As mentioned in a previous post, I’m building out two different business plans for organizations that would work on Mifos in Africa. I originally built out five conceptually scenarios* based on what I learned and heard on my first trip to Accra and Nairobi in June, and am now focusing in on building actual plans for two of those scenarios. This second scenario would build a new organization in Kenya, blending (and hopefully simplifying) two of the five original scenarios to create an investment organization and R&D lab (loosely modeled on MPOWER Labs) with an initial focus on building a Mifos company that delivers a mobile-centric experience.

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I’m staying in a lovely house (other than dealing with traffic to get into town and back) in the quasi-suburbs of Accra for the next few weeks, and it normally has a pretty fast DSL connection. The internet has been down for the last day or so, probably the result of the router resetting itself to nonworking settings, and as a result my only option for checking email has been on my phone.

It turns out that this is great. OK, it’s mostly not great and is slowing down some of the work I need to be doing, but there’s one big advantage. I don’t check email compulsively when it’s slow and little on my phone. I look periodically, and defer handling most emails until a TBD time in the future when I have full connectivity again. Looking periodically – like once or twice a day – and deferring most email to batch process at a future time is probably one of the biggest productivity boosters for me.

Email is inherently asynchronous, but I think many of us (myself included) have gotten into the habit of treating it like a real-time life support feed. Every time I look at email, I’m not present and focused on the thing in front of me (whether that’s researching a new company, writing up a strategy idea, meeting with someone interesting, or chilling out and listening to music). Instead, I’m thinking about what might be – pretty much the direct opposite of being present with what is – and usually being unintentional about it.

I’m getting much better about this even when I do have connectivity, but it’s nice to have a little reminder every now and then that teaches me a) that the world doesn’t end when I’m not checking email and b) that I get more done better when email is turned off. My eventual goal is to get down to checking email once a day (or less), but for now I’m working on a routine that has me checking twice a day. We’ll see how that goes. (another contradictory lesson learned: get a flippin’ USB modem for backup, which I am doing tomorrow morning)

Just a few handy tools, some of which won’t be exist for a while yet…

  • Things (updated for iPad)
  • EverNote (updated for iPad)
  • video skype (needs a camera)
  • My IT department to support Exchange 2007 so I don’t have to run Parallels to get to my work email
  • A 25 hour battery (enough to get from Seattle to Nairobi or Delhi on a charge – watching video the whole way)
  • A magic switch that rolls up an e-ink display from under the LCD (for book reading)
  • Bonus points for a hardened iPad that can serve as a loan officer slate in, oh, say, Rwanda

The world has changed a lot since I started the blog in 2003…

It bums me out – a lot – but I have to acknowledge that Office 2007 for Windows is extremely and highly superior to Office 2008 for the Macintosh. I didn’t want that to be the case, and hoped to wean myself off of Windows completely, but I’m finding that to do serious email cleanup means going into Outlook, and that working on Word and Powerpoint docs is way more efficient on the Windows versions.

I’m sure there are alternatives, and a learning curve… and am hopeful that Snow Leopard (with Exchange integration in will help in this transition, but I’m not holding my breath. That $80 spent on Parallels is totally paying off.

I’ve killed WAY too much time over dinner tonight trying to replicate my beautifully efficient Outlook macros (that give me keyboard shortcuts to file messages in a bunch of preset folders, allowing me to kill my inbox regularly) in Entourage using AppleScript. The problem’s been narrowed down… I can make the scripts work if the message is on my local machine, just not if it’s on the Exchange server. Still trying to work out if that’s an undocumented bug/feature (not that much with AppleScript + Entourage is documented).

I’ve been on the Mac for close to a couple of months now and other than the overall suckiness of Entourage (esp compared to Outlook), I’m happy as a clam. For now, though, killing my inbox still requires Outlook (running under Parallels)… which isn’t really a bad solution, it just irks me more than anything else.

I think I’ll give it another 20 minutes and then just abandon the effort for now and see if anyone on the Mactopia forums has any ideas…

So I planned tonight to grill my first spatchcocked piri piri chicken of 2009. I had the grill heating up, dispatched the chicken with practiced ease (and a bit of improvising with the super slick Shun utility knife that we got from the wedding registry, and got out the Tom Douglas piri piri rub… and found that it was virtually gone.

Backup plan: unopened “Made in Napa Poultry Rub” that happened to be in the cupboard. Great… on to the grill, except, hmm, it doesn’t seem to be heating up properly. Primary cause: out of gas. Backup tank also empty.

Backup plan #2: throw spatchcocked chicken into cast iron skillet and slide into the oven to roast, with a few parting words… should be dining on delicious Napa roast chicken (which is not grillied piri piri chicken, but should still be tasty) shortly.

Award for best misspelling on a resume, ever, goes to:


Funny thing just happened… I was able to work on a Google Docs spreadsheet in Firefox but not (gasp!) Chrome… oops.

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