Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Humor: IT Crowd: truest moment ever!

While it is true that this is my "professional" blog where I talk about my career goals and such, I do think a little humor is appropriate now and then. I hope you enjoy this little snippet from The IT Crowd:

Cheers ~ Jim

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time for a little re-org.

Today while I was right in the middle of sending out a cover letter and resume one of the computers in my SOHO network started to growl.

It turns out that the fan in the power supply was dying, fortunately for me I had a spare power supply from another Dell GX 200.

While things turned out OK, it did get me thinking that I need to STILL simplify my SOHO network, and set up a more robust back up and recovery plan that what I currently have. So over the next few weekends, I will be retooling my systems.

Other than the growling GX200 everything else has been plugging along. I have given up watching the news because I cannot afford letting it get to me and get me down. To be honest I have been pretty positive about my my job search and progress in other areas.

It would be nice if I could get out of the house more, but I have to keep costs down and stay focused.

Hopefully if you are a regular reader of this blog you have checked out the Geeks Who Care Blog. It's a little side project of mine that I created to help other computer geeks out there find volunteer opportunities. If you do check it out and have some thoughts or suggestions, drop me a line and let me know.

Cheers ~ Jim

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Touching base - 01/25/09

Other than the same old stuff I really haven't had much to post about here lately. Besides looking for work, and reading my web design books, I've also been surfing through some interesting articles, a few of which I have listed below:
  • 'Digital Dark Age' may doom some data: Given my background in storage and in vintage computing, I found this to be a very thought provoking article. This issue is not just about archiving the data and insuring it stands the test of time, but also making certain that the technology to retrieve the data doesn't itself become lost.
I am hoping that the Geeks Who Care blog and groups will help other geeks like me in networking with other geeks, and finding volunteer gigs. Hopefully by helping others we geeks can help ourselves.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adversity, and the potential for our future

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant." -- Horace

So what has a quote about adversity from the ancient philosopher Horace have to do with the future? Well, keep that quote in mind as you read the rest of this blog, and maybe you too will see why I thought it was appropriate.

Recently I came across an article on Techdirt titled "On Staying Happy" which addresses a reader's question of how the writers at Techdirt can stay so positive while constantly reporting about "corporate cluelessness, political corruption and short-sighted thinking". The writer of the article does an excellent job of pointing out that while all that stupidity and negativity is going on, there is also a lot of innovation and positive progress occurring, and regardless of those who are trying to delay the inevitable, progress will happen.

After pointing out how much the Internet has changed the world in less than two decades, the writer asks "How can you not be optimistic and excited when you look back at how far we've come in such a short time, and think about how much further we can go?", and they are right. When I look at what has happened since the early 90's, and then think about the future, I realize that there is a lot of positive potential just around the corner, and I am looking forward to it.

What is going on right now with all the financial turmoil, panic, and just plain stupidity, is just part of the process. While all this negativity is very painful (and I can personally attest to that), people must realize that there are a lot of new doors being opened that offer new opportunities and growth. Right now many industries are struggling and some possibly dying, but there are many new industries just ready to take off. One of the best examples of this is the transition from printed news media (newspapers and magazines), to the online media (web sites and blogs).

The rise of the Internet is affording everyone access to new sources of news and entertainment, and we are going through a transitional period which is definitely painful and tumultuous as is pointed out in this other Techdirt article: "Creative Destruction Happens Quickly; Those Who Wait End Up In The Rubble". Change can be painful, but when you consider the potential of the future and understand that you can participate in those changes, then future is looking brighter regardless of all the negativity.

With the pending change in administration this country is poised for some major changes, and I truly believe almost all of these changes will be positive. President-elect Obama is pushing for a major plan to rebuild this country's infrastructure (roads, bridges, and levees, and power grid) in hopes that it will create more jobs, and while I agree this work needs to be done I have to wonder what are his plans for this country's technological infrastructure?

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation offered a possible plan in their report "The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America". The ITIF believes that an investment in America’s digital infrastructure of $30 billion in 2009 will create over 900,000 new jobs in the US. This is a significant number of IT related jobs, and even if the amount required is twice what the ITIF suggests, it will still be money well spent when compared to the $700 billion spent on the TARP bail out.

The US digital or informational infrastructure will require a lot of expansion if it is going to continue leading the world in business, technology, education, and entertainment. Also in a post 9/11 world, the US must build in redundancy to it's informational infrastructure for obvious security reasons. There are a limited number of primary fiber optic backbones handling all the Internet traffic in the US, and any one of an imagined man-made or natural disaster affecting just a couple of those backbones could disable the entire Internet. Therefore there must be an focused effort to increase the number of primary backbones to insure the the ability to handle increased bandwidth and add redundancy.

Also one has to ask what ever happened to fiber to the home? Here we are just a few years away from the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, and there is still a large percentage of people relying on dial-up for access to the Internet. This is not an inconvenience to the American public, it is a disabling factor to the US economy. High speed access to the Internet should be available to every US citizen. Take a look at the Fiber to the Home Council's site for more information.

One las thing I would like to add regarding the US informational infrastructure is that I have written an article on my Urbanspelunkers blog about some enterprising companies that are turning vacant shopping malls into large data centers, which given the current economic climate makes good use of readily available real estate. Considering the number of vacant malls and warehouses in this country, it would be quite easy to convert these properties into cost effective data centers that would not only improve America's competitiveness in the global economy, but also allow for a certain amount of redundancy of facilities for improved data security.

If a concerted effort were made to improve America's data infrastructure, the beneficial results for every US citizen would be well worth the costs, and the opportunities and resources are just waiting to be utilized.

As you can see, while these are adverse times, if you have the ability to look beyond the adversity you can then see the potential for positive growth and prosperity.

** After I originally posted this blog I came across another Techdirt post that I felt readers might be interested in: Is Obama's Broadband Plan Anything More Than A Free Gift To Incumbent Providers? **

Friday, January 02, 2009

Lance, Inc - A company with heart!

Yesterday I bemoaned that fact that the CEO's of the banks that received TARP funds were given bonuses from those funds. For someone who is unemployed it's really discouraging to see this sort of corporate greed and stupidity.

Having said that, it is very refreshing to see what David Singer, and Lance Inc. did for the employees of the Archway cookie factory in Ashland, Ohio. As this CNN article details the company that owned Archway Cookies closed the factory in Ashland Ohio, and laid off 300 employees.

Lance Inc. then purchased the factory and not only rehired 60 of the employees, but gave $1500 gift cards to all 300 of the former Archway employees. The plan is for Lance to eventually rehire all the employees which will be a big benefit to the town of Ashland.

Now I tend to be somewhat cynical, and I can see how this my be a great PR opportunity for Lance. Even if it is a PR opportunity it benefits everyone, so I can't complain. As a matter of fact I praise Lance for actually having heart, and thinking about those who were laid off. I feel so strongly about this that I actually submitted a comment to Lance praising them for doing the right thing. Below is the response I received today:


Thank you for your kind words. Like you, thousands of people felt
compelled to comment after reading or seeing the CNN story. We heard
from people in nearly every state and quite a few soldiers stationed
overseas. We have been overwhelmed by the heartfelt expressions of
gratitude for Lance's approach in reopening the Archway bakery in
Ashland, OH.

Lance is excited to welcome the former Archway employees into the
Lance family and we're looking forward to getting Archway products
back in stores as quickly as possible. Getting room on the store
shelves is the key ingredient for getting the plant back to its full
capacity and putting more people back to work in Ashland.

Many people said they were looking forward to getting their favorite
Archway items back, and others said they had not historically bought
Archway, but would do so in the future. We are working hard to regain
shelf space in stores and get Archway back as quickly as possible.

Feel free to let your retailer know that you are looking for Archway
cookies; this will play a big part in helping us get back on the
shelves quickly.

Have a very Happy Holiday and New Year,

David Singer
President and CEO
Lance, Inc

Like I said I am a cynic, but this cynic really appreciates what Lance has done. That's why I have added Lance to the Other Links list. Hopefully other companies will get a little heart and start paying forward.

Feel free to leave a comment. I would like to know what others think about what Lance did for the employees.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Just a few updates.

I added my skills sets to the side bar, and updated my self study program to reflect the changes I have made.

Here's hoping that 2009 will be better than 2008. I am still looking at the possibility of selling my place and living off the proceeds to get by until things turn around, but the drawback to that is that when things do turn around I will not be able to afford the cost of a new home. That will be a tough choice, but it's either that or the sidewalk if I don't find work soon.

The things that really got to my after being laid off the second time this year, was that the lay off happened the day before Thanksgiving, and all through the holiday season the news kept posting stories about corporate greed. Reading about how the CEOs of some of those banks who were bailed out getting retention bonuses, and then buying million dollar apartments just put a damper on my spirits.

But to Hell with all that. I have got to move on and push myself to keep studying and looking for work. Eventually things will turn around for me and all the others who are hurting right now.