Category Archives: Bentley

Dallas Give Camp 2014

Dallas GiveCamp 2014 Kids-U #codeitforward

This was the second time I volunteered my time and skills to Dallas Give Camp. It was a great experience and was very rewarding.

This year I had the privilege to work with Kids U. Kids U provides high quality after school tutoring & summer enrichment programs which positively impact the low-income student’s academic career…producing future productive and contributing citizens to our society.

What an amazing organization. They have a functioning WordPress website. Their challenge was how to track all they they are doing for the children so they can report back to their donors and government agencies. They had 9 spreadsheets spread over 6 sites that required re-keying the data into a usable form which used increased the organizations overhead. Our donation of technology will allow them to server more children and have a larger impact on society over the years to come.

Since most of the developers were familiar with .Net and this website was to be separate from their main website we decided to use ASP.net MVC 5 and MS SQL server. Everleap had donated hosting for the life of the charity which included the website and the SQL server.

We made a site where they could put in their daily data and created excel documents that could generate the reports and format the data to meet the requirements of the government agencies.

 

 

Strengths

I Am Strategic, Futuristic, Relator, Learner, Ideation

I took the Gallup Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and my top 5 are Strategic, Futuristic, Relator, Learner, Ideation. I feel these fit pretty well. Here are the descriptions.

Strategic

The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of  thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.

Futuristic

“Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon. The future fascinates you. As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward, into tomorrow. While the exact content of the picture will depend on your other strengths and interests—a better product, a better team, a better life, or a better world—it will always be inspirational to you. You are a dreamer who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions. When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you. They can energize others, too. In fact, very often people look to you to describe your visions of the future. They want a picture that can raise their sights and thereby their spirits. You can paint it for them. Practice. Choose your words carefully. Make the picture as vivid as possible. People will want to latch on to the hope you bring.

Relator

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Learner

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Ideation

You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.

I am a Maverick leader

I recently took the Fascination Advantage Assessment and found out I am a Maverick Leader. I feel this fits very well with my personality.

Here is the description:

THE MAVERICK LEADER

PIONEERING | IRREVERENT | ENTREPRENEURIAL | ARTFUL | DRAMATIC

  • lead with a bold and unconventional vision
  • unafraid to take the lead and happy to propose a new direction for a product or market strategy
  • always full of new ideas, and almost a little restless.
  • no dull moments in your meetings
  • when things feel familiar they start experimenting to see whether higher goals can be achieved

“HIGHEST AND BEST VALUE” OF THE MAVERICK LEADER

  • independent, confident, and perhaps a little eccentric
  • the Power advantage tends to keep you on track to reach your goals
  • the Primary Innovation advantage makes them creative, innovative, and sharp-witted
  • they are able to think in both linear and nonlinear ways
  • free association allows them to come up with fresh ideas, while their logical mind helps them implement them
  • they are natural leaders with an adventurous spirit

WHAT IS NOT THE “HIGHEST AND BEST VALUE” OF THE MAVERICK LEADER?

  • Maverick Leader dislike routine tasks. They get bored when forced to follow predictable patterns.
  • They get the most out of building your own path, finding smart solutions to the usual rules, and finding their own way to do things.

TOP 5 SPECIALTY ADJECTIVES

PIONEERING

Always ready to challenge the familiar path, Maverick Leaders seek to discover new ways to attain
goals. In large companies you’ll find them coming up with ideas for new product features, alternative
business directions, and radical marketing campaigns.

IRREVERENT

Their revolutionary thinking is coupled with a strong confidence and focus on attaining goals. They
don’t propose new designs only because they enjoy new things (although they do love it of course!),
they’re also keen to use their fresh ideas to help achieve the company’s goals.

ENTREPRENEURIAL

They are full of new ideas. They enjoy starting projects; and their energy drives them to implement
ideas and complete projects.

ARTFUL

Clever and charming in professional and social scenarios, Maverick Leaders respond to questions
and detractions with sharp humor. Even in a rather formal interview setting, they’re able to break the
ice with a funny remark.

DRAMATIC

Maverick Leaders present their ideas vividly. They energize their message and keep their audience
intrigued. When presenting, they use strong body language. They use energetic gestures to
emphasize their points. They walk around the stage or board room. Their unusual stories and
metaphors keep their listeners captivated.


What do you think? Does this sound like me?

Why I quit my Job and what’s next!

I was making good money with good people in the oil and Gas industry. Before that I was working with good people in the Hospitality industry.

I am lucky to have worked in so many great jobs and with great people. As I start the second half of my career I want to make a larger impact. for 20 years in hotels I helped a team and their thousands customers get more done in less time. Since then I have helped large and small companies automate sharing data saving time and making new partnerships possible. Although these have helped thousands of people save time and increase quality in specific tasks I want more.

I want to help millions of people accomplish billions of tasks more accurately in less time. I want to make the world a better place and decrease world suck. I don’t anticipate I will be able to do this immediately but I needed to be able to explore and look for pains to solve. I told my boss that I would like more flexibility and I thought he best way would be to go freelance.

I will begin by finding my way around freelancing and continue supporting my family by optimizing the work of people and groups I meet. Through these interactions I expect to find a common problem that I can solve. If you would like to make time or increase efficiency then let me know.

My first experiment to solve a bigger problem is reducing the gridlock in government and bickering in our lives by providing a framework to find agreement on complex topics. You can learn more at SettleIt.org.

Have you every taken the leap into the unknown when it wasn’t necessary?

Web Design for the Colorblind

I’ve been working on user experience for All Angles and I really want to use Red and Green as indicators. The main problem is I heard of a a common Red-Green Colorblindness and many people can’t tell the difference. If it’s used as an indicator then they loose that information. I believed that if I use enough contrast then most anyone can tell the difference even in black and white but how can I be reasonably sure that all the information I share is understandable. I found a great color blindness simulator that I used. They didn’t have a red/green colorblindness but checked out all the options and only the Monochrmacy was hard to distinguish. I guess I need to darken the Red and Lighten the Green. Here is the original followed by the other pictures.

Original Color

Original Color

Tritanopia

Tritanopia

Tritanomaly

Tritanomaly

Protanomaly

Protanomaly

Protanopia

Protanopia

Deuteranopia

Deuteranopia

Deuteranomaly

Deuteranomaly

Achromatopsia

Achromatopsia

Truth Scale Logo

Truth by Any Other Name

In the last week I have been receiving some great feedback on Truth Scale. I have also received some feedback that is hard to swallow. I have encountered it before. Many people have very strong feelings about the word “truth”. I can understand why. When you talk about truth it brings up arguments about absolute and personal truth. Some people are offended by the idea that truth can be anything but absolute so Truth Scale just feels wrong. Even when I explain which meaning of the word truth I am using by them the damage is done and the experiment is dismissed. I have the feeling that although other people do not mention it the implied absoluteness of the name causes hesitation. So it is with a sad heart that I realized that I need to stop using the Truth Scale name. I love the Logo but it also needs to go. :(

What is the new name?

I am reticent to choose a new name until I get more solid feedback so I think I am just going to call it my experiment for now.

I will host it at Experiment.BentleyDavis.com and point TruthScale.org there.

How would you describe this experiment?

I trying out “A tool to build consensus by encouraging a deeper understanding of the reasons behind a belief.”

 

What do you honestly think about the name Truth Scale?

What would it take to really spend some time in the experiment?

 

I appreciate you participation.

CitySpeaks

DEP Civic Hackathon II

I had the pleasure of participating in the second Dallas Engaged Professionals (DEP) Hackathon. in short I had a great time, met some amazing people, worked on a hard problem, and pushed society forward. My team did not produce a concrete item that will go forward but I can still see future benefits for Dallas from our time spent.

All 8 challenges sounded neat and I chose #3 “ How can local government facilitate interaction between itself and its citizens?”. I knew going in that this was one  of the broadest and most difficult challenges. I chose it because it seemed the most similar to Truth Scale.

Right off the bat the people were interesting and interested. Christian and Calvin were two developers from a new startup in the healthcare space. Christian had some ideas about an improved voting platform and he was also working on saving people money to textbooks at http://textbooksplease.com . Denise was a concerned citizen with a background in political science and ninja Prezi skills. Shahrzad has worked in several areas in Dallas government and was technically minded. Michael was very involved in the local politics and gave us great insights.

It was great to have concerned people close to the issues to work with. I’ve been to Startup Weekend where you create and try and implement a business in a weekend. I’ve been to Dallas Give Camp where you have a prepared idea to implement. From a developer standpoint I was more satisfied. Startup Weekend was hard because you are both working on the idea and implementing. The implemented items seemed to be from simple ideas while you don’t have time to tackle the more complex issues. This event was satisfied more my problem solving mindset and I do no coding. Christian and Calvin did an excellent job of adapting the Reddit source code to our needs. I brainstormed and worked on logos and sample content. I think it was ambitions to try and research and implement a solution in 10 hours. a small business idea might be possible but civic issues are often complex and have many people working on them already. It’s important to do research and to think deeply on these issues.

I suggest that going forward they have two events. One would be a thinkathon (solvathon? delvathon)? where all sorts of people get together to research and propose solutions to our civic issues. A second event a month later could be a hackathon where  developers and designers implement any technical solutions. I would enjoy doing both.

Here is the logo I pulled together in about 10 minutes:

CitySpeaks

 

We ended up implementing a Reddit style website to increase awareness of the city’s budget and planning process and allow people to provide feedback. We call it CitySpeaks and posted our updates on the challenge post for the event. Today the Dallas City Hall website has a lot of things going on. The budget proposals are deep inside several online PDFs. It’s nice that they are available and searchable but there is no way to discuss or link to a specific item. The idea was to surface these better so that interested citizens could share them in their social media and have a central place to discuss them.

Another feature would be to allow voting on issues. We took this a step further proposing that we give people the ability to verify their address so we could tally votes by the district they are in. This would help our representatives get consolidated feedback from their exact constituents. It would also allow the citizens the detect when their representative is not carrying out the will of the people.

Here is the Prezi we made for the judges:

 

All in all it was a great event and I am looking forward to next year.

All Angles Logo

All Angles

Why I made it

AllAngles.co was a blog I created about a year ago. I was working through mid life crisis and wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up. Turning 40 will get you thinking. I realized that I wanted to have a positive impact on the world and that one problem that frustrates me is how polarized people seem to be. If I want to really change the world it will require participation of other people. Right now getting people to move on the largest problems is limited by deep divisions. I created all angles as a way to say we need to look at all sides of an issue to really understand each other.

Why I shut it down

For a while I was working on my own ideas and I didn’t want to be swayed by others just yet so I could find my identity. When I finally lifted me head and looked around at what others were doing I was amazed by the breath and depth of work that is being done out there. There are dozens of online tools and hundreds of organizations all working on similar problems.

I decided that the world did not need another organization like All Angles even if it was just a blog. I joined the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). I incorporated all of the posts back into my own blog. There were very few links or views so I didn’t feel it was worth retaining the urls.

What’s Next

I did find a niche that I could fill. Although there are a lot of online tools I couldn’t find any that help make decisions the way I do. I think it’s really how everyone makes decisions subconsciously. I have created Truth Scale as an experiment.

I will also continue to blog about how to debate more productively.

Rebuilding the Orchard Blog Archive List

I imported this blog into Orchard using the BlogML module and it worked great except for one thing. The archive list showed that all the items were published the day I uploaded the blog instead of when each post was originally posted. Here is some SQL you can use to fix this just in case you need it.

DECLARE @BlogPart_id int = 16

DELETE FROM Orchard_Blogs_BlogPartArchiveRecord 
	WHERE BlogPart_id = @BlogPart_id

INSERT INTO Orchard_Blogs_BlogPartArchiveRecord
	(Year,Month,PostCount,BlogPart_id)
	SELECT YEAR(CreatedUtc) Year, MONTH(CreatedUtc) Month, COUNT(*) PostCount, @BlogPart_id BlogPart_id
	FROM Common_CommonPartRecord 
	WHEREwhere Container_id = @BlogPart_id
	GROUP BY YEAR(CreatedUtc), MONTH(CreatedUtc)
	ORDER BY YEAR(CreatedUtc), MONTH(CreatedUtc)

 



Code as a Last Resort: Physical Design Practice

I recently read a post about rules for developers working on their user experience. One rule was to code as a last resort. Since I am working on a redesign of a very complex part of Truth Scale I thought I would try and follow this rule. It was a little late because this is a re-design but it was a good opportunity to test out some changes and make sure the basic were really working.

I sat down with my wife and chose a topic to run through the Truth Scale process but we used sticky notes on the dining room table instead of code. We literally sat down and wrote the main topic down on a sticky. We wrote out each pro and con for that topic on separate stickies. We did pros and cons for some of the previous pros and cons. My wife pointed out a fact that was more important than the other facts so we added a multiplier. That was the new feature I was trying to add. We did the math with my phone and discussed the results. It was a great way to quickly think through the process deeply. I could feel the need for my new feature as it organically came up in a real example. I could see that it would work but does not always feel real satisfying. I could also see that being able to quickly move facts from one location to another is a very important feature.

I leaned all of this in less than 30 minutes. I wish I had done this before I wrote any code.

Have you ever done a paper experiment like this? How did it go?