Nov 29 2007

Crazy Drivers

Jamie Barrows
You only get one lane. One!

Well, I was driving to work this morning and almost got hit by a car that just drifted into my lane. It was kind of busy as it always is at that time of the morning. So traffic was pretty heavy.

It also doesn’t help that the entire freeway is under what seems like permanent construction. The lanes tend to be in different places from week to week. And the traffic cones, street signs, and exits are all confusing.

But still, the driver just couldn’t have been paying attention to the road. He/She(I didn’t look that closely) just rolled half way into the lane I was in and then drifted back into his/her own lane. If there hadn’t happened to be a large shoulder at that location of the road, and if I hadn’t noticed the car next to me coming into my lane, I would have been sideswiped.

By the way, the graphic above comes from Jessica Hagy’s blog, Indexed. Which I really do recommend you check out.

Nov 28 2007

Viruses and a clicking epidemic

Jamie Barrows

Virus Network

Thought the above comic was just too funny. Especially since I just spent a great deal of time cleaning off my parents computer. I think they had 40-50 different viruses and spyware on their computer.
I know that my parents computer is the “family” computer and consequently it gets used by my little brothers and sisters. So the people using it aren’t always the most computer savvy. But seriously, how do they get so many viruses and spyware? Do they just click on every little thing that pops up?

I don’t even run a resident antivirus scanner on my personal computer, and I have yet to get infected with spyware or viruses. And yet my parents computer, my brothers computer, and various friends, all of whom are running resident antivirus programs get infected. Please people! Don’t click on popups and don’t install shady software. LOL

Nov 22 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Jamie Barrows
Thanksgiving Turkey

To all my readers who might be online today, rather than eating and watching football, Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 21 2007

New Project Idea

Jamie Barrows
DVD disk

Ok, the paying bills post got me actively working on trying to find something I could do. Preferably, at least to start, it needed to be something I could do with my current resources. And after a lot of discussions with friends an family, I think I came up with something I can do now. This project would be just the beginning, but at least it’s a start. My thought is to put together a software and training package for missionaries.

Specifically a package for missionaries and native pastors dealing with writing prayer letters and doing basic publishing. I’ve been trying to find something where I can use my current skill set. And I think this might be useful. I realized that, while I don’t have a lot of formal training, I do have a lot of word processing and small scale publishing experience. Things a lot of people can do with very little experience, but most wouldn’t know where to start.

Small CrossIf I could create a training package that used nothing but free software and taught missionaries and native pastors how to create prayer letters and presentations using that software it would be a really useful tool. Maybe add some basic image editing to the package. I could try to get a list of cheap digital cameras that I could evaluate and recommend (or tell them to avoid) as part of the package.

I’ll also be trying to collect a bunch of online resources and links for them. And if they have local Internet access, try to teach them how to set up and run a blog (which would be basically just an online prayer letter).

So the plan is to use my expertise to build an entire resource package geared towards missions that would be very low cost or free for the missionary. I’ve done a good bit of research already to see if there is a package out there that does this, and haven’t found anything. And the more I talk to about this to people, the more it seems like there is a real need. And it is something I can easily do and should be able to do a good job at.

Finding and evaluating disparate pieces of software, integrating them together, and writing support documentation is something I do in my job all the time. So building and collecting the pieces needed for a package like this is something I have some experience with and should be able to do.

Nov 19 2007

Five questions about me and my blog

Jamie Barrows

Good Question
Heidi over at Virushead tagged me in a post about blogging. I don’t normally do the blog meme thing, but I was bored. So I thought I would make an exception this time. So here goes.

1. How long have you been blogging?
Not that long. About a year. I started blogging with a blogger account, and only recently purchased a hosting account with Dreamhost. Domains are cheap, but hosting isn’t quite as cheap. But Dreamhost isn’t bad.

2. What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?
Well, I started blogging for two reasons. First I just wanted a place I could post things that I found interesting or funny. That way my friends and family could see the things I found. That was my first blog, and I still run that blog and post to it on a regular basis. My posts there have gotten a little more professional as I’ve gotten more writing experience, but the basic theme is still the same.

I started this blog as a place where I could post my thoughts and ideas. A good friend of mine suggested that I start writing as a way to let off some stress. Of course, the suggestion was for me to be writing in a journal. I don’t think I could do a paper based journal. I’m too much of a digital person. So this is what I got.

I guess that kind of answers the mentors portion of the question as well.

3. Are you trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?
Well, I’m certainly not trying to make money off this. I don’t have any adds or sponsors on either of my blogs. I post for fun and my own personal development. As long as I can afford to keep paying for the hosting, both blogs will probably stay ad free.

4. Tell me 3 things you LOVE about being online.

The sheer wealth of knowledge. Anything I ever want to know or am even curious about is online and available with a simple search. Before the internet, the only way I could have satisfied my curiosity would have been to go to a library. Then I had to hope that the library would have a book on the subject. Now within five minutes I can have all the info I could ever want.

The communication aspects of the internet. I have friends all over the world that I correspond with daily. Without the Internet, I would never be able to keep up with them. I would be limited to only those who are within telephone access. I know that snail mail exists, but the long turn around would just make any real communication not possible. And telephone costs for overseas calls would be totally impractical. The Internet makes that possible.

The ability to create and publish my own ideas and thoughts. Basically blogging like this. The internet has made it possible for people who don’t have access to expensive equipment or traditional publishing resources, to publish their own words. That is something that has never been possible before. And it’s an exciting thing to see and experience.

5. Tell me 3 things you STRUGGLE with in the online world.
Keeping focus. The sheer number of distractions and calls on my attention when I’m online can be really overwhelming. I’ll go on with a purpose, and discover an hour later that I have forgotten what I was looking for because I spent the whole hour looking at cats with inane text captions.

Feeling inadequate. The internet is a big place and it makes you realize what a small fish you are. For every thing I know, it is really obvious that I don’t know much. There is so much knowledge and information out there. And no matter how much I ever learn about any particular subject, I will always know so little compared to how much there is to know about it.

Keeping up with people. Instant communication is great, but you can get really overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of messages you get. It’s really easy to let someone fall through the cracks. Or to let a message go unanswered by accident.

At the end of this, I’m supposed to tag some other bloggers, but I don’t think I will. Not because I’m stingy with my links, but because I normally hate being tagged in one of these things myself. So I don’t think I’ll do it to anyone else. Hope you enjoyed my answers to the questions above.

Image citation
good question from e-magic’s photostream.

Nov 18 2007

Paying Bills

Jamie Barrows

Lately I’ve been more than a little depressed. The reason is that I don’t feel like anything I’m doing is worth anything. Not just not worth anything, but actually pointless. Every week all my actions are based around a single goal. Paying bills. I go to work every day for no other reason. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job. The problem is that the only purpose for my job, is to pay bills. And paying bills is not something that is really a worthy goal to have in life. It’s actually very worthless.

I need to have a point to my life that goes beyond paying bills. I need a goal that is really worth something. I really don’t know what I can do, but I need to find something. Otherwise, this pattern of depression about my life will keep pulling me down and leave me in a state of depression.

Finding that goal is the hard part. The problem is that I don’t have the skills and abilities to do the obvious things. People I know are going to suggest that I get involved in missions work and the church. But I’m already involved in my church, and the truth is that they don’t really need me. And I don’t have any of the usual skills that missionaries can use. No church planting or preaching skills. No building or construction skills.

About the only skill that I do have, is an aptitude for computers. My computer skills are not really any use to most of the churches around here. Computer skills like mine are just too common in the US. But possibly my skills could be useful on the mission field. Specifically in third world or impoverished nations. Maybe there is something I could do that would take advantage of the skill set that I do have.

I don’t know if it is even possible, but I think I will try to find out. If I can make some contacts with groups who are working in those countries, then I might be able to find out what I can do. Maybe my computer skills could be used, or maybe there is another area I could help out in. The only way I can find out what I can do is to ask. So that is what I’m going to try.

Because I don’t want my goal in life to be “paying bills.”

Nov 12 2007

Status Reports

Jamie Barrows

Dilbert Status Report
Sometimes Dilbert hits it right on.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to prepare a status report on a project. And too often that status report is nothing more than a status of the missing status report because I don’t have time to prepare a real status report on the project.

Some weeks it feels like my whole week is spent preparing status reports on the projects I didn’t even accomplish anything on.

Nov 10 2007

Cloud picture

Jamie Barrows

Heart cloud
Found the picture above. I liked it so I though I would post it here.

Found it at the Cloud Appreciation Society website.

Nov 2 2007

Make Believe using your surroundings

Jamie Barrows

Post Office Showdown

When you were little (And maybe now as well), did you ever build elaborate stories in your head about mundane locations? I know I did.

I would be some place that was boring to me, like maybe the mall while my Mom was shopping. And I would be just sitting there doing nothing. So I would start making up a story about myself in that location. It usually involved me being some kind of secret agent. And the whole kid at the mall thing was just a cover.

I would pick people out of the shoppers around me, and imagine that they were enemy agents. Then I would start constructing an elaborate fight scene between me and the enemy agents, who had somehow penetrated my cover. The fight scene would involve guns, knives, and amazing karate moves that when pictured in my head were just awesome! Often I would make it a running battle through the store using the displays and even other shoppers as cover.

It was great fun. And by using people I had picked out of the crowd around me as characters in my story, it felt more real. Of course, in real life I was actually just sitting quietly waiting for my Mom to finish shopping.

I never told anyone about these make believe stories. They were just something I did to amuse myself when I was bored. But when I saw the above comic, I had to post it. It was just too much like something I would do.

For the authors site, check out Post Office Showdown.

Nov 1 2007

New Rant location

Jamie Barrows

Wordpress GraphicWell, last night I finally moved my last Blogger page over to a hosted domain. I spent a good bit of time finding a theme I liked, and adjusting the pictures in my imported posts to fit the new theme. I think it looks good, but there is always room for improvement. So comments would be appreciated.