When it’s time to change hosting

For many years I had a web server on Rackspace.com and was quite happy. But keeping a Linux box up and running and malware free has finally taken the fun out of blogging. the other day I visited my other blog only to find Safari throwing up an unsafe site warning. Ugh.

It had been hacked only a few days before, but still. Enough already.

So I moved my sites to WordPress.com. I’ve used WordPress since 2004, and it’s always been a good product. Let’s hope their hosting is just as good!

The transition was fairly easy, although you may find some missing media here and there.

Finally got low carb and running to work together

For the first time ever, I’ve figured out how to be on a low carb diet and run at the same time. I’ve tried this in the past, and as soon as I did any exercise that took my heart rate very high I immediately felt sluggish and out of breath.

I just assumed that fat took too much oxygen to metabolize and my poor inefficient lungs couldn’t’ keep up. But it turns out that I just wasn’t eating enough. Eating enough on a low carb diet is hard – very quickly the awesomely rich and forbidden foods become tiring.

The key was to add some heavy cream to my coffee, adding some fat calories first thing in the morning. Turns out I wasn’t eating enough. I’ve always been a black-coffee guy, but I gave this a try to get rid of ketone flu, and it worked.

So, with that problem solved I have lost some weight while getting mileage in.

Now my pace isn’t getting much faster, but for now the weight loss is what I’m after.

Avoid These LinkedIn Skills Management Mistakes

As I’ve been updating my Linkedin profile, I’ve been thinking about how to best use the skills section. In the new skills people can endorse you for having skills. Here’s some mistakes I’d made, and my thoughts on how best to manage the skills area going forward.

  1. Listing every skill I had, instead of those that really define the value I bring.At first I listed every skill I had – why not? It’s all about SEO and search terms, right? The problem is that the result looked like a dog’s breakfast. It was distracting and didn’t paint a clear picture of the value I offer. I cut out the skills that weren’t core to who I am, and left those that were most relevant.
  2. Listing the skills based on experience instead of value.I’ve always had great computer skills, and listing those was easy and comfortable. They don’t, however, represent the higher value I can bring. So I’ve removed them and added the higher value skills I offer – like analysis, management, etc.
  3. Leaving in the skills others entered for me.One of the annoying features of Linkedin’s skills area is that a visitor can endorse you for a new skill that you haven’t decided to list. This can result in erroneous and off-brand skills being listed. While having someone else give an endorsement is always nice, the result when many do it can bring back the disorganization and dilute the message. Of course, if everyone is endorsing me for a skill I haven’t listed, I should reconsider.

LinkedIn continues to change and evolve, and each time it changes how the site is used and what techniques make it most effective.

LinkedIn Profile Review by Jason Alba: Best Money Spent in a Long Time

I took Jason up on his recent offer of a webinar on the new LinkedIn profiles, along with a profile critique, and it’s been the best money I’ve spent in a long time.

A lot of really smart people have written many times that one should not hesitate to get help when it’s necessary, and to pay for expert knowledge when it make sense. By nature, however, I am a loner, do-it-myself guy. This year I decided that I should change that, and hiring Jason was the first step.

I’ve used Linked in since late 2004. I was a member of the MyLinkedinPowerForum back when it existed under that name, and was one of the early members of LinkedinMilwaukee, back when it was called that. I was one of the firs to speak and be published on the subject of using LinkedIn for competitive intelligence. So I know a few things about LinkedIn. Unfortunately things change quickly, and in my current position my skills started to lag.

It was hard to pull the trigger and spend the money, but I learned things I never would have found on my own (partly due to my own blind spots) and also got a dose of motivation. It’s funny, because when I go to a seminar on the job I expect that in exchange for $500 to $3,000 I will spend most of my time bored except for the few really choice nuggets, and they’re worth it. If they’re worth it on the job, why not in my professional life?

Looking for a piano teacher in the Milwaukee area?

Last June my oldest daughter finally brought her requests for piano lessons to a crescendo, and I relented and started looking for a teacher. Finding the right combination of price, location, and availability was a bit tricky. I didn’t really want to driver her out to one of the larger music stores for lessons (that could get very expensive me, with my shopping tendencies) so I focused on finding someone working out of their home.

I found Phyllis Stopp, a substitute teacher, nurse, and piano teacher. Old enough to be wise, young enough to deal with young children (my daughter is 7) and disciplined in her approach. We’ve been going since June, and we’ve been very happy with her.

Her rates are very reasonable (less than half of some places) and she’s located in Oak Creek. You can reach her at 414-764-2166 (h) or 414-721-6032 (c).

Tracking personal stats on iPhone, with analysis

About the only way I can track any kind of diet or exercise regimen is if I track the stats as well. As long as there is some kind of visible progress, I can keep my motivation up. The trick is in finding a way to do this that doesn’t get in the way, and allows maximum flexibility for playing with the data later.

I always write it first in a notebook, out of habit and paranoia. I used to use a spreadsheet until it having a smart phone and an iPad meant I never had the latest version with me.

I looked around at other apps out there, and frankly, they’re all toys. Weightloss is an emotional topic, and unfortunately the associated software is designed to appeal to emotions. I want facts, and the ability to twist those facts into something I can call good news. I don’t need candy-colored fancy graphs and whatnot. I also want to calculate the lbs of fat and lean mass from percentages my scale gives me, and heartbeats per mile on my runs.

Turns out there’s a DataGlass app for iOS that talks to my database server (if you have a blog, you probably have one) and lets me enter and view data. I made a few views to do totals and weekly averages. The app even does basic graphs. Sweet!

Getting Rails Running

I haven’t posted much here lately (if we consider lately the last year or so 😉 because I’ve been focusing more effort on my two other sites, www.recordingthoughts.com and www.numberquotes.com. The latter is one that I actually have to write software for, and I’m developing the site in Ruby on Rails.

I originally wrote it in Rails 2, but after a while it was clear I would have to get it up to Rails 3. Between that, and the fact that the server that’s supporting all these sites is still on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (LTS means long term support, and the current version is 12.04 LTS) I figured I should start moving everything to the newer version of Ubuntu.

Yow! Installing Ruby, Rails, and the other various moving parts was no simple task. After trying several different methods and running into mysterious dependencies that wouldn’t resolve I ran across RailsReady.

Oh. My. God. After spending about 8 hours on the problem, to have it solved in just a few command lines is both extremely satisfying and frustrating. Why isn’t this technique more widely known?

If you’re trying to get Rails ( and ruby, RVM, Passenger, Git, etc.) running on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, use RailsReady.