The Founding Fathers Were Bloggers

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We often think of blogging as a uniquely modern activity. Only relatively recently were individuals able to create their own corner of the Internet and say anything they want, thanks to services like Blogger, WordPress.net, and Tumblr. Before that, you had to have the money and/or technical expertise to run your own blog.
Before the Internet you had to have enough, money and/or influence to be able to get your message on TV or radio.
Going back even further, the only way to get your message out was to have your own printing press and means of distributing what you printed.
That’s where men like Andrew Jackson and Benjamin Franklin come in.

Franklin, for instance was a prolific writer and publisher.  As a young man he was an apprentice printer, so he learned about writing and publishing early.  Later, be became a writer himself.  One of his most famous works, Young Richards Almanac, was on of the most popular publications of it’s time.  Like many current blogs, Young Richards Almanac was a compilation of both original and borrow works.  At the age of 16 Franklin was writing for his brother’s paper, The Courant.  In 1726, after returning from Europe, Franklin setup a printer and begin publishing and writing most of the newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette.

In addition to printing and writing for newspapers, Franklin also wrote and printed much more personal and opinionated pamphlets.  With names such as  “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” and “Necessity of a Paper Currency”, Franklin was willing to take on politics, finance, and even established religion.  Any topic was game for him to write on.

To make sure his works were read by others, Franklin worked to promote his works when possible, just as any good blogger spends time promoting their posts.

Much like Franklin, Thomas Jefferson was a prolific and opinionated writer.  Writing on such topics as religious freedom, economic and social justice, and caution in international affairs, Thomas was very controversial in his time.  In fact, many of his ideas are still the subject of debate today.

Jefferson wrote one of the most popular documents in the history of the world, The Declaration of Independence, after being chosen by his peers to do so.

In addition to this public writings, Jefferson also penned many personal letters to friends, business partners, and family.  these would have been the equivalent of today’s Facebook posts, except with proper grammar and spelling

I’m convinced after looking at the writings of men such as Jefferson and Franklin, that if they were alive today, that they would indeed be bloggers. They would use the most effective and democratic form of communication available to them, and today that is the blog.

So, if you are like me and like to share your thoughts with the world hoping that they will read and enjoy them, you can rest in the comfort of knowing that we follow in a line of men such as Franklin and Jefferson.

 

 

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Making the Perfect Email Client

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Ok, so I use email all day, everyday. As a Customer Support Specialist for my day job I am constantly sending, receiving, reading, writing, and generally living in my email client. My company originally used our its own hosted Exchange server, thus I used Outlook to manage my email and calendar.  However, we have since moved to Google Apps, so I am using the web client.  I like the web client and it does just about everything I want, but it’s just not quite there for me and the way I like to work.  Therefore, I have started a search for the perfect email client.  I have a lot of requirements, and I’m sure I’ll never find the one that meets all of my needs, but I can hope.

Requirements for the perfect email client:

  1. Speed.  In order for an email client to be considered even useful, much less perfect, it must be fast.  One of the fastest clients that I have used recently is Sparrow.  This is a Mac only app that is light, useful, and fast.  The engine in this app is great and, in my limited use and comparison, much faster than any other client that I have ever used.  Unfortunately, Google swooped in and bought them and I suspect that it will be the death of Sparrow.
  2. Great Calendar Integration. I use my calendar to manage my schedule, as many of you do.  I have my work calendar with meetings, my personal calendar with all of the stuff I have to do outside of work, and I link to my wife’s calendar so I can see what she has coming up.  All-in-all, my calendar is pretty important to me.  For my money, Outlook has been the leader in this area for a long time.  The ease with which I can move meetings, create invites, and generally manage everything is wonderful.  I like the Google calendar, but there’s just always been something that has made me less that happy with it.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s just something missing.
  3. Social Integration. I’m not the type of person that is constantly on Twitter or Facebook sharing every detail of my life.  However, I do read it often for news.  My Twitter stream is full of breaking news, geeky commentary, and other fun stuff to get me through the day and keep me informed.  I want to be able to easily integrate this into my email client so that I don’t have to go to my browser or other application to get this.  One of the clients that gets this right is Inbox2.  The integration of Twitter and Facebook is simple and fast, and it is easy to hide if I want to ignore it and just get some work done.
  4. Ease of Setup.  One of the things I hate about setting up an email client is the process of choosing the service, choosing the port to enter, trying to remember if it is POP3 or IMAP, etc.  I just want to choose the service, enter my userid and password, and be done.  The easiest client that I have found for setting up new accounts is eM Client.  To setup your GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or many other accounts you simply select the service, add in your userid and password and it does the rest.  It really is that simple, as it should be.  eM Client is not the only client to make it this simple.  The setup for Thunderbird is just as simple, so it deserves a mention here as well.
  5. RSS Integration.  I follow lots of blogs via RSS and I currently use Google Reader to gather these all together for me.  It’s the best RSS reader that I have found since it is simple, easy, and it just plain works for me.  I would love to have this in my email client to further my desire to have everything in one complete application.  Outlook has an RSS tool in it, but quite frankly, it’s horrible.  Thunderbird has an add-on for RSS, but it’s not much better than the one in Outlook.
  6. Google Options. I use a lot of the extra options in the Google web client that make my job easier.  One of my favorites is the stars.  This option allows for the use of stars beyond the basic yellow.  I use different colored stars and the exclamation points to mark messages that require different actions.  If I just need to reply I use the blue start.  If it needs some research I may use a question mark.  I have yet to find a single email client that supports these stars.  Outlook will let you use different colored flags, but they are harder to implement than the simple mouse clicks that you can use in the GMail web client.  I also like the options of being able to customize my keyboard shortcuts, and the threaded conversations.  So many of the other clients fail miserably in this area.
  7. Markdown Support.  While I’m not completely sold on Markdown, I would really like to be able to use it much more simply when creating emails.  None of the other email clients that I have tried fully support this.
  8. Multi-platform.  I use a Mac at home and a PC at work.  I want my perfect email client to work in both places, with no exceptions.
  9. Cost.  Free would be the best, but if you could give me the perfect client with all of the options above then I would pay $50-100 for it.  It would make that much of a difference in my life.

So, if you are a software developer looking for a new challenge, this is it.  Build the perfect email client for the pickiest email user you will ever meet and I’m sure that you will satisfy just about every user out there and be in line to make a pile of cash.  So, quit reading and get coding.

If you have found an email client that will do all, or even most, of the things above, please let me know.  If you have an email client that you love, let me know why in the comments.

Wrangling Rogue Processes with Taskkill [Command Line]

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So, you’re working along and crossing things off of your ToDo list, and suddenly your PC begins to crawl and you just can’t get anything to work.  You try to get out of the program that is sucking the life out your PC, but it just sits there, laughing at you.  Well, you have a weapon in your command line (you do have that open all of the time, right?) that will allow you to kill that process immediately.

One of the most powerful command line tools that I have found and use consistently at home and at work when working on a PC is “Taskkill”.  This tool will allow you to stop any process on your PC without having to involve your Task Manager application.

In the example screenshot below, I’m going to use the Taskkill command to close Notepad.  Let’s talk about what is in this command and break it down a little.

The /im switch tells Taskkill that you are wanting to stop a process based on the name of the process.  This is the most common way that I use this command as I usually know which program is causing my issues and thus that I want to stop it.

After the /im switch is the name of the application that needs to be stopped.  In my example, it’s Notepad.  Typically the “.exe” will need to be included in this command.

The last part of the command is the /f switch.  This command is used to force the application to close without asking to make changes.  If you have any unsaved changes in the application when using this option you will lose them, so be careful.  However, since I am usually beyond frustrated with an application by the time I get to this point, I’m ready to give up changes just to get rid of it.

Also, you will need to keep in mind that if you have multiple instances of the application running, this command will stop all of them.  If you want to stop a specific instance, you can use the /pid switch.  This will allow you to pass in the PID from task manager so that you can stop a specific instance of the application. You can use Tasklist to find this value as well (more on that command in a later post).

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8 FREE Online Computer Science Courses for Beginners and Advances Users

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With the expansion of the internet and the ever-evolving technology, it’s not enough to survive on what you already know.  You have to expand on that knowledge and improve your skills or you fall behind.

Likewise, if you are just starting out in the technology field, or are just wanting to understand what your geek friends are talking about, the list of online resources on the following link will give you a good place to start.

8 FREE Online Computer Science Courses for Beginners and Advances Users.

Cool Tools: How to Find Free and Cheap Ebooks

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If you’re like me you like to read new books but you don’t want to pay lot of money for all of those books.  Well, if that is the case I’ve found a listing of several ways to find free or cheap ebooks.  Ideas from your local library to great websites.  Check out the link below to see the list.

 

via [Cool Tools: How to Find Free and Cheap Ebooks.]

Achieve Faster Flow States: Swap your iPad for a Notepad

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OK, so I’ll be the first to admit that although I am a geek, I hate trying to be creative on a computer or tablet device.  I am a big fan of good old-fashioned paper and pen.  There’s nothing quite as nice as filling up that empty page with notes, drawings, or your current flow of consciousness.  Being able to scribble, draw, or write without having to wait for a new application to open up leaves more time to get things out of my head.

That’s why I love this post over at lifehack.org.  Find out how to free your mind and get things out of your head easier and more efficiently with pen and paper.

Achieve Faster Flow States: Swap your iPad for a Notepad.

My Picks for Top 10 Geek Books

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As a geek, I’m sure you’ve read books that you found really spoke to you and your interests as a geek.  I’ve run across several and I’m listing my favorite below, in no particular order.

  1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  2. Cryptonomicon – Neil Stephenson
  3. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
  4. Dune – Frank Herbert
  5. Lord of the Rings – Tolkien
  6. Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman – Richard Feynman
  7. Fermat’s Enigma – Simon Singh
  8. Cosmos – Carl Sagan
  9. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  10. Ready Player One – Earnest Cline

So, was your favorite on this list?  Was there something on the list that should not have been?  Let me know where I messed up in the comments.