December
31
Filed Under (CITRT, Geekspeak, Humor, Work) by Justin on 2007-12-31

I recently overheard someone say “just because you are necessary, doesn’t mean you’re important!” I think this applies so well to the field of IT and while it’s funny, it might also make some of us do a harsh reality check.

It’s a bit ironic that only days after hearing that comment, I saw Get Me the Geeks! on 60 Minutes last night. Overall, it’s probably the most interesting 13 minutes of “news” I’ve seen on any of the major, national networks in several years. I found two bits within the story particularly entertaining:

Software companies will try and convince you it’s a hardware problem and hardware companies will do the reverse. According to one survey, 29 percent of all callers swear at their customer service representative, 21 percent just scream. The rest presumably are too exhausted to do either.

I’ve experienced this first hand before (the hardware/software dance) and it’s not particularly fun, especially when a mission-critical system is involved. Luckily, as a geek myself, I know what signs to recognize in the support person’s pre-written scripts and as a result, you can typically socially engineer your way in to getting whatever it is you want from the person on the other end of the line. I’d be interested in seeing the rest of that survey and what the other response choices were, because I seriously have a hard time believing that only half of callers get to this point of anger. I have a feeling another good chunk end up just getting frustrated, hang up without a resolution, and then call their favorite neighborhood geek.

This is the other thing that struck me as just… well, I’m not sure…

Dr. Donald Norman is an uber-geek – a professor at Northwestern University and one of the preeminent engineers in the country. He helped set the technical standards for high definition television in the U.S., but he had to hire a geek to set up his own TV.

I’m sorry, but is it really that complicated or is “PhD” just another way to spell “dumb” maybe? It really is a relatively simple process, especially with the advent of HDMI! Even before HDMI and we were using component video cables, it’s pretty simple: yellow to yellow, red to red, white to white. Done.

Anyhow, if you’ve ever had a funny experience with tech support or are at all a geek, you’ll enjoy the piece I think. Check it out.

(2) Comments    Read More   
December
28
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-12-28

Missing Thinkpad T61

Come on UPS – hurry it up!

(4) Comments    Read More   
December
28
Filed Under (church, CITRT, Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-12-28

Tony Dye has been after me this week to put together a “definitive guide to all things Church IT on the web” and it’s kind of hard to turn down such a nice guy.

A good place to start is the “official” Church IT RoundTable website – www.citrt.org. When formal plans for a RoundTable have been made, there will be information posted there. Also, the contents of this post will be mirrored there. Think of it as a portal page for Church IT.

The Church IT RoundTable world is really all about community, and that’s what all of these resources are built around.

ITDiscuss.org

There is just a wealth of information on the forum/mailing list. The two are actually linked together, so you can choose which format you’d like to use to participate. The wiki is really still in it’s infancy, but the content that is there is really quite useful.

Also on ITDiscuss.org:

Interactive Stuff:

The Podcast is the first and third Thursday of every month at 2:00 PM EST. I always look forward to Podcast Thursdays. Being a part of the live, interactive talkcast is extremely cool and no matter what your level of technical interest, I can guarantee you will learn something here.

Blogs – This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but if you’re only going to pick a few Church IT blogs to read, I’d highly recommend these four:

We also have a CITRT Planet aggregator that pulls posts from quite a few blogs, including this one. For a much more complete list of Church IT blogs, check out Clif’s blogroll in the sidebar at Appian Way.

Social Web Stuff:

Added 2008-01-10:
Church IT Survey

(3) Comments    Read More   
December
26
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2007-12-26

I’ve gotten word of a job opening in the IT field at a private company in Upstate Georgia (Toccoa area). Should be experienced in PHP, C#, and have two years of experience in debugging applications. Appears to be heavy on the side of developing this company’s website. Salary in the $45,000-50,000 range, depending on experience of course. If you’re interested or know someone who is, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch via email with more information.

(0) Comments    Read More   
December
26
Filed Under (church, CITRT, Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-12-26

A little over three months ago, Jeffrey Thompson announced on ITdiscuss that he had started an IRC channel on Freenode for the Church IT RoundTable folks. I had really just began getting involved and interested in the world of Church IT and since I was already a lurker in #wordpress, I thought I might as well hop in there and chat it up a bit with the guys. It didn’t take long for the “regulars” to form a unique friendship and within just a week or two, these guys had talked me into opening up my personal wallet and traveling to Kansas City for the Fall 2007 RoundTable.

Well, here we sit, the day after Christmas, and the Church IT RoundTable IRC chat is going full-steam ahead. Most of the guys are on vacation, but yet, are still in the chat hanging out. The camaraderie that we have amongst each other is really very cool and we are always helping one another out. Here’s a quick (and by no means fully accurate and exhaustive) rundown of the regulars in the format of “Name – IRC nickname” and a link to their blog where applicable:

Tony only recently started participating after we ribbed him a good bit about it, and Jeffrey supposedly sent him some screen shots of me saying that Tony was too old for IRC, but I really don’t remember saying that – I promise Tony!

In addition to the regulars, we also have occasional appearances from some other Church IT rockstars like Jason Lee (no not that one) and Dean Lisenby. Among this list, there is a vast amount of knowledge that has been gathered through our past experiences. From VMware Server and ESX, storage and backups, networking, programming, web development, Windows stuff, Linux gurus, even a guy who used to do Novell! I can guarantee you that if you have an IT related question, we can help.

In addition to that great group of guys, we also have our own bot. Any IRC’er worth their salt knows a channel can’t be considered legitimate until they have a bot, and Jeffrey has provided us with rtbot (RoundTable BOT). rtbot is funny, witty, insulting, and even helpful from time to time. He provides us with Chuck-isms, weather reports and forecasts, whois information, Google search results, Digg headlines, insults, excuses, and larts. All in all, rtbot is a perfectly good, self-contained reason to be in the channel. He can really help you do your job!

I know by now you’re all just dying to know “How can I get in on all this fun?” – so here’s how. All you need is an internet connection (guess what – if you’re reading this – you probably have that part taken care of already) and an IRC client to connect to irc.freenode.net and join the #citrt channel. I prefer Xchat under Linux, but there is a non-free Windows version if you have $20 to spare. I really do think it’s the best! However, there are loads of others available as well.  Jeffrey listed some other clients for other platforms in that initial post to ITdiscuss and just recently created a really cool screencast that shows you how to download and install Chatzilla for Firefox and get connected to the channel.

I’ll follow up this post sometime soon with some more specific things about what to do once you’re in the channel, such as how to change your nickname and get it registered with freenode so that no one can highjack it and some of the cool things you can do with and to rtbot.

I look forward to seeing you in #citrt!

(6) Comments    Read More   
December
24
Filed Under (CITRT, Geekspeak) by Justin on 2007-12-24

Well, after much consideration, I’ve pulled the trigger on a new Thinkpad T61.

  • Model 6459-CT
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 (2.0 Ghz with 4MB L2 cache)
  • 1GB RAM (4GB on the way from NewEgg!)Thinkpad T61
  • 15.4″ Widescreen
  • 128 MB nVidia discreet graphics
  • 80GB HD
  • CD-RW/DVD-ROM
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • Vista Business

To say that I’m pumped, is an understatement. I kinda had my hand forced into upgrading thanks to the Sharepoint Training that I’m going to in a few weeks. My Thinkpad R51 has served me well for a little over two years now, but it’s a bit underpowered to run the virtual machine that we’ll be using at the training. Just the additional DDR RAM for my old R51 would’ve ran close to $200 since it’s no longer the de-facto RAM standard, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to drop that cash on a two-year old machine.

I ran across a coupon code (USPDECEMBER) that took an additional ~13% off the order total which brought the price down from $1,203 to only $1,042. They are also running a promotion with Paypal where they put $100 cash back in your Paypal account two weeks after the order is shipped – total cost is now $942 – not bad for a $1,200+ laptop!

With Christmas monies and pre-paid gift cards (thanks AT&T!), I’ll only be chipping in right around $600, and that includes the 4GB RAM upgrade from NewEgg. A Thinkpad T61 for 50% off – Merry Christmas to me!

I’ve already started thinking about names and I think it will either be Tank or Dozer to stay with my Matrix theme.

As an added bonus, Bonnie will inherit Neo, and I think it will continue be a fine laptop for her needs. Me – I’m looking forward to the jump to the T-series and the nicer finish on the exterior of the chassis.

(0) Comments    Read More   
December
20
Filed Under (Humor, Politics) by Justin on 2007-12-20

I got comments, both on and off-blog about the Merry Tossmas video I posted the other day, so I thought you’d all enjoy this email that was forwarded to me by my dad.

For my Democratic “friends”:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice Not to observe religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures.

And to my Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and may God bless you and yours in 2008!

(0) Comments    Read More   
December
17
Filed Under (Asterisk, church, Missions) by Justin on 2007-12-17

I was perusing some of the blogs on Church IT Planet feed this morning and through Jason Lee’s blog, I landed on this post from Mike Gold about Willow Creek’s IT staff going on a technology-centered mission trip to the Dominican Republic. One of the things they did was install an Asterisk-based phone system! Too cool!

This has my wheels turning now – would it be possible for a bunch of Church IT RoundTable folks to get together and form a team that could go and do something like this? If so, how would we find a place to go and meet a need? I know our friend Andrew Mitry is in some remote place in Africa as we speak on a two-month trip where he is doing some technical things for a Coptic mission there, but how cool would it be to go on trip where we can flex our IT muscle and impact the kingdom?

I do have a heart for missions and I have loved every minute of the past trips I’ve been on, but to have my passion for missions and love for technology to meet in the mission field would just be absolutely amazing.

(0) Comments    Read More