MY Hines

Well, the search is now over and I have my list created and I hope that some of you may have other songs to add. Some may be obscure – but I like these songs and I’m not going to present them in any order because I don’t want to pick one over the other as my favorite.

There are two mentions I must make here, because they are almost on my list except for that they weren’t female artists.

  • The Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star – When I remember this song, I remember the female part which made it hard not to put it on that first part of the list – but then there is that man at the beginning. Darn him! Now this song seems so dated and there are so many different parodies of it in the variations of “Internet Killed the Radio Star”. That says a lot.
  • Jason Mraz – Geek In The Pink – I’d like you Jason Mraz, even if you are a geek.

What songs have I missed/forgotten? List them in the comments!

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    There is always a chance for you to get some time off – even if you are a nonprofit tech. Just last year I gave everyone in my organization a 6 month notice that I was going to Disney World and that my Blackberry would be locked in the safe in my house – just to let them all know that there are times when I cannot always be connected.

    But when you get this time, it’s always hard when you get back. That has been the case since I have returned from the Nonprofit Technology Conference. In fact, I’m going to list some of my tips below for when you are gone for several days and I will readily admit right now, I am including them because I didn’t do them myself.

    1. Do expect something to go wrong – You probably are expecting something small to go wrong while you are gone – maybe a printer runs out of toner and there is no spare toner on site for it. That’s a minor something going wrong. However, I’m in the school of thought that it is easier to be prepared for that pet project that you have held together for the past eight month that finally seemed to be all ready to launch to have something threaten the timeframe. It is much easier to come back and found out that the pet project kept on track. But the disappointment of having it go off track because you were expecting it to stay the course is hard to shake from your mood and it colors everything.
    2. Don’t start new staff the day you return – If you can avoid this, do it. I wasn’t able to do that and I love having new staff. But it also put a lot of extra pressure on me before I left to make sure that I had a training plan in place, all the papers that had to be filled out ready to go, and made it impossible to catch up with email until my third day back because I was so focused on bringing the new staff member into the loop of how we work. There are some of us that need the staff so badly that we’ll take them whenever we can – but if you can, avoid it being right when you return.
    3. Don’t misplace your excitement for the job – This was so hard when I came back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference. I was so excited about all the new things that I learned. I wanted to go through all of my notes, I wanted to share my resources, and I wanted to try new things out that I had been suggested. Then I walked into my office and dealt with the reality that I had in front of me and I almost lost that excitement. I have held onto it for weeks now and am now really starting to share the resources, let others know what I learned and finally getting to read those books that I got. You have to find a way to hold onto that excitement for the job. Even when you are gone from the job for a personal vacation, you almost always come back with an idea of what you are going to do next. Don’t let the 1,000+ emails in your inbox deter you.
    4. Schedule time with your direct supervisor in those first couple days that you return – This was a hard lesson I learned and I learned it well. I need to make sure that I have this time into my supervisor’s schedule or it may be days until I get in front of that supervisor after I return. Yes, it’s important to let that person know what you learned or the fun you had while off  – but you need that knowledge transfer of what transpired while you were gone also.
    5. Do not rehash what didn’t get done – It makes no sense to go over all the things that didn’t get completed while you are gone – even if some people said that they would be done. It makes no sense and what the focus should be on is moving forward from that point in time.
    6. Keep your schedule simple that first full week back – If you were out for almost a full week – keep your schedule as open as possible. If you get filled with meetings during that first week back, you’ll be like me – dreaming of the inbox of over 1,000 emails waiting to get your attention. Sometimes you can’t avoid meetings, but try to avoid extra meetings if possible.
    7. Take a deep breath and schedule your next time away – In my book, I like knowing when I’m getting away from the office again. Even that one day away for a training is sometimes the refreshing break that I have to focus on when I just come back from a trip. I’ve been lucky – coming back from the Nonprofit Technology Conference I know that the second week of May I’m out of here to go to a week-long fun trip to Las Vegas. That has been a great motivator to get right back into the groove so that I don’t fall behind before leaving for that trip. Plus, we all need to have those breaks.

    I find that sometimes the primary function I provide as a nonprofit techie is that of a translator. I have to find the ways to translate the geek-speak into something that all staff will understand. There are so many different levels to this ungeeking that sometimes I feel like I’m under seige. However, when I find a good way to ungeek something, I love to share it – because maybe it will help someone else do the same thing that I’ve been forced to do.

    Most often, the easiest way for me to ungeek things is by turning them into analogies of some sort. I have to find some way to remember that defragmentation is a lot like cleaning your desk, or a point to point connection is a private driveway between two buildings that you can only travel on if you work for the buildings. It’s easy to get lost in this world too – but when you figure out an easy way to explain, you feel like you have followed that rainbow to the pot of gold.

    That is the situation I was in last week. For years we have been talking about individual silos of information that our databases are and how we need to centralize in the future. Now, those don’t seem like geek terms to me, but what was happening was that employees were imaging this one giant mess of a database with lots of things that they could see, but wouldn’t have permission to use because it wasn’t for them. It was clear that what was in my head and the heads of our consultants did not match the employees’ thoughts. I had to find a way to bring this back to something that could be understood. So, after a couple of hours of thinking, I thought of the way we want our databases to communicate much like power plants working together to support the power grid. Below is what I’m using to explain and you may find it useful if you ever have to ungeek this situation.

    Database Version 1.0 (right now) – This represents a situation where the database/system is much like a new nuclear power plant that has been started. It has security in place to make sure that everything stays contained and if things go outside of the nuclear power plant, it is going to a special location that is only being used by the nuclear power plant (the power plant was built to give power to just one community.) Each individual database/system is represented by all different types of power plants – there are some hydroelectric power plants, some wind plants, some coal plants and so forth. Each works independently and when started are working within their own little shell.

    Database Version 2.0 (near future) – This represents the nuclear power plant realizing that it has excess power that it wants to give out to the greater community. But before it can start sharing information, it has to figure out how it can work together with other power plants. Sometimes this means finding what types of wires can be used and sometimes this means that changes need to be completed within the nuclear power plant in order for it to have the right types of wires to connect to other power plants. These wires are like finding the similar fields within the database/system that wishes to start talking to another database/system.

    Database Version 3.0 (several years from now) – This represents when the nuclear power plant is transmitting extra power out to the whole power grid and it is able to work along side of the hydroelectric power plants, wind plants, coal plants and other types of power plants. The plants all know what they have in common and they also know what they don’t have in common. They work together to make sure that they work together to supply electricity for all and to also know when they have things that are uniquely theirs. Problems can be isolated if necessary so if a thunderstorm takes down hydroelectric plant, the other plants can continue to work while the hydroelectric plant fixes its problems and then comes back up online.

    I was instantly reminded of a list of Top Ten Geek Anthems when I was listening to WYEP this morning on the way into work. They were featuring Andrew Bird’s Master Fade. I had to find Master Fade this morning and I was very impressed with this song in many more ways.

    I first found the lyrics for the song which proved a bit more that it was what I would call a geek song. A song that features zeros and ones in the sky – that’s geek to me! So I found the lyrics and confirmed that it was pretty much a great song that features a lot of geek elements.

    Then I wanted to see if there was a video on YouTube and that was when I became impressed. I did not know until I got to one of the YouTube videos (this one) that Andrew Bird was actually playing all of the instruments by setting the looping right there on the stage. Now I have to say, as someone who has dabbled in video and audio – that’s pretty freaking amazing! I can’t imagine how long it took him to practice doing that or how long it took him to just figure out a song where he could do that. Wow!

    But it also goes back to how music and being a “geek” seem to be tied together. I think we are going to see more and more of this as shows like Glee continue to become more popular (and yes, Glee is one of my favorite shows). But it also makes me look at that “Top Ten” list and wonder why not one of them was sung by a female artist.

    Now starts the search – the search for the Top Ten Geeka Songs – songs that celebrate us girls who embrace the geek status! If you know of any, please pass them along.

    I may be one of the most politically out of tune people out there. I start to cringe when it becomes election season and all the television ads begin. I actually start to watch all of the shows on a delay so I can fast-forward through the ads because I just don’t want to see the political ads. So, take all of my comments below with that knowledge – I’m not a policy nut who understands all of the legal/political jargon that I read. If I’m wrong, let me know – because I hope that I’m wrong!

    However, while at NTC last week, Holly Ross mentioned the newest ruling in the ongoing struggle for net neutrality that started with Comcast vs. the FCC, it bothered me. For those of you who may not be up to speed on this issue, which I had been sadly out of the loop on too, basically several years ago Comcast was blocking or slowing down the use of peer-to-peer services for their internet customers (sounds like censorship to me), and the FCC ruled against what Comcast was doing. Comcast did stop the practice, but continued to fight the ruling. But then early this month it was ruled that the FCC had no authority to set policy on what Internet Service Providers can do.

    So you might be wondering – what does this mean to me? I’m not sure what it means to me yet too. I’m still trying to figure this out in my head. But the social worker in my gets in a tizzy when there is something that feels like unfair practices that could give a provider of service a way to exclude someone from the table. On an extreme, let’s say an Internet Service Provider decided that they did not like the Wizard of Oz and they did not want their customers to have access to those materials. With this ruling it seems like they could have the right to block the content. Now it seems like a silly example, but change “The Wizard of Oz” to AIDS/HIV, disability, or any other hot topic issue. If the ruling is that FCC can’t stop Comcast from blocking peer-to-peer networks, some policy experts would assert that it means that the FCC can’t stop blocking of other things like this hot topics. Take it a step further, if Comcast acquires NBC, what stops them from blocking their customers from using the internet to get content from competitors?

    Scared now?  Yeah, when thinking of the extremes of where this can take us – it can be scary. But please, read the Washington Post about this ruling because they do a much better job at explaining this – and probably without the extremes that I just mentioned.

    Some would be wondering why I’m concerned about this – especially since I have been  in the middle of an installation of a Barracuda Web Filtering device at the office. It seems like I might be doing the same thing that Comcast was doing when they were blocking peer-to-peer networks. In fact, availability of the internet to do work is the reason why we are using the Barracuda device, because streaming content was hammering away at our network. But I do see a difference. I’m the customer and my agency is deciding what to block from employees. The employees are not paying for the internet, the agency is paying for the internet. I’m not providing the internet service and I’m not blocking customers from accessing materials – I’m blocking employees. In fact, we are blocking so little right now and just really monitoring because we don’t want to be “big brother”. I can count with just my fingers the websites we have blocked exclusively (Pandora, Playlist,  The fact is, I can take the Barracuda off-line and have access to full internet again – but if our Internet Service Provider blocked, we’d need them to unblock. (And we did have this happen to us for a while with a previous provider who actually blocked us the ability to upload certain files to our former website.)

    It is a slippery slope and I can see this being a hot topic for a long time. I can see the gray area issues because I am sort of in that gray area with the Barracuda. I don’t want this ruling to derail the plans that are out there to increase the availability of Broadband internet because it is so important that those continue forward. I can only hope that customer pressure on the Internet Service Providers will keep them in check while this continues to play out.

    And suddenly, I find myself interest in public policy – who would have thought that?

    Someday I will have a list of suggestions for returning to work after a conference, but since I haven’t found an easy way to handle it, I don’t feel comfortable enough writing any tips at this point. Maybe because the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) was so good it has been harder to get back to work. This conference held my heart from the moment that I signed up for the conference and it surely didn’t disappoint. In fact, it probably has given me materials for the next several blog posts because there is so much to process and comment on – I hope no one gets bored by my rehashing of things because personally, I need to process more.

    So this post isn’t going to have much but some resources that I jotted down that I would love to share and let you know how I look forward to using them. I also plan some changes to this blog due to my We Are Media blogging session – but I don’t think I’ll ever keep my posts between 300 to 500 words.

    Books I have in my possession –
    Linchpin by Seth Godin (I participated in a the hunt for Anderson Cooper to get this book)
    Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission – (I had a copy of this book but it disappeared so the new copies feature autographs from Holly Ross and Edward Granger-Happ)
    #SocialMedia Nonprofit Tweet by Janet Fouts with Beth Kanter – (autographed by both also!)

    Books I want to get –
    Why Business People Speak Like Idiots

    I have lots of websites to go thru also. They range from Jing and Screencast to several podcasts to the posts about the newest FCC ruling. There are other resources I have waiting for me to pay attention too that I haven’t even had a chance to view.

    I think this conference, over other conferences I have been too, will be providing me information for a long time to come. I have ideas about a possible game to help promote my agency due to the keynote about Games for Change. I have guidance on addressing budgeting due to my Curbside Consulting time. I have some questions about Social Media benchmarks and how I can use that data for making a plan for my agency’s use of Social Media. I have a plan on raising the funds to go to next year’s conference in Washington D.C. (it’s within driving distance).

    I look forward to continue to explore what I have learned, maybe even get comments back on how I am remembering things I learned, and continue to grow off of this experience.

    PS – I know that I could have tons of links in this message – but simply, I haven’t learned how to manage coming back from a conference and dealing with the backlog of work that needs my attention. I’m actually sneaking this post in. So please, if you have the links to share easily accessible – post them in the comments.

    It should not be any surprise that I’m bouncing with excitement to start heading to Atlanta tomorrow since one of my first blog posts was all about how much I love NTEN. So anytime I have anything on my schedule related to NTEN, I just feel a little bit more of a spark. Really, NTEN often keeps me motivated when the technology aspects of my job are draining me. For weeks now I have been looking forward to the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

    So in preparing to leave, I am not even stressing that much about what is left in the office to do (except for a graphic project that I would love to have to the printers but I must admit it isn’t looking good). But there are some things that I am going to miss – and guess what, nothing have anything to do with work. I’m going to miss Cafe World on Facebook, I’m going to miss the last regular season game the Penguins will have in the Mellon Arena, and I’m going to miss writing fan fiction for my secret identity.

    On the same note, there are things that I am not going to miss – and is it just by chance they have to deal with work? I’m not going to miss HelpDesk tickets at all. (New staff starts when I return!!!!) I’m not going to miss VPN, VPN directions for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS…. well, you get the point. I’m also not going to miss trying to piece together hardware for an 8-year-old computer from several other broken machines (not even the same brand!) and if someone else feels like making that happen, go for it! I’m not even going to miss my white board!

    Now that I’ve outlined that, I must admit, I do have some challenges coming up while at NTC. I thought I’d share and maybe I’ll get some feedback

    1. Carry-on vs. Checked Bags – I think I can pack with just carry-on. This is probably only because my personal item is going to be the really sickenly-awesome bag I got several years ago at Cisco Live! That bag holds my laptop (I’m taking a Mac because it fits). This bag is just the bag that I love to live in. I even have extra space right now for bringing back goodies. But I have a plan if I have to bring more back. So for now, I think I’m fine with carry-on.
    2. We Are Media Sessions – I made my selections and I’m going to the blogging session and the podcasting. It may seem odd that I’m going to blogging, but I’m a novice at blogging. I know that I can learn more. Podcasting is interesting to me, but I’m afraid of what will happen when people back in the office know that I know how to do podcasts. So, I better think of some things to podcast before I have to do it for real. I think it’s a skill I need to know since I play so much in that marketing role. (I decided not to take movies because I’ve become friends with iMovie, Final Cut Express, and AfterEffects in the past three years – each year learning a new one. I think I got my hands on those. As for Listening to Social Media – that’s why I know (and have training sessions planned with) Cindy Leonard.
    3. Breakout Sessions – 100 possible breakout sessions? Quick, someone tell me how many different combinations one person can have for sessions? That’s a kind of math that I can’t handle. More difficult, I can’t even start to narrow down which ones I want to go to at a given time. I do plan on trying to let the ones that are going to be taped go on by so I can catch them later, but still, that’s lots of options left. Given my dual hat situation, I’m getting many different “angels/devils” on my shoulders telling me that I should just focus on Social Media, or just focus on Websites. Or better yet, just planning & collaboration. But wait, maybe I should get at least one session about budgeting in. Yet those Change Management sessions (especially Leading Tech Change when You’re Not the Boss”), looks like it is calling to me.
    4. Geeka Being Social? – I like to hide sometimes behind the screen and words on a computer. That’s easy for me. But part of me is very shy (even after being an un-cool lead in some badly budgeted high school musicals). In social situations, it takes me a long time to warm up. I always feel like I’m stumbling over my words. That is exactly what happened during Cisco Live! (Plus, the ratio of gals to guys was like 1 to 150!) Now I think this crowd is more “me” and hopefully it won’t be so difficult for me to be a bit more social. If you are meeting me, I apologize for any social awkwardness that I start out with because once you get to know me a bit, and if you like sarcastic humor, I think you may like me.
    5. Weight Watchers at a Conference – Yeah, I’ll admit it. I’m a Weight Watcher and anything that takes me away from my norm, well, it can throw me off. But I also don’t like to call attention to it too much. Conferences are always difficult because the food isn’t usually my call. I know that if I eat the wrong types of carbs in the morning (right now I can have a Fibre One muffin without any problems), I will crave carbs all day long – and I will need to eat them. This uncertainty has had me on the trails, bikes, and elliptical a bit more since last week in the hope to lose some extra weight before leaving. I need to remember water, water, and more water. I’m giving myself the right to gain because if not, I’ll probably gain more. Yet, it’s a rough situation to be in – because in the end during the conference call last week Holly Ross mentioned the bar and all the social events. Holly, you’ll see me at the bar at some point.
    6. Science Fair – I think NTEN might have Cisco Live beat in this one. The list of vendors at the Science Fair look so much better than the list of vendors that were at the Cisco Live event I was at. Wow – w0w – ah, in fear to sound redundant – wow! Focusing in on what I need may be a challenge (plus I have to make sure to at least try to be in the running for one iPad prize.)

    I’ve got to stop because I have to do some work today. In the end, I feel like I truly only have a couple of questions left for the NTC: How many new projects/ideas am I going to have when I come back? When can I sign up for the 2011 NTC? When can NTC come to Pittsburgh?


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