Yes, My Blog Does Have a Personality

I have only recently started blogging and there are times when I question my sanity and wonder who would want to read my blog posts. Well, the logical side of me installed Google Analytics code on my site to watch the traffic and see if anyone was reading my posts. I have to say that validation is slowly in coming as I check the reports and see the number of readers climbing. In fact, after last weekend's post about "Sunken Treasure" and my forgotten memories, I noticed some traffic from LA and West Hollywood. (Thanks @Wilw). I see the numbers grow after I post my weekly blog update. But I still have lingering thoughts about my writing style and if it is too technical or boring. I also can't tell if people are reading the first sentence and then madly running away to wash their eyes at an emergency eye wash station.

Anyway, as I was reading though some tweets from favorite that I follow, I came across this great tweet:

@bladenews Found something fun. What is your blogs' personality type? Ours was ENTJ.

I just had to check it out and was I amazed at my blog's personality.

This is from the website

ESTP - The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.


This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.

The site also lists books and artists that I might find interesting. I know, you are all saying I don't read anything but technical manuals. That maybe true but I am currently in the middle of Wil Wheaton's "Sunken Treasure". After that, it is on with the list and recommendations that I am getting from the Twitterverse and maybe the books recommended by typealyzer. My goal is to have at least a 3:1 ratio of technical vs fiction/nonfiction books to read.

This revelation came as a surprise to me. It was eerily accurate. I guess my blog has a personality that closely matches me (the writer/author). So now that I have traffic and a blog with personality, I need to work on moving brain activity from the left side to the right side or at least to the middle of my brain.

What is your blog's personality type?

Can I get a Little Sign? Let's Communicate

The inspiration for this post came to me yesterday evening after Wil Wheaton tweeted (follow Wil here) that his book "Sunken Treasure" was available (via Lulu) for purchase as a PDF download. Earlier in the week I had listened to his interview during Tweet-a-thon 2009 and was impressed with what he had to say and wanted to read the book. Well, I was pretty quick to download and start reading. I probably downloaded the book within 15 minutes of his first tweet. Yes, I'm a bonafide geek and got the tweet on my iPhone, ordered, processed and downloaded using my iPhone.

Just a little side track here... If you are looking for an interesting book to read (actually, a really great, funny and inspiring one at that), I highly recommend you either download the PDF or buy the paperback You can get it here

Anyway, I was reading his book and got to the story "Remember This" where he talks about an encounter with some female fans at a restaurant. The young ladies starting signing the song "Stand By Me" after one of them recognized Wil from that movie. I laughed out loud imagining them excitedly signing the words to the song with wild and animated hand gestures. A long distant memory came trickling into my consciousness of a time I was riding the bus home from work one hot summer day. All the windows on the bus were cracked open in the hope of getting some fresh air flowing through the bus. The sun was too bright for my eyes, causing me to squint as I made my way to the back of the bus. As I threaded my way down the isle muttering "pardon me, excuse me" to no one in particular, I could hear people talking about their plans for the evening and upcoming weekend.

This was long before the days of the iPod when people would casually engage in idle chit chat or sit and stare out the window in silence, watching the streetscape slowing change on the winding path home. I preferred to sit in the back of the bus and on this jammed packed ride I was standing in the back, hanging on to a pole beside two young ladies seated on the side bench talking to each other using sign language. I could tell that they were arguing very passionately about something by the way they were wildly gesturing with their hands and the emotional and
angry expressions on their faces. I imagined they were arguing over a guy and were desperate to determine who he loved more.....

All these thoughts made me think about what that same ride would be like today, with cell phones, text messaging and iPods and how different it might be. Would the two young ladies be furiously texting each other rather than using sign language? I don't know about you but signing is a form of communication that I don't see much of anymore and I think it is due to the widespread use of text messaging. I kind of miss that third person view of sign language interaction and conversation and the glimpse into a different world of non verbal communication. We live in a world that is already crammed with too much expressionless communication, thanks to text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and all the other forms of text based social communications.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and got back to reading "Sunken Treasure". I reread the paragraph a couple of times and wondered if what Wil had meant to say was sing instead of sign. This made me really laugh again thinking about this story and if it had happened with today's youth who clutch their phones and furiously text rather than talk. Would Wil have reacted the same way? probably not. It was at this point that I realize he probably meant to say that these star struck fans were singing rather than signing. This is where the ideas, words and inspiration for this post came rushing to my left brain as I started to collect my thoughts and write this post.

A part of my job involves reviewing and editing way too many technical manuals and I see a lot of typos that are created by the auto correct feature embedded in word processing programs. I had to assume that the word "sign" was one of those "thank you technology" errors that we miss from time to time. How is the software suppose to know what we meant to say? I've trained my left-brain to spot these errors in order to prevent someone from misreading the printinged documentation which could lead to costly mistakes. but in Wil's case, it was LOL funny.

I fired off a quick email to Wil mentioning this and hoped he would clarify the whole sign vs sign thing for me. I wasn't holding my breath or anything. I have done this for other technical writers before and never expected a reply. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I opened my inbox to see that the email was not an auto response from Wil but an actual reply. Wil was quick to respond to my query. His answer was short but as I read it, I could imaging the cursing upon realizing that everyone missed such a simply typo. His words made me lmao!.If I was drinking a glass of milk, I would have been spitting it out in laughter. Then I realized, as I read his response, just how much his story and my distant memories resonated with me (signing, not singing). This, and Wil's reaction to the typo gave me the inspiration to blog about it.

I can honestly say that if you enjoy reading something other than technical books and blog posts, order your copy of "Sunken Treasure" today. It just might inspire you to write more and get creative with your posts. Every book you read will expand your thoughts, and, like me, bring back fond memories from times long forgotten. I hope as I continue to writing, my right-brain will take over and I might be an inspiration to someone else.

Who has inspired you today?

Adventures in a Hardware Store

Today I set out with the goal of buying some new power tools. The old set of Ryobi cordless tools have long exceeded their life expectancy. The batteries are dead and the tools don't have the features that want in my tools. So off my wife and I went in search of a good deal.
I am always interested in the technology that goes into new cordless tools, batteries, chargers, motors and ergonomic design. I was on the lookout for not just power tools, but tools that had some cool, new technology integrated into their design and function.
We found ourselves walking up and down the power tool isle (at a major hardware retail outlet) looking at the various manufacturer's tools when a great deal presented itself. I love looking at tools and I enjoy it even more when those tools are on sale. I've been keeping my eye on the newer 18V & 24V volt tools, patiently waiting for them to go on sale. Well today I spotted the Ryobi 18V lithium 4 piece combo kit with the auto shift drill on sale. These tools are just loaded with new technology and the sale price was too good to pass up the chance to replace my old worn out cordless tools with new, feature laden cordless tools. Here in Canada, specifically Edmonton, (at the nameless retail outlet), the price is $349. Today, the displayed sale price was $199 (wow). I could only see a single box left on the shelf and quickly picked it up (I didn't want to miss out on this deal). In order to ensure that I was getting a good price and not something that they had reduced to make way for a newer product, I wanted to find a sales person to explain (to me) the details of the various tools in the box.
Now, finding someone can be a challenge (if they are really busy). I've learned that the most efficient way to find an answer is to take a picture and ask the closest sales person that isn't busy with other customers or ask at the customer service desk. So I snapped a few pictures and went off in search of a sales associate.
I eventually found a tool specialist and asked him about the tools and why they were on sale. To my surprise, he pointed out that the 4 piece combo kit that I had grabbed wasn't on sale and then walked me back to the power tools to point out a different set that was on sale. I was taken aback as the big sign hanging on the wall display in front of the tools showed the price of $199 / regular $349.
I was very surprise with this statement and thought that he was mistaken. I told him that I would take the new tools to the till and have them scan the box and verify the price.
The young lady at the till scanned the box and told me that the price would be $349 (plus G.S.T). I showed her the picture (on my iPhone) that I had snapped and asked if she could clarify why they were listed as being on sale but not showing up that way in the system. She immediately called a manager over to ask for clarification. The manager didn't even pause for a second before telling me that someone had made an error with the sign but that they would honor the price as displayed on the display. At this point in time, the sales associate who was assisting me, arrived at the till with the sign from the tool display. He was trying to explain that the sign was for a different model number (for the older tools) and not the tools that I had at the till. I felt sorry for him at this point in time as he was told that he had made a mistake and was then asked to correct the error before (I'm assuming) anyone else saw the sign.
Thank you Bonnie, wherever you are (name changed to protect the innocent). You truely inspired me today with your people management skills and the calm, cool and professional way in which you dealt with the entire situation.
We walked out of the store with a new set of tools, ready to tackle our home renovation projects with our brand new 18 volt lithium powered tools.
All of this reinforces in me what affects a mistake can have and the ripple effect that it causes. Policies and procedures have to be followed to avoid mistakes, which reminds me: I just have to work on my measure twice, cut once policy and procedure.
Have you used your iPhone or other cell phone to help you get a good deal on some cool new toy or gadget? Drop me any comments or suggestions for a future blog post.

Volunteering Can Make A Difference

Last Friday I got a call from the Canadian Blood Services. They were looking for a donor match to donate blood platelets. Now I have been a regular donor for several years and I go as frequently as time permits. Now I am not a big, long time donor. I've only donated 26 times but to me it is the fact that I go as regularly as I can and donate that matters to me.
Well, anyway, I got this call asking if I could donate. I normally get these calls if I haven't come in for a couple of months. Well, I only donated a couple weeks ago and my next appointment was not for several more weeks so I was wondering what the call was all about. Turns out, I am a match for a person who has the same blood type and had an urgent need for my platelets. To make things even more exciting, I am one of only two people in the whole city that are a match for this person. What an amazing call to get on a Friday afternoon.
I was only to happy to crawl onto a comfy sofa chair for my 2 hour donation (yes it takes that long for me). The nurses wrap me in warm blankets and heater packs to keep me warm. I can watch movies or TV shows on the LCD TV hanging in front of me. I can read or even sleep. I usually take my laptop and iPhone and listen to music while I review courseware (student guides, etc).
After the donation, I asked one of the nurses how they would be using my platelets. Turns out, there is someone who is undergoing chemo treatments and they need my platelets to help them with the treatment process. I am not very technically knowledgeable when it comes to the medical terms so I don't understand all the medical jargon, but I am thrilled that I was able to really make a difference with my donation today.
If you haven't signed up to donation blood, plasma or platelets, consider what kind of a difference that donation and volunteer time will have on other people in your community.
BTW: I hate needles and the whole process of giving blood. I can't stand it. Now you ask "Why do you go and do this so often". Well, it was my New Year's resolution a couple of years ago. I always say "Play hard or go home". My resolutions are the same as my motto. Giving blood platelets on regular basis is a very rewarding experience and it helps me to get over my aversion to needles.
Have you thought about donating blood? If not, give it a try. It is not that difficult and very rewarding.
Here is a link to a larger photo of the machine. I will take more pictures the next time I donate (March 2). I will also try and include so photos of me donating (if I can convince a nurse to take the picture with my iPhone).

Twitter and Social Communication

Recently I’ve been swept up in the Twitter storm. Late last year I decided that, as part of my New Year’s resolution, I would get more active online with a blog, twitter and Facebook. My primary goal was to increase my awareness of interacting socially with these tools. After a couple of weeks of Twitter, I’ve come to realize that it is more than what I first imagined.
If you use Twitter and understand what followers and following is all about and know what RT@karlkovacs means, then you can stop reading and move on to other thing (such as watching another amazing video on
Twitter is a social messaging application that allows you to follow other people’s tweets (or rants). A tweet is a 140 character text message that you post for your followers to read. It is an almost real time way to follow friends, family or people that you find interesting. I have found that twitters fall into one of three different categories. The first is someone who twitters about their whereabouts during the day. The second is a person who twitters about what they find interesting and are raising awareness about issues. The third is someone who is trying to reach a large audience with a marketing message. A good example would be then presidential candidate Barack Obama (23,971 following & 227,757 followers). An example of a bad twitter is someone who advertises that I can make $15,000 a month and has zero (0) following. I personally fall into the second category.
If you want to start using twitter, it is as easy as signing up using your email address and password. Any replies to your tweet will be forwarded to your email informing you of a new tweet. I’m not going to get into all the desktop applications that you can install for twitter, but I will tell you I have more than one twitter application installed on my desktop and iPhone.
The people that are getting on twitter range from the inane to the insane. In between that, you can find celebrities that are now on twitter. Here is a compilation of the top 50 celebrities on twitter ( My favorites are the celebrities who have something to say and are using twitter with a twist of humor. I have to disagree with some of the names on the list, specifically who isn’t on the list. I guess the author didn’t spend much time looking as he didn’t mention Barack Obama (he is a celebrity..right?) or Ashton Kutcher.
Now, the etiquette of tweeting is a whole different story. Do you want to build a following? Are you interesting in keeping that following? I found a great tweeter who summarized the top 15 things you should (and shouldn’t) do. He has promised to blog about them soon so check him out on twitter (sethsimonds). I don’t have a massive following (I only just started) but I have learned that I want to avoid tweeters who are just out to market a product and I don’t want to offend people to the point where they are blocking me. This means using common sense and having fun.
Another great thing to do is to explore and check out everyone on twitter from the celebrity (mrskutcher), to the talented artist (AFineFrenzy) the news commentator (andersoncooper) and the athlete (lancearmstrong). I am leaving out a huge range of people to follow but I don’t have enough room in my blog to mention all the people that you can follow.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of Twitter, you can add to your repertoire and add photos, videos and blogs to your list. Oh, and one last point. Twitter is limited to 140 characters so if you have a URL that you want to tweet, use a service like TinyURL to shorten those really long URLs to give you more characters for your tweet.
Happy tweeting.
Update to the Blog:
I found an excellent article by Warren Whitlock on how to grow relationship on Twitter.