This hasn’t been a very happy Christmas Day blog post, has it? We all have people who are important in our lives—I wish that on everyone. Nothing and no one guarantees that any of these people will be here to see the next Christmas or even the next dawn. Never take these people for granted.

→ No CommentsTags: People