Making ideas happen

24 May 2010 by Anna Mieczakowski  
Filed under News and views

The Smashing Magazine has recently published an article that includes 5 tips on how to make any ideas happen. The author of this article, Scott Belsky, has spent over 5 years studying exceptionally productive people and teams in the creative world and has published a book titled “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming The Obstacles Between Vision & Reality” that makes suggestions for taking your ideas and making them reality.

Apart from proposing that anyone can strengthen their ideas through being organised, nurturing connections with one’s community and developing leadership capabilities; Belsky also gives the following suggestions:

  1. Avoid a Reactionary Workflow
    Instead of spending most of your working hours each day on email, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, phone calls, instant messages etc., try for a few hours per day to avoid any incoming communication and focus on your list of long-term projects that require research and deep thought.
  2. Strip Projects to Three Primary Elements
    The three primary elements include: action steps, backburner items and reference items. Actions steps are tasks that begin with verbs and can be implemented in life almost immediately.  Backburner items are essentially ideas that are the result of brainstorming or some other creative activity and although they are not actionable in the time of their invention, they have a potential of being acted upon in the future if recorded appropriately. Reference items include articles, notes and other stuff around you. In order to make the best use of them try to organise them chronologically in one big file.
  3. Measure Meetings with Action Steps
    To get more out of your meetings with clients and colleagues, conduct at the end of each meeting a quick review of the items discussed and capture the action steps.
  4. Reduce Your Insecurity Work
    We are often insecure about the different things in our lives such as website’s traffic or bank account and we often loose a lot of time using the existing technologies to check the current status of these things. Therefore, to be more productive in your working day try to reduce your insecurity work by becoming self-aware and introduce some discipline in your daily life.
  5. The Creative Process is about Surviving the ‘Project Plateau’
    In general, we are all good at creating new ideas, but most of us are not so good at sticking with our ideas and making them reality. Most ideas get abandoned at what is called the “project plateau”, that is the point when creative excitement evaporates and the pain of deadlines and project management becomes kicks in. To prevent your ideas from disappearing from the daylight show them some respect and spend some energy executing them.

Hopefully, Belsky’s tips will help many creatives convert their exciting and innovative ideas into reality.

What SEO cannot do

24 May 2010 by Yvonne Conway  
Filed under Search Engine Optimisation

A carefully thought through SEO campaign can get you to the top of the search engine rankings, but it cannot encourage customers to buy your products or services where there is little demand for them. Equally, you may be listed high up in the search engines, but for search terms that no one uses.

Unfortunately there is very little you can do about creating demand where none exists. But you can work to ensure that you are targeting your optimum keywords. To do this we advise you to perform a thorough keyword research first before embarking on your SEO strategy. Remember that a successful SEO strategy is not necessarily about targeting the broadest, most popular search terms, but more importantly it is about identifying keywords that people actually use, and can potentially lead to a business deal.

When working on your SEO campaign, try to avoid such unethical techniques as:

  • Keyword stuffing (excessive repetition of your keywords in the text or meta tags in order to influence ranking).
  • Use of keywords in the meta tags that are not reflected in the page content.
  • Creating multiple pages with virtually identical content.
  • Automatically generated doorway pages which contain little user oriented content.

Personal data and flash memory sticks

7 May 2010 by Stephen Owen  
Filed under NHS and health

The need to encrypt personal data for security and privacy has long been acknowleged, and yet still stories come up in which stored data is made available inappropriately because of the failure to follow basic security procedures.

One of the most recent cases involved a lost USB memory stick containing names, addresses, and medical records of both patients and staff associated with a secure hospital in Stenhousemuir.  The memory stick was found by a twelve-year old boy in the car park of a near-by Asda store.

It’s clear why these things are near-ubiquitous: USB memory sticks are designed to be cheap, easy and convenient to use, and able to hold large amounts of data; they are ideal for transporting data from place to place.  These very factors are what makes them dangerous in environments where sensitive data is handled, as their familiarity makes them seem benign and their portability (and losability!) serve to heighten their threat to data security.

The lessons are sadly familiar:

Control access to sensitive data using hardware and software: if you restrict access to sensitive data, you lessen the possibility of data leaks and data loss, and can streamline people’s working practices too.
Consider and adapt practices which require data to be moved ‘outside of the system’: large software systems often have complex security controls build in, and while these might not be perfect (indeed might not even be adequate), controls can only be of use when they can be applied.  Once data is removed from the system, for whatever reason, new practices are needed to work with the existing in system controls – designing and implementing these practices can be non-trivial, but even recognising the need to supplement existing controls can be difficult.

Teach the people who must handle the data why controls are necessary: if everyone understands what the needs are and why they’re important then this can be a way to ensure that safeguards are both comprehensive and workable for those that must deal with them day-to-day.

Full story: “Lost mental hospital memory stick had health records”