I am still alive!

Having just gone through the treadmill that is handing over 6 years of my working life to colleagues is a real mixed bag of feelings. Somehow you feel a bit inadequate when your hand over document (which represents your daily contribution) turns out to be about 5 or 6 typed pages. Enough of that talk however.

The new role, that of full time innovation is daunting. I knew it was risky and challenging but it has been non-stop. I have become a lightning rod for all things “different” and this brings with it the liberating feeling of being allowed to spend time thinking differently but at the same time have to constantly keep check on my own biases when other people approach me with their thinking. It’s hard work. I feel that the heart of innovation is seeing connection with touches of creativity, but I don’t consider creativity to equal innovation. A creative person does not have to be innovative but innovation requires creativity. What I mean by “creative” is actually being aware of my meta-cognitive processes and giving myself license to bend and even temporarily ignore them for the sake of seeing new connections. Now the connections have always been there, inherent in “pieces” – it’s not the pieces that change, rather our ability to re-frame and change the context of what the pieces can be. I really do think that it isn’t the spoon that bends…

I will freely admit that I underestimated how hard it is to be the guy that has to bring the energy to every meeting. People expect the innovation guy to be that overly excited, reality-of-the-situation-ignoring person that has enough “positive” (whatever that means) to counter the rooms negative. It’s funny how often now people get so negative as soon as I open my mouth – like there is a scoreboard of how many ideas can be shot down. It has become like sport to see how creative the negativity can get almost as if the innovation is in actually killing an idea off (triumphantly) before it can become infectious – I refer to this as negovation.

Negovation is when people harness their creativity and enthusiasm to understand enough of your meta-cognition to counter it. They make enough creative effort to hold to their own exclusive world-view.

Negovation is the language of “but” and “I told you so” and fear of change.

Negovation is when someone is telling you that you’re not bending the spoon, you’re breaking it AND it was the last spoon. In otherwords, they are creatively reinforcing their own meta-cognition. Innovation has a feeling of “lets see where this could go”. Negovation is “lets see where this shouldn’t go”. If innovation is seeing new connections, negovation is seeing roadblocks. You get what I mean.

We are told that innovation is about breadth – it’s 2 successes in 10 – the innovation is in letting yourself fail safely and then celebrate the times when you don’t. The dream is those two successes accelerate the business in bold new ways that half a dozen safe increments couldn’t. The flip-side, negovation thinking is about being aware that there are 8 failures in 10 and punishing them accordingly. It is the hope that status quo is maintained.

There seems to be this idea that innovation is about putting the whole farm on massive change. I don’t see it that way. I see innovation as putting a small side bet on the fact that things could change in subtle or strange ways and the desire to be a leader in the change. The wisdom of gambling is that you only bet what you are willing to lose.

KDE 4.2 – Day 5

I am starting to grow more comfortable with the KDE desktop. Quick keys are starting to become habit, I am enjoying the visuals and smoothness. Ipod support in amarok is okay although not yet 100% there in my opinion. Kpackagekit still gives me cryptic messages which seem more about the programming underneath than user messages – one recommending that I should be forking. Using plain old apt-get installs the apps without complaint.

I have changed the theme to darker colours and played around with different theme sets. The kubuntu default colours are far too light and “in your face”. Glassified and Thin Glow are both desktop themes with much to admire except that I didn’t think they were without their issues.

The wallpaper can be found here

KDE 4.2 – Day 2

Spent all day with KDE. Found lots of things to like but also things that just don’t work as expected…

CTRL+= or CTRL+- makes the desktop freeze. I can move the mouse but nothing responds to it or the keyboard. I can jump to CTRL-ALT-F1 and log in and see that nothing is holding up the processor etc. When I jump back to X11 (F7) the screen won’t redraw, it’s just black with a mouse pointer (which I can still move around).

Changing the look and feel is partially successful (see the screenshot)
The multimedia keys on my Microsoft Digital Media Keyboard don’t work by default (they do in Ubuntu 9.04). Sad making :(

Konqueror is not a supported browser for google apps yet which leaves me using Firefox which is sluggish especially now that the KDE desktop is so much more responsive.

Installing the KDE approved photo manager of digikam is proving to be non-trivial. On a default initial install it seems that there are incompatibilities between libgpod4 and libgpod4-nogtk! Awesome. Running sudo aptget install digikam from the terminal seems to work fine. I don’t know what kPackageKit is complaining about?

Some of the widgets behave poorly or are incomplete an example is when rotating and resizing the blue marble widget.
I have read many opinions on various community boards that suggest that kubuntu doesn’t necessarily produce the best KDE 4.x experience. Having used Ubuntu for many years, there is indeed a disconnect between the polish of the out of the box experience. KDE is a beautiful desktop – I really do mean beautiful and smooth and integrated, screenshots don’t really do it justice as so much is in the way it moves and transistions.

So far I am 50/50 as to whether I can stick with it. Tomorrow I begin to try to be productive with it.

Kubuntu 9.04

For a long time I was a KDE user however since using ubuntu I have grown used to using the gnome desktop. I was always still a fan of KDE but not a fan of the ubuntu treatment of it. With the announcement of the KDE rewrite I was very excited and keen to give it a go. I have tried KDE 4.0 and 4.1 and found it too buggy/hard to use daily. I have decided to give KDE a go again in Kubuntu 9.04.

First impressions are that it looks very slick and feels fast. So far I have had two apps crash but nothing critical. There is enough different from KDE 3.5 and Gnome that it feels like learning a new desktop manager.

I will continue to play with it.

Art of Tagging

It’s no secret that tagging/labeling is the new black in the online world. It’s not a criticism, I’m a fan, I just suck at it.

Hierarchical (Tree/Directory) structures are very much going out of fashion and I don’t expect that trend to change until the great tech wheel turns again. The advantage of the hierarchical structure though is that it is simple – If you keep your categories broad it is pretty simple to find a pigeon hole that is “good enough” and we have all been trained to some extent by the Windows defaults of My Documents etc. Particularly great if you just don’t know where to put something you just need to save because once you decide where to shove it at least your other directories are unpolluted. This tends to create a directory that becomes the dumping ground until you are forced to re-evaluate the directory structure again. The limitations, however are rather obvious – files can only be stored in a single directory and once you get to multiple media projects it becomes an mess (storing a .wav in a sound directory and .jpg in a photo directory and the presentation in a “My Documents” directory) and difficult to move the projects around.

Tagging on the other hand is networked (many-to-many) relational meaning that things can be stored with multiple labels. Tagging makes it important to describe the thing when you save it which means that you have to think about what it is that you are actually trying to store – what are the different meanings that I might want to associate with this chunk of data? So you have a system that should (in theory) make retrieving the data easier right? Well only if you have a reasonable tagging scheme.

I am really bad at tagging. I either over tag (and end up with tags that are so diluted that they don’t help me retrieve easily) or too specific that after a few weeks I’ve forgotten. I think that tagging is an skill that you develop over time… I hope.

Why does Google think I am Spanish?

I’ve noticed recently that somehow google has tagged my account that I am Spanish speaking. It is quite irritating, despite have my country as Australian and my language as English (British) but when I go to youtube.com I get:

and when I click on “Next Blog>>” link in the Blogger bar at the top, it takes me to Spanish blogs. I am hoping that it is purely coincidence but this is an example of google “learning” a wrong fact about me that seems to keep trailing me around.

For the record I’d love to be able to speak/read Spanish. Maybe it’s a google foretelling or something?

Ubuntu 9.04 Release soon

Not long to wait for the next ubuntu. Release date is 23rd April (5 days).

For more info check out the technical overview. I have been using the beta and haven’t noticed any serious issues, overall it has been stable for me. My gotcha’s for those wanting to play along were pulse audio and sounds not playing for flash (I had to install the adobe flash player not the default one that came with the install), getting a mic to work (my unfamiliarity with pulse audio) and (not necessarily an ubuntu issue) Firefox 3.0.8 is just getting slower and stranger – Linkedin.com just times out, net banking gives me strange errors (something about using the back button) and some other javascripty/ajax kinda weirdness – for example captchas on gnome-look.org never worked for me. Midori browser worked for all of those issues.