Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

The year 2057

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I was watching a show last night on TLC (I believe) about how life might be in the year 2057. I came in half way into the show so I did miss some interesting thing but I love watching shows like this from TLC with the dramatizations of possible scenarios.

Well, in this one they go over a lot of technologies that will possibly be around in the future and their use in everyday life. I always like pondering what the future will be like. I think I do it mostly so that I can try to do it now with the crude tools of the present day. Athough, I’m not really sure of the feasability of virus’ taking down the whole city and a single old guy that was a former hacker accessing old machines connected to the city’s grid saving us, I’m sure virus’ will continue to trouble us. To what extent I don’t know but I believe that the edges of people’s networks (i.e.: routers, firewalls, and even ISPs) will get a little better at discerning internet noise and it’s creators. However, this also scares me a bit seeing as power like that can also be used for good but for control as well.

A world like the movie Minority Report is coming. An interesting fact is that Britain leads the way in monitoring as they have so many cameras up that the average person can get spotted almost 300 times a day.  That’s a lot. With the advent of facial distinction monitoring and even adding audio recognition no one would be totally off the grid unless they lived out in the rural areas. Even there, Google will show you on a satellite feed on Google maps drinking your latte on the front porch.

All the grim “1984”-ish stuff aside I love the thought of making things easier, smarter, and more intuitive. I’m going to go into more of the future in upcoming posts as it never ceases to fascinate me.

You’ve gotta have faith

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

I’ve been working as a consultant for about 3 years now. It’s weird but I don’t know why but even though I’ve encountered many different situations that are always different in some small way I’m continually amazed at myself.  Not because I’m so good or anything like that but, because I’m always terrified before I start. I always feel like I’m in over my head this time. I do continually try to challenge myself but for some reason this has never gone away.

Is it the edge that I need or a habit I need to get rid of. I’ve heard that courage is being afraid and doing it anyway. I hope that’s the case here. I really don’t know.

It’s not easy being green

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I’m going through a change in my way of thinking. I’m not the guy that you’d usually think of as a tree hugger but I’m really thinking about our environment and “Green” solutions for everything. Well, I’m really interested right now in trying to make what I do more Green. If you’re not familiar with the term, “Green” means environmentally friendly like: biofuels, recycled goods, etc.

kermit6.jpgHowever, like the old Kermit the Frog song “It’s not easy being green,” it’s harder than it seems. So, for this I implore you to help me. As an IT guy I’m trying to come up with ways to help others become more green. The problem with it is is that it seems to always cost more for everything environmentally friendly in the end. I guess the only exclusion I know of is using used vegetable oil for fuel (of which you’d still have to find a place to acquire huge amounts of it).

I’m sure someone will tell me, “Isn’t it worth the extra cost for the environment?” This is true but the same reasoning applies to sodas being sold more than juices. It’s better for you but the cost makes you revert to the cheaper solution in the long term. I want to help change this. I thought about Solar Panels on my roof but the upfront cost scared me away unless I build my next home (which I plan on).

With this in mind. I guess the way to be the most green in computing is in three areas: Power consumption, cooling, and recycling. I’m big on the recycling part of it because I try to teach people how to use machines that are old for new things. However, if someone could give me more ideas I’d highly value those.

Spice up your job and love it again

Monday, November 26th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I was watching an American Dad episode and it made me think a little bit about life and how people see it. Sometimes doing what you love can get to be a bit like a boring marriage. I’ve been with my spouse for a very long time so I can tell you from experience. Sometimes you do need to spice it up a bit.

Well, the same happens with your job. In the American Dad episode the father works for the C.I.A. and he starts to find it a little boring. They open the show with him lazily picking up a bodybag out of his trunk with a live hostage. He then opens the bag near the door to an enemy compound, opens the guy’s eyelid so the retinal scanner on the door opens and green berets flood into the compound shooting. Amongst all the excitement he goes back to his car still bored. Later in the show he sees a meter maid passing out tickets and thinks that must be really exciting.

You may find yourself sometimes being this guy. You loved your job when you started. You really wanted to do what you now do for a living but for some reason you’re so bored.

Here’s a couple tips to spice up your job relationship:

1) Make yourself a new project if you aren’t on one. Make it a project that is challenging but it will make you learn a lot in an area you knew nothing about before. Of course you definitely should make it compliment or enhance your current job.

2) Meet some new people in your field. Networking always makes you run into people that do what you do but have something else to add that you find interesting and/or you can add something that they find interesting.

3) Find the routine things that are making your life boring and find ways to automate, reduce their time consumption, or make a personal time challenge out of. Of course your goal, like typing, isn’t to get done first but done with no errors.
4) If your job is full of routine then totally switch up the order. Commonly mixing up your environment and routine keeps those synapses firing all the time to re-acclimate you to your setting

5) GET AWAY FROM YOUR WORK! I can’t stress this one enough. When I worked in an office, getting away from my desk and most times even the building for lunch re-invigorates you. I’m in California so I love to go outside and get some fresh air (yeah, I know it’s mostly smog or forest fires here but you get my drift).

Trying these and a couple others you come up with can help you shape the direction you’re going in and make it new and exciting again. If you have any idea let me know as well. I run a home based business and need to get away sometimes so I’m constantly thinking of things to inspire myself.

If you have any good ideas that you use feel free to let me know.

Too much choice in Open Source software

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

www.ted.comI watched a fascinating lecture on the Internet today (www.ted.com) The speaker gave a talk on the misconceptions of: choice and happiness. I found this extremely interesting and relative to how open source works. In a capitalistic choice driven society like the United States (my home) it feels almost sacrilegious to say. It is however, true. Let’s delve further into it.

What software can you say people are truly happen with in open source? Without a doubt I would say: Firefox, MySQL, and Apache. Let’s look at why. Of the top of your head, what are your choices? Not many. I’m sure you’re probably thinking “What’s that browser’s name?” for a second referring to Opera or “I heard I can run a lighter webserver” referring to Lighttpd. Fact of the matter is more often than not it’s either Firefox (or a perversion of it like Swiftfox packaged with some Linux distros) or you Operating system default such as Internet Explorer or Safari. PostgresQL is a choice to MySQL but who offers anything else? There are tons more but as long as you don’t think about those you’re happy in your MySQL world.

“Why is this good?” you may ask. My answer is simple but don’t stop reading after I answer, there’s more. It keeps programmers focused in the right directions.

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Do you have your flashcards?

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I’ve just got a very quick tip. When learning new programming languages, operating systems, applications, or services go back to an old high school trick. I used flash cards bought at any stationary store or most generic discount stores. For about a dollar or so you can get about 200 flash cards. Use these to write a word or phrase on one side and a definition or an explanation on the other side.

Sit and test yourself to success.

Batman and Dick Tracy… Here I come

Friday, October 5th, 2007

Why do us techies do it? What are the gadget freaks after? Why do we love it so much? Well, when we were growing up we saw something. Maybe it was Knight Rider’s car Kit. Dick Tracy’s wrist communicator. A space shuttle leave the starship Enterprise. For me it was the computer in the Bat cave on Batman. batman_2_th.jpg

There couldn’t have been a better example of a computer system that I dreamed for at the time. All the information on anything and anyone he needed but he had to use his brain to solve the problem. The live versions of the shows only had blinking lights but the cartoon was a vision of the future. The den of my house as a kid was my bat cave in the making. Now, I hope for the real thing. My office is networked and filled with computers as servers and workstations to do whatever I can.

That’s the goal for all of us techno types. To do whatever we can. Now, I’m too close to Batman. He had a good run but I’ve got to take it to the next level. I’ve got two big projects then I’m on to making my house a starship on the level of the Enterprise.

So, here’s the plan. If you can help that would be great. I’ve got to tame LDAP, Directory services, and maybe voice recognition and talk back capabilities. I’ll let you in on some of the contact data and database components when I know what I’m talking about.

I’m sure all the gadget freaks are onboard with me too. Dick Tracy’s watch isn’t so unbelievable if someone saw it in a magazine today. Still cool but not beyond belief.

Who’s an amateur now? The lines are blurred.

Friday, September 28th, 2007

While I’m out in Ontario California for this convention I’ve been bombarded with food for thought. It all started in a morning session where a group of podcasters were telling their story about how they put together a dialogue of 23 characters for a big podcast event. The question was brought up if the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) would care. Out of the audience a man proclaiming to be a member of SAG (and with my years of working in Hollywood for production companies I can tell by his look that he was indeed an actor) stood up. He stated his belief that podcasting was still small fries and nicely berated those that weren’t legitimate actors like himself with disgust using the “A” word. Amateurs.

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Whose going to change the world?

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

I just watched a video on piracy around the world and it really made me think alot. A video store owner somewhere in eastern Europe was talking about how they don’t care about American laws on our movies, etc. Then a man in Nigeria was saying that the police only bother them if they’re bootlegging movies made in Nigeria and not the ones made here. Even bigger was a man from the movie industry that says that there is no way they expect to stop online piracy like bittorrenting but just scare some people and companies.

This kind of inconsistency in a system just can’t go on forever. What is the new paradigm going to be? Will it be the open source zealots that conquer the prevailing winds and ride them to a unified way of thinking? Is Creative Commons going to overturn the music and movie industry? At first I was wondering was I just using these things because I was just cheap. I soon realized that software prices were becoming outrageous because they knew they had me by the balls. Music cd’s produced less hits but the price was going up and movies quality is being surpassed by home TV’s and we don’t care if we see it with a mass of people while eating overcharged goods.

Put your thinking hats on people. It’s a rough ride ahead before calm waters.

Why are all those icons on your desktop

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

hobo.jpgPicture a simpler time. Let’s go back before my life and most of my readers to the 1950’s and 60’s.bumcart.jpg The classic hobo carried a knapsack on the end of a stick that had everything he needed. He traveled in boxcars and was resourceful enough to make a way out of his surroundings. Fast forward to present day. Even our less fortunate members of society have shopping carts. They have to have tons of useless items with them just to make them feel good.

How do I get back to what’s new and exciting for you?

A new concept. Lean in and listen really close.

Are you close enough to hear yet?

YOU’VE GOT TOO MUCH CRAP ON YOUR PC! Yes, I’m probably talking to you. It’s epidemic. Microsoft has even tried to help you by making Windows XP and Vista have a feature that warns you about icons on your desktop that have not been used in a very long time. Microsoft isn’t innocent though. When many people buy computers they have extra Microsoft MSN icons on the desktop and on the start menu. Messenger wants to force itself on your status bar. The rest though is all your fault. Oh, I’m not totally innocent here. I used to pass the buck saying that it’s Firefox’s fault. On my Linux, Mac, or Windows PC’s Firefox defaults to saving to the desktop. Easily changeable but I never get around to it.

My wife and I are big are purging things. I had my kids in the garage with me this weekend and they left with the trash can, recycle bin, and a little of the grass shavings can filled due to some plant and grass growing up against the outer wall. That’s a great feeling for me. I love a good purging.

This post is easy and quick. Look through you computer and clean out all the useless stuff. The internet is so big that if you do delete something you want you can get it back when you need it and it’ll even be a newer version. Get rid of favorites, desktop icons, My Document’s files, contacts you know you’ve given up on, and installed programs that you never use.

You’ll be amazed at how much that clears your mind.