Archive for the 'life stories' Category

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To Do List: 1. Move to Austin

For those of you that aren’t in the know about Austin, read this: To Do List: 1. Move to Austin. Great little write up about why Austin is soooo cool to live in.

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Some stuff is just easier bought offline

I bought a new Rainbird sprinkler system controller a few weeks ago, and I blew the fuse that came with it during installation… but luckily, it came with a spare. So, I used the spare after I got it installed.

Now, two-three weeks later, I came home after a weekend trip out of town, and the fuse is blown.

So, I figure I’ll look them up on Google and just order a set of 5, and be done with it (instead of taking the time this weekend to research where the short is and fix it properly, of course)…

Ever try looking for a “#3AG 0.5 AMP” fuse online?

This is what the sprinkler controller calls for… and I need to buy 5.

So, I just spent 15-20 minutes online, looking for a place that sells them.

I found plenty of fuse distributors that’ll sell me all sorts of fuses if I’ll buy lots of 100 or 1,000, but I can’t find any retailers that sell these fuses online, through Google. Amazon doesn’t seem to sell them either. I found a few places that’ll let me order them via a fax order form… I also found a place that seems to have what I want to buy, but doesn’t have a photo of the item that I can look at, so I’m not sure that I’d be buying the right thing… and I don’t want to spend this money twice.

So, I think I’ll check at the local grocery store tonight to see if they have them, and if they don’t, I’ll head to Home Depot, and then an auto parts store, in that order.

Some things are still better bought offline. At least I know one of those three stores will have what I’m looking for.

update: found what I needed this morning at my local RadioShack… and the $2 purchase came with some free advice from the guy behind the counter… again, some things are easier bought offline.

Anger

“Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—this is not easy.”
– Aristotle

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DaddyTypes

DaddyTypes – the weblog for new dads.

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Being Poor

Being Poor – wow.

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Loft News

My friend, Drew Moynihan launched a new website this week: Loftywords.com. Loftywords.com is a website that’ll follow the loft industry and the loft lifestyle as it progresses across the country…

Congrts to Drew in his new endeavor… pretty cool that he’s hanging his own shingle out there again, and I wish him the best of luck.

If you’re interested in the development of the loft industry, as an investor, or a resident, look at Loftywords.com.

Housing Market Downturn

A list of things to do to protect yourself from a potential housing market downturn. Good read from the WSJ folks that power the RealEstateJournal.com website.

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Army Terms

For those of you that know me… you know that I was in the Army and National Guard in the past, so you might hear me say the word “Hooah,” but you might not know what it means… so here’s a definition for you (you won’t find it in the Dictionary):


Hooah (whoı-a) part. {slang, Army creole hıuıah, contr. Hallelujah, used by soldiers, esp. airborn/rangers} 1. Referring to or meaning anything except “no”. 2. What to say when at a loss for words. 3. Glad to meet you, welcome. 4. Sir I do not know sir but will look into it sir. 5. I am not listening. 6. That’s enough of your drivel, sit down. 7. Stop snivelling. 8. Oh shit! You have got to be kidding. 9. Yes. 10 oh well. 11. Thank you, your welcome. 12. Go to the next slide. 13. You’ve taken the correct action. 14. I don’t know what that means, but am too embarrassed to ask for clarification. 15. Amen

And one more for you to know what I did when I was in the Army:

Tanker (tangk’er) n. 1. A dusty, crusty, grease-covered, dirty, sweaty, bright eyed, fuzzy faced, haircut-needing, beer-drinking, underrated, over-worked, underpaid, oversexed, little s%#* who can take a Tank and do more battlefield damage in ten† minutes than a grunt squad can do all day.

That Good Ol’ Baylor Line

‘The following song is sung to the tune of the Baylor Fight Song by Aggies everywhere:

That good ol’ Baylor line
We’re 40 points behind
We’re gonna lose another game
Our team’s a waste of time

The coach sends in the play
To hear the church bells chime
We’re gonna lose another game
That good old Baylor line.

Just wanted to share that with you as it brings back memories for me…

Heavy Paper

I sat in the Admiral’s Club at O’hare airport for 4+ hours today… rediculous how a little rain can totally screw up the air traffic to Texas for that long, but anyways…

I was quite impressed by the paper quality of the New York Times here in Chicago… Amazing paper quality, and I used to work for a newspaper, so I know these things…

If I could get this good of paper with my local paper, I’d think of subscribing again.

It’s funny how the little things matter when you’ve been stuck at the airport bar for this long.

Birraporetti’s

Just taking the opportunity to point out one of my favorite italian restaurants in Houston, Texas (I’m going to eat lunch there next week) to the good folks out there on the internet.

Birraporetti’s used to be a place my dad took my kid brother and I when we were really young to have Shirley Temple and Roy Roger’s drinks… it was always a treat, and lots of fun.

I’ve rediscovered Birraporetti’s again in the past 6 months, and I have to tell you that I still love it… it still reminds me of those old days, and serves great food and drinks.

If you’re in Houston looking for a good place to eat in downtown Houston, stop by Birraporetti’s .

Refined Taste

I was reading Iceberg by Clive Cussler last night, and came across a new word, so I looked it up today:

bon vivant means “A person with refined taste, especially one who enjoys superb food and drink.”

Good word that I’ll have to use more often in the future:

“My best friend Josh could be considered a bon vivant.”

My Blue Sportcoat

I own a blue sportcoat. This sportcoat is a pretty simple, blue sportcoat that I bought at Men’s Warehouse a year ago or two. It’s not flashy… the buttons on the sleeve are blue, not gold. It doesn’t have an embedded MP3 player built into it. It also doesn’t sing or dance on its own.

It’s my blue sportcoat, and it just works.

It’s probably the best wardrobe investment I’ve ever made, and I find myself throwing it on many times a week. When I’m “business casual” I use the sportcoat to dress up just a little more for most meetings. I also wear my blue sportcoat whenever I fly, as I’m not so concerned with the sportcoat getting torn or ripped, or spilled on, or stained, as I would be with one of my suit coats.

So, my advice to you: Buy a blue sportcoat. It’ll pay for itself over and over.

I closed my biggest deal ever wearing this blue sportcoat.

Buying Rechargeable Batteries

I needed to buy some rechargeable batteries today. I thought about stopping into a store to buy them, but then I realized, I didn’t really know where to buy them. Radio Shack? Best Buy? CompUSA? Circuit City? Fry’s?

So, I came home from lunch and started with Amazon.com, mainly because I have an unused gift certificate there. Amazon’s great for some things, but finding products that you aren’t sure of how to search for, it’s not. Search for “rechargeable batteries” and you mainly get results for camera batteries, with a few normal sizes like “AA” or “C” but try as I could, I couldn’t find the chargers for “D” cell batteries, which is what I really need (the 3 month old’s toys go through batteries like a seive).

I turned to Google next, and viola. I found BatterySpace.com. Not only did BatterySpace.com have all of the batteries I might ever want to buy, but their Battery Knowledge page tells me what I need to know about the batteries I’m buying. They also have a couple of decent charging options.

So, I just ordered a new charger, with a multi-pack of different batteries, and 8 extra “D” cell batteries.

I like their site, and will let you know if the batteries are worth anything after I receive shipment.

(This post is posted for the benefit of other new parents, or soon-to-be parents looking for rechargeable batteries).

Happy New Year

Happy New Year folks.

Wondering where I’ve been?

Easy answer: Spending my leisure time with the 6 week old kid. It’s that simple.

I haven’t fallen out of love with blogging by any means, I just have fallen in love with my son, and thus, I’ve been holding him, playing with him, getting him to smile, bouncing him, changing him, trying to get him to sleep, or eat, or changing him (yes, I wrote that twice).

I’ve also been spending time updating our family website with pictures. Lots of them.

I did some counting today of how many pictures we’ve taken:

1,634 pictures taken since November 23, 2004
7 hours of video shot since then (and edited into about 30 minutes of useable video at this point)

Between May 23, 1998 and November 23, 2004, we took a total of about 3500 photos. That’s 3,500 photos over 6 years (give or take). We didn’t shoot any video in that same time frame.

Compare those two data points.

Anyone wanna buy stock in Kodak or Fuji now? Or maybe Canon or Epson?

Or, if you’re smart you’d buy it in Apple, as of those 1600+ photos we’ve taken, we’ve printed about 100 (in triplicate for the grandparents). And we ordered those photos from Apple through iPhoto. We also printed 4 Photo Books from iPhoto.

I’ve bought 50 songs from iTunes for use in the videos I’m making with iMovie, and I’m burning DVD’s for the grandparents with iDVD.

I thought I knew what Steve Jobs meant by “digital hub” a few years ago… boy was I wrong. I now know what he meant.

Wishing you all a good 2005… I’m sure I’ll get back to posting over here again soon.

p.s. my little birdies tell me that ThinkSecret’s predictions about a new sub $500 Mac are true… look for it in a few weeks.

New Kid equals New Camera

So, the kid is two weeks old as of yesterday. The day after we brought the kid home, I headed up to Fry’s for the after Thanksgiving sales.

I was in the market for a new digital camera. You see, the one we had was an old PowerShot S100 DIGITAL ELPH that we bought back when I worked for MacNN, in 2000. It’s a four year old digital camera and it’s definitely seen it’s better days.

I didn’t research this replacement purchase, as I knew from using the S100, that I wanted a Canon again, and that I really wanted an Elph again. So, I figured I’d get the top of the line Elph that was available when I walked in the door.

I needed the camera that day, because the old S100 just wasn’t giving me good enough photos, and I had a new kid to photograph. I wasn’t going to let myself kick myself for crappy photos in 20 years of my first child.

So, at Fry’s last Friday, I decided on buying the S500 for a few reasons:

1. All of my accessories for my S100 work on/in the S500. Same battery (I have two), same CF cards (I have 4 512MB cards), same form factor = same carrying case.
2. It’s Canon Elph, and I’ve never seen anything but good reviews of them (S100S500).
3. I already know the basics of the Elph controls and platform… point and shoot baby!
4. My best friend just bought S400 and really likes it.
5. It was on sale for $360. (I paid $500 for the first S100 I bought 5 years ago.)

I’m really pleased with the purchase so far, and have taken at least 50 pictures a day for the past two weeks (some of them are posted here).

Compare the older S100 photos with the newer S500 photos like:

This closeup of a friends’s kid [S100], versus this close up of my kid [S500].

Compare the way these two photos were shot in automatic mode:

S100 image of my dog, versus this S500 image of the dog and the kid. Notice the better range of colors from the S500 and overall better image?

I took these shots with the new S500 without a flash and using the automatic features of the camera: Tree ornaments and the kid with the tree and a friend. I would have never attempted those shots with the S100, because my experience with shots like this one didn’t turn out the way I’d have liked them to.

At the end of the day, I’m an amateur photographer, and always will be, but I want to take good shots when I do take them, and I think the S500 will help me do that. It’s definitely a leg up on the S100, and it was a good investment. My initial success with some of those photos has encouraged me to read the manual a little more, as well as learn more about shutter speeds, film speeds, and the like, so I can move into using the camera in manual mode… to take better shots hopefully.

I’d recommend this model to anyone else looking for a compact, portable, and more than capable digital camera. I’ve really come to trust Canon with their digital cameras. This is the second digital camera I’ve bought from them, and I also own a Canon DV camera.

Life is Tough

“Life is tough…..it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” – John Wayne

’nuff said.

First Child and Online Photo Galleries

I upgraded the photo gallery software that I use to power the photo galleries for englers.org this weekend to the latest beta version of Photostack.

The new gallery is a little more classy, and should be easier to navigate through. Noel Jackson has done a truly wonderful job with this latest version of Photostack.

In the process, I rediscovered some old galleries that are just too fun:

Yes, you read that last one right… my first child was born on November 23rd, or last Tuesday. The life changes have already begun.

Poopoo the Male Bichon Frise

This comic was in the paper last weekend:

Pooch Cafe

That’s totally my dog! (Yes, I own a 13 pound Bichon.)

Note to self about volume

When you are listening to iTunes through the headphones on your laptop and you turn down iTunes because it’s too loud, don’t turn it down through the iTunes application, turn it down through the system volume control… do so because the little ping that Mailsmith uses to tell you you have new mail is really fucking loud and will scare you at full volume when the sound comes out of the headphones that close to your ear-drums.

sidenote: cKy kicks ass… just discovered them.

I’m a geek

I can now define myself as a geek, all thanks to Kasia:

” • Instead of sitting and eating in an airport, like the rest of the population, you walk around until you can spot a power socket.”

Last night at Chicago Midway while waiting 2 hours for my flight, I walked around the terminal looking for a power outlet. There were two in the vicinty of the four gates I was close to. Two power outlets in the whole damned place… why? And they were on the wall, no chairs in sight. So, I stole a chair from behind an unoccupied gate desk, and proceeded to juice up my laptop while checking email.

Yes, I’m a geek.

Are you a geek? If you meet one of the criterian on the rest of her “You know you’re a geek when…” list, then you are.

Listening to Longhorn football on the internet

Today’s been a good day for me (so far) with respect to college football. My boys (Texas A&M) beat Colorado… who’d have thought they’d have a 6 game winning spree this season after last year?

So, then I wanted to listen to the t.u./Texas Tech game after the wife and I walked around the block, so I turned to the internet. The game isn’t being televised (why not? I have no idea) and I don’t have a AM or FM receiver in the house, so the internet was the only option.

I found the game being broadcast on the internet for free at AM 1300 The Zone (I could have paid for access to the game through CollegeSports.com, but that seemed stupid). If the stream URL doesn’t change, this is what I’m listening to now, and here’s the direct Windows Media stream URL (which works better on a Mac than the stupid HTML player they have available).

I also found CollegeSports.com’s cool “Gametracker” which is a flash app that shows the game and the plays, and shows a quick animation of each play as it happens… super cool! (To find the gametracker for the game you want to see, goto the “today’s games” page and click to see the gametracker you’re interested in watching. I’m watching this one right now.)

The radio station is doing a great job of covering the game, but that’s because they’re just repurposing a primary content distribution system for another distribution method. The CollegeSports Gametracker seems to have sleepy little hamsters behind it… they seem to miss a bunch of plays that the radio guys get, and then add them all in to beat the radio guys to one big play, then go back to sleep for a little while…

Oh well. It’s nice to know there are a couple of good sources for listening to Texas Football games on the internet because TexasSports.com (UT’s official sports website) sucks as far as offering live content goes.

DailySourceCode Drives iTunes Purchase

Today, I had the day off, so I played with iPodder, and set it up to download Adam Curry’s DailySourceCode Podcast. Podcasting is cool. It’s like talk radio without the radio…

So, I listened to it while I was out mowing the lawn, and at about 6:57 into the daily podcast, Adam played Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly with Me. What a fantastic song.

So, I immediately went into the house, brought up the iTunes Music Store and bought the track… and then I went ahead and bought the entire album that I found it on… seemed like a prudent thing to do at the time.

I then went back outside and finished the lawn, while listening to the rest of Adam’s podcast.

I’m totally digging podcasting at this point… it’s still totally in its infancy, but it’s fun, and fits into my day. Gives you something to listen to on your iPod when you’re not in the mood for a song all by itself, and fills time with interesting bits of information, and is something I can listen to in the background.

Maybe I like podcasting at this point because its so new, but I think it’s really because Adam Curry is so good at developing a good show to listen to… and his politics don’t bother me yet… Adam’s got a directory of Podcasts at iPodder.org, if you’re interested in playing with this new technology.

update: Dave liked listening to the Sinatra tune also, and put the lyrics online.

Social Distortion Live

Wow!

Wow!

There is nothing like going to see Social Distortion play live on a Monday night, the evening before you have to fly to New York at 5:30 in the morning. Nothing like it.

Social Distortion is one of my favorite bands of all times. When I was about 15 or 16, I think, I met a guy named Josh Phipps from Plano, TX while I was a student at TAMS. Josh went by the nick-name “Ogre” and was my roommate there at TAMS. Josh had a fantastic mix of musical tastes, and one of the best bands he turns me on to was Social Distortion.

Fast-forward 10+ years.

Saturday night, my friend Josh (not the same one from TAMS mentioned above) and I decided during a drunken party that we were going to see Social Distortion on Monday night. So, we went online and bought tickets through some ticket provider (who’s online service sucks, btw). After buying the tickets, we were set on Saturday night… so we continued partying into the night.

On Monday, I started my new job, and am flying to New York right today for training for the week. I’m very much looking forward to this trip and have been for two weeks. However, last night, I really didn’t play it smart.

Josh and I arrived at the Austin Music Hall around 9:00, just early enough to see the tail end of the opening band, and grab a couple of beers each. Around 10:00, or so, Social Distortion took the stage and opened with a fucking awesome cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. The whole Hall was really getting into the music (nothing like being the only two guys in shorts and Birkenstocks at a Rock-a-billy concert in Austin surrounded by lots of dyed straight-black hair, tattoos covering all parts of the body and piercings in the dangdest places).

Around 11:30, Social Distortion wrapped up their show, and Josh and I headed to Katz’s Deli (“Katz’s never closes”) to grab a bite to eat, because we realized we had bought 12 beers or so at the show, and I had to get up at 4:00 to make my plane.

Long story short. My plane rides are sucking right now, and I’m just hoping I don’t smell like a recovering alcoholic when I arrive at the office for my first day on the job.

Stupid. (But awesome!)

If Social-D is coming to town where you live, I’d definitely recommend the show if you’re a fan. It rocks. Oh, and the released a new album today: “Sex, Love and Rock’n’Roll“. And yes, Mike Ness still kicks ass!

Working from Home

Ah… the joys of working out of a home office. Today marks my first day at the new job… and I forgot how exciting and relaxing at the same time it can be to work from home. Especially when you started two home improvement projects over the weekend, didn’t finish them, and have to force yourself to ignore them during the day, so you can actually get some work done.

Oh, and the joys of being on the phone while the dog barks at every passerby on the street, or the neighbor getting his paper, or the other neighbor mowing his yard (lots of people in this neighborhood work from home – I never noticed).

Oh the joys of working out of the house.

Tomorrow morning brings an early flight to New York for my first week of training.

One Week Left

Last Friday, I turned in my two week notice to my boss.

It was a tough thing to do, as I’ve been pretty happy at this job. When I say “pretty happy”, I mean happy enough to not want to quit or lose the job because I did something stupid… and I had a smile on my face 90% of the time if not more. I’ve had an opportunity for the past two years to do a few great things:

1. Move to Austin
2. Work with some truly fantastic people
3. Grow as a professional sales person and develop my management skills
4. Build, Lead and Manage a fantastic team of sales people
5. Learn a lot about local advertising and marketing needs
6. Network with people all over the country in various jobs
7. Buy a great 1949 house in downtown Austin
8. Build friendships that I think will last me a lifetime
9. Learn a lot about the newspaper industry
10. Enjoy my job

About two months ago, I got a call from an aquaintance that was looking to hire me, and after a good bit of communication, I agreed to go to work for them for all the right reasons. I’m really looking forward to the new job, but this last week has been hard at the old job.

At the old job, I’d gotten burnt out a little, and now it’s hard to keep focused, and really finish up like I need to. And that’s making me feel lazy… sort of sucks to feel that way.

At the same time, I’ve only got five days left, and I don’t want to leave a bad impression. I don’t intend to burn bridges here, as I can use the relationships I’ve built here later in life somehow, and I don’t want them to remember me as “the guy that sat on his ass for two weeks after quitting on us”.

The new job is going to be fun, and I really can’t wait to start it… Just gotta finish out these last few days strong.

All of that being said, there’s an opening at the Austin American-Statesman for the Online Sales Manager position. It’s a job I’d highly recommend to anyone in online advertising sales that’s looking for a challenge and a place to really grow. Email me about it if you have questions and want to know answers from the guy that’s leaving the position open.

In the Meantime Read the Linkblog

I’ve been really slacking with posting new posts to this weblog lately, not because I don’t want to write things, but rather because my life has really gotten busy. That being said, I’d like to point out my linkblog, which I still regularly add content to. Think of my linkblog as my way of pointing to things that I think are worth reading, but don’t have time to really comment on.

While I’m working on freeing up time in my life to write more, I’d encourage you to read my linkblog regularly, and, if possible, subscribe to the RSS feeds that are available for it, if you’d rather follow along in your aggregator [linkblog RSS 2.0 Feed and RSS 1.0 Feed available]

First Day of Golf

Today, I swung a golf club for the first time in my life.

A buddy of mine, Kevin, and I met at the Hank Hankey Golf Ranch of Austin tonight. Kevin asked me earlier in the day if I golfed, to which I replied “no” and he asked me to hit the driving range with him tonight. I figured “why the heck not?”

So, we met around 7:45, and rented a large bucket of little white golf balls for $13.00. There were about 100, maybe 150 balls in the bucket.

The section of the driving range set aside for drivers was pretty full, so we headed over to the side that’s set aside for irons, and I got my first lessons from a buddy.

The first advice Kevin gave me was typical Kevin: “You wanna know what the first thing you need to know about your golf swing is? Just try to look cool!”

I laughed.

Kevin said “No, I’m serious. It sounds stupid, but try to look cool, and relaxed. Don’t get too tight, be conscious of the fact that you look cool doing this, and you won’t feel so silly making the small adjustments I’ll tell you to make throughout tonight.”

So, I took his advice. And I hit my first ball with a 3 iron.

It went pretty far (I think) but sliced way to the right … waaaaay to the right.

Kevin was just impressed I hit the ball.

We both nailed about 100 little white balls down the driving range with irons before heading over to the side for the drivers. Then we polished off the rest of the balls before retiring to our vehicles to polish off a beer.

It was a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to my future golf game. It can only get better from here.

golf ball

Summer Flu

I hate having a cold in the summer. This is my second one in a month, and I’m sure it’s some sort of flu: Headaches, body aches, sore throat, fever, congestion, ugh…

One thing I’ve been able to learn while I’ve stayed home the past two days (I want to get better faster and make sure I don’t get anyone else sick) is that day-time TV sucks more now than it ever has. I’ve been flipping channels all day.

My head generally hurts too badly to spend too much time on the computer, so I’ve been laying here listening to the stupid shit on TV. ugh… if I felt better I’d go do something productive, like work or mow or paint the house or something… anything would be better than this hell I’m stuck in with the TV on.

An idea just hit me: I’m putting a DVD in the DVD player as soon as I can get the energy to get up and do it. Maybe something fun like Time Bandits (which I haven’t seen in about 20 years and picked up at Target for $9.99).

A Paratrooper’s Faith

Back when I was in the Army, I got a little blue book that was printed by the military for distribution at the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. I haven’t read the book in over a year, but, when I was reading it daily (generally when I was in the field), I copied a few quotes from the book onto my Palm.

The book was a reprint of a book that a family sent to George Bowler Tullidge III, a Sergeant in the 507th Parachute Infantry 82nd Airborne Division, who was killed on June 8th, 1944, while serving his country during the Invasion of France.

The book was a tremendous read, and I figured I’d post a few of the quotes I copied from it here for you to read:

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
— Proverbs 1:10.

The world makes way for a determined man.

He who is firm in will molds the world to himself
— Goethe

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, “Press On,” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
— Coolidge

Heroism is simple, and yet it is rare. Everyone who does the best that he can is a hero.
— Josh Billings

Because the task is difficult to many tire and quit,
But that’s the time to summon up your patience and grit,
And that’s the time to prove your skill.
So stick it out and work until
You justify your faith that you
Can do what any man can do.
— Edgar Guest

How do you tackle your work each day?
   With confidence clear, or dread?
What to yourself do you stop and say
   When a new task lies ahead?
What is the thought that is in your mind?
   Is feat ever running through it?
If so, just tackle the next you din
   By thinking you’re going to do it.
— Edgar Guest

It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecratedmen.
— Phillip Brooks

It is those who perform faithfully their appointed work day by day, who in God’s own time will hear His call, “Come up higher.”
— E.G. White

Sucess in life is a matter not so much of talent or opportunity as of perserverance.
— C.N. Windle

Interestingly, the book was compiled by hand by Sergeant Tullidge’s mother after his death and given to the Army to help other soldiers get through their days in the military…

Great read, if you find it somewhere. And because I can’t find a copy of the text online, I might just post the whole thing here someday if I can’t find a copyright on it…

Update: I finally posted the full text to A Paratrooper’s Faith online, so that the full text is posted somewhere, and Google can find it. Enjoy!

iTunes Music Store has changed my music habits

I was driving home today, listening to Guster on my iPod and I started thinking about how much iTunes, the iTMS and my iPod have changed my music buying habits.

Over the past year, I’ve slowly moved to buying all of my music online through the iTunes Music Store. In fact, in the last 2-3 months, I haven’t purchased a single CD or single offline except for a CD that I bought at a concert (and paid $20 for because I wanted the artist’s autograph on it).

iTunes tells me how much music I’ve purchased since I started buying music on it, and since last October, I’ve purchased 182 songs (on this machine). At the standard $.99 per track, that means I’ve roughly spent roughly $180 on music (there are a few free songs in there, so that’s not 100% accurate) since October through iTunes. That may not be a lot for most of you, but for me, it’s a lot. You see, I bet I’ve barely spent $180 in music in a store in the past 3 years.

iTunes has changed the way I buy music so much so, that I now buy it on impulse, from the comfort of my own couch. Fully 1/2 of those 182 tracks I’ve bought were bought in April, May and June, so it seems that I’m slowly getting sucked in by the ease of buying iTunes tracks.

I used to buy CDs on Amazon.com, but it really was a chore then. I had to buy three CDs or so to get free shipping, so I had to think about what I wanted, add it all together, and then buy it, wait a few days for shipping, then rip the CDs and sync my iPod.

Now, I buy music just because it sounds like a good track to buy… and if there are 3 or 4 tracks that sound good on an album, I buy the whole album. I turn to iTunes while watching Saturday Night Live if the band sounds good, and I buy their album. I have found myself looking for iMixes a few times and buying certain tracks off them (like the recent SSX iMix I found that sucked me into buying a few tracks from the game). I boot up the iTMS at least once a week now to find out who the new “free single of the week” is from. If I like the single, I check out more songs from that artist, and have bought a few more tracks that way too.

It’s great. I love the iTMS. Sure there are things they could do better, but that can be said about just about any record store, but one thing that’s important is that I’m buying more music all the time and my 20GB iPod is full of great music that I keep at my side all day.

(Yes, I know this post is about 6 months behind the times, but it took me that long to realize the impact that the iTunes Music Store has had on my music consumption habits.)

Fischer FVD-C1 CameraCorder and the Apple Store

The wife and I visited the Grand Opening of the Barton Creek Apple Store today, and while there, we spotted a Fischer FVD-C1 CameraCorder. The CameraCorder is an amazing little piece of engineering and swayed me with it’s tiny form-factor and great specs.

The machine is small (very small). It’s less than 3 inches front to back, 4.3 inches tall and 1.3 inches wide. It weighs about 6 ounces (about a third of a pound)

The specs from the sales website look like this:

  • DVD-Like quality video resolution (VGA:640 x 480; Full-motion 30 frames per second)
  • True 3.2 Megapixel digital still images
  • 3.2-Megapixel CCD
  • CD-Quality stereo sound (AAC Audio)
  • Up to 30 minutes of DVD-Like quality recording or 80 minutes of VHS-quality recording (with supplied 512 MB memory card)
  • Up to 491 pictures in high 3.2 megapixel resolution (2048 x 1536) mode or up to 3931 pictures in normal 0.3 megapixel resolution (640 x 480) mode (with supplied 512 MB memory card)
  • 5.8 X Optical zoom lens; 10 X Digital zoom
  • Lithium-ion battery and AC operation
  • Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD, with 110,000 pixels of resolution

The specs and manual say that the battery should last an hour under normal video shooting conditions, and the 512MB SD card that came with the CameraCorder should shoot anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes of video, depending on the quality setting being used (actually, it says it can shoot a lot more than that, but I don’t anticipate shooting at the worst quality setting available ever). It also supports USB 2.0 transfer of data, so it shouldn’t be too slow to use (I was afraid it might be USB 1.1 or slower at the store). So, I’ll play with the CameraCorder this weekend and see what I really think about it.

The Apple Store will take a return for a 10% restocking fee, so even if I only use the thing for a week and take it back, I figure it’s a great price to test it out for a full week.

If I like it alot, I’ll turn to Amazon.com to buy a bunch of 512MB SD Cards for ∼$75 each, and I’ll start looking for an extra battery for backup use.

Here’s what’s funny about the whole purchasing process. While at the Apple Store, I was able to go to Fisher’s website, Apple’s website, Amazon.com (and any other shopping site I wanted to) to research the product and the price at different retailers for the CameraCorder and the SD cards that it uses. I found the CameraCorder at Amazon.com for $40 less than Apple was selling it (and $140 less than Fisher was selling it directly). The 512MB SD Cards for $75 at Amazon, while the Apple Store was selling 256MB SD Cards for $99, so I waited on buying that at the Apple Store, while buying the CameraCorder for a slight premium, because it’s easier to return something to Apple than it is to Amazon.

It’s interesting to me that Apple allowed me to price-shop and compare other retailers while at their store, knowing that I’d still choose to buy things there if the benefits of doing so were worth it to me. Granted they lost a SD card sale, but they didn’t even have the 512MB card I wanted, so they’d already lost that sale.

Anyways, the new CameraCorder is charging now, and we’ll test it out this weekend to see how we like it.

Here’s a review from ZDNet.

Austin Economy Finally Picking Up?

I don’t normally post about Austin (the city I live in) but I had to point to this article in the Sunday Statesman (registration required):

Quarterly economic scorecard: Region is uniquely poised to take advantage of recovery, experts say.

A few choice quotes:

…Austin looks like a hot spot to the editors of Business 2.0 magazine, which recently said it would be the fourth fastest-growing job market in the next four years, one of 20 cities that will be “fertile ground for job-seekers and employers alike.”

While local economists say that Central Texas will add 14,000 or 15,000 jobs this year, the Economy.com consulting firm, based in West Chester, Pa., projects that the number will be 20,000, followed by another 41,000 jobs in 2005 — a healthy 5.9 percent growth rate.

…Business 2.0 forecasts that the region’s job base will grow by 12 percent by 2008.

Economy.com is predicting the Austin metro area — Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties — will see a 3.2 percent annual job growth rate in the fourth quarter. That’s significantly higher than forecasts of 1.7 percent for Boston and 0.8 percent for San Jose.

I just hope that’s all true and that the economy is finally starting to rebound in Austin…

The Video

I’m sick to my stomach. Yes, I just watched the Nick Berg video. I now feel sick to my stomach and terribly dirty. My small apologies to the Berg family.

I can’t describe the feeling.

I have several friends in the military that are in Iraq right now. I wanted us to get out of that country this weekend, because I fear for their safety.

Now, I want Bush to just nuke the whole damn country. Ocean-front property anyone?

If you want to see the video, read Charles Johnson’s written description before you watch it.

It’s so easy to forget about who we’re really dealing with over there.

One of my best friends from the Army just returned from Iraq and when I asked him about what it’s like, he said:

“The people over there aren’t all bad – the insurgents are animals. They only understand power. They only understand pure unadulterated power and they only respect people that show and use their power.”

Buying a Digital Video Camera

I’m researching digital video cameras. I’m in the market for one for the wife and I, and I’m finding that figuring out which one to buy is tough. The big publisher’s guides to camcorders are useless to me, either not providing enough information, or not providing enough facts on which they base their recommendations.

There is almost no documentation at the big box retailers that carry digital video cameras, and the sales people are only moderately helpful.

Thankfully, Jeff Keller’s DVSpot.com is available. It has a fantastic glossary of DV Terms, which, for someone just starting to look for a video camera (my first ever) is invaluable. (Jeff owned iMac2Day.com before MacNN bought it. I ran the site back in 1998/99).

I own a Canon Powershot S100 digital camera, and I love it. It was the first generation Digital Elph, and has been a constant companion for 4+ years. It works well and is still a great camera (though we’ve gotten sand and other stuff into some of the gears over the years). I’d like to buy a camcorder with the same sort of quality.

Without knowing anything about the manufacturers, I’m partial to Canon and Sony (just because of their brand equity in my head), though Hitachi, Panasonic, JVC and Sharp make DV camcorders too.

I think I want a camera that supports Analog to Digital conversion, though that’s not mandatory, and more of a nicety… I’ve got a few old VCR tapes I’d like to convert to digital format.

After spending a few hours reading the reviews over at DVSpot, these cameras are on my list of contenders:

Canon is offering quite a few promotions on their cameras through June 30th from their CanonDV website.

All in all, I’m leaning more and more heavily towards buying a Canon. Now which one?

I’ll keep shopping around, and will gladly take any suggestions that my readers might have. June 30th is my current date of purchase.

Oh, and why am I shopping for a DV camcorder, you might ask? The wife is 11 weeks pregnant (due in November) so I want to get one now, so I know how to use it when we need it.

update: adding a few links:
PCWorld Digital Camcorder Buyer’s Guide
ZDNet’s Digital Camcorder Buyer’s Guide

Cancelled Netflix Tonight

The wife and I were watching Frida, which is quite a good movie, when we decided to cancel our Netflix subscription.

We’ve been subscribers of Netflix since December of 1999. We bought our first DVD player then when we were living in Dupont, Washington. It was a Sony (still have it and it works great btw) and it included a little Netflix promo card in the box along with the manuals.

We signed up then, and we were paying $15.95 for 4 movies out at any time. We watched a lot of movies back then — generally one a night, because it was all so new…

And the quality of the service was fantastic. We’d watch a movie, mail it back, and get a new one within 3 days. We’d watch it that night and mail it back that morning.

In 2001, we moved back to Texas, and service was sort of crappy at first. It took 8 or 9 days to get replacement DVDs when we first moved back to Texas, because of the speed of the US Mail, but then, Netflix opened up a distribution center in Texas, and we were back to our 3 day turn around, and all was well.

At some point, Netflix changed their service levels such that our price went up from $15.95 to $19.95. We were happy with the service, and the ‘no late fees’ peace of mind.

Then, they changed their service to only allow 3 movies out at one time, but they grand-fathered us in, so that we kept our 4 movies out at a time service level for $19.95.

We got in the habit of sometimes watching a lot of movies, and sometimes not watching any for months on end.

Then yesterday, I got an email saying the price was going up to $21.95 for the same service level. I applaud their ability to offer me 4 movies out at a time for $22/month, with a 3 day turn-around. I was happy enough to stay a customer, and then…

We watched a movie last night that was so scratched up that it skipped chapters, and we missed out on a chapter or two and the whole experience was ruined. Eh… no biggy, it’s happened before… and I was prepared to write off that one bad disk as a once every six months issue…

But then tonight, Frida skipped a couple of chapters too. Ruined the experience again. And what a good movie too…

So, I logged into my Netflix account and cancelled the service.

C’est la vie, eh?

[followup: Netflix Bluffs: A Price Increase from Kuro5hin]

Office work on a Saturday

I went in to the office today at noon, because I’m way behind on work. Way behind.

I started cleaning out my in-box. It had 998 emails in it, some dating as far back as January. (I don’t file or delete emails until I’ve had a chance to act on them, if they require action, or, if I’ve had time to digest their import if they’re just FYI messages). 998 emails.

Ugh…

As I was deleting and filing emails, I did a bunch of other stuff like adding contacts to my contacts DB, creating proposals and servicing accounts.

Update: been working for 5 hours, down to 740 emails in my inbox.

Update: been at it for 6.5 hours. Down to 668 emails in my inbox. Created 3 proposals, one contract, and two sales flyers. Time for a beer.

Wrong answers

I absolutely can’t stand people that don’t take the time to learn the answer to the question being asked of them.

If people don’t know the answer to the question being asked, I’d much rather hear “you know, that’s a great question, and while I don’t know the answer to that question, I’ll find out for you” if it is their responsibility or job to know the answer than an ansewr that is wrong and can be proven to be wrong in less than 5 simple steps.

Wrong answers from ‘authorities on a subject’ make me not trust those authorities any more, and trust is crucial to an organization that is growing.

Wrong answers make me want to do the work myself.

Wrong answers make me think the authority is so stupid that I won’t ask them any other questions.

Wrong answers make me think that the authority thinks I’m too stupid to know that they’re full of shit.

Being given blatantly wrong answers while the deliverer speaks with that tone that exudes almighty authority feels like being fed human excrement with only a rusty bent fork to eat it after being left in a dungeon for 40 days and 40 nights.

Giving wrong answers is lazy and is the wrong thing to do.

I hate people that consistently give wrong answers and don’t concede defeat when proven wrong… that don’t retreat and admit their inadequacy… that don’t correct themselves.

I hate people that survive just by covering their ass after consistently giving wrong lazy answers.

I also deplore people that won’t ever hold other people accountable.

Magnum Opus

IIgsWow, this icon set is a must have for anyone that might be considered an Apple nut. My first real Apple was a IIgs, Woz Edition (icon from this set at right):

This gargantuan set contains over 250 icons, covering every single piece of Apple hardware ever made. From the original Apples to the latest iPods, there isnt a piece of Apple hardware thats been made that you wont find here!

Download them here.

Quote: The Trouble in Corporate America

The trouble in corporate America is that too many people with too much power live in a box (their home), then travel the same road every day to another box (their office).
Faith Popcorn, The Popcorn Report, 1991

Has much changed since 1991?

More Lessons for the Job Seeker

This post is a follow up to my original Some lessons for the Job Seeker post from August of 2003.

I’ve been interviewing to fill a vacant position in my sales organization over the past few months. The position has been advertised for about two months now. I’ve received about 100 resumes and have personally screened every single one of them. Something I’ve found frustrating and interesting at the same time is that 95% of the resumes I’ve received tell me about people that don’t have all of the requirements for the job opening as posted in the advertisement.

You know what that tells me? Lots of people aren’t qualified for the jobs that are being created out there. Lots. That, or the people I really want aren’t a) hearing/reading about the job opening I have or b) aren’t interested in the position. Or, very possibly (probably most likely) I’m asking for too qualified an applicant than I’ll get from an advertisement. I probably really need a personal reference to get the ‘perfect applicant’. Either way, the result is the same for the job seekers who have been sending me their resumes. 95% of them are all equal in my eyes. They aren’t fully qualified, but some of them have better qualifications (on their resume) than others.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of phone interviews. I’ve probably called 50% of the applicants to the position.

I’m also doing a lot of in-person interviews, because I need to see and talk to the people that are interviewing for the outside sales position I have open. I need to talk to them so I can fully explain the job, the company and the oppotunity I have for them. I generally spend and hour and a half with the promising interviewees and less than 30 minutes with the ones I can tell aren’t going to make the final cut. I’ve learned a few things and hope me passing them on here will help someone:

When interviewing for a sales position specifically, and for just about any position, keep these ideas in mind.:

1. Bring a copy of your resume to the interview. Bring 2 or 3 if you can, just to be safe.

Print out your resume on the nice pretty paper you want to use (though honestly if the paper is white and good quality, I’ll like the paper better than if it’s beige or pink or has ruffles), all formatted in the format you’d like it to be seen in, and bring it to the interview for me.

All but 2 of the resumes I’ve received from applicants have come in through some-sort of online application. Either emailed directly to me, or forwarded through a job-board. None of the resumes coming through an electronic application system are presented well. They’re readable, yes, but they look like crap, and span two or three pages when printed from Outlook. Sometimes the characters in the resumes weren’t ASCII text, so the pretty bullets the person used in Microsoft Word got translated to question marks when copied and pasted into a form online and then emailed to me, the person responsible for hiring. So, those applicants that bring me a nice pretty resume and give it to me at the beginning of the interview always get a leg up on the other applicants for at least 5 minutes. It shows me that they care about the impression they make on me. That’s important in sales (and in most other jobs).

2. Dress Sharply.

I’ve said this before, but wear a damned suit if you a guy or nice business attire if your a woman. I don’t care what the job is, it almost never hurts to over-dress for a situation, but almost always hurts to under-dress. I personally wear a suit to the office every day, and if I’m wearing one when I shake an applicants hand, and they’re not even wearing a tie, it immediately makes them feel badly. I’ve had two applicants tell me “I honestly wish I’d have dressed up more for this interview” while in the interview with me. I don’t make an issue of the situation or their dress in the interview, but in my head, when they’ve said that my first thought was “Well, then why the fuck didn’t you dress better?”

Dress up for that hour folks, it can’t hurt.

3. Ask plenty of questions, or at least ask really damn good ones.

People that aren’t good at interviewing will talk a lot. I’ve caught myself talking waaay too much in interviews. I’ve let the interviewee take control of the interview, and that helps elevate the interviewee in my mind. Take your cues from the person interviewing you (if they don’t like a lot of questions, don’t ask too many, but ask good ones. Here’s the scenario I’m in as a hiring manager: I’ve interviewed 25 good applicants in person. I can honestly only remember two of the interviews right this second without my notes.

Those two applicants too control of the interview (as much as they could) and asked a lot of really good questions. I remember them for two reasons: a) I am looking hire someone with good in-person sales skills and b) I feel like I need to know more about those two people so I can decide which one I want to hire. The other 23 applicants I’ve interviewed in person don’t stand out enough in my minds for some reason, and I have to believe it’s because they didn’t ask enough questions to know if they wanted (or could do) the job I need done or they didn’t ask the right ones.

“Needs analysis” is a big part of consultative selling (which is what I like to see in my employees that are in sales) and those two applicants did it well.

4. Be enthusiastic

I’ve interviewed two people in person that sounded great on the phone, but turned in to duds in person. I understand being nervous. I’ve been there (all of us have). I can empathize with people that might not be at the top of their game during the interview (we’ve all had bad sales calls). Waht I can’t accept is pure apathy. I can’t accept or enjoy someone that doesn’t seem interested in the job during the interview and then ask for the job at the end of the interview.

In sales (which is what every interview is) you have to know when to ‘ask the customer to buy’. In an interview that step is the “I really want this job” statement from the applicant. It’s the pistachio in the ice-cream. If you act like melted ice-cream during a 30-45 minute interview and then all of the sudden throw a pistachio at me, I’ll probably just spit it out, because the ice-cream was mushy. Act like you’re interested even if you’re not. I’m the one with the job to offer and you’re the one looking. Act like you’re interested in it and you might get the offer. If you don’t act interested, you won’t.

5. Be prepared for a second interview. Don’t reschedule it after it’s scheduled.

I want to hire the right person the first time I fill a position. So, I’m going to have a second interview with the truly qualified applicants. I’m going to have someone else interview them for me… maybe role-play a sales call… maybe just come in and say hi. It’s going to happen. If you want the job, don’t re-schedule the second interview. That’s the one where you’ll get the job offer (it might not happen until the third or fourth interview).

If you reschedule the second interview, where I’ve got two other people lined up to talk to you, you’re hurting your chances. Not with me, but with those two other people that might be talking to you. They’ll probably remember that you bailed on the first one (for them) and their time is probably very valuable to them. Don’t give them a reason to doubt that you know that, especially for a sales job. They’ll think that’s how you’ll treat clients.

6. Don’t try to change the job before you have it.

If the job doesn’t sound like something you want to do, ask more questions to be sure that your impressions are correct. If the job truly sounds like a wrong fit, say so. If you want to do something other than what’s being described and detailed for you, say so in the interview. That position may be open somewhere else, but don’t try to change the position that’s being discuss into something else in the interview. If you’re looking for a career path (let’s say the job opening is for an entry-level position and you’re seeking something that requires more experience, or that you need more pay, say so, but also be prepared for an answer like: I’m sorry, that’s not what we’re hiring for right now, and then make up your mind about the job that’s offered to you, if it’s ever offered). Don’t change the job in to what you want it to be, take the job for what it is, or don’t take it.

7. Be ready to pass a thorough background check.

I won’t go in to too much detail here, but, more and more companies are running complete background checks: drug tests, driving record checks, credit history checks, resume detail verification, and reference checking are all things that you might have to go through after you’re offered a job and before you can start working. Some companies will allow one or two discretionary ‘problems’ to go through the HR department with an “ok to hire” stamp, but some times they can’t. If the job requires driving, have a clean driving record. If it requires handling cash, have a good credit history. If you don’t, give it your best shot, but, if you can, keep your background clean.

Dialup vs. Broadband

Douglas Bowman’s comparison of Dialup vs. Broadband is quite enlightening. It’s been about 5 years since I went broadband, and I have to agree… without it the web sucks. I really just don’t surf the net at all, if I’m forced to use dial-up… I find something else todo, which, makes Bush’s Broadband by 2007 comments sound pretty neat, but also wasteful as a way to spend tax-dollars.

Collections

This week, I noticed one thing that shows a difference between my daddy and me. (I noticed these things while getting my belongings ready for a move from one house to another).

My dad collected things, and I collect things, but we collect different things…

I have a room full of computer stuff. I collect USB cables, Ethernet cards, RAM chips, Ethernet cables, Firewire cables, and power cords. I have drawers full of these things. I collect power adapters, little bitty screws for mounting hard-drives, old computers and monitors. I have a little collection of old PDAs: a Palm IIIx, a Palm Pilot, and a Newton Message Pad 120. I have a few hard drives sitting in a box, a few empty boxes to assorted hardware that I don’t even have any more and lots of special cables to convert things like Serial ports to ADB ports. I collect computer stuff.

My dad collected stuff that you could build material things out of. He had an old room full of things like soldering tools, hammers, wrenches, and wood-working tools. He had drawers full of odd screws and nails, and a few little jars full of nuts and bolts. He had a shelf stacked with odd-sizes of scraps of wood and half-full cans of paint (every color you could imagine). The room had a few milk gallons full of oil-fuel mix for each tool he used. He had a bunch of old power-tools and a few hand-tools that would get the job done. He collected manual stuff.

Then again, now that I think about it, we aren’t all that different. Each of us collected stuff that enabled us to do things… In that I guess we are quite alike.

Free Wi-fi in Austin

Found this list:

Free Wireless Internet Access Points in Austin, Texas

… and I figured everyone I knew needed to know where all the free wi-fi spots were in Austin too.

Passym sucks

Tonight is my second night in an Embassy Suites with Passym Wireless internet access, and I have to say that Passym really sucks.

Connectivity is just horrible. I don’t know why the service sucks so badly… it might be because I’m in a corner room (they’re larger at the Embassy Suites) or it might be because I’m using a Macintosh, but neither of those two things should be reasons that the connectivity sucks so badly…

Maybe there are too many people using the service to keep up with what I want to do, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve normally stayed in Wyndham and Marriot hotels with Wayport access, and even though most of the time those hotels only provide wired access, they always worked just fine. I could connect to my office’s VPN at the most complicated end of connectivity issues, and I could definitely send email through my own servers, but with this silly Passym service, I can’t connect to the VPN and I can’t even send email through my own service… and the speeds are terribly slow compared to what I expect them to be… especially at $10/day.

The worst part is that to get technical support, I’m supposed to email their support@ email address… no one here at the hotel knows anything about the service from a technical/troubleshooting stand-point, and I can’t get email out through my email client. Good thing I have a webmail client set up on my server…

So, next time I stay in a hotel, I’ll ask them if they have internet access, and I’ll ask who the provider is. If it’s Passym, I’ll choose a different hotel if internet connectivity will be a need.

NAA Connections Day One

San Diego is a beautiful town to fly into. Wow! And it’s gorgeous to walk through the touristy area close to the harbor too!

I spent the first day at NAA’s Connections today. It was fun… but it was also a long day (nothing like boarding a plane early in the morning, then losing two hours of the day before sitting in conference rooms for presentations).

I attended the Smarter Selling presentation first. The first thing announced was that they’re blogging the conference… and the cool thing is that pretty much all the notes from the presentation are online already. What you won’t read in those notes is that Rusty Coats presented some great stuff very well, that Bruce Kyse is doing some cool stuff in small markets, and that you could definitely tell that Joseph Jaffe isn’t a newspaper guy. Sandhi Kozsuch from WorldNow presented some interesting stuff about what’s happening in the TV-website space too… Overall it was a good session, but honestly, the information presented wasn’t all that actionable… The panel just didn’t have enough time to present and answer questions. In fact, I don’t think there were any questions at the end of the presentation… I wonder why that is?

One thing I found in that presentation that was useful was a link to AdConnections.org. Haven’t heard of that before, and I’m checking it out now… Good collection of Case Studies, and advertising contacts, but egads, the website sort of sucks now that I play with it a bit…

After that, we checked in at registration and then headed to the Opening General Session. Lots of “feel good” talk, and a presentation by Linda Kaplan Thaler, author of BANG! Got a free copy of that book at the end.

Then back to my hotel to check-in. Then back to the Marriot to attend a reception… lots of meet and greet… It’s painfully obvious to me that I don’t know that many people in this industry. I feel very much like an outsider still.

An observation: There is a lot of money floating around this industry… You can tell by how good the bags at the conference are.

Tomorrow brings some great sessions and a few client meetings.

And to finish out this post… does anyone know why I can’t send email using a wireless connection in the Embassy Suites on Harbor provided by Passym?
Continue reading ‘NAA Connections Day One’

Good Advice about Money

If more people followed this advice (myself included), I bet our debt problems wouldn’t be what they are today:

“Never spend your money before you have it.”
Thomas Jefferson

Closing on a new house (to us) today

For the past year or so, we’ve been searching for “the perfect” house (for us) in Austin. And, two months ago we found it with the help of our realtor.

Today at 10:00 am, we’re signing all of the final closing paperwork, and the house shall be ours.

I’ve debated putting up a “how to buy a house in Austin” guide because I felt like Zawodny’s doing pretty much the same thing, and I didn’t want to look like a copy cat, but at the same time, this is the second house I’ve bought, having built one a few years ago.

The new house is in central Austin, though it’s not south of the river as we’d hoped (we love the South Congress area) and it was built in 1949. It’s very cool, lots of original hardware (even the old Tappan stove is original).

I’ll think about putting together a quick “how to buy a house in Austin” guide sometime, but might wait ’till Jeremy’s done with his guide, so I can point to his tips too, when they’re applicable.

Anyways. Signing in 1 hour… wish us luck.

Tip for people closing on a major purchase like a house:

“Remember, you’re the only person looking after your own money at a closing. The people that are supposed to be helping you buy a house are all just getting greedy at the closing because their obligation to help you ends as soon as you sign the paperwork. Read everything twice (even though there is a lot of crap to read, read it), and ask questions if you have to. You’re the only person looking out after your own ass at the closing table.” — advice from a good friend.

What I got for Christmas

This may seem a bit silly, but this is my list of stuff I got for Christmas. I’m by no means bragging, just saving it for myself (it’s my blog).

  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen DVD
  • Raiders, Temple, etc. DVD Box Set
  • Bunch of black, brown, and other colored dress socks
  • Set of 3 black “Gold-toe” brand black socks
  • 8 “AA” batteries
  • A really great Pronto Uomo dress shirt
  • A big hand-painted Santa statue
  • Texas Born, Texas Proud” t-shirt
  • A set of nice silver cuff-links
  • A money-clip
  • Desert Storm II Playstation 2 game and strategy guide
  • Nintendo GameCube
  • Zelda for GameCube
  • Two Wireless Nintendo GameCube controllers
  • SSX3 for GameCube
  • Boucheron pour Homme cologne

I hope you enjoyed your Holidays (whatever your religious beliefs) and that you are looking forward to 2004 as much as I am.

Seeking a Good Multi-User Wishlist System

Our family Christmas was a lot of fun this year. It always is, but this year, it was better than normal.

You see, each year, we trade names for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffer duty, so that each of us will get a good gift or two, and it won’t cost each of us $5,000 buying gifts for everyone in the family. We all love each other, but who can afford to buy more than a few people really great gifts year in and year out?

So, we trade names each year, and we set a limit each year for gift purchases. This year it was $75 for the main gift, and $25 for the stocking stuffers. And each person has two people to buy gifts for.

The family is spread all over the country, so it’s a bit tough to trade “wishlists” without letting the person whose name you have know you have their name, so we put the Christmas wishlists on the web this year.

It was a huge help to all gift-givers, because I hyperlinked what I could easily hyperlink, and was as specific as I could be based on the recipient’s instructions… People coule easily buy online. Givers could also just print out the page of gifts and take it into a store to buy what they needed to buy.

But it sucked away some time from my day, and is not how I’d like to manage the long term health of our wishlists… The thought is that someone could easily maintain their wishlist during the year, so that come gift-giving time, the recipients could always have a list of potential gifts that is their real list, not something they came up with in the last-minute “get your lists to me so I can put them online” time-frame that we always seem to fall into at the end of the year.

So, I’m on the lookout for a good multi-user wishlist management system (written in PHP using MySQL for data management, preferrably). It’d be really cool if recipients could a) register, b) put in some basic contact and ‘gift-date’ information, c) enter gifts they want, and d) remove, edit or otherwise change the information they’ve entered at will. It’d also be really useful to have the system display things like a) price from Amazon (if available), b) date item was added to the list, c) sort by “age” of item, and d) allow the sys-admin the ability to add more users and organize them by groupings possibly. I realize that’s not a full-spec, but at this point, I’m just dreaming out-loud.

If you know of one, or see one around, please let me know. I’d even be willing to spend a bit of money for this system, were one available. (I’ve searched the couple of open-source repositories I know of, and none of the currently available systems meet my needs).

The internet made our Christmas better and more enjoyable, and I’d like to turn that into a long-term year-round solution for gift-giving time, whenever that time happens to be.