Entries Tagged 'Casual Friday' ↓

Friday links, autumn edition

The time has just about come to officially enter my favorite season of the year — autumn!  Football season, malty seasonal beers, crisp mornings, sweatshirts and campfires … the brief respite between air conditioning and heating.

Some links harvested from my RSS feeds for your in-between season consumption, even if none of them are particularly work-related….


I … I don’t even know (Friday link)

In place of actual content, I give you this.

Casual Friday: Presenting Perils

While waiting for a meeting to start yesterday, a colleague and I swapped stories of the perils of presenting.  Whether it’s a livemeeting or a projector hooked to your desktop, there’s some loss of privacy that can come with using your PC to host a meeting.  For example ….

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Casual Friday: Digital Packrat

I have a tendency to keep everything.

In real life, this is a problem, and one which is solved by the fact that my wife has no sense of nostalgia and will throw my garbage away behind my back.  I pretend not to notice and we move on peacefully.

In the digital world, though, it has amusing results.  In a fit of nostalgia, I recently stumbled onto the oldest archived version of my first “web page,” from 1995.  In it, I mention someone as a good friend.  Fifteen years later, I cannot remember who this person was.  There’s something sad about that, don’t you think?  The Internet never forgets, though.  I’ve found much older stuff out there, archived on weird mailing lists or whatever, stuff I have trouble believing came from my keyboard but obviously did.

I also have carried the same text files from computer to computer since the first PC-compatible machine I ever got, in the late 80s.  Since I was an awkward teenager in the late 80s, you know what this means?  I still have all the awful stuff I wrote as a misunderstood loner in high school.  Lyrics to heavy metal songs that never got set to music.  Nasty unsent letters.  Poems that would delete themselves if they could, they’re so bad.  The beginning of a horror novel which thankfully never got finished.

Yup.  It’s all there.

And I back it up nightly on Mozy too.

My name is Dave, and I’m a digital packrat.

Casual Friday: In defense of #25Things

If you’re on Facebook at all, you’ve probably seen the “25 Things” meme that’s been floating around. In it, people list 25 random facts about themselves, and suggest that their friends do the same. It’s so popular it was recently profiled (and trashed) in Time Magazine.  Claire Suddath says

Facebook is a loose social network; a “friend” on Facebook might translate to someone you’d barely recognize in real life. I don’t care that my college roommate’s sister is anemic or that my stepcousin’s boyfriend gets nervous around old people.

Ashley Stockett on twitter says

It’s like those email forwards that started circa 1996…”what’s your fav. brand of toothpaste…”

I’m trying to figure out where all the hate is coming from.  When these things went around via email back in the day, it was clearly a massive waste of resources.  The endless chain of forwards basically made sure you never really got to read the lists written by the people you cared about, and you often got emailed from multiple people with subtle variations, etc.  So don’t get me wrong, I always have hated and still do hate meaningless chain emails.  I don’t really like the “tag” mechanism on Facebook for trying to pressure people into writing their own lists (I used “tag” to notify people I mentioned them in my list).  But the activity itself?  It’s awesome.  And here’s why.

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Casual Friday: The Camera Eye

I occasionally use this blog to write about non-professional topics.  I confine these posts to “Casual” Friday.

I recently was reminded of a Rush song from 1981 called The Camera Eye.  It’s an interesting song because it’s the last song the band wrote which is longer than ten minutes, and it hasn’t been performed live in concert in over 25 years (so was “retired” from concert play only two years after its release).  As such it has a special place in the heart of hardcore Rush fans (ahem).

I was thinking of the song at work and realized I wanted to hear it.  I loaded up my media player, typed “Camera” into the search box, and picked which version of the song I wanted to hear (the studio version, or a bootleg recording from the Chicago Amphitheater, from March 1981).  I picked the bootleg version, the song began, and I smiled as I went about my afternoon work.

There are a few things which are completely astounding about this experience, which I realize I take for granted.

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Casual Friday: Geocaching for Geeks

(I occasionally use this blog to talk about non-professional topics.  I confine these posts to Fridays, hence the term 🙂 ).

This summer, I was re-introduced to the hobby of geocaching.  I had read about geocaching many times over the years, but nobody I knew had gotten into it, so I ignored it.  When a few family members started getting into it, I took another look.

First off, for those unfamiliar with the hobby, geocaching is basically a game in which participants retrieve coordinates and/or hints from a common web site, travel to those coordinates using GPS receivers (GPSr), and find “caches” hidden by other players of the game.  Upon finding the cache, finders sign a logbook and report their success.  Caches are hidden on urban street corners and mountain peaks, and everything in-between.

So what makes this hobby fun for geeks like me?  A few things….

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Casual Friday: Internet Meme Time

Rather than try to tie a casual topic into my corporate blog this week, I’m just diving in with an Internet meme I was first exposed to on Stu’s blog.  The challenge — list your favorite album (not necessarily the objectively best album) for every year you’ve been alive, with no repeated artists (this last rule complicates quite a few things!).  I also refused to use live albums, greatest hits, or to list ties (sorry Stuart).  It was much more difficult than I thought.

It certainly made me aware how much music I’ve listened to at different points in my life.

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Casual Friday: Changing the Rules

(It’s no secret to you that I am a geek, but today’s post is really going to push the boundaries.  I apologize in advance for losing my less-geeky readers.  Come back, I promise I’m not always like this.)

Today I’m going to share some life skills lessons I learned from James T. Kirk and Magic: The Gathering.  Yes, really.
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Casual Friday: What’s in your wallet?

When I was in High School, I had a wonderful English teacher (Jane Nagle, now a professor at Westfield State College).  I remember an exercise we did where she asked each of us to write down how much cash we thought we had in our pockets, and then to check if we were right.  Most of us knew exactly how much money we had — we weren’t exactly in an affluent area, and the idea of just having “some money” and not budgeting it strictly was pretty alien to most of us.

I look at my wallet now, and it makes a great symbol for how much life has changed since then.  And I don’t mean how much cash is in it.

Change is inevitable and exciting.  If you had told my 16 year-old self what my 35 year-old self would have in his wallet, he would have called you crazy.

Cash.  Yes, I still carry cash.  I have this odd behavior where I hate to spend less than $5-ish on a credit card.  This means I usually pay for my breakfast in cash, and my lunch on a credit card.  Don’t ask; I don’t understand either.  And yes, the fact that I’d be willing to spend this much money just to avoid brown-bagging it would seem alien to my teenage self, but let’s not go into that.

Credit.  The willingness of banks in this country to hand out credit is something I would never have predicted in 1990.  I shudder to think of how much damage I could do to my life in a crazed shopping spree using just the plastic in my wallet.

Driver’s License.  No, I wasn’t driving in high school.  But that’s not it.  My first license had my social security number on it.  Everybody’s did.  Now you can’t, even if you want to, use that as your license number.  I would never have imagined the privacy concerns this technology boom would bring.

Health Insurance Cards (3).  Teenagers are immortal, right?  Why would you carry those things around with you?  I mean, when would you ever need that?  Hah.  Not only that, why would I need 3 different insurance providers?  (Now that I wish I could fix!)

Audio Meeting Quick Reference Card.  I carry in my wallet a card with phone and access numbers to a conference call I can use at any time.  Included is of course access numbers from other countries.  I don’t think my 1990 self could imagine why I’d be carrying a card with a phone number in India on it.

Employment Badge.  The only reason I’d have carried one of these around at 16 would be to get my employee discount on audio tapes at Caldor.  I certainly would have trouble picturing myself doing what I do for a living today, for who I do it today.

Corporate Credit Card.  Again, I hesitate to ponder the damage I could do to my life if I ever snapped :).

AAA Card.  Ok, this one I could have pictured.  Our cars were always breaking down, back then.  I feel like I pay into AAA now strictly due to the terror I underwent back in those days every time the car I was in broke down, got stuck, wouldn’t start, and so on.

So … what’s in your wallet?