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 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.
  • - 10 really useful free Windows system tools: Even more tweaks and toys for both your PC, and your inner geek.
  • - 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.
  • - Tells Your Mom How to Open That File (For Free): Another great article from LifeHakcer! This one is about 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, and the second is 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