Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Three really good product management blog postings

While researching various aspects of the health care industry, I came across this very excellent blog post by George Van Antwerp and decided to post it along with some others that I've enjoyed reading.

First, Mr. Van Antwerp's Lessons Learned. This is a delightful essay with which I found myself nodding enthusiastically throughout.

Next, his sub-post on Product Management 101. One take-away is to always have your elevator pitch ready.

Finally, I'd like to shout out to Sem-Answers on his Niche Market Research posting. I like the list of research resources provided here. (Also, by putting the link here, I'm confident I'll be able to find it in the future :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This is the way to blog!

I was reading some of the product management blogs I like -- the ones that aren't so darn dry that you can fart in your sleep and immolate yourself. Aaaand, I came across this beauty of a blog: The Cranky PM.

She is irreverent, on-the-mark, and funny, funny, funny.

Whoo! Damn that's good stuff.

Monday, January 12, 2009

People and organizations who have helped us

I mentioned in my open letter that my family has received unanticipated generosity from our community. I would like to publicly thank the specific organizations that have helped us and, in doing so, promote them as well. I would also like to thank and mention some of the people who have been so helpful.

I would like to start with the Stoneham Public Schools. The schools have supported us in lunches for all our children who have lunch in school (three of the five), as well as supplying gifts for the children. The elementary school children received toys for the holidays and the middle school children received winter clothing and toiletries. In gratitude for the support that we have received from Stoneham, any resident of Stoneham may purchase a Hold-it! Game Card Organzier for 1/3 off the retail price. If you live in Stoneham, enjoying playing board, card and/or roleplaying games, please contact me through the Innovatium web site to receive your Hold-it! at this special price.

The Winchester Community Music School has been outstanding in providing scholarships and grants so that our children, whom we think are very talented (but we may be biased), may continue studying music. The programs at the Winchester Community Music School are simply outstanding and the teachers are inspiring and nuturing. If you or your family are local and study music, you deserve to examine this organization and considering studying there.

The Little Gym in Woburn, MA was unhesitating in offering full scholarship to our four younger children who enjoy gymanstics there. When we decided that we needed to drastically cut expenses, we informed the folks at The Little Gym that we wouldn't be able to continue bringing the children. They asked us -- yes, asked -- to please continue bringing the children because they enjoy it so very much and are a positive addition to the class. And our kids do so enjoy it. Our six year old son does not stop cartwheeling and handstanding around the house. He has been practicing his counting by doing some 200 cartwheels each weekend and announcing his progress throughout.

Our oldest daughter, who enjoys performing, wanted to audition for the Winter Show with the Stoneham Theatre Young Company. The Young Co. made it possible for her to participate and perform with a significant scholarship.

There is also the Burbank YMCA in Reading, MA. As with other organizations, we informed them that we were not going to continue bringing the children for swim instruction and the Burbank YMCA responded with generosity. They have dramatically cut our family membership rate and has provided full scholarship to our children for their choice of swim class. Our older daughters are getting more serious about swimming and are now able to participate in the swim team preparatory course, which had been financially out of reach.

But wait, there is more! John Conserva gave us free piano tuning. John has done amazing work in maintaining and restoring our old, second-hand piano for as long as we have had it. He has kept it alive and tuned so that we have a means to teach and practice music in our home. John does all sorts of piano repair and maintenance as well as piano sales. Please, please, if you are local and have a piano, give John a call at (781) 438-7649. Let him know that the Degen-Portnoy's recommend him highly.

Alicia Gordon, of Gordon Lower PR, arranged for my wife and older girls to participate in a fund-raising event and raffle for the Turtle Lane Theatre. Because they were able to participate in the raffle, they won an amazing gift that includes head shots, voice lessons, and scholarship to the summer workshop and camp.

Erin Barry, of Stoneham, arrived with a gift card for food, an anonymously given (and sizable!) check, plus spent a significant amount of time calling the Toys for Tots program so that my wife could select some presents for the winter holiday for the children. Mrs. Barry already has eight of her own children, but nonetheless spent a great amount of her time and brought a tremendous amount of warmth and joy to our household. Thank you and blessings on you, Erin.

Martin Kruse, one of our neighbors, brought over one of his amazing holiday cheesecakes. Martin has been perfecting his recipie for years and perhaps will someday let the public at large enjoy this glorious experience. I can honestly say that I am saddended that my teenager now really enjoys cheesecake.

There are many more people to mention, such as family and other friends. My sister and her sons, my nephews, have asked that my family receive the gift money that would have gone to them. The even sent us a check to help us directly. My parents have been unhesitatingly supportive and generous, as have my in-laws. My best friend, for whom we often sit his dog while he and his family are away, has quietly slipped some cash into his thank you cards.

Those are organizations and some of the people that have, to date, helped us. We are meeting with additional groups that offer support for utility bills and food. Of course, we are supported by the Massachusetts Unemployment Assistance program and the Medical Security Program as well.

The value of these gifts are far beyond their monetary worth. The children understand (to varying age appropriate levels) that these are hard times. They were prepared to not have the opportunity to study music or performance or to participate in sports. Now they understand more about the value of these activities in terms of the personal growth and experience that they bring.

Hopefully, my next opportunity will arrive soon and we can begin our recovery and look toward returning the generosity we received. So in that light, if you need someone outstanding to lead the development of your software or web products, please get in touch with me. From me and my family to you and yours: we wish you a beautiful and wonderful 2009.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Blagojevitch is entitled to due process

No one will deny that Milorad Blagojevitch is in a heap load of trouble right now. That the FBI has been investigating him for quite some time is troubling in and of itself. He should be so radioactive that no one in their right mind should want to have anything to do with him.

However, politicians and those who aspire to politics may not necessarily be in their right mind. Therefore Roland Burris has accepted the appointment Blagojevitch has offered him.

Blagojevitch has not been convicted of the charges filed against him. He is clearly and undoubtedly presumed innocent at this time. Therefore, the appointment he filed must be accepted and honored. It is wrong for the Secretary of State of Illinois, Jesse White, to ignore his warrented duty to sign the appointment certificate. It is wrong for Roland Burris to be treated like a criminal and to be refused seating in the US Senate. This is simply the way our justice system works and we must uphold it, lest the slope of the decline of legal, personal and civil rights in our country steepen.

This position in no way makes and assumptions about the guilt or innocence of Blagojevitch. My personal opinion has no bearing on the matter. But from all I understand about the governing laws of our country, we as a nation, should all be speaking with the same voice and the same conviction. I am horrified to see how our politicians and media are behaving as though it were acceptable to presume Blagojevitch guilty. Shame on them!

That all having been said, should Blagojevitch be convicted of any of the charges filed against him, Roland Burris would then be in the uncomfortable position of having been appointed by someone who had been guilty of significant crimes. Those are not shoes in which I would ever wish to be. Mr. Burris should be just as aware of that potential outcome as all the rest of us are. With that assumption, it is mind-boggling that he even accepted the appointment.

But as I said, politicians and those with political aspirations have a different perspective on reality, which is why we, as a nation, must demand transparency and demand that our politicans and media uphold the fundamental principals of our nation.