All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Blog Action Day – Food

Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is food, or lack thereof. To preface this, it’s kind of a worldwide event where there will be lots of bloggers talking about this particular subject. I don’t quite remember how it all works, but I think there will be a central place where everyone that writes on the topic will be listed so they can connect with each other in some fashion. You’d think I would remember since I’ve done this in the past, but I skipped last year for some reason. No matter; I’m back now.

As the price of food has gone up pretty much everywhere around the world, we find that not only are most of us not getting out of our dollars the amount of food and consumables we’ve gotten before, but places such as the Food Bank, which helps feed those who need meals, along with many other charities, are suffering. The strange thing is that even now, the United States produces enough food to feed the world many times over, yet we don’t do it. Why?

I think a major part of it, at least in this country, is regulation. Restaurants really aren’t allowed to donate food unless they cook it fresh. Probably almost every restaurant in the country has food it has to throw away instead of donating it to a shelter that could use it the next day. I know that food court restaurants throw out a lot of food. Many years ago, when I worked a part time job at a gas station that had a retail store, at a certain time of the night we had to throw away food. Sometimes I’d eat a couple of things, but that was rare; however, it was a free meal, and I’m thinking it was still pretty good and thus could have been donated in some fashion.

When it comes to the world… well, that’s a different thing entirely. We have tariffs to deal with that help some countries compete when they’d probably lose out to richer nations, and we have some countries with high tariffs just “because”. Then we have countries like Somalia where, if we try to get them food, the powers that be, with their corrupt selves, keep it for the leadership, and won’t allow help to come into the country to make sure the food gets to those who really need it.

Goodness, countries like India, which is fairly industrialized, have problems getting food to many of its people, and when you have a billion people hanging around, that’s not good. I hear that there are parts of China and North Korea where the same things occur. I guess it would make sense since even in the United States we find people all over who can’t get a meal. Sure, some aren’t looking to help themselves, but I’m thinking that’s not the most compassionate way of looking at things.

On this Blog Action Day I use my blog to highlight the issue, whether I fully know all the implications or not. People are starving, and if all you can do is the same thing I do, that being to ask the people at the counter of our local grocery store to swipe the little ticket that’s next to the cash register so I can donate a tiny bit of cash that will feed someone, then at least do that. It all helps.
 

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The New Laptop – Toshiba!

Although you may not care all that much, I thought I’d talk about the new laptop I just purchased earlier today. Why? Hey, it’s a blog post, but I have some thoughts on the general process as well. That and I figure I talked about the new computer when I bought it, so I have to give equal time.

As you can see, I didn’t buy a Mac; even if I were considering it, I wasn’t starting at $1,300 for any laptop. lol I purchased a Toshiba instead, officially the Satellite P755 from Best Buy. Yeah, I know, not always my favorite store because normally their customer service stinks. But they have laptops, many of them to choose from, and let’s face it, there’s no other store in the area that has so many you can actually touch in person anymore, at least in the Syracuse area.

The general specs are 640GB hard drive, Intel® Core™ i3 Processor. 15.6″ Display and 6GB Memory. It comes with the webcam and ethernet card built in. The battery supposedly can last up to 6 hours, it has a blu-ray player, I can burn videos and CDs and it has 4 USB ports, with one of them being a USB 3.0; I hadn’t even realized those were out yet.

So, why this one and what other considerations were there? Well first, I had a budget I wanted to stay within, and almost went outside of that budget by looking at its big brother, the 17.3″ monster with the 750 GB hard drive and the i7 Pentium chip. I felt that paying $850 for that was just a bit too much in the long run, and my friend Scott had another one of those talks with me in saying that a large laptop was just a bit ridiculous since I was already used to the 15.6″ which, when I bought that particular laptop back in 2004, was actually one of the larger screens on the market.

Second, I bought Toshiba because my first laptop is a Toshiba, since I still have it. You want to know the two reasons I bought the first one? It had the large display and it was blue; yup, I bought a laptop because it was blue, as there were almost no laptops with colors in the past. The new one is black, which is a bit distressing because it looks like every other laptop out there except for the Macs (and there’s no way I’d have a white laptop; please, it’s me!). Now, I had always wanted to buy the Superman laptop some time ago when it was still Alienware, but since Dell bought them & ruined them not so much now; yeah, I said it. Anyway, you know I tend to be loyal until a brand messes with me, and the ol’ Toshiba has held up really well for me. Truthfully, if I wasn’t having some problems with the power I might not have even considered buying a new laptop.

It was time to buy a new one though. Things have changed over the years and the old laptop has problems dealing with some of the latest software. I added an extra RAM chip a few years ago to give it a boost, but it still falls short of my needs these days, especially when I’m on the road. It wouldn’t handle Office 2007 and that’s problematic when I want to give presentations and create files using that program, then have to try to remember to convert them to the old office format; messed up last year in New Jersey because I forgot to do that and almost messed up again earlier this year when I went out of town. This renders all of that worry moot.

And this sucker just went on sale, which was lucky for the store because I had stopped by last night just to take a quick look and it was $80 more than it was online; luckily the price changed overnight and the guy in the store said they’d have matched the online price since it was still their company. However, even though I went in, knew what I wanted, and paid for it in cash, a transaction that should have taken 2 minutes took about 7 because the guy needed someone to come and recount the cash I gave him. We waited 4 minutes, then he said he’d just count it again and count that as the second person as long as I watched him count, which I did. It was good to see that even employees have to wait for people to wait on them; then again, I had to wait 5 minutes before anyone noticed me standing by the laptops. Customer service is still an issue at Best Buy; oh well…

I feel like I’ve rejoined the new world again. Sure, everyone else was at the Apple store today buying the new iPhone, and even in Syracuse there was a long line of people, so I shouldn’t overly complain about my wait. At least I have something new and shiny; and some time today I’m even going to open the box to look at it. 😉
 

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Questions About Skype

After years of fighting the demons of getting a video camera for my computer I finally got one in December. Then, after years of fighting it because I didn’t have a video camera, then months of thinking about it, I finally got Skype. Now that I’ve created an account I want to ask you, the masses, just what the heck I’m supposed to be doing with it.

To date I’m connected to 5 people. I’ve only talked to three of them, but only two of them by video. I’m glad to have talked to the third person, our friend Vernessa because I wouldn’t have known that you could go totally audio without having to do the video thing. That was really important to me because, well, I tend to heat up in the evenings and sometimes during the day and I’ll sit at the computer without a shirt on. Sure, guys can get away with this, but I like to protect as many people as I can from seeing any of this uncovered; yeah, I know, TMI! lol

Anyway, I now have this Skype account; just what am I supposed to do with it? Before I loaded it I kept hearing from all these people who said they had Skype accounts and wondered if I had one so we could talk. Well, all those people seem to have disappeared. I thought it was the growing thing for business, to be able to talk to people and have them see you while interacting with each other; nope, none of that.

What gives? I assume there’s a bit of etiquette and being protective with this thing, but is there also apathy? Am I late to the game?

I mean, do I put my Skype address in my advertising? Do I list it on my websites, or here on this blog? I’ve never seen anyone else do that, but I’d have to admit that it wasn’t something I paid a lot of attention to in the past. And do you just up and call people if you find their number or do you send email first then wait for them to say “okay, hook me up”?

Frankly I’m stumped. Vernessa said she basically stays on most of the time, but Homegirl, truthfully, the only time I’ve ever seen you on when I’ve had the program open was the one time we talked. I’ve got it open as I write this a day before it’ll post and I don’t see anyone I know on. Then again, it’s only 5 people.

This kind of reminds me of the issues I’ve seen with the Hangout feature on G+. It works great, but only if you can find people to talk to. Supposedly you have to set it up way in advance to talk to people. That’s not such a big deal I suppose, and maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to work with Skype as well. I just don’t know.

So, for once, I’m asking questions. How do y’all use Skype? Are you using Skype? And what’s the protocol, if any, for getting the word out without inviting all the crazies to hook up with you?
 

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Thoughts About Trackbacks

Trackbacks are those links that show up on your blog as comments whenever someone has linked to you in some fashion from their blog. WordPress gives you the option of whether you want to accept trackbacks or not, as well as the option of whether you want to send a trackback to someone else if you link to one of their articles.


by Eero Mäensivu via Flickr

There’s this theory about trackbacks that they add a lot of value to your blog. You’ve probably seen the talk about “one-way” links, which is when someone uses a link to your content without expecting one back from you. If we’re being genuine, most of us will link to source material to help explain or enhance something that’s in our articles from time to time. I often link to another blog when it offers me inspiration, but I will also link to something like CNN if they post an article that makes me think of something to write as well. To a website it’s not quite a trackback, just a link.

The thing about trackbacks is that they’ll show up on the post on your blog that someone has used for their article. It’s flattering in a way because it means that in some way, good or bad, you’ve touched someone, got them thinking, and made them just have to write something.

However, the problem these days is that most trackbacks seem to be spam. I wrote about trackback spam back in March and even shared what I was seeing. For awhile I turned it off through the GASP/Antispybot plugin and felt pretty good about it.

Recently I decided to turn trackbacks on again to see what I might be getting. I did that because I haven’t been seeing any new connections to or about me through the Dashboard – Incoming Links area. What I’m seeing are blogs that I’ve commented on at some point, but no one actually using one of my links in their post. I thought it might be because I’d turned off the trackbacks feature and wanted to see what came up.

Unfortunately it’s all garbage that’s coming. Only one legitimate trackback came through in two weeks, and it was from a blog post from me on one of my other blogs. Frankly that’s not really worth it in my opinion; I could get that same effect just in linking to myself on my own.

I bring this up because I remember some time last year talking to someone who felt that you honored other people by allowing them to have a trackback in your comments back to your blog. I said I wasn’t sure it was worth this new spam that comes, even if most of it goes to the spam filter. I think I’m going the route of totally eliminating it once more, and then hoping the incoming links module will show me if someone ends up talking about me. After all, I think when people do include links to your content that it’s an honor most of the time.
 

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You Probably Aren’t Going To Meet Her

Last week I was in Las Vegas at a health care finance conference. I had a pretty good time, first time in many years I have to say. I also noticed something pretty wild that helps me with the premise of what I have to say today.


by Jemingway via Flickr

If you’re on either Twitter or Facebook, you’re going to see a lot of images of some very good looking people. The overwhelming majority are pretty women, but sometimes it’s a good looking guy (I suppose; I don’t notice the guys that often). They’re extremely good looking, to the point of perfection sometimes. They just look too good to be true.

Before my trip to Vegas I’d have said you just don’t see that many outstanding looking women in one place anywhere. That’s been pretty much true for my life. Not that I haven’t seen a lot of nice looking women, but rarely in one place, and certainly not in quantity.

That is, until I was at the Wynn. For 3 1/2 days I kept seeing some of the most outstanding women I’d ever seen in person. And most of them were wearing little black dresses, shorter than the ones in the image above. There’s a different walk from women wearing stuff like that. It’s confident and quick, with short strides, and you never see any of them slouching over. Then again, with 3 to 5 inch heels, I’m not sure if one can even slouch.

You know something else about the experience? You weren’t going to meet them. They weren’t there to talk to me or most of the people I saw. That is, unless you were one of three things.

One, you got into one of the big, expensive dance clubs that seemed to be open most of the day, definitely into the night (4AM, which for me was 7 AM; I didn’t sleep well). I was informed that many of the ladies are actually hired to go into the clubs to talk to some of the men that show up along; of all things!

Two, you were already part of their inner circle, because many of them already had their arms around or hooked up with some other young man, every once in awhile an older man. I have no idea whether the relationships were legit or not, just that they weren’t alone.

Or three, you happened to bump into them, which happened accidentally a couple of times because, well, I’ve noticed pretty people seem to think it’s everyone else’s job to get out of their way, and for the most part I do, but when I get irked after awhile I’ll just stop and let people walk into me, and since I wasn’t moving they pretty much have to apologize since I certainly didn’t walk into them. I’m pretty nice, but I have my limits as well.

I relate this to what I see online. For the most part we don’t know any of the women in the avatars. On Twitter, most of them are fake; that is, the women aren’t fake but the picture isn’t of the person whose Twitter account it is. Kind of like on blogs where you get the picture of a very pretty woman yet the writer’s name is John. Heck, every once in awhile the person isn’t even trying and has the image of a famous actress saying it’s them; please!

It’s things like this that make us not trust people, something I’ve talked about lately as you know. It reminds me of online dating, where I hear that people will put up pictures that are supposed to represent them, but it’s either a picture of someone else or a picture of them when they were 18 and they’re now 45. I remember knowing someone who put up a picture of himself on Facebook some years back from when he was in his 20’s and I called him out on it because he was closer to 60. Of course, that was before the days when people started randomizing their images and thus sometimes would put up pictures of themselves at a much younger age.

I’ve been to some blogs lately where the owner has said that if someone leaves a comment and doesn’t have an avatar, they’re going to remove the comment, no matter how good it is. I’ve decided that criteria doesn’t work for me because I know some people are faking their avatars, some are using logos, and some folks use cartoon images to represent them. So, personally I don’t care about the avatars as much, especially since I have it set so that nothing worse than PG will show up here.

My main point overall is that if you get to thinking that maybe someone is worth following only because you see their image, without trying to check anything else about them, you’re going to be disappointed. The marketers or whatever you want to call them are hoping to trick you, to get you to follow them so they can market to you or have you in their clutches. Don’t get caught up in the game; you’ll hate yourself for it later on. Instead, hope to meet someone as attractive in person as I did while I was there. Yeah, I’m married and I wasn’t chasing, but it never hurts anyone’s feelings to have a picture with a nice looking person. Just don’t believe the hype. 🙂
 

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