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After earthquake in Haiti OpenstreetMap contributors create Port-Au-Prince map in 2 days !

A fantastic example of “2.0”  success.

After terrible earthquake in Haiti, OpenstreetMap community manage to create a very accurate and up-to-date map of Port-au-prince.
This is the result of more than 800 contributions done by people on the field mixed on yahoo!  images qnd some old CIA’s maps.

The objective is to assist humanitarian aid organisations that are on the field now.

You can check the result ( still under construction ) here

Zemanta helped me add links & pictures to this email. It can do it for you too.

Posted via email from lmau’s posterous


Offline mode and security, the 2 missing features of Google docs

I’ll not explain here why I think that google docs is a very good solution for business, I’ll do it another day.
I’ll also not discussed the comparison of functionalities between Google docs and Microsoft office applications : today there’s a gap, as even Google highlighted it.

What I want to focus on is the 2 key improvements that need to be implemented before more companies can use it.
2 functionalities that make the whole thing not usable in a business context.

If you propose users to switch to cloud applications, their 2 mains concerns are :

  1. Where are my datas ? How to be sure that nobody can access them ?
  2. What happen if the network is down ? We cannot work anymore ?

1- Security, confidentiality of datas.
For my personnal use, I do not really care about confidentiality of my datas. I do not share confidential stuff. If someone access it, I do not really care.
For company datas it’s totally different. Company datas are confidential : products, sales numbers, people names, …

Today, there’s no real commitment of Google on this point.

This statement that can be found here is really very vague.

“Rest assured that your documents,  spreadsheet, and presentations will remain private unlless…”

I’m sure this commitment is not enough for a company to make the decision to switch to Google docs.

2- Offline mode
Google docs uses “gears” to provide offline mode.

The functionalities provided are OK for email  : you can still access the mailbox, read, write emails that will be sent as soon as network comes back.
Even on a poor network that is cut quite often, this is not an issue.

For the other applications, the story is different.
With spreadsheet, you can only read the documents, but no changes are possible. This is a big issue.

In my opinion, especially for travelers, it’s not acceptable to have such poor functionalities in offline mode.

According to some people, html5 that will be used in next releases of Google apps will solve it and offer a higher level of functionalities. We need it.

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My method to keep my inbox empty

Every day, I receive around 50-100 emails in my inbox. 

Since years, I’m looking for a good method to stay organized, and not be overloaded by all these incoming pieces of information.
I think that I’ve found THE method that works (at least for me).
This method is a concrete implementation of Getting things done, the method from David Allen.
Here are the few 3 steps to implement it.
1 – Configure your email system
Currently, I’m using Microsoft Outlook, but the setup can be done with every email system.
I use 5 folders :
0 – Inbox: where all email comes when I receive them
1 – Action : email for which an action from me is needed
1 – Read / Review : emails that with stuff I need to read / review
2 – Waiting for : emails for which I’m waiting for an action from someone else
3 – Done : emails processed, kept for archive.
An extra folder “Gmail view” is there to get in outlook the nice looking “conversation view” of Gmail. You don’t need it if you ‘re already in Gmail.
The numbers shown after the folder name are the number of items in the folder (not the unread items, I do not care anymore about read/ unread, you’ll see why after).
2 – Process your Inbox
Everything starts with the inbox. When emails are received, they go there.
I process my inbox at least 2 times per day: on time in the morning, before lunch and another before leaving.
I avoid reading email as they come. I’ve noticed that if I read emails as they come, I lose what I’m currently doing, and jump from a topic to another, losing efficiency.
The inbox folder is sorted by “from” field.
The processing steps are the following :
a) open email and read it
b) if I can answer the email immediately (less than 2 minutes according to GTD standards), I do it, and I move the email to “done” folder
c) if I need to answer to the email, but cannot do it immediately, because the task needs more time to be achieved, I ask myself if someone in my team can do it for me
 – if yes, I forward the email to him/her, I move the original email in “done” folder, I move the email sent in the “waiting-for” folder
– if no, I’ll have to do it myself, I move the email to the “Action” folder.
d) if I do not need to answer the email, but I need to read it more carefully (presentations, communications, …), I move it to “read/review folder”
e) finally, if the email does not trigger any action, I move it to “done” folder.
3 – Process “action”, “read/review” and “waiting-for” folders.
Once a week I do a full, complete review of these folders during my GTD weekly review (every Friday 12:30 to 2 pm)
I review the “waiting-for” folder during the one-to-one meetings I’ve with my team members.
I process action and read/review when I’ve time (using GTD principles).
If I see that action and read/review folder are getting too full, I plan in my agenda for a specific session to review them.
4 – Conclusion: Why I feel so good about this system?

a) the emails are sorted according to what I need to do with them.
Previously, I tried to do it using “read/unread” and “flags”, but it wasn’t efficient.

b) all the emails I’ve processed are not anymore in my view. 
They are in “done” folder that I seldom open. I’m not disturbed by them.

c) The KPIs to know if I’m under control or not are built-in.
I just look at the number of items in each folder.

d) coming to work in the morning with an email with few emails (just the one from the night, as I work with a 24×7 organization) is very healthy.

I let you try it, and let me know what you think about it.
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Google, GTD, web2.0, Innovation, … 6 very good books I’ve read in 2009

Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know by Randall Stross
 Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr
Product DetailsThe Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization by Thomas Kelley and Jonathan Littman


The known universe : a fantastic video from American Museum of Natural History

This video shows the known universe. It start from Tibet and then goes to the farest known area of universe. All the elements (stars, planets, …) are represented to scale.

Just take 6 minutes to do this incredible journey.
It's absolutely fantastic.

Posted via email from lmau’s posterous


If you’re developping software, you must read this : Ariane 5 flight 501 bug report

KOUROU, FRENCH GUYANA - MAY 13: In this hando...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

On June 4th, 1996, the first Ariane 5,the European Rocket was destroyed by its automated self-destruct system 37 seconds after launch

The root cause of this destruction was a software bug on the navigation system that had been re used from Ariane 4 and not tested enough…
The bug report is available online, his reading is very instructive.
You can find it here.
You can also read the good article in wikipedia.


How to succeed in a project : a good start is mandatory

This is true for everything in life: if the start is not good… you’ll have to fight to come back in good shape, and maybe it will not be possible.

100 metros 3

For a project, this is especially true.
The cause of many project failures can be traced back to the early days of the project.
Before the start of the project, it’s easy to think. After, when the project is launched, it’s a lot more difficult, because you will have to run the project.
To be efficient when you run the project, and be able to think, see the issues, the project has to be clear.
When the project starts, everything is possible :

  • what will be the deadline?
  • what will be the deliverables?
  • what will be the methodology used?
  • who will be on the team?

Of course, some of them have constraints, but, before the project starts, you can change them, or at least try to change them. If you cannot change them… you still can organize the project to meet them.

For example, if  the deadline is very aggressive, what I always do is :

  • Understand why. What will be the impact to release later?
  • Propose pre deliverables or other solutions to answer the need as soon as possible, and take time to build the full solution. Sometimes, it’s even possible to prose a pre-version that will meet 80% of the requirements, before the need date…
  • Put in place the good organization to achieve it (need more people ? more money ? …)

If you don’t take the time to review it and start the project with an impossible deadline, you’ll fail, waste money, and energy…