I just got sucked in to a four-hour-long meeting tomorrow.

I’m not a big meeting person. I have about a 30 minute (tops) attention span at meetings, regardless of my level of involvement in them, so after about half an hour I’m ready to check out - I’ve lost all interest in whatever topic it is and I’ll pretty much say or do whatever it takes to get out of the meeting.

On top of that, I’m a firm believer that good results are rarely achieved by meetings. Sure, there are a few good meetings that happen, but by-and-large, going to a meeting is like convening a congressional hearing - it takes forever to hear all the sides to every story, and then some arbitrary decision is made by committee that I really don’t care about.

I just don’t do well with meetings.

So I’m not too thrilled about being called into a four-hour-long meeting. I think that’s probably why I’m not in management and my career could potentially be considered “limited” - I want to focus on doing, not planning to plan the plan.

It really doesn’t help that the meeting is about the next phase of this project I just got off of that burned me out 110% on web development of any nature. I was starting to get my groove back, and I even put a couple of cool things (what I think are cool) out here for folks to download and use… I was starting to feel that desire to create cool stuff again.

There goes that. And I was just starting to enjoy myself.

I guess the best I can hope for now is to die in my sleep. Or at least not have unreasonable deadlines on the stuff I have to get done (which is, I think, the aim of the ridiculous four-hour meeting).

downloads, vs comments edit

Solvent is a set of simple but effective tools for Visual Studio .NET 2003 packaged as an add-in. Why call it Solvent? All the tools work in the Solution Explorer.

Bad science puns aside, here’s a list of what Solvent provides:

  • Recursive Expand/Contract: Ever notice when you click the +/- icon next to a folder (or double click on a Solution/Project file), it collapses that particular node in the Solution Explorer… but not any of the sub-nodes? If you have a really large project with a deep hierarchy, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to recursively close all of the items beneath a current node so when you expand it again it doesn’t re-expand everything below it? Now you can.
  • Open All SubItems: Easily open all of the subitems within a containing object (folder or project).
  • Open Containing Folder In Windows Explorer: Open the folder containing a document or project in Windows Explorer (if you select a folder, it opens that folder, not it’s containing folder).
  • Command Prompt Here: Open a command prompt at an object’s containing folder (if you select a folder, it opens the command prompt to that folder).

Solvent adds itself to the Tools menu and to the context menu for items in the Solution Explorer.

Tools Menu: Solvent Tools
Menu

Context Menu (On a Project): Solvent [Project] Context
Menu

It’s free, so come and get it!

Installation Note: Be sure to shut down Visual Studio BEFORE you install! If you don’t, you may see the UI elements of the add-in disappear. If you install the add-in and find that the UI has disappeared (and this goes for ANY add-in), go to Start -> Run and enter: devenv /setup That will reset your menus and force add-ins to rebuild. You may lose any customizations you make to the standard menu bars, though (like adding/removing buttons on bars). I’ll add a check for VS.NET on install for the next release.

NOTE: Gaston Milano has a similar product for VS 2005 called CoolCommands. As Solvent does not support VS 2005, you may be interested in checking that out.

Version History:

  • 1.0.0: First public release.
  • 1.1.1: Updated “Command Prompt Here” to use “cd /d [path]” rather than just “cd [path]” to allow for opening command prompt to drives other than the one VS.NET is installed on. Also released source for download.

The more I work in tech, and the more I write in this blog, I’m finding that I write more about work/tech stuff and less about what I’ve been up to. The thing is, what I’m usually up to is tech stuff.

I’m not sure how my readers feel about this (or even if I have any readers other than the Google search bots) because you gang out there don’t comment. Not that I’m soliciting comments for comments’ sake, mind you, I’m just sort of going by intuition here.

I’m pondering the idea of splitting out my tech-related stuff into a fully separate blog. That would allow the folks coming for the tech to see what they want and the folks trying to keep up with me personally to see what they want, ne’er the twain shall meet.

Again, though, the problem is that what I’m usually up to is tech, which means the people who want to know what I’m doing should probably just assume, should I split the two, that I’m simply busy with work things that you really wouldn’t care about.

Any opinions on that?

I’m also thinking of creating a more static “downloads” section for the little programs I’m throwing up here. Not that I think I’m going to have some massive load of software to download, but I figure it might make it easier for the folks coming for the downloads to have a nice, central spot that has the latest info in a less bloggy format.

Questions? Comments?

I was talking to Greg yesterday about a discussion he was having with Chris about job skills every employee should have.

Okay, so I don’t remember exactly which ones they came up with, but I know what my thoughts are, so here’s a list of skills I think everyone should have when it comes to the workplace:

Disagree and Commit (or, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”): You will very rarely be on a project involving more than one person and come to consensus on how the project will go. There will be times when the project leaders ask for your opinion, you provide it, and you’re overruled. Once the decision is made on a direction to go, once all parties have been heard and it’s been decided, you don’t have to like the decision, you just have to follow it. Fighting it every step of the way and continuing to bring decisions back to the table when they’ve already been made is entirely counterproductive. (My personal corollary to this one is that I retain the right to complain about it all I want, but I’ll still go with the flow. Maybe that’s still a tiny bit counterproductive, but it’s the only way I’ll be okay with doing something I disagree with.)

Commitment Follow-through: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t tell people in the meeting that you’re on top of something when you’re not. If you aren’t going to be able to meet the commitment you made, at least notify people early on so a contingency plan can be arrived at. If people are counting on you to get stuff done and you’ve committed to it, do your best to get it done.

Ownership and Personal Pride: When you’re working on a project, give it your all. Take ownership of the thing (yeah, “ownership” is one of those buzzwords) and have a little pride about it. The way your end of the project turns out reflects on how people see your quality of work. Have a little pride and do a good job. “Good enough” is not always good enough.

Writing 101: Everyone should know how to write with, at a minimum, reasonable grammar and correct punctuation. I’ll give a little on the spelling, but you should know at least how to spell simple words. Learn the difference between “its” and “it’s.” Know when to use “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” Figure out how to use apostrophes and commas. Knowing how to write (say, at an eighth grade level?) will help you to better convey your ideas and to be better understood.

Phone Etiquette: Not the “greetings and salutations” portion of phone etiquette, but other stuff, like “when it’s okay to use the speakerphone” or “how to leave a voicemail message.” For example, just because you have a speakerphone doesn’t mean you should call everyone on it. It’s still okay to use the handset (or headset). (Oh, and it is never okay to get your voicemail over the speakerphone, particularly if you’re in a cubicle environment.)

Under-promise and Over-deliver: You’ll come to find that when you’re working on a project, if you say it’ll take 5 days and it takes 10, that’s not so good. That’s what makes a project go over schedule and over budget. Plan for contingencies and worst-case scenarios. Provide time and budget estimates for both, but expect to take the longer amount of time. If you come in ahead of schedule and under budget, that’s a pleasant surprise; if you come in late and over budget, you’ll be disappointing folks at the least. I’m not recommending you sandbag and double every time estimate, but the concept of under-promise and over-deliver is a good one to maintain.