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technology

How Steve Jobs Changed the World & Made Me Who I Am

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I remember my first Apple computer. Back in 2001, in 7th grade at Short Pump Middle School, we were first issued iBooks. The predecessors to today’s MacBooks, they took some getting used to, having been brought up on a Compaq PC running Windows 95.

But something was decidedly cool about this new device. The school system purchased iBooks for every middle and high school student in the county and allowed us to not only use them in the classroom, but take them home as well.

It was this first Apple computer that not only made me an Apple fan for life, but defined my interests and path thus far in life. The things that seemed so unachievable and out complicated on a PC were suddenly a breeze on a Mac.

This barebones version of the iBook sparked my interest in all things digital and fostered my early love (and self teaching of) web development, video production and graphic design. It was on this little white iBook that I realized what I wanted to do with my life at the ripe old age of 12.

On Tuesday, we lost the man behind the magic, arguably the greatest icon of our time and one of the greatest innovators in history, Steve Jobs.

Steve not only revolutionized the personal computing, mobile phone and music industries. He changed the world as we know it because he was that square peg in a round hole bold (and perhaps crazy) enough to question the status quo and “Think Different.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

It’s encouraging to me as a small business owner, when I get discouraged, to remember Steve’s iconic leadership of Apple. Brought back to the company when it was on the brink of bankruptcy, Steve had transformed Apple into the most valuable company in the world just weeks before his passing. Just how valuable? Apple reportedly has more cash on hand than the entire United States government.

Apple will continue to grow and thrive under Tim Cook’s leadership, but there will never be another Steve Jobs.

Thank you for everything, Steve. It sounds incredible to say, but I don’t think anyone has had as profound an impact on my life and shaped me more than you, besides my parents and my faith in God.

Thank you for continually raising the bar on what to expect from consumer electronics. For telling us what we wanted before we even knew we wanted it (iPad, anyone?). And lastly, for helping me figure out who I am, discover my God-given talents, and realize my purpose in life. For that, I am eternally grateful. Rest in peace, Steve.

First RVA Social Media Club (SMCRVA) Meeting

By | business, events, life, opinion, technology | 2 Comments

I went to the first RVA Social Media Club (SMCRVA) last night at Morton’s Steakhouse downtown. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as soon as I walked in the door, I knew I had just entered the best business networking event in Richmond. I had the opportunity to put a lot of names with faces from people I follow on Twitter (maybe a more appropriate name for the organization would be “Richmond Twitter Club!”), as well as catch up with some old friends. It was an all-around great night, albeit a bit overwhelming with around 150 people in the room to meet. I think the first night was a great success and is just the beginning of big things to come from this organization. The networking opportunities are awesome. It really makes Richmond feel like one big family of friends.

I’m really amazed at what’s happened to Twitter over the past year or so. Back when I first got my account, well over a year ago, it was a novelty service. No one I knew was really on it, but that was the coolest thing about it. I got to know so many interesting people in Richmond and around the world, and even had “tweetups” (Twitter terminology for “meetups”) with some of the nice folks I met on the service. Now, though, everyone is on Twitter. Businesses are beginning to realize what great benefits social media has and they’re all jumping on the bandwagon. Twitter is just one big social experiment if you ask me, opening the doors to a new way to exchange news, ideas, support and business information in under 140 characters. Richmond is becoming a lot more close-knit because of it, and that’s a really cool thing in this day in age where everyone’s always on the go.

XM & Sirius Merge Channel Lineup: My Thoughts

By | business, music, news, opinion, rants, technology | 3 Comments

I’ve been an XM subscriber for a good year and a half now, and have always enjoyed their programming lineup. Well, the rumor I had heard lately, that XM and Sirius were going to merge their channel lineup, came true just two hours before posting this. At midnight, the switch took place. It appears more XM channels were replaced by pre-existing Sirius channels than vice-versa. It makes sense, considering Sirius technically bought out XM in the supposed “merger of equals” as the deal was described. (I’ve personally never understood why XM wasn’t the one buying Sirius, considering their significantly larger subscriber base). I have a lot of mixed feelings about the merger. Let’s get started.

First off, I know the merger of redundant programming on two channels (one on each service) into one channel on both will save the company, currently hemmoraging money, lots of coin. Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of many long-time employees at both satellite radio services. I heard the number of people let go was in the hundreds. As far as consolidation goes, I think some of the names of the stations Sirius previously had, that took over XM stations, are silly. I don’t even necessarily listen to the following stations, but they’re relevant examples. Why replace XM’s light alternative rock station “The Heart” with “Sirius XM Love?” Silly name. Then again in some cases neither station’s equivilent station makes any sense. XM’s classic alternative rock channel “Lucy” got replaced by Sirius’ “Lithium.” Go figure either one of those. Some replaced stations do have better names now, though. My favorite station, ’90s & ’00s hot adult contemporary station “Flight 26” was replaced by Sirius’ “The Pulse.” I do like the name better.

I’ve been listening to The Pulse for the past two hours and haven’t really noticed any big differences. I’ve caught a few “new” (to the station) songs sprinkled in, like a catchy track from The Killers I hadn’t heard before, but nothing else out of the ordinary. My guess is the same program director will stay at the reigns, and the only shift will be in the name. The on-air personalities now include two from each station, with the exception of one Flight 26 personality, P.J., who was either let go or was moved to another station. Even the voiceover guy is the same, as I’ve discovered with most other respective channels as I’ve flipped around the dial tonight. The new imaging packages by the voiceover team all say “[Name of station] on Sirius XM] now and come wrapped in a much tighter package, all sounding very quick, snappy, and punchy.

What I don’t get, and don’t agree with, is Sirius XM’s decision to integrate programming lineups but keep channels different on both services. In fact, I think if they’re going to do this, they should go big or go home. What’s the point in having the same channel lineup on both services, yet have different channel numbers for each? I know nothing about exactly how the technology will now be implemented and combined, but my guess would be they could decomission either the XM or Sirius (one or the other) satellites and have only one previous company’s satellites serve the combined subscriber base. It would most definitely save the company a lot of money. Plus, XM’s channel bandwidth could then be used to expand Sirius’. The sound quality on either service has always been questionable. I’ve heard better stereo sound from a cassette tape. The biggest difference can heard when you switch between highly-compressed XM and an insanely-processed, polished-sounding radio station, such as Q94. Using XM’s bandwidth for Sirius’ channels would allow the combined company to allot more bandwidth to each station, effectively dramatically improving sound quality. I’ve heard that music channels are compressed as low as 64kbps (half of what is considered mediocre to good MP3 quality), and some talk channels as low as 16kbps. I can’t confirm this, but I believe it.

Why not just lose the silly Sirius XM moniker and pick one name? I think, for simplicity’s sake, just one should be used. Also, get rid of the channels hardly anyone listens to, like the three French music channels and “The 40s.” How many people do you know in their 80s (that’s how old you’d have to be to reasonably remember music from the 1940s) that listen to satellite radio, much less even know what it is? It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out, and the response from subscribers. We all knew this was coming. The company is looking to bring value to its shareholders by cutting costs, and this was the quickest way to do just that. I think in the long run, after customers such as myself accept and adapt to the changes, it will be a good thing for everyone.

Summer Goal #5: Finish DowntownShortPump.com

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Almost four years ago, I purchased the domain name www.downtownshortpump.com. It was a site owned by the developer of the Downtown Short Pump complex with Barnes & Noble and Regal Cinemas. They used it as promotion for their shopping center and etched it into two huge signs at the busiest intersection in Henrico County (West Broad Street and Pouncey Tract Road). They let the name expire. I bought it for eight bucks (you snooze, you lose)! I let the domain name sit idle for a year, then made some attempts at developing it, but never got far.

After three revisions, I’m finally at the point where it looks professional enough to market as a good advertising space. I’m getting well over a thousand hits per day at this point, and have made lots of efforts at collecting data to make the site more comprehensive. Advertising efforts are starting off slow, but I have a plan of attack that will bring me more success, including full-color, glossy brochures. You’ve got to truly believe something can succeed if you want it to. I believe I can achieve success with this business, it’s just going to take some time and hard work.

I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress. As for now, I’m closing in on several major advertising contracts and working up a pitch for future businesses to advertise. I’m very optimistic about the future of the site!

Battery Pack In The Freezer: Not A “Cool” Idea

By | funny, sarcasm, technology | No Comments

Oh the perils of technology. Ever think something’s a great idea at the time, and then later on you’re kicking yourself? Yeah, story of my life. I think I killed my digital camera battery. This is a strange story, indeed, but worth a read.

I have a Sony Cyber-shot N1 digital camera. I’ve always had, and probably always will have, Sony digital cameras. They make superb products. Anyway, my last camera had the same proprietary dock port as my current one, meaning the same USB cable should naturally work with both cameras, right? Yeah, you’d think so at least. I misplaced my memory card reader the other day, and so I pulled out the USB cable I still have from my old camera.

As soon as I plugged it in, it killed the battery completely. So, I plugged it into the battery charger, and literally after two minutes the battery was fully charged and operational (which tells me the battery wasn’t drained in all actuality). So anyway, smart one here used the cable again today, thinking it was just an isolated incident, and sure enough it killed the battery again. The only problem this time was that the battery wouldn’t recharge. Why? The battery was already fully charged this time. The charger wouldn’t charge it any further (it’s an aftermarket charger I bought after I lost my factory one), and I therefore couldn’t get the battery working again.

The whole thing about the USB cable killing the battery instantly is strange, I know. But strange or not strange, I needed to take some pictures today for my Downtown Short Pump website. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have always heard that lithium ion batteries drain faster in cold environments. This is why many cell phones and iPods, as well as other devices with rechargeable batteries, work for shorter periods of time in the Winter months when used outside. So genius here got what he thought was a bright idea. If the battery won’t charge because it’s already full, why not drain it? And if lithium ion batteries drain quickly in cold conditions, why not stick the battery in the freezer for a bit?

I stuck the thing in the freezer for about an hour. I took it out afterwards and it was cold and covered with condensation. I think it’s shot. Who knows, though, it could have already been done for after using that cable a few times. Why a simple USB cable with no power running through it could affect a battery, or anything else for that matter, is a mystery to me.

Guess I’ll be ordering a generic battery to go with my generic battery charger. Pretty soon I suppose my camera will be generic, as well. It’s about the only Sony brand component left. As much as I like technology, I sure screw a lot of my own electronics up.

Sub-Par Posting

By | life, news, technology | No Comments

My blog entries lately have been sub-par. Okay, just flat out poor. I’m aware. I’ve had technical issues with my computer, wireless internet, my hosting service, moving to a new server, and other things. I promise I’ll be back to my normal posting habits tomorrow.

I’ve also been working non-stop on getting my web business up and running. It’s finally getting where it needs to be visually and content-wise. I’ll write a big post about that soon. I have so much on my mind I wanna write about, in fact, that my head might explode. I’d say I have a mental list of topics that will get me through at least the next three weeks.

Hang in there. I’ll see you tomorrow for some much more in-depth and interesting content. I promise.

Facebook Chat: Feeding The Addiction

By | business, opinion, sarcasm, technology | No Comments

So the release of Facebook Chat is all the buzz this morning, at least from what I can judge by the status updates of my friends. Apparently no one saw it coming. I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks, but didn’t think it would be released for a while.

This is bad news for people like me who are already borderline addicted to Facebook. It’s just like putting a six pack in front of an alcoholic. The temptation is just too great. The interesting thing to note, though, is that Facebook sees this as an AIM-killer. They think that by integrating a chat system into their already intricate social network, users will see it as a one-stop shop for social networking and instant messaging, putting AOL Instant Messenger on the back burner. I don’t know about that.

Personally, I’ve had an AIM screen name for almost ten years. Most people I know have had theirs for years and years, too. I don’t think you’re going to see an abandonment of any grand scale anytime soon, if ever. It’s not so much that people are loyal to products like AIM, it’s their familiarity factor and the average computer user’s resistance to dramatic change in the technology realm that will ultimately save AIM’s bottom line.

Then again, I don’t use the AIM client itself, but rather a Mac program called Adium. I’ve always been surprised that AIM allows other programs to use its network, because by doing so there’s no banner ad or anything like there is on the actual AIM program and consequently no money in the pockets of AOL. But of course I applaud them for having such an open source platform of sorts.

At any rate, it’s a nice new feature, but Facebook’s claim that it’ll take over AIM is about as threatening as Microsoft’s claim two years ago that the Zune would be an iPod killer. And we all know how that one turned out. I’m still laughing at you two years later, Bill Gates.

Flock – The Social Web Browser

By | technology | One Comment

I heard about a relatively new web browser today designed for today’s increasingly interactive interweb (screenshot from my computer above). The advent of Web 2.0 has brought a new meaning to the web. There’s an increasing amount of interconnectivity between different Web 2.0-based social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Twitter. This browser, Flock, connects them all together into one easy-to-use browser. Once you set up your accounts, there are tabs in a sidebar that allow you to simultaneously access each of the aforementioned social networking sites.

Friends’ updates appear instantly, and you can click “media” next to their status updates to see their photos in the media bar (the dark area with photos at the top of the browser in the screenshot). There’s even one-click access to create a new blog post in your blog once you set it up. I tried using that for my blog, and although it worked, it lacked the functionality I need to add formatting and other elements such as pictures to my posts. Their blog editor is very basic.

I use Safari currently, but thought I’d give Flock a try. I’m impressed by the interconnectivity and this is a great idea for people such as myself who are [way too] connected to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube and find themselves multitasking multiple social networking sites at once. I’m not sure if I’ll keep using it or just stick with Safari, mainly because I already have Safari set up just how I like it, but we’ll see. It’s a very cool concept and has Firefox-like theme and extension features. It’s available for download on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Give it a try, eh?

The DTV Switchover Scam: Don’t Get Taken!

By | business, news, opinion, rants, sarcasm, technology | One Comment

You’ve probably seen those not-so-creative TV advertisements the National Association Of Broadcasters has put out in an effort to scare inform the general public about how their TVs will no longer work after February 17, 2009. Why? The federal government has mandated that all over-the-air stations turn off their analog signals by that date. The government has auctioned off the analog spectrum to private companies. For more on this, see my post, “AT&T To Bring Free Wi-Fi To Starbucks And Beyond!” where you can learn more about the plans.

Anyway, leave it to Corporate America to capitalize on consumer confusion and take advantage of all of the many people who don’t know anything about what’s really going on with the digital switchover.

Oh, before I go any further, please notice the picture on the left. I added my own caption commentary, but the picture is for real. It’s on the joke-of-a-website DTVAnswers.com. Lets have a moment of honesty and self-reflection here. Do you or anyone you know watch TV like this? Unless they just gambled their life savings on a horse race and just won, there is no way they could be this scary-happy without hard drugs. But I digress.

These TV ads are putting many people in a frenzy. My friend’s family just replaced every TV in their house because they thought without a new TV, each with a digital box connected to it, they wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore. They already had Comcast standard cable, but they thought they needed both new TVs and to upgrade to Comcast’s digital package (hence the digital boxes) to receive programming. Comcast’s boxes and the ones the government is offering are completely different! The cable industry is raking in the big bucks this year because of misinformed people such as this family.

My grandparents recently got a second digital box from Comcast for their second TV because of the same confusion. I know there must be countless other individuals doing the same thing and flushing money down the tubes to these companies who are using shady advertising tactics to trick consumers. Don’t get screwed over by the cable industry. Here are the cold, hard facts.

If you’re one of the diminishing number of people who uses “rabbit ears” to pick up local broadcast stations and have a TV that’s more than a couple of years old, you won’t be able to pick up the signal after February 17, 2009, without a digital set-top converter box (available free or at a discount rate from the government). If you have cable from any provider at all, such as Comcast or Verizon, you don’t have to do anything. You’re not affected in any way, shape, or form, and don’t let them convince you otherwise.

The government isn’t very clear about who’s affected either. Is this Bush’s backdoor plan to help the economy by helping manufacturers selling millions of dollars TVs and related equipment and the cable and satellite industry make record profits? Okay, probably not. But that is what’s happening in these industries. Don’t get taken!

 

No More “iPosts”

By | technology | No Comments

So I managed to screw up my MacBook Pro this past weekend, but after tearing it down (literally, in like fifteen pieces) and rebuilding it, it’s working just fine. I just wanted to apologize for the low quality posts while my Mac was down. I had been posting from my iPhone via Utterz. The service needs some work (although the concept is really cool) and I didn’t ever have the audacity to type up something longer and more meaningful on a small touch-screen keyboard, anyway. Well, I’m back and I’ve got a lot to write about. Stay tuned.

P.S. – I never realized just how much I take my computer for granted.