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Dave doesn’t think that Trump’s supporters know that his cabinet nominees are bankers and billionaires. He goes on to suggest that we should be running ads on Fox news so those supporters can have a better understanding of who these nominees are.

I think this is a great idea, and I don’t think we should stop there. Why not run ads in other places likely to be seen by Trump supporters, like Facebook. Targeted ads aren’t an original idea, political campaigns have used them to reach their supporters, and attempt to chip away at their opponent’s supporters. This, however, could be different. It wouldn’t be part of a particular campaign and it could be used to put forth well cited facts. Something that attempts to counter the sensational headlines that spread alternative facts.

Everybody loves meetings, right? Probably not, but even I, hater of meetings, concede that they are necessary. The problem is that there are far too many of them. Fast Company’s article on the subject of meeting waste is full of eye-popping factoids like this one:

…Bain & Company found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers was costing one organization $15M a year!

The article also references Harvard Business Review’s meeting cost calculator, which is nice, but a bit too manual for my tastes. It reminded me of an idea I’ve batted around with fellow meeting attendees at at least two different jobs.

We’ve talked about all sorts of kooky ideas*, but the The basic idea is to make meeting cost very visible. The hope is that making the costs visible will make people more mindful of time spent in meetings. And, perhaps, they might be more judicious when scheduling them. Last year, I scribbled this crude little widget in the margin of my notebook, which sort of captures the idea. Yes, this was sketched while sitting in a long meeting with more than 30 attendees:

Sketch of real time meeting cost widget

Since no one should be expected to calculate such costs manually, this would be automated based on information known by the organization. Basically, the length of meeting and the cost of each of the attendees. Since massive salary gaps between employees may be embarrassing and distracting, an average or blended rate might be applied.

With that information readily available, it could be used in many places, such as:

  • Display estimated meeting cost while creating a meeting invitation (in Outlook or other shared calendar). Watch the cost go up when you add more attendees or increase the duration. Does Bob really need to be in this meeting???
  • Show estimated meeting cost on all invitations. The recipient can decide whether or not they want to contribute to this cost by attending.
  • Conference rooms could have massive wall displays that count up the cost of the meeting in progress, in real time. The cost should be displayed both inside and outside the meeting room. “Bob, your diatribe just cost us $442 bucks!”
  • Every Goto Meeting, Webex, or other remote meeting solution should include a tally not unlike the conference room display mentioned above.

Travel expenses would prove harder to obtain in real time, but it would be wonderful to see those as well. How about the lunch that was just delivered so everyone could just power through? So many possibilities here…

Perhaps someone, somewhere has already implemented a system like this. If it exists, I’d love to see it in action. If not, maybe one day, I’ll be able to create it. If only I didn’t have so many meetings to attend.

Thanks @clairemoncrief for retweeting the Fast Company link!


* One of the ideas involved a meeting room gradually filling up with ping-pong balls representing dollars spend on meeting time. Meeting attendees would be forced to exit the meeting room when the balls made it impossible to see their laptops, phones, presentation or each other. A fun idea, but perhaps difficult to execute. Another idea called for actual dollar bills that fall from the ceiling onto the conference room table, with a similar effect.

Back in 2007, there was some talk about personal unit tests. The idea was to apply unit testing, a tenant of Test Driven Development, to some of the mundane, yet important daily tasks of one’s life. Done properly, one could see what their pass rate was, and address problem areas.

Personal Unit Test SpreadsheetThis sounded like a great idea. I created a spreadsheet complete with conditional formatting to track small tasks like “exercise”, “healthy lunch” and “practice guitar”. While it was useful to see how I was doing, the overhead of tracking all of these little tasks was very high. If it could only be automated, like unit tests in TDD, it would be so much better.

Now, 7 years later, our devices are tracking all sorts of things about us. Perhaps most of these unit tests could be automated by querying the repositories of personal data that are being created. Data that can’t be obtained automatically, could come from something like Reporter. I’ve seen several gorgeous visualizations of this data–Aprilzero immediately comes to mind, but I don’t think they are all that actionable throughout the day. This is where unit tests could really shine, maybe.

Last MileA friend just moved offices and he’s now directly across the street from me. The idea is that two transceivers would communicate with each other using visible and infrared light. People on either end could send a message to the other office. The visible light would be sent as morse code, so to a trained observer, the messages would not be private. Also, the transceivers would automatically identify themselves on a regular basis, the identity could include a URL for more information about the project, or even a way to send a message.

I thought this would be a fun little project that would foster some interoffice camaraderie. The idea is far from unique, and it’s a bit redundant given that we could contact each other in a variety of other ways–but it would still be fun to build. However, I’ve given up on the idea for now given that the security people from both firms would rip these transceivers out the moment they found them.

Canvas Wrench RollA while ago, I bought a set of open end wrenches. The wrenches are fine, but the case they came in is bulkier than it needs to be. I could take them out of the case, but they really need to be organized in some way rather than clanging around in the bottom of a toolbox.

I like the idea of tool rolls, they keep things together and protected while being simple, light and portable. A quick search didn’t yield any that I wanted to purchase. So, I’m gathering a few pictures here as inspiration so that I can go the DIY route and design my own. After all, Carl has a new sewing machine set up in his shop for an upholstery job, I’m sure he could use the practice.

Wrench RollThe picture at the top is almost exactly what I’m looking for. The green fabric reminds me of a nut driver set my father had in his shop–it’s durable and wears well.

The second, black one shown here is nice because of the two rows of pockets that fold into each other. This negates the need for an additional flap to keep the wrenches from falling out when rolled. On this particular one, the wrenches will be touching when rolled. It would be better if there was a bit more fabric to prevent that from happening.

Hanging Tool Roll Finally, these beige canvas rolls are shown only for their hanging ability. Putting grommets in the rolls allow for hanging when possible. In this case, they are hanging in a tool chest, but they could just as easily be hung on a wall over a bench.

Ultimately, I want a design that combines the strong features of all three.