I’m angry as hell and I’m finally going to say why Part 2

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Now let me get one thing perfectly straight. I DO NOT SUPPORT OCCUPY WALLSTREET!

I support people finally having the courage to break the rules that govern this corrupt society to courageously try and wake up a global society that just stopped caring.

I support my local Occupy Portland people because most of them are sick of this crap also and many know exactly what’s broken. The problem is they don’t know how to fix it. But, honestly, neither does anyone else.

Trying to shut down Wall Street because it has spiraled into a corrupt money making machine for the power hungry, greedy “1%”, while absolutely true, is like punishing a handgun that gets used to kill someone.

Wall Street is a tool. In fact it’s an extraordinary tool. It’s the tool that has made this country successful. However, it’s a tool that has gotten abused and used for evil purposes for so long that now everyone is blaming the tool instead of it’s users who are using it for evil purposes.

“Punishing” Wall Street by pulling all your money out of Banks and putting it into Credit Unions, while better, is still essentially like taking the money out of someone’s wallet and putting it into their pocket.

You want to rebuild this global economy and society for the betterment of EVERYONE?

Take your money, AND SPEND IT!

Spend it on the local struggling farmers trying to raise food for their fellow man.

Spend it on the local Manufacturing company that has the courage to keep their labor in your country instead of sending it all to a lower bidder in another country.

Spend it on your neighbor’s Garage Sale.

Spend it at your local bar.

You want to punish the “1%”, don’t protest Wall Street……… USE IT!

Use the tool that is Wall Street for the original purpose it was intended, to build up our economy.

Buy stocks in your LOCAL companies, buy commodities made by your LOCAL industries.

While Wall Street is a US institution it has global reach and this concept fully applies equally to every country.

The problem with the wealthy “1%” is not that they have vast wealth. It’s that the don’t use it! Money, that sits and does nothing but build up more money, is ludicrous and does absolutely no one any good, including those with all the money.

The problem with the corrupt Banks, Politicians and greedy Wealthy is not that they are 1% who control more wealth and power than the rest of the 99%.

The problem is that the rest of the 99% isn’t 99%.

It is 99 different 1% petty, bickering, narrow minded little ‘labels’ who are so busy fighting amongst themselves that they’re completely ignoring the fact that, together, they are huge!

99 different 1% factions has no more power and considerably less wealth than that evil “1%” does. So they will NEVER win. Now, 99% WILL win!

Sadly, I’m probably a dreamer to think that the 99 1%’s will ever amount to even 2%, let alone 99%

Now then, I’m done. I’m spent. I’m finished with my ideological wishful thinking.

 

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I’m angry as hell and I’m finally going to say why

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Or, My ‘political rant’ 

Ok, first off let me start with a statement that will most likely save many of you the trouble of reading past it because you will immediately condemn anything I have to say and close the webpage.

I DON’T VOTE. NEVER HAVE, ALMOST CERTAINLY NEVER WILL.

[pause to let the audience clear out & let the curses die down *deadbeat! anarchist! un-american! freeloader! commie! worthless! no right to complain about the system if you don’t participate in the system!*]

Still here and put away the pitch forks and torches? Wow, you’re either intelligent and open minded or just bored, either way I can work with that.

And you know what, the part about not having the right to complain about the system? That’s absolutely true and my entire life I have honored that ideal and have very rarely spoke out against the system. I’ve sat back quietly and watched as the world has fallen apart.

However, I’m done being silent.

Now here’s why I don’t participate in the system. Newsflash: THE SYSTEM DOESN’T WORK!
*well if you participated in the system you could change the system!*

Do you have any concept how ridiculous that sounds?

‘Well, if you kept kicking that dead horse eventually it’ll get up and run!’
Participation in a system that doesn’t work is NOT going to fix the system.

This is no more logical than using broken tools to try and fix a car.What does a mechanic do when he only has broken tools? He either goes out of business or, if he’s smart, he gets new tools.

Voting is not how you are going to fix our broken global system. NOT voting is. What exactly do you think the message sent will be to all of the corrupt Banks, Politicians, “The 1%’ers” who have gotten fat off of taking advantage of the system for hundreds of years if every single person in the US, or hell the World, who cared about the current system spiraling down the drain simply stopped voting?

That message would be ‘We’re all mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!’

*that makes you sound just like a Commie, Anarchist,  Righty, Lefty, Liberal, Conservative, yadda yadda yadda!* <snore> Wake me when your narrow minded bullshit is over.

DO NOT for an instant think I don’t have full respect for this country, it’s founding fathers and the morals, principles and goals it was founded on.

But here’s another newsflash in case you missed it: THIS ISN’T 1776 ANYMORE.

Our entire system, from our voting and representative structure to our economic structure was engineered by some truly brilliant men and women and worked very well for them. The problem is that was several hundred years ago and the US had a tiny fraction of the population it has today. A system that was designed for that time period and for that amount of people simply can’t be expected to work just as well for the current state. This is no more logical than thinking an ounce of black ink, when poured into a 10 gallon tank of water, will be just as dark as it was in its original bottle.

I don’t vote because I’m not a ‘Righty’ or a ‘Lefty’ or a ‘Libertarian’ or a ‘Democrat’ or a ‘Republican’ or a ‘Communist’ any other of a dozen narrow-minded, selfish, simplistic, bullshit labels.

I don’t vote because EVERY Politician, whether they are good, decent people or they are corrupt self-serving parasites, has an agenda. They WANT to be in that position of power. That system automatically means they have a selfish motive to be there, no matter what that motive is. That also means they will do whatever it takes to keep that position, whether it’s a good decision that benefits the people they are supposed to be serving, or not.

I don’t vote also because I don’t want 15-20 phone calls a day during election time, but that’s a rather petty side point.

I am a Humanist if I must be labeled. Yes, I think the USA is the best country on Earth. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still be here. Although ALL of the ideological nutbags here who do fanatically cling to being one of those labels I just mentioned are seriously making me regret my decision. While I do love this country I am not such a fool to think we are the only country on Earth.

All of us are on this rock together, every ‘label’, every country, every race, color, creed, religion, sexual preference. Like it or not we’re ALL humans!

I have been recently told nearly the exact same thing, word for word, by both a Teaparty member and a few OccupyPortland people. Now these are two rabidly opposing sides of the current protests going on across the country mind you. You know what they both said, nearly word for word?

“You sound just like a Teapartier/Occupier!”

You know what’s funny and ironic?

THEY’RE BOTH CORRECT!

You know why they’re both correct?

THEY BOTH  WANT ESSENTIALLY THE SAME DAMN THING!

Right on the local Teaparty website they state that they want “Constitutionally Limited Government”, “Free Market Principles”, and “Fiscal Responsibility”.

If the Teaparty and the Occupiers, the Righties and the Lefties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, would put away their differences in their beliefs they’d realize the things they have in common are far more important. They ALL have one ‘label’ in common. HUMAN

Ok, this rant is already over 800 words and you’re likely dozing off by now so this is the end of Part 1.

Now let’s open the floodgates of Comments and get myself crucified by the endless snarky comments of trolls

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My name is Legion: for we are many.

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Actually, my name is Mike and, no, I’m not part of Anonymous.

Anonymous may toss around the catchphrase “We are Anonymous. We are Legion.” but no, the community I’m a proud member of dwarfs those guys.

Me, I’m an IT Geek, a technology enthusiast, a member of a community that has no borders, no boundaries, and WE ARE MANY.

I live in the USA. Oregon to be specific and I have friends online in the tech community from a dozen different states in the US.
I have friends in Canada, in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Haiti, South Africa, in the United Arab Emirates, Asia, Germany, probably a half dozen other areas of the world. This community numbers in the hundreds, even thousands.

“I have friends online”.

That’s a statement I’m not sure the average person fully understands. Here we are, a ‘community of strangers’, living in different parts of the world. These are people whom I have never even technically met, however, we are a community. Some of the countries my friends live in have governments that are enemies with each other yet this doesn’t stop them from being a community. We view ourselves as citizens of the Earth, not just something so narrow minded and small as a particular country.

While we may differ in time zone, in nationality, in skin color, in native language, in social status, in economic position we share far more important things in common. We share a love for technology. We share a thirst for knowledge. We share a curiosity about understanding how things work. We share a willingness to help our fellow community member and average person with tech problems should they have any.
Hell, we even share a love for good beer, good pizza, and good music.

While our respective countries and governments bicker and squabble over daily life and petty concerns, this community watches each others backs. If I were to ever find myself in their area and in need of a place to stay, these are ‘strangers’ who would openly help me out with anything they were able to without hesitation and I would do the same for them. If I have a tech related issue all I ever have to do is send a request for help out onto the internet via Twitter, Google+, or other social networking means and I am likely to get dozens of friends offering fixes for whatever issue I am having.

I would like to see a Government raise such diversified support without question, without petty racial or national bias, without concern of borders. While our governments fight over land, over religious beliefs, over oil rights, we share knowledge. We share a proud membership of a single global community.

Now here’s the kicker. As tech geeks we support each other but we also need support in order to do this. We need the support of software and hardware manufacturers to provide us the tools we need to perform our jobs and to do it with the same global, “we’re all in this together” attitude that we support each other with. We need equal availability to software regardless of what country we are in. We need devices that are not limited to releases only in certain countries. We need internet services that are available globally since we are a community on a global scale.

Sadly, we are not getting any of this. While we support each other without governmental bias or pointless regulations we do not get the same treatment from the industries that are supposed to support us. Software that is licensed to only an individual country. Computer technology that is restricted from certain countries because of some ridiculous patent lawsuit. Technology vendors that will only ship to specific countries. Internet based services that, even though the internet is world wide, limit their services to only certain countries.

These petty, narrow minded limitations and regulations are ridiculous. In this 21st century where citizens of different countries can work together, where communication is instantaneous, where someone can remotely connect to their home computer from an airplane flight a continent away it is truly pathetic that these governments and support industries cannot also think globally.

I wish governments and support industries would think the same way we do. We are not that different. We all have the same needs and wants in life. The things our governments fight over are small and pointless in the grander scheme of things. The regulations that manufacturers enforce to limit their services to specific countries only hurt their own success.

As IT Geeks we view ourselves as one huge global community. As a proud member of an open-minded, global community I lift a drink in salutation to all my fellow members and suggest that everyone get involved in online communities such as AUTechHeads (http://www.autechheads.com/), The SysAdmin Network (http://www.sysadmin-network.com/), or any of hundreds of other community sites on the internet.

Maybe someday our respective governments and industries will learn from our example.

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Don’t call me a guru

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Ooh, so you’re a (Technology, SEO, Marketing, Sales, Life, Motivational, Fitness, etc., etc. ad nauseum) (Guru, Expert, Wizard, Coach, Mentor, etc., etc. ad nauseum)? I’m honored to be humbled by your presence.

So, just how long did it take you to reach the pinnacle of your professional growth and attain stagnant mediocrity?

Harsh? Yes, but I’ll apologize a head of time for offending readers who are truly exceptional in skill at what they do and have earned professional respect.

Here’s the deal. Absolutely no disrespect is intended by my rant here but I hate the term “guru”, or any of the other self-righteous, windbag sounding titles people toss around online and in their internet profiles.

I’m no guru. Mind you, I’m damn good at what I do and I have earned respect for my skills. However, if I ever get to the point in my profession where I start calling myself a ‘guru’ then it’s time I find myself a new line of work.

To me, those terms I mention in the first sentence give the connotation of having no where to go professionally. No more to learn. Nothing left to improve. I truly hope to never reach that point.

I am a Professional, yes, but the position in my profession that I hope to achieve is Student, not Guru. If you have met your calling and you are in a profession that is truly what you are meant to do in life then you should never reach a point where you ‘know everything’. You should be a permanent student. Never stop learning. Never stop growing as a professional. Never stop pushing the boundaries of your skills and knowledge.

I personally am reminded daily of how much more there is in my profession to learn. Every successful achievement I get is tempered by some brain-damaged idiot mistake I make. I am painfully aware that there are literally thousands of individuals in my same line of work who are higher skilled than I am. There are people out there with huge ‘shadows’ to live under. People who make me look like some beginner. Examples of skill I try daily to reach. An organism that stops growing, stops changing, stops improving, dies.

I hope to never stop improving in both my life and my profession but I hope to never be to a point where I call myself a guru.

 

Now go burn those Tony Robbins CDs you’ve been listening to and get back to work.

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Death of a Power User

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As I write this I am sitting here between a Windows 7 Professional x64 laptop and a Windows Developer Preview, aka Windows 8, x64 laptop.

There are literally hundreds of various tech blogs out there right now concerning the new Windows 8 with its radically different Metro User Interface and why it is either amazing or wonderful or why it sucks and people hate it. As such I am not going to go over that here.

I will briefly state that I do kind of like it. It’s amazingly fast. It boots in fewer than 30 seconds which was previously unheard of for a Microsoft operating system. It’s pretty slick and radically different than every version of Windows that has come before it. It’s simple, straight-forward, intuitive, and ‘just works.’ (Aside from expected bugs since it’s not even Beta yet.)

“It’s simple, straight-forward, intuitive, and ‘just works’. ”

That statement is the reason for my blog rant here. Now before I continue I want something understood. I consider myself a self-proclaimed ‘Power User’, a total Microsoft fan, and a supporter of technological improvements.

I consider myself a Power User because I thrive in a tweaking, adjusting, customizing, troubleshooting my PC software and hardware type environment.

I pride myself on having to work for the performance I get from a PC. I figure if my computer runs well it’s because I’ve earned it by “making it mine” and bending it to my will.

I work for a circuit board manufacturer so I am intimately familiar with the advancement of technology and I support it completely.

Now back to that statement. “It’s simple, straight-forward, intuitive, and ‘just works’.”

I’ve seen a trend slowly happening in the industry since back in the Windows 98SE to early XP days that is steadily increasing, as shown by this new Windows 8 Metro UI, and it actually saddens me a bit.

The ‘Joe on the Street’ average consumer is not a Power User. They want a device that is easy to use, simple, and works right out of the box. They do not want to have to work for their performance. They do not want to have to think about their devices. They want it to “just work”.

This is shown by the huge success that Apple had achieved in the industry because their devices “just work.”

This success has rightly driven every other company to follow in this logic and start designing systems that are simpler and just work.

This is the trend I spoke of earlier. Industry popular demand has driven a need for companies to start making everything simpler. The devices are lazier. They’re awesome, yes, but they require no thought at all to operate.

The demand of consumers is so high that not only are devices becoming simpler to operate and not require any sort of customizing but manufacturers are even removing the ability to customize their devices even if you wanted to.

Phones have to be jail-broken or rooted in order to customize them. Software doesn’t even have Advanced features anymore. Operating Systems are being designed so that everything a user could possibly want is right at their fingertips.

I am a Power User and I am dying. As an ideal, at least, not literally.

I am being phased out and replaced by “simple, straight-forward, intuitive, and just works”.

Advanced skills necessary to customize technology are being replaced by the demand of the average consumer to be able to just take a device out of the box and use it.

This saddens me.

This, IN MY OPINION (so keep your flaming comments to yourself because I’m still allowed my own opinion) is a sign of Reverse Evolution.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in Evolution, abandon your beliefs and think as if Evolution is true and consider this example:

It is millions of years ago. I’m some little amphibian creature. I see dry land up above the water I’m in and think it might be cool to go check it out.

But, eh, right now I exist without having to do anything. I live a simple, straight-forward, and intuitive life. Life is easy and it “just works”.

…………….. Guess what …………………

*poof*

You, the reader, no longer exist.

You have been replaced by “simple, straight-forward, intuitive, and just works”.

You are the victim of a society that wants everything spoon fed to them. That doesn’t want to have to think or work for their performance.

You’re ‘dead’, metaphorically speaking.

Mark this day of your reading this post. In 10-15 years from now, remember it.

In 10-15 years from now, hell maybe even less, mankind will have automated systems that do nearly everything for them.

Your children or your children’s children won’t even know what the term ‘rooting’ means.

They most likely won’t even know how to read, write, or do basic math because technology will have provided them automated tools that do all that for them.

Now you tell me. Do you seriously consider that “progress”?

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Welcome to My World

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Even though I associate pretty much exclusively with other ‘tech geeks’ online I occasionally get asked what type of environment I work in and what it is that I do exactly. So, that lead me to write up one of my ‘oh so scarce’ blog posts to shed a little light on my daily life.

First off some background to set the plot. Currently I do not drive. Not for any legal limitations but for the simple fact that I’ve never actually bothered to get a drivers license. Too many years of living in small towns, or living with roommates, girlfriends, etc with cars all added together to my just never getting motivated enough to go get it. Yes I actually know how to drive, although I’m not too comfortable with the idea of traffic.

Yes, I realize I’m 41 and don’t have my license. Yes, I realize that makes me something of a loser.

Deal with it!

Spend a day in my public transit taking shoes and you’ll wet yourself and go running home to mom. Thanks to my public transit life, I am out of bed at 3am and I get home at 6:30-7:00pm.

Now on to where I work and what I do. I am a Network Administrator according to my business card. However, I am also a PC Support Technician, Laser Printer Support Technician, Remote User Support, Technology Buyer, Maintainer of Cellphones, Wireless PDAs, Smartphones, Barcode Scanners, Label Printers, Switches, Access Points, Puller of Miles of Cat5e, Necromancer of long dead technology, Keeper of one of the Rings of Power, General Nuisance to my Boss & Co-workers and overall BOFH.

I work with my boss, the IT Manager, who worked his way into that position by also ‘wearing my shoes’ and he’s very good at pretty much everything. I also work with a .NET and Silverlight Coding Wizard who does things with code that boggles my mind. We are currently looking for another ‘Code Wizard’ so we will soon be an IT Department of 4. However, our duties rarely coincide.

I could not write a string of code to save my life but chances are if you’re having issues with a computer related piece of equipment, it’s my problem. From an IT Industry standard, I’m probably considered Tier 1 through 3 and a sprinkling of 4.

Education-wise, I have my CompTIA A+ PC Technician Certification, CompTIA Network+ Network Administrator Certification, Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) and I’m currently cramming for MCITP Server Administrator Certification. Outside of the ‘official’ education I’ve been tearing apart PCs and putting them back together since my mom’s old 8088.

When I’m not fixing, installing, or troubleshooting some weird issue at work, I field support submissions online on AllExperts.com and am one of, if not the, highest ranked “Expert” in their ‘PC hardware – CPU & Motherboard & RAM category.

I like to think I know what I’m doing and I’m good at my job. However, if you work in IT you are well aware that none of us are truly ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’. We are permanent students of technology.

Now, on to my work. For a brief lead in let me re-direct you to a YouTube video:

How It’s Made: Circuit Boards

That is the environment that I work in. Manufacturing equipment, Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) jackets, foot straps, ID badges, Foreign Object Debris (FOD) control.

We are a contract circuit board manufacturer. We build for numerous customers in the Military & Aerospace Industry, Medical Industry, and Commercial Industry. Many of our current, or past customers are likely familiar names. Intel, Motorola, Ericsson, Hewlett-Packard, Cray, plus may more. In my 11 years here I’ve seen many come and go.

Any piece of equipment here with a computer controlling it is my problem. I work on everything from old screen printers with old Pentium 1, 2, or 3’s running on Windows NT or Windows 98 to modern De-Ionizing Wash Stations and Manufacturing Data Tracking systems running Windows 7.

We have 140-ish Employees, over 380 active PCs, and over 30 Networked HP Laserjet Printers. We have Symbol, Opticon, and Welch-Allyn Barcode Scanners and Zebra or Brady Thermal-Transfer Label Printers. And guess who takes care of them all?

My work is a Tech Geeks dream and an excellent company. While the pay may not be as high as some IT Consultants might get, the company treats it’s people like family, there are good benefits, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Outside of my work, I am a happily married Husband to a, fortunately, very patient and long-suffering Wife and a Step-Father to two seriously awesome teenagers. A 17 year old step-Daughter and a 14 year old step-Son.

This is My World. Welcome to it, have a look around. You break anything, you bought it and don’t step on the flower beds on your way out.

Posted in IT Insanity, Random Rants | 1 Comment

Getting Social with your Business

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First off, a Disclaimer, credit needs to go where credit is due. The information I’m re-posting below came from a Skillpath (www.skillpath.com) Seminar titled ‘The Social Media Marketing Conference’. I just found the information of value and their conferences may not be available in all areas so I decided to post some highlights in my own words.

So, your boss has approached you and asked you:

“What’s this deal with all this Social Media stuff? We’re not doing it and our competitors are. Get on that!”

Aw crap, now what?!

Well, first off Social Media definitely can be very useful for businesses. But, where to start?

First off, you need to develop a Social Media strategy. What exactly does your company want to accomplish by getting into Social Media?

The goals of Social Media in the Enterprise are:

• Drive traffic to your web site

• Respond to customer service issues

• Promote your business

• Give your business a higher, more visible public profile

• Generate Sales leads

• Share your particular expertise to a wider audience

• Interact with your customers on a more personal level

• Raise public awareness to the business and customers will come to you

Figure out what your company wants and then figure out steps necessary to reach that goal.

An acronym you need to keep in mind, which applies to every business on Earth regardless of what you do. We all have ‘customers’, either internal or external, and they all only care about one thing.

WIIFM

“What’s In It For Me”

Think like a customer. What does your business do that will benefit your customer? Now figure out the best avenues to take to reach those current, and potential, customers to let them know what that is. They need to be told what’s in it for them if they choose to do business with your company.

Now how do you get this message out? There are several options and all have their own special value and methods to accomplish that goal. It is highly recommended to you more than one of the following methods in your Social Media Strategy.

Website

  •  Current design. Websites 5+ years old, written in older code methods, get poor Search Engine Optimization.
    If a Search Engine can’t find your website, then neither will your potential customers.
  • Heavily use Keywords that potential customers would search for

Facebook

  • A Social Profile Site
  • Valuable for Public Relations
  • Provide a ‘Human’ face to your business
  • Post more casual information about your business
  • Environmental Initiatives
  • Charitable Involvements
  • Workplace Environment
  • Job Opportunities
  • Company Activities

Twitter

  • A Social Conversation Site
  • Information Feed
  • Press Release Outlet
  • Customer Feedback/Support
  • Contests, Specials
  • Job Opportunities

LinkedIn

  • A Business Profile Site
  • Corporate Profile
  • Business To Business Networking
  • Staff Profiles/Information

Wikipedia

  • A Business Information Site
  • Technical information about business
  • Company History, Services
  • Customer Links (as approved)
  • Links to Management profiles
  • Data should be ‘static’ facts about the company to cut down on ‘upkeep’

Those are just the outlets that appealed to my specific business. There are also YouTube, Blogs, AllExperts, likely far more than I can easily think of right now.

One thing you need to keep in mind when figuring out your Social Media Strategy.

“All Roads Lead to Rome”

Basically, all of the above options have the same goal, to increase your business. As such it is important that all of the Social Media outlets you use link to each other, as well as straight to your business.

  • Website link to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages
  • Facebook linked to Website, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn linked to Website
  • Twitter profile linked to Website
  • Always ensure that Press Releases contain link to Website

Other beneficial practices

  • Attend Events, directly related to your industry or not, for face to face networking opportunities. Human Resources functions, Charitable Events, Technology Seminars/Conferences
  • Track your presence within the social media environment
  • Manage your online reputation or someone else will manage it for you and it may not be who you want.
  • Monitor what is being said about your business online
  • Review what your competition and customers are doing in Social Media

I could write up an entire series on the basic steps that need to be taken to get into Social Media but there are many books out there on the subject for you to get more information. These minor highlights alone should be enough to get you interested so, Dive In!

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Perspective

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Yesterday I found out that my 16 year old step-daughter needs back surgery for a couple herniated disks.
Last night I found out how much ‘out of pocket’ that surgery is going to cost me.
It’s a bit over $3,800, which I don’t have but that’s not the point of this little rant here.

The point is I was awake most of the night stressing over it. Plus I have a ton of projects at work I need to get done and I was stressing over those too.

Today, on my way to work, still stressing about my life and my job, I found $0.35 on the sidewalk.
I thought to myself, ‘Hey, coupled with some change in my desk I can grab a soda from the vending machine. Cool’.

Stupid little thing to have happen but that made me a little happier.

Then I walked to my next bus stop and looked across the street and my stomach sank. Sitting on the sidewalk across the street was a homeless lady, bundled up as tightly as she could, wearing old worn out clothes, with an old cup in front of her for hand-outs.

It’s winter. It’s 35f outside. And I suddenly felt like a complete asshole.

I immediately walked across the street and dropped that $0.35 in her cup.

Here I am, stressed over work. Stressed over medical bills. Trying to come up with ideas on how to deal with both.
The catch is, I have a life that gives me things to stress over. I have an amazing wife, two awesome step-kids, a damned good job, health insurance that is at least covering all but the $3,800 left on my deductible, a nice apartment, and many other things I take for granted.

This lady, sitting in the freezing cold, has none of those and would likely give anything to have my ‘stressful life’.

An ‘eye opener’ to say the least.

The next time your life’s difficulties have you stressed out, stop for a moment and remember the things you do have.

The next time you walk into a Starbucks for your morning coffee and see some homeless person on the sidewalk, either give them your change or at least buy them a coffee.

Chances are that infinitesimal act will be the most kindness that person has had given to them in weeks.

Perspective

Posted in Random Rants | 3 Comments

Dear User

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Dear User,

Remember that time you spilled coffee on your keyboard before I got to work, then got mad at me when I came in because I wasn’t there to get you a new keyboard and you lost the spreadsheet you were working on?

Oh yeah, that was my fault.

Or that time I spent three days pricing, ordering, and building that custom computer for you, then drove 50 miles to your house and installed it and I ended up taking a hit on the price because I gave you a deal. Then one week later you called me, yelling about how I ripped you off and I had to come back and remove tons of malware, free of charge, because your kid installed Limewire on it?

Oh yeah, that was my fault.

There was also that time you plugged in your own personal thumb drive into your work computer that happened to be infected and the anti-virus software wiped the data off the drive? You posted to Facebook about how worthless the IT Guys are and how you had to spend hours recreating your work.

Oh yeah, that was my fault.

Or that brand new laptop I ordered and set up for you, that I later had to come and uninstall five different toolbars from because it was “too slow and I should have ordered you a better laptop”?

Oh yeah, that was my fault.

Oh, by the way.

That time I came in on my weekend to do a server upgrade that increased your network speed by 15% and you didn’t even notice.

Or that time I spent 3 days’ worth of my lunch breaks cleaning viruses off your personal computer, as a favor, and you never even so much as thanked me for it.

Or that time I went to our off-site storage to pull an old backup tape and recover some email conversation from a year ago that you suddenly needed desperately.

Or there was that time you gave me a one week deadline to finish a project that you spent 2 years planning and never told me about.

Oh yeah, almost forgot.

That new employee you told me about on a Friday afternoon, that was to start work the following Monday and needed a laptop, a cellphone, and desk phone ran, and I did it.

Those were my fault too.

Signed, “That Damned IT Guy”

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The Way of the Warrior and Modern IT Practices

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(For the sake of necessary background, in case you are not aware of whom he is, Musashi Myamoto was a Samurai. He is arguably the greatest swordsman in history. Between the ages of 13 and 28, he engaged in over 60 duels, ‘encounters’ as he put them, and never lost, not once. Back then losing generally meant death, so in his line of work one only ever failed once.)

In 1645, in his book ‘The Book of Five Rings, Musashi Myamoto wrote the following:

“There are four Ways in which men pass through life: as gentleman, farmers, artisans and merchants.”

The Way of the Farmer was then, and really still is, the life of someone who works according to the seasons. They provide goods and services that change according to the seasonal needs of the consumer.

Many have a work ethic where their true purpose comes more from the enjoyment of providing a product or service of value than from a need to make a profit. They do, what they do, because they love it, not because it will make them wealthy.

The Way of the Merchant is similar to the Farmer. They work very hard to provide a good or service. However, their motivation is different. The merchant’s primary goal is to earn as good of a lifestyle for themselves and their family as possible. Simply put, they work to get wealthy. The Merchant is someone who feels “the end justifies the means.” They always have a clear goal that they are working to accomplish and make sure that they are always paid well for their skills.

Now the two ways I find interesting, which have inspired me to write this comparison, are The Way of the Gentleman and The Way of the Artisan.

Samurai warriors of the time generally fell into one of these two ways of life.

The Way of the Gentleman, or Gentleman Warrior as he refers to it, is someone “carrying the weaponry of his Way.” This is someone who is generally always prepared for pretty much anything in their line of work. They have considerable skill with the tools of their trade and always have what they need to get a job done.

Gentleman Warriors, while they should have knowledge for planning and strategy, generally prefer to simply be prepared ‘for whatever life throws at them.’ They are exceptional at improvising, ‘thinking on their feet’, and adjusting their way of solving a problem quickly as the need arises.

In my mind, a good IT example of a Gentleman Warrior is a Field Service Technician. This person is called out at a moment’s notice, with no real idea what they are getting in for, and they absolutely have to be prepared to handle whatever troubleshooting task they come across. The sheer nature of the job means they can’t prepare a plan of action well in advance.

Now, The Way of the Artisan is similar. However, while the artisan is also extremely skilled in the tools of their trade, they generally are masters of strategy and planning. They have a solid plan of action before ever beginning a job. When something comes up that they were not expecting, they carefully figure out the best course of action, make the necessary changes to their plan, and then implement the necessary actions to accomplish their goal.

A good example of an artisan in IT would be a Systems Administrator, or a Software Development Engineer.

These individuals have a clear goal to accomplish and a well laid out plan in place to accomplish that goal.

Which of these ways are you?

Ideally, I would say the best way to work in IT is to take traits from all of these.

Take pride in your work and sense of accomplishments as a Farmer does.

Make sure that you never ‘under-sell’ yourself and always strive to earn what you deserve as a Merchant does.

Do your best to strategically plan out the best way of accomplishing a goal as an Artisan does but always be prepared to fluidly change your plan for the unexpected as a Gentleman Warrior does.

We are modern day Samurai in a world of technology.

(On a side note, I recommend reading The Book of Five Rings, by Musashi Myamoto. The book is public domain and freely available in digital format online and through many e-Reader programs.)

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