Archive for October, 2011


Jon Acuff’s book titled “Quitter” was a hard pill to sallow.  I bought the book thinking that it would ramp me up to quit my day job and get me racing on my dream work and income.  But instead it gave me the hard truth that I already knew was the truth and slapped me in the face with it.  The first chapter is “Don’t quit your day job.”  While those are the words I hear toxic people say cause they aren’t willing to do what it takes to succeed and don’t want you to either, I made myself keep reading.  Mostly because I asked my wife if I could blow ten dollars on a kindle book that Dave Ramsey keeps suggesting and didn’t want to blow the investment….of a whole whopping ten dollars.

Anyhow, the book walks you through all the reasons and the logic and the emotional strings of not killing your dreams with being impulsive, lazy, or mellow dramatic in the name of following your dream.  I read this at a pinnacle time.  I am getting a lot more responsibility at my current job and seeing the dream job slip away.  This book show you reasons to be grateful for your day job and work towards your dream job.

The score card of wither or not you are ready to quite your day job was a fantastic touch, I scored a measly 24 and the book suggested that I keep at it and I am in the beginning stages, which I know is true.  I am really impatient and probably should have had a lot more points taken away according to the scorecard, but I just didn’t want to believe it.

This book is not a magic pill that will make it so you can quit your day job right away, but it is a magic pill in that if you accept the realities that it points out, you will be well on your way to be able to quit you day job, be a hero to your spouse, kids, friends, family and whoever, and start enjoying your work!

This book is what good friends should be telling you, thanks Acuff for showing me that I had broccoli in my teeth!

I have talked to people with Cable and Satellite tv, and there are “smart” tv’s coming out that have various features that people pay a lot of money for.  But I would recommend getting a computer that can connect to your television and then all your needs are covered, of course my favorite program for something like this is XMBC

http://xbmc.org/

For starters with XBMC you can view all your pictures, Movies, and listen t music.  They are getting more plugins all the time and it is all free.

I first starting playing with XBMC when I hacked my original Xbox and replaced the 8 gig hard drive with a 100 gig hard drive.  Then I put all all my wifes photos (and mine too) and had the photos run as the screensaver.  Then we would always reminisce and get the most from them, then as we starting making home videos and my daughter came along it was easy to view those whenever we wanted!  Xbmc was originally a hack for the Xbox but now it runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux!

Remember not to Forget

It dawned on me how funny it is that all the reminder that I have at my disposal that I can still forget some important things.  There are reminders on my Android phone, on my iPod Touch, on my laptop, and in Outlook when I am working with my emails.  There are even many great features where reminders will port over from one system to another like my reminders from my iOS 5 device to my Outlook program.  But there are some things that I have to consider when it comes to reminders:

*  If you do not place a reminder in something then it is no good, the Chinese have a saying, “The palest ink is better than the best memory.”  You can and will forget things, get them written somewhere you will notice or check often.

*  Ignored reminders are as good as no reminder:  A had an Android app that was suppose to help me build good habits, I put in it to remind me to read my Scriptures every night, well I get busy or tired or what have you and that reminder is an annoyance, or I just ignore it an it stays in my phone as background noise that I ignore.  So in this cause I have no excuse but I have to assess the other factors that keep me from doing what the reminder is reminding me to do.

*  Reminders never do the work for you:  I have been guilty many times of setting a reminder for something I just didn’t want to do, or something that rather difficult to do.  I would take all the things I had to do and make reminders and then forget about them so I wouldn’t get stressed out.  Well I could make reminders till I am blue in the face and it never did the things for me.  Reminders are a good outline if you need to manage your day, but they are not magic pills.

*  Reminders that have teeth:  Have you noticed that if you have work at a certain time and your alarm clock goes off, no matter how bad you want to ignore it you get up and grumpily turn off the alarm and then get ready for work?  If there are undesired consequences for ignoring a reminder you don’t ignore it.  When I think about reminders that I set for my personal development, I also try to associate what would happen long term if I don’t heed the reminder.  My wife and I switch off doing the dishes (yes we don’t have a dishwasher machine…) and if I don’t do the dishes when it is my turn then I have an unhappy wife, a bad enough consequence in itself.

*  Reminders for others do not exist unless…:  I have had my wife, my boss and others make a to do list for me and never knew it existed.  My wife would make a list on the fridge, and then got home from work and got after me for not getting those things done.  My boss likewise may have made a list of things to follow up and sent it in an email, well after getting a of emails it gets lost in the shuffle, this reiterates my point that reminders don’t do the work for you and they most certainly won’t get someone else to do the work automatically.

Reminders are still great things to have, but if you want to be more productive then have a system that works and if others are involved make sure they know your system or that you know their system that they are holding you accountable for.

Getting a Tutor

I have noticed that some people have a bad impression with people who have tutors.  For one you can consider your tutor a mentor and then it sounds cool like a Jedi or something.  But more importantly there is nothing wrong with getting a tutor.  I am terrible at math, I used all the free tutoring  I could get from my University, and when that was not enough I paid tutors to help me with College Algebra, I needed to know that stuff but I could not do it on my own, now I know it (somewhat better) and I have been able to move up and on with my life.

With software always changing and people being so busy, they don’t have time to youtube and google blitz the subject until they are pro at that particular program.  With a tutor you can cut right to the meat and get the help that you need, saving time and…money, yes money even if you are paying for the tutoring because you will waste time trying to teach yourself that you could have been producing.

Now if you are a good self learner then you can disregard this post, and many people are, myself, the only way I can learn is by doing it, and when it came to learning all the way to take care of my car I was glad to have a mechanic teach me….I also learned that I could never be a good mechanic.

Posers, How I loathe all of you…

If you have been in any particular industry long enough, you know exactly what a poser is, and what they sound like.  In my line of work where I dabble in programming and web hosting, along with Office application usage, I run into people who list off (Listing off is a good sign that the person might be a poser, but not always) all the things that they can do and languages that they can program in.

BUT when you say, “Wow that is awesome lets get together and make something that will make us rich!”

They say “Oh no I am doing way too many important things.” or “I am just too far above you.”  And you notice they are applying at Wal-marts and call centers, you have to wonder…why wouldn’t you take all you amazing knowledge and talent and make something of yourself, I know I would rather be writing some neat code or doing something nifty in an office application than running a till all day.

The bottom line is, don’t list off what you can do, I really don’t care, show me what you can do, or admit what you don’t know and get in the business of learning it so you can do all the things you “list off”.

Linus Torvalds (the creator of the Linux Kernal) said, “Talk is cheap, show me the code!”

Since as far back as I can remember I have been a “Computer Guy”, I knew the lingo and could do anything anyone else could do.  The older I got this was pretty cool, some guys are all about cars, others all about playing the guitar or what have you.  It was a nice way of identifying myself and a lot of my identity was built around it.

Well as time progress there were plenty of people who asked for help on their computers, many time I had to figure out the problem and get back to them.  Pretty soon it was a chore to be a “Computer Guy”, I didn’t recall that the title meant I was a drop everything in my life and fix your computer guy, nor do I recall that it meant I was 24/7 free tech support.  It came to a point that I started telling everyone “I don’t know, I have no idea.”

“But you’re the computer guy!”

At one point an ex-girlfriend told me that a boy she knew could build a computer, circles around me, and repeated it many times.  While I am sure she said it to be spiteful I knew she was right, I have yet (to this day of this writing) to build a computer from scratch.  So am I really a computer guy, I would still say yes.  But something needs to be pointed out, not every Computer Guy (or Girl) knows everything there is to know about every computer and every computing device.  I know Office applications, I know how to do some programming (most in Android apps) and I know a fair amount about Linux (as long as it is Ubuntu 10.10 or similar distribution that is running Gnome 2 as the GUI).  Many other computer guru are solely focused on networking, and then there are those exceptional people who really do many different programs and operating systems.

Another thing to note is that if you are a whiz at Facebook…YOU ARE NOT A COMPUTER GENIUS!  But… when someone needs help with Facebook or the like and you are able to help them, then you are the “Computer Guy”  So if you need help with your computer or somebody needs help with their computer from you, be sure to let them know what you are good at in computers, and when you ask me for help I will tell you what I am good at.

 

When I was in University, any time a paper was due, the teacher would explicitly express that Wikipedia was not a legitimate source.  I have always found Wikipedia to be very informative and useful for doing reports, but I knew I could not site it or I would fail that paper.  The solution to my problem was extremely simple.

At the bottom of every wikipedia article are Notes, References and Further Reading.  I simply looked into a few of those and the citations passed as incredible good informational resources.

Don’t dismiss Wikipedia if you are in school, it will save you hours upon hours of research.  So yeah it is community bases, but in the world of information…what isn’t!?

 

Failed the Excel 2010 Expert Exam

I am posting this to give others some hope, I am a software nerd, a self proclaimed guru if you will.  When I took and failed this exam it was very disheartening.  But I just had to relax and realize that I did not muddle through this material enough.  Us computer guys cannot and are not perfect at everything, but it is the frustrating learning process that makes us even better at what we do.

Bill Gates first business venture was a flop, and he kept trying.

 

All I want is…

“All I want is…”  this is the answer to the question I always ask when people come in the shop in Drumheller, they want a computer that just does email, Facebook, maybe some banking and some games.  They hate that they have to upgrade or discard their old computer.  I never open this can of worms at work cause it would just take to long and I have to help other people who also come into the store, but the answer is LINUX!  If you are doing nothing but internet related items then you can use Linux, Linux has a ton of different flavours, you can get a lightweight Linux for older machines, you can get a PVR ready version, media ready versions or plain vanilla versions that can have anything installed on it.  And it is FREE!

Linux has a ton of games that are free, compilers, web browsers, chat clients, movie and music players, and it is getting more and more all the time.  I honestly don’t understand how Ubuntu Linux is not dominating the world right now!

In my consulting I plan to have a “free night” at the school where I am teaching and I hope to show people what I mean.

P.S.  Tablets and Smartphones are also at the point where they cover the “All I want…” needs as well.

 

MS Office Streamlines Everything!

Since 2007 when Ubuntu figured out how to service wifi cards in laptops I have used nothing but Linux on my computers.  In the middle of 2011 I have been sucked back into using Windows and Microsoft Office 2010.  Then, after multiple quick discussions with people around me I got some teaching opportunities at a school teaching Excel and Word,  of course I had to pass the courses in order to teach so I got to work.  I noticed the Office 2010 is really an amazing product, the Ribbon is like an all you can eat buffet, and if you need something, it magically appears in the ribbon and gives you more options to choose from.

Now if you want or have to go the extra mile to become certified in any of the Office 2010 programs, you will find all kinds of golden nuggets that are rather easy to use once you know they are there.  Being a Linux guy I will still tell you to get Libre Office, but if you already have Office 2010 or use it at work, I think you are in a treat compared to earlier versions!