YouTube is saving me SERIOUS money each year

I routinely get my hair colored various shades of fabulous throughout the year.  This has been going on since I was a child when my sister experimented on my long locks in the kitchen.  This was during her very successful cosmetological phase where she contributed to the overall well-being of thousands of members of our little community in Ohio by doling out sweet styles and colors.  I’m pretty sure our town looked like the Hollywood of the Midwest during this creative time.

Up until last year I never had a problem with hair color at a salon.  I went in for a routine color:  highlights and lowlights at a salon I had been to many times before.  I left the salon happy as can be but several days later my hair turned orange.  Not just any shade of orange, it turned clown orange.  The salon had a policy of accommodating any issues so I wasn’t concerned, that is of course until I called the salon and realized they were closed on Sunday and did not have a voice mail box to leave a message and worse yet they had no one on call.  Seriously? No emergency contact?  I work in IT, I’ve been on call 24/7 for the last 15 years.  I consider hair coloring and hair styles to be AS important if not more important than some of the IT emergencies I have addressed after hours.

Panic had not yet set in, even though the Monday workday was looming on the horizon with every non-tick of my digital clock.  I called a few other salons in the area.  Then a few more salons on outlying areas.  Then a few more within a few hours drive of the house.  Then I just started driving, hoping a “walk-in” would be most effective to truly get across the urgency of the situation. Once they got my bright orange head in their sights they would surely switch into emergency room mode where only the most critical are seen first.  Nope.  Every salon, in town and outside of town, was either closed or booked for the day.

For a brief moment I considered stopping by the drugstore and picking up a box of color to fix the issue myself but then I remembered I am a computer programmer and I had in no way ever paid attention to what anyone was doing to my hair in all the years of colors and cuts.  It all seemed pretty magical to me and I had no faith that I could actual do something like this on my own.

Disgusted, I went home and did what any normal person does when they are disgusted, I went to http://www.youtube.com to watch videos of baby bunnies and kittens to cheer myself up:)  While I was there, on a long-shot, I did a search on do-it-yourself hair color videos.  Holy Schnikes! It was a mammoth library of the secrets of the hair color universe revealed to me in 3-minute clips of how-to glory.  The videos were so detailed, right down to what type of box to buy at the drugstore.  By the time I watched a few of the videos I had convinced myself I could color my own hair.  I raced down to the drugstore, bought the recommended color and brand for $8.00.  Yes.  Really.  $8.00.  I successfully colored my own hair with about 13 hours to spare before the Monday morning workday would begin.  I was so happy with the results that I have not been able to justify what I was paying in the salon and I continue to color my own hair thanks to the fantastic tutorials on YouTube.  If you have ever considered coloring your own hair and do not know where to start, visit YouTube first, it is filled with useful information on the subject of hair color.  Here are a few videos I found most helpful when doing my own research:

Think of all the things you can buy with the money you will save! If you need help, here is a list of what is out there in internet land just waiting for you and your cash:

Good luck gorgeous!

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Being internet stupid must stop, how can people believe this junk?

Holy schnikes.  I ran into another case of a person being duped by misinformation on Facebook this weekend.  I’ve lost my patience with the spread of misinformation and from now on the nicest thing I can call it is being internet stupid.

This is the conversation I had that brought this issue to light for the 8 billionth time:

An educated adult who has been in the workforce for many years was telling me about the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood show and various facts about Mr. Rogers himself.  Facts about Mr. Rogers are well known and are easy to verify so I was really surprised that this person was so drastically misinformed about Mr. Rogers.  When I inquired as to where they had uncovered such nonsense, the reply was something I had already suspected:  Facebook.  The person was stunned that what they had read about Mr. Rogers on a Facebook post was so far from the truth.  The person kept repeating things like “the post seemed so believable”, “I can’t believe I was fooled”, blah blah blah blah.  I will not link to the actual Facebook post here because I do not want to contribute to the spread of misinformation but the post went into detail about a military career that is purely fiction.

I avoided launching into a tirade about misinformation because we all must deal with it so I kept it light and just reminded the person that a social network is just a social network, expect no more than what you would obtain from conversations in a public place with strangers and if you are going to pass along information you have learned from these encounters then you need to fact check first.

Everyone complains about our news organizations (ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN, newspapers, etc) but these news organizations have shown for many, many, many, many years an attempt to deliver news to us with an attempt to fact check and they are held accountable for their mistakes – not always – but they are in many cases.  Random morons floating around Facebook (and other areas of the Internet) are in no way held accountable for the misinformation they spread.  If their account is blocked, they just open another one.  It is up to you to do proper research before spreading information to the entire world with one click of a button.

Good luck.

The grandiose IT ego

If you work in IT or work with IT then you probably know what the “grandiose IT ego” is.  Since it is a phrase used to describe something or someone technical then I guess we have to refer to it using an acronym (huge eye roll):  GITE (and I don’t mean a holiday house in France).

I rarely encounter the GITE but when I do it is something that ranks high on my list of unpleasant experiences that I would gladly trade instead for moments of crawling on my belly through deep muck in a scary jungle infested with disease, flesh-eating insects and cannibalistic tribes.

I write this post because a typical GITE made the news recently for doing something that a typical GITE does:  publicly mock people who ask “stupid” questions.  Not cool.

Unfortunately, I cannot offer sound advice on how to deal with GITE’s since my method is that of ignoring them on an epic level.  I am proud to say I am an Olympic champion in the arena of ignoring and, unless you are at this level, I do not recommend it because bottling up that kind of frustration could cause your head to pop off if you are not properly trained on how to internalize such things.

There is one thing I can do if you are a new IT up-and-comer.  I can offer a few tips on how to prevent becoming the dreaded GITE:

  • Your clients are paying you for an IT service for a reason.  They either do not have time to do the task themselves or they do not know how to do it.  In either case, they are going to ask you questions.  If some of these questions are questions you classify as silly, avoid mocking them for asking such questions.  This is the most important rule to carry with you in any field of study or business setting.  Mocking others quickly propels you into a spotlight of unflattering light that can be seen for miles.   Poking fun is something you do in private with your friends when you are letting off steam.  Keep it private and anonymous and remember this: you ask silly questions to, you just do not realize it.
  • Avoid the urge to lecture others on how they should be doing something.  Work on your delivery by offering suggestions or just appreciating others as they are instead of a scene like this:  hovering over someone’s shoulder as they drive and sighing and rolling your eyes as you tell them how slow they are and that they should be selecting Ctrl-C to copy text instead of selecting “edit” > “copy” from the top menu.  There are 1200 different ways to do anything on a computer, no one cares that you want to be the Overlord of Copy Commands.

 

Feedback form landfill

Why would a perfectly good company with a sweet web site have a feedback form on the web site yet never reply in any way to anything submitted via the feedback form?  I bet the Magic 8 Ball cannot even answer this one.

As an introvert, I love the feedback form.  The feedback form allows me to submit my question or request without interacting with humans.  If I have not heard back from anyone at the company within three weeks then I assume copious amounts of infighting are taking place within the organization causing normal day-to-day operations to cease.

I guess I could blame the webmaster but since I am a webmaster as well, I just cannot do that.  I realize some of these form submissions go straight to the email box of specific individuals within an organization and depending on those persons goals in life, my data coming into their email box may be the number one priority or not even fall on their radar.

If you are a webmaster, and you or your clients are ignoring feedback form requests coming in, I recommend removing the feedback form from the web site immediately.  Ignoring requests coming in is not only wasting the time of the visitor filling the form out but it is also generating content that you or your clients have to read and deal with and if no one is caring for this data then the process needs to stop.  This stop action will now free up the time of the visitors so they may begin their lifelong wish of learning how to cross-country ski and you and your clients now have the opportunity to play Pac-Man without interruption.

To give you an idea of how frustrating it is to be ignored, I have included a feedback form below, please fill it out and I promise I will never acknowledge the existence of your form submission.  After about one month of waiting for a reply from me, you will find yourself slightly agitated and morose.  These feelings will soon pass but then a giant wave of regret will follow and you will wish you had never filled this form out.  Once you have reached this stage there is nothing you can do but wait it out, preferably in a hot tub on cool nights and just hope for the best.

Scrum and Agile Project Management: meeting and scope creep wasteland (maybe)

I really like seeing happy people; it makes me feel better about the world when I see happy people.  Kindness, great attitudes, respect for others and hope for tomorrow are a huge part of what make communities and workplaces thrive.  My appreciation for happiness is why it has taken me so long to write this article because I feel like I am complaining about happy people.  For this, I sincerely apologize.

I have worked in a few IT shops that have attempted the Scrum and Agile process.  From my limited exposure to this process, I have noted a few disturbing similarities:

  • The crazy amount of face time chatter that occurs in multiple planning meetings with coworkers. I can look past this because, as a long time introvert, I am highly skilled in tuning out humans that are speaking yet saying nothing. I bring work to these meetings that I can delve into when the clock passes the time limit of 10 minutes and extends into 90 minutes of giggles, jokes, complaining, etc.
  • The unusual and frequent “sprints” of activity that seem to exist for the sole benefit of providing eye candy to clients. From what I have witnessed, this activity does not keep clients in the loop; it only provides a platform for clients to add more requirements to an already agreed upon set of requirements.  I am all for scope creep because we are human, it keeps me coding and I am giving clients what they want.  However, enabling extreme scope creep means you are promoting an environment where no one has to sit, think and plan before meetings.   I rarely see extreme scope creep, but when I do it is when participants have to attend many meetings and they arrive at each meeting unprepared where they then rattle off unrelated and messy concepts about processes.
  • The Agile and Scrum process seems to attract feverish support from the more social application developers. They talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk about anything and everything and at the end of the day, there is no code.  I appreciate this type of developer for their great attitude but when they are in charge of Scrum and Agile processes, they end up keeping many people in meetings with them each week that far exceed what is needed.

The to do list, client and IT communication, and weekly accountability of the Scrum and Agile process are WONDERFUL but these are things I already do so I don’t really have a solid argument for Scrum and Agile due to what I have experienced to date.

If you are in the midst of implementing the Scrum and Agile process, my advice to you (based on my meager experience with it) is:

  • keep the 4 billion meetings to a strict time limit
  • ensure the welcoming of scope creep does not promote lazy preparation for documenting processes and determining requirements
  • avoid thoughts of destroying happy people, they are critical for the survival of the human spirit

Good luck.

Easy ways to spot fake social media accounts

When a few of my family members started using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I was quickly reminded of how humans seem to be naturally inclined to believe everything they see in print.   I had to cover a few basics with them once they started interacting on social media platforms because they initially went through a phase where they believed, in some instances, that they were interacting with real people when it fact they were actually just interacting with bots.

Keep the following tips in mind if you are new to social media, they may help you identify fictitious online accounts (and the rule is to just ignore them or if they are posting threats then report them):

  • look at the list of followers the person has and ask yourself: does each follower have a “perfectly beautiful face and model clothing?” – if so then the person is probably not real and neither are any of their followers
  • look at the list of followers the person has and ask yourself: does the person have a very small number of followers (like 10) but they are following thousands of people? – if so, then the person is probably not real
  • does the person only forward existing posts from other people and never actually say anything themselves? – if so, then the person is probably not real
  • does the person only post the same “type” of material all day long? (like they only post quotes from famous people, never posting anything “genuine”) – if so, then the person is probably not real
  • does the person send private messages to you that are generic phrases that would apply to a million scenarios? (like this: “Hey, so nice to meet you, it is a big world out there, I like to connect) – if so, then the person is probably not real
  • does the person post messages at the same interval each day (like at the top of every hour or every day at exactly 2:30pm) then the person is probably not real

Avoid using social media for anything other than socializing.  Obtaining news about current events for your community and nation should be obtained from traditional news organizations who have a track record of many years of attempting to relay facts to the public.

A tiny gadget is really creeping me out but I want one!

Have you seen the Tile commercial? The gadget demonstrated seems innocent enough: a family tracks down a cute lost teddy bear in a big city for their adorable child via a tiny gadget clipped to the teddy bear. As I watch this sweet moment unfold I can’t help but envision a serial killer sipping coffee at a quiet little coffee shop somewhere in my town, dark thoughts churning through his strained brain. His name is something calm like Robert. He casually walks around the coffee shop, unnoticed in his khaki pants and brown wool pullover, and drops these gadgets in the BAPs (Big *** Purses) of women he wants to track and later dismember in his basement of evil that is obviously wallpapered in disturbing patterns of over-zealous vines climbing the walls. I will write a book about Robert some day.

I realize I have a very active imagination so in all honesty I seriously doubt the coffee horror house of deception is ever going to happen, even if the community of Tile trackers grows exponentially, but just in case it does I will give you this advice: To all the glorious gals out there like me that carry BAPs, actually clean the purses out once a week so you know exactly what is in there at all times. If you happen to find a Tile in there that doesn’t belong to you then be sure to leave it in a public place for the serial killer to later find – maybe create a chalk outline on the ground with white tape and place the Tile in the center of it.

If you have a BAP but have lost the desire to lug it around with you, please reconsider. Pick that bag up and go! It is like walking around with your very own tour bus. Here are a few items I highly recommend adding to your BAP – so dust it off, fill it up and get out there and live:

  • huge bottle of hairspray
  • box of strawberry Pop-Tarts (frosted)
  • paperback murder mystery
  • cozy socks
  • journal and pen
  • jar of peanut butter and baggie full of bird seed (you won’t eat this, this is for when you are in the park – twirl pine cones in the jar then dip the cones in the baggie full of bird seed and leave pine cones on the ground to attract big foot – he gets hungry to you know, stop being so selfish.. what evs)
    framed 8×10 of Betty White

Creepy aside, the Tile is an outstanding product. I’ve seen it in action at my sister’s house, they use it to locate sets of keys. I am especially interested in using the Tile in the arena of stolen vehicle recovery (cars, boats, snowmobiles), especially for older models that do not contain any traceable wireless signals by default. The Tile can easily be permanently concealed within the frame of a vehicle and then utilized for tracking should the vehicle ever be stolen. Just don’t be tempted to track the use of the vehicle if it has not been stolen….you know you want to! Cut it out! Behave! You are such a maniac…

Video gaming descent into nothingness, what is going on?

Cosmo17small
My circle of peeps since as far back as me being a kid in Lima, Ohio, and playing heated games of softball in the boulevard after school, have always been a mixture of active and/or intelligent humans with an over-the-top zest for life.

My first FANTASTIC introduction to video games during my childhood, Atari, never pulled my focus away from living in the real world for long each day and why would it? How could it? With the sun shining, the birds singing, bugs biting and bikes to ride, it never dawned on me (even as an introvert) to hide on the couch and jump into digital make-believe for hours at a time.

I reflect on my childhood now when I read the news and when I listen to some of our friends complain of their children’s descent into long periods of digital nothingness.  I worry humans are becoming more and more detached from society.   I understand the attraction of the digital world because reality is difficult, scary, painful and messy with the rare and perfect sprinkle of fabulous that makes it all worthwhile.  But I also understand, as does the scientific community, what happens to humans and animals long-term when live social interaction is significantly diminished:  physical and mental health deteriorate.

If you or your children are descending into a nothing abyss via the Internet or video gaming highway, make a resolution to makes some changes.  Nothing drastic, it can start with taking a walk each day or pick up the phone and call your Great Grandmother Mildred who is probably cursing you right now because she hasn’t heard from you in 5 years, or get a hamster – http://www.myhamsterzoo.com.  What are you waiting for?

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