If you’re one of the early adopters of Excel 2007, then FlowBreeze is ready for you. The flow chart add-in for Excel is now Excel 2007 compatible. Excel now has a Ribbon replacing the classic menus and toolbars, but the FlowBreeze toolbar is still accessible under the Add-Ins tab of the Ribbon.

More info (and pictures!) will be posted soon.

(P.S. Vista compatibility is still in process.)

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This has been a really big week here at BreezeTree Software. Apparently, there are over 5000 new employees here. I know because everyday I get hundreds of emails for them.

I’m not too sure about mussolini@breezetree.com. It probably won’t be too long before the other employees start complaining about him. And ehemp@breezetree.com – what’s he, some sort of virtual stoner?

And what am I going to do with gofart@breezetree.com? “Hey Go Fart, why don’t you go, um, well, you know. Just go do it next to Mussolini.”
Seriously, though, this is beyond annoying. I just updated my SPF settings to be more restrictive. It continued to get worse anyway, so obviously many email servers don’t use the SPF service.

For those not familiar with it, SPF (Sender Policy Framework) allows you to specify what servers a legitimate email from your organization can come from. It’s remarkable easy for someone to spoof that they are sending emails from a different domain.
The worst thing is, my spam filter doesn’t segregate these emails. I had to do it manually. I created a temporary junk folder and put them all in there. It was a good thing, too. I found 5 legimate emails (2 from customers!) that I had dumped in there.

I would gladly pay $0.001 per email to help stem this tide. Plus, I would love to see legislation outlawing this tactic. Last week I read that 86.2% of all email is spam. What number do we have to hit before action is taken?

Just a quick note – I released a Flow Chart Symbols Cheat Sheet today. It contains pictures of the 30 most commonly used flow chart symbols, along with their name(s), and a short description. Some flow chart symbols have different meanings under different uses, so those are identified as well.

Click here to visit the Flow Chart Symbols Cheat Sheet page to see a preview and download the file (PDF).

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What a way to start a Monday morning.

I installed the del.icio.us Bookmarks extension for FireFox. The installer prompts you to import all your bookmarks into your del.icio.us account. I like to keep some bookmarks private on my PC. I’ve got bookmarks to banking and investment accounts, among other things that I don’t want to post on-line, regardless of whether they’re kept private on del.icio.us. So, I choose not to import them into del.icio.us.

There were 573 of them.

The problem is, I have a del.icio.us toolbar extension installed on my other machine, which is great for quickly bookmarking sites. This wasn’t the same one. This extension completely wipes out your bookmarks (all 573 of them!) and replaces them with your on-line bookmarks.

After I recovered from my coronary, I discovered that I could restore my old bookmarks by uninstalling the extension, but a simple “Are you sure” prompt would have been nice.

Sometimes when someone says something really nice, you just have to spout about it.

As a flowchart tool maker, I use flowcharting in development all the time. True, most of my flowcharts are for the process, not the code, but, I’ve always had the feeling that I was a dying breed. That’s why it’s been such a surprise to find out that a good number of my customers are developers. What was an even bigger surprise was a comment a customer sent me tonight…

“I really like your software. It’s the best flowcharting tool for Agile development.”

Huh? That got my attention. I know a little about Agile processes but not a lot, so I emailed him back to ask. He explained…

“One of the goals of Agile is tight communication with the customer. It’d be great to have them here but just doesn’t happen for us. I end up emailing a lot. To verify complex operations, I quickly knock out a flowchart and send it to the customer.”

He goes on,

“It’s great because it’s all in Excel. Everybody has Excel. They can just edit it and email it back. In my world, anything that knocks down barriers between me and the customer is an Agile tool.”

Cool. It’s so nice when customers grasp hold of and appreciate the vision you had for a product. And this is the second customer in the last 3 days who’s told me something similar.

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Tom Peters wants you to believe that he is selling great insight. When he burst on the scene after publishing In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies (Collins Business Essentials), he instantly became the darling of the TQM movemnent. And he deserved it too. He was an engaging speaker, made great videos, and his first book hit a raw nerve when it came to the quality of American manufacturing.

I hadn’t heard the name or thought about Tom Peters in a long time. By life’s funny coincidences, right after reading a book review on Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, I stumbled upon www.tompeters.com. Sham is a book about the self-improvement industry (Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, et al.), written by a guy who used to work in it. The most interesting thing was that their sales cycle was 18 months.

Wait a minute… if the products are there for self improvement, why would you need to buy them again? As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it’s because they never actually help anyone. And, after 18 months, they’ve forgotten about their last bad purchase and are ready to spend more on seminars, tapes, books – you name it.

Tom Peters is a little slicker than that. He’s managed to fool a lot of people into believing that he’s not in the same class as the Tony Robbins of the world. But really he’s no different. What he’s selling is inspiration. If you ever attend one of his seminars with some co-workers, look around and see who’s there with you. It sure isn’t any C-level employees (at least not at the places I’ve worked).

Tom Peters is selling the notion that you, me, anybody can change your company from the bottom up. I attended a seminar he gave at the time he published The Brand You 50 : Or : Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!. It was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard. It wasn’t even a speech. It was a performance. By the time he’s done, you’re all pumped up, ready to change the world, and he’s all drenched in sweat, ready to change his shirt.

A little time goes by, and while Tom certainly got around to changing his shirt, you never did get around to changing the world. But 18 months later, man, let’s go see Peter Senge…

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The FlowBreeze 2.0 incorporates a flowchart template loader. Since the flowchart templates are separate from the main body of software, I’ve decided to release some of them them for free download now.

The complete flowchart template package that ships with FlowBreeze 2.0 are Excel template files (*.xlt) and come in the following flavors:

SIPOC diagram
swim lanes flowchart
  • Cross-functional / deployment flowchart templates with 2, 3, 4, and 5-swim lanes
  • DMAIC block diagram templates
  • DMAIC swim lane flowchart templates
  • PDCA block diagram templates
  • PDCA swim lane flowchart templates
  • Opportunity flow template
  • SIPOC diagram template
  • Empty flowchart grid with title block

The flowchart templates are available in both US and Metric sizes. The US paper sizes are 8-1/2×11 and 11×17. The metric paper sizes are A3 and A4. The templates are also available in both landscape and portrait page layouts.

Here is the link to the free flowchart templates (click here). If you buy FlowBreeze 2.0 you will get over 100. Download and/or read more about the Excel flowchart templates here.

As always… Enjoy!

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