1.  The first thing that I learned is that I cannot run 200 miles by myself.   It took a team to do so.
  2. Not everyone has to run to benefit the relay team.  The importance of a driver who know where they are going cannot be understated.  If there is no one at the relay hand off point, it creates a bevy of problems. 
  3. There is not as much support as in other races.  When a runner is out there, it is up to the team to provide water.  Our driver was knowledgeable enough where he would meet us at a midway point in the run and have a water ready.
  4. Those squirt bottles that strap to your hand; they are awesome!
  5. I brought about a gallon of water and some weight gainer protein along.  It worked well for long van rides when I needed some calories.
  6. Practice running at night before the race.  Bouncing lighting is distracting.  Poor lighting will make you step on or run into something.
  7. Know the timing of the race.  Know when your breaks are.
  8. Sleep whenever possible.  Note that getting eight hours may not be an option.
  9. Teams are on different schedules.  You may want to grab a tent and sleep away from everyone else just to get some peace and quiet.
  10. Do it!  It is a battle that is like no run I’ve ever been in.  The people running the race with you are the ones who cheer you on later (and you will cheer them on as well).  It really puts the focus not on the competition, but on the feat itself.  Since the feat itself is so great, one can only appreciate the contributions of all of those involved.

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Why on earth is the vendor of a table to crucial?  That is a great question.  One that I hope to shed some light on in this post.

The vendor determines which features your tablet will include.  If the vendor provides storage in the cloud, they are more likely to not include a slot to put an additional storage device in.  If they have their own application store, they are more likely to include it and act like a competitor’s application store simply doesn’t exist.

Vendors are crucially important.  When they stop supporting a device, you must depend on someone else to provide updates, or throw the device away.

Tablet makers vary greatly in how long they provide support and what type of support is provided.  The cheapest tablet I have purchased had zero updates.  That is not a typo.  What you bought was what you bought and it was never updated.  This was worse then expected.  However, it makes a statement about what the vendor thought about the device; to them, it was disposable.

I am convinced that vendor support is directly related to a companies’ business model.  I have purchase a table from a vendor whose only way of making money was by selling hardware.  They don’t make money off of music, video, or application sales.  What do they care their device brakes?  A company like Amazon or Apple is more likely to give you support simply because they want to maximize their profit earning opportunities.

To wrap this over-thinking post up in a sentence: “Be sure to trust the vendor you purchase from”.  Read about their reputation for providing support.  Don’t be surprised that they leave out features.  All vendors I have come across do.

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It is a little known secret that a tablet without applications is like a television with no channels.  It really doesn’t serve a purpose.  This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way.  Don’t make the same errors I did.  Know which application store comes with your android tablet.

The most common application store for android tables is the Google Play Store.  If your tablet comes with this installed, you are all set.  Unfortunately, a lot of tablets do not include the Google Play Store.  This occurs for various reasons.  It also leaves the tablet at a huge disadvantage.  This was the case on my first and second tablet purchases.

Thankfully, there are other application stores out there.  The first that I would recommend is Amazon’s app store.  Just browse to http://amazon.com/getappstore and install.  Amazon is great for their free app of the day.  A paid application for free every day.  Sometimes, this is a really useful application and other days, well, it’s essentially a scam.  Be sure to read the reviews before installing.  Amazon is also well known for the restrictions they put on running the applications.  If you are not logged into Amazon, the application may not run.

Another application store that I use is http://1mobile.com/ .  1Mobile is great if you need the Google Applications such as the Maps and Music applications, but do not have the Google Play store.  I have used it to install Google’s Music player on my MID7042 tablet and it works well.  They have tons of applications in their store.  If it is in Google’s Play Store, it most likely will also be in the 1mobile market.  The only reason I have the Amazon store listed first is that I trust them more.  A great tutorial on installing the 1mobile market can be found here.

Your tablet is naked without applications.  Use one of the following application stores and you will be up and productive even if your tablet didn’t come preloaded with a sufficient application store.

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There are a lot of choices when buying a tablet.  Manufactures are pumping them out in all different shapes and sizes.  Are you going to buy a tablet that you later regret?  Read on and I will guide you through a few considerations to help you on your journey.

1. Screen

The screen of a tablet is important for a number of reasons.  Like laptops, a smaller screen means more portability and better battery life.  A larger screen means that you can actually read what is on the screen.  Make sure you are comfortable with the way the screen looks.  It is something that you cannot change after purchase.

One more thing of note, a screen with a lot of pixels on it (aka. HD, Retina)  will have to have the video card in the device to push that screen.  In human terms it means the better screen is an indication that the other parts of the table are high quality.

2. Speakers

This is a huge problem with current generation tablets.  If you want to watch a movie in comfort, you hold the screen in landscape format (like a TV).   The problem with this is that most tablets will only have sound coming out of one side of the screen.  This is the case, even when they advertise stereo sound.  Tablet makers expect you to use earphones and neglect the speakers.  This is true even in the more expensive versions.  Don’t be caught off guard by this.

3. Outputs and Inputs (HDMI and Expandable Memory)

Do you want to plug your new Nook tablet into the television?  You can’t!  Not without an adaptor that sticks out about an inch and will cost you some money. HDMI out is not an option, it is a necessity for most people.

One way tablet makers (like Google) try to push their cloud storage subscriptions (and raise profits) is by not providing expansion through memory cards.  Make sure you know how much storage you need.  Again, don’t get caught by this scheme.

As always, do your research.  Reading this post is a good start.  If you have any questions, please ask.  Happy buying!

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Even though the posts on this blog are few, the amount of effort that I am putting into my own growth is significant.  This is especially true in the are of leadership.   There have been some exceptional opportunities that have presented themselves in this front.

The one that I am the most proud of is the certificate from Western Michigan Universities’ Academic Leadership Academy.  This one is special because it was so out of the blue.  I didn’t know about the existence of the Academy until two weeks before the application was due.  After the application, there was no guarantee that I would be chosen for the cohort.  They did choose me.

The people in the Academy were wonderful to be around.  We met in person once a week.  By the end of the time we spent together, we had become quite used to each other.  There were different topics and different speakers every meeting.  Exceptional people with exceptional topics leads to exceptional growth.  It was a spectacular time getting to know other people in the University who aspire to lead effectively.

But does it matter?  This is one of the biggest questions that has been going through my mind.  If I didn’t blog about this, would anyone know or would they care?   Here are three reasons why this should matter to me and others:

  1. It showed intent.  No one has to wonder where I want to be in my career.  I want to lead and grow others.  It is where my investments are and my desire is.
  2. It showed commitment.  In all of the weeks we met (around 20), I missed one (for personal reasons).   The meetings were over my lunch hour so the loss of work time was minimal.
  3. It changed the perspective.  My cubicle looks different then it used to.  There are no running medals and no technical certificates.  Pictures of my family and inspirational quotes are in their place.  It is no longer about what I have done, but what I will inspire others to do.

If you are like me, you are wondering why, after massive advances in almost every realm of technology, does your wifi range disappoint. This has been an issue for quite some time. Even top of the line equipment is not immune from poor range issues. There is seemingly no way to improve things.

The issue of wireless range is incredibly complex, but not unsolvable. There already exists several sites that cover the steps one can take to gain the best signal possible.  The route I chose to take was to add an external antenna.

Here are some pictures of the project.  I purchased a WNDR-3800 and used the antenna mounts to add the external antenna. The antenna is a TerraWave – 2.4-2.5/5.1-5.85GHz 2.5/4.5dBi MIMO Omni Antenna (part #M6025045MO13602).  I needed an antenna that did both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies and MIMO to match the wireless router. To tie them together, I purchased four IPX / u.fl to RP-TNC female(male pin) bulkhead pigtail cables (Yes, all of that describes one cable.  Determining the correct one was tedious work).

 

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The result of the mod has been the elimination of all dead spots in the house.

The project itself wasn’t too hard to complete.  What is hard is understanding all of the math involved in determining wifi signal.  There are so many factors involved.  Even the length of the cables that run to your antenna may effect the signal.  If I have taken away anything from this project, it is that it is much easier to just go out an purchase a different wifi router then to mod an existing one.

Along those lines, here are two huge recommendations when purchasing a wifi router:

1.  Buy something that scored well in small net builder’s charts and don’t worry about anything else.  As of today, the RT-N66U is what I would recommend.

2.  Buy a wifi router with removable antennas.  You may be able to use antennas that throw the signal in a way that is better suited for your needs.

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Any book on leadership that makes it 25 years and 5 editions is amazing. Twenty-five years with the same base knowledge being pertinent to today. The Leadership Challenge has lasted twenty-five years because of how practical it is, how it makes its points, and how applicable it is.

How do we make people do something we want them to do? The short answer is that we can’t. No matter how much better someone’s life would be if they would just change this one little issue in their lives, we can’t make them change it. They have to make the change themselves. The most practical way to accomplish this is found in this book. The first step is to “Model the Way”. That makes sense. If we tell someone to manage their finances well and then go buy a 104″ TV on a credit card, our credibility is shot.

This book has five steps that leaders go through to foster change. Every one of them just makes sense. Is it practical to have a clear vision? Certainly! My favourite part of this book is that it just makes sense. It is as practical as shutting the refrigerator to keep it cool inside.

Points are made through stories. What better way to prove out a point then to have someone tell a story of how it worked? It’s almost like a before and after commercial without the before part. We read only about what the individual did to succeed in what they considered their best leadership experience. They are stating what worked for them in their own words.

Because stories are used, the book is incredibly readable. It’s almost 400 pages, but we get to meet hundreds of people and hear their stories of success. The stories are inspirational. I didn’t want the book to end when reading it; I wanted more of these great stories by people like you and I.

Twenty-five years of relevancy is something this book has deserved. The main five points that this book revolves around have been echoed (to some extent) in every leadership book I have read. This is a great book to get started in leadership for that reason. Get the points in this book and then see how they show up everywhere else.

There is one thing to be aware of. This books is part of a series of materials. You will be reminded over and over again that there is a mobile app to purchase. A single page reminding of this would’ve been better then on the cover and at the end of every chapter.

This review is glowing and I think that is deservedly so. Simply put, if you have any interest in being a leader, buy this book, read, and apply. It is excellent.

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This is Speech #10.  My tenth speech for Toastmasters.  Although there are some obvious things that still need to be done with regards to my speaking style, the improvements I’ve made and the things that I have changed have made it worth my time.

This speech was delivered nearly 6 months ago.  At this time, the achieved Competent Communicator award is on my desk.

This speech refers to the goal driven lifestyle that I have been pursuing over the past two years.  It is meant as an inspiration to others to let them know that their goals are within reach.

Toastmaster Speech #10 Download if the stream doesn’t work.

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As a loyal eBay user for quite some time, I’m ready to see someone else take the helm.  The fees have gotten too high.

The fees on eBay for the last couple items I have sold is over 11% of the final value price.  Here is some information on the fees from my last sales on eBay.

Ebay:
Final price: $68.00 (Auction) Final Value Fee $6.12
PayPal:
Gross: $78.00 Fee: $2.56
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Total in fees: $8.68 % of sale price = 11.1%

Ebay:
Final price: $292.28 (Auction) Final Value Fee $26.31
PayPal:
Gross: $304.78 Fee: $9.14
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Total in fees: $35.45 % of sale price = 11.6%

Most things on eBay appear to be of the “buy it now” variety.  They are not auctions, just listings to buy something at a fixed price.  They need someone to take them out of the personal auction business all together.

Lots of great stuff going on.  The one that I’m writing about today is my desktop system upgrade.  There is a stark reality when buying computer hardware now-a-days.  “You are not fast enough to keep up with your computer.”  It’s true.  There is nothing I can do to keep up with the speed of my computers.  If you are not into gaming or some other really resource intensive activity, I really cannot recommend that you go out and buy a $200+ processor.

Being that I am not the normal computer user, I don’t abide by the previous stated rule.  My main system has been running an Intel Q6700 for some time.  What a great processor it was! But, the time to change was now.

There comes a time when computer equipment gets old.  Old is, of course, relative.  In this case, old meant that it did everything fine, but after 5 years, something better has come along.

The operating system I run is built from scratch.  Everything that is installed is run through a compilation process that can take quite a while to complete.  This allows me to gain insights into how my computer runs that is useful for someone in my field.  The problem is that this process takes a significant amount of time.  A rebuild from scratch can easily take over a day.  That process needed to be faster.

To measure the speed difference on the new setup, I timed the building of one of the most important components of the system:

gcc build on old Q6700

real    28m7.051s
user    62m49.460s
sys    5m35.580s

gcc build on new FX-8120
real    18m57.720s
user    72m16.450s
sys    4m44.720s

It’s a single measure, so don’t take it as authoritative.  What I took away from this simple test is that my system is roughly 33% faster on this task.

So why choose Bulldozer CPU when all of the reviews say it is a disappointment?

Two of the reasons are already listed.  It’s faster for my uses, so it didn’t matter that it wasn’t the fastest.  The kicker was the price.  Sometimes, when you find a good deal, you get tilted in a specific direction.  This is especially true when I can’t max out the capability of either of the options anyway.

$333.33 went to the purchase of the FX-8120 CPU, ASUS Sabertooth Motherboard, and 8GB of ram (purchased in May of this year. Yeah, it took a while to get this post out of my head)

$179.99 was gained through the sale of old equipment

After subtracting some fees involved, I have about $175 invested in the upgrade.

Knowing that AMD is going to keep the same CPU socket for a few years and also knowing that the Sabertooth motherboard is still one of the best out there.  I am happy with the future prospects of this setup.

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