welcome back to the real world

We just got back from a wonderful time down at Disney World.  They sure know how to do it right.  Not only do they have excellent customer service, they go all out to make sure their customers have a great time.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

This was the first time we actually spent time on their property.  That’s how you got to do it.  I drove our van once over the entire week for a beer run. Everything else has been taken care of.

I have some observations that I’d like to share.

Tattoos

Now, I have a tattoo.  I got it when I was 18. I can hide it easily.  At Disney world, tattoos are the new goatee.  You ain’t cool unless you have a tattoo. At Disney World, one will get to see a lot of tattoos.  I saw plenty of arm sleeves, leg tattoos, and heck, I even thought about getting another one on my leg, (in college I had picked out the most awesome Japanese Shadow puppet for my calf), but there were zero neck tattoos.  That is, until we returned to Georgia. It still boggles my mind why anyone would get a neck tattoo.

Oh yeah... I am very cool

Mr. Dumas

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Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

This cracks me up.  I have been getting a ton of spam comments from the .ru TLD, and it always begins with either:

Hello my dear friend! I’m a pure student…

Or

Interesting CMS. What software do you use?

Or some variant of the above.  C’mon, guys, if you are going to try and trick me, you got to do better than that. At this point, I am almost insulted at this feeble attempt.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

Tonight I’m sort of reflective. So much as happened since I last posted. Certainly some of it is good, some of it is exciting, and some of it has certainly been a challenge.  I spent the last 30 minutes trying to find a Youtube vid that represents my mood, but unfortunately, I think the risk of misunderstanding is too high, so therefore, I refrain.

I usually post about technology or funny things, but so much has been queuing up, it’s hard for me to decide where to begin.

  • I am still madly in love with my T-Mobile G1, the Google/Android based phone.  I saw that Google had an Éclair delivered to their office: Each release of the Android OS has been named after pastries: Cupcake, Donut… Éclair is rumored to be Android 2.0…
  • I actually had my first Corny Keg experience with my homebrew in anticipation of our neighborhood Oktoberfest.  Pics and vids to follow, (it’s this weekend).
  • I’ve been rehabbing a rental house in my spare (but limited) time.
  • I’ve been learning Python, (but had to use Perl in a recent pinch).
  • More and more people are asking me for help with Trixbox and Cisco SIP phones.
  • I’ve been to HP HQ in Houston, TX for an executive briefing; I was blown away and met some really cool people.
  • I am meeting with Cisco regarding their UCS offering.
  • I’ve been meeting with Microsoft (and attend the ‘Technical Decision Makers Launch’ of Window 7, Server 2008, and Exchange 2008.
  • I am planning on attending the VMWare Users group event in Atlanta on November 5th, 2009.  Maybe I’ll see ya, there?
  • I’ve been enjoying Google Wave! (Sorry, I haven’t been able to send out invites, yet… so don’t ask!)
  • I have a new WinCE based GPS that I am hacking, (oh yeah, I forgot about this, but it’s a big ‘un!).

So I’ve been busy, but it’s been good. Any of the above items could be a separate blog post.

I’ve been really impressed with Google Wave.  It ain’t perfect yet, but I see the potential of it.  I might even go as far to say that it could be Email 2.0 but I probably need to elaborate on that.  Along the same note, I wonder if Twitter is the new USENET.  <- If you don’t get that, don’t worry about it. But if you want my highly entertaining, hand waving monologue on this, let’s meet for a beer!

it’s overwhelming sometimes

I like to check out new things on the Internet especially some of the new services out there, like SocialThing and Ping.fm. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blah blah blah…

But, sometimes it’s hard to keep all of them up to date, or updated or even to just check in. I have a Pownce account, but only visit when I get a notice sometime has happened, (like a new friend or file). I have a SocialThing account, but I think I’ve only been there once or twice. What else?

With all of these services, I feel like the spinning plate guy, trying to keep up with all of them. Sure, it’s getting better as more ideas become reality. Services like Ping.fm let you update Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, etc all at once.

But then you have to decide if you are going to use IM to update your status or post message, or use a desktop client or the web UI or your cell phone…

I don’t want to be the plate spinner, I want to be like Cardini. If you have not seen the video of Cardini, you’ve missed out. He was so masterful, he took slight of hand to a new level.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these sorts of things. I am enjoying Remember The Milk and Grandcentral. I’ve been using the heck out of my Pbwiki account, and LinkedIn has helped me make new contacts, but the daily routine of checking in everywhere gets old, and some of the newer services don’t seem to have much value for me at this point, so I’m likely not to visit them as much as the others.

So yeah, I want to be like Cardini of the Interwebs. I want to have such mastery of these applications, it looks beyond natural.

savvy shopper part II when trying to find a job

Back in February, I posted about “being a savvy shopper” when it comes to finding a job. I posted a list of domain names that are sending out boiler plate emails with enticing job offers. I have to admit I got a kick out of that list and I began to keep a running list of domains with the intention of updating the list over time. Then in the beginning of March, I updated the list to 17 entries.

I am happy to report… what, no not happy, perhaps amused that the list has grown even larger. And I began to keep track of the subjects of these emails. What made me think about this was I saw a Tweet from someone yesterday:

Seriously. How many times do I have to tell you? DO NOT MAKE ME LOG INTO YOUR STUPID SITE TO STOP RECEIVING YOUR STUPID EMAILS!

I can relate to their frustration. If I didn’t ask for your emails, *I* shouldn’t have to do the extra work to unsub myself from them. You deserve to be “Marked As Spam” in my opinion. Banished to the Spam Folder, never to be seen again. As always, I am worried that if you “click here to remove yourself” of “login to change your email preferences” really does nothing more than to confirm that your email address is valid and someone is reading it.

I could go on and on but would rather out the people trying to scam your email address with bogus job offers.

The domains:

acareerwithjobsourcegroup.com
career800openings.com
careersatjobsourcenow.com
careerupgradeservice.com
careerswithusajobsite.com
connectionjobsource.com
employmentswift.com
fast-openingcareers.com
fast-tracked-careers.com
findjobfastnow.com
findyourcareerusacareers.com
findyoursolutionsathiringchannel.com
findajobatusajobsite.com
firstjobservice.com
head-start-jobs.com
ideacareer-service.com
ideaemployment.com
jobfast-now.com
job-fast-now.com
jobsatusasite.com
jobsicareersource.com
jobsourcesitenow.com
jobconnection-source.com
nationalhiring-solutions.com
opendoor-careers.com
quick-jobnow.com
searchathiringonline.com
searchfastjobs.com
strategic-job-source.com
thebesthiringsolutions.com
us-careersite.us.com

The enticing subjects:

A new Engineer opportunity with Triad Manufacturing
A new IT & Sciences Staff Evaluator opportunity is available
A new Network Administration Lead opportunity is available
A prominent company is currently hiring a Software Architect
A Telephony/Infrastructure Consultant job with IBM is available
Bausch & Lomb is looking to hire a Senior Programmer
Interested in being a Computer Science Staff Liaison?
Interested in a Senior Programmer job with Bausch & Lomb?
There is a Lead Software Developer position you might qualify for!
Wachovia is looking to hire a Technical Implementer
Work as a Manager of Events
Work as an IT & Sciences HR Coordinator

I only wish I collected the Subjects from the get go. If you happen to find this post because you are googling the domains, I hope this helps you and you don’t give away your contact information.

where/how do i fit in?

I saw a link to a great post in my Twitter stream this morning. It triggered one of those “a-ha” sort of moments. I just got up, got a fresh cup of coffee, my daughter is sitting on my lap drawing on some business card and I have one of those rare moments of clarity. I’m going to be thinking about this all day.

I’ve recently begun to follow Chris Brogan on Twtter. I had subscribed to his RSS feed for some time, but recently I wanted to follow more people on Twitter. Sometime between when I went to bed and when I woke up, he posted a URL for an excellent blog post:

As some of you know, I am between jobs right now and have had some “identity crisis” with trying to determine just how I fit in, or what I should fit myself in. I have a pretty extensive background. In my “professional timeline” I’ve been a tech support rep, manager in said tech support department, internet abuse investigator, senior unix admin, senior unix engineer, manager, director, principal engineer. In my “personal timeline” I’ve been a unix and linux enthusiast and hobbyist, social media geek, (I’d be hard pressed to be an “expert” but I sure seem to know way more than 90% of the people out there), hacker, I can explain complex technical things in a single bound, run servers in my basement, live, breath and sleep all things internet related.

I recently interviewed at a great company here in Atlanta and finally got to meet with their CTO. It was a great experience and we definitely spoke the same language. But they were looking for someone who had specific, Exchange 2007 experience and I completely understood why. But the CTO said something really interesting. He said, “I’ve got no doubt you could become an expert in about three months, let’s face it at some level if you understand the commonalities, it’s all the same but we need someone with that experience yesterday.” He was right. I have no doubt I could become that expert they needed and it was gratifying that he recognized that. But in the end of the day, I am still looking for a job.

Since I have been “out of the office” I’ve been overwhelmed at how un-technical most people are. I don’t mean this as a criticism. I was really surprised. I thought almost everyone would be jumping on Twitter once they heard about it, or most of the people I knew would be on Facebook. Nope, it’s a different world.

Probably the epoch of my revelation was when I attended a “LinkedIn Training.” Don’t laugh, I actually found it really informative. As part of my severance package, I got access to an outplacement agency. It was probably one of the more valuable things I got. I had been at the same company for 12 years and needed some of the resources they offered. Anyways, I decided to take the “LinkedIn Training” since it was free.

Of the 30+ people in the room, only maybe six of us were actually already a member of LinkedIn and I had by far the largest amount of connections. No one had heard of Twitter, or Facebook, or had a blog, or used the tools Google had. It was quite enlightening.

In another class at the outplacement agency, we started to talk about having an “online identity.” This was wholly unknown to most everyone. I had begun, earlier in the year to actively groom my online identity. Up to that point, I was decidedly trying to stay more or less anonymous on the Internet. My days as a paranoid abuse investigator and sys admin must have somehow jaded my outlook. So, I began telling my other classmates about my blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and how it could give a potential employer more information about you that might not come across in a resume or an interview. I told them about using Grandcentral as a voice mail box and call screening tool, (Yes, Mr. Pabian… we think you’d be a great commission-only insurance salesman…), and how I use Google docs to keep my resumes so I could get to them whenever or where ever I get a Internet connection. The biggest shock, to me anyways, was their reaction. They got it, they began to understand. Some of them, literally had their mouths dropped open. It was kind of cool, actually, to be seen as an expert.

In following up with some of them, some of them really jumped in with both feet. They have Grandcentral numbers, they are on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It was cool. I actually offered to teach a class at the outplacement agency and they seemed interested.

Back when the lay-offs happened, our friend Lance Weatherby wrote a post for the casualties. It was insightful and helpful:

Lance’s advice, “You need to decide what you want to be” I am finding it to be very true, but hard to put into practice. My background, interests, and expertise make me want to be more than just a linux admin. I want to be creative, innovative, and help change the world. I can be a leader, innovator, and creator. So far, what I’ve found is, to scratch this itch, consulting seems to be the best way to approach this. I’m just inexperienced at this point with being a consultant and have some angst.

In preparing this post, I just happened to look at Chris’ post from this morning:

That’s just what I needed. Maybe this week will be more productive than I thought.

So, I begin this day with a considerable amount of food for thought. It’s going to be a good day. I am going to close with some lyrics from the Beta Band since it was playing while I typed this, and I found it encouraging:

If there’s something inside that you wanna say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I Need Love, yeah
I Need Love

Okay, out of context that may sound corny. Watch the video:

running with a time limit sux

I don’t mean a time limit, like in a competitive environment. I mean like “Okay, I got 30 minutes before my son’s tutor is done and I have to get back!”

I’ve been a serious, steady runner since 1994 when I was working in a family owned running shoe shop during my college years. It was great. Then when I got my first job in an office, I ran on my lunch break (yes, our office did have a shower). So I got used to running, or at least being out of the office for one hour every day. I ate at my desk or in my office. I did this for years and have seen the Atlanta area change over time with some really big changes!

Since I’ve been out of the office, I haven’t run as much as I would have liked. I am trying to change that and I am trying to get out whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today was one of those days. I got done with an interview at a local recruiter and was able to get back home in time to get my son off to see his tutor at the library. I donned my running attire and we took off. I planned on doing 3o minutes, and as you might know from my previous posts, I am big on running with a HRM (heart rate monitor).

So, I am out beating the street and feel the overwhelming pressure of the 30 minute ceiling. I worry about being late and my son getting done with the tutor and him worried that I am not there. I actually planned it so if I did run 30 minutes, I’d be back 15 minutes before he would have been done as a buffer.

I started to think at how this sort of limit is much more stressful than say, trying to run three miles in 30 minutes, or even running a competitive race. I began to think back at how I used to feel when I had to get back to get ready for a meeting or a phone call. I felt the same way. When I am running in a race or trying to beat a specific pace, I am really trying to beat myself or improve my time. I have no illusions that I am going to win a price in my age class so I am out there for myself. But today, I was running to beat the clock because others are counting on me.

When I run, it’s my form of mediation. It’s my therapy. It heals my soul. I think about my muscles and how they’ve been conditioned for running for over 10 years. I think of them as a worn in, efficient system. If you have ever seen a steam boat engine, you might know what I am talking about. When I run, it’s when I have my “A-ha!!!!!!” or my “Eureka!!!” moments.

But not today, since I was so consumed with getting back within 30 minutes. Don’t get me wrong… I did have a great run as the weather, although chilly, was beautiful, and I did have a couple of minutes of deep thought, but it was missing the calming, introspective spice I was so looking forward to.

My therapist says, “Awareness is more than half the battle” and she’s right, of course. Having this awareness, I guess, is sort of an “A-ha!!” moment, just maybe not the one I was hoping for.

be a savvy shopper

I like to think I am a “savvy shopper.” What I mean is, I like to find a deal… but nothing cheeses me off more than being taken advantage of… or the thought of being taken advantage of.

When I was in college, I worked for a large “big box” retailer when they first came to Atlanta. I had felt like I had sold my soul to the devil. It was awful. What I really hated, was being instructed to push “extended warranties” to anyone. “Keep a stack of the extended warranties in your back pocket… If you see someone looking at a VCR try to get them to sign up…” or “I’ll give everyone a $50 gift card if you sell five extended warranties today!” Like I said, it was awful. Now everyone knows a couple of people who have really benefited or were thankful they got the extended warranty… I’m not posting about extended warranties, folks, if you love ’em or hate ’em, I could care less.

But I think I realized one of my character faults. I think I am pretty savvy, certainly not naive when it comes to all sorts of things, but…

While I’ve been on the job hunt, I posted a portion of my resume on various job boards. In my online job profiles, I use a Grandcentral number to I can screen my calls. From my profiles on these boards, I get probably about five or six “offers” about being an insurance salesman… oh wait, a FULL COMMISSIONED insurance salesman. I mark those as spam. And then, probably about three times a day, I get emails that start as:

Dear Jeffrey ,

Recently I viewed your resume online, and I felt you would be an excellent candidate for an opening we are trying to fill based on your technology background. A brief job description about the [ENTER GENERIC IT JOB TITLE HERE] job is included.

Or this:

Dear Jeffrey ,

After reading your online resume, I feel your technical/science background may make you a solid candidate for an opening we’re trying to fill. I’ve provided some basic information about the [ENTER GENERIC IT JOB TITLE HERE].

The email goes on and offers some enticing facts about salary and benefits. And there is a link to an “online profile” to fill out that has some crazy URL that has my email in the URL. So by simply clicking on the URL I have verified my email address… and a quick Google search would indicate by filling out the “online profile” I would just open myself up to more harassment.

Before you say, “Hey Pabian, this is more of your solarflare, conspiracy mumbo-jumbo, isn’t it?” or before you ask me if I am wearing a tin-foil hat, let me show you the most recent domains sent to me, using either one of the above emails:

  • acareerwithjobsourcegroup.com
  • careersatjobsourcenow.com
  • careerswithusajobsite.com
  • connectionjobsource.com
  • fast-tracked-careers.com
  • findyourcareerusacareers.com
  • findyoursolutionsathiringchannel.com
  • findajobatusajobsite.com
  • head-start-jobs.com
  • jobsatusasite.com
  • jobsicareersource.com
  • jobsourcesitenow.com
  • jobconnection-source.com
  • nationalhiring-solutions.com
  • searchathiringonline.com
  • thebesthiringsolutions.com
  • us-careersite.us.com

Update 03.01.2008:  I updated the list from 10 listings to 17.  I’ll continue to update as the emails come in.

And that’s what’s left in my trash box which goes back a week. And I don’t want to mark these as SPAM as legitimate offers might get filters.

So tonight… I get a call from a potential employer about a job I am actually really excited about. But there was this gnawing feeling in the back of my head. Something about it raised a red flag and I feel I am about to be sold an “extended warranty.” I got so paranoid, I started to regret my acceptance of an interview. Sweat started to bead on my forehead, the muscle in my right shoulder started to twitch…

Utimately, after checking around, I decided that I don’t need to worry. Lately, I’ve been more surprised by keeping an open mind, so now I am looking forward to my “interview” late next week. But in the meantime, if you need some life insurance… give me a call.

what’s your inspiration

I’ve written in the past about things that get my creativity going. I think in my last example, I went on about Mel Brook’s History of the World, Part I. What a great movie. There are other movies that just knock my socks off. Young Frankenstein is an other example of a super creative movie. I’ll admit, I love anything that has well done, double entendre. I even like it more when I say something that is double entendre, and half the people get it, and the other half have blank looks on their faces. Hilarious… Okay, I’ll get my mind out of the gutter.

Innovation and creativity are funny things. For me, I find it can be a balancing act. There have been times in my life when I feel like I am on fire and I am really being innovative and rocking. Then, something happens, and it feels like a punch in gut and I get “thinkers block” and I am paralyzed. In the past, this paralyzed feeling has in some cases lasted years. For example, I used to try to work on my Mom’s house when I lived there. Nothing would work and I felt like a worthless handy man. I eventually gave up trying to do things around the house. Years later, I realized my shortcomings as a handyman were really lack of experience (naturally) and the builder took a lot of shortcuts. When my wife and I bought our first home (which was built in 1947), something clicked and I became the handyman that I always wanted to be.

When I was in high school and in college, I worked on my own cars. Then something happened and I became an inept mechanic and I felt like I had no business under the hood. When I had my old Mercedes diesel, (I still wish I had that car), something happened and I was back under the hood changing glow plugs and brake pads. Now, with our modern cars, (a Volvo and VW Eurovan), I am back to changing brakes pads and rotors and saving thousands of dollars in dealer repair costs and offering to help others with their cars.

Sure, part of it is confidence, but I don’t think that’s just it. I remember when I read “Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and the only thing I remember is how the author said something along the lines of “I have a motorcycle, it makes sense to me to understand how it works and to learn how to work on it” and he said one of his friends just let the repair shop deal with the problems.

Part of it, is also just being willing to try it… figure it out… make it work. I’m lucky. My wife tolerates my experiments. I heard her tell the kids one day, “Don’t worry, Daddy can fix it. Daddy can fix anything.” Wow, not only was that a boost in my confidence, but it showed me that my family thinks I can fix anything! I felt like a Super-fix-it-man!

I’ll give you another example how this translates into my life. If you have kids and pets, you probably already know the value of a carpet shampooer. I’m not talking the professional kind you rent, rather the consumer grade ones. We’ve had one for about six years. The hose, that allows you to use the hand attachments broke where the handle tilts back. We can easily afford a new shampooer but otherwise the unit still works really well for cleaning the carpets. The other night I was out for a run and it happened to be trash night in our neighborhood. Someone was throwing out a newer version of the shampooer we have. My first thought was, “Cool, maybe I can use that hose…” and I went and gave the discarded shampooer the once over. As I titled the handle back, I saw that the hose ripped in the exact same place so I wasn’t interested.

My point with all of this, is that… well I don’t know. I guess since my family thinks I can fix anything, I feel like I can.

Back to the creativity and innovation thoughts… The other night, I was watching TV with the kids. I was really tired of cartoons so I was trying to find something we could watch, (deep sea creatures and sharks are always a big hit with the kids). In a rare occurrence, we tuned to catch the very beginning of the Pink Panther movie. I grew up with these movies and remember seeing them in the movie theater in Chicago with my Grandma. I forgot how clever and creative the beginning segments are. I’ve always like the Pink Panther cartoons. He’s very expressive and can make you laugh without saying a word. So the opening credits were great. The kids loved it. It made me think where I got my sense of humor from.

Over at Chris Brogan’s blog, he’s got a neat post about the “Bucket Meme” and it was something I was going to write about here, but my time is already short this morning so I’ll have to get it in the next post.

austin powers is the snake to my mongoose…

I was watching Austin Powers the other night. I love those movies. As Bob pointed out in the comments on the Invisible Sandwich post, I do get a good bit of laughter from low brow humor. The funny thing is, when Austin Powers first came out, I thought it would be dumb. I didn’t think I liked that sort of humor. My mom and sister encouraged me to see it and they were right. I loved it. I was hooked.

Looking back, I remember I saw a movie when I was in high school. I saw it at one of the first “parties” I went to where no adults were around. I don’t know how many people saw this movie, but I still think it was really funny.

The user comments on imbd sums it up pretty good. 1984 was a big year for me as I began to form my identity. I think I probably saw this in 1988 or so since we had it on VHS. Talk about low brow humor, this movie had it all. I am still laughing as I type this. I agree that it is temping to highlight certain scenes but I think if I did and you hadn’t seen the movie, you just wouldn’t get it since it would be out of context.

This movie was a hidden gem, and growing up I came across other hidden gems. I used to work at a record shop when I was in college and we rented movies. I got to see a lot of really good movies during that time. One of the things that I found somewhat interesting is the connections you could find amongst several movies. I was turned on to Jim Jarmusch in college. He is still one of my favorite film makers. Using him as a starting point, there are connections in various ways between, Joe Strummer, Dick Rude, Alex Cox, Tom Waits, David Johansen, John Lurie, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, The Pogues, Elvis Costello, and other actors who have been in various movies with the above people. Aside from the movies, there is other evidence, like The Sons of Lee Marvin and the excellent “Fishing with John” series.

Fishing with John: John and Dennis Hopper

Let me get back on track here for a minute with the funny movies that I have seen over the years. Honestly, I could go on and on about good movies, but I started talking about low brow humor and here I am now talking about Indie films and conspiracy theories. If you’ve made it this far, I apologize.

Okay, so back to the low brow. I’ve never really enjoyed movies like Fast Times or Porky’s. I think I like the low brow with a certain level of intelligence behind it. Animal House was like that. It was low brow alright, but it was put together intelligently and was done well. A movie that I happened to catch on the premium movie channels was:

  • EuroTrip

Despite the alluring, yet misleading cover on the website, I found this movie to be a real surprise. First it was really well done. The story was interesting and situations the characters found themselves in was gut busting funny for me. I liked it so much, I found it used at a rental store, (when I first got a DVD player, the first previously viewed DVD I bought was Duece Bigalow for $1. I still maintain it was the best $1 I ever spent!). What was interesting about this movie, given the humor, was the attention to detail. This movie came out well before Pope Paul John II passed away. And in the movie, they did this whole scene around everyone mistakenly thinking the Pope died. I followed the Pope’s death and the appointment of the new Pope pretty closely and watched the movie afterward, they pretty much got it right. It is a fun movie, but my Dad said it was too much for him.

invisible sandwich

One of my great enjoyments in life is going to Fark.com and looking at the photoshop contests. They can be really funny. Typically, there will be a dry spell for a while that will only get me to chuckle a bit. Then there will be a contest that either makes me bust out laughing or there will be a couple of entries that make it a worthwhile read. Last night was one of those days.

Most the time, the summaries that people post for submitted headlines are really funny. I wish I was witty like that.

If you’ve been on the Internet for a while, you’ve probably seen those funny pictures of cats with captions like “in yur computer, steeln yur hertz.” I love those pictures, they crack me up. It could be that I am just a cat person but this is one of those little Internet things that helps make life a little less serious.