Use Video Conferencing/Chat


Highly Effective Work Habits:  Use Video Conferencing / Chat

In this day and age, with travel costs becoming more expensive for companies and the existence of cheap, reliable video options, it is becoming more important to try and connect with people via video conferencing or video chat.  There are, of course, large conference room systems you can get, but there is also desktop technology like Google’s Gmail-based voice and video chat (Windows and Linux) and Skype.  And most laptops these days have built-in web cams.  For web conferencing there are technologies like Sonexis, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Live Meeting, and many more.

In addition, more and more smartphones are coming out with front-facing cameras and software (i.e. FaceTime on the iPhone) to make video chatting even easier.  Staying connected has never been easier and travel just for the sake of presenting information is usually not necessary.

So, that’s it.  Small post today – just wanted to mention the importance of video conferencing/chat and how easy it is to use and adopt.  See you in cyberspace!

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How to Ace a Job Interview


Highly Effective Work Habits:  How to Ace a Job Interview

I came across a good article the other day about how to ace a job interview.  In this article, the author presents 4 techniques to keep in mind:

  • Do your homework.  You need to know something about the company and position you are interviewing with.  It will demonstrate to the employer that you care about their company and are interested in the position.  Anticipate questions they are going to ask.  These days, you are almost always asked questions like “tell me about a difficult situation you had to deal with and how you handled it” or “tell me about a project you were unprepared for and how you made the project successful”.  You are not going to impress the employer by sitting there stumbling over questions like this.  However, you also need to be prepared to ask questions.  This shows them you are thinking about a possible career with them, that you are engaging, and a good communicator.
  • Make the interviewer feel good.  This goes back to engaging the interviewer and getting a dialog going.  Ask lots of questions and try to connect.  Don’t just get in an answer-only mode.  And try to not be too serious.  Smile.  Things like this go a long way.
  • Talk about weaknesses you’ve overcome.  Nobody is perfect and the interviewer will be looking for you to admit to a weakness.  Just mention something you’ve not been too great at in the past that you are either better at now or are actively working on.  This shows you can improve yourself.
  • Correct your mistakes.  If you say something accidentally that isn’t true, correct it immediately and admit it.  It will be much worse if the interviewer finds out later that you lied or exaggerated.  And no one knows everything.  If you don’t have the answer, just say “I don’t know” and possibly bring up a similar example to show you can relate in some fashion.
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Choose the Appropriate Methodology


Highly Effective Work Habits:  Choose the Appropriate Methodology

Do you get involved with a lot of project work that takes weeks, if not months, to complete?  In most situations, it is difficult to run a project smoothly without a methodology in place.  As projects grow in size in terms of people, resources, and time, you need something to help with organizing the project and defining deliverables.

project-lifecycleThere are two popular methodologies out there:  “waterfall” and “agile” (with many derivations of each).  Waterfall has been around for a very long time and is what you typically see used on projects.  It involves taking an entire project from top to bottom through the phases of “initiating”, “requirements”, “design”, “build”, “testing”, and “closure”.  These phases tend to fluctuate, of course, but the general idea is that you define everything up front and take the entire project through each phase until it is complete, with clear deliverables at each step.  This, of course, has its downsides.  Usually, the client can’t see the finished product until the testing phase.  This can cause issues if the client or implementation team didn’t interpret a requirement correctly.  Also, issues found further down the line are more more difficult to react to because, worst case, it can result in going back to the design phase to rework components.

Agile is a newer methodology and designed for very dynamic teams.  Typically, you’ll see IT teams utilizing this.  It involves splitting up a project into iterations.  Each iteration is limited to a finite amount of time.  At the end of each iteration, a team will typically have created something that the client can see and test.  This is also the time during which the current iteration is reviewed and the next iteration is planned.  These iterations typically involve daily stand-up meetings with the team and key stakeholders.  They are usually no more than 15 minutes and are just for the purpose of getting status updates and reporting any roadblocks or issues.  In addition, this process also helps with estimating.  Functionality is broken up into epics, themes, and stories.  At the story level, points are assigned based upon level of difficulty (Planning Poker).  Over time, teams can accurately determine an overall project time frame based upon story points alone (i.e. story point = 2 hours).  Agile also helps with scope creep.  Each project will typically have a backlog of features/tasks, a subset of which is worked on in each iteration.  If some new functionality is desired, it can be added to the backlog and you can immediately see the effect it has on the overall project (something slides in, something else slides out).

So, based upon what you are working on, your project will usually fall into one of these two methodologies.  Determine which one best suits your team and start working against it.  If you’ve never worked like this before, take baby steps.  Companies/teams who just try and throw the full breadth of these methodologies at a project will usually fail.  You need to do some planning and approach it in a systematic way.

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Water Cooler Chat: Dos and Don’ts


Highly Effective Work Habits:  Water Cooler Chat: Dos and Don’ts

Salary.com recently posted 7 Dos and Don’ts that you should consider when chatting with coworkers around the “water cooler”.

  1. Do – Sunday Hike.  Sharing your hobbies and interests can help people get to know you.
  2. Don’t – Sunday Service.  Keep religion out of the work place.  It is fine to tell people that you are religious, but this can be a very touchy subject if you are not careful.
  3. Do – Book Group.  Tell people about the great book you are reading.  Can spark good conversation and lead others to try out the same book.
  4. Don’t – Hot Button Book.  If you are reading about things like abortion, politics, global warming, or other “hot button” topic like this, don’t start discussing it.  Most people are very passionate about topics like this and it can lead to heated conversations.
  5. Do – Travel Talk.  Your coworkers are always interested where you traveled on vacation.
  6. Don’t – Pillow Talk.  Do I really need to explain why here?  Keep your private romantic encounters to yourself.
  7. Do – Goals and Dreams.  Sharing these with people can help increase productivity and may spark new ideas how to achieve them.
  8. Don’t – Personal Finances.  Never discuss how much money you make with coworkers.  It can create an uncomfortable work environment.
  9. Do – Family and Friends.  Keep it positive.  This helps people see you for who you really are.
  10. Don’t – Personal Problems.  Work can be stressful enough at times without bring your personal issues into the workplace.
  11. Do – Restaurant Review.  Yet another good way to connect with people.  Everyone loves food!
  12. Don’t – Drunken Disorderly.  Your shiny image could be tarnished if you share stories like this.
  13. Do – Good News.  If you have good news in your life (i.e. promotion, bought a new house, new baby, got married), share them.  This can help boost morale.
  14. Don’t – Bad News.  Don’t share this kind of information about other colleagues.  It is personal and if they want to share it, it should come from them.
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Web Site: Whrrl.com


whrrl

Whrrl is another social site (and app) designed for mobile users where you can find people with similar interests.  Find a group and join it (or create your own).  You can then use the location service to keep track of where you are and then find people near you with those interests.  You can share recommendations, photos, and stories.  It basically gives you the opportunity to learn more about your passion and to share the experience with others.

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