Juggling multiple projects

I am currently juggling several large projects, as well as some small ones, and it is quite an exciting and busy time for me. This is the main reason my blog posts have been few and far between this past couple of weeks.

I am experiencing a period of intense motivation and innovation at the moment. I have no idea where it came from but I feel a certain inertia to keep going, to ride the wave and see where it takes me (ok, maybe that was a bad choice of metaphor, as most waves end up crashing into the shore, but you know what I mean!).

As much as I love “riding the wave of enthusism” (ok Jim, step AWAY from the metaphor!) it is a lot of hard work, long hours and a little bit of frustration of not getting things ready as soon as I would like.

My present situation let me to wonder how others deal with the pressure of juggling projects, when different people are pulling you in different directions. Do you get frustrated or overwhelmed?

Do you wish you could finish one job before starting the next, or are you good at juggling multiple things at once?

Personally I tend to do quite well under this sort of pressure, when expectations are high and timescales are tight.

I do however find it very different when it is myself that puts on the pressure. If i have one project I can get stuck into it, but when I have many I tend to focus on one at the expense of the others, and because there is no client associated with these other projects I do tend to allow them to drift.

So, I am interested to hear how other people deal with “multiple project madness”.

Do you work better when a project is your own, or when it is attached to a client? Does “juggling” make you excited, or frustrated?

Regular blogging – Plan A (the list)

It has been over a week since my last blog post. This has been down to a number of factors, but mainly being busy and not having the time to spend thinking about blogging and writing a post.

Actually, reading that first paragraph out loud, that sounds like an excuse. There are 24 hours in a day and, once you allow for work and sleep, you are left with a fair chunk of time, certainly enough to write a blog post.

The real reason I have not posted (I think) is, due to how busy I have been, I have not allowed myself to be inspired, and when I am inspired is when I feel like I have something worthwhile to write.

I have come up with a theory I am going to try over the next few weeks. I am going to have a list of topics to blog about. This list will start with maybe 15 topics. When I feel inspired I will pick a topic and write about it. When I am busy, or not feeling like blogging, I will just add a couple of topics to the list.

For me a lot of the mental energy is expended in the process of thinking about what to blog about. If I am not in the mood then I find it difficult to think of a subject. I am hoping this ongoing list will enable me to choose a topic to write about more easily. This will allow me to take advantage of those times when I am feeling inspired but only have a limited time to write, as the subject is already taken care of.

Of course, like every theory, the proof is in the pudding. I am going to run with this one for a few weeks and see how it goes.

New Macbook Pro range

I have just seen the details of the new Macbook range and I must say I want one more than ever!

Last year, after a trip to New York with my Dad, and a visit to the Apple Store, I took the plunge and went for a 15″ Macbook Pro. I must say it’s the best (computer related) thing I have ever done. I love the OSX environment and love the way the machine boots in the same timescale it did when I first got it. It is light years ahead of Windows in my opinion.

The only regret I have is not spending that little bit extra (on top of the already high price) and going for the hi-resolution 17″ version. When I am doing my design work I find the 1440 x 900 screen on the 15″ (although very good quality) a bit restrictive.

It looks like the 17″ range this time round has standardised on the hi-resolution 1920 x 1200 screen. I saw this resolution in the Apple Store and I must say it is fantastic!

Once of the aspects I love about the Macbook Pro range is their durability. I am VERY hard on my laptops, you should see the state of my old Dell, or even worse take a look at my work PC. They are generally dead on their feet after 12 months! My Macbook has survived quite a lot of abuse over the past year and it still looks (and works) like new!

The cost has always been a prohibitive aspect with Apple products, especially the Macbooks, but for a product I use every day of my life I really feel I should treat myself.

So… Food…who needs that? Drink…nah, what’s wrong with water?… I have a Macbook Pro to save up for!

Links to new macbook pro’s:

MacBook Pro 15″ 2.53GHz/4GB/320GB/GeForce 9600M GT/SuperDrive

MacBook 13.3″ 2.0GHz/2GB/160GB/GeForce 9400M/SuperDrive

MacBook Pro 17-inch — 2.5GHz/4GB/320GB/GeForce 8600MGT/SuperDrive

Password protected pages and WordPress (404 error)

I have recently been doing some work that I wanted to ring-fence in a password protected directory. The problem is, as soon as you put a password on a directlry WordPress gives a 404 error.

Ok, so wordpress is giving a 404 because it can’t find the directory you typed in, right?

WRONG!

The problem is actually not this at all. The problem comes from the rewrite engine WordPress uses to make search friendly URL’s. WordPress makes a .htaccess file in the root of it’s install (the root of my website, in my case) which looks like this:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

Part of what this code does is takes any unknown URL and throws it at WordPress to sort out and server the appropriate page, or error.

In the case of my password protected page it wants to tell me about the 401 situation I am in (authentication) but my server has a default location for this, and there is no file there. When WordPress gets wind of this missing file it tries to be helpful and tell us about it, hence passing us a 404 error.

The Solution

The solution is actualy very simple. Open the .htaccess file and add the following before all the WordPress entries:

ErrorDocument 401 default

Save the file and retry to navigate to the protected directory. You will now get the popup box you were expecting in the first place, so you can enter your details and gain access as normal.

A very simple solution to a simple (but very confusing) problem.

Be more like a dog… WOOF!

Did that title get your attention (or at least make you smile!)? Hope so!

I have been doing a lot of research into dog training recently, mainly because we have two Yorkshire Terriers about to become part of the household, and they need a bit of training (do not pee on the x-box and do not chew the sofa would be a good start!).

One thing that I have found very interesting is how dogs live for the moment. If you want to train a dog it is actually not as hard as you think. Dogs are much better at un-learning the past and focusing on the present, and they also don’t get distracted by the future.

In business it is easy to explain away why you haven’t done certain things, or achieved certain goals. “I wish I had started doing that when I was young”, “I missed the opportunity and now it is a bit late”. Do those sound familiar?

So many times we are bogged down by who we are, what we have or haven’t done in the past, and how we usually go about things. Imagine for a moment you could erase all of that, imagine you could wipe the slate clean.

With a clean slate you are now equal to everyone else. You can be one of those people who achieved greatness, as you are not bogged down by the past.

There are two issues people have with what I have just said. Firstly, that the moment is gone, and it is now too late to become great. Secondly there is a belief that greatness is part of your DNA.

In terms of it being too late, this is where thinking like a dog comes into it. Live in the moment, stop worrying about the past, and have belief in yourself. You will be surprised at what you can achieve. Geena Davis (actress) nearly qualified for the US Olympic archery team in a sport she took up at the age of 40, less than three years before the Olympic tryouts.

As for the DNA argument, there is a belief that people who are the absolute best in their field (top golfers, chess grand masters, top Grand Prix drivers) are made slightly different to the rest of us, but that difference accounts for the final 1% of their greatness. With hard work, determination, and the desire to better yourself you can still be, for all intents and purposes, top of your field.

Without rambling on too much, try it out for yourself. Throw away the restraints of the past, find a challenge, and tackle it. Go about it with the self belief of our four legged friends and let me know how you get on!