Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

An it’s your fault world

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Today I had a very interesting moment. I have a vacuum cleaner at home that has stopped working. Relenting to pressure from my kids who didn’t want to sweep our living room and my wife I decided to go ahead and fix it. Upon openning it I found all kinds of particles stuck and other things that I cleaned but when I found that the belt inside was broke I knew that that was the real problem so I took off the broken belt and went to the vacuum repair shop. He asked me what kind of vacuum I had and when I stumbled and stammered my words he just figured let me go ahead and look at the old one (which I wanted him to do in the first place). He gave me a band for $2 and I was off to the house.

Moments after putting the piece back together I vacuumed the floor with great results but the smell of burned rubber. I openned the vacuum again and the roller with the brushes was broken and parts were melted.

Fast forward to today. I take the vacuum back and after a brief discussion I come to find out that the repair guy didn’t stock these kinds of parts for my vacuum and his suppliers didn’t stock my model. The causes could have been varied but when one of them was a belt being too small. The same belt that he sold me for $2 could end up costing me a lot more. It wasn’t even a scam because he didn’t even work on my vacuum type. I was torn in how I should respond.

In my line of work I fix people’s computers all day everyday. The one thing that I have a big problem with is people blaming me for a possible problem. I take my reputation very seriously. What almost 99% of the problem wasn’t from anything I did and I know before I come back. I do come back because I am one that takes responsibility. However, we live in an “it’s your fault” world. I definitely understand that there is the remote situation where you may have forgotten something but I would have liked the repair man to admit the possibility to his guilt in giving me the wrong size and look for solutions with his supplier. Alas, he didn’t and I was stuck with a broken part and no ideas where to go.

Are you this guy/girl? One of the main things I go over with my children is reliability and responsibility. Your life and your work are all due to decisions you’ve made somewhere down the line. Everything is because you made it that way so take responsibility. However, responsibility without action is just playing another blame game but with yourself.

My goal everyday is to make this world a little better to live in. If just a couple people read this and decide I’m going to fix some of the things I’ve caused then maybe it will spread and form this utopia that we all dream of.

Let the blame game end with you. No excuses. Just action.

Don’t use the sugar for Cherrios

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I was talking with my wife tonight and I was talking about people that are just exceptional. On that immediately came to mind was a player on the TV show “The Apprentice” a couple years ago. His name was Randall. A tall dark skinned black man that was and still is the most magnificent competitor to play the game. He was a good speaker, kind, a gentleman, and amazingly brilliant in all of his choices, decisions, and leadership.

One thing about him though is that in all his education and business success he did not forget where he was from. Humble beginnings in a common middle to low income black home. He didn’t forget because in all the things that he did he still seemed to bring out this style of speech that would remind you of a country farmer reminiscing about a wild day on the farm.

I am also that guy. The problem with that is that sometimes you need to give a little background.

In common black homes you had two things Cherrios and Koolaid. They both required one thing: Sugar. Let me give you a little of this street knowledge. When thinking about storage. I was recently working on a problem with the Postfix mail server that reminded me of a problem I used to have with a server. The other stuff was on the same partition with the email server so if it filled up then the email couldn’t come through. When been start getting messages saying your email address doesn’t work then they will start deleting your name from their email list.

Don’t use the sugar for the Cherrios… Use it for the Koolaid. This relates to my delema because if I used the hard drive for other stuff then when dinner comes I wouldn’t have “Koolaid” as a refreshing cold drink.

When doing network or other resource planning always decide what needs the resources the most and give it a whole lot more than you think it needs. Always better to be too safe than too sorry.

I know the instructions but I can’t play the game

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

When I was a child I was very good at playing the guitar. Well, that’s at least what everyone else believed except me. In the early 80’s I remember that two people were the best at guitar in the world. Oddly enough they were Charro then Eddie Van Halen. I idolized these guitar saints. I remember reading once that Charro (who was just know for saying “Couchie couchie coo” on TV and having big boobs) practiced guitar 8 hours a day. When I actually heard her play it was like music from heaven. I wanted to be that kind of guitarist. I was always the best musical student. I still hold it over my parents heads that they never paid a dollar for my training because in the 3 years that I took lessons I was always deemed by the music school to be the best and thus won their scholarship every year. I was also inspired to play guitar because of this girl at my school that could play great but graduated the year before I started.

Why, you may ask, do I think I wasn’t that good? The missing part of the story is my guitar teacher’s pleas. He was a great guitarist. I was very fortunate that I had him because he was in a very famous 70’s rock band as the backup guitarist and toured sometimes. Throughout my 3 years he would tell me that I learned my guitar very well. I practiced sometimes as long as 8 hours on the weekends. I bought sheet music of all the popular songs and I’d learn them and come back knowing them by Monday. I could play classical, rock, R&B, and Spanish at the drop of a hat. That was all great but I didn’t practice what he kept telling me to learn. My scales. He constantly told me that learning my scales would allow me to play by ear, make my own music, and improvise.

I never did get my scales down because I didn’t practice them enough. I knew the rules and instructions but I couldn’t play the game.

The same is true of so many people and so many things. College, for example, barely teaches our children the rules of many careers. I no longer just want to know the rules I always want to play the game. I learned this a long time ago.

Who are you going to believe?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

I recently heard this analogy and I was so excited about it because I always want to tell people something like this. On the financial podcast “The Moneyworks” the financial planner that hosts the show did a segment that warned people against following the advice of the guy you know or friend that knows about this stuff. His analogy was: “Who are you going to trust if you want to learn golf. The guy that works at the golf shop or Tiger Woods? Tiger is a professional that does this for a living!”

I get so upset with this sometimes. I remember one time when I went over the house of a friend of the family once. The lady had a computer issue and called me over. Just before I arrived her cousin arrived. The cousin was a know it all lady whose focus today was computers.  My initial thought was to battle for supremacy in computer knowledge with her but I didn’t. I let the person decide. Who are you going to listen to? A person that does this for a living and that people hold accountable for millions of dollars of equipment and revenue or a secretary on the ground flour of Joe Blow’s discount Inc.?  The way I figure it follow their advice now if you want. You will be back to me or (if you can’t swallow your pride) you will wander from random computer person to random computer person and then take on the belief that this stuff is just too hard anyway.

Luckily the lady in the aforementioned store patronized her cousin till she left and then said, “I could tell by your face she was all wrong from the start. Let’s get started.” Wise choice. If you don’t want to get a computer guy like me to solve your problem the next best choice has ended up being the tech people at Fry’s Electronics, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. This is not always a bad choice and I will recommend it sometimes. However, just like with the financial consultant, even if you know someone doing this but they aren’t in your city and can actually do it, pay them a little something for some quick advice over the phone. I can diagnose most things over the phone without even seeing you in person. If you don’t you will go in there like sending my mom to a mechanic. They could tell her anything and get some commissions off the sales.

Save gas… Use the Internet

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I was watching CNBC and came to a huge revelation. The gas price increase really sucks! Now seriously everyone knows that. However, there are so many factors that really effect the common person. For example: Fishermen pay for the gas on the boats that they use to get fish even though they don’t own the ship. Take into account that now the price of gas has doubled since last year and the market price of scallops has stayed the same. Fishermen lose money thus spend less, etc., etc.

I don’t mean to gloat but I’ve been saving quite a bit on gas and here’s how. I stay at home. Yep, that’s basically it. Let me fill in some of the details for you though. I am a consultant and have found that it is very cost effective for me and my clients to do most of the work I do remotely. With tools like Virtual Network Computing (VNC), Secure SHell (SSH), Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and Virtual Private Networking (VPN) you can sit on the couch and telecommute to success. If you’re an employer then you should really look into using these at your office.

The other part of the save on gas equation is good for the economy but will hurt brick and mortar companies a bit. I live on Amazon and companies like New Egg. I used to be an avid Borders guy and just loved going there to look at new books but now I’m adopting a habit that may never change. I’m finding used books on Amazon that are like new (or actually new as far as I can tell) for under $1 plus shipping. Did you get that? Five dollars total for a book that goes for $30+. That’s putting money in my gas tank till I can afford that electric Telsa sports car.

I believe I will look into making some more of these tips that I use and go into a little more detail on some of the acronyms and how they can save you a little money.

What is freedom?

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

I was just listening to a podcast called Lugradio recently. They had a rather interesting debate that sparked a lot of thoughts about what I believe.

As a little background, Lugradio is a British podcast. The four members of the show throw around ideas about Linux and open source software. Now, I know that it may seem that freedom is relative to the location in the world you live in. You’d be wrong. Freedom is relative to you as an individual. This shows in the similarity in thought that open source software has ignited worldwide.

By definition “Freedom” is: Liberty and the release of ties, bonds, and obligations. To be obligated to use only free or open source software would be an obligation thus making us no longer free. At the same time to look at only open source software as good wouldn’t negate our freedoms but it would be irrational.

The open source movement can’t just be a band of raving technical zealots. Has that ever really worked? Legitimate religions of our time had to learn this early in their histories. People don’t listen to the person that’s just ranting and raving and casting condemnation on others. They are free too. Free people learn by education, choice, and reasoning. However, they have the right to choose whatever they want even though it is not the “right” choice.

I always think of it in perspective of all the cars on the road. If you looked at all the cars that exist you should ask yourself “Why?” Given the needs and styles wanted by a particular buyer a computer could kick out the perfect car according to color, body type, passengers, mileage, fuel consumption but yet there are so many.

Feel free to decide. That is the joy of being free.

Let the Cisco guy love routing

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I seem to collect a lot of information on different computer related topics. I live to go to my local Borders or Barnes & Noble book store to look at books and of course there’s one I want to buy every time. My bookshelves can attest to this fact. Today I had an epiphany. I want to let some people do what they know best. I have a lot of newsfeeds, newsletters, magazines, and email subscriptions that I just don’t need. Now granted they’re all free (even the magazines but I’ll talk about how to do that another day).

I was looking through a folder that I have certain email routed to. I realized that the folder had a lot of Cisco tips and tricks for their routers. In cleaning out my email folders I realized that these emails were building up and had become a huge portion of this folder because I just never tended to delete them since I never get around to reading them. My thought process is like a pack rat: “One day I’ll need these.” Stop that! Get rid of this stuff. I don’t need to know everything about a Cisco router. I might possibly need to configure one once every two years. I deleted them all. Even though I took a lot of training on Cisco routers years ago if this situation arises I’m letting some other guy handle that. Unburden your mind seeing all the crap in your inbox.

Armed only with words

Friday, April 11th, 2008

My wife and I were talking a couple months ago and a theme started to emerge. We were going back and forth with situations that we’ve successfully navigated through just by thinking and talking. It shows how long I’ve been developing this idea because I first started this post three months ago but left it alone. My wife just recently wrote a great post on it called, “The Doctor Who in me.” This really explains what we love so much about the British TV series being shown on Scifi-channel. It is great to have weapons of mass destruction like the military, Kung Fu skills like Bruce Lee, or even gadgets like Batman but knowledge and mastery of speech is an art not to be underestimated.

As a kid I didn’t get into any fights but I was never considered a wimp or a nerd. I had mastered a skill that would prove helpful in many situations. There was a certain deterrence to messing with me because of the way I could make you feel. I was the kid that was very well liked and good at sports but with that comes what we call “haters.” Haters are the people that don’t like you because they are jealous of other people thinking highly of you. I didn’t have the pretty girl but I was a man of many talents. I was the troubadour that sat on a classroom step playing guitar, loved to play basketball or any other sport, was tops in my class in grades, and was quick to say something that would make you laugh. However, there were those times when I had to show someone my other side. (more…)

Blogging to help your marraige and family

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

We are at a rare crossroads in history that can be manipulated for good family relations. I say this because I’ve recently thought about how my family structure works. My wife is a special education teacher to elementary school children. Today I was looking through her blog like I usually do and thought about something. I comment on her blog and to her in real life. It’s like having twice the amount of conversations with your spouse (since we do talk a lot in person). I definitely recommend that husbands always talk to their wives and vice versa but if your spouse blogs then take an interest even if it’s not in your usual line of interest. I know that my wife also tends to read my blog even though I know that she’s not a techno-savvy person.

All my children started off early using computers too. All 4 of my children started with basic screen drawing at 3 years old. They all wanted to be like me and later on their mother or brothers. In true form my daughter has loved watching my blog-aholic wife type on her blog so much that my wife started her a blog. SHE’S 6! Yes, my wife does all the typing but my daughter tells her what she wants and it’s good family time with them.

My 3 sons aren’t so voyeristic. They aren’t the types to blog (even though it comes with a Myspace page). However, with your teens get to the point that you can be added to their friends list on Myspace. I do that with my sons and all the children at my church as well as neighborhood kids. This way you can watch what their doing a little bit too.

Am I really that internet uncool?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

The more podcasts and RSS feeds I listen to or view has made me come to a conclusion.  I’m not internet cool. I have most of the technical ingredients for it. I have instant messengers galore. I have a Twitter account. I have a camera phone.

I guess it’s really that I feel a little left behind listening to Leo Leporte (or any ex-Techtv people) on shows like TWIT. They seem to know so many people by name in the industry that actually talk to them all the time.

I guess I’m not too far off because I have met a lot of the people talking on some shows at conventions or something else but they wouldn’t follow me on Twitter. Although, I have been surprised when people have remembered me.

I’m not mad at them though. Keep doing your thing you Internet Rock Stars! I may not have a couple thousand people following me on Twitter like Robert Scoble or Jason Calakanis. I may not have a name with presence like Leo Leporte but if I can or have offered just one kernel of knowledge in my blog that has made your day… Let me know.  That’s what I’m here for.