Musings of a rugby-obsessed tech guru. Let's solve some digital drama!

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Random thought of the evening…

Everywhere I look, I see people assuming instead of learning; I see people demanding instead of understanding; and, ultimately, I see people wanting instead of realizing.

When you break it down, the only thing everyone wants is the right to be comfortable: freedom from all things that negatively affect one’s own life. And that’s okay! You do have that right.

What’s not okay, however, is perpetuating the cycle of ignorance, entitlement and resentment that, quite frankly, we’re oblivious to inside our own homes and borders–“Out of sight, out of mind.” Is that it?

It’s been my experience that a majority of people tend to be more reactive instead of proactive. Reactive people, when faced with a situation, will either “assume,” “demand,” or “want” without any regard to consequences that come as a result. Proactive people, when faced with said situation, will “learn,” “understand” and “realize” what they’re doing before deciding what to do next.

If everyone, everywhere, made an effort to be more proactive instead of reactive I’m almost certain things would be better.

“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves.” -Romans 15:1 NLT

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Revelations After A 7-Day Digital Detox

Digital Detoxing

All last week I underwent what has come to be known as a “digital detox.” If you’re unfamiliar with the concept it is commonly understood as being a set period of time during which an individual “unplugs” from, or avoids using, all of their electrical devices, particularly those with Internet capabilities (Sharpsteen, 2012). While there are a variety of reasons why some people choose to detox digitally, all of them start, first, with the individual. What forced me to undergo the detox was a variety of reasons but mainly due to (a) my passion being computers and technology and (b) the fact that everything I was doing (e.g., maintaining userstyles, mastering JavaScript, keeping up with social networks, etc.) was beginning to feel “stale,” aka I was entering the first stages of burnout. Being that my goal is to one day work at Google or Apple, I needed to implement a proper “digital regiment” of sorts.

Limiting Web Access

It’s been stated, just like with smokers, that going “cold turkey” is not wise and that you should gradually detox by taking small steps (Scripps Howard News Service, 2012). That may be true for most users but if you’re like me–diagnosed with AD/HD–and you find that you spend more than 3/4 of your day on the Net, I recommend a more aggressive yet comparable approach. During my detox week, I was only allowed to access the Net once per day for no more than one hour and I could only use my phone: an outdated iPhone 3G. Additionally, I couldn’t use any apps that required 3G or Internet connectivity (essentially, all of them which is why I didn’t respond to any messages that were sent to me last week). Sorry, friends! But wait! There’s one last thing! I also chose to cut myself off from live TV as I was finding my addiction to ESPN becoming a little too strong. The only forms of entertainment I was allowed to have were books, DVDs and my acoustic guitar. Nothing more, nothing less. Did I expect it to be hard? Yes. Was I ready for what I’d discover? Not in the least bit!

Day 1: Nice Break

I must admit, the first day went rather smooth! Being that I had just spent the previous day/night online, it was nice to get away. I watched some movies that I had not seen in a while and I started reading the book my mom gave me for Christmas, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Days 2-4: How Did I Have Fun Before the Internet?

By the second day I began to notice the urge to want to get online and do the usual (e.g., Gmail, Facebook, Twitter) and catch up on rugby news–the RBS Six Nations Championship is currently underway (as of when I wrote this) and, aside from our USA Eagles rugby team, I’m a loyal Irish Rugby fan, year-round! Anyway, back to what I was saying…

Aside from the urge to want to get back online, I noticed that I found myself pacing because of how bored I was. Remember, I couldn’t watch TV, I had to wait until 2pm before I could enjoy my 1 hour of Internet on my phone and I had nothing to do…or so I thought. It was then that the thought of watching a DVD seemed enticing but even that felt unappealing because I had seen all the DVDs I own countless times. I figured there was no better choice that the Metallica documentary, Some Kind of Monster.

As I watched the DVD I found that my love for the band, while it had always been there, hadn’t felt this prevalent like in recent years. As this deep journey that the “Biggest Band in the World” was going through unfolded, I found myself wanting to learn even more about them. So, when the DVD was over, I decided to continue with another Metallica DVD, A Year and a Half in the Life of…, the documentary they made while recording and touring on The Black Album. This DVD was the catalyst for what lead me to re-discover a lost passion during my digital detox.

A Lost Passion Re-Discovered

I have been a guitar player since the age of 15. To this day, whenever I hear a song by one of my favorite bands, I don’t just hear the music, I listen to the music: the individual notes that make up the entire song. The urge to pick up my guitar to see if I can play it by ear has always been prevalent but not as much as in recent years. On that day, it was a welcomed urgency! Once I started playing, my love for my guitar felt stronger than it had ever seemed in recent years! I did not stop practicing/playing for the next 4 hours! By then, my 1 hour of Internet was underway.

After checking Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and catching up on rugby news, it was time to turn my phone off and return to my unplugged way of life for the next 24 hours until I could use the Internet again. That would be my routine for 5 more days.

By day 4, while the anxiety was building it was also quite manageable thanks largely to having my acoustic guitar with me! Another thing that really helped was that I had really begun to get into the book, Steve Jobs. I was flying through the chapters! Even crazier was the fact that I could recall everything that lead up to where I had read…and I have AD/HD! It could’ve been due to the book being the closest I was going to get to using my computer or perhaps it was learning about the “pirates of Silicon Valley?” Regardless, once I settled into it I couldn’t put it down! While I won’t go into detail about the book, I will say the following:

  • Did Steve Jobs use profanity like it was going out of style?  F— yes.
  • Did Steve Jobs exemplify “brutal honesty?” As he put it, “My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it” (Isaacson, p. 564, 2011).
  • Did Steve Jobs really take LSD? Yes. He referred to taking it as a “profound moment” and “one of the most important things in [his] life” (Isaacson, p. 41, 2011).
  • Was he anti-PowerPoint presentations? As he put it, “People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint” (Isaacson, p. 337, 2011).
  • How did he accomplish the impossible with Apple? Intuition. As he said, “Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page” (Isaacson, p. 567, 2011).

Days 5-7: Feeling Unplugged

By day 5, I finally felt “unplugged!” The urge to get on the Internet or look at my phone nowhere near as strong as it was on day 3. Instead, the urge was more to finish reading all 630 pages of Steve Jobs. I had started the book only a few days earlier but I was determined to finished it before the week was up. Sure enough, I did it! After reading this book, I can honestly say that I walked away with a much greater understanding of how Steve Jobs was able to make the impossible possible! What’s crazy is that it is so logical and easy to understand! How did he do it? Read the book and you’ll find out! 😀 While I don’t agree with everything that he did, the one thing I do share with him is a deep belief in doing something because of your love for it, never the money you can make because of it! Regardless of how you view Steve Jobs, all I can say is that when I look at our society, it’s becoming even more rare nowadays to find a leader motivated by love and not money.

Final Thoughts

Re-discovering your lost passions coupled with an old-school past-time (in my case, reading) are what I found to be most vital for a successful digital detox! Not only did I really learn on how to make good use of my time, I also feel incredibly rejuvenated and can’t wait to get back to doing all of my online projects again! The signs of burnout are gone and the motivation is back at full-throttle! I will admit that although it can be quite difficult to step away from the keyboard or close your laptop and leave it alone for 7 days, the amount of energy and excitement you build during your time away not only leaves you feeling good, it also leaves you feeling productive! To top it off, you will now have a variety of things you’ll want to do that don’t involve the computer or the Internet! For those of us whose dreams/future careers involve the IT industry, or if you’re already living the dream, a digital detox is absolutely crucial for a stable career and lifestyle! I’m already working on ways to minimize my digital use in my daily life and I can’t wait to start! I strongly encourage anyone out there reading this to set aside just one week and give it a shot. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. TRUST ME ON THAT!

References

Building a Website (Sort of), Part II: Domain Name

One of the best WordPress features that makes building a website so simple is how easy it is to purchase your own domain name!

Right from the dashboard, in the left-hand column, locate the section labeled, Store, and click on the Store link.

From there, you are taken to the main store page. The section you are going to choose happens to be the very first one listed: Add a Domain.

When you click on the actual Add a Domain link, you will see the image (below) as a popup. From here, all you have to do is type in the domain you want for your WordPress site (e.g. daveyjacobson.com, digitalduck.com, yourblogname.com, etc.) and click the Add domain to blog button.

If you’ve ever purchased an item online, then you already know how the checkout process works: Name, Address, Billing Info, etc. If you’ve never purchased anything online, WordPress makes the process easier than words can describe! And at $25 per year, you are able to manage your blog, securely, without having to do any of the major “techy” stuff! The only technical knowledge required on your end is deciding which pictures, videos or topic do you want to post on your site!

To be continued…

Building a Website (Sort of), Part I: Intro

“…be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

–2 Chronicles 15:7 NKJV

This post will be the first in ongoing series about the trials, tribulations, accomplishments, and feats that go along with setting up a website. Thankfully, WordPress will be handling the hard part (hence the “Sort of” reference in the title of this post). That is unless the clientele decide to set up their own server which is for an entirely different post altogether!

THE SITUATION
Normally I wouldn’t be so apt to getting personal on this blog but for the situation I am currently in, I feel there’s no better time than now! Recently, a dear friend of mine from college (he’s actually one of my fraternity brothers) approached and asked me to setup a website for his dad’s company. Of course I told him that I would gladly help…and it is here where things get interesting. My friend and his dad have given me full control in the complete design, layout and presentation of the website!

THE REALIZATION
This is both an amazing and nerve-racking opportunity because I have never built, designed and managed a domain for someone else! While I’m not exactly sure what to expect, it is very humbling to know that my friend and his dad trust in my ability as much as they do!

THE PLAN OF ACTION
Being that I subscribe to an ever expanding list of blogs that discuss the current trends in web design and UX (i.e., “user experience”), my Google Reader is going to become my best friend (again)! The only question I’m left to answer now is, “How do I design a modern website for a company that provides geological and environmental services?”

To be continued…

Troubleshoot #1: Fixing Why Firefox Says, “This Connection is Untrusted,” On Every Site You Visit

Firefox users from time-to-time may see the above message. Now, depending on the website you are visiting, this message could serve as either a warning or an error. If you’re not sure which of the two it could be, the easiest way to get some kind of an idea is to look at your computer’s Time & Date settings. If you’re date and time are correct, interpret this as a warning and click on the “Get me out of here!” button. If you’re date and time are incorrect, this message is more likely due to an error with your system.

Why Does the Message Appear On Every Page?
This happens because according to your system, the certificate of the website you are trying to access is invalid. Before jumping to conclusion, have you recently reinstalled your computer’s operating system? If so, have you checked to make sure that your “Date & Time” settings are accurate? I ask this because the website you are trying to load is sending your computer a digital certificate which contains 2 important dates: a date of issuance, and expiration, both of which must be valid in order for you to view the page.

What Is The Digital Certificate?
Without getting too “nerdy” on you, whenever you go to a website, your computer requires verified, valid proof of the website’s identity. This is done using signed certificates sent directly from the website to your computer. It ensures that your personal information remains “your personal information,” and is most commonly used with websites whose address starts with https–usually requiring the user to log in with a username and password (“Public key certificate,” 2011).

Because your computer relies on its internal clock, if it is incorrectly set (whether by a minute, day, month, year, decade, etc.) while you’re trying to access a website, the certificate that is issued from the website, stamped with the correct date, is considered invalid because the computer can’t verify something whose date of issuance hasn’t systematically “happened,” or whose expiration date has already passed.

FOR WINDOWS USERS

MS Windows Date & Time Settings To fix your date and time settings, after you close Firefox completely…
(1) Double-click on the clock on the icon task tray in the bottom right of the screen. The window on the left will pop up.
(2) Adjust to match the current date and time, and click the OK button.
(3) After the date and time window is closed, launch Firefox and try opening one of the websites you visit regularly.
(4) If all goes accordingly, no more “Untrusted” message!
FOR MAC OS X USERS

Mac OS X Date & Time Preferences To fix your date and time preferences, after you quit Firefox…
(1) Click on the clock in top right of the screen and select Date & Time Preferences from the drop-down menu. The window on the left will pop up.
(2) Adjust the date and time to match the current date and time, then close the window.
(3) Launch Firefox and try opening one of the websites you visit regularly.
(4) If all goes accordingly, no more “Untrusted” message!

JUST A REMINDER: I cannot stress the importance of exercising caution and good judgment when browsing around on the Web! If you’re using a Windows-based system, hopefully you are aware of the signs of malware! According to the Journal of Information Systems Applied Research, one university’s technology support center found a total of 16,447 instances of malware on only 32 computers that were all brought in on the same day! Findings like that suggest a severe lack of awareness and understanding of the danger that spyware poses if not treated immediately (Hunsinger & Ward, 2010).

If you need any help on anything I’ve covered in this post, please feel free to ask!

REFERENCES
Public key certificate. (2011). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 13 June 2011, from https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Public_key_certificate

Hunsinger, D., & Ward, M. (2010). Spyware: What influences college students to use anti-spyware tool? Journal of Information Systems Applied Research, 3(4), 7. Retrieved from http://jisar.org/3/4.

Quick Fix #1: Ejecting a CD/DVD that Won’t Eject From Your Intel-Based Mac


In the event that you ever find yourself in a situation where there is a CD/DVD inside your Mac and you can’t eject it–i.e. the eject button on the keyboard isn’t working, the disc image isn’t on your desktop, or the disc isn’t recognized by your system–don’t panic! There is a quick and (beyond) simple solution to this dilemma…and it involves nothing more than your index finger and your mouse!

STEPS TO EJECT A STUCK CD/DVD
1. Save the items you are currently working on (e.g. documents, pics, music, videos, etc.).
2. Close all of the apps that are currently running on your desktop.
3. Click on the apple in the top-left corner and select Restart
4. Follow the restart procedure like normal.
IMPORTANT: Whenever you restart, there is always the split-second when the computer shuts off then turns back on.
5. During the off/on split-second or as soon as the computer begins to boot (before you even see the screen light up), click and hold your mouse down; DO NOT LET GO!!!
6. While continuing to click-hold the mouse down, the computer may take a minute or two longer to boot up. Do not worry, your Mac is responding to your startup command (e.g. click-holding your mouse.
7. If all goes accordingly, you should then hear and see your Mac eject the disc in question!

This is just one of a couple ways you can eject a disc that doesn’t want to cooperate. For a complete list of Intel-based Mac startup commands and a tons more, visit Apple’s online support page.

Lesson 1: Your Computer is NOT an Old TV

So depending on whether or not you own a television with cathode ray tubes (CRT) in it, you might recall a time when your TV was acting up: the v-hold was going crazy; you had “snow” all over the screen; or the video game you were playing suddenly went berserk and looked completely scrambled. What did we do to solve these problems? What else…slap the body of the TV! A few bumps here and there and we were back to our viewing pleasure!

Nowadays, the CRT TV is for the most part nonexistent. It’s now either LED screens, LCD screens or both that are found on almost all of today’s modern television sets. My how the times have changed! So what does this have to do with computers? Well if you’re like my last client–who happens to be a friend–you might need to be reminded of the lack of CRTs in today’s modern computer monitor and informed more-or-less on a few basic “Yes and Nos” when it comes to taking care of your computer.

So a friend of mine recently brought over his old HP zv5000 laptop because he needed me to fix it. He said that the display was acting up and he didn’t know why.

Upon removing the keyboard to see if the ZIF–zero insertion force–connector had a tear or something, it is here where I realized what the real culprit of the computer troubles was…the computer’s owner!

When I called him to find out what exactly caused his keyboard to have a dent, his response was simply, “Oh, those are from when I gave it a few chingazos,” which is Spanish for “hammerfists.”

Because of the many “chingazos” he’d given this thing, not just to the keyboard but also to the LCD monitor and everywhere else imaginable, he ended up fracturing his inverter board!

The inverter board relays information from the motherboard to the monitor so you can see what you’re doing on your computer.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that not only are computers expensive but also FRAGILE (like today’s modern TV). Unlike the CRT TVs many of us Generation-X kids grew up with, if your computer is relatively new, chances are it has an LED/LCD monitor–guaranteed to be on all of today’s modern laptops.

And because there are no CRTs in an LED/LCD display, a simple slap to the monitor WILL NOT solve your display issues…nor will it transfer you back to your Nintendo days of glory (but how cool would that be if it could? Just sayin’ :-D)

Ultimately, he decided to shell out over $600 for a brand new laptop. I’m praying that he exercises better judgement with this new computer. I mean, unless your come from a pretty well-off background, not everyone can shell out that much money on a moment’s notice…and pretty much we all rely on computers in one form or another.

Don’t be like my buddy and punch, slap, shake, and/or throw your computer! Sure you might feel a sense of stress relief to be short-lived by the fact that you destroyed something that cost you somewhere between $500-$1000+ depending on when you purchased it. If you want your computer to last–and function–well beyond its warranty, treat it with care for as long as you own it and DO NOT under any circumstances issue a chingazo! It can’t even defend itself!

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