Get Shit Done with Finish Up Weekend

Many of us have the same problem, we start projects and when things get tough, too challenging or too boring we give up just to start with the newest and coolest thing. Austin, TX is a very innovative and creative town, full of talent, ideas AND people wanting to get shit done. The guys of Handsome, a firm that helps companies achieve success through user experience is organizing the Finish Up Weekend to fix this problem.
FU Weekend

Finish Up Weekend or FU Weekend for short, is focused on wrapping up projects you’ve started but for some reason haven’t finished. It’s a curated group of people so only high quality talent will be attending. Anyone can apply but we’ll be hand-picking the attendees to make sure they either have a project that can be completed in the course of the weekend or they have a skill set they’re willing to offer and help other people finish.

Anyone is welcome so long as they have a project they’re planning to finish. For example, a screenwriter is coming up to finish one of his scripts over the weekend. ~ Andy Keil, Product Manager at Handsome

FinishUp Weekend is going to have Josh Long of Execute speaking and have people flying in from SF, Chicago, Miami, Kansas City, etc.

This is the “beta” event and if it goes over as well as they’re anticipating, the first “official” event will be in May and then Montreal in July.

Free food/beer/coffee all weekend.

It’s going to be an awesome group of people and they’re hoping to start a cult.

If you are one of us, with unfinished projects and need a little push to get them done, checkout FU Weekend and sign up today for their first event in Austin on February 22- 24. Let’s get shit done!

February 8th is Work From Home Day

WFH hopes to get 10,000 cars off Austin-area roads for a day to foster lower ozone and carbon emissions while educating our work force about tools to make working remotely simple and manageable.

Social Good Summit AustinOn February 8, 2013, Austin-area streets will look deserted, as if it were a holiday, if local leaders have their way. In an initiative created at the Austin area simulcast of the highly-lauded Mashable Social Good Summit in New York City on September 24, 2012, a group of community activists, leaders, and socially conscious entrepreneurs gathered to discuss ways to create a sustainable impact on U.S. communities. The leading resolution passed by the Austin team supports the creation of a citywide “Work From Home (WHF)” initiative that will contribute to reducing air pollution. City Councilman Mike Martinez was instrumental in getting a resolution by the City Council passed today that supports this initiative. “Environmental issues continue to be at the forefront of our priorities in the City of Austin,” said the councilman. “These values are reflected in the Work From Home initiative. I was happy to sponsor a resolution that passed unanimously to have the City participate in the pilot program to make strides toward reducing emissions and improving our air quality in Austin.”

The local summit group decided during Austin’s simulcast of the event that the focus on fostering clean air was among the most urgent of needs for Austin; hence, a self-imposed tight working timeline. “We wanted to see the fruits of our ‘good’ produce results within six months,” says Ruben Cantu of CORE Media Enterprises, one of the effort’s leaders. “It’s an ambitious timeline, but we’re an ambitious bunch in a city that likes to push harder for change than most!”

“While acting as a leader for other communities, we are planning our pilot “10,000 Cars Off the Road Day” for February 8, 2013,” says Stephen Vogelpohl of SocialGoodTV, a cause marketing firm and another leader of the Austin-based effort. “On that day, we are asking everyone who possibly can to participate – especially companies that employ a large number of Austinites. This will allow a significant fraction of the work force to Work From Home, thereby causing a dramatic drop in air pollution that day.”

The group is currently gathering support from as many companies, governmental organizations, not-forprofit organizations and NGO’s as possible, including the region’s air quality improvement organization, the CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas. “We want to see what this single initiative can do for our air quality,” furthers Cantu. The impact will be measured by looking at miles saved on fuel, the number of surveys signed, and the reduction percentage of emissions. “Looking at all of these factors,” Cantu continues, “will help us establish how our efforts contribute to an improved air quality.

Hopefully, the results will inspire businesses around the city to establish WHF days on their own prior to the next Ozone Season which begins April 1, 2013” Air quality test results of the pilot day will be presented during the Social Good Summit Austin during SXSW on March 10, 2013 at City Hall, and shared with the community at-large on the Social Good Summit website. The group hopes to use this initiative to promote future WFH days in Austin, and hopefully other cities, throughout the years ahead.

More info at:
Twitter: @socialgoodatx

Get involved in this awesome initiative today!

Tips for Outsourcing Your IT

This is a guest post by Carmen Brettel, a writer and manager for Student Grants. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys gardening and volunteering at animal shelters.

Outsourcing has become a popular option for many businesses as they continue to struggle in the sluggish economy. Outsourcing can save your company money and free up valuable resources so you can focus on growing your core operations.
While it is possible to outsource IT tasks, it does require some special considerations. After all, IT gets at the heart  of your day-to-day operations, and if you don’t choose wisely when outsourcing these tasks, your needs could end up unmet. Here are a few tips for outsourcing your IT to get the best possible results:

Consider Language Barriers

Overseas providers are a popular option with many companies because of the cost savings as a result of a weaker currency. However, choosing a provider in a country that doesn’t have English as a first language could present many language barriers, which would impact the quality of service.
You can outsource your tasks to companies right in the United States. There will still be a cost savings as you will not be responsible for many traditional employee benefits, such as insurance and paid time off. Consider how language barriers might affect the service you need and then consider whether choosing a company Stateside to provide the service might be the best option.

Research Reputation

Everyone seems great if you read their website, but they might perform quite differently once you hire them. Sometimes, the only real way to gage quality is to ask others about the service they received. By researching the reputation of a company, you can find out what their previous customers had to say about their service. If you find a lot of positive reviews, it’s a good sign you can trust the quality of service you will get from that company.

Communicate All Goals

Communication is key to any successful working relationship. This is especially true when you are working with a supplier in a remote arrangement. When you begin your relationship with your outsourced provider, make sure that you communicate all your goals for the relationship, including what jobs you expect to be completed, what responsibilities you will each have, and what you hope to accomplish by certain time intervals.

Have a Backup System in Place

Many IT providers use their own proprietary software and take on a large amount of ownership over your systems. As a result, if you end the relationship with that provider, you could have a hard time accessing your system or certain files or software that you need. It is important to always have a backup system in place and to maintain access to all passwords, databases and software used to run your system.

Have Someone Available for On-Site issues no matter how great your outsourced company is, they can’t provide all the services you’ll need for your IT. Hardware issues will arise, as will other issues that can be diagnosed through a remote connection. In those instances, you will need someone available to take care of issues on site. Make sure you either have someone available on staff or have a contractor available in the local area to take care of these needs.
Outsourcing your IT needs can help your company save money and free up valuable resources to grow your core operations. However, you should follow these tips to ensure that your outsourcing relationship is a successful one and that you don’t end up causing more problems for yourself instead.