Spammers should get to know me better.

Pills conceptI am not sure this has happened for you but, my junk mail has really changed lately. No longer do I get ads for Canadian pharmacies or awkward male related products, probably because my spam filter deletes those before I see them. Gone are the days of Russian brides and women eager to talk to me. I now see emails to save on replacement windows from Lowes and Oprah’s diet secrets. Perhaps the spammers have learned that we really don’t care to buy drugs from faraway places, or the market for those little pills is limited. I think the topics are getting closer to something I might actually click on. Now if they get to sending me ways to buy Cuban cigars or join the international chocolate of the month club, they might actually get me to click on the link. Of course you know the links are usually a malware script meant to fill your computer with garbage but the lure of things I actually want might sucker me into their trap. It would at least make me think about it more that learning how Oprah has lost weight. By the way I know how Oprah loses the weight, she pays someone to do it.

Company, chose your technology wisely.

macIn my current role in IT I am the guy who checks out all the new tech to see if it is something we want to deploy to our users. My group sets the computer standards for everyone in the company. That is for the most part. It used to be that IT set the standards and no one questioned why we used this brand or that computer, however those times have changed. Today, Christmas rolls around and everyone shows up with the latest device and wants me to “hook them up”! The other way is anyone with a C in their title sees something on a commercial and buys one. All of these things are cool, I get it. They also make my job a living nightmare. The more of the “same” computers I have the less it takes for me to support them. Ford created the assembly line to speed up and make the building of cars repeatable and I do the same with support. I can crank out computers with the same software and hardware for the masses. Once I have to “customize” every computer the time it takes for me to set them up and service them goes way up. I don’t mind if my company wants to allow a fully custom world of computers, which is their decision. What most companies don’t understand is the increase in cost that it brings and they certainly aren’t OK with paying for it. Like I said, I don’t mind the decision, I just think it should be an informed one.

The fix or toss dilemma.

holygrailI am not a member of Green Peace and I don’t wear cloths made of hemp, but I do like to recycle and I try to keep the throw away purchases to a minimum. As good as I want to be it isn’t always the easiest to do what Al Gore is yelling at me is best. For example I bought a little book light at Walmart to shine on the screen of my treadmill. I found out after I bought the treadmill that the screen which shows your miles and time doesn’t have a light in it so it is hard to read. So for a quick fix I bought a little book light that I could shine on it to be able to read how far I had gone. This thing has lasted about a year on the batteries it came with but this week the light was so dim I could no longer read the screen. I opened the case and took a picture with my phone of the batteries I needed. Today at Walmart I found the batteries, it takes three and they had a set for five dollars and change. Here is the problem, the light sells for two dollars. So I can buy a new light for less than half, batteries included or just the batteries for way more. Look, I don’t want to artificially inflate the price of things so we won’t throw them away but when something new is way cheaper than getting the old one fixed, I’m gonna contribute to the local landfill.

Take your flat footballs and shove it!

little-flat-footballI usually start my day by turning on the local news, when I get to work I visit a few sites to see what is going on in the world. Yemen is in trouble, Iraq, Iran, among other Middle East countries. Health care in the UK is collapsing, we are eighteen trillion in debt, Social Security disability insurance is broke, terrorists are being hunted in Europe, and thousands are being slaughtered in Africa. Are any of these the top story? No, the top story is that the footballs were under inflated in the AFC championship game. Look, I love football but we have to get our priorities straight. We have major issues going on in our country and around the world and all we will get is a congressional hearing on footballs. It is time for us to rise up and tell our elected official to stop screwing around and fix some of these things. Otherwise we need to vote these clowns out and get someone in that will! If we continue to be distracted by the trivial, we will wake up one day and find everything we love and cherish, including football, is gone!

The art of work!

Acrylic dentureMy dad was a dental technician. That meant he made false teeth for people who needed them. He had a place of business but he also used to make some in our home. He had turned the back of the garage into a lab for him to work out of. I used to love to go in there and check out all the stuff he used, drawers full of fake teeth of various shades, plaster and some pink powder stuff you mixed with a liquid that would heat up and harden for the “gum” looking base of the teeth. One time my dad explained to me that he didn’t put all the teeth perfectly straight, he would offset one tooth slightly to make them look real. I realized some years later that what he was doing was like an art form with each piece unique. Today dentures are probably made by some 3D printer that punches them out like widgets. Even if they have programmed in a little variation it is still not unique or as crafted as what my dad was doing, and to me that is a shame. I know I am sounding old right now, but all of our technology and advances are making some things better, and making us worse. We are losing the art of using our hands, craftsmen and tradesmen learned under someone who had done it for years and they learned to build and create things we needed and in many cases unique things of beauty that were made to last. Today we punch them out by the thousands and throw them away as soon as we are tired of them. I know the reality of the cost of labor, and understand that today I can’t afford quality or artistry, but I wish more of us could earn our living with our hands, that way we would see more of the artistry in us all.

The road most travelled

NX_cyclist_sidePerhaps I am a big chicken or a little paranoid, but I get freaked out riding a bicycle on a main road. Where I live there is only one lane in each direction and they have no shoulder at all. It is tight just with cars on the road, however because it is in the trees and not as populated it is a popular riding area for bicyclists. You come up and over a hill and there will be a guy in bike attire and helmet right in your lane. I give them as much space as I can but I have seen times where traffic doesn’t get over and two cars pass each other while passing one of these cyclists. It makes me cringe, I always fear the bike guy is going to end up in the ditch with a pretzel for a bike and spine. This is why I don’t ever ride on these roads. I talked to a guy I met who was one of these bicycling enthusiasts, he told me horror stories about friends who ended up with broken bones from riding on these roads. The questions he didn’t answer was, so why do you do it? To me, if there is a high chance of injury and death from your hobby, you need to pick another hobby. Perhaps it isn’t actually the hobby but just like in life, if it isn’t safe or wise you should probably pick a different road!

A geek and his backpack!

205059_1_1I think it is firmly established that I am a computer geek. I work on them all day and for fun, I work on them most nights. This also means I carry a backpack. I decided I need to carry something smaller so I didn’t have to lug that big thing around, maybe due to age, it just seems to be heavier lately. So I purchased a smaller courier style bag and started to transfer my things. This is where I realized what was really going on. The three empty tins of mints were my first clue, I had seen an article about carrying headphones in a tin to keep them from tangling. Five video adapters, you never know what setup they have when you need to do a presentation, and three power cords for devices I carry. I pulled out an 8.5 x 11 notebook of lined paper for note taking, and a 264 page book on programming. I also have two checkbooks from my various businesses, three sets of business cards from my employer and my businesses, not to mention the external hard drive, wireless mouse and multiples of USB thumb drives and one credit card reader. I have not listed everything, but I think you get the picture. No wonder the pack seemed heavy, it was! Maybe I need to stop running around with my life on my back and get back to just the essential. This should help my back and my life.

Meetings that numb the mind!

Human BrainThere are meetings I go where I know they are going to be high jacked. Sometimes it can be the topic, but a lot of times it is a person. Some call them rabbit trails, whatever you call them some just can’t help themselves. No matter how small their part in the meeting they have to make anything that requires and time or effort on their part the biggest subject. I am not always sure that they know they do this, but other times I can’t help but think they do it on purpose. The pontificating level can be measured on a scale which mathematically can be stated as (ego x number of people in the room % effort really needed). I also find that depending on how technical the area they work in is, the more tech jargon they throw in to talk over everyone else in the room. The only hope is that the meeting is early in the day so you aren’t sleepy and not later in the week when you’re already full of a weeks’ worth of this manure. Luckily I am sitting in one right now, early on a Monday, but I think by the end of this one I will be well beyond my weekly quota.

Getting our self worth from a Facebook quiz.

Big QuestionHave you seen all the surveys popping up on Facebook lately? These things want you to find out what character you are in your favorite movie or your intelligence quota or even what words you use say where you are from. These are great time wasters, I have spent hours finding out I am Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings and I think I should live in the Atlanta area! Many of my friends have taken these and I am sure that if they turned out in some way they like they have shared with all of us the results. The problem with these is that they are as thin as single ply toilet paper. We take them and if they give us some result which is flattering we like them, if it doesn’t we remember that it is just a stupid Facebook time waster thing. We should regard all the results from these, and for those of us who are a little older, the old magazine quizzes as nothing more than a distraction from what we should really be doing. It can be fun to be associated with one of your favorite characters or feel a momentary boost from your intelligence quota (whatever that means) just don’t let it distract you from real self-evaluation and improvement.

High School pranks.

background-with-school-bus_fJHyVxiuMy son and I commute to work every day. He is a teacher at a local school “The Classical Academy”. As we were driving into work today we noticed that someone had removed the  “C L” and the “ICAL” from the sign. We both laughed at the prank which was somewhat humorous, but will ultimately get some kid or kids in trouble. The reason they will get caught is not because they have cameras on the sign or even that someone may have seen them. No they will be caught because they won’t be able to keep it to themselves. The prank is never done for the prank sake, it is done to be able to brag to fellow classmates. So it will make the rounds and someone’s parent will hear and call the school and turn them in. They will get in trouble, they will take the walk of shame to the principal’s office. The problem is it will be a badge of pride to them and no matter what the school does next year someone else will do something equally malicious, because we all know that to most High School kids, High School is not about the education.