3 Books Everyone Should Read - And They're All Quick Reads!

Checking in at a total of 512 pages (that's the total for all 3 put together!) these books are the ones I recommend to everyone who has to work for a living.

So, yeah, pretty much everyone. 

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

First up is the longest one, but at 272 pages you'll get through it in no time.

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)
by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister

ISBN-13: 978-0321934116
ISBN-10: 0321934113
272 Pages

While most business books focus on theory, process, or selling, Peopleware shines the light on the real people doing with work, with all of their quirks, idiosyncrasies, and strengths. (I know, what a concept, right?) 

Often referred to as a "project management" book, that label doesn't do it justice - the material is helpful to everyone looking to get the most out of, or just survive, the corporate environment. And for those of us who want more, you can use this information to improve your interactions with co-workers and clients.

This is one I re-read every year to keep the insights fresh in my mind. The humorous tone and real-life examples make this an enjoyable read.

How to Lie with Statistics

How to Lie with Statistics
by Darrell Huff (Author) and Irving Geis (Illustrator)

ISBN-13: 978-0393310726
ISBN-10: 0393310728
144 Pages

People love to toss around statistics, don't they? It makes what they say seem so much more credible. And maybe it's all true. But...

It is amazingly simple for people, intentionally or by mistake, to skew and twist statistics. It happens all the time, and can be the cause of bad decisions.

Let this book be your guide on what to watch out for, and avoid, when using statistics as part of your decision-making process.


The PC is Not a Typewriter/The Mac is Not a Typewriter

The PC is not a typewriter
by Robin Williams

ISBN-13: 978-0938151494
ISBN-10: 0938151495
96 Pages

The MAC is not a typewriter
by Robin Williams

ISBN-13: 978-0201782639
ISBN-10: 0201782634
96 Pages

Come on, admit it, you either still double-space after periods when you type, or you know someone who does...

The PC is Not a Typewriter (and its Mac companion*) is a fast, fun, easy read that will help you make your written communication more professional and sophisticated. Yes, it references older technology, but the technical info isn't the important part here - it's the simple, clear information and inspiration for crafting of better writing. It covers punctuation, leading, special characters, kerning, fonts, justification, and so much more. 

Read this, keep it nearby, refer to it often - your writing, and your readers, will thank you for it.

Frankly, these 96 page-long gems are the books I would give to everyone I meet, if I could. 

*Why is there a PC and a MAC version? My guess is 1) for the technical references which I'm sure were helpful when it was released 2) to get the full audience - some PC people won't pick up something targeted at the MAC audience, and vise versa.

Some people might skip over these books because they were published "years ago" - but that would be a mistake. OK, sure, some of the examples they include may be a bit dated; however, the concepts and ideas are timeless. Give them a try, and I'm sure you'll agree!

Note: The book images are links to the Amazon.com page for that book. If you purchase the book from there, I will get a few pennies from Amazon that I'll use to support my book habit. But no pressure, get them from your favorite place!

Like this post? Check out my new project - The BA Zone for more like this one!

FYI: Microsoft Outlook, Skype, OneDrive hit by another authentication issue

The lovely and talented Mary Jo Foley is keeping tabs on this - check her article for updates: http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-outlook-skype-onedrive-hit-by-another-authentication-issue

Style DropDowns With Only CSS

Been looking for a good solution that would let you style your dropdowns using only CSS? Me too!

Take a look at this, it's an awesome solution:


Words Matter, Even If We Try To Believe Otherwise

I always cringe when someone says “I won’t let anything happen to you” - what an awful thing to say to someone. Can you image a life where nothing ever happened? Of course, that's not what they mean. What they are trying to say is that they won't let anything *bad* happen to you.  Which may be unrealistic, but at least has good intentions.

But it's still not right; not when you speak or when when you write.

And then there's this one..."I could care less." 

Yea, that one, sorry, the eye roll is not optional if you are going to insist on saying that one.

If you could care less, that can only mean that you care. So, saying that when you don't care is wrong. Just flat-out, 100%, wrong. If you don't care, then "I couldn't care less" is the phrase you are looking for. 

Think This Doesn't Matter?

Sure, no one says anything about it to you. And maybe "you know what I meant" is true. But you should know that when you make these types of mistakes:

  • it distracts from what you are saying
  • it may cause misunderstandings
  • it damages your credibility

Yes, that's right, I'm saying that people silently judge you for this. Maybe you're OK with that. But maybe you shouldn't be. 

Want to do better? Here's a great reference:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.





Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays: Food Issues

Holidays are filled with excitement and interesting smells for our pets, but it is up to us to make sure the fun doesn’t turn into danger. For example, things that are yummy to us, like chocolate, grapes/raisins,and avocado, can make our pets sick or worse.

The ASPCA has put together a handy list of foods to avoid: ASPCA: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets.

Oh. and keep a close eye on your guests - adults and kids may “feel bad” for your pet and slip them a little treat, not knowing the damage they could cause!

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays: Thanksgiving

For a lot of people, Thanksgiving is THE holiday of the year, and there are lots of reasons why: good food, football, fun with friends and family, etc.

But it is also important to remember to keep our pets in mind on this big day. Keeping them safe lets everyone enjoy the holiday fun!

For a great set of tipe, please visit: AVMA: Thanksgiving Pet Safety

An Easy Way To Make Customer Service Easy

Everyone says that they want to offer excellent customer service, and most-often think that they do. But when they find out that customers are unhappy there is a laundry list of reasons why “it’s not our fault.”

It’s Not That Hard to Make Your Customer Happy

Seriously, I can give you one easy step to turn those customer grumbles into customer grins. Heck, those unhappy customers will start signing your praises. You just need to do One Little Thing.

And I’m such a sweetheart, I won’t even charge you for this secret. Yep, I’m that wonderful!

OK, got your pen and notebook ready? Do you maybe want to sit down for this?

Follow up

When you say you are going to do something, DO IT. For example, if you tell a customer that you will put a note on their prescription to hold it until the customer can get in to pick it up, DO IT.

When you tell a customer that you will look into a problem/request/etc. and let them know - DO IT. Check out what needs to be researched, and contact the customer with the information right away. If it turns out that it will take longer than you thought, contact the customer to let them know you are working on it; that you did not forgot them.

Go on, give this a try. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at the results.

Testing Your Website/Web Application in Microsoft Edge

OK, so now that we know the real name for the browser formerly known as “Spartan” is Microsoft Edge*, the next question is…

What is this browser going to do to my website (or web application)?

Microsoft Edge Testing Options

There are 2 ways you can go about testing this today:

  • Get in on the Windows 10 “beta” and install it on one of your systems. (Reports are that the new browser comes with the Windows 10 install.)
  • Use the online testing tool provided by Microsoft.

About the Microsoft Edge Testing Tool

Since I don’t have a system I want to install Windows 10 on right now, I went for the online testing option. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Go to: https://remote.modern.ie/subscribe and sign in (or set up an account if you don’t already have one).
  2. Select your region from the drop list.
  3. Download and install the version of Remote Desktop for your environment.
  4. Log in to Remote Desktop and select the Internet Explorer option. [Note: It does NOT say Microsoft Edge, at least at the time I wrote this up.]
  5. When the browser opens, enter the URL in the address line (or click to open a new tab and enter it there).

It’s Not All Good News

That’s the good news. The bad news is, it doesn’t work for local testing. Even when I replace localhost with the IP address. Which makes sense, since it’s based on a remote system, but for those of use who need to test stuff that’s not out on the public web, well, hopefully a solution is on the way!


*And think of all the fun confusion we have to look forward to, since Edge is used for Micorsoft Edge Transport servers, the Verizon Edge program, the Samsung Edge phones, heck there was even a Microsoft Edge messenger bag!



Get a 10% Discount at A Book Apart

A Book Apart is running a digital holiday flash sale! Today (12/19/2014) through Sunday only, use the discount code EBOOK10 at checkout to get 10% off all ebook orders. Get while the getting is good!! (Psssst, these make awesome holiday gifts!)

Keeping your CSS Clean

Everyone knows they should clean up their CSS, but most don’t because hey, who has the time? Or maybe you do keep your CSS pristine, but then you have to deal with someone else’s legacy CSS. Well, no more excuses:

Great deals on Kindle Educational Books Today

Great deals on Kindle Educational Books Today - up to 80% off! I’m going to indulge a bit, my brain needs the boost! http://tinyurl.com/lzu9r38

7 Ways to Keep Pets Safe in Winter!

That chill in the air means it’s time to bundle up. But don’t forget to help your pets deal with the cooler temps. Here are seven ways to help your pets in winter - share your other tips in the comments!

  1. Keep cats and dogs indoors. If they must be outside for a period of time, ensure that they have a warm, dry place to hang out and access to water (you may need to use a heated dish!).
  2. Clear a path in the snow/ice and use a pet-friendly, no-salt ice melt such as Morton 7834 Safe-T-Pet Snow & Ice Melt, 8-Pound Jug .
  3. Keep your dog on a short leash and stay out just long enough for the dogs to relieve themselves.
  4. Remove snow and ice from the paws and fur after walks/playing outside.
  5. Check warm spots on cars, such as hoods, where animals might seek shelter from the cold.
  6. Be sure pets are wearing identification tags and proper outerwear as needed.
  7. Protect short haired or sensitive dogs during walks by using coats and boots. (or something like Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protector Wax, 7-Ounce , which protects pads)

And here’s a bonus tip for my fellow humans: great doggie DIY idea for winter!

Did you know...Free Photos and Illustrations

Did you know that every month you can download a free photo, illustration, audio file, and/or video file from www.istockphoto.com? All you need to do is:

  1. Create an account with the site (it’s free too!) Just visit: www.istockphoto.com
  2. Visit the site every month to check out the free goodies and download the one(s) you like.

Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me!

Full disclosure: This is not a paid posting (not that there’d be anything wrong with that!), other than I did use a referral link, but I’d only get credit if you use the link and then buy 30 files in 30 days, which would be a bonus but is totally not the point. The point is, this is such a great resource *and* they give away free stuff every month, and who doesn’t love FREE? I mean, seriously, it’s a good deal.