Life

This is a “quick” recap of my thoughts.

My 1st 3D modeling machine was a Quadra 800

What has been up with me some may wonder. Well, a lot. I moved, decided to pivot & am restarting my career. Oh course whenever you do that, you get a ton of recruiters emailing you with jobs from your old profession, that are no longer suitable to you. Thanks to life events, I can’t work the long hours demanded, and besides that — despite my deceptively younger looks — I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Along with that, I realized that I can’t do repairs of small devices anymore. This is somewhat sad. But considering that my iFixit kit has paid itself off at least 10 times over the years, it’s not that bad of an outcome. Another change is my outlook. Before April of this month, my view on life was that I had to clear my plate of everything put in front of me or let it pile up. However looking at my reading list, there are literally over 100 articles I simply bookmarked after the synopsis or intro that I never got back to. Add to that the countless languages (markup or compiled) I’ve looked at learning and we see a truly daunting list. I’ve decided that things will get my attention as they always have: as needed. The one thing I am putting on my plate over and over until I learn it is 3D. This follows my 2 decade old foray into 3D when I bought some, now defunct, program to run on my Quadra 800. It took hours to ray trace a simple render test. However now it is for modeling objects for 3D printing. While you will never hear me call myself a 3D artist, it is one skill I know I can pickup again. My skills are in a constant state of flux. Last year I spent recuperating from yet another person who overestimated their stopping distance and ended up plowing into my car and injuring me. The more things change…

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Clanning Concept Art

For the unwashed, Clan Lord by Delta Tao Software is an archaic, sorely out-of-date Multi-player Online Role-playing Game  (MORPG) that has been running since the late 90s. The single world (server) and small population make it feel like a small town, thus all of the current players have the same goal (job). Thus, like any small group with common goals, it is a bit like a company: You have your people in it who are on the ball because they work well in teams and independently, those that only work in teams because they need direction, those that lead group of people in a direction, those that specialize in a subset of knowledge about the terrain (market or technology) all of whom trade their time and risk profit (experience) to advance, and finally those that just show up to have fun. These flyby ‘fun’ people are equivalent to the people who just show up for a paycheck. In the game, one seemingly minor mistake can lead to the death of the entire group.  This necessitates departing (experience and time loss) which is a bit like working on a project  and having it fail miserable because Joe Paycheck didn’t know or care that you shouldn’t have done X.

Considering the parallels I noticed about the in game group and the group of people you work with  day-to-day, I have found several commonalities that I have taken from work to game and from game to work that have helped me navigate real life teamwork, leadership and relationships.

(Original Circa 2012; Minor Update: 20170502)

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One summer when I was around 4, I told my mom I was bored. I had learned to read the year before, and had read all my picture books within an hour. I had memorized the gist of the story and the better lines. For instance Green Eggs & Ham teaches one options and the moral to take a chance and try something first before you decide you don’t like something. In the end he loves the combo. BTW: why were the eggs green?

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It’s been months since I published anything. I’ve written a lot of little bits here and tweeted there. But I just have had no inspiration to push something into the digital well for others to scoop up in a bucket, large or small and drink. Things are very different now. I’m tired, aching and a little sad. So, what is there better to do than write in your publicly accessible diary?
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Practice, Practice, Practice

When I am consulting with a client, and navigating on my machine they are absolutely stunned at the speed of me using just the GUI. I have to remind them: I’ve been using GUIs for 30 years — starting from the very first Macintosh, and using various OSes since then (from BeOS to X-windows and back again). Given my use “cross-training” and approximately 40,000+ hours (conservatively) of using practically every type of app, I’d think I would be an expert at efficiently navigating almost any app. As a side effect, I have also gotten very good at spotting good and bad UI. If I don’t know how to do something: I usually know the magic words and the search terms to use. If even I cannot find info quickly, then something about either your apps and/or your documentation is lacking.

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I myself see patterns, causes/effects and hierarchies everywhere. I’ve mentioned how open I am to new ideas, and acknowledged how fluid my relational thinking is. I can take one reference and smash it together with another reference, so when 2 seemingly disparate ideas intersect through a cognitive relational leap, I synthesize a new link at the junction. This starts me thinking about my own mind. Did my R-side push these two things at me? Yes.

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Dear all you great companies making awesome products,

For most of you, I like to be informed of new products, and some I already bought your product and really don’t NEED to know about promos for gadgets & software I already have. So, If I were running the communications for the company, I would do what I have done on my blog, but better. Read on for my idea of how to make the most of your communications.

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I’m a freelance IT consultant. I So, get asked a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I wish people would ask me what the last article addressed more, but this is about how I handle calling tech support. Clients pay consultants for answers and output, but often the online knowledge bases for larger companies are labyrinths of outdated dead ends and no way to filter as fine grained as advanced/extendable schema database apps can be — I know, I’ve designed a DB that could reduce and search to one text entry and 2–4 clicks. It’s crazy only a few web apps have this — well, kind of.*

I’ve been a fairly successful consultant who gets most of my business by clients referring me to someone who needs my skill set. My years as a support tech taught me how to quickly sync with a mode of communication the client understands to quickly gather symptoms and explained things in concepts they can grasp. In short, I handle clients at various levels — from SoHo end users to local businesses of various sizes.One skill I have from working in many shops is calling tech support…

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QualtyNerpFowndThis is actually the first time in a long time I am not taking an iTunes update, given that it doesn’t fix the graphic artifact during scrolling issue, and other users are reporting worse things happening. In retrospect, I should have stuck with 11.x . iTunes 12.x is looking more like Windows Millennium everyday.

Sad.

This was once SoundJam, an app so good that Apple bought it. But this is now another example of an app in the care of a company too big to care to give it the attention to detail, and true UI/UX modernizations and feature enhancements an indie would have. A third party company would have listened to their customers or face declining sales. Apple is too big to truly care about the declining quality of iTunes. Whomever is sitting in charge of shipping product quality control is obviously not paying attention, and this toxic style of management is what can and has brought once great companies down.

Since v4 the only “improvements” have been cosmetic and the addition of the various stores. Apple has never addressed iTunes key failings and has instead focused on bloating it u to the point where once loyal users are looking elsewhere for leading edge features.

But this isn’t really about Apple. Apple is really an example. This is about a mentality epidemic in proportion of people who think that marketing, money or someone else can make up (or take the blame) for subpar products. The logic is as follows:

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If you want to solve a problem people have been banging at for a long time, the last thing you do is look at it from the same angle as everyone else, and that is exactly what tech pundits are guilty of doing. Microsoft in its latest round of Windows 8 updates, seems to have further muddied its interface trying to be all things to all people.

Long ago, I wrote that paradigm awareness is paramount in designing a good UI. However, Microsoft, being blind to both accommodating and leveraging environmental differences decided that slapping the exact same UX on products for 2 completely different use paradigms would be easier for users to learn and more efficient. Based on my experience and user feedback, nothing can be further from the truth.

Finally the tech pundits are waking up to the fact that Windows 8 should not be all things to all people. But they are stopping short of the logical solution I mentioned years ago because they are still looking at computer users using the wrong categorization scheme: business/“productivity” and home/consumer/“casual”/“consumption.”

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