Category Archives: Blogroll

The decline of deep-thought

I’ve been struggling with a growing problem lately; an inability to concentrate on a task. It’s particularly frustrating for me as I have spent a large portion of my career ‘noodling’ through large, complex problems and creating the systems to bring organization to chaos, efficiency to randomness and value where none existed.

I initially thought that it was due to my work environment. I am the only technology-centric person on my company and therefore receive a constant stream of ‘My computer is doing something wierd…’ interruptions in my day. That, coupled with numerous development projects active a given time have split my time into increasingly smaller increments of focus. So much so in fact that I’ve restructured my work scheduled to spend 3 days a week working from home to remove the ‘interruptions’.

It’s not working.

Granted, this is only my second week of the new schedule but I still find myself flitting between projects, email, IM, phone calls, not to mention household chores that are now only 3 steps away from being done. This post is a good example. During the course of writing these few paragraphs I have checked email twice, responded to an IM and attended to iTunes a few times to adjust my music.

I had thought it was an overabundance of input, too many interesting courses for my mind to pursue. My interests span a wide spectrum and I have the desire to explore them all. I felt that I lacked the discipline to focus on any given one for an extended length of time.

Turns out, I may be able to blame the Internet:

The Atlantic Online | July/August 2008 | Is Google Making Us Stupid? | Nicholas Carr

The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements.

Alas poor bag-phone, I knew you well

Yes, boys and girls, my first cell phone came in a lunchbox (does anyone under 40 even know what THAT means?) sized nylon ‘case’.  It required an external power source (cigarette lighter plug) and an external antenna.

I have fond memories of dropped calls whenever I crossed a state line (pre-roaming) and per-minute charges approaching today’s gas prices.

Back in the fabulous 80’s AMPS was the technology in use for all cell phone networks in the US.  Technology has marched on and AMPS has fallen into the same category as floppy disks and carbon paper. The two carriers with remaining AMPS coverage are scheduled to de-activate their networks next week.

The vast majority of folks won’t notice; we’ve since moved on to GSM and/or UMTS networks.  However, there are still a goodly number of devices using this technology, namely alarm systems, older GM OnStar systems and ‘remote monitoring’.

If you’re alarm system has a cellular back-up option, or you have an old GM a bit of investigation would be prudent.  GM has an info page up here.

Can you hear me now? Analog cellular networks shutting down next week

Will post for beta invite…

Xobni outlook add-in for your inboxSo I’m not above posting a link to a cool new application just to get an invite. I’m dirty… I’m a dirty, dirty engineer. Call me what you want but everyone deserves some link love!

This thing actually look pretty cool. It is an extension for <shudder> Outlook that adds some interesting features. I have some trepidations though based on something I read on an email from them…

… We have received a lot of requests for the beta and are expanding our capacity to handle the load. …

That may be paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of it. Assuming that they are not talking about supporting download traffic (Yes, that is a bit of a leap but downloads are pretty easy to support) that tells me that some part of this solution is hosted. Why would an email plugin need to be hosted? Hmm… are they passing email (or meta-email) back to some central server for analysis? Now I REALLY wanna have a look (and a network sniff) of what this thing does!

I’ll jump to the front of the invite queue of just TWO of you out there sign up for the beta. Come on… you can do it! Do it for me!