Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

The photo in this blog post came from a post I found online, but I thought it perfectly demonstrates what Memorial Day really means:


It is easy for us to say, "Happy Memorial Day" as many of us take the day off to spend time with family and friends.  But, at least once today, please stop and remember that the reason we even have to have a Memorial Day is because we have lost many loved ones on the fields of battle.  Somewhere, everywhere, there are husbands, wives, and children who spend the day in agony over the people they no longer have on this earth.  Memorial Day is a day of remembrance.  If you know the spouse, child, or parent of a fallen soldier, let them know how much you appreciate the sacrifice made in the name of serving for the United States of America.  Whether you agree with certain wars, battles, or military actions makes no difference.  Those that have given their lives were called to duty and they died as a result of that.  There are no politics that can ever justify the loss of life and there is no loss of life that should ever be darkened by one's own political beliefs.  Today is Memorial Day. It really is that "simple."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sharing: Of Phones and Codecs

I don't usually share the posts I create for my job journal.  I keep a blog specifically for my job because we have to journal what we do as a way to show our worth as technology coordinators in the state.  I do not see that as a bad thing, especially after attending a conference in which private sector folks showed the cost benefit of doing such a thing.  In fact, one of the presenters gave a copy of their "Billings" software to each participant.  The software allows the user to keep timelogs of how they spent their time. In the private sector, it is used to show billable hours.  I see the same thing for my job and I plan to start using it.  In the meantime, though, I post blog entries.  Now, I said all that to say this:

I recently had an experience with a Verizon rep regarding my boss' phone.  Rather than rehash it here, I will provide a link to it so you can feel free to read along:
http://keepingupwiththejob.blogspot.com/2011/05/may-20-2011-of-phones-and-codecs.html

I understand (well, no, I don't, but I pretend to) that service reps have a script they have to follow.  But, when a customer walks in and explains in DETAIL what they've done and what the results have been, why can't the reps simply skip ahead in their "step-by-step guide to troubleshooting" and just do what the customer wants?  Sure, if I had just walked in and said, "This doesn't work," then YES, walk through your steps.  But, come on! I explained everything I had done, and how I had REPEATEDLY come to the same end - failed update.  In retrospect, I should have just looked online for the "Fascinate Hard Reset" and done it myself.  But, that is what support is supposed to do.  Right?  Isn't that why they are there?  Instead, the rep screws up the phone and hands it to me.  Not even, "Sorry."  Just, "you'll have to contact your government account rep."  If I hadn't already handed Verizon the E-Rate contract for 2011-2012, I'd probably cancel them based on this one experience alone.

In any case, persistence is the key to defeating many tech issues, and this was no exception. I found the software I needed, and decided to go at myself - after all, the phone was not working so what's the worst I could do to it?  How about fix myself...

But, I shouldn't have HAD to fix it myself.  And, that is where my frustration lies.  Oh well, at least she is back up and running (or was when I left things for the weekend)!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

American Idol - Top 3


Name-----Dave----Shan----Emily---
Scotty----Y-------Y--------Y-----
Lauren----?-------Y--------Y-----
Haley-----N-------Y--------Y-----
Scotty----?-------Y--------Y-----
Lauren----Y-------Y--------Y-----
Haley-----Y-------Y--------Y-----


Scotty - Very well done!

Lauren - Shan says it was not her best, but she likes her.

Haley - I'm not thinking so. Sorry, she's no Led Zep. Ouch, what a spill! But, give her props for keepin' on!

Scotty - Kiss me or not was okay, but not great for me. Sounds like he was trying too hard to make it "country" even though it already is.

Lauren - Wow! Very well done! Man, this girl can sing when the song matches her vocal style!

Haley - She definitely has a Stevie Nicks voice. This was a great song for her! Super!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

5 Gadgets Gone in 5 Years? I don't think so - here's why.

An "article" written on Engadget claims that five gadgets around today will be gone in five years (more in a bit).  I put article in quotes because the whole thing reads like it was underwritten by one of the cell companies (link to article is at end of this post).

So, what are the five gadgets?  In-car/portable GPS units, CD/DVD media and drives, stand-alone wireless routers, netbooks, and e-readers complete the list.  In every case, high-speed delivery through cellular and/or service provider equipped devices will replace the aforementioned "gadgets."

Here is my take on this:

Portable GPS units - not going anywhere, even with the new signage the gov't is requiring.  How does new signage help me get from Prescott, AR, to Colorado Springs, CO? It won't.  Frankly, I love my portable GPS. Why? My car does not have in-dash GPS and not every car will have it in 5 years. I can lend my GPS to anyone, anywhere.  I can still talk on my phone while my portable GPS keeps humming along.  Not everyone wants to have a smart phone with gps.  The battery in my portable GPS lasts days LONGER than the battery in my Android-based phone ever dreamed about.

CD/DVD units/media - So, Speedtest.net says the avg American surfs at 11 Mbps?  They obviously did not take into account the folks in rural areas with ONLY dial-up (or worse, sat net).  I have "high speed" internet through DSL and my max rate is 1.5 Mbps.  That's right. Oh, sure, better than 56k dial-up that my neighbor (out of range for DSL) has, but still.... No *way* am I going to sit for 8-10 hours downloading applications, games, etc.  Oh, sure, I've done it.  I've messed with STEAM (see other steam-related posts on here), and it is a nightmare on my current DSL.  Aside from speed, though, I *want* the media.  Why should I pay $50 or $60 for software and NOT get media!? I'm already not happy that manuals have all but disappeared.  Why am I paying so much for 1's and 0's?? I don't think so.  We were told for generations (okay, for a generation) that the price was due to printing costs with manuals. Now what's the excuse?  Heck, even if the game were available at $14.95,  I still want MEDIA.  Nevermind that the operating system itself comes on media!  Oh, sure, you could boot from a USB drive, assuming your computer at the time can boot to USB.  Granted, in five years, I can see that. 

Stand-alone wireless routers - I will always buy stand-alone wireless routers. Why?  Because if I have to use the one "provided" by my carrier, then I have to pay (MONTHLY, no less) my carrier for it. Not happening if it is in my realm of possibilities.  I have my Wii, three laptops, a netbook, an ipad, and four ipods connected through my current wireless router.  It cost me $40.  Not per month.  $40 period.  Five years from now?  It will still cost $40. Sure, the speeds/distances will be higher, but the price point won't be.  Besides, what about small-medium businesses?  What about covering large areas - buildings, houses, etc.  Yeah, wifi routers aren't going anywhere.

Netbooks - Ah, yes, the netbooks. Weren't those already supposed to be dead?  Alas, they are alive and kicking. Why? Because you can still get one WITH a keyboard (gasp!) for less than the latest apple-powered mobile slate.  What about the speed? Um, netbooks are running dual-core processors, have more RAM and more storage. Oh, and they run flash. Oh, and they have (another gasp) USB ports. Oh, and built-in video out to projectors without a dongle.  Don't get me wrong: I love iPads and other slate tablets. But they have a place.  Heck, how many people drop $500 on the unit then another $70+ for a case with keyboard.  Heck, at that rate, you could have a laptop let alone a netbook.  Netbooks will become faster with even more storage over the next five years, not to mention offer up a myriad of other features as times change.

E-Readers - The death of Kindle? At $115 currently? I don't think so.  Not everyone wants to deal with the heavier, clunkier tablets. Some people (I know, yet another shocker) just want to... read.  I have long said that the iPad and other tablets are great at doing all kinds of things, but at a price - weight, cost, glare.  In five years?  E-Readers will have evolved, most likely breaking the $69.99 barrier for the entry-level model - which in five years will feature the bells and whistles of today's high-end models (and/or have features we don't even know about yet). 

No, I don't think any of these gadgets will be gone in five years.  They may not quite look the way they do today, but they will still be around.  In fact, whatever the iteration of "blogging" is five years from now, I'll re-visit this and see where we stand.

Link to referenced article:
http://gadgetbox.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/10/6611879-five-gadgets-that-will-be-dead-in-five-years

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

American Idol - Down to 4

As Ton Loc would say: Less Do It...


Name----Dave----Shan----Emily---
James----Y--------Y-------Y------
Haley----Y--------Y-------Y-----
Scotty---?--------Y-------Y-----
Lauren---?--------Y-------Y-----
Haley----?--------Y-------?-----
Scotty---Y--------Y-------Y-----
Lauren---?--------Y-------X-----
James----Y--------Y-------X-----

James - A bit of a theatrical performance, but pretty good overall.

Haley - Hey, a little Michael going on here! She did a nice job!

Scotty - I am a Scotty fan, but I don't think this song works for him. The timeliness with Osama's execution is good, but I'm giving a so-so.

Lauren - Very rough start. Once she got of that low range, she really started to shine. Not super, but not bad.

Haley - Well, she definitely made this a psycho song. Congrats, I guess.

Scotty - Nice! Oh, I am liking this one. Very good stuff here! Of course, I am partial to the Bruno version, but he did very well!

Lauren - Well, we cant tell about hers. It wasn't bad what we could make of it. Evidently the bad weather messed with the signal.

James - This guy rocks. Period. Like him or not, he is very, very good at what he does. Great ending to the show!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers! 
Some are still here with us (like my own Mom!!),
Some have moved on from this Earth,
Some have their children nearby,
And others have their children spread around the world.
Some have children we know,
Some have children we've never known.
Some have children that have passed on from this Earth,
Some have children they've never met.
Some have children that are four-legged friends.
Some have children that are not their own, but they love them as though they were.


Being a mother is not about last names or bloodlines.  It is about providing for the young ones placed in their charge.  Some mothers are "good at it" and others might need some help.  But, no matter what, the person we call "Mother" is the person that loved us enough to give us life (even if that life was cut short) and to care for us as best SHE could.

I hope each and every MOM out there has a wonderful day today - whether that means being treated to a meal, treated to a movie, treated to some family time, or simply in thinking of their children and of their children thinking of them.

Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, my Mother-in-Law, and to the mother of my children!! I love you all.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

American Idol Top 5

I don't where I've been with these, but Here's what we say:

Name-----Dave----Shan----Emily---
James-----N-------?-------?------
Jacob-----N-------N-------Y------
Lauren----Y-------Y-------Y------
Scotty----Y-------Y-------Y------
Haley-----Y-------Y-------Y------
James-----Y-------Y-------Y------
Jacob-----Y-------Y-------Y------
Lauren----Y-------Y-------Y------
Scotty----?-------Y-------Y------
Haley-----Y-------Y-------Y------


Not a fan of James' first choice and I don't think he did all that good singing it. Now, his second song - whoa. Powerful and amazing. Very well done, er well until the beginning of the chorus. Ended great, and the emotion sucked you in.

On Jacob's first song, Shan said, "I guess I'm gonna go with NO. PS, I love Jacob." LOL! Like, James, the second song is way better than the first. This was a great rendition of the song. Super!

Lauren is hitting it hard on her first song. Very nicely done. I can see this on her album. Wow, I loved her second song, too. So much emotion and control. There is a hunger and a longing that she drew out of the song. Wow!

Scotty nailed "Gone" for sure! Excellent job. Wow! Certainly the most FUN that he's shown! His second song was just okay for me. Not the best, but at least it was a karaoke version of "Always On My Mind."

Wow, Haley's Gaga song was great! Very well done. Emily said she Loves, loves, loves Haley's singing. :-) "House of the rising sun??" Wow, really? Hmm. Emily LOVES it. Ah, and there is the growl we've come to expect in every single, cotton-picking time. Come on, man. Just once, keep the growl out of the song.