Hear A New Idea? Put It Into Action!

I’m continuing to write about ThinkTQ as I go through the materials and implement what I learn into my life. While I was researching the products, I didn’t find very much online so I’m hoping that my writings can help somebody else with a decision on whether or not to purchase their products. I’m happy with them, although I haven’t been able to dedicate the time I would like to them.

Change is always hard and painful. One of the ideas I got from the ThinkTQ materials is to put into action new ideas immediately. Most of us don’t like to do this. How often do you hear of a great idea that you would like to implement immediately, but you put it off? It’s as if we’re afraid that somehow putting a new idea into action will cause us pain by not being able to get rid of it if the idea doesn’t work out. This is nonsense. I believe this comes from watching government programs, or corporate programs that are put into action, don’t work, yet are kept running on life support indefinitely no matter how large of a failure they may be. This does not have to be so in your personal life.

If you hear or think of a great idea, go ahead and put it into practice immediately. If it doesn’t work out, scrap it and move on. Maybe make a note of why it didn’t work out in case you want to try it again later. Maybe you’ll come up with a better idea for implementing the idea later on.

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Corporatism Makes My Head Spin

I got my first cell phone in November of 2000 when I was dating my wife. (We actually got engaged in December and married in February of 2001). I remember joking that I wasn’t afraid of commitment because I had just entered into a 2 year cell phone contract with her. In any case, the company that we chose to provide our cell phone service was Cellular One because it advertised an unlimited family plan.

I remember Cellular One being a fairly decent service. Their customer service line was always patient and helpful. At one point, I hung up on my voice mail while listening to a message, and the bit got stuck telling my phone that I had a new message when in fact there was none. I kept getting a new message notification on my phone. I called Cell One and they walked me through fixing it. Cell One was short lived, however, because they were promptly bought out by Cingular Wireless. My initial impression of Cingular wasn’t good. It seemed like our area coverage degraded, wait times for customer service were long and service wasn’t very helpful, at least at the beginning, but first impressions die hard. When we moved, we moved into an area with poor cell coverage and reception in our house was pathetic. We did end up upgrading our phones in 2001 and signing another 2 year contract.

At the end of that contract, we decided to switch away from Cingular Wireless. We hoped that another provider would cover our area better. The company that I worked for at the time got a discount with AT&T Wireless, so we went with them as several of my coworkers claimed that the service was very good. In our experience, it really wasn’t much better than Cingular’s, but we got cool phones. We had the Motorola t722, a cool flip phone with an 8 line screen. My wife and I like flip phones for some reason. I like them because they look like those old Star Trek communicators I guess.

As I said, AT&T wasn’t any better than Cingular and guess what? Within 2 months, Cingular bought out AT&T Wireless, so we were back with Cingular again, except we had AT&T Wireless accounts which they reminded us of every time we logged onto their website or called customer service.

In 2005, just before our second son was born, we talked about trimming our budget. I like technology, and I had one bill that really bothered me: Verizon. I didn’t so much have a problem with the company, but I was getting so sick of the land line service. Our phone rang literally every 20 minutes all day long with telemarketers. I had every single protection from them possible: Caller ID, Call Intercept, etc, plus I was on every "do  not call" list I could find, but they kept getting through. Our phone bill was $50 a month for local service alone (we had a 3rd party long distance provider that we paid separately) and all $50 of it was going to pay for a service that allowed people that I didn’t want to talk to to call me incessantly. I took a gamble that switching to a full fledged Cingular account and getting newer phones would improve our coverage and we wouldn’t have to pay for a redundant service. We were using the cell phones more and more so it just made more sense to me to switch to cell.

We renewed our contract (my employer again has a contract with Cingular so we got a corporate plan) and got new phones: the Sony Ericsson z500a. Our phones worked well and I canceled our land line and never looked back. I still have a phone hanging on the wall in the kitchen to cover up the phone jack, but it’s only for decoration.

But that’s not all. Guess what happened again within a short time of renewing our contract with Cingular? AT&T bought Cingular!

I’m telling you, my head is spinning. I’m going to ralph. I just can’t keep track anymore. It’s blowing my mind. I’ve either had 5 separate cellular providers, or just one continuous provider that can’t decide on it’s name.

All I know is I don’t want to hear that Cellular One is buying out AT&T. I think my head will explode.

Watch below as Stephen Colbert explains the whole mess in a much more eloquent manner than I am capable of.

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Is The Windows Vista Release a Good Time To Switch To Linux?

ZDNet Australia reported on linux.conf.au and mentioned that a speaker, Jonathan Oxer said that the Vista release might be a good time for a switch to Linux. He was referring primarily to administrators who will have to train people on a new interface either way, but let’s explore this question from the standpoint of the home user.
Linux has certainly come a long way over the years. My first experience with Linux was back in the Windows ’95 days. I bought a copy of Red Hat Linux 5.1 and installed it in a dual-boot configuration on my computer. At the time, I only had one computer (the bad old days). Red Hat did not drive my video card, so I was unable to get the x-window system working. I’ve never been much of a command line guy, and I quickly got bored playing with the command line. I didn’t know enough at the time to hack around in configuration files, so I dropped the project before too long.
I next tried Red Hat Linux 6.0, which a coworker burned for me. The beauties of Linux are that you can do this legally. I could have taken that CD and installed it on every computer at work and been well within the law. I only installed it on my own computer, and it didn’t drive the video card yet again. Why didn’t I just buy a new video card? I guess because I was much younger and much more broke.
One day at Best Buy, I saw SuSE Linux 6.4. I looked at the list of supported hardware and found my video card on the box. I bought it and brought it home, and sure enough I was able to run with a GUI (Graphical User Interface). I installed KDE for my window manager. At the time I only had dial-up available, and I was able to configure my Linux box to dial into the Earthlink service that I was using.
Next came SuSE Linux 8.0, but by that time I had a cable modem again and I had a lot of trouble getting it to work with cable. If I got it working once, I would reboot and lose that functionality. I was also using internet connection sharing for my wife’s computer, so when I was using my Linux partition she couldn’t access the internet. I dropped Linux for a couple of years, until Microsoft released their public beta of Office 2007 last year. The beta caused me a few problems, but uninstalling it caused even more problems. Because I had upgraded rather than installing separately, I could not go back to Office 2003 no matter what I tried. I ended up, after having to use OpenOffice for a class project, reinstalling Office 07.
When Office 07 threw me into a panic mode, I spent a few weeks trying to claw my way out from under Microsoft products. You can read some of that in previous blog posts here. I came to the conclusion after a lot of searching and trying other products that Windows XP isn’t that bad, although I’m still loath to switch to Vista.
Now then, with Windows Vista coming out later this month, should you consider switching to Linux? Well, first let me ask you to consider, what are your needs? One of the most profound classes I’ve taken to date toward my IT degree at the University of Phoenix is called “Fundamentals of Business Systems Development”. In that class, we learned about how a systems analyst works. This class helped me in so many ways, and not just in my personal IT, but also in my job and in my productivity systems. It is such a simple concept to actually sit down and analyze what you actually need, yet many of us never really learn to do it properly.
After working with a couple of Linux distributions and laying out my requirements, I came to the conclusion that I am better off sticking with Windows XP for the time being for my primary operating system. As I’ve said, Linux has come a LONG WAY over the years, but so has the rest of technology. I use a laptop for my primary system, although I also have a desktop computer, an Apple iMac and an iBook (both G3’s). I have a Pocket PC which I need the ability to sync. I use certain applications such as Evernote and My Life Organized that I haven’t been successful in getting to work on Linux through Wine.
doesn’t mean that I won’t keep playing with Linux, in fact, because I haven’t posted in a long time I am going to put this entry up on my blog and then start working on another one about some successes and failures that I have had with Linux. As for you, the reader, I recommend doing a careful analysis of what you actually use a computer for, what kind of applications you need, and what Linux alternatives there are if those applications are known not to work in Wine (i.e. OpenOffice.org or Koffice instead of Microsoft Office). It very well may be that you can make a switch to Linux if you’re not thrilled with the thought of Windows Vista.
Remember, above all else, your operating system is a tool. I have Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux running on the various computers in my house, and I have to say that each tool gives me the ability to do certain jobs that the others don’t. This isn’t choosing a political affiliation; it’s an operating system for your computer. You can download a Live CD from Ubuntu or Kubuntu (I prefer KDE as my window manager). A Live CD means that you can boot from the CD and have a full operating system. Several people in my current Unix class at the University of Phoenix are using Live CDs from Ubuntu or Knoppix. I actually used the command line on my iBook to complete one assignment, as Mac OS X is built on top of a BSD core and as such contains the full power of Unix.

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New Template

I’ve struggled for a while about what to do with my blog/blogs. I’ve tried to think of themes, posts, regularity of writing, and I’ve divided up my interests to appeal to a broader audience. One of the last things stopping me was my template. When I first started this blog more than two years ago, I picked the scroll template because I saw myself doing some sort of social/political commentary. I’ve since decided that I’m not quite that interested anymore. I may still write a piece now and again, but I hate contrived arguments and I have left the traditional political position/party affiliation that I once considered myself a part of. In any case, I don’t have much interest that that field of writing anymore.

I was poking around and I found a template that I think I like for this blog. I’ll run with it and see what I think. If anyone does read this blog regularly, hopefully we’ll be back in business soon.

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