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Friday, April 30, 2004

Career-Op: Niche it up!

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Wandering through “The Grove”, a new shopping mall in Los Angeles, I was struck of some similarities between retail sales and your high-tech career. Long gone are the days of the “do everything” department store, hardware store, grocery store. Today, we have reached the logical, if not somewhat absurd, pinnacle of shopping…not just the niche market, but the ultra-niche market.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Free Culture - in print, online and audio

This story has been going on for a while, but I finally took it to its logical conclusion only today.

Lawrence Lessig's latest book is entitled Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. This book has been released under a Creative Commons license, which means that derivative works, such as electronic books and audio books can be created by anyone who wishes to do so.

The electronic version of the book, in PDF and other formats, is available from http://www.free-culture.cc/freecontent/. When this electronic version was released, a variety of people on the Internet came up with the idea to create an audiobook by having a different person read and record each chapter of the book. Te project surprised everyone in the swiftness of its completion. With a week, almost the entire book was available for download as MP3 audio files, or as streaming audio direct from the Internet.

I have been spending a lot of time in the car lately, and, on a whim, I decided to take this book along for the ride. After downloading the various chapters, I burned the first 5 to standard audio CDs that would play in my car. These disks worked perfectly and I was able to enjoy Chapter 1 and 2 as I drove through the Santa Monica mountains on my way to a client.

You can just as easily play these MP3 files on your iPod or other MP3 player, or listen to them on your computer.

Project Gutenberg, which collects and makes e-books out of public domain materials is also now creating audiobooks from classic texts. You can browse through their online library to sxee which audiobooks are already available.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Getty Photography Course - Space still available

I just called and reserved a place in this 3-part photography course at the
Getty. Usually these courses tend to fill up quickly, but there are still
some spots available. Call soon! -- Douglas

Photographers of Genius: The Science, Conservation, and Aesthetics of Photography

This three-part course, led by Dusan Stulik, senior scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute, Marc Harnly, conservator, the department of paper conservation, and Viviane Meerbergen, project specialist in the education department, looks at the development of photography from early experiments to the digital age. Presentations in the studios and conservation laboratories will concentrate on scientific analysis and conservation practices, providing technical information for gallery discussions of select exhibition photographs. Complements the exhibition Photographers of Genius at the Getty. No experience necessary. Course fee $25. Limited to 40 participants; call (310) 440-7300 for reservations. Museum Galleries 05/05/2004 1030 am

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Career-Op: Working where you live

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

While it may seem only natural to develop as many clients and as much business as possible, you have to be a bit circumspect when combining your professional life with your personal life. I recently observed a situation at my son’s school that points up the dangers of working where you live. While I wasn’t privy to the exact nature of the dispute, it points up some important guidelines to observe when making clients or your friends and neighbors.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Windows Tips

Extremetech has this great link to a bunch of tips to help you make Windows work as well as possible. These peobably aren't for the beginner Windows user, but those of you who are ready to learn a bit more are sure to benefit.

174 Tips to a Better Windows Experience
Think you know Windows? We've got dozens of tricks, hints, and shortcuts that'll turn the Redmond Giant into a pussycat. [Extremetech]

Books with more Windows Tips

Sunday, April 18, 2004

What I'm Reading...

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

I just finished this wonderful book by Ross King. It details the life of Michaelangelo during the 4 years he spent painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It offers a mix of family history, art history, Vatican history and a detailed overview of each scene in the chapel and what may have led to its creation.

King is great at making history come alive. He includes incidents both private and public in an effort to allow the reader to understand not only the artist, but also time in which he lived.

King's previous book, Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture, contained all these traits as well. I read through each of these books in the course of a week or so, picking them up when I had a spare moment or needed to engage in something other than business books or my daily work.

* Other Books about Michaelangelo

Saturday, April 17, 2004

An urge to teach...

While I enjoy some success as a computer consultant and writer, I have been wondering if I might like to spend more time teaching and a little less time troubleshooting.

My head is stuffed with over 20 years of computer and technology information. I have developed troubleshooting methods and rules that serve me well regardless of how much the underlying technology may change. I have a proven track record of excellent teaching, if my clients and students at my library classes are any indication. The one thread that seems to run through everything I do in life is teaching. I love sharing what I know and I like the challenge of explaining confusing concepts to interested people in a language they can understand.

I would love to find some school or organization that could make use of my experience and help me to pass it on to another generation. While my volunteer work at the Sherman Oaks Branch of the LA Public Library is nice, I would like to find a way to make a bit of money doing something that I truly love.

If you know of any school or organization who could use my skills, pass along my name and have them give me a call. I know there is someplace that could use my skills, we just have to figure out how to find each other.

LA Times Voices Column

My opinion piece, Outsourced? Don't Fall Into Severance Trap appears today in The Los Angeles Times.

Check it out in print or online.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Career-Op: Everything that comes your way

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

All work is cyclical. There are the slow times and the fast times. Some weeks you can’t seem to catch up and on others, work is so slow that you think the week may never end. This cycle of feast and famine is especially true for freelance consultants like myself. The busy weeks can overwhelm you and the slow weeks can leave you worried about paying your bills. While work may come and go, dealing with your slow time can have a dramatic effect on your high-tech career.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Book - Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin

I find myself reading a lot of books, on many different topics, in the course of my writing, blogging and gardening travels. One of my basic criteria for a quality book is that it spurs your thinking in some way. Maybe you find a new plant you like in that book on garden design, or a new way of thinking about customer service from the latest business book.

Seth Godin's Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea is a book that certainly fulfills this basic criteria and more. As I was reading this small book, I found myself coming up with a couple of ways to use the ideas he lays out. In particular, his concept of "edgecraft" allowed me to generate a page of good methods to build both my consulting and writing work. HIs concept for this book is to provide methods to find the "Free Prize Inside" of any situation in an effort to help it rise above the norm. While "prizes" might include the usual cereal box toy, Godin challenges you to think beyond this. Perhaps the extra special service in a restaurant could be the free prize, or a wait made more enjoyable by pleasant surroundings.

The book comes shipped in an ersatz cereal box, playing on the theme. I understand that only the first printing of the book will be available in this fashion. It certainly helps to setup the metaphor of the book before you ever open it.

I have been reading Godin's books for a while, as well as his articles in Fast Company magazine and almost always find something concrete and helpful to use in my own work. I am starting my second read of the book now and will report back later on new thoughts it might trigger.

Other books by Seth Godin

Update - 4/15/04 826p -- I forgot to link to the Free Prize Inside Web Site. There is a short summary of the book there.

EVENT - Brewery Art Walk - This Weekend

Sorry for the late notice, but this weekend (April 17-18) is the Brewery Art Walk near downtown.

This converted Pabst brewery is home to over 175 artists, many (100+) who will be opening their lofts to show off their art.

Admission and Parking is free!

Visit http://www.breweryartwalk.com/ for more information.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Event - 23nd Annual Great Rendezvous Hikes

Many. many years ago, a friend and I attended this event. We chose the shortest hike possible, if I remember, but it was quite a bit of fun. All the hikes arrived at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park around lunch time and they had a big birthday cake. Nice event for the family.

23nd Annual Great Rendezvous Hikes

Sunday, April 18

Celebrate John Muir’s birthday by joining one of five rendezvous hikes which converge at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park for John Muir’s Birthday Party from 12 to 1pm. Help decorate and consume the famous Great Rendezvous John Muir/Sierra Birthday Cake. Bring water and lunch. For more details: 310-559-3126 Sponsored by the Sierra Club.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Microsoft Updates for Today

Here are a slew of updates released by Microsoft today. They cover a wide variety of problems with Windows and other Microsoft applications like Outlook Epress. You can download and install these updates on-demand by visiting the Windows Update Web Site. Detailed information for each update is also available on that website.

Cumulative Security Update for Outlook Express 6 Service Pack 1 (KB837009)

Critical Update for Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (KB831167)

Security Update for Windows 2000 (KB837001)

Security Update for Windows 2000 (KB828741)

Security Update for Windows 2000 (KB835732)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Windows XP Service Pack 3

As with any major software update, Microsoft's latest major upgrade to Windows XP can create issues with other software, both that made by 3rd parties and even Microsoft itself.

Lockergnome has a report over on these issues entitled, Office XP Service Pack 3 problems bite users.

Saturday, April 10, 2004


Physical Geography

National Park Service Field Lecture Program

April 17 Saturday, 9:30am

Rancho Sierra Vista

Join Dr. Melanie Renfrew of Los Angeles Harbor College on a moderate hike to the waterfall. Learn how landform shape, sun angle, and water pathways affect plant and animal habitats. Meet in the main parking lot. 3 hours

Friday, April 09, 2004

Mac trojan not a real threat

It seems that Intego, the anti-virus software maker abused our security pre-occupations to sell more software. A few days ago they announced the discovery of a Mac Trojan Horse program that could have dire results. After some investigation, others have found that the risk was grossly over-stated and a ploy to increase sales of their anti-virus software.

It is bad enough that there are viruses and spyware attacking our computer system without companies using it as a promotional tool. Anti-virus companies already have a tenuous reputation, with many people thinking they generate many of the viruses they claim to protect against. While I personally don't believe that to be true, stunts like this are sure to harm their already fragile trust with computer users.

MacMerc has further info in their story, Intego Exaggerated the Trojan.

Career-Op: Referrals

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Referrals are the life-blood of anyone working in high-tech, whether a freelance consultant and coach, like myself, or an IT staffer working inside a large corporation. Word of mouth is one of the strongest methods for developing new clients or finding the next job up the corporate ladder. As with most career issues, referrals can be a double-edged sword. Friendships, family and business can suffer when referrals become a contentious issue instead of simply one person, or business, helping another.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Mac OS X Trojan Horse Program

It was only a matter of time. Macintouch reports that a Trojan Horse Program effecting Macs running OS X has been discovered.

I often hear from people that believe Macs are immune from viruses and worms. This simply isn't true, even if there are fewer malicious programs targeted at the Mac.

This is simply one more warning to keep your anti-virus program up to date.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Blogstakes Winner

You may have noticed a posting about a Blogstakes contest a few weeks ago. The free giveway was a fancy CD case from Slappa.

A reader of My Word was a Runner-Up Prize Winner in this contest and, since I referred them to the Blogstakes site, I won the same prize.

Blogstakes is very neat and I will post other contests as they come available. Maybe one of you can win, too!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Chill Out LA

L.A. Observed is letting people know about this new web site and email newsletter dedicated to " ...devoted to helping you become a happier, healthier, more centered Angeleno."

There is not much content available, yet, but I have subscribed and will be watching for more.

Create your own South Park Character

Hey, that's me as a South Park character. He even looks as befuddled as I am sometimes.

Try out this fun online tool and "South Park" your friends, family and co-workers!

As seen on LibrarianInBlack

Monday, April 05, 2004

Apple Mac OS X Security Update 2004-04-05

Apple released a new security update for 10.3 (Panther) today. You may not see this update if you are using earlier versions of Mac OS X. The update is available by using the Software Update system preference on your computer.

Below is a copy of the info from Apple:

Security Update 2004-04-05 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

CUPS Printing




Sunday, April 04, 2004



SAT 4/10 9am

Sooky Goldman Nature Ctr

Friendly dogs and their owners, come meet and greet other doggie pals on a moderately-paced dog hike. Learn dog hiking safety tips while enjoying the trails of Franklin Canyon. All dogs must be on leash and cleaned up after.
1.5hrs WODOC

Saturday, April 03, 2004


SAT 4/10 10:30am

Corral Canyon Loop - Santa Monica Mountains

Leisurely-paced 2.5-mile hike on newly-constructed trail  with great ocean and coastline views. Look for wildflowers and discuss coastal plant communities. Meet at parking area next to Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market 2
miles north of Malibu Canyon Rd on Pacific Coast Hwy. Info: 310-394-2799. 2hrs CW

Friday, April 02, 2004

Career-Op: Simply Right

by Douglas E. Welch, ComputorEdge Magazine

Despite the complexity of high-tech hardware, software and systems, it is often the simplest issues that cause the most problems. This is true whether you are troubleshooting a computer or trying to figure out what to do with your high-tech career. Too often, complex ideas and systems can divert us when most problems call for a little simple thinking. Before you start tearing things apart, you need to ask a few simple questions.