Working like it’s 1999

So talk about flashbacks! Today I did some honest-to-God PC hardware work. Last week my hardworking beast of a desktop PC crashed and was out for the count. It was the Motherboard from what I could tell. I would hit power, it would boot on, I might see the Bios screen and then it would reboot again. So I just left the machine off and proceeded to get sick over the weekend.

Come Monday I’m mostly recovered and I mention the problem to dad. He agreed with my assessment but life continued to intervene (largely because I’ve changed, namely I’d rather spend time with K than fix my desktop, I’ve got my laptop anyways.) So tonight I come home and put in two hours of elbow grease, testing this replacement board to be sure it works before I go through the motions. Sure enough, it all came back to me. The necessary connections, the jumper settings, the cable hook-ups. Sheesh, you’d think I did this all the damn time while growing up.

So the desktop is back up and working, and tomorrow stay tuned as I tell you what my big project is right now.

Of Estates and Sailing

I have fond memories of waking up and going deal hunting with mom. She instilled in me a love for finding the bargain. While I’m not skimpy and I do love the latest gadgets, there is a zen-like joy to finding the $45 item for $3. So when I suggested that K and I do something similar, I was quite excited when she readily agreed.

This morning was, to put it plainly, swell. Or if you want the phrase from the next decade, a hoot! We just had a blast. I had found a single garage sale online, mapped out the route, and off we went. All in all we hit ten sales, from garage sales with just the barest of items, to the moving sales with everything including the kitchen sink, to an estate sale that left us with stories to tell for ages to come. More on the last of those later on.

All in all, we only made purchases from one sale today. I snagged two things: 1, a laptop cooler which sits under the laptop and operates two fans to pull heat off of it (so far it seems to work great.) And second I purchased a director’s chair. Something to be used on the yet to be revealed super-secret-project!

Finding value is the key. K and I had a great time perusing the garage sales, driving the residentially populated suburbs and looking for the child-drawn sale signs. It’s a blast to whip a u-turn after spotting a poorly marked sign. One such sign though led us on a journey neither of us are soon to forget.

Imagine if you will, a sign for an estate sale. JACKPOT! Estate sales are awesome, entire houses marked to sell. Usually. This one was not what you would expect. While the entire house was up for sale, nothing was priced, and it was owned by a family who believed themselves to be royalty. Each doorway was labeled in gold stenciled letters above the jamb with names like “The 24 ct Parlor” or “The King’s Throne Room” or “The Billiard Parlor.” Okay, that’s cute, but it gets a little eerie when you seem to believe it.

The family was a black family, and the matriarch owned, no joke, 300 hats. Every single room had hat stands and her closet had multiple levels of shelves covered in hats. It went beyond the level of funny and into the realm of absolute f*cking nuts. I mean K and I were doing a valiant job holding in the laughter.

The pinnacle of the stop came when we were perusing the rooms and I was drafted by the ladies running the “estate sale” to help them take a piece of art off the wall. The woman in charge was conferring with another woman and said, “Well we’ve got a basketball looking guy up here, maybe we can get him to help take it down.” I kept walking acting as if I hadn’t heard her, but she came up to me a few minutes later and asked me directly. I shrugged and headed down to take care of it. I lifted it off and handed it to the purchaser and then we headed out. This stop was too much.

The moment we got to our car, we couldn’t stop laughing and remembering the items we saw around the house, including the Scientologist pamphlets and tiny bed for the dog, complete with doggie tutu.

Value was not to be found for us in that house. For us. The owners certainly found value in their possessions. And in truth, while we laugh, who are we to judge them? Well that’s a simple answer, we’re us. I hate people who say “Don’t judge.” Of course judge, just don’t let your judgment be set in stone. That’s where the problem comes.

My boss David is writing on the company’s blog about finding value in terms internet startups, and in terms of search engines and search engine optimization. While I knew what SEO was, I didn’t really understand it in its finer workings. The search engines are cold heartless machines judging each and every page on the Internet, looking for value, weight, responsibility, respectedness, links, references, etc. Those who understand that system have an inherent advantage over everyone else on the Internet.

Value is everywhere. Judgment is everywhere.

Daily Show is Gen Y’s SNL

Looking back over the history of comedy, much of the great US Comedians came through specific channels. Working at a comedy theatre has opened a door to understand the channels which most comedians flow through. Please note that I say most not all. There are always people who buck the system and make their own route, but the large majority of comedians went through various institutions.

For the previous generation, the large selection of comedians went through SNL before breaking out on their own but today it seems as if the talented proving grounds is the Comedy Central show with Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show.” They’ve had Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, John Hodgmann is up and coming, and a small handful of other comedians who are working their way out. Sure SNL has put out a few as well, but in terms of relevance I hear people talking about The Daily Show a lot more than SNL.

This could be attributed to the fact that The Daily Show is, well, daily. And SNL is only weekly, but I honestly only know a small handful of people who watch SNL and talk about it. I know some friends who dream of breaking out as comedians and so they watch it, but other than that, I think SNL is appealing to our parents and our older siblings.

The Daily Show has its spin off, The Colbert Report, which has proven to be meteoric in its success, but it hasn’t produced the comedians that Jon Stewart’s show has. Yet.

So watch out Lorne Michaels, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are gunning for you!

The (big) News

So, I’ve kept it tight lipped until now, but I think it’s safe for me to begin spreading the word. The world of Trick is changing. It all began when I got determined to look for a new job. I put my resumé on Monster.com and was shocked to discover the response. I’d never imagined that I would get as many calls as I did, though I had a few things to learn.

Putting your resumé on Monster.com is a great choice, just be prepared for calls from people who can’t actually give you a job. Most of the calls I received were from job placement agencies. While useful as middle-men I found it tiring to deal with them, and also they’re hugely unaware of geographical locations and qualifications. I had one guy call me about a job in Clearwater (2+ hours away) for a job I was no where near qualified for.

What I did get was a call from an Orlando based dot-com called Databanq (that’s not a g) Media. I’ll let their website tell you what they do (+2 to geekiness if you can understand it.)

DataBanq Media is an Internet technology company specializing in vertically oriented informational websites, business directories, search technologies and publishing platforms. The DataBanq Media Network provides consumers and businesses with high quality content, tools & resources while establishing vertical segmentation for buyers and sellers to interact in a transparent, efficient marketplace. In the coming months we will highlight network properties and other DataBanq applications as they are released from initial beta environments.

In layman’s terms and a great simplification for them, they build websites which rank well in Google for various terms, and then provide the capability to companies to make use of their well ranking website.

The job is a substantial increase in pay, it provides full benefits, and it won’t interfere with Dragon*Con at all. In fact, D*C helped me get the job I think. Well, that and the fact that I play Magic: The Gathering. I have a web design portfolio at http://www.trickjarrett.com/portfolio/ and in it I link to one of my projects, an RSS aggregator for Magic websites. This is one thing which I think really helped me snag the job.

I went to an interview with the big boss at Databanq (from here on it’ll just be Dq) the day before I left for Chicago. I was on vacation when they called and made me an offer. I then let SAK know as soon as I got back in town and now it’s just been waiting to be sure they had someone to fill my shoes (they do but I can’t say who yet.)

The first day of my new job is Monday, August 6th. The last day as SAK’s main guy is Friday, August 3rd. I’m really excited to be about to enter the world of a 9-5 again, I’ll have my evenings free to hang with K, play D&D, and probably work some Magic games this season (hopefully.)

Ideas are flowing

I am and always will be a person ruled by my ideas. Having all these days to myself gives me lots of time to doodle and jot down ideas. I’m carrying a spiral notebook which I’m using for those ideas. Right now I’m holed up in a diner down the street from Wrigley field and right next to improvOlympic.

I’ve made a video I was going to use for my day 3 video journal, but when I put it on the computer I discovered that it had some bad color issues and streaks which crossed the video. Looks like my little Kodak is on its way out, hopefully it lasts through the trip! Regardless it means that I’ll be needing a new digital camera in the next few days.

Today I was reading Paul Stamatiou’s blog, who is in turn highlighting points from David Kirkpatrick’s interview with various technology big wigs, one of which is Jonathan Schwartz who is the big wig of Sun Microsystems. He notes that the telephone has taken the most unexpected turn for him, discussing the rampant take over of mobile phones.

In that moment I had a flash of the office of tomorrow where office phones are a thing of the past. We can’t be that far from multi-line cell phones. Sure you can flash over and make a three way call from your phone, but imagine the day when you can take a call from Jan in accounting, and in turn place a call to your supplier in Wyoming. The day isn’t far, and when it reaches that point we’ll begin seeing offices drop the in house phone lines instead for massive cellular plans for all of their employees.

I also love Jonathan’s answer to the question of what really drives innovation:

Courage. Courage to challenge conventional wisdom, to wholly commit to an idea or ideal, to lead and inspire those around you, whether they’re collaborators or customers.