Category Archives: Slightly off-topic

These articles are only somewhat related, or completely unrelated to other articles at Tyner Blain.

Beyond Booked Solid: Solid Advice

beyond booked solid book cover

Michael Port’s new book just came out. If you’re trying to redefine or improve how you focus professionally, it would be a good read. If you run your own company, or want to, it is a great read. Michael has good advice, good reasoning for his advice, and he writes well – a very easy to read style. Not dumbed down, not full of jargon. As someone who exactly matches his target audience, I highly recommend Beyond Booked Solid.

Continue reading Beyond Booked Solid: Solid Advice

Michael Arrington’s Inbox is Fat!

techcrunch logo

Michael Arrington has 2400+ unread emails in his inbox. And he needs someone to fix it.

If you are the person with the idea to save us all, send me an email and tell me all about it. Actually, strike that. Drop by my house and tell me all about it. I don’t want your message to get lost in my inbox.

Michael Arrington

Michael is looking for the email equivalent of a magic diet pill. He can’t change his behavior, so he needs a dietary supplement. The dieting-market is huge, and products succeed playing on that emotion for dieters. Is email management the same?
Continue reading Michael Arrington’s Inbox is Fat!

Setting The Price for Your Software


Joel on Software writes a great article about how to set the price for your software to maximize profits.

Joel does a good job of explaining and exploring the economic theories behind pricing and balancing supply and demand. He then dives into market segmentation and how it applies to pricing. Finally, he addresses the marketing elements of pricing and perceived value. He takes us on a fun journey with an enjoyable read, even if he doesn’t get to the conclusion we all need. The thoughts and analysis are still helpful when thinking about pricing your software.

For more actionable advice, and generally everything about pricing, check out the Dollars and Sense blog by Reuben Swartz. A lot of good stuff there! He has a categories on software pricing, pricing strategy, and a lot more.

Brilliant Presentation on Identity 2.0

Dick Hardt at OSCON 2005

The material in the presentation is off-topic, but the presentation is so good that you just have to watch it. I found this when researching about openID (mine is – check out myOpenID to set up yours). Consider the open ID thing to be a tangent you might be interested in pursuing today, and will be interested in pursuing soon.

Regardless, you should watch this presentation. The delivery will knock your socks off. The topic is interesting, or perhaps not interesting at all – but delivered so well that you’ll be interested.

This is your third link to it. Last chance.

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

stemming at the pecos
Thanks, Harry Nieboer, for tagging me with this.

For folks who don’t read a lot of blogs – there’s a meme going on right now where bloggers list five things that most people don’t know about them. This spreads virally, like the old email chain letters. After you share your five things, you tag five more people.

Five Things

  1. Before I fell off a ladder and tweaked my shoulder, I used to be able to climb 5.11c (really hard rock climbing). Photographic proof.Sehlhorst Climbing. The ladder thing is both true and ironic. I tweaked my shoulder in order to protect…
  2. My wife, with whom I am madly in love. She and my step-daughter Sarah became my family in 2004. To offset the estrogen levels, we added Scout, a male labrador, to our family last year.
  3. I used to be a mechanical engineer, and even authored a few patents in the field of electro-mechanical controls design.
  4. I was a competitive swimmer, and held a couple Georgia state records when I was 12.
  5. I used to be best-known for my jalapeno poppers recipe, and I am an official chile-head (#51?). I even carry ground habanero with me when I travel, to spice up pretty much anything.

Five More People

Tag! You’re it.

  1. Roger Cauvin
  2. Tony Chen
  3. The Cranky PM
  4. Michael Shrivathsan
  5. Adam Bullied

Gifts for Geeks: Pre-Black Friday


Many of us who are part of the Tyner Blain community are geeks, gadget hounds, and people who read books that make you think. All of us know someone like this. Tyner Blain is a mostly-for-free site – we just ask that you remember our name, join in on the discussion, and share the good stuff with others. Tonight we have a shameless, off-topic, self-promoting article.

Professional Shoppers

The professional shoppers out there know that Friday is known as Black Friday, one of the largest shopping days of the year – at least in the USA. New products hit the shelves in time for the holiday season, and retailers offer loss-leader sales to get shoppers in the door.

Tyner Blain is an affiliate – if you buy stuff we reccommend, we get a small commission. Not enough to pay for hosting the site, but enough to buy a copy of Karl Wiegers’ Software Requirements, 2nd Edition. We’ve put some great suggestions here, and feel free to use them – if you don’t want us to get an affiliate fee, don’t click on the links on this page, browse to Amazon directly and look up the product on your own.
Also, if you want to just use this post as a wish list of your own, send the link to someone else [my wife’s suggestion].

Amazon Gift Certificate

The perfect gift

What do you get for the person who already bought what they want? A gift certificate. Amazon sells gift certificate that can be used for anything from powdered lemonaide to DVDs to big screen tvs.

Wireless Joy

I love my Bluetooth gadgets, and can reccommend two in particular:


Kensington USB2.0 to Bluetooth adapter. My laptop doesn’t have bluetooth, but my cell phone does. With the bluetooth adapter, I can use my phone as a modem, when the hotel doesn’t have wireless (or we’re on the road). I can also transfer pictures and mp3s back and forth. The most practical feature – keeping a backup of my contacts on my laptop.


Jabra BT250V Bluetooth headset. Another especially handy toy – staying on the phone while I walk around with the phone in my pocket. I don’t know how many times I’ve ripped the phone out of my ear (or worse, out of my pocket) when the cord got caught on something. No more, with the bluetooth headset. I also get the twisted joy of walking around the airport looking like a babbling lunatic, as I talk into the empty space.

Tuning Out the World

Most of us have iPods or Zunes or other personal video/audio players. Most of us also have cheap headphones.


The Shure E2c Sound Isolating Earphones are at the very top of my christmas list. I’ve been using Bose noise cancellation headphones for years – and based on the small form factor, and several reviews I’ve read, this will be my major upgrade for the year. Life savers on the plane, especially when I get stuck back by the engines, noise-reducing headphones allow me to listen with greater fidelity, without raising the volume to dangerous levels. Shure has higher performance versions than this model (and cheaper ones), but this is the sweet spot on the cost-benefit curve.

zune shuffle

The Zune is hot this year. Another great idea is the 2nd generation iPod shuffle (so tiny!).

Ever Get Thirsty?

wine opener

My friend Tom has the Metrokane Houdini-style opener. Coolest thing ever. If you’ve seen one and don’t have one yet, get it now. If you haven’t, ask a friend about it, then get one.

beer opener

Innocuous, yet indescribably cool in action, this bottle opener (beer and soft drinks) is equally cool to the Houdini opener, if your tastes, like mine, lead more to beer than wine.

Top-Shelf Books

For work-related books, take a browse of our bookshelf. If you want other really really good books, check out these three that are great both for learning new stuff, and thinking about stuff in new ways.

Amazon Gift Certificate

After all of that – you still may not know what to get – don’t forget The perfect gift.


Thanks very much for either using one of these links, or at least tolerating their appearance here. Have a great Thanksgiving, or if you’re not in the USA, enjoy a day of two without us Americans pestering you.

Prioritize With Poe – Halloween Fun

Edgar Allen Poe

Once upon a morning meeting, while we wasted minutes fleeting,
Over many an issue of status one through four,
While I listened, eyes glazed over, suddenly there came a question,
As if a project sponsor asked which feature we need more.
”Tis prioritization,’ I muttered, ‘asking ’bout the issue’s score –
Only this, and nothing more.

Ah, quite clearly I recall, it was in the VP’s meeting hall,
Where business and developers cajoled and implored.
I looked at our rework allowance – vainly had I sought to balance
New functionality and fixing bugs – bugs that just might stop the show –
For the worst bugs might just crash the server don’t you know –
More importance drives the score.

Each single issue raised the specter of abandoned users
Losing capabilities – precious for their goals and more;
And as my whiteboard marker fluttered on the board
I created buckets of priority on the board –
Each separate bucket of priority on the board; –
We sorted issues by their score.

Post-its placed in each big column; organizing our big war room,
‘Search is broken from command line’ one of the coders roared;
Bucket one or maybe two he claimed, priority it must be highest,
Without it I can’t test my code. Never use it, user muttered,
I only search by person’s address, and search works fine for postal codes,
Better move to bucket four.

Spelling errors, cryptic messages, the wrong colors on the screen,
Urgent, critical, must-have-features, struggle to avoid the sink-hole for
Never will the dev team finish all that we will relegate
To the least important bucket, the one we know as bucket four.
The oft forgotten, if there’s still time, budget busting bucket four.
Keep mine out of bucket four.

Can’t remember if they told me, how important that one can be,
If the moon is one-fourth waning, and it happens on a Monday morn.
‘Impact,’ I said, ‘can be quite large – if that happens as you said;
but divide by fifty to adjust for circumstances you deposed –
it almost never happens in the circumstances you deposed; –
Allocate to bucket four.

Sponsor’s teeth are grinding loudly, neck veins bulging to explode,
‘My favorite feature you’re forgetting!’ I must admit it was ignored.
Politics and process battle, to the victor goes the spoils;
But features sort by prioritization, we all agreed to rank by score –
Leveraging his lofty title, the sponsor forced a change in score –
Removing it from bucket four.

The list grew smaller, one by one, of issues still to be decided,
As we slogged through more discussions of the buckets one through four,
‘We’re not yet balanced,’ I implored, ‘our numbers aren’t realistic.’
With six of ten in bucket one, and one of ten in bucket four –
‘They can not all be most important’ some of them are less not more –
Shift some more to bucket four.

Balancing the less important wasn’t easy first time through,
But we all struggled, sorted, balanced – slowly filling bucket four;
Pointing out the most important still would be the first we tackle
Until we’ve used up time remaining – unless we choose to ask for more –
We fill each timebox in each cycle – unless we choose to ask for more,
Our only hope for bucket four.

Cutting quality is not an option for delivery of our software,
Time and people, money and scope, but we can not risk the product’s core.
Something falling, from the whiteboard, falling slowly toward the floor –
His favorite feature, flashy graphics, written on a post-it note,
Bucket three was somewhat crowded, on the whiteboard by the door,
Hoping to avoid the stigma, tender lifelines for the features,
All avoiding bucket four.

No one noticed as I bent down, picking up the post it note,
Breathlessly I looked around, the project sponsor had grown bored,
Conversing softly about wineries, our politician had not noticed
His post-it was not where it started, on the whiteboard by the door –
Adrenaline was taking over, I was shaking as I crossed the floor
Returning it to bucket four.

The meeting ended moments later, and the minutes were sent out that day,
No one noticed my correction, removing it from near the door;
The feature was where it belonged, politics be damned I chuckled
Priority would win this battle, with flashy graphics in bucket four –
Opinions lose to facts in battle. Lowest value? Bucket four.
Issues we now sort by score.