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30 July 2010

I Have Moved!!!

I recently started blogging with WordPress at So here are the important things you should know:

  • Content: I moved all WDC content from to the new blog. In essence I'm starting over without the "brand." However, I wanted the old stuff to still be searchable if need be. I'm letting this blog continue to exist mainly because there is content (images) that the new site will still access rather than me going post by post and updating each image. Thank you Blogger for being free!
  • Your Subscription: There is a good chance you'll need to subscribe again if you want to continue to follow my blog. Simply hit the RSS button on either blog and you'll be subscribed to Here is the feed URL if that makes it easier:
  • Thanks: Thank you for going on this journey with me - hopefully you will continue to find it helpful and engaging.

21 July 2010

The Office | Lessons in Organization and Productivity

I was in my bosses office today (that would be Kem Meyer) for an impromptu meeting when I came to the stunning realization that the planets were in alignment and everything felt right in the universe.


It's simple...her office was laid out in such a way that productivity was almost mandatory. It reeked of organization and I had this strange urge to bust out my laptop and knock out multiple projects simultaneously.

So I thought I'd detail the office for you so that you can replicate it where it makes sense:
  1. The chair: The stuff you need to come and go: purse, backpack and most likely coat during the winter - all ready to grab on the way out.
  2. Resource Rack: Slightly out of the way - yet handy in case you need a quick quote for a blog post or you're bored and want to do some heavy research.
  3. Long-Term Organization: Color coded calendars for each summer month - detailing what projects will launch at what time. Wooden basket below holds things that are important but NOT urgent.
  4. Reality Check: A drawing of mom by one of the kiddos - keeps you humble and connected to your family. "Keep first things first." Right?
  5. AND Conference: Our biggest event of the year. It is placed higher than most things since it is not urgent, but yet not out of reach either. Conference is in November 2010.
  6. Inspiration: On the wall are scriptures, quotes, quips and sayings to help her maintain focus, productivity, boundaries, etc.
  7. The Work Station: Laptop for portability. Extra monitor for meetings and increased productivity. Binder/notepad on the left (partially hidden) with the bulk of notes, handouts and outlines for ongoing projects.
  8. Short-Term Organization: The outline for the day - including the items that Trump all others, items to be completed Today and items that are On Deck.
  9. Beverage: One has to remain hydrated when getting so much done.
  10. Most Recent Project: As you knock out pieces of larger projects, it helps to set them on the desk just to your right in plain view. This helps reinforce the fact that you are checking things off the list and being productive. The stapler is just there because she forgot to put it back in it's designated spot.
  11. Keys: Always keep your keys in plain view - this way they're easy to grab when leaving and you won't have to search for them in the case of a fire, tornado or when warned that there is a mad man in the building screaming "Less Clutter. Less Noise!"
Obviously some of this was meant to be funny. But that wasn't my motivation for this post. You see I aspire to this level of organization. I resonate with it and it just feels right. I know that if I don't have the majority of my "stuff" in order, my productivity goes out the window. In fact there are days when I spend an hour organizing my Inbox and hand writing a to do list before ever touching Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks or a browser for that matter.

It's like that whole "dress for success" thing. Or the "everything has it's place" thing. Or could it be the "cleanliness is next to godliness" thing?

I don't know - but it works.

The next time you're sitting in your messy office feeling overwhelmed, call up this post and try to replicate the zen, fung shui bliss going on here and you might find yourself solving world peace that afternoon.

17 July 2010

Remembering Cindy

Today would have been my Mother-in-law's birthday. Cindy was taken WAY too early - especially considering the vibrant life she lived, the energy she had and the way she loved her family.

I can go months without thinking about it, but then something will trigger me and it all comes flooding back.

One of the biggest triggers for me is my daughter Rachel - who looks like, talks like and acts like Cindy the majority of the time. I consider that a good thing - it has helped me remember Cindy more often.

Here are just a few of the things that I recall about Cindy:
  1. The sweet tooth
  2. Afternoon coffee runs
  3. Drinking leftover (reheated) coffee in the mornings
  4. All her track/tennis/running outfits that matched from head to toe
  5. Weekends at the lake - pulling us behind the boat
  6. Refusing to wear a "real" life jacket
  7. Riding the original wake/surf board
  8. Never standing still
  9. Family gatherings she coordinated
  10. Nana

12 July 2010

Where Are All the Good Designers?

Apparently still in school!

I saw this today and was amazed by the level of quality and forward thinking that this guy (Andrew Kim) displayed in a recent design project called HTC 1.

I think HTC needs to look this guy up and offer him a job - or at least an internship so they can steal his designs :)

If you like a good design presentation, take some time to look through his concepts and the rationale behind some of his design choices. I'm not saying it all makes sense, but there are some pretty cool ideas - and I love his artwork/sketches.

As for the phone - I'd buy it!

09 July 2010

My HTC Evo 4G Review (Finally)

Sorry this took so long. I've had the new phone for over a month now and have had friends email me asking for the review. But with everything going on and the Fourth of July weekend, I'm just now in a good place to let it rip. So here it goes...

Sprint Service
My wife and I have been with almost every carrier there is. Sprint is as good or better than most. We pay around $120.00 total for two smart phones and unlimited everything (Except for voice. We share 1500 minutes and never come close). I do have to pay an extra $10.00/month for 4G which I can use if we travel to cities that have it...

I have held HTC phones in the past which were small, light, had little screens and felt very cheap (Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, etc.) but HTC has definitely taken a turn in quality. The Evo is big, heavy and solid (which all appeal to me). I want something that has a nice large screen (since it takes such large pictures and 720p video) and something that feels well built. The Snapdragon processor is stinking fast - no lag time like I was used to on the Palm Pre. My only irritation is the screen - still sub par compared to the iPhone and requires protection with a BodyGuardz shield. However, I have been putting these on every device I purchase so I would probably even put one on the iPhone...

Amazing pictures - large, good color and lots of options to choose from. Quick operation with no "sit and wait" like I had on the Palm Pre. Easy picture management and easy share functionality with a menu of over 14 options.

720p. HD video on a phone. Wow. But let's be honest - what phone is going to take crystal clear HD video? As for the quality I call it amazing for a phone - but definitely requires good lighting and moderate movement. For an interview in broad daylight you might have a hard time telling it was from a phone. But a soccer game at night and you're out of luck my friend. Again, good features, quick operation. The phone came set up to use Qik for all the video stuff but I haven't got it to work yet. Probably user error - just haven't really messed with it yet. Also - haven't tested out the video conferencing.

Android 2.1 OS
I'll admit I was a bit leery of switching to a Droid phone. I really like the stuff Google puts out, but had a hard time believing they could put out an amazing OS for a phone - something Microsoft still hasn't perfected. But I'm pleasantly surprised at the level of complexity, the simple UI and the available options (Apps typically available at the same time as they are for the iPhone). The other cool thing is that most newer Android phones will be upgraded to Froyo (Android OS 2.2) in the next few months. I've already read some articles on the speed and increased functionality with Froyo (including flash support) and I'm stoked.

HTC Sense
Basically - when you buy a phone (like a computer) the company that built it likes to put a few finishing touches on it - typically small software programs and UI upgrades that they feel will be helpful. In this case, HTC has built what is called HTC Sense - a UI that sits on top of the stock Android OS and makes it easier for the user to access content and use the phone. For those that love to tweak their OS and flash it every week or so - probably not necessary - but for the average user this is a nice touch and makes the phone that much more simple and straightforward. You basically get seven screens that you can edit to death. Add shortcuts, small widgets or full screen widgets. Mix and match - make it yours. You also have a nice shortcut that shows you all seven screens at one time for easy access.

Battery Life
I'm not going to lie - big smart phones require daily charging. However, I haven't seen a huge difference from my Palm Pre and on days when I use the phone on an "as needed" basis I can almost get 2 days of use out of one charge.

Cutting Edge Stuff
The Evo is revolutionary for reasons that I probably won't even take advantage of:
  • 4G: I don't live in an area that has 4G so I have no idea what it can do. Looking forward to a trip to Chicago so I can test it out though...
  • Wireless Hotspot: In a 4G zone the Evo can provide Internet access to up to 8 devices. Again - not in a 4G area and don't want to pay the price to access this functionality.
All together an amazing phone. I'm glad I bought it and can't wait to see what Froyo does to the speed and functionality.

06 July 2010

Who Invented the Internet Again?

Most of us can remember Al Gore saying:

I took the initiative to create the Internet...
If you don't remember it, or think that for some reason I'm making it up go here.

I don't know how many of us knew for sure that Al Gore didn't have a hand in it. But we certainly had a good laugh when the story broke that the Internet was really a tool created by the military. This tool grew to become a platform on which networks, businesses and people could build and interact. But no one person could really take credit for it.

So it was with great interest that I read the following article: The 10 Founding Fathers of the Web on

I love the twist the writer takes in not attributing the "invention" of it to a person or people, but instead the creation of ideas that greatly enhanced the use of the Internet.

Read it for yourself, but here are some highlights:
  • Tim Berners-Lee: Created the World Wide Web (not the Internet). The use of web servers and HTML in the first browser. Currently works with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to oversee web standards and future of the web.
  • Rasmus Lerdorf, Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski: The development of PHP - the open source programming language that allows for dynamic web content.
  • Brendan Eich: Creator of javascript and currently the CTO at Mozilla.
  • John Resig: Creator of jQuery - a javascript library that has opened up the power of javascript to countless designers with little programming knowledge.

23 June 2010

An End to Technology?

I got to thinking about technology this morning and came up with the following observations:

  • Technology is only considered "advanced" by human standards. We come up with new things and we think that we're so intelligent. When in fact, God is the Creator of the universe and doesn't need a smart phone to stay connected.
  • Technology is NOT a bad thing. Some may say because of my first point, there is no need to advance technology. But I suggest technology is from God. When you break it down, God created us, and we're attempting to create things. In essence, God gave us the ability to create advances in technology - suggesting He knew all along we'd wind up where we are. It's up to us whether we use the things we create for good or evil.
  • Someday I'll be out of a job. Think about it like this: When we arrive in Heaven, all of our technological advancements will remain on Earth. God doesn't need our technology and we won't either.
  • God has His own "technology." We don't begin to understand what is possible with God. For all we know our bodies will be capable of flight, we'll be able to communicate via thought transfer in the collective conscious or maybe we'll be able to transport ourselves to a place by simply picturing that place in our mind. Whatever the case - we're in for a real eye opener when we leave this Earth.

14 June 2010

Coffee + Uppity = Irritating

I was in an "uppity" restaurant the other day. When I asked for coffee, the response was, "Would you prefer the Ethiopian or Guatemalan blend?"

I stood there for a second and then answered as if I had a strong opinion, when in truth I could have cared less.

Why? As long as my coffee isn't Folgers, Maxwell House or McDonald's "blend," I'm typically good.

I think what really made me laugh (inside) was that the coffee they were brewing probably cost $6 a pound even though they were making it out to be expensive "gourmet" coffee.

What I should have said was,
Actually, I was hoping you had Blue Mountain Coffee from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.
If he knew what I was talking about, I would have been really impressed. You see there is good coffee, and then there is amazing coffee. And if they really wanted to impress me (in a genuine way) - they would have Blue Mountain Coffee flown in weekly for my drinking pleasure...

Please Make Your Point!
A bit over the top, I know. But it made me think about our websites - or more specifically our "digital footprint" as churches.

Are we offering people a little of this or a little of that because it sounds impressive? Because it's the latest thing? Because we were able to find an amazing plugin that didn't cost much but makes us look really innovative?

Or are we giving people what they need? What their souls are craving?

Are we stripping it all down and offering them the gospel in digital form?

Are we giving them "uppity fluff" or the stuff straight from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica?

I'm as determined as ever to figure out what we're doing well and what we're putting out there to look cool. Hopefully this year we'll strip away all the fluff and help people truly see God through our digital presence.

05 June 2010

Sprint. Customer Service. Lessons Learned.

I wasn't going to write this post at first because I knew the negativity, frustration and anger would come shining through.

But I think I'm finally over it, and capable of learning from it.

I'm part of a team that oversees an eCommerce site that provides customer service during the week. So I've been trying to apply some of the things I learned in this recent episode toward making our customer service for that much better.

My Scenario
As a Premier Level Sprint customer I'm allowed to upgrade my phone yearly with no penalties. However, due to my wife being listed as head (accidentally based on a Sprint error) neither of us were allowed to upgrade this year. This was corrected, but due to the error I wouldn't be able to get my upgrade for close to two weeks after the phone (HTC Evo 4G) came out. Since it was a Sprint error (and because it would kill me to wait an extra two weeks to get my phone) I began the process of having the "one billing cycle" problem corrected.

After numerous calls (some lasting close to an hour), multiple trips in to the local Sprint store and promises that turned out to NOT be true - I still don't have the phone.

Now I know some of you are saying, "Dude, chill out! It's just a phone and it's only one day past it coming out. Aren't you making a mountain out of a mole hill?"

To that I would agree - not that big of a deal. But it's the time and energy put into it (all the while being told it would be a simple process) that has me worked up.

Lessons Learned
So, after dealing with the massive and slow moving engine that Sprint is; I think I've learned the following things about customer service:
  • Don't die by the process: I was originally told it would take a full billing cycle for the changes to be made - because this was the process in the "system." However, with it being a Sprint mistake - there should be an immediate fix that can happen outside that system. A supervisor or department head should have the power to go into a customers account and change whatever they want to change in order to fix problems that arise. It appears to be possible - but the journey to find this person and get them to make the change is much more difficult than it should be.
  • Don't complicate the calling center: A calling center needs to work together as a team. Don't have multiple departments in multiple locations - each not understanding what the other does. I told my story at least 6 times throughout this process.
  • Hire intelligent employees and train them well: Your front line employees need to be awesome trouble-shooters. In my case, the minute they understood the problem they should have been able to transfer the call to the department and person capable of clicking one button to fix the problem. In my case I had numerous front-line employees tell me nothing could be done - only to find out later that things could be done if you had the right person in the right department.
  • Maintain a smooth-running business plan: A business needs a well designed business model with strict guidelines as to how their product, retail stores and corporate call centers network and interact. In this case the call center told me I had to go to the retail store to have the over-ride done on my account. In the store they said they didn't have the ability to do over-rides and that I would have to go through the corporate call center. All the while leaving me feeling lost and incapable of moving forward. Make sure you have things like this planned for and that there is a simple and documented process so that things like this can be quickly fixed.
I feel like I could add a few more - but they deal with things like being nice, assuming the best in your customers and stuff like that so I better leave them alone :)

Hopefully these observations will keep customer service at running smoothly as well as your efforts in providing support to your customers.

I'll let you know if I ever get to upgrade my phone!

04 June 2010

I've Had It Up to Here!

I've been silent for over a week now, but not because I want to be. Truth is, we're in the middle of a very large project - one that will change the face of our team and how we do what we do.

Sounds pretty ominous eh?

Actually, it's just different than anything we've done before. Instead of it being a project where something gets created or redesigned, we're actually attempting to remove or combine.


Because it seems like this is the typical pattern with most teams:
Each team member starts with a few regular tasks and has the margin to go above and beyond in their sphere of influence. But over time - we keep adding tasks until that is all the team member does - no more above and beyond. They simply become a clock puncher...getting their stuff done and going home.
And this has become true of us. We're all so tied down to tasks that we can't pick our heads up to dream again. So we're doing something about it.

In every setting this might look different, but in ours it looks something like this:
  • Stop: There are things we have done for years that just don't need to be done anymore. Identify and cut.
  • Combine: There are countless tasks that live independently of each other - but what if they could be combined? Identify and combine.
  • Move: There are thing we do that take HUGE amounts of time and energy. But it is only because of the process. If there were a simpler way to do it wouldn't that be better? Identify and move.
  • Grow: There are things we are doing that are "old school." We simply haven't grown into the technology that is available in that area. Identify and grow.
  • Simplify: And in all things ask if there is a more simple way of presenting the content. Are our websites still too bloated? Have we let our media players get too full? Etc. Identify and simplify.
I've been pretty vague - partly because we haven't completely finalized our plan of attack. But when we do I'll post again and offer specific examples of each area.

Sound like fun? Give it a try in your environment.

25 May 2010

The Fight! Pre versus HTC Evo 4G

Definitely not rocket science. But thought it was a fun comparison. Especially since I own the Palm Pre and just pre-ordered the HTC Evo 4G.

Enjoy :)

By the way, the problems he has with WebOS are not because he doesn't use WebOS very often. I have the same issues after using it as my primary device for close to a year. A little frustrating that the hardware can't keep up with an OS that has so much potential.

19 May 2010

Android Official

As of 1:00 p.m. today I became Android official by pre-ordering the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint.

Call it drinking the Kool-aid, jumping on the band wagon or jumping ship. I haven't really decided how I want to look at it so it doesn't matter to me.

But the truth of the matter is this: I'm joining a movement of sorts. What Google has done with the Droid mobile platform in the past two years is staggering to me. They've been able to develop a mobile OS that rivals the best on the market. They have a cloud computing and SaaS structure already in place to power Apps on their phones. And they intelligently offer them on a variety of devices with most carriers - thereby making it available to the widest possible spectrum of users.

All this and they keep moving forward with the speed of a company that has serious goals to meet. When I see that, I can't help but want to be part of it.

If it were all a flash in the pan - you'd expect to see the Droid market rise, level off and then either remain stagnant or actually drop. But instead it keeps moving off the charts. Here are just two stories from the past month or two:
I fully expect there to be bugs with the HTC Evo 4G just as there have been with every other mobile device I've owned. But I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do, and I feel like the sky is the limit based on the almost mind-boggling stuff Google has unveiled for the future of their mobile platform.

Can't wait until June 4th!

18 May 2010

SEO Tactics to Avoid

Search Engine Optimization is the buzzword of the day. And while there are valid expressions of SEO in good web design - there is also the possibility of going too far and becoming something of a jerk in the web world.

Remember the scene in Crocodile Dundee II where Paul Hogan was fishing with dynamite in New York Harbor? Absurd you say? Yes, but this is what many of the popular SEO tactics are like today. Rather than "helping" people find your site, you "force" them upon your site. This is a monumental difference to the visitor. It's the difference between them saying, "Sweet - that wasn't so bad" and, "What the heck is all this crap cluttering up my search?"

LINE25 recently posted on 5 tactics that will make you look bad. They are:
  1. Stuffing your titles with keywords
  2. Littering your body text with keywords
  3. Not using your real name on comments
  4. Excessive interlinking of words and phrases
  5. Sending link exchange request emails
In my opinion these are just 5 of many.

To read more about each of the above check out the full article here.

13 May 2010

HTML5 & CSS3 Are Coming!

Advances in web design and web strategy are often limited by the modern browser's ability to accurately render what we've created. Of course that's why we use hacks and a little elbow grease to make sure our sites look relatively the same in all of them.

HTML5 and CSS3 are nothing more than progress - the next version of that thing we're already using. But as it is with most things - you need the majority of the people to accept them before they can be widely used.

In this case - we need the majority of the browsers (if not all) to get on the same page and honor the web standards that will allow for true innovation and progress to occur in the area of web design.

Because of this I love it when I find little articles and/or tools that make it clear just how far we are along that journey.

This site built by the Asylum helps you to quickly and visually see what browsers support some of the new and fun stuff HTML5 and CSS3 offer:

Have fun!

06 May 2010

Palm Pre: Failure to Launch

Those of you that have read this blog before probably know that I obsessed over the Palm Pre for close to 6 months before its arrival. I stood in line to get it and have now had it for close to a year. So here is my final review of the Palm Pre on the Sprint Network:

  • Sprint plans: Awesome
  • Sprint coverage: Awesome
  • Sprint customer service: Used to be the worst but is getting much better
  • Palm Pre hardware: Not great at all. Plastic that cracks easily, hard to protect, slider is easily damaged, battery is easily jarred which restarts the phone, screen is highly finger-print sensitive, on/off button sticks on my phone, have to use Palm certified recharging products or recharging won't start immediately.
  • Palm WebOS: Great idea. The future is: Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). Hopefully HP will squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of this genuinely innovative concept and make it useful on a variety of platforms (like a tablet perhaps?)
  • Palm WebOS functionally: My Pre has never felt fast. There has always been a lag in the responsiveness of the tough screen and the ease with which programs will start and run well. Games take relatively long to load and I've had a few that won't start due to their size. I routinely see the "Too many cards open" warning which basically means a restart.
  • Palm Follow-through: Very poor. When I bought the phone it came with the promise of any number of things like flash compatibility, video recording, mobile document creation, etc. We just received video recording in the last OS update but the other two are still MIA.
  • Palm Touchstone: Awesome idea and works well. I'm assuming this will be a feature accessory for many new phones in the future.
  • Connection troubles: I've noticed that the Pre has a problem figuring out whether or not to use the Sprint Network or the Wi-fi at times. If the Wi-fi is available but hasn't been authenticated (like at a hotel or restaurant) certain Apps (like Tweed) stop working. You have to either authenticate or turn off the Wi-fi in order to refresh Twitter. Seems like the phone should know that and force the App to use the Sprint Network.
  • Over the Air (OTA) OS Updates: Awesome - works well - can't complain.
  • OTA OS Updates (actual content): Nothing to write home about. Palm has the perfect scenario - the ability to fix bugs immediately and push it to every Pre out there. But instead they wait months to roll out updates that on my Pre seem to do nothing. Small tweaks and slightly different functionality, but nothing major. AND! Half the time I have problems after the updates! Decreased battery life, camera takes 3x longer to take the picture and locks up the phone after the shot, Google Maps takes a lot longer to open and rarely works correctly now, etc.
In Summary
Palm was failing big time so they stepped out of the box and went for it all with WebOS and the Palm Pre. On the one hand they hit it big. New technology that made Apple, RIM and Google go, "Oh my word...we better get on that..." But I just don't think Palm had the time and money to completely knock it out of the park - which became even more evident this past month when HP bought them out.

In this day and age, you have to offer a product with the latest technology out of the box. Chances are the consumer will only have your product for 24 months. In my case I feel like upgrading in 10-12 months. So you can't put out a product that is lagging and say, "We'll roll that out in Q2 next year." That business plan just doesn't cut it any more.

So I want to commend Palm for their effort. And I wish them well in the future as they partner with HP and look for new innovative ways to use WebOS.

But for me, I think I'm ready to try something new. I've held off on the whole Android craze because just like everything else Google does, it starts in the roughest of beta and remains there for a while until all the kinks are worked out. But once they get the kinks worked out - they seem to be able to use the latest technology and stay at the top of the game.

Because of this I feel like the most recent Android phones to hit the market have the perfect combination of a stable/consistent Android OS coupled with hardware that takes it to the next level.

The HTC Incredible and HTC Evo 4G have caught my eye and in June I just might pull that trigger.

This in part because I don't think I have the patience to wait until December to see what Microsoft Windows Phone 7 phones will look like and be capable of. So for now I'll leave you with the HTC Evo 4G and it's rich feature set...