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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Do You Del.icio.us?

It's kind of like "Do you Google?" but better.

Google search, as I've been lead to understand it, essentially uses a page rank algorithm that decides how high a page should display in their search results based on how many times other people link to it. Del.icio.us on the other hand is essentially a repository of links that have been collected and tagged by people, including me.

Del.icio.us is better than Google because people have decided that there's value in these links. Let's say for example that I want to find information on, by and from venture capitalists. I could search Google for "venture capital" and then I'd probably end up having to slog through about 10 pages of links to find maybe a handful of valuable ones. If I want to check out what other people are finding on the web on venture capital that they've deemed valuable, I can just type http://del.icio.us/tags/venturecapital into my address bar. The result is all the links that people have tagged "venturecapital" via del.icio.us that they've found useful or interesting. It's almost as though people have gone through the Google links before me and filtered through all the muck to glean out the best of the web.

Because of this I find that when I want immediate, useful information my first reaction is to check del.icio.us for it. As more and more people begin to use it, and as del.icio.us continues to find ways to build on the social tagging phenomenon I truly believe that Google will find their very foundation of search shaken, and they'll be too far behind del.icio.us' database of tagged links to ever catch up. The result will either be that Google (and Yahoo! and M$N) will end up having to pay some sort of royalty to access del.icio.us' databases for search purposes, or del.icio.us will replace Google as the search engine of tomorrow.

Well I'm on the topic, there are a couple of other things about del.icio.us that make it so great. Now, when you want to search for a topic, you can save for yourself all the links you found on that topic that were useful to you. So if you were to want to learn about the programming language Ruby, you could first search del.icio.us, then tag any of the links yourself that were useful to you with "ruby" and you can now reference those tags from your own del.icio.us page anytime. Another great feature is if you find something that would interest someone else that you know, you can tag that page for:turbobrown, and then I can go to a page that shows all the links people have tagged for me. In this way if you are trying to collaborate on something, or you are having people help you to collect useful links, they have a place they can store them to. It's really an amazing feature.

So back to my original question...do you del.icio.us? You should! (Don't worry, it gets easier to type the more you do it, I promise.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Oakland County Wireless

Looks like Oakland County is getting ready to start their wireless project. We'll see how well this works, but it seems to me this is big time bad news for cable and dsl providers in these areas. Good thing I just moved from Wixom and now they decide to introduce county provided wireless there. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to get to me now on the Western-most edge of Oakland County in New Hudson.

Monday, November 28, 2005

FedEx Has Bad Policies

I was just in FedEx to pick up some concert tickets that they had attempted to deliver to my old address. While I was waiting in the ever growing line I observed an interaction that left me baffled.

A gentleman was attempting to ship two packages on behalf of his company. How this unlucky guy had gotten picked to do this job none of us will ever know. It was clear to me, however, that this was not something he had done before. He handed the FedEx employee his company's two packages and said he wanted to send them on the corporate account. The employee asked for the corporate account number and when the gentleman indicated that he didn't have it the employee asked for his ID and a business card. The gentleman had his ID but no business card. Apparently, according to this gentleman, his company doesn't issue business cards to people in his position. (This makes sense from any company's point of view of course; if a person doesn't need to hand out business cards why pay to have them made?) The FedEx employee indicated that he couldn't ship the packages on a corporate account without a business card, but if he would like the gentleman could pay by credit card. Of course I'm sure this guy knows he can pay with a credit card to ship packages via FedEx, but why pay with your personal credit card and go through the hassle of getting reimbursed when the company has a corporate FedEx account. The gentleman indicated that he didn't wish to pay for the shipping charges on his personal credit card and he wanted to know what his options were. The FedEx guy essentially told him that he has no other options and is ready to move on to the next customer.

Now here's where my story gets good. The gentleman then told the FedEx employee that he had his badge and asked if that would suffice. At this point, throughly enjoying myself, I expected the FedEx employee to say "Of course, that will work just fine." His response? Nope, it has to be a business card.

Now let's think through this and hopefully someone can help me make sense of it. We've all gotten those offers for free business cards, right? I know I have. What is to prevent me from getting a business card that looks very professional that indicates that I work for some company that I don't actually work for. Well, if they had a FedEx account, with my ID and that business card I could ship whatever packages I wanted at their expense. (My, that's not such a bad.....nevermind.) On the other hand, what better way to prove that I work for a company than to show my badge with a photo on it. It has the company name and a picture of yours truly, or in this case the gentleman trying to ship the package. This proof of employment seems much harder to me to fake, and should be an acceptable method of proving you work for a company.

Well, needless to say it's not acceptable to FedEx and the gentleman, left with no other choice, paid for the packages with his own money and collected every shred of evidence to prove that he had done so for future reimbursement purposes I'm sure.

Now I'm not sure if this employee is being overly difficult, or if he is so constricted by FedEx rules that he is not allowed to step out on such a solid limb and accept a company badge as proof of employment. My guess though is it's the rules and employees are forced to abide by them.

If I was that gentleman I would recommend to that company that we take our business to UPS, and I intend to do the same. Why unnecessarily create hassle for a perfectly legitimate customer. There is just no excuse.
For more on the awesome things FedEx does, visit FedEx Furniture and read about how they've hassled that poor guy.

[Update]: Immediately after posting this I tried the link and discovered that it appears the FedEx successful brought the site down. So you can read all about the situation and see some pictures at Wired.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Nieces

Our nieces spent the night last night, and they're with their grandmas over the next couple of nights so that their parents can have a much deserved weekend away. They are so cute and such a joy to be around.



Playing with the balloon


Pretending not to notice the camera


How cute


What a smile


Playing the computer


Dinner Time

Obviously the red-eye reduction on our camera doesn't work very well. Anyone know of any programs that do red-eye reduction that I could use?

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope yours was as wonderful as mine. My in-laws all came over and Shannon, her Mom and her sister combined to provide us with an amazing meal. Before dinner her dad and brother hung the mirrors in our upstairs bathrooms. They look great. The countertop to ceiling mirror makes our master bath look larger. I guess it pays to know the right people *grin*.

The day after Thanksgiving is one of the few days I look forward to leftovers. Day-old turkey and mashed potatoes....yum!

We just set up the Christmas tree. My rule is no Christmas music or decorations until after Thanksgiving. Suprisingly enough it's one of the few "rules" that I have that Shannon is willing to abide by, 100.3 WNIC on the other hand refuses to abide by that rule. There was no shopping by the Brown family today. Our nieces spent the night last night so Shannon has been playing mom all day. It's a practice she's been relatively used to since marrying me a little bit over a year ago.

I have a lot to be thankful for! I'm so thankful for my wife Shannon. She is so much my opposite that as a team we make a complete person. Where I falter (spending too much, being organized, etc.) she steps right in and carries us along. She's such an amazing woman and wife, and I never could have believed I would be so blessed in marriage to have a friend and partner as wonderful as her. I can't say enough about how much she means to me.

I'm thankful for my dad who sacrificed so much of himself to work two jobs during my childhood so that we could have not just what we needed, but a lot of what we wanted. It's amazing as an adult to look at what kind of personal sacrifice working two jobs is. It also allowed me to get a great education which, combined with his setting an example of a solid work ethic, helped get me to where I am now.

I'm thankful for my mom, who is absolutely the best. She is so soft-hearted and other people's feelings are always more important to her than her own. She taught me to have compassion for people, including the forty some-odd foster children my parents welcomed in our home over the years. And I'm thankful that my mom is such an amazing cook, blessing me over and over again.

I'm thankful for my sister who I've continued to develop a stronger friendship with over the last few years more so than ever. I love to talk to her about her life experiences and her perspectives about human resources and business, even if we don't agree during every discussion. She is such a wealth of knowledge and she shares some of the best information I can gather. She's also a great example to me of what hard work and dedication along with a heck of a lot of smarts can do for someone.

I'm thankful for my brother Josh who brings a unique perspective and definitely lots of humor to every situation.

And I'm thankful for my brother Seth. He's such a blessing to me. It's interesting to talk to him and figure out if I was like that at his age. We have such a great time hanging out together, and it's amazing to watch him grow and imagine all the great things he will do with his life.

I am truly blessed, and I thank God that he saw fit to bless me so abundantly.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where were you?

I was there and it was crazy. It was an experience like one I've never been a part of before, and one I hope to never experience again. I'm a huge sports fan and last night I was given the opportunity to go to the Detroit Red Wings game. I, of course, bit at the chance to go immediately, calling my wife and leaving her a message letting her know I'd be home late. It had been at least a couple years since I last went to a game, and just last week I was talking with a friend about how sorely I had missed it.

The Predators had the Wings on their heels for most of what was played of the first period. Multiple quality scoring chances were theirs one of which lead to a goal. The Wings had a couple chances of their own, but they weren't passing well and if the game continued to play out how it was going it wasn't going to be good.

And then it happened. Our seats were across from the benches and the puck was in the corner to our left at the Nashville end. The Wings were fighting for the puck hoping to create a scoring chance. It was then that a murmur ran through the crowd and I noticed a commotion at the bench. Players were hopping onto the ice, Babcock was jumping up and down to get the officials attention to have them stop play. Staff, medical and otherwise, were rushing to the aide of some person, unseen by us, right by the door closest to the Red Wing goal.

At first it all seemed to happen so fast. "Someone fell from the stands," I heard one person ignorantly speculate. "No, it's a player," came a rebuttall from someone else near them. None of us really knew, and no one official was saying anything. The Red Wings bench cleared and both teams headed to the locker room with the exception of a few players including Yzerman and Shanahan. That's when time started to slow.

As the players cleared out of the way it was then we could see something was dramatically wrong. Medical personnel were giving someone CPR. We could see one them repeatedly doing chest compressions. "They took off a jersey," someone said, "it's a player". "Lots of fans are wearing jersey's," someone else replied, still leaving us with plenty of doubt and certainly fear for the condition of whomever it was. People around me were frantically trying to make cell phone calls, mostly to no avail due to either bad signals or overloaded circuits, no one is quite sure which. The rumor that it was a player was confirmed when one member of personnel cast aside a set of shoulder pads.

Bits of news rolled in as calls started connecting, but we were still getting mixed messages. It was definitely Jiri Fischer, but there was debate as to whether he was hit by a stick or the puck, or if he had experienced a stroke. The ambulance rolled up to the zamboni entrance and medical staff and a woman emerged (we later learned that woman was Jiri's fiance). We watched as Wings players skated across the ice, grabbed the stretcher and skated it hurredly over to the bench. At that point we saw the IV and felt as though that was a good sign: the heart was pumping and blood was flowing. After getting Jiri on the stretcher they took him down the locker room hallway and the ambulance pulled away to meet them there. That's when they finally broke the silence over the PA saying essentially that the ice would be resurfaced and play would be resumed after a between period-like break. "They're not playing this game," someone near me said. Still, we waited, mostly for official news about what was going on.

The clock started and we watched it tick down, and still we waited. Time ran out, play should be resuming, nothing was happening, and still we waited. Then, probably seven minutes or so after the clock had first shown zeros, the announcement came across the PA the Jiri Fischer had suffered a seizure, but he was stable, responsive and on his way to Detroit Receiving hospital. Not two minutes later they announced that the NHL, Management and players had decided to cancel the game.

We walked out amazed at the events of the evening, everyone mildly disappointed at the cancellation, but certainly completely understanding. I don't know how you respond, but it's always events like this that make me realize how fragile life and health are. Jiri is a 25 year-old athlete fit and toned and in pristine physical condition. I am a 25 year-old professional who sits at a desk all day and in poor physical condition. It definitely makes you think, and it's a sporting experience I won't forget for a long time.

You can read more about last nights events on the Detroit Red Wings website, at ESPN.com, in the Detroit Free Press here and here and in the Detroit News.