Monday, January 16, 2012

There is a difference between a Meyer lemon and the common lemon

I learned the difference the hard, or should I say puckered, way. My daughter brought home a bag of lemons from a friend at work who has a tree in their yard. I decided to make a dish that I love, Linguine with Lemon. I've made this dish before, from the Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking cookbook. This cookbook is one of my favorites. There is a glowing review of the book in the Daily News. The cookbook suggested Meyer or Sorrento lemons. I had used Meyer lemons before but did not think through the substitution to a fruit of unknown origin. I later learned that a Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and an orange: it is much sweeter and less acidic. It is also small, so there is less juice. I chose poorly.

I fixed the dish, following the directions blindly as I was enjoying discussions with our guest, appetizers and wine; I trusted the book. The bottom line is that the pasta was tasty but a bit too lemony. In fact, it was almost ten times too lemony.

This is a lesson we should all remember. I know that all four of us at dinner last night will keep it in mind for years to come.
Addendum: Our guest for this dinner sent me another recipe that called for Meyer lemons. It's a Pasta with Pistachios, Meyer Lemon and Broccoli that was excellent. We're big broccoli fans here so, I added a bit more than he said and I think it improved the dish. The dish was a big hit, especially since we're so accustomed to basil pestos.

Integrating Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs

I experienced the value of Twitter for the first time this weekend, as reported elsewhere. The time has come to integrate all of these platforms in an automated fashion. I am doing this in multiple steps, and will point to the resources for each of these.

Adding a Twitter follow c_myers4 button to web pages and blogs: I've seen this on a number of blogs, but the path to accomplish this was unclear. I did a Google search and found a short YouTube video that laid out the issues in a clear succinct fashion.

Twitter automatic update on LinkedIn (my tweets feed LinkedIn): This was much easier than I had imagined. The LinkedIn Learning Center has a great page on Twitter and how to do the integration. Note: This changed on June 29, 2012: Twitter no long cross-posts to LinkedIn, but the same functions can be done by posting in LinkedIn and then having it post to Twitter. The email from LinkedIn described the procedure as "Compose your update, check the box with the Twitter icon, and click “Share.” This will automatically push your update to both your LinkedIn connections and your Twitter followers just as before."

Integrating blogs and FacebookI had considered linking my blogs to Facebook and Twitter, but rejected that for traffic reasons (too much noise showing up on Facebook). I have considered automatic Fcaebook posts for blog entries, if I can sort through the myriad suggestions. I will tweet new blog posts on my two professional blogs, Bad Hyphen and Exceptional Customer Experience. Blog entries on Random Routes that are relevant to the professional side may also be tweeted. [After some investigation, I found automatic methods to be complex to set up. They were also low value, as I may get more traffic on the blog with a bit of explanation in the Facebook post. So I've given up on this for now, unless someone can give me a great idea.]

For now, I will just create manual notices on Facebook and Twitter for new blogs. And LinkedIn will take care if itself from Twitter. I would ask that, if you'd like the most timely blog updates, you follow me on Twitter. Click on the link to the right in the links area.

My first personal experience with the power of Twitter

I have been a Twitter skeptic. I think you know the discussions of "what is the value of Twitter... Why should I bother... Who's listening... It's only about the latest news for Jennifer Lopez." The answer came on Saturday morning.

I am continuing to work on my social media presence. My first activity of Saturday was to connect up LinkedIn and Twitter. I have seen other people do this and I enjoy seeing their tweets in LinkedIn. And the extra visibility that professional tweets receive on LinkedIn doesn't hurt and helps form a deeper impression of a person than just their professional summary. [Of course, when looking for a job, visibility is the key so you stay top of mind to prospective employers.] In the midst of the setup, I ran Twitter and saw the following post from Lori DeFurio, who I used to work with at Adobe: "Im at #CLSwest today. 1st time. Great crowd. Looking forward to great discussions". I looked it up and found that this was a Community Leadership Summit being held at eBay in San Jose. This was an unConference being held for social community organizers. The day was full of metrics, twitter, and community platforms. I had an extraordinarily educational day, but that's for another post. It certainly launched me on a much more social path than I was a few days before and I had been trending towards that path in any event.

I told my family that I was not cooking breakfast, showered and got in the car. I arrived at 10 AM just before the second sessions were to begin. These connections were made from a random tweet, the first in four days, that Lori happened to do.

The bottom line is that Twitter connected me to an in-person social community that was in my backyard. I have now experienced the value in a profound but entirely unexpected way.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Launching Myers 2.0

It's a new year and time for a fresh start. 2011 was not the finest of years, and it ended with the decision from Adobe that the product line I had worked was not the strategic direction of the company. My position was eliminated, as it was for hundreds of others on the same product suite. It's unclear where I'll go next, but I'm excited to see the opportunities within Adobe as well as that wide world outside.

It may seem from the blog and Facebook for my Facebook friends that I have been spending my time biking and cooking, but I've been quite busy beyond that. I've decided on a rough direction for myself, which is roughly product management, but using what I have learned from work with the field organization, partners, developers and customers. Now I just have to find a place that matches my talents and interests.

I've always been active in social media, but much of this was internal to Adobe or fostered indirectly through a group of talented and dedicated people that reported to me. I've known how to do this, but have not done it all myself. It's exciting to have the time to personally discover this, so I have been applying my efforts to my own social media channels. I have had this personal blog for five years, but I want to keep this to my own thoughts and experiences in life. Professional life falls outside this, so I needed to open up new channels.

I now have at a number of new professional addresses.
  • LinkedIn - my profile is up to date and ready for action
  • Bad Hyphen - when grammar goes bad, or how to see some humor and learn from one's mistakes
  • Exceptional Customer Experience - my observations as a consumer and a product manager on life as a customer
  • Twitter - while not totally business and professional, the intent is to be predominantly professional
I also have a set of personal addresses.
  • Random Routes - this personal blog
  • Facebook
  • - this is a placeholder at the moment, but it will eventually become my personal website where I can post videos and play with technology. My current my priority is finding a new career venue.
Please leave me your comments, add LinkedIn recommendations, or tell your friends about me, my talents and skills and point them to the addresses above. And here's to a productive and employed 2012 for all.

One very fast day on a local loop with an example of Strava

I wrote about mountain biking and personal records last week. Since then, I had a cold and was forced to lay low and not bike for a few days. However, today was a glorious day; it was sunny and in the mid-sixties. My cold was gone. I was short on time, so I decided to just ride a loop near my house. I rode out on Kennedy and back on Shannon. It's just a bit over seven miles and just over 700 feet of climbing. And today I decided to hammer the ride. I knew that I was fast when I rode this, but was quite pleasantly surprised when I downloaded this to Strava and discovered that I had acheived personal bests on both climbs (one counts two ways... for the steep part and the full climb) and I was close to my fastest on the descents. I had actually shaved 50 seconds off the steep climb.

It's worth bragging a bit here so that my mom, sister, and niece can all see this. It also is the best numerical indication of how I'm feeling these days, which is just plain terrific. And, since I extolled the virtues of Strava before, I wanted you to be able to see what this wonderful technology can do.

Here is the GPS-based map of my exact route.

This shows the elevation profile for the ride, followed by a report for each segment. You can see the three personal bests.

Of course, my times are still in the bottom 30% of the 500+ people on Strava who ride these same climbs. I have significant room for improvement and weight loss. But those will only come with hard work and incremental improvements to my personal best over time. I'm up to the challenge.

One addendum to this post. Strava is a social community for atheletes, not just a personal service. It allows you to follow other people and have other people follow you, much like Twitter. The only difference is that your messages are activities and not tweets. You can track me on my Strava page, although the information available on the public profile page is somewhat limited. We can follow each other if you join.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Mountain biking in the Santa Cruz mountains

You probably saw my post back in November about my work situation. Well, one of the things I've been doing since then, while not working on my resume or LinkedIn, is going out on my bike four to five days a week. I'm better shape than I have been in years (four years, to be exact). My weight is down (of course, with more to go) and I have finally had to move down in waist size. But one of the greatest delights has been mountain biking in the local mountains. There are two-thousand foot climbs within a few miles of my house. I have enclosed a few pictures for your enjoyment. They were taken in late afternoon, so the valley is still in the sun, but mountains blocked the sun from the trails. And if the trail looks steep, it actually is: it was almost a 20% grade at the places I stopped for the pictures.

Here is a view of south San Jose.

This is a view of San Jose proper. The downtown is on the left and the city sprawls around it and to the right.

I know that I will have to go back to work at some point, and my job search has begun in earnest now. But it is wonderful to take breaks from all this and concentrate on climbing crazy hills.

Oh, and one last thing. Peter gave me a Garmin Edge 500 bike computer (with GPS) for my birthday, along with a subscription to Strava, a website for downloading, analyzing and comparing ride results. I now work on both endurance and speed, and it is wonderful to come back from a ride, download results, and see the number of personal bests that I have broken in that day's ride. I generally have at least one personal best each ride, and some days have had over five in one ride. In fact, this ride up Kennedy to the top of Priest Rock was one of those "five best" days. But I know that I can do much better still.