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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Career Opportunities: The High-Tech Career Handbook reaches 100th podcast

September 2005 brings 2 major milestones for Career Opportunities: The High-Tech Career Handbook, hosted by Douglas E. Welch of Los Angeles, California. Friday, September 2, 2005, brings the 100th episode of the podcast, which focuses on the specific ins and outs of a high-tech career, and September 24th, 2005 will mark its 1 year anniversary.

The podcast has proven popular with people in all avenues of the high tech world, from beginners to those with years of experience because it offers a realistic look at a chaotic and constantly changing work world. Each week, Welch produces two episodes drawing on new and archival material from his print column, Career Opportunities, which has appeared in the San Diego-based Computoredge magazine for 9 years.

A 20+ year veteran of the high-tech world, working at a variety of companies including Walt Disney Imagineering and Hollywood Online, Welch started producing his shows within weeks of the initial creation of podcasting, joining a short list of 10-12 other podcasting pioneers such as Adam Curry's Daily Source Code and Dave Winer's Morning Coffee Notes. Current estimates put the number of podcasts around 9,000 in a wide variety of topic areas.

The Career Opportunities podcast is a member of the Tech Podcasts Network (http://techpodcasts.com), a cooperative group of technology-related podcasts dedicated to promoting the best in technology programming. The podcast, including archives of all 100 episodes, is available on the web at http://welchwrite.com/career/. Listeners can easily subscribe using Apple's free iTunes music software and their new podcast directory by searching on Career Opportunities.

Podcasts are niche, radio-like programs which computer users can download to their computer or MP3 player for listening. Unlike radio, though, the user has total control over which shows they choose and when they listen to them. Listeners can also "subscribe" to podcasts, which allows new shows to be downloaded to their computer automatically. Visit the Wikipedia entry on podcasting for more information. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podcast)

Monday, August 29, 2005

A rare warning - Avoid 1and1.com web hosting

UPDATE 8/30/05: As of this morning, my logfiles have been restored, including the logfiles for the past 6 days. Tech support had originally told me these would be lost. I have received no notification of what happened. -- Douglas

Regular readers will note that it is a rare occasion when I warn you away from any book, software or vendor, unless I believe there is a danger of it costing you money or reputation. Unfortunately, this is one of those times.

I moved to 1and1.com web hosting a few months ago after requesting recommendation from friends and peers. I needed a bigger monthly bandwidth allotment due to the growing popularity of my podcast, Career Opportunities. Additionally, after a month or so with them, I set up sites for several clients. Over the last 2-3 weeks, though, I have become very dissatisfied with their service.

The first issue was a small, but annoying, difficulty in setting up my custom 404 error page. The welchwrite.com domain hosts a variety of information on everything from high-tech careers to gardening to photos. I set up a custom error page that allows users to do a search of the entire web site or click a link to go to each of the major sections. After attempting to set up this page myself, and reading the FAQs, I contacted the 1and1 technical support line. After several emails and calls, including getting incorrect information on setting up the page (I am using their MS IIS hosting plan, not Linux, but they told me on numerous occasions to set up an htaccess file) I finally got someone on the phone the seemed to know what they were doing. Unfortunately, they made the problem worse. Now, instead of the default IIS error page, or my custom error page, users simply get a message 'The file specified could not be found." Now, the default IIS error page is fairly useless in itself, but it is certainly better than this.

A week or so later, I set up a client on the 1and1 Exchange hosting platform. This is a critical need as the client's email server had crashed beyond repair and they critically needed to restore their email services. After working my way through a relatively complicated setup procedure I had everyone working. With days, though, 1and 1 suffered a 12-14 hour outage on their Exchange servers. As you might imagine, this client was quite concerned and their displeasure was not limited to 1and1, but also to myself, who recommended the company. Mail was restored, though, and seems to be working fine at this time.

Then, when the client wanted to add web hosting services to their contract with 1and1 we discovered an entirely new problem. Initially I was told that I would have to destroy and re-create all the current Exchange accounts in order to move the domain names from the Exchange servers to the web hosting servers. This was, of course, unacceptable due to down time and the potential for lost mail, so I escalated the issue to a supervisor. Luckily, he was able to direct me to a, quite cumbersome, procedure, that would allow me to move the domains without totally destroying the Exchange mailboxes. As I was working through the process, though, I eventually discovered that I would have to setup the Exchange accounts all over again, even though I did not lose the existing email.

Finally, as a podcaster, and as a podcaster who recently started accepting advertising, my web site statistics are very important to me. In fact, I get paid for my advertising directly in relation to the number of times my podcasts are downloaded. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered that on August 23 that all logfiles for my web site (and other MS IIS hosted sites at 1and1.com) stopped. Despite a number of phone calls and support emails I have not been given any information when these logfiles might be restored, although I have received, rather vague, mentions from the support techs that there was indeed a problem on their end.

As this is taking money directly out of my pocket, it seems my only recourse at this time is to move my site, yet again, to another web host and hope that their service and support are of a higher quality. I am terribly disappointed with 1and1.com service and support and wonder if their ubiquitous advertising in many major tech publications has led them to grow faster than they can support.

Barring an immediate and satisfactory resolution of these problems, and some explanation of their sub-standard service, I advise you to avoid 1and1.com hosting services.

Please send me your recommendations for web hosting services that provide MS IIS hosting services (I have a few small ASP programs on the site) and a large monthly bandwidth allocation (I current have 25 GB/month). Podcasting is a tremendous user of bandwidth. Please leave your recommendation ass comments to this post, so that others can benefit from your experience, as well. I would also like to hear about your experiences, good and bad, with 1and1.com hosting or any methods that might assist me in resolving my problems.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

LAist's Free Gig Guide

Here is a great new service from LAist. I am always looking for free/cheap things to do around town. Many of these I also share via my WelchEvents mailing list.

It looks like this will be a weekly feature and something I will be looking forward to each time.

LAist's Free Gig Guide: Week of 8/28/05

Unless otherwise noted, all of the following shows are free of charge.

SUNDAY, 8/28
  • Cellist Ruslan Biryukov and pianist Mary Au perform sonatas by Beethoven,
    Debussy and Shostakovich at LACMA's Bing Theater at 6 pm. Call 323-857-6234
    or visit www.sundayslive.org.

MONDAY, 8/29


[More]

(Via LAist.)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Paper airplane joy

I usually have trouble following folding directions for projects like this, but these step-by-step instructions, with pictures of each step might allow me to get through it to the end.

The Best Paper Aeroplane in the World

That’s the grand claim behind this plane - watch out for steps 16-18. I got the hang of it from the detailed steps he’s added, but it’s not easy to see what needs doing.

(Via PigPog Blog.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Flapping Bat Papercraft Project


Just in time to get started for Hallowee, Boing Boing links over this papercraft project which you can build. I think this could easily be re-worked into a motor driven device, with motion sensor, for this year's Halloween setup.

Link: http://www.boingboing.net/2005/08/20/mechanical_flapping_.html

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wi-Fi on the road and at your camp site!

I will be heading to Sedona, Arizona for a few days, so this neat little service, which uses the Google Maps API, might just come in handy.

Once you zoom in on your area of interest, you can click a starting point and and ending point and it will place markers on the map showing the location of truck stops, camp sites and other RV-friendly locations offering Wi-Fi networking along your route.

I can easily imagine pulling in for a gas/coffee/restroom break and filling up on email, as well.

This is a great idea and only one example of the great services being built on top of Google Maps.

WiFi spots at campgrounds and truckstops

Mark Frauenfelder:
Use this Google maps application to find wifi access points at truck stops and camping grounds along your route.
Link
(Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Apple Security Update 2005-007

Apple released a new Security Update today and it should be sitting in your Software Update system preference pane.

The update requires a restart after installing.

Here are a few words on the update from Apple...

Security Update 2005-007 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

AppKit

CoreFoundation

cups

Directory Services

HIToolbox

Kerberos

OpenSSL

ping

Safari

traceroute

For detailed information on this Update, please visit this website: http://www.info.apple.com/kbnum/n61798

David Allen "Getting Things Done" Webinar

Regular readers and listeners will already know that I am a big fan of David Allen and his "Getting Things Done" method for organizing your life and work. On August 18th, Allen will be presenting a free 'Webinar" via Microsoft's LiveMeeting software. I just signed up and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for methods to gain some more control over the enormous amount of the "stuff" that must be addressed every day.

You can register for the event by clicking the link below.

David Allen Online Webinar

Speaker: David Allen, Management Consultant and Executive Coach, The David Allen Company

Seminar Overview:  A completely new way to think about work, time management, and personal productivity.




Ineffectively dealing with this "knowledge work athletics" lies at the heart of much of today's stress in the workplace, and Mr. Allen provides the keys to success in getting control of it, instead of being buried by it. Your competitive advantage lies in your ability to deal with surprise, and Allen's methods for Getting Things Done provide for the clarity and focus required in the 21st century to "keep your eye on the ball" while at the same time maintaining a sustainable, healthy balance of life and work.


In this seminar you will learn:

The keys to success in getting control of “knowledge work athletics”
The clarity and focus required in the 21st century to "keep your eye on the ball"

About David Allen

Widely considered one of the world’s most influential thinkers on productivity, David Allen’s 25 years experience as a management consultant and executive coach have earned him the titles of “personal productivity guru” by Fast Company and “One of America’s top 5 executive coaches” by Forbes Magazine.  His international bestselling book “Getting Things Done” is the gold standard in its field. His company, The David Allen Company, is recognized as the world’s leader on personal productivity, providing businesses, institutions and individuals with fresh insights and systems to better win at the game of work and business of life.

About The David Allen Company

The David Allen Company is a professional training, coaching, and management consulting organization, based in Ojai, California, USA. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by providing the world’s best information, education, and products that enhance personal and interactive productivity.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

If you can bypass the constant broad assumptions that the author often makes, this book gives you an excellent feel for the time and place where Shakespeare made his mark on the world.

I have never had much understanding of the Sonnets and their place in the Shakespeare canon, but I feel better informed now and better able to find additional resources to pursue some further research.

It is quite amazing how someone whose work has endured for hundreds of years left so little information about their personal life. Michael Wood's recent television biography of Shakespeare offered a few recently discovered bits of information, but the life of Shakespeare is still mainly shrouded in the mists of time.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Atomic Ranch Magazine

I came across the homage to Mid-Century Modern architecture at the local newsstand the other day and thought it was totally cool. They have some content on their web site, or you can pick it up at the newstand (or subscribe using the Amazon link below).



Saturday, August 13, 2005

Make a desktop trebuchet

Oh, so many fun projects and so little time. I would love to make this mini-siege engine, of only to hurl small objects across the office when work isn't going well.

This project is a bit complicated, but it should engage children both young and old for more than a few hours.

Make a desktop trebuchet

By using popsicle sticks and some glue you can build yourself a clever little trebuchet. This is a good replacement for the one made out of paper that has vanished from the Internet. You will need 18 sticks for the frame sides.  Start by squaring off the ends of 6 sticks.  2 sticks will form the uprights (part 1), and 4 sticks will form the base fore and aft of the uprights (parts 2 and 3). Thanks John! Link.

(Via MAKE: Blog.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

That about sums it up...

We have all seen the typical, "My child can beat up your honor student." and 1-800-EAT-****" bumper stickers, but it seems that the owner of a Scion I saw parked today on Ventura Boulevard has cut right to the chase.

In ornate white script on the heavily tinted back window, it simply read, F*** You.

Hmm, I knew a lot of people had this attitude in LA, but it is entirely different to display it so proudly. I guess you at least know where you stand with this person, though.

I can easily see someone taking offense and removing the words, if not the entire back window. Might not be worth the $100-$200 for a window replacement. Not that I would evercondone doing such a thing.

I would have taken a picture but the digicamm is in the shop. Darn!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Event: Nisei Week Festival 2005

I have been meaning to get down to this festival for years, but I have never made it. Perhaps I will try again this weekend. I think it would be fun and a great "cultural experience" for Joseph.

This link from blogging.la lists the entire calendar for the festival.

Nisei Week Festival...

Koga:Just a quick note that the 65th Annual Nisei Week Festival starts this Saturday, August 13th and runs through Sunday, August 21st.

The Grand Parade is on Sunday, August 14th at 4:00 PM (parade route), with ABC7 Eyewitness News' David Ono as the Parade Marshal and Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda as the Honorary Grand Marshal.

Continued reading Nisei Week Festival......

(Via Blogging.LA.)

Wiki for Business? You bet!

I have now had the experience of using a Wiki information system for a variety of purposes and I am entirely sold. If you need to build up and information source with other people, it can be the easiest and fastest method.

Anyone can edit a wiki page to add or change information, but you can put the wiki behind a password to limit access. One friend is using an internal wiki to collect and share information on the myriad of procedures that staffers must use to process loans with a variety of banks.

This posting from LifeHacker, links to a particularly good article from Information Week magazine on wikis and their use in a business environment.

How To Use Wikis For Business

Over at Information Week, there is a very nice overview/tutorial on the use of Wikis in business. Wikis can make for a good, inexpensive collaboration tool or content management replacement, and this article may help decide if a wiki is right for you.



(Via Lifehacker.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Event: Slither fest in Ojai

From LA Times.com...

Slither fest: Snakes, lizards, toads and other reptiles and amphibians thrive in Wheeler Gorge, a canyon within the Los Padres National Forest about eight miles north of Ojai. On Saturday, live snakes and other critters exotic as well as native invade the Wheeler Gorge Visitors Center for a live presentation by the Southwestern Herpetologists Society and Los Padres Forest Assn. The free program begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be repeated at 11:30 a.m.

Go to www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres/about/centennial/wheeler-sched05.shtml.

Join the WelchEvents Mailing List for more notes like this!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Working somewhere else

I know that Rosanne doesn't understand this concept, but there are days when I simply have to get out of the home office and work somewhere else, especially when I am working on my weekly column. There is something important in seeing something new, something different, to spur the mind...or, at least, give it a little nudge. I find the comfy chairs in my local Starbucks to work pretty well, but there are a host of other places, including Franklin Canyon Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Productivity Tip: Work somewhere else today

In a rut? Go to the office, but work somewhere else today. Don't sit at your desk. Work in the kitchen, the conference room, the library, the hallway. Sit at someone else's desk or swap desks (if someone lets you). Work somewhere else and you'll see something new which will help you think something new. It's simple and it works.

(Via SIGNAL VS. NOISE.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I'm Reading....and cooking!

Having the Italian relatives in town got me interested in expanding my cooking repertoire...again. These 3 cookbooks have been an excellent resource for new and interesting recipes.





Additionally, here is a simple recipe (semplice ricetta) for an excellent Summer pasta dish that "the boys" made for us the other night.

Pasta con Zucchini e Cippolli (Pasta with Zucchini and Onions)

While preparing the vegetables below, put 6-8 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Salt liberally. (The Italians say that the water should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea). When it comes to a boil, drop in 1 1/2 pounds of your favorite pasta. They used Penne from Barilla, which they were glad to find in our local Ralphs.

Take 2 small zucchini (not the monster we typically grow in the home garden) and cut into 1/4" slices. Heat olive oil in a skillet and fry the zucchini slices a deep golden brown. Remove from pan to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped, to the pan and cook until lightly browned.

Drain cooked pasta and return to the pot. Add Zucchini and Onion to pasta with a splash of olive oil. Mix. Top with Ricctta Salata (a hard, somewhat stinky, but tasty ricotta)

Serves 4-6 people.

Walking in LA? Why, sure!

I love going on walking tours and Rosanne and I even operated a walking tour in Palm Springs for 2 seasons. Here is a chance to get a taste of LA Walking tours. I am thinking that this would be a great way to unwind after the Sicilian relatives leave, although it would have been great to take them, as well.

Who Says No One Walks in L.A.???

For those that just can't get out of bed early on a Saturday morning here is a chance to get a "teaser" tour of Downtown. I give the first tour leaving from the park at 4:15. It'll be a Historic...

The celebration on August 13 will include a 40-minute “sampler” tour of historic downtown, available at no charge, leaving the park every few minutes between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Live musical entertainment will be provided by Bossa Nova 2, performing in the park from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Birthday cake will be served at 5:45 p.m. Bring a picnic and join in the party! No reservations are required. For more information, call (213) 623-2489. Co-sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

(Via Cityfeeds.com - Los Angeles.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

TechPodcasts.com Special Event - August 13th, 2005

TechPodcasts.com - RoundTable Special Event

Podcasting Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

You Are Invited to a Special TechPodcasts.com Roundtable Event!

Saturday August 13th at 1:30 PM (Pacific Time)

The TechPodcasts.com Network - in conjunction with GoToMeeting.com - will be having a special TechPodcasts.com Roundtable in a live, interactive discussion using the GoToMeeting multi-media web conference application . We'll demonstrate all of the coolest Podcasting Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices - as only the team at TechPodcasts.com can. Material you'll find nowhere else: like discussion of recording setups and traffic management, or easy steps to BitTorrent enable your Podcast, plus tips on Tagging your MP3 files. We will cover the steps to get your Podcast ready for advertisements , and suggest applications that you can use to collect the information you are going to need.

Stress, stress and more stress

As someone who doesn't handle stress well at all, I found this article on how the body reacts and deals with stress to be quite enlightening. I have read similar articles before, but this one seemed to provide a much clear presentation.

Learn How The Brain Handles Stress

Over at The Franklin Institute Online they've got some great resources about the brain and how we handle stress. It's no surprise stress can do some real damage:

A chronic overreaction to stress overloads the brain with powerful hormones that are intended only for short-term duty in emergency situations. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells.

Stress isn't all bad though and a little understanding can go along way when it comes to managing a healthy stress level.

(Via Lifehacker.)