Inspirations, captions, ideas and notes.

Archive for September, 2006

Journey Of Man… so we ARE all related!

I watched a really amazing documentary called ‘The Journey Of Man” over the weekend, and can’t get the idea that we all actually related out of my head!

The documentary is hosted by Spencer Wells, a geneticist who has concluded that all humans today are descended from a single man who lived in Africa about 60,000 years ago.

The documentary follows the journey this African ‘s descendents, who made their journey out of Arica, and eventually populated the rest of the world! Amazing stuff! It’s all based on DNA foot prints, called ‘markers’, that prove parent-children relationships. 

I think it’s really cool to figure something like this out, and to me, it means that we should stop all that fighting and come to terms that we have to live with each other in harmony.

We’re all living on the same planet, and need to think bigger than just base all we do on our nationalities and race.

I highly recommend this documentary from National Geographic Channel. Catch it if you can!

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Project Managers: Stop “gathering” IT requirements

This article generated quite an interest among project managers in TechRepublic: Project Managers: Stop “gathering” IT requirements.

I know a project manager who has the following problems:
– all his project meetings are 5-8 hrs long,
– meetings involve way too many people (everyone),
– meetings have no agenda,
– he has no control over what’s discussed during his meetings (everyone just interjects),
– meetings are not followed up by minutes/action lists,

…and he wonders why everyone (his IT team, his users and the vendors) seems so confused.  He is having a nightmare getting the user requirements he needs to move the project forward.

Projects are initiated often due to existing problems.  And ultimately, by breaking those problems down and tackling them, we’ll achieve the project goal. So it’s important to keep this goal in mind.

By treating the user representatives as equals, and showing them our sincere desire to help find a solution, we can bring out the best in them and they’ll feed us with anything we need… i’ve received the most workflow diagrams, files hierarchy lists, product templates, from my business users this way.  I love my users.  =D  They’re always so helpful.

It’s also important to stop the “us and them”  kind of attitude in projects, as we’ve been put together to solve the same problem.  This applies even in a vendor-client environment.

In addition to this, tight follow-up by project managers during requirements gathering with clear agenda, lists of questions, action items, etc, helps put everyone on the same page, making meetings/discussions more meaningful and targeted. 

Projects fail because many project managers forget that they are the control centre that’ll bond it all together to ensure the project moves forward.  It’s denial behaviour trying to blame the users when we can’t get the requirements from them… how would they know what we need unless we ask???

Explore, Dream, Discover

A friend share this with me recently…

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by
the things that you didnt do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour.
Catch the trade winds in your sails… Explore, Dream, Discover.

– Mark Twain

Deep down inside, there’s a part of me that would love to give it all up, yup, sell the apartment, quit my job, leave everything and everyone behind, and just go out and see the world. 

Yes, I’m envious of those of you who have done it properly.  Left your friends and family behind, forgot about school and work, etc; but it was just not the done thing in Singapore during my time.  It was considered rash, hippyish, irresponsible, and all the bad things.  I was shocked to learn that in some countries, having ‘backpacking’ in your resume is a good thing!  Guess I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Anyway, I do get to see the world.  In short spurts, as that’s all the time I can afford these days due to work commitmment.  But that will have to do. That’s definitely better than not being able to.  I’m glad. 

Why don’t they listen to one of their own?

Over a year ago, I was the key player in a web revamp project for a corporate asia regional web site. I wanted to do it right, so I prepared all the necessary, researched benchmark sites, web design trends, etc. I knew we needed a more exciting and ‘stickier’ site, as the old site was not dynamic, a nightmare to update, and boring.

I still remember my meetings with the new marketing and communications director. I presented many ideas, some feasible, some not; some definitely worth implementing… and they include:

  • a glossary of insurance and investment terms
  • an interactive tool to help visitors identify their insurance/investment needs
  • an interactive tool to profile visitors and recommend suitable products
  • an educational section which offers information about insurance and investment
  • 3 possible information architecture was recommended in order to cater to the director’s marketing objectives. And I even showed her a small interactive tool I designed for our Hong Kong office previously.

    What eventually happened was a trimmed down version of what I recommended, and as the marketing team was only a 2-person team, they were not able to contribute articles regularly. So, everyone agreed on a ‘less-is-more’ approach. The idea was to carryon adding to the complete site. Anyway, we were able to address the update and navigation reorganisation nightmare through the use of database driven pages. As we already owned Coldfusion, it made sense to carry on using that, to tap on the verity search engine available.

    The result was a tableless, CSS and database driven site, which served the browsing needs of a wider audience; and I came out of it wiser. The site put our asia regional office on the map, as we were the first to complete the revamp. And other country counterparts looked to our site as the example for building theirs. Although I was proud, I wan’t completely happy as all we had were boring content, that people might read once, if they read it at all.

    Why am I telling you this? Well, this is just a rant. The same marketing and communications director has recently contracted the digital arm of an advertising agency to offer consultancy, design and development services to help us make the site more exciting. Sounds familiar? Shock, horror… and what did they suggest when we met? Interactive profilers to understand the visitors and recommend suitable products and services.

    Somebody shoot me… please….

    Colour mixing and matching

    Some of us may be more well versed than others in colour theory, and even so, the way we apply the theories and match our colours will remain unique. It all comes down to perception, and method you choose to apply. If you’re after an online colour wheel type tool to help you with picking the colours for your next project, these might work for you, like they did for me:

  • Color Schemer – Online Colour Generator
  • VisiBone Webmaster’s Colour Lab
  • I guess this will be a post that I can add to in future, so if you find any tools let me know as well.

    Learning about colours

    Color in motion is an interesting site, and a great way to learn about colours. I was forwarded this site’s url some time ago, and came across it again today! It’s a fun way to revisit the meaning of colours, and even take into consideration interpretations in various countries. If you have no problems viewing Flash content, it’ll be perfect for you. I hope you’ll find it useful.

    Pulling it together

    Yup, this blog is still new. I’m consolidating stuff from my 360 and myspace pages, as well as pulling together articles and sites I’ve found useful together. I hope that this will be a good reference for myself and for all of you out there as well. Of course, I’ll try not to just keep posting links from other sites, but then again, I don’t see the point of regurgitating information which others have already put together properly. Besides, credit should be given where it’s due, so, I don’t mind passing on traffic to them.