Monthly Archives: September 2002

As good once … There’s an old saying (I don’t kn…

As good once …

There’s an old saying (I don’t know to whom I should attribute it) that says “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” As I age, that saying has more and more meaning for me, and it seems to exemplify my blog entries of late. What is supposed to be a daily, if not hourly, activity has become for me a weekly one.

On Thursday of this past week, I wrapped up the class I was co-teaching with a member of the educational services team at work. The class began at 7:30 am each day and left me too worn out each night to devote any energy to blogging. I had Friday off but I spent that day learning a few things (more about that in a minute) and I worked again on Saturday. Last night I spent an hour or so on the phone with Phil helping him restore his copy of Eudora Pro to its normal configuration. Actually, the resolution of the problem probably took only about five or ten minutes. The rest of the conversation was spent just catching up on each other’s activities. Today, I am driving over to the Asheville, NC area to visit with my friends, David and Lynn Steele (from Indianapolis). They have a time-share at a place called Lake Lure. I’ll have to drive back tonight because I must work tomorrow. However, it’ll be good to see them for the first time in about two years and worth the effort, I’m sure.

I mentioned above that I spent Friday learning a few things. You regular readers of this blog (both of you) will recall that back in August, Vernine and Associates held it’s 30th reunion here in Knoxville. I’ve posted pictures at this site. On Friday I spent some time experimenting with Easy CD Creator. I created a photo album that I plan to ship to those who attended the event. Nice thing was that I was able to set some music as background to the slideshow that the CD autoruns when you place it in the CD drive. It turned out really well. I used this song (requires RealOne player) by Josh Groban, the amazing young singer who performed this duet at the closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Olympics. All in all, I was quite pleased with the way the photo album turned out, and in the process I learned a few things that I’ll be able to improve on the next time I create one of these.

Where I have beenIt’s now been more than a week si…

Where I have been

It’s now been more than a week since I’ve made an entry in this weblog. In part that is because for the past week I’ve been arriving at work early each morning in order to co-teach some new agents at work. This next week will continue that training for the next four days, so I may not be making many entries here.

Normally the early morning is my time for making entries in this blog. When that schedule is disrupted, my diligence in posting suffers.

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall. Where has this year gone?

LuckOn Friday the 13th, a day that many believe is…

Luck

On Friday the 13th, a day that many believe is associated with bad luck, here are a few quotations from my collection.

Luck is a tag given by the mediocre to account for the accomplishments of genius. — Robert A. Heinlein

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree. — Charles Baudelaire

The harder you work the luckier you become. — unknown

It is bad luck to be superstitious. — Andrew W. Mathis

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like? — Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963)

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. — Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known. — Garrison Keillor

Learning in the Age of the Internet A recent co…

Learning in the Age of the Internet

A recent conversation with my friend, Phil, leads me to post these thoughts about how one learns now that the tool of the Internet is available. Our conversation centered around the new RealOne media player and the differences between it and the Windows Media Player, but the topic could have been about anything. But the net is especially well suited to learning about anything having to do with the technology associated with the Internet.

How does one keep up on technologies that affect the end user of the Internet? I don’t have any special insight, any more than others of you may have, but the way I try to keep up is by following my interests. The first tool I turn to when I want to learn about a subject is the Google search engine. I have the add-in that places the Google search engine on my browser’s tool bar, but even without that, just going to www.google.com quickly takes me to an invaluable tool. Just enter the topic of interest into the search engine and click on Search the Web. It’s just like turning to the “card catalog” during my college years, except that now I’m able, without going to the library, to get a listing of relevant locations (sites in the case of the Internet) where I can find information on the subject that has caught my interest.

Once those links are sorted for me by Google, I can search through them looking for the kind of information I am concerned about. Of course, each search produces hundreds of references, so the job is only begun by this initial step. However, thanks to hyperlinks, each of those initial references leads potentially to hundreds more. As I explore, there is no evading the necessity of reading the topics at the locations that are most productive from these sites. Learning always involves the labor of getting the information from before my eyes into my brain.

Sometimes, though, I can use the Internet’s multimedia capabilities and save myself the chore of reading information, particularly when there are links to audio-visual presentations on topics of interest. For instance, in the case of my discussion with Phil, I visited the RealNetwork site and clicked on the link that provided the 1 hour and 7 minute public announcement of RealNetwork’s new Helix server. So for an hour and seven minutes, I was able to absorb some of the information about the product in a way that I’m more accustomed to. That is, I sat passively and listened and watched as Rob Glasser and others explained what they had achieved and how they thought that would affect the landscape of streaming media across the Internet. Now, I know this was largely a publicity event for the company and that it was filled with the company’s glowing vision of how their new product was going to change the world, but there is no substitute for hearing it “straight from the horse’s mouth” because these people know the product best.

One problem we semi-technical types have in such presentations is dealing with the technobabble or at least the jargon they use. I confess that I don’t always know all there is to know about terms they use, such as codecs and the scalability of servers, but as with reading a technical journal, I just plod along trying to pick up the meaning of such terms from their context. If I’m really concerned to get a precise definition of something, I can always visit www.webopedia.com, where I can get a one or two paragraph explanation of the terms.

Another source of information that can get one started in understanding a subject is www.cnet.com or www.zdnet.com or www.wired.com. All these sites that monitor news provide good background information about the topics I might be interested in. Also two other sources that I have found to be excellent sources of information, particularly of information that I didn’t know in advance might be of interest, are www.metafilter.com and www.slashdot.com. At these sites, everyday users like you and I post links to articles that they’ve come across along with a comment and sometimes a basic description of what they are. Scanning these sites on an almost daily basis gives me a heads up for new developments and/or ideas that are a part of the general development news cycle for things technological.

In the end, one researches only those things that he finds interesting. Not all of us share the same interests, of course, so what is appealing to me may not be to you. But the general strategy of availing yourself of the tools that are out there can be used by anyone. The only differences will be that our interests will take us along different paths. When we share what we’ve found interesting with others, as we can do on weblogs such as this, then those of like mind and with like interests can benefit from the “research” each of us has done.

How I surfNot that any of you are interested in my…

How I surf

Not that any of you are interested in my surfing habits I realize, but someone out there might be benefit from a couple of tips. First, I use Internet Explorer 5.5. I know there is a later version available but I haven’t yet chosen to “upgrade” to it. I’m satisfied with this version. When I see a benefit to a newer version, I’ll take the plunge. I also am aware of a plethora of other possibilities, such as Opera or Crazy Browser, but again I am satisfied where I am for the moment.

One thing I do when browsing is that I open multiple instances of the browser. You can achieve this anytime you are about to click on a link by instead RIGHT clicking on the link and choosing “Open in a New Window.” Why do this? Well, for one thing you can look at where the link leads without losing your place in the original window. In addition, copying something (such as the URL in the new location) is easily accomplished in this configuration. Often when I am editing this blog, for instance, I want to past a link in this commentary, so I simply open a new window (you can also use CTRL-N to open a second window) and surf to the site whose URL I want to paste, copy it, and then switch back to the other browser where I’m editing the blog and paste it in. In case you aren’t aware of the procedure, you can switch between windows by using the ALT-TAB key combination to switch between all open applications on your desktop.

It is only recently that I’ve begun to open the Favorites window (the long narrow window down the left side of the browser) by clicking on the Favorites icon in the Tool bar in IE. One use I make of that is that I have a lot of favorites saved under the Blogs category. Since I tend to want to go from one blog to another when reading them each day, I can leave that Favorites window open and then just go down the list of links that I have saved. Of course, you can use the Favorites Menu link and then scroll to Blogs and once that is open click on the next blog, but the disadvantage of doing it that way is the fact that you have to open Favorites each time. Once the Favorites Window is open in your browser, the next blog (or any link you have saved) is still open in the left window. Give it a try. You might like it.

Oh, by the way, my friend Lissa Bird has just created a new web page that she is beginning to build at www.caiobaby.com. Check it out and follow her progress.