How I became more productive.
This month I am going to be back in one of my favorite cities, New York. In Manhattan specifically for a conference called DevCon 5. It is an HTML5 conference for web developers and designers. I will be presenting a 1 hour and 15 minute session on HTML5’s <canvas> feature.
I plan on showing some examples of some great games and experiences built with <canvas> and delve into the fundamentals of canvas. I will also spend some time talking about “how” these apps can be built and some of the tools that are out there. I am excited about it because I mostly do CSS3 talks and this allows me to get into a feature of HTML5 that is truly a “blank canvas”.
It is going to be fun and hopefully will have a chance to see the big city. If you are at the conference, please say hi. If you are in NYC and want to hang out and talk HTML5 and CSS3, then ping me. Also, I am available to present in front of groups as well.
Best way to keep up with me is on Twitter, so feel free to follow me on Twitter with the latest updates.
I spent the last week using the Pomodoro Technique as I mentioned in the previous blog post. I wanted to manage my time better, get a reality check on what can truly be accomplished with limited time, and minimize interruptions.
Overall, I would give a thumbs-up to the Pomodoro Technique. Here are some conclusions and findings for myself:
- There are a lot more interruptions on my time than I originally thought. I was surprised at how often I was interrupted during a Pomodoro (25 minute timeframe for focusing solely on the task at hand).
- Meetings suck…a lot. When you realize that the average meeting can suck up between 2 to 3 Pomodoros, you really question if a meeting is truly necessary. (Although I can’t disregard all meetings. In fact, two meetings I had I walked away feeling good about them and put me in a good mood. So YMMV.)
- Typically a task will take more Pomodoros than you would expect.
Using the Pomodoro Technique, I found it valuable and here are some of the reasons I like it:
- With a pen, a timer, and my Field Notes notebook I was able to use the system. In other words, it is simple and effective. I don’t have to go to a class (I read the free e-book during 2 Pomodoros) and the process is pretty simple.
- It gives you a dose of reality within the first week. You realize that as much as you would like to accomplish in the small amount of time you have available, it is not realistic. You cannot work on 10 project simultaneously (but you can break them up and apply milestones, true priority and time spent).
- It is adaptable to the way I have to work. Priorities can change constantly in my environment and the technique allows you to adjust to that.
- I like that even if you are done during the middle of a Pomodoro, you are encouraged to review your work and think about it which leads to better quality of work.
- I tend to think about Italian food and wine more than I did.
I think the Pomodoro Technique will be able to stick around for me and would recommend it even if you feel you are pretty good at time management.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter for news on my use of the Pomodoro Technique or other things that I am interested in.
Every year I start out with new themes (notice I did not say resolutions) for the year. One theme I decided to take on was simplicity. As you can imagine, trying to simplify your life is not simple. Lots of things get in the way. I was thinking about this at the same time I was looking at my project list for work. It contained:
- Seven projects.
- Twenty-three action items.
- Four projects that will ramp up in three days.
- Eleven ideas for “cool” things to do when the other projects are complete.
This does not include anything outside of work which looks a lot like the “work” project list. In fact, I began to run the numbers and realized that I would need to take a two week vacation to mark off all these as completed without interruption. So I came to the conclusion:
"I’M DOING IT WRONG!"
Since we have a three-day weekend here in the United States, I spent some time thinking about my theme of simplicity as well as the interruptions. I also remember bookmarking something called “The Pomodoro Technique”.
Wondering if it might help me, I checked out the website. With a quick overview of the site, I have decided to give it a spin. Here’s why:
- The site is nicely designed. I know this may sound shallow, but if the site is hideous, I know that deep down inside that I am not going to give it credibility.
- The technique is simple. You only need simple tools and basically five steps. Too many time management techniques have you preparing vs. doing. Also, I know if it is a complicated system, it won’t last for me.
- It is social. I like that they have Twitter and Facebook to keep me motivated and see how others are using it.
- Creative Commons for the book. The book written about the technique can be downloaded for free and is under the Creative Commons license.
- Accepts and understands interruptions. At Microsoft, interruptions appear to be mandatory. So this is a perfect fit.
- Lots of tools to help, but not mandatory. Again, I like the simplicity of it. There are worksheets you can download and a ton of mobile apps. I am going to try and stay away from them as possible since I want to simplify my time management.
The good part is that I am brand spanking new to the technique. Haven’t even read the .PDF yet. So I will keep you dear readers (my mom and my stalker) up-to-date on how it goes. Good, bad, either way. I have a pencil, a Field Notes notebook, and a timer. I’ m ready.
Here’s to simplicity, finding time, and starting Pomodoro. You can also follow my adventures on Twitter.
Geez, that’s a long title…As an HTML5 and Internet Explorer evangelist, I always look forward to new Platform Previews of our latest browser. It’s like getting a package in the mail or watching a rabbit with a top hat eating a hot dog.
Thanks to @vibronet for the drawing.
Back in April at our MIX Conference, we announced Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview 1. See, folks thought we would probably kick back after releasing IE9 in March and take a break. No such thing, the IE team continued to press along and added a slew of new HTML5 goodies for us to play with and provide feedback.
Here is a taste of what is new:
- Positioned Floats
- CSS3 Gradients (on all image types)
- CSS stylesheet limit lifted
- CSSOM Floating Point Value support
- Improved hit testing APIs
- Media Query Listeners
- HTML5: Support for async attribute on script elements
- HTML5 Drag and Drop
- HTML5 File API
- HTML5 Sandbox
- HTML5 Web Workers
- Web Performance APIs
QUICKLY GET UP-TO-SPEED
So what is the quickest way to get up-to-speed on all the new features?
- Read the the engineering team’s blog that describes what is new.
- I also recommend checking out the Channel 9 videos which give a great overview and delves into some of the new features.
- Download the platform preview at http://ietestdrive.com and test out the new demos on the test drive. Installing the Platform Preview will not affect your IE9 install.
- Also, be sure to check out the latest Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview Guide for Developers with all the new features from both previews of Internet Explorer 10.
You may not be surprised that my favorite feature is the media queries listener. I will be adding it to my Media Queries presentation and since I am a CSS3 nerd, I love the new goodness for styling. What is your favorite?
If you want to keep up with not only IE-related stuff, but HTML5 and CSS3 goodness, you can follow me on twitter.
Here is a good graphic showing the current HTML5 specs and their current status in the process at the W3C. I like talking to folks who assume that specs are completed fully then the actual implementation in the browsers begin. Actually it doesn’t happen that way. They tend to start off as specs and around Candidate Recommendation status they are implemented. Most browser vendors (including Microsoft) will use vendor prefixes until the spec becomes stable. It is an interesting dance and as an HTML5 geek, it is fun to watch.
I started a few months ago curating HTML5-related things I had found in my travels as a superfan of the brutality of HTML5. It was basically a personal curation of things I found interesting. I also at the time was interested in trying out Tumblr for my own personal blog.
I have decided to make it public and will invest the time to keep it current and up-to-date.
Why am I doing this? Well, I realize folks are crazy busy these days and honestly don’t have time to keep up on every new and interesting thing going on out there. I am fortunate to have a job where I need to keep on top of this stuff.
- Responsive layout
- Looks great on mobile devices with CSS3 Media Queries
- CSS3 psuedo-classes
- and more…
It is a small pet project of mine, but hope you get value out of it. It has helped me many times when I ask myself “What was that cool thing that did x?”
Malcolm Gladwell’s book called Outliers says that to become an expert at something, you must put in 10,000 hours. I know that you don’t have that much time to become an expert (although you will eventually) on HTML5 and IE9, so I wrote this post to get you up-to-speed quickly. Although not intended to be a comprehensive learning plan, it can get you going in the right direction.
Books on HTML5 & CSS3
Links for Internet Explorer 9
There has been a lot of good material covering what is new in IE9. I recommend:
- For a marketing overview, read the Product Guide.
- For a good technical overviews, check out MIX conference presentations.
- For feature-specific demos, check out the IE Test Drive site.
- For real-world demos, check out Beauty of the Web.
- For a whitepaper focused on developers, check out the IE9 Guide for Developers.
I highly recommend going back through the archive of the IE Blog. Not only does it cover a wide variety of topics, but also many times will talk about why the product team has made decisions that they have. If you really want to get into some deep, technical information, then subscribe to Eric Law’s IE Internals blog. Also, go to the HTML5 Labs to see how Microsoft prototypes early and unstable specs to get feedback on them.
Just Do It
You can read and review all the material above and that will provide a good baseline for your knowledge, but it still does not create a true comprehension of the material. I suggest that you learn by doing with two ideas.
One, you should give yourself a simple project to work on such as taking a website (or a sample site) and implement site pinning, jump lists, thumbnail toolbars and notifications.
Two, you should become familiar with the F12 Developer Tools that come with IE9. Yep, just press F12. You can look at IE Test Drive site or Beauty of the Web demos and decompose them to see how they were built. You can even manipulate and inspect them with the F12 tools.
Although not exhaustively comprehensive, this should give you a good start.
A picture of me with my Silver Addy Award for my concept of a conference lounge. I discussed it and have pictures of the concept at: Rethinking the Traditional Convention Booth.