Feb 14
Trailblazers in life… and tech
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Linux, Tech, windows | icon4 February 14, 2009| icon3No Comments »


I usually try and go for a walk in nearby woods at the weekend for some exercise. We had some snow here a few days back and the main track through the wood (at the bottom of the picture above) was quite slushy today with footprints everywhere. But what I noticed was that, in quite a few places, people had obviously ventured off on unmarked narrow tracks here and there. It was only because of the tracks in the snow that I realized people had been trailblazing and discovering new routes through the woods. I took a mental note and decided to try some of these tracks on future walks.

Windows weekly But this got me thinking. Some people are trailblazers in tech too. Boldly going were no man has gone before, so to speak. By a coincidence, the podcast I was listening to as I walked through the woods was Windows Weekly with Paul Thurrott. It struck me that he is one of the trailblazers in tech, constantly working with and writing about new developments in Windows, and currently focusing on Windows 7. I find he always talks with great authority on Windows and imparts great advice and tips in this podcast. Well worth subscribing to. I always take careful note of his advice and try to follow as best I can. Incidentally, he has been talking about ‘doing more with less’  lately. His tip in WW94 is simplify, simplify, simplify and I really must follow his advice. I confess, I am a bit of a packrat, and have finally made a decision to ‘let go’ a lot of the ‘baggage’ I’ve carried from years gone by. And clear a lot of software from my PC that I never use. It’s time for a big clear out.

So who are my other tech trailblazers?  People I sit up and listen to when they speak and whose advice I try and follow. Well I can think of two others. The first would be Carey Holzman from Computer America. I’ve talked about Carey before in an earlier post. The second would be Knightwise; again I’ve mentioned him before – been listening to his podcasts for a couple of years now and his trailblazing in Linux has got me started with this OS. Knightwise tells you ‘how to tune technology into your everyday life and let tech work for you’. Hopefully with his advice, over this year I’ll be able to take my Linux Ubuntu install up to and beyond what I currently have with Windows XP. I’ve been on the Windows trail for about 20 years now and I’m looking forward to exploring further along the Linux trail.

So who are your tech trailblazers, or indeed life trailblazers? Whose at the cutting edge of tech? Whose words do you eagerly listen to and whose advice do you gladly follow because you know it’s sound advice. I’d love to know. Drop me a comment below.

Feb 8
Tracking President Obama’s promises
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Net at night

Heard about this site on the Net at Night podcast a couple of weeks ago. The Obameter from the St Petersburg Times is tracking the US President’s 510 campaign promises detailing promises kept, broken, stalled, in the works and compromised. Well worth bookmarking and following.

obama promises

After almost 3 weeks in office, 7 promises have been kept and 1 broken. Of course, the interpretation of whether a promise is kept or broken differs for people of different political persuasions and may also depend on the particular political bias of the publication. However, I think it’s a great idea to help track the President’s progress over the next 4 years and make him more accountable. I only hope that the UK media can adopt a similar approach after our next general election, whenever that may be.

Feb 5

On Twitter, you can basically tweet personal stuff, or useful content, or you can answer other tweets, promote your blog posts or retweet what you’ve read. Most of you who have seen my Twitter profile will know that I usually tweet or retweet useful web links and I just wanted to take a minute to explain why.

At first sight, this might seem a boring thing to do, endlessly passing on a site here and a site there. I decided from the start to tweet useful content and tweeting web links seemed the best way to do it. Before I started in Twitter, I was, and still am, a big fan of RSS feeds. I currently have 145 RSS subscriptions in Google Reader focusing on Tech and Blogging. I realised that a lot of people were blogging in their spare time, putting in a lot of time and effort to bring me excellent free content. Having started this blog, I now know how much work is involved. I felt that filtering and tweeting the best web links on a daily basis would be a good way to pass on useful content and also give something back to all those bloggers by hopefully directing people to their sites.

I actually enjoy passing on useful information – I did this for years on tech forums before Twitter came along.

I don’t actively go out and look for followers these days and haven’t done so for some time, so I know that it’s the content which is driving people to follow me. Okay, my numbers aren’t huge, but at least I know that my followers aren’t just follow-backs who haven’t looked carefully at my profile. They’ve all seen a useful tweet or retweet, hopefully checked my profile and decided to follow me.

With a bit of luck, they’ll all like my blog posts as well and subscribe to the RSS feed (at the top right of this page!), so in the end, the efforts I put into microblogging will hopefully be rewarded with a group of people who want to read my blog.

On the chance that some of you have not arrived here from Twitter, I try and tweet the best of what I see in my RSS feeds each day – usually 4 or 5 tweets. This can be anything from social networking, blogging tips, SEO, CSS and WordPress plugins through to PC troubleshooting, PC utilities, freeware and on to Ubuntu. Things I’m interested in.

If you’re new to Twitter or may have missed some of my old tweets, please go back and look at my Twitter profile. There’s a complete record of my tweets there. Retweet anything you see there if you like. And follow me on Twitter if you like the content.

Useful links (added 21 February 2009):

Being a Useful Twitter User

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