MonthJune 2011

Verizon 4G Mifis no longer work in tethered mode

The Mifi 4510 L and the Samsung SCH-LC11 4G Mifis from Verizon do not work in tethered mode. This means you cannot open the VZAccess Manager software and connect to the Mifi while it is plugged into a laptop over the USB cable.

The USB cable does still charge the Mifi device while it is working. However, I was warned by Carrie, the Verizon Wireless Level 2 Technician I spoke to on the phone, it will draw much more power than the 3G Mifis do and you may notice shorter battery life for the laptop.

Verizon’s 3G Mifis are able to run in tethered mode. This is not the case with the 4G models. It took me two hours of research and phone calls to find this out. Hopefully, this post will save you some time.

Software shouldn’t require instruction

Over at Practical Opacity, J. Eddie Smith writes,

If iOS proves anything it’s that software doesn’t necessarily require instruction.

I could not agree more with him about the ease of iOS devices. I work in a large media company and everyday more of our journalists and writers are moving from Blackberries to iPhones and Android devices. This is in addition to the piles of iPads being purchased and used by everyone from the top down.

There is one major difference between those who buy iPhones/iPads and those who opt for Android devices. After adding company email to the device, I never see the iOS users again.

For the Android users, I am consistently stopped in the hallway or emailed about some minor problem or question. It does not matter if the user is young or old, male or female, savvy or not. The questions always begin with, “How do I…?”

The iOS users do not need helping learning how to use the device. Even adding an exchange-hosted email address to the device is a simple PDF I wrote that is emailed to them.

The Android users inevitably need help adding their company email to the phone. They always have questions about how to do something or how to use the device.

This is frustrating because each Android device is just different enough to be utterly confusing to use. Whether it be the MotoBlur or the HTC Sense or some other abomination, it is a confusing mess.

When I had an Android phone, I used the original Motorola Droid. I chose this phone primarily because it was a “Google Experience” phone which meant it was a standard Android OS without any third-party OS tacked atop it.

If every Android phone looked the same or at least similar, they would be far easier to support and explain to their respective owners.

I would address Android tablets but I’ve yet to come across one. The IT department even ordered a Blackberry Playbook for evaluation. The company recently purchased about a dozen Google TVs for conferences rooms and other offices. However, I’ve yet to see a single Android tablet come through the front door.

This is pretty damning for Android. As a company that lives and breathes on the web and has iOS apps for its flagship publications, Android doesn’t even warrant a single mention or presence.

Real

Over at the Bridging the Nerd Gap, Brett Kelly wrote about being real. and it made me think. He writes about never feeling like a “real” programmer,

He writes,

“I bought books, annoyed smart people with questions and generally fumbled my way into a passable set of programming skills. Truth be told, I’ve never felt much like a “real” programmer.”

Additionally, he recently wrote Evernote Essentials which I own a copy of and can attest to its thoroughness and quality. Even through he doesn’t feel like a real author. I’d say 20,000 words about a software program in convenient book form makes you as real an author as anyone.

This resonated with me because that’s how I’ve lived all my life. I am a huge believe in self-teaching and if you want to learn something, go learn it. Don’t wait to be taught it or find a teacher. The knowledge is out there, go find it.

From an early age I taught myself most of what I wanted to know. I wanted to make magazines so I learned PageMaker and Photoshop.
I wanted to learn more about computers so I tinkered. I dismantled and I repaired. I learned how they tick and what made them work.
I wanted to learn the web so I taught myself HTML and CSS.

I’ve done a great many things and have random and varying passions. I’ve never really been a real anything. I was always the self-taught hack. I didn’t go to school to learn about computers. I played and experimented until I learned.

I was speaking to one of the Human Resources people at work as I helped them with a computer issue and was asked what my degree is school was. He assumed it was Computer Science or something technical.

Much to his surprise, I responded with, Creative Advertising. ((My running joke is I have a B.S. in Communications. Which is an asset to handling the politics of technical work.))

I believe I got my sense of hard work, experimentation and self-teaching from my parents. I had the privilege growing up to learn about the printing world from my parents.

Both parents at one time owned and ran their own businesses. I learned a lot about hard work from them. When you are the company there is no letting up. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

Learning is a life-long pursuit. There is no end to it when we leave the doors of the schoolhouse. I’ve been in the working world long enough to know many of the people doing jobs are not doing anything they have formal training to do.

Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. My wife and I will be spending the day with our fathers, thanking them for all they went through to help us grow up to be upstanding citizens in the world and not killing us when we were kids. As I’m sure we have them plenty of reason to do so. It is on this note, I am going to share something I originally wrote last December for the Reverb10 Challenge. The theme for December 5th was, “Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)” What follows is the first time I have ever put into words my thoughts about the hurt and anger I was carrying around inside of me for many, many years of my childhood and adolescence. These words still feel as raw and painful as the December evening I wrote them. My relationship with my father has grown tenfold in the months since and for that I am grateful. No one is perfect. I am so thankful to have my father today and to maintain a good relationship with him.

This is a raw topic for me this year. The moment I read it tears came to my eyes.

This year I let go of Divorce.

When I was in 5th Grade my parents divorced. They split for no other reason than they had grown apart as people do. It was very civil. There was no screaming or fighting, just absence. Dad was never around. Mom was always working in her own right trying to keep a business afloat.
When they split, everything changed.

I was spending my weekends and Wednesday nights in Leesburg being driven back and forth like so much emotional baggage. My brother and I both having to split our time with once was a single set of parents.

It was really hard on me and I remember meeting with Mrs. Hill our counselor in elementary school and doing… something. Whatever it was, it only helped a bit. No slight against her, she was wonderful and helped me understand a lot of what I was feeling.

However, what I was left with was those feelings of anger and not understanding. The comprehension of my 5th Grade self is not what it would be today. I was lost and confused and hurt. Even though I knew it was not my fault as they both reminded us often. But it didn’t matter. It still hurt. And the hurt didn’t stop.

That’s when I had the good fortune to meet an excellent English teacher who introduced me to poetry and writing. I had an outlet. I filled notebook after notebook with my private pain. My late night ranting. My anger. My hurt. I poured it all out onto the pages in angst-riddled middle and high schooler prose. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote until I didn’t hurt anymore. Or at least I felt I had directed the pain outside of myself.

It felt good. It felt really good. I am so thankful to have been introduced to the medium and to have been able to embrace it so forcefully. I needed some way to cleanse my mind and that turned out to be the perfect solution.
I wrote. All through middle school I wrote. When I hit high school and a whole new set of pressures and decisions I kept writing.

I wrote a lot about my feelings of the divorce and growing up in a split parenting situation. I wrote a lot about myself from the perspective of others. I would put myself in a different place, probably a coping mechanism.

I wrote of loss often. Just being lost and trying to find my way home. But there was no map to take me where I needed to go. Long lost, it was forever gone.

But this year I was able to let that all go. I was able to finally, truly, honestly come to terms with the divorce. With the role it played in my life. With the way I felt about my parents because of it. I was able to finally start putting that behind me all these years later.

With the prompting and careful, measured advice from my wonderful wife who had always had the leveler emotional head than I what I was missing out on. She helped me to see things I had not considered before. She helped me get over my grudge I was holding and my pain I had clung to, that had identified me and my writing for these past many years.

She helped me work through my issues with my father. She helped me open up and see him for who he really was, someone who cared for me and loved me dearly.
He was not the scratchy faced man sitting in the living room, as he and my mother explained to us they were splitting up, and then walking out. Going to wherever he was going on that day.

He was not the cause of my pain but Just a player in the story of my life. He was no more evil than I or anyone else.

I finally saw that. I finally realized what I had missed. The relationship I had put on pause. The arm’s length I’d keep him and many others at. My trust issues with him and other people in my life. I saw the root of those and let them go. I’ve taken down the last walls with him. I’ve finally let him in again. I’ve finally been able to accept him for who he is.

I’ve let it go. I’ve let it all go. The toxic thoughts dwelling deep inside my head played out in the angry industrial raging beats of the music that inhabited my life as a preteen and teen. The long nights of listening Trent Reznor’s tortured vocals and seeing myself starring in the private tragedy as he provided the soundtrack.
In 2010, I was finally able to let that all go. And I have never felt freer. It was not worth keeping all that inside of me. But I couldn’t get rid of it on my own. I needed help. And I got that help. Whether I wanted it or not, it came.

I have been a better person for it since and I have lived a happier life. I have rebuilt a previously very strained relationship. I have vanquished the thoughts of skipping out on family events on that side. I have let all the hurt go where it should have gone those many years ago.
Streamed down onto the carpeted floor of our old living room. Of that house up on the hill in Berryville, that old blue house where I grew up and lived most of my life till college. That house wrapped in so many memories good and bad. So much pain and so much ecstasy.

Those tears I shed on that day as I clutched my mother tighter than I thought I ever could. We cried as a family but also as individuals.

All those years of what I had to endure. All those years of trying to make sense of it all when I knew in the end, there was no sense to be made.

All of that is gone now. All of that is over. I am free.
I am free of the burden of pain.
I’ve let it go.
That’s what 2010 did for me.
That’s what my wife helped me do.
I look forward to 2011 with a better, stronger relationship with my father. I look forward to all the things I missed out on before because I was too busy being hurt.

Calling For Help

I am blown away continually how little respect people have for my time. Most of my days are very busy filled with complex and simple issues alike.
I do not have hours of time where I am sitting around waiting for people to decide their day has a small hole for me to help them.
That’s the primary thing that bothers me.

You, the user, has called the help desk or contacted me directly for help.

I want to help you.
I am here to help you.
I try to help you.
You tell me No.
Or later.
Or my personal favorite, “I’ll let you know.”

This is code for “I will never contact you again and will wait until this issue becomes unavoidable to contact you again.”

Your poor planning becomes my emergency.

It does not bother me personally you are having computer trouble. ((When I go home, I will not lose sleep over it.)) I could not care less of you cannot print, save, access or use a resource.
It is my job to help you but I am not invested in your job. When your poor planning and poor organization turn simple things into critical issues, they are not my problem.

I am not a magician.
I do not have a unicorn.
Computers are not run on pixie dust.
They do not speak to me in an ancient tongue.

Fixing problems takes time.

I know this may come as a shock but I am not a computer. I do not speak 1001100010011001 to it and have it reply.
I do not know what you’ve done to it. ((Purposefully or not.))
I do not know if what you’re telling me is true and correct. ((Again, purposefully or not.))
When I ask you a question about what you were doing when you had a problem I am not assigning blame.
I am looking for answers.

If you spilled water on your laptop, tell me.
If your child knocked it off a table, tell me.
If you “cleaned up” the registry, tell me.
If you “deleted some stuff in Windows”, tell me.

I will not blame you. I will not admonish you. I will not lecture you.

I am in search of information.
The more I know about a problem, the quicker I can diagnose and perform a repair.

In the search for information and troubleshooting. If you did something to the machine, I will find out. It will save is both a lot of time and effort if you can provide as much information as possible up front.

I am not here to belittle or judge your level of tech savvy. I am here to fix computers.