Sunday, December 27, 2009

Road trip to the end of Highway 109

For a while now I have been wanting to go out to Ocean Shores for a little decompression, so I took advantage of this holiday weekend and made the trip out there.

In the past when I have gone to Ocean Shores I always wondered where the road that heads North of the town would take me, so this time instead of just cruising around the town and/or driving on the beach I headed North on Highway 109 and had a blast

The drive on Highway 109 from Ocean Shores to it's end at Taholah is one of the most scenic drives I have been on, so I am really glad I brought my camera along with me. I took a bunch of photos with my Canon A630 and just posted them to my Picasa Web Album. I don't profess to be even a marginally good photographer, but I had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit while taking the shots. I plan to play around with both Picasa and Flickr for hosting future photos for my blogs. It's going to be a learning experience, but it's going to be a fun one.

From Seattle the drive itself is aprroximately 150 miles each way, and given the traffic and speed limits that translates into about 6 hours of driving time. Other than a cantankerous dog, and someone passing while on a bridge the drive was pretty safe and stress free.

If you decide to make the tip be sure to fuel up in Aberdeen/Houquiam because gas stations are a rarity on 109, and if you want to have a good burger on the way back then swing by the Sand Castle Drive-In in Ocean Shores.

Take a look at my web album, and feel free to leave a comment if you want.

Cheers! ~ Jim

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday fun: Christmas with Click the Mouse

Yeah I know it's a commercial for Geek Rescue, but it's geeky and Christmasee, and that's what counts!



Nollaig Shona Duit (Merry Christmas) ~ Jim

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday fun: Hyperactive Marienkäfer

I think you will enjoy these two videos from Minuscule featuring a hyperactive Marienkäfer (Lady Bug:)





Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday fun: BYO USB Christmas Lights

Just in time for holiday season is this video from gigafide on converting battery powered Christmas lights into USB powered Christmas lights:



Be sure to check out the Tinkernut site for more cool projects. Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday fun: Simon's Cat 'Fly Guy'

I can definitely relate to this Simon's Cat video, but in my case only a lamp was damaged:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Monday, November 30, 2009

FYI: 2009 Colas For The Cosmos Binocular Giveaway

Just a quick FYI that I just posted an announcement for the 2009 Colas For The Cosmos Giveaway over at my Coudymidnights astronomy blog.

If you know of a child between 8 and 14 who has an interest in astronomy, but cannot afford their own astronomical equipment, then check out the post for details.

Cheers ~ Jim Cox

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday fun: Thanksgiving Cranberry Slaughter - JibJab.com

Have you ever wondered what takes place in the making of cranberry sauce? Well thanks to JibJab.com the terrifying truth can now be told from the cranberry's point of view:



Hope you had a great T-Day! ~ Jim

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday fun: Cats, Cops, and Computers

I just love this YouTube video of the (mostly) patient cop dealing with a overly friendly kitten while writing a speeding ticket. By the way, there isn't any sound with this dashcam video:



You can read more about the story behind this video in this KOMOnews.com posting, and check out this video of the cat and his owner (err.. human):



Some people think cats are brainless, but as this posting points out even a super computer with 147,456 processors and 144 terabytes of memory still runs 100 times slower than an cat's brain. So next time you see a kitten or cat doing something "brainless" just remember there's a exaflop processor with over 14 petabytes of memory behind those wiskers.

Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday fun: Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do' and Simons Cat (real)

If you are a cat person with access to a computer then I am sure you have seen Simon's Cat 'Cat Man Do' from simonscat:



Now check out this 'real' verion of 'Cat Man Do' by derrobsi:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday fun: Mac vs. PC ad - Webcam upgrade

This would have been funnier if they used duct tape:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday fun: Halloween computer pranks and tales.

Tomorrow is Halloween so here are some treats for for all you Geeks and Ghouls out there.

First off there is the "Virus of Doom Prank" from the Household Hacker Channel



Next is Howcast's "How To Play a Halloween Computer Prank"



Lastly some of you may appreciate cnet.com's "Spooky tech tales to make your computer crawl"

Have a great weekend and a scary Halloween ~ Jim

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday fun: Death Kite - A Charlie Brown Horror Movie

I think this is an appropriate Friday Fun clip given that Halloween is just a few weeks away:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday fun: Bad day in the Office

Here's another good reason to get rid of that old CRT monitor.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Friday fun: Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

This looks so cool! We didn't have anything like this when I was a kid, then again those aren't kids riding this Merry-Go-Round.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday fun: Lego Computer

Lots of Lego + computer parts + 1 focused individual = A really cool video!



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

PS: Here is a link to the builder's blog: http://tfvlrue.wordpress.com/

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday fun: Revenge of the Nerds trailer

I came across this trailer for Revenge of the Nerds a while back, and I thought it would make a great Friday Fun post so check it out.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday fun: CDROM Tray Cup Warmer / Cooler

I 'm still in a geeky project mood, so I thought I would post this video from Jeri Ellsworth where she transforms a CDROM drive not just in to a cup holder, but in to a cup holder that can both heat or cool a cup. I like the fact she uses a 6502, 8080, and a Z80 in the project:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday fun: Weekend Project - Spider Rifle

I thought I would take a break from the humor posts today, and instead post this video from Make Magazine. Even if you are not an arachnophile like me I think you will agree that this is a really cool weekend project:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday fun: Blow Horn Pager - Technical Support

There have been many a day where something like this would have come in handy!



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Monday, August 24, 2009

Excellent Eats: T-Bonz in Enumclaw

Today was one of those days where after work I just needed to get out for a drive to clear my head, so I changed out of my work clothes and in to a T-shirt and jeans then hopped in the truck and took off. I also needed a change from the local diner that I frequent, so I decided to head off to Issaquah and see what wondrous eats I could find there. As I drove down Front Street I noticed a local grill and thought I would try it, so I parked my truck and walked over to the place. I opened the door, took one look at the crowd, and all I could say to the hostess was "Nope".

I trundled back to my truck, got in, started it up, said "The Hell with Issaquah", and took off to parts unknown (or at least infrequently explored in the recent decade). After twisting and turning, and flying though places such as Hobart, Ravensdale, and Black Diamond I ended up in Enumclaw. I thought at least here in Enumclaw I might find a nice quiet little "eats" sort of place, and as I drove through the town I noticed a sign for "T-Bonz Steak and Prime Rib House", and thought to myself "Yeah, that's the place to try tonight".

Now I have to admit that I was looking for an "eats" sort of place, and I figured being in a small town such as Enumclaw I might make a really good find. So I parked my truck and walked across the street and walked in to a big surprise. I walked in to T-Bonz, took a look around at the nicely placed napkins and silverware, and thought to myself "T-shirts and jeans aren't going to cut it here", then I was greeted by a waiter (who turns out to be the co-owner of the place) and his Hawaiian shirt and jeans made me feel right at home.

It turns out that T-Bonz is owned by Gary and Sarina Zesiger, with Gary working the front, and Sarina working the kitchen. Gary recommended I try the open faced prime rib sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes, so that's what I got, and it made my day.

The prime rib has got to be some of the best I ever had, and the garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli were excellent. I spoke with Gary a little and it turns out that he and Sarina started T-Bonz about a year ago. It takes courage to pursue a dream such as a restaurant and Gary and Sarina deserve a lot of credit for doing so, and if the quality of their food along with their friendliness towards customers are any indication then they are on the right track. Unfortunately due to the slow economy they are temporarily discontinuing lunch and only serving dinner, but hopefully this will only be for a short time.

Seriously, the prime rib on the sandwich was excellent, so much so that I am definitely making the trip out to Enumclaw in the next week or so to try one of their steaks. Yeah, it is a long drive from Bellevue, but was worth it, and after having a great meal I also got a special treat of a beautiful sunset as I headed back to Bellevue the long way along Highway 410.

If you live in the Enumclaw area, or just happen to be passing through, or you're a stressed out geek like me who needs to go for a drive then consider having your eats at T-Bonz Steak and Prime Rib House in Enumclaw.

T-Bonz Steak and Prime Rib House
1239 Griffin Ave.
Enumclaw, WA.
360-825-2445
(Reservations preferred, though I got in fine :)

Psst! If you think this is an add or a shill piece it isn't. T-Bonz is a great little find, and I really want to support small business people like Gary and Sarina who are doing a great job in a tough economy, plus I really want to share this fantastic find with those who read my blogs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday fun: Gopher Broke!

Yeah, this can pretty much sum up my week :-)



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday fun: Zombies in Plain English

After all that went on this week this video seemed appropriate:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Friday fun: Computer surplus

Check out this video of some creative ways of using old computer components:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday fun: Hammer time!

While it takes a little time for this video to get going, I think you will enjoy this clip from the San Juan de la Vega exploding sledgehammer festival. It ends with a real bang!:



Thanks to Michael Citrak for sending me the link. Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday fun: Majority of the world's spam traced to a single source

This is one busy cat:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim
PS: I am sure at least one other person has thought of this gag :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday fun: Random Funny Crashes - How did they do that?

I felt today's video clip was perfect considering what happened to me on Wednesday



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rough day

In a nutshell, I was injured in a car accident tonight while taking an alternate route home due to the I-90 construction, and after a harrowing cab ride home from the hospital, I found out my mom has had another heart attack (three small ones in the last two weeks.)

I am a sore from the accident, though my little Ford Ranger seems to have gotten through with a minor scrape or two on the rear fender. The other driver's Accura had a mashed up hood from rear-ending me. What pisses me is that the three guys in the other car were laughing after the accident, that is until the State Trooper showed up. I don't know what was scarier, the accident or the cab ride home. I didn't have anyone to take me home, so I had to take a cab, and it was like an E Ticket ride at Disneyland.

When I got home there were a couple of calls from family stating that my mom was back in the hospital. She has had three minor heart attacks in the last two weeks, and it doesn't look good. I have to arrange some sort of care for her which is hard since she lives far away from me.

Not to sound selfish, but I am worried about how this all will impact my new job, since I am on a 90 day probation as a new employee. What's scary is that I have to deal with all this on my own. That kind of hit me when I was laying in the ER and wondering how I got home, and then it really hit me after I got home at 10:00 PM and talked to my relatives. I am hoping things will turn around, but I won't be blogging for a few days until the dust settles.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Friday Fun: Steve Jobs Prank Calls Starbucks

Here's a little somethign for all you Mac geeks and Starbuckers out there:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Friday Fun: Obama the Nerd President

I love this video of humorist John Hodgman roasting President Obama, and referring to him as the “Nerd President”. While it's true that President Obama doesn't know the three different types of Hobbits (neither do I), he did collect comics, knows the Vulcan "salute", and he loves tech. It's a long video, but it's worth a watch.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friday Fun: Want a new PC? Just add water

Here's another creative way to get a new PC.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Friday Fun: A couple of laughs for the end of the week

As these two clips show some tools that shouldn't be allowed at work.





Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friday Fun: Funny Computer Cats

I don't know what it is about this video, but I love it!



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Fun: Loituma - Leva's Polka

Today I found out I have a new job, so in celebration of my being un-unemployed I decided to post a "happy" song for today's Friday Fun. The two songs that instantly came to mind were "Leva's Polka" by Loituma, or the Renn and Stimpy classic "Happy Happy Joy Joy". I decided on "Leva's Polka" because I have alway found it an up beat and cheery song.



If you are currently unemployed then try listening to this song when ever you're a feeling down. Hopefully it will cheer you up, and remember to keep on plugging on. I'll post more about my new job in a later post. Take care, and have a great weekend ~ Jim

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

SF Weekly.com: Funemployment

While trundling around Digg.com today I came across an entry for "Funemployment" from SF Weekly.com, and I have to say that I found the article very engrossing.

Recently I've been dealing with a lot of "inertia" due to the extended length time that I have been unemployed, and reading this article helped me refocus my view of the situation.

The article is primarily focused on Twenty and Thirty Somethings in the San Francisco area, and how they are coping with their extended unemployment, and while the title of the article does imply these Twenty and Thirty Somethings are having fun while being unemployed there is more to the it than that. Many of those interviewed in the article are using their free time to rediscover their goals and the paths that they really want to follow, or at least that is the impression I got from the article.

One line from the article that really hit home for me was this "More psychologically significant than the income loss, she says, is the morbid condition of "feeling ineffectual in the world."

Without a doubt that has been the biggest hit for me, and reading this article helped me recognize that the feeling of being ineffectual in the world has led to inertia that I have been struggling with. While the feeling of inertia is still there, I now have clearer view of the situation and I believe I can get past it and move forward.

If you are in a situation similar then I strongly suggest you give this article a read. Also be sure to check out the blogs Funemployment Blog and Unemploymentality for more interesting reading on the subject..

Cheers ~ Jim

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun: Max Headroom - Paranoimia

Here's a little blast from the past that those of us who remember the 80's might enjoy:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friday Fun: Keep It Simple

Some times it's just best to keep it simple and consider the obvious solution:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Problems accessing Google via Qwest DSL

UPDATE TO THE ORIGINAL POST @ 6:30 PM PST 05/14/09: Computerworld - Google suffers major failure Well it does look like there was an issue with Google today, though not everyone affected in the same way. My plan now is to develop a protocol for dealing with such outages by taking such steps as "Don't panic", take a deep breath, do a little more research before calling tech support, and wait it out if all practical. I still believe though that ISPs should have a better way of alerting their staff when such acute outages occur so that they can change the way they deal with end users who call in.


ORIGINAL POST:

Sorry for throwing this entry up here, but I have been dealing with an ongoing problem, and I am trying to connect with others who have also been dealing with this same problem in the hope of getting to the root cause. I have been having problems with temporary outages to all Google services (search, GMail, Blogspot, etc.) via my DSL connection from Qwest. I am still able to access other sites when this problem occurs, it is only Google services that are affected.

So far the outages have occurred on the following days:
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2009 from Noon to 1:00 PM PST
  • Thursday, May 14, 2009 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM PST
  • Note: My location is in Seattle, WA. and because I am expecting more outages I will update this list as they occur.
For the first two outages I went through the steps of calling Qwest customer service and went along with the standard triage of my DSL router/modem. Of course checking the DSL router/modem didn't fix the problem, and only after a lengthy conversation with Qwest was I told that there seems to be a problem with accessing Google. In each case prior to calling Qwest I checked with friends via chat to see if they could access Google and they could. Some of the friends were in the Seattle area while others were out of state, but in all instances they were using ISPs other than Qwest for Internet access.

If you live in the Seattle area and are a Qwest customer, and you have been having trouble accessing Google, please leave a comment or send me an email. I have been trying to find out what has been going on, but Qwest hasn't been very helpful. One manager even went so far as to tell me to call Google at 650-253-0000 which was useless, since Google doesn't offer tech support. By the way, if you work for either Qwest or Google, and you know what is going on feel free to leave an anonymous comment.

Thanks ~ Jim

Bits and blurbs for May 14, 2009

Here are few articles that I have come across recently that I found interesting and worth sharing:
  • First off is Leo Babauta's article on Zen Habits - 6 Small Things You Can Do When You Lack Discipline. Whether you are a job seeker struggling with your job search, or still at your job and trying to stay motivated, or you just keep beating your self up because you feel you are lacking discipline in general, then give Leo's article a read because he gives some really excellent advice.
  • OK I admit it, I am a geek and I am proud of it, so I have gone ahead and added GeekAdvancement.com to links lists on three of my blogs (this blog, Geeks Who Care, and 8-Bit Retro). There is a great little video on the site featuring The Woz, Will Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and many other famous geeks. Give it a view, but be forewarned that it can be a little chuggy at at times. If you want to find out more about GeekAdvancement.com then check out the About page.
  • Over at Shore Street Software you will find Beware Programming Language Requirements On Job Postings which brings up some good points for employers and recruiters about how to compose job postings so as to bring in the best qualified people, in this case programmers.
  • Apple's Woz Boosts Tech for Schools from PCWorld is about Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (aka The Woz) joining the Board of Directors of TechForEducators.com. TechForEducators.com sells software to educators, and partners with the Kids in Need Foundation to offer free school supplies to disadvantaged students here in the US.
  • HotHardware.com has an interesting piece titled "iSuppli: SSD Energy Savings Could Power A Nation from" about the projected power savings that would occur if data centers were to switch from using Hard Drives to Solid State Drives. The author makes a good point of questioning the numbers, and how quickly this SSD technology will be adapted, but still the potential power savings of SSD technology is something to consider.
That's it for now. I am still trying to think of something for this upcoming Friday Fun. If you have some suggestions, drop me a line. Cheers ~ Jim

Friday, May 08, 2009

Friday Fun: Who, what, huh?

Fans of Abbott and Costello should enjoy this computer spoof version of their famous "Who's on first?" routine:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Fun: Just say yes to telemarketers

Today's Friday fun was inspired by my previous post "Job seeker beware!", and is dedicated to Angela at Employment Select :)

Remember to just say "yes" to telemarketers:



I don't know how this guy keeps a straight face, but he deserves a banana for this one:



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Job seeker beware!

Normally I try to refrain from grousing or posting anything negative in this blog, but today just as I was wrapping up today's job search my phone rang and on the other end was a telemarketer (of sorts), and I just have to post about it. Actually this is going to be more of a warning for other job seekers than my grousing about what happened to me because once I figured out what was going on I actually had a little fun by just saying yes and going along with the scam for a while (plus I was kind of bored :)

As I stated above I was wrapping up my job search when the phone rang. As soon as I grabbed the phone and I said "Hello" an automated message started up stating that the call was from a company called Employment Select, and that they are a screening service for an employer who I submitted a resume to. The robo-message went on to say that I was to call back and talk with one of their screeners about the position I applied for. The number that I was supposed to call back was 646-520-0695, which is the exact same number that my Caller ID listed. Now what I found interesting was that my Caller ID listed the caller as "VOXBONE / NYC2". (If anyone can provide some insight about this ID, then leave a comment)

Instantly the little red flags started coming up, but I thought what the Hell, I need a job and the call should be covered by my calling plan. I called the number and right off the bat I got another robo-message, with this one telling me that one of their screeners will be right with me, and that I will need to be in front of a computer with Internet access to facilitate answering the questions. The message went on to say that the ID of the potential employer will be kept confidential at this time. (Hmmm, more red flags went up).

So I waited another 10 seconds or so and BAM! I was once again listening to another robo-message pretty much telling me the same thing as the previous message, and then it told me to wait which I did. Eventually an "Angela" came on the line and started in with her scripted speech about how she was supposed to screen me for an "IT Assistant" position that I applied for, and she needed to verify my information. She asked for my telephone number and after she entered it in her system she then asked me to verify the information she had listed - Name, Address, and all the other rot, which was all correct. She then went on to tell me the process would take up to 45 minutes, and repeated what the robo message said about my needing to be in front of a computer with Internet access to proceed. (I don't know why, but this sent up even more red flags)

Somewhere in the middle of all this I interrupted Angela and asked her why Employment Select didn't offer a toll free number for prospective employees to call in, so as to save us poor unemployed soles some pennies. Her response was something in the line of "Well for you to get the job I need to ask you some questions", and she proceeded on with her ramble.

I interrupted her again, and asked who the employer was, and could she provide me with more details about the job. All she could tell me was the the employer was confidential at this time, and the position was for an IT Assistant. Angela then went on to ask me if I was in the job market and interested in this job, and I replied "yes". She then continued on to ask a few more questions which I now forget, and then she asked me how long I had been in the business. I gave my answer, and she replied "Excellent! You qualify for the job, and I am going to refer you to the employer" I thought "OK, this is cool" and then this is where the sales pitch started.

"Mr. Cox, could you tell me about your education? Do you have a degree?" OK, at this point the red flags were really flying because I list my education history and degrees on my resume, and shouldn't this screener have a copy of my resume? I replied that I had an AAS, and then Angela asked if I was offered a chance to work full time and go to school, with all expenses paid would I do so. Knowing that this was way too good to be true I replied "Yeah, sure" She then went to say that she had set me up with a adviser from another, so that I could discuss my educational plans, and that I needed to call them right away. She then gave me the number; 321-249-1490, and once again told me that I must call them right away, "no more then 10 minutes from now". We then said our goodbyes.

I sat at my desk wondering why didn't the call take 45 minutes like I was told (and yes, I am grateful it didn't). Maybe the second call would take that much time, but I wasn't going to find out. Instead of calling the second number I decided to enjoy the Sun and went out for lunch, and then took a walk. Later in the day I called the number just to see who it was and I got yet another robo-message thanking me for calling the Education Advising Division of Education Connection.

What I figure had happened, and let this be a warning to others, is that I applied for a position at one of the less than reputable job search sites, and my information was then passed along to Employment Select / Education Connection just so I could be suckered in to some scam. Now I suggest that if you have read this far and are interested in looking into this scam, you copy the phone numbers I listed and do an online search for them. You'll come up with several sites where people describe experiences similar to mine.

What's really sad is that the people are literally preying on the hopes and dreams of people who are desperately looking for work, and while Angela and her coworkers also need the work, I personally think they could do much better in the food service industry serving burgers and shakes than trying to sucker people in to some sort of scam. Like I suggested above, if you are interested in investigating this scam then search out the telephone numbers, and from there make your own conclusions. If you happened to have a similar experience with these companies, feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

By the way, this experience is inspiration for tomorrow's "Friday Fun"

Cheers ~ Jim

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The ultimate air cannon robot from Vex Robotics

A friend recently sent me a link about what has got to be the ultimate air cannon robot, and I just had to post about it!

Check out "Air Cannon Looking for Targets (Video)" from ROBOTS DREAMS!

The robot was produced by Vex Robotics, and this thing is just freaking awesome! Once you view the video in the article showing all the mechanical aspects of the robot then move on to the videos of this thing shooting. Here's a picture of the cannon from the article:

Vex air canon robot

This has got to be the ultimate in cubicle warfare, but you wouldn't dare use it would you :)

This is definitely inspiration for me to get moving with my little NXT robot project, and then move on to bigger and better robotics projects. I'll definitely checking out both ROBOTS DREAMS, and Vex Robotics for lots of ideas and more great articles ~ Jim

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friday Fun: Milton moments

Here are some of my favorite Milton moments from the movie Office Space!





You know you are in trouble when they fix the glitch, take your stapler, and move you down stairs. Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Broadcom makes a bid for Emulex, and someone want's to talk to me about it?

I guess the big news item for me today has got to be Broadcom's unsolicited offer to buy my former employer Emulex for $764 million, or $9.25 a share. For the sake of reference here is the ZDNet article about the offer: "Broadcom makes $764 million bid for Emulex"

While the news of the offer is interesting enough, for me what's even more interesting about this news item is that I didn't find out about it via the normal tech sites or RSS feeds. Instead I found out about the offer via an email from a 2nd tier contact on Linkedin.com. Apparently this person represents a consulting group, and they wanted to know if I was willing to offer my services as a "consultant" and speak with an analyst about Broadcom's offer, and provide any insight into the matter.

Now I am an "Experienced Technology Professional" (who's also unemployed and can use the extra funds), but the fact of the matter is that's all I am, just an experienced technology professional who really can not not provide any insight into this whole shebang. My only guess as to why this person contacted me is that as soon as they found out about the offer they then searched through their Linkedin contacts for anyone who had worked for Emulex, and who also listed their contact info. Once they had my contact info. they they shot off the email.

If this person had actually read my Linkedin profile they would seen that I was never in any real position to be able to offer an insight into something so significant as Broadcom's offer. I can definitely provide insight into some technology not covered by an NDA, but no way in Hell would I be of any use to the analyst, so this whole "consulting" thing is nothing more than a shotgun approach to finding information and profiting from it. I also state in my profile that while I am open to consulting, said consulting must not involve any current or past employers. Of course that fact is only visible if you are logged into Linkedin, but this person had to be logged into Linkedin to get my contact info, so they should have seen the limitations I set.

Such are the joys of being an open networker, lot's of potential offers (aka spam, scams, and shams), and only a few real offers or contacts that mean anything.

Since I am on the subject of Emulex, I want to take this time to mention the "Emulex Alumni Group" on Linked in that I started just last week. If you are a current or past employee of Emulex, you are more than welcome to join. It's sort of weird that I started this group last Thursday, and then this news hits today. Talk about coincidence!

Well that's it for this post. Keep an eye out for the next Friday Fun post ~ Jim

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday Fun: Spam, spam, spam, spam.......

In my previous blog entry I listed a Slashdot article about a study commissioned by McAfee that determined email spam uses close to 33 billion kilowatt hours of power each year. Hmm, let's see how many kilowatts hours we can use with today's Friday Fun post about spam?

Let's get going with a little Weird Al Yankovic shall we?



Now check out this humorous anti-spam cartoon (commercial) from Commtouch



Will Spam blend? Hell yes!



And of course I must include the obligatory Monty Python Spam skit!



Have a great weekend, and remember to delete your email spam and reheat your breakfast Spam. Cheers ~ Jim

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Still plugging and slugging away.

Today started out blah, blech, and maybe even a little blue, but eventually I kicked myself into gear and got going.

With respects to my job search, Wednesdays are usually an off day for me. Most of the postings I came across today are not relevant to my experience and skill set, and this seems to be the case for most Wednesdays. Because of this "Wednesday bump" I have come to use the available time for doing research on some of the companies and organizations that I have already submitted my resume to. n

This has paid off very well for me in that I have enough knowledge that should I be lucky enough to be called in for an interview I will have an idea about what I am jumping into. It's also paid off in that on one rare occasion I found a blog entry about one company that I was thinking of applying for, but the comments from past employees made me decide not to apply for the job. I won't go into details, but let's just say it was not a go

Even though today is a little slow for me I have noticed over the last month or so more and more developer positions being listed, and recently there have been more project management listings too. This is a very good sign! This means that companies are moving forward with projects, albeit slowly, but they are moving forward. Hopefully in the not too distant future one of these companies will need an experienced technology professional (Geek) like me. I am keeping my fingers crossed because it would be nice to get back to work.

If you are a reader of this blog, and you happen to know of a potentially good fit for me please by all means send me an email. Even if you don't know of a good fit it would still be nice to hear from you so feel free to drop me a line, or leave a comment. Yes, comments are welcome here too as long as you aren't a spammer or a troll looking for a flame war.

By the way one resource I recently became aware of and I'd like to point out to other job seekers is a site called ResumeBucket.com. It's fairly new site that may be of use to those job seekers who want to put their resumes on line. Click here to take a look at my resume. (Yeah, I know I need a new picture :)

As for there news I came across an interesting link today on Slashdot. Check out "The Ecological Impact of Spam" According to a study commissioned by McAfee email spam uses close to 33 billion kilowatt hours of power each year. That's a lot of power being wasted for phony "blue pills" and other nonsense. Take a look at the Slashdot article or go directly to the two links below for more information:
All this talk about spam has given me some inspiration for the next Friday Fun post. Let's see what I can dig up. Cheers! ~ Jim

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fun: Workplace hazards!

Don't you just hate it when the email goes down?



While this one is "work safe" I still suggest you wear your headphones :-)



Murphy's Law at the office!



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dealing with bureaucracy, disappointment, and file conversion.

Today was one of those days that can just take the wind out of your sails if you let it. This morning I found the perfect job, and I spent over half the day jumping through all sorts of hoops just so I could apply for the job only to be told that the position was no longer available.

I got up this morning ready to go so I dove right into the listings at the WorkSource site (Washington State's employment resources service) Right off the bat I found a job that was perfect for me! It was a perfect fit for my skills, it was in a perfect location, it had everything! But there were a few hitches.

The first hitch was that the employer wasn't listed which meant that I could not apply at the employer's site, but instead I had to apply directly through WorkSource just to get a referral for the position. The second hitch was that one of the requirements the job was for a BS in Computer Sciences. Now in the past I have come across other listings that either required a CS degree or equivalent work experience, but I didn't see the latter option for this position so I decided to check with WorkSource to see if equivalent work experience would be acceptable for this position.

I made a call into WorkSource and was told it would be best for me to come down and check with one of the recruitment specialists at WorkSource to see if I even qualify for the job. I wasn't all that thrilled about having to go down to the local WorkSource office then wait who knows how long, and deal with whatever bureaucracy just to be told whether or not I even qualified for this job, but I really wanted this job so I bit the bullet and drove down to the local office.

I went through the process of signing up to see a recruitment specialist, and then waited for almost an hour until one was available. Now the recruitment specialist I met was a great person to deal with. Not only were they very nice to talk to, but they were also very encouraging. After talking with me for a bit, and then taking a look at my resume the specialist determined that I my education and background were perfect for the position. They told me that the position was for another government agency (which shall remain nameless) and, then set up a referral for me and told me how to apply.

After thanking the specialist I drove home feeling really good about this job, and my future. Once I returned home I powered up my computer, and went directly to the agencies site. I didn't see any option to log in and submit my resume, but I did find a general HR email address, and a link for the application forms. I polished up my cover later, and tweaked it to perfection, and then downloaded the application forms which were a total of eight pages in Adobe .pdf format.

Virtually everyone who has filled out an employment application dreads having to fill in all that information in by hand. I think most would agree we would feel more comfortable being able to edit application forms with an editor such as Word, and not have to worry about our hand writing. At least this is the case with me. I don't have any way to convert .pdf formatted documents to a format such as Word's .doc format which I can then edit. I've gone through this before, but never had any luck finding a format converter that worked, so I just manually filled out the documents. Given that this application was eight pages in length, and the my hand writing pretty much sucks, I decided to once again search around for a .pdf to .doc conversion application. After trying three different "free" applications that either didn't work, or only allowed me to convert three of the eight pages plus leave a watermark across the converted text I gave up.

Since I was only submitting my resume for consideration, and not at the stage where I was actually applying for the job, I decided that maybe I should call the HR Department for this agency and see if I really need to fill the out application forms at this time. So I muddled through the telephone answering system several times just to get the correct telephone number. I dialed the number in hopes that the person on the other end would tell me that I didn't have to fill out the forms at this stage, but instead I was hit with the bombshell. The person who answered the telephone asked me for what position I was applying for, and when I told them they told me that the position had been filled over a week ago.

Needless to say I was a more then a little crushed by the experience. I had spent half of my day hopeful that I would be able to apply for a fantastic job, jumped through all the hoops, only to be told the position no longer was available. Talk about a gut punch!

Now I am not upset with anyone at WorkSource or the other agency. I just wish that they had communicated between each other a little better because not only did I waste half a day applying for a position that didn't exist, but I also wasted resources such as gas and paper. While I am down about all of this, I am not going to let this experience keep me down. I am going to take what I can from the experience and move forward. On the upside, I met a great recruitment specialist at WorkSource who now has my resume, and since I had the email address for the other agency I went ahead and emailed my cover letter and resume to them. Who knows, maybe they may take a look at it, and keep me in mind for a future opportunity.

The one thing that I am a really miffed about is that Adobe doesn't offer a low cost product to convert .pdfs into other formats. The "standard" version of Adobe Acrobat is something around $250 which unemployed people like me cannot afford. Now I understand why companies and agencies place their online applications forms in .pdf format, and I understand Adobe needs to make a buck, but you would think that given the current economic climate that Adobe might want to offer a low cost tool for converting .pdfs to .doc format. Even if the license for the application was valid for only six to twelve months, and afterwards the application would be disabled, a low cost conversion tool that actually worked would be a great benefit for many of use who are unemployed and have to deal with application forms that are in .pdf format. Maybe someone from Adobe's product development group might read this and consider the idea. If that happened then my day wouldn't be a complete wash.

Well that's enough for now. I am going to take the rest of the night off and watch "The Big Lebowski" because the Dude abides, and I love his style :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Friday Fun - Stress at work!

This is NOT how you do a print screen!



When dealing with a co-worker who is trying to quit smoking it's always best not to tickle the piranha!



And this is why you shouldn't sing at work.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Friday Fun: Music from three classic 80's nerd movies

Ready for some nostalgia? OK then, here are four clips featuring music from three of the best nerd movies from the 80's: Weird Science, Real Genius, and Revenge of the Nerds.

First off is "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo.



Next are two clips from one of my all-time favorite movies Real Genius





Finally there is the finale from Revenge of the Nerds.



Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fun: Tech Support

Here are three hilarious videos about the world of Tech Support. Have a great weekend ~ Jim





Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Engaging advice from Peter Bregman.

Earlier this week while I was trundling through the headlines at CNN.com and trying not to get too down by all the doom and gloom, I stumbled across a great article from Peter Bregman who is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc. (company web site, Linkedin profile). The article, or more appropriately commentary, was titled "Make the recession work for you" In his commentary Peter Bregman suggests that now may be the perfect time for people to start pursuing their passion, and therefore become more engaged in their career. Why is now, the worst economic downturn in 70 years, the time to start pursuing one's passion? Why not do so when times are good?

According to Peter when times are good people are less likely to get out of their comfort zone because of the perceived risk to their income, and he's right. Let face it, almost everyone is in pursuit of making more of the almighty dollar, yen, or pound, so why should they risk making less to pursue their passion? Peter suggests that in this current economic climate that those who are now unemployed are already out of their comfort zone, so they can actually seize the opportunity to pursue their passion without the perceived risk to their income, and may actually benefit doing so.

How can people benefit by pursuing their passion? Well for starters if you are passionate about what you are doing then you will be more engaged with your work, and to a prospective employer this is a very good trait to have. You can use all the key words you want in an interview, but if the passion isn't there then those words are meaningless. On the other hand if you are truly passionate about what you are doing then that will come across in an interview.

Peter points out in his commentary that "Gallup has collected data on 5.4 million employees in over 137 countries and concluded that engaged employees are more productive and customer-focused. And more profitable." Humans At Work which is a site that I have previously referenced also states that disengaged employees can cost billions in lost productivity, and backs this up with references to another Gallup article; "Many Employees Would Fire Their Boss". As the title implies, many employees would love to fire their bosses, but that is not the only point of the article. Disengaged employees not only impact productivity, but are less likely to refer both their employer, and employer's products to others. In essence disengaged employees cost companies money.

So why should you care if your employer doesn't make as much money. Well if your unemployed or soon to be unemployed the answer is obvious. Employers should also take note of the information in these articles, and realize that actively engaged employees definitely influence their bottom line in a very positive manner. Obviously not everyone's passion will be a marketable skill, but the impact of people becoming involved in something that they are passionate about may still influence how engaged they are at work, and in turn help their chances of landing a new job.

The links listed in this entry to a much better job of explaining the rationale of people pursuing their passion than I do, so give them a read. When you do, you just may realize as I did that pursuing your passion and being more engaged will definitely have a positive impact on your career, and that now just may be the perfect time to start pursuing your passions. While I am still unemployed, I do feel that now is the time for me to pursue my passion(s) and I am feeling much more optimistic about my prospects than I have for some time.

Keep any eye out for the next "Friday Fun" post! Cheers ~ Jim

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fun, plus some interesting and useful links.

Before you dive into this weeks Friday Fun, take a look at the links below. Hopefully you will find them as interesting and useful as I did.
  • CNET - Utility AEP plans backyard energy storage: Discusses how large power storage systems can be integrated into the power grid to help with power companies deal with outages, and adapt to the variable output of solar and wind power which are becoming more prevalent.
  • MaximumPC - The 32 Totally Essential (and Free) Apps for Every New PC: A nice list of applications for your PC. Check out the comments for possible alternatives to the applications listed in the article.
  • techradar.com - 10 really useful free Windows system tools: Even more tweaks and toys for both your PC, and your inner geek.
  • Lifehacker.com - Ten Must-Have Gmail Filters Available for Download: Check out this link if you have GMail and you are in to hacking with it. Even if you don't like the filters that the article provides you can take what you learn from the article and create your own.
  • LifeHacker.com - OpenWith.org Tells Your Mom How to Open That File (For Free): Another great article from LifeHakcer! This one is about OpenWith.org which is a site that helps you find free programs to open virtually any file extension.
  • Two alternatives to TinyURL - TinyURL is a great tool for creating shortened aliases of long URLs, but there are two other sites that are also great for providing shortened aliases of long URLs. The firest is bit.ly, and the second is Tinyarro.ws which not only creates shortened URLs, but also allows you to customized the shortened URL.
And now it's time for some office humor, geek horror, and dancing hamsters!

When emails go bad! (Yes! It's safe for work)



An admin's worst nightmare!



Damn cute danc'in hamsters!



Why the dancing hamsters? Why not? Have a great weekend! Cheers ~ Jim

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PCWorld: Unemployed (or Preparing to Be)? These Sites Could Be Your Best Friends

Here's another article that might be of interest to those of you who are unemployed, or unfortunately may soon join our ranks, this time from PCWorld:
I have a few articles in the works, but they are still a ways off, so for the most part I'll be playing "news aggregate" this week. As for personal stuff, well the job search is still going on, and I am slowly working on rebuilding all of my web sites. I have also collected a lot of interesting web design articles, and I may post them in the next week or two. Cheers ~ Jim

This weeks unsolicited plug is for digital forest, a great company offering Seattle based colocation and web hosting solutions. (In all fairness I have to admit that I used to work at df, so I am a little biased :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Mashable: 30+ Websites to Visit When You’re Laid Off

Just a short post today. I thought would share with you a site that was recently listed on the LinkedIn JobAngels group that may be very helpful for anyone who is or may soon be laid off.

Take a look at the Mashable article: 30+ Websites to Visit When You’re Laid Off

The article has a pretty comprehensive list of sites that can benefit anyone who is or may soon be unemployed.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Fun: Cats vs. Technology

There's something about technology that just bring out the killer in all cats :)





Have a great weekend ~ Jim

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Battling HR firewalls

To those of us who are currently looking for work some employer's HR web sites can take on the appearance as a sort of firewall created to keep job applicants out, or at least it can feel that way. Let's face it, if you are unemployed and looking for work then you already have enough stress in your life. The last thing you need is more stress from a uncooperative HR web site when applying for a job.

I have found that the best way to approach these HR firewalls is to apply some common sense, and a little determination. Now that may sound like a "no brainer", but when you are going mano a mano against a difficult HR web site, and things are going from bad to worse you may tend to loose focus and that is when frustration can replace common sense and determination.

While I am not "expert" when it comes to dealing with temperamental HR sites, I do have some experience in dealing with them. I would like to share with you some of the things I have found useful when I encounter an HR firewall.

Now preparation is very important, and while this is obvious, I cannot stress this enough. Some HR web sites can time out on you before you finish your application, so being prepared and having everything ready to go can be the difference between getting your application entered the first time, or having to make several attempts to complete the task.

Here is what you need to have ready, and be prepared to do before you apply for a job online:
  • Resume: Always have the latest version of your resume available in both as a text file (.txt) and in a document format such as a Word (.doc) file. You may need both since some sites will have you upload your Word formatted resume only to have you reenter the data again, and this is where the text file comes in handy. You can copy and paste from the Word .doc version of your resume, but there may be issues with formatting, so the text file is best.
  • Cover Letter: Before you apply for the job, review the requirements and write your cover letter. Now the site may not require or provide for a cover letter, but it's always best to have one written, and like the resume have it in both .doc and .txt formats just in case either need to manually enter the letter, or you need to copy specific statements from it.
  • Be prepared to improvise. If you encounter a site that doesn't allow you to enter your cover letter, and you have not yet entered your resume, consider combining the two documents. When I encounter a site that doesn't allow me to enter a cover letter, I create a new section at the bottom of my resume called "Additional Information / Cover Letter" and add my cover letter. You can either do this with your Word .doc document, or the site allows just enter the two documents together into the text field for the resume.
  • Employment History: This is not the same as your resume. Even after you upload or enter your resume, many sites will require you to again enter your current or previous employers name, location, specific dates you were employed, your last manager, starting and ending pay rate, and contact information for both the company and your former manager. Now much of this information may be on your resume, but then again it might not, or at least not in the detail required by the HR site.For example most people tend to list on their resumes only the months and years that they worked for an employer, and some sites require specific dates. Having a specific document with all this detailed information organized together will save time searching through your resume, and help keep frustration levels down.
  • References: While it may not be in good form for a potential employer to ask for references at the application stage, some employers do. It is always best to check with your references and confirm that they are comfortable with being listed at the application stage. Identify on your references list which references are comfortable with being listed at this stage, and which ones are not. If you do list your references, always notify them so they are not caught off guard should a potential employer contact them.
  • Scratchpad: In this case I am referring to a blank text (.txt) file that you can use to save information too while you are online This is especially useful should it become necessary to recover information you entered. What can happen is that you can spend too much time entering data, or answering a specific question such as "Describe how you last saved the planet from evil aliens" that the session may time out on you. If you cannot use the back button on your browser to recover that excessively long paragraph you entered then you are out of luck. Now if you can go back with you browser then copy and paste the text into the scratch pad. A better solution is to always copy and paste specific information you compose for site in to the scratchpad prior to continuing or saving the data. This is another situation where being prepared to improvise comes in handy.
  • Skills Listing: Now your resume and cover letter may list all the skills you think are appropriate for the position you are applying for, and then again they may not. This may be due to not enough space on the documents to list all of your skills, or due to the fact that the information provided for the position didn't list all the skill requirements necessary for the job. Having a complete list of skills available in a easy to such format will come in handy for you, plus some job listings may jog your memory and you can add skills you forgot about to this list. Expect to be surprised when you enter an employer's HR site.
  • Take notes and remember trends: Many employers are now outsourcing their online application process, or using similar software packages to build their HR sites. These services and/or software packages have common behavior that depending on the implementation can be good or bad. I won't list any names here, but when I go to an employer's site and see the name of a specific HR hosting service either in the URL or somewhere on the site, I don't proceed any further until drawn up a plan of attack and I know I am ready to do battle with that site.
  • Avoid interruptions: While this may be nearly impossible to do, try to avoid any interruptions so as give yourself enough time to finish the task of applying for the job, and dealing with any problems that may arise.
  • Take a break if you need to: Didn't I just say to avoid interruptions? Yes, but if the problems you are encountering are wearing you down, stop and take a break. You may also need to walk about from the attempt, and try later on. If that happens you will at least be prepared for what the site will throw at you.
While I tried to list everything that would be helpful I know I may have missed a few things, so I will update this entry as I either remember the things I forgot, or others remind me or make suggestions. Email me or leave a comment if you have a suggestion for battling HR firewalls.

Hopefully things will get better soon, and many of you will no longer have to battle the HR firewalls, but until then I hope these article proves useful to you. Cheers ~ Jim

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fun: Never hit your computer!

This clip pretty much sums up my week:



I'll post more about how this week went later in the day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I am now Twittered!

I have had a Twitter account for a while now, but I have never used it until today when someone suggested I use it as part of my job search and connect to JobAngels. ( Thanks Kelley :)

To be honest I don't expect to use it more than once or twice a day to post brief notices, but if you happen to be on Twitter check me out: http://twitter.com/miba51

As for other news, I am still plugging away with the job search and I had a couple good leads, so wish me luck. The web development studies are also moving along and I have started up a project to create an locally hosted site that will help me stay better organized. It's sort of like my own version of Zulupad. I am creating the pages by writing the XHTML myself instead of using a rich text editor as in Zulupad, and while a lot of the work is monotonous it is good training.

Other than that, there isn't much else to blog about today except that I am glad the weather has changed. It was getting just a little too stagnant for me.