Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looking at the New Year

Wow. I really can't organize myself to have at least a post a week? I would really love that. I guess I have my answer to the question "What will my new year's resolution be?" I get so consumed in work and home that my other endeavors suffer. Well, no more. I am going to give myself a boot in the a$$ and put the nose to the grindstone when it comes to other endeavors. I will be trying to document my steps here on my blog so stay tuned.
I'm still using most of my stuff on Google. Google Notepad and Google Documents have been valuable resources. I've been using Google Documents to create notebooks about stuff. One notebook has ideas, tasks and other things about my garage. Another has stuff about trying to make a Linux home computer and what packages to put on it. Yet another is a few recipes that I clip off the internet. My wife and I love trying new things at dinner.
Google notebook is something I use more for web-clipping than anything else. I also track changes that I make in the presentation of this blog. I know there's a little convergence in the two programs right now, but that'll get ironed out later.
I still have not found a good tasks program for Google. Now they just did implement Google Tasks in GMail. You can read about it here. I have not yet used that feature. I have been using Remember the Milk with a little bit of success, but I'm not fully sold. I cannot sync it with my Palm Treo 680 and would really love to have that feature.
And awa-a-ay we go!

Monday, November 10, 2008


It's a little late for Halloween, but what the heck. I end up rockin' it like Rosie Greer for the month before halloween. I make as much as I can for all the family costumes. We're not the "buy it off the shelf and wear it" type of people. We scavenge, sew, create, improvise and just about do anything to get that look we want. This year, the wife and I went as Beetlejuice and Lydia (the wedding scene).
I was pretty intimidated by the makeup part, but I think that I scooted by. I used a relatively cheap Beetlejuice wig/cap and enhanced it a bit with real moss from a craft store and some white face makeup. I found the vintage 70's tux complete with ruffled shirt at a local antique/vintage store. That was one awesome find. As for the wife, the dress part is bought, but I made the veil/train with some tuile from the local fabric store and the sewing machine. The tiera is from HS when she was homecoming queen. The choker is from an older costume.
The kids weren't that hard or elaborate. My son was ObiWan Kenobi and my daughter was Willy Wonka. For my son, I sewed together a top from a few patterns online. (There's a plethera of Star Wars geeks online that well tell you how to sew a "proper" Jedi costume) We then get a "monk's robe", cut it up a little, a pair of sweats and some boots and viola. My daughter was even easier. At the goodwill store, we found a black button down shirt, a maroon/purplish trenchcoat and a pair of old black penny loafers. The I picked up a brunette "supermodel" bob wig and I had an old top hat from an old costume. There. Willy Wonka!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work - Life balance in a connected world

A friend of mine posts a blog entry the other day about work-life balance and it got me thinking. These days, competition is fierce, the Fortune 500 companies are locking down their employees as if they own them. State and Federal governments are even worse! This really breeds a workforce that is pretty separated from their employer. We are pretty much locked into a 9 to 5 world when we are living in a 24-7 world. Not the best for morale, productivity, efficiency, effectiveness, and motivation.
With me being a geek's geek, I have the answer. A 24-7 job. Now stay with me here, this is where it gets complicated. We all have the tools to go mobile; laptops, iPhones, Blackberrys, Windows Mobile smartphones. Some of us even have other tools that are pretty cool; cellular "network" cards for the laptops, cool bluetooth accessories that help us out, GPS units, multi-mode phones that also connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. Now taking all this into account, you are virtually connected anywhere and anytime, right? Why would your average CEO not leverage this technology to allow their workers to work from anywhere?
Let's think this scenario all the way through. We have Average Worker X. Let's make it complicated and let's say he's an IT worker. I'm going to use the IT worker example since there aren't that many roadblocks to encounter when your function exists in marketing, sales, accounting, or a few other places. Manufacturing would be an exception to this idea. If you give the worker the tools to connect from anywhere, you might not get all the "face time" that we are all accustomed to, but in turn you have a worker that is more willing to devote time and effort into their workday because they are allowed to have the day to day distractions of chatting with friends, attending other things that are part of their personal life, and the general satisfaction of that if something comes up, they aren't "chained" to their desk. This means you're not working the traditional 9 to 5. You're working 24-7. You have a better ROI on your employees since they are more willing to stay with your company. You have less costs in searching for new talent and you have the tools to retain your top talent. Is this not a win-win for everyone?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Web 2.0 Mobile

I've always been a geek. I'm geekier than most geeks, but I'm a man's geek. Lately though I've been ashamed of my geekiness. I'm lagging behind in the mobile world. I had mobile internet before there was mobile internet. I'd hook my old Palm 3C up to my Nokia 8210 via infrared, have the palm dial up some numbers and viola... mobile internet on my Palm 3C! A few phones later, I have a Palm Treo 680. This thing is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but because I'm a loser lately, I haven't done any customization.
Now that I'm moving my life to Google, I need to do mobile too. Now with the palm, I get the Palm Desktop, but I want to do everything over-the-air. GMail is easy. You just create the Versamail account according to the instructions found here. Now for the calendar, I use GooSync. Pretty easay to set up, not alot of extraneous features and pretty straight forward.

Next up, to-do's, memos, and other trivial things that I can sync.

Stay tuned.....
Average Guy X~~~~~

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I am a slacker

Now that I have started all this Web 2.0 and social networking/media stuff, I am a total slacker. I started out hot and heavy, but have been sputtering off. Only one post last week? I even chastise myself. Stay tuned.... more stuff to come though.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving my life to Google: Part Deux

I have successfully transferred my email to Google. I've configured GMail to check my "old" email accounts and let me send email as my "old" email addresses. Good. Now for the bad. It only checks the email accounts at certain intervals which is determined by some algorithm that takes into account how much mail you get through that account. Well, it's not all that bad until you see the connection interval time being an hour. Now I don't call myself popular, but I'd like to see that configurable, but I can live with it. I still need to reconfigure my Outlook client (yes, I still like to use outlook) to use it exclusively and not check my other "old" email addresses.

I've got my calendar in Google Calendar. I'm using this nifty sync tool called RemoteCalendars which has two-way sync between Outlook and any other iCalendar compliant calendar. This takes care of my personal calendar, but what about my work calendar? Do I want to combine them? Do I want to keep them separate? I'll have to look into that a little more.

To-dos are non existent on Google. There's been a few suggestions and add-ins available to compensate. The one that I found most useful is Remember the Milk. It actually integrates with the Google Calendar. Now to try to sync it with Outlook.

Stay Tuned....

Monday, August 4, 2008

Social networking & privacy?

When you register for just about any website it asks you for a real name and a username. Even on blogger, you have a profile with a real name and a username and even your GMail address can reveal information about you. Now I consider myself a professional worker. I work in a corporate-type environment where business casual dress is required, some days I might even need a tie depending who I'm meeting with. I've started blogging, have GMail accounts, started with a bunch of social networking sites (twitter, LinkedIn, etc) and am wondering a few things.... How much is too much?

How much information should you be revealing online about yourself? I've created this persona for this blog "Average Guy X". If you search hard enough, you can probably find out my real name, but how does all the stuff I do online affect my value at work or even my prospects for furthering my career?

Have you ever been around the office water cooler having a conversation with some co-worker that you've known for some time and then he/she tells a story of something they did over the weekend and you say to yourself "Wow. That was a little too much TMI and now I can't really have the same relationship with them anymore!"? Most of the time, it's harmless information about religion or politics that you find out, but sometimes there can be lifestyle, work habits, personal opinions, or even the occasional revelation about how they make money with some "scheme" that really make you see this person in a different light. I'm wondering how much of this social networking can contribute to that.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cuil is not cool

All this buzz about the new search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool") going on perks my interest. Now, I'll give anything a chance once. I go there and search for myself. I have a few hits on Google, and maybe a few on Yahoo, but most of the time, I get the results for someone else with the same name as me. So I search Cuil for my name. The results are a little goofy looking for me, but I'll play.
First of all, this image this is ANNOYING! Every search result I have comes up with the same 2 or 3 photos which is really distracting. Now why do they think that I need a random picture to identify my search results? Not very helpful.

-10 cuil points

Next, I add it to my Firefox search bar so that I could use it throughout the day instead of my usual Google, or some other random engine. I'm doing some coding for the sidebar I use in XP; Desktop Sidebar. I need to do some regular expression parsing. So I use Cuil to search. I put into the search bar regular expression debug or something similar and I get 0 results. That's right. nil, zip, zilch, nada, niet, nothing, bupkiss, the big goose egg!!! Now being the proper geek that I am, I should have found out why, but I'm too busy to be bothered with it. DOH! But still, I gasped. No results! FAIL!

-100 cuil points

Now I'm exercising a few searches in Cuil and I'm looking for the next pages. Let's see.... Oh wait... there it is. It's in the black "frame" on the bottom.

-5 cuil points

I found the pagination links. Great. Now lets go through the results. Page 2... hold on... it looks like page 1. Well,.... it's the same as page 1 with the order changed. (well almost) But still, no really new results. All the same images too.

-5 cuil points

Go on to page 3 of the results. Good, there's some different links in there. But all the images are the same. Why? If you MUST have images linked to search results, why not go the ask.com route and take a screenshot of the web site? And why does it insist on putting a picture for a website that's a mailing list archive (read: text only) site?

-5 cuil points

Now the category thing pops into the rightmost column. Do any of the categories have anything to do with the search results or the search term itself? I'm not really sure, and I'm not sure if it's even useful.

-5 cuil points

Total: -130 cuil points

Sorry Cuil, that's a fail!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Its all about the kids

The wife calls me up with a question. Do you want to take the kids to the Jonas Brothers' concert? Let me think... oh yay! A middle-aged guy at a tween concert??? I'm gonna feel awkward, but I'll do it. It's for the kids anyhow. I wonder if they serve alcohol at the tween concerts? I certainly hope so. I can already feel the headache with a few thousand tweens/teens screaming all night, but that's not the point. The point is that I'm bonding with my kids (my tween daughter especially) and hopefully that will reciprocate further down the road. Dad of the year.... here I come! (BTW... do they serve alcohol at that contest too?)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Moving my life to google

Now I'm not sure how much sense this makes, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Between home, work, friends' houses, in-laws, outlaws, and wherever else I might find myself, I feel the need to find my online presence. Now here's the hard part: how do I keep everything in synch so that I can get to everything I want? Google. It seems that Google can organize your so-called online life. Email, bookmarks, reader, calendar, groups, YouTube, Picasa and whatever else you'll need to live online.

First, I cleaned out my Gmail account. It had alot of remnants of past lives. Now I'm not sending out a mass change to everyone with a new email address, I'm just adding an "identity" to gmail. You can do this in the "Accounts" tab in the Gmail settings. Just add another email address you want to send from, and then Gmail will send a confirmation email to that address and you either click on the link or enter a verification code. Then Viola! You can send email as that email address from Gmail. I've also added my regular email account to Gmail so that I'll get my email in Gmail also.
Next come the bookmarks. Now what self-proclaimed IT guru would be complete without their own bookmarks? Not I! I've installed Gmarks, a Firefox extension to manage my bookmarks from Firefox. Not a bad extension.

I'll move various other things to Google also and let you know how it goes.

Stay tuned!
-Average Guy X

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just do it!

So now that I've officially kicked off this blog, I'm in a new state of mind. Normally, I'm a procrastinator. I put things off until the very last second that I can. It's always been that way for me. I have a little logistical OCD disorder in my brain that prevents me from doing anything before it's "time". Here's an example. I can't reply to an email as soon as it hits my inbox. Why? I don't know, but I just can't. I tell myself I'll wait five minutes to reply, then forget about it and two days later someone will ask "did you get that email?" Well that's no way to do business and talk to folks. When you have a conversation with people, you don't pause for five minutes to answer them? No. You answer them right away.
Here's my rationale. I've missed plenty of opportunities in my life because I can't "pull the trigger" right away. I have this uncanny ability to put off things just because I'm too logical. I missed the RedHat stock explosion back in the late 90's (I had the opportunity to buy early in the IPO), I missed the Google stock explosion and basically missed the whole tech bubble because I was too sheepish to do anything. This just causes me too much stress. I can't constantly think, what if...? That just doesn't sit right.
Like this blog. I'm going to "just do it" from now on. Who cares if I fail. If I do, I better have learned something from it and the next iteration of it will be better, faster, stronger.

Just do it damnit!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And we're off........

Now here I am. In my own little corner of the universe, internet, blogosphere, whatever. I've been meaning to set something up like this, but really have been procrastinating. I have alot of ideas, opinions, like to hit on alot of different topics. Some of them that I'd love to hit on:
  • Pussification of America
  • Technology (I'm an IT guy)
  • Relationships (I've been happily married for 12 years)
  • Kids (I have 2)
  • Friendships
  • Anything else I feel like ranting and raving about.
Stay tuned. I'm new to this blogging thing and really would like to try this new fan-dangled technology out!