virtuwise https://virtuwise.com Infrastructure As Code Sat, 09 Sep 2017 14:37:25 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 62972679 How to Accelerate Your Learning Using the Feynman Technique https://virtuwise.com/accelerate-learning-feynman-technique/ https://virtuwise.com/accelerate-learning-feynman-technique/#respond Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:55:37 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=352 As a process for acquiring new knowledge or skills, learning is at the forefront of success in academia or business. Every field relies on great learners to acquire and advance knowledge, ideas, and skills. As any student knows only too well, excelling in education requires good learning skills, which few people are naturally born with. If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein However, the use of mental models has gone a long way into turning the average person into a great learner. If you struggle to understand difficult concepts, then you are […]

The post How to Accelerate Your Learning Using the Feynman Technique appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
As a process for acquiring new knowledge or skills, learning is at the forefront of success in academia or business. Every field relies on great learners to acquire and advance knowledge, ideas, and skills. As any student knows only too well, excelling in education requires good learning skills, which few people are naturally born with.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein

However, the use of mental models has gone a long way into turning the average person into a great learner. If you struggle to understand difficult concepts, then you are not alone. Many highly successful people got to where they are by finding creative ways to overcome learning challenges. The use of mental models is one of the simplest and most effective ways of mastering a complex subject in no time.

What Are Mental Models?

Mental models are psychological representations of your thought processes about how the world works. It’s a powerful visualization tool which mentally maps real, imaginary, or hypothetical situations to make sense of how things work or relate to one another.

Different types of mental models can help you think better, be more creative, solve problems and learn faster. One of the most useful mental models is the Feynman technique. It was created by the brilliant physicist Richard Feynman, whose pioneering work in quantum electrodynamics made a lasting impact on particle physics, quantum computing, and nanotechnology.

Richard Feynman was one of the most brilliant physicists of all time. He was given the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work on the interaction of light and matter. Richard Feynman was also a philosopher, eloquent teacher, and a great thinker, whose admirers included Albert Einstein.

Bill Gates referred to Feynman as “the greatest teacher I never had.” Many others admired his ability to explain complex concepts in a simple and easy to understand manner. Feynman’s lectures were mostly aimed at students with no prior knowledge of physics, using his unique ability to remove the mystery from complex scientific principles.

The Feynman Technique

It is often said that if you cannot explain anything in simple terms, then you do not understand it completely. This is the logic behind the Feynman technique. Anyone can apply this mental model to practically any learning exercise

The Feynman technique consists of four simple steps as follows:

Step 1: Select Your Concept

The first step is to choose the topic or concept that you want to study. Take a blank paper and write the topic at the top of the page.

Step 2: Pretend You Are Explaining It To Someone Else

In the simplest way possible, write down an explanation of the concept as if you are teaching it to a new student. Richard Feynman preferred using an explanation that a five-year-old can understand. By doing this, you will have a better understanding of the concept and identify gaps in your learning. This is step will pinpoint areas where you do not have a firm grasp of the concept.

Step 3: Refer To Your Source Material Whenever You Get Stuck

Every time you cannot explain an idea, go back to your reference books or teacher and learn it all over again. Keep doing this until you can sufficiently explain the concept in simple terms.

Step 4: Create Analogies

If your explanation is too lengthy, wordy, or confusing, create a simpler one or better yet, use analogies. Analogies help explain a concept using examples that are easy to relate to and understand.

Benefits Of The Feynman Technique

  1. Learn Faster: The Feynman technique will enable you to simplify complex ideas making it easier to learn difficult subjects faster.
  2. Be More efficient: Countless students spend hours in the library trying to master complicated concepts without success. This proven technique can help you save time in your studies, reducing the period needed to understand anything.
  3. Be More Productive: Increasing your learning ability will make you more productive at work or in your studies. You will master new skills and gain knowledge to help you increase your output.
  4. Be More successful: Achieving higher grades is the first step to success in your career. A stellar academic record can open many doors and help you gain that coveted job position.
  5. Be a Better communicator: The Feynman technique is indispensable when it comes to explaining difficult concepts to clients, colleagues or students. Possessing this ability makes you a better communicator especially if you are in marketing or leadership.

The Feynman technique is a useful tool for mastering hard to understand concepts. Its simplicity makes it widely applicable to scientific topics as well as everyday learning challenges. Increase your creativity, productivity, and knowledge by making it your preferred learning tool.

What study technique’s do you use when getting ready for a IT certification exam? or even getting ready to give a presentation to a local user group. Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading.

 

The post How to Accelerate Your Learning Using the Feynman Technique appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
https://virtuwise.com/accelerate-learning-feynman-technique/feed/ 0 352
3 Ways To Become The Columbo Of Enterprise IT https://virtuwise.com/columbo-enterprise/ https://virtuwise.com/columbo-enterprise/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 21:05:23 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=331 I’m a big fan of TV shows from the 70s and 80s. Several that stand out for me are Simon and Simon, The Fall Guy and The Rockford Files. One show in particular that I enjoy is Columbo. For those not familiar with Columbo, he is a Los Angeles homicide detective who solves high profile cases that involve the rich and famous. He is unassuming and often overlooked police detective. While watching this series, I noticed several traits that I thought could apply to my work. At the time, I was working in enterprise IT, and my role included supporting […]

The post 3 Ways To Become The Columbo Of Enterprise IT appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
I’m a big fan of TV shows from the 70s and 80s. Several that stand out for me are Simon and Simon, The Fall Guy and The Rockford Files. One show in particular that I enjoy is Columbo.

For those not familiar with Columbo, he is a Los Angeles homicide detective who solves high profile cases that involve the rich and famous. He is unassuming and often overlooked police detective.

While watching this series, I noticed several traits that I thought could apply to my work. At the time, I was working in enterprise IT, and my role included supporting the entire enterprise stack from desktop to servers.

I felt if I modeled these traits, not only would I get better at my job, but my department would also benefit.

For those that are unfamiliar with the series, here is a short clip it may just put a smile on your face.

So what are the magical qualities I saw in the series? They are more common sense than magic.

  • Keep asking questions then ask some more
  • Have all the data before making a judgment
  • Persevere and never give up

Pretty simple but I think very powerful and something we can all do. I’m sure that there are others you can find in this television series, but for me, these resonated the most.

Keep asking questions then ask some more

One of the first things I noticed when watching this show was that Columbo would ask hundreds of questions, some relevant and direct and other’s more abstract and you would wonder “where is he going with those questions.”

At times, folks would get very frustrated with him, but it was his way of getting everything out in the open and begin to put the pieces together.

Many of us have had to deal with a server down and when we ask the question “Were any changes made?” Everyone says “no,” but if we persist and keep asking, we usually get an answer like “Oh, didn’t Tommy download that and install that new driver.”

Keep asking questions, and when you think you have exhausted your list of questions, think of more and keep asking. In fact, I think Toyota developed the 5 Why’s technique. The theory is asking why five times will ultimately get you to the cause of an issue.

Have all the data before making a judgment

You will notice when Columbo is gathering all his data he writes everything down. People would always ask him if he has formulated a plan yet or discovered who did it, but he would never share his thoughts until he felt he had all the data. People would also suggest a solution, but he would never bite.

Very similar to working in enterprise IT, folks would often tell you “Oh, it’s the network, or It’s the server without all the data.” Try not to fall into that trap. It’s so easy to reboot a server and mask the real issue. Do your best to collect all the data and when you feel you have enough try to formulate an answer.

In fact, Columbo would also bounce his thoughts off people involved in the case, might be a good idea to do the same when dealing with folks close to the issue.

Persevere and never give up

One thing you will never find is Columbo giving up, I know its a TV show, and he can’t give up but think about it, a case never goes unsolved, nor should an IT issue. Whether mail is slow to a software update going sideways, we should always preserve and do our best to find the cause of a problem.

I recall being at the office three days straight when we had a Novell 4.11 file server crash, and Yes, I said Novell 4.11 the heyday days of file sharing, and get this, it was running on a Compaq 1500 server.

Columbo keeps coming back to the issue over and over running through different scenarios until finally, it clicks. I think we can learn a lot from him and become better IT practitioners.

Are you a fan of TVs shows from the 70s and 80s? Anything we can learn from your favorite shows? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading.

The post 3 Ways To Become The Columbo Of Enterprise IT appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
https://virtuwise.com/columbo-enterprise/feed/ 2 331
How To Be Part of Virtual Design Master Season 5 https://virtuwise.com/virtual-design-master-season-5/ Sat, 06 May 2017 12:59:45 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=319 Can you believe it, Virtual Design Master is five years young! I can still remember those early days when Eric, Melissa and I had thoughts about creating some fun way to engage the virtual community throughout the year. Something that would challenge everyone to learn and develop their skillset. At the time, food challenge shows like Top Chef were very popular and we thought what if we could follow a similar model, but instead of surprise food ingredients, we would offer deep technical design challenges. What twists will Melissa include this year? We also wanted to go one step further; […]

The post How To Be Part of Virtual Design Master Season 5 appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Can you believe it, Virtual Design Master is five years young!

I can still remember those early days when Eric, Melissa and I had thoughts about creating some fun way to engage the virtual community throughout the year. Something that would challenge everyone to learn and develop their skillset.

At the time, food challenge shows like Top Chef were very popular and we thought what if we could follow a similar model, but instead of surprise food ingredients, we would offer deep technical design challenges.

What twists will Melissa include this year?

We also wanted to go one step further; not only did we want to make the competition exciting for the folks participating but also for the folks watching, and cheering on their favorite competitor. That’s where the genius of Melissa and her exceptional storytelling skills made the entire competition unpredictable each week. Complementing Melissa was Eric with his wizardry technical expertise, which made for a lot of fun.

The storylines help challenge the participants to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions to problems. But more than getting the answer right, it’s all about stretching your thinking, questioning yourself and rapidly learning new skills.

Many of our participants are system administrators who may not have the chance to participate on a design team or lead a design project. But Virtual Design Master gives them that opportunity, with a vibrant community supporting them throughout the competition.

One of the main benefits of the contest is, as participants move through the stages, you have an opportunity to review all the design documents produced. Providing these documents was one of our founding goals, to share material so individuals can learn.

Great way to give back to the community

We’ve had many folks join us in season 1-4, many learned a new skill which they brought back to their workplace, whether it’s a technical skill or non-technical like ‘How to produce a design document” or “How to present and field questions from an audience.” They are the stars of the show!

Now it’s your turn; Season five is just around the corner and what better way to get involved with the virtual community.

  • Do you have a passion for systems design?
  • Do you have an interest in rapid learning?
  • Ever wanted to know what a VCDX could be?
  • Like to win lots and lots of prizes?

Now is your chance, consider putting your skills to the test. Virtual Desing Master is an excellent way to develop your skills, and help others in the community learn from your design documents.

One of the key takeaways for me is the lasting friendships made during the competition.

Consider joining us for Season five – it’s your time to shine, you have the skill set to compete. Nothing is stopping you from becoming the winner of Virtual Design Master – Season Five, sign up today.

Register to be a participant on Virtual Design Master – Season Five

Have you watched Virtual Design Master? Has it inspired you to learn and engage the community? Let me know if the comments below and thanks for reading.

The post How To Be Part of Virtual Design Master Season 5 appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
319
Chatbots: The Hottest Thing In Tech Right Now https://virtuwise.com/chatbots-hottest-tech/ Sat, 15 Apr 2017 14:25:33 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=305 Back in 2010, when Apple unveiled the virtual assistant Siri as a standalone app, few people could have predicted the impact chatbots will have in the years to come. At the time, Siri was something to poke fun at, especially in its feeble attempts to comprehend speech commands. A lot has changed since then. Tremendous advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence and messaging have combined to make chatbots the hottest tech buzzword for 2017. Tech giants, notably Facebook and Amazon are lauding chatbots as the next big thing. Despite the well-publicized missteps of Microsoft’s Tay, the best chatbots are set […]

The post Chatbots: The Hottest Thing In Tech Right Now appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Back in 2010, when Apple unveiled the virtual assistant Siri as a standalone app, few people could have predicted the impact chatbots will have in the years to come. At the time, Siri was something to poke fun at, especially in its feeble attempts to comprehend speech commands.

A lot has changed since then. Tremendous advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence and messaging have combined to make chatbots the hottest tech buzzword for 2017. Tech giants, notably Facebook and Amazon are lauding chatbots as the next big thing. Despite the well-publicized missteps of Microsoft’s Tay, the best chatbots are set to change the way we interact with technology dramatically.

What Are Chatbots?

Chatbots are computer applications designed to simulate conversations with users by using artificial intelligence. Also known as conversational interfaces, they are a service that interacts with customers mainly via text but also through voice inputs and image recognition. Chatbots have become popular as a means of helping clients achieve a particular goal. For example, you may use a chatbot to order a taxi, buy a pizza or solve problems with your internet service.

How Do Chatbots Work?

There are two major types of chatbots. The simplest are those that respond to specific commands. These are based on predetermined rules and are not intelligent enough to understand human speech. However, they can be smart enough to help you carry out simple tasks such as ordering a taxi. If you say the wrong thing, an unintelligent chatbot won’t understand you. Such chatbots have their limitations and are only as smart as they are programmed to be.

The best chatbots use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and pattern recognition to decode human speech. Thanks to Natural Language Processing, they not only understand specific commands but human speech as well. These types of chatbots get smarter by learning from actual human-like conversations with people.

Chatbots are usually installed on a website, in your favorite apps or within messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

Thanks to Messaging, Chatbots Are King

A few years back, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ruled the Internet. Every business had to build a presence on these sites to interact and engage with customers. Although social media is still vital for business, messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Wechat, and Kik have become more popular.

Since we spend more time chatting, it’s only natural to expect companies to incorporate chat into their customer service. Rather than downloading an app for every service we need, such as hailing a taxi, booking a flight, checking the weather or shopping for clothes, we can now just text a chatbot from within a messenger app such as Facebook or Kik. In this regard, chatbots can replace apps if integrated with your favorite messaging app.

Benefits of Using Chatbots For Business

1. Better Customer Service

Chatbots are the biggest innovation in customer service ever since businesses created web portals for customers to serve themselves. Email and live chat may have increased the interaction between firms and clients. However, chatbots are available 24 hours a day and will interact with customers in the same way a human would. Since most customer queries do not require human intervention, chatbots save you money by automating your customer service. You can now put an end to automated email replies and unavailable live chat services.

2. Greater Interaction Using Real Language

One of the reasons chatbots may herald the end of apps is that they speak the same language as the user. The language used by apps to interact with customers is frankly, not engaging or friendly. Apps are limited to commands such as “Log In,” “Download,” “or” Exit.” Chatbots can use more human language such as “please,” “how is your day ” or ” “how can we help.” By speaking to the customer in their language, chatbots foster greater engagement and satisfaction. Furthermore, you can add your personality and brand identity to your chatbot to make it speak to your customers just like you would.

3. Chatbots Operate Where Your Customers Are

Your customers need not visit your website or download your app to find you. Chatbots are easily incorporated into your client’s favorite messaging app. The simple text-driven interface of chatbots also makes them much easier to use than individual apps. As the popularity of messaging continues to overshadow social media, chatbots are the best way to go where your customers are spending most of their time.

4. Chatbots Are Easy To Build

Building a chatbot is cheaper and easier than developing a cross-platform app. Ready-made software and easy to use chatbot templates are available from Facebook, Microsoft, and other companies. Depending on the uses of your chatbot and the size of your firm, creating a new chatbot can be done in a few days.

Businesses stand to benefit immensely by adopting the best chatbots into their marketing, customer care, and advertising strategies. This new, increasingly intelligent and highly interactive feature is no longer a sci-fi dream, but the new reality for businesses.

What are some of the ways you use chatbots? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

The post Chatbots: The Hottest Thing In Tech Right Now appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
305
Mind Mapping : A Simple, Versatile And Yet Powerful Productivity Tool https://virtuwise.com/mind-mapping-productivity-tool/ Wed, 29 Mar 2017 19:41:34 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=296 Developed in the 70s by the British psychologist, author, and public speaker Tony Buzan, mind mapping is a great technique for increasing your productivity. Building a mind map is a simple way of turning ideas in your mind into a graphic representation. Mind mapping has been used by millions of people worldwide to visualize concepts, capture ideas, set goals and improve time management for greater success. As a visualization and organizational technique, mind mapping is useful for managing projects, developing memory and creativity. What is Mind Mapping? A mind map is a highly visual form of taking notes, which allows […]

The post Mind Mapping : A Simple, Versatile And Yet Powerful Productivity Tool appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Developed in the 70s by the British psychologist, author, and public speaker Tony Buzan, mind mapping is a great technique for increasing your productivity. Building a mind map is a simple way of turning ideas in your mind into a graphic representation.

Mind mapping has been used by millions of people worldwide to visualize concepts, capture ideas, set goals and improve time management for greater success. As a visualization and organizational technique, mind mapping is useful for managing projects, developing memory and creativity.

What is Mind Mapping?

A mind map is a highly visual form of taking notes, which allows you to capture information by using colors, images, and words. It’s a like a web of to-do lists that offers an overview of any topic with its related complex information. The visual picture drawn by a mind map helps you to understand and create new ideas as well as to identify new connections between them.

Mind mapping is, therefore, a visual representation of information that has a central idea with connected branches of related topics. This technique helps you to map your thoughts by using keywords to trigger associations and spark new ideas.

Mind mapping may be used as a weekly planner, study guide or as a visually rich project outline to help you remain organized.

How To Build A Mind Map

One significant advantage of mind maps is that they are very simple to create. Although there are numerous apps to help you do this, all you need is a blank piece of paper and a few colored pencils.

Follow these steps to build a mind map:

1. Get a large enough blank paper with enough scope to create horizontal and vertical branches.

2. At the center of the paper, write down your central idea. This maybe a project title or revision topic.

3. Using your central idea as a keyword, think of the main ideas associated with it and draw thick branches that radiate away from it. Each branch represents a major topic around the central idea. Use different colors for each branch to create a better visual representation.

4. From each thick branch, draw thinner branches radiating from each thick branch using the same color scheme to represent the subtopics that make up every main topic.

5. Finally, draw the thinnest lines radiating from every subtopic, and list the details of each. Remember to use the same color as the main branch.

6. Along the length of each branch, write down keywords that are associated with each idea.

7. You may add symbols and images to enhance memory associations with each concept. Images are a powerful way of conveying an idea or message than words.

Benefits of Mind Mapping

Mind mapping can be used by professionals to enhance their project management skills or organize budgets. Mind maps are also useful for students who want to improve memory and study more efficiently.

The following are major advantages of using a mind map:

1. Boost your creativity

Mind maps are useful in generating new ideas and therefore increasing your creativity. A mind map helps you to sort and organize your thoughts and ideas. By thinking in a more organized manner, you will be able to avoid being overwhelmed by a flurry of ideas when brainstorming, which can create mind block and stop the flow of ideas. A mind map, therefore, acts as a memory dump which frees up your creativity.

2. Improve memory

Mind maps help you categorize and organize ideas during a brainstorming session. It makes it the perfect tool to identify the relationships between different sets of data. A lot of information can be arranged graphically on a single piece of paper that shows the connection between each idea. By using colors and images, it becomes easier to remember information, which significantly enhances memory and retention.

3. Improve productivity

A mind map gives you a visual representation of your project, complete with all its interrelationships. The mind map at a glance shows you how different aspects of a project are connected and how the entire project condenses into one unit. This bird’s eye view of your project helps you to improve coordination and communication within your team, which significantly improves your productivity.

4. Mind maps are adaptable

Mind maps are highly versatile and can be used for practically any task that requires teamwork or organization. You can apply mind mapping to budgeting, time management, project management, studies or vacation planning.

Mind mapping is meant for anyone who wants to increase productivity, get better organized or improve memory and retention. It is a simple yet indispensable tool for ambitious professionals.

Do you use mind mapping? It’s a great tool that can also help with certification studying. Let me know if you do and if you prefer the pen and paper method or the online method. What’s you favorite mind map app? add to the comments down below and thanks for reading!

The post Mind Mapping : A Simple, Versatile And Yet Powerful Productivity Tool appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
296
Google Cloud Platform Offers ‘Always Free’ Tier https://virtuwise.com/google-cloud-platform-always-free/ Sun, 19 Mar 2017 21:37:34 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=265 Google recently concluded their Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco with 10,000 folks in attendance. They made several announcements, and one in particular that caught my attention was the Google Cloud Platform free tier. Google lengthened their free trial from 60 days to 12 months and introduced ‘Always Free’ products, which have non-expiring usage limits. It can get a little confusing because the free tier is made up of two parts. A 12-month, $300 credit free trial and Always Free. Here is an excerpt from the Google Cloud Platform FAQ. The 12-month, $300 free trial allows you to use any GCP […]

The post Google Cloud Platform Offers ‘Always Free’ Tier appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Google recently concluded their Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco with 10,000 folks in attendance. They made several announcements, and one in particular that caught my attention was the Google Cloud Platform free tier. Google lengthened their free trial from 60 days to 12 months and introduced ‘Always Free’ products, which have non-expiring usage limits.

It can get a little confusing because the free tier is made up of two parts. A 12-month, $300 credit free trial and Always Free. Here is an excerpt from the Google Cloud Platform FAQ.

The 12-month, $300 free trial allows you to use any GCP product. Always Free allows you to try participating products for free up to their non-expiring usage limits, making it easy for you to test and develop with these products.

When you sign up for the free trial, you will be asked to provide a credit card. You won’t be charged, and it’s used as a verification step.

You should also be aware that your trial ends once the 12 months have elapsed or you’ve spent the $300 in credits whichever comes first. Your credits and days remaining are always on display in the Google Cloud Platform console.

Google Cloud Platform ‘Always Free’ services

There are currently 15 services that are listed as Always Free. This includes Google Compute Engine, with 1 f1-micro VM instance per month. Google Cloud Storage, with 5 GB-months of Regional Storage and Google Container Engine, with a basic cluster of 5 nodes or fewer.

All of these are in the US regions only, which include us-east1, us-west1, and us-central1. Find more services on the Google Cloud Platform free tier page.

If you missed the conference and would like to get caught up, the Google Cloud folks have published their sessions and keynotes online.

Did you attend Google Cloud Next conference? What was your number one takeaway? Do you use the Google Cloud Platform, let me know in the comments below and thanks again for reading!

The post Google Cloud Platform Offers ‘Always Free’ Tier appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
265
Evernote 8.0 Update Brings Welcome Changes to the App https://virtuwise.com/evernote-8-update-welcome-changes-app/ Thu, 16 Mar 2017 07:32:27 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=252 Ever since it was launched in 2008, Evernote has been one of the most popular note-taking apps on the market. In recent years, however, it has sort of lost its way. The core service started getting too bloated for its own good. It seemed like every new update only made matters worse. Many of the app’s competitors such as Microsoft OneNote took notice and began pumping out sleeker versions of what Evernote was trying to achieve. Well, it seems like Evernote finally decided to turn a new leaf and re-announce its presence in the industry. The 8.0 update is pretty […]

The post Evernote 8.0 Update Brings Welcome Changes to the App appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Ever since it was launched in 2008, Evernote has been one of the most popular note-taking apps on the market. In recent years, however, it has sort of lost its way. The core service started getting too bloated for its own good. It seemed like every new update only made matters worse. Many of the app’s competitors such as Microsoft OneNote took notice and began pumping out sleeker versions of what Evernote was trying to achieve.

Well, it seems like Evernote finally decided to turn a new leaf and re-announce its presence in the industry. The 8.0 update is pretty much a full-fledged reboot. The main idea was to make everything faster and easier to get around. This simple concept harkens back to the app’s early days when it was far and above the best option on the market.

The first thing you’ll notice upon opening the app is the sleek new interface. As soon as the app loads, you will be greeted by a large green button that lets you make a new note in an instantaneous fashion. If you’d like to create a Reminder note or record audio and video, all you have to do is press the same button and drag it to the corresponding icon.

You can save your notes by entering the View mode or swiping the keyboard down. The next time you open Evernote, it will take you straight back to where you left off. That’s about all there is to it. Gone are the days of having to fight through the home screen to get to the meat of the app!

If you’d like to make your notes more visually distinctive, Evernote has got you covered. You now have access to a lot more styling and formatting options, including different font sizes, types and, most importantly – colors. The navigation bar also features some helpful new tools such as the square plus button (which lets you add audio files or photos without much fuss) and the camera button (which is fairly self-explanatory).

Clean design makes Evernote 8 easier to use

Finding your content is also a simpler task when compared to the previous version of the app. Entering your notebook list and switching between different notebooks is very intuitive, and the note previews now come with helpful thumbnails. It’s up to you to choose the size of these images and whether you want to turn them on at all.

If you’re up to your neck in notes, you can either search your entire account by clicking the search tab or tap your note list to search a specific notebook. You might also want to tag your notes. Accessing your tags is now done simply by tapping the alarm clock icon.

Evernote Business users will have some additional reasons to download the new update. Your personal and business accounts are now more clearly separated, and switching between them has never been easier. Moving notes between accounts also require fewer hoops to jump through than before, though the process can still be somewhat intimidating for new users.

Despite all the improvements the update brings us, there are still a couple of features sorely missing from the app. For example, nested tags would help us organize our stuff in another meaningful way. This feature was last seen in Evernote 2.0, and it doesn’t seem like developers have any plans to bring it back, despite fans asking about it.

Hard not to be impressed with the update

However, the current version of Evernote is dealing with some bigger issues. Many iOS users are having trouble running the app at all since the update was launched, and crashing on startup seems like a common occurrence. The 8.0.1 update that was launched almost immediately after the main update has done little to remedy the situation. It seems like the developers are working hard to get to the bottom of the issue. For now, users can try relaunching the app and reboot their devices; if the problem still persists, a full reinstall is always an option.

If we turn a blind eye to the launch issues, it’s hard not to be impressed with what the new version of Evernote has delivered. A fresh start is exactly what the app needed. It’s safe to say that the redesign has been a success. Nobody knows what the future holds, but right now, Evernote seems to have a leg up on the competition again.

Are you an Evernote user? What is your thought on the update and redesign? Please share in the comments below and as always thank you for reading.

The post Evernote 8.0 Update Brings Welcome Changes to the App appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
252
How To Tune Up Your Daily Workflow and Stop Wasting Time https://virtuwise.com/tune-daily-workflow-productivity/ Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:40:46 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=230 Keeping productivity high is a daily struggle for many of us. You’re not alone. Fret not, there are clear and effective ways to improve your output. Managing your daily workflow is a key approach to sustained productivity. In this article, we’ll cover a couple of productivity tricks, some useful software and tools, and the importance of processes in guiding you through your day and work. High productivity starts with you Here’s the thing – productivity is not controlled by a magic switch. Counter to all the different things you might read online about how “this CEO improved their productivity 1000% […]

The post How To Tune Up Your Daily Workflow and Stop Wasting Time appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Keeping productivity high is a daily struggle for many of us.

You’re not alone.

Fret not, there are clear and effective ways to improve your output.

Managing your daily workflow is a key approach to sustained productivity.

In this article, we’ll cover a couple of productivity tricks, some useful software and tools, and the importance of processes in guiding you through your day and work.

High productivity starts with you

Here’s the thing – productivity is not controlled by a magic switch.

Counter to all the different things you might read online about how “this CEO improved their productivity 1000% with this one trick; doctors are baffled!”, the reality is much less miraculous.

Productivity starts with lifestyle and motivation.

I’m not a lifestyle coach, so I’m not going to break down your diet and tell you how many milligrams of B12 you should be consuming every day, but studies consistently show that basic lifestyle elements are crucial for productivity.

Sleep well and sleep at regular times. If you get enough sleep and it’s of a high quality then you’ll have more energy and focus during the day. It’s not rocket science.

Unless you have a newborn baby. In which case it’s much more difficult than rocket science.

If you have a difficult time sleeping and getting up, try out some of the tools on the market which are designed to help. The app AlarmMon has a range of screeching alarms you can choose from and you can attach little games to the alarms. This means you’ll be woken up by the sound of a thousand demons and you’ll have to solve a little puzzle to shut them up.

You’ll be awake in no time.

Follow this up with staying hydrated and eating well and you’re halfway toward being a productive human being.

You can use some of Process Street’s built-in templates to help you manage your personal processes. These checklists for life include the weekly meal planner and the daily schedule template.

These general day to day tasks are systems which you can plan and organize.

If you plan well and execute your plan accordingly, you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve. It’s that simple.

Implementing workflows into your life in a critical manner will help you organize and be better. It’s not just about using certain tools, but about changing your mentality and how you view and approach obstacles. Take a process first perspective.

Use tech to optimize your time

There is a world of different tools out there which have been designed to assist you in becoming a better human being.

We’re going to run through a few of these, but I’ll leave this detailed list of 36 workflow apps here for those of you who want to dig a little deeper!

Process Street

First off, as it has already been mentioned, Process Street. This tool allows you to create templates and then run those templates as checklists. You can use it for yourself or run it across a team. Everything’s stored up in the cloud and it’s great for collaborative purposes.

If you want to implement workflows into your life properly, being able to track and iterate them, then Process Street is a must have.

RescueTime

Another handy tool to analyze how you spend your time is RescueTime. This app runs in the background on your computer or phone and quietly logs what you do. Then it feeds that information back to you with graphs and other kinds of pretty looking results. You can see how you really operate, rather than how you think you operate.

For people who are scared they procrastinate too much but aren’t strong enough to admit it, RescueTime will show you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Can you handle the truth?

Zapier

Are you automating your simple time-consuming tasks? No? Why not?

With Zapier you can finally say goodbye to data entry and all that other tosh. Zapier uses API calls to hook up with over 750 different apps, creating this huge network of webapps which can now speak to each other and work together.

Want to save responses from your Typeform into Google Sheets? Zapier. Want to launch a Process Street checklist by moving a Trello card into a different column? Zapier.

You’ll get more done in your day if you automate the little things.

Focus@will

One of the tools popular across our team is Focus@will. This neat little productivity app has a catalogue of channels which play music to help you focus. Get rid of the lyrics and get some steady beats going. You can select different genres to suit your tastes.

I jump at focus@will whenever I’m feeling low on energy and lacking in focus. This and coffee are my go to tools to remedy lethargy.

Make processes and do more

I’m a strong believer that you should make a process for everything you do more than twice.

This allows you to find the best way to do something and then to repeat those best practices, again and again, every time you undertake the process.

A good process followed often will result in you knowing exactly how long a certain task should take. It very clearly lays out the different steps and drives you forward.

This allows you to plan the other elements of your day better too. The more you can map out your days through the logic of processes and workflows, the more you will get done.

The secret to productivity is not an avocado and mackerel sandwich for breakfast, nor is it 20 press ups in the middle of the office every hour, or any other strange suggestion.

The secret to productivity is taking yourself and your days seriously and planning them like you would any other important event.

What techniques do you use to help with staying on track and getting the most out of the day? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and thank for reading.

The post How To Tune Up Your Daily Workflow and Stop Wasting Time appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
230
OpenStack Ocata Delivering Updates in Less Time https://virtuwise.com/openstack-ocata-delivering-updates-in-less-time/ https://virtuwise.com/openstack-ocata-delivering-updates-in-less-time/#comments Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:28:55 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=219 OpenStack Ocata, is the 15th release of the open source software for building private and public clouds. This version brought a focus on stabilization, scalability, and performance. This version was also developed during a shorter release cycle of four months vs. the typical six-month cycle. My understanding is that this was a one-time event. For the last few years, we’ve seen containers making their way into the mainstream, and this release continues to grow support for the container ecosystem. Container-based application frameworks and deployment tools saw the most growth in the release cycle. As OpenStack COO Mark Collier told TechCrunch, […]

The post OpenStack Ocata Delivering Updates in Less Time appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
OpenStack Ocata, is the 15th release of the open source software for building private and public clouds. This version brought a focus on stabilization, scalability, and performance. This version was also developed during a shorter release cycle of four months vs. the typical six-month cycle. My understanding is that this was a one-time event.

For the last few years, we’ve seen containers making their way into the mainstream, and this release continues to grow support for the container ecosystem. Container-based application frameworks and deployment tools saw the most growth in the release cycle. As OpenStack COO Mark Collier told TechCrunch, the container projects are growing faster than the other projects.

Be sure to check out the other container related improvement in Kolla (containerized OpenStack services), Kuryr (bridging container networking and storage with OpenStack) and Zun (container management). If you want to learn more about Kolla, read this – Getting started with Kolla.

There is also a new Nova “placement” API that helps users intelligently allocate resources based on application needs, in addition to these;

  • Horizon dashboard now supports keystone-to-keystone federation as new os-profiler UI, which gives operators the ability to detect performance issues across OpenStack service
  • Auto-provisioning for Keystone federated identity dynamically creates a project and assigns a federated user a role upon successful authentication
  • Ironic bare metal service becomes more robust with networking and driver enhancements
  • Zaqar messaging service added Swift object storage as a backend to easily leverage an existing Swift cluster without deploying another MongoDB or Redis cluster
  • Greatly improved performance and CPU usage for Telemetry projects: storing millions of metrics per second is now possible using Ceilometer with Gnocchi storage engine
  • Active/Active HA in Cinder service can now be implemented by drivers
  • Congress governance framework now has policy language enhancements to enable network address operations for better network and security governance

Pre-Flight Check with Ocata

A useful and new command line option available is the “nova-status upgrade check” which will your OpenStack deployment and determine if you can upgrade to Ocata. It will also identify what actions must be taken before a successful and safe upgrade can happen.

OpenStack has seen a 20 percent increase in production deployments year-over-year, according to the latest OpenStack survey. These ‘pre-flight’ checks will give administrators a degree of comfort when introducing a new version.

Download OpenStack Ocata and give it a go. If you have experience with OpenStack, let me know your thoughts on the new release or if you have general thoughts on OpenStack, let me know if the comments below and as always thanks for reading!

The post OpenStack Ocata Delivering Updates in Less Time appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
https://virtuwise.com/openstack-ocata-delivering-updates-in-less-time/feed/ 1 219
5 Basecamp Integrations For Greater Productivity https://virtuwise.com/5-basecamp-integrations-productivity/ Wed, 08 Feb 2017 14:26:59 +0000 https://virtuwise.com/?p=209 Basecamp is one of the best productivity tools available today.  Previously known as 37 Signals,  Basecamp is different from other cloud-based productivity tools due to its simplicity and ease of use. Basecamp makes it much easier to organize projects,  set goals,  track the progress of a team and above all,  increase productivity and collaboration. With Basecamp,  organizations no longer require endless meetings or back and forth emails to collaborate and communicate when working on a project. Add-ons increase the utility of Basecamp Although some might prefer the extensive features in alternative apps such as Trello,  no app,  no matter how […]

The post 5 Basecamp Integrations For Greater Productivity appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
Basecamp is one of the best productivity tools available today.  Previously known as 37 Signals,  Basecamp is different from other cloud-based productivity tools due to its simplicity and ease of use. Basecamp makes it much easier to organize projects,  set goals,  track the progress of a team and above all,  increase productivity and collaboration. With Basecamp,  organizations no longer require endless meetings or back and forth emails to collaborate and communicate when working on a project.

Add-ons increase the utility of Basecamp

Although some might prefer the extensive features in alternative apps such as Trello,  no app,  no matter how great, is perfect.  Every cloud-based productivity platform depends on integrations, add-ons, and other apps to unleash its full potential. Basecamp is no different.

The latest version of the app,  Basecamp 3, follows the minimalist mantra of previous releases.  Despite the revamp,  Basecamp 3 sticks to the developers’ aim to include only the most essential features that work for everyone.  The numerous add-ons available on the extras menu have fortunately compensated for the lack of advanced features found in other apps. These third-party integrations offer different features including analytics, mobility, and backup.

5 Basecamp add-ons to increase productivity

The type of add-ons you decide to use with Basecamp will depend on your specific requirements. With a wide selection available, picking the right Basecamp integrations to suit your needs is paramount.

However,  here are the top 5 Basecamp add-ons that are truly indispensable:

Ganttify

Any project management guru knows how useful Gantt Charts can be.  Developed over two centuries ago Gantt charts are necessary for tracking project schedules.  It is a fantastic tool that enables you to see all your project tasks as they relate to set timelines or milestones. It allows you to understand the dependencies within your team and quickly identify and remove bottlenecks.

You can now convert your Basecamp task lists into intuitive Gantt charts by using Ganttify.  All it takes are three simple steps. Just go to Ganttify and create an account and once logged in,  authorize the Basecamp integration. You can then go to your Basecamp project and select the one you would like to turn into a Gantt chart. What’s more,  this integration service is completely free of charge.

Easy Insight

One integration that significantly improves productivity and efficiency in Basecamp is Easy Insight. Basecamp lacks a comprehensive reporting feature that can convert the data from Basecamp projects into highly visual charts and graphs. Easy Insight allows you to collect and consolidate data to create custom reports,  which can help you analyze productivity and improve efficiency.  The add-on is simple to use since you can drag and drop to create reports or export them to Excel, PDF,  and other formats.

Zapier

We all use a multitude of applications to conduct business,  communicate,  store information or carry out tasks.  Zapier is the ideal Basecamp integration to automate all your project management tools such as Evernote and Trello, email services, Facebook, Google Calendar, or Google Sheets together with Basecamp.  Zapier facilitates integration with hundreds of online apps, making it the perfect add-on if you are looking to get more productivity out of Basecamp.  Sign up is free,  although some third-party apps may require a subscription before you can integrate them with Basecamp.

TimeCamp

One essential pillar of goal setting and productivity is time management.  You cannot increase efficiency and complete tasks on time if you cannot keep track of time.  Basecamp lacks a native time tracking feature, a problem easily solved by numerous integrations available from third parties.  One useful add-on is TimeCamp, which goes further than just adding a timer to every task and calculating how long you spent to complete it.

TimeCamp also allows you to track billable hours on every project with a graphical timescale.  Furthermore,  you can use it to monitor productivity, manage time off and keep an eye on attendance.  You can also create invoices for clients within Basecamp.  Unlike other time tracking integrations such as Tick,  TimeCamp has a free version,  and the premium version only costs you $9 per month.

Bridge 24

Many apps such as Basecamp can be a bit rigid when it comes to manipulating data within them. Bridge 24 allows you to gain greater control of Basecamp data without compromising it.  It gives you the ability to view your data in Kanban board view,  Calendar view or Grid view.  You can also export Basecamp data to CSV or Excel format. The live connectivity between the two apps is seamless and ensures that you are using the most up-to-date data at all times.

These 5 Basecamp integrations will go a long way to boosting productivity and teamwork in your projects.  With these add-ons,  Basecamp transforms into a fantastic productivity tool.

Have you used Basecamp? Do you have any tips that could benefit the community, let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading and sharing.

The post 5 Basecamp Integrations For Greater Productivity appeared first on virtuwise.

]]>
209