All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

When Concepts Don’t Match Up

Some of you have probably noticed I’m not writing at the same pace that I normally do. Once again life has gotten in the way, this time with my grandmother falling and breaking her hip and my having to be out of town to support my mother.

It’s been interesting, frightening and frustrating over the last bunch of days. The interesting part was when I called 911 and they sent the fire chief and two firetrucks before the ambulance arrived; my grandmother would have loved watching that spectacle if she could have moved as she loves sitting in the window watching the day.

The scary part was first trying to figure out just how badly she was hurt, learning she had a broken hip and required surgery, and trying to determine what kind of surgery she needed. Turns out it was only the hip and a fracture, which only required 2 screws, and the surgery and initial recovery only took about 3 1/2 hours; whew.

Then the frustrating part, which leads to the title of this post. I went back home because they said all was going to be well, so to speak. Then the next day I get a call saying she’s nonresponsive and won’t eat. This is frightening because she’s 90 and hadn’t eaten in 3 days. I drive back to get Mom and go back to the hospital, worried that these might be the last days for her and wondering if anything could have changed things. Not that she’s been the physically strongest person over the last few months but this just seemed to come on really fast.

We get to the hospital and she’s sleeping. We let her sleep while trying to let a few people know what might be going on. Then the nurse finally shows up and says they tried to get her to eat but she wouldn’t respond to them and wasn’t talking. So I try and indeed she’s not talking, but she’s responding to yes and no answers with, well, yes and no sounds. I ask what we can try to give her and after hearing it all I suggest we run with the lemon ice, since I know she likes lemon.

I get it open, put a little bit onto a spoon, say “Miss Hazel, here comes something you might like” (yes, I call my grandmother Miss Hazel; she likes that), put the spoon on her lips, and she opens her mouth and takes it in.

Mom was stunned; the nurse was stunned. I wasn’t stunned. What I was is frustrated and irritated because of the scare I’d had with the phone call. See, something that working in hospitals teaches you is the patterns of people with certain responsibilities. My mind had been thinking that something nurses really don’t fully understand is that sometimes a person just can’t feed themselves for whatever reason. The talking is one thing, but as I said, she’s 90 and hadn’t eaten in 3 days, has had surgery and anesthesia and was kind of weak to begin with; what were they expecting, miracles?

Actually, yes. See, hospitals aren’t equipped to be nursing homes; it’s not in the make up of the people that work there, nurses or anyone else. They don’t think about trying to feed people; they don’t have the time. But I knew I had to give that a shot because it would tell me whether she was alert or whether she had decided it was her time. She consumed the entire cup of lemon ice; I had my answer.

So here we are at the dilemma stage, although it’s kind of a foregone conclusion. She has to be moved to either a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home. She needs rehab, but right now she also needs someone to feed her. Mom can’t handle either of these at this stage, and hospitals aren’t equipped to do it either.

Everyone at the hospital has been nice and everyone has played their role the way it’s supposed to be played. But I need to now make them step up and make themselves seen, as the only doctor I’ve seen in the time I’ve been there was the surgeon; that’s not going to get it done. But I know how to do it; funny, but there’s a swagger one can have when they work in certain types of places, and I noticed I had that swagger yesterday, as if I was still at a level to demand and request certain things without question. What a feeling!

So, I’m hoping I’m close to not being as sporadic with so many things as has been the case over the past week. I’m so far behind on work and blogging, but family always takes precedence. And I hope through this little story I’ve given you a little more education on how hospital people think.

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Figuring Out Live Comment Spam

I know I’m not the only one having problems figuring out which comments are real and which ones are spam these days. Strangely enough, the problem isn’t with the stuff that’s very obviously spam, or with people who you know. It’s the fact that there are enough people who write badly that sometimes you’re not sure if someone is an awful writer or if it’s live comment spam.

Here are four issues I seem to have; let me know if you have them as well:

1. Punctuation but no spaces between it. How many people do you know that write a sentence, add a period, then immediately start writing without a space between the period and the next sentence? I hate to admit this but I know quite a few, and I just don’t get it. I mean, it looks weird to my eyes and one would think it would look weird to everyone but it doesn’t. So, one can’t automatically use that as a determining factor.

2. No punctuation at all but you know the next sentence is coming because the beginning word is capitalized. Once again, I know people who do this; just what are they teaching in school these days?

3. Sentences missing words to keep a coherent flow in meaning. Heck, that’s so common that even I notice that I do it every blue moon, probably because I type too fast. Your mind just seems to pop those words in there whether you typed them or not.

4. Because someone uses your name, you tend to believe it’s someone who’s actually reading the post and writing you something personal. However, knowing that people are paid to post comments to blogs and link back to other websites, these things suddenly become suspect, though they’re hard to discern.

See what I mean? None of these fits the qualification of comment idiocy that I’ve talked about before or pretty much any of the other comment issues I’ve seen before. Frankly, I’d have to admit that this is a conundrum because these people are able to bypass the GASP plugin and also bypass the Akismet spam filter easier.

Although it takes time, one thing I do is click on the link these people are leaving to see if the page it takes me to has writing as bad as what I’m seeing on the site. For instance, if English is the second language for some folks, the writing on their blog or website, if it’s also in English, will probably be just as bad; at least that’s what I’ve noticed. If it’s consistent then I kind of assume it’s probably legit. If not, then my mind says “spam” and I’ll “unapprove” the comment for a day. I do that to see if the person who wrote the comment will come back and wonder where their comment is, or will leave comments on other new posts I write.

When I’m not really sure… in those times I’ll leave the comment and I’ll comment on it to see what happens. I know people get notified when I respond to their comments because I’ve tested it so I figure it’s now become an experiment of sorts.

Yeah, some of these things take time, but I think it’s worth it to make my space legitimate across the board. What’s your thought? Oh yeah; couldn’t figure out what image to add to this post so this is a area of my office. lol

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Aftermath Of My Firmware Upgrade

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the dangers of updating one’s technology. After trying as much as I could to get my webcam’s working again without success I decided it was time to make some significant changes in my technology. Even with this, possibly I still haven’t learned my lesson, although, at the present time, things are fine.

I decided the router just wasn’t coming back after that stupid firmware upgrade and that it was time to buy a new one. I figured that even if it didn’t fix my camera it would be 7 years newer and under warranty, and thus the good people at Cisco would talk to me. Yeah, I went out with the intention of buying another Linksys, and I bought the one to the right here. But not without controversy; you know how my life goes by now. lol

I first went to Best Buy because I knew they had a router on sale. The router that was on sale wasn’t bad, but something in me said not to skimp at this juncture and to make sure I got a 802.11n as opposed to the “g”. The “n” is the latest wireless technology, so why go backwards, right? The difference was about $50, as I was going to get the E2000.

I also decided it was time to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, since I had some extra cash and had suffered from another Vista lockout; stupid Vista. After I grabbed the router I went to check on the price of the upgrade, which was $119; not bad.

I had to go to the Geek Squad desk, and of course no one was there. I was customer service reps helping other people so I decided to sit on the stool and wait for them to come over. Five minutes later I’m still sitting there, and the customer service reps are to the side having a good time with some kind of conversation. What the hey?

Not in the mood to be totally ignored for once I called out “Hey, customer over here waiting to buy something.” It’s like they never knew I was there; have I happened to mention that I’m not quite a small guy and that my skin tone is a little dark? After they were startled the young woman walks towards me, then disappears. Some seconds later she comes out, followed by a guy who, though he was wearing the white shirt and black tie, looked like one of the worst representatives of customer service that anyone might ever ask for.

I tell him what I want and, of all things, they’re out of the upgrade disk. I mean, come on… how can Best Buy, the top technology store in the country (are there any others) that has almost everything, be out of the one product that most people are still buying more than any other when it comes to software? He tries to talk me into buying the professional version but at $80 more than the upgrade and with nothing in it to entice me, since I’d done my research at home, I declined, left the router there, and went to Staples.

Staples had the Windows 7 Home Premium, so I grabbed that then went to look at the routers. They had the E2000, but they also had the E1500 Wireless-N Router with SpeedBoost, at a cost of $20 less than the E2000. I love the speed boost so it was a no-brainer; that plus the lower cost.

I came home, hooked up the router, and life was great. I’m maxing out my top download speeds, over 20MBPS, and my cameras work again; whew! Happy as a clam, I still decided to wait until later in the evening to load Win 7, when my wife went to bed.

A friend of mine, who’d been trying to talk me into doing this for over a year, said it would take around 45 minutes to load. Sorry folks, but it took my computer 4 hours to load the program. Stuff just seems to happen to me. Luckily I could still get online with the laptop if I chose to but I decided to chill and watch TV instead. Made it through two movies waiting for it to finish, and around 2:45 in the morning it was done. I ran some tests, it worked pretty well, and I was happy.

Next day I started uploading all the security updates and decided to hold off for some time before loading the service pack. Good thing I did because as soon as I loaded the service pack my computer locked up and it wouldn’t let me do anything. It said I had to sign in as administrator but there was no place to logoff to sign in as anything. No programs would open, and nothing would work except to keep shutting it down and rebooting. It wouldn’t even let me run system restore. Finally I got smart, booted up in smart mode, got into the programs area and uninstalled the service pack, and all is right with the world again.

Since then I’ve been scared to try it again, and I also haven’t loaded IE 9; not sure why, but I’m not feeling it. Still, this is way more stable than Vista ever could claim, and the computer will actually shut down and reboot when I ask it to; just amazing.

Why tell this story? Because if it can happen to me it can happen to others, and hopefully folks will think about safe mode booting and other stuff instead of spending hours doing lots of other stuff that probably won’t work.

By the way, major word of warning. Before you load Win 7 or any new operating system make sure you back up “special” files, just in case. What’s special? People always remember to back up documents, images and sound files, but often forget to back up the profiles for their email and browser bookmarks, which are located under the Users area, AppData. Those folders are big, but trust me, if you lose all your email and your bookmarks you’ll be lamenting the fact that you didn’t take caution.

Okay, now I can just wait for Jessica to stop by and pick on me because I don’t have a Mac. lol

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Is Social Bookmarking Still Worth It?

Last week I received an email from Delicious announcing that they’d been bought out by the people who originally created YouTube and that things were going to be changing over within 30 days. If I wanted to keep my account and bookmarks I’d have to go in and change things on my own before that time, otherwise I was going to lose it all.

For me, that was pretty much the last straw, of sorts. I wasn’t angry by any of it; not even close. Instead, I was bored and tired because this seems to be a common occurrence lately. These social bookmarking sites change things around, don’t give much of an explanation of the changes, and we’re supposed to roll with it and be happy and on our way.

I was also irritated 18 months ago when Technorati made its drastic change and suddenly no one had any idea what the numbers meant. I think I’ve been back twice since I learned of it, and I had never used the site to bookmark any posts at all as far as I can remember.

I’m wondering if the heyday of bookmarking sites like these has passed or is about to go away in its present condition. I read where people have major gripes about sites like Digg and StumbleUpon all the time, and it seems to be more prevalent and easier to do to just retweet posts to Twitter, something we’ve talked about a lot here lately. Indeed, it’s even easier to click on the “like” button at the bottom of some posts and share in Facebook because you don’t have to go anywhere else to do it. And let’s face it, Facebook is much bigger than all these other sites at this time.

I had a brief conversation with someone on Twitter about sites like Amplify and FriendFeed as well. I asked why it’s not just as good to post a link to one’s own site directly everywhere instead of going through one of these other sites. His belief was that these sites were much larger and could help get the word out easier. My gripe was that one clicks on a link in Twitter thinking it’s taking you one place, instead it takes you to one of these sites, and then you have to click on another link to actually take you to the article you want to read. I can’t be the only one that thinks that’s irritating. If it’s a news aggregator you happen to be visiting, like Alltop, that’s one thing; but sending out links to another site instead of directly to your own content just seems silly.

But maybe I’m fighting the new way because I’m older; I can’t believe that but it’s possible. What thoughts do you have on this topic?

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Blogging Responsibly Part Two

If you’ve never been told this before then let me be the first to let you in on a secret that really isn’t a secret. If you’re a blogger you’re one of the most powerful people on the planet. Yes, it’s true; take a moment to let this thought sink in because I’m going to say more. Puff up your chest, smile, and glory in your power, because once you’re done with that I’m going to slightly bust the bubble.

The reason this is part two of blogging responsibly is because back in 2009 I wrote a post titled Take Responsibility For Your Blogging that centered around a woman who got outed because she created a blog and started badmouthing another woman who she may or may not have known all that well. The woman went to court and the court forced Google to tell them who the woman was so that she could file a lawsuit. Of course, this woman then turned around and tried to sue Google for giving up her anonymity but it was tossed out of court.

Whenever any of us writes a review about something, or talks about someone, we’re exhibiting power that we never had before we started blogging. Even if your blog isn’t all that well attended. it will be found by the search engines, and with the proper search terms someone’s going to find you, whether you’re only on the second page or if you’re in the number one position.

Of course, some of us take it to the next level. If we work our blogging community we can spread that message further. If we’re connected to Twitter and put our message out there we can really reach a large audience. Is that audience listening? Maybe not all of them, but many of them will be and if they decide to pass it along it’ll spread even further.

Sometimes with what we have to say it’s not pretty. I’ve talked about the post I wrote on one of our local restaurants that got a lot of response on another blog of mine. Well, yesterday on my business blog I wrote a post titled When You’re Not Respected As A Professional. It was probably one of the most vicious things I’ve ever written, although, since it’s me, you know it wasn’t overly hard. It was basically a lesson about being a professional towards others will calling someone out who has been unethical in our business dealings. If you want to kind of see another side of me, check it out.

Here’s the thing, though. In the entire post I never mentioned the person’s name. I certainly told the story of what happened, and I issued some ultimatums and my position. However, without mentioning a name, no one knows who this person is except that person, and maybe a couple other people I’ve spoken to about the issue locally. In essence, in this instance I called someone out, but only that person, if he ever reads the post, will know who it’s about.

Probably. See, that’s the thing about the internet. You never really knows reading what, and what the ramifications of it will be. Some people let that kind of thing stop them from doing what I did; I don’t have that kind of fear, as you know. Whereas I take precautions on how I might say something, if it needs to be said then I’ll say it. And if it gets personal… well, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

It reminds me of what one of our blogging friends, Brankica, ran into when she wrote a review on a product called MarketMeSuite that was pretty hard hitting. It was very comprehensive as well, nicely written, and in a way took a lot of guts because the title was, well fairly specific in saying how she felt about it, and you could see the disgust for the product in how she wrote it. And she took some heat from a few people about it, but stuck to her guns. I applaud her for that and I think more people need to be ready to show that kind of honesty and dedication to a position.

However, going after a product in some way and calling out someone are kind of different things. If someone is famous or well known maybe it’s different. There are many people online who make their bones going after top bloggers. But if it’s someone who you know you have some power over because you’re internet savvy to a degree, even if it’s only that you write a blog and they don’t, suddenly the question of responsibility becomes a new thing. Indeed, even telling the full truth sometimes won’t keep you from having to later go further in protecting your right to say what you feel, if you know what I mean.

If you check out that post I linked to you’ll see that it was fairly measured in what I wrote. If I’d been angry I would have written that much differently, definitely gotten personal, and probably wouldn’t have had the mindset to put my statement out the way I did. I definitely know I’d have had to edit myself later on, removing some things while adding others. However, I feel that with that post I got my point across, hopefully showed many others a lesson in teaching someone how to treat you properly, and was still responsible overall in how I blogged about my situation.

Of course others might judge it differently, but so far I’ve had nothing but support and I appreciate that. Most people have written me email instead of commenting on the blog; I find that interesting as well, but sometimes commenters just don’t want their names on something they see as a hot topic.

Do you consider yourself as someone that blogs responsibly? Would you be afraid to write something like that, if you check it out? Or would you go further, not hold back at all, name names, and even more?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell