A pleasant fiction

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Why I ditched Windows for an Android tablet and why you should too.

This is a blog I’ve been meaning to write for a while and I just haven’t found the time because things have been so busy.  Of course this revolves around technology and how we use it.  Long have I been moving towards a converged computinig experience and quite frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air.  Right now, I’m sitting in a cafe typing this on my “tablet” bluetooth keyboard and my bluetooth mouse to navigate.  ( See Picture for reference )

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What is amazing about this is it completely changes the paradigm of “how” we compute.  We have been told that tablets are not productivity devices.  That is a partially true statement.  Without a keyboard/mouse, they are consumption based devices.  However, when you pair those tactical innput devices with a tablet, you become acutely aware that the device is capable of so much more.    Granted, not everyone is going to be able to do thisi and quite frankly, I don’t expect everyone to be able to pull this off either because they don’t want to, they love Winidows too much (ha!) or simply (as my wife puts it),prefer a laptop.

My time now with my tablet has been for just about 2 months of use and what I’m going to dive into is how I came about this change.

Building requirements

This was crucial to understanding what exactly I needed my tablet to do.  With my recent shift in jobs, I found it apparent that I needed something small enough to throw in a backpack, had at least 9 hrs of battery life, and could connect into my work office computer/resources.  My requirements ended up being this:

  • - Must be ultra portable
  • - Must have greater than 8 hrs of battery life
  • - Must be able to use VPN software to get to work resources

As I started to build my requirements, I challenged myself to ask the question: “Do I need Microsoft Windows?”  The short answer was no, I didn’t.  Any and all laptop hybrids right now are running 450+ bucks and IMO give a lackluster performance.  When I started specing out the Windows laptop that would work for me, it ended up being $530 bucks.  I thought to myself, why?  Why would I want to deal with the headache of learning Windows 8 when I’m already so familar with Android?  This lead to seeking what the best Android tablet was for the money.  I was always facinated with the Nexus 7 units.  Small, lightweight, powerful computers in a box.  So I started looking at how I could make this 7″ tablet my main workstation.  Turns out, it was amazingly cheap.

My next build out for my requirements were the following:

  • - Replacement my current 4 yr old Windows 7 laptop
  • - Must have keyboard and mouse with bluetooth
  • - Must be able to used for producitivity including performing all job duties via Remote Desktop.

This lead me to purchasing the Nexus 7 2013 32GB Wi-Fi unit along with the following options:

  • - Anker 3.0 Bluetooth keyboard ($24.99)
  • - HP x4000b 4.0 Bluetooth mouse ($19.99)
  • - V7 Protective Sleeve for iPads ($6.90)
  • - Siedo Protective case w/ stand ($44.99)
  • - Slimport HDMI out adapter w/ power charger port ($29.99)

Add that up, around $128 bucks in total.  The unit (which was a gift… thanks Mom and Dad!) was $230 on sale. Aggregate total: $358 bucks.  If we do the math on that… that is $530 – 358 is a net savings of $172 dollars AND I don’t have to deal with Windows 8!  (You can’t put a price on that really. :) )  Even now as I’m typing this, two bluetooth devices connected to it, Wi-Fi turned on & VPN enabled, I’m stil at 99% battery and I’ve been unplugged now for almost an hour.  This folks is the magic of Android.

My biggest challenges with going this direction is re-thinking how I compute from a “Windows” perspective. Thankfully (and probably close to reason why I choose this route) Android has a file management.  Whether it is downloading files, sharing them or uploading/creating things in the cloud, that is simply something that is (I believe) more difficult to do on an Apple based product.  Add to the fact that I’ve already got an Android phone that I love, it makes the most sense to stick with what works.

Obviously taking the leap of this sort is not for everyone;  However I will say to the nay sayers that tablets can be productivity machines as long as you approach the requirements from a different perspective.  If we end up judging tablets from a “Windows” based perspective, I believe we lose site of how we as individuals use computers.  The fact is we all use them differently.  So before you go and drop $500, $600 or even $800 bucks on a notebook computer, think closely about your requirements and price out what you need and how you’ll use the device.  That is the great thing about the era of computers we are in, the sky is the limit of how we can interface and engage with new technology.  I hope this gives you some insight and inspiration to do the same.

 

=A

 

PS – Here are direct links to all of the aforementioned items that I got off Amazon.  Again, the tablet in question is the Nexus 7 2013 32GB Wi-Fi edition.

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Just one of the dogs

So, by now if you have heard about or seen on the interwebs, Yahoo apparently thinks they are funny.  Quite frankly, if this e-mail comes to be true, they quite literally are the dumbest Web 2.5 company I’ve seen in a while… and yet I’m talking about them.

Well, consider this an open letter to the Yahoo employees.

Dear Yahoos,

It has recently come to my attention that in an apparent gaffe of your CIO writing a letter to you to ditch Outlook (from either your Windows based or Mac based computer… but lets be honest, Yahoo doesn’t use Apple products right?) is somewhat misguided.  In a lame attempt to inject hipster dialogue of Montey Python like quotes while invoking popular pop-culture references to apparently today’s organice dog food, you are basically being viewed as children.  Apparently too stupid, too dumb to figure out how to be productive or rather how to find how you best operate within a corporate structure (which I use loosly for Yahoo).
I’m calling this PR stunt out as it is;  nothing more than a glimpse into the minds of what the board of trustees views as the today’s leaders.  Yahoo whether you like it or not is a company that is not worth working for.  By certain guidelines of any technology based job there are always “best practices” and “guidelines” for doing business, but are you really going to just sit there and accept that the company that pays your mortgage is anything but a steaming pile of dog crap?
I implore you to take your talents elsewhere.  Shop for a better can of dog food if you will.  If the idiots at your company treat you as beta testing, dog food eating, butt sniffing animals that you are… what’s next?  (I mean really…. worse? )
You deserve better and I know you can do better than Yahoo because clearly they think they’re running a dog pound.
PS.  Here is the entire memo quoted from the link in case it goes offline or becomes “unavailable” for whatever reason.

Hello Yahoos,

Earlier this year we asked you to move to Yahoo Mail for your corporate email account. 25% of you made the switch (thank you). But even if we used the most generous of grading curves (say, the one from organic chemistry), we have clearly failed in our goal to move our co-workers to Yahoo Mail.

It’s time for the remaining 75% to make the switch. Beyond the practical benefits of giving feedback to your colleagues on the Mail team, as a company it’s a matter of principle to use the products we make. (BTW, same for Search.)

For some reading this email, you are saying, “Jeff, shut up, you had me at hello.” *hug* Jump over to yo/dogfood, click “Corp Mail/Cal/ Messenger” and you are ready to join our brave new world at yo/corpmail or https://mail.yahoo-inc.com.

For others, you might now be running in your head to a well worn path of justified resistance, phoning up the ol’ gang, circling the hippocampian wagons of amygdalian resistance. Hold on a sec, pilgrim.

First, it doesn’t feel like we are asking you to abandon some glorious place of communications nirvana. At this point in your life, Outlook may be familiar, which we can often confuse with productive or well designed. Certainly, we can admire the application for its survival, an anachronism of the now defunct 90s PC era, a pre-web program written at a time when NT Server terrorized the data center landscape with the confidence of a T-Rex born to yuppie dinosaur parents who fully bought into the illusion of their son’s utter uniqueness because the big-mouthed, tiny-armed monster infant could mimic the gestures of The Itsy-Bitsy Pterodactyl. There was a similar outcry when we moved away from Outlook’s suite-mates in the Microsoft Office dreadnaught. But whether it’s familiarity, laziness or simple stubbornness dressed in a cloak of Ayn Randian Objectivism, the time has come to move on, commrade [sic...go deep in this pun, it is layered].

Using corp mail from the Y Mail web interface is remarkably feature rich. It supports booking conference rooms, folders, calendar, filters and global address book. Plus, you get built-in Messenger, smart conversation threading, powerful keyboard shortcuts, the new quick actions, attachment preview and our beautiful new rich themes. In the rare case you do need Outlook, like adding a delegate for your calendar, you can still fire up Outlook for 30 seconds.

But wait there’s more. By using corporate Mail, you’ll automatically get to dogfood our new features first. I’m especially excited about a new feature premiering in just a few more days: smart auto-suggest, powered by a platform from the still-have-that-new-acquisition-smell Xobni team. We have been testing this feature with select users in and out of the company and the response has been fantastic: “Whoa!”, “Amazing”, “Already in love with it. Woot!” and, my favorite, “So nicely integrated that it appears as if it’s always been there. I already can’t imagine it not being there again.”

Feeling that little tingle? Take a deep breath, you can do this. We want you on board, sailor!

Please note, on the mobile side, corp mail is not yet supported in our Mail app for Android or iOS, but that will change (PB&J!). And, like all dogfood offerings, there is a feedback link in the product. Use it generously so we can make the improvements to make Yahoo Mail the unquestioned inbox champion of the world. I pitty [sic] the fool who resists.

Thanks for your support. It really does matter and we appreciate it.

Jeff Bonforte, SVP Communications Products
Randy Roumillat, CIO

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The power of asking why — and why you should ask it.

As I find myself on the cusp of becoming a father now two times over, I find myself somewhat at a cross roads of the intersection of life.  The phrase “storming and norming” is used within the business world to describe the process in which it takes a storm to bring elements, team members or collaborative ideas together to crash against each other.  (getting the picture thus far.)  I always picture a boat in the ocean that is going through a storm so severe, it will take all members of that boat to survive it.  Nothing is left off the table.  Enter the picture of “The Perfect Storm” (below)

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Bad example though since they all die.  So maybe not.  Eventually, you move on out of the storm having learned a lesson or in turn learned more about that person/yourself to come to the calm part of the process;  this is called “norming”.  This happens to be where most people will stay for most of their adult life.  Not me.

What I’ve found over the years is that as I have taken some time to reflect on the whole dichotomy of that phrase I think I’ve arrived at the conclusion that its BS.  Why do I say that?  The answer lies in the question of “Why?”.

We as creatures of habit end up getting comfortable with not only ourselves but the circumstances we are in and the knowledge we have obtained.  *NOTE*  Before I go any further ahead, I want to say this is about as pointed at me as it pointed at you the reader!  Now then.  Oh yes.  So we get lazy.  Hey, I’m lazy too!  The wonderment that I see in my son’s eyes as he experiences something for the first time has clued me into a larger narrative of life.  Asking “why?”.

This small question is the birthplace or genesis if you will of what drives people mad.  Thinking back to the dawn of man;  what pushed humans to explore or take risk?  They asked “why?”.  Fast forward to today and take a look at the companies that dominate our landscape.  The question that Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Twitter et al asked was “why?”.  Why not do something better?  Why don’t they do it this way?  Why don’t they have these features?  Why don’t we do something better?

The “why” is the basis of exploration, of coding a better program, of athletes pushing themselves further because they are critiquing themselves on their experience, their skills and their life goals.  Now we get to me and the “why” I wrote this blog.  I am moving onto a new job.  With that, a season of change is happening in my professional life as much as my family life. (remember, kiddo #2 is coming, read above)  That said, new skills, new passions and new directions await me.  I’ve noticed as I mentally prepare and brain-dump as much as I can to my current co-workers, “why” we do something at my current organization is a big question.  Not only is it the foundation for getting work done it is why we get the work done.

Throughout this process I have shaken some of the beliefs that my co-workers have of what the “status-quo” or the “normal” is.  As I thought about it, “storming and norming” came to mind;  but that didn’t seem like the answer.  As I stated above, we must think of ourselves as always in the storm and that life (aka the storm) will never let up.  Just because we gain new knowledge or business practices/processes, we must remember that little question of “why?”.

2001-a-space-odyssey-original  I leave you with a picture from a movie I circled back to watch again and it seems apt.  2001 A Space Odyssey seemed to answer the question of “why?” With “Why not?”  Whether it was the content, story or mushroom induced visuals, you have to respect the boundaries that movie was pushing.  A movie such as this, decades later still gives us context of understanding or at least pondering why we do what we do.  (Even if you have a serial killer robot named HAL trying to kill you.)

My empowerment to you and my hope for you is that you never stop asking why.  As we journey on through this one life to live, take time and pause to ask this simple, yet powerful question.

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I no longer recognize the country I grew up in.

 

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I really don’t.  Do any of you?  Over the past 4-5 years of the Obama administration the past year has been a crap storm of scandals.  The largest scandal of our time right now is the IRS and the targeting of groups based on prejudice of political affiliation.  Now, my good liberal friends will be quick to point out that the same thing happened under George W. however in looking at those stories, why wasn’t it made a big deal?  Multiple reasons of which has caused me to evaluate my stance as an American, as an individual and as a father.

1.)  As of June 2013, Americans can no longer trust a word that is uttered from Washington D.C.  This is quite ironic given the fact that I’ve visited D.C. as a kid and have soaked in the rich cultural history of our forefathers.  What would they say or do now about this tyrannical government that is playing god with people’s lives?

2) All Americans, liberal, conservative or otherwise… all of us, our rights have been violated per our Constitutional statute.   Whether it be the IRS, the NSA or the other numerous branches of the federal government snooping around in our lives, we have been sold out by the people we have elected.

3)  No longer will I stay silent.  These stories along with another one that is near to my heart is the fact that we as a developed nation are now (and have been for some time, don’t kid yourselves) actively arming Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist terrorists in the Syrian Civil War.  What most have been lied to about is the proxy war that is happening there between Iran and Saudi Arabia and unfortunately the innocent people of Syria are stuck in the middle.  War is horrible, death is worse but actively supplying weapons is something in which I will no longer stay on the sidelines about.

 

As part of this, I will be hanging my flag upside down for the duration of the Syrian Civil War and until we Americans figure out that our Government is no longer working for us but is only interested in their self-interests.  I fly the flag that symbolizes the old Naval distress signal for our countries decisions.  I do not fly the flag upside down as a discredit or as an insult to any of our brave men and women who have served in our military both past and current;  If you are part of the military I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service and your personal sacrifice you have given to this country.    My solution, if your looking for commentary on what I think we should be doing as a nation is basically staying out of the conflict however provide as much aid to the organizations who are directly helping the Syrian people in need.  That is our role as a nation as I see it;  Unfortunately, most in our Government don’t see that.

 

I’ll leave with this.  A quote from George Washington that seems apt given our situation in America.  If you’re out there and you are like me or have remained on the sidelines, don’t be silenced.

 

While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case they are answerable.

 

 

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Mark Shuttleworth is probably the worst project manager I know.

This quick quip is in response to an article over on PC Pro UK that interviewed Shuttleworth.  For more on that story, click on over to read what he had to say: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/380446/ubuntu-is-for-everyone-not-only-leets-says-shuttleworth

So you may or may not know who I’m talking about so let me fill you in a little.  Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of the company Canonical which is who funds the modern day “Ubuntu” Linux operating system.  Their premise is simple:  Make an operating system by the people, for the people that is easy to use.  Sounds good on paper right?  Well, things have gone terribly wrong for the Linux distribution known as “Ubuntu” in the past few years and here is why.

  1. Ubuntu has become political.  If you’re unfamiliar with Linux then you wouldn’t know that there are literally thousands of variants you can download and install.  Of all of those variants, each has their own agenda.  Prior to Ubuntu version 10, There was no (seemingly) apparent political agenda of Ubuntu.  It was a happy go lucky OS that was making great strides in being the best OS that was free to use.  Now, we have new user interfaces, new distribution channels for support, new backend code that is changing default behavior… basically the 10 plagues of Canonical that their end users are having to deal with.
  2. There is very little value-add to their effort.  Back in Ubuntu 11.x they changed to a new interface called “Unity”.  If you want to, go google how many people hate it and how many people love it.  You’ll see the former represented more than the latter;  And in some twisted effort, the latter are now evangelists about the product on behalf of Canonical!  Linux is an evolving beast that develops slowly over time, not by leaps and bounds like they are trying to accomplish.
  3. People have spoken and they are leaving Ubuntu in droves. While this isn’t a doom and gloom article over the total state of Ubuntu, it is a reality that if Canonical doesn’t wake up here soon, they may find their party base either completely unhappy or non-existent.

What is ironic to me at least is I started my Linux “hacking chops” on Ubuntu almost 2 1/2 years ago.  Since then I have moved on to Red Hat, CentOS and pretty much everything else in this world that is stable.  Every now and then I’ll dabble with the new Linux distro’s out there, but rarely do I find the time.  In the Linux world, there is an increased expectation of end users and “Leet” users that in some part of their core, expect things to just work how they should be known to work.  Ubuntu unfortunately is not helping with that expectation and they are hurting the distribution in the process.  In regards to Shuttleworth managing this project, he’s flopping all over the place.  Things are dealt with almost in spite (read that as anger) because someone makes an off-handed comment on the development process, suggestions get shot down because they don’t fit the core vision of where Mark wants to take Ubuntu.  Lastly, his stubborness is what is hurting Ubuntu.  As a good project manager, you have to listen to the changing wind and be mindful of your constraints.  Unfortunately for us all, he doesn’t seem to want to pay attention and for that, Ubuntu has become a lesser Linux distribution because of it.

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3 reasons why I’m not watching the ‘State of the Union’.

Short.  Sweet Simple. obama

1.) Barack Obama does not represent the “average” American.  No matter what words he may use, no matter how compassionate he may sound, his value system does not align with the American heritage of a “can do attitude” and “hard work leads to success”.

2) He is addicted to his own image.  Remember in his first term, we would have a press conference every 2 days to have something be the “topic of the day” which really was an exercise in the American citizens tolerating every word that came out of his mouth.  He showed us that the only hope and change he cares about are self-interests which again, do not align with traditional American ideals.

3) Lastly, he cannot be trusted.  Remember a few short months ago when he said the phrase: “99% of Americans who make LESS than $250,000, won’t see their taxes go up!”  BULL!  He knew the entire time that the payroll tax would go up nationwide from 4.2% to 6.2%.  Has this affected you?  I’ve lost $120 bucks a month and almost $1,500 dollars annually due to his majesty and his band of misfit congressmen and women.  It is clear that Washington D.C. doesn’t give a rip about anyone in the country, so why should we pay them mind?

I’ll summarize with this;  The President has so isolated himself from being either a left, mid-center or right wing President that he has chosen to take us down whatever path his whimsical mind decides for the day.  He is delusional to think that people still “like” him as a person and even more delusional to think that a majority of Americans trust him.  As my parents have said, he is the worst President since Jimmy Carter.  I only pray that after 8 years of this tripe we are able to recover faster than we did from Carter.

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Lie to me

This one hits a nerve with me because it would seem our world has become a culture dominated by this simple 3 letter word: Lie.  The trend I have noticed that you may have noticed as well because all of you people are smarter than I am is how in the past few months, we have seen some of the largest news stories come about based on lying.  Mind you, this is from a US world view but if you’re reading this blog, I challenge you to find 3 news stories in your neck of the woods in the past few months that have had this tone to them as well.  These are a few that are notable to me.

Lance Armstrong 

7 time liar.

7 time liar.

If you notice, Lance has come out and stated that he lied about taking performance enhancing drugs.  I’m not here to split hairs on what is or is not performance enhancing drugs but lets be frank, if you know that you’re “doping”, its sad that we see a man who has an incredible story of surviving cancer, stoop to all new lows in order to be viewed as the following:  A Winner.  A person of self-worth.  An inspiration model.  A leader of whom others should follow.  In thinking about those qualities, Armstrong has all but flushed those down the toilet along with his career as a cyclist.  Bringing this home for me, I wore a Livestrong band for almost 2 1/2 years straight.  Why?  It was a serving memory of a good friend Jeff McCombs who circum to cancer.  This was simply a daily reminder that Jeff and other friends who have gone through cancer are on my mind daily.  Now having removed that band almost a year ago amid rumors of Armstrong’s involvement with drugs, I have since removed it.  You might be saying: “Oh Aaron, what’s the big deal?”  Apparently the Livestrong foundation IS a big deal.  So much so that donors are asking for contributions back, that people are actually suing the company and the publishing houses for the books Armstrong put out under the umbrella of the Livestrong charity.  So where does this leave Lance?  Honestly, I think he’s done.  There’s no come back tour, there is no fame or glory in trying to be something that you aren’t.  If I were him, I would leave the limelight and try to make peace with myself, family and friends and not bother the world with another word unless asked a question.  So looking at this, we get our first lie from the world of sports.

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A victim of his own success

Manti T’eo

The reason I bring this guy up is because he has so dominated our pop culture here in the States that it is to the point where it is sad that we’re are wasting anymore time covering this story.  I’m not even familiar with all the details of this story other than the bits and pieces I’ve gleaned from conversations with people and news media stories.  The guy won the Heisman (props to him) and apparently it was dedicated to his mother and girlfriend who died earlier in the season.  The rub you ask?  He never had a girlfriend, let alone one who died.  Now I’ve heard rumors that the girlfriend was actually a dude, that T’eo is gay and that this is masking his sexual orientation to the extreme of which if you notice the pattern, no matter how small or how big the lie is, see how many more are spawned because of it?  I’m not going to spend any time on this further but we see again our pop culture eat this story up and want to know the “why?” behind it.  Folks, people lie for no reason and justifying lying for no reason apparently doesn’t make for good television.

Hillary Clinton 

The do nothing Sec. State

The do nothing Sec. State

This is my last example of lying.  An American consulate was attacked in Benghazi, Libya .  What stands out to me is that we have a government that probably by all accounts, watched from predator drones and listened in on friendly radio chatter as American lives were lost.  Hillary Clinton, to me anyways, represents the worse of the of the three as politics and lying in this day and age seem to be synonymous with how things are done.  Is the same true for you or how you would describe politics in your neck of the woods?  Clinton testified before a panel of congressional oversight team that asked the burning question of “why and how” of which as some sort of magician, she deflected any and all questions and asked new ones which were not even relevant to the subject at hand.  People want answers and they want them now.  Who knew what and when?  The problem is, we’ll never know.  Why?  Washington D.C. has sold its soul to two things:  The almighty dollar and the greed of power.  Both of those are held together by an interesting ideology:  Both of them are a lie.  Material wealth is a lie or allusion of self-worth or perceived worth and greed assumes that nothing could be taken away from you.  Interesting though when you think about it that in Mrs. Clinton’s case, she using lying or deception to maintain her innocence of wrong doing.  Why?  Money and Greed.  Hillary, I would’ve loved to see you be president over Barack Obama but again, you remind us that are just a hallowed out person who has no real grit for being honest.  For more, check out some video of the testimony on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dVZ9jyuM9U

Wrap-Up

As you can tell as I said in the beginning, this hits a nerve with me.  Does it with you?  It seems like the 21st century has ushered in an era of where lies and deception are a minute-by-minute thing that if not kept in check, grow widely out of control.  It’ll be interesting to read your comments and see what news stories have touched you regarding this topic.  I know I can’t be the only one out there that feels this way.

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