Category Archives: Uncategorized

Presenting Large Amounts of Information

Working on large software projects, I often have a need to provide people with large amounts of information. This may be done in the form of papers, or in live meetings. Sharing large amounts of data in a meaningful way is often quite challenging, so I’m always looking for ideas on better ways to do that.

Jason and I spent yesterday at a one-day class given by Edward Tufte on better ways to present data and information.


This was really worth our time. The cost is very reasonable for a one day professional course, and you get a set of all four of his books included in the price.

ET’s books are really great, but being there in person made such a difference. Listening to him talk about why he suggests various designs for information, and what is wrong with so many presentations of information, made a huge difference in my understanding of the topic.  Plus I got to watch a master presenter at work; I could watch how he presented his own information and learn from that as well.

For more information about his class, how to order his books, and access to his blog (Ask ET), go to his website

Best –


Keeping Your Brain Active and Healthy

I like to take a class every so often to learn new things and keep my brain active. July 9-15 I took a class for business owners to learn ways to improve my business. It was listed as an “intensive” and it really was! I worked at least as hard during that 7 days as I have in the past working on a software project near deadline (Sleep? Who needs sleep!). Jason was definitely feeling neglected!

The work from that class spilled over into the following week, so I’m really just now getting caught up with all the things I neglected during the class. It was quite worthwhile though. I learned a lot of really valuable things, and everything was recorded so I can go back and listen again any time I want.

Especially for those of us reaching middle age, continuing to learn and stretch our brains is extremely important to keep our brains healthy in our twilight years. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the book by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin called “Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife”. She is a journalist who researched all the current thinking about memory failure at midlife and beyond, and what you can do about it.

Exercise, take classes, play Sudoku – you aren’t goofing off, you are keeping your brain healthy!

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A new year, and new resolutions. Do yours include getting professional certification this year?

Professional certification can be good in some situations:

Intermediate level people can benefit by showing employers they have attained a certain knowledge level. Also, preparing for the certification test helps a person determine areas where they are weak in knowledge, thus giving them the opportunity to improve in that area.

Some companies require certification for the job. In this case, an employer may pay for any needed training and the cost of acquiring certification. You may find you have to acquire certification before applying for a particular job.

Certification is an indication that you are serious about your profession. You have experience and training. You have also committed to a standard of professional ethics and continuing education.

Keep in mind that if you do get professional certification, it is not forever. Many certifications are good for 3 years. To keep your certification, you have to continue to work in that subject area, and you will have continuing education requirements. These typically include things such as taking classes, teaching classes, attending conferences, and writing papers.

Here are some certifications I know of that may be of interest to you:

Business Analyst

Certified Software Engineering Professional

Unified Modeling Language

Rational Certified Professional a variety of subjects and tools, such as Object Oriented Analysis and Design or Requirements Management

Software Architect

Project Manager

Most certifications are designed for specialists. If you are a generalist, you may find it difficult to impossible to get some certifications. In that case, you will be looking more at certifications such as IEEE Certified Software Engineering Professional, which covers a broad range of topics.

I hope your new year is off to a great start. I’m taking care of a bunch of little things here at the beginning of the year – finishing up a bunch of small tasks that really needed to get done. The rest of the month is plenty busy with 2 contracts and a seminar between now and the end of the month!

Drop me a note or comment on a post to let me know what things I can help you with this year. What kinds of tools or information do you need to be more successful in your job?