Failures, Mistakes, and Other Ways to Learn

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
--George Santayana

Are you committed to life-long learning? I am.

Why? Because, to paraphrase George Santayana, "those that don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them."

How do you learn? Some might answer, "I'm a kinetic learner" or "I learn by reading" or "I am an auditory learner". And that would be true for them, to some extent. There are many learning styles, preferences, and methods, but there is only one common method that is makes such an impact that almost everyone learns something from it. I'm talking about FAILURE.

Many of the most memorable lessons I've learned have came from my failures, not my successes.

AFAS: Ask First, Answer Second

People who think they are smart tend to think that when they are asked a question, they should be able to immediately provide an answer.

Not so.

The problem with that is, because we are human, we tend to misunderstand the question and provide either the wrong answer to the right question or the right answer to the wrong question.

If you really want people to think you are smart, and you want to answer the actual question, first, ask some good questions. That way, you know what the question really is about, only then should you start answering the question. AFAS: Ask First, Answer Second.

Won't that annoy the person asking the question? Yeah, sometimes, but I'd rather answer the right question correctly than any of the alternatives.

There are many reasons why people ask the wrong question, but some of the ones I've run into include:
* They are trying to solve the wrong problem
* They don't understand the problem correctly

Strange Windows Backup Agent Error Message

I'm using's Windows Backup Agent at a client's to sync between a Windows Server and a Linux Server. It is being used as an intermediate backup solution while I work out some other issues.

Anyway, I initially configured the backup agent to run a one-time job to backup everything (per the instructions for setting it up) and it ran correctly.

However, when I went to change the profile to a scheduled job, or go to change ANYTHING on the profile as it turns out, I get an error that says, "NOTE The server you are trying to access is not covered by this software license" and it won't let me save any changes...

Make Your Mistakes Faster

Everybody makes mistakes. Even I made a mistake once. One time I thought I was wrong, but it turned out I wasn't.
--Me (among others)

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody.

Think about the people you know. Is there someone that stands out in your circle that you consider to be wise? If not in all things, I'm sure you know someone wise in a particular area of life or work. How do you think they acquired that wisdom?

Was it by reading what others were doing? Maybe a little...

Was it by hanging around watching smart people succeeding or others failing? Maybe some...

How does Netflix really work?

Neat set of photos showing how Netflix handles all those DVDs behind the scenes.

Reviews: VLC Media Player

I really like the VLC open source media player. It is a great little (17mb) player that handles just about everything with a clean and tidy interface. It runs great using default settings, yet provides either a simple or complex view into all of the possible options you might want in a media player.

While I still use Windows Media Player for my music collection database, I use VLC for everything else.

Some of the uses I've had for VLC include...

Installing Windows XP on a Inspiron 15 (1545) Preloaded with Vista

I picked up an Inspiron 15 to use as a general purpose internet accessing laptop and the only option for a pre-installed O/S was Vista--yuck. I have 7 of my 10 licenses of XP Pro I can still use from my MS Access Pack subscription, so I started down the road to repair... and ran into the BSOD wall (blue screen of death).

Not to worry, a little fiddling and...

Use Open Source

One of the best ways to use the few resources you have is to take advantage of open source software.

If you say, "I can't, we have a policy against using open source software", then you should be aware that you probably already use open source software. Are there any Apple Mac computers under your control? Aficio networked printers? Linksys access points? Do you host your website somewhere else? If any of your answers are yes, then you are probably already using open source software. The question isn't if you are already using it, it is if you are actively pursuing it.

Why Open Source?

  • Money: money is part of it, but freedom is even more important. Even if you don't exercise that freedom, someone else can and that will make your life easier and better.
  • Freedom: you control your own destiny.

Oh-boycott of Whole Foods

I'm not one to post political messages on my website. I'm in business to help people with technology and to make a living, but I'm really pretty steamed. I care about freedom and personal choice. I've also just been through a $30,000 "adventure in healthcare" fighting prostate cancer, so this is all very topical for me.

I've been reading about the backlash against John Mackey's Wall Street Journal op-ed piece against Obamacare.

According to Steve Toback's blog, thousands of Whole Foods' customers are threatening a boycott because John Mackey is proposing that we actually focus on the problem of taking down the barriers businesses face in providing affordable benefits to employees, instead of a government take over of healthcare.

This is especially strange since John Mackey's proposal is simple and involves government getting out of the way of markets, not taking over them. Why do people think that the government that brought you the IRS, the $400 toilet seat, and the collapse of the lending market in 2008 is going to be good at healthcare?

I propose a reverse-boycott (oh-boy-cott?) of Whole Foods; if you support freedom of speech and a reasonable approach to providing healthcare, I suggest you support Whole Foods by visiting their stores. If like me, you aren't near a store, you can purchase a gift card online. I think 1,000 people buying $20 gift cards would make a bigger impact than a bunch of bloggers demanding that Whole Foods be shut down for having a difference of opinion.

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