December 2007 Archives

Sniff, Snort, 2008

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Despite sleeping close to 9 hours last night, I woke up feeling crap. My back hurts, my throat hurts and my nose is dripping. It seems I'll be kicking off 2008 in less desirable condition. However, always looking at the positive side of things, if I am ill during the first day of 2008, I don't have to go through that for the rest of the year, lol.

Best wishes to everyone - look confidently to the future, realize that you can accomplish everything!

Words, Lines, Chapters, Books

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I was just pondering for a moment whether I'd launch my SL client, but instead I decided to throw out a short blog entry and head off to bed. I've got a few more pages to read in my magazine, then I'll see if I finished Chatter and if there's some time left and I'm not too tired, I may start reading "Cradle to Cradle : Remaking the way we make things", or pick up the book for nerds (Google Hacking).

An alternative would be to finally finish "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" - a book that I only can read a couple of pages in before I have to put it down. Definitely not because I'm not interested in the topic and underlying psychological cause and effect interaction, but because I'm not a psychologist and it's rather heavy stuff, especially when reading it in a language you're fluent in, yet is not your mother tongue.

So many books, so many topics, so little time...

Win some, lose some

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Yesterday I went over to M's to see if I could find the cause of her not being able to send out mail using Outlook again. Unfortunately, the outlook was pretty bad after I gave the system a first check. Running a - not so genuine - windows XP Professional on a 800Mhz P3 with 256MB Ram is a recipe for disaster if you ask me. The system had been working rather OK up until a couple of months back, but I explained that there's a time they just give up.

Hoping that cleaning up the system as well as I could would magically restore functionality, I spent quite some time scanning it for malware (tons of it), patched it as much as possible but without even an SP2 installed it's nothing but a band aid on a dead body. Got QT updated to the last version, got rid of an ancient Java version and trashed about 330MB worth of temporary internet files. I'd have done more, but the reaction of the machine was so sluggish that it constantly went into a stall. After scanning for over two hours, the damn thing froze when attempting to remove the found nasties. Way to go.

I promised her I'd look up some deals for a new machine that would be perfect for her needs, yet not cost her an arm and a leg.

When a box ain't a box

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I've touched upon various topics on this blog before, ranging from politics to environmental issues, sexuality, news blurbs and plain entertainment. This is only a personal blog which happens to focus on a broad range of interests, but one thing has been a concern of mine since day One: optimizing it as much as possible.

I don't know if you're fluent in coding CSS or HTML, nor whether you understand all the finer points of making your (business) sites as indexable and search engine friendly as possible, but fear not. A website optimization firm can take good care of that for you!

It actually makes good sense outsourcing these specialist tasks to professionals - they'll give your website a complete overhaul and you don't have to invest your own time in it. You don't go servicing your own top of the range car yourself either, do you? Why would you start tinkering yourself with one of the most crucial and valuable ways of reaching customers worldwide?

After a SEO overhaul, your site may look exactly the same, or it may look a bit different. Search engines are machines, so they look and "read" a website in a different way then humans do. However, the human readable content and presentation should remain the number 1 focus: there's no point in having your website listed as the top result in most major and minor search engines if your potential buyers can't make sense of any of it.

More website traffic is not something one can achieve out of the blue, these things take a bit of time to slowly build up. Remember that a first impression is often the only chance you'll get to capture the interest of a customer, so better get it right.

I make it sound all too easy, and most of the issues I touched upon here make sense to most of my readers I'd guess. But what if the "rules of engagement" keep on changing? You can be certain that search engines fine tune their algorithms quite regular to sieve out the spammers, or those who try to gain advantages by keyword repetition or invisible links all over the page.

TBS is a website optimization firm that covers SEO, marketing, site promotion and web design. Hosting and programming services are also offered, so they offer a one stop solution for all your website needs.

The list grows longer

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I'm off to bed, but here's my to do list for tomorrow (technically speaking, today) :

- write three new link posts (man... they're requesting like crazy!)
- finally find a decorator that'll even bother coming to check the work that needs to be done
- update and prepare software needed to diagnose computers for trouble
- fix a computer in the early evening
- work SL job and do customer support + decide where I want to go with it
- watch 3rd episode of The L Word (and thus finish DVD 1)
- copy Gwen Stefani CD so I can pop the copy into the car player (no originals in my car!)
- ...

Beam it down, Scotty!

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Many of you may not know this, but I'm not much of a people person. Mind you, if I'm around people I know rather well, I have a great time, but I could do without people as well. It's not that I am scared of people, or dislike them, but if no one is around, I don't miss it either. I've always been a bit of a loner, perfectly capable of entertaining myself by watching some TV, reading a ton of books or surfing the internet. One could argue that watching TV and surfing the internet is also a form of communication with others, and you're probably right.

Give me the opportunity to go live somewhere in the Canadian woods, or in the Nevada desert (though that would probably be too hot for my liking) and I'd probably jump on it.

However, I would most certainly need high speed satellite internet access. I doubt DSL or cable is available when in the middle of nowhere and to satisfy my inner geek, I just can't go without a way to reach the wonderful wonky waste of time also known as the internet.

No way I'd fall back to dial up access - though I still have my trusty old 56k modem standing next to me - as that would frustrate the heck out of me. I've got little patience and if things don't go according to - my - plan, I'm known to throw a fit, lol. So, hypothetically speaking, let's say that I move to the Nevada Desert today. I've got a home or a trailer to live in and I want to be hooked up to the internet now. I head over to the US Satellite website see when they can install my satellite internet access, and what it would cost me.

Oh, there are several different plans, let's take a closer look. The Home plan gives me 700Kbps, Pro delivers 1000Kbps and Pro Plus has speeds of up to 1500Kbps. Small office and Business Internet plans go up to 2000Kbps, but the monthly fees for that are through the roof too.

Maybe it would be wise to go for the Pro Plus package that sets me back $79.99 a month and see if I need more speed later on. Now that I know what plan I want, let's find out how soon this thing can be installed. I'm inpatient, remember? Look, search... aha! Their FAQ says that from the time the order is placed, a professional installer with hook everything up within 2 weeks.

Two weeks is a tad bit too long for my taste, but it could as well be much sooner as it seems to depend on the demand on the local installers. Any other questions? Well, I could always call their toll free number 7 days a week to make sure I've got all the details I need, but I think everything is explained pretty well on their website. I think I'm ready for some satellite internet!

A day off

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My day in short : Listened to my new Gwen Stefani CD - watched the first episode of season 3 of The L Word - played some games on the computer - updated and patched a bunch of programs on my other machines - went shopping for food. I mostly just hung around and was lazy.

I'll be heading off to bed shortly to work a relatively long and probably very boring day tomorrow.

Scramble

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Lol, it's close to 16h30 and I gotta be somewhere at 18h00. I've got to take a shower, entertain my cat (done), wrap up presents (done) and drive over there. Why do I make life so hectic?

Anyway, I did get the following accomplished today :
- give orders for two HT matches (first team and youth team)
- complete a stock deal in SL
- get a new customer set up
- call and set up a meeting with someone on Friday evening for computer issues
- have breakfast

Now... it's time to scramble and get things in RL on a roll :)

Tune up your browser!

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Most people are focused on the upcoming festivities, but once everyone is done partying, it may be wise to clean out and tune up the browser you use every day. Every day new exploits are released - think QuickTime, Adobe Flash, PNG, ... - and some plugins may help you stay more safe while getting rid of a ton of unwanted content at the same time. Here are some of the extensions I sometimes use. The list is not complete though :)

Browser :
firefox (2.0.0.11)

Browser extensions :
NoScript (1.1.9.6 stable or 1.1.9.95 development)
AdBlock Plus (0.7.5.3)
Download Statusbar (0.9.5.2)
Forecastfox (0.9.6)

(note : all versions up to date as this post is being written)

Damn cold!

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Yesterday morning as I hopped out of bed, I opened the curtains and opened the window that had somehow almost closed itself. Must have been the draft. Anyway, as I noticed a bunch of droplets of dew on the inside, I poked my finger at them, and they didn't move! Wait, am I truly awake here?

Yeah, I was awake for sure as my finger got colder the longer I kept poking at the drops. Then it hit me : frozen water. Ice. Woooow! Yes, it was that cold outside that the drops that formed on the inside of the window had frozen on the sills. Yet I slept like a baby, never one time affected or even realizing how cold it was. I found it quite funny, so I wanted to share with you all, lol.

Can science make you younger?

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Without wanting to generalize, most people like and strive to appear young, even if they have reached an age where it starts to show. For one it's at 18, others only start worrying at age 58. We all know that living an active life helps the body stay fit and look good. At the same time, we're bombarded with scientific aids such as creams, powders, moisturizers to keep skin looking pristine and healthy.

Colloidal Silver Generators is a type of product I had never heard of before. Mesocolloids consist of pure elemental metal nanoparticles dispersed in ultra pure deionized water - in other words: you get the tiniest particles in the cleanest type of water.

Now, of course you are starting to wonder if actually drinking ultra tiny metal particles is a good idea? I must admit that was my first concern as well! The idea behind this type of dietary supplement is to make your body less prone to stress, support the immune system and such. While the manufacturer doesn't make any claims towards the healthiness or effectiveness of their product, users of it have reported all of the above and more. You can read up on it on the site : Colloidal Silver effectiveness.

I'm not very much into beauty and aging prevention myself, and I know only the basics about nanoparticles and recent scientific developments, so I'm having a hard time reaching a conclusion about Colloidal Silver and the effects it has on the human body. I lean towards a positive feeling that if it doesn't help, it doesn't hurt either. The amount of noble metal in the solution is low enough not to cause problems, yet probably high enough to affect things in a positive way.

I'm not about to try MesoColloids myself though, I'll stick to my plain old water which I've been drinking for the past ten years. I guess I'm not on the front line when it comes to dietary supplements, but don't let that hold you back. If you are convinced it can help you, go for it!

Look at the time, ain't it early?

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And a new day commences *yawn*

Signal : Flat - Intelligence : Average

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As I was doing some shopping, I came across a book that vowed to tell readers how to work only 4 hours a week, yet have the same or a higher income. I take it everyone is interested in working less and earning more, but as I opened it up and took a peek, I was wondering what the book would be able to tell me. After all, I do "know" that cutting back on all time consuming crap would earn you more income, relatively speaking. Let me give you a quick example : shopping.

I went out and needed 4 different items, but most of them were probably for sale in the same shop. I went into a shop, fought my way to a crowd of people that shop because they have no other purpose in life, and found 2 of the items I needed. I made a note of the price. I went to a second shop, where I found all 4 items. Needless to say, I didn't go back to the first shop to get the first two items... I purchased everything I needed right there. If that sounds logical, or maybe even efficient to you, let me tell you otherwise.

If I had the time to compare prices online, and order directly, it would have saved me time, effort, gas and a lot of irritation. After all, there is nothing optimized about shopping in a store. Walk the hundreds of products, load them into a caddy, walk over to a sales register, wait in line for the clerk to become available, have all products scanned, load them into bags, pay, head over to your home (or car) and unload it all again.

Anyway, I think there's a lot I can change in my life to optimize my time, yet I don't do so. Why is that? Well, that's one of the questions I still have to answer. Is it because of fear of changes? Is it because I wouldn't know what else to do with my "spare" time? Is it because it's not socially acceptable to be ultra efficient and seen as inhumane cutting anything that doesn't directly benefit oneself? I think the two last statements are the core issues at hand. Peer pressure is a huge factor in how we position ourselves in life and how or why a group of people all react the same generally speaking.

Interesting idea, I must admit. Will need to read up on peer pressure and influencing large groups of people through subtle changes, while correctly predicting the outcome. But first I'll finish reading "Chatter - Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping" which takes a shot at disclosing the secret world of sigint, a book I picked up three days ago.

Why do I always pick these weird techy topics to read and write about?

My Tuesday

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I just got back from a funeral and despite the word having the letters FUN in it, there is little fun or enjoyment to be found at these services. Later today I'll have to do some shopping and convince some painter/decorator to come over to my place and write up an estimate. I had mailed no less than 3 different companies on Friday, and none have even reacted to my inquiry. Go figure, I take it they don't want to earn money?

I have a...

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Even though I came home from working night shifts on Wednesday, I keep on waking up around 6AM, very bizarre. It happened to me yesterday, and again today so this time I got up, grabbed a load of laundry and put it into the machine before heading back to bed. As I was still tossing and turning 30 minutes later I read a couple of chapters in a book I started (re)reading last night. Not a terribly exciting book I must say - one of the CSI series - but that could be due to reading it for the 3rd time now, lol.

Laundry is almost done, so I can pop that load out and a new load in while I compose a mail to a friend/colleague that suffered a serious loss two days ago and then I'm gonna set up appointments with decorators/painters to get an estimate on repairing the damage done by that last leak.

Before I sign off, I found this photo utterly hilarious. If you somehow feel offended, I think you may be taking life a bit too serious ;-)

I Have A Dreamsicle!

After all that is taken care of, it'll be time to head off to work for a late shift. Yeah, I tend to keep rather busy :)

Lovely

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After telling people that I would come in today and tomorrow to work a night shift, I went and took a shower, then headed back off to bed for just over two hours. I haven't slept a second during that time. Everything aches and is painful, I'm hot and cold at the same time yet I don't run a fever (37.4° Celsius). I haven't eaten anything but a small breakfast this morning around eight, and I don't really feel like it either.

It'll be one fun night at work...

Ouch

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I got home this morning and had been running around for a couple of hours instead of going to bed coz I was trying to stay awake enough to go to a funeral service around ten. I didn't make it as I crashed around 9AM, only to be woken up by the door bell at 9h30. It was - assume - the mailman as I found an Amazon package in my mailbox containing the two Schwarze Nacht CD's I ordered last week. I headed back off to bed but couldn't really catch my sleep again.

Finally drifted off and was awaken again, this time by the phone around 14h30. It was someone from work calling in to see if I could work an extra night shift as a colleague needs time off urgently and for very good and understandable reasons. I was sort of looking forward to being home a full 2 days (Tuesday and Wednesday) - which would be a first since the day I started working this job I think - but said that I'd come in tonight and tomorrow night. This means I can't go in for a late shift on Thursday though, so it'll be Friday when I start working my late (or sunset) shifts.

Hell, if there are good reasons for it, I don't really mind filling in shifts and the extra night means more money at the end of the month - just less time to spend it in. Shouldn't be a problem with the festivities sneaking up on us soonish.

I'm going to update my schedule so everyone can keep track more or less.

Anyone who wants a glass of water?

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As I heard Tai play with something in the living room, I got up to investigate. When I spotted him and picked him up, his tail was wet. Not just a little wet, but soaking wet. I knew for a fact that he hadn't been playing in his water bowl, though that wouldn't be a first. So, he must have found water elsewhere. My apartment is not equipped with fountains or natural springs, the radiators ain't leaking so it must be something else. Ah, I spotted the problem : another leak in the apartment and a puddle of water in my living room. Nice!

Luckily, for the time being, the problems ain't as big as they were in 2005, but I've sent a mail to the super of the building none the less and will be informing my own insurance company tomorrow. The leak in the bedroom has sprung up again as well, only because it rained a bit harder before. The trick is actually catching these things - I just went to check up on the leak in the living room a couple of minutes ago, and there was no more trace of it. The drywall has soaked everything up I suppose.

Anyway, I gave my leak hunting cat a treat and a cuddle. If it weren't for him, I may have never noticed as I don't run inspection rounds in my own apartment every couple of hours. A story to be continued...

Catching up

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I just got back from dropping off a piece of paper that got stamped and will be processed by computer later. It took me an hour just to get that done. I wonder why in the year 2007 it is still not possible to have all institutions and agencies involved in the administration pass around all the necessary data and just send a confirmation note to the beneficiary along with a statement that unless it is contested, amount X will be paid on date Y. It would cut back on resources used, that's for sure.

Anyway, I'm gonna spend some time catching up on mail now, and shoot out some of myself in order not to make things even harder on others.

Update : Mails have been read, sent and orders placed. While browsing online, I've treated myself to the following : Schwarze Nacht Tanz 1 & 2. Yeah, I've ordered two dark electro goth albums, while Mish Mash - Speechless is blasting through the speakers here. I may have multiple personalities, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a disorder, lol. Hush, you, it's my turn to write now!

Mastermind vs Chess

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Thanks for the comments ladies! Ash, glad to hear your still with the agency, but are free from your difficult customer. Apparently you do like your job, and quitting over just one case that's giving you a hard time would be such a loss for everyone else. I guess everyone gains now.

I hope I wasn't too vague in my previous post and that people are starting to think something is amiss with my career or how things are at work. Actually we've gone from a highly volatile and explosive situation that was rapidly evolving into a trench war with both sides becoming utterly defensive and unmovable to a somehow more stable situation where - while not all issues are cleared out, far from - we are all able to see middle ground again. We have become more flexible, they have started to understand our gripes and things are slowly improving, at least that's how I feel about it.

No, the situation I was writing about yesterday was mostly about workload and available resources, with one being very high and the other rather scarce. I'll leave it up to you, reader, to connect the dots. However - and that just shows how quickly things can change - a much larger storm is brewing, in which we will just end up a toy in the hands of other forces.

I won't disclose anything about that yet though, as I don't know what's up, and I don't feel like writing hypothetical stories that end up incorrect, incomplete or exaggerated. Rest assured that if things change and an update is warranted, I'll write about it here. One side of me is definitely looking forward to being part of the game, the other side thinks "crap, I'll be a tiny game piece in a large game of chess". I don't mind a good game of chess, but I'd rather be the strategist behind the pieces instead of one of the pieces myself. On the other hand, it's not my game of chess, why would I care?

Lol, that didn't really make things more clear, did it? I confused myself, hehe. To cut a short and unraveling story even shorter : the fool is the one who is not prepared for what may come.

*alive*

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While you may not reach that conclusion by looking at the activity on this blog, I am in fact still alive. Most of my time these days is however spent between sleeping (too little), traveling to work (about normal) and working (too much), which makes it rather pretty boring if you ask me. That's also the main reason no new material has been posted here.

I hope that things will slow down as December progresses, but there is some uncertainty about recent developments and how they affect schedules and stuff like that. Nothing that has a direct impact on my personal situation, but they do add a lot of last minute changes, adaptations and revisions to my professional life and schedule. Before I head off to bed, I'm gonna bring my schedule for December online - I had promised that before, but didn't get round to actually do so - but take that with a huge grain of salt. Most dates are probably correct, but times may change, so if you can't reach me, try again an hour later.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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