Short Straw 2

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If you're working New Year's Eve, you definitely drew a short straw. If you're working New Year's Day, you drew the shortest of short straws, and the rest of us feel for you. Honest. We won't switch with you, but we feel for you.

The magazines, print and Web, have been full of “Top 10” lists and “Best of 2008” stories for the last month. During your free time today and tomorrow, and you'll have plenty, because there's no one else around to interrupt you, read over some of those lists. I always find them interesting.

Of all the new products that appeared during the year, the magazines have to pick 10. Of those 10, usually only three or four really involve you and your work. What's the lesson here? You'll see hundreds of product and service announcements over the next year, but only a few will make your life easier. Keep your eye out for those but don't waste much time on the rest. However, it's good to check the Top 10 lists for products and services outside your primary area, because they may have some features that overlap and will help you as well.

The flip side of the 10 Best stories are the “Trends for 2009” stories. Again, most of these will miss your responsibilities, unless you're the only IT person in your company. Even then, the majority of trends will be outside your area of concern if for no other reason than your company isn't big enough to get involved in something like new programming methods and high end storage technology. But the trend stories tell you what to look for, what the experts believe will be important, and what the vendors are pushing. That information will help you shape your plans for the year.

Once you finish your reading, I figure you deserve a little fun. Play some Solitaire or computer chess or something. Who's going to come look over your shoulder and complain?

Whatever you do, avoid mischief. Do not, and I repeat not, do something as childish as go around and reset everyone's cubicle radio, MP3 player, or computer speaker volume from 3 to 10. That would be way too much fun next Monday morning.

I'm serious. Don't touch that dial.

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