biking to work

Okay, I couldn’t really come up with a fancy or catchy title for this post. But this is great.  It’s actually a dream come true.  It turns out it is really easy for me to bike into my office.  This is an added bonus and I’m so happy about this.

Where we live, we live very near the Silver Comet Trail.  In fact, from my garage to the local access point to the trail is 2.5 miles.  Now, the Silver Comet Trail is cool in its own right, but what’s really cool is that the city of Smyrna, GA has build the “Cumberland Connector.”  Sadly, or suprisingly, there is hardly any info available online about the Cumberland Connector and where it goes.

So, door to door from home to office is going to be just around 10 +/- miles.  That’s totally doable.  So far, I’ve been parking at a grocery store / shopping center which makes my commute about 6.5 miles and I have the option of finishing my morning ride on part of a trail that goes into the Chattahoochie National Forest.  It’s really great.

I have a good friend who has a bike shop right near the trail head of the Silver Comet Trail.

I bought a new set of cycling bibs, (which I highly recommend) and a new bike computer.  So right now, my ride is around 6 miles (as I said) and it takes about 30 minutes to ride in.  And I typically burn 480 – 640 calories, (remember, I’m a big fan of hear rate moniters, HRM’s).

As I mentioned, it’s been hard to find any good resources online, but I did find a nice PDF that explains the new and proposed trails in the area.  I’ll include it here in case it helps you.


life is good

It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.  I am still in a state of disbelief.  Oh sure, maybe it’s because it is something new or maybe the romance hasn”t worn off yet… whatever it is, I am happy.

I got a new job.

I started last week and it’s been a great experience so far.  The environment it very pleasant, the culture fits me fine, and the people I work with are really great.

While my new role doesn’t have anything to do with social marketing, there is a lot of networking that goes on.  I’m not saying there are back room deals afoot, more so it is good to have friends and allies in high places.

Other good things are that I now am rocking a new MBP.  I got Parallels, and I am installing CentOS (this minute) under Parallels to try to run some proof of concept type of things.  I am glad I kept my skills sharp and learned many new things while I was between jobs.

As I said, life is good… and this post is lame.  I hadn’t posted much in a little while.  I was trying to keep it quiet about my new job.  I really didn’t have a good reason, but I wanted to make sure it was real before making it public.  I know that may sound weird.

Other than that, tonight I am fighting a cold so I am going to bed early.  Thank you to all of you that helped and supported me while I was between jobs.  And thank you to those who put in a good word for me.

more on real estate martketing, 2.0-sytle

I have to thank all the people that viewed and commented on my previous post, “responsible email marketing… for real estate professionals.” I got a lot of views from that post and I got nominate for a weekly web award.  That was the first time and I was pretty honored, so thanks!

But I am still pretty frustrated at how many emails are in my “Spam” folder that are advertising properties.  I’ll never look at them and the fact that is is spam; email that I never asked to receive, is frustrating.  I imagine that 99% of the recipients of those types of emails either never see them, (since they’re in the Spam folder), or you just receive so many of them, that anything that comes into your inbox is so insignificant, you either just delete or mark it as spam.

Now, here’s the rub.  It’s a hungry market out there and there are a lot of hungry agents and brokers.  I, myself am a licensed agent, but that ain’t my bread n’ butter.  I have other things I’ve been doing to make some money so I don’t feel the pinch as bad as some might.  So no doubt, there are agents out there pulling out all the stops trying to generate some business.  It’s not your fault.  You are being preyed upon.  I get tons of emails from people offering to “blast my listings to their 500k+ database.”  I don’t bother opening these emails.

I know there are a lot of agents out there that have been in the game for many, many years.  Some of these seasoned agents out there, still have a voice mail box phone number they give out; you can’t call them directly.   Some of these agents and brokers haven’t really made themselves available on the Internet.  And that’s okay since they’ve been doing business in a traditional way in non-traditional times.  They’ll find customers who also use the traditional ways.  These folks tend to be less Internet-savvy.

But the wave of the future is being able to be contacted.  My generation is people who like to send emails and like to look at webpages and like to be able to find out some information online about the person who is going to help them buy the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their life; their house.

You got to have an online presences these days.  If you don’t the person that does will get your business.

I wanted to post a picture of all the spam in my spam box that is related to properties for sale.  I got a fair amount of Viagra spam, (some of which is actually kind of creative) so I decided to pass on that.  Rather, I’ll share my thoughts on not only your online presences, but also how to be affective with online marketing.

  • Make sure you can be contacted easily:  No matter how you are found, make sure you can get your email address or phone number.  Okay, if you have a voice mail number, you can use that.  But please please please make sure you call back ANYONE who makes the effort to leave you a voice mail.   If you get an email from someone one, at the VERY LEAST, acknowledge you got the mail, even if you can’t answer it right away: Dear So-n-So, thank you for your email.  I wanted to let you know I got it and that I can’t answer you right away, but you are important to me.  As soon as I am able to get back to you I will call/email/fax/whatever…” Touch your customers in a meaningful way.  Tell them they are important and they matter to you.  Your competition isn’t doing it.
  • You heard you need to have a blog: There are those that say you NEED to have a blog  That is easier said than done.  A  blog needs to be tended like a garden.  You don’t have to post every day, but if you decide to have one, you do need to post at least a couple of times a month.  Your topics could include anything from good deals on interest rates to a sad goodbye to an agent who’s leaving.   But don’t commit to a blog if you don’t think you have the gumption to keep up with it, otherwise it will smell like a marketing gimmick.
  • You should have a website: Yes, you SHOULD have a website.  If you work for one of the major brokers, they might help you make one, but if you are an independent broker, you should have a website.  And it should have easy ways to contact you and be SEO-friendly, (Search Engine Optimization-friendly…  If I go to Google and enter “city-I’m-in-interested-in realtor” you want to pop up in the top of the search results).
  • If you have a website, allow follks to sign up for a newsletter: Back to responsible email marketing… you want to make it into your list subscribers inbox instead of their spam box?  Let them sign up on your website and use a reputable email marketeer.  There are several out there.  Do it yourself so you can learn about the technology, marketplace, and learn how to be effective.
  • Finally, do not give any business to the fly-by-night email spammers. Over the long haul, you are most likely to hurt your online reputation more than help it.  DO NOT sign up for offers like “send your listing to 10,000 readers!”  You will end up in 99% percent of those readers’ spam box.  And with search engine technology, you could show up as a spamming agent and potentially loseWeight Exercise business.
  • Use Craigslist: It’s free, somewhat anonymous, and readers go there to look.  Make sure you take advantage of the four picture upload limit.  Again, if you use Craigslist, make sure you can be contact by either email or phone really easy and follow up with your leads.
  • If you have a website, make sure it is updated frequently: If I am thinking about moving to a  particular part of town, I might bookmark your website.  Every time I get the itch to move, I am likely to check your website to see if you have any new listings.   If a listing sold, at least “mark” it as sold.

Having a presence on the Internet might be a little daunting for some agents out there.  The reality is that many of today’s buyers are using the Internet not only as a research tool, but also as a tool to find their next buying agent.  They are using the Internet to find your expertise.   Make it easy for them to find and show them you care about them as a client.  As always, I am happy to consult on these matters so feel free to contact me.

Ruby, SEO, and CSS… or how I spent my time off…

If you have been following along, you’ll know that I’ve been out of work since October.  I’ve been really busy, though.  I’ve enjoyed spending time with my children and my wife.  I’ve worked on projects around the house, (I made a bench out of scrap lumber), played around with technology (getting around to all those software updates I’ve been putting off), and I’ve been hitting the books.  Oh yeah, I’ve been doing some consulting on the side, too.

One of the things I really wanted to sink my teeth into was the whole Ruby on Rails things.   It’s been a while since I did any heavy lifting in Perl or even shell scripts for that matter.  I used to be into PHP before version five, but with most things, if you don’t use ’em, you loseWeight Exercise them.  Now, it’s not completely wasted.  I can open a script in Perl and PHP and quickly figure out what’s going on and make changes to suit my needs, but writing something from scratch really made the rusty gears turn and cobwebs fall away.

One of my biggest challenges is coming up with a project to do.  There are so many “solutions in a box” out there by fantastically smart people released as Open Source.   It’s an easy temptation not to reinvent the wheel.  Okay, so back to Ruby on Rails.  I bought a book, that turned out to be pretty crappy.  Except I didn’t know it was crappy, I thought I was too dense to grasp it.  Then I had a friend explain the whole MVC framework.  A light bulb went off and I began to understand concepts that I hadn’t seen before.  The book was still a crappy book, but now I had better direction in trying to find a book that I would personally find useful.  I did.  I found two both by the Pragmatic Programmer series. They got to me.  I understood it.  And while I lack sheer experience, I know enough to be dangerous.  I know where to look in a reference to do what I want.  I also know how to search for answers based on my questions, (sometime you got to know how to ask).

In a completely unrelated conversation with a new friend, we were talking about web design.  He said, “Oh yeah… we use CSS for everything.  You know, instead of using tables and frames like they used to in the old days.” Like in the “old days?”  Was I really living in the old days?  HTML was one of the first languages I had learned.  I think that was around version 3.2 and I had one of those “Teach Yourself HTML” books.  And while I wouldn’t consider myself a complete master, I had chops.  But… this comment made me rethink myself… What did he mean “instead of tables and frames?”  I stopped using frames years ago.. but tables?  I used them all the time.  What on earth did he mean?  I became obsessed.  Now, I knew about CSS and how to change colors and fonts and alignments… but what was this… what sort of wizardry was he talking about.

Seriously, I became obsessed.  I tried to read all I could on CSS.  I found more crappy books.  Nothing gave me the answers I wanted.  Until, that is, I found the O’reilly book and that changed my life.  I got it, it was clear… crazy and zen-like webpages polluted my mind.  I can’t wait to get into some hight-art CSS’ing.  I have found what I was looking for… the missing piece in my webdesign toolbox!

This is all very exciting for you, I am sure.   If you manage to stay on this page, then you are in for a real treat.  One day, when I was the bookstore, a guy came up to me and asked if I knew anything about the Internet.  I smiled sheepishly and said something like, “Yeah, I know a little about it…”  It turned out, he was a contractor, like a handyman-type of contractor and he had a website.  He was interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  His “web guy” didn’t know anything about it, so he decided to take matters in his own hands.   We talked for a while and I tried to recommend him a book.  I found one, leafed through it and said it looked pretty good.  He asked if I had a card, and I said I didn’t and we parted ways.  I was worried I had given him a bum steer so I looked up the book on Amazon and I was surpised to see it was one of the highest rated books on SEO.  I felt good that I gave him some decent advice.

Since then, in my job search, I’ve seen posting after posting for “SEO Experts” so I figured this would be a skill I should learn about.  I was able to find the recommended book at the library and I just started reading it.  You know, I thought I knew a lot about that, but I was very happy to see  that I had lots more to learn.   I’ve enjoyed this book and am going to make some changes to my website, (as it is, I wasn’t far off.  When I view my stats for my website, I was surprised to see how highly I rank in the search engines for topics covered here!).   Am I an expert yet? No, I’m not.. but I think I know a heck of a lot more than a lot of people… read on…

Another thing I have been enjoying, is that I took over my son’s school’s website.  I didn’t do the initial design, which is very good and using CSS, but I did have to get up to speed on it and understand someone else’s code.  I got in the habit of using Subversion to keep whatever I am working on.  The few websites I have been working on, are all stored in my Subversion repository.   I make my edits and then upload my new pages, and then commit everything to subversion.

Now, to gain some additional features, we are moving the school’s website to a new hosting provider, and the new provider allows ssh/shell access.  I’ve used this before, but I had one of those “A-ha!” moments.  If I have shell on the server, why can’t I use subversion to publish my changes on the site?  Sure enough, it works!  It works like this:

  • I have a separate SVN server.  On my laptop, I keep a local copy.  I make all edits on my laptop, verify my changes, (since my laptop is LAM(R|P)), upload my changes to the remote site via FTP, and then commit my changes to SVN.

Since the new provider  has SSH access, I just realized my life is so much easier.

  • I make sure I have the latest revision on my laptop. I make my changes, test them, and commit to my SVN server.
  • On my new webhosting provider, I SSH in and change to my site’s DIR and run “svn update” and viola! Site updated!

Okay, I am sure there are a ton of people doing this and I didn’t make any sort of breakthrough discovery.  But, this IS cool, since I am midway in migrating between providers.  It does make my life easier.

I also got into CMS (content management systems).  I have committed to moving the schools website to a CMS system since so many parties need to updates specific sections.  But that’s another topic entirely and I am going to have to do some hand-holding on this one.

Oh, and I did mention I was doing some consulting.  I enjoy it.  I’ve made some people really happy with my contributions.  So much in fact, my wife and I are in the baby steps of starting a business.  I think for right now, it is on the back burner until I find a steady job; we need benefits.

My final point on is that my experience is somewhat unique.  I worked with some of the smartest and creative people I have ever met in my life.   I’ve been inspired by them and learned from them, but back in the day, I did some hump-busting, too.   In my time off, I’ve discovered that my sweet spot is some balance between creativity, technology, and problem solving.  That’s what I like.

And in case you are interested, I am listening to “Ian Brown” right now.  He’s great!

what’s the story, wishbone…

Man, I haven’t updated in a while but I have been dying to post something.  You know, I keep having ideas that I want to write about, then I start a draft, and either whatever I started to write is just plain wrong or I come to realize it just isn’t as important as I thought it was.   Oh well.

I’ll just shotgun all the updates I have.  Usually, I tend to write more about these topics as time marches on.

First, I feel like I lost a good friend.  My iPod died.  It really died.  I had a 40GB 4G iPod.  It was actually a HP iPod; you remember when HP resold iPods?  Me neither, it was a speck on the historic iPod timeline.  Well, I loved it and literally used it every day.  This year, the hard drive started to make click and whrring shoulds. I could bang it on the table, (don’t laugh… I read about doing that in a forum) and it would work.  Now, the hard drive is crunching and the iPod isn’t booting up.  Oh well.  Once I find a new job, I plan on getting an 8GB Nano since I like to run with my iPod.  I would like to try the Nike+ product.  A good friend told me it was really cool.  I figure that and a heart rate monitor might really make for some serious training. (Rumor has it, you don’t really need the Nike+ shoes… any shoes will do.)

I’ve been playing around with Munin and Nagios on my laptop (which is running FC8).  Again, I started to write a page about getting Munin working with Fedora and SELinux but I still don’t have it all worked out.  However, I am becoming more knowledgeable about SELinux in troubleshooting.  That’s cool.

I’ve also been continuing my Ruby on Rails education.  I love it.  I really want to be an expert.  I got a couple of personal projects on deck that should really help me solidify my foundation.  I just wish I had more time these days.

I split a crap load of wood with a log splitter (not the hydraulic kind, the kind you swing, over and over).  It felt great to do some work like that.  And now we just need some nice cold weather here in Atlanta, so we can have a fire.

We got some nice, new wheels on our 2003 VW Eurovan.  Anyone want to see pics?

I have, I guess what you would call a 2nd interview with a really cool company tomorrow, (Friday).  Wish me luck… these guys are really cool and I am totally blown away by their tech.   It would be a dream job.

Fedora Linux (fc8) on my new laptop… the wireless saga

I love it when a plan comes together but hate it when I can’t think of a catchy title for a post. Oh well. In my last post regarding my new laptop, things have been progressing.

My last statement in that post said something about how there is something to be said about having a Mac “just work out of the box” but I’ve seen lots of people post saying that part of the fun of Linux, is trying to get things to work. It can be downright frustrating, of course, but when it works, it works well.

My laptop is a Toshiba A215 (which I just added another 2GB of ram). It’s a great laptop. Vista works well with it. I can’t complain about that, but I’ve been wanting to run Linux full time on it. One of the quirks of this laptop is that the wireless device shows up as an usb device, which is something very strange:

[jpabian@stoshua]~% lsusb
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0bda:8197 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

This wireless device is indeed a Realtek RTL8187B. Some people have gotten it to work and others have just given up on it. Those of the people who got it to work have hardcoded the wifi settings in a config file. I wanted to have the nifty wifi-selector that “NetworkManager” provides. I don’t want to hardcode anything (like the Mac). I searched and searched and tried everything I could find to do. I found a lot of really great resources but nothing worked. This was one of the best sites:

  • Realtek Linux wireless driver project

I mean it, I was pulling my hair out. It shouldn’t be this hard. I began to be disappointed with my otherwise ideal laptop. I started to read about other wireless USB devices that work with linux. I came up with a plan. I checked out Circuit City’s, Best Buy’s, and Office Depot’s websites to see what they had on sale AND what wireless USB devices worked under linux.

One page I had found (and you know, I can’t find it now!), had a list of pretty much all the wireless USB devices and if they had kernel support or if drivers existed. But it also had a column that reported if it “worked out of the box” or not. Each of the stores I mentioned above had a Linksys on sale, AND it was reported to “work out of the box!” I was excited but also very nervous whether or not it would work. I saw a few posts around where people where having problems with. I picked up the Linksys® WUSB54GC Wireless-G USB 2.0 Network Adapter for $50 after “instant savings.”


So when the moment of truth came, I plugged in the WUSB54GC into one of my USB ports and say the following message:

Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> wlan1: Device is fully-supported using driver ‘rt73usb’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> (wlan1): exporting device as /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/Device/4
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Now managing wireless (802.11) device ‘wlan1’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Bringing up device wlan1

It worked! I didn’t have to do anything! Sure enough, NetworkManager presented me with both my wireless networks (and my neighbors’). I couldn’t believe it. It works great. It works good on the suspend and resume functions of my laptop.

Sure, I really wish that the onboard wifi worked under Linux, but from I’ve read, they’ve only just merged the driver support into the very latest kernel sources so I suspect that support will continue to get better. But for now, I’m very happy with this device.

Now, the only lingering item is sound. Fedora 8 went to using Pulse Audio for the default sound server. Sure looks good on paper, but it doesn’t work and I’m not the only one; there are several threads over at the Fedora Forums talking about it. But FC8 is still bleeding edge. It will work sooner than later, I’m sure.

I’ll save that for another post.

Linux, Vista, and my new laptop

OH YEAH! (He says like the Kool-aid pitcher as he smashes through the wall!)

My new laptop finally came yesterday.  We missed FedEx on Tuesday and I waiting all day for them to come back yesterday.  I got a Toshiba with a dual core AMD 64 Athalon X2; it was a Thanksgiving day purchase (an early Black Friday deal that I happened to catch in time).  It’s a beaut and came with Vista Home Premium on it.

If I had my druthers, I would have told them to hold the OS; as I was going to install Fedora Linux on it as soon as I could.  I burned my x86_64 DVD with anticipation of its arrival.

It came right at 1PM.  By 2PM I was booting off the Fedora DVD and getting ready to install.  I knew on the Ubuntu LiveCD, it has Gparted on it, so I assumed this would to.  It did not.  A quick websearch recommended using a virtual term to use ntfsresize and fdisk.  I was too impatient and found the Gparted LiveCD and thought I’d use that.  The drive was 160G so I thought 40G for Fedora and 120G for Vista since I could always mount the NTFS partition in Linux.  I quickly downloaded and burned the image to disk.
Well, as luck would have it (or my impatience) the README on the LiveCD had something like this to say:

 You can’t use Gparted to resize Vista partitions.  You have to use nftresize and fdisk

It gave some basic examples and I followed them and it looked like it worked.  I rebooted and got the message that “No OS found” and the laptop tried to do a network boot.  So I began to install Fedora.

During the installation, I realized that I forgot to set the Vista partion to active/bootable.  I used fdisk to fix that and after the installation, I had a flawless dual-boot system.

It seemed like the install took forever.  My previous Fedora installations had been from CD not DVD so there was a lot more stuff installed locally.  After the install, I had something like 77 updates to download and apply.  That did take a long time.  I couldn’t install the other stuff while the package manager was running so I watch Mythbusters and chatted via Pidgin.

I  wasn’t getting any action from my wireless.  I was using ethernet cable.  Turns out, that Toshiba used a Realtek wireless card that shows up as an USB device.  WTF?  It’s a Realtek RTL8187B.

Poking around in the forums it seems some ingenious guy got the source for the driver and patched it for Linux, or Ubuntu specifically.  It seems to work, as it shows up as wlan0 and I can manually assign an IP to it, but wpa_supplicant doesn’t see it.  Honestly, I ran out of time to tinker with it, but I think I am about 95% of the way there.

I also installed the fglrx drivers for the ATI x1200 card.  This also works great and I got my tiny resolution I’ve been craving.  I now have a nice wide, large workspace.  I plan on getting about 1GB or 2GB of RAM; I’ll just wait until it is on sale.

So, here’s the links I found useful:

I’ll follow up if and when I get my wireless working.  I am pretty confident I’ll get it.  I also received a suggestion via the Skribit widget to do a post about Mac vs. Linux.  That’s a good idea.  There is something to be said about having everything “work out of the box” but I don’t mind the tinkering.

tmobile wing with a new modded ROM

It was hard to come up with a flashy title for this post, but I figured that I get a lot of traffic from people looking for info on the Wing.

As it stands, ActiveSync stopped working some time this week. I installed some apps and thought that one of them could be the culprit, but searching the forums and Googling clues proved to be fruitless. In the end, I resorted to a hard reset (since at this point, it was really important I sync’ed my contacts) and ActiveSync worked just fine.

So, I headed over to Howard Forums to see what the latest was. Actually, I couldn’t remember how to do a hard reset, (couldn’t remember which button to push) and stumbled into the slipperly slope of installing a modded ROM.

First, if you have a Tmobile Wing, you need to read this thread as it is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and improvements:

On my Wing, I’ve been using the HTC Touch skins on my phone. I really like the improved look and launcher of the phone, but by doing a hard reset (like I had to do to sync again), I need to reinstall all my mods. This isn’t my screen capture but it looks like this:


I liked the look so much better. Then tonight I stumbled upon this link and it was a breeze following the directions:

  • Newbs guide to Herald modification *updated* 11/02/07

For those of you guys that don’t know, HTC Herald is the same as the Wing. That thread has a ton of great info in there for you to check out. If you are new to the Wing or wanted to learn more about hacking it, then you need to READ IT COMPLETELY before attempting anything found therein.

Again, this isn’t my screen shot but my Wing now looks like this. I love it:


There is a fair amount of customization you have to do, but it isn’t too bad or hard.  I was again able to resync all my data and contacts so it’s good to go, but still have some minor tweaks.

Make sure you check out Part 2 of the FAQ.


i love fedora

It’s been a couple of months since I had to turn in my Powerbook when I was recently let go due to downsizing.   I actually went through a sort of withdrawal as I really enjoyed using my Powerbook and was really sad to turn it in.

I had an old laptop that I installed Ubuntu on and it was my Linux Webcam server.  I liked having the webcam server on the laptop since I could move it around and easily capture the action, wherever it was.  But now I found I needed something to actually do work on while I was on the job hunt.

Now, I really liked Ubuntu, but there was something about it that left me wanting.  It was hard to explain but as best as I could put it is that it did EVERYTHING.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and I wanted something that was a little more “advanced.”  Even on my Mac, I used Fink and used an xterm  with the command line  often.  Everything on Ubuntu was just too easy.

I cut my Linux teeth I think on Debian 1.2 (I still have the CD I bought).  I used Debian for years.  At work, we used Digital Unix which became Tru64, a bsd-type of Unix.  Then, somewhere along the line, I used FreeBSD as my desktop for years… that is until I got my Mac.  Even up to that point, I used XEmacs/Gnus as my newsreader and email client for work.  At home, I read mail on my FreeBSD box and used Pine until I went to IMAP .

So, fast forward to today.  On my old crappy laptop, (with 16MB of video), I needed something to get by and I didn’t want to install WinXP since I don’t have a license.  I am also learning Ruby and relearning PHP.  So now I have a L.A.M.P. laptop and I develop anywhere the mood strikes me.  Despite the lacking power on this laptop, it was workable.  I really liked it.

I went with Fedora 7 and was in heaven.  In fact, I don’t want a Mac any more.  I want a new laptop running Fedora.  I’ll even go dual-boot with Fedora and Windows.

Fedora Linux

While I find myself in this transitional period, I feel like I am re-honing my skills with the latest flavors of Linux, learning new development skills, and learning the latest in tools.  For example, I have a subversion server that I am using.  I began using Eclipse as an IDE for Perl and PHP.  I am learning, engaged, and feeling somewhat productive.  I’ve began reading USENET again and getting back to the core parts of the Internet that I really enjoy.

I tried the various flavors of Linux before deciding on Fedora.  I tried Ubuntu of course, Gentoo, SuSe, and was going to try Solaris 10 x86 but I have that on DVD and my crappy laptop doesn’t have a DVD-Rom.

The tools that I enjoy using are:

I love it.  I’ve also been turned onto some really slick Firefox plugins.

(Note: I was going to link to the Firefox plugins but the site is down right now.)

Now, I just need to find more  quiet time to really get into it.   If you got other ideas or tools, or even methodologies you find useful, I’d love to hear them!

StartUp Weekend Atlanta and Skribit

Man, what a weekend. What an honor to be part of this. This past weekend was another part of the StartUp Weekend, and it was in Atlanta. I was there with almost 70 other people. Many of them were old Mindspringer‘s so it was great to see and reconnect with them.

I was really looking forward to this since I’ve been interested in getting involved in a start up and doing more creative type of work with my technology background. Before it kicked off, folks were able to suggest their ideas with the end result being one of them, or a variation of one being selected to be worked on by the resources in the room.

There were a lot of really interesting and neat ideas discussed. We broke up into various teams like

  • Dev
  • Biz-Dev
  • Marketing / PR
  • UI
  • Creative

Then we talked about each idea with regard to our respective groups. I was in Biz-Dev and we all focused on what ideas could make some money. As we narrowed down the list it was interesting to see how the different groups thought which ideas would be successful and why. In the end, we picked the idea and I thought it was neat how those who were staunch opponents of it quickly began to get behind the idea and push it forward. Everyone was dedicated.

I knew from the attendee list that whatever we decided would probably become a Ruby on Rails-fest. One of my friends that was there was a hard core Java programmer and he felt left out so he came to help Biz-Dev.

There were plenty of people who were super busy and had plenty to do. Often, I had cycles to burn and I had a hard time finding things to do, to help out. I felt like I could have done more to help, but there were a lot of cooks, so to speak. Hopefully, I’ll be able to help out going forward.

So, what did we make? We made a Blog suggestion engine. I must admit that it is really slick and exceeded my expectations. Behold… “Skribit!”

So, if you find yourself looking for ideas to write about on your blog, you can use Skribit to help get ideas from your readers. From the FAQ:

Why Skribit?

Skribit is the first tool that allows bloggers to interact efficiently with their community. It is easy to load, easy to manage, and provides an opportunity for quick communication and input.

How does it work?

Bloggers load the widget onto their blogs. Readers click on the widget in order to submit suggestions on topics. Everyone votes on the topic via the “What’s Hopin'”.

How do I insert the widget on the blog?

Currently, we are in closed beta so the Widget is unavailable to the general public. Please contact us to be notified as soon as you can use the widget.

As one of the founders, we have access to the widget. I just found out that I am able to install it. I will try to get it up on here today at some point.

We already got some press.

And some online presences:

So, even thought I wish I could have done more, I really enjoyed it. I met a lot of really cool people, connected with old friends, and got a taste of the building a business. It was really cool.  Would I do it again?  I’d like to, for sure.