Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Lend Books on Amazon Kindle

There is an excellent writeup on how to lend books on Amazon Kindle over at mashable:
Kindle Lending How To.

Previously I have discussed sharing books on amazon kindle. Now lending is finally out. Yay!

I find it unfortunately that you can only lend each book one time, you have to use their website to lend, the person lent to has to use their website to return the book early.

Somehow, I would much prefer a solution to share books in person or that allows you to share more. I applaud this first step into the world of sharing though.

I would love to be able to take my Kindle, bump your Kindle, and have transferred a book.

To the Future!

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Don't Know What is Worse...

  • The Picture
  • The Hats
  • Or The Fact That There is Obviously a Serial Killer on the Loose...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Share Books on Amazon Kindle

A common question I get is how do you share books between more than one Amazon Kindle? There are two basic answers to this question. First, the setup that I use:

It turns out that I have 7 Kindle like things in my life. Two of them are literally Kindles, the rest are mobile phones or computers. If you trust someone, say your spouse, and want to share books with them, there is an easy way. You just have to tie the Kindles to the same Amazon account. All book purchases made through the device will be to the same credit card. This approach has a few pros and cons.

First, you must truly trust the other person. While this is typically easy for spouses, it gets a little bit harder for people that are less closely related. What about a really close friend? What about a book circle? For myself, I chose the wife only option and have not regretted it at all.

Second, the really cool background sync feature may start to work against you. If the two of you happen to be reading the same book, either together or one after another, it will keep asking to sync to the furthest page read. Amazon is setup to read through a book just one time. They don’t, to my knowledge, allow you to restart your book. Their system also occasionally makes mistakes:
If you can deal with these issues, it is possible to build a much more robust library than one person would alone. It is also easier to enjoy books together. Since, at this time, Amazon does not allow transfer of Kindle books between accounts, the key action is to setup your Kindle on the same account from the get go. Any books you purchase on the other account will only be accessible if you re-register your Kindle back to the other account. According to the Kindle support forums and eHow Share books between Kindle accounts, you can keep the books on the device after it is deregistered. That means you can flip over to someone else’s account, download a few books, and flip back. Book copies are limited to around 5 devices.

The other option is far simpler, just wait for Amazon’s soon to be released Kindle lending feature. With the first solution, two or more people can be reading at the same time. With the Amazon solution, it looks like you will give up your rights to the book for up to two weeks and someone else will gain them. Also, not all books will be available for lending. This is where the paper book analogy starts to get me. I can do this with paper. They have a new cheaper distribution mechanism, which they sometimes charge more for, and they are taking away capabilities from their customers. Grrr… For what it is worth, my book, Leading and Managing in Silicon Valley, should be able to be read aloud and shared (if not, let me know).


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Netflix, Please Stop Offering my Toddler Dexter

Dear Netflix,

I have been using your service for a long time now. I love your prices. I love getting little red movie envelopes in the mail. I love your scalable model. I love the fact that I can have a huge queue of movies and not have to start the decision process over again every time I walk into the store. Recently, I have also been enjoying some movies or TV shows on demand. Your streaming service is excellent.

Over the years that I have been using your service, my family has grown. I now have two kids. My toddler loves watching shows streamed from you. Since both I, and my toddler, love watching shows on your service, I have a problem.

Dexter, specifically, is my current problem. He is crafty. He plans ahead. He shows up in the recently viewed list right along side shows full of animated diggers and back hoes. 

From reviewing your site, I only see the option of blocking myself from watching movies above a particular rating. This is a nice feature, but cutting off the ability to watch instant shows does not feel too good. Any chance of offering a streaming account for kids? Just another set of credentials for a customer that already has unlimited access already? Having visibility into the account to only show shows that are rated appropriately based on who is currently signed on would be awesome.

Your Loyal Customer,
Jacob Taylor

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot, Father of Fractals

Goodbye to the Father of Fractals | Inside NOVA | PBS

I was very sorry to hear about this. I am not sure which article referenced it, but I found a YouTube video dedicated to him. I particularly like the shot at 1:43 which reminds me of some of the Hubble deep space shots.

I wish they had raced along the separator at 0:46 or 1:23 for a bit. The idea of following a shrinking thing forever without hitting the bottom is very appealing.

I'm not sure about you, but I grew up looking at this algorithm and wondering what was possible. We would make changes to the position and wait quite a while to see the outcome. It is nice to be able to see a video exploring the depths.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Invited to "Waiting for Superman"

I follow Tim Ferris. A few days ago, he sent out an invitation to Waiting for Superman. I have been heads down building my new company and I figured this was actually part of the Superman franchise. I watched the trailer. Yikes!

I need to see this movie. According to the trailer, the US is near last among the industrialized nations in many areas (math being one.) The one area where US is the top: Confidence. Ouch. It is too easy to correlate what people say with the results these days. Confidence without follow through is a recipe for disaster.

Worried for the future and our children.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thanks for All the Hits

Last month was a stellar month for my blog.

First, it was the 2 year anniversary of the blog. I had no idea. I will post more often.

Second, last month we had more hits than in the previous 47 months.

For the first time in quite a while, How to Zoom on Amazon Kindle, is no longer the top article for the month. That prize has now fallen to: Does Anybody Think Messing with a Drivers Reality is a good idea? Thankfully almost nobody is running around querying Google for "Messing with driver reality". The traffic came from my Twitter followers (@thejacobtaylor), FeedBurner readers, and referrals from: Lenore Skenazy

Lenore, you have quite the interesting blog. I agree that we spend far too much time with our kids locked up in little boxes worrying in fear if there is a possibility that they can get hurt on an inside corner. That being said, sometimes, just sitting there watching the kids playing can be aerobic exercise.

Today, I watched two little boys get in a disagreement over a doll. They each grabbed a limb and started to pull. This bothered me. When one of them made a fist and started to pummel the other one in the face, I got them to stop immediately. I still have not figured out what to do in situations like this. Neither of these children were mine. Both had parents within about 100 feet. In fact, I later heard one of the parents complaining to the child that was being punched in the face repeatedly about his name calling. I am not entirely sure that he was paying enough attention to the furious motion on the play structure. He looked up after I made it clear that activity had to stop but, kids being kids, it stopped much faster than it takes for a human head to rotate. As it was, neither kid appeared to be getting hurt and they stopped after hearing my voice. I am thinking that they heard that if they did not stop hitting each other in about 5 seconds I would be there with one in each hand.

Just to clarify, when I wrote the title of this blog entry, "Thanks for all the Hits." I had not intended to share  the punching story. I am leaving the title because brutal puns are apparently part of my nature.

Thank you for reading.

If you write in English and you have thoughts that don't involve endorsing a product or a link farm, please feel free to comment.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Speaking of Messing with your Mind while Driving...

I ran into an interesting car on the freeway the other day. At first, I thought it was a trailer. It was that low to the ground. Then, it pulled to the side of the car that I thought it was attached to. I pulled up along side it and snapped a painfully slow picture with my cell phone.
Ford GT40 Sighting
It took a little while to track down. It turns out that this car is only 40 inches from top to pavement. Very impressive. I found a page that describes them: Beautiful and Ugly Machines: Ford GT40. I am glad that I had a chance to see this beast.

Back to messing with your mind...

Typically, when I see a sports car, people move out of the way to let it go by. I have personally had this experience. I purchased a 2005 Toyota MR2 (was my dream car) and drove it from San Francisco to Los Angles. The weather was bad, well at least bad for California. I encountered mud slides, pouring rain, and a small flood. I actually was able to ask someone on a Jet Ski to come over and tell me how deep the water was before proceeding. They did, I did, and we all made it home safely. I was on a little two lane road that wound its way in and out of rolling hills. At some point, I realized that this was the scenery for several of my favorite games. The stick shift in the car even had the same top as the one in the game. Where was I? Oh yeah, so, weather was a little bad and I was new to the car so I was trying to drive slowly. For the entire ride, people just kept pulling to the right. It is hard to not accelerate when someone pulls to the right for you.

The Ford GT40 was far more exotic. People were surging towards it instead of away. Instead of projecting a cone of power that people tried to avoid, the car was like a beleaguered actor surrounded by an ever changing collection of teenagers while trying to escape to their car.

It makes me wonder. Would I really want a car that is so exotic or cool that people drift towards it on the freeway? I think not. I would probably always end up punching it to squeeze out of tight spaces or close calls.

Do any of you have cars that exotic?
Do you take them on normal roads?
What do you do about the traffic?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Does anybody think messing with a driver's reality is a good idea?

3D Image of Child Chasing Ball

Illusion in Street Tries to Change Driver's Attitude

Can you imagine driving down the road and seeing this image? It looks like a child, right in front of you. If you were distracted, you have only seconds to decide. Should I swerve into oncoming traffic or into the tree, or drive straight over the child. Personally, for me, I am pretty sure what the answer is. First, protect the defenseless child, second, protect the passengers in my car (if any), third protect other drivers. Please note that the odds of me just running over the "child" are really low.

On the other hand, there is a chance that I could be suspicious of the optical illusion. Now you are forcing me to alter my view of reality and question my ability to perceive what is around me. I am not questioning if I am driving too fast. I am more distracted than a drunk driver, questioning if what I am seeing is correct, marveling at the illusion, thinking about taking a picture, thinking about calling someone, ...." All while driving a several thousand pound vehicle down the road. Hrm.....good idea? I think not.

Assuming I pass the test, realize it is an illusion and drive over it, what next? I have run into this scenario almost exactly in real life. My best friend at the time was driving. It looked just like the image. Ball comes out from blind spot (he stoppes and says wait for it), child comes out from blind stop, stops, bends over to pick up ball, and right then looks up for the first time. If he had not been paying attention, the child would likely have died.

Now, if this kind of artwork gets people ignoring this kind of image in the road it will cause people to do something very dangerous. They will have a mental bucket that says, "a fake image on the road". This is bucket to which they will likely only assign fake images. When they are distracted though, there is a chance that they will put a real child with a ball or other object into that bucket. We really do not look at things. We glance just long enough to classify them and then mentally hold up the fake object. How many times have you clearly seen something only to later look closer and find out you were completely wrong. If you cannot think of an instance, contemplate monsters you could see before the lights were turned on.

For the sake of my children and other's children, please don't place mind altering images on the road. You will only end up killing people!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Considering a new Target Domain

I have been spending more and more time getting involved in my daughter's school. It turns out, just like large companies, they have many technology related issues. I have shamelessly stepped forward and entered the fray.

That being said, it looks like Adaptive Intelligence Inc's software could actually be a great fit for schools. I am looking into what I might have to offer.

I am also starting to participate in Project Cornerstone. As far as I can tell it is a project that has been working to build the leaders of tomorrow. It is also showing results. From a high level, they are helping encourage people to learn, read, and provide a safe environment for themselves and others. If all works out, I will blog on the "Developmental Assets" that they consider key to success in school and in life.

I am hoping to grow greatly from my involvement in this program and also to help others around the world by documenting the experience and highlighting resources, activities, and effective techniques.


"Developmental Assets" is trademarked by Search Institue. Search Institute is also trademarked by Search Institute. (does anybody else hear an echo, I cannot give attribution without giving attribution for my attribution).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting PIL to work well on Snow Leopard

I was trying to update my environment and ran into some linker problems. It turns out that PIL was not working well. My Python is 64 bit, the python that my environment was trying to use was i386 and ppc. I have not been building ppc files. I found a few great references out there.
Universal Binaries on Mac Ports was the best. Modifying your varients.conf file to include:
Gets you half of the way. If you need ppc support under a 64 bit Intel setup, you need to add them manually into macports.conf:
# machine architectures
universal_archs x86_64 i386
Changes to:
# machine architectures
universal_archs x86_64 i386 ppc
Save these two files and then rebuild. In this case, I was rebuilding a PIL dependency jpeg. I also found out I had to add a few more dependencies for linking to be happy:
sudo port upgrade --force jpeg
sudo port install zlib
sudo port install freetype 
The "--force" made sure to stomp over the existing compile even though other things depended on it. As mentioned in the article referenced at the top, the way to nuke and rebuild everything is by running "sudo port upgrade --force installed". I do not recommend this unless you need to or have a lot of time on your hands. It will all be rebuilt. :)

Hope this helps someone. If it does, please let me know.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Apple was Right, and Other Updates

It turns out that Apple's iPhone 4 advertising was right. I thought It Changes Everything. Again. was pure ostentatious marketing fluff. I was duped by the "higher resolution than the human retina" line for a little while. I figured this line was just pure easy proof that Apple had finally managed to jump the shark. At it turns out, it is the literal truth. They are trying to change the way people hold their phones. Yes. If you hold it in the wrong place, you loose everything. If you hold it in the right place, you are at the mercy of ATT. As they said in Sneakers, "Now you won't know who to trust." When your phone call is dropped, it must be your fault, because you were holding it. You know, your handheld device. It is so pretty, it should not be touched.

On a more positive note, as some of you may remember, my Kindle II used to be a little photo sensitive. For those who would like to see pictures of the issue: Blurry Kindle in the Sun. I am happy to report that after dropping my Kindle out of my hands and onto concrete, Amazon replaced it for free. YAY customer service! The new replacement does not have this issue. I can now change pages in the car or in the sun and the image is still clear. I have read elsewhere that the Amazon has been replacing Kindles for this issue alone. I really respect that and love it when a company stands behind their products.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nobody Died at My House Last Night

I know, yet another sensational title. I do find them quite entertaining though.

Yesterday morning, I made my morning rounds to say good morning to everybody. You would not think this a big deal until I mention that I have 6 bedrooms 4 bathrooms 4 large heartbeats and 5 small ones to keep track of. No, I have not started breeding genetically engineered pack hunters.

My daughter is now 5 and has been wanting a dog for a long time. We are currently between houses and renting and would rather delay a dog until she can help provide more of the care for it. Fish were the obvious answer. We went to the store, looked around, window shopped, checked prices, and left. We actually left without purchasing any fish. How cruel is that?

A little while later, we went back to window shopping at the pet store. Aeryn was so cute with the little fishies. I could not help myself. Yousun threw up her hands and said it was "on you." We picked up a darling little Aerial tank and two female bettas. I like predatory animals. Not vicious mind you. Interactive. Smart. Fast. Sleek. When you walk in the room, they notice you and react. When you do things near them, they are trying to watch and figure out what you are up to. In fact, when we were feeding them about a week ago, one of the pellets missed and stuck on the lip of the tank partially over the edge (it was wet). Before I could get to it and push it in, one of the bettas jumped out of the water, snagged it, and went back in.

They are crafty little buggers. Unfortunately, those two just did not want to play nice. The bigger one was getting bigger at a very fast pace. The little one was not. One night, I came in to feed them and I did not even see the little one. We looked all over. There really was only one place to hide, the huge castle that I was convinced to buy for the tiny tank. I very carefully, very slowly, raised the castle out of the water. Still no fish. I turned it over, no obvious fish. I carefully put it back into the water. We kept looking and interacting with the other fish. Then, Aeryn noticed that the fish was poking its head out the front door. Seriously, it was popping out of a front door in a house that was about the size of its body. It liked its home.

The problem was, the interior decorating of this molded castle was not actually designed to be gentle on fins and scales. The poor little girl was scraping herself raw in spots on the edges. The castle came out. Now that she did not have a good place to hide, the other one got a little bit more aggressive and the fish came out.

We then went out to the store and purchased a tank for me and three goldfish. A few hours later I had a tank with three goldfish and one agressive betta. It turns out that she had probably never seen anything as big as one of these goldfish and they had not seen something like her that they could not eat. One test pucker later and the betta was shooting across the tank at insane velocities. She quickly figured out the narrow places to hang out.

Yesterday, when I did my rounds, I found one of the goldfish was stuck to the filter. Poor little thing. I don't know why it died, but it was only a few days. It might have been the tank or the other fish. No damage was obvious and the filter definitely did not cause it. Aeryn walked in right when I was about to clean it up. Thankfully she does not appear to have been traumatized by it. That night I was off buying more stuff for bettas to hide and two more bettas. Aeryn was finally going to get her replacement betta.

As it turns out, the betta that we purchased for her might have been a boy. If you don't know. Bettas are also called Siamese Fighting Fish. Two boys will fight to the death instantly. The top of the cup said girl. We later found out that the side of the cup said boy. When introduced into Aeryn's tank, they performed some impressive displays, and started to arc around each other and move in slow circles. I thought they were being friendly.

Then the slow circles started to leap in different directions by an entire body length instantly. Occasionally they would end up in odd positions. After one of those lurches, the agressive girl betta had a nice long chunk of fin in her mouth which she slowly proceeded to slurp in like a kid with a spaghetti noodle. She quickly found herself out of that tank.

A little while later she was in my tank with more foliage and hiding places. As I was writing this, two of the bettas were actually snuggled together side by side in a hollow that I had scooped out of the rocks. They are pretty little fish.

The goldfish are acting like they are pressed for space. Many times, one of them will chase and follow around the other fish. I thought he was just being frisky, but I only see one of the signs that it is a he so I am not sure. Oh, the other odd thing is they look pressed for space in a 20 gallon tank.

We shall see. I hope they are all happy. I hope they all live a long time. In the meantime, I will continue doing my daily body count to make sure everybody is still here.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Meeting Your Idols and Heroes

I was listening to NPR today and they were talking about a director meeting one of his idols. Meeting an idol, as they mentioned, is not always a good thing. So far, thankfully, they have generally been pretty good experiences so far. I have had the great pleasure to meet many wonderful people during my life. Sometimes things go smoothly.

When I met Larry Augustin in 2004 we had a wonderful meeting. We were looking for some advice while we were starting SugarCRM Inc. He very quickly validated our business model and helped clarify the tools that we had at our disposal. That kind of background knowledge directly from one of the founders of the open source movement was invaluable. Over the years, his advice was very valuable and I am pleased to count him as a mentor, friend, and advisor. Larry has later gone on to have a much more active role in SugarCRM Inc. In his current role as CEO, he has helped ramp up the company towards its full potential.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite authors, when he spoke at our group's convention and then went out to dinner with us. He had tons of fascinating stories. I noticed after a while, that many of the regulars where quite a bit far behind where they could not hear well. I dropped back and asked them what was going on. The response was something like, "yeah, these stories are excellent the first two or three times." I am sure I have managed to bore a few people myself. Have you ever had one of those times where you could not remember someone when you were being reintroduced?

I managed to do that a few months ago with Chris Schiflett. I have actually met him a few times, read his blog on and off, and have read at least a few of his articles and possibly even a book. When Travis Swicegood verified that I knew him I totally spaced and forgot all of that. Sorry Chris. It was me, not you.

Sometimes, I find myself walking around a convention realizing that I recognize up to 50% of the people. After a very short while I find myself in a kind of trance. At that point, it is actually hard for me to recognize people that I know rather well.

There are a few people that I have met where I really don't have much to say to them. For instance, Don Box, when I mentioned that I loved "Essential Com" back in the day, appreciated it, but that was all I had. It made for a bit of an awkward moment. When I was studying excellent speaking, I had just finished reading about Carly Fiorina. A few days later, I had the chance to hear her speak and really wanted to say how impressed I was. Again, not a bad start, but I had nothing to back it up.

Thankfully, I have also had the opportunity to meet tons of other people and things usually proceed much better. Sometimes it is nice to keep people perfect idols and not pull them off the pedestal by meeting the actual human. Personally, I love the chance to meet people. Achievements are more meaningful because we are human, not despite the fact that we are human.

Find and idol and say hello. If they are busy, be respectful. If not, you might get a chance to actually meet them. I think it is worth surrounding yourself with as many wonderful people as possible. The world is full of them.

Happy Hunting,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

This is a piece of age old wisdom, but you should always be careful what you wish for. Last night, I was biking up a nice long hill. I was tired and approaching a major intersection that has a terrible bike path to right turn lane merge.

I was trying to build up speed, peddling harder, and downshifting rapidly. I kept willing my bike to make it easier to pedal. A few seconds later, it became really easy to pedal. I had managed to shift my bike chain right off the front gear. A few seconds later, I was back on the road, pondering again the phrase "Be careful what you wish for."

In life, we often find ourselves wishing for something that we don't have. When you want something focus on what you want and how you would like to get it.

Take Care,

Where Vehicles Are now...

Not sure what happened to this post, but it appears to have not been published. Publishing now.

The Army has been making use of little nearly indistructable spy vehicles called Throwbots. I like the idea of smaller vehicles taking the place of people in risky situations. I don't like the idea of never quite knowing if your conversations are private. I think there might be such a thing as too good in this case. These guys were used initially to help explore the rubble of the world trade center. This is a great use of the technology. I think helping to find mines and clear them, as well as scouting in hazardous situations are also great uses.

In unrelated news, I had a lot of fun with a simple iPhone holder that I heard about. You can create a holder for your iPhone using a business card. Today, I read a blog entry about creating an iPhone holder from an airplane barf bag. Now you can still have a holder, even if you forget your business cards. Ahhh....innovation at its finest.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Redemption of HP

Yeah, I know, ruined some of the suspense with the title. Now that you know they have redeemed themselves, I will now walk you through what they did to get on the naughty list in the first place and how they managed to redeem themselves.

I have been using a Mac for the past four years or so. I have long been a fan of fast printers. I always find that reading a printed page, or even eInk pages now, is far more relaxing on the eyes than looking straight at an electron beam. Early on, when I was first contemplating starting my new company, Adaptive Intelligence Inc., I purchased a snazzy new HP color laser printer.

Those of you who are paying attention might be thinking that there was something wrong with the printer and that is what HP did to me. Actually, it was big and a bit slow, but both of these were fine with me. Big made it faster, added an automatic scanner, network connectivity, portable memory readers, and a fax machine. A bit slow decreased the up front costs significantly.

I was happy with my new printer. It was relatively quiet, relatively fast, easy to setup and use, scanned documents in reasonable quantities, and produced great output. Basically, I received exactly what I paid for. The one nagging issue that I had was that pages printed out in the wrong order by default. It was when I jumped on the Snow Leopard bandwagon that things started to fall apart. I was cautious and made sure that HP had managed to create drivers for Snow Leopard. They had large listings of drivers and their current status. I followed the directions, cleaned the old drivers, and installed the new drivers.

Now, I had a nice snazzy printer that no longer supported scanning from or to the computer. At this point, I was frustrated. I choose two name brand companies, high end products, and was suffering compatibility issues. I managed to leverage a portable memory card, the manual controls on the printer, and a newly purchased USB memory card reader to work around the problem. Yes, in my fully wired gigabit networked home with a network enabled printer, I had recreated the kind of "sneakernet" solutions that we used to use back in the 80's. At this point though, I had faith in HP and Apple to play nice together and fix the printer. I was willing to work around the problem for a while.

Time passed and the workaround continued to irk me. I went online for updates and found that new drivers were posted and there was new firmware available for my printer. I quickly updated my printer's firmware and the drivers on my computer. Now I had a current system and it was sure to scan. I followed the directions on the HP website to use the built in OS X software for scanning. The menu items were there, but my printer was not. After a few rounds of cleaning, scanning for all things HP and moving them, restarting, and reinstalling I grumbled and went back to building my company.

I did not notice the lurking problem until I tried to deposit a check online. I scanned a check to the memory card, went to the bank's website, and tried to deposit it. They rejected the check since the resolution was too low. I went back to the controls, verified that the resolution was set right, scanned the check again, and found that it was no longer respecting the manual scan setting. Sneakernet was busted. After a few weeks of looking for updates, I finally gave up.

HP had officially made it onto my naughty list. It took me several frustrating calls, transfers, 15 minute hold times, and "your call is important to us" messages to finally get to someone that worked at HP, knew about Macs, and was able to help. We deleted all of the drivers again. We went to their website. Instead of clicking on the link for Snow Leopard, we clicked on the link for older OS X versions with no Snow Leopard support. There, inside, was a file that worked with Snow Leopard. Installing the full version took a couple of minutes. The system was then up and running well. Scanning worked from the computer (no longer really needed manual settings) again using their software. After that was working, the tech asked the always interesting question, "Is there anything else that I can help you with?"

Remember the page ordering problem that I mentioned in the beginning? I mentioned this, explained the issue, and how to reproduce it. I quickly explained that I understood the workaround, and the limitation to the workaround. Depending on how the software configured printing, you might not be able to customize the options and would have to manually reorder the pages. He took this issue, along with the manual scan resolution bug to engineering and we ended the call.

A few days later, I was surprised to see a message in my inbox from HP. Here was a driver extension that should fix the "default" paper ordering to the logical order. It worked on the first try. I am still waiting to see if the scan resolution issue gets fixed.

At this point, HP has really come through. My printer is back to being the solid reliable workhorse that I purchased. I am rid of a few nagging issues. I am able to deposit checks.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Let's Try to Remember the Silver Lining

Once upon a time, I was a young eager college student. No matter what happened, either to me, or to someone else, I was able to find some kind of silver lining. I would usually attempt to use the silver lining as a way to help the person affected feel better. I got rather fast and good at finding and pointing out the silver lining. The pinnacle of this occurred in the Acapolco's in Westwood over a dinner.

One of my Friends, Mario, had something bad that happened to him, or he lost some opportunity. I immediately came back with what was good about this situation or event. At this point, I don't even recall either the cloud or the silver lining. I only remember Mario's response. He was quite taken aback. He sputtered a little bit, and then said, "You. You and your damn silver lining." I guess he was not ready to feel better yet. He did not refute my positive spin on things. I hope that spin still helped.

In the grand scheme of things, I find two things really striking:
1. Things really seem to be going rather well in general. While there are lots of bad things going on (say war, repression, financial crises, ...) most people are living their lives as normal without too much effect.
2. People are far more gloomy than pretty much anybody has a right to be. I have encountered people that are very down because of things that do not directly affect them. It is good to feel for your fellow people, or for the environment. It is important to have empath.

It is critical to take a moment and remember what is going well and what you have. Focusing on the little slights, disappointments, and failings is the path to destruction. There will always be something wrong. There will always be something that could be better.

Too many people appear to be on that slippery slope. Today I watched a person screaming obscenities to someone else because she "stole his parking space". This one section of the lot was a little crowded, but overall, it was not too hard to find spots. What if she had actually maliciously planned her move, waited until the right second, and jumped in there taking his spot with glee at the mere prospect of his frustration? Would it be worth pulling to the side of the road, getting out of the car, and screaming obscenities at her? How about being thankful that you can breathe, are able to yell, have a car that can easily drive to the next spot, and presumably have enough money to shop.

I think we have somehow slipped into a culture where things need to be perfect for us to be happy. Once we reach that state in any area, we tend to raise the bar. One clear example of this was a goal that my wife and I set. We agreed that we would feel quite comfortable once we reached that goal. Now that we have exceeded that goal by 20x, I am hearing how uncomfortable the current situation is. What happened here? Why do we need more now than we did before? I think we are desperately questing after perfect and always raising the bar in life. I think continual improvement is important. I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best that I can be. I do not set the bar at perfect. People make mistakes, something always goes wrong, or something unexpected comes up. I will never be perfect. All I can do is be great, be myself, and handle the challenges of life with poise and confidence.

On the positive side, people are helping each other at unprecedented rates. The malls were packed with people purchasing Holiday gifts. I bet there were many wide eyed children fantastically happy when they opened their gifts. The stock market has made a pretty impressive recovery. Many companies are being started right now. Innovation is surging to amazing levels. It is easier than ever before to afford the necessities of life.

We need to support each other and work together. The future is coming and we will be there. Our kids will be there. Please take a moment and reflect on what is going right in your life. What is the best thing in your life right now. Mentally hug it. You will feel better. Not only will you feel better, everyone around you will feel better. Maybe, if there is a big enough effect, the people around them will feel better too.