Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Paperless Proposal

There's a short back story that goes with this post.  I'm subscribed to the 30th Legislature of the Virgin Islands' Facebook page and on February 20th I run across this post:
Senate President calls for 50 percent paper reduction

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands - In an environmentally friendly effort to cut costs, Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone has set a goal of reducing the Legislature's paper usage by half.

In a memo forwarded to all senators and the 30th Legislature's Division Heads, Senator Malone directed that plans for cutting both paper and copier use be developed and implemented by March 1, 2013.

"We now have technology available that affords us an opportunity to use less paper," Senator Malone said. "Other jurisdictions have gone to a near paperless system with all employees instead using tablet computers - we aren't there yet, but this is certainly the direction we are headed. "

Paper and copying costs make up a sizeable portion of the Legislature's budget, Senator Malone said.

"Not only will we save money, but locally we will also save space in our landfills and cut down on the amount of trips we make each week to dispose of our trash," he said. "On a global scale we save trees, energy and reduce the pollution created by the production of paper. It is a positive move on all fronts. I would like to thank all of my colleagues and the Legislature employees for taking on this challenge."

Senator Malone said that, in addition, the Legislature would work to make more documents available to the media and the public on the body's web site:

"We want to get to a point in the near future where documents circulated on the floor are immediately scanned in and available for review electronically," the Senate President said. "This increases transparency and participation in the democratic process."
Upon reading that all my old IT instincts clicked in and I thought it would be a hoot to actually draft up a guidance on how organizations can go "paperless".  So I've devoted my free time for the past week to producing this blog's first ever publication entitled Paperless: The Renegade Version. Click on the link to download it.  I think it's an interesting read and I tried really hard to explain any jargon I used.  You can also click on the image below to download it. Please send me your feedback and if you do employ it I'd love to hear how it went.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Android Shenanigans

Hey, take a look of this screenshot I pulled from my tablet.  Notice something?

Do you see it?


I'll make it easy for you.

Yep, it's a cursor.  Cool huh.  Found out it's totally possible to attach a USB mouse or keyboard to my tablet using this handy device.

Makes me wonder.  What else can I attach to this?

BTW, this device also allows me to attach a USB drive to my tablet as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Mythbust Because I Care

The Internet.  It's vast and teeming with information.  But not all information is good information.  See there are people out there who get their jollies out of spreading falsities and watching others take the bait.  I'm not talking about politicians (although I see how you could draw that conclusion).  I'm talking about Trolls.

We're pretty sure they look like this.
In Internet parlance, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.  Trolls have existed for as long as the Internet has.  Heck, trolls have been around since man began; the Internet is just their newest playground.

The reason I bring all this up is because I have a habit of pointing out troll shenanigans.  I've been on the Internet long enough to build up a healthy sense of cynicism so I fact check pretty much everything.  In fact I mentioned this in one of my entries last year.  I've never though expounded on why I do it.  The truth is because I care. 

The spreading of false information bugs me on a level that it wouldn't bug the average person.  Most people can just shrug it off.  Me?  I can't leave you to believe some of that tripe that gets tossed around as facts.  I'd feel like I haven't fulfilled a moral obligation to spread truth.

How goes the crusade?  It's actually really tough in this hyper-partisan era.  I myself am a partisan, but my allegiance is to the facts and I'll present them even if they go against my own beliefs.  And if someone tells me I'm wrong, I'll move heaven and earth to get the real scoop.

So in short, if you see me posting links at the bottom of some story you shared from your email I'm not doing it to be a dick.  I'm here to help. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Renegade Geek!

I'm a few hours early but just wanted to let everyone know that on Sunday, February 10, 2013 this blog will have been up and running for a full year!  I that time I've posted 143 entries (including this one) and garnered 2,829 pageviews.  Not too shabby for a year.  I just want to thank my readers for sticking with me.

I don't really have this cake, but if I did I wasn't sharing. :P

To commemorate, here's my best of list.

Most Page Views
MSN Thinks We're In Latin America with 84 views

Least Page Views
Just look up The Karaoke Report. I've had other posts with only 1 view, but there's enough of them running around with 1 view to earn this award.

Most Comments
Foxfi - Free WiFi Hotspot for Android with 4.  Granted that number might have been inflated by me responding. This also came pretty close to Most Page Views and may still take the title.  Maybe next year.

Most Inexplicably Popular Image Meme Post
Dos Equis Man with 42 views. I really have no idea why that one was the most popular. Must be a Google search thing.

My Favorite Post
It was a tough call, but I went with 5 Everyday Tech Things You're Doing Wrong because I put a lot of effort into that one.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Renegade Goes Rogue

I discovered this week that the VINGN Broadband project is offering a free online Digital Literacy Course.  The course follows an 8 week curriculum that covers computer basics, Internet usage and usage of core software like spreadsheets and word processors.  Now if you read the article I linked above there's no link to the sign up site.  You can find the sign up site right here.

Yours truly went rogue and signed up to take the course.  First warning, there's a good chance you might have to email the site administrator to finalize the sign up process.  Regardless, I encourage everyone who wants to learn more about computers to take this course.  It's free and even though it says 8 weeks you can take it at your own pace and probably finish much sooner.  The presentation of the material is done mostly though a series of videos so you won't be doing a whole lot of reading.  The reading is done when it's time to take the exams.  You can finish the course by getting an 80% or more on the three pre-tests, and 80% or more on the module exams (three of those too), or getting a combined score of 80% or more on a combination of the pre-tests and module exams.  Once you do that you get to take the Master Exam.  80% or more on that and you pass!

Overall I think there's enough information there to get you started understanding all this computer stuff.  I did find some of the information to be kind of narrow though.  For example, you can do charts on presentation software, word processors and spreadsheets but the system insists that spreadsheets is the only way to go for charts.  For a total beginner though, this course is decent.

What did I get?  Don't let this discourage you.  I only browsed the site for the basic feel and didn't view any of the videos.  I passed the three pre-tests in the span of about 10 minutes and finished the Master Exam today in about the same amount of time.  My grades are below.

Whatever you do though please don't judge your performance by what I've got.  I've been doing this sort of stuff for years and I'm actually formally educated in it.  So for me, this was ridiculously easy (although I'm sure I really applied myself I could have done a little bit better).  I actually had an ulterior motive for taking and finishing this course.  In the future more advanced training and certifications might be offered and I wanted to get the preliminaries out of the way as soon as possible.

***********Update February 14, 2013*************

Guess who got his certificate.

Monday, February 4, 2013

3-Way Calls

Or as some of us refer to them these days as: conference calls. 

Y'know I have to appreciate the people who ask me tech related questions.  As much as people would like to believe I know everything the sad truth is I don't.  I do however have an appetite for learning so when I get a question I can't answer I usually don't stop until I've found it.

The question I got today was how do you do a conference call on a smartphone (an iPhone to be specific).  This is something I've never really thought about. 

Here's what I learned first.  There is a set procedure to formulate conference calls...on the iPhone.  Here's the procedure:

1. Make a normal phone call.

2. Touch the Add Call button to make another call. The person you're already on the line with will be put on hold.

3. After speaking to the second person, touch Merge Calls. You now have a three-way conference call where all parties can hear each other.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to add more people. Up to 5 calls can be merged depending on your carrier.

To add an incoming call:
When the new call comes in, touch Hold Call + Answer. Touch Merge Calls to join the newcomer to the group.

To hang up on one caller:
Touch the Conference button and touch the red phone icon next to the call you want to drop. Then select End Call.

To talk privately with one caller:
Touch the Conference button, then select Private next to a caller. You are now speaking to one person. To resume the conference touch Merge Calls.

And that's that.  But you know me.  I had to be inquisitive and check on how to do this on Android.  Guess what?  There's no set procedure.  That's because the Android OS runs on multiple devices and may be specific to your carrier.  Bummer.  Looks like if you're using Android, you better RTFM.