Safari Bookshelf

Just found an interesting service on the O’Reilly Network Safari BookShelf. Safari BookShelf is a subscription model for eBooks. They basically have loaded a whole lot of computer books into a database and made them available on line. From the web site:-

As a subscriber to Safari, you have the ability to search across the entire Safari Library at all times. Search results are rendered in two different ways depending upon whether a book resides on your personal Bookshelf or not. For every book that resides on your Bookshelf you can see every word of that book from cover to cover. For all other books, you can browse or search in preview mode. Previews consist of the first few paragraphs of text. Preview as many sections as you like, as often as you like before you decide whether to add it to your bookshelf.


The 1st generation was a web subscription like NetFlix, 2nd generation they have built a web services API to allow developers to tap into the database. You can build applications that use the content for other purposes such as online help systems. My Safari allows people to de-construct the books and build them back up, therefore a professor could create their own custom text books based on the content from the different books or create custom corporate documentation sets.

There is an RSS feed for when new books become available and an affilate program.

Looks very interesting, and it is a great tool for the IT professional. It also provides and interesting framework for an eLearning tool.

Podcasts

I am addicted to podcasts at the moment, I am finding IT Conversations a fantastic source of information.

My personal learning style is that of experience, reading, listening in that order. I find listening to great people speak provides me with great food for thought and then gives me a framework to go read and experience more about the subject. Podcasts are providing this in the same way that conferences do, just evey day!

Choices

Listening to Barry Schwartz’s Less is More presentation from PopTech and during which I experienced an “a ha” moment, you know the one when you suddenly understand what is going on.

Barry had been talking for about 30 minutes on how the number of options made available to people actually decrease the likelihood of them making a choice (opportunity cost). Then he started talking about when every thing was worse then it was easy to have experiences that exceed expectations. Now it is very hard for people to have experiences that exceed expectations because our expectations are so high. Interesting.

“There is no excuses for failure in a world where choices are essentially infinite.” – Barry Schwartz

Barry then provided us with a solution, anything that constrains people’s choices is a benefit as it make things easier. Remember how you feel when you walk into a shop for the first time and they have 100/200/500/1000 different flavour’s of ice cream. You feel anxious, what if I choose the wrong flavour. I see this all the time with my son, note to self; start limiting his choices. The anxiousness is increasing our stress levels.

I learnt that adding choices has a diminishing returns, so find the break even point and stick with it. However no choices at all is worse, you need some choices.

User experience

I have blogged about this before and I will do it again and again because I believe it is very important in workforce applications.

I have been listening to the G’Day World guys talking with Buzz Bruggeman from ActiveWords. While the whole podcast was very interesting something Buzz said jumped out at me. Buzz mentioned the user experience and how little things have change in the last few years. Why did this jump out at me?

About 4 weeks ago my wife and I were having the exact same discussion. We spent several minutes talking and brain storming several ideas as to what should change. Thankfully we do not build operating systems as we did not come up with many good ideas. We did discuss the whole idea of the perfect search and desktop search and how this new move is helping change the user experience. We then went and looked back at the Knowledge Navigator, which I have referred to before.

Common pitfalls when implementing eHR

I was looking at an old article that I wrote a couple of years ago about common pitfalls when implementing Human Resource (HR) technology, which I felt is still very relevant today. By HR technology I and referring to all people based systems, ie more than just payroll. Previously implementations of HR technology might impact a few administrators, while today’s new technologies can touch all employees and even service providers. In this environment the impact of a bad or sub-standard implementation is huge. In summary here are the 10 pitfalls:-

1. Loss of Personal Touch
2. Security
3. Change Management
4. Justification
5. Viewed as just a HR (or technology) program
6. Process Work
7. Data Management
8. Not enough ongoing support from both the business and technical
9. Long Delivery Time lines
10. Not viewing eHR as an enabler of change within HR