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Reviews

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

Just last week I picked up the audio version of 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers. It was at the library and looked interesting.

It’s fabulous and tells the story from the perspective of those inside the towers. The minutes before they were hit, and the 102 minutes following. Every detail is exposed including the thoughts of survivors, their discussions in the tower, the decisions they made, and the radio messages.

I learned a thing or two:

  • Explains some stuff about how radio communications between fire and police were barely effective due to the use of dated radios and a vice between departments
  • Interesting information about the size of the damage inside the towers as well as structural information I didn’t know like how the fire coating was made and the length of steel beams
  • How each tower had more than 100 elevators (and get this 80 elevator maintenance crewmembers!)

I can’t recommend it enough. Especially the audio version.

Related: Amazon link and a NY Times article written by the author (might require login). Apparently the authors work for the New York Times. Here’s an interesting engineering perspective about what caused the towers to fall. At the bottom of that page is a link to a pdf that is pretty cool, too. Another fabulous article. There are a lot of theories about what caused the WTC collapse and I’m not really saying this is how it happened just that the book was really interesting.

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Reviews

Review: Screenshot Pilot

I’ve just installed Screenshot Pilot, a free Windows app that makes taking screenshots a lot easier. It is really easy to use and you can send emails with screenshots attached right from within the program. Very cool.

You can take multiple screenshots all at once and it can crop them down to any zoom you want (full screen, current application, etc.).

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Reviews

Recommendation: FastQ

I normally don’t go out of my way to recommend ISPs to people but there is a local company here in Phoenix that has provided fabulous service to me for going on about 8 years.

That company is FastQ Communications. From a service standpoint when my DSL ever goes down I can call them up and talk to one of their support staff and get an almost insant idea of what is going on. Often when I’ve called they already know what the problem is. Usually a router has gone down or a third party bandwidth provider is having problems. It’s always fixed quickly.

If you call their support staff and you talk to Doug you’ll be talking to the right guy. More than anyone I’ve talked to he’s able to diagnose technical problems and resolve problems really FAST.

So there is my personal recommendation. I know many of my clients and friends have selected FastQ over the years based on my feedback.

Categories
Business Reviews

Project Jackets and GTD

I recently read this book called Getting Things Done. I picked it up because it was apparently quite popular. Whenever something is quite popular the best advice is to avoid it entirely. I got sucked in this time, I guess.

Business books and efficiency books bore me entirely most of the time. I used to like them. Not any more. Usually they are written by business failures who can write. Books about submarine missions or biographies are far more interesting.

Back to the point: Getting Things Done is a personal organizational technique. Hmm, technique is too small of a word. Better is system or plan for keeping things in your life organized.

So my current conclusion is that the book says a lot of important things and rather than just suggesting you should get more organized it actually has things you can do and if you do them it helps keep things organized. The trouble is you have to keep it up and simply starting takes a lot of time. The author says most people need 2 or 3 days just to get everything out of your head and into organized to do systems. That sounds scary but you can begin to implement some of the things the author writes about immediately. Simple little processes that combined are supposed to really help keep you organized.

So I have finished the book. I need to re-read it because I feel like I missed something. It hasn’t transformed my life like everybody says. Something though that I have discovered is that even if I haven’t implemented every technique discussed in the book it inspired me to rethink everything about the way I organize projects. Causing me to look for solutions.

One thing I’ve done is create project jackets for every single project I have going.

(I also created project jackets for almost all of my older closed web site projects from the past 5 years or so but don’t tell anybody. I’ve actually already used the first 100 envelopes! Insane.)

Project jackets look like this:

So if you’re like me you probably just read this and said “project jackets are stupid!”

“I would agree with you entirely” is what I would have said two weeks ago.

Let me tell you something: if you don’t have a system for where to put project related papers then this is a possible solution. I hadn’t notice before, but I didn’t have a good system for organizing project related documents. They’d be in folders, or thrown into my file cabinet, or even just stacked on empty desks. I guess I never notice. Odd how that is, but I’m guessing most people could learn from this rule:

Chris’ Rule: If you have a lot of papers sitting around, think about what categories that stuff might fit into and create envelope jackets for that stuff so you can get it out of sight and out of mind (except when you need it).

Having a new project jacket is wonderful. Now I can carry project stuff with me everywhere and I look organized (clients like that for some reason) and I also feel more organized. I can also just grab a folder and know I have everything related to that project. It makes it easy to look up old notes and papers.

I’ve seen people use project jackets before. Other agencies use them and so do the folks at Kinko’s. I never imagined that I would like them as well.

My project jackets are simply 12″ x 15.5″ catalog envelopes I picked up at OfficeMax and I created a “jacket” template I print and write on. I write the project name, client name, the date the project was opened, finished, and is due. Other information I might add: invoice and check numbers and team members. I also create a project number. Each project follows a consecutive number.

A project is anything that involves more than a few hours or if you will be doing it on a separate day. The project numbers are handy because at the end of the year you can see how many projects you did.

At the very least, you can tell your friends you did X number of projects and they’ll be impressed you even know.

“Wow Chris, that’s really impressive!” they’ll say.

Then I might say: “This concludes our project jacket seminar.

Insert big groan from the audience here.

“There are some books in the back and I’ll be around to greet folks and please clean up your seats as you exit. Thanks so much and remember: Do your part to help prevent forest fires.”