Thursday, July 23, 2009

My friend Kate has been a very positive influence on my life and helped me shape my thinking. She is always interested in improving herself, and helping others improve. Based on her suggestions, I came up with a list of goals I would like to achieve and set my mind to them. I have been in the process of coming up with new goals, and I wanted to analyze my older goals. I thought I would post the analysis on my blog for my friends and family to read and comment on.

1.) Pay off car in 8 months (in account or paid)
* My cousin and I were involved in a car wreck and we owed the rental car company most of the money for the car. I was able to talk them out of about 25% of what they wanted us to pay. My cousin was an unauthorized driver, and I made a mistake authorizing him to drive. We went half on the expenses, even though I was 100% financially liable. The situation was pretty bad, but I am grateful that my cousin and I were able to talk and be involved in each other's life during this period. I was able to accomplish this within a month of setting my mind to it, mostly because of my cousin’s agreeability, good fortune and hard work.

2.) Finish Computer Science Masters Degree
This goal took a little bit longer than I was planning on, but thinking clearly about this definitely helped me choose which path to take. I was able to get my masters degree in May, 2009. Based on this goal, I choose to present my research to a board of professors instead of writing a thesis. I believe a thesis would have taken an additional 6-12 months to complete, and my goal was to get a masters degree, not necessarily a masters with a thesis. If I had cemented this goal into place earlier, and taken action based on that realization, I would have been done even earlier. Without it, I would have finished much later.

3.) Have Kate Johnson as a Girlfriend
This is the only goal I feel like I completely failed at. I focused too much on a lot of the negative aspects of our relationship, and failed to focus on the larger commonalities we share. Sometimes with concrete goals they are not achieved and this is one of those instances. I know I made a lot of serious mistakes with Kate and I can learn from those mistakes. I feel lucky that we are still friends. This is a goal where breaking it down into manageable chunks would have been good.

4.) Make Progress Towards Starting a Business
* MBA?
* Capital?
* Rental Property
Develop more specific goals towards this.
I was able to purchase some rental property and develop myself in that way. Without the support of my family, my old land lord Bob, my friend Oleg, and Kate pushing me to develop specific goals, this would have never happened.

5.) Write one letter or card per week to someone I care about
For this one, I started off really strong. However, things slowed down towards the end and eventually I forgot about it. I think I made a mistake by not keeping up with any kind of milestones, reminders or quantitative analysis of this. When I make a goal like this in the future, I plan on including a very detailed break down of it.

6.) Develop writing + web authoring skills further
My blog is a testimony to my web authoring skills, as is my learning of ActionScript. I finished a SANDReport for Sandia that will someday make it through review and approval, and I have another SAND report in the works. I feel pretty positive about this one.

7.) Learn how to make ceramic tile
If Kate didn't push me towards concretely writing down my goals, I never would have stepping into the UNM craft studio and learned how to do this. I feel like I accomplished this one. However, I still need to complete my table!

8.) Show more compassion
- listen more
- no interrupting people's sentences
For this one, I think I did better in general, but I still need to work on this. If I had done really well, I don’t think #3 would be a failure. Again, I feel like for these non-specific goals I need some sort of way to quantize them to make them more approachable on a day-to-day level.

9.) Stay Positive
This one has gone well. I find that if I stay very active, the positive outlook comes along.

10.) Practice Handball More
I think this one also went well. I went from a low B / high C player to a very solid B player. This one could have used more specifics and quantization, but still I feel good about it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Voice = Awesome

I was selected to participate in the new "Google Voice" closed beta test. So far, I love it! It's really cool being able to route calls to whatever phone you are currently at. Since I work inside a secured area, and cannot bring any personally owed electronics in (no cell phones) it makes giving people my work number a pain. However, Google Voice changes all that. Try clicking on the below link to give me a call using it!

In order to change the phones Google Voice will ring to, you need to authenticate that phone with the system (entering in a 2-digit code.) I think this is to make the service useful, as opposed to annoying by allowing arbitrary dialing and receiving of telephone calls (phone phreaking).

Here is a screen shot of how I can change the phones Google voice will ring on:

When I am at work, I just forward all my calls to my work number. Once I get off work, I have them forwarded to my cell phone. It's really easy and convenient.

I hope to post some additional screen shots to my blog showing how cool this service is. If anyone has any specifics they want to know, just send me a comment. Hopefully this isn't violating the terms of the beta, but if it is, google should "do no evil" by gently reminding me before pulling the plug!

I just wanted to throw this post up really fast so people could try calling me with the embedded button.