Welcome to Thought Asylum a place for me to share my thoughts, ideas and experiences with the rest of the world.  I try to post reasonably regularly and if you like the content consider subscribing to the site feeds.  If you're trying to find something specific try the search, otherwise just have a browse.


3 Things you have that others want

We all have things that we want from people and of course there are things they want from us. Recently I was thinking about what this actually meant and I think I managed to boil it down to just three things - things that I think we all look for from each other.

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The Awesome Power of Mistakes

Outside of my work I spend several hours each week volunteering as a teacher. I have some modest skills and experiences that people seem to be interested in learning about and developing themselves and that's something that gives me great pride to be able to do. One of the most important lessons I try and teach my students is about the awesome power of mistakes.

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A wise Sensei once asked me a question...

When I'm not working, sat at a computer creating things or spending time with my family I can usually be found helping people with their studies of the martial art of Jiu Jitsu. I've been doing this for well over a decade and like to think I have developed at least some modicum of aptitude in helping people develop the a range of physical, mental and emotional skills to allow them to advance in their studies. But no matter how much teaching I do and how many techniques, approaches and lessons I develop myself it is the lessons of my first instructors that I come back to time and again as being some of the simplest and most useful.

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Adding Multiple Sets of Looping Slides to PowerPoint

For some time now there have been techniques around for having a set of slides that loop at the start of your PowerPoint presentation. These generally involve hiding your main presentation slides, adding an invisible button to each of the visible slides (that allows you to jump to your first hidden slide), setting those slides to auto advance and then setting your presentation to loop continuously. But what if you want to add more loops and/or want to control everything from a presentation remote?

Last year I was working on a webinar where we wanted to have a couple of looped sets of slides and I needed an alternative - ideally one that didn't involve having to break out and run a separate presentation. Fortunately it wasn't too hard to come up with a solution.

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5 Tactics to Use When You Are Really Stuck

We all get stuck from time to time. A mental block, a change in plans or the proverbial brick wall. Dealing with such impasses is challenging and can create periods of stress and low productivity. They are nothing to be ashamed of and in fact we often find that when we overcome these sorts of issues we are rewarded with valuable skills and experience that benefit us from that point on.

In this post I'd like to share a few methods I use that can help you deal with these sorts of scenarios. Not all are applicable on every occasion, but hopefully there are at least a couple that can be applied to a particular situation.

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Export all Canvases in OmniGraffle

Over the last few years I've created a number of useful diagrams in Omnigraffle that describe some technical architectures and requirements for some of the software that I work with. Whenever there is a new release I update the diagrams and then export each in turn as an image file. Because of the number of diagrams involved this became a rather laborious process ... so as usual I decided to make things a bit more automated.

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Making HR Smarter

Change. It's happening all the time, everywhere we look. In order to survive we need to adapt to the changes. In order to prosper we need to drive the changes. We need to constantly strive to improve and be smarter about what we do and how we do it.

In terms of technology the pace is particularly rapid. The use of cloud computing is pervasive and allows you to move your processing into amorphous collections of servers housed in data centres located around the globe. Big data is out there and when analysed properly can give you incredible insights into what's really happening in the world. Mobile access is the norm and everyone now expects to be productive anywhere, at any time using whatever device they have to hand. So how can HR professionals get smarter about this?

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There may be trouble ahead if your day starts like this...

Every now and then you get a day that you know is going to be a little different and more challenging than the typical one. You can tell right away it will be "one of those days" by the first thing someone says to you when you walk into the office. Some time back I was heading up a small IT department and occasionally I would walk in to an "I'm glad you're here", "server A is down" or "X has rung for you twice already". None unusual in themselves, but all harbingers of what was to come. However, the strangest greeting I ever had was as I walked up to my desk one morning and a colleague turned to me and with a wry smile said ... "There's a bird in the server room".

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How to Create Jigsaws in PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a term used to strike fear into the hearts of office workers the world over, but much like a firearm it is more about whose hands it is in that makes the difference. I may not be a PowerPoint guru, but on many occasions over the years I've found myself needing to wrestle with its functions and features to produce the effect I (or more frequently someone else) want(s). One effect that keeps cropping up is that of a jigsaw. The analogy of the complete picture and how pieces fit together (or are missing) lends itself well to many aspects of business and life in general. Since it has been such a popular request I thought I'd share some techniques and some templates that I use to produce jigsaws in PowerPoint.

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A Self Installing VBScript

Over the years I've been doing technical support I've had quite a few useful VBS scripts that I'd copy over to a user's machine. Then if it necessary, they could be run again at a later date (by remote control or referring the user to it's location and get them to run it). However I quickly tired of manually doing this and dealing with the instances where I'd accidentally copied the script to the user's desktop instead of the location I'd really wanted. As a result I created some extra lines to add into these scripts that would install the script to the desired location and then run it from there. This meant I could run it from a flash or network drive and it would automatically go to the right place - even updating older scripts.

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