May 29, 2011

Isn't it ironic

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face
Alanis Morrissette - Ironic

Just when I got to my hundred posts and started to brag about such a meaningless achievement, I had to keep two week break of my blogging. I turned quite sick and I just can't blog when I'm sick. I actually didn't have the energy to even visit my blog once while I was laying on the bed and sofa.

I really love the lyrics of Alanis Morrissette Ironic. It really gathers the way life teaches you. When you're playing it real safe, then it hits you much more certainly than if you wouldn't. If everything goes really well, life reminds you also on the worse side of it. If everything is going wrong, life will help you to feel bit better. It's ironic, but that what makes live so interesting.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 14, 2011

One Hundred Posts

I promised myself that if I ever get to hundred blog posts, I'm going to blog about my blogging. My blogging started March 2010 and after first half year I started to blog much more often and I got to hundred in in year and two months.

I can't exactly remember why I started blogging. I've been following blogs for years and years, but never really felt like blogging. I first tried with sports related blogging about two years ago, but it never really got off. No one read it and I didn't really like it. So I changed my language to English and started to blog first about books and then gradually moved to anything interesting.

The subject in question

One thing I used to think a lot was a subject for my blog. What would be the key thing to blog about. Most of the blogging tips where saying that concentrate on niche subject to get more readers. Also most of the blogs I followed was one subject blogs. I tried and tried to come up with an specific subject for my blogging, but never did. Finally I thought that I rather constantly lose many of my followers because I blog about so many different things, than try to stick with one thing and then lose my interest to this all together. I've noticed many many times that I lose readers due to wide variety of subjects I blog, but that's true me. I rather be myself with fewer people than try to please everyone.

Why I blog

At first it started with this personal branding type of an idea to get more visibility if I ever would decide to change job or start my own business or something like that. Soon I found out that I like it and blogging came a true hobby for me. For me it's like hanging out with my thoughts. It's so nice to be able just concentrate on things I feel interesting and just be totally me. Actually I haven't even told most of my friends about my blogging, just because I want to write to web, not to some guys I know already. It makes me more to be me, because I'm not writing for any known audience. Again I could get quite many more readers from my friends if only they would know I'm blogging, but that's not my point at all, so I haven't done so.

Tips - or how I blog regularly

There's couple of small things that makes possible that I get a blog post that regularly. I tend to try to get at least 2 posts out in a week, hopefully 1-2 more. I do work for living, I have two small daughters with whom I try to spend all their wake up time with, I try to exercise 5-6 times a week and I use too much time watching sports from TV. Still I tend to achieve my blogging goals. I'm not going in details of my priority management, but my main points related to blogging are:
  • Write when you  have time and energy for it. When I get to the mood, I tend to write multiple blog posts at once. Then I publish those later. I normally have at least one blog post ready for publishing. Lean experts might say that this inventory is waste, but I don't see any other alternative to publish regularly, since interval to find time for blogging varies so much.
  • Always write your thoughts down. I currently have 18 blog posts with some texts or ideas written down in blogger. Then I have couple more on my mobile's notebook to be transferred to blogger. This way even when I'm not right away inspired to blog about something specific, I check my drafts and most often I find some post to complete from those.
  • Follow inspiring blogs and web sites. I really often get ideas for new posts when I'm checking some videos or reading something. I do follow twitter streams also, but I'm not sure if I've ever got any ideas to blog about from twitter. Good old Google reader and RSS feeds, with proper longer blog posts with images and videos work much better to inspire me.


It's been fun to notice that there have been more and more people checking my blog out and hopefully there's some people who really enjoy it. Either way, I'm not gonna stop because of too few readers or anything, since I really like this. Thanks for you too, if you really read this post this far and have been reading my posts some other time also.

I wanna say special thanks to Vasco Duarte, who is a colleague of mine, he's been (most probably he don't know this) a kind of a role model for blogging to me. In the beginning I was checking his blogging a lot and got some good ideas from there. I know he's been reading and commenting on my posts once in a while too, so thanks Vasco for that.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 11, 2011

Giving an online training - thoughts on it's challenges

I'm not a full time trainer, but I've been keeping some trainings in different places. Recently I had to give my first training totally online, so that it was only me and my computer using screen sharing with participants. That training was the hardest I've kept so far. There's so many challenges with online trainings which I wasn't aware of. Here's my learning's:

Whole situation seemed really strange. I knew some of the guys online, but there was about half of them I didn't know. It felt absurd to talk alone in my room and try to get people to learn something. For me, it's so much easier to go in front of the crowd and adjust and collaborate with the crowd to get the message through. And by no means it's really easy for me to go in front of the crowd, but it's just so much harder to do it totally online without true connection to the people.

With online training there's almost no connection to the people you are talking to. You don't see their reactions, you can't read from gestures or body languages that are the guys understanding you or would they need some more explanation. Or in the worst case they might be totally bored and they would need something to wake them up.

Also with online communication,  people tend to mute their microphones and you don't even here the slightest sound of laughter, when you try to be funny or you don't hear the moment of silence when they are possibly processing about something controversial or surprising you said. It's just you, your slides and silence. It's truly scary.

You are left with your voice and slides. You can't use your body language and the space to move around, you normally have in face to face trainings. You have to try to use just your voice to get the message trough. It is really hard. I've worked whole my career with multicontinent projects and I'm really used for using online tools and telco's for communication. I still never would have guessed how hard keeping training with these tools is. All the credit for those guys who do this more regularly.

I want to highlight that keeping training is so much different than meetings and presentations via online tools. In meetings and presentations the topic is often better known, there's natural conversation, microphones are open much more and you can hear and feel more about what others are doing. So I'm only talking about the difficulty of online trainings, the other stuff is much easier.

With the experience of two online trainings I'm not a good expert to give any tips how to perform better in those, but here's what I will do differently next time:
  • Setting the stage. I will try to get much more people to say something in very beginning. I'll try to get some expectations and knowledge about their competence in the area in question out before I start. That may help collaboration further during training.
  • I'm going to change my slides to contain less information. Even with face to face trainings, people tend to be reading the slides when you are talking to them, I can just guess how much they are concentrating on slides when that's all they see. Maybe less data in the slides will help the people to focus on listening. This is just me guessing, but it's worth of trying still.
  • I might be looking if there would be some way to get feedback during the training. Maybe vote buttons or some red, yellow, green lights for the users to be able to say when they've heard enough about subject or would like some more explanation. Even it might feel artificial, it could still give important feedback to me, to decide how to progress.

I guess it's obvious that I prefer face to face trainings and I guess everyone else does also. Sometimes still the subject is such small and focused that it's much more convenient to try to keep online training in 1-2 hours, than use many days or weeks to travel to keep face to face training. So I bet it wasn't my last training online.

I always like to try new stuff and learn new skills. This event was actually quite useful learning for me. I learned a lot about the teaching. I noticed many useful things when I was missing some important ways to communicate. From now I'm much more aware on those and I will try to concentrate on using those more wisely when I have the change.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 9, 2011

Amazing timelapse video by Terje Sorgjerd

Amazing and really beautiful video shot in many different locations (Check the Vimeo site for details). One of the most amazing ones I've ever seen.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

Here's the Facebook fan page of the artist TSO Photography.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 8, 2011

Disappointed to notice amount of copycats in the web

When I was doing the investigation for my previous blog post about this one site which had suspiciosly similar content from other sites, I noticed that similar things is ongoing in much larger scale than I expected. It seems that it is really common that same article is shown in many places with minor differences. For example all of the following websites had the exactly the same article, only differences where the title, pictures within the text and whether the writer and source was mentioned or not.

Here's the exact links to those article's and you can see that those really are the same article.

Acoustic Guitars – Picking Out Your First One
A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar
A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar
Buying an acoustic guitar
Music Guide - A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar
A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar
A Guide to Buying an Acoustic Guitar
Advice on Buying A Guitar
The Secrets and techniques To Owning A New Acoustic Guitar
How To Buy An Acoustic Guitar
Acoustic Guitar - Picking Out Your First One

Here's citation how they all start:
Knowing how to choose the right guitar and how to identify a bad one, will save you from countless headaches, not to mention finger aches.

Acoustic guitar bodies come in basically the same hourglass shape, with some variations, but they do vary in size, color, wood-type, style, and extra features. You can even buy an acoustic guitar so small that fits into a hiking backpack.

Guitars ( Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar and Electric Guitars) come in a very wide range of prices, but when it comes to instruments, in general, you get what you pay for, especially ...

Couple of these articles mentions that article was written by Ian Williamson. Most of those doesn't. In most of those you have no way to realize that article is originally from another source. I'm not accusing these sites for anything, but I'm just disappointed. Disappointed for the guys who really create unique content. That content will get less and less visibility if articles which are seen popular are copied to multiple web sites over and over. The different unique content might be pushed down in search results because the ones copying their content can release so much more often than the ones who really need to write something to publish it.

For the internet is almost the same if there is 100 times the same content or not. Main thing is that people will find what they are looking for or find things that are interesting for them. Main disadvantage there is that this type of activity might lead to people actually producing less and less content unique content and internet will get much poorer.

Maybe all of us bloggers, who create our own content and do remember to mention the source if some content is borrowed, should have a unique badge on our blogs. Here's challenge for someone to create snippet that could be added to these unique content blogs.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 6, 2011

Duplicating the texts in different blogs - is it acceptable?

Someone from send me a mail asking if I would like to link my site with her's (signed with woman name). First I thought it was nice idea, but I wanted to check the site out before linking to it. At first sight the site looked fine, I was only wondering that topics were not in line with site looks and name and topics varied a lot. For some reason I wanted to investigate bit more.

What I found out was that this all posts in this site had really many similarities with other posts from other sites. Most of those were not exact matches, but there was so much similarity that I decided to share it with you. Here's my results of that study:

I've marked with red the differences in between two text's from two different sources. I've only take a snap of the text, but if you see the full article's it's always the same paragraph division and same amount of sentences.

Example 1 - article about directional speakers

Here's snap from article Most Convenient Directional Speakers.
Directional speakers are ideal for specific applications in a certain environment. Much to the difference of loud or regular speakers, directional devices have all the features necessary to target the perimeter right in front of them. A large number of applications, tasks and processes are thus suitable for the combined use of directional speakers. You can enjoy the best audio environment if you know how to use directional speakers, because whithout proper installation and positioning, much of the effect will be altered or impaired.

Here's snap from article The Proper Installation Of Directional Speakers
Directional speakers are ideal for specific applications in a certain environment. Much to the difference of loud or regular speakers, directional devices are designed so as to target the perimeter right in front of them. This means that for specific tasks and processes, directional speakers function for a large number of applications. You can enjoy the best audio environment if you know how to use directional speakers, because whithout proper installation and positioning, much of the effect will be altered or impaired.

Example 2 article about folding knives

Here snap from article Why can I get a discount buck knives
 The most popular knife, the Buck Folding Hunter Model 110, was first produced in 1963. With a four-inch blade, high-tension lock, and low-pressure release, the Buck Folding Hunter is truly one of the most well-known knives ever produced. Often imitated by other manufacturers, this Buck knife was the first profitable folding lock-blade knife ever. In fact, “Buck knife” is sometimes used to mean any folding lock-blade knife, though of course Buck Knife is a unique company, generating many more styles than just this well-liked model.

Here's snap from an article from Buck Knives and Wet Sharpener
The most popular knife, the Buck Folding Hunter Model 110, was first produced in 1963. With a four-inch blade, high-tension lock, and low-pressure release, the Buck Folding Hunter is actually one of the most popular knives ever produced. Often imitated by other manufacturers, this Buck knife was the first successful folding lock-blade knife ever. In fact, "Buck knife" is sometimes used to mean any folding lock-blade knife, though of course Buck Knife is a specific company, making many more styles than just this popular model.
Here's an example number 3 Flat stomach

Here snap from article Is a Flat Stomach What You Want? 
Sprinting, martial arts, swimming, bicycle riding, playing volleyball, skating or perhaps other sports activities may help to reduce fat and tone muscles all over your entire body. I’m not saying you can’t work your mid-section but you have to understand that many workouts work the muscle and still have nothing to do with eliminating fat. When you’ve got a layer of fat covering your stomach muscles, tell me precisely what sense would it make to obliterate yourself trying to create washboard abs when all you want is actually visible abs or simply just a flat stomach.

Here snap from article How to Get a Flat Stomach
Sprinting, martial arts, swimming, bicycle riding, playing volleyball, dancing or other sports will help to burn fat and tone muscles all over your body. I’m not saying you can’t work your abs but you have to remember that most exercises work the muscle and have nothing to do with getting rid of fat.  When you have a layer of fat covering your stomach muscles, tell me what sense will it make to kill yourself trying to build abs when all you want is visible abs or just a flat stomach.

Here's more examples if you want to find more similarities

Article from Derelict Houses For Sale Free State Mooi River
Very similar article from Derelict Houses For Sale KwaZulu-Natal St Lucia

Article from Chore Work Boots For Those Dirty Chores
Very similar article from Muck Boots Chore Makes Your Tough Days Easier

For most of the article's I did comparison with Beyond Compare and as you see with this item, those are exactly the same ones:

Article from Murcia Airport Parking
Article from Murcia Airport Parking

So what's my summary

There seems to be blogs around there who have really similar texts than other sites. Maybe that's intentional and someone is just spreading their own text with many different sites with small twist on it. This will for sure increase the possibility to get hits from search engines and then increase the visibility of ads used in the site. If they are the actual producers of their content, I don't see there being anything illegal. It's just lame trick to get more money from ads from getting more visibility to the same content.

I feel bit disappointed for all of those whose blog posts are not getting traffic due to same almost duplicated article is getting hits in search engines instead of some unique content. But if there's nothing illegal, I can only cry for Google and Bing to eliminate these results.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 5, 2011

Seth Godin talks about leadership strategy

One of my favorite bloggers and authors Seth Godin talks about leadership and much more. One thing I always admire on Seth, is the way he is always short, but informative, he is inspiring, but doesn't waste your time with unnecessary jargon and there's always something new to think about. Check the video out.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 3, 2011

Self organizing teams - is it the best practise or a myth?

In many management literature and methodologies self organizing teams have been thought to be the best ones. This is one thing I've never really understood. I have a background from many sports and I don't know a single team in the history of sports which would have been successful as self organizing one. Also I haven't met many self organizing teams which would work really well. Is the whole thing just beautiful thought or is the concept of self organizing team misunderstood? Or is it just me?

How I see self organizing teams are understood and also how I've understood it, is that self organizing team is a team which is independent, can solve problems on their own, are capable of best solutions due to being all-inclusive (having the necessary skills) and also are able to divide their work on most effective way using the intelligence of the group (self led). This is the idea what this writing is based on.

Many Agile SW development frameworks proposes self organizing teams as the basis for the whole framework to work. Argumentation is that teams are much motivated when they have empowerment to decide about their work. Also they commit and keep their promises much better because they have the possibility to make the decisions about their own work. This all makes sense, almost everyone likes when they get to choose how they do things and what they commit to.

At this point I always start to think on sports. Why there's so many coaches and people around the teams to help them do better? Doesn't the guys in the field know the best how to handle different situations? Doesn't experiences teams know how to adapt to changes in the field themselves? Why sport teams are not self organizing?

Some of the best teams in the world are really capable to handle many situations themselves. And yes the teams are in the field themselves and reacting themselves. But what is different is that they have been prepared to handle many of the situations up front. They have been learning different ways to approach the problem. They have in their minds playbook full of way's to tackle the problem they come in to. They have been preparing, they are most often ready for the challenge ahead. Even for surprising things, they may have common rules to follow to mitigate the potential danger. All this is done with the help outside of the team in the field.

It's easy to argue that sports are different than work life teams. Sport teams train much more and actually "work" much less, and on the other hand work teams "work" most of the time and almost never practice. As said sport teams have much more support personnel and work teams have much less. Also with sport teams there's more strict rules to follow that with work teams. But are those still such a different ones. Team is a team whatever the game is or whatever the purpose is.

Now coming back to the self directing team thinking. Does team really need to be independent? It would make sense that teams would have the best possible knowledge to tackle any given task. Most often there's someone out of the team who has some more insights and ideas on ways to tackle the task. Team can never be complete, there's always some competence out of the team that would be beneficial for the team. Always.

What about the self organizing/self led teams then, is self organizing the best way to organize? Is getting the job done the same thing as doing a good job? Sure all teams can self organize, always they do come up with some solution how to divide the work and so forth. Many experienced teams might even do a really good job, but many teams unfortunately don't. Often the result is not leading to learning and using the best people to work on most important issues. Self organizing tends to please everyone in the team and on that way might not be the best thing for the team or the product they are working on.

The main catch with self organizing team is the motivating aspect. Possibility to control your own work and doings is motivating. Doing what you desire leads to the best results in long run. Still true motivation is self centric, it evolves from personal desire's and ambitions and in this case requires that the thing team does is motivating as such. Then there's an extra motivation coming from the possibility to affect more on the things you should be doing.

I think concept of self organizing teams might have been misunderstood a bit. True value of the team comes from it's capability to be more valuable with co-operation than it's individuals would be themselves. Team can be always detected to be a team, but the boundaries of the team aren't always that clear. Is a soccer team only the guys in the field? What about the guys in the bench? What about the guys participating in training? Or all the supporting people, are they part of the team? What actually matters is the result, not the team composition. Teams in work life could also be more open and loosen the boundaries of the team to be able to respond and get help from outside always when needed.

If you think sports teams there's always people to help. Coaches help building the competences all the time, during practices, games and all the time between. Also other support personnel react when there is need to get help for someone. All of these share the common goal and work towards the same target, still only part of these do actual visible work. Maybe this would be a place for work life organizations to learn. Maybe there could be much more coaches and supporting personnel to help, advice, boost and even watch over the team, to make sure team performs and learns the optimal way.

Sure there's many questions that how would this work out in real work life, but I encourage you to look outside the box and really try to reason why the teams need to be self organizing and self led. Is it really the best alternative out there. Could there be some other alternatives which would maybe take some of the freedom away, but would actually boost the effectiveness on the other hand.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen