Blog Lovin Dot Com

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I’ve been meaning to post this for quite a while…I have been blogging now for quite some time. I started on Blogger.com and gained a fair number of “followers” who connected to me via the Google “Friend Connect” widget. I stayed in Blogger for quite a while, and loved the list of blogs I follow.

Eventually (and quite obviously) I tested out WordPress, and found it more to my liking. I was also told you could create a Google Friend Connect widget for it, so you wouldn’t lose your followers… I found out after I moved that this was no longer the case. Google no longer offered that, in favor of forcing everyone to use Google Plus and just get a badge… which I did, but I have to say, it’s not as effective.

For some time, I kinda struggled trying to keep track of all the blogs I like to read. I used book marks, but it sorta became one of those Out of Sight, Out of Mind type of things… I played with Google Reader, but didn’t like that I couldn’t comment right there. I kept my google account for blogger blogs, and my WordPress account for WordPress blogs… I tried to subscribe via email to everything, but the flood of emails was little crazy too…

I was turned onto bloglovin.com by a fellow blogging friend, Nicole. I highly recommend you go visit and follow her in whatever means you use to follow blogs.

Bloglovin.com is not specific to any blogging platform. WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, etc… If the blog has an RSS feed, (which almost everything does!) then you can follow it there. You can just search for the URL of the blog you want to follow (mattconlon.com for example!) and it will find it, and offer it as an option. Just follow it.

You can log into bloglovin.com and manage your reading there, or opt to get an email each evening with the days posts. That’s what I do, I get an email each night around 11pm, and it’s there for me in the morning with all the new posts from the last 24 hours.

I found when I went to WordPress, although I enjoyed the blogging experience more, I lost a lot of regular readers. I believe it has to do with feeling like they’re stuck with just the blogger (or WordPress) following system. Bloglovin.com brings it all together.

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Thanksgiving 2012

What a fantastic Thanksgiving.

When I first met my wife, her parents’ house was the hub of activity for an extremely large extended family. Lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. A typical holiday get-together would frequently include around fifty or sixty people throughout the whole day. Thanksgiving would start around 1, and end around Friday.

In addition to the house being the location of choice, my father in law was quite literally the patriarch of the whole bunch. He was a very super-human figure to many, many people. He coached football when his kids were younger, so many of their friends looked to him as a father-figure the way players would for coaches they loved.

He was one of thirteen kids, and his mother was also a family icon as well. Having thirteen kids, you can imagine she had to be pretty rigid in her rules, and there are countless stories of her setting folks straight over the years. I’m almost disappointed that I am one of the few who knew here and was never slapped.

My father in law had a disease called Sarcoidosis. This disease affected his lungs. In the late 90s, he was the recipient of a single lung transplant, and told it should give him around five years. In his typical super-human style, he lived another 11 years. He was one of the few folks who ever got a re-transplant. This time, he got two lungs, for a total of five lungs over the course of his life. Unfortunately, he had more problems with rejection of these lungs. He passed away January 2010. He would have been sixty-one that April.

In the last couple years of his life, he withered quickly. Going from this larger-than-life pillar of confidence and inspiration to a man who struggled simply to go from his bed to a kitchen chair. For the kids who always saw him as immortal, it was crushing to see. Most couldn’t bear to see him that way, and avoided coming over, which they deeply regretted.

A couple of months after he passed, his mother died of natural causes as well. A sullen depression settled over the extended family, and holidays were a little too painful without these two living legends.

We planned a small intimate Thanksgiving dinner this year, as the last couple were just that. We invited my wife’s two brothers and their families. One of them invited many of the other folks who always came before for dessert. The turn out wasn’t as huge as it once was, but it was large, and absolutely fantastic. It was great to return to the large get together we used to enjoy.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Poor Selena Gomez

I’m not going to be answering any questions on why I had this post in my news stream, so don’t bother, but I really felt like I needed to make some smart ass comments about it.

First, I blanked out the name of the person who made the remark I thought was asinine, as well as the rest of the comments, cause although some were worthy of making fun of, it’s late, and I don’t feel like it.

Click for a bigger view

That comment is what’s wrong with the youth of America, and I’m hoping that the commenter IS actually a youth, because if that’s a full grown adult, someone needs a poke in the eye.

Before you get all “You’re Mean” first, understand: I know this. Second, for God’s sake, they’re what, 18?? Of course they’re going to have relationship problems, and frankly, in case you’re one of those press people, I really don’t care who she’s dating. I don’t care who HE is dating either.

But… prayer? Because the press is speculating about her relationship status?? PRAYER? You know what, she should be praying and THANKING whatever god she can get in touch with that the press gives a rat’s ass to begin with.

Those of us who don’t have the press speculating on our relationship status frequently have conversations that go like this: “Hey, how are you?” “Oh, not bad… Busy!” “Well, that’s a good problem to have.”

Pray for world peace. Pray for the end of famine. Pray for the safe return of America’s sons and daughters. Pray for the peace of mind one needs after loosing a child in war. Pray for victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, Earth quakes, grizzly murders, rapes, child abductions… Hell, identity theft, auto-theft, grand theft, petty theft, assault and battery, domestic abuse, the list of shit to pray before praying for a celebrity because the press is speculating about relationship status, is bloody endless!

Of all the things that are wrong with the world, there are plenty of things to pray for before that. That commenter either has her priorities SMURFED, is 12, or spends the ENTIRE WEEKEND praying for everything on her list, in order to get through everything else that’s more important than whether or not Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber are dating or broken up.

Okay, I feel better now. Not sure why, but I read that, and it was such a quick little comment, short read, probably just a gesture, but it was like a butterfly that landed on top of … a… bunch of… something, that all started landsliding down this hill, and picking up velocity, etc… I’m sure you psychoanalysts out there can dig around in my thoughts there and come up with a bunch of other crap I’m upset about that I don’t even know which came out as a wrath on that ridiculous comment, and feel free to if you like. Either way, I’m good now.

I wish them both well, but I’m not likely to drop a line to the big guy about it. I’m sure he’s got enough things on his mind.

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Windows Live Account Temporarily Blocked

Well…

I’m about to write a fairly long post, that I wrote yesterday, and somehow in the process of publishing, I seemed to have smurfed it all up, it published, and was blank… I was a little to frustrated yesterday to type it all up again, so I waited until now. I’m only irritated now. If my blog disappears though, you’ll know it happened again.

So…

I upgraded to Windows 8, and Office 2013. Both of these products can integrate with Windows Live accounts. This affords you the ability to tie your Hotmail, your Xbox account, your Skydrive and so on into your Windows experience. Word and Excel and other office products offer you the ability to save your documents straight out to the cloud in your Skydrive, which I found helpful.

Another thing about it that kind of excited me was the idea that eventually we could all have “roaming profiles” which means you log into one computer with your windows live account, make changes, and when you log into a different computer, those changes will be there as well. It’s not quite how it works right now, but I bet dollars to donuts that in the next five or so years, that’ll be a reality.

At any rate, somehow I got my account blocked. When I try to log in, I get a message that says “We’ve detected suspicious activity on your account, so for your protection we’ve temporarily blocked it.”

Now, being in IT, I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Something gets goofy and companies would rather block the account, and ask questions alter, to prevent the loss of data or wanton abuse of a service, etc. Not a big deal I figured. I went to the account.live.com and tried to log in. Sure enough “Your account has been temporarily blocked. Please contact support.” and a “Continue” button. I figured that’d bring me to the place to fix it.

I clicked continue, and came to a page that had a list of 6 or 8 error messages, each one a link. I clicked on the link “Your account has been temporarily blocked”, and it brought me back to the previous page. /blink.

I clicked continue again, same links… click the link again, same previous page. Back and forth.

I did some research in the problem via google, and it seems to be a pretty common problem. People locked out of their account, with no explanation, and no idea what to do about it.

I made a post a few days ago about getting technical support via Twitter, and mentioned that this is what I was doing… I haven’t gotten a resolution just yet, and I’ve tweeted back and forth a few times now. They’ve “escalated” my problem twice now, but at least I’m hearing back from someone on it, instead of just getting stuck in a loop and spinning my wheels.

Again, I can’t stress enough how useful twitter is when looking for support. The next time you’re having trouble with something on the web, check out twitter and search for the problem. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Technical Support Via Twitter / Facebook

Getting technical support can be one of the most frustrating things on earth, and I know because I *AM* technical support for hundreds of clients. I know how difficult things can be when things aren’t working.

As an IT guy, when my client’s internet goes down, I’m their first line of defense. They call me, I check a few things, and if I can’t figure it out, I call the internet service provider. Comcast, or Verizon, for example. If they’re having an outage  chances are I’m one of dozens, or possibly hundreds of other people calling in. This increased call volume translates into longer hold times. It can long periods of time, which I’m charging my clients for. I realize how frustrating it is to be losing productivity due to services being down, only to be charged by the IT Guy who sits on the phone, and is eventually told in just a few words that “yes, the service is down, and will be for a couple hours”. Not only can you not use your internet, send email, or use your phones, and thus not MAKE money, but you just paid me to confirm that there’s nothing we can do right now.

Social media has been evolving in the last few years, I’ve noticed. Facebook and Twitter were always a place for people to go and goof off on the internet, and employers recognized that. Many times I’ve been asked to block these sites on a corporate level. This is changing quickly however.

With the recent visit from hurricane Sandy, many of our clients were without internet or power. Their businesses shut down for days. No email, due to their server being in their office without power to prevent from dirty shut downs and power spikes.

We use a service from McAfee called MXLogic, which filters spam, and then delivers email to the client’s servers. Because all mail filters through them before going to the server, if the server down, the mail spools with them. They offered to our clients a service called “email continuity.” Since they had many of our clients’ emails, our clients could log into their site, and read emails there from home. Business could continue to a degree.

But how to tell our clients?? Can’t email them! Can’t call them unless we have alternative numbers for them. Home or cell, etc… Chances are that they’re not going to come to our professional website… But you can bet they will check their twitter or Facebook pages!

We were told many times once business came back up, “I wish I knew you had a Facebook page, I’d have seen that offer, and taken you up on it!” Let’s face it, everyone is looking at Facebook. Why would we not put information they might want to see where they’re looking??

I once tweeted about a problem that I had with Comcast, when I was new to twitter, and trying to figure out what it was for. I decided to try venting there… Lo and Behold, @comcastcares replied to my tweet within minutes. Problem was rectified shortly thereafter, after having sat on the phone trying to get something done for over an hour.

I decided to try tweeting the next time I had a Comcast issue. Once again, a ticket that would have cost me at least forty minutes on the phone was handled in two or three tweets.

Once sitting on the phone with Broadview, a common ISP around here, hoping to find out of they were experiencing an outage  I decided to head over to twitter and do a search for “Broadview outage . There was no official twitter profile for them at the time, but there were dozens of other folks tweeting to vent about problems with their ISP and “is broadview down right now??” … As close to confirmation as I needed, and again, in only four minutes.

Since I started this post as a matter of fact, I tweeted @microsofthelps about a problem I’m having with my windows live account… Now… I’ve tried off and on for the last couple of days to unblock my windows live account to no avail. Since starting this blog post, I’ve already gotten my ticket created with support and elevated past the usual “reset your password” solutions… By the time I’m finished, maybe my problem will be fixed entirely!

Sure there are dangers to opening your doors to things like Facebook and twitter on a corporate level, from loss of productivity to viruses and malware, but don’t rule it out without some thought. Just because bad information is there, doesn’t mean there isn’t good…

The next time you’re having problems with something technical, computer issues, hardware issues, even problems with your household appliances, take a look on twitter, see if the manufacturer has a twitter profile. It’s a low risk investment, all you need is a twitter account and about five minutes to tweet at them.

No phone queues, no “press 1 for English”, no barely understandable technical support folks… Quick, to the point questions, succinct answers in plain English. (or whatever language you tweet in.)