Saturday, December 05, 2009

I have had (SORRY - ALL GONE!) two Google Voice account invitations for anyone who wants one. First come, first served.

If you want to know what Google Voice is, check out their videos that do a good job of describing what it does and how it works here. For now it's available by invitation only, so you can either get one from someone who has extras, or you can sign up for an invitation from Google at this link.

I'll update this post when t The invites have all been taken. I'll post again if and when I have any more available.



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Tech
Saturday, December 05, 2009 10:55:05 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, November 26, 2009

I spent the afternoon and the better part of the evening with my friend Dave the other day. We're close friends of ten years, both pilots and generally good buddies. We spent the day keeping each other company and - although we only briefly spoke about it - supporting each other through the anniversary of a difficult, life-changing day. It's so hard to believe it's actually been ten years - Both an eternity and a blink of the eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same.

Life can make remembering the good stuff difficult, if we let it. My son died suddenly the day before Thanksgiving so many years ago. He was 15 years old, and Dave was his good friend in high school. While much has happened and changed in both our lives in the intervening time, there's a slice of us that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while others kept on moving along. We both miss Brian, but we're also thankful for the times we had together.

So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me - one with mixed and conflicting feelings. Every year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what this holiday is all about and to reflect on all the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I accomplish that is by writing and re-writing these words annually, adding to them and making them paint a picture of life at the time. I do this partly for me, and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way and just happen to run across this. So in some ways I'm repeating myself here, but that's what it's all about really - to keep looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed or angry about what you don't have - is a good thing. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of different things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too-short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks.

So, ultimately this message is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude. So let's get to that.

This has been an amazing year for me. So much has changed in my life. I am thankful for Laura, my new and amazing wife who somehow understands me and has truly changed my world for the better. And for Megan, Nick and Sam, three of the greatest kids one could possibly hope for. I only hope I can be what they need me to be. They mean so much to me and I love them all very much.

I am also grateful for our many terrific friends, my (now much larger) extended family, my job, our home, my goofy dog, and now another goofy dog. I'm thankful for flying and wakeboarding and skiing and concerts and so many special things we get to experience. I'm grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body a few years ago and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold and help me when I needed it. I often wish I was better toward those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to both give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

There are many, many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more more worthy of their qualities.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to happen just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of hurrying to get from here to there every day it can be easy to forget, so a little reminder never hurt anyone.

I'm grateful for my life - all of it. The people in it, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, and for all the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been lost and found again. Even though I'm not sure how or why, I think I've come out of it all at least a little bit better of a person. At least I hope so. Our experiences and what we do with them when he times get tough make us who we are. I've been very fortunate in so many ways, and am truly thankful for that.

As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.

Happy Thanksgiving.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Thursday, November 26, 2009 9:47:19 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The other day I went flying in the plane with my friend Dave. We went a few places, including the avionics shop at Aurora and an early dinner at the Mulino Hangar cafe. Then we flew around Mt. Hood as the sun was going down. It was a calm, clear and beautiful day, much improved over the recent rains. You could see all the mountains clearly, from Sisters and Jefferson to the south, to Adams and St. Helens to the north, and even all the way up to Mt. Rainier, clear as a bell. We climbed up to about 10,000 feet and I steered the aircraft while Dave took a few pictures.

Hood3 Hood1 Hood2



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Photography | Random Stuff
Thursday, November 26, 2009 9:40:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, September 25, 2009

One of the upcoming online summits at BrightTalk is the Cloud Security Summit, which consists of a bunch of web conferences on September 30th.

You can visit the summit overview and schedule page here.

Lots of topics around security, legal issues and compliance in the context of cloud computing. Good stuff. Recently on RunAs Radio we have have had a couple discussions where cloud computing came up, too.



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IT Security | Tech
Friday, September 25, 2009 4:36:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, September 06, 2009

I've been asked/directed to figure out a good, friendly, reliable and especially non-geek-usable way to do shared calendars where everything just works. If you have any bright ideas let me know. Here is what I have come up with and am thinking about so far:

  • Google Calendars on a new Google Apps domain - I have already acquired and set up a custom domain (ourfamily.cc) so we can have individual and shared calendars, docs, email, chat etc. in that environment. We want to share calendar details with each other, not the whole world.
  • My other calendars at greghughes.net - I have this hodge-podge of Hosted Exchange and Google Apps Calendars on this domain. I will need to find a good way to sync and share the info without sharing it to everyone.
  • Work calendar(s) - Typically on Exchange and accessed via Outlook, and I need to share only the free/busy data, and only for certain item categories to be appropriately security-conscious.
  • TripIt calendar(s) - for travel arrangements, keeps things automagical and simple. Want to incorporate those.
  • Access via Mac (iCal or Entourage), PC (Outlook), mobile phone (Android and iPhone) and via the web (Google Apps), with all the info always synced and up-to-date.
Tall order? Might be, but it seems to me this is they way it should be, so it's what I expect: Any device, anywhere, any calendar, always in sync, full authorization control over sharing and updating, no worries, no hassle, and easy for non-IT folks.

I've read over my friend Scott Hanselman's notes about how he has set up his system for similar needs, but that post is about a year old and he refers to some unnamed, secret-sounding plugins so I will need to touch base with him and see what he knows and thinks. In the podcast he and Carl Franklin recorded on the subject back in 2007, Scott noted "the fact that it's no trivial task and I struggled with it speaks to the state of Internet calendars in general." Surely things must have improved since then.

And then there's this blog post. Wow, uber-geekness.

I've used Google Calendar Sync before, but the laptop it ran on has since taken a long dive off a cliff and is no longer with us. I think I probably need to check out SyncMyCal, as it would allow me to be more granular than with Google's app. A comparison with Google Calendar Sync is here.

Someone really should write a tool that does all this or all of us, cross-platform, and make it all Automagical (tm). Anyone want to partner on a project?

What's worked for you? Anything? Let me know!



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Tech
Sunday, September 06, 2009 8:06:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, August 29, 2009

I’m an Exchange 2007 user. It’s terrific, works great and is truly the standard by which others are judged when it comes to business email, calendaring, contacts and other key business productivity features.

Being both a Mac and a PC guy, I’ve been the tester, owner and user of a variety of different applications to interface to Exchange. Outlook 2007 on the PC is a pretty obvious choice, and again it’s a standard by which others are often judged. But on the Mac I have been using Entourage for some time, with mixed opinion and results. It’s a good attempt at filling the gap left by the fact that there is no Outlook for the Mac, but it lacks in both features and stability.

However, on this fin gray Saturday morning I find myself once again examining the world of Exchange and the Mac. As I type this my Mac is going through the upgrade process and transforming itself into a Snow Leopard (OSX v10.6) machine. I’ve also downloaded the Entourage Web Services Edition upgrade from Microsoft, which is waiting on the Mac hard drive to install after the OS upgrade is completed.

My plan here is to set up and run under the new native-Exchange 2007 support in OSX Snow Leopard while at the same time checking out the new Entourage Web Services Edition features.

I should also note that earlier this month, Microsoft announced it will be releasing (finally!) a new Outlook client for the Mac in 2010. The expected “too late” crowd has been chiming in with their opinions, but in The Real World, where people older than 13 years actually make decisions about buying software for business use, this may be a big deal. It’s at least somewhat inevitable that Macs will become more common in the workplace, and the need for a consistent collaboration and productivity platform will full-fidelity, complete feature sets across OS platforms is critical to making business work.

I’ll post more details and thoughts once I get some of the setup and comparisons done over the next couple days. Meanwhile, I need to get packing some more cardboard boxes here at home so I can load them up… For anyone who might have noticed I have been absent from writing here, I am in the process of selling my house and will be getting married in October, so my world is a bit busy these days. But I am not gone. :)



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Apple | Tech | Windows
Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:38:35 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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