I just read a very interesting article by Vince Barnes of HTML Goodies.

Three Golden Rules

Intriguing title, don’t you think? We’ll get to them in just a second. First, let’s take a quick look at the “coming to life” of your website.

Imagine if you will, all the thought that goes into a website; then the work involved in it’s actual creation; the care with which its various elements are interconnected; and the pride with which it is placed onto a web server and published for the world to see.

Next, a little time goes by and the site evolves with a tweak here, add a page there, put a database link in this, and so on. Pretty soon the site has grown a lot and represents its developer’s blood, sweat and tears. Then the server crashes and the call comes in from hosting company to say “sorry, you’ll have to upload your pages again.” Pages? PAGES? WHAT PAGES? The horror dawns on you that your only copy is that original set that you first created. All that extra work was done after that upload and was added piece by piece to the live site. Only the live site had it all. And that database of contact information you’ve been collecting — it was up there too!

Now to those golden rules. They apply to everything to do with computers, but we’re especially interested in how they apply to website creation and maintenance. I’m sure you’ve guessed the first part by now. That’s right — Backup!

Rule number one is backup your stuff! When you make a copy, however, things can go wrong with the copy process. It’s a good idea to make a copy of your existing backup before you start to copy over it — just in case! Now you have a one generation old copy and a current copy.

Then there’s Murphy’s Law. “If it can go wrong it will. If it can’t go wrong, it’ll go wrong quicker.” (If that’s not actually Murphy’s Law, I’m sure he’d be pretty proud of it anyway!) Here’s the scene (it’s based on the last one): as your hanging up the phone after the call from the hosting company a knowing smile stretches itself across your face; “I have those two copies in the other room – let me get one and send it up,” you think to yourself. As you do, and as if in direct response to your smirk, a bolt of lightning comes out of the blue, smashes its way through your roof, through the back room, through your computer and melts your CDs and floppies as it goes.

Oops! (Thank goodness it missed the cat – this is, after all, a family style newsletter!)

Yes, that’s right — you should have made another copy and kept it at work or in your safe deposit box. An off-site copy is another very reasonable backup. Of course, its possible that the call comes from the hosting company, a bolt takes out your PC and a flash flood washes away the bank. If this happens to you, you might want to examine your life a little – the universe seems to be exceptionally mad at you.

So, more correctly stated, rule one would be “backup your backups.” That would leave rule two as “backup your stuff” and rule three as “backup your stuff again and keep the backup off-site.” The short form of the three golden rules is:

Backup backup; backup; and backup again.

Say that to yourself a few times. Now ask yourself “did I just say that, or have I actually done it?”

-Vince Barnes

Working for a Support Center, I see people losing data/files all the time because they didn’t have a backup copy. I have no sympathy for these people. I know that when I have something important, I always keep several copies of it. I’ll keep a copy at home, at work, on a CD, in my email…anywhere I can think of. Maybe someday people will learn their lesson.

My New Digital Camera

I finally have the new digital camera in my hands. I picked it up from the leasing office when I came home for lunch. It’s a pretty sweet little camera.

I’m not real big on taking pictures, so getting a small camera was my number one priority in deciding on one. I wanted a camera that was digital for obvious reasons (insert geek comment). A few of the other things I were looking for were: ability to take movies, image quality, ease of use, and dependability.

After doing some research I dediced to get a Canon PowerShot S400 Digital Elph. The consensus from many places was that Canon makes the best cameras and has the best lens. I just took out a credit card and I’m not lying when I say that the camera is about as close as you can get to the same size. It can easily fit into the pocket of your pants or shirt, which is what I was looking for. I didn’t want to be lugging a dorky camera bag over my shoulder (or around my neck) and have to continuously worry about my investment. I can keep this one hidden safely in a pocket. They do make a nice little case for putting on your belt that I will end up buying soon.

Some of the specifications are:

  • 4.0 MegaPixels
  • 3.0 Optical Zoom
  • 3.6 Digital Zoom
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and charger
  • 32 MB Compact Flash Card
  • Size: 3.43 x 2.24 x 1.09 in.
  • Weight: Approx. 6.52 oz

I think what really sold me on this camera though was the review and user comments I read at CNET.

The plans are to create a photoblog and periodically post some pictures (with comments).

Find Your True Calling

I believe that everyone has a common goal in life. We all want to find our true calling and end up doing that for a career. Every human being has that one thing that puts us in “the zone.” The hard part is finding out what that is.

Athletes thrive on competition, doctors live for saving people’s lives, and teachers love seeing a student’s face when they learn a new concept. Everyone has their own thing and some people even have a few things. It is important to find this calling, because then work seems like play. Going to work never really seems so bad compared to if you’ve ever had a job that you didn’t like.

A few years ago when I was taking classes for my CS degree, I found my calling. I absolutely love computer programming. I never had problems getting assignments completed on time for my CS classes, because I enjoyed doing them. It never really seemed like homework to me. For some reason, I always did my best work late at night when no one is around. I guess that is partly due to the fact that interruptions can really impede your thought processes when working on a computer program. Everything flows in a series of logical steps (for programming) and if that thought process is broken, you usually have to start over.

I’m a very good logical thinker, which helps me tremendously in programming. Another reason that I like it so much is because I get to manipulate the code to get the computer to do what I want it to do. Although it can be extremely frustrating at times, it’s a great feeling when you finally figure out where the problem/glitch was.

I hope to move along in my career path soon and make work fun again.

I’m curious as to what others think of having a true calling. Have you found your calling? What gets you going? What makes you tick?

Free Web Hosting

I don’t know how they are doing it, but a company called 1&1 is offereing a special promotion giving out 3 years of web hosting for free to those who sign up. I have signed up and moved my domain over to their site. Everything is all setup and I’m able to access my site already. Some of you may not be able to access it for another day or two until the DNS entries are updated across the Internet.

My advice is to sign up for this promotion and get the free hosting. I know about 5 people who have signed up already. Happy surfing.

I planned to get some pictures up on my site this weekend, but that isn’t going to happen. I ordered a new digital camera and it was delivered today, but our leasing office closed early today (for their x-mas party) and I didn’t get there in time to pick it up. What are the chances!


Just a couple of quotes that fit the day I had…

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

-Thomas Edison

“Doors of opportunity don’t open, they unlock; it is up to you to turn the knob.”

-Lily Taylor

“Too often, the opportunity knocks, but by the time you push back the chain, push back the bolt, unhook the two locks and shut off the burglar alarm, it’s too late.”

-Rita Coolidge Singer

Duke Smoked Michigan State

The Blue Devils really put it to the Spartans tonight! What a great game to watch for a Duke fan (me). Jeff came over, we got some pizza, had a few beers, and watched the game on the big screen.

Only another week and a half and I’ll be at Ford Field for the biggest basketball game in history (over 75,000 tickets sold) when MSU and Kentucky play. I hope Kentucky puts it to them like Duke did tonight.

Days Of December

The last month of the year is full of events for me. Here in Michigan, we usually get snow staying on the ground at some point during the month and winter officially begins on the 22nd. Have I ever mentioned that I hate winter? 65-70 degrees outside is the ideal temperature for me. Here in Michigan we are rarely above 30 or 40 during the winter months.

Since I work at a University, December also brings the end of the semester and a little bit of a lag in work as all the students leave campus for the holidays. We also get a nice little paid vacation as the school completely closes down about a week and a half. This year we are closed starting on the 24th and open again on the 5th. So that gives me 8 weekdays off and 2 full weekends to enjoy my freedom…and still get paid for it! 🙂

Does anyone know what my 2 favorite days in December are? The 24th and the 26th. Christmas Eve is a favorite in my book because that is the day my family opens all of our gifts. I LOVE GETTING PRESENTS!! I’ve been known as a little big snooper for my presents over the holidays. I don’t know where these rumors came from though…it’s not my fault if people don’t wrap the gifts right away or hide them in a good place. It’s almost like they are asking for me to find them. The 26th is of course my birthday. I’m going to be a whopping 24 this year–it’s hard to keep track of how old I am these days. And before you even ask…YES, I do get screwed on presents because people like to combine the two days. “Nick, here is your Christmas AND Birthday present.” I hear it all the time. Parents…do not try to conceive a child from mid March up through early April. Your child will be screwed for life! Ok…maybe not, but they will be dissappointed in their present count during Christmas and their birthday.

I generally like to go shopping, but December is an exception. The stores are completely out of hand and people seriously go nuts over Christmas. If people would just learn to settle down and not panic, it would be better for everyone. I’ve heard of punches being through, people being pushed, and F-bombs flying through the are because someone grabbed the last “must have” toy off the shelf. Some of these people should be forced to sit home on their computer and do all of their shopping on eBay. Not only are the stores crazy, but the shopping traffic is worse. Especially here in Saginaw where every store and restaurant that you would want to visit is across the street from the mall. I refuse to go out during the day on weekends (unless I really need to).

Who really waits until Christmas Eve to do their shopping? I can’t believe there are actually people that do this. As if the month isn’t stressful enough with traveling to visit friends/relatives, buying gifts for everyone, and worrying about the weather. Seriously…why would anyone wait until the last minutes to buy a gift for the most anticipated gift giving day of the year? I just don’t understand. If someone out there does this, please leave a comment and explain why.

This is the first year (since I’ve been old enough to ask for things) that I haven’t made a list. I guess I’m getting older.

Decmeber also brings New Year’s Eve and one of the greatest party nights of the year. Everyone gets trashed and has a blast. It is always a night to look forward to.

I hope everyone has a great month!

4 Overtimes

We lost our first game tonight in the 4th overtime. We pretty much got screwed by the refs the entire game, but we also had our chances to win. To be honest, we played horrible and still should have won the game. I think we lost 56-46, and don’t even know if we scored at all in that 4th OT. It was only the first game, so I’m not worried, but am still kind of pissed. I had like 11 or 13 points in the game and made two 3s.

My heart rate is still up and I’ve been home for about an hour and a half. Now that I have something to work for, my routine of running and working out everyday will come easier. Whoever we play next week better watch out…I’ll be ready!

Screwed At Hooters

As has become a recent tradition, Jeff, James, and I all went to Hooters for the Monday night specials and the nice “scenery”. A local radio station is always there to give out prized and make it a little interesting.

Joe (radio guy) asks for volunteers for a game, so the 3 of us volunteer as a team. As we walk to the middle of the restaraunt, Joe hands me a condom. Jeff and James each get a straw. I’m thinking to myself, “what the hell did I get into?” The object is for our team to fill the condom with more water than the other team in 60 seconds.

So the game begins… After a few unsuccessful tries, I tell Jeff and James to fill their mouths with water and then put that through the straw. It turns out to work great. Joe starts to count down, “10, 9.” We walk up to him with the full condom. The other team isn’t even a quarter of the way full. He claims we cheated so he gives the CDs to the other team and we each walk away with a keychain containing a condom inside of it. What a crock of shit!

At least the wings were good!

Performance Evaluation

I had my 6 month performance evaluation this morning and it went well. My boss praised me for being such a good employee and all that good stuff. We talked about some of my goals for the future, when I informed him that I’ve been looking for a new job for the past month or two. I explained how I hate answering phones and don’t really have any motivation for my job anymore since it’s not what I want to be doing for a career. He took it well because we had discussed in one of my previous evaluations that I wanted to get into programming. It’s what I love to do and when I’m doing it, it doesn’t seem like work to me. He also has always known that I wouldn’t be around very long. Sometimes I wonder how I’m still there after almost 2 years. Hopefully an opportunity will come my way soon.

We also talked about our upper management, raises, workflow, office procedures, student workers, and various other things. It was a good hour of talking about things we don’t normally talk about. I also made some suggestions for improvements to our Support Center and Help Desk. On Thursday afternoon I have another short meeting to review goals and sign my evaluation. I wonder if anyone has ever declined to sign their evaluation (maybe if they got a bad one?).

One thing that I have realized since returning to Saginaw yesterday afternoon is that I’ve kind of been slacking at work. This is due to the motivation factor (lack of). I’ve also realized that this isn’t fair to my co-workers or our customers, so it’s time to step it back up and get the work done.

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