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:

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.

a kiss of death for Mio?

Notice, I said “a kiss of death,” not “the kiss of death.”

Mio really screwed up. They made enemies for life.

If you’ve been coming here to learn about my Mio c310x and hacking it, you’ve probably either seen here or on some of the forums that Mio has been promising a map update for some time. First Mio said it would be Q1, then spring, then June, then July.

People were speculating the updates should be free or minimal in cost. Other’s said, “Hey, you got a great GPS unit for ~$150 – $200; why would you expect an update for free?” Either way, they release the map update on July 16th, I think. You had two options to get the update:

  • Find a copy at your local Circuit City for $14.95 + tax
  • Buy directly from Mio for $14.95 + $9.95 shipping and handling.

Both options are reasonable. But I’m a cheap sonuvabitch and would have gladly waited until I could find a copy locally. Many people, however, gladly ordered directly from Mio and paid the $9.95 shipping and handling fee.

Then, everything starts going downhill.

If you view the last 20 pages or so from this thread you can see what happened and continues to happen:

This reads a lesson in “How to turn off customers for life.” I’ll save you from reading the entire thread and give you the highlights:

  • Order page had many problems:
    • couldn’t handle the initial load
    • one of the domain names referred to in the “order confirmation” letter hadn’t even been registered yet; people were worried they were being phished.
    • emails to Mio bounced, again inflaming security concerns
  • Customer service is giving conflicting answers (if you can get through). Many reported getting busy signals when trying to call in, (seriously what company gives busies in this day and age?).
  • Of those folks that ordered early most got their order after four weeks, many still haven’t gotten it despite paying almost $10 for shipping.
  • Email inquiries go unanswered.

There were some people who had reported problems with the actual upgrade, but you are always going to have some hardware issues. And thankfully these people that have had problems are getting more help from the forums than the actual company.

Most people are pissed off since they feel like they paid a premium for shipping at a steep $10 when USPS Priority mail is around $4 and would have been delivered in three days. However, Mio in its wisdom shipping these DVD’s via Media Mail (from USPS):

Media Mail® service is a cost efficient way to mail books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media Mail can not contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books. The maximum Lose Weight Exercise for Media Mail is 70 lbs.

The USPS website doesn’t say how long shipping something Media Mail will take. But I will say I have had books shipped this method. It’s really, really, cheap and the book took about three weeks coming from California. So the perception from the customer is “Hey, I spent $10 extra to receive my update, yet Mio sent it the cheapest, longest way possible.”

In my line of work, I’ve learned long ago that honesty is the best policy when dealing with customers. So when people call into Mio to get an update, cancel their order (since they can get it at Circuit City now), they get the run around, different answers depending on whom they talk to. They feel like they are being lied to.

The problem with the website flaking out lends the impression that Mio just doesn’t have their act together.

Now, I think the old saying, “You can have it cheap, good, or fast but not all three” is applicable here. At least the update is cheap, but it certainly wasn’t fast and seeing how Mio is treating the customers over this, I wouldn’t say it was good, either.

I can see how something like this happened. Someone there thought all of this sounded good to ship the DVD’s via Media Mail, saying the company money but not realizing how long it would take to get them in peoples hands. The customer service reps are more or less left holding the bag and are having to deal with angry customers and they might be trying to do their best in trying to appease them, but it isn’t a coordinated effort and not all the reps are telling the same story. So you got angry customers, public forums on the Internet, folks screaming to the BBB and it begins to all slide downhill.

One time, something similar happened at work. There was a major mailing that was going out to a specific group of customers. It was some software and manuals. The list of contcts was in an Excel spreadsheet and was >5,000. The spreadsheet had columns for name, house number, street, city, state, zip, etc., Someone tried to sort the column for house number, but DID NOT expand the sort to include the street name. So the house numbers got sorts but not the street name so ALL the addresses got horribly borked. The mailing went out USPS Priority and ALL came back. There were mail bins upon mail bins of return packages. And these were printed materials with a custom letter for each recipient. It all had to be redone. What a mess. That’s the sort of mistake you never make twice, (unless you are truly a dumbass), and since I just heard about it, I am always careful when I sort my spreadsheets.

So, what does this mean for Mio? Because they haven’t come out and addressed or even acknowledged the customers’ frustration, they’ve made enemies for life. Or at least people who will never ever buy another Mio product again. I can’t say I blame them. Mio has some really slick GPS products but people would rather buy from a company that they feel like supports them. They had a golden opportunity to turn these customers into die-hard fans. The promise was good; a reasonably priced upgrade and everyone was willing to pay for it. They were even excited about it and were willing to forget about the long delays. Now they feel like they’ve been kicked in the teeth and some of those folks that were willing to pay for a legitimate upgrade will upgrade their units by “other means” without paying for it. They’ll be force underground.

What Mio should have done? They should have came out and said they made a mistake. They should have refunded everyone who paid the extra money for shipping or at least offered to credit anyone who called in. The call center reps should have been prepared with an official statement from the management saying yeah, they made a mistake and for your trouble we’ll refund your shipping costs. They should stop sending upgrade DVD’s via bulk Media Mail and either send it via normal or Priority USPS.

Something similar happened with TigerDirect a while ago. Tiger Direct did some sneaking things with customers long ago; if you ordered from them they also signed you for some long distance promotion, people have had problems with their rebates, etc. Personally, I have never ordered from them. But if you visit any of the “hot deal” forums, people are quick to turn away whenever a deal comes up from TigerDirect. They still have a damaged image from something that happened years ago. Based on their history and their perception, some people choose to stay away, even if it is a legitimate hot deal. I’m included in that boat. I simply choose not to do business with them.   I don’t have a particular axe to grind with TD, by the way.

  • Tiger Direct Sucks.org
  • RipOff Alert I
  • RipOff Alert II

Is this the fate of Mio? Potentially. I think they have a chance to pull it out, but that window of opportunity is getting smaller as time goes on. Will I still do business with Mio? Yeah, I probably would. I believe in their technology and being in an industry that deals with customers myself, I can sort of understand what happened. I hope they do what is right.

This really won’t kill the company as I said they have great products.  But they blew a chance to develop die hard fanatics who would always talk up their products and claim to be loyal customers.


The inevitable happened.

I joined Facebook tonight.  Okay, I’ll admit… I do think it is pretty cool.  I’m not going to write about how cool it is or why I like it since I am sure there are plenty of people doing that.  But, I will say a friend of mine recommended I join and I’m glad he did.  Actually, it came about since he was showing me a Facebook Widget for his iPhone.  I was surprised to see many names I recognized in his “friends” list.  It look appeared it was the thing to do…

My wife has a MySpace account.  I like the idea of MySpace, but I just don’t want to deal with the “overhead” MySpace has… “Thanks for the add, man!”  Facebook seems to be between LinkedIn and MySpace; that is something I could deal with.

Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with MySpace; I just haven’t been bitten by the bug.  I have thought about (for a long time) setting up a pseudo-name and going to town, but given how much I got on my plate these days I don’t feel like I have the wherewithal to  commit to it.  At least with Facebook, I see it more as a “professional” social network.  Oh well.

If you’d like to be my “friend” on Facebook, look me up.  You know how to find me!

A glimpse into the crystal ball… or “Go, T-Mobile!!!!”

I knew it was coming, and here it is:

T-Mobile USA launches WiFi access for cellphone users

It is only a matter of time before my Wing is able to take advantage of this plan.   Since my Wing has WiFi, I am making SIP calls from it when I’m at home on my WiFi network, talking to my PBX, so why isn’t this far fetched?  Tmobile is rolling out two phones they know will work with this service.  The partnership with Linksys and D-link is to insure a rock solid connection, (IMHO they do make the best routers).  This is really sweet.

Once the tech gets ironed out, I wouldn’t be surprised if they allow other users who can figure it out to take advantage of this plan.   T-Mobile, congratulations on this announcement.

I’ll be curious to see how much news this gets in the US.  If you could use an iPhone on Tmobile via WiFi, would you buy one?

multiple updates on various junk

I’ve been busy. It’s been good and I see progress being made. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, this post is going to be a mini-update to a bunch of stuff I got in the hopper.

Tmobile Wing

Man, I love this thing. Today I put new skins on it, and installed some really great apps. I’ll provide a more detailed post on it. Going from PalmOS to WM6 was painless and easy. I almost don’t even think of it. I miss on flash card program but other than that, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a Palm-based phone.

XMBC on the Xbox

My brother-in-law is really happy with his hacked Xbox. We watched all sorts of international TV this weekend. I found this after poking around. Why hadn’t I found it before?

I found some great games I am playing on my Xbox. ChessMaster was really hard to find:


I am getting a lot of hits on my website for Trixbox related things. I hope you guys are finding it helpful. I’d love to hear some feedback.

Continue reading

cool beans

I saw I got a mention over at the Earthlink blog about my new Tmobile Wing. Now, I feel I am on the hook for delivering some decent content. Shouldn’t be a problem since I have a lot to say about my new Wing. In a Nutshell, I love it.

Now, I know here in the U.S we are about 10 years behind the rest of the world with cellular technology. We have no nationwide 3G network. However, my wife and I have been long-time Tmobile customers ever since we had a cell phone with Powertel. I saw the posting in November about Tmobile getting the huge FCC contract, which made little news here in the US but I think this is a pretty good thing for us Tmobile customers;

I’ll probably provide a more detailed review of the Wing but right now, I’m sort of riding high since I just made my first SIP call from the Wing, which is registering with my Trixbox here at home.

Tmobile now has a phone, which I believe at this point is only available in Seattle, that can make calls over WiFi or the GSM network. The Wing has a pretty robust WiFi setup so I was thinking how cool it would be to use SIP at home. I don’t really use Skype a whole lot so I haven’t tried it, (but it is on my list of things to do).  I’ll have to wait and see, but it appears that as long I am on my home WiFi setup, I can register via SIP to my SIP server and make and receive calls, (as long as I add my “extension” to the call hunt), via my Wing. I like that idea… it’s pretty cool, if you ask me.

If you are curious how I am making SIP calls from my Wing, I am using SJphone for Windows Mobile.  It’s free!

More to come…


Today on Slashdot, there was a super-interesting article on Altruism. Here’s the snippet:

Dekortage writes “The Washington Post is reporting on recent neuroscience research indicating that the brain is pre-wired to enjoy altruism — placing the interests of others ahead of one’s own. In studies, ‘[G]enerosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex… Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.’ Such research ‘has opened up a new window on what it means to be good,’ although many philosophers over recorded history have suggested similar things.”

I have always found altruism interesting, especially since I have children. I read an article when our twins were first born that altruism was something innate. I saw the boy twin exhibit altruism time and time again right when he was two years old. It fascinated me that now they saw that this is something we are born with, (lo and behold, hope for humankind).

Here’s the link to the article that started this all.

If you read the article that’s quoted in the /. article, it suggests that we are hardwired to get pleasure from helping others.  Personally, I can relate.   In reflection, other people I am drawn too, also exhibit altruism (much to the chagrin to our wives).   This is an interesting article and since this is something I’d like to help foster in our children, I have a little better understanding.  But given other examples I’ve seen, is this something that can be unlearned so to speak?

Just as much of our characteristics are learned behavior, can being anti-altruistic also be learned behavior?  Unfortunately, I think so.

Kids are amazing.  I have learned much from them and look forward to continuing to do so.

is that a chumby, or are you just glad to see me?

I got a Chumby. When I first saw this thing on a friends desk, I was like, “what’s this goofy thing?” then when I got my hands on it, I was like, “holy geez, this is way cool!” I finally got this thing working at home. There is a “bug” where it freaks out if your router is doing anything besides 802.11b. Once I set my router to “b” it worked great.

This is a great idea. You should read what this is all about. Taken from Chumby’s website:

The chumby is a compact device that displays useful and entertaining information from the web: news, photos, music, celebrity gossip, weather, box scores, blogs — using your wireless internet connection. Always on, it shows — nonstop — what’s online that matters to you.


I’ve been really big on taking the Internet experience out of the computer room into your living space, and this thing suits the bill.

The widgets are all Flash-based… and i don’t know Flash… yet. But after playing with this thing for a day or two, I’m ready to learn. I got a lot of ideas for widgets that would really make this thing a necessity of life these days… at least for me.

I got this from work, specifically the Earthlink Blogmaster, Dave, (thanks, Dave!). I saw it on his desk and asked him what it was. He passed it to me and sent me packing. I think this has a ton of potential for some really cool uses. Time to find a good book on Flash.

Quick! Get me the number to the Patent Office!!!

Lo and behold, Wikipedia to the rescue…

This is what is on my Chumby, right now.

EDIT: I created a page separate from this one since it was causing huge load times.  You can find it here:

  • What’s on my Chumby!