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Last Thoughts of the Year 2010 December 31, 2010

Posted by Matsu in Friends, History, News, News and politics, Other, Random, WordPress.
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Exactly one year ago at this time (on New Year’s Eve, almost down to the same minute), I wrote, “This will be my last blog post of the year 2009. And, if it wasn’t for the WordPress App on my iPhone, I wouldn’t be able to submit and publish this last post because where I am I can’t use my laptop and there is no WiFi network or Internet access. This is all being done with my iPhone.”

In terms of my situation this evening, New Years Eve of 2010, not much has changed since last year. But, a LOT has happened this year. A LOT has changed, for me and for many others all across the world, but especially in Haiti. I’ll say more about that in a minute. Before I do that, I want to assess how I did on my New Year’s resolution.

It seemed like it was just yesterday, but it was a full year ago when I resolved to do something very specific. Since you probably don’t remember, let me remind you what I said… “I resolve to be a kinder and more understanding person who takes time to help others and encourage everyone I come into contact with.”

And, as you might remember, before I could even post that entry to my blog, I was tested. It was a small test, but a test none the less. A total stranger staying at the neighbor’s cabin stopped by to ask for a roll of toilet paper. I had my first opportunity to help someone I didn’t know. And, as you might guess, I passed that first test with flying colors. So, that was the start of my new year — the year 2010.

Little did I know what was to transpire less than two weeks later. On that day, as I was driving home from work, I was listening to the radio — the news was on — and I heard the first report that a severe earthquake had hit the island nation of Haiti. It had only happened minutes before, so there was very little information other than it caused significant damage.

A grade school friend of mine lives in Haiti, with his wife and two children. I immediately worried about their well being, not knowing if they were affected by the quake or not. When I arrived at home, I began nearly a week-long vigil of watching as much TV news as I could, constantly checking the Internet for even more current information, and searching Facebook for news of my friends. It was almost 24 hours before I heard from my friends. They had survived. Their house was intact. But, The city of Port-au-Prince, where they lived, was annihilated.

In those first hours after the quake there was no information as to the scope of the damage since communication lines were all down in Haiti. Eventually, information began to trickle out… the news was devastating… thousands and thousands of people were killed instantly as buildings collapsed. It was unknown how many were still alive, but buried in the rubble. For days and even weeks, rescuers tried to save all they could find in fallen hotels and grocery stores where there were people who were able to survive the quake in air pockets. There were some amazing stories of a few survivors who were recovered, but far too many stories of people who did not make it.

All that happened on January 12, 2010. The day a nation of strangers will never forget as it changed their lives, forever. And, possibly, changed the country of Haiti forever.

I have done everything I can to help the few strangers from Haiti that I could (through multiple donations of funds) and I did everything I could to help my friend and his family this year. I am glad to say, they are all doing well and are continuing their work in Haiti. For that, I am grateful to God.

For me, the year of 2010 will be remembered as a year of testing my resolve to help others, both friends and strangers. It was a year of challenges, not just for me, but for a whole nation of people that I did not know, but who I grieved for and desperately want to help, even now. Their lives, those of the Haitian people, have not improved much since the earthquake nearly a year ago. There is still much that must be done to restore the infrastructure and rebuild the cities. And, the possibility of disease is always near, with cholera being the current danger as it works its way through the country and into the tent cities.

Just as I wrote last year, I write again that “this has been an especially difficult year for many people.” Only, I was surprised to find that not only was I able to help strangers and friends this year, but I was in turn helped BY strangers and friends. In fact, because of that help, this has been one of the best years I have had in a long, long time. That help was a direct result of my reaching out and helping others. It’s amazing how that works. And, how unexpected it was. As a person of faith, I must give credit to God, and thank Him for what He has done this year. It was a very difficult year and it was full of times of both great suffering and great joy. What a paradox.

Like last year, I once again challenge you, dear reader, to look for opportunities to help someone, whether it be a friend or stranger. Only, I ask you to go a little further this year and remember the people of Haiti. They are still living without the most basic of essentials, like clean water and a roof over their heads when they sleep at night. It will take all of us, working together, to make a difference for that nation of strangers. I accept the challenge and ask that you join me in what may seem to be an impossible quest. But, if you help just one stranger, it will make a difference for us all. It will make this world a better place for everyone. And, that is my wish this year. That we all make this world a better place by doing the right thing and helping others, sharing what we have with strangers. No matter how little you have, you can always help in some way, to alleviate pain and suffering of others. That’s what I resolve to do this year, both here where I live and abroad, in Haiti.

Good bye, 2010! Welcome the year 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone! Make the most of every day to help others.

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Last Thoughts of the Year December 31, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Random, Weblog, WordPress.
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This will be my last blog post of the year 2009. And, if it wasn’t for the WordPress App on my iPhone, I wouldn’t be able to submit and publish this last post because where I am I can’t use my laptop and there is no WiFi network or Internet access. This is all being done with my iPhone.

This has been an especially difficult year for many people, including myself. Much of my stress was work related, which is of course a blessing because I have a job (unlike many millions of people around the world). And, while it has been a difficult year, I have learned some valuable lessons and have seen people get back to the essentials of life.

One of the lessons is that you should be kind to everyone you come into contact with because you never know what they are going through. I know that when I’ve struggled this past year a kind word from a friend or coworker has really picked up my spirits and encouraged me. While I have not always done that myself (intentionally taking a minute to encourage someone with a kind word or action), I intend to make it a priority this coming year.

To state it in a more formal way, I resolve to be a kinder and more understanding person who takes time to help others and encourage everyone I come into contact with.

{Someone is knocking on the cabin door… I will be right back.}

Okay, it looks like I’ve just had my first test. Just as I finished writing my New Year’s resolution I had a neighbor stop by and ask me if he could “borrow” a roll of toilet paper. He and his friends are renting a cabin next door to my cabin and they ran out of toilet paper. So, as you might guess, I had a spare roll and gave him one. I even smiled and wished him and his friends a Happy New Year.

It’s nice to know that in this self-centered and self-absorbed age where everyone seems to be focused on their own happiness that we can still help each other.

I challenge you, dear reader, to look for opportunities to help someone, whether it be friend or stranger. It will make a difference for us all. And, you will be glad you did.

Good bye, 2009! Welcome to Earth, 2010!

Happy New Year, everyone! See you on the other side.

Practice Poll – Tell me your favorite season December 5, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Open Source, Software, Technology, Web, Weblog, WordPress.
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WordPress acquired a simple web polling product called Poll Daddy (sound familiar? GoDaddy?) and released it on WordPress.com for all of their bloggers to try out. So, I’m trying it out.

This is one of the pre-designed polling templates they provided:

What do you think of the polling software? Impressed? Not so impressed? And, what do you think the distribution for the answers will be? Evenly distributed (25% for each season)? Or, do you think that winter will get frozen out and people won’t choose it as much as they will summer, spring, and fall?

I guess we will see over time, as visitors answer the poll. If you haven’t, please give it a try so I can have some real data to work with.

Is this a WordPress.com image bug? January 21, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Open Source, Software, Weblog, WordPress.
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MySQL Logo 2Last week I wrote this blog post about Sun’s decision to buy MySQL. I included an image of the MySQL logo as part of that post. Only, today it’s an image of an infant in a high chair! Huh?

I went back to my photo library (in WordPress.com) and confirmed that the MySQL logo image was still there and was still correct. Then, I went back and looked at the image name in my older post and it was correct. But, when I put that logo image into this post, it shows the child, again! Something is very messed up with WordPress.com images! I had to reload the image and name it “MySQL Logo 2” for it to work correctly.

So, what gives WordPress.com? Are you now randomizing photos in the blogs to make things more interesting?Kid photo

Note: When I published this post the MySQL logo image reverted back to what it should be and the child in the high chair disappeared! But when I go to edit it goes back to the kid image. So, I did a screen capture so you can see the kid I’m seeing. Right now it’s switching back and forth for no good reason.

Wacky!

Warning: This blog post is about work! September 10, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Web, Weblog, WordPress.
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If you have not already read about people who have lost their jobs over what they wrote on their blogs, then read this article that chronicles several cases of ‘blog firings.’

Now, knowing the risk of blogging about work let me share with you my thoughts and feelings about my staff.

First, let me provide some background. I am an I.T. manager responsible for pretty much all technology in the organization. My department is responsible for everything from the ID system that is used for physical access control to the cable TV system that is used for education and entertainment to all of the traditional computer technologies including all of the computer based services required to run the organization. To do that, I have a group of I.T. professionals to actually do all of the real work.

On Friday I had to work late because I have been appointed to serve on a committee that is strategically important to the success of the organization. The kick-off meeting was a dinner meeting after work. That made for a really long day, though I don’t resent being part of this important project. After that meeting ended I went back to my office to take care of some office work that simply had to be done before I began my weekend. An hour or two later, after working all day and then attending a kick-off meeting for a project that will consume some of my extra time, and after working a couple of more hours, I finally headed home.

As I drove home I began to think about my week. It had been a long week. I am in the process of filling three open positions in my department. So, I have been conducting a lot of interviews. In fact, over the course of one week I interviewed six people. With all of the other things going on, that was really difficult to fit into my schedule. Now, I have the difficult task of deciding who is best for the various jobs and who to recruit to bring onto staff. It is especially difficult because there have been some every qualified people applying for these jobs and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so it’s not easy comparing the candidates. But, that’s not what I want to write about. What I want to write about is the group of people who are already on staff and working in my department.

While I considered how I would convince new people to join my department in spite of relatively low pay (it’s possible to make a more money working at a for-profit company) I began to ponder the quality of my current staff members. To be honest, I feel terribly blessed to have the quality of people working with me and for me and the institution we serve. Each one of them is a top performer who really cares about doing a good job. Every one of them gives all that they can, and then some more. They each take ownership of their job and have the best possible attitude about the high demands that are placed on them by me and our end users. They work well together and they respect each other. And, when they disagree and debate things at work, it’s over how we can do our best and provide the best possible service and meet the growing technology needs of the larger organization. They leave their egos at home and they have a good sense of ‘being in this together’ so everyone pulls their weight.

All of those thoughts were going through my head as I drove home Friday night. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for each and every person who works in my department, as I would not be able to easily replace them. And, knowing that they won’t be working in my department forever, I do not take lightly the incredible gift of having them work in my department for this season of their life.

I am truly blessed and can’t adequately express how grateful I am and how undeserving I am to have such a great staff. Yes, there is a lot of work to do and there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. And, yes, we are all underappreciated because much of I.T. work is behind the scenes and most people we serve never know what we have done, though they would care if we didn’t do it (i.e. things they care about would stop working). But, at the end of the day, I can’t do most of the things my staff does and nothing would get done without them doing it. They make all the difference in the world and I can never repay them for that.

I can’t take credit for all of the people who have made sacrifices to be on my staff. I can’t take credit for their sense of responsibility and excellence at work. They each do more than is expected and truly care about the people they serve and that really comes through.

After my meeting Friday evening several faculty members and some of the support staff that were there took time to seek me out just to express how much my staff has done for them and how much they appreciated all my department does to support their work. Hearing that I felt a great sense of pride, not for myself, but for my staff. I also felt pride in being part of such a great group of people. I do not take that for granted. I am very blessed.

If you are an I.T. manager, take a minute to consider how blessed you are to have those few I.T. professionals working for you who really care about their work and do more than is expected. Stop to count your blessings. And, if all of your I.T. staff members fall in that rare category, then you know exactly how I feel as that is what I have.

Microsoft releases WYSIWYG blog editor August 15, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Microsoft, Software, Technology, Weblog, Windows/Microsoft, WordPress.
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Microsoft has already talked about the addition of blog editing tools built into Office 2007, but did you know they released a new stand-alone WYSIWYG blog editing program, today? They did.

This post on Information Week’s web site gives more details. It even works with WordPress blogs.

To download your own copy, go here.