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Blog

COVID-19 Cases Drop and San Antonio Decreases Risk to Moderate

The endless talk about COVID-19 pushed me to tune out the news for a bit. For a while, I was reading it every day, but it filled me with worry as I’m sure many others feel.

The last time I checked the City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 risk assessment, we were between critical and severe. Now we are at a comfortable moderate.

I’m ready for life to return to normal. The concern over an impending pandemic has stolen much of 2020 from us. Time with family during Easter, Fiesta was canceled, birthdays were celebrated at home, and no time at the beach. This is no way to live.

We had to, though. At least from what I know and what I hear, we had to prevent a deadly virus from spreading. It may not have affected me directly, but we don’t want anyone to fall victim to it.

Even so, how many weddings were held in backyards this year? Graduations were in parking lots. Games canceled. So much of our year was taken from us. Perhaps we’ll appreciate what was lost more when allowed to return to normal?

Even when we do return to normal, there will be a new normal. COVID-19 did help me avoid getting sick this year. I wore a mask everywhere and stayed away from people. Every other year it seemed I came down with something. I don’t miss coughing and sneezing at all hours of the night. So, to some degree, masks are an excellent thing to keep around.

woman having a video call
Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

The move to remote online meetings is also welcomed.

Black Friday will likely be online this year if it is held at all. We were moving in that direction anyway. This is not saying that I don’t miss going to the store and seeing all the new laptops on display, because I certainly do.

But, if I am going to buy something, I can just as quickly buy online. That’s the change—the move to online.

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Blog

Third Parties are Changing Industries

Like it or not, third-parties can change an industry from the outside. TrueCar, Cargurus, Edmunds, and Cars.com changed the car business. Expedia, Priceline, Trivago, Orbits, and Travelocity changed the hospitality industry. And similarly, Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, and UberEats will change the restaurant business during COVID-19.

When restaurants were closed during the shutdown, I began ordering food through delivery apps. The price of a meal tripled. But, grew accustomed to the convenience of not having to wait in line, fight traffic, and only eat what was nearby. Now I order from an app, and usually, I click reorder on a previous order to make decision making more straightforward.

The trouble with this change is that if a restaurant chooses not to use a delivery platform, they’ll miss out. That gives the delivery platform power over the restaurant owners. I suppose this is no different than when the credit cards gained control over merchants.

A third party becomes a troll on a bridge of commerce. One must go through this third party to reach customers and be charged a fee for the privilege.

I believe this is something to ponder while we will not influence this trend. The trend will occur regardless if we consider this or not. Industries are about to be disrupted by apps, by third parties, dictating a fee to be a part of the market.

As consumers, we will pay more in exchange for convenience. We will be conditioned to order particular meals because that’s what the algorithms present to us.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

I’ve noticed that Postmates asks for tips after delivery, sometimes days late. Thus they hide the total cost of the meal. Fees are buried in, appear as a tax to be ignored and accepted unconditionally.

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Blog

The Hiring Process is Too Slow, and Career Paths are Unclear

While checking one of my many email accounts, I came across this email from FlexJobs. Three years ago, I was looking for a job. And during that time, I was obsessed with an idea to improve how people got hired.

Dear Aaron,

Historically, a career path has often been referred to as “climbing the ladder”, indicating a clear, straight, consistent move up towards a perceived “highest rung” on the ladder. Well, I don’t know about you, but my career path has been more of a crazy-looking series of zigzags — far from what my college career counselor recommended when I was in school.

But long ago, I’d come to appreciate that it’s okay! There are different jobs that will make sense for you and your life at different times, and we should feel free and confident to choose a job that is most likely to meet our goals at each particular time. Not to beat ourselves up about it.

Certainly, many job seekers are facing a potential zig or zag that they didn’t expect 6 months ago. So if you’re one of those who are struggling with questions like, “Should I take a job that isn’t in line with my career path?” or “What if I have to take a pay cut?” or “Should I change careers?”, remember that you’re not alone, and to have hope there is more than one way to get to your goals.

And we hope to help get you there! Read on for a special discount offer, great job listings and companies hiring, a featured success story, and more!

Many cheers,

Sara Sutton at the FlexJobs Team

To me, looking for a job on job search sites was more like looking for the right movie to watch in a $5 pile of DVDs at Walmart. There is no order, just a collection of different job titles expecting a range of different skills, all while not disclosing their pay structure.

I recognize that the employer has the right to shop for the best talent at the lowest possible price as if we are a product to be discounted. However, every individual has a right to income equality. We should all be able to afford a good lifestyle from our work. Some profit from their work more than others. There is no clear path, and there is a lot of zig-zagging when trying to climb the professional ladder.

I had an idea of how to solve this.

Before becoming a hiring manager myself, I believed that a website similar to LinkedIn that logged all of your certifications, education, experience, recommendations, and skills would help everyone apply for jobs faster.

I recognize that there are many job sites, including FlexJobs and Indeed. These sites help managers recruit talent. The manager receives many applications that range from college students to retired military. It is up to the hiring manager to determine the best fit quickly before the decision to hire for a position is abandoned.

Business is messy. Much like personal finance, budgeting is messy. Sometimes there isn’t a budget for a need. When filling a necessity, the expense displaces the budget for another area. I took too long to hire someone, so the direction for the position changed from above.

From the perspective of an applicant, one might feel as they have applied to many places, and no one wants them. But, the truth might be that the position was a new one and was evolving during the hiring process. For that reason, a proper job description did not exist, and when one finally did get written, it was unique.

In 2010, I wanted to build some kind of system that paired applicants with their ideal job. Much like a dating platform, I believed there was a role for everyone.

My view is changing, but I do believe that the hiring process could be more efficient and less stressful for applicants and managers.

When COVID-19 caused millions to be laid-off during the shutdown, the idea of an applicant pairing system returned to me. Some news articles suggested that 66 million would lose their job.

I began asking friends that if they were to lose their job, would they be willing to pay $15 to be instantly given a new one. All said yes.

If all 66 million said yes to $15, that would equal $990,000,000. Surely, with 1 Billion Dollars, a solution to pairing applicants to jobs would be achievable.

And that would be just the first round. What if this were a service where every time you wanted a new job, you paid $15 and Merry Christmas, you have a new job! Now we’re talking billions of dollars.

So how would this magical service work? A team of people would review every job description available and categorize them. Each job description mentions a set of skills; these skills can be phrased in many different ways, but are ultimately referring to the same ability. That ability would have a unique code. These codes would then be combined to match the resumes that also referenced the same skill.

Now, what about this instant part? With a site that verifies each skill once, the redundancy of proving this to each prospective employer is eliminated.

Answer interview questions once, get a background check, and drug screening once. Not multiple times over. For experience, each job experience is logged. Much like classes are logged in college. When it comes time to apply to a new job, just like with applying for courses, the prerequisites are matched up to allow access to the opportunity.

This idea is not perfect; there are areas where its hard to put people and jobs into cookie-cutter definitions. But, no matter how complex the working world is, I believe it could be studied and simplified. Standardized or at least the computer could use artificial intelligence to recognize the similarities between the job and the candidate.

I also believe that this would be in the national security interested of the United States Government, if not the rest of the world. When an economy is shut down, a nation is in danger of collapse. But, what an economy consists of is organization. The inability to organize people into teams quickly and reestablish the flow of currency puts a nation in danger.

Organization and efficiency are what the economy truly is. Every citizen should have a source of income; a means to supply their material needs. A nation that fails to ensure this for its citizens will be in danger of collapse. It is in everyone’s interest that all people living in the state can maintain their source of income even in the face of turbulent times.

Think of it as electricity. When a storm comes, you want your TV to maintain power without interruption. Sometimes the power goes out. But, if you have a backup generator, it is as if nothing happened. The more quickly you can reestablish electricity, the less inconvenienced you are.

The nation needs continuous economic power. The more resilient we are, the less concerned with the economy will need to be.

I consider it a public interest that we find a way to get people back to work and into the role they should be sooner rather than later so that these people can buy your products and your services so that you may also not be inconvenienced.

A digital system that pairs people with jobs find the right fits would make our economy move faster. People eventually find jobs, they ultimately find their place on the ladder, but if we could make it happen in seconds rather than months, how much better off would we be as a collective?

Time is valuable. This decade should be about eliminating unnecessary delays, mainly because the tools to do so are at our fingertips. Those who are not in favor of digital applicant pairing, online voting, and digital currency are holding us back. Much like those who stood in the way of flying, standardized time zones, and the study of medicine held us back.

It’s time to move forward. It shouldn’t take a pandemic or a war to increase our sense of urgency.

Categories
Blog

The First Website

There are now 250 Billion websites, 220,000 of these launched within the last 24 hours, as seen here: https://zonefiles.io/. Sure, not all of these domains are useful. Many of these domains are for sale with a landing page full of advertising. Others are still on a Dreamhost under construction page. But, imagine there was a time before even the first website launched.

Tim Berners-Lee launched the first website as we know them today. On Tuesday, August 6, 1991, Tim changed the world forever by introducing us to the worldwide web. You can still visit the first website today at http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.

The first reaction to Tim’s creation was three words: “Vague, but exciting…”

What made me so excited about learning this bit of history was that one person could change the world with an idea, that at first is hard to comprehend fully, but eventually will be adopted by everyone. There are still many people who dislike computers and technology in general. Even so, these same people will eventually warm up to it as it will meet a need or want in their life.

I believe that online voting should be a thing. I hear a lot of excuses for why this is unsafe for the voting process or that voting in person is so much more official. I don’t care about these excuses. Voting should be convenient, efficient, and instant. But, I’ll have to wait until the adoption curve captures the majority.

The adoption model above shows that there are stages to the public adoption of new technology. In the beginning, there are innovators—those who try new ideas and do not be convinced to try something new. I would like to consider myself one of those people. I do not need to ask why I simply ask why not? I get excited about building, creating, and trying something new.

Then there are the visionaries, who don’t necessarily create, but they adopt early. They like what we are making.

But, there is a chasm—space between these visionaries and pragmatists. Something has to happen, a trigger point that makes an idea practical and necessary.

COVID-19 was a catalyst for Zoom meetings. But, let me revisit that in a minute.

After the pragmatists, there are conservatives; they resist change. I would call those the school teachers of the world. Sorry, if you think you’re more in line with the new folks, but I see too many school teachers insisting on cursive handwriting and physical textbooks and classes to consider your group early adopters.

COVID-19 is pushing conservative thinkers to embrace technology. One can make all the excuses in the world for not adopting digital learning, the classroom is better, etc. But, now, you had to embrace classes over Zoom! The pandemic didn’t give you much choice.

And that brings me to the laggards. The majority force the laggards to join. If everyone else is doing it, they’ll be dragged along into it too.

Fun fact, in 2008, I typed my Calculus Math Homework. And yes, it did attract unwanted attention at the time. But it came from a desire to push forward.

The file is in 2008 Word Document format for Mac. It will need to be converted, but this document preview luckily was saved as a jpeg in the XML zip file.

My handwriting was very sloppy at the time, and I didn’t particularly like dull pencil lead. The solution was to learn how to type my math homework. I even imported the graphs from my Texas Instruments Ti-89 Graphing Calculator.

Many folks didn’t see why I would want to type my math homework, but to me, it was the future. Textbooks were typed, and so why shouldn’t I type my math homework?

Because I typed my math homework, I still have all of my class notes and homework to this day. These files have been stored in the cloud, buried in 11 Terabytes of data from over the last 20 years. I started using computers in Kindergarten. So technically, even longer than that.

This reminds me of the time I scanned my entire math book textbook with a flatbed scanner during my freshman year in high school. Why? I wanted my first eTextbook, so I wouldn’t have to lug several heavy textbooks in my backpack every day. I also tended to forget a textbook or two in my locker because my bag could only hold so many.

For the most part, the textbook worked. All the pages were named after their page numbers, and I could use the preview function in Windows XP to view two of these pictures at once, making a makeshift digital textbook. Unfortunately, the textbook was not text searchable. You can only imagine my glee when I acquired my first official eTextbook that was searchable.

Point being that modernization takes time to catch on.

Not everyone will appreciate your new ideas right away. But if you keep at it, eventually you’ll be a star. And Tim Berners-Lee put in the work to pursue a new concept that now has billions of followers.

Categories
Blog

Unboxing MOTILE 14 Performance Laptop Walmart

If you’re stuck at home and need an affordable laptop to get your work done, the Motile 14 made by Walmart will surprise you!

My fiancee, Kara, needed a laptop to complete her required courses at her new hospital job but did not want to spend the price of a new MacBook. Luckily, I had just watched a glowing review on the Motile 14.

The Motile 14 is available in three colors: silver, black, and rose gold. For Kara, the choice was clear.

The laptop includes Windows Hello facial recognition to unlock the computer. This feature is optional, so if you are not comfortable with facial recognition yet, you don’t have to use it, but if you recognize the convenience of this feature, it’s included! This feature is generally reserved for higher-priced laptops, which is why this $270 model surprised us. It really could be sold for much more.

Categories
Blog

Unboxing Cheapest 1080p Walmart Monitor Surf Onn

When I make my weekly rounds at Walmart, shopping for groceries, I always swing by the electronics section once or twice. I love electronics and enjoy the thrill of experiencing new products, even if its just for a few moments with the display unit.

On my most recent trip to Walmart I noticed the Surf Onn 22-inch monitor for the incredible price of $75! I had been looking for a second monitor to use at work, but since its work, I didn’t want to buy anything too expensive. The lowest I had seen online was on Amazon; a 19-inch monitor for $79. So when I saw this 22-inch FHD monitor, I knew right then I had to get it.

There were only two left on the shelf and I decided to take the plunge and buy them both. I think it’s a great buy and after unboxing it and using it to write this post, I can give you a confident review.

Simply put, it will do what you need it to do. It’s a great computer monitor. No it’s not an extreme gaming monitor that costs 4 figures, but if this is where your budget is at, I do not believe you’ll be disappointed.

Categories
Blog

Fediverse: Mastodon the Alternative to Twitter

I am always looking for new Social Networks to join. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Vero, Reddit, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, SoundCloud, MixCloud, and the list goes on and on.

There are about 250+ social networks (the last time I looked for a complete list). I thought I had joined most of the big ones. All of the ones I had joined so far were owned and hosted by a single company for profit.

A few days ago I discovered Mastodon. An alternative to Twitter. Mastodon is different because several servers called instances host the network. It is a federation of servers hosting the same protocol. Because of this, no one company or person owns it. The servers are hosting the site from around the world.

And it gets better! I discovered shortly after that Mastodon was part of a larger Fediverse of alternative social networks. Which include diaspora, Mastodon, PeerTube, GNU Social, Funkwhale, Socialhome, Misskey, Hubzilla, Pleroma, PixelFed, and Friendica.

All of these social networks operate similar to Mastodon in that they are community created, powered by an alliance of servers hosting the same protocol. And all of these networks are integrated together using ActivityPub. So not only are the networks federated themselves, but also with each other. Not even Facebook and Twitter do that.

To join me on Mastodon follow this link: https://mastodon.social/invite/wU8KzJra

Categories
Computers

Hard Drive Formats

If you’ve ever wondered what to reformat your flash drive or external hard drive, you are not alone. There are several formats to choose from, but there is likely only a couple that will work for your needs.

Formats

FAT32

FAT32 is the most common format found on flash drives (also known as thumb drives, USB sticks, or jump drives). FAT32 is perfect for these small devices because the format can be read and written to from every major computer or device (including Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux computers).

There is only one problem with FAT32, it cannot save a file larger than 4GBs. That might be a problem if you’re working with video or have a large ISO file that you’d like to store.

exFAT

FAT32 is being phased out for exFAT that can store files larger than 4GBs. Unfortunately, older operating systems do not support exFAT and there may be some compatibility issues.

Just like FAT32, exFAT can be read and written to across many platforms, including Windows and Mac OS.

NTFS

NTFS is a Windows format that can only be written to by a Windows computer (unless special software is installed). NTFS is the format of choice for running a Windows operating system but isn’t ideal for flash drives.

HFS+

Like Windows, Apple also has their own format called HFS+. This format has been the standard for Mac computers and their external devices. This format can only be read and written to by other Mac computers (unless special software is installed).

This format isn’t ideal for devices that will need to be accessed by Windows and Linux computers.

APFS

APFS is Apple’s newest format. It will replace HFS+ in the coming years and will offer several advantages over the 30-year-old format. APFS is designed for solid state drives and will make all of Apple’s devices more compatible with each other. Apple TVs, Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and iMacs will eventually all run on APFS providing greater security and speed in the future.

ext4

ext4 is the successor of ext3, the format used by Linux operating systems. This format cannot be read by Macs or Windows computers (unless special software is installed). Unless you are running a Linux operating system, you may never run across this format.

Categories
Web

How to Make a Website

Your website is an important component of your lead generation strategy. It will be the metaphorical flagship of your online fleet. All of your social media profiles and newsletters will link to your website which should be the centerpiece of your online presence.
Building a website is a lot easier than it was at the turn of the 21st century. You do not need to know how to code or be incredibly tech savvy to launch your own website. But, you might need some guidance on where to go to get what you need. This post will show you one method to achieve this goal.
Once you are familiar with web administration, you’ll eventually feel more comfortable trying different services or configuring your website differently to rank better in Google or load faster on mobile devices. It can get complicated fast, but don’t worry we’re keeping it simple in this article. Baby steps!

Choose a Domain Name

Depending on your personality, choosing a domain name can be easy or hard; it’s a lot like naming your first pet or child. Some thought needs to go into it, but not too much. Remember you can always buy another domain. Many are nominally priced.
Most people are familiar with .com domains. Ideally, you’ll want to go with that.
For example, I launched a website called llamaleads.com I could have chosen llamaleads.net or something more trendy like llamaleads.marketing. But, I chose llamaleads.com because it was memorable and more importantly available.
If the domain that you want is not available you may attempt to buy it from its current owner using a domain name negotiation platform like Domain Agents.
To purchase available domains, I recommend Hover. Try a few names, keep them short, easy to spell, and consider getting a .com if possible. After you have purchased your domain, return here to continue your journey.
Choosing a Domain Name

Choose a Web Host

Congratulations on purchasing your first domain! Now it’s time to put that domain to work for you. I recommended a domain registrar that makes this next process a little easier than most.
You may choose any domain registrar that you wish, there are many out there, but I thought that you would appreciate the one I selected because it offers a lot of one-click choices. You can achieve similar results with other registrars, but I would have to delve into what DNS Records are and I promised to keep this simple, right?
Assuming that you have already purchased your domain from Hover and are already logged in, the following steps will help you connect your domain to a web host (the easy way).

Using Hover Connect to Pair Domain to a Web Service

In your Hover Control Panel click on edit > use hover connect.
Hover Control Panel Connect Domain
You’ll then be greeted by another panel. At the time of writing, there are 23 services to choose from. I recommend taking a look at them all to determine what suits your needs best, but since you’re new to this, I’ll make a recommendation—Squarespace. It’s toward the bottom of the list.
Hover Connect
Once you’ve made your determination, be sure to read the instructions carefully when they appear. By this stage, you’ve already purchased your domain, so if any of these services say it is unavailable, it is because you already own it.
Connect to Squarespace Prompt

Build Your Website

By this point, you should have purchased a domain and connected it with a website development platform. Explore the menus of the web builder you chose and start experimenting. Web development is something you learn by doing. It gets easier with time and you will learn that there are many ways to achieve a similar result.
You may choose at a later date to move to a different web builder because the current one doesn’t fit your needs or hire a professional to develop your website for you. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. Keep working at it and you’ll soon discover that it was easy all along! You can do this!

Squarespace Now You See Me Foundation
This is the Squarespace configuration panel for nowyoucme.org (Now You See Me Foundation), a non-profit that supports disabled athletes rebuild their lives after a tragic accident. If you love a good cause, I encourage you to check them out!

 

Categories
Web

Use Google Public DNS to Unblock Websites Blocked by OpenDNS

Use the following instructions to improve your browser speed and circumvent blocks by OpenDNS. Enjoy!

Microsoft Windows

DNS settings are specified in the TCP/IP Properties window for the selected network connection.

Example: Changing DNS server settings on Microsoft Windows 7

  1. Go the Control Panel.
  • Click Network and Internet, then Network and Sharing Center, and click Change adapter settings.
  • Select the connection for which you want to configure Google Public DNS. For example: To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, right-click Local Area Connection, and click Properties.
  • To change the settings for a wireless connection, right-click Wireless Network Connection, and click Properties.
  •  If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • Select the Networking tab. Under This connection uses the following items, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) orInternet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) and then click Properties.
  • Click Advanced and select the DNS tab. If there are any DNS server IP addresses listed there, write them down for future reference, and remove them from this window.
  • Click OK.
  • Select Use the following DNS server addresses. If there are any IP addresses listed in the Preferred DNS server or Alternate DNS server, write them down for future reference.
    • For IPv4: 8.8.8.8 and/or 8.8.4.4.Replace those addresses with the IP addresses of the Google DNS servers.
    • For IPv6: 2001:4860:4860::8888 and/or 2001:4860:4860::8844
  • Restart the connection you selected in step 3.
  • Test that your setup is working correctly; see Testing your new settings below.
  • Repeat the procedure for additional network connections you want to change.

Mac OS X

DNS settings are specified in the Network window.

Example: Changing DNS server settings on Mac OS 10.5

  1. From the Apple menu, click System Preferences, then click Network.
  • If the lock icon in the lower left-hand corner of the window is locked, click the icon to make changes, and when prompted to authenticate, enter your password.
  • To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select Built-In Ethernet, and click Advanced.Select the connection for which you want to configure Google Public DNS. For example: To change the settings for a wireless connection, select Airport, and click Advanced.
  • Select the DNS tab.
  • Click + to replace any listed addresses with, or add, the Google IP addresses at the top of the list:
    • For IPv4: 8.8.8.8 and/or 8.8.4.4.
    • For IPv6: 2001:4860:4860::8888 and/or 2001:4860:4860::8844
  • Click Apply and OK.
  • Test that your setup is working correctly; see Testing your new settings below.
  • Repeat the procedure for additional network connections you want to change.

Linux

In most modern Linux distributions, DNS settings are configured through Network Manager.

Example: Changing DNS server settings on Ubuntu

  1. In the System menu, click Preferences, then click Network Connections.
  • To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select the Wired tab, then select your network interface from the list. It is usually called eth0. Select the connection for which you want to configure Google Public DNS. For example:
    • To change the settings for a wireless connection, select the Wireless tab, then select the appropriate wireless network.
  • Click Edit, and in the window that appears, select the IPv4 Settings or IPv6 Settings tab.
  • If the selected method is Automatic (DHCP), open the drop-down and select Automatic (DHCP) addresses only instead. If the method is set to something else, do not change it.
    • For IPv4: 8.8.8.8 and/or 8.8.4.4.In the DNS servers field, enter the Google Public DNS IP addresses, separated by a space.
    • For IPv6: 2001:4860:4860::8888 and/or 2001:4860:4860::8844
  • Click Apply to save the change. If you are prompted for a password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  • Test that your setup is working correctly; see Testing your new settings below.
  • Repeat the procedure for additional network connections you want to change.