Jeff the Great Does the GPIE, Again!

If you follow my blog you'll remember that I am participating in the Great Portland Interview Experiment, brought to PDX by Chris O'Rourke. The idea is that someone interviews me, post it on their blog, and I interview someone else, post it on my blog, rinse, repeat. I was interviewed by my now good online friend Ramona White and I just finished my interview of Cameron Adamez. Check out my interview of Cameron below and use the above link to learn more about GPIE!

1. I see that your blog started as a travelogue. Tell us about the travels that inspired your writings?

I met my birth father in August 2005 when he was living in San Francisco. Later that year I was accepted into the Washington Semester program at American University in DC, so I stayed with my father in December and started my 3rd year of college in DC. After that, I went to LA where my dad lived briefly, and then went back to school outside of Dallas, Texas. It was a fun journey and a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. It also sparked my enjoyment of blogging.

2. It Looks like you have lived in Texas and Oregon. Are there any other places to add to that list? Which have you enjoyed the most and why?

I keep ending up in California, and I lived in Hyattsville, Maryland for part of my DC stay. Despite living in a formerly condemned house, I liked the town. Incidentally Jim Henson lived in Hyattsville as well. I also liked Santa Barbara, California. Another nice town. Honestly speaking, I would rather live in a beach town.

3. You are an anthropologist by training. How does anthropology come into play during your daily life?

I use it to understand interactions of people within groups to further my social skills. My high school teacher told me, "If you can't make it, fake it," and anthropology has helped me be able to talk to non-tech people. Thanks, anthropology!

4. I read that you are training as a Librarian. What drew you to that and how does it compare to other work you have done, specifically on the web?

Sorting books according to any of the library organizational systems is much easier than classifying music. I was an intern at the Smithsonian, where I saw the Folkways category database firsthand. Most focused collections are organized based on outliers than on systems that already exist, because every collection has a different emphasis. Smithsonian Global Sound was meant as a way to share the Folkways collection with people who may not know about it otherwise, but it is based on a purchase model. The Q Center library is more of a distribution of knowledge without profit, which appeals to me.

5. Like many Portland tech types, you use Twitter. What first draw you to this new communication tool and what makes you stay?

I had a pact with a curmudgeon friend of mine to shun Web 2.0 as much as possible. When I moved to Portland, people kept telling me to get a Twitter account, but I didn't register for one until I was asked by Anselm Hook to start working on Citybot and join Makerlab. I didn't bother with it much until my curmudgeon friend told me he already had a Twitter account, and so I started using it more often to spite him.

Now I use it because no one seems to know how to operate the phone anymore. It's also useful for finding out news that isn't handled by mainstream media.

6. Who's the favorite person you follow on Twitter?

I don't have a favorite person per-se because Twitter's ridiculous character limit makes it hard to make meaningful conversation, but it helped me to get to know Bram (@brampitoyo) and Aaron (@jarvitron). Cool dudes indeed!

7. MySpace or Facebook?

Both. MySpace is great for finding bands or getting involved with anarchists, and Facebook is... uh... less annoying.

8. Bacon or Facon (in other words, meat or no meat)?

Avocado, though Red & Black Cafe makes a good BLT using tempeh bacon. I don't understand bacon, actually. I know that its appeal comes from the fat and salt content, plus it's savory, but it's a horrible cut of meat (if we're talking about the meat-ness of it). Plus most meat isn't worth eating if it comes from a CAFO, hurting the poor pigs. Not that I am high and mighty on the subject either - most fruit and vegetables are picked by migrants who are overworked and live in difficult conditions. The only true solution is to go as local and as humane as possible.

9. If we conduct this interview again in 5 years, what types of questions might I be asking you then?

Let me fire up my time machine. It runs on absurdity and popcorn.

10. Is there anything you wish I would have asked you about?

Things like that assume that I am self-involved enough to ask you to ask me something so I can go on about it. Pfft, that's silly! I can go on about lots of things without being prompted. See? Now I have a diatribe about nothing!

Make sure to visit Cameron's blog or twitter stream to learn more! Thanks for reading.

-Jeff the Great

Jeff the Great Needs Computer Support

I am turning the the billions of people on the web for computer help, for the first time. My Dell Dimension 4600 (running XP, P4 processor, 1gig memory) is in critical condition and because its just a box I use a few hours a week when I am not on my work machine, I'd rather not buy a new desktop.

So, here is my problem. I'll tell you from the start that its NOT a bad hard drive:
  • I tried to install more memory than the computer could recognize
  • I was never able to get the computer fully booted after that (I got to the setup screen to verify the new amount of memory, but that's it)
  • I now get an error on a black screen that says "Disk Read Error. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart"
  • A restart by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del takes me to the same screen every time
Here are the things I have already tried:
  • Checked all the cables and connections inside the computer
  • Pulled the motherboard battery
  • Hit F2 (or was it F12) to select where to boot from, tried all options
  • Booted to the utility partition and scanned all hardware, everything checked out
  • On either the F2 or F12 screen, typed Fn+F to reset BIOS defaults
  • Researched the problem on the web and learned that it is likely a BIOS error
I cannot find my Dell disks anywhere so I can't run the Windows repair utility. I don't have a windows boot disk of any kind.

Help! If you can get my computer fixed, I'll promote you and/or your business on my blog, Twitter, CitySpeek and anywhere else. Thank you!

UPDATE 1/25/09: I have downloaded BartXP and burned it onto a CD, no luck...same outcome. I just learned that maybe its BartPE that I should be using. Sounds like I need to download and run it on a working machine, then burn it that way before trying to run it on my broken machine (opposed to just burning the bartpe.exe file to a CD).

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great Rounds Up CitySpeek

Things have been crazy good for CitySpeek the last few days. I wanted to share some of the great write-ups and features about us from around the web:

Girl in Your Shirt: http://girl.inyourshirt.tv/cityspeek/

KillerStartups.com: http://www.killerstartups.com/Blogging-Widgets/cityspeek-com-move-over-twitter

Silicon Florist: http://siliconflorist.com/2009/01/05/cityspeek-looks-to-cram-more-content-into-140-characters/

Thanks for your support!

-Jeff the Great

Jeff the Great Gets More Famous

I received a pleasant surprise yesterday when someone emailed to notify me that I was quoted in something they wrote.

North Venture Partners out of the Bay Area wrote a white paper about early stage venture capital and published it online this week. I've embedded it below...I am on page 21.

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great In Your Shirt

My web site, CitySpeek.com, was featured on the new internet tv channel called Girl In Your Shirt. The creator wears the t-shirt of a new web startup each days and records a video telling her thousands of fans about the site. Check it out below:

-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great's Updated Reading List

I've finished up a few books recently and just started another. In addition to the below, I've also updated my reading list over here: http://twurl.cc/byl

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (my favorite author but this isn't his best work).
The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall (interesting but way to far fetched).Crucial Confrontations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (my current read, a follow-up to Crucial Conversations, one of the best books ever).


-Jeff the Great


Jeff the Great Wonders about Amazon.com

I absolutely love Amazon.com, I try to buy as much from them as possible. I buy books, music, electronics and so much more.

One of the things that Amazon.com is known for is their recommendation engine. They look at your past purchases, items you've recently browsed, items you've reviewed and so much more to recommend other purchases to you. This concept really works in the favor of both the consumer and Amazon.com. They get more sales and we get products that make sense for us. Win, win.

I noticed today when visiting Amazon.com that they had some new suggested items for me. I viewed a gyroscopic air mouse the other day and this is what they are now telling me:

I looked at a $150 mouse for my computer and I should now look at a case of PowerBar's and an electric razor? Come on Amazon.com, it wouldn't be that hard to limit this type of recommendation to at least the same general category!

I have a bunch of other ideas on how Amazon.com can further improve their recommendation engine but I'll save them for another blog post (or for when they hire me).

-Jeff the Great