MonthDecember 2011

Got some new ink

Switching jobs means reassessing lifestyle choices and accessories.

For the longest time I have given up wearing watches because the faces would get scratched, they are bulky and have a ton of useless features I never used and got in the way.

I am a danger to watches. I am clumsy which led to scratching the watch face on walls, ceilings, and seemingly any other rough surface I encountered.

However, the biggest cause of watch face destruction is my job as a computer technician. I always have my hands inside computers and other equipment. With sharp edges and tight spaces this meant certain doom for every previous watch I’ve owned.

I am still doing the same work but I am doing far less hardware support so I won’t be rooting around inside computers. There’s no cure for clumsiness but the change at work should help.

The other motivating cause to buy a watch was needing to better track what time I meet customers, make updates and close tickets. I need to know what time it was when I performed work and pulling a phone from my pocket or holster every time is cumbersome and a bother.

I started looking for watches on Amazon and was struck by how poorly men’s watches serve their purpose.

ugly watches from Amazon.com

Overall, the watches are big, bulky, try to pack as many features as possible into them and many put huge logos on them. The biggest mystery to me are the watches which obscure the time or scroll it across a tiny LED. What is the purpose of wearing a watch if not to tell time?

I made a wish list for my new watch. I wanted something:

  • Digital
  • Easy to read
  • Water resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Scratch Resistant
  • Would look nice enough to suit all occasions

I do not need a:

  • Timer
  • Stopwatch
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Multiple Alarms
  • Timezone support
  • Heart monitor

You get the idea. I want a simple watch to read at a glance. I want the time. That’s it. I can figure out the day and date from my phone if needed. I just need the time in a big, clear display.

As I paged through pages upon pages of terrible looking watches on Amazon, I found the perfect watch and I jumped at the chance to have it on my wrist.

I chose Phosphor Unisex DH03 Digital Hour E-INK Curved Metal Band Watch.

I bought an E-Ink watch. The same material that powers Amazon’s Kindles and other electronic book readers is now powering the big, bold numbers on my wrist. I love the watch because it is crisp, clear and doesn’t have a lot of extra features. It’s a watch that does one thing well. It displays the time.

I prefer wearing it with the light on dark setting. It also has an inverted color scheme, and a partially analog display for some variety in life. It will even show me the date if I change the face to display that and only that. It has an alarm which I don’t use. It has two buttons, once to change mode and one to invert the color scheme.

I’ve had the watch for three weeks and it’s gotten a couple of minor scratches on the frame and wristband. The watch face, which has always been my biggest concern when watch shopping, is still pristine.

I love this watch and it is a true conversation starter. My co-workers were very interested in it because it looks so different. One co-worker bought the same watch with a different band. I have gotten as many compliments as I have “What kind of watch is that?” questions.

The watch was more expensive than the endless line of Timex Ironman watches I’ve owned in the past. However, the $145 I spent on this watch was worth it.

I have a great looking watch that fits my needs. I can see the time at a glance. It doesn’t have extra features that clutter the face.

The role of technical support

I come in not to just “fix” something, take the money, and leave. I come in to find out what they want to do, why they want to do it, what they hope to achieve, and how I might help them in getting there. I listen to their intention and purpose and that desire becomes the driver for the actions we take.

In Exchange With Patrick Rhone

I share the same approach as Patrick to my role in supporting the people who use technology on a daily basis. I am not here to fix a problem. I am here to enable you to do what you want to do and if they route you’re trying to take isn’t the best one for you, I try to suggest a better one.

I am not here to support the technology and get a pay check. I am here to support the people interacting with the technology and help reduce friction in their daily lives and experiences with the technology.

So often in the pursuit of technical support it is forgotten that we’re not here solely to service a device or to repair a piece of hardware. We are here to help the humans trying to use this technology and to make their lives better.

That is the role of technical support.

What did you read as a kid?

Reading through Gwen Bell‘s letter this morning, she talked about reading as a child. She took the conversation to Google+ and asked three questions.

  1. Why did you read what you read as a kid?
  2. Who or what encouraged you to read?
  3. As a kid, was it the quality of the writing or the quantity of it that mattered to you?

The more I thought about it, the more I wrote so I turned it into a post here instead of a comment there.

1. Why did you read what you read as a kid?

Reading was my escape as a kid. We didn’t have cable TV, and to this day can’t get it where I grew up. Books are where I got my adventures and stories. I was always a voracious reader. I would often read a book during classes in school when I was bored or already knew the material.

I got yelled at more than once for having my nose stuck in a book instead of paying attention to the teacher.

I grew up in a small, rural town in northern Virginia. Berryville was a town of about 2,000. I grew up reading because it offered my imagination a place to go and stories to live out which were more exciting than the cows and apple orchards surrounding the farm.

When I was young I read a lot of Encyclopedia Brown. I loved the detective tales. Perhaps it’s because my dad was such a huge Sherlock Holmes fan but I loved those stories.

When I got older I found Roald Dahl. I fell in love with The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Danny The Champion of the World and of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Chokey in Matilda and the dream bottles in The BFG captured my imagination growing up. The BFG resonated with me because I was such a big kid. I was always the tallest kid in my school until 8th grade when I had a math teacher who towered at 6’8″ barely eclipsing my 6’4″.

I never read any of Dahl’s adult books which I didn’t even know existed until a couple of years ago. They lack the magic of his children’s work.

I’ve read his autobiography, Boy which was enlightening and gave me more insight into the man with whom I had shared many hours of my childhood.

2. Who or what encouraged you to read?

Both of my parents encouraged me to read. They were both college educated and knew the value of education in life and wanted me to have the same advantages of a good education. It also provided endless hours of entertainment and information.

Part of my love of reading came from both parents having owned and worked in the printing and copying industry.

They founded Circle Graphics then Copy General and with it came my love, borderline addiction, to reading. Much like my father, I am barely able to walk past a poster, sign, pamphlet or anything else with words without stopping to investigate.

3. As a kid, was it the quality of the writing or the quantity of it that mattered to you?

I don’t remember thinking of either of these when I was a kid. I would say quality because while I read a lot, I read specific authors or series.

Once I found Encyclopedia Brown, I read lots of those books. The same went for Roald Dahl. Once I found his books, I read nearly every children’s book he wrote. Many of them I read more than once and in every case was highly disappointed by the movies in every case.

Fun Fact: I never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory growing up. Sure, I had seen the movies starring Gene Wilder but I hadn’t ever read Dahl’s original until I was in high school.

Brief Thoughts on our new ScanSnap S1300

Having unboxed and scanned about two dozen pages with our new scanner my initial thoughts are:

  • It scans both sides at the same time!

  • It recognizes text!

  • It runs off USB power so I can scan from the couch!

  • Ironically, I can’t scan the instruction booklets without unbinding them.

  • I can now shred a huge pile of paper!

I am looking forward to turning all my unwanted paper into Evernote notes complete with text recognition.

The best part of our new scanner is we paid less than $8 for it. My wife and I are huge fans of Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a search engine that awards bucks for searching and completing other tasks. These bucks can be redeemed for prizes like Amazon gift cards.

We paid for our scanner almost completely with Amazon gift cards we won from Swagbucks. We saved money and got a great product, the best of both worlds!

Reminders

Back pain is a reminder. It is a reminder of all the poor decisions I made in my life.

I was thinking on the way home from the grocery store this week about the amount of money spent on medical bills. We gasp at the hundreds or thousands required to heal us.

It all makes sense when you consider we spend hundred or thousands of dollars on junk foods and poor lifestyles choices. These choices put us into the position to need medical care to repair the damaged we have done. 1

Makings good life choices means not having to pay for those choices later. Making poor choices in lifestyle and health means you’re going to have to pay for those choices sooner or later.

Back pain is a reminder of those choices.


  1. This does not apply to people injured by the negligence of others.