Windows Live Writer: useful to blog without a connection

Sometimes, you just can’t write directly to your blog. Maybe you are at a conference and the Wifi is overcrowded and service is patchy. Maybe you have not enough battery to last through the session if you leave Wifi on. Whatever the cause, you’d like to blog off line and put the information on line after the fact.

A text processor would be fine of course. But a dedicated tool is better because it avoids a lot of issues with formats, copy/paste and the like. Especially since it handles images locally as well.

That’s where Windows Live Writer comes into play. As a blog editor, you just have to configure the URL of the blog (self hosted WordPress works!), a login and a password.

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Then, just type and save as a local draft. When ready, upload to the site.

A little tool that can come in handy!

Upgrading to SSD on a Dell D430: What to Expect?

I spend a good chunk of my day upgrading my Dell D430 to SSD. What was the expected outcome that led me to do this? Basically, I was fed up with the general slowness of the HDD, a 80GB 4800 RPM disk. Also, I suspect that since I have got this laptop for more than 4 years, the HDD would fail sooner or later and I didn't wanted that to happen to me, even if I do take backups regularly. The key factor was to be able to get rid of those pauses when looking deep inside my start menu program, speed up my Find and Run Robot (FARR) launcher, and all application launches. Just swapping the HDD for the SDD and be done with that. Not so fast! Indeed, not so fast. It all went okay at the end but it took longer than expected and there were several bumps on the road, namely:
  • The SDD wasn't recognized when I hooked it up to the system with the USB connector: this one was easily fixed, I hadn't pushed the ZIF cable far enough into the disk. But this was easy to fix.
  • I used the Acronis disk clone feature to get the HDD cloned to the SDD. Looks like easy enough to do it but... nothing was cloned at the end of the process. I had to redo the moves and then, bam, magic! And it took a hell of a lot of time to clone everything.
  • The HDD inside the machine was enclosed into a rubberized enclosure to protect it from shocks. I had to remove the enclosure of the HDD to disconnect it from the ZIF connector. Then the SDD wasn't fitting the space. So, SDD back into the rubberized enclosure and quite a while to get the whole thing to fit tightly into the space available. So, time to boot.
Getting to boot Booting the system was easy. Everything turned out working fine. But some things took longer than I tought. So, the SSD is no magic. The whole system feels a lot fasters. And is. But web browsing give me some hiccups. Pauses. I found a great utility to help, named Flashfire. This solved some issues. I am running XP SP3. This wasn't too great for SSD disks. So, I had to disable prefetching, boot time optimization and other funny registry settings. Well, this is done now and brought several good things with it. I got to know the fsutil command for disabling features of NTFS. Now, pauses are gone. I saw that Windows 7 would be better to SSDs. But not much more than what I do have now. HDTune gives me the speced speed. Which is around 90MB/sec. Which isn't what SSD should give on SATA machines, but this is a PATA UDMA Mode 5 chipset here and there is no way it is going any faster. I have rebooted quite a number of times to get everything in good shape and the battery wasn't drained as it was usual with the HDD. So, a good point here. How does it feels now? Well, pretty good actually. This SSD isn't delivering its full performance, being somewhat limited by the chipset of the Dell D430 but there are really great benefits that were worth the upgrade. Here is my list:
  • no more HDD noise: a great feeling, no more grinning of platters
  • more space since this is a 128GB SSD and I was moving off a 80GB HDD
  • much much snappier menus
I declare this to be a success. It is extending the life span of this little solid machine (even if it is not a superspeedy and superpowerful box, I can in fact achieve a lot with it. And that because the keyboard is very well built and has a decent size without a numeric pad shifting my typing to the left. And a 12” form factor is just what I need when moving around. It is just a bit larger than my iPad2. Any special things to mention? Yep, sure. First of all, my Nusphere's PHPEd editor is starting amazingly fast now. As a contrast, Sparx System's Enterprise Architect is only marginally faster. Go figure. So, an SSD isn't going to cut all times in 10 on this box. But the advantages are good enough to justify my investment in the RunCore SSD 128GB 1.8” ZIF PATA. Which was about $219. You can almost get a new laptop for that price but not as sturdy as this little Dell Latitude D430.
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Festival BD de Pont-à-Celles: 19/11/2011

Festival BD de Pont à Celles

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Leadership and dogs

The old way: get the dog to comply through usage of fear. Also know as: the owner as oppressor and dictator. Negative reinforcement. The new way: get the dog to commit through the usage of leadership. Also known as: the owner as leader and guide. Positive reinforcement. I find it very interesting that dogs and humans have so much in common here. And I never really understood why people in charge too often choose the dictatorship avenue. So, if you really are interested in positive outcomes from a committed team, you know what to do!      

Focus on outcomes, not tasks

As you may have noticed on my website (http://philippeback.eu), I have changed my value proposition from "Helping you improve your way of working" to "I help you achieve your top 3 outcomes". Indeed, I've taken a good look at where one can get the greatest leverage when applying skills. And that led to that sharper focus on outcomes. Helping you improve your way of working is definitely positive and all, and it made me tick for several years. But it is time to move on because improvement of ways of working isn't in any way focused on outcomes. It is focused on efficiency (usage of means) instead than on efficacy (reaching outcomes). Hence the switch. My web presence will change name issue and morph into "Reaching your top 3 outcomes". What's in a name would you say. Well, a lot actually. Language is everything in communication. And communication ultimately directs the relationships and business. So, yes, the words we use and the way we see ourselves is a big deal. In fact, this is *the* deal. Something I came to realize after, well, 10+ years (So long already? Oh my!) in business. Never too late to learn, right? So, what does this bring to the table? What's the value for you, dear reader? Well, three things actually. Three I can think of, right out of the top of my hat that is:

One: Focus on top 3 outcomes will make you think about *your* top 3

What are your top 3 outcomes then? Can you list them? You can't have more than 3. 3 is already a hell of a lot of outcomes. Start by making a list of 10+ and then prune like a berserker because finding the top 3 is hard work. Don't think about how you'll make it true. Think about the outcome itself. Don't be shy. Think big. Some questions:
  • Is it personal our professional? (holistic choices allowed as well)
  • Can you write it down in a single line of less than 10 words? (and without commas all along the way, don't cheat!)
  • What difference will reaching that outcome bring to your life?
  • How badly do you need that to become true?
  • How painful is it for that not to become true?

Two: What makes something an outcome worthy of making it to your top 3 list?

What's an outcome? Well, everything is an outcome. Even failure is an outcome. You may want to call it a learning experience. Or a stellar success. Who am I to tell you what an outcome is for you? But what makes something worthy of your top 3 list, that I can help you with. Consider this:
  • Is this outcome something you are ready to invest massive energy in?
  • Are you fed up beyond all limits by not having this outcome coming true?
  • Are you feeling energized, just because of considering that outcome?
  • Is this merely a 'nice to have'? It has to be of the 'must have this or else' variety!
  • Is that outcome a required step to get to your ultimate dream?
  • Will it be a stepstone to your wildest dreams?
  • Don't you even dare to think about what this will bring if it becomes true?
What fits with those elements is worthy of your top 3.

Three: No need to kill yourself for this. Start small, build some muscle.

"Thinking big, wildest dreams, massive energy investment... Wait a minute, you crazy. I do have the mortage to pay, the family to attend to. I am chained to my work desk all day long. Do you think I even have the time to think about my top 3 outcomes?" Hell, yes you have time. Time is there for everyone. It is named "The Great Equalizer". I do not want to light a fire under your chair but realize that a year is 365 days (don't get me started on the .25, you don't have time for that). And that makes 10 years 3650 days. I am about to hit 42. In 10 years, I'll be 52. And 10 years later, 62. And by then, I'll have sailed through 7300 days (if you checked the calculation, you have more time on your hands than you think!). Life is short. Too short to not do something about our dreams. So, you for sure have the time to even work on a small dream, to allow yourself to get it. A lot of people do not even dare to dream small. Start there, dream small, and make your small dream come true light up your day. And then move from there. Build that dream achiever status of yours. No need to go public about it, just let it warm your heart, warm your soul, make you feel that your life matters in a big way. It does. Yes, it does. I grant you the right to make it true, should you need it. Stop seeking for validation. You have the right to your dream. Are you ready for a change? I am. I'd like to have you around for that journey!

Nobody can predict the future. So: roll up your sleeves and make your own!

Seems you fear failing.

I read somewhere: FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). Set aside this part of your mind, and get the ball rolling. Overcoming inertia is the #1 ability. Once the ball rolls, everything gets easier. Once you have invested enough, you'll not stop. And your brain will rewire so that this will become a new habit. What is *the* thing that you are focusing on right here, right now? What did you manifest to the world this week? I'd love to this thing happen and become manifest. It's your duty to enable others to work and buy from you! Why are you preventing them to do so for so long? I've someone in the family who acts in that procrastination-heavy way. She is ever preparing, switching domains, etc. Basically, it is about 10 years she does it without getting anywhere. If she would have done one thing in practice for all the time she procrastinated, she would be a millionaire. To be frank, I have stopped listening when she starts explaining by now.

Don't fall victim of the same trap.

I mean: damn, would she ever stop and try things out for real? Check this out:http://philippeback.be/2009/09/youtube-video-failure-the-key-to-success/ And also: http://www.whomovedmycheese.com/ Huh, no, actually, don't do that. Tell us that you've booked the dates, the venue, and started getting bookings for that workshop and teleconference of yours! Or whatever you had in mind since I am no mind reader. I would love to see you succeed!