Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Best Pizza in the World!

I know I'll get a lot of argument on this point but here goes...

Growing up in the Northeast Tri-state area, I had the opportunity to try some really awesome pizza (frequently known in Connecticut as apizza, pronounced, "Ah-beets") These pies are baked in wood fired, brick ovens that make the food taste better the older and better used they get. The best of these restaurants are typically in the Italian section of New Haven or Hartford, where it is possible to arrive in this country from Italy speaking no English and never really needing to learn it.

You may be familiar with Frank Pepe's, Tony & Lucile's, Sally's, or any one of dozens of places people will wait for hours in the snow to get a table for. My all-time fav is easily Modern Apizza on State Street. Opened in 1934 (a comparatively young oven) Modern makes the kind of pizza that I often dream about (seriously).

Since moving away almost 15 years ago, I've found new opportunities to sample very good pizzas from all over. "This is very good", my wife and I would agree, "but it's no 'Modern'".

This week we've been visiting friends and family in Connecticut, and we decided to make a pilgrimage to New Haven for food. Here was the test - was the pizza just what we remembered as being that good or was it actually that good? We ordered the fabled Clam & bacon (we like it with the non-traditional red sauce) and cold Elm City to wash it down...Yep, like they print on the receipt, "The best pizza in the World!"

Modern Apizza, 874 State Street, New Haven, CT, 203.776.5306 http://www.modernapizza.com/

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Big Easy Awaits

Given the recent cold snap in the North East, New Orleans has never looked better. I will be training VoIP users during the day, and hopefully getting some good meals in the evenings. I also have the challenge of finding a sports bar that will show the "other" Monday Night game.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Training vs.being trained

This week I'm attending a training class. Nothing unusual about this, but as a trainer myself, it got me thinking about the difference the two roles experience. Looking at the students from the front of the room, I can see the expressions on their faces and try to derive clues from this. Are they bored? Do they find the curriculum interesting, funny, annoying, etc.? It's important for me to figure this out quickly and make necessary adjustments, so that I can hold my student's attention and get them to learn the information they need to know.

As a student, I realized how difficult it is to pay attention. It doesn't matter how interesting a given speaker/educator/trainer is; after a few hours, it is genuinely exhausting! Why this is, I can only guess. Why is it so much more difficult to listen to someone speak, vs. actually speaking? I'm sure there is a reason, and perhaps finding out why will make me a better trainer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

Well, it had to happen sometime...someone needs training in Las Vegas. I know what you're thinking: "He's not teaching anyone anything, except possibly how to shoot craps." That's only partially true!

Seriously, I will be teaching a government entity how to use their new VoIP phone system. Not the sexiest thing, I'll admit, but very important. The switch to VoIP will save taxpayers large sums of money, and the new system is more useful, productive and believe it or not, fun. If ever there were a true "win, win", this is certainly it. From my perspective, a "win, win, win" because I get to see Vegas for the 1st time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Resume Advice?

I realize this is a bit off-topic but in these poor economic times, any useful job hunting advice is relevant, no?

Recently, a young man and a member of my national fraternity emailed me, looking for some assistance. He was now graduating and like everyone else, was finding it difficult to get a new gig. He sent me his resume and to put it mildly, needed work. The following are exerpts from the letter I sent him. As they used to say on Dragnet: "The names have been changed to protect the innocent".

Joe -

I'm sorry that all I can offer you is little more than

I've reviewed your resume, and I must say it does not put your best foot forward, based on your email to me. I have interviewed many people in my career and if I came across your resume, I would also be inclined to pass.
Here's why:

A resume is a marketing tool - a sales brochure for a product. That product is you. Your resume (and cover letter) is all the hiring officer has to go on. Based on that, ask yourself, "If I were buying job candidates, would I want a Bob Jones?" If the answer is "yes", go no further. I suspect however, you will agree your current version does not.

Do you go by Joseph F. X. Jones III or Joe Jones? Whatever it is, go with
that on the resume. While not dishonest, it does not tell people who and
what you are (the point of the resume).

Did you know hiring types rarely read the whole document? They usually get down about a third of the page before they use it to weed you out. Put yourself in their shoes: "I have 100 resumes on my desk for one job. how shall I do this? I'll make a process." That process is usually reading a bit to decide who to cut to bring the number of resumes to a more managible number, like 5 -10. Use this information to your advantage - put the most important and most interesting stuff in the top third of the document.

Your objective is obvious: "To get a job!" having said that, feel free to eliminate your Objective altogether. If you must have one, please don't limit yourself to the kind of work you feel you are suited for, like Public Relations - let the company you are applying to do that. What if its a marketing job? You've already taken yourself out of the running with your current objective.

Rather than an objective, you may want to lead with a bullet-pointed list of what you are skilled at, since that is what you are selling. What you lack in experience, you make up for in the fact that you are young and not supporting a family (read: willing to work longer hours for less pay than then current employees). You are a recent grad, hep to new business practices and methodologies like social media, learning management software like Blackboard, etc. You bring a lot to the table that companies know they need more of - no kidding. Believe it or not, guys over 30 don't know half that stuff - most of us don't tweet and REFUSE to text. Employers NEED these resourses to make money in the 21st century. Add A LOT MORE to your computer skills section.

Speaking of experience, why do you bury that stuff at the bottom? Please, lots more detail here and tell where you got it, with dates. You created and launched a business?!? This info should be front and center. Also, take out "Relevant" from "Experience", its redundant.

If you are still concerned your resume is lacking after making these changes, consider not sending one at all. There is no set format for resumes, you can do whatever you
want (need to do). Here's an idea - put the information in a letter saying
everything you would have said, like a resume with an intro and closing. You may
interest the hiring officer enough to make it to the next round, but be prepared
to follow up with a resume if requested to do so.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why E-readers Suck

First, full disclosure: I bought a Kindle - for my wife's birthday. She is a member of a book club where half the members use some form of e-reader; mostly Kindles, but there is an Ipad or two. She asked me for one, and this got me thinking..."I'm a gadget lover, why don't I wan't one of these things?"

Anyway, I bought here the new gen Kindle, and she dropped it. Now I know why I don't like them, and I'm sharing my list with you:

You can't share the books - Outside of the B&N Nook and some of the less popular devices, books cannot be loaned to others. This is not a small problem: Libraries are looking to loan ebooks, but those with Kindles and Ipads can't participate. Also, the fun of browsing bargain bins and used bookstores is completely lost with these devices. I can't see myself going through the online version of a store for a similar experience.

These things are expensive. Even with the new reduced prices, they still cost more than they should for the experience, if not for the electronics inside. This brings me to my next point...

Ebooks are expensive. Really, the cost of the books should be significantly cheaper than the printed versions. Why? All printing costs are eliminated. It cousts the same for the publisher to print 100 or 100 million. Instead, Amazon proudly charges $2 to $3 less for the ebook than the hardcover version. I think I'd pay the difference, so I can loan it to someone later.

Better Tech is on it's way. I'm not a big fan of the Ipad either, but it's infinitely more usable than a Nook or Kindle. I think there is a place for even better tablet computers, just not expensive and fragile readers.

Most importantly, E-readers break, books don't. Apparently, it doesn't take much of a drop (!). Like all electronics, they must be cared for, recharged, and kept dry.

I don't want you to think I hate these devices, on the contrary; there's a lot of cool tech there. I just think that they will never replace old fashoned books, at least until some of these problems are solved.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tacos in Tucson (dogs too)

So I'm in Tucson Arizona on business, and we're all hungry for dinner. The hotel we were camped out in recommended a nearby "low-key" but authentic Mexican "restaurant". The first time I tried to get there, I passed it by. After circling with GPS in hand, we found what was essentially a taco cart; hot dog stand; and between both, a window to order. We almost left but some unknown force drew us near. Was it hunger? Regardless, we were all very happy we stayed. That was the day I got my first taste of a Sonoran-style dog. Truly an experience I can't wait to repeat.

Flash to last Saturday - I turned on the tube and caught part of CBS' excellent Sunday Morning Program. Mo Rocca did a piece on Sonoran hot dogs so I had more than a passing interest. I was more than a little surprised when he interviewed the owner and patrons of the very same joint I had been to last month. What are the odds?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Carolina Q in Northern VA

OK...You know when you pass someplace so often that you don't really notice it's there? This happens to me more often then I'd like, particularly when it's someplace with decent BBQ.

I frequently ride my bike along the W&OD trail in Northern VA. This is an old railroad right of way turned into a park for walkers, cyclists, and any non-motorized vehicles. Along the way are a number of places to stop, some run by restaurants selling refreshments. One of these, Carolina Brothers BBQ in Ashburn, sells cold drinks & other stuff, and sometimes I stop. Well, today I came by during lunch, and I was hungry. I got even hungrier when I could smell the smokers out front.

I ordered the pulled pork with 2 sides for a very reasonable $7. Verdict:
Cole slaw - fairly tasteless. Slaw is either vinegar based or mayo based. This seemed to have neither.
Mac & cheese - quite good
Pork sandwich - wow! quite good, almost ordered another. It was juicy but not wet or undercooked. Full of flavor, particularly when paired with the sauce that was first rate.
The place was very clean, not fancy. It looked and smelled like a BBQ joint. I have only one complaint: This is NOT pit Barbecue, despite the sign on the door. Pit requires earth, as in a hole in the ground. The result is very different from what comes out of a steel smoker. Still, good Q.
Carolina Brothers Pit BBQ, 20702 Ashburn Road, Ashburn, Virginia 20147

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sprint's New Guarantee

In a recent article from RCR Wireless, Sprint/Nextel has unveiled a 30-day money-back guarantee for new wireless subscribers. It's a pretty bold move, and quite possibly a tactical one if: A) first quarter results will be less than Wall Street expected or B) Sprint/Nextel believes it is in fairly dire straights or C) Both. It will be interesting to see how customers, investors, and competition perceive this.
Sprint/Nextel unveils full-refund guarantee - RCR Wireless

Friday, March 5, 2010

Win for AT&T - Time Warner to change it's Ad claims

Time Warner had been saying some pretty nasty stuff about AT&T's IPTV product, U-Verse. This, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus. AT&T took TW to task after they claimed their HD service was "free" and AT&T was charging. In fact, AT&T does charge $10 per month for HD service, but as it turns out, TW does as well. This was hammered home on many Time Warner TV ads.

Another ad (falsely) claimed that AT&T's IP data slows down when their IPTV subscribers watch HD programming, causing a "collision" of signals. These same ads also claimed that customers are forced into long term contract when they complain about these slowdowns.

TW has "voluntarily" agreed to change their advertising.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Google shelling out big bucks for community Internet

Moments after I posted about new methods of financing for FTTH deployments, comes this: Google, who had announced they were looking for community gigabit (yes, gigabit) deployments, appears to be extremely serious. They have now announced that the amount of money will be in the range of "hundreds of millions of dollars", so there is now an unofficial scramble between communities.

To wit, this story from Gizmodo on Topeka, KS formally (and temporarily, hopefully) changing it's name to "Google" in order to attract Google to build out their project in that corner of Kansas. This is not the last we will hear about this, certainly.


Topeka, Kansas Changes Name in Attempt to Get Google's Gigabit Fiber

Should users finance Fiber to the home?

A recent article in Connected Planet askes, "If we’re paying for broadband deployment with federal taxes anyway, should we be able to buy our own fiber connections?". Ed Gubbins explains a new experimental model being deployed in Brigham City, Utah.: connectedplanetonline.com

Saturday, February 20, 2010

10 Very Useful Google Services You Should Know

From Lost in Technology: In only a few years Google has become the king of the Web. It went from a college research project to the most popular search engine that rakes in billions of dollars every year. They’ve expanded to mobile, OSs and, in the past few days, promising the fastest broadband Internet to thousands of homes in the States...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Moto splits in two

From Fierce IPTV: Motorola's announcement this week that it would split two firms--one a mobile devices and home solutions group, the other an enterprise mobility venture--seemed to catch the telecom industry by surprise. That's a nifty trick, considering the announcement had been rumored and expected since last fall.

But, the overall reaction, mostly a mix of approval and confusion, with just a enough disappointment to spice things up, reflects that many Motorola observers had assumed a different outcome. Specifically, a good number of them had assumed that the company's set-top box unit (the "home" part of its existing Home and Networks Mobility unit) would be sold to a competitor or a private equity firm.

Instead, Motorola, under the split to be completed by early next year, is matching its STB solutions with its mobile phones products, which are looking somewhat revitalized by Android, and its cable modem offerings. Though the effort has confused some observers, it aligns various types of broadband consumer electronic devices under the same roof. It wasn't always the case, but increasingly all of these devices are moving both communications traffic and content traffic, and in some cases might being doing so between one another. They may even start using some of the same technologies. In the consumer devices firm, for example, you could see benefits such as mobile phone experts sharing Android knowledge with STB experts. Creating a consumer devices firm brings that part of Motorola into greater focus, an idea that brings the company closer to its roots and to an expectant future at the same time.

Dan's take: As mentioned in the article, Moto has revived it's sagging cell phone business by adopting Android as the operating system of choice. At the Mobile World Congress this week, Ericsson unveiled a remote that runs Android. Could Motorola be far behind with their own version?

For more:
Light Reading Cable has this report

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is 4G, anyway?

This is one of the best explanations of the new wireless technologoes I've seen. It explains in laymen's tems LTE, WiMAX, HSPA+ etc. and why you want it.
Gizmodo - Giz Explains: Why WiMax and LTE Wireless 4G Data Will Blow Your Mind

Reports of the death of the PSTN greatly exaggerated

Richard Martin, the Editor of VON whom I've quoted before in this blog, discusses the death of the PSTN as we all move to VoIP based solution. He mentions the AT&T's 2009 filing of a 'comment' to the FCC suggesting a timeline to sunset to the PSTN. Martin argues that this is not only premature, but wrong-headed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Enjoy my new video

I made a new video! I'm always trying to explain what I do in an interesting way. Although this doesn't come close, it's a fun attempt. It's short and fun:

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Clearwire In No Rush To Test "WiMax 2"

From Broadbandreports.com: According to sources at the IEEE, the 802.16m Mobile WiMax standard should be finalized sometime in the middle of this year. According to the WiMax forum, the technology can deliver 120 Mbps downstream and 60 Mbps upstream by using a 4X2 MIMO antenna configuration with a single 20 MHz TDD channel -- with even faster speeds possible using more sophisticated antenna configurations. However, according to Clearwire, the States' biggest Mobile WiMax carrier, they aren't in any hurry to test or deploy the technology, and company executives get vague when asked for a solid date:
Clearwire's CTO, John Saw, told Unstrung last week that the Kirkland, Wash.-based operator is watching the specification and won't be rushing to test the technology. "I don't think it's going to be this year. I think it's going to be much more likely 2011," says Saw of any trial timeline. Saw thinks that 2012 is "possible" for commercial deployment of 802.16m. One of the chief benefits of the new specifications would be more "spectrally efficient" 20MHz channels -- as opposed to current 10MHz channels -- for delivering voice, video, and data.
Samsung and Russian WiMax operator Yota are already testing the technology overseas, and Yota hopes to offer service sometime this year. Still, serious deployment of "WiMax 2" isn't expected until 2011 -- right around the time LTE technology will begin ramping up here in the States courtesy of Verizon and AT&T.

My thoughts: Clearwire really has no reason to rush. From what I hear, they are deploying 802.16e WiMAX base stations that are upgradeable to 802.16m this summer. Remember too, that they are currently the only 4G game in town! When LTE is finally deployed, perhaps a different situation will emerge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Power meters and WiMAX

I don't usually veer from my usual topics but this falls right in line with the forward thinking, hard-hitting psudo-journalism this blog is known for! I'm speaking of course, of smart meters.

If you read this blog, I assume you've heard about smart meters from several other sources. For those who haven't, A SmartMeter is an innovative and advanced utility meter that records a business or consumers electricity useage in greater detail than current conventional meters. As the replacement for the current electric grid is being thought through, a large part of that will involve the smart meter.

...Which brings me to my point. If power companies, individuals and Google want to monitor power use, bandwidth needs to be involved. Looking at all sources (satellite, 3G wireless, xDSL, etc.) the one that seems to make the most sense appears to be WiMAX.

These two technologies are a great fit, considering a number of logistical and geographic parameters.

Look for 2010 to be big year for WiMAX - Smartmeters.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cox's 1st IPTV deployment

Remember that new Citycenter that was in the news? This was a huge gamble (no pun intended) by Las Vegas to build a massive new complex in spite of the current recession. Not it appears that this is the site if Cox's first IPTV deployment.

IPTVis already provided by another player (again sorry for the pun) in Las Vegas - CenturyLink, (formally Embarq). I wonder how that deal went down.

Multichannel News - Cox Serves IPTV To Las Vegas CityCenter Complex

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The end of TV (as we know it)

Microsoft unveiled it's new Mediaroom 2.0 at CES. This isn't the first time we've seen a "TV everywhere" type application, but because it's coming from MS, there is (I assume) lots of muscle behind it.

Meadiaroom makes use of the cloud to deliver content to multiple devices including PCs, TVs, XBox 360s and mobile phones. Microsoft will make it available to operators. For example, AT&T will be using it as part of their U-Verse service.

Microsoft, AT&T tackle TV Everywhere - von.com