Just an update to my post below about this dyork.livejournal.com site. I left Voxeo in September 2011 and now work for the Internet Society on the Deploy360 Programme helping provide real-world deployment information about IPv6, DNSSEC, routing security and other Internet technologies. I also now aggregate all my writing at:
Hi. You probably wound up here through a Google search for "Dan York" or perhaps some list of blogs out there somewhere. You've found the very occasionally-updated personal blog of the Dan York who lives in New Hampshire, heads up marketing/communications for Voxeo, has been active in VoIP security and VoIP for years, contributes weekly reports on PR/marketing topics to the For Immediate Release podcast and has generally been a prolific writer online for the past decade.
I am not the Dan York who is a radio personality in Providence, RI, nor am I the Dan York who is the radio DJ in Tampa, FL. (What's up with "Dan York"'s in media, eh?) I'm also not the Dan York who is a VP at AT&T working with IPTV, nor the one out there who is a minister.
If you are, though, looking for me, you will find that I don't actually write here at dyork.livejournal.com all that much any more. This was my primary blog site from 2004 up until around 2006 when I split my writing across multiple sites. I still keep this site because from time to time I do have things to post of a more personal nature... and I've had various ideas to do more with it over the years.
In the meantime, though, you can find my writing online at a number of sites, primarily:
For Immediate Release - Since mid-2005, I have been a "weekly correspondent" into this twice-weekly show contributing a typically 6-8 minute segment into usually the Thursday shows, talking about social media, PR and communication "from a technologist's point-of-view".
My writing can be found on a number of other sites and yes, I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and pretty much most other social networking sites out there. I aggregate much of the content I create on friendfeed.com/danyork which you can also look at.
As you have no doubt notice, I don't write here much any more... I'd like to, but I'm writing in all sorts of places these days and there's way too many places to write and not enough hours in the day.
Anyway, because of the vile, heinous blog comment spammers who are paying people to defeat CAPTCHA systems in order to post their URLs to pointing to porn, pharmaceuticals and other products, I've had to change my comment process here on LJ. If you are one of my "friends" here (i.e. other LiveJournal users that I have "friended"), you will continue to be able to post automatically to any of the (admittedly few) posts that I leave here.
Anyone else will have their comment put into a moderation queue and I'll post it whenever I get a chance to do so.
It's annoying... but the blog comment spammers are far MORE annoying!
In a few minutes I'll be heading off to the Keene Recreation Center, the polling place for my ward of Keene, not to vote, but rather, to work. After reading the many pleas about the need for election workers in what is expected to be a very heavy turnout, my wife and I both signed up to help. She's doing registration of new voters while my role is "working the line". Basically, my task is one of a couple of people asking everyone in line "Are you registered to vote in this ward? Do you still live here?", etc. and then either directing them to the appropriate line or, in some cases, to one of the other voting locations in Keene.
I've never volunteered at an election before, so this should be interesting to see. The process of getting involved was interesting, as well. Very formal pieces of paperwork to sign. Training to go through. Material to read. Badge to wear.
Most of the shifts are 4 hours but I signed on for a two-hour stint first thing in the morning. I have the luxury of having a job where I can "time-shift" my day a bit and instead of starting at my usual 8am, I'll just start a bit after 10am and work later. I can shift things by 2 hours, but 4 hours was too much of a stretch. The city was grateful for whatever help I could provide.
It will be interesting, indeed, to see how heavy the turnout is, today...
In my last post here, I asked for recommendations for an office chair and was rather surprised by the unanimity of the responses I got pointing to either the Herman Miller Aeron chair or the Herman Miller Mirra chair. I did have one person who suggested the Chadwick chair from Knoll. I had another friend who wondered at the ROI (Return on Investment) of the price of an Aeron and suggested that you could buy a new chair from Staples each year over 10 years and still not hit the price of the Aeron.
However, of the probably 25+ responses I received in various channels, everyone raved over the Aeron and Mirra chairs from Hermann Miller. Given the raves for both chairs, I really wanted to try them out before buying and was somewhat surprised that there wasn't really a Hermann Miller supplier in New Hampshire. There is one over in Manchester, NH, but they turned out to primarily sell to businesses and do corporate office design. They had a showroom where I could have gone to try the chairs, but I got the sense from the person on the phone that they'd need to order the chair I wanted. Seeking immediate gratification, I sought elsewhere.
We wound up driving about 1.5 hours in the opposite direction over to Manchester Center, Vermont, where we met the guys at Circa50 and I had a chance to try out both chairs.
I did wind up ultimately buying an Aeron chair. It's definitely more money than I've ever spent on a chair in my life, but I can't argue with the fact that since I sit in that chair for at least 8-10 hours a day (and sometimes more) each work day and sometimes on weekends, I do need a solid chair. The Circa50 guys also gave me a great deal that more than compensated for the fact that I was driving from sales-tax-free New Hampshire over to Vermont. They were great to work with (and they sell online as well) and I took the chair home with me. (had some great Mexican food in Manchester Center, too!)
My reasons for choosing the Aeron over the Mirra came down to really two:
TILTING FORWARD - In this process of searching for a chair, I've discovered something about my own posture during the work day. Sometimes during the day, I tilt my body forward and almost sit on the edge of the chair. The Aeron has the ability to tilt forward a few degrees while the Mirra doesn't. For me and the way I sit sometimes, this made sense to support.
THE MESH - I sat in both for some time... moved around in them... tried to pretend I was working at a desk. In the end, I just liked the mesh back of the Aeron better than the plastic back of the Mirra. The Mirra was definitely comfortable, and I think it would have been a perfectly fine office chair to have... I just happened to like the feel of the Aeron better. Your mileage may vary.
One thing I did like about the Mirra was that it was simpler to change the configuration. The Aeron has a few more knobs and levers than I really feel are necessary... but I've now got it adjusted so it does feel good.
So that's the story... many thanks to all the people who replied back via all the various channels: replies to the blog post, twitter messages, private email, IM, etc.
The cheap Yankee in me still wonders about the ROI, but I can't deny that it's a VERY comfortable chair in which to sit!
Do any readers have recommendations for a good office chair for my home office?
After what seems like an eternity but in reality has only been a little over two months, the contractors are finally done with the renovation of our second floor and... gasp... I can finally move into my home office!
(And there was MUCH rejoicing!)
Tomorrow instead of working from the couch in our living room, as I've been doing since the beginning of June, I'll actually be able to sit at a desk... I'll be able to use a second monitor again... I'll be able to bring the podcasting gear out of the box in the basement... I'll be able to get to files in my file cabinets again. Life will be good!
There's only this one wee little problem. I was able to score a beautiful wood desk from a big sale at Pompanoosic Mills and so I'm all set with that. I have all my other file cabinets and office furniture from Burlingtion. Except...
I don't have an office chair.
So tomorrow I'll have to pull out one of our IKEA folding chairs and sit in that. It will work... but given that I sit in that chair for 8+ hours each day, it's not exactly a long-term solution.
In the past, I've just bought typically a low-end rolling chair from a local office supply store and, well, the comfort has been exactly what you might expect to get. Maybe it's just that I'm getting older... but I've also come to appreciate that given the amount of time I'll be in the chair, I really need to get one that works well. I don't want to spend a zillion dollars, but I am willing to spend "what is necessary" (keeping in mind that at heart I'm a frugal Yankee).
Given that most everyone in Voxeo's Orlando office have Herman Miller Aeron chairs, and I've experienced how comfortable they are in my visits down there, I'm highly tempted to buy one of those (even as I may cringe at the price). But I don't know...
So I thought I'd ask - do any of you reading this have any recommendations? If you work in an office or a home office, do you like a particular chair more than others? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. (Thanks in advance!)
Some day, when I have that mythical thing called "free time", there's a part of me that would like to do more writing about what I see as challenges with the current direction of public education here in the USA. My parents both worked in the public education system, as did my wife's, and 20 years ago I went to college/university with the idea that I wanted to teach in the public schools. I went as far as entering into the Masters in Education program before life took other turns (and I actually wound up teach adults through corporate IT training). I love to teach and could easily see myself going back that route at some point in my life.
And yet with all that public school background and intent, here I am sending my daughter to a private school.....
.... why did I lose my faith in the direction of our education system? That's the subject for another blog post some day.... suffice it to say that it has a whole lot to do with the current US administration and its "All Children Left Behind" policy...
I had to laugh in utter amazement when I read that Windows 3.11 is finally reaching it's end! Going back to the dawn of Windows, those of us around then can remember what a great thing "Windows For Workgroups" was.. wow, we could easily network our Windows computers!!
Man, we have come SO far from those days!
Amazing on one level that WFW was still kicking around in embedded systems... but on the other hand I suppose it's not surprising in that if you have something that works well you may as well stick with it.
Although we decided back in January to move from Burlington, VT, to be closer to family and in late March I wrote about the impending changes, it wasn't really until May 2nd when we put our house on the market that the insanity really started. As I noted then, I expected that I'd be doing less writing in the next month across all my various blogs.
That expectation certainly came true.
I wrote practically nothing here, on Disruptive Conversations or on the Voice of VOIPSA weblog. I haven't put out a single Blue Box episode since the end of April (and am up to 3 or 4 now recorded but not post-produced). I wrote a bit over on Disruptive Telephony, but primarily because I was trying to sort out what to do about a landline at the new house. I was writing over on the Voxeo blogs because, gee... that's part of what I'm paid to do! I did keep writing over on my Twitter account... partly as a way to maintain sanity and partly because while I couldn't find the time to crank out full blog posts or podcasts, it was easy to crank out 140 characters from time to time.
But for this past month, I did very little outside of what I needed to do for work... and then the packing... and the zillion little things involved with buying and selling houses. I've generated more faxes in the past 4 weeks than I have in the previous 4 years. The banks are also certainly putting borrowers through an excruciatingly thorough process now. (Gee, a little late, eh?) The VT buyers needed to move up the closing a week which was fine by us but added timing challenges. And inevitably there were a zillion last-minute injections of stress into the process. (For example, we had no clue that we had to close off the fence permit we took out 3 years ago!!) Long days of many hours...
That's over now.
We're now wonderfully settled into our home in Keene, NH. The sale of our Burlington house closed two days ago (Monday) so we now only own one home. Sure, we still have many boxes up on the second floor, but courtesy of my wife's organizational prowess the main part of the house looks great and we can get on with living.
It's time to breathe again.
Yesterday was a bit of a blur as we sort of pinched ourselves and wondered if this was all real. Had we really put our VT house on the market, closed on the house here, moved everything we own and closed on the sale of our VT house... had that all happened in the space of just over a month? Indeed it did.
Today I woke up energized and excited as I haven't been for a bit. Stories to tell... blog posts to write... messages that were put aside to reply to... work projects to launch.
And so it begins... I'm actually taking vacation time for today through Friday and we'll be starting the beginning of our now only three-week transition from Burlington, VT, down to Keene, NH.
Tomorrow we close on the house in Keene and we're bringing one truckload of stuff down with us. Today will be spent packing up more stuff, getting the UHaul truck and loading it up. Tomorrow's the drive to Keene, closing and unloading. Friday we'll have the fun of moving things we put into a storage unit in Keene over to the new house... and doing a zillion other things that come with a new house (like, oh, buying appliances!).
We're then back in VT for our final two weeks... the movers are coming at the end of the month to get the final big pieces (and the piano!) and then Monday, June 2nd, is our closing day on the sale of our home up here!
So in a little less than 3 weeks we'll be all moved out of VT and down into NH!
It seems incredibly surreal...
(And it's pretty certain these next 3 weeks will be sheer madness..)
Just a note to readers: I expect that for the next 3 to 4 weeks I won't be doing all that much blogging here due primarily to our impending move to Keene, NH, and the collision in timing of three different threads of my life:
We've now put up the signs and are officially selling our house here in Burlington, VT. Check out the website for more information, to see pictures, read the blog (yes, of course, it has one), etc. If you want to buy a house in Burlington, we'd love to hear from you. (And personally I'd enjoy it if the ultimate buyer found it through a blog. :-) We're going, at least initially, the For Sale By Owner route so naturally that will occupy some of our time (hopefully!).
We are closing on our house in Keene, NH, on May 15th, although we are not planning to actually move down there until mid-June.
A major new project landed on my plate at work that should be both fun and something in which I'll learn a lot... but it's going to be rather all-consuming and the deadline is also right around May 15th.
Add in some presentation deadlines, the ever-constant flow of email and generally the next few weeks look to be rather chaotic. I don't expect to be writing here or probably anywhere other than perhaps Voxeo's blogs (since writing there is part of my job). We'll see. I'm sure I'll still be twittering, because that's so easy to do. Otherwise, I expect you'll see more here starting in mid-June. That's the theory, anyway!
What do any of you readers think of the 2.8GHz iMac? Is it worth the extra $450 to upgrade from the 2.4GHz model?
It's that time for me... the HP computer I bought five years ago is really showing it's age and just won't run the kind of apps I want to run on it with anything resembling speed. (I've also gotten used to apps running faster on newer computers!) It's also a loud computer... the fan and the disk drives both create a good bit of volume.
So it's time for an upgrade. And, rather than looking at another Windows computer.... yep, I'm thinking of getting an iMac!
In part this is because I'm now using a MacBook Pro on a daily basis and like so much about the operating system and how it works. I also very much like how easily Parallels lets me run Windows apps on the system. And, I enjoy having a real command-line that I can work on. For those and a bunch of other Mac-fan-boy reasons, I'm very happy with the system.
So in considering a new home desktop system, the iMac has entered into my thinking for a number of reasons beyond what I just mentioned. It also has a smaller footprint... and it's quiet! (From what I've seen, anyway.) This is a key concern for someone who does a lot of podcast recording.
At this point my major consideration is this - do I buy the 2.4 GHz model listed at $1799? Or do I go for the 2.8 GHz model at $2249? The main differences seem to be that the higher-end model has:
a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme versus a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2 GB memory standard versus 1GB
a 500 GB hard drive versus a 320 GB hard drive
So for $450 I get a faster processor, more RAM and a bigger hard drive. It's also a different class of processor, but I don't personally know the difference between a Core 2 Duo and a Core 2 Extreme. (And regardless of system, I'd probably upgrade it to the full 4 GB of supported RAM.)
Is it worth it? That's the question I'm asking myself now.
My general practice for a home desktop machine has been to buy a fairly high-end system and then use it for some number of years until it just doesn't work that well. That's what I'm looking to do again. However, I also don't want to waste money if the upgrade really doesn't make for a stronger system.
Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated. (Thanks in advance.)
P.S. On a side note, I find it interesting that in evaluating systems for a new desktop system, physical expandability was not one of my criteria. It used to be that I wanted to make sure I had extra bays for hard drives, etc. Today, though, between moving an increasing amount of my data into the network "cloud" and also USB/Firewire storage, the need for system expandability is less. I find it an interesting change in my thinking.
When we lived in Ottawa from 2000-2005, my wife and I worked our tails off fixing up the old (1930's-vintage) house we had in the Woodroffe North area of Ottawa. We painted basically every surface of the house, added wood doors and French doors and walls, changed out most every light fixture, added wood floors to the rear bedrooms, added a side shed and kayak rack, fencing and did extensive landscaping including bringing in river rock for side walkways, perennial gardens and a patio. We also had someone come in a completely re-do the electrical system, add new countertops, install hardwood floors and more.
It was a ton of work and after five years when we were done with most projects and could enjoy it, we decided to sell and move here to Burlington.
So we decided to do things differently here in Burlington. Our plan was to get as much done on the (1960's-vintage) house as we could as soon as we could so that we could sit back and enjoy it all. We figured we'd be here for a long time- so we went with that plan.
So once again we set about working hard... replacing all the doors with solid wood doors (and a French door) and new hardware, painting all of the walls, installing new light fixtures... and of course extensive landscaping including probably 100 wheelbarrow-fuls of river rock for side walkways, extensive perennial gardens, raised garden beds, a large natural play area for kids... We had someone come in and completely re-do the entire electrical system, install ceiling fans, kitchen counter lighting, new switches, etc. We also had people come in and put in new tile throughout out the kitchen, front foyer and bathroom and new (beautiful!) granite countertops. We just had the upstairs bathroom redone to go from 1960's to a modern spa-like appearance. We have new moulding throughout the first floor, new sinks, new toilets... and, oh, yes, new appliances. Plus we had a fence installed around the entire property with appropriate archways, arbors, etc. And we just last fall had a beautiful walkway put in leading up to the front door.
It's been a ton of work and now.... after 2.5 years of doing all of this, when we're basically done with most projects and could enjoy it, what are we doing?
Yep... we're selling the house and moving to Keene, NH!
In fact, we've already entered into a purchase agreement on a house in Keene and will be closing on the property in June as school winds down (or possibly earlier in May). We're in the process of getting our house here in Burlington ready to go on the market next month.
Why move? And why Keene?
Well, it really comes down to one reason... driving time:
DISTANCE TO SCHOOL - Right now we drive 25 minutes down to the school our daughter goes to in Shelburne. Basically it means that my wife and I are spending two hours of our day commuting to/from the school. With our move, we will be a five minute WALK from the same type of school in Keene. (How two children (my wife and I) of public school teachers, one of whom (me) was going to go into public teaching, decided to send their daughter to a private school is a good topic for another post someday, probably titled "Leaving All Children Behind", but I digress...) So we're exchanging a 25-minute drive for a 5-minute walk (and we can't wait!). This is the year for us to do it, too, as our daughter enters first grade in the fall.
DISTANCE TO FAMILY - The main reason we moved from Ottawa to Burlington in 2005 was to be closer to our family in NH, VT and CT. We loved Ottawa but just weren't having fun with all the trips back to New England to see family. It's been great in Burlington... we've made day trips to some of our family. But the death of an uncle back in December brought home to us that as close as we are, we're still too far away from some of our family. This move to Keene will basically cut in half our travel time and make it so that now we are in day trip range for all of our immediate family.
We have thoroughly enjoyed living in Burlington and there are many aspects - and many people - that we will definitely miss. (I also won't be able to drive to Quebec to get my curling fix!) Burlington was great also because I could easily drive the 4.5 hours back to Ottawa when I was working for Mitel. Now that I'm no longer needing to go to Ottawa, we had more flexibility with where to live. (And if I won't move to Orlando, where Voxeo is headquarted, they didn't really care where I live.)
Why not? It's a great small city. We can walk to our daughter's school. We can walk to downtown. We already know people there, including family. It's got multiple colleges. It's got a burgeoning tech scene (as fellow Keene resident Jon Udell discusses in a podcast). It's got plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. It's got relatively easy access to Boston.
About the only thing it doesn't have is a decent airport, which is the one bummer for someone like me who travels 1-2 weeks a month. Instead of a simply 15-minute cab ride across Burlington, I'll have to be driving most of an hour over to Manchester, NH. However, that's definitely balanced out by the quality of life we'll gain in other areas.
Our timing could have been better, too... this isn't exactly the best market to try to sell a house. The good news at least is that the neighborhood we live in here in Burlington is a very desirable one. We'll see how that all works for us.
So that's the scoop... we're returning back to the Granite State that we left in 2000 to head north to Ottawa. (In an amusing bit of irony, back in 2000 we were living in Hooksett, NH, and thinking about moving either to the Portsmouth area or to Keene... but then I got that fateful call that took me north to Ottawa!) It will be a crazy couple of months ahead of us... wish us luck! :-)
P.S. Anyone want to buy a house in the New North End of Burlington? Drop me a note as we're certainly open to talking now. (We're just waiting to put the house on the market until this <expletives deleted> snow melts so that people can actually see the landscaping we've done!)
I have long resisted writing about politics in this blog or any of my other blogs. Not for lack of interest... indeed, I'm a hardcore political junkie who stays up late on every primary night watching returns - and will be tonight. After spending most of my adult life living in New Hampshire, politics just gets infused into your blood. I've worked on multiple political campaigns as a volunteer and spent some long hours on phones, doing mailings and at campaign events. In fact some of the first press conferences and TV/radio work I ever did was when the environmental organization for which I was the N.H. political chair endorsed a certain young, inexperienced southern governor in 1992 who went on to become president. Politics is in my blood and each day it is screaming to come out in words and actions. There is a large part of me that wants to do things like launch a "political blog" and join the chorus of voices seeking to change the direction of this country.
Especially now. Today. In this extraordinary moment of time.
I've tried very hard to keep politics out of this blog -- despite nearly overpowering impulses to the contrary -- for two reasons: one, there's no reason to alienate people who don't share my political views, as wrong-headed as those people may clearly be; two, there's no reason to expect my opinion on political issues should be any more valid than any other reader of what, these days, passes for the New York Times.
I share those "nearly overpowering impulses". And I share the concern about alienation (and validity). Unfortunately, the sad truth is this:
We live in a country divided.
And those divisions strike to the heart of our nation. It's not just "Red State" versus "Blue State"... the polls are so much narrower than that. If you look at the results of the last presidential and congressional elections in terms of the popular vote, we as a nation are incredibly divided... literally in half. And worse, we are passionately polarized. The "moderate" middle seems to have continued to shrink dramatically while the extreme sides seem to have strongly gained in numbers. We do not necessarily relish and embrace the differences that have made us so strong as a nation, but rather we revile and reject those with opposing views. If you are on "the other side" you are "un-American" and someone with whom we are not to deal with. Tolerance and respect for opposing views and beliefs at least seems hard to come by. The sides have dug in and are fighting hard.
It's not a particularly great environment right now for political discourse.
In that context, the communicator in me strongly wants to keep politics completely out of my online writing. The stories I tell and the changes that I attempt to chronicle in blogs like Disruptive Telephony and Disruptive Conversations transcend politics. VoIP doesn't differentiate between Red State and Blue State. The changes of social media are impacting communicators on all sides of the great debates raging within our country. So the question is:
Do I want to potentially alienate probably half of my readers?
In that context, the (relatively new) employee in me wants to keep politics out of my writing to avoid tension with potential customers. For better or worse, I am one of the "public" faces of my employer and indeed was hired in part to be a public face through our blog site and the online work I do. Although I write here as an individual with the standard disclaimer in my sidebar about my writing ("All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and have no connection to my employer or any other person or organization.") the reality is that in the "Age of Google" anything you write can be found by anyone searching. The "Dan York" of this blog is the same one who writes for my employer's blogs. All the writing is interconnected and easily found - disclaimers to the contrary. So the question is:
Do I want to potentially alienate probably half of our customers (who stumble upon my writing)?
Now the reality is that probably the vast majority of the readers of my blogs (and any potential customers who might somehow stumble upon my writings) may not care at all what political positions I take. Even if they do, they may certainly be able to let that be and read on. But will all? Is the risk worth it?
In that context, there is still the patriot that lurks inside of me that loves this country and sees the incredible potential that resides here... and wants to speak out. The skeptical idealist who clings to the potentially naive delusion that one more voice added to the chorus can help in some small way... that it is the time for all of us who actually do care about the future of this nation to stand up and let our voices be heard. I see great challenges ahead of us... with our economy... with our relations abroad. There is much to do. I'd like to be yet another voice out there. But can I?
How to resolve the conundrum?
Do you speak out and run the risks? Or do you stay quiet and sit on the sidelines?
For the moment, my choice will be to NOT join in the global online conversation. For the moment I think I'll leave my politics out of my writing... although I'm sure patterns could be deduced from my tweets, saved links and other online info. (Well, that and the fact that I chose to move to Vermont, which just in general has a certain political view.)
All opinions expressed here are entirely mine and have no connection to my employer or any other person or organization.
If you enjoy my writing (style or content) and would be interested in a contribution of text to a book, magazine, website, etc., please feel free to contact me as I am always open to considering writing opportunities.
Dan York, CISSP, is Director of Conversations at Voxeo. He is also the Best Practices Chair for the VOIP Security Alliance. However, there is no connection between Voxeo and this weblog and nothing stated here should in any way be interpreted as statements or positions of Voxeo or VOIPSA.
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