How to use interruptions to your advantage

When I first started public speaking, I loved when I had technical difficulties. Focusing on them – problems I was familiar with – calmed me down.

Today started out with quite a few technical difficulties. First my SO's car broke down on the way to work and I had to go get him. (About an hour roundtrip.) Then an hour later daycare called and said my 3 year old was sick so I had to go get him. (About 40 minutes roundtrip.)

So I'm trying to use these technical difficulties to my advantage. I'm squeezing all important work into nap time. I have to be very productive for two hours!

And then I think I might just take the rest of the day off. (Which can be productive in a different way.)

What do you do when you run into too many "technical difficulties"?

Focus on doing good things, not just having good ideas

I love Seth Godin's analogy for how to protect your ideas in the digital age:

Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the
litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

Or make the best scissors for sale. Or have the best scissor company customer service. But don't block good ideas from changing the world. Don't prevent people from using scissors because you thought of them first. (Others thought of them too!)

I think more emphasis should be put on implementation and not ideas. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Actually implementing the idea is where the work is.

The dangers of URL shortening tools …

I recently posted a dent/tweet to Nokia N900 Delay Highlights Maemo's Importance. Usually when I create a link, I test it before I send it out, but it was Friday afternoon and I was in a hurry, and it was just a link to an article, so I didn't test it.

… and I missed the last letter when I copied the link …

I posted without the last letter. Without the last letter the link redirects you to a site that most of us would prefer not to open at work, instead of a nice Business Week article about Nokia, Maemo and the N900.

So be careful when using url shortening tools!

And have a good weekend! It's time for me to go see if I can transform myself into Ms. Incredible for my son's Halloween Party. At least she wears all her clothes.

7 things that sure make me feel safer – NOT

I think we've crossed the line on safety. The inconvenience to safety ratio has gotten way out of control.  Pretty soon we'll all be wearing body armour to leave the house just in case an acorn is going to fall on us.

1.  Car seats for kids until they are six! You can't tell me those booster seats do much. And reverse facing until they are a year old? What baby wants to stare at the back seat for ever? But I have a friend that bought the additional safety story and now her two year old is still in a reverse facing car seat. Poor girl! Did you have to sit in a car seat when you were little? How many accidents have you been in in your life time? I think the car seat manufactures are responsible for the lobbying that brings us our current set of our car seat laws.

2.  Bike helmets.  I always wear my hockey helmet – I've hit my head hard playing hockey. Same with skiing. But biking around the neighborhood? I can't tell you the last time I fell on my bike much less fell hard enough to hit my head. And I (and most of my friends) have made it to adulthood without wearing helmets when biking.

3.  No pillows or blankets! Did you know that babies (in the US at least) aren't supposed to sleep with pillows, blankets or stuffed animals? Don't you sleep with a blanket? Can you imagine sleeping on top of your bottom sheet with nothing else for a year? I wish I'd never heard about SIDS. I think my baby would have been much happier.

4.  Tuna. Eggs. Milk. To eat or not eat? Eggs are good for you. No, they're bad. No they're good. Or "Pregnant women shouldn't eat any fish." "No, they should have at least three servings a week or their baby will be stupid." Just eat. In moderation.

5. Seatbelts on airplanes. I've used my seatbelt in a car. By "used" I mean it's tightened up and held me in place. But on the airplane? I think they just want to keep us in our seats.

6. Electronics on airplanes. Actually, it really worries me that they think my cell phone might interfere with the aircraft. Because half the time I leave mine on. Are we going to crash some day because of that?

7.  Airport security.  Do you really feel any safer now that nobody can take more than 3 oz of any one liquid on the airplane? Or that their shoes all got xrayed? (FYI, they can take much more than 3oz, they just have to take the time to put it in separate containers.) Personally, I'd rather have the hours this year that I've lost standing in line waiting for my laptop to get scanned. Not to mention getting the airport early. I used to get there just in time to get on my flight. Now I'm there in time to wish chair massages at the airport weren't so expensive. Oh, and to spend money eating expensive sandwiches.

And I could go on and on … what's your favorite safety pet peeve?

What would you ask these guys about the desktop?

Tomorrow I'm also moderating a panel at OpenSource World, The State of Installed Desktops and Netbooks 2009.

What would you ask these guys?

  • Todd Finch, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Dell
  • Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier, Community Manager, Novell
  • Jono Bacon, Community Manager, Canonical
  • Rao Yeleswarapu, Marketing Manager for Moblin, Intel 

As a reminder:

  • Intel, a hardware company, recently launched Moblin, a software project that offers a whole new user interface for computing on netbooks.
  • Dell is one of first to offer Linux preinstalled on PCs and laptops.
  • Novell has employees using Linux desktops internally and offers it to customers.
  • Canonical has been working with different companies customizing the desktop to meet their customer needs.

So what would you ask them?

The Desktop or the Browser: Is the Netbook Escalating the Battle?

Wednesday I'll be speaking at OpenSource World on The Desktop or the Browser: Is the Netbook Escalating the Battle?

One of the things that has worried me is how people are living more and more in their browser. I myself am guilty of this. I use the browser to check my mail, calendar, read news, track my todo list, check my bank account, check on friends, upload pictures …

People doing everything in their browser scares me not because I think everyone should use the desktop but rather because I don't think the browser is the best user tool for doing all those things.

I think the browser is great. I use it all day, every day. But by limiting ourselves to the browser, we are limiting our user experience and the power of the desktop. I think Fabrizio Capobianco stated it really well in his post A World without the Browser:

I haven't seen one single implementation of a browser on a mobile
device that actually makes the experience good (not great). […] Clicking is a pain.
Zooming and panning is a super-pain. You click when you want to scroll.
You yell.


let's talk about Mobile Apps. They are built for interaction without a
mouse. With one finger (the other hand holding the device). They are
quick, immediate, intuitive, interactive.

If I have to choose
between checking the weather on my PC or on my iPhone, what do I
choose? The iPhone. One click. Done. I do not have to sit, open the
browser, click and re-click and maybe even type my zip code. It is
there when I need it.

Applications running natively on the desktop can provide a much better user experience than running an application inside a browser on top of the desktop. Mobile devices like phone and netbooks may make this obvious but the same holds true for a full size desktop.

If you use Twitter or Identica, do you use the web page interface or do you use Gwibber or Thwirl or Twidroid? (If you said the web page interface, I strongly recommend you try one of the apps as you are missing out.)

Devices with small screens will ultimately make the desktop experience better for everyone but only if we deliver applications that make the experience better. A desktop and a browser are not enough. "Web applications" that you access through the browser are not enough. We need applications that take advantage of the power the desktop has to offer.

How to have a great tamale making party!

Last Saturday Mario had a tamale making party at his house. (And I've been told that officially it should be tamal singular and tamales plural but I think in English it's now officially or unofficially tamale in singular.)

About 20 people showed up to help make tamales. Most of us novice cooks but expert tamale consumers, and ready to learn all about tamale making.


First, Mario mixed the masa in a commercial size kitchen aid that made Frank jealous.


He claims he uses the recipe on the back of the corn flour bag, but I'm here to tell you that he randomly adds lard, baking soda and chicken broth. They turned out awesome, but I'd be afraid to try it at home.



This what the masa looked like when done. And no, none of the tequila went into the masa.


Then we formed two assembly lines and got a quick lesson. First the masa on the corn husks. Mario pointed out that in previous years people have put a lot of masa on the corn husks and that means the tamales take hours and hours to cook. I think people took it to the other extreme – I got a few tamales that were mostly meat! (Still yummy!)


Two lines, one on each side of the table:


Then you put the meat on. Everybody brought some meat. I think we were all supposed to follow the recipe, but I know for a fact that Frank, like Mario, improved on it.


Then you fold them up. 


And wrap them in wax paper.


And somebody has to hold them in the pan – I got this important job for a while.


And then you cart the pans away – we made two freezers full of tamales!

And don't forget to have an occasional beer to keep you going.


And Mario's wife was busy the whole time making the most delicious beans and rice to eat with the fresh tamales. Oh, and guacamole. She makes a mean guacamole.


We wrapped up the afternoon with a birthday party for the Japanese exchange student staying with one of the families. (This was our two year old's favorite part.)


She got some help blowing out her candles.


It was a great day and we have some awesome tamales in the freezer to prove it.

About Stormy Peters

My name is Stormy Peters. You can
contact me by sending email to stormyscorner — at — You can also leave a comment on any post
where you have something to say!

I currently work as the executive director of the GNOME
. I also am an advisor for HFOSS, OpenSource World, IntraHealth Open and OpenLogic, as well as founder and president of Kids on Computers, a nonprofit organization setting up computer labs in developing countries.

I do a lot of public speaking. For more information about the topics
I speak on, see my speaking resume. You can also see me speak at:

I am passionate about learning, books, technology and open source
software. I read a lot, travel a lot and I never pass up an opportunity to learn something new.

I have two boys – an eight year old and a two year old – who keep me
entertained. My boyfriend does lots of interesting things like cooking,
hunting, pickling and building stuff – you can find his blog at Life of
a Hunter

You can also find me on twitter (@storming) and LinkedIn.

Cows on the road!

This is what I ran into this morning. Only the cows I ran into were white. And there were more than 30 of them. And they were running. (I really have to start carrying my camera with me!)

Photo by Cameron Maddux.

Cameron_MadduxI ended up driving slowly through the cows to pull up to the house that looked like they might belong to. As I pulled up, a woman came running out with her cell phone in one hand and her keys in the other. She ran to her car and drove straight across the road and into the field – in front of the cows that were making a break for it. Shortly afterwards, three pickup trucks came careening across the field and all the cows were shooed back into the right field. I asked if they needed any (inexpert) help and they said they were good.

(I hope she got her car out of the field ok but I suppose the three pickup trucks will help if she's stuck.)

I feel like it should be an exciting day now!