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Home  > Static Cure (November 2007)
Amy - November 26, 2007 at 6:59 AM

All I want for Christmas is a gadget


What's on your wish list this Christmas?

From mp3 players to cellphones that allow you to watch TV and do all sorts of crazy things! You've probably got a gadget or two on your wish list.

As a rule: it has to be small, has lots of mega-pixels, titanium shell, with a gps, bluetooth, with a touch screen, oh and can you make it tie my shoes too?

But, I'm not sure that I can handle all of that in one tiny package. Do my gadgets really help me out? I don't need to be able to watch TV or surf the net 24-7, or do I? I hate to say it, but the more technology I get myself into, the easier it is for me to get bored. When, all of a sudden, I'm not online, listening to my iPod, or "plugged-in" somehow, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. Maybe this Christmas I won't do much at all. Maybe I'll start reading more books and ask for a puppy instead of an iDog (hint hint).

Although, I have to admit, if you still want some gadgets for Christmas, there are a lot of quirky ones out there that are sure to make the special geek in your life happy.
ThinkGeek has a lot of neat stuff. The USB Rocket Launcher is one of my favorites. Who said work had to be dull?

Well, I guess I don't need the ultimate gadget for Christmas, but maybe I still want a USB Snowbot. Who wouldn't? :)

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Clint - November 25, 2007 at 4:27 AM

The Dangers of a Startup

One of my most favorite magazines is Inc. It is a publication targeted primarily at small business owners and entrepreneurs and they do an outstanding job of mixing articles about people that are Silicon Valley business owners like Mark Zuckerberg and others with traditional business owners like Bobbi Brown of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Norm Brodsky who has owned a litany of service businesses in the past. The most recent issue of Inc. featured the co-founder of PayPal, Elon Musk who you might also know from the Tesla Roadster, Solar City, and SpaceX. Elon goes on and on about his current endeavors and how they are bound to change the world but the one part of the article that caught my eye was the section on how his very first startup company lost all control after the first round of venture capital.

Whoa! This wasn't what I had envisioned going on in Silicon Valley! I thought it was all ideas and money being bandied about on a daily basis. Meetings over Starbucks and offices full of beanbags. I never envisioned that the business side of technology companies would get in the way of groundbreaking work. Apparently that is the case when Elon had the brilliant idea to match up one company's maps that he published online and combine it with a standard telephone directory. What was going to be a brilliant platform for selling advertising turned into software for newspapers that never got off the ground. What happened? Why did the vision get lost?

It came down to something as simple as losing control. Once the venture capital came in the man who came up with the original idea and software only owned about 7% of the company when it was all said and done. The same thing happened to Friendster when it was finally getting big the main focus was lost by the "responsible adults" who came in to manage all of the VC money. What does this teach us about tech? It isn't all fun and happy times running around with millions of dollars and changing the world, unfortunately. There is still a very serious business side that must be tended to so if you are a tech major with a great idea, might I suggest a minor in business?

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Amy - November 19, 2007 at 8:49 AM

Turkey Myth Busted

Does eating turkey make you drowsy after a Thanksgiving feast? Many people believe that consuming turkey makes you sleepy, since it contains high levels of an amino acid known as tryptophan. Tryptophan eventually makes serotonin, which has a calming, sleep-inducing effect on the brain.
Relating the consumption of turkey and sleepiness is a myth. However, if you eat turkey on an empty stomach, the tryptophan could have a sedative effect. After feasting, you won't experience any side effects of the tryptophan, unless you eat a 40 pound turkey! Even then, you might not get sleepy. One thing to keep in mind is that pork, chicken, and cheese also contain tryptophan, but the consumption of them doesn't increase sleepiness.
It is normal to feel sleepy after eating large amounts of food, especially after an intake increase in carbohydrates. Consuming carbohydrates causes an increase in insulin and blood sugar to compensate for the increase in food.

References:
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55219
http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2005/12/turkey-and-sleep-myth-or-fact.html

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Clint - November 18, 2007 at 7:02 AM

Advice before you get started



Starting out in your first job is going to be difficult enough just coming out of college. First, you are going to have to deal with a whole new set of rules and standards that weren't present in college and are most likely unfamiliar in your new setting. Second, doing so without guidance and almost no internal business compass can be potentially damaging to your career. So how do you survive the first few months in your job without a mentor or much experience? Surprise, it doesn't come from a web site or another blog, it's a book that was written back when most of us were cracking open milk boxes in grade school.

45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy and How to Avoid Them is a great way to keep your job and out of your boss's hair. I've read it and there are dozens of things that are completely honest and innocent things that I would have done without thinking about that would have driven my boss up the wall. If anything you'll be more conscientious of how you conduct yourself at the office Christmas party, how you dress, and crying at work. While I can't say that I am guilty of any of the preceding I did become much more aware of what it was I was doing around the office once I read this book. Granted, there will be a time when you can drive your boss up the wall just for the heck of it, but personally I am a long way away from doing that.

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Amy - November 13, 2007 at 8:22 AM

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Hold up here! There seems to be an increasing trend...and I'm not sure I like it!

Why is it that more and more job descriptions have programming languages and applications I know nothing about?!

SAP, Java, Oracle, ERP, J2EE, SQL....and the like.

If you've been looking for a job lately, you know what I'm talking about. Programming isn't just for Computer Science majors anymore. I get it, we all need to be up to speed on our programming languages and different applications that are being used in the workplace. The problem is I'm not sure that our professors know about these things or are capable of teaching them.
What do you think? What kind of things are you learning?
When I was in school, I was taught visual basic, some excel applications, Autodesk Inventor (CAD), and GPSS (a "dead" simulation software). College is preparation for industry, right?
So, tell your Industrial Advisory Board* that you want to learn what they are using everyday.


*Industrial Advisory Board - A group of select individuals from industry (typically, but not always, engineering managers) that serve as a liaison between the students and the faculty of your department.

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Clint - November 11, 2007 at 7:09 AM

Millenials

It looks like our generations is now being referred to as the "Millennials". This refers to the kids born from 1980 to 1995, most of which are graduating college or soon to be out on the job market. There are a lot of stereotypes that go with each generation; the Greatest Generation saved the world. The Baby Boomers raised us and started the fast food culure, and Generation Y helped usher in the electronic age. How will our generation be seen? So far not in a flattering light.

Now if you took the time to read the three pages of Morley Safer's (foxy man eh?) old fogied rant on how us "youngun's have been coddled from cradle to graduation" you'll start to get an idea that many of the older hiring adults view us as soft and difficult to manage. This works against you and for you in a manner of ways. First the negatives, the preconceived notion will be that you aren't able to show up on time, are only good for technology related issues, and that you'll ask for things you don't deserve, like a raise. Of course this comes from our suspected "everybody wins" upbringing and lack of experience in the workplace. To the recruiter or manager you are about as useful as a warm bucket of spit.

But being a Millennial works for you in a number of ways, if you pitch it right. You can constructively construe your tech savvy and youthful inexperience as a pathway for creative problem solving. Not so good if you are in accounting but great if you work in logistics or a field where thinking on your feet is paramount. You can also surprise your interviewer by brining in a story that exemplifies your hard nose work ethic. For example, I would drop my 16 hour days in a law office when I was trying to get the firm's filing organized and caught up after a clerk left. You can also bring up a time when your parents differentiated themselves from others and did their best to mold your character and bring you up in a better and different way than other parents did. Like them taking away your "participant's baseball trophy" because your best effort wasn't good enough.

The job market is brutal and tough to break into. I went through 20+ interviews until I had my first job offer because it is difficult to make yourself stand out in a crowd of several hundred from different colleges. Do your darndest though to shed the Millennial image and be your own person rather than a stereotype.

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Amy - November 5, 2007 at 9:48 AM

Managing the Management

What if when you get your first job, you find yourself all alone? What do you do when your manager doesn't manage?

Coming right out of college, it can be difficult to cope with the fact that not everything is as straight-forward as it is in school. Get Ready.

There aren't any directions, there is no defined problem, there is no assignment. You have a job and part of your job is figuring out what you are supposed to be doing. Some companies have extensive training programs for new-hires, some have teams that you work with, or maybe you'll get lucky and have a really great manager that will "spoon-feed" you your work. That's not likely.

I had a professor a couple of years ago that had a great sense of humor. He assigned us a project at the beginning of the semester and gave us a due date. He never mentioned anything about it again. Part of the lesson involved was to teach us that we aren't always given a rubric or an outline. In the "real world", you have to go figure out what you're supposed to be doing by asking questions and confronting your "manager". Needless to say, the class was furious, but I think we all learned a very important lesson.

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Clint - November 5, 2007 at 7:33 AM

Things I've learned from my job hunt... after having my job

- No matter how much you want the job nobody is going to give it to you based on desire alone. It is going to take experience, knowledge, and the willingness to learn to land that dream job

- Everything matters. When an HR position has to interview fifteen similar people for the same job your mismatched tie and bungled question will put you out of contention

- Standing out is the best thing you can possibly do in the interview and in your job. Distinguish yourself as a niche player or as the go to guy or gal for certain situations

- Keep your expectations realistic. Very few people get their ideal job right out of college so be realistic with the interviewer and what it is that the position will offer

- Be able to relate. In the interview and in your job you will be the young gun and probably nowhere near the age of your supervisor so the best thing to do will be to try and find common ground with your employer and the person interviewing you

- Find a mentor. This one mostly applies to once you are in the job but having a mentor can be incredible for your career. I have a mentor in another department who I am hoping will help me transfer out of my current position into a high paying role that I will enjoy more

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