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Month: June 2014

Windows Quick Tip – How to hide desktop icons

I first learned Windows could hide desktop icons after answering Help Desk tickets. I would get calls and emails from people saying, ALL OF MY FILES ARE GONE!!! When I would get to their desk, sure enough, their desktop would be empty. Completely empty.

Now there are some people who keep a clean desktop, but even they have a couple of icons there. A folder or shortcut to something they often use. Or they’ve got a shortcut they’re unable to remove due to the lack of admin rights.

There are also uses for hiding the desktop’s icons. When I want to record a screen cast or capture screenshots without the clutter of my desktop, I will hide the icons to give it a much cleaner look.

Whether you’re trying to answer a help desk ticket, or simply want a clean desktop, it’s very simple to hide them.

Hide desktop icons

  1. Right click on your Desktop.
  2. Select View
  3. Under the drop down menu, uncheck Show desktop icons
  4. Enjoy an empty desktop.

To bring them back, repeat the first two steps and click Show desktop icons so there is a check mark next to them.

And now you know how to hide Windows desktop icons.

Roominations – The Story of Nashville

I went to see a showing of the film For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville. Upon arriving we were all handed a ham biscuit. Which was a great treat for getting up for a 10:30am showing.

There was a Q&A Session with musicians Brett James and Amy Stroup hosted by Butch Spyron who also created the film. It was interesting to get a bit of insight into the film and the parts which weren’t included.

Nashvillepanel

After watching it, I want to move to Nashville. So it must have worked! There were two lines I wrote down because they stood out to me.

My style’s a product of my limitation. – EmmyLou Harris

So true of any creative activity. We’re all products of our own limitations.

“I think genres are dead.” There’s good music. There’s bad music. And I think the cool thing about Nashville is it is at the epicenter of that kind of thinking. I’m a country music artist in Nashville, but Nashville is way, way, way bigger than country music.” – Eric Church

I would not normally have gone to this film, but one of the people I went to Bonnaroo with loves country music and used to live in Nashville so we all decided to go. An air-conditioned movie tent was an appealing start to a long, hot concert-going day. I am really glad I went.

I want to move to Nashville now. There’s so much music being made everywhere in the city, it seems like a magical place. Like Los Angeles for movies, Nashville is where music comes from.

When we first got into Nashville, we stopped for a gas, restroom, drink break. Going into the restroom, I was in there with a guy on his cell phone.

Overhearing the conversation, he was talking about recording vocals track and mixing down audio. I joked to my wife, we hadn’t been in Nashville even an hour and I’d already run into someone working in the music business.

The town seems to have music in its soul. If you enjoy tapping a toe, bobbing your head or getting up and dancing to a tune, For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville is worth your time.

I’m not very musical but it made me want to dust off my vocals chords and try to learn an instrument. Then of course move to Nashville.


‘Roominations is a series of posts that came from my trip to Bonnaroo 2014. Four nomadic musical days in Tennessee where I was up before 9am and awake until 4am with random naps in between.

Bonnaroo 2014

Today is Tuesday.

I sit at my desk.
I delete email.
I reply to a few.
I turn my fan on.
It’s hot in the office.
It’s always hot in the office.

I feel the exhaustion.
The weariness in my bones.
My eyes sag. My head bobs.

Everything is so fast.
The Internet is talking about a millions things at once.
Iraq. Soccer. Technology. TV. Movies. Comic books.
Who said what terrible thing and why I should hate something else.


Today is Tuesday.
Monday I was in a car for 12 hours.
Last Wednesday night into Thursday morning was the same.
Driving/riding/sleeping towards Tennessee for Bonnaroo.

Starting Thursday afternoon with The Preatures and ending Monday night with Elton John, I was a nomad.


After arriving at Bonnaroo, getting assigned to our patch of grass, erecting our tent (home for the next four days), it was time for music.

There were four of us. Myself, my wife, her sister and her husband. We setup and headed out to Centeroo. Where the music began.

Over the course of the weekend I saw all or some of the following bands.

Thursday
– The Preatures
– The Wild Feathers
– Foreign Fields

Friday
– Greensky Bluegrass
– Sam Smith
– Andrew Bird & The Hands of Glory
– The Head and the Heart
– Neutral Milk Hotel
– Kanye West
– Skrillex
– Die Antwoord

Saturday
– Seasick Steve
– Cake
– Drive-By Truckers
– Damon Albarn
– Lionel Richie
– Ms. Lauryn Hill
– Jack White
– Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
– Frank Ocean
– The Glitch Mob

Sunday
– Caroline Chocolate Drops
– Sarah Jarosz
– City and Colour
– The Avett Brothers
– Amos Lee
– The Bluegrass Situation Superjam
– Elton John

It was awesome! I had never heard of much of the music at the festival this year. But after having gone, I didn’t need to. My wife had her list of must-sees. I had my couple (unfortunately, most of them starting after 1am!) Her sister and husband had their lists.

So we stuck together as a foursome most of the weekend, roaming from stage to tent to food and back again. It was wonderful to be exposed to so much great music played live.

Not bad for having a list consisting of The Glitch Mob, Skrillex, Die Antwoord and a few others I didn’t make it to. Unfortunately, many of the bands we wanted to see played in the same time slot. At one point there were four bands playing offset by 15 minutes.

It was a wonderful experience. My first festival and I am glad I started in my 30s. Because older, wiser Carl has a smart well-prepared wife who did a ton of research. She scoured forums for tips and advice about what to bring and what not to.

We packed for everything from sweltering heat (which we melted under by day) to cold (hello night-time!) and even rain. We drove through torrential downpours but we weren’t ever threatened by more than a light sprinkle. But we were ready.

I would absolutely go again, but I’d want there to be more bands I really wanted to see play. It’s expensive for sure, and we spent another couple hundred dollars in gas driving the 1500 miles roundtrip.

But it was a blast. I returned home exhausted but happy. Not sunburned or overheated. Tired and happy to be back in my bed. With a list of new music to check out.


‘Roominations is a series of posts that came from my trip to Bonnaroo 2014. Four nomadic musical days in Tennessee where I was up before 9am and awake until 4am with random naps in between.

How do you spend your workday?

As much as I like what I do, there are still days I’d really prefer not to be anywhere near a user’s computer, my computer or be responsible for their operation.

I dream sometime of what it would be like to have another job, a “normal” job. I really don’t know what that would even mean. I don’t know what people do that isn’t IT-related in some way. Ever since I got out of school I’ve worked in IT Support with the exception of my one Electronic Printing Manager job I had at AlphaGraphics.

I really don’t know what people do for a living. I don’t know what most people do for 8 hours a day in their offices and laboratories. So, I am curious. What do you do all day?

The Balancing Act

Balancing Act

This is my work life now. I run. I run from event to event. I try to squeeze in lunch. I try to rest for a moment in-between events and obligations.

I have no idea where I am going. My calendar is my Sherpa guide. I go where it tells me. I go when it tells me. I show up. I hope I’m ready. I hope I have everything I need.

I usually do. And no one notices. No one complains. No one cares. No one takes note of me when I show up ready to make their event great.

But the moment I let something slip.

I fear that moment. I fear the failure. My failures are public. They are quite literally broadcast in front of people, to people all across the country.

If I falter, it will not be in private.

But I do not often falter. I work twice as hard and I
spend double the time preparing. I practice. I practice and I practice more. I work hard to assure my events succeed. I delight my customers.

When an event I run succeeds, it fills me with pride. When I am able to do a great job, it makes me happy. And when I do an almost-great job it bothers me.

I notice the little things. No one ever mentions these things. No one ever complains or asks about them. But if I notice them, other people have too.

For instance, running an event recently, the slide deck was excellent. It looked perfect to our 131 remote participants. It looked excellent to the presenter. It looked good on the two large LCD screens for the local audience. But the projector was slightly cropping the right side of the slides. It did not cut off any words, but parts of some letters were lost. And it bothered me.

Most of the events I run use a webcam. I have access to a pretty good one that will allow for some panning and zooming so I can set up shots. I like to get a tight-cropped view of the presenter at the podium. I like to have my view of the panel nicely framed. I think about the camera angles. I think about remote participants and what their experience will be during the event.

And that’s the biggest take away I have for running events. There are two audiences.

The first audience is sitting in the room. They’re the ones who see me. I see their quizzical looks when something goes wrong. I can see their dismay when there’s a hiccup. I can see them and they can see me. I need to keep them happy because they’re in the here and now.

The second audience is not in the room. They’re around the country or around the world. They are everywhere. And they can often outnumber the people in the room. Their needs must be considered. Their experience is just as important, if not more important, than those in the room.

It’s a balancing act. To run a great event, both audiences must be not only appeased but delighted. That means thinking about everything. Or as much as I reasonably can.

Before I started running events full-time I had planned and executed a few of them in my time. But this is a whole new level of detail.

Before an event, I start out with a simple list. The basics I need to know before I can even plan the event.
Here is my short list.

Name of Event:
Date:
Time:
Duration:
Will you be using a Webcam?
What will you be sharing? Video? Slides?
Will you be taking questions?
Remote participants?
Local participants?
Are we recording the event?
Do you need Closed-Captioning?
Approximately how many remote participants do you expect?

This lets me know not only what options I need to enable in WebEx, but what will be presented. This informs any recommendations I make.

I do not only need to know the technical requirements for an event, but to be an advocate for the platform and consult on events. I have experience running events large and small for all sorts or audiences. Most of the time I am working with someone who has been tasked by their office to put on an event.

When they come to me, my role is part technical, part advocate for the platform and part consultant. I play the role I need to in order to help my customer the most.

The biggest hurdle to a successful event is behavioral.

The presenter of the event needs to set expectations. Will there be a Q&A session? How will questions be asked, both in the room and remotely? The presenter needs to set any expectations before the meeting starts. That way, the audience knows what to expect.

Dry Runs are practice

For every event I run, I recommend doing a dry run before the event. This serves two main purposes. First, it’s to allow myself and the Events staff to work out any kinks in the setup. We can test our audio and video setup. We adjust the microphone levels. We make sure the video is clear and the angles are good for everyone who will be on camera.

Second, it allows the presenter to get a feel for the space. Where will they be presenting from? What tech is in place to help them? Will they be driving their own slide presentation? Will someone else do it for them?

How is the lighting? Does it wash them out on camera? Is there a light shining in their eyes? There are tons of variables which can make or break an event. The goal of the dry run is to practice.

What about sound? How many microphones will be used? Will they be wireless, wired or a lavaliere attached to the presenter? Once I know what how many people need to be heard, then the I need to test the sound levels on the microphones.

The microphones need to all be loud enough to be heard. Both for the people in the room and the people out in the field. If the sound is poor, the event is going to be a mess.

Acts of God

No matter how much practice I have or how many things are considered, things can still go wrong. At that point it’s not a matter or how well I prepared. It’s a matter of how I respond to the problem.

What could go wrong?

  • Phone lines can drop
    When we’re not using VOIP, we a teleconference line which can support a few hundred people. Sometimes the phone drops. In those situations, I dial back into the meeting. The only times it has happened, has been in smaller sessions with under a dozen remote participants. I was able to dial back into the conference line in a few seconds and we were back up and running.
  • There can be noise over the phone line
    I work very hard to offer alternatives to a wide-open conference line because even when lines are muted, people can unmute their phones.

    Dogs barking, typing, papers rustling, hold music and other phone conversations broadcast to a couple hundred people can be a disaster.

  • Presenters can put remote controls in their pockets
    I was running an All-Hands meeting for a group at work. We had a couple hundred people in the Auditorium and a few hundred more online. Everything was going well, then the slides up on the projector screen and LCDs in the room started changing randomly.

The person running the slides locally turned to me in confusion, I realized someone had the remote for the slides and was pressing buttons. So I unplugged the USB dongle from the laptop and for the rest of the event, we manually changed slides.

Afterwards, I learned one of the presenters put the remote in their pocket, and it was there, where the buttons were getting pressed causing the slides to dance.

These are both good lessons. No matter how much you plan, something can always go wrong. Communication can be missed or forgotten, something can make a mistake. I can forget to schedule closed captioning. The webcam can malfunction and refuse to work. The information received from the event organizer can be incomplete, or plain wrong.

Perfection is never a guarantee. It is a goal to strive towards.