Thursday, 23 November 2006

Tomorrow is Black Friday - the "busiest shopping day of the year" they say (although some may argue otherwise). Certainly there are many early-bird deals to be had and the people can get out of control.

So - where to shop for Black Friday? How to find the deals? Well, certainly your Sunday newspaper is an important place to start, but for those who are Internet-oriented, check out Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com, where you can get some more great deals both online (many of which are already available early) and in person.

If you're planning to shop for the specials, this is a great place to use:

http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/

For current online deals, check this address:

http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/online.php

Also - Do you have last minute questions about Black Friday? Give GottaDeal.com a call anytime at 415-287-3325 (415-287-DEAL) and they'll be happy to help you out. Note that long distance charges may apply.



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Thursday, 23 November 2006 14:24:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Not too terribly long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of taking on an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your mind is pretty much where you'll end up, and for the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of 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 time is often too short, there are so many thing in life for which I am grateful and give thanks. Even the stuff I've screwed up.

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

Sometimes we learn and grow quickly, other times a little too slowly. I still make mistakes. Lots of them. Especially this year, as I have just recently begun realizing. Fear is a great motivator, one that can be leveraged for good or bad. Best to try for good.

But this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. Gratitude.

I am thankful for my friends, my family, my good job, my home, my cat and dog, and the many years I had to spend with my dog Buddy, who died earlier in the year. I am grateful for surgeons and the people in my life who cared enough to stop their lives and take care of me when I was truly in need. I sometimes wish I was better to those who were so good to me. But I do appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

I'm especially thankful that my friend Matthew, who had brain surgery on Monday this week, is already home and doing well. And I am thankful for the great food we'll be eating at their house in a couple hours, heh.

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

Finally, I am grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future, whatever they may be. As they say, "with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.



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Thursday, 23 November 2006 14:19:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 25 October 2006

My friend Scott loaned me his XM Satellite Radio for my recent road trip to Minnesota and back (2,000+ miles each direction). Wow. Way Cool.

Nothing makes a long, long drive half way across the country and back bearable like non-stop stand up comedy and 70's era music that just plays all the way across the country. Throw in some CNN, BBC and a little FOX News for balance and let's just say it's a great way to travel.

I went to Minnesota last week to help a friend move, among other things. It's been that and weddings (lots of weddings) recently. The satellite radio - combined with a pair of GMRS handie talkies - made for an enjoyable journey back to Oregon. If you ever drive across the country and your travel companion is in another car, take a pair of 10-mile radios with you and get off Channel 1. You'll be glad you did.

Anyhow - back to the XM radio. This was (believe it or not) my first experience using a satellite radio unit. I've looked at them before, but honestly I have never really liked the form factor of the receivers. On this trip I used the built in FM transmitter to get the audio out of the receiver and over my audio system, since I don't have a cassette player in my car. I wish they could make the transmitters a bit more powerful since I had to change the FM channel on my car radio periodically whenever the frequency selected was in use by a local radio station (too bad there's not a frequency set aside and used for low power in-car type transmitters). But that's really just nit-picking. I guess if I was constantly listening to XM or a similar service in Portland all the time, I'd get frustrated with the FM transmitter since the stations are so many and since they bleed out of band so badly in some cases. But for a cross-country trip it was pretty cool.

I like the ability to take the radio from one car to another, so although built-in receivers would obviate the need for a low power transmitter, that's not really what I'd want.

I noticed that some channels have considerably better fidelity - a compression-related effect, I am sure - than did others. I have been told that XM started compressing a lot of programming pretty heavily early this year, and that Sirius has better audio quality. Anyone done some detailed listening comparisons? I've not yet listened to the Sirius broadcasts, so I cannot compare myself. I know there are differences in programming, as well as a significant overlap in the core channels. Too bad Sirius doesn't have the "decades" channels. I liked those a lot.

Do you use XM or Sirius satellite radio? What do you think and how well does it work for you?



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Wednesday, 25 October 2006 13:30:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 24 October 2006

I just finished reading For One More Day, the latest book by Mitch Albom, on flight from Providence. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone. Everyone, in fact.

Albom has a way of writing things that hit life's most important nails right on the head, whether fact or fiction. His Tuesdays with Morrie had some great life lessons, and the Five People You Meet in Heaven was also a terrific story that will make a person think.

For One More Day takes the premise that many - probably most - of us have lost loved ones and had things left unsaid, unasked and unanswered. Unfulfilled and unresolved at times. The book asks the question, "What if you had one more day with that person?"

And from there builds the story. An important and emotional one that the majority of us can almost certainly relate to, each in our own unique ways.

There are people who have gone before me, one or two in particular who - if I am being completely honest - I would have questions for, things to say to them, and answers to provide. I know that can never happen, but Albom's journey in this story lets us process some of those conflicted feelings - including guilt, loss, despair, happiness and others - that can tear at our souls from time to time.

Read For One More Day. Take the lessons and apply them in your life today. I can say that after losing someone so close to me a few years ago, I have tried to do some of that, and this story simply reaffirms the importance of doing so all the more.



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Tuesday, 24 October 2006 09:55:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you happen to be looking for me over the next month or so and can't find me, don't panic or anything. It's probably because I'm not around. Seems to have been that way for the past several months now. Not much is changing in that regard. Anyhow, I'll be all over the place for next next while...

I've was gone on a (great) trip to Minnesota and back for more than a week until this past Friday, and then was back home for two nights, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then I was back on the road again, at the Marriott in Newport, Rhode Island (nice hotel) where I was speaking Monday at a conference on the topic of multifactor authentication and security. Then I flew whirlwind-style back home Monday night. Next I'm off to New Mexico on Wednesday for a work meeting, and back home late Thursday night and off again to Europe on Saturday very early in the morning. Hopefully on Friday I can work from home a little and then get ready for the Europe trip.

The European jaunt is a couple weeks long and will include Vienna, Austria as well as visits to a variety of places in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy for a week plus a couple days of vacation time, before I have to be back in Austria for a few days of work stuff.

When I get back from there, it'll be just two or three days back at home, then I'm off to Las Vegas for a few days (again for work). And - if all goes as planned - after that I can stay home for a while. I sure hope so, anyhow.

So, there ya go. If you work with me you'll probably hardly see me until mid-November (sorry). I guess that's why we have cell phones, though.

For those that are wondering where all the tech posts went, I've been wondering the same thing. I'll try to get back to them again. I guess I have been a bit burned out lately on technology stuff, but it's not gone from my mind.



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Tuesday, 24 October 2006 09:52:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 22 October 2006

Today was not my coffee day.

First of all, I got one halfway decent cup of coffee all day, and that was the one at the filling station on Industrial Ave in Longview Washington at about 6:30 a.m. on the way to the airport. I drank less than a quarter of that and left it in the truck when my friend dropped me off for my flight.

My next cup was on the plane, the first one that is. As the flight attendant handed me the filled-to-the-rim styro cup, we hit a bump and the hot coffee splashed all over me  in 14B and the nice, attractive woman sitting in 14A (note: reference edited because I realized I found it slightly distasteful myself upon re-reading...). Just my luck. It provided an opportunity for me to apologize several times, but that's not exactly the optimal way to get to know someone. Plus it was strong coffee, so I am sure that coffee-soaked clothing smell was just wonderful for her. Ugh. When offered coffee later on the flight I turned it down. I couldn't bear the idea of a second assault on my seat neighbor.

I got to Chicago and had an hour-and-a-half to wait for the next flight to Providence, so I went to the Red Carpet Club to get online, check a few emails, grab some snakes, and put down a safe cup of coffee sans-turbulence.

Someone had procured the little floor table near the chair I sat in, so I set the coffee on the arm rest and stated watching the Pittsburgh/Atlanta football game. It was fourth quarter and tied up - deja vu kind of situation. Anyhow, I ate my snacks, reached to pick up the garbage, and knocked my coffee straight into the leather chair I was sitting in. The cup dumped its contents right between me and the arm rest. Wonderful, I thought. Then I realized I was sitting in hot coffee and jumped. The lady across from me cringed. Well, at least she didn't laugh.

After that, I gave up on coffee for the rest of the day. OJ only for me. Until tomorrow, that is.



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Sunday, 22 October 2006 18:07:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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