September 3, 2015
I’m trying to decide if I like OneNote or Evernote better.
Evernote has the advantage of not being a Microsoft product.
OneNote has the advantage of being a Microsoft product.
July 19, 2014
I’ve been keeping a list of books I’ve read for ten years now. That’s pretty crazy, and makes me feel old!
The list is linked at the right, in case you’re feeling bored. Looking over the list, I can remember where I was and what was going on in life at the point when I read each one. Well, most of them. Some I don’t even know what they are.
I recommend keeping a list like this. In ten years you’ll be glad you did.
June 18, 2014
If I ran Google, or Yahoo, or the government, or any other organization, we would hire the very best people we could find. In the engineering department, we would hire the very best engineers available. In accounting, marketing, and web-development, the same.
Race and sex would have nothing to do with the hiring decisions. Why would they? If we had a choice between two applicants, would we really choose the lesser of the two because that applicant came from a preferred demographic?
I don’t know if Google and Yahoo, et al, are actually being run this way. It’s possible they have hidden agendas we know nothing about. But if we assume they hire the best people, regardless of external factors, then why should we be upset about recent news that a majority are white males? They’re not hiring white males, they’re hiring engineers, accountants, and marketers.
If 47% of the U.S. workforce is female, but only 30% of Google’s employees are female, why would Google try to change that? Google isn’t trying to match the demographics of the U.S. workforce, they’re trying to get the best engineers, accountants, and marketers they can, right?
At least, that’s how it would be if I was in charge.
October 8, 2013
I took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) on this weekend. The FSOT is the entrance exam for people who want to work in the Foreign Service, i.e., work in embassies and consulates in other countries. I don’t have the results yet, they said to expect results in 3-4 weeks.
The test is in four parts: job knowledge, biographical information, English expression, and the essay.
The job knowledge section was the hardest. Dozens of 4-choice multiple choice questions, covering history, geography, politics, economics, computers, and probably several other topics. The questions were difficult because many of the answers were very similar. I took several practice tests and was scoring in the mid-80s. The real test felt very similar to these practice tests, so my real score is probably similar.
The hardest section was the biographical information section. Again, dozens of multiple choice questions, this time about yourself. For example, how many times in the last six months have people come to you for help resolving a personnel issue? 0,1,2,3,4,5. If you answer anything other than zero, you have to list the specific incidents. This one in completely impossible to get a feel for. I decided it was best not to be humble, but not to stretch the truth either. I answered truthfully, but there’s no way to know exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t try to game this one.
The English expression portion of the test was the most difficult. You have several paragraphs of text, with certain words or phrases underlined. You have to pick the best substitution for the underlined portions, from a list of substitutions. The test measures your grasp of the English language. I wish I would have had more time to think through all the choices, but I think I did alright anyway.
Of all the sections of the test, the essay was the most difficult. You have thirty minutes, including the time it takes to read the prompt (which is itself a small essay) and think of responses. THIS IS NOT MUCH TIME, although I suppose if you had more time, you would just think and type slower. I was able to come up with three points, and intro and conclusion, and beautiful transitions between them all. I don’t know if any of it made sense, but they kept saying they were looking only at the structure of the essay, and not the content. I went right down to the wire, finishing with seconds left on the clock. Also, typing QWERTY rather than Dvorak would be a big help.
May 8, 2013
What, exactly, is the Huffington Post all about?
Support for the Vietnam War is on the rise. Why?
Kim Kardashian Pregnancy Weight Fat-Shaming: Why You Really Should Care
How the Real Housewives Have Made America Better
What I Found in My 5-Year-Old Daughter’s Diary
Here’s What Really Happens in the Women’s Bathroom
My Son Wears Pink: To Share or Not to Share?
How to Meditate Your Way Through Menopause
Alaska moose head donated to Navy warship
My Wife Is Not a Rotisserie Chicken or Leaky Faucet
November 29, 2012
When I use Google Spreadsheets in Firefox, and I right-click in the spreadsheet, I get two right-click (context) menus, one from the browser, and one from the spreadsheet, like this:
Is anyone else having a problem like this? Do you know how I can fix it?
Usually the two menus appear on top of each other, so I have to hit the Esc key to dismiss one menu before I can access the other.
April 25, 2012
We need men and women.
Not just in a biological sense. And not just in an inclusive, feel-good, be-at-one-with-humanity sense, either.
The reason we need men and women is because men and women are different. The two sexes have opposite and often complementary strengths and weaknesses. A world where women have no say would have too much of certain characteristics, and not enough of other, necessary, characteristics. The same is true of a world ruled by women.
Here’s what we don’t need. We don’t need men to be more like women. And we don’t need women to be more like men. We need men to be men. And we need women to be women. To tell a man to let his feminine side show is to remove from him the thing that society needs from him. To tell a woman to work on her masculine side is to remove from her the thing that society needs from her.
That is all.
November 29, 2011
Now I’m the last one to harp on physical fitness, but this quote really spoke to me.
I’m finding that years of accumulated fitness are — literally — money in the bank.
Over the last few years I’ve started to see more and more of my peers spending money — lots of money — fixing their health. They are not necessarily in terrible shape, but few of them are as active as I am. They suffer from knee problems. Back problems. Shoulder problems. Digestive problems. Prostrate problems. Osteoporosis. Insomnia. Arthritis. Diabetes. Memory loss. Cancer.
Looking for help, they invest in prescription drugs, medications, hormones, supplements, complicated tests, scans, chiropractor visits, podiatrist visits, procedures, body replacements, surgeries, chemo and radiation. Not to mention expensive health care insurance.
I’m 6’0″, 280 lbs, and 39 years old. Maybe I’ll start thinking about this.
August 17, 2011
5 teens in our church built an iPhone game. It’s called “The Exterminator”, and it goes on sale today in the App Store. All proceeds go toward the purchase of the old Rye high school, which we’re going to turn into a community center.
Would you do two favors for me?
- Buy the game! It only costs $1. (works on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
- “Like” the game on Facebook. That will help with visibility.
Was this game really written by teens?
Yes! I know them personally. They went to a teen retreat last winter, and the speaker there gave each group $100 and told them to make it grow and do something to benefit their communities. This is what our teens chose to do.
Are you really buying the old Rye high school?
Yes! What the Greenhorn Valley needs most is a place for people to hang out. Everybody has a “First Space”, their homes. Everybody has a “Second Space”, their work or school. What’s missing here is a “Third Space”, where people can hang out, chat, drink coffee, play basketball. That’s what we want to provide.
April 27, 2011
We finally have a birth certificate! Hopefully this whole thing will just go away now. This was a pretty smart move by Team Obama: since the issue has been laid to rest, it won’t be an issue in the 2012 election, nobody will be able to attack Obama on that front, and there will be one less insufferable talking point to suffer through.
But there could be a much more strategic move at play here. Could this be an effort by Team Obama to strengthen Team Trump, since Trump would be an easier foe to vanquish than Mitt Rominy or Tim Pawlenty? Trump is already strutting his stuff. He’s the guy who forced Obama’s hand! He’s our hero! But Obama knows (and I think we all know) that a Trump candidacy would be a joke. When it comes down to the wire, who among us is going to vote for Trump over Obama? Trump is like Ross Perot and Ron Paul – has some great ideas, but nobody will vote for him.
On the other hand, why can’t we force all candidates to show us their birth certificates? Seriously. The US Constitution makes two demands on any candidate for President: he must be 35 years of age, and he must be a natural-born citizen. See Article II, Section 1. Why, in the past 222 years, has no one ever thought to check up on these candidates? It is completely reasonable to have the Federal Election Commission certify each candidate for president. The FEC can attest to the candidate’s age, and to his having been born in this country. Then we would never have to go through this again.
Is there any chance this birth certificate could be a fake?
February 21, 2011
I have a couple Google Spreadsheets that I use to track annual items. Every year, I add a new tab, and I keep the old tabs around for reference.
I have these spreadsheets bookmarked in my browser so I can get to them quickly without going through the docs list on Google Docs. The bookmarks are great, but after I added a new tab for 2011, the spreadsheet would still open in the old 2010 tab.
I discovered that the spreadsheet would open on the old tab if I used the bookmark, but it would open on the new tab if I used the docs list. The difference had to be the text of the URL, right?
Here’s the text of the URL from my bookmark:
and here’s the text of the URL from my docs list:
The ‘gid’ number at the end of the URL is a tab number. In this case, the spreadsheet will open on tab number 6, instead of tab number 5. I can open any tab in the spreadsheet just by changing that last digit.
If you’re having a similar problem, the solution is to delete your bookmark, open the spreadsheet from the docs list, then add a new bookmark.
February 16, 2011
At first glance, maybe. If your Evernote database was in your Dropbox folder, then your Evernote database would be automatically synced across all your computing devices.
At second glance, no. Evernote itself is a syncing tool. Any device that you have Evernote installed on will automatically be synced with all your other computers. Thus, putting Evernote in Dropbox is an unnecessary redundancy.
At third glance, yes. The free version of Evernote imposes a 60 MB per month upload limit. This means you may have month left at the end of your uploads. To get around this, store your Evernote database in your Dropbox folder, and make your Evernote notebooks “local”. Local notebooks are not synced with Evernote, and don’t count against your upload limit, but since they’re in Dropbox, they’ll be synced with all your devices anyway.
February 14, 2011
If you read www.kindleboards.com, like I do, you’ve probably noticed several large sections of ads at the top of the page that push the content way down the page, and sometime even completely off the page. I got annoyed. So I wrote a script to remove just the middle section of ads. Find it at http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/96735 Just push the “Install” button.
February 8, 2011
A friend of mine was bragging recently about his favorite football team, the Packers, which is publicly owned. Being publicly owned is a huge advantage over private ownership, because the team isn’t as susceptible to the whims of the owner.
I’ve never heard of a publicly owned team before, so I went to check it out. From the blurb on Google Finance, I found out that “shares [of the Packers] do not increase in value nor pay dividends, and can only be sold back to the team.” Kind of curious. Share prices that don’t fluctuate, don’t pay dividends, and can’t be sold? I give the team some money and I get nothing for it?
On the Packers website, I learned that there have only been four offerings of shares in the history of the team, and there is no way to buy in at any other time but the offerings.
None of this makes any sense.
But what if we had actual, publicly-owned, publicly-traded sports teams? You could buy and sell shares of the teams on the open market, and the share price would fluctuate with supply and demand. Each team could potentially pay dividends, or not, just like any other public company, whose board decides dividends based on the best interests of the shareholders.
Different teams would have different share prices, of course. Buying a share of the Green Bay Packers in the week before their Super Bowl appearance would probably cost a small fortune. Shares of the Carolina Panthers, after a somewhat underwhelming 2-14 season, could be had for a song.
Now all we need is to convince Jerry Jones to go public.
January 31, 2011
Extended warranties are almost always a bad idea. An extended warranty is the protection plan offered to you when you buy some gadget or other. Relative to the cost of the gadget, the extended warranty is pretty expensive, and you almost never get the opportunity to take advantage of it.
In other words, your gadget almost never breaks in the period of time covered by the extended warranty. It may break early on, due to a manufacturing defect, in which case the plain vanilla warranty that comes standard will cover the repair. Or it may break due to old age, which will be after the extended warranty period is expired. Result? You gave the company a bunch more of your money and didn’t get anything for it.
The problem is, declining the extended warranty makes you nervous. What if it does break during the extended period? Won’t you be upset you didn’t buy the warrant?
Try this. Next time you are offered an extended warranty, ask what the cost is, but then decline the plan. When you get home, take that amount of money and set it aside in your own “extended warranty” fund. Do this every time you are offered a plan. Eventually that fund will be really big, because you won’t ever need it. You’ll save yourself the expense, you’ll earn interest, and if you ever do have a covered accident, you’ll have plenty of money to just buy yourself a new one. Beauty, eh?
January 25, 2011
Back in the early (pre-Google) days of the internet there were many, many, MANY, search engines vying for your searches. One of these, Yahoo!, has succeeded (at least so far). But when’s the last time you heard of AltaVista, Excite, Hotbot, Lycos, or MyWay? Guess what? They’re still there!
Why are they still there? Is it for nostalgic purposes? Somebody just can’t bear to pull the plug on a bit of internet history? Is it possible these engines are still making money? Surely not.
Why didn’t they succeed? They weren’t properly capitalized? They were too confusing? Not a cool enough name?
January 20, 2011
College isn’t for everyone. So many people go to college without knowing why. They go just because that’s what you’re supposed to do after high school. But they don’t have a goal in mind – there is nothing that they are trying to do that requires the college education.
So they end up wasting several years of their lives while racking up astronomical debt that they can’t repay because they don’t know what they want to do.
Now add to that this study that shows a large chuck of the college population isn’t even learning anything.
If you are finishing high school and you don’t know what you want to do – DON’T GO TO COLLEGE! Kill some time, goof off, join the military, work in the family business, start your own business – heck, get a job flipping burgers. After you’ve done that for a while you’ll probably have some idea what you want to do. But whatever you do, don’t go to college unless you can tell me in two sentences why you’re going.
January 19, 2011
The coffee maker at work hadn’t been used in months when I inherited it a while back, and the prehistoric sludge inside supported a thick layer of fuzzy green gunk. I took it home and scrubbed everything I could reach, and twice gave it the vinegar detox treatment.
I brought it back to work and filled it with cold, filtered water and brewed Starbucks finest blend in it. The aroma wafted through the office and drew all coffee lovers to it, and some only occasional coffee lovers.
This happy scene replayed itself day after day until, one day, we had no more grounds. I stole some grounds from another coffee maker in the building – but these were no ordinary grounds, no, these were Folgers finest blend.
The aroma was instantly revolting. It smelled bitter and metallic, as if it had come from Louisiana through an interstate pipeline. The flavor (once I got over the aroma) lacked anything beyond brown heated water.
The coffee didn’t get any better over the next few days. Thinking the problem was the grounds, I brought in some home-ground Starbucks to test my hypothesis. The ugly, bitter, metallic aroma and flavor disappeared instantly, as if by magic. I tried Folgers again the next day, and the ugliness returned.
The next batch of grounds the company purchased for office use was Folgers. No use complaining to HR – what was done was done. It took two months to use up that tub of nastiness, and then HR was persuaded to remedy its ways and return to Starbucks.
But this time the Starbucks didn’t taste the same. It was different from the Folgers, but it wasn’t as good as previous Starbucks attempts. I made Starbucks again the next several days, but it was never as good.
Taking the coffee maker home for another detox didn’t help. Brewing more Starbucks didn’t help. I even brewed another pot of Folgers just to see if the Folgers was tasting different too. No joy.
Folgers destroyed our coffee maker.
January 16, 2011
… you found $1 million dollars in a duffel bag?
… you lost 30 pounds?
… you lost 100 pounds?
… a meteor fell on your dog?
… you hiccupped for three days straight?
… you could play the piano well?
… you had a successful book published?
… you still had money in the bank at the end of the month?
… you knew the answers to everything?
January 13, 2011
I blog because I need a place to work out my thoughts. Often I start daydreaming, if that’s the right word, and when I come to, I realize I’ve been explaining something very carefully, as if to another person. Sometimes this is something I understand very clearly, so my explaining was as if I was teaching something to a child. Sometimes the thing I’ve been explaining I don’t understand at all, and so my explaining was more like exploring.
In any case, I’ve had this conversation going on in my head, and I need to get this stuff out of my head while I still remember it, because it will quickly leave my head, and then be gone. I flatter myself that one day, I’ll have had something important going on in there. If that day ever comes, I want it recorded.
Do I expect people to actually read this stuff? No, I don’t. Occasionally I may say something that really hits home with someone else, but since I blog about such a wide variety of things, I don’t expect very much of what I write to hit home very often.
Am I just doing this to jump-start a wish to be a potential wannabe writer? No, I am not. I don’t want to write for a living and I’m not trying to gain a following. I suppose if someone came to me with a lucrative book contract I’d have to think about it for a bit, but that’s not what I’m gunning for here.
January 12, 2011
Here is a report of the CCMD meeting I attended last night. This report will appear in the January 19, 2011, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.
At the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Colorado City Metropolitan District, held on January 11, 2011, the board passed Resolution 1-2011, designating posting places within the district and county. By law, all public boards and committees must give public notice of their meetings. The Colorado City Metropolitan District will post official notices of all meetings in 2011 at the office of the Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder, at the CCMD Administration Building, at the Rec Center in Colorado City, at the Post Office in Colorado City, and on the CCMD website at http://www.coloradocitymetro.us/
Also at the meeting, the board rescinded its lease of the Community Center to R&L Airgun Supply. The board had previously approved the lease to R&L, but since that time, R&L has discovered that it is unable to move into the facility due to zoning restrictions. (http://www.rlairgunsupply.com/)
The board discussed reinstating the Golf Course Advisory Board. The board needs this committee of golf course advocates to make suggestions for improvements to the golf course, run events to raise funds for the golf course, suggest policies and fees, and volunteer time for getting things done at the golf course. The board is considering starting up the Golf Course Advisory Board with representative members from the different golf associations, and one at-large member.
The next meeting of the CCMD Board of Directors will be at 6:00pm, on January 25, 2011, at the CCMD Administration Building.
January 11, 2011
The natural human instinct is to gloat.
You win a game of foosball, you gloat over your opponent. You get beat, you expect the winner to gloat.
You find a duffel bag with $1 million in small, unmarked bills, you can’t keep it to yourself. You buy things. You treat your friends. You take your closest friend, in strictest confidence, to the back closet where you stashed the loot – just to show it off.
You get a big promotion, you sell a manuscript, your son scores the winning touchdown. You gloat.
It’s also the reason there are so many movies and books where the bad guy has the good guy at gunpoint and says, “Since you’re going to die anyway, I might as well tell you everything…” And then he ties up all the loose ends in the story. The bad guy needs to good guy to understand exactly why he is going to lose, exactly why the bad guy is so brilliant.
Try it sometime. Next time you run into incredible good luck, or achieve some big accomplishment, try not to tell anyone. Try to keep it to yourself.
January 10, 2011
A while back I wrote about a five-year plan. Recently I’ve been challenged to take a bit longer view – I’ve started working on the 200 year plan. Whoa! Why 200 years? I’ll be long dead, and so will my children and grandchildren. In fact, I expect seven to eight generations will be following me in the next 200 years.
What will life be like in 2211? Will it be as different from 2011 as 2011 is from 1811? Will we finally have Jetson-style flying cars? Will we fly faster than light? Will my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren still be suffering from the common cold? What will that eighth generation look like? How many people will be members of that generation? And more importantly, why should I put together a 200 year plan that proposes to teach that generation anything? What can I possibly teach somebody who won’t be born until after my name is long forgotten? What can someone 200 years ago teach me today?
200 year from now technology will be completely different; national boundaries will be different; moral, ethical, and cultural norms will be different. Even the world’s major religions, while they will probably still be around, will be very different. About the only thing that will be unchanged is human nature, which has been constant for millennia.
Humans will always be looking for happiness. We will always try to make the world better for ourselves and for our children (although maybe not for someone else’s children). We will always have the need to explore and invent. We will always feel the effects of love and hate, friendship and betrayal, birth and death.
Given the constantly changing state of the world, and the unchanging state of human nature, I’d like my progeny to know it’s not all about money. In fact, looking at a 200 year time line, money is almost useless, unless it is used to further human development and understanding. Money can’t buy love, friendship, or eternal life, but it can ease hunger, search for cures for incurable diseases, and establish colonies in outer space.
If you’re reading this in the 23rd century — Hi! I can’t tell you how to communicate with your “computers” or how to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. But I can tell you to seek the things money can’t buy, and to use your money to help others seek the things money can’t buy.
Snow day! You know what that means, don’t you?
It means I’ll be going to work just like every other day!
I noticed long ago that snow days were more about an extra day off for teachers and students than about the snow.
UPDATE: I couldn’t make it very far down my road today. Had to turn around and come back. I take back all those horrible things I said about teachers and students.
January 8, 2011
We decided this would be the last year for our Christmas tree. We’ve had it for several years, and my parents had it for several years before that.
It’s supposed to be a pre-lit tree, but when we set it up this year, several of the bulbs were out. I tried all the usual troubleshooting options, of course, but the tree didn’t respond favorably.
I’m sitting beside it now. We took the top third of the tree and threw it in the trash. (Throwing it out little by little over a month means we don’t have to pay extra for trash hauling.) Of the remaining two-thirds, a couple entire strings of lights are out. It’s a sad, helpless tree.
But… we get to have a new tree next year. We’ll probably get a real tree for a change, or maybe even a live tree that we can plant in the yard when the season is over.
January 7, 2011
A young man in our church ended his life yesterday. The pain and hurt among his family and friends is so real you can touch it. As bad as the pain is, however, the one thing we all want to know, and that we will never be able to know, is Why?
It’s seriously aggravating. We would love to have known why so that we could help him. We would love to know why so that we can help others in similar situations. But now what? The deed is done, a life is lost, and the lessons remain unlearned. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
January 6, 2011
Summer mornings in Kentucky are cold. However hot it might get during the day, you’re going to want a little something to keep you warm in the early hours.
The swimming pool at E. P. Tom Sawyer State Park stayed busy all day during the summer, so the swim team had to practice at 6 am. They would have started earlier if the sun had allowed.
With the seeds still in my eyes, I dove in to begin the warm-up laps. But this particular morning, my leg objected. The muscle cramp absolutely forbid that I should swim one stroke more.
The coach made me get out of the water and lay on a deck chair, while two of the female staff massaged my leg. In all the years since that day, I have never had a better work out.
I was reminded of this story by a leg cramp at 4:45 this morning.
January 5, 2011
What is it about women and salad?
Can salad have this same kind of effect on men, too? I better stay away from it, just in case.
Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) is an online office suite par excellence. It has all the components you have come to expect from an installed office package (word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program), plus a few others (forms and drawings).
Google Docs exists entirely online. You don’t have software on your computer, you don’t have files on your computer. All you need is access to the internet.
- You save all your documents online. You no longer need to worry about running out of space on your hard drive. And you don’t have to worry about backing up your files, either. Google’s systems are infinitely redundant. If your hard drive crashes, you won’t lose anything.
- You don’t have to try to remember which computer a certain file is on. Your files are on the internet and you can reach them from any computer with internet access.
- You don’t have to try to keep multiple copies of a file in sync. For example, a certain file is on your home computer, so you bring a copy of the file to work so you can have it there, too. Now you have multiple copies, and you have to think about keeping all your changes consistent across all your copies.
- You don’t have to install any software. You also don’t have to apply any patches or upgrades. When Google makes changes to their applications, you see it automatically when you log in.
- You don’t have to email documents to other people. Attaching a document to an email usually isn’t all that hard, but it’s one less step nonetheless. Plus, no more merging changes from other people with the master document on your computer. If you want someone to see the document, you just invite them!
- You can have multiple people working on a document at the same time. You can see where each person is in the document, and you can see what they are changing. Again, this also saves the step of merging changes from multiple copies.
- If you absolutely need a local copy of a document, you can download it in any of several common office formats, and use your local software to edit it.
If you don’t like Google…
Some folks have an aversion to all things Google. If this is you, Zoho (http://docs.zoho.com) is another great option for you. Everything I’ve said about Google Docs also applies to Zoho. Check it out.