Thursday, September 13, 2018

Giving bad advice...

Earlier this year my son called and asked for 'parental advice.'  That was concerning.  He's a bright talented man in his early 30s.  The opportunity presented was for a career shift at a very large software company.  His current position was at a pretigious organization.  My first comments were lukewarm on taking the new gig.  I was wrong.

A review of my long history of Facebook posts gave the advice I should have given.

"It's rare that I re-post other people's contributions. Honestly, every 'healthy living' guideline has been totally ignored. Of course he says he's only had one job and it's been the best job in the world. How cool would that be if we could look back on our own working career like that. So the advice for our children should be "1. Don't do anything Keith Richards did. 2. Do everything Keith Richards did. 3. Create some music and joy that will last forever.""

Uphill might be the better view


We did farmer's markets for twenty years. It all started with a bumper crop of local honey (50+ year beekeeper here). Adding a focus on heirloom vegetables we learned that you need 8' fences to keep the deer out and three feet of wire mesh at the bottom of the fence to keep small animals out.
You collect a lot of stuff...more fencing, weed mat, containers, tools, hoses, all sorts of watering contraptions and a lot of things you might need. We kept all of that in half of a garage and the first floor of a barn (the cows left 30 years ago but there are still remnants of that effort). Never in the last ten years had we locked either of those storage spaces. It was primarily due to convenience, just like leaving the key in the tractor.
Earlier this summer I noticed something. Items sitting in the same place for a decade seem to have moved. Once in a while a light was left on. After I found evidence of smoking in the barn I installed locks on all the doors. There are two rules in rural when it comes to locks. The rules are extremes. Make it like Fort Knox or make the locks a nominal inconvenience. The good rural thieves have bolt cutters. The meth heads have a screwdriver, maybe.
A week ago someone had taken a lock bracket off.
These are things I eyeball daily. It was reinstalled and a game camera was hidden inside the buiding. Two days later there was a call from the sheriff in
response to a burglary. If you don't have a bolt cutter or a screwdriver you just kick the door in.
To make a long story short the perp stole a pressure washer and the game camera. The next day the perp's friend turned him in and now the guy is in jail.
So one day you shake hands with the youth of America and a few months later they steal from you. You get your stuff back but you drive all over the planet, repair a door that was previously undamaged since 1946 and lose a couple of days of billable time. Law enforcement and neighbors wonder along with you what will come of the youth of America and especially the youth of rural America.
Growing up on the southern MN prairie I am comfortable with more or less flat vistas and the distant horizon. It's getting to the point where I want to move to a place where everyone else is downhill.

Monday, June 25, 2018

WTF Happened to This Commitment?

Child #2, an adult, commented "You will fail" when I committed to writing every day after leaving my last 'career' job.  I did.  Worse, it's been five months since a contribution to this "I don't even.." effort.

Late last week I met with one of the two people who motivated me to re-think my purpose in a corporate job that had gone on far too long.  A talented, creative, very bright and lacking convention guy he said "So why did you stop."  Certainly I did not want my son to be right.  I'm the parent.  I know better.

A part time job did interfere with not having a job.  Working that 15 or 20 hours per week has become someone consuming of some of my creative inclinations and a bit of a stone wall.  It has reminded me of the problems of organizations, conflicting goals, and worse than everything else, people.  My goal in the PT job is very clear...find my replacement.  It's a consulting job.  Never will I be an employee again.  Perhaps a consultant.  The only person I'm 'reporting to' or 'working for' is yours truly.

With that, this is a blog re-start.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Fifty-two years Cloud to Cloud

I says, Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud
Don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd
On my cloud, baby

In southern MN the local radio station was all local stuff, including things like "Party Line" a radio-hosted classified ad program.  "Size 10 gym shoes are $6.00.  Call FRE-1234."  You get the idea.  During the day WDGY a big AM station 100 miles north on the southern edge of Minneapolis would blast out the popular pop music of the day, but it was full of ads.  Late at night you could pull Beaker Street from WLS in Chicago, well worth the illogic of staying up that late.  WLS worked just fine during the years working nights at Universal Milking Machine, giving good reason to drive around aimlessly in my '66 VW for several hours after getting off work at midnight.

Well, the Rolling Stones were blasting out memorable tunes about the cloud then and here we are.

Between my full-time gig which was 60+ hours a week and then the small business which kept me up at night...and day...and weekends my personal focus on computer/digital backups was neglected.  The small business has been sold.  Great.

For the past few days I've been reviewing my data repositories, backup plans and where should I be putting files going forward.  With critical documents and photos you just don't want to lose those with a drive/PC failure/upgrade.  So running through my PCs in most frequent use:  1) Chromebook.  This is not a problem.  It's the PC of choice about 80% of the time and I use Google Docs & Sheets and a few other products storing all files on the Google Drive.  Nothing downloaded lost would be a problem.

In the desktop space we have a legacy PC running XP.  My backup strategy there is to periodically plug in a USB drive, copy the user files and then upload that to Dropbox.  Desktop #2 is a Windows 7 running Backblaze as the backup.  Backblaze is a wonderful backup product less focused on file sharing.  Windows backup is not enabled on this PC due to a faulty registry entry which crashes the task scheduler; this is a frequent reminder that Windows PCs are often more expensive and complex than warranted.  Desktop #3 was running out of space.  Oddly two years ago this was going to be my primary workstation.  Being obsessively concerned about loss I was running a Backblaze backup and a Mozy backup.  Getting ready to do my 2017 business and personal taxes I felt this PC to be a big short of free space...and almost bought another box but caution and a frugal nature intervene.  After a certain level of analysis it became clear that I'd saved at least two images between the resident drive and an attached USB drive and I'd been running Windows backup to the USB drive.  Some of that was saved to Dropbox folders and thus saved repeatedly, you know, like holding up a mirror to a mirror.  Three backup solutions was probably two too many.

There are a number of notebooks lying about none of which are backed up, simply re-imaged when becoming problematic.  My professional notebook, the one I use when being...well, professional is backed up to Sugarsync.  So now I'm up to four backup strategies, three too many.   Oh, I also have been a longtime Dropbox user.  Initially this allowed me to stop carrying a PC everywhere but simply leaving a PC where ever I was headed.  The challenge in file syncning solutions is to ensure that you are seting your syncning preferences with some logic.  It's also really easy to delete needed files and directories and screw yourself everywhere.  With most of the synchnng oriented solutions deleted files are kept for 30 days.  Personally I've found that I discover the need for deleted files after about six months.

I did not mention a drawer full of usb drives, numerous USB sticks, SD cards, micro SD cards and Seagate SAN with really old stuff.

The only reason for retaining the XP PC is because it has a diskette drive and I still find a box here and there of mystery files.

There are as many sites comparing options for backup and syncing as there are options for backup and syncing.  If I wasn't trying to work with the five currently in my 'personal cloud' I'd review some of those sites and make a good decision.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Work life continues...

Small Business...
It's sold.  That's a lot of hours recovered per week.

Job/Employment...
I'm back in the work force negotiating a new deal.  All that remains is 'What are you going to do' and 'How much do I charge?' 

Daily Life...
Three years ago I purchased an Amazon Echo. It's been in use daily for music, news and ordering stuff. My recently purchased an Echo Dot which was going to wake me up instead of my cell phone waking me up. Remember alarm clocks?
The Echo stopped working, The 24 volt $18 power supply failed. Shortly thereafter the Echo Dot quit working and I spent about three hours attempting to reconfigure it, updating the iPhone Alexa app, resetting routers, wireless access points, etc. With each attempt the Echo Dot provided a new and elusive error message. Google, with the competing Google Home device, would appear to intentionally give not good returns to 'Echo Error Message' searches.
A final hour was spent attempting to start at ground zero and do a reset of the Echo Dot. Of course I kept reading the '1st Gen' instructions for my '2nd Gen' Echo Dot.
Winding the Big Ben alarm clock would have been a more prudent use of time. At a point in life you need to seriously consider how many three hour blocks of time you have left. Spend two minutes winding and the rest of the time with friends and family, talking, sharing, laughing and enjoying a little rock and roll.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

No exuse...

When Standard Process Goes Awry...






Philandro Castile was stopped by a police officer.  He announced to the policement that he had a carry permit. Individuals with carry permits are not required to make that announcement.  Police officers do not have online access to that information.

Asked for his license and insurance information Mr. Castile reached for them.  The officer claims to have seen a gun.  If someone says they have a carry permit it's likely you've going to see a gun.  Mr. Castile's handgun was buried deep in his right pocket.  It's unlikely that the police officer saw anything except Mr. Castile's wallet.

The officer panicked and fired seven rounds into Mr. Castile who then died.

I was  within a block of that shooting at the same time.

If I had a carry permit would I have announced it?  No.  Mr. Castile was a black man.  I am white.  Would I have been stopped for the same reason?  No.  Would the police officer have shot me seven times?  No.

Mr. Castile worked in the school cafeteria and knew the names of all the children including members of my family.  He was a decent guy who went to work each day.  

The police officer lost it.  He did not do a felony stop.  He did a traffic stop.  He failed at standard procedure and now a good guy is dead.

This is my neighborhood.    

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Gizmo Vortex

Officially my office, the space with the 1960s green desk, piles of paperwork done and undone, three or four computers, extra drives and cables and connectors for gizmos past and present, may be the location that I do my best creative work.  The quality can only be attributed to the office chair from my former gig that complemented my bottom from 1987 to 2001 at which point I simply rolled it into the elevator, through the Skyway and home.  The topic of previous blog post, the chair has served for thirty good years.  The office contains an iPad rarely used, an Amazon Echo and a small SONOS unit used daily for music.  There are three desktops and a couple of notebooks and three printers.  My good stuff comes from a single thread of technology through that mess.

The Samsung Chromebook upon which I'm writing goes everywhere.  When I want to look serious I carry a briefcase that also contains a high-end Lenovo notebook which usually has a depleted battery.

The night before last I had a weird dream in which a guy named George sold me an airplane for $13,999 which I proceeded to hide in my uncle's basement.  Currently I am working with a guy named George, airplanes are of a casual interest and my uncles was special but has been gone thirty years.   Before going to sleep I'd looked at YouTube content on warbirds.  Perhaps that triggered the airplane purchase.

But really I think my weird dreams of late have occurred because I don't have a job (not even a dumb job) and my brain has been invaded by technological gizmos.  When I headed off to sleep the eve of the airplane dream I brought my Chromebook (in case I woke up in the middle of the night and needed watch something with a video need (nothing planned), my iPhone (alarm, weather check, Instagram, Google Tasks, Google Keep), another Lenovo notebook (I keep forgetting it's there), an Amazon Echo Dot with Bluetooth speaker, my original Amazon Kindle (just restored the battery), an early Amazon Fire (previously used for video) and my new Amazon Paperwhite Kindle.  This is too much.  In the old days you read a book and then fell asleep.


  • The danger, as tablets, smartphones, ever more powerful (and complex) PCs and cloud options continue to develop is falling into the 'gizmo' trap.  
  • Track how much time you spend on you own personal technology support such as upgrades of software, new phones, data plans, internet resources.
  • Drive a stake into the ground
  • Define your business and personal goals...what's important
  • What are the measurable business and personal outcomes for your goals that you hope to achieve.
  • Have a business and personal mentor...not another Gizmo person...find a balance.
I'm going to cut down on the the extra stuff.  Three Kindles are crazy.  More than a couple PCs is crazy.  Standardize onsite and cloud storage tools (currently I use Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and far too many onsite storage devices.