Saturday, November 1, 2014

Music information. How the search has changed!

The other night I wanted to find out information about my favorite band. So I googled them and came up with posts from Wikipedia and other links.
In a few minutes I found out the latest release from the band and the latest news and tour dates. It got me thinking, how did we get this information before the internet?
Think about it. Back them when you wanted information about your favorite artist what did you do?

You bought a rolling stone or another type of music magazine to find out what was happening! I remember many times running to my local store to get the latest magazine and it was sold out! then what? You had to wait till they came back in stock to find out or call your friends to find out what changed. Maybe you could even watch MTV or VH1 but they may not have had information on rock bands or maybe they were playing the stupid reality stuff they did not and you could not stomach watching it to find out the news!

Now you go to the internet to find out information and the information is at your fingertips! We really take this kind of access for granted. I know I do. "Gah its not working!!! WTF??"
"its going through the air and coming back give it a second!!!"

Do you find information about music in a different way? Do you find any information in a different way than the internet? Write in and let me know.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Did the age of digital music make you lazy?

There is no denying it. We are fully in the age of digital music. There is not much left of going to the music store to get that latest album from your favorite bands. I saw that FYE still has a store in the local mall by me and it was surprising. I thought there were no more stores left. But now we are in a new age. Do you want to hear that new song by your favorite artist? Ok Jump on the web type it in and there it is even with the video! You didn't have to wait for MTV to play it on their request show... You didn't have to sit through a commercial... well wait that one I take back. If your on youtube you probably did have to wait through 10 seconds of a car commercial. But a little button came up saying skip! So 10 seconds later there is the new video from that artist and you can watch it again and again if you want. No waiting for it to play again on the tv, no wondering why they don't play that video anymore, just click and there it is.
Do you like a band that is underground and not many people have heard of them? No problem. Search them in Google, there is their website and they have some clips on sound cloud. Go ahead listen till your overloaded on the songs! Do you like to stream a pod cast of your favorite EDM artist? Go ahead its all there on itunes. Play the new one, go back and play your favorite one. Choose to down load it and you can bring it up on any device you want to listen to again!
This digital age of music has given us the listeners lots of choice and ways to get our music we love. But it has also made us lazy. Lets compare how it used to work to how it is now.
Then you would hear of your favorite band coming out with a new album in a week. You would be like I got to get to the store to get that album I cant forget, you would make a note put it somewhere make sure you could get to the store that day and get the cd or the cassette.... (yep I went there!) You were not satisfied until you had that album in your player and you were jamming out with it! And if the store was out of stock on the album well damn, you went back every day until they got more in and you got that album. Or you went to another store in another town just to get that album!
Now: you might hear about it on the web or you might not hear that the album has come out. If you don't go out and actively look for it you might not know it has come out. Or if its not listed in Itunes top 100 songs you might never know. I know it happens to me all the time, I have a list of music I want to get and then I try to find out if a band has new music out, but I cant find it right away so I say "Ill look later", then I forget, then weeks go by before I give it another thought! But do I go crazy because I have not heard new stuff by that band? No because I got so much other music playing either from Sound Cloud or a podcast on Itunes or even on Digitally Imported.
I have not even bought any music on Itunes in months. And there are several albums I want to get. But so much else is going on that I am just not as concerned about it. Before the internet and music on demand, if I didn't have new music I got bored of my cd collection. I wanted something different to hear, something I had not listened to before. Now, there is an endless supply of music. I have not gotten bored since I cant remember when.
This can hurt artists in the long run. They don't make a ton of money on the music they put out now, but if there are more people that have the mindset I have and get distracted that artist wont get the sales they could get because everyone went to listen to something else. Or they just pick a song from that album and watch it on you tube which makes the artist no money.
I kind of miss the days of going to the store and getting cd's for music. I would love to do that again, but the stores do not keep the same kind of stock they used to, and there is no selection any more. There are 2 shelves of top 40 and one of random stuff which may have 3 metal albums, 2 jazz albums and 1 christmas disc on it.... Not for me. But if I make the effort and go to different sites to buy music and see what is out there, Im sure I can find all the selection I want, and I can just buy the albums and download them. And I even get to sample them before so I don't waste money on a album that I don't like.
I think Im going to attempt to make more of an effort to buy some music on line from my artists I like. I want them to continue to play music in the future and I want to keep hearing what new stuff they come up with. There is so much talent out there from these artists they amaze me with the songs they come up with!
Do you feel the same way? Do you buy music still and do you go often to get music and actually purchase it from a store or online?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Make sure to take the time to Unplug!

As a tech guy who is always connected 24/7, I do find that if I do not make sure to stop and unplug for a while, I get burned out quick!
I try to take at least one day where I limit my using computers and tablets and keep myself busy with other stuff. It is a good thing to do to keep your mind fresh and keep yourself from becoming tired and drained with all the technology at our disposal.
I also found that if you stop working on your tablet or your phone an hour before you go to bed you will get a better sleep at night. My up band has proved this by showing that I am getting better deep sleep when I stay away from the devices before I go to bed. If you use them at night my deep sleep is less and I feel less rested. The lights from the tablets emit a type of light that makes it hard for your brain to release melatonin which helps you get to sleep. So limiting your time on devices before you go to sleep can help you sleep better at night and make you feel more rested.
I do the same when I go on vacation. I take only my phone, the toys stay home and I am unplugged completely. I tell work, I am not available at all, someone else will have to worry about what is happening at the office. Its the only way to get a truly good recharge while resting on vacation.
What do you do to unwind from technology and take a break?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tales from the Gutter: Why all the hate on Gmail?

Tales from the Gutter: Why all the hate on Gmail?: For the last 2 weeks I have been reading a lot of hate on Google's Gmail platform. I am wondering why there is such a backlash against ...

Why all the hate on Gmail?

For the last 2 weeks I have been reading a lot of hate on Google's Gmail platform. I am wondering why there is such a backlash against the service?
I have been using Gmail as my primary email service for the last 5 years. It has been the easiest service I have ever used for email. IT just works for me. I can also log in from many different platforms with out much effort. I can log in from all of my tablets, droid, apple and other. It works well in Windows 8 in the Chrome browser. Some may say, "yeah you gotta have the chrome browser to use the service!" Sorry not correct. You can use the chrome browser and have some extra features, but it is not needed to get to the service. I have logged into Gmail from all of the major browsers. I use IE as my primary browser at work and it works just fine. I have even logged in with Firefox when I had to test settings for a user. Even tried it on *gasp!* Safari! All of them worked great and I got to my email and was able to find the information I needed at a moments notice.

Some of the features that I like about Gmail are the tab view. I love when people scream about this being hard to deal with. As far as Im concerned its a folder with a different name. IT works the same and you can store your emails in different tabs or labels so its organized in a way that is easy to find things. I have about 13 different labels that I use for my mail and its very easy to find what I need and I can change the labels without a big fuss. It is also easy to view things in these labels even on a mobile device like a phone, this is big for me as I need to get my email on my phone and need to be able to pull information up at a moments notice. The other argument people have is that its hard to bring Gmail into an app like outlook or thunderbird and get it to read these labels like folders. Well Gmail shines more when its used in a browser where it can be manipulated as it was designed to be. I have used it in several email clients and all of them make me feel like somethings missing. I often found my self closing the app out and just opening the Gmail in the browser so I could go in and find what I was looking for.

The other thing I really like about gmail is the search feature. My email goes back about 10 years from emails I have carried with me throughout my digital life. These old emails are now sitting in gmails cloud with the rest of my email. I can hit the search button and find these emails in a quick amount of time and it is not a headache to search for things when using Gmail. Now to be fair I live in Outlook during the day for my work. I have to search through that email many times during the day and im searching a large amount of data in email, thousands upon thousands of emails. It can be difficult for Outlook to narrow down my search close enough so I can find things. If they are older than a few months it gets weird about bringing those results to me. Outlook would rather I remember the subject line of the email I am searching for and find it that way. Not Gmail. If I search for "Ebay" Gmail brings up "ebay", not "ebay plus here is some random emails with someone named jamie that is close to ebay like outlook likes to do!

There is also another area that people like to rag on Gmail about and that is the ads that gmail gives you. They are small and up above the top of your email but below the tabs that are showing. They are not big and in the way and they are related to things you have done online as Gmail likes to scan your email and use that data to bring up ads that are relatable to you. Here is where Privacy nuts jump up a down screaming about being tracked by google and how horrible and evil they are.... Okay do you nuts use Outlook.com or live.com? Did you ever see the ads on the lower right hand part of the page? Yeah same thing. It shows things that you did online and maybe even in your email and they took that and threw some ads in there that you may click on or want to view!
I know people go "How can they do that and its not fair!" Well here's is a tip, the email from Gmail and other providers is FREE, you don't ever pay for it! So they make money with the ads the put up! Guess what? If you ignore them and don't click on them they go away! POOF! Just like that! All gone! No more ads. And your saying they are using your data for evil? If all they want to do is scan my email and say "look here' is a place to buy some bowling balls! Fine go ahead and send me that ad. Thats great! I'll maybe check it out. If you use these sites that you don't have to pay for, they need to do something to make money! Online is not very private, so if your worried about privacy then you want to seek other ways to use online services.

The other issue people seem to have is the new tabs that gmail organizes your incoming email into. They are Primary, Social, Promotional, and Updates.
Some people do not like these and want to go back to the way things are. Not a problem. You can adjust your mail to go all into primary and you can turn these settings off. I personally like these settings. Its great. I get about 20 emails a day that are promos for different sites, they all go into that one tab and I don't have to look at them until I want to devote some time to looking at them and deleting the trash. It makes the email much easier to keep sorted. Gmail is very good at keeping you organized. You can filter your mail and there are some great settings for filters and labels and stars you can use the keep your mail sorted. The important stuff gets found right away, and the not so important stuff is there but not in the way of the things you need to get to quickly.

There is a lot of hoopla being thrown around about Gmail and I think some of it is undeserving. I have used different emails and different clients to get email and Gmail is my favorite to use and will be for the future. Some others are improving their service, like outlook.com. I have an address with that service and it nice the way they revamped it. But it does not have as much flexability as Gmail does I have seven no nine different email addresses and they are using various clients and various providers. Some are good some are not so good. But my favorite is Gmail and I don't see that changing anytime soon. What do you think? Am I going easy on Google? ARe they evil? Please leave comments and tell me what you think.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

In the IT Department 1 level support can feel like all level support

When the phone rings at a company help desk, the It person knows the person on the other end has a problem and needs it fixed. But that is all they know. They must be prepared for a range of emotions that could come pouring out on the other end of the phone. You will run into all types of issues on the helpdesk and people will have many different ways to express their frustration at a problem they are having.
Besides being able to quickly diagnose the issue and resolve it, a helpdesk person may also have to be empathetic to the person having the problem. They may be on the phone and be almost in tears because something they have worked on for a long time has suddenly disappeared. Now you have to keep them calm while trying to figure out where the file was and what they were doing when it vanished. Sometimes you answer the phone and are greeted with an angry question about why windows acts like a dick and won't let the person do something they have always done before. Now you have to keep them calm and rant free while you figure out what command windows does not like the person to try to run.
Sometimes you will answer a call and it is something that is totally out of your realm and has to go to the higher level of support, but they are out to lunch.... So now you have to try to keep the person calm and explain they can't speak to the person who can help them right now.... Do you try to attempt to see if you can help? What do you do to even begin to look at something you are not sure of? You have to have your good set of skills ready to have a good starting point. You always should remember to start with the simple things first. Many times that is a good place to start and will get a resolution quickly without having to go to far into the troubleshooting bag.
It is also good to pay attention to details when looking over a problem. Many times you can find something that is not being done right like good antivirus protection or they have a toolbar enabled that blocks pop ups they need. Now you resolved the initial problem and you can point this out to them and help them with what other items you find. So you help them update their antivirus or you turn their automatic updates on. Now your the best help desk person ever and that person wants you to help them every time. And the only thing you did was point out some simple things you know can help keep the computer running well for them.
When your on the help desk if you pay attention and have some empathy, you can excel at the position and your users will love getting you on the phone to help them.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cloud computing is great, unless your have an issue with your Internet



So while at work this week we ran into a location that was having issues connecting to our cloud. After troubleshooting the issue we found that the internet provider was having issues. A technician was dispatched and then it was escalated to have other technicians work on the issue as it was affecting several places in the area. This went on for most of the week and finally got resolved today, after business closed at 5pm.
This got me thinking, cloud computing is really taking off and has a lot of benefits for companies who are taking their IT processes into the cloud. The problem is if you have a provider that has a lot of issues, it can make a very poor experience in the cloud. Your users if faced with this will complain louder than a failing ibm hard drive grinding its way into defectiveness. Some areas this can be a big issue if you don't have a lot of choice with providers. Some areas there are only one or two providers, this seems to still be an issue in areas that are more on the remote side of things.
Even if your data center has the top of the line hardware and a huge pipe coming in, the data has to go through the pipes and get to your location. If thats in a area that has only DSL connections to use, your cloud will be stormy! The cloud uses a lot of upload speed, and you need to calculate how much bandwidth per person you need. Your cloud provider can help you figure this out,
for example, our cloud provider gave us a number of 256KB of bandwidth per person. So if you have 4 users, you need at least a full 1MB of upload speed. DSL does not even go that high, and then if your cloud host is on one side of the country, and your location that needs the cloud is on the other side of the country, that will make for a difficult time.

Does your business use the cloud? Do you have a location that does not run well in the cloud? Talk back to me and let me know.
My next instalment will talk about what to do if you are at a location that cant get good internet for your cloud.