Life and Spiritual Coaching

September 28, 2009

Potential Fradulant Charges to Warch out for

Filed under: Family,Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 9:36 am

I have been going over our bank statements with a fine tooth comb to see where we are spending our money (which all of you probably already do and have found charges that I didn’t make. I got either the bank or company to refund the charges. This week I had one for $143.40! I called the company and asked how they get my name to charge. She said whenever you get a magazine subscription on line or lots of other on-line activities they automatically charge you this *and* it is a revolving charge not a one time charge. They happily are refunding me but knowing that happens will give me some extra time each week to check the accounts.

One time I caught one and called them and they said they wouldn’t take it off because I was over the 30 day limit! I had them transfer me 5 times until I got someone high enough to refund my money. I’m sure this is some kind of fraud but I’m not sure who to report it to. If any of you do, please tell me.

The other place where I have had fraudulent charges show up is on my phone bill, AT&T won’t do anything about it but give you the number. I asked to have nu number blocked and they said they couldn’t. I am very close to dropping AT&T but we have 2 year contracts on 4 cell phones and I don’t want to be charged for that if I switch over.

Warn your friends. Help us stop this behavior!

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 11:50 am

Celebrating motherhood is a historical tradition dating back almost as far as mothers themselves. A number of ancient cultures paid tribute to mothers as goddesses, including the ancient Greeks, who celebrated Rhea, the mother of all gods. The ancient Romans also honored their mother goddess, Cybele, in a notoriously rowdy springtime celebration and the Celtic Pagans marked the coming of spring with a fertility celebration linking their goddess Brigid together with the first milk of the ewes.

 

During the 17th century, those living on the British isles initiated a religious celebration of motherhood, called Mothering Sunday, which was held on the forth Sunday during the Lenten season. This holiday featured the reunification of mothers and their children, separated when working class families had to send off their young children to be employed as house servants. On Mothering Sunday, the child servants were allowed to return home for the day to visit with their parents. The holiday’s popularity faded in the 19th century, only to be reincarnated during World War II when U.S. servicemen reintroduced the sentimental (and commercial) aspects of the celebration American counterpart.
In the aftermath of World War I, Washington D.C. resident Grace Darling Seibold formed an organization called Gold Star Mothers, to support the moms who had lost sons and daughters to the war. Grace’s son, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seybold, was an aviator who had been killed in combat over France in 1918.

 

In 1928, the small D.C.-based group decided to nationalize its efforts. The Gold Star Mothers grew from a support group of 60 women to an extensive nation-wide network with tens of thousands of members and hundreds of local chapters. Today, any American woman who has lost a child in the line of duty can join the Gold Star Mothers.

 

The organization’s primary role then and now is to provide emotional support to bereaved mothers. Members also actively volunteer with the veteran community and act as patriotic supporters of the United States military.

 

In 1936, a Joint Congressional resolution established the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day, a holiday that has been observed ever since by Presidential proclamation.

 

Early in President George W. Bush’s tenure as president, he renewed that proclamation, declaring on September 28, 2001:

“Today, the nation’s Gold Star Mothers still stand as symbols of purpose, perseverance, and grace in the face of personal tragedy. Each year, the Nation remembers their sacrifice by honoring the Gold Star Mothers for their steadfast commitment to the legacy of their fallen children and their devotion to the United States of America.”

The name the Gold Star Mothers was derived from the custom of military families to hang a service flag in their front window. The flag featured a star for each member of the family serving in the military; living members were denoted in blue, while gold stars honored family members killed in the line of duty.

 

                                                                        Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms – You are Awesome!

December 22, 2008

The Meaning of Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 6:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

When I was a teenager, I confused true friendship with casual friends (mostly boys). The thing is the casual friends come and go and true friends never leave. This especially became apparent to me when as a senior in college my Father (who was a professor at the University I went to) had a heart attack on an airplane on the way home from giving a paper. I was completely astounded at how many of my “true” friends ignored me as if death was somehow catching. They avoided me like the plague. My true friends stuck with me through the crying, the remembering, the shock and the drunken nights at the local pub. I had gone to school the night after my Dad died, even though I was up all night, because my teacher had said no excuses could be made to make up a test. One very good friend walked in with me and explained the situation and she excused me. My Dad was my best friend, so I took it very hard. I felt as though God had taken him away when he was finally getting over the divorce with my mother and starting to live the life he deserved. It took me a good 20 years before I sought out God again (and thank God I did, He is a very big part of my life now).
During the Christmas season I get a little sentimental. We have had some great times together with many great friends. Good friends are very hard to come by and you should never let them go. I firmly believe (by my own experience) that people are sent by God to be with us when we need them most. I believe they may be angels (or at least God’s messengers). I have some that I may not hear from for years, but when the need comes and I call them or they call me it’s like we never stopped talking. I hope you find someone like there to be one of those people who you can count on to always be there.

I believe this is one of the reasons God put us on earth – to cheer and hold up others who are in excruciating pain, or even the simple pains of life on this earth because we have all felt the same way at times and can relate. I tried to explain to my son that even though he was grateful that God gave His son to save him, he would never understand the gravity of that sacrifice. As a parent you realize that putting your child in danger that you can’t save them from must be the greatest gift you could give someone (and also the hardest thing you could ever do). Don’t forget that the simplest thing you can do for someone may be exactly what they need. You may be their angel doing God’s work!

Please don’t forget your friendships and know that people love you, even if you don’t see each other as much as you’d like to. Take the time to call or send a note. Casual friends come and go but true friends never leave your heart. That’s something teenagers need to learn through experience. I was taught very early that if a boyfriend wanted me to give up one of my girlfriends, he was very mistaken about my feelings towards life. I think losing my Dad at an early age helped me to realize that.

So, let’s all try to get together with the ones we love more often and while we are not together please remember you are always in their hearts and they are in yours. Don’t wait until it’s too late to express your love. Life is very short (even though it seems like it goes on forever!).

No one cares about what they’ve accomplished in life when they are dying; they care about who they loved and who loved them back. Any act of kindness you show to someone is an act of kindness you show our Lord Jesus.

Merry Christmas to you all and God bless you, your family and your friends!

Love always, your angel Donna

December 13, 2008

Preparing for 2009!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 6:12 pm
Tags: , ,

Preparing for the New Year – Welcome to 2009!

New Year’s is a time to reflect on the past year, look forward to the New Year and reflect on the changes you want to make. One of the most important things to remember is not to set you up for failure. Most people have a list of New Year’s resolutions. If you have too many resolutions, you will become overwhelmed by trying to do too many things at once. It takes 4-6 weeks for a person to integrate a new habit into their lives. A better solution is to pick your top 3-4 resolutions and plans. If you take them one at a time, you can get gratification for succeeding in implementing one before going on to the next.
The top 10 on most people’s list includes the following:
• Spend more time with your family: No one (if they think about it before it’s too late) would want people to remember them as the person who was always at work, the person who had the most toys, or the person who once they retired, could not figure out what to do with their time! Hello! I would love to be in a situation where I could relax, travel, spend time with friends and family whenever I wanted. This is the time to rethink your priorities. When was the last time you took the family out for a hike in the woods or out for dinner?
• Lose weight: This especially hits folks after gorging themselves during the holidays. Losing weight is a life style change and diets are the wrong approach to losing weight. The best thing to do is to eat small portions more frequently during the day to keep your blood sugar at a consistent level. Keep this up all throughout the year and you won’t need to add this to the list of resolutions next year!
• Exercise: Look at the parking lot of any gym in January. You’ll find they are very crowded. Everyone knows that they feel better if they are exercising, but most people go overboard and then get frustrated when they don’t keep up with their plans. Keeping fit can be done anywhere! You don’t need to join a gym. Walking is free and one of the best ways to exercise. To start, take short walks during breaks and at lunch. Build up to have a total of 30-35 minutes a day walking at a pace where you pass most people up but can still keep a conversation going without huffing and puffing. After you get to this point, add some weight training. You can buy 5-10 lb weights and use them in a light to medium workout 10-15 minutes a day for a total of 50-60 minutes a week. Do this slowly so it becomes an enjoyable break, not a chore. Play some music. And remember; stretch before and after any workout. This makes all the difference in the world. You don’t want to be laid up with a pulled muscle!
• Stop Smoking: I know how bad smoking is for you. I lost too many people to diseases caused by smoking, but since I’ve never smoked, I can’t say how hard this is from experience. I suggest consulting your doctor. It’s never too late to stop!
• Relax and smell the roses: This is something I have to constantly remember. Relaxing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Life is too short to ignore this one though. One thing that helps me is to meditate.
• Stop drinking: This is something that you can’t do cold turkey. Taper off slowly or moderate your drinking.
• Get out of debt: The economy is on everyone’s mind these days. Start by keeping track of what you spend during the day. It’s amazing how much money you can go through and not be able to say where it went at the end of the month. Once you have control over your day to day spending, start looking for ways to cut your budget. There are a lot of great blogs around that help with finances. One of my favorites is http://getrichslowly.org/blog/. They have advice on everything about money.
• Learn something new: this is one I have no problems with. I love to learn. I read constantly. There are many avenues to treating yourself to a new learning experience. Look at your local community colleges. Lots of them have free or inexpensive classes on things from bird watching to photography.
• Give back to the community: There are so many people out there that are less fortunate than you. Find out what you can do. If you don’t have extra money hanging around, give your time. It’s so valuable and you will come away from it with a good feeling.
• Get organized: Go to the Container store or something similar and get those papers organized. You don’t have to keep receipts for years (unless it was a major purchase and you may need it for warranty or tax purposes). I keep my receipts in a folder with a section for each month. Same for bills. As you come to a month that is filled, empty the contents and throw them out. Scan receipts for major purchases and save them on your computer. You need to keep tax records for 7 years, but most of the paper we all save can be thrown out. Don’t let your magazines pile up. One of my problems is with books since I read so much. I heard a professional organizer say that if your bookshelf is full you can’t buy a new book unless you get rid of another book. Take them to Goodwill or to a used book store.
Have a Happy New Years!!

September 19, 2008

Earned Value and It’s Tecnquices

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 6:02 pm
Tags: , , , ,

 

I have used these teniques for years. They are very poweful and can answer the questions Project Management must ask.And for those going after a PMP certifiction expect a lot of these quetions!

Interpretations of various Earned Value Calculations

Questions every Project Manager Must Ask:

Schedule Variance (Are we ahead or behind schedule?)

 

·         The Schedule Variance (SV) determines whether a project is ahead of or behind schedule. It is calculated by subtracting the Planned Value (PV) from the Earned Value (EV). A positive value indicates a favorable condition and a negative value indicates an unfavorable condition. For Project EZ: SV _ EV _ PV _ 32 _ 48 _ _16 {unfavorable}

·         The Schedule Variance can be expressed as a percentage by dividing the Schedule Variance (SV) by the Planned Value (PV):

SV% _ SV / PV__16 / 48 _ _33% {unfavorable}

 

In other words, the project is 33 percent behind schedule, meaning that 33 percent of the planned work has not been accomplished.

 

Schedule Performance Index (How efficiently are we using time?)

 

·         The Schedule Performance Index (SPI) indicates how efficiently the project team is using its time. SPI is calculated by dividing the Earned Value (EV) by the Planned Value (PV). For Project EZ:

SPI _ EV / PV _ 32 / 48 _ 0.67 {unfavorable} bad

·         This Schedule Performance Index indicates that—on average—for each 8-hour day worked on the project, only 5 hours and 20 minutes worth of the planned work is being performed; that is, work is being accomplished at 67 percent efficiency.

 

Time Estimate at Completion (When are we likely to finish work?)

 

·         Using the Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and the average Planned Value (PV) per unit of time, the project team can generate a rough estimate of when the project will be completed, if current trends continue, compared to when it was originally supposed to be completed (see Box 3-1). For Project EZ: EACt (BAC/SPI)/(BAC/months) _ (150/0.6667)/(150/12) _ 18 months

 

The originally estimated completion time for the project was 12 months, so the project manager now knows that if work continues at the current rate the project will take six months longer than originally planned. It is important to note that this method generates a fairly rough estimate and must always be compared with the status reflected by a time-based schedule method such as critical path method. It is possible that an Earned value analysis could show no schedule variance and yet the project is still behind schedule; for example, when tasks that are planned to be completed in the future are performed ahead of tasks on the critical path.

  

Cost Variance (Are we under or over our budget?)

 

A project’s Cost Variance (CV) shows whether a project is under or over budget. This measure is determined by subtracting the Actual Cost (AC) from the Earned Value (EV). The CV for the Project EZ example shows:

CV _ EV _ AC _ 32 _ 40 _ _8 {unfavorable}

This number can be expressed as a percentage by dividing the Cost Variance (CV) by the Earned Value (EV).

CV% _ CV / EV__8 / 32 _ _25% {unfavorable}

 

In other words, to date, the project is 25 percent over budget for the work performed.

Cost Performance Index (How efficiently are we using our resources?)

Earned Value and Actual Cost can also be used to calculate the cumulative Cost Performance Index (CPI), which is one of the clearest indicators of the cumulative cost efficiency of a project. CPI gauges how efficiently the team is using its resources.

 

It is determined by dividing the Earned Value (EV) by the Actual Cost (AC). In regards to Project EZ, the CPI is:

CPI _ EV / AC _ 32 / 40 _ 0.80 _ 0.80 {unfavorable}

 

Translated into dollars, this means that Project EZ has a cost efficiency that provides US $0.80 worth of work for every project dollar spent to date.

 

To-Complete Performance Index (How efficiently must we use our remaining

resources?)

 

Another very useful index is the To-Complete Performance Index (TCPI), which helps the team determine the efficiency that must be achieved on the remaining work for a project to meet a specified endpoint, such as the Budget at Completion (BAC) or the team’s revised Estimate at Completion (EAC) (see the following discussions of EAC and ETC). The TCPI for achieving the BAC is calculated by dividing the work remaining by the budget remaining as follows:

 

TCPI _ (BAC _ EV) / (BAC _ AC) _ (150 _ 32) / (150 _ 40) _ 1.07

 

This means that for Project EZ to achieve the BAC, performance must improve from a CPI of 0.80 to a TCPI of 1.07 for performance of the remaining work.

 

Estimate at Completion (What is the project likely to cost?)

 

The calculated Estimate at Completion (EAC) projects for the team the final cost of the project if current performance trends continue. One common method for calculating the EAC is to divide the Budget at Completion (BAC) by the cumulative Cost Performance Index (CPI). For Project EZ, this is: EAC _ BAC / CPI _ 150 / 0.80 _ 187.50

 

This forecasting formula assumes that the cumulative performance reflected in the CPI is likely to continue for the duration of the project. Other formulas used to forecast cost at completion with earned value data are outlined in Box 3-2. Estimates based on project team and management analysis of remaining work are discussed in the following section on Estimate to Complete (ETC).

 

Variance at Completion (Will we be under or over budget?)

 

With the EAC figure in hand, the manager can now compute the cost Variance at Completion (VAC), which shows the team whether the project will finish under or over budget, by subtracting the EAC from the BAC. For Project EZ, this is: VAC _ BAC _ EAC _ 150 _ 187.50 _ _37.50 In other words, if current trends continue, the project will cost an additional 37.50 units worth of resources than originally planned. This can be expressed as a percentage by dividing VAC by BAC.

VAC% _ VAC / BAC__37.50 / 150 _ _25%

 

Estimate to Complete (What will the remaining work cost?)

 

There are two ways to develop the Estimate to Complete (ETC), which shows what the remaining work will cost. One way is a management ETC developed by workers and/or managers based on an analysis of the remaining work. The management ETC can be added to the Actual Cost (AC) to derive the management Estimate at Completion (EAC) of the total cost of the project at completion. EAC _ AC _ ETC _ 40  

 

As a check on these management estimates, organizations can use a calculated ETC based on the efficiency-to-date measured by the CPI. The calculated ETC can be used to determine the calculated Estimate at Completion (EAC), which the team can compare with the management EAC. For Project EZ, the ETC and EAC are calculated as follows:

ETC _ (BAC _ EV) / CPI _ (150 _ 32) / 0.80 _ 147.50

EAC _ AC _ ETC _ 40  147.50 _ 187.50

Note that this EAC formula is equivalent to the following (see Box 3-2):

EAC _ AC _ [(BAC _ EV) / CPI] _ BAC / CPI

 

Management by Exception

EVM provides an organization with the capability of practicing ‘‘management-by exception’’ on its projects. This practice contributes greatly to the efficiency and effectiveness of project management, by allowing managers and others to focus on project execution and invoke control actions only when and where they are needed. EVM performance measures, used in conjunction with the project work breakdown structure (WBS), provide the objective data needed to practice ‘‘management-by exception.’’

 

Using EVM, an organization can establish acceptable levels of performance for a project and its work tasks. Variance percentages and efficiency indices are most often used. For instance, an organization may consider a Cost Variance (CV) of plus or minus 10 percent to be an acceptable range of variance from the project management plan. In this case, no management action would be taken except when and where a CV falls outside of this acceptable range. While a negative variance is potentially problematic, a positive variance may represent an opportunity.

 

Because EVM occurs first at the task level, where the scope, schedule, and cost of work are planned and controlled, the ‘‘management-by-exception’’ also starts at this level. Managers use EVM performance measures to determine whether action thresholds have been reached for their tasks and control accounts. And with the use of a work breakdown structure, which ties the tasks and control accounts of a project together, EVM and ‘‘management-by-exception’’ can be used at any level of the project (specified in the WBS).

 

While variance and efficiency thresholds are commonly used in EVM, trends in the performance measures for a project can help a project manager decipher or anticipate a potential performance problem. For instance, a cumulative Cost Performance Index (CPI) that is within an acceptable range, but has been trending down toward the efficiency threshold for several measurement periods, may be cause for some concern and prompt an examination of the underlying cause of the trend. If the trend is seen at the project level, a WBS will enable the manager to ’’drill down’’ to lower levels to see what underlies the trend.

 

Graphs of variance and efficiency data are helpful tools in performing this kind of Earned Value analysis. Plotting the CV percentage or the CPI over time, for example, will indicate their values and show their trends. Computer software, especially some developed specifically for project management and EVM, is capable of producing such graphs. Box 3-3 outlines other basic kinds of performance management and reporting displays that are frequently used in EVM. Appendix E provides additional sources of information on EVM concepts, methods, and practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 29, 2008

Life is a Journey

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 10:52 am
Tags: ,

We all feel sadness from time to time. This is not a bad thing, but we want to remember how much we have to be grateful for. I keep my gratitude journal handy for this purpose. I found a very interesting poem about sadness that I think maybe was written by John Denver – but I’m not sure. Here it is:

“So you speak to me to me of sadness, and the coming of the winter, fear that is within you now it seems to never end. And the dreams that have escaped you and the hopes that you’ve forgotten and you tell me that you need me now. You want to be my friend. You wonder where you’re going, where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason, and it is you who cannot accept, it is here we must begin to seek the wisdom of the children, and the graceful way of flowers in the wind.

And the song that I am singing is a tale for non-believers; come and stand beside me and we will find a better way.”

This reminds me so much of what coaching is. It helps a person who has lost their way to find a better way. Sometimes we are in a place where we can’t see our purpose – but it’s always there to be found. We are all here for a purpose and that is so comforting to know. Life is a journey, not a destiny. Learn with me as we journey the world!

July 12, 2008

System Management and Monitoring

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Donna Ritter @ 11:57 am
Tags:

                               System and Application Monitoring Features

 

Top 10 things I learned regarding systems management/ monitoring:

 

Everyone has their own idea of what the monitoring tools should be. The consultant must not make it personal and remind the customer that you are both there to implement what the organization decided was the best in breed. Take notes of any complaints to address later.

 

Always interview several roles of users of the monitoring system to determine requirements; the owner (will tell you what sort of reporting, alerting, views etc they need for monitoring), the operator (will tell you what they need to be able to trouble shoot a problem), the users (what sort of general problems to they already observe like performance) and the application owners (what do they do now to know that they have a problem with their application). Note that these requirements may conflict and you may need to have a meeting to decide on the final approach.

 

Make sure you have done this before and have access of the physical hardware and software for the time you need. Make sure if the customer is not always with you, someone is listed as the project leader that you can call if you need something.

 

Have an agreed upon schedule and list of participants needed from the system and/or application group and when you need them.

 

Always listen to and keep the customer and other stakeholders informed during deployment (or testing of deployment).

 

Do a staged approach of monitoring; that is basic monitoring first (like ping the server, see if the services are available, do a basic synthetic transaction). Then add on features until complete.

 

Have daily meetings where you list issues and what their resolution will be. Review schedule and issues each day. Write down the results of all of these meetings

 

Have the user run through an agreed upon test of the system for acceptance and record all issues.

 

Hold a “lessons learned” meeting to see what went well, what could be improved on and what left over issues need resolving and what the plan for that is.

 

Have the customer “sign-off” on the system acceptance.

 

Things That Must Be In Place for a Solid Systems Management and

           Monitoring Solution:

 

Ease of use.

 

Training and detailed documentation should be available.

 

Failover and redundancy should be available.

 

Auditable data for any compliance issues with alarming, notification and logging.

 

A Web UI with network topology graphs and synthetic transactions should be available.

 

The system should be scalable and reliable.

 

The system should have a configurable, graphical view of major counters to display in dashboard or “my page” type of view.

 

Printable reports that can be exported to excel and emailed to staff.

 

Group and role definitions should be available with security access levels so you can assign access to certain roles (can/can’t change data) and group like “operators”.

 

The product should provide log scraping, disk space monitoring, CPU monitoring, memory statistics, and some performance counters.

 

Things that Should NEVER Exist in a quality Systems Management and

           Monitoring Solution:

General user required configuration. The operator should be able to get a user set up so they can just use the system with the supplied UID and password.

 

Obvious use of multiple products, except in the case of data feeds from an element manager such as Cisco networks or something.

 

Multiple logins required to do different functions.

 

There should not be a lack of the ability for I18N and L10N for international markets for any large company use.

 

There shouldn’t be any backdoor ability that allows data to be corrupted.

 

A lack of change control procedures and role/group definitions. Also, the customer should have an online component that identifies who makes a change, what it used to be, and when it was made.  This change log should be backed up in a historical database and archived for any amount of time.

 

The lack of a secure database is unacceptable.

 

 

No ability to customize to meet customer needs; although the rule should be to not have a lot of customization or the user will get out of sync with new releases.

           

   No way to turn on some debugging feature to gather extra data.

 

   Poor documentation is worse than no documentation.

 

 

April 28, 2008

Hello world!

Welcome to a place where you can learn about new things! The emphasis is on Project Management and Life Coaching. How do the two relate? Well, you need to be in control of your life and able to balance work with pleasure to enable you to be a successful Project Manager.

My goal for this blog is to be able to teach you what I know and hopefully learn what you know.

First a little bit about me. My name is Donna Ritter and I have been in the Software Development business for almost 30 years. I have worked both at large companies (Digital, Compaq and BMC) and small ones. I have worked mostly as a permanent employee in my career but have done consulting on a contract basis. I am a certified PMP and consult with both  companies and individuals trying to get their PMP. I am also available as a life/career coach for anyone interested.

Please let me know what you think and what topics you’d like to see me address. Let’s have fun with this! You can look up my profile on www.linkedin.com/in/dritter and I am a member of the National Association of Women at work.

 

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