Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Comparisons

I was talking to my mother the other weekend, and decided to ask her some questions about my grandfather. I didn't know him real well, as he died while I was young, but I do have a few memories of him. One of the things I asked her was what different jobs he had held, as I knew it was a long list. She came up with over 21 different occupations he had held at some point while she was growing up. And, the vast majority were entrepreneurial in some manner. A few things struck me, both similarities and differences. For one thing, he hated working for someone else. He would do it for a while, but once he saw a better way to do something, if they didn't listen, it wasn't long until he left. He wasn't arrogant, but he was extremely mechanically inclined, and a natural problem solver. I find I have some of the same tendencies. Once I see a (in my opinion), better way to do something, it bugs me to no end if my suggestion gets ignored. I'm not the mechanical genius he was (he designed, built, and sold his own well drilling rigs for a while, quite successfully), but you don't have to work long before you find someone doing something, who obviously knows less about it than you do. However, the flip side is, he did things on his own. He ran a drive-in movie theater, ran a gas station, was his own boss. Me, I might think about it, but then I'd start wondering what permits I'd need, how much it would cost, how to get started, if it would work, and I'd never act on it. He did things, I think about doing things. And, that's one thing I'd ask him about if I could, how to be more like him. Did he ignore the permits and do it anyway (he did live mostly in really small towns), or did he know something about obtaining them too? Or did he simply set about learning whatever he didn't know that stood between him and his objective? I know it wasn't an education difference, as he didn't get past 5th grade, and well, I did. Or maybe that is part of the difference. Maybe he had to work harder to overcome that (not that it was a huge handicap back then), and that drive is what empowered him. I don't know. But, I do know I admire him, even if I barely knew him.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

GMail

Well, looks like Google is expanding Gmail quite a bit more. I just noticed that my number of available invites jumped from 6 to 50. So, if you somehow don't already have a Gmail account, now's the time to ask for one. I'm overflowing with invitations, and I imagine this is true for most, if not all, other Gmail users. And, just in case you don't know what I'm yammering about, Gmail is the free web based e-mail service offered by Google, currently on a "by invitation only" beta test. It offers 1GB (or 1,000MB if you prefer (and yes I know that deep down at heart, it's 1,024MB, let's not confuse people ok?)) of storage for your e-mail and attachments, which at it's launch caused many other providers to scurry and vastly increase the size of their provided storage space as well. (The quickness of which implies that it was a fairly trivial change, there was just no incentive to offer increased storage space to their customers before.) Gmail also offers free POP3 access, so it's useful even if you hate webmail. (Which I previously did, but I find Gmail is far nicer.) And, when using it's webmail interface, Gmail has quite a few innovations which make it very nice indeed. But, the tour explains them far better than I could. Yes, Gmail does have it's detractors. Usually either due to the ads or the longtime storage and search capabilities. The ads are far less annoying than on other services I've used. They are text ads, no flashing banners, they are relevant to the subject of the e-mail conversation that is on screen, and since they are on the side, not the top, I honestly find them to be really subtle. (As in ignorable without any effort.) As for the storage and searching arguments, (sometimes combined with complaints about the e-mails being read to generate the ads), well they don't bother me. Bots read the e-mail, not people. They are suprisingly accurate at choosing corresponding ads (or sometimes just related links. It's like searching without having to tell the search engine what you are looking for.), but not perfect. Once you see some of the same word, different meaning ads you'll quickly realize that there is no human behind them. My biggest question is why pick on Google for this? They are doing minimally invasive automated word recognition on e-mails that aren't exactly encrypted in the first place. There are far scarier, and almost never mentioned, examples of real time data monitoring out there. Primarily, credit card companies, and their fraud prevention. Anyway, my point was, I've got invites just on the rare off chance that you haven't been invited already, and want one.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Hooray!

Just a quick note to say that Bun-Bun is back, and he's a pirate! ARR!!! If you've no idea what I'm talking about, Sluggy Freelance is a web comic that is going on 7 or 8 years now (8 years in August), with great story arcs with plot points being tied up sometimes years later, lots of character development. My wife was afraid of it, thinking it was just another nerd thing until I picked up a few of the "dead tree" editions at Linucon last year. Being bored at the con, she started reading them, and was quickly forced to admit that yes, it's funny, and no, not just to nerds! She is now thouroghly addicted, and plodding her way through the archives to get caught up! (Seven years is a lot of back story!)