Skunk Works and Bootlegging

June 20, 2008

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imageI mentioned that I do Skunk Works projects to a colleague who was unfamiliar with the term. Turning to the all-knowing Wikipedia I pulled the following: Skunk Works is a term first coined in 1943 by Lockheed, currently trademarked by Lockheed Martin and widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects. Reading further, I saw a reference to "Bootlegging". I didn't know that there is a business world definition for the term. Apparently, there is: In economics and business administration literature, Kenneth E. Knight introduced the notion bootlegging in 1967. Bootlegging is defined as research in which motivated individuals secretly organise the innovation process. It usually is a bottom-up, non-programmed activity, without the official authorisation of the responsible management, but for the benefit of the company. It is not in the department’s action plan nor are there any formal resources allocated towards it (Augsdorfer 1996). I do that too. I'm close to winding up a project that has been pretty much all consuming since sometime around October of last year. Can't wait to get back to the bootlegging stuff. It will come as a most welcome change of pace from the big ol' formal project.


Google Site Search Bookmarklet

June 18, 2008

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I use Firefox. I use Google. Often while I'm browsing a web site in Firefox, I want to use Google to search that site (and only that site) for something. Google is usually way better than internal search engines. Two ways to do this are: 1) to go to http://www.google.com/ and add "site:example.com" in the search box so that Google only returns results for the specific site (in this case, example.com). 2) Install the Google Toolbar which provides a convenient search box that can search the site you are currently on. I don't like the first one cause it takes a little while and I have to either type in the site name or copy and paste it out. Not hard, but annoying. I don't like the second option since I already have a ton of other stuff installed and I don't want to install the entire Google Toolbar just to get that feature. It has a ton of other stuff that I don't want to use. So, enter option three: Bookmarklets. Basically, a bookmark that contains javascript code instead of a page address. I've been meaning to create a Google Search This Site bookmarklet for some time, but never got around to it. Finally got fed up tonight and made it. I know this works in my Firefox 2 browser on Windows XP, but it probably works in some other browsers as well. All you have to do is create a new blank bookmark. Name it whatever you want and then in the "Location" or similarly named section paste this in: Assuming it doesn't get mangled somehow, when you are on a site that you would like to search with google, simply click the bookmarklet. It should open a new window with Google in it and the search field already filled out with the site you want to search. Just enter your search term after it, and away you go.


Mahna Mana

June 17, 2008

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And here's one to stick in your head: It's amazing how expressive the Muppets are. They still look great. Do doooo do du du! And one more that I found in the related links to the first one: F-ing percussionists.


Relaxed, but not really rested

June 17, 2008

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I took a much needed break from the day job a week and a half ago and attended another Supershoots event. Was gone for about 7 days and it was great. I really needed to get away. I have come back very much refreshed and relaxed. Just not very rested. There is a ton of shooting and mentoring that goes on during the events, and when that's not happening there's a lot of partying. Like all the other events I've done like this, I'm so amped during the entire thing that I don't notice how little sleep I'm getting. It's amazing how our bodies can respond to opportunities like that. Of course, when you get back to the real world, the payback is pretty high. On the first day I was back, after a day in the office I was in bed by 8pm and slept for a solid twelve hours. Next time I do one of these I should really schedule an extra day of vacation to take at the house just to catch up on sleep.


The Creative Process

June 02, 2008

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One blog I enjoy checking in on is called Get Rich Slowly. The blog is one of the ones I use to keep feeding my brain on personal finance content. In an entry from today, the you tube clip below is included. The clip feature the host of This American Life talking about the process of getting over the initial learning curve hump. Get Rich Slowly sees this though the filter of personal finance and touches on the fact that this actually translates into basically any skill. I couldn't agree more with the message. I was super lucky to have the good fortune of mentors who helped me understand that in order to be good at something, you have to go though the time when you suck. As much as possible, don't let that time when you suck get you down. Recognize that time for what it is, the practice that is required to improve. I'm guessing this applies to most things, but certainly, if you are in a creative field, remind yourself that as long as you are trying to improve, you're going to go through gap times and that's just part of gig.


Consumer Action Handbook

June 02, 2008

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Catching up on some stuff in my news reader, I saw a post about the Consumer Action Handbook from the Federal Citizen Information Center. Put out by the Federal government, the intro say:

This everyday guide to being a smart shopper is hot off the press and chocked full of helpful tips about buying a car or home, preventing identity theft, understanding credit,filing a consumer complaint, and much more. In the 2008 edition, you'll find updated information about filing for bankruptcy, finding a lawyer, and planning a funeral, along with many other useful topics.

You can order a printed copy, or download a pdf on the download page.


Backup Software: PowerFolder

June 02, 2008

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I haven't played with it yet, but there is an open source backup application called "PowerFolder" that looks interesting. It is SoureForge's Project of the Month this month. To get that distinction, an application has to be pretty high quality, so it's certainly worth checking out. I'm dropping it here so I can find it later. It could be a little confusing to search for since: http://sourceforge.net/projects/powerfolder/ takes you to: PowerFolder is workflow server and development studio. As opposed to: http://sourceforge.net/projects/powerfolder-/ which is where the backup software is.


One step closer to the borg

June 02, 2008

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© Alan W. Smith
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