Sunday Mar 16, 2008

Making sense of

How can I import contacts into if I don't have an Aol, ACT!, Palm, etc. export file?[Read More]

Sunday Apr 01, 2007

Google's joke

They had me for about 10 seconds, but kudos for creativity and humour. Google TiSP Beta

Tuesday Feb 13, 2007

Winter arrives in New England . . . . finally!

Finally snow! Break out the shovels and the ice scraper.[Read More]

Tuesday Dec 12, 2006

Car Troubles this Morning

A broken car = time to blog, while I await my rides to the repair shop AND the car rental agency. It's times like this that I wish there was more support for TSEs to remote work. Or at least have the capability. I understand the arguments against this: management wants to have the "face-to-face"; forwarding live calls off the PBX could be problematic, etc. The ability to at least go through my inbox would be helpful and ease the crunch when I get to the office. (I would be nice to be able to set my vacation message to alert customers that my availability is limited this morning, although I changed my voice mail message. Still easy to do that by dialing up the voicemail box robot!)

Well, forget about the PBX system. I'm going to apply for a token card so I can at least do email from home. This is dead time for me, and to be honest, I can't afford it. The Network Support team has been very busy since Thanksgiving, due to training for new products. Once training is done, we'll continue to be well occupied with the new products we are getting. I should clarify that these are new products to our team, not newly introduced products. At least as far as I know there are not any new products among them. I guess I'll find out when I get scheduled for training.

Still waiting for my ride. I'll make good use of the time by having breakfast.

Saturday Dec 09, 2006

Wannalancit Mills has a 250' tall Christmas tree.

It is the beacon of my commute home from Burlington during December. Boston Chimney & Tower turns the brick smokestack at the Wannalancit Mills in Lowell,MA into a enormous Tannenbaum using iron rings, cables and some lights. Over 5,400 lights, to be exact. I get to see it from far away and up close as I pass over the Aiken St. Bridge in the evening. It never fails to make me smile.

Sunday Sep 24, 2006

Test driving Ubuntu Linux Ubuntu 6.06 LTS

Today I downloaded and burned an ISO of "Ubuntu 6.06 LTS - the Dapper Drake - released in June 2006". I didn't even have to install it to try it out; I just booted it up and said I wanted a test drive. Its pretty impressive performance wise (even running from CD-ROM), especially on my Clinton-era AMD K6-550.

I'm currently using the built-in version of the Firefox browser to post this, but there is a considerable list of available software packages that is kept current by Internet update. I really didn't expect to be able to boot this environment up and use it so readily. I think I will save the money I had earmarked for upgrading my home desktop's hardware and try Ubuntu, "Linux for Human Beings!" instead.

Sunday Oct 16, 2005

What should I get with my Mass. Microsoft Settlement?

I received the voucher in August, but just uncovered it under a pile of papers I was filing. I am owed a whopping $39.00. I guess I can forget about getting a new laptop or desktop. Since the total owed is less that $950, I can redeem the voucher for "printers, monitors, scanners, keyboards, mice and other pointing devices". It's a perfect amount for a USB thumb drive, something I don't have, but I can't use it for that.

OK, it's not all bad. I can redeem the voucher for "qualifying software" which includes Microsoft and non-Microsoft titles that are generally available in "standard form". So, since I need to provide a photocopy of a receipt or a boxtop of some sort, I am probably going to go to some brick and mortar store and pick up something. I'm not sure what I can get for $40 but I'm going to find out.

Saturday May 14, 2005

Gone from my sight

In memory of my father

Salvatore Anthony DiCiero

October 5, 1930 ~ May 14, 2005

Gone From My Sight

by Henry Van Dyke

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she let my side. And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her. And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone," there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

Friday Apr 22, 2005

Back from Walt Disney World

Florida was beautiful, but a bit chilly for the first half of our stay. Fortunately, the Hippie Dippie pool was heated. We had no rain, tons of sun and the sunburns to prove it.

This time, we stayed at Disney's Pop Century Resort, which is one of the more affordable of the onsite hotels there. (Disney also has other "budget" hotels like the All Star Music where we stayed on our last trip in '98) The theme of this resort is popular culture of the last century. It's where you can really feel how old you are by taking stock of how many decades from the past century that you actually lived through and/or remember. The food court is handy but there is not much variety from day to day. It's good to plan ahead and use the "priority seating" for the various Disney restaurants to break up your daily menu.

Disney being Disney, alot has changed since our last vist but much has stayed the same. The Disney experience is one of the most cleanest (literally and figuratively) you can have. The place is spotless, the "cast members" are friendly, helpful and efficient and the guests are having a great time. That hasn't changed. There are some new attractions and features: EPCOT has "Mission: Space" which no one in my party wanted to do and Disney/MGM Studios has the "Rockin rollercoaster starring Aerosmith", which a few in my party tried. That brings me to the "fastpass" system for the popular rides with long wait times. This is new and seems to work well to help keep waits under an hour for those who wish to wait (they call it standby) and waits to under a half hour (or less) for fastpass holders. (That was based on our experience, YMMV).

We were able to get to the Animal Kingdom park this time, unlike when we were there in April 1998, arriving on the very day of the grand opening. At least 7 years later, the place isn't at capacity by 10:00am. The Animal Kingdom park is the smallest park in the group. The best things to do there was the Safari ride, the "It's tough to be a bug" show and the "Primeval Whirl" rollercoaster (we all chickened out on the Dino roller coaster).

The Disney transportation system is still very efficient, even if they do pack you in like sardines when it's busy. We didn't see the cattlecar-like people movers in use this time, only regular buses.

The best buffet/character interaction is the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom. A wide selection of goodies to suit every taste. We went this time for dinner. A big thumbs up for their glazed vegetable medley, the kale dish and the curry chicken. Mmm Mmm good!

But all that fun, fun, fun takes it's toll on your wallet, feet and tummy. So it was good to get home. Or as the old saying goes: East or West, home is best.

Saturday Jan 22, 2005

Blizzard in the Northeast

It's about 4:45 pm ET and the snow is starting to come down quite heavily. The TV weatherman says to expect the snow to fall at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour with winds up to 50 mph (60 mph at the coast). Expected totals range between 12 to 24" depending upon where you are. We've got our gas (for the snowblower), candles and flashlights if the power goes out and our groceries, so it's time to hunker down and just let it snow.

Sunday Nov 21, 2004

Attending my 25th High School Reunion

The Thanksgiving season is a popular time for reunions, and this year marks 25 years since I graduated from Chelmsford High School.

I've been to the 5th and the 20th reunions, and with few exceptions, you never really see the same group of folks. This year, I went with 4 of my oldest friends, 3 of whom had never attended a reunion. It was a blast, but also an adventure.

We bashed around a couple of ideas on how best to handle the evening so we could all relax and enjoy the experience, and settled on hiring a limousine. It was a good decision and also provided much of the aforementioned "adventure".

Those of use in close proximity to each other met at a friend's house in Westford, MA and the limo picked us up there. We then drove to New Boston, NH to pick up our farthest flung companion. If you have never been to New Boston, NH, lets just say it's a bit off the beaten path. Not only did we get lost finding our pal's house, we led our driver up one very rustic driveway (to the wrong house), and almost left half the limo's undercarriage behind trying to turn around.

Here I must give a shout out to our long-suffering, extremely professional and friendly driver Irene. She had the patience of a saint and nothing fazed her. Not the aimless searching for the correct house, not the requests for her take "glamour photos" of us in front of the limo and not even a little accident in the back of the limo involving a bit too much booze and not enough acid reflux medicine. Enough said. Irene, you rocked!

My friends who had never attended a reunion were quite nervous -- would they know anyone? Would it be boring and would we have to find a "Plan B" for the evening's entertainment? It was all for naught. One friend said to me after being in attendance for only 10 minutes "I'm so blown away!"

It's easy to be intimidated by these types of events. No matter how well you have done after high school, all the anxieties come back. Will the bully who tormented me in study still be waiting to make me miserable? Will the person who I "crushed on" (as the kids now say) remember me with a kind word? Will people think I'm a loser? Not to mention the ever present worry: "How have my looks held up over the years in comparison to my classmates?

I say: go for it! You may find some pleasant surprizes, as I did.

Saturday Nov 13, 2004

First snowfall

It's official. We woke up to about 4" of snow. Just the day before, we put the snow stakes along the driveway and got all the leaves off the lawn. We're ready for whatever this New England Winter has to offer. Halloween was less than 2 weeks ago and it's about 2 weeks until Thanksgiving. That's about average for first snow, I'd say. Halloween this year was fun. Warm, but windy. I couldn't keep all my candle lanterns lit, but the jack o'lanterns were fine. Next up: the Holidays. I wonder how much snow we'll have had by Christmas Day.

Sunday Oct 31, 2004

Ready for Halloween

The pumpkins are carved, placed in the yard and are ready to light. The candy is all set to go (5 regular sized bags of assorted chocolate what-have-yous). Since we just adjusted the clocks for the end of Daylight Saving Time, it will be plenty dark. Everything is in place. We are ready for Halloween. Our suburban street has streetlights and sidewalks, with about 30 homes so we tend to get slammed with waves of little trick-or-treaters (some big ones too.) The weather is slightly warm for the end of October in New England and it's a weekend day, so I figure we could have a heavy turnout for treats. I'll have to post a followup. Happy Halloween.

Saturday Oct 09, 2004

Blogs and the Rise of "Personal Media"

I really enjoyed this Guardian (UK) article I found on "Spilling the beans. Revelations about public services are exploding in anonymous weblogs." Link is here and will open in a new window.

Monday Sep 13, 2004

In Sun Services, it's yours, mine AND ours

Recently, I've been following an email thread circulating among my tech support colleagues. The subject is an LDAP issue that is turning out to be quite a bear. Most of the LDAP issues customer call in with can be very involved, but that's not the point here.

What struck me was something else.

It's typical when a colleague has a customer with a tough issue for them to send an email around via our internal list with a short description of the problem, the steps taken, the errors produced and so forth and ask for suggestions. Others on the list will send out what help they can and often take the time to describe a similar problem they encountered and how they fixed it. It's just one way we get answers and solve problems.

As I read through the responses to this LDAP question-du-jour, I suddenly realized how we take ownership of not just problem, but the people. All the "here's what fixed it . . ." responses usually include the phrase "my customer did (some action)" or "we found this patch helped" (we meaning the customer and the support engineer). Even in our face-to-face or phone discussions amongst ourselves, we tend to make the same references.

A cynical person would say it's simply a shorthand for "the customer I was working with" or "the customer who me called yesterday" and that's true. I contend that it is more than that. When you call in for help and reach me (or one of my colleagues), you become MY customer and the issue you have is OURS and WE will solve it together.


Making the net work, because the network IS the computer!


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