Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Crash -- and Other Happenings

Just found this post (October 16) was still in unpublished draft form... publishing now, and updating (again) in the next post.

I thought I'd take a few minutes and catch up for the month. First of all, I've been assisting with a martial arts class once a week (Tuesday nights from 6.30-8.00pm EST). If I were young, dumb, and single (no offense intended if you fit into any of those categories) I'd prefer to go 3 to 5 times a week, but I do have a wife, children, a life, and an aging body that doesn't recover in 12 hours anymore... so... once a week is "enough."

On the last Tuesday of August, while I was teaching our self defense class (around 7pm), my parents were told of a live webcast. (I'd known of it, but after looking at the ominous clouds in the sky and watching lightning strike nearby several times, I'd forgone telling anyone else in the house about the webcast.) Unbeknownst to me, my neighbor (helpful soul that he is) came over and spread the word (just after I'd left).

We lost our power several times in a row that night; only for a few minutes each time, but the last was a brown-out -- which "affected my computer negatively" -- it fried an important chip ("southbridge") on the motherboard. On my system, the southbridge runs all of the things that plug into the computer -- which means, everything I plugged in did not work properly (the monitor and floppy disk drive), or did not work at all (everything else). Found it rather difficult to use a system that didn't work properly, and that couldn't have information added to it except in 1.4M pieces.

The computer was built around 2001, so the motherboard is old, but it's been upgraded pretty-well and is sufficient for my needs. I tried, but couldn't replace the motherboard with a new one (my wife wanted to buy a whole new system, until I explained we'd have to repurchase several thousand dollars worth of software to make "new computer" = "old computer").

I was able to locate some used motherboards in a Canadian computer shop and purchased two of them via eBay (1 for backup). That was wonderful, but I didn't have them yet. Canada Post logoOn a side note: I despise Canadian shipping; it is unimaginably slow (if I ever produce an illustrated Canadian/USA dictionary, the Canada Post logo will be the only thing listed under the word "slow").

After 15 days, I finally got my new motherboards and installed one. No problems with the motherboard, however, when I updated the operating system, the system glitched (of course). Something with Windows XP service pack 2 doesn't like my system -- so now I'm slowly working thru the re-update problems. Hopefully this won't take long...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Book Review: 1,000 Dollars and an Idea

My computer was incapacitated when I received this book, so I wasn't able to review it as quickly as I would have liked.

That being said, this is everything I look for in a great autobiographical (or even biographical) work.

1,000 Dollars and an Idea flows well from beginning to end (almost too well; I couldn't put it down). Wyly is a billionaire, but by no means does his book come across as "elitist." His "humble beginnings" were primitive by any American's standards, yet he didn't gloss over them or excessively flaunt them.

As an entrepreneur myself (as well as being involved in raising and managing capital), it's my opinion that every entrepreneur should read this book. (As should anyone with dreams of becoming a multi-millionaire.) The book isn't written as a "how-to-" book for billionaires, but nearly every chapter contains an idea, tip, or guide to improve one's business- and personal-life.

There was only one aspect of the book that was distasteful: rather than being informative, in 2 areas he resorted to raw advertising. First, I didn't mind reading that he follows "Christian Science" (I do not) but the prominence he gave it (and to its founder) was annoyingly distracting. The second was the entire last chapter (The Good Earth). I won't go into a point-for-point refutation here, I'd just recommend you do your own research. Having done extensive work for environmental businesses, I do have more than rudimentary knowledge of the need for environmental responsibility and can relate to the fact not enough is being done. While Wyly's description of the problems we face does raise some important issues that need to be dealt with, his overall "call for action" seems based less on reality and more on "Henny Penny," which was rather disappointing.

The epilogue returns to the style of writing I enjoyed, and my overall impression of the book is: 1,000 Dollars and an Idea is one of the few books I will be rereading at least yearly.