Monthly Archives: November 2005

Getting GTD done

There are many books on personal productivity, and mostly I don’t touch them – they tend to flog some sort of software or life philosophy which is hokey at best and dysfunctional at worst. David Allen‘s Getting thing done (despite its rather tired subtitle The Art of Stress-free Productivity) is an exception. The reason I think that is partly that I found myself recognizing his central premise (that getting organized is essentially about not having to think about things, and having to think about many things makes us frustrated and interrupt-driven), partly that many people in my line of work praise this approach and swear by it. I also liked his practical approach to software versus paper – use whatever you are comfortable with, as well as his observation that many ideas come about playing with new technology or, for that matter, office equipment. And his system is actually rather wiki-like, with its emphasis on frequent reviews and restructuring.

Now, I intend to put his system to the test. As soon as I am back in my office in Norway. In the meantime, there are quite a few web sites with tools and techniques that want to improve on an already good little book. Plus, I can check out OPML as a productivity tool and think about getting my very own Brother labeler….

Doc Searls’ 4th law hits again

Doc Searls 4th law states that "No matter what car you want to rent, what you’ll get is a Chevy Cavalier."

Ain’t that the truth.

I read recently that Toyota is about to become the world’s largest car manufacturer, surpassing General Motors. Judging from the design and quality of the Chevy Cavalier that is to be my constant companion for the next six weeks, I can only wonder what took them so long.

A few issues after just two days: The front seat armrest, when down, blocks the parking brake. Snow on the rear window falls into the boot if you open it. The boot (or luggage compartment, can never remember what is UK and what is US English) is of decent size, but the door is so small that I had a hard time getting my one large suitcase in. You can’t open the luggage compartment from the inside (well, maybe you can, but I can’t find the button – you can use the remote key, however). My head touches the ceiling since the front seat cannot be lowered – and I am 6′ 3”, which is nothing out of the ordinary. The engine is noisy. The car understeers. Everything is cheap and plasticky. The brake pedal squeaks and the paint flakes off the door armrest, and this on a car with less than 9k miles on it.

At the same time, the people I am staying with are driving a 1988 Toyota Camry that they would like to renew. However, that is hard to do, since the the old clunker just keeps running and what little rust there is is purely cosmetic, according to their mechanic.

I wonder if you can say the same about any 1988 Cavaliers….

UPDATE I: Took another look at the car. It is not a Cavalier, but a Cobalt. Not that anything else has changed…..

UPDATE II: Have now driven this clunker for 5 weeks. Add a gas gauge that will alternately tell you "low on fuel" and "1/4 tank left", increasing engine noise (especially in cold weather) and the most anemic heater I have encountered since driving a VW Beetle many years back. (The Beetle was said to have only to heater settings: Cold and Ice Cold.)

…and an add-on: Interesting discussion over at Marginal Revolution on why most rental cars are US brands. Best hypothesis so far: Volume discounting because of inability to reduce production capacity.

Getting it right

One of the chief pleasures of being back in the US is reading good newspapers. The ability of (many) journalists to find le mot juste is astounding. In the New York Times Book Review today, for instance, I found the following paragraph (from Fareed Zakaria‘s review of George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate):

Packer describes in microcosm something that has infected conservatism in recent years. Conservatives live in fear of being betrayed ideologically. They particularly distrust non-partisan technocrats – experts – who they suspect will be seduced by the "liberal establishment." The result, in government, journalism and think tanks alike, is a profusion of second-raters whose chief virtue is that they are undeniably "sound."

I guess that is the problem with all ideology, whatever political banner it comes under. When the map does not agree with the terrain, the terrain is right. No matter what the press releases say.