Tuesday, January 31, 2006

1.5.2 Installation - complete drill again

Have just read again the installation guide and another complete drill of manual WP 1.5.2 installation at Yahoo Web Hosting. All by hand, not one click automated installation as Yahoo gives you only WP2.0 installation. Below is an example setup.


  1. Create a new folder using ftp client named 'me'

  2. Download archived installation files of version 1.5.2 from here

  3. Upload them to 'me' folder

  4. login to phpMyAdmin in yahoo web hosting, which is www.yourdomainname.com/phpMyAdmin_installation_folder where phpMyAdmin_installation_folder is where you have installed phpMyAdmin

  5. Enter 'me', the name of the database and click create button

  6. click HOME on the left hand pane then privileges

  7. click Add a new user

  8. enter a username in this case use 'wordpress'

  9. enter a password, click generate and copy

  10. open notepad, record down username password encrypted password generated

  11. Under "Global privileges" click "check all" and click "GO" button



Get the wp-config-sample.php file from the installation folder and enter

  • db_name, 'me'

  • db_user, 'wordpress'

  • db_password, {the encrypted password generated}

  • db_host, 'mysql' (this is the 1% chance that you need to chance this if you are using Yahoo web hosting

  • rename the file wp-config.php

  • upload the file to the root of folder 'me'



All done, point your browser to www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin/install.php

Another thing to watch is the permalink setup. You have to prefix your preferred permalink structure with /index.php/ to get permalink and comment link to work in Yahoo web hosting. May be Yahoo isn't on Apache.

Monday, January 30, 2006

FTP transfer at Yahoo

Have tried 2 times ftp transfer of files, both not very successful.

It appears that it doesn't like large batch of files or folders during transfer. Today found out that the naming convention is somewhat funny because I got critical transfer error when a folder is transferred if the folder name isn't allowed. It says

must contain only ASCII letters (a-z,A-Z), digits (0-9), underscore, dot and dash.
Response: 553-Names must not start with a dot (.) or dash (-).
Response: 553-For additional info please visit:
Response: 553-See http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/webhosting/gftp/


E.g. I tried sending folder wp-backup-1.7, it failed because folder name wasn't OK I guess. I then created a folder named wpbackup17, have all files within it transferred then manually changed folder name to wp-backup-1.7, it was OK surprisingly. I have to ask Yahoo why?

Manuel WP 1.5.2 installation

The manual WordPress 1.5.2 installation at Yahoo web hosting is now successful. See it there at HERE.

This is done by Yahoo granting me full privileges for MySQL such that I could flush the privileges tables. The installation was then error free.

PS: Yahoo later said I better not use my login user, which has been granted full privileges, to change anything at the database named "mysql" because that is used for administration only.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lang Lang v Yundi Li

Went to their concerts within a week. Lang Lang's was on Tuesday 24th and Yundi's on 26th Thursday.

Although they did slightly different things (recital vs piano concerto) but they have so much in common. Lang Lang did K330 of Mozart and Yundi also did it as encore. It's necessary for marketing because they both have this Sonata in their recent album release.

Lang Lang's K330 wasn't too good because the piano was out of tune. In the second half the piano was fixed and he was alive again. Lang Lang delivered 7 little pieces more as encore and the pieces by Schuman were very nice, may be something that I could try and manage.

Both of them will be 24 in the year of the dogs.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Yahoo is talking

Got a reply from Yahoo about my questions on Mysql server

Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Web Hosting. I hope the following
solution will work for you.

The MySQL warning that you are receiving is just a warning and will not affect the running of MySQL at all. This warning generally appears due to some up gradation at our end.

If you have a special need for piviledges to be set for a particular user, Yahoo! Web Hosting Customer Support will set the priviledge for that particular user. However, it will be necessary for Yahoo! staff to enter your account in order to add the user.

Please reply to this message, giving Yahoo! permission to enter your Yahoo! Web Hosting account and take those steps necessary to set the priviledge.

For verification and testing purposes, please be sure to include the following information:


My answer is very simple. I don't have special need, I'm not granting access to others, I just want to make it work for me and me alone. I like the security though, I have to supply a long list of information to verify myself.

Now you can comment

I have now turned off the need to register before you can comment.

I guess it's OK as this site is protected by Akismet so spam shouldn't be a problem.

If you have someone to say just click comment link below the post title and fire ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Flock again

Flock just failed again this morning, the way that I did a while ago, see last post here.

I did the same as in last time, i.e. uninstalled it and install again the current version 0.4.10 I made a mistake.

This time I made a copy of the profiles folder and copied everything within the folder to the new installation. Flock didn't like it. Something in there must have caused the failure, process has to be repeated.

The 2nd time I copied across just the flock_favorites.rdf and prefs.js file which saved me setting up favorites and preferences such as content settings etc. The signons.txt file can't be reused, which is a good security feature, therefore you'll have to enter all the passwords again and let flock remembers it.

Answer from Yahoo

Answer from Yahoo, received on Jan 24, 2006 6:30 PM, to my question below


Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Web Hosting. I hope that this email will help answer your question.

Please note that sometimes you will have to reload a page due to ISP
latency, browser issues or server load.

Customers have an option when installing a blog to either be notified
when an upgrade is available or to have their blog automatically
upgraded when the new version is available through Yahoo!.

Please do not hesitate to reply if you need further assistance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More about WP2.0

This is quite a comprehensive remark about 2.0 at The Republic of T. You should also read the 10 things you should know about 2.0 by Problogger.

In view of my findings I think all hosting should provide installation for both 2.0 and 1.5.2.

Found a interesting blog design here for a church that doesn't look like a blog, may be something for me to learn from. I'll check out this Static front page plugin later.

Another request for Help

Just sent another email to help on Jan 24, 2006 3:27 PM

Since Yahoo provides installation of WP2.0 I'm trying to do a manual installation of 1.5.2.

I have done as far as uploading all necessary files to a folder /152/ and setup the wp-config file and making a database connection. However error message during WP installation shows that user "sfong15" is unable to connect to the database.

I could login phpmyadmin alright using username "sfong15" in which I have created a database named "152". I got error like #1044 - access denied for user 'sfong15'@'localhost' to database '152'

At home page of phpmyadmin I clicked privileges, I got warning and was told to run mysql_fix_privilege_tables, did that and clicked "reload the privileges" but got message "access denied; you need the RELOAD privilege for this operation".

I got stuck, don't I have all privileges after login?


Funny enough in the wp-config file the db_host name should be mysql instead of localhost.

Downgrade to 1.5.2

Tried Downgrader 0.1 from Somthing Unpredictable at an experimental setup HERE.

Instruction says "Simply upgrade (upload?) the script to your root WordPress directory and access it via your browser. Be sure to delete it after use". That was what I did, put the php file on the root of the installation and point the browser to that php file. Result was NOTHING happened?

I wonder what have I done wrong?

My View and Real Life Experience

This is a very clever approach to this very old issue in management. Motivation has always been a problem area for every organization and something that every organization has. The author has offered method to hopefully either resolving the issue or find a solution for the problem employee. Getting a resolution does not mean, in the context of this article, as successfully motivating the problem employee. The resolution to the situation could be removal of the employee from the group/team or even dismissal. One important assumption is also that the Manager must satisfy himself/herself that the problem employee is worth the time and effort of being motivated. This is very similar to retaining talented people in another HBR article.

In my work experience I have not come across employer who has the knowledge or skill to motivate people. This is normally left to the middle management not HR department. Most managers however have not been trained in human resources management unless he/she has attended CU EMBA programme. Furthermore these middle level managers also do not have authority in offering incentives such as salary/bonus/stock options etc. Under these circumstances in fact most competent managers I know working for SME have been practicing some of the methods mentioned in this article, i.e. use empathy to understand what caused the deterioration in performance, attitude, work style etc of problem employees. Those are tools to good managers which don’t cost anything to the company. Good managers will have to invest his/her own time in maintaining a sincere friendship with the employee and get to the root of the problem. The downside of this approach, in my experience, is that the manager may still be discouraged and his/her job could not be accomplished even if the cause of the problem is found. There are always constraints imposed by the proprietor of the firm or HR department as to what a division or department manager can do for a problem staff. “Replace him/her if you want to, rules are rules…”, this is what you may get in most cases. Those bosses at a much higher level do not see the need for motivating staff. They don’t consider bending rules to suit some problem staff is necessary. Simply put: you must deliver what I have expected if you want to get paid.

To certain extent I see motivating people is a much larger issue for an organization than the topic of this article. It is about organizational design and a culture of the organization as to how it looks at PEOPLE. It’s easily said that PEOPLE is the most valuable asset but when it comes to difficult decisions about HR policy most proprietor or CEO will react differently. This is not just a cultural issue for an organization but also one for the society. If the business society requires intellectuals (or they are in short supply) and retaining talented staff has drawn sufficient attention of the CEO’s then a HR policy to suit the market environment will be gradually formed. Only when that happens managers down below in the hierarchy could then be equipped with necessary authority and tools (training, e.g. organized/sponsored by the company) to motivate staff. Everybody needs motivation to certain degree, and not just the problem staff, for better productivity.
Alternatively if your company is strong and big enough you could follow GE’s 70-20-10 policy to do staff “housekeeping” by getting rid of 10% “black-sheep” every year. Not every company can afford the underlying costs of what GE is doing however.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Downgrade to 1.5.2

Looks like this is a hot topic out there. If you search using keywords "WordPress downgrade downgrading" you'll find 63,100 results from Google.

Here is a good list of links about this.

The Horror Story from Simple Thoughts contains a list of issues and forum tickets related to this hot topic.

Robert Deaton of Something Unpredictable kindly crafted a plugin downgrader (it doesn't run like a normal plugin) to downgrade your 2.0 database back to 1.5.2 such that you could run 1.5.2 again. Read also has What's Already Broke in 2.0 also.

If you have upgraded to 2.0 without keeping a good copy of 1.5.2 then you'll need to go there to fetch an archived copy of older version.

You might also like to read CreepiGurl's experience here.

Note also from DESIGNLEGION that you must run the downgrading plugin under 2.0 After it's done successful then try overwriting 2.0 files with 1.5.2.

Here is another negative comment about accessibility of 2.0 by Mike Little here.

Last word, if you want challenges and sleepless nights go upgrading now. If not search around, learning from others, think it twice, set up experiemental blog, back up your databases, give it a try when you have nothing else more meaningful to do, think it over again for the third time....keep waiting.

Yahoo Mail Beta

I use gmail most of the time and got all my other email accounts forwarding emails to a few gmail accounts I have. Although I'm a Mail Plus subscriber I don't login to Yahoo webmail until recently.

I was told to switch to the mail beta, which I did, and I wasn't too impressed. There is at least one little display flaw that I can see on Firefox. Surely Yahoo knows better than anyone how popular FF is, hope they will fix that soonest. See the links hiding below the search box?

Yahoo webmail

Generally after few days of use I see the followings:-

  1. First loading is slow using gmail as benchmark. I guess whoever launching improved webmail service/interface will have to face the brutal fact of being bench-marked by gmail.

  2. Display is not ready yet for FF, am using 1.5 by the way

  3. Loading of message could be slow if graphics are embedded within, therefore an option for user to stop loading images should be made available

  4. The import of address (now called contacts via CSV file) is clumsy and wasn't instant. It directed me to another page, I did the upload, went back still didn't see the contacts. You really have to wait and logout and login again to see imported contacts. Yahoo got to tell users what is happening to stop people complaining.

  5. Moving messages to folder is easy enough to use but you can't do that until the message is fully loaded. OK it's easy to get use to that but where is tagging (labeling or whatever?). Tagging is the buzzword for all Web2.0 applications now and that helps you to find your messages quicker while some people still prefer putting messages into folders. I'm disappointed in not seeing that. OK it's alright that Yahoo shouldn't be following what gmail has done but something similar is expected



I'll use the beta for a little while more but will not give up gmail for now.

Yahoo Web Hosting help

I have emailed them Jan 22, 2006 11:47 PM below

I've moved some 300 posts from my blog hosted elsewhere. I've used export to xml then RSS import feature of WordPress 2.0. It wasn't successful at first attempt as I didn't see sign of complete, only about 78 posts were imported. I did exactly the same trial elsewhere at site5, also a WP2.0 installation, it was done flawlessly in one go.

I realize that it can be done therefore I tried again at my blog here in Yahoo. This time after fair waiting I pressed reload of the page and found that it went further, i.e. more posts imported. At last I had to reload the page about 3 times to get all 291 posts imported. Luckily the WP function is so designed that there weren't duplicated entries.

As that is a server side process I wonder if you guys may know why this import didn't complete in one single shot?

Another question is that from my perspective I think Yahoo should also provide installation for WP 1.5.2. You'll see comments everywhere now that many WP users are staying at 1.5.2 due to lack of plugin supports. If Yahoo wants to attract the WP community you must offer this choice which don't cost you much to set up.


Since then I have scoured the web about specific comments about WP2.0 and how users have downgraded from 2.0 back to 1.5.2 I was surprised to find so many......stay tuned, see upcoming posts here.

A Resolution but may not be a Solution

As the author has mentioned earlier you may not get what you start out for at the end. If the method described in the article is followed then you are likely to get a resolution to your problem. You either can successful motivate someone or have him/her removed from the group/team which in effect motivated members of the team who were affected by the problem employee. The benefits across your organization can themselves justify the demands of this method. Just don’t leave your problem employees unattended.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

At Last

Moving posts from here to my new domain name becauseiwrite.com hosted at Yahoo Small Business is complete.

If you visit this site once in a while or have subscribed via RSS I'm afriad you have to set things up again, click because i write. Second thought, I'll keep posting here because I want to satisfy myself that Yahoo is as good as Site5 before I move over there. My experience with Yahoo hosting will of course be posted there.

Oh by the way I did that by RSS export and import using WP2.0's new feature. It's little messy over there now so bear with me for the ugly outlook.

RSS Import - Last Episode

Did import again at this site, I have to click reload page about 4 times. Luckily it was smartly done because there wasn't duplicated entry.

The process at the server side took so long when compared to the same process elsewhere at my other WP2.0 site importing same quantity of 291 posts.

Now I have to sort out categories which look a little messy now.

RSS import

Found a solution here in the forum, i.e. change the number of posts in your RSS export file wp-rss2.php.

I have used a figure of 1,000 instead 100 million in that example in forum as I have only few hundred posts. Did that and the xml file is only 602k and inspected the end of the file which showed the first post of my blog.

Another key aspect is that I have to set Option>Reading>Syndication Feeds and update the number of posts you want and check either radio button for full text or summary.

Importing is a problem using WP2.0 Import feature but it captured only about 78 posts? I may have to do this again and find out why.

PS: just repeated this process using another WP2.0 site, it was all 291 posts imported and I found my very first post there! I guess there was something wrong at server side.

RSS Import

This is a great tool of WP2.0

Just imported using RSS xml file generated from my WP Playground, one of my experimental site.

Yahoo! Help

There is good help from Yahoo! help central about how to import posts into a new WordPress installation.

It's very detailed but quite scary as well. See this description here about the scary thing I have done so far.

I have done the backup of database but I see problem in restoring it at Yahoo. You must also see instructions from T2.

links for 2006-01-21

Scary Thing to do

Today is a big day I decided to explore uncharted area of my skill.

I'm going to move the database from here to Because I Write. Isn't it brave.

First of all is backup the database. Used the famous skippy wp-db-back.
Note that the plugin doesn't start to work unless you have a backup directory ready for it. Once it's done you could download it to your computer.

The backup is in gz format, I had to upzip it using Winzip. It turned out to be a 1.18Mb sql (text) file.

I'll have to find & replace all instances of old url to new url because I'm moving this to a new hosting. Notepad didn't like this and this could be a long process. Make sure you are working on a copy of your sql file just in case.

Pretty late now, let's call it a day.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Scary Thing to do

Today is a big day I decided to explore uncharted area of my skill.


I’m going to move the database from here to Because I Write. Isn’t it brave.


First of all is backup the database. Used the famous skippy wp-db-back.
Note that the plugin doesn’t start to work unless you have a backup directory ready for it. Once it’s done you could download it to your computer.


The backup is in gz format, I had to upzip it using Winzip. It turned out to be a 1.18Mb sql (text) file.


I’ll have to find & replace all instances of old url to new url because I’m moving this to a new hosting. Notepad didn’t like this and this could be a long process. Make sure you are working on a copy of your sql file just in case.


Pretty late now, let’s call it a day.


, , ,

First post in becauseiwrite.com

Signed up Yahoo hosting, it was paid up and order confirmed on 3:04:54pm today.

The domain name is new, "because i write" was a name I picked last September when I moved to WordPress and hosted my site elsewhere at Site5. Just don't get me wrong there isn't anything wrong with Site5, people there are great. I just want to experience this at Yahoo, a big name, that I have used their paid email service for many years now.

Time is now 5:08pm, pretty quick right as this includes spreading the domain name across the interent.

links for 2006-01-20

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Face lift

Have now removed sections "category" "archives" "links" and "associates" from sidebar. The new things are Amazon ads and search box for them.

Also added is ads for Site5, the hosting that I'm using.

I hope loading isn't slowed down.

Browster

Found this accidentally, installation was easy, it is good for both IE and FF. Download is here.

I saw it somewhere (may be in TechCrunch) that it was firstly launched for IE then later support dual install for both IE and FF as well. Surprising it didn't quite work for my IE, see screenshot below.

ie_browster

The most important bar is gone, Bill good job you have done. Mine is 6.0.2900.2180 If you use it on IE you won't know see the browster logo and the navigation and help etc. You'll know what I mean, just look at below

ff_browster

It's a great idea. The ad banner above the browster bar is a bit big but it's OK as they need that to pay salary.

What I would like to get more from it? May be

  1. resizing of the pop-up window

  2. able to move the pop-up around, this works with the one above such that I could keep the little window for a while as I want to see other things behind it

  3. how about making this to work with RSS reader? In most cases I'll be reading excerpt, just a few lines, then jump to something else

Stage the Encounter

Step 3: Stage the Encounter

This is a crucial step. Hold the meeting on neutral ground. Give the employee sufficient advance notice (a day or so) but emphasize that no materials or preparation are needed. Say that the meeting is not a formal appraisal but a chance to review and revise working relationship. Then you start the meeting by an affirmative assertion, i.e. you affirm the employee’s past and future value to the company and your desire for a mutually beneficial outcome to the meeting. After the “soft-hand” introduction you’ll then need to do leverage questioning. Your aim is to test the hypotheses you have formulated in the course of developing the picture of the situation. The warning for managers is that don’t slip back into telling and selling, shoveling facts and arguments onto the employee.

links for 2006-01-19

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Site5 has a blog!

My hosting company has a blog, to be exact the COO of Site5 has a blog.

I don't normally login to Site5 unless I hit problems, I guess this is the same for normal bloggers. I have now subscribed via RSS and will read whatever comes up in Netvibes without the hassle of logging in. Isn't it nice.

Fleck

These guys really know how to pick names. Firstly it was Flock then it's Fleck now and you must have noticed those names with "e" deliberately missed out such as "flickr".

Fleck will be something big, well before they get big you could see their little box called "LinkCloud" on my sidebar. You could add your links to experience it. Here is their blog and TechCrunch also wrote about them.

Just click "+Add a link..." in the LinkCloud box or CLICK ME to try.

Flock

A while ago Flock failed to start. At the master password screen as below, it showed a weird strip too narrow that I can't enter anything. I had to stop flock at the Windows Task Manager.

flock failed to start

That happened right after I have done a major Windows upgrade, how can I now blame them?

update history

Nothing much I could do except uninstalling and installing again and later I learnt how to move settings of flock from one machine to another, details as below, content of my email to flock support. Nice guys there, please keep up the good work. Remember if you have problem with a flock installation you have to completely remove everything, including its folder and settings, before reinstallation.

The flock is resurrected here in this notebook by:

1. uninstall the flock installation, making sure the original "flock" installation folder is emptied (check and manually empty it if necessary)
2. reinstall flock of the version you like
3. copy the folder ....\user\appplication data\mozilla\flock\profiles\?????????.default from a good installation to the faulty PC just cleaned and reinstalled with a new flock.
4. rename the new flock installation xxxxxxxx.default folder to something else, just in case.
5. paste ????????.default folder onto the new flock installation and rename it to xxxxxxxx.default
6. Now you should have 2 PC's having the same setting

Flock again.

Blog Editor

Yesterday I tested out Qumana. Isn't impressive at all. That thing lived in my notebook for about 15 minutes. I did try posting it to my experimental site. It didn't get my approval because

  1. for someone like me who can type and knows a bit about html tags, I don't actually like tags mingled too much with my words. You'll see a lot of tags when you go back to manage your post once in a while to edit a published post then you want your words back, not the unnecessary tags. WYSIWYG editor isn't that attractive to some bloggers, e.g. new feature in WP2.0 and see comments from this post about WP2.0 in TechCrunch

  2. posting image didn't work for me. I didn't bother to figure out why

  3. it has the "powered by qumana" thing on your post which is also annoying. Perhaps this'll be a paid software later. Didn't they know we have flock?



TechCrunch gave them few good words but that's not my cup of tea.

Flock's blog editor isn't perfect but it's still slightly ahead. Flock's developer version has a few problem which I will write abotu later.

Reframe Your Goals

Step 2: Reframe Your Goals

The author used an example to illustrate the point that sometime it is necessary for the manager to be flexible and be prepared to reframe the goals. Putting together a menu of possible outcomes is also a crucial prerequisite to scheduling a formal encounter with the employee.

Shortstat plugin - bottom

short-stat-bottom

Shortstat plugin

Just installed and activated this plugin yesterday, the information obtained (viewable within dashboard) is impressive. I wonder if any of the information can be extracted for display on the site. Below is just the top portion.

short-stat-top

links for 2006-01-18

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Create a Rich Picture

Step 1: Create a Rich Picture

The use of empathy is in fact putting yourself in other’s shoes. This important first step requires you the manager to ask few questions and collect information to answer them. The questions are:

  • What drives that person?

  • What blocks those drives?

  • What might happen if the impediments are removed?



Note also that these questions are asked within the context of these problems occurring and you the manager play a key role in most cases. The article has suggested many ways of collecting information informally and this must be done careful as the manager may be the main cause of the employee’s lack of motivation. You may have to use a proxy in such as case.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Extended Live Archive

Activated this plugin, now you can click that page from the Pages section in sidebar. I will eventually, when the style sheet is tweaked to my satisfaction, bring it to top navigation.

Once have this activated I saw that 0.10betaR14 is available. The work to do is to customize the style sheet that came with this plugin.

PS: now it's done. Took the style sheet that came with the plugin, renamed it to ela.css, put it in the theme's root. Note the new line "background: none;" added below

#af-ela ul li {
list-style-type: none;
list-style-image: none;
text-align: left;
padding: 1px 8px;
background: none; /* new */
}


That's to get rid of the bullet image in front of every link.

PSS: font for year, month, category, tag and post is all set to normal instead of bold.

A New Approach

The new way is to turn it around, from subject to object and from boss to subordinate. The problem of motivating problem staff must be looked at from a complete new perspective. The manager needs to look at the employee (who labeled “problem employee”) with the word “problem” removed from his forehead and as a real person to be understood. This approach is based on 3 principles (or assumptions).

  1. Everyone has motivational energy – this principle or assumption appears fundamental. That is to say that the employee can be motivated in the first place but his/her drive and commitment was not displayed at work.

  2. The motivational energy is blocked in the workplace – This is a follow on from first principle above. If the employee has motivational energy it was either not displayed at work or has been blocked in the workplace. Impediments can be caused by stresses at home, relationship with spouse/partner or peers, or something that has accumulated incrementally over years, e.g. broken promises at work or being misunderstood/ignored by their bosses.

  3. Removing blockages require employee participation – this is easily understood. Provided principles 1 and 2 above are true then the employee is the only person who knows exactly the way to have the blockages removed. The author used judo to explain this, i.e. find the locus of energy and leverage it to achieve your goal. As in judo, if you find the way you could use least effort to do the job. Forcing your way as in the traditional approach will not work with problem employees.



There are few words of warning offered by the author, i.e. this method requires the use of empathy and it takes time and effort. You also don’t know what you are getting until you have successfully unwrapped a person and you may not be able to transform every unmotivated employee. The final outcome may disappoint you but at least you and your problem staff will know either that an avenue for improvement has opened up or agree to disagree. After all it was the managers’ judgment that certain employees worth the effort of being motivated. Now let us look at some actions in greater details.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Face lift

Changes made here

  • Category is gone from sidebar, use Technorati Tag instead

  • Subscription is also gone, get this from the top navigation

  • Meta is completely gone because login/out is at Hello/Goodbye and other icons/badges are now at footer

  • new "add to Google" button but atom feed didn't validate

  • RSS validated icon at the footer

  • Buttons for other W3c validation removed



Loading should be faster now?

PS: now subscribed to feedburner for "add to Google" but it's a bit slow may be my account is fresh.

How to Motivate Your Problem People

HBR 2002 - by Nigel Nicholson

The article starts off by mentioning a very valid fact about theory, i.e. motivation strategy works with only a fraction of employees and a smaller fraction of managers. Interesting enough that the author used hero like Nelson Mandelas or Winston Churchills to illustrate that exhorting managers to become one of those will get you no where. The author answered the question in the caption by saying that the question itself was wrongly asked. The fact is that those so called problem people in an organization that is taking up disproportionate amount of manager’s time can’t be motivated. ONLY the problem people THEMSELVES can.

The article used 2 examples to demonstrate typical cases of problem staff and how managers make common mistakes. Most managers would believe that motivating problem people is like selling his own idea, value and perception. It’s like if I can see he/she should see it the same way and it’s just a matter of talking to him/her again or let’s find someone who can have friendly dialogue to do the talking for me. According to the article this approach proved to be wrong and in most cases you’ll only get “sure, boss” and the problem keeps repeating itself over time. It is an impossible goal for the managers because changing people’s character is impossible. Change comes from within.

links for 2006-01-14

Friday, January 13, 2006

My Technorati

technorati

Even better Technorati search box

There it is here. By this it allows you to select either to search the web or this particular site. Isn't it nicer?

Technorati search box on the sidebar

Just added this, learnt from Ask Dave Taylor.

My experience

It is true that we all use our experience in our decision making. In our business life things are happening so fast that the circumstances do not allow careful objective and scientific deliberation process to be carried out. In many cases your success depends on how fast you could make up your mind, e.g. in closing a deal or submitting a proposal or tender.

For reasons just described it is only possible in the perfect world that one could “adjust” their decision making mechanism in their mind by following advices in this article. Even if you can afford the time and have the discipline to follow the guidance you will be over taken by your competitors.

Some people are born leaders and they are normally smart decision makers. In my experience the mind of these people operate like a computer and the more decisions they make the smarter they become. The funniest thing is that the algorithm they used in computing a solution bases on very few principles. These are normally very fundamental principles in life such as ethics, human value and interaction with personality.

In fact some of the techniques described in this article are not workable. E.g. decisions for large corporation are not made by individuals but in group. When you work with others you have to consider hidden agendas of others and very seldom you could analyze a situation with all facts laid out with honest contribution from everybody involved. Furthermore if your organization does not have a culture to use analytical methods in decision making all these recommendations by the article are useless. You still have to resort to your political skills trying to persuade people to decide smartly for the benefit of all.

After all it is the result that counts in most cases. It would be naïve to assume that the boss will even know and appreciate your decision making process if the result does not turn out right.

links for 2006-01-13

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Estimating and Forecasting Traps

We make estimates everyday. For most of these estimates we don’t normally get feedback on their accuracy therefore as a result our minds never become calibrated for better accuracy. In making big decisions involving estimating under uncertainty we use the basic instinct we have, which is not accurate, which has a distorting effect in uncertain situations. There are 3 of the most common of these uncertainty traps:-

  1. The overconfidence trap – we tend to be overconfident about our accuracy. This may due to the fact that anchor has been set in our mind and we are pulled to that anchor therefore being overconfident in our estimates in order to get closer to our goals. Aggressive people will fall into this trap.

  2. The prudence trap – this takes the form of overcautiousness, i.e. a reverse to the first trap above. This is actually practiced in many industries where worse case scenarios are required to be examined even though the odds of those circumstances actually coming to pass were infinitesimal.

  3. The recallability trap – even if we could avoid the traps described above we may still fall into this one. In our mind we forecast based on past events in our memory. We could be overly influenced by dramatic events that leave a strong impression on our memory. E.g. a plane crash that killed hundreds but daily killing due to car accidents do not forge as much an impression in one’s mind as for a plane crash. Anything that distorts your ability to recall events in a balanced way will distort your probability assessments.



Ways to avoid these traps:

  • To avoid the overconfidence trap in making estimates, always start by considering the extremes, the low and high ends of the possible range of values. This will avoid being anchored by the initial estimate.

  • To avoid the prudence trap, always state the estimates honestly and explain to anyone who will be using them that they have not been adjusted. Test estimates over a reasonable range to assess their impact. Do a sensitivity analysis to reassess your estimates.

  • To minimize distortion due to your memory, carefully examine all your assumptions. Invite someone to offer fresh perspectives that do not have those memories that may have affected you. Get actual statistics if all possible.

UTW

Now I have done the scary thing, i.e. convert categories to tags, it was OK

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ultimate Tag Warrior

I have posted below at Christine Davis site for UTW.

Great plugin, generally it works fine for me. Except that in the description above it says “..The text field in the Tags box is where all of the tags associated with the post go. Under the tags box there’s a list of clickable links to the tags that are already in use. Clicking on these tags will add them to the tags box…..” This doesn’t work for me, either drop-down box or list. The “javascript:addTag(\’mytag\’) doesn’t seem to work. I’m on 1.5.2, any hints?


The comment RSS feed also doesn't seem to work, have also alerted her.

The Framing Trap

If you start off from the wrong foot you will never get there. The first step in making a decision is by asking the question. If the wrong question is asked your mind will be anchored by the way it is asked then the decision is deemed to be wrong. There are 2 types of framing traps, they are:

  1. Frames as Gains vs Losses – we naturally want to avoid losses. Researches have revealed that people are risk averse when a problem is posed in terms of gains but risk seeking when a problem is posed in terms of avoiding losses.

  2. Framing with different reference – different reference points will get different responses. Studies have shown that many people would refuse the 50-50 chance for a choice with reference point of zero (neutral) but accept a choice with positive reference point putting things into perspective by emphasizing the real financial impact of the decision.



What can you do about this? You can

  • Always reframe the problem in various ways and observe distortions caused by the frames;

  • Try posing problems in a neutral, redundant way that combines gains and losses or embraces different reference points

  • Deliberate hard throughout the process about framing trap. At the end ask yourself if you would change your mind if the question is asked differently;

  • When others recommend decisions, examine the way the framed the question. Challenge them with different frames.

links for 2006-01-11

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Summary score from Silktide

You can run your test here Silktide

sitescore1

Silktide Sitescore

sitescore2

Live Mail Beta

I got an invite on 5 December and was asked to follow a link to get the beta installed. Too bad I think it was meant for non-US users. I wrote back and said

I followed the link below but it doesn't allow me to signup.
I'm certainly over 13 perhaps your beta is good for US only?


To my surprise I got a reply about 3 weeks later, from a named person not a machine

We are aware of several issues our customers are having when trying to join the beta. We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We are currently sorting things out. Your patience is great appreciated during this time. I will add you to the list of customers waiting to be ported over to the Windows Live Mail Beta. Worst case scenario we'll send out new invitations. If you have any questions in the future please feel free to email me at the address listed below.


In my reply I did promise that I'll use their beta for work, the best way to test things out, hoping that they'll move me further up in the queue. Microsoft's latest reply was

I hope to have things sorted real soon.


Short and sweet this one, surely from a human being.

Yahoo Mail Beta

I got message like this 17 December 2005 and am still waiting for it to come to this part of the world

Your Yahoo! Mail Beta is coming soon.

Thanks for your interest in the new Yahoo! Mail Beta. Your turn is coming soon.

We know you can't wait to get your hands on the new Yahoo! Mail and we're just as excited about delivering it to you. Right now we're working around-the-clock to make sure it's everything you expect and more.

So stay tuned for further word. In the meantime, there's no need to do anything. Your place in line is secure, and you'll get the green light as soon as possible.

The Confirming-Evidence Trap

This is easily understood as a psychological behavior we all have but very difficult to avoid falling into. Our mind follows the decision making routine and tries to get affirmation unconsciously from people you trust. To demonstrate this, consider a case where all of us would love to get our buddies accepting and getting along with our choice of girl/boy friend. In all cases decisions have been made and your friend parents or acquaintance would just go along with your choices.

What can you do about this? Let us look at these ways:

  • Check if you are looking at all evidence with equal rigor;

  • Get someone in your team to play devil’s advocate;

  • Be honest with yourself about your motives;

  • In seeking the advice of others, frame your questions carefully to avoid asking leading questions that invite confirming evidence.

links for 2006-01-10

Monday, January 9, 2006

egoSurf

My result from egoSurf

egosurf result

The Sunk-Cost Trap

This is very similar to the Status-quo trap discussed about and has relationship with it. We tend to make choices that justifies past choices (i.e. status-quo in effect). Past choices are “sunk costs” which could be a problem employee or an investment that didn’t turn out right. This in fact goes beyond what the article has covered because when we come to make big decisions concerning past choices it touches on company politics if you are in middle management. Even if one was involved in the decision making of some big decisions normally it was the top guy who signed on that. If you were asked to review an poor performing investment, an problem employee you agreed (or didn’t disagree) to hire you would be naturally cautious when offering your comments. Naturally people would tend to protect the status-quo and will fall into this trap.

How do we avoid this? Let’s try these:

  • Set aside sunk costs – anything that would muddy your thinking about choices at hand. E.g. keep the original decision makers away from the group/team reviewing this past decision;

  • Have a fresh mind by listening carefully to people who were NOT involved with the earlier decisions;

  • Examine why admitting to an earlier mistake distresses you, your boss or the CEO;

  • Be sensitive about the influence of sunk-cost biases;

  • Cultivate a fearless culture for employees that are examining the past decisions and empower them appropriately.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

The Status-Quo Trap

Again this is a behavioral phenomenon that we repeat everyday. The article uses example such as investment inherited. I could see that we unconsciously go to the same restaurant drive the same route or consume the similar kind of food in our daily life. Our tendency is to take the least resistance, less effort, and less psychological risks when making trivial decisions. This tendency of protecting the status-quo becomes a bad habit when big decisions are being deliberated. How do we lessen the status-quo pull in our decision making? Let’s try below:-

  • State your objectives. It’ll be obvious that the status-quo, i.e. do nothing is only one of the options that may not serve all your objectives well;

  • Identify other options just to balance the pull from status-quo;

  • Avoid exaggerating the effort and costs of alternatives other than status-quo;

  • Remind yourself that the desirability of the status-quo changes with time, look further into future rather than choosing the easiest move shortsightedly;

Friday, January 6, 2006

RSS validation

My other site WP Playground is also validated as well. I maintain my "count-em-all" plugin which is essentially putting 5 small plugins together by Anders Holte Nielsen. I have removed all unnecessary descriptive text and whitespaces. I have left out plugin "wordcount" for the moment as that's a bit complicated and it takes a while to trim.

Found what went wrong

It's a plugin that caused the problem. Which plugin, it's the one that I made up of few small ones, see this post elsewhere. I suspect it's one of the little plugin called "wordcount" with whitespaces that caused the problem. In theory my way should have worked, I'll prove that later on.

It's fun, isn't it. Creating problem yourself, tracking it down and solve it yourself. Pain is the mother of joy.

I prove my assumption by activating the default classic 1.5 theme in WP Playground and I could successful subscribe to the feed from Windows Live. Now I'll be busy tidying up the mess.

PS: It's now done [Valid RSS]

RSS feed error

RSS feed for my sites, this one in particular, has been working fine because I subscribe it using Netvibes, i.e. I can read what I have posted.

Few days ago I found error from my Netvibes home page. I click the feed button and I found below error.

XML Parsing Error: xml declaration not at start of external entity
Location: http://sfong.net/fun/feed/
Line Number 8, Column 1:
^


It got worse later on. Clicking feed button gives me

Fatal error: Call to undefined function: wp() in /home/sfong/public_html/me/wp-rss2.php on line 5


Validation result shows "XML parsing error: :8:0: xml declaration not at start of external entity ".

I traced that xml file is generated by a file in the WP1.5.2 installation called wp-rss2.php and this file requires wp-blog-header.php, files that I never touch so why suddenly it failed to work?

Strangely enough my other site, which is also on WP1.5.2, WP Playground is suffering from the same problem. But WP 2.0, also has been upgraded to 2.0, is OK

There appears to be similar problem encountered by other members in forum, see this post.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Connections Reloaded 1.2.2

What am I doing here? I'm doing a clean new installation of Ajay's Connections Reloaded 1.2.2 I have been just copying files (only if newer) so not very sure if I have everything of the version 1.2.2 When I'm satisfied with my changes then I'll port it to My EMBA as I don't want to mess around that site now.

I'll then incorporate the sidebar.js script into here and other little things I want to add/change. The Neuron-Green theme will be moved to my WP Playground such that I could spend time fixing validation errors, CSS errors etc....

The Anchoring Trap

The anchoring trap is a common mental phenomenon. When considering a decision, the mind gives disproportionate weight to the first information it receives. The first impression, given as data information or figure, anchors subsequent thoughts and judgments. We fall into this kind of trap all the time. This is a trick normally used by a good negotiator, salesperson or even service/product survey not professionally designed. To avoid this trap one should follow below techniques:-

  • View a problem from different perspectives;

  • Look at the problem on your own before consulting others;

  • Be open minded;

  • Not to anchor others who may be advising you;

  • Be very careful of anchors in negotiations. Carefully evaluate your position before entering any negotiations.

links for 2006-01-05

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The Hidden Traps in Decision Making

HBR Sept–Oct 1998 - by John S Hammond, Ralph L Keeney, and Howard Raiffa

The punch line of this article is that your own mind may be your worst enemy in decision making. We make decisions everyday from picking a route when driving to deciding who to lunch with and meeting schedules during the day. We take it for granted that we are making wise decisions most of the time without examining what is the mechanism under the hood of the decision making machine, i.e. our mind. Researchers and behavioral scientists attempted to uncover how our mind works for decision making and give us advices on how to avoid hidden traps.

Most decisions during the day were routines as few examples above. We use unconscious routines for trivial decisions but also for complex ones. These routines, known as heuristics, serve us well in most situations. In the article few well-documented psychological traps are discussed.

links for 2006-01-04

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

XHTML validation

Got 12 errors from running W3C validation.

SCARCITY and LEARN & PLAY

SCARCITY – people want more of what they can have less of. This is a powerful tool indeed but also a dangerous one. It is powerful because it is human nature to treasure what is exclusive, limited and scare. E.g. senior executives normally have access to confidential information about business deals, promotion opportunities etc. If information exclusive to you is used properly you could persuade people. However if this is used too often or the exclusivity or the information itself is faked then this could be very harmful to the relationship and both the creditability of the persuader or the organization would be at stake.

LEARN AND PLAY – once said all these techniques are not rocket science. How to apply them at work everyday is still an art in my opinion. In most cases I think the situation will not be plainly set upon you that you could instantly know which principle or principles in combination should be applied. Your best endeavor, from my personal experience, is still an application of these principles from your heart, i.e. you treat your peers, partners and business associates with your heart. In time, once practiced and experience gained, you should revisit these principles and you will know what adjustments are needed. If you are a leader in an organization and persuading people is your job the 7th principle is maintaining high EQ, emotional quotient. There are bound to be people that you could not persuade, no matter how good you are and how sincerely you are at heart. You have to take on your defeat and turn it round as your drive. Perhaps the “love your enemy” virtue could be the 8th principle but this is certainly more easily said than done.
In my view persuasion techniques are not standalone tools. Good persuaders are normally good leader because by persuading people those will lead and motivate well. For that reasons leadership style plays a key role in the shaping of a good persuader.

dateheader image

Got a nice photo from flickr originally uploaded by ajnadeen. Cropped it with lightest color at front and end of the image such that texts are visible.

That is it, nothing more to do I guess apart to xHTML validation.

Just a bit more

A bit more color changes to the text in sidebar, i.e. menuheader text and the "+" and "-".

Have tried porting the switchit script to "connections reloaded" here but not very successful. Display wasn't a problem but it seems that the javascript sidebar.js doesn't load for some reasons.

Monday, January 2, 2006

It's almost done

The color changes are almost done, I wasn't able to change the color of the border line between sidebar and the post area because that's a long strip of 680 x 1 pixel image called bodybag and I need skillful tool to change the color of that "dot", which forms the vertical line when repeated vertically, to the color I want.

I also wasn't able to change the color of the site name link in the header image. It should be that "header h1" (see PS) but for some reasons I neither could change the color nor move its position.

That's all what I want to do now which are pretty easy stuff for amateur like me, perhaps last thing to do is to make another image for the post title called dateheader.jpg.

Also sorted out one text display color issue with archive template. In the template the h2 class="pagetitle" is used but this doesn't exist in the CSS file. In fact ".post-info" controls that. I have now used color="000" for month and category archive display title.

PS: No it's at "#header a:link, #header a:visited, #header a:hover, #header a:active" but I'm only able to move it sideway by padding but not down.