Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starting a family is hard (aka Woe is me)

For those keeping score at home, it has been a little over 3 months now since my wife and I made the plunge into home ownership and I have a few things I have learned.

1. A good real estate agent is the most valuable thing you can have in the process.

We had the benefit of a family member there to help us through our home buying process, but I cannot imagine having to try to figure out if the person walking houses was just after the commission, or cared about how much owning the right house meant to us. I wish that there was a different process than word of mouth referrals to accurately gauge the caliber of the real estate agent you are meeting with. Even as it was, I had other family members that decried using family to help purchase a home.

2. No matter how much you have saved, you will blow through it

We purchased new, and only painted and bought blinds (and a couch) and it was very amazing that even with parents and good friends there to help us how quickly the cash reserves dwindled. This sort of leads into the next point...

3. Closing costs are sneaky, and suck

Though we thought we understood our closing costs we still got caught looking with nearly 3k in closing costs over and above what we had thought they were going to be. It was not lack of explaining on anyone's part, it was just lack of experience on both my wife and I's part. Read that paper, until it makes sense! If something is confusing ask, ask, ask until it isn't. Oh well live and learn.

4. Home ownership is scarry, and will help you understand why your parents where crazy

I only had to chip the Granite once in the kitchen to understand the why of so many scoldings I received in my youth. It made me cringe, and I wanted to yell at myself. Oh so sad, maybe we can just polish it out....

In all it has really given my wife and I's relationship time to grow, and I cannot imagine going through this process alone. It has given us both a focus, and made me appreciate my partner more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Miracle of Miracles PayPal was working today

I figured it had been a while since I tried to logon to PayPal to check my balance, and with no small amount of trepidation typed my credentials .... lo and behold, successful logon on the first go. Not too exciting though, what with the $.01 balance, but none the less maybe the worst of PayPals terrible service is behind me. In the months since I wrote these posts, I have vowed to not buy anything from eBay, and not pay anything using PayPal. Sad really, because as much as I want to help out, as long as the only option is PayPal, no dice. Around the same time I was looking at my PayPal Balance, I also thought to look and my only real funding option for that account, My Adsense account, and I had to wonder why Google would continue to support a rival company, on that has blocked their vaguely similar product Google Checkout. I am very curious to know why (other than for money) eBay doesn't want people to pay for auctions with Google Checkout?

My conclusion is that they know all to well the precarious nature of their business model, and the importance of not giving anybody a foothold in to their business model, looking no farther than PayPal for a reason why. eBay purchased PayPal in 2002, and I am very sure that they have not forgotten the 1.5 billion dollar lesson of how small ideas on the internet can quickly become 800 lb gorillas to be bought out or dealt with. I am guessing that because of the money they laid out for a company that they initially ignored eBay won't ever be caught napping again. Look at how they have a 25% stake in free, vaguely similar competitor

I suppose my point is why can't I use my Adsense dollars with Google Checkout, or at the very least as credit to buy Advertising with My guess is that Google is finding themselves spread thin like a certain other search/portal giant. Careful Google, we have seen what happens when companies spread themselves out too far.


Monday, March 12, 2007

How did we ever Live as IT Pros without virtual machines?

Today I have tried several different configurations of perimeter security using wireless access points, vlans and the Microsfot vpn server. All of this is done on a Virtual machine I downloaded from Microsoft for free. In the past sure I probably would have used free software and Linux to test ideas, but that doesn't help me test and Exchange 2003 cluster does it?


So thanks Microsoft for seeing the things your customers were using and needing and giving it to us.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Life Distracted

The last several days I have been struck by the high amount of errors and omissions I have been making at work, and it led to some introspection on my part.

I think I am living life constantly distracted.

Many people may also be afflicted with this, and up until now I have seemed to cope with it marginally well; (though I will take arguments as to whether or not it cost me my previous job). In my opinion the purpose of IT Departments is to be interrupted. We literally scheme all day to make things better, while waiting to be asked to come and solve people's technical problems. I run diagnostics, and try to predict when I am going to be needed but the largest part of my job is to work on projects until I am needed to fix something. In essence my job function is based around the assumption that I am capable of setting down a project and going to deal with something else that will likely led to being distracted for extended periods of time. The implicit assumption being made is that I have the capacity to return to where I was and continue my projects. That is my job after all. It seems well and good, but after having previously worked in a job with fewer and less perpetual interruptions I see how this work ethos negatively affects everything I do.

I find myself hard pressed to commit to anything for long periods of time. When the distractions are slow on a given day, my productivity pays a price. I find that I have to invent distractions to keep me doing things that I would normally do with little thought had the phone been ringing at a regular pace. I find the need to finally find the bottom of that stack of unread blog posts, or research that product that I heard about a few weeks ago that might someday be of use at work or home. I listen to music, and keep a chat window open to a developer friend I used to work with. I read the pile of junk tech magazines that finds it's way to my inbox. These time fillers, or brain fillers are fine on the slow days, but then this carries into the days that I am actually busy. I find myself wanting to not so much fix the pile of problems, but do those other things.

This has started to manifest in strange little ways that I used to attribute to old age in other people, but may just be the degree to which everyone is living distracted. For instance, I have send 3 emails in the last few days with out remember to attach the document that was was the whole reason for sending the email in the first place, or forgetting to past the content that would have given context to what I had written. Small things, but not the type of errors I am used to making. I fancy my self as productively lazy, I do it right the first time so I don't have to do it again later so mistakes that take me back to something I considered done make me think I am coming down with a case of Old.