Friday, 1 May 2009

Newsletter Issue 166, May 2009

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 166, May 2009
Hi guys,
An sad finale to MIT's Project Oxygen is below.
When we are new to a role, the best tool we have is a 100 Day Plan
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

MIT's Project Oxygen is no more

Long-standing readers of this newsletter may remember way back in the 1990s when I first reported on MIT's Project Oxygen (Newsletter 03); a system of interlocking technologies designed to make our lives easier and drop the technology into the background.
Their idea is that IT devices (E21s) are embedded in our homes, offices and cars, which sense our immediate environment and do what. We also carry cellphones (H21s), which enable us to communicate with our own E21 (or others) and compute on the run. Self-configuring networks (N21s) help our E21s and H21s locate each other as well as the people, services or resources we want. Software (O2S) adapts to environmental- or user changes so we can do what we want, when we want to do it.
One of the ideas that MIT list on their O2S site - last updated in 2003 - at is the "Guardian Angel"
Jane and her husband Tom live in suburban Boston and cherish their independence. As they have advanced in age, they have acquired a growing number of devices and appliances, which they have connected to their E21. They no longer miss calls or visitors because they cannot get to the telephone or door in time; microphones and speakers in the walls enable them to answer either at any time. Sensors and actuators in the bathroom make sure that the bathtub does not overflow and that the water temperature is neither too hot nor too cold. Their automated knowledge system keeps track of which television programs they have enjoyed and alerts them when similar programs will be shown.
Just before their children moved away from the area, Jane and Tom enhanced their H21 to provide them with more help. Tom uses the system now to jog his memory by asking simple questions, such as "Did I take my medicine today?" or "Where did I put my glasses?" The E21's vision system, using cameras in the walls, recognizes and records patterns in Tom's motion. When Tom visits his doctor, he can bring along the vision system's records to see if there are changes in his gait that might indicate the onset of medical problems. Jane and Tom can also set up the vision system to contact medical personnel in case one of them falls down when alone. By delivering these ongoing services, the E21 affords peace of mind to both parents and children.
While I updated you in Newsletter 40 & Newsletter 138, I hadn't heard any news recently, so went looking for where this project is currently at. When I checked out the site, I found that there had been no activity on the site for a while. So I emailed them to find out what is happening.
The answer? Apparently nothing happening at all, which is sad. The project appears to have been mothballed.
Perhaps someone slick & savvy like Dean Kamen can get hold of this and shake some juice out of it...
Your 100 Day Plan

When you are new to a role, what is the first thing you should do?
My expectation is that in the first three months in a role as a new manager - say the first 100 days - is that you should build a plan. That way you hit the ground running. You know where you are going because you are be familiar with your vision, what you want to achieve, who you want to have meetings with, you have put together a team to acheive your goals, and, because you have a plan, you will get some good runs on the board.
In addition, having that plan instils confidence in your team. If you have communicated where you are going with them, they will be so much better placed to make all their feeder decisions dovetail in with yours.
Another advantage is that if you are well prepared and confident, your competitors may begin to lose confidence, and - if you are a publicly listed company - you may gain some momentum in your share price through that.
While at the start of a role you will not understand the detail of it, what you will know is your job description through having prepared for your interview. Use the job description and the strategic plan of the organisation to prepare your 100 day plan. The details of how you go about it will become clear as you get into your role.
Many organisations will provide you with a mentor to guide you in the key aspects of the position. If they don't; ask for one. Having someone who is familiar with the organisation or the industry will help you avoid pitfalls in your first quarter.
Remember to include all your follow-up actions in your 100 day plan. Once you are 2/3rds of the way through; write up your plan for the next 330 days, ensuring that any follow-ups get transferred across. And don't forget to tell people about it. Explain where you thought you would be, and where you got to; and why. That communication really helps others understand your role, and how they can help you - and the organisation.
It is amazing what some planning, some guidance, getting into your work head-space early, and a smooth execution will do for a company. The whole team wins.
Inspired by Sander M. Flaum's Barrack Obama article "T-Minus 100 Days" on

Illegible File Workaround

If you have had someone come back to you and tell you that they can't read the file you sent them, it could be because you have included new Office 2007 fonts (or fonts you’ve installed separately). It that's the case, the receiving PC takes a ‘best guess’ and matches the font against a font it has 'in stock'. This usually works perfectly, but sometimes the results are illegible.
Office 2007 introduced new fonts such as Cambria and Calibri. Files created using those fonts may well look different when opened using earlier Office versions. So, if your sent file formatting is dependant on precise measurements, the results can look quite different on your receiver's PC with substituted fonts as characters might be wider, narrower, taller or shorter than your sent original.
SENDERS: How you correct this when sending is to either:
  • embed the font into the document, which ensures the font details are there for other computers to use when opening it.  This slightly increases the file size but ensures the file views properly. In Office documents you can do that from the Tools | Options | Save (Office | Options | Save in Office 2007).
  • Only use common fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Garamond, Gill Sans MT or Verdana.
RECEIVERS: How you correct this when receiving is to either:
  • Select the strange text, choose another font
  • Ask the sender to try again with embedded fonts
  • For pdf files try the ‘Use local fonts’ option in the viewing software
Hope that helps. And thanks to Woody's Office For Mere Mortals for this info. View them online at

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • YCFIMITYM, Your Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother. Fairly self-evident at this time of global crisis!

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
This newsletter contains the last of our look at Alt, Shift, Ctrl and backspace:
  • Excel "Scroll to display the active cell" Ctrl & Backspace
  • PowerPoint "Delete one word to the left" Ctrl & Backspace
  • Publisher "Delete the previous word" Ctrl & Backspace
  • Frontpage "Delete one word to the left " Ctrl & Backspace
  • Windows "Undo previous action taken within a window" Ctrl & Backspace Word "Delete one word to the left of cursor's current position" Ctrl & Backspace
  • Excel "If multiple cells are selected, select only the active cell" Shift & Backspace

Hot Linx
If you have any talent for making or designing things, take a slide over to and see if there is anything on the wish list that you can make... or you might find something you want to buy!
NZ lawyer, Michael Smyth, has written a book on employee attitudes called "Employed but Not Engaged". You can download a free taster of Chapter 1 at
There's an antivirus freeware making headlines recently as being superior to AVG Antivirus. For home users, Avast Antivirus is the new kid on the block. Check it out at
TechRepublic have a great "how to" on their website for inserting some formatting to highlight all your formula cells in a worksheet. Go to for details.

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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