Thursday, June 18, 2015

Will this effect affect anything?

When to use affect and effect is something which in the past, I have relegated to guesswork. For a time, I used just one, figuring, I'd be right half the time.

Now, I've got a bug report to fix, saying, "Use the terms Affect and Effect consistently". One screen has "Effect" on a label, the other has "Affect" in a heading.

Well, it's not meant to be used consistently! It's meant to be used correctly! But all the same, I could not say with any confidence that it was right - so I Googled it, and guess what, it was wrong, in both cases listed on the bug report. Completely backwards. Whoever raised the report didn't know that either - they wanted it the same. But hey, the report was fair enough - it looked dumb, and in fact, was dumb.

So, for the record (at least my personal record): Affect is a Verb. Effect is a Noun.

You have a "Tax Effect" of some attribute in our system, and therefore that attribute "Affects Tax" in a certain way.

Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun.... Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun.... Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun.... Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun.... Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun.... Affect is Verb, Effect is a Noun....

I need a rule to remember this.AVEN or ENAV ???


We're back...

Been back from the USA for just over a week. Back to reality but to be honest, the feet are still slowly coming back to the ground.

In my mind, aspects of the trip feel like a dream.  As you think about it it slowly slips away, but I have to keep looking at photos.


We must also build a photo book and I would also like to write some posts about specific aspects of the trip, especially some aspects that have affected the way I want to approach things in various aspects of day to day life. As usual, on return from a trip away, you want to bottle that relaxed feeling you only get on a vacation, and slowly, it erodes... Gotta keep writing about it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day - 3 - The Wet Week

The saying "as slow as a wet week" has never been more true.

It sure has been a wet week in Geelong this week.

With the prospect of flying out this Sunday lunchtime, to a Californian, then Hawaiian Spring/Summer looming large, not to mention the constant calculations of Day's work left, hours until take off and the very excited kids, there has never been a slower wet week!

I am however, greatly enjoying the anticipation and delayed gratification.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Trello for everything, except when Teux Deux...will deux!

I've said it before, I love lists....

so here's
 Why You Should Use Trello For Damn Near Everything
- for everything else, use Teux Deux.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Why hard work is valuable

Thanks to Seth again for this train of thought.
(http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/03/of-course-its-difficult.html)

If something is hard to achieve it will be scarce.

If something is scarce it will be valuable. (Remember scarcity, demand and supply and all that...)

Hard work is valuable. Easy work is not.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cogs in a wheel or Linchpins in a well oiled machine

Managers and Employers can't treat employees like cogs in a wheel but then expect those employees to treat their jobs like some special privilege which they should be honored to have received. Not anymore.

If employers insist on treating employees as replaceable parts they'll need to create jobs and expect results that are obtained by...replaceable parts, and they'll need to get ready to keep replacing them, over and over again.
But when employees are treated as individuals, with freedom and creativity, they feel privileged, and guess what, they start acting that way too.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It is your job and it is your choice.

Recently I've been stretched quite a bit at work. As every developer in a small business can tell you, they are the one "responsible" for printers that don't work, windows updates that need to be applied, Internet connectivity, backups, and so on.

After a recent spate of server outages and just a bad month for our network in general, I found myself becoming a little bit disillusioned with my role in general.

I'm trying hard to keep up with new development technologies and fighting an uphill battle to keep our software product relevant and somewhere close to up to date. It's a tough battle in a small (microscopic) software development house.

Anyway, after recently being drawn into discussions on disaster recovery, backup best practice, virtual servers architecture, RAID drive recovery and so on and seemingly being the one who's fault it was that a drive failed in the first place, then also copping plenty of pressure to keep the progress of our ongoing, leviathan development project going, I started having some toxic thoughts about how I'm not paid enough to be a system administrator AND a lead developer.

But I know that's toxic! I just said it was. It didn't stop me feeling a little dejected - or used. But I believe I am a more positive person than that and I don't want to become "that guy". There is two ways to look at every situation. You can be a victim, or you can look at what you can control. You can lament that you aren't paid enough, or you can grab the opportunity to do more.

I like to think the negative thoughts that sometime creep in are only skin deep - a short term reaction to a tough day maybe - and that underneath, the "positive me" will ultimately control my actions, for the better.

So with those fairly positive (I'd like to think) core values, I took to Google. I searched terms like "it's not my job", "initiative" and "attitude" and Dr Google prescribed this one....http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/eliminating-its-not-my-job-attitudes-at-your-workplace/

This is a gem. This make the analogy with a sporting club and pointing out that everyone has "roles" but essentially, there is a "job" to be done - by everyone! So I thought, yeh, but what happens when one superstar carries the team all the way!  Well, firslty that rarely never happens, secondly, when it looks that way, the value of that superstar skyrockets.  But think about what comes first.  I love cricket so I'll relate to that. You will never see a player, unproven, state that "right, I'm going to open the batting, open the bowling, captain the side, oh, and I'm going to be incredibly successful at it, so I want top dollar before I start". It doesn't work that way. That player goes out, does what he says he can do, then gets the big offers. If he's bought into the side as  a wicket keeper or an opening bowler or a leg spinner, and does that, he doesn't not make runs or take catches until he's paid more. He makes the runs, takes the catches and turns into an invaluable resource. Then come the spoils. If he's still not appreciated by his current team, that's a different issue. (The recruiters will come knocking).



So time to "put some runs on the board". Once I really am invaluable - then worry about the spoils, and I'm tipping that if it's going that well, you won't have to worry too much.




Monday, April 13, 2015

Remarkable Curry Puffs

A few months back the oldest boy bought home some curry puffs he'd made at school, in cooking class.

They were learning about spices and flavours and so on. His were seriously hot. He'd experimented with the curry and the chili.

He'd learnt too. I loved them. No one else did.

Is it better that he made ridiculously hot curry puffs that I loved and most people hated, but that everyone talked about, or should he have just followed the recipe and made something that everyone expected.

I think his remarkable curry puffs were far more....well,,,remarkable.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't follow your passion....

You don't follow your passion, you take it with you everywhere you go!
Tony Robbins

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

You can have any colour you like as long as it's Red, Green, Blue and Yellow.

Statistics gathered from over 3800 US government websites, using analytics software custom built by Google indicate that Desktop computing and Microsoft operating systems may not be a "dead" as many would like to believe. 
There is a fairly noisy anti-Microsoft movement (I.T. techy types probably the most outspoken on that issue) that loves to point out the Microsoft is dead, Windows is gone and [insert new technology of your choice] is here to take over.
Recent findings might indicate differently.
Broken Screen
Interestingly, despite claims from some many leading software companies with products of their own to push, real world users (particularly businesses) still use predominantly desktop computers and by far most of those computers still run Microsoft operating systems.
Desktop computers constitute over 67% of traffic to the 3800 websites analysed (many of them among the most widely used consumer sites in the US, such as weather and IRS queries). Microsoft Windows still holds a healthy 86% of the share of PC operating systems in Apple's strongest market - the U.S.
With the "end of life" of Windows XP (meaning Microsoft no longer support it or provide security updates) Windows 7 has rocketed to the top, boasting 71% of all the Windows operating systems. Windows 8 is also becoming more significant.
So take it with a grain of salt, next time someone tries to tell you "nobody's using Windows anymore" and "everything is mobile".
We (particularly small businesses) still all need viable, easily supportable, affordable I.T. and software solutions.  Sometimes the elegant, beautiful, artistic and aesthetic options don't come with the supportability or readily available expertise to make them practical. Maybe it's a case of, like Henry Ford bringing cars to the people by providing them in any colour they liked, as long as it was black. Maybe sometimes we are settling for less, maybe sometimes we take what we can get / afford, but maybe sometimes we just need to get the job done.
See this article for more details and some colourful follow up - any post about Microsoft in Tech news brings out the trolls.
(This is a cross post with www.constructor.com.au)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

US visa service scam.

If you have the need to obtain a US visa for travel to the US, please be aware of these scams, offering you the service of obtaining a visa on your behalf for a fee about $73, as opposed to the legitimate $14 fee charged by the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.


The variant we discovered was courtesy of a search engine ad, which appears on Google and Bing, when you type the ESTA web site addess into your address bar, using http instead of https. 

Because you have not typed a valid address (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ works but http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ does not) your browser will perform a search, and clearly these scammers have paid for ads using the valid site as the keywords. The first ad, took us to a site that could have obtained 4 visas for us, for the pricely sum of $236. A fair hike from the $64 quoted on the legitimate ESTA SITE.

Thankfully, due to the unexpectedly high cost, we decided to look a bit closer. That's when we noticed the subtle difference and i decided to do a little extra Googling. we quickly doscovered plenty of references to these scams and saved ourselves a couple of hundred dollars. There's a few pina colladas in hawaii.


The legitimate site you're after is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Last Tram to Belmont

Fascinating....


Thursday, March 19, 2015

If you're a child of the 70's you should be jealous.

"You're a child of the 80s if... you know you're a 70's kids if...  and only children of the 60's know..." ; The truth is, if you're any of these things, you're probably really jealous of a child of the  noughties or the teens...

Those nostalgic Blog & Facebook posts, Tweets etc that seem to go viral fairly easily, always cast the modern day as an instant gratification cursed, pasty faced video game playing introvert ridden society and the [insert decade of your choice] era as more wholesome, healthier, righteous and just plane better.

Yet that same technology, infrastructure and social medium used to promote the message of piety  provides us with the most information rich, accessibility to everything, and a more even playing field than ever in post industrial revolution history.

Firstly, I think there are some pretty thick lensed Rose Coloured Glasses being worn when it comes to memories of the various decades of the 20th century.  We're always criticising the millennial generation and Gen Y, for wanting things now, for sticking their noses in iPads, iPods, mobile phones and the like, but I remember video games in the 80's. A bit more crude by today's standards for sure, but every bit as addictive, and condemned just as fervently by parents and grand parents who "had to make their own fun back in their day!". The 1970's and 80's, while holding some wonderful childhood memories for me and my friends were also a far less tolerant era, in which the ability to memorize the periodic table, the years of the World Wars, the Magna Carter, the Ming Dynasty and the capital cities of all the countries in the world made you "smart".

In our current, privileged era, of so called instant gratification - I prefer the term instant feedback and accessibility incidentally - the problem of rote learning has been solved. To quote the Great Seth Godin - "you no longer need to know how long the hundred years war lasted" - the facts are in your pocket. The spoils go to the most creative user of the knowledge just as they did in the 1960s and 70s when Steve Jobs, Bill Gates et al were forging the information era, just as they did when Henry Ford revolutionized transport, or Andrew Carnegie steel production.

You still need drive to succeed. You still need creativity and the ability to apply your knowledge and deliver high quality solutions to people's problems, in order to succeed. What I feel that modern technology, the Internet and the instant society we live in does, is level the playing field so that anyone with a few hundred dollars for a lap top and/or a phone, has access to what they need to produce, publish and connect.

For the record, my kids play a lot of video games - it's easy for them because you can grab a iPod and sit on the couch at any time - they don't need to slide out the Atari, change the setting on the TV and interupt eveyone else - that doesn't make it any more "wrong".  Those same kids play cricket with neighbourhood kids, kick the footy in the park and have to be dragged away from our cricket club nets, usually after dark every Saturday night, after having played cricket in various forms, Friday evening and all day Saturday.

I don't think things have changed that much across the generations. Maybe the tools of the "kid trade" have changed, but kids are still kids - just with more opportunity than ever before.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Success is a lifestyle and an attitude
Emina Dedicwww.lifehack.org

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

#HelwigsInUSA: Day -81

So it's 81 days out from the great USA family holiday of 2015, and for the last couple of nights I've been browsing the web, checking out the location of the hotel we'll be staying at in LA (Anaheim - Hyatt Regency Orange County) on Google Maps. What a fantastic way that is to get your bearing. With street view, it's like we've been there to check it out already, until that is, we actually do get there. The resort we're staying at in Hawaii (Honua Kai - https://www.facebook.com/HonuaKaiResort - @HanuaKai) looks awesome - can't wait for that leg of the trip.

Tonight has been Disneyland ticket price research night. Looks like we'll be settling for a 2 days, hopper pass allowing us to jump between both the Disneyland Park and the Disney Adventure Park, for 2 complete days. I think we'll need every minute, but the budget doesn't really allow for any longer. I hope the feet, legs, and kids patience can hold out that long.

Rach has also touched base with an old QCBB friend, who is playing in Vegas - a Bee Gees tribute show. Free tickets are being arranged and a night in Vegas is now on the itinerary.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Constructor's new promotional video

The final product is now up on our web site and YouTube Channel. After an exhausting day a couple of weeks ago, and some wizardry from Mio at Video Vault, here's the end product.





Monday, January 26, 2015

#YourTurnChallenge retrospective

So what have I learnt by forcing myself to meet Seth's 7 posts in 7 days challenge? It's about priorities. It's about lifestyle and it's about weighing up options consistently.

The schedule you commit to is driven by what priority you give to writing and how important you define writing in public to be to your career.

When attempting to meet the YourTurnChallenge, spending 30 minutes at work to post because I'm determined to meet the challenge, seems justifiable. That's not sustainable but it does illustrate what level of commitment you need to make in order to achieve your goal.  I think the key is deciding what the goal is, and why, then really understanding that no matter what the goal, and what the regime,mit is going to take strict committment and adherance to thc regime.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Getting unstuck - Just keep swimming.

So, for Day Five's post I found myself a little stuck! I resorted to the list of questions for inspiration. I was stuck. So the question says...."what advice would you give for getting unstuck". 

That would be "read the questions..." right?

But next week, when I'm stuck again, the questions will be gone - that's tough!

Anyway, being unstuck is temporary. This week, Seth's #YourTurnChallenge has provided the motivation and drive to actually write, and post daily. It's been great. In doing so I've also either discovered or re-discovered so many tips about drive, motivation, shipping and failing, but I'm still a long way from solving that problem, or creating the habit of turning up again, and again and again, and shipping again and again and again... Then it occurs to me, you never solve that problem.

It's like running into a patch of form in your favourite sport, or a run of luck or whatever.

It's temporary.

You're only as unstuck as your current streak - blog posts, exercise days, wins, shipments, whatever...

It might sound a bit pessimistic to say you can never win - you can never solve the problem - this is not a game, but it's also means, you can never lose. It's all tempoary. The sun will still come up tomorrow.

So, while I've had to resort to the YourTurn questions to get some inspiration, this doesn't alter the fact that I'm learning a valuable lesson about what commitment it takes to do something as simple as submitting post every day for a week. It takes physical action as well as a mental commitment. It's all very well to tell yourself you can do it - and you'd be right, you "can" do it, but executing, there's the key.


So my advice on getting unstuck is to remember, you can get unstuck as easily as you can get stuck. Start small, and keep going. Like Dory says, Just keep swimming.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Apps you can't LIVE without?!

I just read a list of 36 killer apps you shouldn't live without - seriously, 36?! and heaps of them double up, performing the same as others in the list. 

Here's a list of 5!

Evernote - record everything, to do lists, scan documents, diaries, links to web sites, take it everywhere, phone, tablet, PC, whatever. This is the last app I would remove and the first app I pay my annual subscription for.

KeePass - great secure way to store passwords for the plethora of accounts, we need to log in to these days from network to your electricity account....when combined with Dropbox, Google drives or someother cloud storages, you can take it anywhere...and there's mobile apps for it too. Invaluable.

Trello - organise anything....

GMail - these days you have to have webbased email - give up that ISP email address you've had and never change your email address again. (I've had mine since 2004!)

Teux Deux - it's kind of like my scratch pad list, before items get promoted to full on Trello Cards!

These are apps that I would and do pay for, and you know what? If I was pushed, I do believe I could in fact "live" without them, but they make life that little bit easier.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to install the Dot Net 3.5 runtime to a Windows 8.1 Pro system

I've been attempting to add the Dot Net 3.5 run time to my new Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8.1 Pro for about half a day now.

Initially the normal web installer for the 3.5 run time was failing with error:
"0x800f0906 : “The source files could not be downloaded. Use the "source" option to specify the location...". 
After a bit of Googling I discovered (in fact remembered because I think I've been here before) that you can only install the Dot Net 3.5 run time from the Windows "Add / Remove" features section of the Control Panel. However, this too failed, with the same error.

Now our Internet traffic in the office is all routed through a Web Guard proxy. There is however a work around for this exact scenario which I promptly implemented, ensuring I was bypassing the proxy - still the same error.

Next, I discovered there was a security patch, which could actually prevent the run time being installed - but that could be resolved using security update 3005628. I ran the Windows 8.1 x64 version of this - guess what, no change.

Now you always find what your looking for in the last place you look right? The next discovery on my part was that, as the only way to add the Dot Net 3.5 run time to Windows 8.1 Pro is via the Windows Update service (no stand-alone installation is going to work) you cannot be running your Windows updates via WSUS. Guess what, We are!

So, the work around for this is a command line option - found here.
DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:installationMediaDrive:\sources\sxs
But alas, that too was failing.... still failing to locate the required files, with the same error!

Next, to disable the WSUS Group Policy. Luckily, we are a very small company, and I, as the developer and also "the I.T. Guy" because, you know, I know how to restart a server!

So I located the Group Policies in question, recorded the settings for each relevant one, then disabled them. (For the record, they are in the Computer / Policies / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Windows Update branch of the Group Policy editor.) Having run "gpupdate /force" on the Windows 8.1 Pro machine, I tried again from the command prompt. It didn't work!  I was attempting to use a Windows 8.1 Pro MSDN disk as the source for the component.


So, I went back to the control panel, and tried adding the feature the original way - now that my WSUS Windows update policy was turned off, I was optimistic - with good reason - it worked! The Dot Net 3.5 run time was installed, on my Windows 8.1 Pro, Surface Pro machine.

------------------------------

Now I don't expect many people to read all that diatribe - here's the executive summary:

For error 0x800f0906: The source files could not be downloaded..... when attempting installing the Dot Net Runtime on a Windows 8.1 Pro machine:

  1. Make sure you are not accessing the Internet via a Proxy that is preventing access to Windows Updates (pretty unlikely you'd hope) - you must have Internet access as this is the only way, for Dot Net 3.5 on Windows 8)
  2. Remember, you need to be using the Control Panel / Programs and Features option to "Turn Windows Features on or off (you can find Control Panel in Windows 8 by just typing "Control Panel" from the Start Screen.)
  3. Make sure Security Update 3005628 is applied.
  4. Find out if you are using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for windows updates as this will prevent you PC from accessing the files required to add the feature. If so, you'll need to get it disabled for this process. If you're like me and in control of those Group Policies, temporarily disable them. If you work for a larger organisation where that is impractical, you will need to see if you can get yourself temporarily excluded from that policy, while you add this feature.
If none of these things have helped solve your problem, I'm sorry, but as I mentioned, step 4 fixed mine, and you also find the answer in the last place you look! (sorry I didn't keep looking for answers, after I found one).