Archive for August, 2006

HR bits and pieces…

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

I just thought I’d share some interesting articles on Human Resources.

David Rock

A couple weeks ago, I went to see a lecture by David Rock to MBA students and Alumni. David Rock is a successful entrepreneur and writer that has been focusing on improving businesses through personal coaching. The main focus of the lecture was his work with Jeffrey Schwartz on The Neuroscience of Leadership.

Here are main points of his lecture (borrowed from the Exec summary of the article):

  • Change is pain. Organizational change is unexpectedly difficult because it provokes sensations of physiological discomfort.
  • Behaviorism doesn’t work. Change efforts based on incentive and threat (the carrot and the stick) rarely succeed in the long run.
  • Humanism is overrated. In practice, the conventional empathic approach of connection and persuasion doesn’t sufficiently engage people.
  • Focus is power. The act of paying attention creates chemical and physical changes in the brain.
  • Expectation shapes reality. People’s preconceptions have a significant impact on what they perceive.
  • Attention density shapes identity. Repeated, purposeful, and
    focused attention can lead to long-lasting personal evolution.
  • The lecture was extremely thought provoking. ProjectX have gone through a few HR changes in the last couple of months. I can really relate to the findings. Change is a hard, it requires a concerted effort from all parties to achieve the right results.

    Change or Die

    There is another great article from Fast company called Change or Die about the observations of Dr. Edward Miller, the dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University. Here is piece of the article.

    “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle,” Miller said. “And that’s been studied over and over and over again. And so we’re missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they can’t.”

    I find this really hard to believe that 90% of people who have been given the ultimatium Change or Die failed. It really makes you think.

    Develop your Strengths

    David Rock also mentioned from his research that a more successful approach to training was to focus on building your employees strengths. He recommended Marcus Buckingham’s book “Now Discover your Strengths”. (This book is actually cheaper buying locally than on Amazon.)
    The book gives the example of that Tiger Woods spend most of this time practising his drive and what is seen as one of his major strengths? His Drive!
    The book has a link to an online survey that helps to determine what your dominant strengths. There are 34 different strengths
    that range from Communication to Responsibility and Achiever to Arranger.

    This approach re-inforces the personal coaching approach. Society is moving toward a more personalised view of services, so why should training be any different. The book is a great investment in the personal development of people. At around $27 per person its a bargain.

    ProjectX is still ProjectX

    Thursday, August 31st, 2006

    I just want to squash a rumour that is currently floating around.

    ProjectX is still owned 100% by ProjectX. Trade Me has NOT brought ProjectX contary to the rumours floating around.

    We provide map services to Trade Me and several other companies in New Zealand and Australia.

    We have over 350 developers using the ZoomIn Mapping System in NZ and we are working hard to provide the best mapping system for all our users.

    My current must read blogs

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    I have been re-organising my blog subscriptions and here’s what is in my must read folder.

    1. Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users
    2. David Seah
    3. Hugh MacLeod’s Gaping Void
    4. Guy Kawasaki
    5. Paul Graham
    6. Rod Drury
    7. Seth Godin
    8. 37 signals’s Signal vs Noise
    9. Robert Scoble
    10. Tim and Nat’s Simple and Loveable

    More Productivity tools…

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    Tim from Decisive Flow posted a blog article last week about 5 tools to help with your productivity. I would like to throw non web 2.0 tools into the mix.


    The opensource Customer Relationship and Sales Management system. I have been using Sugar for the last 9 months for our contact management and Sales. Its a great tool for tracking your sales pipeline. The new version of Sugar is in the process of being Ajax’d.

    Printable CEO

    David Seah has designed a number of paper based tools called the Printable CEO Series to help you track your tasks and improve your productivity. He has incorporated some the GTD principles with intelligent design to provide a suite of paper based tools. Here is a snippet of some of the tools in the Printable CEO collection

  • Concrete goals tracker – helps you monitor and prioritisation of Business development tasks.
  • Task Progress Tracker – helps you track your progress when you hitting the grindstone.
  • Network Catch 0 Matic – To mointor your progress at networking events.
  • Speaking of books

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006

    One of the Creative HQ residents, Chaos Dimention have released a beta version of their new book site – The site is an online book seller specialising in Technical and Business books. So whats the differentiator to Whitcoulls and Fishpond? All the books listed on the site have one price inclusive of shipping.

    So I decided to the site to the Pepsi Challenge versus Whitcoulls and Fishpond and see what the prices are really like….

    Book Whitcoulls Fishpond Chaos Professionals
    The Long Tail
    By Chris Anderson
    Shipping $2.85
    Total: $56.84
    Shipping: $4.95
    Total: $55.43
    Total: $45.75
    Ruby Cookbook
    By Lucas Carlson and et.
    Shipping: $2.85
    Total: $101.19
    (Free Shipping)
    Total :$80.65

    So you can see that you can save a bit of money by shopping at Chaos. The site is still in Beta, so be nice. Tomar and Chaos would love yourfeedback, so drop them a line if you have any suggestions.

    Why having too much choice sometimes is a bad thing

    Thursday, August 24th, 2006



    I have just been looking for a book on Amazon and I have noticed that they have added a new option to their buying process (only seems to be on some of their books) – “See all buying options”. This allows you to look different prices of booksellers from around the world.

    Wow! Is this the long tail in action? Amazon aggregating books from around the world, so I can shop around for the best price. At first glance this looks great, I can select the book from the seller close to me. The reality is now I have more work to buy a find the best priced book. I have to check all the sellers for their shipping options, shipping costs and delivery times and figure out total cost of the books. Hmmm, what about returns, do I have send it back to the seller, or to Amazon , more work to find out! What a pain in *! 

    Ok, Ok I am whinging, but with good reason. I loved the fact that I could just use one click shopping and everything just worked.

    So how can they fix it?
    First, they should extend their onclick buying to include shipping costs. This would allow me to make a real comparison between sellers.
    Second, what about enabling me to sort the list of sellers by total price (+shipping) and or delivery times to my 1click address.

    That would proper comparison shopping without the work!

    I suppose this is a reminder that new features aren’t always good for all your customers. By adding new features, you might alienate some of your customers, who are happy with the current options. Frustrated and unhappy, your customers may start to look elsewhere. This is another example where customer driven development would be more beneficial.

    Compress your website…..

    Saturday, August 12th, 2006

    I’ve just been talking to a client and I thought I should remind everyone that you all should be using httpd compression on your websites!

    HTTPD Compression

    What is it ?

    HTTPD compression is used to compress delivery of web content from the server to the browser. Typically httpd compression delivers compressed HTML, CSS and XML files. There are compression modules for all the major webservers.

    Why compress?
    If everyone is shifting to broadband, whats the point. The reality is the most people are still on modems or on crappy ISDN connections. By compressing your site, you make sure the site is fast and snappy for all your customers. Customers are accessing your site from all over the world.

    How fast is it?

    It depends on the file hit ratio of your site. On the auction site that I used to run, about 80% of the hits were images and remaining 20% were HTML, CCS and Javascript files. But suprisingly in terms of Kilobytes size transferred the Images only made up 48% and the text a whopping 52% . So 20% of the hits translates into 50% of the data being transmitted to the browsers.

    Compression savings is anything from 300-500% depending on the size of the file. That represents a lot of time saved for your users.

    What are the benefits ?

    1. Bandwidth saved: You would save at least 15-30% of your bandwidth usage. Bandwidth costs are expensive, so any saving is a boon!
    2. Speed up HTML rendering: The HTML page loads first, but compressing the page you can speed up rendering by 2-3 times. Snappy delivery is absolutely important in improving the user experience.
    3. Its easy: There are many modules that are easy to add.
    4. Its Free: There are plenty of free modules for Apache and IIS.
    5. It works with all browsers: IE4 and above, NS4 and above, Any Mozilla , Opera !

    Who’s using it?

    Finally, a number of the big sites are starting to use it. Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon, Trade Me. . You can check out pipeboost to see how much they are saving.


    • Pipeboost – An easy way to when the effectiveness of compressing your pages. Paste in your links and see how much you can save.
    • Andrew King’s Site – The book “Speed up your site” started it all for me. When I read this book I felt sick that I had never implemented this before! That was 18 months ago, and I still surprised that EVERY website isn’t compressing their content!. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake!

    You can use the websiteoptimization tools to check how big all of the components are.

    New Blog software

    Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

    We’ve been having some problems with comment system on our blog. I upgraded to version 4 of Typo.

    What a mission!

    Big tip, you need to run “rake migrate RAILS_ENV=production” to sort out the migration errors.

    Its working properly now and I have switched to a new theme. Not sure if I like the colour scheme, but it nice to have a proper side bar.

    Happy Birthday ProjectX!

    Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

    ProjectX is one year old today.

    We’ve had a lot of highlights.

    • Aug 2005: Set up ProjectX in John’s apartment, start working on a number of ideas.
    • Sept 2005: Moved into a temporary office, and hired our first staff member – Nick.
    • Oct 2005: Launched ZoomIn
    • Nov 2005: Released ZoomIn Mapping System to the public.
    • Dec 2005: Tomek joins ProjectX
    • Jan 2006: Map guru Ross joins ProjectX
    • Feb 2006: New Maps release.
    • Mar 2006: New version of ZoomIn with user added content and added Aerial Photography.
    • Apr 2006: Launched ZoomIn Australia – website.
    • May 2006: Launched Australian ZoomIn Mapping System
    • Jun 2006: Ben keynotes at Where 2.0 2006.
    • Jul 2006: Release of ZoomIn Mapping System v7 and Smaps website.