Just found a great site called Allconsuming – they provide a way to find books based on recommendations from other blogs. The really nice thing about the site is that you can sign up and create a list of books you are reading and then post those automatically to your site. I am doing this now – the listing to the right used to be a hand coded HTML listing – now I just add books to Allconsuming and they appear over there. The really cool thing about AllConsuming is that it just uses a bunch of web services in the background, from many different sites. I do kinda wonder about how reliable the service will be because it has so many dependencies, but what the heck, it is free.
Here is a further description of AllConsuming from their website:
All Consuming is a website that visits recently updated weblogs every hour, checking them for links to books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Sense, and other book sites. Every book on this site has a list of all the weblogs that have mentioned it, and every weblog that has mentioned books in the past also has a page here listing which books it has mentioned. If you have a weblog, search for it here to see if we’ve picked anything up from it yet.
This site was inspired by Book Watch, and uses web services from Weblogs.com, Amazon.com, Technorati.com, and Alexa.com. A web service is basically a system that lets websites talk to each other, sharing information between each other without the intervention of pesky humans. All Consuming also has a web service, available in SOAP and REST flavors.
XML? RSS? We cache most of our content in xml and rss, so have a look through this directory for a list of available feeds. Archived feeds are kept here. As I continue to work on this site, one thing I’d like to do is make the xml a little more presentable… but most people that know what to do with xml probably won’t care too much about the presentation. So there you go. Do something interesting.
I finished reading “Buck Up, Suck Up… and Come Back When You Foul Up” by James Carville and Paul Begala (a short review is found in this previous post). The last chapter had some wisdom that I have not been following of late – taking risks. Rule 12 is “Know What to do When you Win” and it is about being humble and gracious in victory. It also poses an interesting paradox:
“Risk taking breeds success. Success breeds risk aversion. And risk aversion breeds stagnation and failure. It is so much harder to keep taking risks after you’ve enjoyed success. But it is the only way to continue to succeed.”
By many measures I have been quite successful in my life – I have a wonderful family and a great career. I have worked as a Winemaker, Brewer, Street Performer (Juggler), Massage Therapist, Brewing Instructor, Web Developer, Technical Manager and now a Sales Engineer. I have enjoyed each of my jobs and my career changes and my success in business has come through taking risks (how else can you go from Brewer to Web Developer?). But I am at a point in my life where I am getting pretty risk averse – I have a stable and enjoyable job and we live in a comfortable place with a great community – I certainly don’t want to risk any of that. And perhaps I am wondering what could possibly be better than what I already have – what would I risk it all for. I will probably spend the next few years (and perhaps the rest of my life) answering that question…
Aaron Skonnard has produced a nice article “All About Blogs and RSS“. It is a good introduction to blogs and gets into some of the technical details regarding RSS and aggregators.
My latest reading was suggested by a fellow PeopleSofter – Steve Cassel. He is a fantastic Sales Representative (and all around nice guy) who sells to several very large and complex accounts. He recommended “Buck Up, Suck Up… and Come Back When You Foul Up” by James Carville and Paul Begala. The book is about how to run a successful political campaign (these are the guys who brought you Bill Clinton’s campaign) but Steve applies it to his work selling to large corporations. They have 12 rules – most of which are common sense (but that is part of the point of the book) that describe how to be successful in a winner take all battle.
I am not quite finished with the book (it is an easy read and I should be done later this week) but so far I have found it instructive. The first thing to note is that your political leanings are not important when reading this book – the lessons apply to anyone in a competitive situation. There are three rules that struck me as particularly important:
Rule 1 – Don’t Ever Quit – a basic lesson in the power of persistence.
Rule 2 – Kiss Ass – The fact remains that life is who you know and not what you know – getting close with those people who will influence important decisions in your life is critical to success.
Rule 6 – Be Open – the most important tenant of good leadership (in my opinion) – being open to new ideas and avoiding secrets that will foster mistrust.
Many of the other rules are interesting as well, and overall I have found the book to be informative and easy to grasp.If you are working in a large organization or just trying to compete in a complex environment, this book will give you some simple rules to live by.
Saw a great movie last light – “Searching for Debra Winger“. It was made by Rosanna Arquette and consisted of interviews with many different female movie stars mostly discussing what it is like to be a woman in Hollywood. Although there was a political message to the movie (regarding both society’s pre-occupation with young and beautiful women and how women must choose between family life and professional life in Hollywood) the most interesting part of the movie for me was the descriptions of the creative process of acting (Jane Fonda’s description in particular). She described the “big moment” of shooting a critical scene in a movie and all the pressure and stress of that process. She concluded that when she really got scene like that just right that it was like no other high in any part of her life (and she believed it only happened about 8 times out of her 49 movies). She described the feeling of truly being in the moment in such a pressurized
For me, the film was about the choice between professional and family life and how to balance those. At its core this balance is about using both family and professional life as a guide to what you are really passionate about. Meta and I talked after the film about how life can easily become imbalanced between either area – work can seem trivial in comparison to raising a family but raising a family can be burdensome in comparison to the excitement and rewards of professional life. The lessons come from finding those moments in both family and professional life where one can really be present. Whether it is hanging out with the kids on the trampoline or giving a great presentation to a customer, the sense of being in the moment is the same – that is the lesson for me. Buddhist monks strive to have that presence in EVERY moment, but for me (and I suspect most living in the Western World) it is fleeting. Using those moments in family and professional life as a guide to the actions and feelings of being present is valuable to me.
I highly recommend the film and the message it delivers.
My Mom gave us a great recipe for an Italian liquer called Limoncello – I guess it is a traditional drink of Italian farmers after a hard day of work.
Here is the recipe:
10 lemon, 1 liter vodka,
3 cups white sugar, 4 cups water
Zest the lemons and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. pour in vodka. cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. boil for 15 minutes. allow syrup to cool to room temperature. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. strain into glass bottles and seal each bottle with a cork. let mixture age for 2 weeks at room temperature. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. when icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.
We use cute little cordial glasses to sip the stuff. Found them on eBay. We made two bottles a few weeks back and plan on enjoying them soon.
My favorite email tool and Social Networking tool are linked:
Linked in has a new toolbar for Outlook. Hmmm, social software is getting more integrated. Linked In is one of those that’s survived the “seven day rule.” I’m using it because the network is interesting. (If you use a service or piece of software for more than seven days, it’s worth recommending to others — my coworker Jeff Sandquist came up with that).
The email that I got says that during the beta their testers were able to double their number of connections and increase the size of their LinkedIn network by more than 50% because of this bar.
[Via Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]
Pretty cool little utility – it collects contacts from your inbox and then can upload them to LinkedIn.
Another crazy week of travel – last night in Denver, now in San Fran, back home tomorrow. Unfortunately I will not have a chance to visit my new nephew, born last week in Walnut Creek to my sister Stacy and her husband Chris. Will have to be next week…
Found some cool software that acts as an add-in for Outlook – Lookout Software. It is freeware that you can use to index and search your email in record time – a very nice utility and the price is right!
The Second Home
We are still working on getting a second home near the Cedarwood School that our son Caleb attends. It is a bit of a fixer upper, but is literally right next to the school and is very cute and functional. We are going through the appraisal process with the owner (she has owned the home for about 70 years!) and it may be a while before we get everything resolved.
The home will be a great place for folks to stay while they visit Portland – we will be in our other home in Washougal on weekends, holidays and for the entire summer. So plan your summer visit now!