01001101 01111001 00100000 01001100 01101001 01100110 01100101

You might be asking yourself, What the heck does that blog title mean? It is binary and translates to “My Life” (without the quotes). This post is about computers and how they have affected my life (and yours). I thought it was apropos (if not a bit geeky) to make the title in binary. BTW – If you recognized the three disks in my article graphic then you’ve been in computers for a while too.

In my lifetime (I was born on April 12, 1967) we have seen the computer appear and grow exponentially beyond man’s wildest dreams… I know that the computer was technically invented way before that. Most consider the ENIAC, unveiled in 1946, as the first computer. However, controversy (and a lawsuit) has uncovered that the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) was created in 1942. Even before that (circa 1941) the Z3 was invented in Germany but destroyed shortly after during a bombing raid. All of this is moot though… Because if you look further back, all the way to 1801, you will find that binary was actually used via punch-cards on the Jacquard loom. And, technically, that even used technology based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (circa 1725). Ready to have your mind blown? Blaise Pascal invented a simple calculating machine back in circa 1642. And, finally, the Sumerian abacus (a math calculating machine) first appeared sometime between 2700 and 2300 BC!

If you wanna continue being amazed, checkout my article on communications.

Suffice it to say the computer has been around a LONG time! That said, we really are living in the information technology age and the computer as we know it today was invented in our parent’s lifetime. It took nearly 4,000 years and the invention discovery of electricity to get us where we are… Thousands of inventors have been involved and millions of people have been part of advancing the computer. I’m one of those millions, and this is my story:

I was first introduced to the computer by my father, Julien Kim Ripley, circa 1977. He would bring me into his office, Rodgers and Associates, which was a land surveying company. They had a PR1ME 300 mainframe computer, and it was incredible to me. Instantly, I saw my future and destiny. Dad and his company used the “beast” for CoGo (Coordinate Geometry), and I used it for PRIMOS, FORTRAN IV, and even some assembler. On top of very rudimentary programming, I also used it for two text based games that were loaded on it. One was Star Trek and the other was Adventure (Colossal Cave). Adventure changed my life. Some of you might recall this:

YOU ARE STANDING AT THE END OF A ROAD BEFORE A SMALL BRICK BUILDING.
AROUND YOU IS A FOREST. A SMALL STREAM FLOWS OUT OF THE BUILDING AND
DOWN A GULLY.

The epiphany for me was beyond anything I had ever experienced. I mean, sure I had been playing Pong at home for about two years, but this was different. I was on a machine… With a keyboard… Typing commands… Controlling it… I was the master, it was the slave. It did my bidding. And, I quickly learned that it would do anything I wanted.

Then, in 1979, my grandmother bought our family an Apple II+ home computer. Since then, I have owned an Amiga, TRS-80 Color Computer, Commodore 64, Atari, Apples, IBMs, and every brand of IBM PC clone.

After Fortran and assembly language, I taught myself BASIC. Then GraForth. Then machine language. Then Pascal (Turbo Pascal). Then C (again Turbo). Then COBOL and CICS. Then C+, C++, VisualBASIC, Java, C#… I think you get the point. I immersed myself. Along with programming languages, I studied every operating system I could get my hands on.

In 1983, my high school created its first computer class. The teacher was actually a history teacher and really did not know much about computers. I quickly became the teacher’s aide and before I knew it, I was teaching the class.

My Dad brought home a 300 baud modem (baud is similar to bits per second), we quickly upgraded to a 1200 baud joker. To put this into perspective, you are probably reading this article over a 10mbps (or faster) internet connection. That equates to over 10,000,000 baud. Ain’t technology grand?

Then the movie, War Games, came out… This changed my life again. Inspired to get even more involved with technology and communication. I started hacking (white hat only – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I started using several BBSs (bulletin board systems) to share and gain information.

Next, I found databases. I started programming and database administration with FoxPro back in 1991 (before Microsoft bought them). From FoxPro, I worked with Access, DBase, and then Oracle. I was hooked on yet another way to utilize the power of the computer. During this time I climbed the technology ladder and over three decades rose from data entry clerk to chief information officer.

My first experience with Unix was in 1992 with Sun. In 1993 I installed a little known operating system called Linux. Starting with Slackware, moving to S.u.S.E. and then later Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, and lately Ubuntu. By far, Linux and Unix (I have worked on and tried more than two dozen varieties) is my favorite environment and operating system (even twenty-three years later).

Before I knew it, the internet and email was here. Each of these things continued to motivate me to enhance my computer knowledge. I taught myself HTML and SGML (later Java, JavaScript, Rails, Ruby, Faces, Grails, and a few others).

These days, the only programming I do is SQL for databases, and C script for system administration work. I also dabble in mobile apps on my smartphone.

Writing this blog article was actually eye opening for me. It was fun to dig into the depths of my memory and come up with a timeline of computers in my life. When I started with computers I was using punch-cards (and then tape cassettes) to save my programs. My first program was only a few lines of code. Today, most of my programs are stored on a solid state drive (drive made of random access memory) or even on the cloud.

I think about the fact that computers came mid-childhood for me, and my seven year old son knows more about computers, smartphones, and tablets than I can imagine. I hadn’t even heard of the computer when I was seven! Xander is already learning to program via some very cool apps and tools for young children. What is the future (and his generation) going to hold for us? I bet it will be exciting!!! At the very least, I believe that computer will do some amazing things in the medical field and help us cure many things that are killing us early. They will also continue to powerfully impact our transportation and we will soon see flying cars as a regular occurrence. Mostly though, for better or for worse, I think that games will get better and better and more realistic.

What was your computer introduction like, and do you remember your early experiences? Got any predictions for the future?

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Virtual Friends

These days, it can be hard to differentiate your real-life friends from your virtually created connections. I often find myself referring to virtual connections and friends (I call them VCFs) simply as “friends.” This tag (friends) often leads people to believe that I’m discussing someone I know in real-life, or have met face-to-face. However, this is often not the case. Yet I still refer to my VCFs as friends. I actually have a rather large contingent of friends, followers, advisors, and mentors… The majority (by a long-shot) of these people are VCFs that I’ve never met in “real life.”

With this article, I’m going to let you in on my super secret sauce. I’m not bragging when I say, I have more than 22,000 people in my virtual black book (address book). The majority of my connections breakdown as 4,000 in LinkedIn, 3,000 in the Facebook, 12,000 in Twitter, and more than 3,000 in other social media sites.

Many people believe that this virtual community is not worth much (or anything at all). I would argue that this community is every bit as valid as my real-life connections. In some ways, it might be even more important. The main reason I believe this is because on a daily basis I get VCFs who broker additional relationships and help me to build solid foundations with people I never would have had the chance to meet a decade ago.

The caveat is that you must make some extra efforts to communicate (reasonably) and stay in touch with a much larger contingent when you use a virtual community as a resource.

To help with this monstrosity, LinkedIn has really upped the ante by making your contact list much more robust. They have added built-in reminders that tell you when one of your 1st connections has any of the following events:

  • New job
  • Moved
  • Work anniversary
  • Birthday
  • News interview or article
  •  

    All that you need to do is hover over Network on the top menu. Move down the list and click Contact. This will open your contact list with one new very important addition… Now the top three contacts are ones that have one of the above listed life changing events happening to them. After you select one of these people and “congratulate” them, it pops another contact in the top three list. This list continues to update until you’ve patted all of these friends on their virtual backs.

    In addition, there is a new option; which I consider the most awesome (and powerful) contact change at LinkedIn… You can setup reminders to alert you when it’s time to contact a specific person. When you have clicked on a particular contact, look under the relationship tab and find the “Reminder” button and click it. You can now enter a recurring appointment that will alert you to reach out to this particular person. I use this to remind me to stay in touch with friends or colleagues on a regular basis. Let’s face it, in today’s world of having 22,000+ contacts you cannot possibly keep up with 1/10 of them… Using features like LinkedIn’s reminder tool helps greatly!

    Now that we’ve broken the ice and talked about how important social media is, let’s talk about something even MORE important. Keeping up with all of your contacts. *insert sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard*

    It is IMPERATIVE that you not only reach out and connect with folks, but also that you make regular (daily… yes, daily) routine messages to touch base and congratulate your VCFs. Don’t over burden them with petty discussions, and avoid barraging them with inundating information. However, when they pop-up on your list of contact events, make sure to at least :like: or say “congrats.” I prefer to add a minor personal message with each contact.

    The tough (and sometimes overwhelming) part of this is that you need to check on your contacts daily. Think about it, if a birthday passes, it is pointless to reach out and wish them a happy birthday. You absolutely MUST login to LinkedIn and/or the Facebook every day and (at the very least) check for birthdays and life changing events. I set aside twenty minutes of each morning to do this daily ritual. Believe me, if you make this effort you will become a genuine friend and valued connection to your VCFs.

    Now that you know to login and check this stuff every day, make sure that you are efficient with your time, and that you don’t waste time on there. You can easily get sucked into tons of time on social media sites reading through posts and statuses. Skip this time waster and be quick. Get in, get it done, and get out!

    Look for another VCF blog article coming soon… We will breakdown making your connections and offer advice on how to hook the more famous and or popular connections that often reject every day average Joes like you and me.

    Please feel free to reach out and connect with me. Here’s a linkable listing of all of my virtual personalities:

    Stalk Me Online

    My Online Blogs and Sites

    Also, a few months back I also wrote a social media post: Social Media is Here to Stay. Please check it out!

    How do you use social media?

    I hope this blog article was beneficial!

    -Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Social Media is Here to Stay

    I occasionally hear some old school folks put social media down and I’ve even heard some say that it is a passing fad. To that I say, “Bunkum!” Social media is not simply a passing fad. What you may find is that some of the social media SITES are passing fads. They come and go so fast, many don’t even know they existed. Tobri is a good example of that. It was a small social media site that tried to act along the lines of the Facebook and others. Unfortunately, the popularity never was achieved and it slowly faded away.

    Did you know that when the internet first appeared many (including Microsoft executives!) predicted that it wouldn’t be used and would fail.

    Since we grasp the fact that social media is here to stay, we might as well use some of the websites and tools available to help make our online lives easier… Juggling a bunch of social media sites is impractical. Instead, you should seek out powerful dashboard and automation tools.

    Social Oomph is one of those tools. With it, you can automate DM (direct message) replies to anyone who follows you on Twitter. Or, you can preset tweets to happen at a specific date and time. This is a cool tool that can automate many of your social media tasks.

    Tweet Adder is another really cool tool that helps you to easily find folks to follow and to get followers on Twitter.

    I am also getting to the point where managing and staying on top of all of my social media outlets is nearly impossible. So, I joined XeeMe (pronounced See Me); which is not just another social media site to add to your deluge of sites. This one actually helps you to juggle that growing number of social media sites, and keeps all of your sites easily accessible and findable for your followers/stalkers. On top of that, XeeMe provides some pretty handy and useful analytic tools for your online presence.

    I have a tendency to separate my business and personal aspects in social media. In other words, I use Facebook primarily for personal status updates and connections. I use LinkedIn for business connections and updates. I usually use Twitter for both personal and business updates. And, I have two different accounts on Google+ (one for personal and one for business).

    Checkout my entire social media presence and how to stalk me here.

    Let me know how you juggle your social media sites! Also, do you think that social media is simply a passing fad?

    -Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Communication Timeline

    Since the dawn of mankind, we’ve been communicating in some form or another. One thing that fascinates me is the fact that when communication first started it took thousands of years before the next level was invented. During the information age (the time-frame after the industrial revolution), we have started inventing new forms of communication much faster. It is now to the point where we essentially come up with several high-level new forms each year!

    Here’s a list of many of the forms of communications along with their approximate introduction dates. Notice that I said “many” and “approximate”… I simply created a list of many of the more important communication thingies and some of the dates were tough to track down. Therefore, I did my best job in compiling this list. Don’t use it as the end-all be-all, but it should be good enough for government work. Most of these invented ways to hold discussions have patents, but several came from a time before patents!

    (;

    Communication Technologies Through the Eons

  • Talking (circa 100,000 BC)
  • Writing (circa 3,200 BC)
  • Courier (circa 2,400 BC)
  • Smoke signals (circa 150 BC)
  • Mail (circa 9 AD)
  • Chinese Print the first book (1100)
  • Gutenberg Printing Press (circa 1450)
  • Morse Code (circa 1836)
  • Telegraph (circa 1837)
  • Fax (circa 1865)
  • Telephone (circa 1876)
  • Radio (circa 1893)
  • Commercial Flight (circa 1913)
  • Airmail (circa 1918)
  • Television (circa 1927)
  • Cable TV (circa 1950-ish)
  • Modem (circa 1950-ish)
  • Computer Printer (1953)
  • Modern Fax Machine (circa 1964)
  • Instant Messaging (circa mid-1960s)
  • Satellite TV (circa 1967)
  • CompuServe (1969)
  • Email (1971)
  • Mobile Phone (1973)
  • BBS (1978)
  • Cellular Phone (1978)
  • AOL (1985)
  • Satellite Phone (1988)
  • World Wide Web / Internet (1993)
  • IP-based Cam Chat / Video Chat (circa 1990s)
  • Geocities (1994)
  • On Demand TV (circa 1994)
  • Voice over IP (1995)
  • Blogging (1997)
  • Google Search (1998)
  • Social Media – Friends Reunited (1999)
  • Wikipedia (2001)
  • Google Gmail (April 2004)
  • The Facebook (2004)
  • Twitter (2006)
  • Apple iPhone (2007)
  • Google+ (2011)
  • Google Hangouts (May 2013)
  • Google Glass (Available in early 2014)
  •  

    What’s next? I’m not sure if it will be next, but I seriously believe the “brain modem” is coming. This will read our thoughts and convert them to digital information that can be transferred to others. The scary part of this technology (to me) is the capability of government and others to hack into our very thoughts! Think about that for a minute!!

    Regardless of what you believe is coming, know that it is not only coming, but these technological advances are coming faster-and-faster each year. As I alluded to above, it took us nearly 2,000 years to go from mail to the telegraph. Yet, we managed to go from the telephone to the radio in fewer than 20 years! These days (with the advent of the computer), we manage to make technological leaps at least every year.

    What do you think will be the next major technological invention in the communication timeline?

    Last note: Did you notice that Google has been banging out the last several on my list? Interesting??!!

    Thanks for reading,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Monetize Your Website with Advertisements

    As you can see on my right sidebar (bottom of page on your mobile device), I use Google AdSense and highly recommend it to monetize your website. That said though, there are some fairly strict rules that you must adhere to, or you risk being banned from the program. For instance, I cannot ask you to click on my ads, and would never dream of requesting that, even though it would help support my blog. This post is going to discuss some of these rules in a little bit of detail.

    First things first – If you fail to follow Google’s AdSense program policies, you might be banned for life. I’m not kidding! Fortunately, the gist of the program policies are straight forward and easy to adhere to. Basically you cannot encourage clicks or click your own page ads… Also, your content must meet the guidelines (no porn, gambling, and so on).

    AdSense is what you join to get advertisements to post on your site. If you’re looking to advertise on websites, you need to look into Google AdWords.

    Before going down this path, I highly recommend that you investigate the policy and read other information you can easily find. Make yourself comfortable with the rules before proceeding. Remember: it is your responsibility to check this stuff out. Just like everything else in your life, the onus falls on your shoulders.

    Let’s define a few no-no’s that are recognized by several of the big advertisement companies:

    Click Fraud
    Click fraud is when a website owner clicks on his own ads to boost the number of advertisement ad clicks that he gets. Clicking your own website ad is against the policy of nearly all advertisement companies, and should never be done. Not even once to test that it’s working okay.

    Cloaking
    This is a technique that some website developers use to make a search engine think your site is something completely different than what it actually is. If you participate in this sort of bad behavior than you can lose your AdSense account and you may even have your website removed from Google (and other) search engine indexes.

    Keyword Stuffing
    When you inundate a website with repeated keywords, this is known as “keyword stuffing.” Usually done by hiding keywords inside content by matching the font color and background color. In this way, visitors rarely see the extra words, but search engines pick them up.

    Title Stacking
    Essentially this trick is done by using the HTML “title” tag redundantly. By making multiple title entries using same or different keywords, you can optimize your site for searches. However, this is pretty easily found out and you chance having your website removed from the search indexes.

    Unrelated Keywords
    Any time you pile up keywords that aren’t related to the content of a page, you are guilty of this practice and chance having your site banned from search engines.

    Duplicate Content
    Website administrators sometimes put up the same article on different pages to enhance and boost the page views that they receive.

    All of these “dirty tricks” are considered bad and can easily get your site removed from advertisement companies and search engine indexes. DO NOT DO ANY OF THEM!

    In all honesty folks, it ain’t complicated. If you want a descent amount of visitors and repeat customers than your best bet is to do things the old fashioned way… Earn them! This isn’t rocket science. There truly is a simple formula to get tons of visitors and returning readers:

    1. Create good content.
    2. Create regular content.
    3. Be honest.
    4. Offer your knowledge and help when you can.
    5. Don’t be a bozo! (okay, I just made that one up)

    Is that so tough? Not really.

    Now that we’ve covered how to get you kicked out… Let’s talk about getting you in! Before we stand-up your AdSense account, let’s quickly go over what you need in order to get validated.

    You need a website that has existed for a while and is loaded with great and frequent content. Your website will need to have been created more than a month ago (longer is better, as long as you’ve been pumping it with content). A blog works really good for this, because you update the content on a daily (or at least weekly) basis – Don’t you? Once you have about 22 blog articles posted, you are ready. Google doesn’t publish there standards, so these are only guesses based on previous experiences.

    In order to request an AdSense account, you simply login to your gmail account (you will need one of those) and follow these quick steps:
    support.google.com/affiliatenetwork/publisher/answer/156883?hl=en.

    BTW – You only need to be accepted at one of your websites, so pick the very best one with lots of content and updates and submit that one for approval. Once you’re approved, you can use this account for ALL of your websites (as long as they follow the guidelines).

    After you’ve setup your account, go to AdSense and create your ad. After creation, AdSense will give you the short bit of code that you can insert into your webpage(s). Viola!

    Now all you need is for people to click your ads! Like I said, you want people to click your ads, but you can’t ask them to. Remember this rule. As much as I’d love to tell all of you to go over and click my ad, I cannot. As an honest and upstanding blogger it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to cheat the system. Instead, provide good articles and information and wait for the readers to start clicking on their own accord.

    I hope my post was helpful.

    See you next time,
    V

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.