Use your BRAIN!

I bumped into an old colleague last week and found out that he's expecting his first child in a few months. He asked me if I had any advice for the delivery "experience".

I had to think about it for a minute, but then I recalled a lesson I learned before my first child was born.. useful advice that worked for me at the time, and advice that I continue to apply in other areas as well today.

Since you don't really know what will happen, you kind of need advice that will prepare you for just about any situation that might arise. In that case, use your BRAIN.

BRAIN is an acronym - a mnemonic for some heuristic advice. Here's what it stands for:

B = Be aware - of everything going on around you.
R = Know the Risks (Don't know them? Ask!)
A = What are the Alternatives?
I = What do your instincts tell you?
N = What if you say "No"?

There are times when you will find yourself alone in a situation where an important decision needs to be made. Don't forget to use your BRAIN.

Sometimes your heart tells you one thing and your head tells you something else. This handy little mnemonic should help you find a reasonable compromise between the two. It's worked for me.

New Tester's Hardware Research Tool -- eBay

Ever come across a piece of hardware in a lab (like a modem or network hub) and you don't know which power supply goes with it? If you can't find the spec sheet for it, you might be out of luck. Or are you?

I picked up an inkjet printer out of a junk pile last week. It looked like it was in good shape but it had no power supply. I checked the manufacturer's web site for some technical spec sheets and I found them, but they were useless when it came to telling me the exact specs of the power supply.

So I googled the web and I found a few hits on eBay. Why not? It's worth the look. Turns out it was my lucky day! Not only did I find the exact power supply for sale on eBay, but some really thorough sellers include close-up photographs of the power supplies too. Spankin! =)

I printed up a copy of the photographs and rummaged through a bunch of boxes of miscellaneous mice, power supplies, cables and other small parts. Bingo! I found the matching power supply. I brought it home, plugged it in and, presto, my kids now have a new inkjet printer all their own. (Of course, there's the added cost of the overly expensive inkjet cartridges, but considering the printer was free, I'll overlook that for now.)

Marketing Research - How to make your meetings work better

I got a phone call yesterday. I was contacted by a Marketing Research group that periodically holds Focus Groups on particular subjects in my town. I signed up with them a few years ago and I get a call from them maybe a few times a year, so it's not really a bother. (I like to contribute to research and data whenever I can.)

There are usually the pre-screen questions though to make sure that you are a part of their target group. Turns out that I didn't fit the profile they were looking for this time around (I'm a Generation-X, and they're looking for a Gen-Y), but I asked them the details of the Focus Group anyway. It was to be a 2-hour discussion forum on some topic and it pays $50.00.

Wow. That's cool. $50.00 for sitting around in a meeting room and talking for a few hours? I can do that. (Too bad I didn't qualify this time.. better luck next time.)

Hey, wait a minute!

How come when I sit in a Project status meeting for 2 hours at work I don't get $50 spending cash?!

How much more efficient do you think these status meetings would run if the Meeting Chairperson had to dole out cash for each attendee for each hour? I'm pretty sure that these meetings would run a lot quicker and be far more productive! ;-)

Maybe there's a lesson in there somewhere.


I haven't forgotten about this blog.. I've just been crazy busy at work for the last month. We had a major software release at the end of March, followed shortly afterwards by a planned "hotfix" release to patch the last remaining things that we couldn't finish in time for the deadline. So between long work hours and spending my remaining waking hours with family, I've let this chill for a while.

That reminds me.. I think some of my friends called about 4 weeks ago.. I should probably get back to them.. maybe get out, go see a movie. I need some air.

I've got lots to write about here, so I'll probably be adding several entries over the next few weeks. One thing that I should mention is that one of my hard drives has also failed on my home computer. Just happens to be the one that has all my email on it. (That kinda sucks.) I'll be [carefully] taking the computer apart this weekend to see if I can recover the data before I replace the drive.

I actually unplugged the drive several weeks ago, so if I can go almost a month without retrieving my email, I think I can wait a few more days before I start writing entries. ;-)

Cheers! Write soon.