I am Alex S. Brown, PMP IPMA-C, The Strategic Project Manager. You can find out more about my experience and background from my on-line resume. Read the articles and listen to the speeches on this site, and you will get to know me very well.
This site is a repository of my ideas, writings, and speeches. It is a good place to learn about project management and strategy. Everything is written from my personal point of view; right or wrong, it is what I think.
It is my way to help my friends know me better and to reach out to people I do not know yet. It has become a professional resource, particularly my peers at Project Management Institute and the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (asapm). People from all over the world subscribe to the site newsletter, and some of my articles have been translated to foreign languages.
Site Philosophy and Inspiration
The information on this site is made available freely, for people to use. I keep a copyright on it to control its use and publication, but there is nothing hidden away. There are no articles kept for just the paying members. The site links to on-line merchants as a way to help people find the books, software, and so on mentioned in the articles. The primary purpose of the site is to inform, not to sell.
The Tao Te Ching says in Chapter 81: “The sage does not accumulate for himself. The more that he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that he gives to others, the more does he have himself.” This site is my way of giving back to others. The site is kept up in my free time based on this philosophy.
If you read, use, and enjoy the site, we do welcome your voluntary support. Please see the support page for more information about how you can help. Sending feedback via e-mail and sending new questions is a great way to support the site; it helps give me ideas for future articles.
Contacting Me and Getting Updates
My goal is to be easy to reach, easy to talk to, and very accessible. If you have a personal comment, please contact me anytime.
You can subscribe to updates about what is posted here on the site in many different ways:
- The alexsbrown.com e-mail newsletter
- On Twitter using my personal (@alexsbrown) or company (@rlprj) accounts
- Through a Text RSS Feed
- Through Audio and Video Podcasts
I also welcome the chance to connect with you on-line or in person. Some of the social and business networking sites that I am active on include
If you invite me to connect, please be sure to explain why you want to connect with me. I usually only accept personalized invitations.
Layout and Color
The latest redesign of the site took place in September 2006. The site has gone through a number of color schemes since it was first launched. The latest color scheme is the most mainstream of them all, designed to enhance readability of the site.
The inspiration for the color scheme is the air-traffic-controller terminals in the movie Pushing Tin. Air-traffic controllers and project managers have quite a bit in common. The site icon in the upper left represents a radar scope. The green shows the sweep of the radar, the pale dots are airplanes, and the red line is a boundary marker. The text, background, and other colors come from these displays.
The image of the radar scope is important for me. This site is all about constantly seeking new information, and watching the world for changes. We often have to find out about the future indirectly, just as the radar finds the locations of objects by bouncing waves off of them and measuring the result. I see the sweep of the line on a scope, and wonder what it might reveal as it moves through the circle. I try to ferret out information the same way in my life and my work.
History of the Site’s Design
The original color scheme was bright-green-on-black, mimicking the display of first-generation computer display terminals. Human-factors experts tell us that this color combination is highly readable because of its high contrast, and it is still used for military applications today.
Ironically, many people could not read the original site easily, because of the high-contrast color scheme. The site followed Jacob Nielsen’s advice to “maximize the color contrast between the text and the background”. Many web sites have LOW contrast, so people set their monitor brightness and contrast high to compensate. On a monitor with these settings, the bright, green text glowed too brightly, becoming difficult to read. I kept an article using the old colors for anyone who wants to see the old format.
In July 2003 I redesigned the site, using more muted colors but keeping the same overall look. Here is an article using the version 2 colors. Complaints went down, but some people still did not like it.
This latest color scheme was introduced in September 2006. It is much more typical of other web sites. I realized that only teenage-targeted web sites used light text on a black background. Now all pages have a light background with dark text. The basic colors of the original site are still preserved in the new design.
The new design is inspired in part by Jacob Nielesn’s advice to “tone down their … distinct design in all ways.” Being too different can be a handicap for a web site. The new design is less distinctive, but hopefully will serve my audience better.
Site colors went through some minor changes in September 2006, when the site was converted to use Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) 1.0 and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) 2.1. To see the earlier design, based on HTML 4.01, see this sample article.
Technology Behind the Site
As a computer professional, I use the site to experiment with technology. The site is entirely hand-coded, to give me maximum control and to let me learn as much as possible about Internet technology. Software used to create the site includes:
- WordPress a great blog and content management system
- GVim an open-source text editor
- HTML Tidy by Dave Raggett
- The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a freely-distributed, open-source software package
- Dada Mail an e-mail newsletter management system
I used these tools in the past and I still recommend them:
- UltraEdit Text Editor from IDM Computer Solutions
- Paint Shop Pro by Jasc Software
- AlienForm, a Perl script by Jon Hedley
- syn text editor an open-source text editor (development activity has been slow lately, though)
- PDFCreator to create the PDF files
This version of the site relies heavily upon style sheets. The pages are designed to look OK with older browsers, but they are designed for browsers that support CSS2 and XHTML. The goal was to make it easy to mark-up articles I write, producing a good-looking web page with a minimum of code. As much formatting logic as possible is in the style sheet. I use the accessibility tags in HTML as much as possible to allow the use of alternative browsers for users who have special needs. Please let me know if the site appears poorly in your web browser.
Standards used in the site include:
- XHTML 1.0 Strict (with some Transitional pages when working with vendors and tools that do not support Strict)
- Cascading Style Sheets, Level 2 revision 1 (CSS 2.1)
I use OpenOffice and the Ubuntu PDF print driver to create the PDF files. Both these tools are free, open-source programs. Microsoft Project is my primary project scheduling tool, and I also work with Niku Open Workbench sometimes.