Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

Advice for the new year…

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RAK…

Random Acts of Kindness.

We need more of those.

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Yes, there’s something specific that brought this on today.

Nope, not gonna share it.

Let’s just say that good deeds and Random Acts of Kindness are their own rewards.

Here’s to all the people that know this and try to live the idea.

/cheers

Coding as a language

I read an article this week talking about how some schools in (I think) Kentucky have changed some language requirements for their students.

When I was in high school (and middle school and grade school) I never “had” to take a foreign language. Now, my parents had different ideas, but as for the school, there was no foreign language requirement for anything.

Nada…nothing.

That’s not the same as today.

My oldest is getting ready to hit High School and they have to take a least one language class. One semester out of four years of school. They recommend more as “college prep”.

The youngest is in middle school and he has to take a class called “Intro to World Languages”. It’s two semesters long and they sample Spanish, French, German and Mandarin.

I’m a big fan of all this. I think languages are really important and in today’s world, the more you can communicate the better. My parents believed that learning a language accomplished far more than just another communication tool. I tend to agree.

I took multiple years of private, tutored German lessons in grade school. In junior high school, Latin. Yes, Latin. Two years of it. My parents didn’t give me a choice. To be hones, it was a good thing. I learned how languages work in Latin, and how to learn a language. It taught me skills I still use today.

Later in High School, Spanish. Two years.

My parents were correct, I learned more than just communication tools. Today, I still use my Spanish here and there, and the foundations I learned in Latin are still relevant.

But spoken languages aren’t for everyone. They are difficult to learn and you have to practice them. A lot.

So what’s my point here?

Well, in Kentucky, some schools are now allowing coding classes to count as a language.

Yup. You have a language requirement? A Java class will satisfy the requirement.

Don’t like the idea of German? Try Python instead.

Mandarin? How about Objective-C?

It’s a different world and these schools are adapting to it.

At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I’m having more and more “grumpy old man” moments and I was skeptical.

“Damn kids…I had to take a foreign language…hell…I took three! They should have to also!”

But now that I’ve pondered it, I’m a fan.

Think about it for a second.

Coding languages are just that…languages. They have their own syntax, structure and vocabulary. They function much like spoken languages, except that instead of communicating verbally, they communicate (often times) visually.

It’s an intriguing idea, and one that I’m all for.

I’m not recommending this for everyone, and I do NOT think they should replace spoken languages outright. But for some students, I think it’s a fantastic idea.

It encourages kids to get into coding; a skill set that has life-long implications. It’s a skill set that is in high demand today. It teaches critical thinking, organization, structure and often times collaboration.

And I also suspect that it encourages creativity.

There will always be a need for foreign languages. Yes, it’s good to start them early. But there is a stigma to them, and allowing an “alternative” such as this is a progressive move that should be applauded.

I know Kentucky isn’t the first to do this.

I hope they aren’t the last and other school districts follow suit.

38 seconds

Warning…rant ahead. Tread with caution.

/rant=on

Something I just don’t get lately. What’s up with the inability of people that work with technology to communicate.

With each other, with their “customers”, with their superiors, with anyone?

Were we always this way?

*** Disclaimer: I’m not talking about my staff here. So you call can chill. I’m speaking of IT as an industry. ***

Seriously though, for an industry that is supposed to facilitate communication, make people work more efficiently and collaborate better (why yes, I have been drinking the IT PR Kool Aid) why is it that communication is the last thing we do well?

Case in point. A situation at work necessitated that I send a rather annoyed (but professional) email to a group of people asking them politely (and did I mention professionally??) to get off their collective asses and remedy a problem that had been ongoing for weeks.

Not a simple issue either. An issue that was directly affecting users’ ability to work. So sort of important.

At the end of said email, I asked that someone get in touch with me to let me know the status of things and what the resolution plan was.

Simple request. Communicate with me.

Help me understand what is going on. What you are doing to remedy the issue. What is causing the problem. Anything. Just. Talk. To. Me.

Twenty four hours go by.

Nothing.

I had to send another email (still professional) asking, “Hey..um, hello? What’s going on?” Then finally, someone got back to me.

Communication. In the day of email, Twitter, instant message, and that thing called the phone, I got nothing. It takes 38 seconds to hit the reply button on an email, type out a short message saying something like, “Sorry for the issues. We are looking into it. We will contact you tomorrow with a follow up and more information”, and then hit the send button.

Thirty eight seconds. I timed it.

We in IT often times wonder why IT gets a bad rep. Why we aren’t respected more. Why, often times, management looks at IT as a necessary evil instead of a business asset.

Well folks, I’m here to tell you, it’s because we can’t take 38 seconds to send an email to communicate. I know we are all busy. Sometimes insanely so, but 38 seconds is nothing.

Maybe if we all spared 38 seconds more often, IT would be perceived as a customer-service focused business entity. Not just a group that spends money, complains about users asking stupid questions (that’s another post) and cant deliver on their promises.

Maybe we’d be looked at as a group that goes out of their way to help people. That is interested in making things better for the organization and the users.

Thirty eight seconds.

A missed opportunity to provide customer service. A missed chance to change the perception of a single person.

There’s a phrase I’m fond of; “Death by a thousand paper cuts.”

It unfortunately applies to IT far too often.

/rant=off

Too true

Mrs. Technocrat will appreciate this…

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I can’t speak for her mind, but this is totally how her computer is.

All. The. Time.

Random thoughts

Apparently my desk is either warped or just plan not level.

How do I know this? My keyboard wiggles when I rest my left hand on it.

Not much mind you, but just a little. And plenty enough to be annoying.

It’s not the keyboard. I tried it on other surfaces, and it’s fine. It’s the top of my desk on the “computer” side.

I’ve tried the “tape on the edge” of the keyboard thing. No go.

/annoyed_face = on






———-

Last week I was walking down the hall here at work and a user comes up to me muttering about how there was no one in the Help Desk.

(They’d gone to lunch and were due back any minute)

I asked what was wrong and could I help or get a message to the Help Desk guys.

Here’s the conversation:

Me: “Can I help, or can I get a message to the guys?”

User: “The printer is out of toner and I need to print something now!”

Me: “OK, well, I’ll let them know. Which printer is it?”

User (very frustrated at this point): “The one that’s out of Magenta!”

…….

Me: “Well, that tells me a lot.”

User: /blank stare

Me: /raised_eyebrow = on

User: “Oh…the one in the training room.”

Me: “Thank you. That actually tells me something.”

Really folks? “The one that’s out of magenta?” That’s what you’re gonna tell me.

/facepalm






———-

Some Friday nights, there just isn’t enough time or enough alcohol to drown out the stupid from the following week.






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Listening to a 13yo play Minecraft with a bunch of his 13yo friends, via Skype, is sort of like listening to nails on a chalkboard and a recored played backwards…combined.

Annoying…unintelligible…frustrating…scary…and downright frightening.

I don’t recommend it.

My own space

You probably don’t know this, but our basement had a wee bit of a flooding issue back in the spring of last year.

The reason (you don’t know about it) is that I’ve slacked on this blog for….well…a while now. But I’m working on that.

The reason for the basement leaking was numerous large holes between the house and foundation where the mortar had fallen apart over the years. We found this out was when we excavated a large portion of our front yard to see what was happening we could see the basement.

From the front yard.

Through the house.

Not through a window.

The gaps in area that connected the house to the fountain were large to say the least. One you could actually fit a golf ball through.

We’d planned on redoing the basement when we moved into the house, but we’d also planning on waiting a bit.

Nothing like a inch of water in your basement to change your plans.

So over the past 8 months I tore the basement down to the concrete walls and redid it.

We installed the last of the floor and trim (I hate trim but that’s another post) and moved in.

I have my space back and I love it.

It’s not much, just a corner of the room, but it’s mine. My desk is back, my stuff is back, my computer is back, my pictures are back.

And I got all my gadgets back. The server I was working on before the flood is back and powered on. I haven’t done anything with it yet, but it’s back.

I’m happy.

It’s amazing how just a small place to call “your’s” can make a difference. I’d love to have my own room, but that’s wishful thinking in a house our size and with two teenage boys, and a wife that lives like the embodiment of an office-product tornado. She spreads papers and stuff like a twister spreads chunks of trailer homes and dead cows.

Now I just have to remember where I stored everything while my corner of the world was in boxes in the garage.