Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ready to upgrade to Lion - Are you sure?

Mac OSX 10.7 aka Lion was recently released and many Mac users jumped on the band wagon and upgraded. It's always wise to wait until the dust settles after major releases, even Apple's extensive testing cannot predict some of the quirks that arise. There are two reasons why I'm glad I didn't jump at loading Lion onto my laptop.

The first reason is several of my programs are not Lion compatible, meaning they use the old PowerPC architecture, which Lion no longer supports. You too can check your compatibility by going to the Apple Menu > About this Mac

Then select More Info...
Then select the Applications list from the left hand column and look for any programs that have PowerPC in the Kind column. Any of the PowerPC applications will not work in Lion (or so I've read from others, haven't actually tried this yet).

The second reason I'm glad I didn't upgrade yet was this article. Apple accidentally re-charged customers for their Lion upgrades of $30 multiple times and in one case 122 times for a total near $4,000! I hope they get this figured out shortly.

Also - always remember to backup your files before upgrading. My next post will be about making a bootable backup of your Mac using the built-in Disk Utility.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Looking for our next home

Recently Brandy and I have been talking more and more about our next place. We currently rent an in-law apartment from my parents. The space has been great for us while living on my income with Brandy in school, rent is cheap and my parents have been able to help us out in many ways. We are contemplating moving out soon and have waver back and forth on our options. We see several options:

1)We can continue to rent the space until we've put a good dent in college loans and saved up a downpayment on a house. - Looks great on paper but it would take another two years (not sure our, nor my parents' patience is up for that!)

2) We could rent an apartment. - A decent apartment in our area is $900+ a month which is almost a mortgage payment but doesn't require the downpayment.

3) We could try to get mortgage for a small starter house. - Not ideal space but avoidable and would be an asset to resell later in order to purchase our dream home. 

It's hard to make big financial decisions with so many variables. Some things that come to mind are: the housing market is down, I wish we could take advantage of it - or - an apartment seems like counter productive - or - if we bought a starter house, we could get stuck with it later... Ahh so many things to think about. I keep telling Brandy and myself that we shouldn't think or stress over it until she has reliable employment as a dental hygienist, but it is difficult to maintain that mentality. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wow it's been awhile

Okay so you'll have to forgive me for the lack of posts. I don't have a good excuse, I just kept forgetting to write. I do have a follow up to some of the posts I've previously written.

First, I did complete several chapters of my Unix for Mac Users book before I was swamped at work and the last thing I wanted to do on the weekend was spend more time on the computer. Well recently I've been working on my Linux server administrator skills and have learned a lot in the last couple weeks. With the help of the guys at work for some practical examples and a great VI tutorial online, I'm on my way!

Next, it seems I have been swayed away from the idea of my next car...the Honda Accord has been pushed back for the newer Acura TSX. The TSX is basically the European version of the Accord so it's still in the family. I'm hoping to test drive one soon to really be sure it's the car for me. Sometimes it's tough to be content with our current vehicles breaking down and having issues but God's been good to us. Yesterday Brandy took her car in because both front tires (relatively new) were losing air overnight. They found a nail in one (replaced it) and repaired the other for $14! Now we just have to decide what we're going to do about the leaking oil and radiator in Brandy's car and the failing struts in mine...

There's a quick update, nothing to write home about but I hope I can get back into the swing of writing weekly again.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Social Media and Business - Emarketing 101

At first, social media appears to be somewhat of a personal way to interact with friends. However, it quickly became an area where millions of people are crammed into cyberspace ready to soak in what others have to say. The business and marketing side of me can't see past the access to potential customers gained through the use of social media. It can be difficult to quantify the benefits and ROI of using social media as an advertising platform although no one can deny the incredibly captive audience the internet provides. 
Often I encounter clients who are looking for some tangible evidence the work put into social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) and with e-marketing  campaigns (Google AdWords, Constant Contact etc) was worth it to their business. It's not easy but it is doable with a little creativity. 
The easiest way is to offer discounts or coupons organized in a way you can tell which coupon came from which advertisement (Facebook, Google Ad, Email etc). It is also important to narrow your audience from the world wide web down to your target markets (the narrow group of people that would benefit most from your product or service). 
For instance, an apple orchard in New England is not particularly interested in spending money advertising to those in Washington state for pick your own apples.  So the orchard can limit their Google AdWord campaign to those in a geographical area, say a 20 mile radius around the orchard itself.
Another example would be through email marketing with the use of Constant Contact. Everyone hates to receive the mass mailings in their inbox, however if done correctly, they can be an incredible tool. 
First, when setting up a signup for email marketing also gather people’s addresses. It’s a border line call how anonymous your signup should be (just email address, or add name, address, phone number OR just their email and city/state etc). With increased information about your potential buyers, you can target them based on geographic region, interests etc. 
With email marketing campaigns, the good ones keep track of several important pieces of information:
  1. Was the message delivered or bounced? 
  2. If the message bounced, why? (Either the email account no longer exists or the inbox is full)
  3. What percentage of people opened and read the message?
  4. What percentage of people clicked on a link from the message?
  5. Which link did they click on from the message?
For those with bounced message, if you have their address, you can mail them a “We’ve missed you” postcard offering some discount for coming back. 
There’s e-marketing in a nutshell, I’d like to hear your feedback.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm on Twitter

I started this blog with a challenge of keeping up with it weekly. It's been tough so I'm up to go at it again and use a reminder on my calendar to write a post each week.

Part of my job is knowing about the latest technologies and being able to speak intelligently on most of them. I never really considered myself much of a Geek, I can't name but 3 Star Trek characters, I haven't seen all the Star Wars movies, I don't have any nerdy t-shirts but nonetheless I'm a computer guy and by default a Geek to some point.

I've had an inner battle so to speak regarding how involved I should be with social media, this blog for insistence. Either way I need to use more of it in order to become somewhat of an expert on how to use it effectively.

Yesterday I signed up for a Twitter account and installed the app on my iPhone. I’ve already picked up a couple of followers, but they are strangers whom I don’t know and have a feeling they’re just robo followers, oh well. You can follow me @theMatthewKline.

Check back soon for more talk on advertising over the internet!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Favorite Hymns

This morning in church we mixed it up and only had a piano (a fantastic pianist) and only sang hymns. Although we sang several favorites, The Old Rugged Cross is by far my favorite for several reasons including great lyrics, it's in a 6/8 time measure and one particular memory.

I can remember sitting in the evening service with my grandparents in the Ellington Wesleyan Church, bright red carpet, long pine pews that reflected the bright fluorescent lamps and the feeling of being the youngest in attendance by at least 25 years. Regardless, attenders would request hymns and the small gathering of 10-20 people would sing. I can see and hear my grandfather singing in his off pitch, extra loud voice with incredible unexplainable joy. Just looking back on that memory makes me smile and I hope that my life becomes one of service in tune with God's will as much as his is.

You can always find this hymn online, I'm sure all over YouTube but here are the lyrics, I challenge you to carefully read each verse and chorus and take a couple minutes to reflect on the story this tune tells.

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.

  2. Refrain:
  3. So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
  4. Till my trophies at last I lay down;
  5. I will cling to the old rugged cross,
  6. And exchange it some day for a crown.
  7. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  8. Refrain:
    So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
    Till my trophies at last I lay down;
    I will cling to the old rugged cross,
    And exchange it some day for a crown.
  9. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.
  10. Refrain:
    So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
    Till my trophies at last I lay down;
    I will cling to the old rugged cross,
    And exchange it some day for a crown.
  11. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I’ll share.
  12. Refrain:
    So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
    Till my trophies at last I lay down;
    I will cling to the old rugged cross,
    And exchange it some day for a crown.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Staying sharp

A couple years back I had asked my boss to help me with learning the UNIX file system running my wonderful Mac OS X. More or less, it's the "under the hood" for Apple's operating system as well as other UNIX distributions like Ubuntu. He soon realized he wouldn't have time and instead bought me a book, "A practical guide to UNIX for Mac OS X Users" found here at Amazon:

It's a good book and I've decided I'm going to do at least a chapter a week, answer the end of the chapter questions and turn them in to the boss or one of our other system administrators as "homework" and allow them to keep me accountable.

Of course this seems fairly manageable... however... One of the Borders bookstores near us is closing and my wife and I stopped by to see if there were any decently discounted books. I was disappointed, all the books I was interested in were still cheaper on Amazon. (Oh how much money my iPhone has saved me being able to check prices while in a store!) I was standing in the technology section and had a stack of books I was still interested in and it was feeling rather depressed. So much of the information on those pages I just wanted to absorb so I could use the knowledge and practice as tools in my day to day work as a web designer (JavaScript Joomla, Flash, etc), help desk technician, Mac OS X guru etc.

Needless to say, I'll work my way through my current text book (approximately 2 inches thick) before starting my next one. Luckily enough, we've been talking about some training time for work so I'm excited about that when the time comes.

I challenge you to take an hour a week to study something in your field and don't skip the questions at the end of the chapters!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My next car

I'm currently driving my grandfather's 2001 Buick LeSabre and it gets me from here to there. For a car that cost me nothing, I can't complain. I've only had to change the spark plugs, brakes and gas cap aside from the regular maintenance which isn't bad for a car over 100,000 miles.
Lately it's had me frustrated and ready for my next car, which of course I'm not ready to purchase but I secretly hoped researching a new car would scare the old girl into behaving a little while longer... and so far it's worked.

I've been plagued by a check engine light and for me it's just something I can't ignore. A new gas cap stopped that for a while but a couple weeks ago that stupid light came back. I couldn't figure out what it was and finally took it to get the code diagnosed. The results came back to do with a temperature sensor...great...just what I needed. After going over everything with a fine tooth comb, I thought it wouldn't hurt to top off the antifreeze. Well apparently those few ounces make a difference to that car. So the light is off and I've only had to top it off once since then.

I'm the type of guy who wants to have a plan in place for just about everything I can. I used to think this was a great personality trait but have since learned otherwise. Planning is good, just don't get carried away...

I like researching and wanted to a plan that if and when my car has taken me from A to B for the last time, I'm ready for it. So I started researching and learned I had some expensive tastes... well as nice as German cars are, particularly the Audi A4, it really didn't make sense for day to day life. After brainstorming what I needed versus what would be nice (commonly referred to as the likes, as in not the must haves) I came up with a Honda Accord. The problem being I'm not too fond of the looks although it's a great car. Until I found the newer Accords still come with an optional manual transmission (one of my must haves) and I like the look of the redesigned body style for 2008 and newer. It sounds silly but I had been agonizing over this problem for weeks and the answer brought great peace.

I forgot to mention that this decision was mostly arrived through a piece of advice from a good friend. Buy only the car you need, they'll be time later in life to buy the car you want.

So when the Buick is ready to retire, this will be it's replacement.
*Photo from Google Images

Sunday, February 20, 2011

So here goes nothing...

I've been challenged by probably the only reader of this blog to keep it up to date by making a post each week. It seems like a challenge I can at least take a good crack at....

As for me, a while I go I updated my personal website, Nothing special just a little facelift. My wife is in her last semester of dental hygiene school and studying like crazy for her boards exam. We are both eager for her to be done with school and hope for a closer to normal commute as she is currently driving about 90 minutes each way.

In other news, the owner of my company is returning from a 3 week mission trip to the Congo on Wednesday. He's seem to have a good trip so far and we are ready to have him back. I'm sure his family is even more anxious than we are. Regardless, in his absence the VP and myself have been running the show and doing rather well. It's been a good experience in management as I've had to step it up in areas of project management, leadership and discipline/encouraging fellow employees.

My latest achievement was setting a mobile version of a website for one of our customers. She was very specific about her Flash site working on her Blackberry. I designed a mobile homepage that closely resembled the Flash site, setup a Blackberry emulator, and setup the code to auto detect the correct version to display. Getting everything buttoned up and working was a great way to end the work week, total sense of accomplishment. If you're looking for some help on how to setup the auto detect code, I can help you out, just let me know.

Okay, that's enough for now, stay tuned to see if I can meet the challenge of keeping the blog updated. Take care.