Job Wanted

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After six years with Improve Group, I’ve decided it is time to start a new chapter in my life and I will be leaving Improve Group at the end of the month.

 

I’m working on a potential new software venture.  But, in the meantime, I have to make a living.  If you know of, or know of anyone who knows of any opportunities, please let me know.

 

My goal is to find something part time-ish or flexible where I can do what I love and get excited about; Helping people with obstacles getting in their way of their business or organization by using technology.

 

My related goal is to put all of my focus on one project and make it really take off for you.

 

I’m available to work anywhere geographically.

 

Give me a shout with any questions or ideas.  (jeffreywcox@gmail.com)

 

Thanks and a big thanks to Improve Group.  It has been a great run!

 

(Photo Credit: neetalparekh via Flickr)

Patience is a Virtue

Hourglass by Rachel

That is a phrase I have heard and used for a long, long time.
Before my Faith, it was more of a cliche I used.
Coming into Faith, I saw it work in my life more and more. Many times completely Faith based where I saw Him work in my life. Many times, just in everyday life.

Next time you are waiting to turn left, across traffic, without a stop light, and you feel like you are not getting a break – just tell yourself “patience is a virtue” and watch what happens.

Now, I’m fully exercising this as I am really reaching out to Him, and giving it all up to him. At times, me being without a job is very unnerving for me and Beautiful. But, He and Faith have come through before, and we know He will again.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Cupid’s foot, as used by Monty Python’s Flying Circus – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Yesterday was my last day at Improve Group.   And, as Monty Python’s Flying Circus use to say….

And now for something completely different.

What is that?  Well…..

A Break

The last nine months at IG were a “long row to hoe.”  My amazing wife (who I loving refer to as Beautiful – because she is in so many ways) has been holding down the fort in North Carolina while I’ve been working in New Mexico.  I miss her a lot and I’m looking forward to spending time with her.

Charlie, my two year old son, has been tearing up the fort – that little turkey!  But I sooo miss him also.

My girls, now young ladies, have given me so much grace and understanding during this time that I’m looking forward to more attention for them.  And, they got me and Beautiful Imagine Dragons tickets for Father’s Day / My Birthday!  Woot Woot!

Oh, yes – and me.  At first “doing nothing” sounded good.  But, my brain on day one of this new chapter is spinning.  So, when the time is right during this break, I plan to get my ducks in a row for the prose of that chapter.  I’m not 100% sure what those ducks look like yet (hence, see my post).  However, this has been a new test for me – to test my Faith and see what He brings.  Stay tuned; more to come.

Now I’m Sure The Previous Generation Was Smarter Than Mine

(So, I could not get the picture to work right, and said “Crap!” (see below) – so – if you want to see a flow chart template, click here!)

I recently admitted to my co-workers that when I was a kid, I used my dad’s flow chart template to design drive thru’s.  That in itself is a long story for another post.  But, that combined with me doing some flowcharting tonight with Lucidchart made me realize how much smarter, or at least how much more patient, the generation before me had to be.

As I was flowcharting tonight, if things ran into each other (had logic problems), I simply drag and dropped them – moving them out of the way and messing with the logic until it semi-made sense.  Can you imagine the people with the template, paper and the pencil?  Holy cow; they had to either:

A) Run into a block / dead end, say “Crap!” (or whatever they said back then – they were probably more PC), erase to no end, or, toss the paper and start again.  Or….

B) Really knew there crap (Crap!  there’s that word again!  Guess I need to be more PC) and were smart enough to see it in their minds eye; they had to figure it out more before they drew it.  Or, their brains were just that much smarter than mine.

I haven’t put all this together in my minds eye yet; but today’s tools are pretty cool – yet, are they helping us become a smarter society?

S Voice

I love my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I’ve had Notes from 2 till now.  On all of them, I’ve used S Voice (or S-Voice for search purposes) off and on.  Sometimes to get the goat of my daughters when I try to claim that it is better than Siri.  (Try is the key word. Once in a blue moon it wins our little competitions, but it is that rare.)  Sometimes to hear the same joke once again.  Most of the time to read text messages.  That last feature as ceased working in the version on my Note 4.

I even wondered if I was asking the wrong thing, so I looked at the help and used the “Read my messages” command.  S Voice would say:

You have a new message.

I would say:

Blankity Blank! Read my messages!

S Voice would say:

It doesn’t look like you have any new messages.  Please try again when you have received a new message. “

I would say:

Why you little…..!!!!!

I’ve cleared all data on S Voice to reset it to no avail.  I tried S Voice on another Note 4 and my friends does the same thing. (His also does not have the S Cover like mine. Sometimes S Voice gets testy and says, ” Use S Voice with the cover open {you idiot! }”

Has anyone else had the same problem?

Does anyone use another program to receive and send text messages that they recommend?

Samsung, can you please fix S Voice so I can have texting back? Improving it so I can win against my daughters would be a bonus also!  :-)

S Voice Help on Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Why I Uninstalled Foursquare and Why They Are Dead

I have been fuming since I updated my Foursquare the other day, tried to check in, and lone and behold it said….

“Hey, we moved check in’s to Swarm, go install that.”

My daughter, so quick with the ‘net, said “huh, yup, they did, and, the whole ‘mayor thing’ is gone.”

WTF? Are you kidding me?

NPR has a good overview of it all here:

Some Loyal Foursquare Users Are Checking Out After Swarm Spinoff : All Tech Considered : NPR.

… and hit the nail on the head with this statement:

“Foursquare … {has} gutted the very reason people used it (check-ins and competing with friends) and moved it on to something else … leaving behind a completely different experience on the main Foursquare app.”

Foursquare has said (admittedly – this is from my limited reading) that they want to focus on becoming the “real” local site.  This KILLS me – I love the check in’s – but – I’ve always wanted them to give me suggestions on where I should go based on where I am and my check-in’s (what I like).  They’ve been promising that in update descriptions for a long time.  Noooowwww, they are saying, “gee, that’s the way we really want to go, but, sorry, we are killing off the thing that is our core; the glue that brings you here so maybe we’ll finally get our ducks in a row.  Bye.”

So, I close yet another chapter in my life, uninstall Foursquare, and move on.  Good luck, Foursquare.  If you need a business consultant, give me a shout!  You are going to need it.

Volvo 940SE and the Junk Yard Adventure

Jeffrey and Becca at the YardMy oldest daughter and I spent our Saturday at a junk yard for the first time.  It was good times.

I had made a list in my Evernote Notebook of things we wanted to find.  We had some neat finds, some success and some frustrations.

Finds

We found one 960 sedan and one 960 wagon.  Both are gold, and have great, rust free doors (I need the drivers side door at some point – but didn’t feel like I was ready to pull it this time.)  We found a red 1996 960 wagon.  You can tell they really did make the 960 more of a luxury car – much more nose insulation; a much nicer steering wheel.  I also did confirm (which I’ll write here as I can’t seem to find confirmation about this out on the web) that my 940SE (940 SE) is really a first version of the 960.  Short of the fact I have the Turbo 4 (sorry, Volvo aficionados – don’t have my exact engine model number handy) and doesn’t have the upgraded interior trim and noise insulation, its interior design changes are all 940.  It was neat to explore these cars and learn more about them.

Donor Volvo 960 Wagon

Successes

We found the rear seat with the kid booster (that I want to find a way to put in the 940SE to be Charlie’s future seat.  We found the desired instrument cluster bezel (some previous mechanic tour mine up to no end), as well as better looking trim (will show in another post), and new headlight lenses (yay!  Finally!  With those and the new grill from ebay I can start reducing the ghetto look!).

Frustrations

We spent a lot of time on two items (being the amateurs we are).  The back seats took us a lot of time to get out.  And, now, looking at my 940SE, it looks like the latches and the way the seats connect is significantly different. (Sounds like a phone call to Allison Customs again!)

We also spent a lot of time getting the glove box door out.  We ended up in a Passenger Air Bag Equipped car, and getting the glove box and door out of that was basically impossible.  Upon post research, and as demonstrated by getting my glove box out in about three minutes, finding a non-airbag car would have made for an easy win.  Oh well, live and learn.

Over All Excited

All and all, I’m excited that we have some good parts to keep the project moving forward.

The Project and The Accomplishment

Driving the New Purchase Home

Several months ago, I got back into my “tied for first place” dream car.  I purchased a used 1991 Volvo 940 SE Turbo Wagon.  I love these cars.  They are fun to drive; they are comfortable; they are versatile with their room.  The plan was for this to be a project car and rebuild it / build it into what I’ve always had in my mind’s eye.  Well, with the move to New Mexico, that got put on hold until recently.

Necessity required me to get “back into the grease” recently.  From day one, the car’s interior electronics would not come on until you revved the engine to about 3 or 4 grand.  I kind of always wondered what would happen if you didn’t.  A friend of ours borrowed the car one day and, well, we found out.  It dies; completely draining the battery.  I’ll write the rest of the gory details below for anyone who is interested.

I was able to figure out and fix the “revv or die” issue – which felt good and has motivated me to push on with the dream car.

If you are interested in following along, keep an eye out here.  Also, I’ve set up an Evernote notebook for the project.  Make sure to sort by “Note Title – Ascending” to see the notebook in the right order.  The numbered notes are my “To Do’s.”  The rest are self explanatory.

https://www.evernote.com/pub/jeffreywcox/Volvo940SEProject

 


The Repair Details

I started to do some testing and found that the alternator was not charging the battery until you did the revved up.  More research, plus input from my buddy at Allison Customs, told me that either the alternator was bad, or, the “exciter wire” was not connected.  So, a couple of weekends ago I pulled the alternator (an accomplishment for a code monkey like me as it required pulling apart the intercooler to get it out) and had it tested.  It tested good.  So, it must have been that exciter wire.  I found a post in the Inter-web that said it goes through the instrument cluster – directly connected to the “Charging Problem Light.”  I did a quick test to confirm that there was no connection.  More searching revealed that Volvo, sadly, did not do a good job with their solder joins.  So, I pulled the cluster, resoldered all the joints, and, victory(!), the instruments all work and the car charges on start.

Specifics about what to resolder, as well as pictures of my situation, are in my Evernote notebook above.

Funny, though – with all the warning lights working again, the Brake and ABS warning lights are now on – ah, just some more TLC to perform. 😉

Evernote for Tasks

As many know, I wrote an add in for Microsoft Outlook to help with task management for business users.  Alas, that’s water under the bridge.  So, now I use Evernote for this task.

I love Evernote.   I love that I can:

  •  Capture everything.
    • Mobile – if I’m out and around, the Evernote for Android client let’s me get things into my Inbox quickly and off my mind, especially:
      • Receipts using the Page Camera.
      • Quick notes to remember to do something.
      • Sometimes an audio note if I’m driving.
    • Email – I use Outlook for work and Gmail for personal.  Both have Evernote add-in’s that let me quickly throw an email into the InBox.
    • Web – If I’m browsing the web in Google Chrome and see something I want to keep, Evernote Web Clipper let’s me capture it in a form that will work for future reference.  Sometimes I send these to my InBox, or sometimes I send it straight to my Reading notebook for future reading.
      • I like to cook.  I will look up or find recipes and throw these right into my Recipes notebook.

You may have picked up on “InBox.”  Yup; I use David Allen’s GTD.  And, if you want a step by step “getting started” guide, go buy David’s “Evernote for Windows Setup Guide.”  It’s worth the $10.  I had things fairly figured out, but I picked up some tips and tricks from this, as well as simple motivation.

Prior to this, I had started with (okay, don’t laugh at the title), The Secret Weapon.  It brings in lot of good GTD concepts and is a great jump-starter as they did everything in videos.  (Make sure to check out their About Page for an overview.)  I ended up not staying with this system.  The issue – everything is more “priority” based, but as David says, and as we know, priorities shift on an hourly basis.  I was finding that keeping priorities set was a struggle.  Everything always went to urgent.  Other stuff never surfaced.  So, I’m pretty much on David’s guide’s method now.

Struggle is a good word to wrap up with here.  I again love (just no better word for it) Evernote as I can search (anywhere, on my phone, jump on a web browser in a hotel), organize, have everything protected up in the cloud, share.  Once you really start putting everything in Evernote, it’s very powerful.  But, overload and priorities are where I’m currently struggling with task management (not Evernote the tool).  I have things coming at me every minute of every day in my day job (home too).  I don’t feel 100% in control and that’s very stressful.  Alas, as I write this, I remember a couple of things:

  • If you are a person of Faith, well, then you are not supposed to be in control – He is.  Let Him control it and he will guide your way.  If you try to control it, you will just screw it up. :-)
  • I had the opportunity once to attend a GTD class David ran.  After words, I asked him about the over load and he said something to me that was profound (and, sadly, I forget from time to time until moments like this) – “You have to get comfortable with the fact that you have a lot of things on your lists.”  You have to just let it go and trust that the system will bring you back around to these things at the right time and place.

“Mind like water.” That’s where we have to get to.  Evernote has proven to be a great tool to let me “cast things off” and work on getting to that state.

A Great Chromebook Alternative

Related to my other posts about liking then having problems with the Chromebook, I wanted to post about my new favorite Ultrabook.

Walmart sells the Acer Aspire S3 for $395.

This hits all the things I said about the Chromebook that I love.  Light.  Instant on. Great keyboard.

It seems a hair more solid than the Samsung Chromebook.

It comes, of course, with Windows 8.  That’s been a bit of a paradigm shift – something for another post.

All in all, if you are looking for an inexpensive yet fairly powerful and comfortable notebook, this is what I would recommend.

Here to help you move forward.