Category Archives: Computing

The internet? Tech-Savvy?

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns the ones we don’t know we don’t know. Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

I just hate it when somebody who thinks they’re tech-savvy (yes, I said savvy) starts arguing technical trivialities, or tries to convince me of their “ways”.

I remember two distinct incidents:

One guy was supposed to be a tech-expert, after digging deeper, it seems his “great” skills were mostly the ability to get images from Google’s image search and set them as backgrounds on a Windows machine.

Another one was a certified MCSE, he was assigned some helpdesk-style work in his first days, and needed to check a user’s problems of not being able to use his computer. He calls the network admin saying it’s a network problem.

MCSE:
It’s a network problem.
NetAdmin:
Did you try pinging the server? Any reply?
MCSE:
Yes. No reply.
NetAdmin:
Is the network cable connected?
MCSE:
YES!

Flashback
Creative Commons License photo credit: oien

After hours of troubleshooting, it was found out that for this MCSE:

  1. Pinging the server was simply clicking “Start”, Run, typing “ping” and pressing the enter key (without specifying the machine/address to ping).
  2. A black terminal flashing in and disappearing means no reply.
  3. The cable being connected means it’s connected on the PC, he didn’t check the other side of the cable.

This is one reason why I don’t really believe in IT certifications.

I believe that there are some basics that every “expert” should know, and then get deeper expertise in specific topics.

Organize your life!

I’m not writing here about organizing your office, desk, or even house. I found it much easier to use GTD-like concepts in everything in my life. It makes it much simpler to do what you need to do without constantly thinking about what you can do next.

I use many tools, to manage my contacts, calendar, notes, documents, source codes. This organizes my life.

Contacts

When I get a call from somebody who’s not on my contacts, unless they called me by mistake, I add them to my contacts list:

  1. Marketers : With the prefix MKT-DNR as in Marketer, Do not reply.
  2. Somebody I know: Their info.
  3. Somebody else: usually what I know of name, job, where they work as in “Ali”, “Plumber”, “Company X” space separated as their name, which would let me type plumber and get a list of all plumbers I have dealt with …

Calendar

My calendar is currently on my blackberry, and is synchronized with my work calendar in MS Outlook (anybody could use Google Calendar and sync to that). It includes everything I need to do or know at a specific date, or regularly… Some examples include things that most people would take for granted:

  1. Weekdays: reminders to get up, go to work, set daily tasks (in calendars), go to prayers, go back home…
  2. Weekly every Friday : prayers-related reminders like take a bath, go to the mosque… and visit parents’ house. (It’s all scheduled and blocked in the calendar)
  3. Weekly: GTD reminders.
  4. Monthly: Usually on a specific date, I’d get reminders to go to the barber with my son.
  5. I also schedule anything new like: “Call X company to get warranty repair for Y” Monday at 9:00, which I would change to “repair man should be home” on Tuesday at 11:00 if they told me he’d come at that time.
  6. When a friend calls and asks to go out, I check my calendar before adding an entry to meet him.
  7. Reminders to buy gifts for special occasions.

When I can’t do something on the date/time of the reminders, I would simply reschedule it.

Evernote

Evernote is my notes repository, it includes many notes I would take on the fly (on my BB), using several ways:

  1. I usually take voice notes while driving, just talking about something I thought about. I don’t leave an idea floating in my head, I record it.
  2. When I take notes on paper I take a photo of the notes.
  3. Photos of invoices, including the date in the tags.
  4. Photos of workhours signs of places I go to.
  5. Photos of menus? why not?

Source Code

I have my own version control system running on a virtual server online that currently serves subversion. This allows me to keep multiple versions of every file, and be able to look at, or go back to an earlier version whenever I need to.

Documents

I have two basic types of documents:

  1. General live documents that may not need a lot of control on printing, or that I may need to share and collaborate with other people on: Google Documents!
  2. Bigger documents, where I need full control, and a fully-fledged word processor: I put them on my subversion repository.

These were the basic tools I use, please give me some feedback on what you use by commenting here or on twitter. Thanks.

النسخة العربية من هذه التدوينة هنا

The cult of iOrange!

I know some people may hate this post, but please bear with me as I describe my analysis. Think outside the box. I have nothing against any product or company. ( Company and product names anonymized 😛 )

iOrange is a cult, the followers of that cult feel the need to spread the faith of iOrange in non-believers.

A person usually joins the cult by purchasing an iOrange device at a high premium price. To feel better about themselves they feel a need to praise the product they just overpaid to get, and try to convince more people to get the exact same device.

They would usually spread to other iOrange devices within a few months.

Starting by a soft purchase like an iChewingGum for $10, they call all their friends to tell them how much it’s easier to use.

Next, the person could graduate to buy an iBike, or even an iCar. After that, they would never go back, and tell you about how much better their new iHouse5 (compared to the iHouse4, they never compare to non iOrange devices).

iOrange may be good, but to say everything else is bad, and that they invented something when it has been available for years doesn’t make sense.

Trap all those podcasts!

5 Years ago I stopped listening to the radio…
4 Years ago I stopped following the regular “News” … So depressing.
3 Years ago I started listening to podcasts, but I’m optimizing my usage of gadgets. I’m not using an iPod, My phone has always had WiFi, GPRS, and MP3-playing capabilities, so I would just use that.

At first it was on my Nokia phones, the E71 was much better than earlier models with a Podcasting app built-in, and it downloaded the podcasts automatically through WiFi. My memory cards kept filling-up and I had to manually delete episodes.

The I got a BlackBerry. After researching the available apps, I found PodTrapper, the best podcasting software ever!!!!!!!!

http://versatilemonkey.com/d/products/PodTrapper_Podcast_Manager_and_Player_for_BlackBerry