Archive for the ‘Hints’ Category
All posts in Hints category.
Over the last few weeks I have added several new devices to my home network (iPad, guest computers, two new TiVOs, new router, etc) and have noticed my VOIP phone quality go way down. After doing some initial troubleshooting, taking devices offline one at a time, etc – I decided it was time to call my VOIP phone company to see what they had to say. After the initial dummy tasks (unplug, reboot, restart) – we finally got down to it – my connection speed.
I have Comcast, and have been happy with their service for years. Ten years ago – I bought a cable modem to use with my service and have been using it ever since without any issue. After talking to someone from the phone company – they noticed that my cable modem was old and was using DOCSIS 1.0 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) which I had never heard about before. The customer support person recommended getting a new cable modem which they promised would help my bandwidth issue and thus take care of my poor voice quality issue as well.
I purchased a new cable modem earlier this week (DOCSIS 3.0) and what a difference. The speeds I am seeing down/up are 2-3x the speed I was getting last week – and no more phone quality issues at all.
Overall message/lesson: even though somethings are “working” – if they are older, they are most likely outdated and should be updated sooner than once every ten years. So – if you are like me and are seeing slower than expected speeds, and/or your VOIP quality sucks – make sure to check to see what kind of network equipment you have and if there are newer/better models available.
Several years ago, the company I worked for had a secretary full of life lessons which she would tell me about each morning. Out of everything she ever told me – one thing really stuck. She told me “Jen – don’t wait for opportunities, make them”. There are not too many days that go by that I do not think about that.
So many people wait around for “that phone call, that new job, that right guy/girl, etc” (you fill in the blank) and those people will often live most of their life with regrets and/or with dead end jobs. It is easier to stay stuck in a rut than to actually make a change and if that is how you live your life – that is fine, but I wanted more.
With the economy the way it is, I have seen a lot of people get laid off or feel like they have to stay in their mind numbing job because it is “too risky” to move into a new job. At some point in your life you either have to “shut up or do something” and for your benefit – I hope you do something. The best thing I have done in my life was to stop waiting around for things to happen to me and to go out on my own and start something that was mine and I enjoyed. While it was risky – I got to a point where it felt more risky not to do anything. I finally took the secretary’s words into consideration and have not regretted it whatsoever.
I do not mean to preach, but I do ask you to take chance and to think about what you want – not in a month from now, but in 5 years from now. Can your current situation provide that? If not, what can you do to make a difference? Whatever you do, take a chance and make that opportunity instead of waiting for it!
I have been going crazy trying to figure out why all my incoming meeting.ics files were going to my QuickBooks calendar (I have several calendars) and not another one. There had to be a setting somewhere, right? I could not find it, but I did discover how to inadvertently set it: drag the calendar you want to use as the default to the top (same goes with Mail.app with setting the default account).
In the last year or so I have really found a great set of tools that I use for almost any/all projects if needed. If you are considering building a web site or a web application – consider taking a look at the following (and consider using this as your “WWJU (what would Jen use) list:
If you ever need any recommendations – please ask.
So many people want to get their sites/projects/etc out so fast they completely overlook quality assurance (QA). I have recently worked with two extremes and wanted to comment on both.
- Quality Assurance pre-release Any time I work on a project – I always build in time for quality assurance. Quality assurance time is specifically spent on browser issues, adding sample content, and making changes. I recently worked with a client that spent two weeks on quality assurance and added several hundred test posts for sample content in order to work out any bugs that needed to be fixed. How did the release go? Pretty darn smooth. The initial few days were not stressful nor were they all consuming due to issues that users found. The site premiered as professional and well put together.
- Quality Assurance post-release I have also recently worked on a project that had to be put out ASAP and when I say ASAP – I mean frantic calls at all hours of the day, crazy status checks, and a completely rushed process. The result: the project was pushed out way to soon, and there were massive changes/updates after the site was live and people were viewing it. How did the release go? It went out early, and something was “there” but so were issues…and the issues were visible for all to see. Generally – I do not generate sloppy code or anything that would cause issues on purpose – but there are things that will show up only after proper testing is done. Since the testing was done after the site was live – the issues were much more visible because users were the ones reporting them – making the site look much less put together. How did the release go? Frantic.
The moral of the story here: I know there are times when “rush jobs” are needed – just remember that with rush jobs – you will see issues post-release instead of pre-release. If that is ok with you (beta site) then that is fine, but do not expect a completely functional and “perfect” product if you do not test it (regardless of who creates it).
Like my friend D always says:
I can give you a product that is built well, built quickly, and built cheap – you pick two.
After doing some home improvement projects in the last few weeks – I can say the same is true there. All I ask of people is to realize that there is a cost with everything. My suggestion: do it right the first time and always make quality assurance a priority – or you will end up paying more later. A little QA goes a long way.
Taking vacation sounds nice to most but to me it is never really been enjoyable. The work pile up when I get home is always out of control and I end up feeling like I do now: run down, overwhelmed, and unable to catch up. What is the trick to coming back to a less stressful environment after taking a few days off? I am all ears!
A lot of people want a web site or a blog but do not know where to start or what all WordPress has to offer. If you are looking for a great, easy to use system to publish content on the web – I would start here:
- Start Free. If you want to simply check out WordPress and see what is made of – sign up for a free account at wordpress.com You can choose from several free themes (look and feel) and have no worries about backup, hosting, etc. This will allow you to focus on the content and not get frustrated with installation/set up and hosting.
- Read. Take 10 minutes and read through some of the documentation.
- Play Around. Familiarize yourself with WordPress widgets (sidebar) and start taking control of your content.
- Customize. Once you are ready to move your site to a host so you can customize your theme, your plugins, etc – start looking at some free plugins before doing any custom development. It is most likely you will be able to find something free that fits your needs.
- Add. Check out the themes and plugin listings on wordpres.org (Extend).
- Learn More. If you get to a point where you have a site up, you have content, and you want to find out more about what all WordPress can offer – I would suggest either buying a WordPress book or pay for an hour of consultation with a company that specializes in blog consultation (like my company) so you can really maximize your web site presence and efficiency.
- Small Steps. Most importantly – start small and build on it. Blogging and maintaining a web site is not always fun or easy – but taking small steps (one new plugin at a time, or a slight change in a template) will ensure your web site will continually develop into something great!
Just remember – you do not have to be a graphic designer or a programmer to have a great web site – you just need patience and a willingness to learn!
If you are going to do any serious CSS development and/or troubleshooting – you need to be able to see the site on as many browsers as possible. Generally – we have several browsers on several operating systems going at once so we can make sure our bases are covered.
Last week I built a mobile theme for a client and after a few refreshes on my iPhone – I decided I needed something easier and more developer friendly (I needed to view source). I use the “Develop” menu in Safari (Preference > Show Develop menu in menu bar) – and with that, I was able to choose my user agent (iPhone) – and then view how it would look using Safari which was much faster then using my iPhone – and I could easily view the source. If you need to do any development that depends on the user agent – don’t forget about this little trick!
Choose Your User Agent
Looking to really increase the load time of your site and minimizing the HTTP requests? Check out Minify. This handy app will easily and quickly compress your CSS (and Javascipt) files.
My son is a super fan of the movie Wall-E and when I tried to rip it for my iPhone and his iTeddy – using Handbrake the entire movie was out of sequence which even though did not seem to phase E, it bothered me to no end that my son was watching a completely scrambled movie. I did some research and found that other people had this same issue with Disney movies in particular and by using a little app called RipIt – the movie would be available in the correct order. As advertised, the application is really simple and it worked great. This is now my tool of choice for ripping DVDs. If you have any issues with out of order movies (especially Disney) – look no further.