Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.

27Sep/11

(About) 100 Things I Want to Do – In-Progress

This post is in progress! I want to actually come up with (nearly) 100 things, but I figured I've been sitting around 25 for so long that I need to just get it posted before much more time passes. I'm open to ideas of things to add though, so feel free to throw those in the comments!

So this post was inspired by Matt Todd’s 100(ish) Things post, which was itself inspired by Papa Joe’s 100 Things to Do Before I Die. I’ve always wanted to assemble a list like this, so that was the inspiration I needed! So here goes.

Oh, and a quick disclaimer. I don’t make any promises to actually do all of these, as I know many of them will be very difficult/expensive to make happen.

  1. Go to a Colts game (okay I’m starting small so I don’t get too discouraged, haha)
  2. Get out of the country (to visit, not to stay)
  3. Drive a Ferrari
  4. Drive on the Autobahn
  5. Drive on a race course (ideally road course, but I’ll take any)
  6. Attend a racing school (such as Skip Barber, Bondurant, etc.)
  7. Get another degree
  8. Attend a tactical training school (such as Firearms Academy of Seattle, ICE Training, etc.)
  9. Buy a new BMW (I’d name a model, but by then, who knows what the models will be exactly)
  10. Buy a new Audi (yes. I want both.)
  11. Get my private pilot’s license
  12. Learn to fly a helicopter
  13. Visit all 50 states (for more than just a drive-through)
  14. Quit my job and work for myself full-time
  15. Get my ham (amateur radio) license (KC9UQE on August 13, 2011, K6MJT on September 7, 2011)
  16. Attend all (5-7) games of a World Series, ideally in Anaheim and/or with the Angels in it
  17. Build a house from scratch (sure, with a bit of contractor help)
  18. Drift
  19. Win a year of food from any restaurant
  20. Attend the Rose Bowl Game
  21. Program a whole-house automation/management solution
  22. Storm chase (and actually see at least one tornado touchdown)
  23. Grow a legit beard
  24. Attend the Indianapolis 500 (May 24, 2009)
  25. Travel out of state for work (like just once, not as a regular gig)
  26. Participate in a ride-along
  27. Be one of the first 100 people in line for a Chick-fil-a grand opening and get free Chick-fil-a for a year so I can Eat Mor Chikin (Stolen from Matt, but I LOVE Chick-fil-A)
  28. Commute to work without a car
  29. Take a cross-country road trip without a car
  30. Play a reggae tune (with Sharlene Boodram?)
  31. See the aurora borealis in person
Open to more ideas! Please leave them in the comments!
Filed under: Personal 2 Comments
8Jun/11

Review of Google’s Cr-48 Chrome OS Pilot Program

Author’s Note:

This article was to be posted on another blog in March. Unfortunately, that never happened, so it is a bit out of date. (Most significantly, production models of the netbook have been announced; see my note on that below.) Nonetheless, I liked my review of the product, so I wanted to post it here anyway. Enjoy!

I won the lottery recently. Well not actually, but it sure felt like I did: I received one of Google’s Cr-48 Chrome OS laptops as a part of their pilot program. Though I applied back in December 2010, I had nearly forgotten about it altogether, having just assumed I wouldn’t be selected. But alas, there it sat at my doorstep. I couldn’t wait to play with it.

It came with this sticker in the box (I then added the gdgt and ThinkGeek stickers).
It came with this sticker in the box (I then added the gdgt and ThinkGeek stickers).

The Hardware – A Brandless Black Beauty

From a hardware standpoint, I’ll join the rest of the blogosphere in admitting that my first reaction – before even turning it on – was “wow this looks and feels a lot like the original black MacBook.” No wonder: it has a matte black finish, nicely separated “Chiclet” keys, a 12.1” display, a large touchpad (with built-in click ability, no separate button), and very few ports on the outside of the case: only VGA, USB, headphones, power, and SD card ports. One of each. Nothing more.

Just SD card, headphones, USB, and power ports here (with a power indicator light); VGA is on the other side.
Just SD card, headphones, USB, and power ports here (with a power indicator light); VGA is on the other side.

The real magic to the hardware, though, is the 16 GB SSD. The nature of a solid-state drive is that there are no moving parts. The physical movement of the read head and spinning platters of a typical hard drive is the biggest limitation to seek time and overall performance – the drive has to literally find the data on the drive before serving it up to the system. With an SSD, this seek time isn’t decreased, it’s eliminated. Thus, a complete system boot-up takes roughly 10 seconds. Ten. Seconds. Close the lid and it goes to sleep almost instantaneously, and it wakes just as quickly. It’s worth noting, of course, that even with 2 GB of RAM, actions on the web are still limited by bandwidth (a page will only load as fast as it can be downloaded and rendered, neither of which are primarily reliant on the hard drive) and processing speed (a high-definition movie on YouTube playing in Flash still puts a huge strain on the admittedly under-powered 1.66 GHz Atom N455 processor on board).

Three more quick comments on the hardware. First, it ships with a Bluetooth radio, but it is not yet activated in the current version of OS. Second, there is also a CDMA-enabled 3G broadband radio on board, and the pilot program comes with 2 years of (100 MB per month) Verizon Wireless broadband service included. Last, the removable battery is actually fairly sizeable, both in physical size and in capacity (63 Wh); I do see actual 7- or 8-hour performance out of it, running on WiFi (I haven’t really tested the battery much with the 3G yet, largely because I would likely empty my 100 MB usage long before the battery would run out!).

The Software – Chrome OS

This is the most intriguing part of this experiment, and it’s clearly the part that Google is interested in getting feedback on. I am no stranger to the Google Chrome browser, and I have it installed on all of my computers. However, I had never made it my primary browser; I have been a disciple of Mozilla Firefox for as long as I can remember. I’ve been tempted at times in the past to leave Firefox for Chrome, but my extensions in Firefox were reason enough to stay where I was comfortable, despite some of Chrome’s great features and speed.

My Cr-48 booting up.
My Cr-48 booting up.

But turning my Cr-48 on for the first time, I was introduced to a login screen for a Google Account. You cannot create an account on this computer without having a Google Account. Once I entered my login information, it immediately updated the computer’s bookmarks with my bookmarks (because they had been synced from one of my other computers using Google’s Chrome Sync). I had not previously used any Chrome extensions, so there was nothing to import, but reportedly it would have imported and activated my Chrome extensions as well. So there I was, staring at a Google Chrome browser. Or should I say I was looking at Google Chrome OS? Hard to decide; they are one-and-the-same. For example, the wrench menu in Chrome: on a desktop computer, that menu has an “Options” choice; in Chrome OS, it is instead called “Settings” and is the closest thing this computer has to a “Control Panel” or “System Preferences.” There are not many settings available here, but all the system settings you’d expect (such as Date and Time, Networks, Users, etc.) are available here, in addition to Chrome browser settings (ahem, Options) such as Basics, Personal Stuff, and Under the Hood.

That’s it! No other software to run whatsoever. You cannot minimize the browser, because the browser is the OS is the browser. To quit the browser (Ctrl-Shift-Q) is to log out of your account. It’s odd, but powerfully simple.

The Experience – I’m a Google Guy, in a Google World

Using a Chrome OS netbook such as this is definitely an experience best approached from the perspective of a diehard Google adherent. I suppose that you could say that I am just that: I use Gmail for personal email, I have a Google Apps account, I use a Google Nexus One phone (running Google’s Android OS of course), I manage all my calendars and contacts through Google, Google Reader is my RSS reader, and I use Google Documents. Even so, I had yet to make the actual switch to using Chrome full-time on my personal computers. However, the receipt of this Chrome OS netbook was all the encouragement I needed. From wanting to take advantage of Chrome Sync to simply wanting continuity in my day-to-day browsing, I took the plunge and relegated Firefox to backup duty only.

How significant is this? For me, it was only mildly impactful. Using Chrome is not an incredibly different experience from using Firefox. More importantly, I had already set Google as my default search engine in Firefox (and Internet Explorer, for that matter), so I was already sending all my queries to the Goog. So in that sense, my experience (and my daily contribution to their ad revenue) did not change considerably. However, I am not one of those people who searches Google for Facebook, but instead I use Ctrl-Enter to go straight to the site. Again, with Chrome, this is even one step easier (it auto-fills the www. and .com without even having to press Ctrl-Enter).

The Settings screen is concise and easy to use.
The Settings screen is concise and easy to use.

Chrome OS ships by default with a Search key in place of a Caps Lock key (though this is reconfigurable to Caps Lock). I’ll admit it’s not difficult to press Ctrl-T (to open a new tab) and then enter a search query, but it’s even easier (and still somewhat novel) to just punch the Caps Lock (I mean Search) key and bring up a new tab to enter your search. I often find myself sitting in front of the TV with my Chrome OS netbook in my lap, and now I’m even more likely to hit the Search key and look up an actor, a show, or a product.

How Might This Impact the Industry?

Google already has a significant stronghold on the search industry. In January ComScore indicated that Google had almost exactly two-thirds of the search market, with Bing actually increasing its share to about 12% and Yahoo! dropping its share to 16%. Bing is the default search engine in Internet Explorer, and many people leave this setting when they get a new computer. But if a Google Chrome OS-based netbook was a popular commercial option, then this would encourage a further shift toward Google picking up the last few percentage points of market share, as these default-setting people would just leave Google as the default search engine on their Chrome netbook. Further, as indicated from my own experience, I’m even more likely now to search Google for random things as I think about them, since it’s an even more readily accessible experience.

Will Google eventually come to market with a commercially-available Chrome OS netbook? I believe they will, but it may be a while still. If they can price it competitively (I’m thinking between $200-300 for a netbook like the pilot machine I have), then it could be a huge success. There is a large portion of the population for whom this type of machine (a “netbook” in the truest sense of the word) is perfect: those who are new to computers and/or really only ever do email, Facebook, and internet or those need a light-duty second (or third or fourth!) machine. Those people are hesitant to spend the $400, $500, or $600 for a low-end Windows PC (and especially $1000 for the cheapest Mac) because those computers simply are more powerful than they need and offer features they’ll rarely use. Google’s purpose-built Chrome OS netbook, though, could be a game changer for them. Here’s to hoping it becomes a reality!

Gmail on my Chromebook.

Postscript:

Google has now, of course, announced the first production Chromebooks: one by Samsung and one by Acer. Other than what’s posted on Google’s website, I don’t know anything specifically about those models. They do look intriguing, though I feel the price points are too high. I still believe that these will never be anyone’s primary (or only) computer. Therefore, I’m not sure the price point is low enough to justify a purchase for most people. Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting concept, and it will be fun to watch the sales figures!

1Jun/11

Slingshot SEO is Tearin’ It Up in Indy

Governor Mitch Daniels at Slingshot SEOI know I haven’t posted in a few weeks… But I just had to mentioned that we’ve been killing it at work lately. First, we got a sign on our building. This helped solidify our commitment to staying in Indy, in our very building. It’s so cool to see Slingshot SEO on the building when you drive by!

Then, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard came on-site one Friday for a short press conference announcing their support of our efforts as we have committed to adding over a hundred new jobs in the next year. What a cool thing it was to have those gentlemen in our newly renovated office! We celebrated with some breakfast foods. The funny part of this event was that most of us aren’t in the office on Fridays, and yet no one complained about coming in to support the company and be a part of the event.

Lastly, we just finished celebrating our company’s rebranding last week! Thanks to KA+A, we have the sweet new logo you can see in the photos on this page. This was of course accompanied by other branding specs, as well as brand new website. Check it out! http://www.slingshotseo.com

Our team with the new Slingshot SEO sign!So to celebrate it all, we had a party last Thursday, complete with live music, a photobooth, Wii, a caracturist, and awesome food catered by Scotty’s Brewhouse. It was great to meet clients, partners, and employee’s families.

What a cool team we have here at Slingshot SEO. Awesome, fun, hard-working employees. Terrific leadership. And great products and results for our clients.

Oh, and we’re hiring: http://slingshotseo.myexacthire.com/

Join me here!

17Mar/11

Building a New HTPC

So it’s been about a year and a half since I built my last computer. That one was a dual-purpose business and personal machine. It was a desktop, running Windows and Mac OS (a legit copy – it’s another story altogether as to how I got that to work). 8 gigs of memory, quad-core processor, 4 hard drives, a Blu-Ray burner, and 2 21.5” full-HD displays. Yeah, it’s pretty killer.

But now it was time to overhaul the 2.5-year-old home theater PC (HTPC). The old one still works fine, but it’s big, loud (it has 4 or 5 fans, which is way more than it needs, as it pretty much only sucks dust in anyway), and I wanted to upgrade the HD and add a Blu-Ray drive (the old one only had DVD, though I could play Blu-Ray rips at full HD). The parts were delivered early this week, so I built it mostly Monday and Tuesday. Here’s the part list:

8-softwareinstallationThe largest impetus behind the rebuild is the fact that for my recent birthday I received a new 42” LCD TV. This was a huge step up from the 23” LCD computer monitor I had previously been using. While functionally the system was the same, this was a great opportunity to get a Blu-Ray drive in play and just revive the system a bit. Who doesn’t enjoy a good system refresh every year or two?

I put all the parts together last night, installed Windows, and began the process of reinstalling all my programs and settings. With one major exception, everything went together without any serious trouble, and it’s all good to go! So exciting to have a new system, and a good-looking one at that.

That “one major exception,” though, was brought on by an odd confluence of the tiny, small-allowance design of the case and an odd design choice by the motherboard manufacturer. As I discovered, the SATA ports on this mobo aren’t the typical top-down kind, that you plug the cable into vertically (perpendicular to the mobo). Instead, each pair was located in a small tower that turned them 90°, such that you plug into them horizontally (parallel to the mobo), from the back. The huge problem with this is that the case was designed such that there wasn’t even an eighth of an inch of clearance on the back side of the motherboard once installed, and so there was almost no space whatsoever to plug in a cable, certainly nowhere near as much as a cable needs.

2-drillingwallI ran to Fry’s and bought 90° SATA cables, to minimize the space required. Then, I tore the case down as far as it would go without popping rivets out, and took to cutting a hole in the interior wall in question. I realize this wasn’t the optimal way to go about it, but it was the best I could do with what I had handy. I took my drill and made a whole bunch of pilot holes – essentially a connect-the-dots pattern around the perimeter of the hole I wanted to create. Then, I took my tin snips and cut between these, opening it most of the way up. Next, I took my needle nose pliers and bent and twisted the piece back and forth until it snapped off at the bottom. Last, I used my bastard cut file and evened the cuts up a bit and smoothed them out as much as possible. The first time through, the hole wasn’t big enough. So I did all that again, widening the hole. This seemed to work.

3-cuttingcarrierThen, I put the hard drive carrier back into the case (which unfortunately is located immediately on the other side of the wall I just hacked up). The side of the carrier nearly plugged my hole back up altogether, and now that problem had to be attacked. After checking to make sure there’d be enough clearance inside the carrier to cut a hole in the side and still have a hard drive in it without damaging it, I took to using the same process on a portion of the hard drive carrier (leaving out the first step of drilling because the carrier was designed with holes spaced across both sides). Finally, after cleaning all this up again, I put the carrier back in place, the motherboard, and connected the cables, and voila. It fit. Barely. It was still a tight fit, but at least I was no longer afraid I was going to break or damage something.

4-barelyfits

6-finishedinsidesWith that, I completed the rest of the installation. Unfortunately, that whole ordeal (including borrowing a drill from my dad due the recent death of my drill’s battery) wasted nearly three hours, so I didn’t get the power turned on until nearly midnight, and then I began the software portion of the setup process. So I went to bed around 3:00 that night, which was a wee bit later than I was planning.

Nonetheless, I now have a great-looking, great-performing new computer that will play DVDs, Blu-Rays, and any file-based media, as well as of course play and record broadcast TV (two channels at a time!) and any streamed internet programming.

Any questions or suggestions? Leave me a comment and I’ll respond!

 

7-outsidecomplete

9Feb/11

Grammatical Pet Peeves

This will be short. I spend my entire work day on the internet reading blogs, forums, news articles, and the like. I don’t have high expectations for grammar in forums, and I have similarly low expectations for blog comments. However, the content of the blog post itself, and especially of so-called legitimate news articles, has a duty to be grammatically correct.

There are so many little things that drive me absolutely batty when reading articles on the internet. From the smallest personal blog (errors are relatively acceptable here – I’m not that cold-hearted) to the largest “news” source (such as The Huffington Post), no site is immune to the sickness that is grammatical carelessness. Below is a short list of my biggest aggravators.

  1. Its vs. It’s – There is a distinct difference. Its = possessive. The cat bared its teeth. It’s = a contraction meaning “it is.” Feel free to use “its,” as long as it’s used properly.
  2. There vs. They’re vs. Their – There = a location. They’re = a contraction meaning “they are.” Their = possessive for something belonging to “them.” They’re standing in front of their house over there.
  3. General Spelling Errors – Folks, every piece of software these days has spell check. Use it. Or dictionary.com. Or – gasp – an actual dictionary!

I know there are more, but they’re not coming to mind at the moment. I will update this post as I come up with more!

Feel free to add your own in the comments!

19Dec/10

A Return to Blogging

It’s been a while friends. To those of you just finding my blog, welcome. To those of you who have been sitting up every night since my last post just waiting for that sweet moment I post again, I know a great psychologist I can recommend. For everyone else, I promise this over-wrought intro is now over.

Since my last post in August of 2009, a lot has changed. At that time I believe I had just started substitute teaching but was still looking to find more permanent work. I finally found that at the end of September, and on October 5 I started work at ExactTarget. What a perfect job, or so it seemed. Fun (though busy and stressful) work, a great atmosphere, and awesome people to work with. I made several new friends, learned a lot about email marketing and even just corporate life in general, and enjoyed my time there. However, all good things come to an end and, unfortunately, I found out this past September that I would be leaving ExactTarget. October 6, 2010, was officially my last day, so at least I made it to my one-year anniversary – even if only by one day! But God is good, and after a 7-week “vacation,” I found new employment at Slingshot SEO, a young, fun, growing company operating in a space of the internet where there is so much room for growth. I’m only a few weeks in, but so far I’m loving it.

YogiAlso this past summer we got a dog! We adopted a 6-year-old Lhasa Apso from an animal shelter and named him Yogi. He’s been a true joy, and we’re so blessed to have our first dog-child.

Beyond all this, I have no further excuse about not blogging. I’ve certainly had lots of thoughts on various topics, but I’ve been too mired in other things to get my creative thoughts out on this digital paper. But I’m back! And I’m planning on blogging much more frequently now, sharing my thoughts on things as I encounter them. And to new readers – don’t worry, this isn’t a personal blog, per se… most of my thoughts will stem from personal experiences, but this is not just a daily journal of things I’ve done. But sometimes you just gotta post a picture of a cute dog.

Leave me comments, questions, or topic suggestions in the comments below!

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27Aug/09

Passions

Author’s Note: To those of you looking for information regarding the discontinued NBC soap opera, you will be dismayed. Furthermore, this post will not deal with Dictionary.com’s first five definitions for the word “passion,” three of which deal with “sexual desire.” Sorry to disappoint.

Editor’s Note: This post is long. Also, it is a relatively “personal” post, instead of the usual commentary on life in general or specific things in society of interest. If you’re not interested in reading something personal, just move along…

Producer’s Note: Yes, the Author and Editor are one-and-the-same. Or is that two-and-the-same?

Why is it often so hard to figure out what you truly enjoy doing the most? I’ve never been a big fan of the career aptitude tests some high school students take to help guide the college major selection; I’ve always believed that an individual will know what is right for them to pursue, whether as a college major or a career.

I must admit I’m having a little trouble with this myself, though.

Most people know me as a music guy. I play trombone. (Or, if you know me from church, perhaps you know me as that drummer who plays some guitar on the side.) “So where are you teaching now?” I get asked by old friends and acquaintances, those who knew me during my tenure as a music education major at Ball State. Though I appreciate the conversations, I hate having to answer that question, largely because I don’t have one, “perfect” answer.

Brief aside: I don’t think it’s right that we, as a society, put so much importance on our jobs that when we meet someone it seems the only important things to find out are “what’s your name?” and “what do you do?” Nonetheless, this is the world we live in…

I am set to start working on Tuesday, September 8th, as a substitute teacher in Lawrence Township schools. I am thankful for a job (albeit a “full-time” job at “part-time” wages), but it’s not my life’s dream. I don’t take any particular joy or pleasure in teaching, especially middle-school kids (which is where I will be). It’s not my strongest suit. So I find myself daydreaming about, applying for, and occasionally even interviewing for other jobs (especially ones that are actually full-time and salaried!).

The problem is, as I sit there thinking, I cannot seem to settle on one or two main things I enjoy doing, things I am passionate about. Dictionary.com’s sixth definition for “passion” is as follows:

a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.

I have too many things that I have some level of fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for. I’m struggling to “limit” myself by choosing just one as a career and relegating the others to the “hobby” category (and, in reality, doing away with some entirely for lack of time and/or funding). Here I will hash out a few ideas.

Music

Music has always been an important part of my life. I love listening to music of all kinds. I enjoy making music, whether playing trombone, playing drums, playing guitar, playing bass, singing, or even arranging music. I do enjoy teaching music, particularly being in front of an ensemble and making music through the players in front of me (again, why I would enjoy high school/college over middle school).

I’m just not sure that it is something to do professionally, full-time. I have said since finishing high school that if I could get a full-time orchestra gig, playing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, or the Cincinnati Symphony, or Cleveland, etc., I would love that. To get paid to play my trombone is awesome. (I am fortunate enough to be playing with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra “full time” this year, but the MSO’s full-time is still very part-time.) The reality is that it is very unlikely that I will ever win a full-time orchestra audition, so I cannot bank on this.

Computers

Literally as long as I can remember, I have been using computers. 8088, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, PII, PIII, Celeron, Centrino, AMD, Motorola (PowerPC) Mac, and Intel Mac, I’ve had them all and used them all. I installed an internal modem with my dad and my grandpa (his dad) when I was probably 8 years old. And yes, I helped, because I wanted to jump ahead to set the jumpers (yes, those) before my grandpa was ready to move to that step. (I recall this because of his reaction, which taught me a small but important lesson: “One problem at a time.” I don’t always remember this lesson very well…)

But what to do with my computer skills? Many friends and family know me as the go-to guy when it comes to fixing/building computers. And yet, lacking any formal certification or training, I’m not terribly marketable to potential employers who want someone with “proven” computer chops.

I have had some good friends of mine suggest I start my own computer-repair business, starting by just putting fliers on mailboxes and going door-to-door in area neighborhoods. This may in fact be a terrific idea, but I’m terrified of 1) not making it financially, especially as I’m building [and I don’t have enough in savings to truly invest in a start-up project], and 2) the notion that, even in that arena, no one will trust my abilities and knowledge because of my lack of certification: why would they pay me to fix their computers when they could pay someone from the Geek Squad to do it? (And trust me, I have about a million answers to that, but that’s not the point here… and no offense to any Geek Squad employees reading this; I’m sure you’re all lovely people.)

Politics

“What? Michael can’t even read!” Yes, politics. There are times that I get very deep into reading, listening, and learning about current events and issues and historical events and issues, and at these times I feel that I would love to be involved on some level in politics and current events. That might be as intense as actually running for some local office. That might be as far from that as just writing and commenting about issues. As anyone who truly knows me can attest, I am very opinionated. I wish I had the time (the “reason”) to spend truly becoming knowledgeable about issues. If I did, I would love to use that knowledge to help make a difference.

Law Enforcement

Yeah yeah, it’s dangerous. But what kind of a man am I if I am more concerned with my own physical safety than the safety of others? I enjoy a certain level of risk in most things I do, so that wouldn’t bother me. I am respectfully aware of danger, though, not recklessly unsafe. I am also very alert, perceptive, vigilant, aware of my surroundings at all times, and I would love to use these traits to help protect and serve others.

Some may know that I already have gone as far through the application process at Fishers PD as they would let me (about halfway, I finished 37 of 68 when they took the top 34 to the next level). I am just about to start the same process with Indianapolis Metro PD. Fully aware that IMPD is statistically a more dangerous jurisdiction than FPD, I still want a foot in the door to the world of law enforcement. (And let’s be honest, despite the increased crime rate in Indy versus Fishers, only six IPD/IMPD officers have died in the line of duty since I was born over 23 years ago; with all due respect to the deceased, that’s not that terrible.)

Summary

These are just the main four areas that come to mind as I am writing this. If I had to pick just one of even those four to focus on, it would be very difficult – a near-tie between law enforcement and computers. Computers I have more experience and direct knowledge about, but I feel that I have a great aptitude toward both; I probably would receive more direct pleasure from law enforcement. See my quandary?

I enjoy serving people. I think that is apparent in what I’ve already written as well as in what I didn’t write about: my recent history, college experience, and full-time employment with a church last year. I’m just trying to find the best way to use the gifts God has given me to serve Him by serving His people. This should be a happy experience, and it mostly is, I’m just struggling to find the best fit for me. The job market isn’t helping much, to be sure, but ultimately it is up to me to make an opportunity for employment.

31May/09

Fourteen Days

In fourteen days, I will be married. So unbelievable. It wasn’t that long ago that I thought marriage was for all those “grown-ups” who were done being young and having fun but wanted to raise kids.

Alas, here we are.  After a near-two-year-long engagement, Natalie and I are getting married in weeks’ time, in Indy.  I cannot wait – both for the ceremony itself and the beginning of the marriage.  (Additionally, I’m just ready to “move on” to a new chapter of my life.)

Natalie and I have both grown so much the past few years, and I am certain now that we are ready to get married.  Two years ago when I proposed, I knew we weren’t yet ready to get married right then, but I was confident that we would be, and confident that it was Natalie I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, share everything with, and, yes, raise children with.  But I’m happy to say the Lord has worked in us in so many ways, through several important people, particularly over the last two years.

I’m also very much looking forward to becoming an official resident of Fishers.  Don’t get me wrong – Muncie’s been great to me the last five years.  In fact, I actually have grown quite accustomed to the “small town” feel (yes, people from truly small towns: it’s a “small town” compared to what I grew up in).  I feel that I have made as much of my home as possible, particularly in the past three years since I moved into my house off campus.

But I really like the Town of Fishers. It’s located just across the county line from where I grew up (we lived literally six blocks due south of Fishers), so it’s pretty familiar. Our apartment seems nice and quite large, and I cannot wait to set up our home.

I move in six days; I have already packed most of my stuff. These next six days cannot pass quickly enough!

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24Jan/09

Ten Steps for Resolving Couple Conflict

So, let me explain… truly, don’t read too much into this.  Basically, I had this laying around my house, wanted to keep it but wanted to throw the piece of paper away, and don’t have a scanner.  Thus, I’m posting it here to save it digitally, in a sense… in the cloud, I suppose.

At the same time, it is a bit interesting, and perhaps thought-provoking.  Feel free to read and comment, as I guess I am posting this for a *little* more than just the purpose of it serving as my online backup, haha… anyway, it’s from the “PREPARE/ENRICH Program” Natalie and I did as a part of pre-marital counseling through East 91st Street Christian Church.

Ten Steps for Resolving Couple Conflict:

  1. Set a time and place for discussion.
  2. Define the problem or issue of disagreement.
  3. How do you each contribute to the problem?
  4. List past attempts to resolve the issue that were not successful.
  5. Brainstorm.  List all possible solutions.
  6. Discuss and evaluate these possible solutions.
  7. Agree on one solution to try.
  8. Agree on how each individual will work toward this solution.
  9. Set up another meeting.  Discuss your progress.
  10. Reward each other as you each contribute toward the solution.
17Jan/09

Windows Computing

Okay, it’s no secret I’ve been a “PC,” a Windows user, for my whole life. I voluntarily prolonged the condition upon purchasing 3 computers for myself in the past 5 years – and building myself a fourth.  Since October 2008, I’ve been evaluating a pre-beta release of Windows 7, the upcoming major OS release from Microsoft.  Now, for about the past week, I’ve been running the official beta release of Windows 7 (build 7000) on two of my three active machines (the other is just a media center, so I feel the upgrade there is less exciting).

It rocks.  It just does.  Sure, Apple fanboys may draw comparisons to the Mac OS in a few places (the new taskbar, the Aero Peek feature, and the jump lists, to name three), but the origin of some of the design features are neither here nor there.  They are (nearly all) beautifully integrated, and almost all of the new UI features actually improve the user’s experience on a functional level – in other words, it’s mostly more than just mere eye-candy.

And yet, it’s the stuff you can’t see that really makes Windows 7 the significant improvement that it is.  The kernel has been cleaned up, from the lowest levels, and it runs much more smoothly.  It is quicker upon boot-up, and most tasks seem to run faster and more effortlessly.  Hardware recognition is even better than in Windows Vista.

While it may not be 100% perfect quite yet, Windows 7 has found itself sitting among a surprising amount of praise, including specific improvements such as its ability to run on lower-level machine better than Vista and the inclusion of an awesome, troubleshooting “Problem Steps Recorder.”  When the production version of Windows 7 comes out, as with Vista when it was new, I don’t necessarily recommend everyone plop down the $200-300 to buy themselves a brand-new copy.  But for anyone upgrading a PC or buying a new one, Windows 7 is sure to improve their computing experience a lot.