A roller coaster of a week

This has been a week of ups and downs.

The week started off in a downhill slide.  As many of you know, Microsoft laid off around 3,000 of my coworkers this week.  Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them, but I have a great deal of good friends who were affected by this second round of layoffs.  I won’t say too much about it here, but Tuesday really sucked.

On the brighter side, I got some new toys this week.  I took advantage of an REI sale on Shimano shoes and bought some clipless pedals for the bike.  Today, it’s beautiful out and Diann’s out volunteering, so I hit the road with the bike.  Definitely one of my best bike rides to date: went 20.6 miles, from home to the Red Hook brewery (no beer stop this time) and back home, in just over 1.5 hours.  That gives me a 12mph average, which is great considering the route home was mostly uphill.  Here’s an elevation graph of the ride from home to work, and you’ll see what I mean (click to embiggen):

image

Now it’s off to get cleaned up, go get a haircut, and then drinks with a friend who’s in town for the first time in months.

Then, later on, the night looks promising for some stargazing.  That brings me to the other set of toys I got this week: a new mount for the telescope.  90 pounds of new mount.  It’s crazy.  Tonight’s not ideal for stargazing (pesky full moon), but I’m going anyway just so I can get familiar with the new gear.

Blog post for a T-shirt? Sure. :)

I’m not above selling out periodically.  A few months back, I posted here for a chance to win some vanilla beans after winning some saffron.  Now, it’s time for a t-shirt.

Thanks to Bill, I’ve stumbled upon the Microspotting site.  And I definitely want one of the “I am the empire” t-shirts.  Oh, and Ariel, consider your blog subscribed to my RSS reader.  Great stuff!

25x revenue is a company valuation? Huh?

I was reading the article by Mark Evans that laid out how Flickr could have an independent valuation of $4 billion dollars.  He used a multiplier defined by Henry Blodgett in determining the value of Facebook: 25 times a company’s annual revenue is their valuation.

Wow.

I decided to apply this to a few other companies that have been in the news lately: Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google.

Based on 2007 10K filings for each company:

Company Annual Revenue Valuation Market Cap (as of 5/8/2008)
Yahoo! $6.425B (2006) $160.625B $36.08B
Microsoft $51.122B (2007) $1.278T $272.60B
Google $16.593B (2007) $414.825B $182.92B

This gives between 2.5 and 4.5 of over-estimate in independent publicly traded companies.  I’m not a finance guy, but it seems like that 25 times number is quite a stretch, to me.

Getting things done: my way

I’m a procrastinator.  An expert at it, in fact.  However, at work, that usually doesn’t cut it.  I’ve been trying to figure out new ways to manage my to-do list, and I think I’ve come upon something that works really well for me.  I was reading a blog post over at 7Breaths about someone using OneNote and Outlook 2007 to manage their life, and it’s inspired me to write about mine, primarily using Outlook 2007.

Calendar View My workflow is pretty similar to Rob’s, especially with the categorization and coloring of items.  This helps me skim past personal emails and appointments while I’m at work. 

I make a point to block out two 30-minute blocks on my calendar for doing weekly reviews, recurring at 8:30am on Monday and Friday.  8:30am is usually early enough that I’m in the office, but not much is going on.  Monday mornings I’ll skim over my calendar and create tasks for major meetings that I need to do things in advance of.  Why have that blocked out on Friday morning as well, you say?  Well, what if I’ve got an important meeting that I need to prepare for on Monday morning?  I’d certainly prefer to find out about that before 8:30am on Monday.

I also make use of OneNote‘s flagging feature that Rob mentions, so I won’t go into that here.  One thing that I also do is, as e-mails come in, I’ll make use of Outlook’s flag feature to mark them as follow-ups.  After I’ve flagged them, I can get them out of my inbox and filed away in my filing structure (note: if you move a flagged email into a locally stored PST folder, it won’t show up in your to-do list.  Keep flagged items somewhere stored on the server!).

Flagged E-mail

(and no, neither Madden 08 or NCAA 08 are that good this year)

The to-do bar in Outlook is what really saves me.  By default, all your tasks will show up there grouped by time, as well as upcoming appointments (also color-coded based on the categories applied in the calendar).

One major change I’ve done is to change the filtering on the task pane.  It’s not very intuitive, so I’ll document what I’ve done here.  Basically, I got tired of seeing tasks that are (in some cases) a year out (no, I’m not that organized that I have things planned out a year in advance; it’s just that I setup a recurring task to renew some professional certifications).  If you right click on the "Arranged by" bar, and click on "Custom" as your filter, you’ll get a window that lets you customize your to-do task list.  Click "Filter" here, and jump straight to the Advanced tab.  Here’s the filters you’ll need to add to have it display like mine:

Field Condition Value
Date Completed does not exist  
Date Completed on or after today
Flag Completed Date does not exist  
Flag Completed Date on or after today
Due Date between today and 30d
Due Date on or before today
Due Date does not exist  
Status not equal to Completed

Some of these things are probably redundant, but it worked and I didn’t feel like digging through it to find out what I didn’t need!  The reason that Date Completed and Flag Completed Date have duplicate entries is because the Date Completed seems to affect only real tasks, where the Flag Completed Date items affect emails and other items you’ve flagged.  The heart of it is the Due Dates — this will only show me tasks that are due in the next 30 days or that are overdue (or don’t have Due Dates applied).  Finally, don’t show me things that I’ve marked complete.

This all keeps my to-do list manageable, not overwhelming, and fairly focused.  One other thing of interest: in that filter window, under More Choices, you can filter based on a Category.  Maybe you want to exclude things in your Personal category — that’s the place to do it.

Linux on the 360?

From [xbox-scene.com](http://www.xbox-scene.com/xbox1data/sep/EEZuFZpZFEucRywmpU.php) comes the biggest understatement of the year:

> In order to run this current loader, you will need to execute the compiled version through serial cable, after booting a modified shader via the king kong disc (with a firmware modded dvd-rom), and you will need to compile your own linux kernel aswell. This is obviously for the more savvy of the xbox users

Emphasis mine. Yeah, you need to take apart the box, change the firmware on your dvd-rom (which if I recall right requires doing some surface mount soldering), compile a Linux kernel, and load this through a serial cable (which also requires some soldering).

Savvy indeed.

Vanishing Point pictures

VP
Pictures from the Vanishing Point event have been posted in the gallery [here](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/events/2007/vp/). Go solve puzzles! Lots of pictures from the fireworks, but video would have been far better. Luckily, [Brandon LeBlanc](http://www.mstechtoday.com/) posted video on his [hive.net blog](http://www.hive.net/Member/blogs/the_wow/archive/2007/01/27/Video_3A00_-Vanishing-Point-Finale-Event-at-Gas-Works-Park.aspx).

Good luck!

Vanishing Point Game: Event 4 – Seattle, WA

So the 4th event of the [Vanishing Point Game](http://www.vanishingpointgame.com/) was held in Seattle tonight. If you haven’t been following, the game is a viral marketing/buzz building event sponsored by [Microsoft](http://www.microsoft.com/) and [AMD](http://www.amd.com/) for the Windows Vista launch (this Tuesday).

[Jenn](http://realmccoy.spaces.live.com/) (who happens to work on a part of the Windows Vista marketing team) called me to let me know the 4th event would be at Gasworks Park in Seattle tonight, so we hopped in the car and made the trip over to Seattle. It was, in a word, amazing.

There was a 10-15 minute long fireworks show, and then an entourage of buses toting people to an after event party. Apparently there were supposedly clues in the fireworks. I assume quite a few of the people there work for Microsoft, since we are in Microsoft’s backyard, but some of the people I talked to there actually flew into Seattle just for this — they’re playing the game that much.

The party was also awesome (and apparently chock-full of clues). There was a car wreck on one side of the party with an actress playing the role of the lady with amnesia in the movie [Mulholland Drive](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulholland_Drive_%28film%29). On the other side was a plane wreck with an actress playing the role of [Amelia Earhart](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhardt). What’s a party without [Elvis](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_presley)? He was there too. I saw a table on the side where they were giving away Vanishing Point shirts, so I went to pick one up. The guy behind the table introduced himself as [Bobby Fischer](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Fischer). There’s a theme: these are all people that “vanished” in one way or another.

Very cool event — I took a ton of pictures that I’ll be posting online shortly (maybe it’ll help the folks at the [Vanishing Point Wiki](http://www.vanishingpointwiki.com/)).

(Disclaimer: I must confess, I work at Microsoft. That doesn’t take away from the coolness of this event, though, and I don’t know anything about the puzzle)