Project Fi Services

So I got Project Fi because I moved my primary Tmobile account over to my iPhone 6+ for work. As I mentioned, the IOS ecosystem is much kinder at work to handle mobile email, calendaring, wireless at work. I guess this means my iPhone 6+ is my primary device. My Nexus 6 now runs Project Fi. I’m going to evaluate what I do but the whole deal is something I have wanted with Project Fi. At some point, I’ll cancel Tmobile completely and just use the Fi service. If you travel around, have no home, have no real base of operation, Project Fi makes more sense. It bonds to whatever cell/mobile operator is out there and it makes use of WiFi as well. I also ported my Google Voice number to it. This means if I do take another job where I would use that number as a work number, its much easier now since I can have Google Voice on a piece of equipment. Who knows what happens next? A friend at IBM has let me know that her hiring manager wants me to work with her team in the cloud operations group. I would manage medium to large on premise and cloud gigs much like I did before.

Thanksgiving Blahs

I hate it say it; but the holidays really mean little or nothing besides time off from work. I don’t have any kind of that blessed spirit or desire or thankfulness or faith or desire to have any of those things. I just take the time off, drink beer, and do whatever it is I can do to try to survive the days. I think that this is a product of the divorce and the fact that Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday of all. I loved the food part of things, being with the kids, cooking the Turkey on the BBQ grill. Watching the football games through the day. Perhaps it was that prime American dad thing. That’s gone and now its just a day that I spend as another weekend day. I bet lots of people really don’t like the holidays and I bet there are a lot of divorced folks out there that really don’t like them. Someone told me once I was broken and the pieces did not fit together again. That’s true. I broke into some pieces and I cannot even find all of them. But I would not be looking anyways over the next 40 or so days. I just want to get through that so I can talk about…

Work Stability

I don’t really like the way it is at work now. Big projects pending and I don’t even know if I will be there. Bunch of BS. This or that could happen. I could stay or leave. I could easily go back to IBM for another year or I could stay at TiVo. By the end of December though, those folks will hear from me. I won’t start projects that I will not finish. They will have to tell me at the start of the year if I stay.

Gobble Gobble

Have a nice one if you observe it. If not, enjoy the time off. I intend on doing the latter.

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My iPhone Work Experiment

You have probably all read the newsy articles that state things like

I switched from Android to an iPhone and I…

People stay, they go, they compare, they like, they dislike. I bought an iPhone 6+ on eBay that was an unlocked GSM phone so all I needed to do was plug in my SIM Card  and away I went on the IOS side. I had originally planned on giving it away but the person was uncomfortable taking it. My boss told me to give it a whirl with work email, calendaring, collaboration. So here are some initial impressions:

  • The iPhone 6+ is a nice piece of kit. Very responsive. Performance is good. Battery life seems decent.
  • The Work applications depend on AirWatch MDM for security. On Android you must use this dusty old application called TouchDown. It may have been good in its day; but now? Piece of crap on Android MM. On the iPhone it all integrates into the apple mail and calendaring client. Setup Gmail and you get an integrated calendar with personal and exchange events in different colors.
  • Applications are nice. I’ve found a few really nice apps and found a few others which are better on the Android side. Alarm clocks that are third party do not work right on IOS devices basically.
  • Walking is just as nice streaming music from Spotify on IOS as it is on Android. The iPhone has a dedicated chip or something for tracking so the pedometer apps use it to help track walking.
  • There is no need for iTunes. That’s good! I always hated iTunes.

So what does this mean for this little green robot guy? I’ve decided to use my Nexus 6 with Fi and continue using my iPhone 6+ for work. I am tired of the Fortune articles saying this person stopped with this and did that. I’m tired of the either/or thing and getting judged in the smartphone wars. These things are supposed to be fun guys. Stop with the judgments already. Use what works for you. Be a good habilis.

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Passion and Phun

I had the occasion to dwell in my little abode on my negativity. A spirit came to haunt me in the form of my mentor RWR. I complained to his specter mightily about my lot in life and how the passion seemed gone. He listened somewhat patiently but kept looking at his blue land cruiser jeep. He had left it running just around that last desert path. I could hear it snorting and waiting for him impatiently. He studied me much like a similar event years or perhaps decades ago when I whined to him about my Master’s Thesis and my thesis committee. He listened then too. He was a far and crackly voice on a pay phone as I stood in the middle of Portales New Mexico. Portales at night was not one of those places you stood into. Most people went home; but I needed my mentor. I needed him to tell me to quit.

RWR would have none of that though so many years ago and his specter now would have none either. He gently lambasted me and reminded me of his advice from so many times asking. Advice that came out one day as we walked down a desert scape. We hardly ever talked then but I asked him the most important thing in life. He started ahead and got that smile that seemed to spread across that long bearded face.

Why Mike. You have to know where you are and where you are going.

That was it. He never said he had an answer to my lack of passion, drive, ambition. He just knew a bigger thing. I’ve since felt that the advice, so simple, was timeless. It covered the ebbs and flows of my times whether it was archeology or project management. Whether I walked the Tehachapi’s or Route 66 or around a lava blasted field north and east of Barstow. Whenever things got to a point, now I know I had lost sight of where I was or where I was going or both. You cannot set a path with a GPS either physical or moral or with a compass and a map if you don’t know the things. You cannot find a thing you seek unless you know where you are.

Later that same day I think, the powerful jeep ran out of gas and we were stranded. We hiked into town and a lady gave us a ride in a long cool Cadillac or Lincoln. The AC blasted and RWR seemed totally at home and talked with the lady about the desert, why cars could possibly run out of gas. I just sat there quietly listening to my wonderful mentor. That one person who could say a simple thing that covered so many life conditions. I was happy those times with RWR. Drinking beer Knowing where I was and where I was going.

Twist to Now

So now I know it too. I know I cannot simply have that attitude and hate and disaffection. I have to put into the thing more and then I’ll know where I am. When I can stand up, I can see where I’m going. It all makes sense RWR.

Its only only knowing but its acting on what you know. I may never see RWR again but I don’t need to. Some people have a common thread that glows and connects. When I called him after not talking for so many years, RWR was not mad. He simply asked,

where you been, Mike?

That’s another one of those hard questions to answer. Its not geography or climate or a place or a time. We go through life with relatively few people I think that matter. Many of the people are detritus. Waste materials that we have in our orbits and then the gravitational pull from something else takes them. That’s okay. Because we have the few people that can ask the simple yet profound questions. And tell me the same answers.

Now for the current thing, as I walked my walk today after work, I knew. I have to give this its due. I will probably stay longer but I don’t know. Its part of the formula of not knowing where I’m going. And perhaps we never really see the entire picture but that should not stop us from trying. When I walk to no place in particular; I know. Walking is a mechanism that lets me see the things beyond the beyond.

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There’s Work, there’s Play, there’s work, there’s play

Things with capital letters denote the super sense of things. You do them to lift yourself beyond. Perhaps find a super criteria of fulfillment, challenge, scope. Sometimes the things bring sadness or lead to less than stellar results. But you know when you are engaged with Work or Play that your senses are elevated, mind is working at a higher level, emotions are attuned. Sometimes out walking I reach the Play side of the equation. I feel this lifting thing where the problems, questions, issues, irritations become less. Those special little doodads release and I am lifted into the higher elevations of Play.

The onerous truth is though we don’t reach the vaunted halls and kingdoms of the capital letters too often. We instead plunk along with work and play. These lower case things are not satisfying. Perhaps they are escapes for a lunch time diversion or an evening at a movie or a night of watching Netflix or Hulu back to back.

In my 10 x 12 room, the big letters are not so easily found these days. The work is not Work. The play is not always Play. In fact, neither really trigger the endorphins. The happy chemicals that may lift you up higher.

What to do?

What to do is the question. Is life meant to be lived in all lower case letters?

I went to the laundromat today and posed the question on Google Plus. Do dryers only spin clockwise? I am not sure but I do know that the stairs leading to my room are meant for right-handed people. Nothing is as it seems in the world of dreams.

I still struggle to find meaning in work. Forget about Work. There is no ecstasy or fulfillment like in 2009 and early 2010 for me. No bigger challenges in either Work or Play. In fact, I don’t get a glimpse of either too often. Walking does not free the endorphins these days. I only get a sense of relief at the physical level.

Its too bad really that we humans cannot achieve what we really want. It seems forever out of reach except for those limited moments when all the life streams are in concert. Then something happens and the apple cart turns over. Or perhaps its the coconut cart…

Coconuts in Chennai

Don’t upset the cart! The coconuts will go rolling into the street in Chennai and the Auto drivers will go crazy :-)

We all balance the coconuts like in this cart though. Life coconuts, work coconuts, play coconuts.

No capital ones unfortunately.

What to do. What to do. I know. Go back to Chennai and go to the Chennai Citi Centre Mall for KFC on a Saturday.

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Notes and Outlining

I’ve tried a few workflows in the past. First was Evernote which I still like. Then there is OneNote which I use at work. Then there were countless others which I used and dropped because of cost, issues with cross-platform sync’ing, or lack of updates or simply stopping the client. So what are my prerequisites for note taking, journals, and outlines? Some complex combination of GIT push, local markdown, remote server machinations? No folks. None of these really do anything but make the entire workflow more complex. What my needs are:

  • Effortlessly sync to Google Drive whether on chromebook, tablet, or phone.
  • Be able to share a document. Okay, I have never been good at sharing. But you never know. Perhaps this will become important when I become a world class blogger and note taker.
  • Integrate tables, lists, drawings and images.
  • Have a common interface that I can use without a steep learning curve. I’m dumb and I don’t like using 4 things when one will do. If I’m offline, I’ll write it that way and copy it over later. I don’t need elegance when simplicity will work.
  • Ability to organize by folders and have search capabilities
  • Be part of a ecosystem of tools. This is at the bottom but its not a bottom dweller. When something fits into your ecosystem of use; it empowers you to do more with the tools!

So, what is there out there that does all these things, does not require arcane spells over a GIT repository, lets me integrate my ecosystem of choice? Why Google Docs, sheets, and slides of course! Here is a workflow I found online by a cunning and smart guy that lays it all out but lets you build flexibility.

How does it work at Starbucks? Well, it works the same on my tablet of choice and my chromebook. Does it sync? Yes. In real time. What about offline access? I don’t know and really don’t care. If I’m truly offline perhaps I am doing something else that is radically different but its been my experience on numerous walking trips here in the States that I am rarely truly offline. A phone with LTE, free wifi. Lets face it though, there is time to be offline like when life is online. So let it go and it will be there. The gridless state is something to not overlook when simply putting a foot in front of another. Why have four tools to do what a single one can do. Someone once said “Simplify”. If I blog, I can just use the WordPress mobile application. I rarely have to do complex mind-bending and numbing feats. If I journal or outline, I can approximate the same workflow as above.

In the end, I have all my stuff and its with me across platforms because Google is so good at presenting me with options across platforms. Its all good!

There’s no reason to choose my approach over one that has complexity with lots of plugins built in. Unless you are looking to…


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Changes in my Digital Lifestyle

I’ve been reading a lot about increasing numbers of Android users jumping ship over to the Apple side of the house. I think people do this for a lot of reasons. I decided to do it also for a few reasons. Truth be told, I’ve been getting unhappier with the quality of things for awhile. But even more is work. Work email on mobile, calendars mobile, vpn on mobile are big things at $work. They make much better use of Apple iGear than Android.

It all really comes down to making changes. For me, I’ve decided to move away from Android. I bought a iPhone 6 plus 64gb model today and I bought a new iPad Air 2 64gb model today. I could list bullets of things of why. Maybe its the pace of the updates. Maybe its the quality of the applications. Could be the work experience of mobile email, collaboration, calendaring. I could state any of those things and people would either berate me or agree. The real thing though is me. I’m tired of Android. I need a sea change. I want something that is more central. Something where updates just come and I don’t have to flash things. It used to be that the whole iTunes thing turned me off. The iDevices these days don’t need to ever touch iTunes. So I won’t have widgets on the home screen. I can probably live with that. I won’t have freedom and open use. I can live less with that.

It comes down to what I need and want and I’m sorry but you don’t really matter. You see; I don’t care about you at all. I’m so selfish and self-absorbed. You knew that though right?

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Back here

I changed things around quite a bit and decided to move my domain to google domains really is irritating. Don’t go there if you can help it. Their vaunted support is next to nil when you ask a basic question and their answer is the same no-go thing each time. Then I went to Medium for awhile. I did not care really for the community there that much. If you don’t publish the 8 of the 12 or the 10 hack reasons, you are unwashed and dirty.

So back to to my domain on my chosen VPS. This simply works and I doubt I will vary far from the fold.

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Traveling in Spirit

Today I met up with my friend Dinesh and for the first time met his wife. We spent a gentle hour or so at Starbucks talking, laughing, remembering times spent in India. Its fun to meet up with friends from Chennai and talk about how different a new person finds life here in the US who is from India. A particularly humorous comment of hers was that she never thought she would see so many Indians here but where she lives all of her neighbors are from someplace in India. We talked about driving in India versus here because she wants to get a driver’s license. Its funny to relate how my Auto driver in Chennai regarded the buses that would not share the road with anything smaller.

He would cuss them out and gesticulate at them when they did something particularly offensive. VJ would tell me that the buses were not nice and they were big and he was small and life was unfair. Then I would laugh and he would smile and we’d motor on toward my destination. VJ was a gentle and kind soul who took me to the places in Chennai I wanted. He hauled me home drunk and took me to restaurants and let me get to places otherwise that would have been difficult. I paid him more but I always felt I got more. In all honesty, I lived pretty well getting paid in US dollars and translating to Rupees for my local living.

So we talked more and Dinesh’s wife wanted to know about my family. I think Dinesh explained to her the realities of me and the family unit and how often I either see or don’t see my kids. We shared stories about restaurants we had all gone to and our lives when I lived there and worked for Celestix Networks India. Those were mighty fine days all in all.

I also heard that my friend Rajesh is coming over from Mumbai later this month so we will get to see him. Dinesh, Rajesh, and I would go out to eat quite often together in India and they would haul me all around to restaurants and bars and buffet places. It was always fun to have friends there that would take me to a place or that would meet me at the Savera Hotel for a beer. The Savera was down the street from the traditional hotel I stayed in and it was my watering hole and rescue from a otherwise no beer life in most places. I sometimes pulled the plug and went to Singapore for a long weekend of eating and drinking or would move over to the Raintree and stay and enjoy the room, food, and beer there.

So the travel in spirit was in effect and I have this recurring fantasy of just leaving all of this behind and traveling the roads and paths of the world. Seeing it all. Riding a train in China and a ferry boat in Japan. Seeing the country unfold from Bangkok to Singapore on the 23 hour trip on the rails. Flying into Chennai in the afternoon and feeling that warm heat touching me so close and then seeing those sunsets which light up the sky and the mind. I miss all that but its not to be yet.

Now I travel in spirit and have the memories of photos and old clippings and a manila envelope of a trip to Kyoto. I carefully landscape my list of places and I know there are so many cities I still want to walk in and see. The cities out there gesture to me and are waiting for me to move beyond traveling in spirit. The great wall and the great dream. Both stretch out before me.

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Moving from here to there

I’ve lived in the same dump for almost 1.5 years now. That’s 18 months living in a room I normally would overlook based on conditions, the commitment of our so-called landlord, and how far down the entire room rental thing has gone here. Whatever happened here is not a recent thing. Its not a turn of the coin from a day or so ago. This place took 10 years to get so far down as it is now. Now he seems intent on trying to sell this dump. I walk around in constant wonder how someone would agree to buy this place. Broken bathrooms, sinks gone, leaky roof, bad plumbing, bad roof. How is it possible that a person can let a thing go so far down? All the renters have wondered.

So I’ll move in about two weeks and not look back. The rest of that have lived here will also depart in the next three weeks or so. My friend Free for his new life in Salem, Oregon. Others will leave to find their next thing.

Work as work

Work is another thing which has moved from here to there. It takes a bit to challenge me these days and I seem to have forever lost the elusive feeling of accomplishment and joy at the work somehow. Now I just get by with a sense of completion. I am not sure what happened with the earlier feelings of joy and elation. They simply went away at some point between 2009 and now. Just like other things went away. At the current place I show up each day and deal with what they say are the issues. I find a way to get  a thing done and they act happy to have me. The part that bothers me is that I don’t have the same feeling. Work has become like work. How do I get the other feelings back I wonder.

Normally I would call my buddy Nancy at IBM and ask her and she would listen and tell me in her slight Texas drawl,

well buddy boy you need to apply your best methods but you know nothing now can be like something then. So just man up and do the best you can do. Either you will get the feelings back or you won’t No one is paying you for your feelings though. They want your soul and your abilities.

I think she would say something like that after I asked her what was happening.

So its time to just go on and get on with getting on.

Play as nothing

I’m not sure what happened with the concept of play. Or Play. I mean the big Play. The Play that stretches over the times and gives you the keen zest for life. The regular old play is what gets you by in a day. The big Play gives you that feeling, that zest, that wonder. Play has not moved from here to there either.

So I guess I will go on. I’ll work and play and think. No big letters assigned.

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Working Days – Saturday Thoughts

Its always hard starting a new gig. The people are all different. Projects require a different look and touch. They hired me and want me to be their infrastructure PM and catch the things, be able to discuss stuff with network and systems engineers, virtualization folks, storage admins but still retain the management focus. I think I bring all that and more to the game. I gently took over a meeting yesterday with a network engineer and we drilled down on the issues which he had not been able to introduce to the project. The network is the critical path but yet the actual requirements were missed. We got those into the plan finally and now people can see that its not the servers and the firewalls and the wireless access points on the new floor. Its what delivers to all them.

Moving Along

By the end of the month, I have to move out of the current digs. This is no big thing to me. The current place sucks at so many levels and our beloved landlord refuses to deal with the garbage in the house, the refuse from tearing walls down, the general cleanliness. I reduced the final rent to remind him he missed out on his duty to us.

I started looking this last week but the truth is that most rooms really are not available this far in advance from when I need to move. I hate not having the whole thing proactively planned but such is life. Everything comes together or not for a reason or reasons out there.

So moving along means finding a thing I can live with for a year or so and then I can implement the Mike plan part two after next year.

Android Gets Under Your Skin

And it never gets tiring. Just like Linux. Once you decide to use something you are empowered to change, it creates new vistas for how you can use and own a device. I always laugh at the IOS users and the pathetic phone interface they’re stuck with. I want widgets and a real file system I can use. I want to use the device.

Like Linux, Android lets me adopt and adapt to what I like. New active wallpapers that change every two hours? Tapet has that covered. Just the little things folks. A little thing like a changing wallpaper or having weather and my calendar as active widgets on the home screen. Just making the device mine. This was the major frustration owning an iPad Air 2. No matter what I did, it was never mine. I could not change a little thing on it. Forget the big things!

The Changeling Strikes

We are all owners and victims of change you know. We can plan a thing out but change is inevitable and it carries with it perhaps rules we know about and many we don’t. Other forces act and interact on our little corner of the universe. We may not ever see those things but yet they impact us.

I realized walking last night that we are all beings of incredible joy and sadness. We have the stuff of the universe in our bodies and yet we are so little and miserly. We’re made of star stuff but our exploding universes are so tempered with the experiences of us. We simply cannot see past our noses but the stars and worlds and people and change are all out there.

Why can’t we see farther? Its simple. Its the way it is and was. Want to change it. Tough. But that does not mean you should not try.

Go make it a miserable Saturday. You deserve it.

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