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Blog Posts for November 2011

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Today's Beauty

 

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/1/2011 6:28:17 AM
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Leadership

 

All of the green folks out there protesting energy generated by fossil fuels... I'd like to see some leadership by these folks. I'd like them to blaze that trail for us.

For all of the green actors and actresses and directors and producers, for your next Hollywood project, please erect windmills on the set to generate the electricity needed for production.

Please show us how it's done.

For all of the anti-oil musicians, for your next session in the studio, please buy and install the solar panels necessary to generate the energy you need for your recording. And please take public transportation to get you, your band, and your equipment to your next concert. And insist that your audience do the same.

Please show us how it's done.

Please - practice what you preach.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/5/2011 8:16:26 AM
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Today's Beauty

 

Our fence, built by us. And modeled by Austin and Jacob.

ETC: And the following day...

We completed a bit more on the fence's east side, but ran out of enthusiasm for the tweaks we were having to make. So, on to the flatter north side.

Hey - we actually completed a side. At this point, we've finished about 150' of fence, which is about half of it.

You can see the poles waiting for us on the west side.

But at least we're having a good time doing it :)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/6/2011 5:17:46 AM
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On Herman Cain

 

I'm gonna give a bit of context before I get into L'Affaire Cain.

My children are being bankrupted by Washington politicians.

With that context, I notice that the media loves this Cain story. It's just the biggest thing in this election cycle. I guess because Rick Perry's rock wasn't a big enough deal.

I don't really care what Cain did or didn't do 15 years ago. Nor should anyone else. Whatever he did or didn't do hasn't robbed my children of one penny. Nor will it.

But Romney's liberal leanings will. Obama's policies are. Washington politicians can't stop spending.

I don't get social conservatives who care about this stuff. Politicians are, by definition, distasteful creatures. They have tremendous power over us. It used to be that we expected politicians to be dirtbags because that's what they were: self-aggrandizing gas bags. Few - and I mean few - politicians have ever been in it for selfless reasons.

So expecting a politician to be the very embodiment of Jesus is silly.

The only thing that matters is whether that politician is going to move the football down the field in the right direction for you. The left has that figured out, which is why they don't care how scandalous the behavior. Michelle can take endle$$ vacations at taxpayer expense - her husband brought about nationalized health care. Fast and Furious? Gitmo's still open? Big deal. Obama's a class warrior, baby. All is forgiven by the left.

But not the right... no sir. Herman Cain may or may not have made a pass at a few women? Gone. Never mind that he defends capitalism like few others are willing to do.

Ridiculous. The right will eat its young before enduring any depth of media heat.

The media will only allow for white men in the Republican party. Sarah Palin was hounded and ridiculed mercilessly over the most outrageous allegations - such as the birth of her baby, Trigg - in the media. And now 15 years later, and even after his run for the Senate in 2004, now - when he's high up in the polls - magically, four women come forward publicly, and they accuse him of making - horrors! - a pass at them.

Welcome to Chicagoland politics, everyone. You either get a new playbook and roughen up for the dirty fight ahead, or you get your butt kicked.

I'm betting that the latter happens. Too many ninnies on our side...

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 11/8/2011 5:03:57 PM
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Fence Update

 

We got the entire fence built, save for the gates. The red line marks where the fence went up, and just in time before winter hit. All in all, about 320' of 6' privacy fence encasing about a quarter acre. Quite a project it's been. Mojo and Dochas can now go out and not get into our neighbors' yards.

What's funny is that my body is not at all accustomed to work like that, but it's nice to flex the muscles a bit and accomplish a huge task. The kids were a big help. Tate helped me auger nearly all of the holes. Aaron helped with carrying the myriad materials around and mixing / pouring cement. Tess helped with, well, just about everything. Austin and Jacob got in the act by helping move tools and materials to where we needed them. Semi-adopted child Arianna helped a lot in the early stages. Yesterday, even Tyler gave us some assistance, which was cool.

We saved about $4,000 by doing it ourselves, and we have the satisfaction of a big DIY project. Bill, who lives across the street from us, kidded me yesterday when I was temporarily enclosing one of the gates with a spare wooden pallet so that the yard was closed for the dogs.

"The fence looks nice, but your gate didn't quite come out right."

He'd been watching our progress and was surprised at our speed.

Later, he asked if we planned to change occupations, now that we knew what we were doing.

No. My career in fence work is over.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/14/2011 6:14:21 AM
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On Second Thought...

 

Oy...

When I watch a presidential candidate squirm for the facts of a major conflict, and I'm way more informed than he is, I'm underwhelmed.

That said, I was wrong about Herman Cain going all the way.

There's a pattern emerging, and it's pretty interesting because I don't know what to make of it yet.

When a C-level executive interviews for the job, nobody asks her to submit her detailed plans for the company. She's not expected to know the company's financials, competitive matrix, HR status, or much else. It's helpful and shows initiative, but a lot of C-level folks rely on their past successes and the strength of their resume and good reputation to get hired.

Not so for the executive branch of our government. Unless you're Obama, you get grilled as a candidate about a host of details.

It's easy to see why Obama doesn't really suffer press questions and why Mitt is afraid of Chris Wallace.

But seriously, there's no excuse for Cain here. If you're running for the job, you need to be fluent in current events. He's a great businessman, obviously, and a strong capitalist, but why in the world would you not prepare for the inevitable grilling?

Ditto Perry.

They've wasted a lot of people's donations by not fervently preparing and by trying to get there on personality. Is that fair? I mean, Obama did it on personality and marketing... but he also had a willing press corps that gave him questions like these:

How does it feel to break a glass ceiling?
How does it feel to "win?"
(Way to go, Charlie Gibson.)

The RNC does a disservice to its base by allowing the leftist press corps to drive the debates. The candidates all flock to see who can get on the leftist Sunday shows. Interview after interview... you would think that the candidates would get the idea to be prepared for the gauntlet.

But no... one shows up with "Texas!" as his frequent answer and the other says "9-9-9" for his frequent answer.

Tell me the eventual candidate is Not Mitt, who spawned Obamacare...

 

4 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 11/14/2011 6:02:04 PM
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Hmm

 

At 5:48 AM today, I realized that 247Toolset needs its own accounting system.

That is a complexity I hadn't anticipated. For now, it's fine as is, but to take it where it needs to go, managing a ledger of accounts is critical to managing payments received.

I do love a challenge.

This came about because the fundraising module needs to manage an invoice schedule for pledges, and it does.

But when people make payments, they sometimes do so with inexact payments - either over or under. Tracking that, and adjusting the invoice schedule, will require an accounting system.

Plus, as the payment processing module comes online, clients will be able to process payments of various types - such as paying for an event - and that needs to be managed in a similar way.

One foot in front of the other...

As Tom Wujec says, "Projects never end... you just find interesting places to pause."

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/15/2011 6:42:02 AM
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Fuller

 

Two weeks into their campaign, one of the non-profits using 247Toolset has raised over $70,000 and they're tracking all of the activity within their portal.

I finessed the entry of pledges.

And from the data they enter, they're able to produce a "snap audit" that helps them see a summary of who has given what across each campaign so that they can track their progress.

It's coming along well. (You can access a sample snap audit in Excel here.) Now to plug the methodology into a few more organizations so that they can benefit from it.

Oh, and the first college purchased 247Toolset to help manage their adjunct faculty.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/17/2011 7:59:32 PM
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Why a Green Energy Future is a Unicorn

 

Full disclosure: I'm not a scientist.

Trees are amazing. With a little seed in the ground, given some water and sun, they'll grow. The seed uses up its initial nutrient storage to grow into a stem and a leaf, and from there, green energy takes over. The leaf photosynthesizes sunlight and provides the energy that the sapling needs to become a stout tree...

...10 years later.

You can apply artificial measures to make it grow faster (fertilizer, longer periods with artificial sunlight, etc) but sunlight, while constant, isn't powerful enough on its own to transform the seed into a tree in the span of a year.

In fact, sunlight is relatively weak energy, and on its best day, it can't fry an egg or boil water, though it can warm a room.

Each energy source only packs so much energy. That's why cars only get so many miles to the gallon. Gas only has so much energy in it. You can make the car lighter and smaller, use electricity to supplant the gas for periods of driving, tweak the engineering of the powertrain, but at the end of the day, somewhere between 20 mpg and 30 mpg is the best we can hope for. Gas only has so much stored energy in it.

Even on cloudy days, sunlight is a constant - it's just weaker on those cloudy days - but it's gone at night. Wind can be captured any time of the day, but it too is not constant and like sunlight is relatively weak.

In our homes, we run TV's, lights, the stovetop and oven, computers, the washer and dryer, garage doors, the furnace, the AC, and so on.

Does anybody really believe that you can run all of that on an energy source that can't fry an egg on its own and is not constant?

The only green energy source that can do all of this is nuclear, and lord knows that has ample opposition to it. But the "green" energy options aren't anywhere close to being enough. Science and math tell you so, but let's work this out...

Let's say that you put solar panels on your house and a wind turbine in your back yard.

In fact, let's put these at every house on your street.

The energy of the wind on most days is barely enough to move your wind chimes.

The energy of the sun is generally not enough to warm your entire house on a crisp fall day, much less winter, and you freeze at night if you just rely on captured warmth during the day.

So do you really think you'll capture enough energy from solar panels and a wind turbine in your back yard to run all of your appliances and supply all of your home's energy needs?

No. Not even close. You can't - there's not enough energy to capture.

Now imagine that you want to plug your electric car in for recharging at the end of the day, to be recharged by stored electricity generated from wind and solar only.

Not even close to close. There's simply not enough energy.

But that's the direction our political class is pulling us.

Why? None of them run their lives on "green" energy only. Nor does the Hollywood crowd. Or any of the other preachers of this movement.

It's not viable. And if it's not viable, it's not sustainable.

ETC: Via Instapundit, I learn that the Dutch have found that the cost of wind power doesn't offset the benefit - so they're abandoning windmills.

MORE ETC: And another link about abandoned windmills from Glenn. Like I said, if it's not viable, it's not sustainable.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/19/2011 10:05:58 AM
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Fundraising Thermometer Test

 


ETC:The test was to see how well I can manage a cross-domain data transfer... i.e., take data from Hertko Hollow Helpers fundraising campaign and make it so that they could have a thermometer widget that they can plug into any web site. It also had to be cross-browser compatible.

It works :)

And as you can see, they're raising buckets of money. The campaign started on November 1.

I have a slight bit of tweaking to do with the graphics, but it's pulling "live" data from their web site.

MORE ETC: Tweaking completed... looks great in all five browsers.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/21/2011 8:36:46 AM
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Transition

 

At some point in an entrepreneur's business path, there comes a time when you stop wearing all of the hats, and you move to a front office role. I may or may not be near that point, but it's something you have to plan for, or else you become a victim of your own success. No one can always do it all, and of all the changes that take place in a business, this transition is the most brutal. Here's why:

The business thus far succeeded because the entrepreneur carried out the roles in the business with the personality and great care that he or she did. When the business expands, handing the reins for one or more of those critical roles over to a successor and trusting them to carry on as the entrepreneur did is a risk. It it's not successful, that critical pillar of the business proves weak enough to sometimes take down the entire business.

The entrepreneur has to know what role to which he or she is best suited, and whether it's the front office or the back office, that's where they should stay while maintaining an awareness of the entire operation.

For me personally, I've played out the scenarios in my head. I think I've landed on me being the front man for the business. The reason is that I place a great deal of emphasis on listening and perceiving the needs of customers. I understand the market for 247Toolset better than most others could, although I know one person who might get it and I've talked to him about being in that role of CEO. (I would remain Founder, which is my given title, and gives me flexibility without diminishing a CEO.)

So I don't know how this will play out. 247Toolset continues to gain traction, and I expect it will move into a firm position in the national marketplace in the next year. If that happens, this important transition will occur and I'll have big decisions to make.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 11/24/2011 9:34:46 AM
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Books

 

I don't get higher education.

A professor, likely not in the top of their field at the college you attend, charges you exorbitant money per hour to attend their class.

Class is, mostly, them assigning you a ridiculously expensive book to read - authored by someone you've never heard of - and you reading it and listening to some lecture and then taking a test to prove that you were paying attention.

Ten classes a year and four years later, and you're deemed educated. Why? Because someone forced you to read books you wouldn't have otherwise read.

Or, you can go down to the Barnes & Noble and get a book by the best in their field - world renowned even - for $15 and read it yourself.

Or, if you feel like it, you can get the used versions of the books being assigned at colleges and read them for far less money than you would pay to sit in class and be told to read the book.

Rarely when I was in college did I feel that the professor (or about half the time, a TA) added a great deal to the study. There were exceptions to be sure, but they were rare.

I say all of this because it's 1:20 AM and I'm working on the payment processing module of 247Toolset - which is a big implementation. As I do this, I'm incorporating into the fundraising flow some things I read in The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson. Exceptional book, and one not often required by college professors. Had I not read the book, I'm certain that I wouldn't have thought of doing things in the way I'm building them.

Is the problem that people just don't like to read unless they're forced to do so? Therefore, they're willing to part with a ton of money to be forced to read books and work to retain the information they read?

Or is it just for the piece of paper at the end that tells me I'm "official" - that I actually read the books and did the homework to the satisfaction of forty professors? Because I have to say, it's pretty obvious within a ten minute conversation, regardless of the paper in hand, whether or not someone has invested themselves in education. And if you ask the right questions during the conversation, you'll learn whether or not they know how to apply their knowledge.

So I don't get it.

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 11/29/2011 1:38:38 AM
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Apple Comedy

 

Silly me.

I thought I could take my Apple server to the Apple Store so that an Apple Air Port wifi card could be installed by Apple technicians.

Nope. They don't do that.

I have to go to another place for that.

And they didn't tell me this yesterday when I dropped it off. They didn't call me to tell me this today. I called to check on the status of my order and then I'm told this.

Comedy.

Between this and the complete data loss on my iPad during Apple's iOS upgrade, I have to laugh pretty hard at those who suggest that the products are superior and customer-friendly.

Yeah... whatever :)

ETC: I ordered the Air Port card from Amazon, got it in the mail today, and I go into the Apple store today, which is incredibly crowded, of course. I explain my story to someone who's been there a while, and ask if I have the right card - because it's so small, it looks like it belongs in a laptop, not a server.

"Yes, that's the right card. Would you like me to install it for you?"

"But I thought you can't..."

"You're right - we can't. But I've personally installed a lot of those and I'll be glad to do it for you for the inconvenience you've had."

And so he did. Great customer service, and I'm suitably impressed.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 11/30/2011 10:03:51 AM
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