Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

Off the edge

October 29, 2004

** Listen to this column on your computer, iPod or other audio player **

MP3 via Coral | MP3 direct from

Anyone, no matter what their age, can find themselves in the depths of a rut. It can start out slowly. Going to the same restaurants, using the same software, listening to the same music. The next thing you know, there you are, in a rut. As I’m finding, getting older can make it even easier to get into a rut. There are days when I simply don’t want to face the trials and tribulations of daily life. I just want to do something familiar. Of course, a few days later, I wake up feeling bored…and boring…and not really knowing why. Even though I know the importance of finding new challenges, new passions and new input, I have to actively reach out and engage the world in order to find them.

Music to my ears

Imagine my rut-ridden joy when I discovered something new to engage my attention this last week. Due to an odd set of circumstances, I found myself with a week without much consulting work. As I headed into this week, I was dreading it. How was I going to make productive use of this time?

In scanning my daily list of RSS feeds (yet another way I try to find new, interesting tidbits), I came across Adam Curry, a former VJ and current DJ put together an AppleScript to automatically collect MP3 files posted to the net, download them and push them into iTunes (and then to the iPod). This immediately caught my attention. I don’t have an iPod, but the new “shows” I discovered engaged me immediately.

They also gave me a way to randomly sample new music as it came across the wire, much that I would have never sought out on my own. Wow! Here was a whole new world opening up, with very little effort. I immediately grabbed the software and began to closely follow the iPodder world, including a group that quickly coalesced to expand development on the software side.

Up and running

Suddenly, I was energized. I didn’t want to go to bed at night and couldn’t wait to get up in the morning. Here was this little piece of the Internet that was making me excited about technology again. I was looking to break the rut and PodCasting appeared to help. These good feelings spread to other aspects of my life. I found a few more topic ideas for this column, posted some good stuff on my weblog ( and had a great time at the free computer class I give at the library every month.

Don’t discount how one small thing can wake you up and shake you out of your rut, even in some small way. If you can reach out and find one small toe-hold, it can help to raise you up. If you’re stuck in a rut, you have to force yourself to look at one new web page, one new piece of art, read one new magazine or listen to one new song, anything to get your mind working again. When you’re languishing, you have to keep listening for the knock of opportunity at the door.

Even more

While this discovery of PodCasting helped to get my thinking moving in other ways, it also got me started on a project I’d thought about for years, producing audio versions of my columns so that people could listen to them on the bus, their bike or while doing their daily walk. In the past, the technology just wasn’t there to support my idea. Now, with PodCasting, I could see a reason to drag out the mic and mixing console and get to work.

So, starting with my column of September 24, I’m producing a weekly “show” of each new column, released each Friday when the magazine is published. Additionally, I am releasing a column “from the archives” each week. You can use the iPodder ( software to download the shows automatically as they’re released, or listen to the MP3 files directly from the web site. You can find links to each column, both text and audio, at

You don’t need to start your own Internet radio show, but you do need to find something new that engages you, each and every day. Don’t let a rut keep you down. Even the smallest effort to find something new can help you to break out and do some amazing things.

Some of the PodCasts I am listening to include, the Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code (, the Evil Genius Chronicles with Dave Slusher (,Reel Reviews with Michael Gohagen ( and the great computer-related content over at IT Conversations (


RSS Feed with enclosures

Support the Career-Op Podcast

Get your copy today!

Now Available from