Monthly Archives March 2013

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We Want to Win!

By M Davies   /     Mar 27, 2013  /     Blogging, Events, NEPA  /     0 Comment

NEPA Blogs Mirrored Post

 

The Weekender is holding their annual “Weekender Readers’ Choice” nomination/awards.  The NEPA Blogs team (Harold, Gort and I) would really love it if you’d take a moment to nominate NEPA Blogs for the honor of Best Local Blog.  The ballot is located here:  http://www.theweekender.com/readerschoice/weekender-readers-choice-2013.

 

You must vote for at least 25 categories and only once to be counted.  You have until Tuesday, April 12th to cast your ballot.

 

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We completely missed the nomination process last year while focusing on other things (mainly Spring BlogFest).  We want to win the whole kit caboodle this year, baybee!

 

Please share with anyone who is casting a ballot.  A vote for us can help them make their quota of 25 entries!

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Do I want to go to Bloggy Conference 2013? Um, yes.

By M Davies   /     Mar 17, 2013  /     Blogging, Events, NEPA  /     6 Comments

This post is an entry into the Building Blog Bridges giveaway I have entered for a chance to win one Bloggy Conference 2013 ticket.

 

I don’t usually use my personal blog for a specific purpose other than to get stuff off of my chest.  Not this time.  This time, I am blogging in hopes of winning a Bloggy Conference ticket.  Bloggy Conference’s vision focuses on offering new and continuously developing approach to growth, networking and education in social media.  To give my readers a little background, I learned about this conference and opportunity on a website I happened upon about a year ago called BloggyMoms.  While I am a Mom who blogs, I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “Mommy Blogger”.  The reason I had actually joined this particular network of bloggers was to attract attention to two other blogging projects that I am involved with.  In short, I feel that attending the Bloggy Conference would benefit these two projects that I am involved with.  Allow me to digress!  (*Ahem* that’s code for Let me talk your ear off.)

 

 

I started my personal blogging adventure in 2001 on Diaryland, if you could even call that “blogging”.  It was more of a personal journal in my opinion.  In 2003, I decided to up the ante and moved from that platform to my own hosted domain name and a CMS called “Greymatter”.  I didn’t have any expectations about blogging other than to talk about things going on in my life (at the time – getting married and my pregnancy with my daughter) in a humorous way .  It also gave me a chance to play around with HTML, CSS and PHP coding – something that I didn’t really touch in my job function at the time.  I didn’t really believe anyone would actually read it.  As you’ll find out below…I was wrong!  One day, I was checking out my blog’s statistics and noticed that I received an incoming link from a blog called “NEPA Blogs“.  “What is that?” I pondered.  When I followed the link, I was greeted with a bunch of links for blogs from my own backyard.  Like a mad man, I contacted the group’s administrators and started suggesting my own links from the area.  And that’s how the story begins….

 

 

In July of 2008, I was invited to join the ranks of this popular group of bloggers in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  The group was started in January of 2006 and formed by Harold Jenkins.  He himself started blogging that year and wanted to see if there were any other local bloggers out there.  The group came to be known as “NEPA Blogs” (NEPA, btw,  stands for Northeastern Pennsylvania).  Harold’s mission was very simple.  He wanted NEPA Blogs to become a clearinghouse providing links to blogs and other sites about Northeastern Pennsylvania or by people from Northeastern Pennsylvania, in other words, he wanted to create a regional blogging community.  Harold had also recruited another local political blogger, Ben Hoon, to help seek out bloggers from the region.  Together, the three of us have been blogging for the community for five years.  We’ve had our share of squabbles and successes, but we remain tightly knit through it all.

 

 

In April of 2011, I decided to leave my job in the Supply Chain management field to change career paths.  I was unemployed for a little over a month before I found work back in my field of choice – IT.  During that month, I took a lot of time for myself, but I also dedicated a bunch of my free time to help improve NEPA Blogs.  I registered a top level domain for the Blogger site and worked to transform the social media footprint of the group.  I created a Google+ account, a Facebook page and group, a Twitter account and a Pinterest account to accomplish this feat.  Each week I work to keep these accounts up-to-date with the latest blogging news from the area.  I was/am instrumental in gaining media attention for NEPA Blogs.  With my assistance, NEPA Blogs secured a weekly “Blog of the Week” segment on WBRE-TV’s (Wilkes-Barre’s NBC affiliate) local variety show called PA Live! that my blogging partner Harold produces/hosts.  We’ve also been been featured in several local periodicals, interviewed for a local radio station WFTE-FM, and have been asked as guests on local cable access TV show ComputerWise.  You can read these articles, listen to the interviews and watch the segments on my press page.  I’m happy to report that with all of this newly found attention, our page views sky rocketed and we connected with more local bloggers than ever before!  In January, Harold created a presentation for Pecha Kucha Night Scranton that summarized all of NEPA Blogs successes throughout the years.  I’d like to share that with you below!

 

One of the fun parts of being a part of a community of bloggers is by far the meet-ups.  You get to meet all of the people you know from online, offline!  The first meet-up was held in December of 2006.  Sadly, I was not able to attend the first event because I was still learning to cope with being a mother of two children!  I gave birth to my son in August of 2006 and he still wasn’t sleeping all that well through the night.  My daughter was barely 2.  I had my hands full and not much time to myself.  The turnout was small, but I’m told that the atmosphere was friendly and warm.  I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t miss the next one.

 

I was given the opportunity soon enough, Ben and another local blogger David Yonki started planning bi-annual “Blog Fests”.  These events are usually geared more toward the political bloggers and the evening has a casual networking atmosphere.  The rules for these meet-ups are (according to Ben): no speeches are allowed and agree to disagree but don’t be disagreeable.  Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Pastafarians all converge on a Pub in Pittston, PA and for that night put their differences aside to have a little fun.

 

From our NEPA Blog Fest gatherings, I learned that social media, networking, and blogging was a hot button issue in the community.  Those who didn’t know about it wanted to learn about it.  It started the discussion “What if we could transform these gatherings into a learning experience?”  Soon after, plans started to come together for an educational blogging conference.  I got to meet and collaborate with 3 amazingly talented local blogger women to organize this conference.  We called ourselves the Fearsome Foursome and we named the event “NEPA BlogCon” — NEPA’s first ever blogging and social media conference.  The four of us agreed that blogging gatherings should not just be limited to drinks and politics.  We really wanted to give something back to the community while teaching the area about the latest technologies for personal branding, marketing and blog monetization at their disposal.  Our first event, last year was a success!  We had 80 attendees and were able to donate over $2000 split between two local non-profits/charities.  Our speakers included the talented Kris Jones, Lauren O’Nizzle, Kuhcoon.com, and Gala Darling!

 

Now that you know a little bit about my background, I am sure that you can see I am extremely passionate about blogging and blogging communities.  Attending this conference would be of great value to me, not just for the exceptional sessions and panels, but also the planning aspect.  Up until planning our conference last year, I have never attended a blogging or social media conference before.  I’d love to see how others do it – I’m sure there’s a great deal of room for improvement on our parts, but it was only our first year.  We were just inventing the wheel.  BloggyCon 2013 could help me put more “tools” in my preverbal “toolbox” for this year’s conference planning.  I’d also love to meet some bloggers from outside the area.

 

In closing, I have always strived to be a lifelong learner and feel that whatever I may learn from the sessions and panels at Bloggy Con can not only can be used on this rinky-dink personal blog of mine, but across the Northeast Pennsylvania blogosphere.  I thank you for your consideration and for listening to my rambling!

 

Bloggy Conference 2013!

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This week in ancient history, a pictorial

By M Davies   /     Mar 14, 2013  /     Misc/Crap, TV Rants  /     1 Comment

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.  It seems every year in recent memory, I’ve been taken away from home on the day or the week of his birthday.  I had to work on his birthday this year, so I wasn’t home, but at least I was in the same zipcode.  As you’ll see below, I’ve been far and wide on this week in recent history.

 

First, I have to start with the obligatory look back at the blizzard of 1993 which happened 20 years ago.  Damn, I feel old.  I was in sixth grade at the time and my brother was in Kindergarten.  I vaguely remember a conversation with my teacher at the time.  It went something like this…

 

Mr. Chig:  Michelle, can you close these blinds for the windows?

Me:  Ok, no problem but, why?

Mr. Chig:  If they are open, the attention is focused on what’s going on outside and not on me.

Me:  Do you think we are going to get out school early?

Mr. Chig:  I’d say there’s a good chance.

 

We did get out early that day.  In my adolescent mind, the blizzard was already paying off!  When my brother and I got home, we watched the news (on WYOU *ahem*) and learned about how bad our backs would be aching after shoveling.  The outlook wasn’t good.  Especially since my Dad had pneumonia at the time.  My Dad was/is a heavy smoker, and got really sick and was not able to do anything strenuous.  That left my Mom, my brother, and I to do all of shoveling in the sub-zero temperatures.  Let’s just say , it wasn’t one of the more favorite times in my life.  I managed to dig up these pictures:

 

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(My Mom’s Dodge Dynasty and my Dad’s Dodge Ram buried in the snow)

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(Russell in the snow pile, my mom digging behind him)

 

3 years ago – in 2010, I was working for Kraft Foods.  I can’t really give the details of the project due to confidentiality agreements, but I was on a team of individuals for support of a project that involved cell phone technology.  There was going to be a big training session in Green Bay, Wisconsin that I was asked to attend….a train the trainer type of scenario.  I always liked the Green Bay Packers so I was excited to go for that fact alone (forget that we were going to GREEN BAY in the DEAD WINTER).  We arrived in Green Bay on the Sunday of Rich’s birthday week and were to depart on Friday.  Welp.  Green Bay was having an unusually warm winter, which was causing thick fog to form.  Our flight was cancelled out of Green Bay and after much shuffling, we managed to get a flight out of Milwaukee on Saturday (Rich’s birthday) in the evening.  This required a 2 hour drive south and another overnight stay.  I think the flight went from Milwaukee to Chicago and from Chicago back to AVP.  The flight from Chicago to AVP was very choppy.  I thought for sure we were going to die. I’ve never seen a flight I’ve been on rock back and forth so much.  I think I got home after midnight that night and had to be in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day parade the next day.  How I managed to function after all of that, I’ll never know.  Here are some pictures from the trip:

 

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(Me at Lambeau Field Gates)

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(This was further back into the stadium at the gates – terrible hair, but the fog was causing 100% humidity, so whatevs)

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(Brett Favre’s Steakhouse – we ate here one night….I had my first oyster.  It had bacon and cheese, so I’m not sure it counts)

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(The coolest jeep known to man)

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(There were a bunch of these statues all over the city – of famous players)

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(Click to expand image…Where’s Waldo?  Somewhere between Green Bay and Milwaukee Wisconsin!)

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(2 days later, at the W-Barre St. Patrick’s parade – this time for Leadership Wilkes-Barre)

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(Here’s an extended group photo – only 2 project groups participated, the BILAA Little League Rehab project and Helping Paws)

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(With Tux and my BILAA Group members)

 

That brings us to 2011.  Another year, another parade.  On Rich’s birthday….AGAIN.  This time I was in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day for Kraft Foods.  We managed to score several “big” vehicles for the parade…including the Weenie Mobile.  There was always a bunch of character costumes we had.  Stuff I’ve never even heard of.  A Polly-O parrot?  A cheesy dinosaur?  I don’t remember any of these characters.  And of course everyone knows the Kool-Aid man.  It was my idea to have the Kool-Aid man jump out of a sheet of paper and yell “OH YEAH!” right in front of the WYLN camera.  It worked out well.  Gabby and I were on a float that was tagging behind all of the characters.  We were throwing Kraft snack packs into the crowd.  Behind us were the Weenie Mobile and a mac truck.  Here’s a picture:

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(Gabby and I and a weenie mobile makes three)

 

2012 rolls around and I have another job in another industry at another company.  Travelocity, to be exact.  The week of Rich’s birthday last year, I was to be in training in Texas at the Sabre Headquarters.  Sabre is the holding company of Travelocity.  The trip was a hot mess from the moment it was planned until the time we landed back on the ground in Avoca.  I’ve been in Texas before.  Navigating the roads around DFW is not a treat.  I’ve driven in a few different states, and Texas by far is the most confusing.  I had a GPS with me and it could not keep up with all of the on and off ramps to the freeways.  I traveled with a co-worker that I barely knew on the flight down and back.  When we arrived to the airport, we were to rent a vehicle to pick up 2 other co-workers at the airport.  We talked through email, but I had no idea what these people looked like.  Imagine how fun it is to pick up someone up at an airport that you are not familiar with and have never met!  GOOD TIMES.  (Can you detect the sarcasm here?)

 

I was able to find Donna somewhat easily (I only had to circle the airport 25 times to find the right gate).  She was from Long Island and had a thick New York accent.  She was very blunt with the way she said things.  I liked that about her.  Kelly was traveling from Nashville and had a southern drawl.  Her flight got delayed and spent all of Monday morning stranded in the Houston airport.  We couldn’t get a hold of her and didn’t know this until circling the airport about 80 times and making numerous calls and texts to her.  We were running late and hadn’t eaten, so we quickly stopped to get a bite on the way to the office.  We arrived 5 minutes late tops.  Our trainer was pissed.  As a matter of fact, she was pissed every time we were more than 1 second late for anything – even coming back from lunch in a building we’ve never been in before.  It was very irritating.  One morning I got unintentionally lost….I think we arrived 10-15 minutes late and the woman looked like she was going to rip out my throat and tap dance on it.  Yeah hi, I don’t live here.  I’m not familiar with roads, jackass.

 

I quickly realized that the training wasn’t geared toward my job function.  It was geared toward the sales managers – I was an analyst.  I spent most of the day on Social Media when the trainer wasn’t looking.  I don’t understand why I needed to stay for the full 5 days, when really maybe 1.5 days only pertained to me.  It boggles the mind.  After Kelly, Donna, Chris and I got better acquainted (days 2-5) we kind of stuck together like glue and went out each night or stayed at the hotel and drank for the rest of the trip.  It was the only way to get through the mind numbing training and maze of roads that I always got lost on.

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(This was from our karaoke night)

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(This is Kelly posing near the wall of Popes at a family style restaurant we went to one night.  She was going through a messy divorce at the time and this trip was a breath of fresh air for her)

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(Here’s a group shot before we headed for our last day of training…we were relieved it was over)

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(This was the first and probably the last time I will drive a Volvo and/or anything with Texas plates)

 

 

Going on at the same time last year — The H&B Expo

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I was trolling Ryan Leckey’s Twitter feed while in training and seen this picture.  It made me realize where I needed to be.  And it wasn’t counting how many bundled or unbundled hotel packages were sold in Orlando the previous week.

 

The truth is, I was keeping a big secret from everyone.  Shortly after I started at Travelocity, I applied for another job.  Few people knew about it – the important ones.  I had an interview for a job at WNEP right before I headed to Texas.  I didn’t know where it was going to go or even if I was in the running or not.  I had nothing to lose by applying and interviewing, so I just went for it.  After visiting WNEP on 2 other occasions and meeting various department heads, I was hired to be the IT engineer there.  For once in my life, everything seemed to fall into place.  For the two years prior to that, I’ve been throwing jobs at the wall to see if they would stick like spaghetti, and so far this one has.  I’ll be at the station for an entire year on April 23rd this year.  I haven’t spent a full year at a job since I left Kraft in 2011.  Can you believe it?  Be still my wild heart or whatever.

 

This year for Rich’s birthday, I was home….I made dinner and had a birthday cake with the kids.  On Friday there will be party for the family.

 

And I am finally in the right place.

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WTF is Minecraft?

By M Davies   /     Mar 10, 2013  /     Mommyhood, Technology Hates Me, TV Rants  /     5 Comments

I once called my kids’ Nintendo DS a Gameboy and they looked at me like I had three heads, but sit them down in front of the game Minecraft (graphics created circa 1985) and they’ll play that shit for hours.

 

We *ahem* Santa bought *double ahem* gave my kids a Google Nexus tablet for Christmas to share, and ever since then it’s been Minecraft all daylong every day.  While one kid is playing the tablet, the other kid is on the computer looking up videos on Youtube of other kids playing Minecraft.  Maybe I’m getting old, but I just don’t understand the appeal of this game.  Get off my lawn!

 

As I said before, the graphics are just plain awful.  I’ve seen better animation out of my 8 bit Nintendo.  Think I’m kidding?  Here’s a screen shot from PCGamer.com (by the way, that’s supposed to be a sheep):

 

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Am I missing something?  I asked this question recently on Facebook and Twitter, and received a ton of replies from my friends, who are also the parents of grade school-aged children, wondering the same thing.  Why is this game so popular?

 

According to fellow NEPA Blogger Thomas Tomeo:  “Minecraft is basically Legos meets The Legend of Zelda meets The Oregon Trail. They scrounge around the world for supplies to build buildings, tools, weapons, and hunt for food. Then, when night falls, you have to protect yourself from the various evils that stalk the wilds.  It’s an enthralling experience for children young and old. I love the hell out of it.”

 

I don’t love the hell out of it.  It turns my kids into fighting zombies for hours at a clip.  “MOMMY!  IT’S MY TURN TO PLAY!”  “YOU ALREADY HAD YOUR TURN!”  “I WANT TO PLAY!”  My brother suggested that I buy some legos for my kids to address their need to build things.  Trust me, they have a bunch of sets.  Gabby usually bosses Owen around until it is built and then it’s back to Minecraft.  Maybe the solution is to buy another tablet so they don’t fight as much, since the game seems to be semi-educational and semi-promotes creativity.  I just don’t want to encourage their heathen brattish behavior.

 

Any other parents out there feeling my pain with this one? Leave me a comment to discuss!

 

Hey kids!  You want to build something?  Here’s some 2x4s and some nails and a hammer.  I expect a shed in 12 hours.

 

You want to survive the evils that stalk the wilds after nightfall?  Mommy will bring you to her work to camp out overnight!

 

Problem solved.


 

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Pet Peeve of the Nanosecond: .NET Framework

By M Davies   /     Mar 09, 2013  /     Technology Hates Me  /     1 Comment

Sometimes Microsoft products are crankier than my two children combined, and that’s saying a lot.  This particular issue has been a thorn in my side for several months, and I finally found a workaround that fixes the problem.  And now without further ado, I present the .NET Framework Fix.

 

If you happen to run into an XP machine having trouble installing a .NET Framework Windows Update, it will most likely need the .NET Framework Fix.  It’s an annoying time consuming process of uninstalling and reinstalling various Windows updates.

 

Symptoms:  A Windows Update/Automatic Updates error similar to this (Error code: 0x80070643):

 

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Cause:  According to Microsoft:  “This issue may occur if the MSI software update registration has become corrupted, or if the .NET installation on the computer has become corrupted.” However, I personally believe it is the way that Microsoft stacks updates with the .NET framework, similar to older versions of Adobe Reader or Java.  It never completely cleans out/uninstalls the last version before trying to put in the next version in thereby creating issues.

 

Solution: 

 

  1. Download the dotnetfx_cleanup_tool.zip:

http://blogs.msdn.com/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer-Components-PostAttachments/00-08-90-44-93/dotnetfx_5F00_cleanup_5F00_tool.zip

 

  1. When you are prompted, click Open, and then click Extract Now.
  2. In the files that you extracted, double-click cleanup_tool.exe.
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, provide the password, and then click Continue.
  3. In the Do you want to run the .NET Framework Setup Cleanup Utility? message, click Yes.
  4. Click Yes to accept the license agreement.
  5. In the Product to cleanup window, click the list, select .NET Framework – All Versions, and then click Cleanup Now.
  6. After the .NET Framework is removed, restart the computer.
  7. Download and install the following components:

 

.NET Framework 1.1
Microsoft .NET Framework Version 1.1 Redistributable Package

.NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 (SP1)
Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1

.NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (this will also install the .NET Framework 2.0 SP2 and the .NET Framework 3.0 SP2)

Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1

 

 

8.  Restart the computer.

9.  Visit Windows Update again, and then check for and install updates.

 

 

I have tested this on several computers at the station that refused to install the .NET updates and it works like a charm.  Big THANK YOU to Aaron Stebner for sharing this information!

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