Monthly Archives: September 2004

More about RSS

As I’ve blogged before here, RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is growing by leaps and bounds, and if you haven’t yet gotten on the bandwagon so that you can experience its benefits, you are really missing out on a neat technology. This week CNET has an explanatory article that contains a video tutorial that’ll take about 5 minutes to view and that will provide you an excellent overview.

An additional way to become familiar with RSS is to check out a service I recently discovered on the web that is a web based FREE service called bloglines that makes it possible to experience RSS without having to purchase a free standing RSS reader, like FeedDemon, which is the one I use.

Also recently in an email exchange with my friend Phil Petty, he asked, “is there any redundancy, for you, between FEED DEMON and CEO EXPRESS (the site I use as my home page)? You seem to have access to your favorite periodicals/newspapers through CEO Express; why duplicate efforts? Do you feel you need both? why? what am I missing here?”

My answer to him was, “As I said in my first response there is no duplication in these two applications. Yes, there are links on CEO Express, but they are not actively updated with the content that changes at the web sites daily. The RSS reader will pull up the content of MULTIPLE web sites and display the ‘headlines’ of that content along with a brief summary of it.” Then I added, “The thing that I think you might benefit from is trying the RSS reader rather than trying to understand it completely in the abstract BEFORE you download it. [Your current] approach … implies you are going to make a purchase, so you’d better learn about it first. That’s not necessary with something like this. You should, instead (again, in my opinion) download it, install it, try it out and see whether it offers you anything that you find valuable. If it doesn’t, then you can remove it after your 30 day trial period is passed.”

My suggestion to Phil and to all of you is that you experience this capability and THEN decide whether or not you find it useful. I’m confident that once you’ve tried it you’ll find that it is so much more convenient than simply browsing to different web sites to see whether they have changed that you’ll come to see this service as essential to your use and enjoyment of the Internet.

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Comings and Goings

Because it’s been a while since I made any entries here, it’s time for a global catch-up post. So this one will have several different topics, but at the end you’ll at least be caught up on what’s up with me.

First, a word or two about the “Goings.”

Yesterday was Shannon Kamer’s last day at ClientLogic. He’s going to work for the Morgan County School system in their IT department. They have eight schools (I believe it is), and he’ll be working to keep their networked environment and individual computers up and running. Shannon is a remarkably talented young man. In his time at ClientLogic in our Outbound Customer Services department, he created a number of applications that made our job of tracking information and keeping our notes for customer records easier and more effective. He is a wizard with HTML and damn good with databases as well. Since he and I spent our two and a half years of working in this department sitting near each other and since in that time we shared a lot, I’ll really miss working with him. I’ve learned a great deal from him in that time, and he and I have shared a lot of discoveries about things on the Internet. I don’t want to lose contact with him because I consider him a valuable resource and a friend. My best wishes to you, Shannon, as you begin your new career and your life with your new wife, Jennifer.

We have one more week at ClientLogic before the BellSouth campaign comes to an end and the Outbound Customer Service department ceases to be. It has been an enjoyable and interesting experience applying all the things I used to teach people about Customer Service to the actual task of dealing with Customers. Some of our group, like my friend Josh Yonce, have moved over to the DaimlerChrysler campaign and will remain with ClientLogic, but I chose not to be a part of that group because the economics of the situation weren’t right for me. Still I will miss those folks and driving to 1089 Commerce Park Drive in Oak Ridge every day. And I’ll miss each member of the ensemble cast of associates with which I’ve spent the last four years. They were a unique blend of strengths and idiosyncrasies, as is every work team I guess, that made my time at ClientLogic rewarding and a growth experience. I wish all of you well in your future endeavors.

And now a word or two about some of the “Comings.”

On August 27th, my son Mike sent me this message, in verse no less, to announce a blessed event for his family.

Just a note to let you know….

Your daughter-in-law will soon start to show

This little fact is just for you

For those who know are but a few

So keep this info under your hat

Till we find out just where we’re at

We’ll see the doctor next Monday morn

To see when junior will be born.

On the following Tuesday, after their visit to the doctor the previous day, they confirmed that the family can, indeed, expect the arrival of another grandchild some time toward the end of April next year. Since they already have three girls in their family — Madison, Morgan, and Kaitlin — they have hopes that this child will be a boy, but of course, we’ll all be delighted with our newest family member, no matter what the sex. And of course we’ll be praying that whatever variety of grandchild we are blessed to receive, he or she will be healthy and that his or her life will be happy.

I’ll post more later about some of the more interesting technical discoveries I’ve made recently.

First off, then on, and now off again

Posting to a blog, even as infrequently as I do, leads to making information public and then having to report later how it has changed since you first learned of it. The upside of that is the reader gets to experience the author’s immediate reaction, whether elation or depression, and the downside is that it illustrates how uncertain the future is and how emotions are buffeted about like highway signs in a hurricane by those changes. Such ups and downs happen in everyone’s life, I suppose, but for a blogger they are played out more publicly.

Yesterday the site director at ClientLogic, my employer, gave us the disappointing news that the MCI contract that had promised to give me continued employment has now been delayed indefinitely. In short, we’re not going to get it. So it is back to searching for work. There was no official explanation of why the delay nor of what happened but rumor around the office has it that MCI was expecting a large increase in their business that didn’t materialize.

Therefore I have two more weeks of employment before I’m on the street and scrambling to make ends meet.

A productive weekend

This past weekend was fast and furious.

Jeff, my son who lives in Lula, GA, and who last December had given me 1625 sq feet of carpeting for my home, rented a U-Haul truck on Thursday and delivered that carpet to me here in Knoxville. He arrived at about 11 PM and, because it had been so long since we had had time together, he and I stayed up until 3 AM just talking. I was up the next morning at 7:45 AM, not so much because I had to be (I had taken Friday off from work), but because at my age I can’t sleep late any more. Once I wake up, I’m awake and may as well get up.

I woke Jeff at 9:15 AM so that we could begin cleaning out the garage in order to store the carpet until I can get someone to install it. By noon when Mike, my other son, came by from work on his lunch hour to help us unload the carpeting, we had successfully removed almost everything from the garage, cleaned it out and neatly re-order it so that we could place the carpet in there. I was impressed with how much we had gotten done.

After lunch, Jeff ran a few errands and visited Mike’s house to see how much progress Mike and I had made on finishing his basement. He (Mike) and I had spent spare moments during the last several weeks hanging sheet rock in the basement. At around 6:45 PM, Jeff and I left for his home in Lula. He had rented the truck as a one-way rental and was planning to rent a car for the drive back. I had insisted that I drive him back instead. We arrived in Lula around 10:30 PM, and I collapsed into bed, exhausted.

The next day I was up at 6:30 AM to start the day.

Jeff’s home computer for the family, an eMachines computer with Windows XP and a NetZero dial-up connection, was absolutely unusable because it had accumulated so much spyware. I tried removing things via the control panel so that I could get to web sites to download some protective programs like SpyBot Search and Destroy and AdAware, but I was making no progress at all. So I decided to reinstall Windows altogether. For the next four hours, I reinstalled XP, thus wiping out all the files he had on his computer, and then reinstalled other things like printer drivers. Afterwards I visited Microsoft’s Windows Update site and downloaded the necessary updates (using a dial up connection, remember), and after all that I was finally able to get the Spybot and AdAware programs. Since I had already received Windows XP SP2 on disk from Microsoft, I left that with him and left him instructions to install it on Saturday afternoon. Before I left for home on Saturday at 2:00 PM, his computer was back to functioning as it should.

Sunday was a day of rest for me. It was welcomed and needed. This morning it is back to work again.

If I got as much done every day as Jeff and I did over the weekend, I’d be much more productive than I am … but I fear I would burn out quickly if I tried to live at that pace.

Audioblogging

Blogger has provided the ability to do audioblogging for free, and frankly I suspect I’ll give it a try some time in the future. However, for an amusing point of view about this practice, visit this link and click on the mp3 link there.

Good news on the horizon — and now for Page 2

Last Monday afternoon, our Operations Manager came by my desk to tell me that the company had gotten another new client, MCI. He had worked personally on getting this contract, and he was genuinely and justifiably proud of his achievement.

Initially it means another 55 jobs for those of us who otherwise would be losing our position because of BellSouth’s departure. When he first told me, he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to offer these jobs at current salary levels, but today we finally got the good news that we would be able to keep salaries at their current level. Then later in the day I was offered one of those new jobs, and I gladly accepted. So on Tuesday the 7th, I’ll begin training for my new position.

I’m quite pleased to be able to continue working in the same place and also exicted about a chance to learn some new things for the new role. Needless to say, I am very relieved that I won’t have to learn, for the first time in my life, what it is like to receive an unemployment check.