Sometimes Low Tech is Best

This is in conjunction with my  previous entry. I was at work on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, and after I got  my flight changed I realized that there were quite a few things that had to be  done and I needed a secure system to make sure that they do get done. I realized  that for the time available, it really would be overkill and probably take too  long to add these tasks into Outlook or Pocket Informant, so I took out a legal  pad that I keep at my desk for making notes on phone calls and for capturing  ideas while that come to me while I’m focusing on other things (I’ll write about  that later), and started writing. I made a list, not in any particular order, of  all that I had to do in order to tie up all my loose ends at work, school, and  with family and friends. With each item that I put down, I also drew a box to  check off. My list included such items as :

  • email supervisor
  • cancel lunch with friend
  • reserve parking
  • email changed itinerary
  • Turn in timecard

And the list continued. Right before  I decided to log on to Airport Parking  Reservations to reserve my spot, my wife called and said that since I’m  leaving in the evening instead of 0600 (6AM for those who don’t do military  time) she can take me. I crossed that off my list.

And so, I kept going until my entire  list was done. It took a couple of hours. I didn’t get fancy. I knew that I  wasn’t going to be able to handle 60 pages of my Java textbook or starting my  program for this week, so I printed out the pages to read on the plane if I can.  Once I was done, I knew that I could leave town, knowing that I was caught up at  work and I could be reached if necessary.

The moral of this story is that  sometimes, high tech is just too much. Sometimes a good old-fashioned list of  tasks is what will get you through. I bet if I’d spent the afternoon trying to  put these tasks into Outlook or My Life Organized, I’d still be  there.

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To Continental Airlines With Appreciation

I honestly expected to be writing a blog entry bashing Continental Airlines and promising to never use them again, even if it means paying more money to use another airline. But then I called back and tried harder.

Those who know me may know that my mom was diagnosed with cancer last year. Treatment ran it’s course and the cancer spread so I was told last month that she will probably be around less than a year. I booked a flight to leave this week to go down to San Antonio to see her for what I expected to be the last time. I got a call on Friday with the news that the previous estimate had been shortened to about a week, and after some serious thought and prayer I decided to try to change my flight to leave earlier. I booked my flight through Expedia and pretty much picked the cheapest flight possible. My wife and I only have my income, which is by design, but it does make things a little bit tight sometimes. According to Continental’s Houston service center, a flight leaving Monday (today) would be $499. That is more than 3 times higher than my original flight on Wednesday. As calmly as I could, I got off the phone defeated.

As I only started my current job last year, I don’t have a large vacation balance built up. I was planning to flex as much time as possible for this trip, so I went in to work on Saturday and after dropping my wife and kids off at the in-law’s yesterday (Easter) I again went into work for a few hours. Upon arriving, I tried Continental again. This time I got a service center in Salt Lake City. I was given the same news again, but I was more persistent with the Family Medical Emergency. I promised to provide documentation from either the doctor or the hospice as soon as possible, and the customer service rep spoke to a supervisor who was willing to waive the fee increase and only charge me $100 for a rebooking fee. I decided that was reasonable and accepted.

I’ve been flying Continental for quite some time. It’s hard to fly in and out of Texas without coming across them. I’m grateful for their customer service in this case.

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My Thoughts on The DaVinci Code

I’ve largely stayed out of commenting on The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown’s popular book that has not yet outsold the Bible. As a Christian, I do frequent some Christian sites. I also notice that Dan Brown has caught a lot of people’s attention with his story, which I have not read. I don’t know if I ever will, but right now I just have other priorities.

I was reading a commentary the other day about the book, and the writer claimed that people keep asking him if there is any truth to The DaVinci Code. I will repeat and slightly paraphrase his response to that question, with appropriate emphasis, in a moment.

I find it almost humorous that many Christian websites and ministries have a feature that in one way or another resembles the following title: "The DaVinci Code: Seperating Fact From Fiction". You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing it. Entire volumes of books and study guides have been written in an effort to debunk The DaVinci Code, which is going to be released as a movie this year, I believe.

OK, here is my public comment on The DaVinci Code and whether or not there is any truth at all to it whatsoever:

IT’S ON THE NEW YORK TIMES’ FICTION BESTSELLER LIST! Doesn’t that make it, by nature, fiction? If there were truth to it or if the book were intended as a serious theological treatise, would it not be on the NON-FICTION LIST?

Seriously, if you’re going to base your views on Jesus Christ from a fictional bestseller, you have much larger problem than whether or not there is any truth to The DaVinci Code.

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Office 2007 Video- This is Exciting!

Microsoft has released a video detailing and demonstrating some of the features and the UI of Office 2007, due for release next January.
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/asx/OfficeUIIntro.asx
This should be fun. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Of course, it looks like it would be painful to use at work with the formatting I have to do there which has to be standardized and very non-graphical, but a problem that has plagued me for years was shown on the video. When you insert a picture into a document, for me it has always been a crap shoot as to whether I could get the text to wrap around it or not. Often I’ve been left with the picture centered and the text under it. I’m sure there’s an easy way around this, but I never really bothered to take the time. This feature is easily found in Office ’07.
Of course, there was no word about Outlook, which I do use heavily and I would love to see some real useability put into it. I could care less about publishing my calendar on the web, just let me see the tasks that I have to do each day in a weekly view. And of course, One Note was left out. I’m ambivalent about One Note. The program has a lot of potential, but most hasn’t been implemented yet. What exists now certainly isn’t worth $99 retail. I downloaded a trial of GoBinder not too long ago, which is slightly more functional than One Note and half the price.
Enjoy the video.

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Imagine Kevin Trudeau With Substance

Earlier this year, I wrote two blog entries and dedicated my only podcast to Kevin Trudeau’s book, Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About. A lot of people think the material in Trudeau’s book is quackery. I did not really come across anything in his book that I had not heard somewhere else and better documented.

I was incredibly frustrated, however, to find at every turn Trudeau claiming that he can’t give specifics so you have to join his website if you want more information. He did give s nice springboard from which to continue your investigation into natural cures and alternative medicine, but in the end I thought it was a big let down. Trudeau does claim that he is building up money to "fight" the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies, but as much good information as he claims to have it is impossible to get your hands on any of it unless you’re willing to pay.
Enter Dr. Mercola, author of The Total Health Program. He has an animated video, The Town of Allopath, which is designed to get you thinking about what might be going on. After you’ve watched the video, check out his website and his free newsletter. It contains a lot of good and useful information. He maintains a lot of good info on his website as well. He also sells products. You can buy products from Trudeau also, but you can’t even find out what products he has without paying for a membership.

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Alex Jones Interviews Charlie Sheen on 9/11

Alex Jones of Infowars.com interviewed Charlie Sheen about inconsistencies surrounding 9/11. Maybe you’ve noticed that a few things don’t add up. Maybe you buy the official government/media line. In any case, check this out. You can find the interview here, but I experienced some problem with the audio and the MP3 download link doesn’t work, so I went searching. For your convenience, I was able to locate an available MP3 download here.
Enjoy.

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How To Restore the Windows Master Boot Record

I thought that Linux had advanced to the point where I could install it and switch over to it, so I went ahead and tried to install SuSE Linux 10 on my laptop in a dual-boot configuration. I had done dual-boots with Linux in the past, although Linux was more of a novelty and I didn’t use it very much. One of the changes that Linux makes to your system is to install it’s own bootloader. In the past, I found this to be very difficult to work with, as the bootloader often defaulted to Linux and you had only a few seconds to type "Windows" at the prompt or else you would find yourself booted into Linux. In days past, I found it best to tell Linux to put the bootloader on a floppy so if I specifically wanted to boot into Linux, I could, otherwise Windows would boot by default.
Those days are now over. My laptop doesn’t even have a floppy, so that option is no longer available. However, the Linux bootloader has come a long way. It is now graphical and you have several seconds to select Windows. But what happens when Linux doesn’t install properly and you decide you just don’t have time to work with it? You can easily delete the Linux partitions, but the bootloader remains with no Linux operating system to boot into. This applies to Windows XP only.
This is actually a lot easier to fix than I originally thought. It is a very simple fix. All you have to do is boot from your Windows XP CD, select "R" for Recovery Console, enter your administrator password if any, and type FIXMBR. That’s it. You will get a warning that nothing could work after this fix, and you will have to give your consent to proceed.
That is how simple it is to fix a Windows Master Boot Record.

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