Thursday, November 11, 2004

I'm feeling a bit put-off today. And a little sarcastic, I admit that freely. But there's a reason...

I just don't get why it is that sales people will make cold calls, leave a long, run-on message that they're obviously reading from a note card or computer screen, and then when they leave their phone number, speak so damn fast you can't catch the freakin' numbers.

Then, of course, comes the obligatory indignant follow-up call a couple weeks later, going something like, “I've been trying to reach you and left you a voice mail, but have not heard back from you, so please call me as soon as possible at one-eighthundred-fourtwofishevyumaevablahblahblah.

Ugh.

Look, sales guys, here's the deal.

Leave me a short but meaningful message that includes the purpose of your call, and when you leave your phone number, please speak slowly and clearly. DO NOT go on and on espousing crap like synergy, top-100 blah blah, value-added yada yada and the same crap every other poor sales person drones on and on about. Just tell me why you're calling and what you really want to talk to me about.

Don't expect me to call you back. Believe it or not, I have plenty of other things to do, and believe it or not, those things are almost always more important than speaking to every vendor that cold-calls me.

If I am interested, I will call you back, If I am not, I won't. If you slurred or raced through your phone number, then obviously I won't. Don't take it personally. And don't expect me to listen to a two-minute voice mail full of buzzwords a second and third time just so I can try to decipher that slurred phone number you left at the very end.

And whatever you do, don't get me on the phone and act indignant because I have not returned your cold call. It's one of a hundred I got this week, and your indignant disposition will earn you a “don't call me again.”

Thank you in advance. I appreciate your time and value our relationship. Hope to speak to you soon.



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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Thursday, November 11, 2004 3:58:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I recently posted maps showing both state-by-state and county-by-county red/blue maps. The validity of the maps was challenged by a reader in the comments for the post. While I don't exactly agree with the position the reader took, I did comment that it would be interesting to see results not in bipolar red and blue, but in varying shared of purple, the result of mixing red and blue in varying amounts to show the distribution of the votes.

Well here we go - lots of additional maps from Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan, purple variation maps from Robert Vanderbrei, and a cool 3D map from GIS/CBS News. Here's an animation of the 2004 vs. 2000 vote distribution - click it to get to the full-size image.



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Random Stuff
Wednesday, November 10, 2004 11:19:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, November 08, 2004

The one where I try to sound smart, but really just make a fool of myself in the process. But if I learn something new, it's all good.

I'm just a glutton for punishment, so it's not too unusual that I would attend a developers' evening conference event put on by Microsoft about development for mobile devices, regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) the fact that I am most definitely not a developer.

That said, don't use anything I write here for anything real. Don't quote me or anything. Please. This information is all wrong, I can pretty much guarantee it. This is just an attempt on my part to see how much I can learn in three hours, in an area where I easily get lost.

But I mean hey, I keep seeing these techie developer-like guys writing two lines of code at most in these sessions and how they just magically make things work, shazam!, so I figure even a guy like me should eventually be able to figure this stuff out, at least sort of. Enough to create something useless but functional, at any rate.

Because secretly I sometimes wish I was a developer. I long to make things. New things. Different things.

I just want to create.

So here I am, seeing if I can learn any of this stuff. And I am finding - as usual - that its kinda cool.

Windows Mobile development random thoughts (or maybe this is just a cheap excuse to use bulleted lists):

  • Design applications assuming your app will need to rotate portrait>landscape>back again.
  • Screen dimensions - be flexible here and include hi-res resources for VGA quality screens in the future (use higher res to improve quality, not so much for more real estate).
  • Emulators are cool - deploy, test on a software phone or Pocket PC.
  • VS.net will compile and deploy x86 executables to emulators, and ARM compliant code to the real devices. In the future the emulators will emulate ARM chip-sets.

Ok, so this dude just wrote 2 lines of code and made an app that collects a ticker symbol from the user, calls a web service and returns the current price. Two lines of code. Cool. The term code-behind probably relates to this. But I'm not a developer, so I am guessing here.

Look Mom - TWO LINES! Neat.

Idea: Have special evening sessions just for non-developers, where you teach them to develop cool simple stuff. People like me, whose brains are a little older and slower, but who desperately want to be a cool nerd (like that makes sense) and create things. Seriously. I'd go to every one of those events. No real nerds allowed, unless they are teaching (sorry to all my developer friends - I need someone to work at my pace heheh). Target guys like me, who really want to learn, the ones who spend the money. Focus on making something simple, cool and complete. Let me create something, let me feel like I understanding these guys that work for me and around me. Help me grok your world. Let me create something that works, something that when we're done is all mine and does something - hey, anything - useful.

Okay - back to the session...

Ahhhh here we go - demos. I like it when I can see something created and then working. :-)

Tipper is a little program someone wrote that helps you figure out how much of a tip to leave. Cool, especially for foreigners who may not be accustomed to the tipping stuff.

  • Windows forms and controls - I think I know what this all means... Looks like there are some controls not available in the mobile framework, which makes sense, since it's a more limited memory space and less-powerful hardware.
  • Networking - looks like you don't have to understand HTTP in order to use it. Something about streaming and stuff that escapes me. Okay, it's actually way over my head, but "escapes" sounds cool.
  • Data - XML or SQL Server CE for storage, depending on type, amount and size of data (SQL for bigger/more I guess). Web services for data exchange. SQL Mobile 2005 will be a cool enhancement with all kinds of new stuff like data grids and binding and stuff. Make SQL CE development easier. Not require you to use a SQL CE device to develop a database. Nice.
  • XML Parsing - XmlTextReader and XmlTextWriter parse a doc, but with no in-memory caching. XmlDocument lets you parse a complete document at once and traverse it in memory.
  • ADO.NET - Uhhh, yeah. Way over my head. Heh.
  • Web Services - This I get. Sort of. more so than ADO.net anyhow heh... XML web services, both basic and digest authentication. SSL encryption support here, too. SOAP stuff. Clean is good, right?

More demos... A news reader that goes out and reads RSS feeds - now that's a cool one. Thom Robbins wrote this and some of the other demos. The news reader and others can even be downloaded from his blog, here.

Hmmmm Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Cool - that should be interesting...

There was an interesting presentation about the future of the compact framework and Windows Mobile, and there will be positive changes in VS.NET 2005 for the new version, too. Life becomes friendlier and easier for the mobile developer.

Microsoft Location Server - lets your application find itself or other apps. Real time location information integrated with MapPoint technology. Very, very cool. Hosted by your company, not Microsoft, which is even cooler.

Ok, I am prety close to brain dead now, and I need to save a few brain cells for my trip to buy Halo at 12:01am. Cool stuff here. I have no idea what I am talking about, really, but I do feel smarter, so that's good. :-)

Thanks to Bliz for the heads-up and invite.



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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Monday, November 08, 2004 8:29:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Fredrik at corporateblogging.info has created a Corporate Blogging Primer, in which he has organized much of his sites content into a single PDF document that can be easily read and used for, well, whatvever you need it for. I think it's kind of funny to consense a blogging primer into a PDF file, but I can see the purpose in the corporate world - it's just not quite a dogfood thing to do is all. :-)

His definition of a corporate blog?

"A corporate blog is a blog published by or with the support of an organization to reach that organization's goals."

It's pretty well done. The contents include:

  • Corporate Blog—A Definition
  • The Nature of Blogs
  • Reasons for Corporate Blogging
  • Six Types of Corporate Blogs
  • Read Blogs
  • Publish Blogs
  • 14 Steps to Your Business Blog
  • What Corporate Bloggers Say
  • Testimonials
  • More corporate blogs
  • Blogs to read
  • About & Copyright

Get the free PDF file from here.

Of course, you should always check out other resources as well, like Robert's Corporate Weblog Manifesto for one, if you are thinking about blogging in the business world. Remember that a teeny-tiny bit of good, reasonable, simple forethought and planning can make blogging a very positive and useful thing for business.



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Blogging
Monday, November 08, 2004 7:52:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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It was so cool to see the Northern Lights for the first time. Like fast waves of light rolling and tumbling  from the horizon, up over your head. The light went well past straight overhead from where it started in the north. There were some light clouds near the horizon, but the greenish glow reached far above them. I took these 20-second exposures with my Nikon D70, propped carefully on the hood of my car and rested on my arm, since I didn't have a tripod with me. The location is near my house in Deer Island, Oregon.



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Photography | Random Stuff
Monday, November 08, 2004 12:41:24 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, November 07, 2004

I'm seeing something right now that I have never seen before in my life. Coronal Mass Ejections are lighting up the night sky with these incredible rolling waves of Northern Lights. It's amazing. One more reason for my list of why its good to live out in the sticks. Trying to get pictures, too. Wow, so cool...

From spaceweather.com:

More auroras are possible on Nov. 8th and 9th when a pair of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are due to hit Earth's magnetic field. The CMEs were hurled in our direction by weekend explosions near sunspot 696: an M7-class solar flare on Nov. 6th (0030 UT) and an X1-flare on Nov. 7th (1605 UT).

This is so great - I have always wanted to see these!

And this from NOAA:


This plot shows the current extent and position of the auroral oval in the northern hemisphere, extrapolated from measurements taken during the most recent polar pass of the NOAA POES satellite.

Thanks to Doc Searls for the links, and unabashedly to Art Bell on the radio who made me stop and look while I was driving home with a very brief mention on the radio.

I got a couple pictures - going to see how they turned out.



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Random Stuff
Sunday, November 07, 2004 11:57:37 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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