Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

January 6, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 3 – When iWork isn’t as Cloud-Friendly as You’d Like

(In Part 2 of this series we looked at Apple's entry into the productivity software world.  Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are fantastic tools for getting beautiful work done on your iPad.  But what if Apple's solution seems a little disconnected from YOUR world?  What if you use Google Docs and you can't seem to get your documents into and out of your iPad so you can edit them on the fly?  Buck up, friends.  This is your answer…)

Editing In the Cloud with iWork Alternatives

It's time to face reality, friends.  Apple isn't exactly known for its open-minded approach to computing.  Where Apple is concerned, it's either Apple's way or it's no way.  (Considering that my Apple stock is sky high compared to when I bought it and Microsoft's is stuck in 1st gear, I guess I shouldn't complain too much.)

You want to use that beautiful Mac Operating System, OS/X?  

Buy a Mac.  

You want to edit your movies with that gorgeously simplistic software called iMovie?  

Buy a Mac.

(Well, now there's iMovie on the iPad, but let's not quibble.)

You want to store your documents in "The Cloud" so you can download them, edit them, and the re-upload them no matter where you are in the world?


Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 3 – When iWork isn’t as Cloud-Friendly as You’d Like”

January 5, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 2 – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

In our Part 1 of this series we set the stage.  I'm a geek, I love tech toys, and I have definite opinions about what high-quality, must-use software should be on just about anyone's iPad.  Now we get down to business.  It's time to talk APPS!

Real Work, Real Apps:  Apple's iWork Suite for iPad

Let's start our tour of "What's On Steve's iPad" with Apple's earliest and most mature contribution to the iPad software cause; The iWork suite.

iWork on the iPad includes the same three apps as iWork on the Mac.  Pages (Word Processing), Numbers (Spreadsheet), and Keynote (Presentations).

Pay attention to this caveat…  

iWork apps on the iPad still don't contain all the same features as their big brothers and sisters that run on Mac computers.  Running a productivity app like a spreadsheet on a small-ish 9.7", 1024×768 screen will cramp your style in a hurry if you aren't ready to make some compromises.  Go in forewarned.  

Forget mail merges.

Forget including links to external data sources in your documents.

Forget anything that even remotely looks like an advanced script or automation tool.

If the advanced stuff is your bag you better hang on to your trusty copy of Microsoft Office.  iWork on the iPad will disappoint in a hurry when it comes to advanced features even if it will be precisely the eye-candy you wish you saw every time you fired up Microsoft Word.

(For a decent, in-depth review of the software package, take a look at this PCWorld article.  Yes.  I'm deliberately steering you to a non-Mac publication.  Gotta go contrarian once in a while even if I am an admitted Apple Fanboi.)

Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 2 – Pages, Numbers, and Keynote”

January 5, 2012
by Steve Pearl

What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 1 – A “Best of Breed” App Guide for Noobs and Devotees Alike

The "Making Meetings Matter" and "Crisis Communications" series are on hold.  Right now I need to answer a burning question I found myself asked three times in the past two days.

"Hey, Steve, I'm buying an iPad.  What programs do you recommend?"

You want my opinion?  Really?  Little old me?  Awe, shucks!

Well, who am I to deny my oh-so-well-informed geeky counsel to friends in distress?

iPad, iPad…  Oh How We Love Our iPads!

A little over a year ago I posted an comprehensive list of what I considered "must-have" apps for the original iPad.  It was a pretty good list at the time, giving readers a solid idea of what I use on my own iPad on a day-to-day basis.  I included a software mix that showed the average user how to equip the iPad so they could leave their laptop at home and actually get real work done using Steve Jobs' self-proclaimed "magical" tablet.

Well, a lot of time has gone by since then.  It's time for a revisit.

I admit that most people aren't total geeks like yours truly.  Most iPad users really don't care about the nitty-gritty like, "Is it an A5 or an A4 processor," or, "How much usable RAM does it have?" or, "It heard it's supposed to render graphics up to 9x faster."  Though there are some people out there who know (or care) what "Jailbreaking" and "Cydia" mean, but most devoted iPad users could not care less.  They just love their iPad because it works well, it's super-cool, and by-golly Steve Jobs told them it was "magical."

When people see me toting my iPad (or my Android tablet, for that matter), they always ask me two questions:

  1. What Apps should I buy?
  2. What kind of case should I buy?

We'll tackle that second question in the future.  For now, let's take a bite out of the App store and talk about "Must Have" iPad software.

(NOTE:  Where possible, I'll include links to outside web sites that provide unbiased, in-depth reviews of each piece of software.  Caveat Emptor.)

Click to continue reading “What’s On Steve’s iPad Part 1 – A “Best of Breed” App Guide for Noobs and Devotees Alike”

January 4, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Review: Republic Wireless $20/mo “Unlimited” Cellular Plan

Yes, you read that title correctly.

This is a review of a WiFi/Cellular phone and service provider that purports to break new ground by charging you a measly $20 a month for "Unlimited" phone service.

I can already read your mind.

"You're kidding, right?  An "Unlimited" $20/mo cellular plan?  GET OUT OF HERE!"

No.  I am not kidding.  

It truly is a $20/mo plan and – to a certain extent – it is indeed "Unlimited."

I'm reading your mind again.  You're wondering if there's a catch.

Yes, there is a catch.

What Republic Wireless is offering is not a true "cellular" plan.  It's more like a WiFi-first, cellular-second plan.

In other words, as long as you are sitting in the middle of a nice, strong WiFi signal and can freely access that signal with your phone, you can talk to your heart's content all over the US for FREE, FREE, FREE.  Not only that, but Republic Wireless is providing international phone numbers for FREE incoming calls.  It's kind of like what we'd always hoped would happen once Android hit the landscape in full stride.  FREE WiFi calling over Skype or some such service.  If you're familiar with how T-Mobile threw in something called "UMA" into its phones to allow calling over WiFi you'll understand how Republic Wireless' service works.

But remember…

The second you move off your WiFi footprint you revert back to a cellular signal, in this case provided by Sprint, and the meter starts running.

As I'll note in a second, that move from WiFi to cellular is more than just a little bit sketchy.

Click to continue reading “Review: Republic Wireless $20/mo “Unlimited” Cellular Plan”

January 2, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Detours, Delays, and the Reality of Life

Nothing bugs me more than dropping the ball on a promise.

A couple of months ago I "promised" I would return to my two recent series ("Making Meetings Matter" and "Crisis Communications") in late November / early December.  The "Crisis Communications" series resonated with leaders who find themselves confronting unexpected crises, lacking the skills to communicate effectively with their clients or communities.  Likewise, the "Making Meetings Matter" series seemed to register a positive note with people who really hate it when high level meetings suck wind.

Well, life threw me some curve balls in early November.

Owing to the crummy state of the economy and an lack of paying clientele to keep my consulting firm alive, I found myself forced to head back into the full-time workforce.  Part of me was relieved.  After all, I thrive on the dynamic of team leadership.  As a consultant in a small, start-up firm you just don't find many people willing to work for free, so being back in the salaried world with a real team to lead is comfortable territory.

Don't get me wrong.  I didn't give up on consulting because I couldn't find clients.

I gave up on consulting because the kind of clients I like to work with – non-profits – are sucking wind right now.  They're struggling.  Donations are down and they just don't have the kind of money it takes for me to keep my family of five fed, clothed, and college educated.

Nothing gives me greater joy than helping non-profits adopt best-of-breed leadership principles and communications methods.  They just can't pay for that kind of expertise.

In November I walked into a firm that a friend told me needed some help and and gave them a little pro-bono consulting on improving their web image.  We talked brand identity and positioning for a couple of hours.  It was like throwing a drowning man a life preserver.  At first they flailed wildly in the water.  Pretty soon they got a good grip on the life preserver and managed to throw a leg over the transome.

I still have a dream that some day some eager benefactor will step up to the plate and say something like this…

"Hey, Steve, I like what you guys are trying to accomplish.  I'm going to give you that $250k of seed money you need to crank up a leadership consulting firm dedicated to pro-bono service to the community.  I'm going to help you take that gig on the road to every hurting non-profit all over the country.  I'll help you get the RV gassed up and keep your family fed so you and your partners can go out there at low or no-cost and help build the team leadership skills it takes to achieve organizational success as a non-profit in today's world."

Ahhh…  Someday.

Click to continue reading “Detours, Delays, and the Reality of Life”

December 9, 2011
by Steve Pearl

Still Crying for the “Unknowns”

My wife learned a long time ago that I cry at the drop of a hat.  It used to be embarrassing.  Now it's just a family joke.

Yes, I am a sap, a wimp, and a mushy-wushy softy over the silliest things.  

You remember the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life"?  Well I actually cried when Jimmy Stewart went running around the town yelling, "Merry Christmas!" at the top of his lungs. 

How about the Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant period piece, "Sense and Sensibility"?  I remember sitting behind my wife in the movie theater in the Chicago suburbs, crying when Emma Thompson exploded in tears of joy upon learning that Hugh Grant wasn't married.

"Die Hard"?  

Just kidding.

Which is why I also learned how to compartmentalize really, really important stuff worth crying over versus sappy, wimpy, mushy-wushy stuff worth crying over.  I never lose sight of what's really important in life.  Those cries are worth having.

Tonight I had one of those moments when real life collided with fantasy and I went right over the edge to tears.

Click to continue reading “Still Crying for the “Unknowns””

November 14, 2011
by Steve Pearl

“There’s No Whining in Dancing!”

What does it say about me that I love watching "Dancing With the Stars?"  

I can't dance like these people.  (Heck, I can't dance at all.)  I can't stand occasionally smarmy, sexual commentary by the judges.  I don't like the skimpy costumes, the racey song selection, and the forced staging of overly-long "results shows."

I am, however, drawn to this show.  I can't completely explain why.

So I sit at home, watching, appreciating, and critiquing the stars.  These people pour heart and soul into the competition, exceeding their own "two-left-feet" limitations by virtue of hard work, determination, and passion and we dare to couch-critique their performances.

Some stars hang on far too long, kept on the show purely by virtue of their popularity, not their skill.  Some press onward, struggling against their lack of natural talent, growing stronger, slowly but surely, week after week.  Some survive.  Somehow, they make it to the finals and their shot at the coveted mirror ball trophy.

Every season there are graceful competitors who fight the uphill fight, only to fall short.  They exit gracefully, they never whine, and they just keep fighting on until their ride ends.  David Arquette comes to mind.  Arquette had a little potential, but not nearly enough.  He knew it.  He worked his butt off but it was always just a little short of the mark.  When judges criticized him, he took it to heart and worked harder.  Arquette was as graceful in ejection as he was in success.

Click to continue reading ““There’s No Whining in Dancing!””

November 10, 2011
by Steve Pearl

Analysis: Paterno Pooch Kicks Resignation Statement

Few things in this world are more heinous than sexual abuse of a child by an adult.  It is the ultimate violation of human dignity, a shamelessly evil derailing of human potential before that potential has fully formed.  It pours acid on the heart and soul of the young victim, scarring them deeply for life.  It can often lead the victim into a life of substance abuse, inability to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships, and even suicide.

Which is why Joe Paterno's retirement announcement Wednesday was all the more puzzling.  From the moment the fingers of the writer left the keyboard and clicked "send" it was destined to be Paterno's undoing.

Among words of what appear to be genuine grief and apology, we found this tone-deaf, poorly-worded, note of arrogance:

"That's why I have decided to announce my retirement effective at the end of this season. At this moment the Board of Trustees should not spend a single minute discussing my status. They have far more important matters to address. I want to make this as easy for them as I possibly can."  (Emphasis added.)

Even if we give Paterno the benefit of the doubt – that he was attempting to sound reassuring, not arrogant – whoever edited the final document should have sensed the nuclear potential of such a statement.

Whoever advised Paterno – assuming it was not Paterno himself – misjudged both the furor of the community and the venom of alumni.  In that one, pivotal moment, Paterno believed in his own mythology; that the man who poured millions into the university over the span of decades, could define his own conclusion to a career-ending scandle.

They were sadly mistaken.  As I read those words, I shook my head.  "How could such smart people get it so wrong?"

Click to continue reading “Analysis: Paterno Pooch Kicks Resignation Statement”

November 9, 2011
by Steve Pearl

Crisis Communications 2: You Only Get One Chance to Get it Right.

(In our first installment of our Crisis Communications series we talked about how two very different organizations shared some eerie similarities as they confronted world-rocking crises.)

Hot Topic:

You only get ONE chance to do each crisis communication with excellence.  Start planning NOW!

Teaser alert:  In a couple of days I will recommend a book that will help you prepare to lead your organization through a crisis.  (It's such a great book  I devote an entire section to it!)  

For now I want to get you started with a simple concept, one that will help you survive your next crisis with fewer butterfly bandages on your organizationally battered carcass.

A carefully crafted "Crisis Communications Plan" is the most critical component of a comprehensive "Crisis Management Plan."

(We use the terms "Crisis Response Plan" and "Crisis Management Plan" interchangeably in this series.)

You say your organization doesn't have a Crisis Management Plan?  What are you waiting for?!  START WRITING IT TODAY!  Shame on you if you get caught flat-footed in the face of a crisis because you didn't put in a few hours to get a skeleton response plan together.

There are multiple facets to every crisis management plan, from security considerations, to financial considerations, to leadership structure sustainability, to technology considerations, to physical plant preparation, to social media connections, to web site capacity, and much more.  

Perhaps the most critical component is the most overlooked…

An effective Crisis Communication Plan and a decent set of Crisis Communication Protocols.

Click to continue reading “Crisis Communications 2: You Only Get One Chance to Get it Right.”

November 8, 2011
by Steve Pearl

Crisis Communications Concept: Emergency Plan, Crisis Plan, or Both?

(This brief side note expands concepts introduced in our “Crisis Communications” series.)

Key Concept:  The Difference Between “Emergency Response Plans” and “Crisis Response Plans.”

When it comes to anticipating and planning for a crisis or emergency, most organizations don’t understand the differences between these two types of response, mitigation, and organizational recovery plans.

“Emergencies” are almost always “crises” but “crises” are not always “emergencies.”

Emergencies usually require a quick, pre-defined, tactical response.

Crises, on the other hand, require a thoughtfully crafted, more fluid, strategic response.

Emergencies often pop up on you without warning, requiring you to mobilize your team with tactical responses like building evacuations, fire suppression efforts, flood mitigation, contacting loved ones of affected employees, or cleaning up a mess after a snow-collapsed roof.

Crises, on the other hand, can sneak up on you over the span of weeks, months, or even years, leaving the urgent, tactical tools of emergency response sitting on the shelf.

A crisis can also be the outcome of an emergency, laying bare an organization’s inability to move beyond tactical responses and onward to thinking strategically about the future.

Click to continue reading “Crisis Communications Concept: Emergency Plan, Crisis Plan, or Both?”

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