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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The TV Plan

I bought a nice TV a while ago. I still struggle with whether it was a wise purchase or not. Not because any kind of impact the purchase had on our pocket books, but rather the reflection it has on me as to what I put value in. Regardless, I spend some time watching that TV, and when I spend time watching it, I'm not doing other more valuable or constructive things. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think TV is bad; I enjoy CSI, House and Threshold just as much as the next guy, but my downfall is sports. And I'm starting to wonder if I spend too much time watching that TV. So I've come up with a new plan: I'm going to attempt to not watch TV by myself. Now, I've already talked myself in to making exceptions for football and major events from other sports, such as the world series, but I'm going for the general idea of spending more time doing other more constructive things. So I'm hoping to be doing more blogging, reading and working from home (you can never get away, especially not if you want to be in charge somewhere someday). So far tonight I'm doing great, but it's also the first day executing my new plan. But I have to take a little credit, the Astro's and Card's are (or is it were already...what time is it?) playing a crucial game 6 tonight. Time to go check ESPN.com.

Thought Lines

I've got a couple things on my mind lately and they're totally unrelated, or maybe they're mildly related....I'll let you decide.

The first and most important to me, is spiritual. If your not into that kinda thing scroll down to the 2nd item. If you're intrigued read on. I consider myself I pretty spiritual guy. I hold to my Christian faith pretty strongly. I might work it a little differently than a lot of Christians or church-goers the average person has met. I'm not a brow-beater, I don't take it over the top, that kind of thing. So here's my dilemma: I'm a business man by trade. It's someone else's business (right now), but I consider myself business minded and do what I can within the constraints of the current system. So the problem I run in to is how do I negotiate my job with my faith. At my job, the god is the almighty dollar, and it's so easy to get sucked in to that. At the workplace everyone looks out for themselves instead of others. As a man of faith, I care about others, and lives being changed by the name of Jesus Christ is what's valuable to me. So how do I negotiate the two together? Am I doing a good job? How do I tell? I've been wrestling with this question for the last six years (the extent of my professional life). I'm competitive in business, but I want to make sure I am competitive for the glory of God. I want to be successful in business, but I want to make sure I am succeeding for the glory of God. I question the value of what I do everyday, and I know I'm really bad at not getting caught up in the culture I work in. It's a constant battle.

The other thing on my mind is business related. My primary task right now is to determine user needs and outline and oversee design of systems that are put in place to meet those users needs. The problem is getting users to communicate what they need in a visionary way. They are tied so closely to what they know and can't visualize what might be that they are sometimes unable to provide insight as to what my be helpful. The problem is they are fantastic at the jobs they do on a daily basis, and I need those skills to translate into a working system that helps with those jobs. The next attempt, and it's the first time ever with this method at my current place of business, is to do some job observation. I sit with someone and just watch what they do and how they work for a couple three hours. (Yes, I see what I did just there grammatically and I do it all the time, so deal with it). Then I have to become the visualizer translating the efforts that I see to design and create a system that supports those efforts. I guess only time will tell how well I can do at that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Google Reader Verdict

I'm sticking with Newsgator. I don't like the way Google Reader is organized. On the left hand column of Newsgator are any feeds I've subscribed to with unread posts followed by the number of unread posts in parenthesis. You can tell which feeds I check on a daily basis 'cause you'll see them pop in with 1 or 2 new feeds whereas the ones I like to occasionally keep tabs on may have more than 10 - 15. With the Google reader, though, the left hand column is a list of each individual unread item. So if I have 15 unread items from a single feed, all fifteen are listed one by one.

I do love the keyboard shortcuts and the interface as always is impressive, but I'm not making the switch. For me right now Newsgator is where it's at.

Squidoo Revisited

I talked about Squidoo in a previous post. But don't take my word for it. Check out what A VC has to say about. While your at it, add him to your blog roll. He's one of my everyday reads, and there's always good stuff coming from his blog. Then check out what Jeff Jarvis has to say about it.

I still haven't heard anything about how or when beta testers are being brought on board, but my fingers are crossed. (It's hard to type with crossed fingers, maybe I should hold my breath instead.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Google Reader Beta

Google has now entered the feed reader foray. Check out the official announcement here.

I can't tell you what I think of it yet. I imported my opml file from Newsgator my current feed reader that I really like. There's no feeds in there yet, so I guess it will pull them from now moving forward. I'll play around for it for a couple days and post my thoughts.

The thing I found most interesting right off the bat was that the url for the reader home, or main, page when you're logged in is "/reader/lens". Maybe I haven't been reading enough Web 2.0 stuff, but it sure seems like "lens" is going to be a new buzz word.

Condo Update #2

Still no tenants. The place is starting to look very empty. The walls are bare, the window dressings have come down, and we're pretty much to the point where if we don't need it now, it goes into a box now.

The newspaper listing was a total waste of money, and I'm not surprised. Well, I take that back, I can't be sure it was a total waste of money. I got 3 calls. Two were for a condo in Warren that wasn't mine (Wixom, Warren, Wixom, Warren). They must have been listed right by eachother. The other call I received was from a rental placement company. They charge potential tenants to help the locate a place to rent that meets their needs. I haven't received a call from anyone as a result of that conversation, but I still may. That's why I can't say the add was a total waste of money.

The signs are back out for the weekend. They got picked up again Monday morning because we forgot to grab them Sunday night. I'm thinking my next step is to list it on forrent.com. We'll see what happens.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Squidoo

I think Seth Godin has the start of something big, or at the very least an idea that's worth reading about. I could try to translate and explain, but why do that when he wrote an ebook that explains it, read it here.

Why do I think this is so big? Well, the start of his ebook tells a story of shopping for an espresso machine via google that could easily be a methaphor for my experience this week of trying to figure out how to install PHP on a Windows XP machine running IIS. I started by searching google for PHP, which took me to PHP.net. Of course there's a whole host of options for downloading, and how am I supposed to know, with my complete lack of experience with PHP, which package I want. I mean c'mon, I'm used to pre-packaged installers fed to me on a platter as a Windows user (now if only everything worked well, and was secure...a rant for another time). So I do what any other web developer would do, I go back to the google search results and click link after link for some useful information. Two days later I'm still getting errors trying to run PHP, and I'm tired of searching.

All this trouble from someone who feels like he speaks "search" pretty well. There's gotta be a more effective way to get this information, right? Well, I could check delicious. But there's no way to sort the list, or tell which links are actually going to help me get solutions to my problems. What I would give for a lens that pulls in all the useful information for me: all the files I need, recommended or required confirgurations and best of all instructions collected from various sources to help me resolve any and every problem I might face working with PHP in my environment.

The best part of the whole idea, in my opinion, is that charities can benefit. How that works doesn't appear clearly spelled out to me, but if it happens, I'm all for it.

I signed up to be a Squidoo beta tester. I'm hoping to be able to test my hand at lensmaking sooner than later. There's no indication of what the criteria is, so I'm hoping my name is one of the few pulled out of the hat. I strongly recommend you check this out, and subscribe to Seth's feed while you're at it.

I want meaning not clues. Read the ebook!