Apr 30, 2012

LightBulb App!

A free app that won the EPA's Apps for the Environment contest lets you calculate the energy and cost savings you'd see by swapping out your light bulbs for more efficient versions. The EPA estimates that using the app can help homeowners cut their electricity bill by $120 a year and cut their CO2 emissions by 1,360 lbs a year.

The Light Bulb Finder app lets you choose the type of fixture and bulb that you want to replace and then recommends a good replacement based on fit, appearance and quality. The app then shows users a picture of the bulb, its specifications and the savings users will see in energy, costs and emissions based on the user's location if they make the switch. To make it easy as possible, the app also directs users to where they can buy the bulbs either online or at local retailers.

As a home owner, I know that walking into a large home improvement store and trying to pick out efficient bulbs from the shelves can feel a little overwhelming, especially when you're not sure about fixture fit and the quality of light you'll be getting. This app is great because it takes the guessing out of making the switch to more efficient bulbs and as the incandescent bulbs start disappearing from shelves starting as the new light bulb standards go into effect, easy access to this information will become important.

The app is available for iOS devices and Android-based smartphones.

Apr 25, 2012

Minneapolis Bound for Project Management Leadership Meetings


Heading to Minneapolis for Project Management Institute (PMI) Region 2 Leadership Meetings.  Thursday will be the Strategic Alignment Group, we plan out our next two years as well as work on projects that will support the Chapter Leaders.

Friday and Saturday are networking and brainstorming meetings, role specific, to help advance individual leadership competencies.

I am hoping to get a round of golf in Saturday afternoon, then heading back to the Bend on Sunday.  Catch you next week.

Apr 24, 2012


"Life has got to be lived-that's all that there is to it."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Apr 23, 2012


I posted about the various locations the shuttles were heading to last May, you can read it here.

The space shuttle Discovery, riding atop a 747 shuttle-carrier, flew from Kennedy Space Center in Florida up to Washington, D.C. to its final resting place at the Smithsonian.

Apr 21, 2012

Are You Experienced?

The following is from the April 2012 PM Network, authored by Neal Whitten, PMP.  I think that the differences between experienced and less experienced personnel can apply to any profession, not just project management.  

It’s often said that the main difference between the job description of a project manager and a senior project manager is the number of projects he or she runs, along with the projects’ size and complexity.  Although these factors can come into play, that description does not adequately identify the differences. I have certain expectations for senior project managers that I don’t have for those who are less experienced:
1.   Mentor less-senior personnel. There is no better way to learn a craft than with assistance from a mentor—especially when you’re first starting out.
2.   Evaluate performance. A senior project manager has the skills to know what is expected of a project manager and should be able to help evaluate that person’s performance.
3.   Identify project management-related training needs. They should be able to evaluate the readiness of a project team or organization and then recommend the related training required to ensure the effective application of project management and leadership principles.
4.   Conduct training. A senior project manager must be able to teach many of the skills required for the successful planning, execution, delivery and support of projects and their products or services.
5.   Perform project reviews. They should have the ability to either individually assess the health of a project or lead a small team in doing so.
6.   Turn troubled projects around. Any project manager with satisfactory performance should, for the most part, be able to turn around small and some medium-sized troubled projects. But a senior project manager should be able to turn around any-size troubled project in his or her industry.
7.   Help hire or place project managers. A senior project manager can significantly contribute in the interview and selection of new project management hires. More-over, he or she can be called upon to determine the placement of project managers onto specific projects.
8.   Make continuous improvement a priority. They should have a solid grasp of basic and advanced project management principles, along with having experience in successfully applying and advancing those principles. Continuous improvement is a distinctive characteristic of higher-level project managers.
9.   Think like a businessperson. Project management is mostly about business. A senior project manager should understand the business need for each project and make ongoing decisions based on what’s best for the organization—even if that means challenging senior stakeholders on critical success factors.
10. Be a role model for integrity. Integrity is not optional. However, many project managers are shaky in taking the initiative to ensure a project is always being run effectively and with proper governance. Senior project managers should champion the promotion of integrity in all endeavors

Apr 20, 2012

As the Wind Blows :o)

Two of Google's finest, Fernanda B. ViĆ©gas and Martin Wattenberg, have created an interactive map of the country's wind energy that is both hypnotic and hopeful. The map uses data from the National Digital Forecast Database to provide hourly visual updates of wind patterns and speed across the U.S.

The creators made the map to illustrate that "an invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future." That's the hopeful part. Looking at all of the wind energy churning around the country is enough to make anyone excited about installing wind turbines wherever we can.

Click the map above to see the windiness real time :o)


Apr 19, 2012

How Do You Influence?

Five Styles of Influencing:

Rationalizing: Do you use logic, facts, and reasoning to present your ideas? Do you leverage your facts, logic, expertise, and experience to persuade others?

Asserting: Do you rely on your personal confidence, rules, law, and authority to influence others? Do you insist that your ideas are heard and considered, even when others disagree? Do you challenge the ideas of others when they don't agree with yours? Do you debate with or pressure others to get them to see your point of view?

Negotiating: Do you look for compromises and make concessions in order to reach an outcome that satisfies your greater interest? Do you make tradeoffs and exchanges in order to meet your larger interests? If necessary, will you delay the discussion until a more opportune time?

Inspiring: Do you encourage others toward your position by communicating a sense of shared mission and exciting possibility? Do you use inspirational appeals, stories, and metaphors to encourage a shared sense of purpose?

Bridging: Do you attempt to influence outcomes by uniting or connecting with others? Do you rely on reciprocity, engaging superior support, consultation, building coalitions, and using personal relationships to get people to agree with your position?

Apr 18, 2012

Ducted Wind Machine

One of the biggest problems with typical horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWT - pinwheel-type turbines) is that they are not very efficient at low wind speeds. This is usually dealt with by surveying sites and finding locations where wind speeds tend to be higher, so that the turbines will be more effective once they are built, but these locations are often in remote locations, far from where the power is needed.

Wind turbines that use ducts to direct the wind for greater efficiency are not an entirely new idea, but the developers of the Winga have a new approach that could make this a useful configuration for new wind turbines.

By using wings to shroud both the inlet and the outlet to the turbine, it is possible for the turbine to generate power with lower wind speeds. The Winga turbine could be located closer to the ground, so that it would be less visually obtrusive, and also makes maintenance easier to carry out. The Winga can also be configured so that it could be lowered to the ground in the event of excessive winds that had the potential to cause damage.

The Winga has a cut-in speed (where the turbine first begins to generate power) of just 2 meters per second (about 4.5 mph) wind speed and reaches full power at a wind speed of 4 meters per second (about 9 mph). A typical HAWT has a cut-in speed of 4 meters per second, and doesn't reach full power until the winds reach 10 meters per second (about 22 mph).

The compact configuration of this turbine also allows it to use an annular rotor instead of the more conventional central-axis blades, which concentrates the blade area at the edges, where the greatest amount of torque is developed. The Winga has a tower height of 35 meters (about 115 feet), and measures 36.5 meters (120 feet) in length, with a scoop opening measuring 9 meters by 12 meters (30 feet by 40 feet). All of the moving parts are contained within the enclosure, so it would not have the dynamic, moving appearance that some find bothersome with conventional turbines.

Apr 17, 2012

Taxes and You!


I figured today was as good a day as any to remind us of how our taxes, our federal budget, is spent:

Each percentage represents approximately $33 Billion for an annual budget of $3.3 Trillion.  58% of the budget results in direct payments to individuals.

20.5%   Social Security
18.0%   Defense
14.7%   Medicare
  6.9%   Medicaid
  9.0%   Help for low-incomers
  5.9%   Net Interest on Debt
25.0%   Everything Else

Every thing else includes transportation (3.3%), education (1.9%), federal and military retirement (3.8%), homeland security (1.3%), science/space (0.9%), international aid (1.7%), and environmental (0.6%).

Help for low-incomers includes food stamps, housing, welfare, and school lunch programs.

As we listen to politicians and pundits position themselves on how we can cut spending and raise taxes, and I look at the numbers above, it is clear that they are full of hot air.

We must increase spending in areas such as transportation, education, science, space, and the environment.  We are going to need to come up with some innovative programs, focused on the future, not the now.  If we increase spending here, then we will be able to reduce some of the low-incomer expenses, a net wash for the budget.

I think we need means testing for social security and medicare, we need to cut defense spending, we certainly cannot afford to extend the tax cuts, and we must increase taxes on the 1%.  With a current deficit on the order of $1 Trillion per year, that means that the combination of spending cuts and tax increases need to combine for a total of 30%.  This is why there are no simple solutions and the sound bites are distracting and meaningless.  This is going to require rolling up our shirt sleeves and making some tough and fair decisions.

Apr 16, 2012

Are You In The Way?

We all like to think we are leading the way for our teams (whether at home or at the office), but how do we know we aren’t only in the way? Ask yourself these questions.

If I weren’t here, would this meeting/event still happen?  It needs to provide value for all attendees, not just you.

Do I know everything happening on my team?  Do you micro-manage or just provide vision and empowerment?  Your expectations should be communicated so that you are  pleasantly surprised, but never stunned.

Do I know what frustrates my team?  If you do not know, it may be you!

Now, get out of the way.