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Category: Advice

Trying to understand the Garbage Path – a metaphor for you

Imagine for a moment a white plastic spoon in the middle of your living room floor, now imagine for every square meter of your home there is one plastic spoon. Now, alone, not so many spoons, one per meter, no big deal. Now imagine that for every spoon you see there is a dust pile made up of that same plastic, just under the carpet or in a corner.

So your house, with it’s spoons and its plastic dust is constantly accepting new spoons and plastic dust at a rate of 1 spoon a day and one pile of dust per day. You can’t stop that , it keeps happening because the people outside of the home only see the one spoon in the middle of the floor or the one little pile of dust in the corner, but they don’t see the one int he landing or the one under your bed, etc

It’s dispersed, it accrues in the animals and on the coasts, there is a VAST dispersed web of plastic and it hangs down into the largest area of our world that spreads over 70% of the surface.

But if it helps, imagine constantly finding dirty plastic spoons in your living room; and you can’t stop them from appearing.

Alienware x51 Black screen with cursor while installing Windows 10 – Windows 10 Forums

Alienware x51 Black screen with cursor while installing Windows 10 – Windows 10 Forums

If you have an Alienware X51 and want windows 10, this is for YOU!

Essentially; post install of Windows 10, the Screen is going to be on the ON-BOARD video; not your good video card, so you need to hook up an HDMI cable to the HDMI port on the back of your unit and proceed from there, then DISABLE that video card in Windows once you are done.

In Defense of my Religious Upbringing

Frequent readers of this blog or people who just look at the preceeding post to this one might get the idea that I’m a firm anti-religious type, and you’d be wrong.

I’m still a big fan of the Catholic School Board I was educated by from 2-13 in Ontario and wouldn’t exchange it for an irreligious or secular school any day.  I was taught by (for the most part) dedicated people who handed the students the tools and means to make an informed decision about Church and Religion. They taught us about comparative religion and evolution and science and reasoning and problem solving and history.  It wasn’t “The Catholic” version of things, it was “the facts as they knew and understood them”  which prepared my class and some of the surrounding years for a future where we could choose for ourselves.  I like that and encourage it.  I was handed a bible and a measuring stick and told to find out the distance the words in it would go.  For a long time they went pretty far.

I still write Roman Catholic on Government forms when I’m asked to identify my Religious Affiliation; although I don’t practice anymore (I got it right and decided that I’d leave an open seat for others).  I’m an Agnostic, not an Atheist.  I don’t know if there is something more than me, I don’t think it is likely that the Christians, Jews  or Moslems or any of the other Religious groups are correct though.  I critique the “Religious” because they are the Rediculous, they just seem to want comfort from the Universe; comfort from a Parent that they can’t touch or see.  I’ll admit that the thought that this life is all I have is scary, shouldn’t it compel me to make the most of this life?

I imagine that where the Religious and My Agnostic classmates diverge is motivation.  I do good things to make others feel good, not for the rewards (well, not the rewards alone anyway) but I do good things in secret too, without anyone knowing.  I don’t need magical rewards that only show up when I die to motivate good deeds; I try to encourage this in my daughter.  However in the Religious, good deeds are motivated not by love for one another, but by fear of punishment beyond the grave.  If you are living in fear of Hell, please take this simple advice:

If you die and there IS a god and a heaven and you have been good according to their rules, WIN!

If you die and there IS a god and heaven and you have been bad and end up in hell, at least you have eternal life and take comfort in the fact that eventually god saves all the souls in hell once they have been redeemed.  Also, famous dead people! WIN!

If you die and that is it, what would you know about it?  You’re gone.  Win (for you)

Death, scary as it is, is only hard on the living, the dead don’t suffer from the heartache that the survivors feel.

My Dad (who knows everything) says that Hell is probably the Black Nothing of being without life, but if one was aware of said blackness, then isn’t that still eternal life?  This is why my Dad calls me a smart ass.

All of that aside, I was well-educated and prepared for life by my teachers, almost all of them religious people, good church going folk.  Only three of them ever made me feel in danger for either my physical well-being or my uh sexual well-being  (One time a Religion teacher growled at me as I walked by, he was a former Monk and I swear he was coming on to me in some clumsy way that still puzzles me. I’m tubby, hit on someone who wants it Mr. Beardy Former Monk).  My history teachers gave us a rich view of the world, spanning the centuries, putting into perspective the stories from the Bible as the work of Men who lived in fear of the Night.  Our Science teachers (biology, Chemistry and Physics) gave us the keys to the worlds workings, showing us the diversity and simple beauty of the math behind it all.  Our Social Studies and Technology teachers showed us how we interacted with the world and let us discover how our interactions affected it.  Our arts teachers let us appreciate the written word and visual arts for what they were (within a strict and often compellingly bad structure, at least we had creative writing!)

All of this aside, I was given a good Education at Catholic School and wouldn’t prevent my own daughter from experiencing it or discourage other parents from signing up their kids for the same district.  I can only speak for my own experience and would love to hear from my former classmates if they happen on this post.

Review: Wanted (the movie) Vs Wanted (the comic)

Disclaimer: I am a fan of comics, a serious fan of comics and overall a fan of the WANTED comic.  My opinions are going to be skewed and should not be taken as the sanction or prohibition of a sane reviewer.

EDIT: Check out a graphic representation of why The Comic is Superior

Let me first state three impressions I got from this film overall, the director loves slow motion, Glass breaks into little squares when people run through it and script consistency was not job #1 when the final shooting script was used.

For example, we are treated to a superhuman display of speed and agility by someone who were are initially led to believe is one of only two people with said magical skills in the movie.  However, later in the film it is revealed that this person is not one of the two.  While it is demonstrated that “Sloan” has some skills, only James McAvoy’s character is supposed to be in possesion of said magical killing abilities.  Why then in the twist do we find out that the character of the dead man is not whom we are told he is, thereby negating the “only two people” line from earlier?  Perhaps I misheard it?

Angelina Jolie can look as if she wants to eat children if she holds her head a certain way, in the first scene with Angelina Jolie she makes a kind of concerned/concentration face that lets me fully believe that she is a hardened comic villain.  It’s too bad the story strays so far from the comic, as her character is totally wasted. (literally)

I am aware that Mark Millar was enthusiastic about the film; but this is one of those situations where the creator and the fans might have to disagree.  “Wanted” the film is a great ation film, but the loss of the “evil” parts of Wesley’s training and the total loss of the wanton violence and wonder of the Super Villains makes the movie less entertaining than the book.  I like the movie, but loved the book.

I didn’t think “Wanted” was horrible, and enjoyed the action, but won’t recommend it over the book.    If you are in the mood for a hard action movie with a great deal of visual flair, by all means, check it out.  If you are a fan of the book, don’t go into it expecting too much.

I asked my dad, who knows everything

On George Carlin:

Hes average, personally i like Chris Rock, Eddy Murphy and Russel Peters most. Never heard of him until he died and i even asked my dad, who knows most bigger comedians and he had never heard of him.

Feel free to link me to some of his good stuff, his 7 swearwords stuff was pretty…. average.

Nobbeh – who is level 44

I know my Dad, he knows football (the good kind), nuclear maintainence, 60s and 70s rock and pop, safety regulations, union politics and a bit about almost every other subject.  I wouldn’t go posting on the internet about how I asked my dad (who is not a bona fide authority on anything) about said subject.  I might say that I looked around some comedy blogs or science manuals or whatever, but not “I asked Dad, he says get stuffed“.

I am a Dad too.  I pretend to know everything sometimes too.  However, I like to think that I’ll admit when I’m stumped.  I don’t want my kids or neices and nephews to think they can use me as an authority on anything save what I’m an expert on, and even then I’d like to think they’d lie and use a euphamism like “I asked a professional asshole, and he says you’re part of the club” or “I know an expert in social dissasspointment, he says that if you sucked any more at being in relationships you’d be looking to on Henry the 8th memoirs for advice”

Or something like that.

Some Advice for IT Types

“IT is at the heart of business these days and there are real opportunities now to have a career in IT which will ultimately lead to a position on the board.”

If this is the case, why are so many IT jobs filled with people who have no idea what they are doing? I spoke to my share of IT reps from firms all over the Fortune 1000 and Fortune 50 that had no clue what they were doing, nor did they have any idea where they were going with their mandates.  Often they had no plan or action plan.

One example really sticks out for me; a hardware changeover plan that had no “buffer”  the IT rep wanted to replace an important firewall with another one.  He felt assured that he could just replace the current device with a new and wholly different one if the new devide was configured correctly.

This was a bad plan for two reasons:

1) There was no fallback beyond dropping the old hardware in place.

2) The router was the MAIN ingress to their websites and mail systems.  There were no external fallbacks or alternate sites for users to visit during the downtime.  If the transition went BAD (new hardware fails and old device breaks during transition) there was no fallback.

I know, you’re thinking: Kevin, what would you have done?
I would have published a new set of DNS records with a TTL of about 15 minutes.  I would publish them a week before I made the transition and made sure my DNS server was not inside the new router.  Once in place you would have 15 minutes of downtime while you performed the transiton to a new host for your website if something went wrong during the switch.  That’s fairly easy to deal with.

I like the idea of planning for downtime like that; you could even change the TTL on the DNS records back to 24 hours when you are done.

Here are some tips for outage planning

  1. Have a fallback plan for total failure:

    If it is an internet enabled service that users need access to, publish DNS records that point to a “Server is down” page on the net (for web services)  when the primary record(s) is/are down.

    Keep offsite hard copies (by hard copies I mean stored on Hard disk or Tape)

    Keep enough cash in the IT budget to buy server time on multiple hosts should short-term downtime become extended overtime.

    Any server that is important enough to serve all your needs should have a clone on hand with all the same data, backed up every 6 to 12 hours (or less) so that if your primary server(s) go down a clone can go online in seconds.

  2. Announce the outage in as many ways possible.  Email is never enough for big outages.  Warn users in cloud writing if you think they will read it.
  3. When the outage is going to take a machine out of service forever, contact any old admins and/or users and determine if they have stored anything important on the box.  You never know.
  4. Treat every outage as a potential crisis and be ready for complaints regardless of success or shortness of time.
  5. Confirm that all parts and plans are in order before the outage in underway, if at all possible create a schedule and checklist for the outage that creates a series of milestones and ETAs that can be delivered to end users and managers.

After all, you are the heart of the business when you are in IT, right?

A Nice plate of Fish and Chips

A Nice plate of Fish and Chips, originally uploaded by NiteMayr.

Yes! A great lunch that wasn’t from “King’s”

Went to “Walker’s Fish and Chips” for lunch, had the Halibut and Chips.

The Fish was great, tasty and flavorful. The batter wasn’t all the taste, the fish was meaty and strong, a pleasure to eat. The Chips were also great, obviously real cut potato, soaked overnight to make sure that they are not too starchy. Great!

I didn’t care for the coleslaw, but I’m not a fan of the slaw anyway.

PLUS Beer on tap (not GOOD beer, but on TAP) and other beer selections on hand.

I can’t recommend Walker’s more.

Notes for Presenters

After 10 Years at Symantec and a few here and there; I’ve amassed a fair bit of corporate culture and spread a bit of my own.

Thus with tongue in cheek (and sometimes not) I give some advice for presenters gleaned from a series of Train the Trainer sessions

  • Personal introductions by the participants are pointless and wasteful. Never mind the inevitable oneupmanship that comes parcel with such round-the-room games:

    Office Drone 1: I’ve been wasting employer dollars in fruitless training sessions for 5 years!
    Office Drone 2: Oh yeah!?!? I’ve been doing nothing but roll paper coronets at my desk for over a decade!
    Office Drone 3: Oh YEAH!!??! I’m having sex with Ms. Johnson’s daughters and that’s how I got that corner office...

    Constructive Alternative: Instead of dedicating X (varying) amount of time to your “group building” activity, introduce yourself noting why you are presenting today, explain what you are presenting and set out a time line for the Presentation including breaks and lunches (if needed)

  • Consider your audience, if they are a homogeneous group of people (all from the same basic background and experience, tailor your language and pacing for them) if it is a heterogeneous group from varying backgrounds or experience, aim for the middle and not the bottom.

    Side Note: When tailoring your speech or documents for the general public you are encouraged to mete out your information in easy to understand, spoon-fed portions. In a professional office everyone is expected to have a high-school diploma and the reading comprehension skills that accompany such accolades. Speak to your audience as if they can think, breath and chew gum at the same time.

  • Be flexible and Gracious. You are speaking to adults, while they are expected to behave in certain ways one can always anticipate one troublemaker who will either through callousness, egotism or sheer lack of ability pull down an entire class. If things get out of hand take the troublesome person aside and either have a polite discussion about appropriate behavior for professionals (without saying anything like that) or possibly asking them to keep careful notes of their concerns for a post-presentation email.

    Anecdote: I’m a fairly energetic and entertaining presenter, I’ve been told on numerous occasions that when I am “on” I am engaging and entertaining as well as super-informative. I’m also aware that if I am put off-track I can been boorish and overbearing. My personal lesson is to remember that the whole audience needs to hear what I am saying, becoming sidetracked by single individuals or problems brings the whole Presentation down.

  • No Matter how funny you think you are being, you do not laugh for your own jokes. If you must make jokes, real jokes, then pause for laughter only if there is any.

    Comedy: It’s all about …


  • Don’t sell your work by telling us about the creation process of the Presentation or self-aggrandize in your presentation; you had an opportunity to do that when you introduced yourself, save the self-praise for when you get the job done and you are “rewarding yourself”

    Yes, it is a euphemism.

  • Do not defer to your audience for answers if you do not know them, it may make you seem more approachable; but in the long run it undermines audience confidence. If you don’t know, ask for a follow-up email or promise the same.
  • Purge your vocal tics elsewhere, If I have to hear you say “right?” “Man” “cool?” “okay” or “You get me?” from another presenter I might actually have to “get” one.
  • If your audience is bored or tired, be energetic and engaging, not manic and demanding.
  • Work out your education theories elsewhere. Unless the audience is their to be educated, you are simply a presenter. Give the basic information, give detailed notes they can take home and no more. There is no need to be detailed in your presentation unless you are actually imparting knowledge that needs to be fully retained.

    Constructive Advice: Run your presentation in brief by your spouse or room mate. If they get bored, it is too long or it does not engage them. If they are not in your target audience, find someone who is and run your presentation by them. Repeat until you have informed and not bored your audience.

  • Be confident! The audience is your captive. They live and breathe by your words now, so don’t worry about it!
  • If you can say it out loud, you should have it written down!
  • If you can show it as a live demonstration, you can videotape or record it in some way for people who cannot attend. You can save a great deal of energy if you can make a presentation that an audience will enjoy and retain whether you are there or not.

At the end of your presentation, thank your audience for their attention, make any kind of evaluation sheets/methods available and record your own feedback in writing while it is still fresh.

Question: How do you reward yourself for a job well done?

Getting your iTunes Playlists into the Zune 2.0 Software

I upgraded to the Zune 2.0 software, which promptly killed all the useful playlists I had set up for playing in my Xbox when I wanted to listen to music.

I used to just drag and drop my playlist contents into Media player 11, but since Zune streams mp4s and I have a buttload of them, I made the transition.

I upgraded to 2.0 and liked the new interface, but the lack of any sort of smart playlists leaves me using Itunes to make playlists and no obvious way to get them into Zune.

I have figured out the steps to make this happen:

  1. Open up itunes and shrink the window to a point where it is still usefull, but not maximized at all.
  2. Open up WMP 11 and maximize it.
  3. Click on the the Now Playing button and then ensure the “List Pane” is displayed.  If the List Pane is not displayed, click the down arrow under “Now Playing” and click “Show List Pane” (I searched for ages to find this when I decided I wanted it)  It also appears on the Library screen if you do not want to use it on the “Now Playing” screen.
  4. Now, select the contents of your playlist in iTunes and then Drag and Drop the contents to the List Pane in Windows Media player.
  5. Once your songs appear in Windows Media Player, Click the down arrow next to “Untitled Playlist” and then click “Save Playlist As…”
  6. Click the Down Arrow beside the file format and choose “M3U” as your format and save your playlist.
  7. As long as you are saving your playlist in the default C:\Documents\username\My documents\My Music\My Playlists location, it will appear automatically in the Zune Software.
  8. Once the new playlist appears in the Zune software you may choose delete the m3u file as the Zune software appears to keep it’s own copy.

If you do not save the file in the default location or simply wish a more manual method, save the playlist in m3u format and drag and drop the new m3u into a waiting playlist in the Zune Software.

Have fun with your new software!

Originally posted on