January 25th, 2007

For those big beer drinkers among us who love a beer at a ballgame but hate the gouging we get from the vendors, check out the Beerbelly.

This product has to be one of the coolest inventions I’ve seen in a long time and the price is actually extremely reasonable. plus, you can use it for wine or any other beverage choices you can think of.

Compare the cost of this product to the cost of a Camelback and you’ll understand what a great deal you are getting.

Happy drinking!

Woj

Todd Powell Hikes the Appalachian Trail

April 25th, 2006

Todd PowellSpring is coming and it’s in the air….except for today. Today, it’s rainy and cold. But, yesterday was great and the day before that…and the day before that, etc.

But, while we go to work and do all the things that come with our daily lives, others are soul searching and/or finding out what they’re made of. Today’s post is all about my new nephew, Todd Powell, age 25, who is, as I write, hiking the Appalachian Trail for six months.

He began his journey on Thursday, March 16, 2006 in Chickamauga, TN and will be hiking 2,174 miles up to Maine before he is done.

So far, according to his travel journal, he’s seen every kind of weather from icy teens and snow to 80-degree heat. All of this is being done with a backpack on his back and minimal provisions. I’ll give you more updates as time goes on but, for now, I’ll leave you with a couple of links.

Todd Powell’s (Grinds) Travel Journal

About the Appalachian Trail

March 16th, 2006

Hi everyone!!!

It’s a great day today and everyday. Some of you may know already but, for the rest of you, I got married again on March 4, 2006.

My new wife’s name is Amy and with her comes a daughter, Haley, who is 13. So, I become an instant stepdad of a teenage girl. LOL. It’s actually been a very enlightening experience.

I created a Wedding website for us which you can find at http://www.wojzworld.com/wedding. On it, you’ll find pictures of our new family as well as Wedding and Honeymoon pictures. I’ve been making updates often so, check back often to see the latest pictures.

What else is new? Well, I’m moving to Elk Grove Village. Amy and I bought a great house to consolidate our families into. It’s a sweet place with lots of room to grow and also for us to entertain. We’ll be having gatherings as much as we can. 🙂

On other fronts, I have a new job. I like to cram all of the good things in my life into one big mass. I won’t give details here since the name of my new company isn’t public knowledge and my current employer has access to this site. Yes, they already know about the change. Apparently, the service that my new company used to do reference checking slipped up and sent a report to my current employer instead of the new employer.

My current employer, Pathfinder Associates, is being very cool and professional about my change. I greatly appreciate that fact and have only good things to say about the organization as a whole.

So, why am I leaving them? The new opportunity was one of those situations where I just couldn’t see not taking the chance. The stars all seemed in line for this change. In my past, all of the great changes in my life have come around the same time as other monumental changes. For example, Noah was born the day after I started working for Whittman-Hart (W-H) and W-H was a great job change for me that lasted 7.5 years.

The new job offers me a change in the work I do which gives my mind the variety I need to thrive. Plus, it’s better pay, benefits, work environment, and closer to the trains. On top of it all, I was approached for the job by a former co-worker and respected work associate of W-H. After I talked to him, I found out, I will be working with 6 or more former W-H work associates, all of whom I respect. Overall, the change feels good.

Anyway, enough news for now. Please drop me a line with any of the happenings in your lives.

Ciao for now,
Woj

December 8th, 2005

I’m back working at NORC again. The work is fun and interesting as usual since it’s all in Arabic and English. My work family there is happy and healthy but a little stressed out due to the short deadlines. The timing of the holidays on top of the deadlines make it more stressful for everyone.

Today, I’m hanging out in a training class. I’m here this week from Tuesday through Friday learning Serena TeamTrack which is a new partner product for Pathfinder Associates. My NORC project team isn’t too happy about my absence but, this class was scheduled for me over a month ago.

The TeamTrack product, quoted from their help files, is “a Web-architected, secure and highly configurable process and issue management solution that gives you control, insight and predictability in your Application Lifecycle and Business Process Management throughout the enterprise. Through creating repeatable, enforceable, auditable, predictable processes, TeamTrack has directly increased profitability for customers worldwide in software development, manufacturing, government, financial services, healthcare, and other industries.”

One of the best features of the product is its ability to create a historical record of interaction on a problem. This audit trail helps companies with their SOX, Sarbannes-Oxley, compliance.

It is a product Pathfinder is offering as a new solution to our clients. We will be doing custom implementations of the product and, currently, I’m the guy learning the product. So, if you need a product like this in your organization, contact Pathfinder and tell them you heard about the product from Kevin Wojdak.

In addition to Pathfinder work, I am helping my fiancee Amy’s family business, C.B.S. Messenger Service. I’m in the process of fixing a couple of problems on their website and then rebuilding it up to the latest standards such as XHTML compliance and more.

Since 1973, C.B.S. Messenger Service has been offering document and package delivery in the entire Chicago area including Rockford and then the city of Milwaukee. Their claim to fame is one of the lowest delivery prices in the industry with same-day delivery for that low price.

If you need a document or package delivered quickly and for a great price, look them up on the web at http://www.cbsmessenger.com or call them at (847) 348-3460.

Amy and I have set our wedding date for March 4th, 2006. We’ll be having a small family only wedding and then, in the summer, we will be planning a bigger party for all of our friends to celebrate with us. I’ll let you know when that date comes closer. We’ll be moving to a new house in the Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, and Roselle area sometime in April.

I think by now you’ve had enough of this post so, I’ll leave you for awhile.

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year if I don’t write you before then.

Kevin
“Woj”

October 14th, 2005

I’m Engaged!!!

I asked Amy to marry me this week and she accepted. We will be planning a Spring 2006 wedding.

The proposal was fun and memorable. I wanted this time around to be special and something that I would remember as well as her.

Since we both have kids who are with us just about every day, I arranged to take a day off so I could surprise her during the day. Next, since her family owns a messenger service, I arranged for her to make a “special” lunchtime delivery to a restaurant where a man would be awaiting a package he absolutely needed for a business meeting.

I filled a box with rose petals and the ring and then delivered it to her company for delivery. Yes, I arranged for Amy to bring her own ring to her own proposal.

I put together a few symbolic gestures such as various different colored roses intertwined together in twos. I wrote a note for her explaining all of the symbols of our lunch. And, with the rose and the note, I waited for the delivery.

Amy arrived to a big surprise….me! We had our wonderful moment together and I made my proposal. The rest is history.

It’s been a great week for me. More to come later.

Kevin
“Woj”

Apple iPod Shuffle doesn’t really shuffle!

September 22nd, 2005

Hi,

Today’s post is pretty much just a rant. It’s contains my personal opinion about an injustice.

I received a 512MB Apple iPod Shuffle as a birthday gift about a month ago. I spent extra money to upgrade it to a 1 GB model. According to the literature, I can load music on it and play it back randomly.

I use it daily and I thought it was working great. Then, I noticed that each time I turn it on, it starts back at the beginning of some unseen playlist saved within the Shuffle.

I use my Shuffle while walking to work across the city of Chicago every morning and night and I use it in “shuffle” mode. Their name for this device is the “Shuffle” and the idea of “shuffle” mode implies to me that I can listen to my music randomly on the device.

Their site makes the following statements about the device’s capabilities on theShuffle product page:

  • “Time to mix things up. Meet iPod shuffle, the unpredictable new iPod. What will it play next? Can it read your mind? Can it read your moods? Load it up. Put it on. See where it takes you.”
  • “Random is the New Order”
  • “As official soundtrack to the random revolution, the iPod Shuffle Songs setting takes you on a unique journey through your music collection – you never know what’s around the next tune.”
  • “iPod shuffle rejects routine by serving up your favorite songs in a different order every time.”
  • “Daily gridlock feels less mundane when you don’t know what song will play next.”
  • “Turn iPod shuffle over, flip the slider to Shuffle and mix on the go.”

It’s amazing what a corporate giant can get away with in its advertising. The last statement in the list above says it all about their product.

Well, it’s just NOT TRUE!!!

I contacted their technical support today and discussed my concerns regarding the Shuffle. It doesn’t seem to play music randomly. It seems like it has a playlist inside of it that’s shuffled when i download music. Blah, blah, blah…..

The truth of how the Shuffle works was revealed in my support chat. Here’s the actual transcript:

Agent:
[ 10:00 AM PST] Hello and thank you for contacting Apple Chat Support. My name is Richard. Please give me just a moment while I update your iPod information in our system.

Agent:
[ 10:00 AM PST] While you are waiting I would like to give you some information about your iPod Shuffle. Your Shuffle comes with one complimentary troubleshooting incident (chat or phone support) within the first 90 days of purchase and 1 year of hardware coverage. You have the opportunity to extend the support and hardware coverage with the AppleCare Protection Plan as well.

Agent:
[ 10:01 AM PST] Ok. And with that all done..How may I assist you today?

Kevin:
Well, I have a 1Gb IPod Shuffle that I’ve had for about 3 weeks now. I’ve loaded all my songs on it and reload it weekly with a new set. I listen to the iPod on the way to work in shuffle mode and then turn it off for the day. When I turn it back on, it starts back at the first song I heard in the morning. Is this a malfunction?

Kevin:
It seems to replay all the songs I heard in the morning.

Kevin:
…in the same order as well

Agent:
[ 10:04 AM PST] No. It is actually the way it was designed. Because the iPod Shuffle uses a “soft” Flash type of memory, it does not store the previous location when you turn the iPod off for more than a moment.

Agent:
[ 10:05 AM PST] That is actually one of the new features we have put into our newest iPod. The ability to use Flash memory, but still retain your settings and place in your songs.

Kevin:
But, what I’m saying is that the iPod is saving my previous starting point and replaying from that point.

Kevin:
is there a way to get around that?

Kevin:
I have 250 tunes on the iPod. I’d like to turn it on and get a new song.

Agent:
[ 10:06 AM PST] You stated previously that the iPod started back from the beginning, and replayed the same songs from the morning. Is that correct?

Kevin:
yes.

Kevin:
I’ve loaded the shuffle using Autofill the last two times to try to avoid this but, it seems to keep track of its own internal playlist in shuffle mode

Agent:
[ 10:08 AM PST] Unfortunately, you would have to simple skip through those songs manually, as I mentioned, the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to, and pick new songs. That is why I recommend our new iPod Nano to alot of folks with Shuffles.

Kevin:
You say “the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to” and what I’m saying is that it does.

Agent:
[ 10:09 AM PST] Autofill can be done randomly, or you can pick a specific playlist for the iPod to Update from, so if you wanted to edit your playlist with different songs, you could control it that way.

Kevin:
You say “the iPod will not remember what you have already listened to” and what I’m saying is that it does.

Kevin:
Recommending a nano does not solve the problem. I just got the shuffle. The Shuffle should “SHUFFLE”.

Agent:
[ 10:11 AM PST] If you sync 20 songs onto your iPod int he morning, and listen to 1-10 in the morning on yoru way to work, then turn the iPod off. When you come back to it, it will simply restart its playlist when you turn it back on. It does not record which tracks you played ealier.

Kevin:
These two statements contradict each other. …

Kevin:
“When you come back to it, it will simply restart its playlist when you turn it back on. It does not record which tracks you played ealier.”

Kevin:
So, you are saying that the shuffle creates an internal playlist when I add songs to it. Therefore, it will continually start that playlist from #1 even though I am in the shuffle mode. Is this correct?

Agent:
[ 10:13 AM PST] A standard iPod, when turned off, saves its position in a playlist. So that when you turn it off and come back, you continue at the sam point you left of. The Shuffle does not have the same ability. It restarts from the beginning of its list.

Kevin:
Then, what is shuffle mode as opposed to playing the list in order?

Kevin:
From what you are saying, the shuffle keeps only two playlists and restarts from the beginning each time I turn it on.

Agent:
[ 10:15 AM PST] When you autofill songs onto the iPod, the order they are in within the iTunes list, is the order they will appear on the iPod. Shuffle simpy “shuffles” that list so they appear in random order.

Agent:
[ 10:16 AM PST] It keeps 1 list. And the ability to play that list in Standard “Continuous” order, or Shuffle “Random” order.

Kevin:
But, as you are saying, the shuffled list is only one playlist created when the songs are added to the shuffle. It does not actually randomize the list each time I turn on the shuffle.

Agent:
[ 10:18 AM PST] It does not reorder them, no. It is simply the “randomized” version of the Standard playlist.

Kevin:
okay. Now, what are the consequences of not turning the shuffle off after each use? Does it eat up more power even when not playing songs?

Agent:
[ 10:20 AM PST] It will use power as long as it is turned on, even if not playing a song, so your battery would not last nearly as long. But there are no serious issues that would cause, in terms of the device working.

Kevin:
Your advertising misrepresents the iPod shuffles abilities.

Kevin:
Here is a statement from your advertising literature…

Kevin:
“More roadster than Rolls, iPod shuffle rejects routine by serving up your favorite songs in a different order every time.”

Kevin:
This statement contradicts everything you just told me.

Agent:
[ 10:22 AM PST] That is a reference to the Autofill feature, which syncs songs at random from your library each time you sync.

Kevin:
I guess I can’t argue that.

Kevin:
It’s a slight rewording that misleads the consumer

Agent:
[ 10:25 AM PST] I wish that I had some way to work around it for you, so that you could reshuffle, etc, but it simply isnt something that the Shuffle can do right now. Perhaps that is something you can send us a feedback email about. Our engineers do actually value feedback and use that to improve our products.

Kevin:
Thanks. I’ll do that. But, like I said, it’s very misleading. The very name “Shuffle” implies randomness.

Agent:
[ 10:27 AM PST] I can understand your perspective, and I will also send up a feedback as well. Those types of things can cause a negative experience, and that is exactly the type of thing we are looking to resolve. We strive for simplicity with the iPods, and your feedback on this would be very vauleable.

— END of Transcript —

So, I have my answer and now you do too. Be careful what the advertising says because it can be very misleading and there’s not a thing you can do about it except return the product.

Thanks,
Kevin
“Woj”

May 26th, 2005

Hi,

Don’t know where I left off with things last time so, I’ll just trudge ahead.

I finished up a project out at NORC in April and then went out to work at the Sun-Times (ST). I’m actually wrapping up my work there today and my company is continuing some other project work there.

After the ST work is done, I start a new project with another client which I cannot name here. I’m doing the Interface Development work and Project Management as well. Anyway, they are a good client and I’ll wrap up their work in 5-6 weeks just in time to start yet another project at NORC.

Life is going along pretty well again. The job market seems to be somewhat settled. And, now that I’m working, all of a sudden recruiters are calling again. Where were these guys when I was out of work? LOL.

My girlfriend is great and we are now moving past 9 months together. She and her daughter and my son and I are all going on a week long vacation together in July. I can’t wait. I need a vacation.

That’s enough news for now. Drop me a line if you’d like.

Talk to you all later,
Woj

March 7th, 2005

Hi,

Talk about rusty…it’s been 3 months since my last post.

I’m in the final stages of 2 client projects that have had me jumping for the last several months. It’s almost a downer right now since we got the last of the projects turned over to testing last Friday. Today has been quite boring to say the least.

News in my life… Well, I’ve been dating a great girl named Amy for the past 6 months and we are continuing strong. My son is well and gets along great with her daughter.

On the work side of things, I was named Webmaster of Pathfinderassoc.com or pathf.com which is the website of my current company, Pathfinder Associates. It has allowed me to take more ownership in the work I do and give me more of an influence on the continued success of the company.

For a small side project, I utilized a great service called Cafe Press to create a simple Web store for Pathfinder to sell Pathfinder gear. The main use for the site is for Pathfinder employees to acquire company gear and get our name out a bit. The idea blossomed after I wanted to get a coffee mug for showing off while at client sites. So, I took our logo and created a simple design and then produced a mug for myself. Everyone at the company liked the idea so much that several more mugs were purchased for people to use at client sites. Now, I’ve expanded on the mug idea and we have a whole line of shirts and merchandise besides the mugs.

Cafe Press offers the average person the ability to create a Web storefront to sell unique merchandise with custom designs. You provide the artwork and they provide the custom storefront, raw merchandise, printing, shipping, and payment collection. They provide a base price for each item and you add your markup to that. Then, any item can be purchased in quantities of one or more items. It’s a beautiful idea and very effective.

Check out the Pathfinder Store at http://www.cafepress.com/pathf

Thanks,
Kevin

November 15th, 2004

Wow!

Ramadan is finally over….and I survived. The one thing I missed the most during the month was my ability to drink coffee all day long to stay awake and aware. I am so glad to be able to grab a cup whenever I want again.

Overall though, I really enjoyed my first Ramadan fasting experience. I learned a lot about my own ability to go “without” and I did well doing so. I was a little bad on the weekends as I didn’t fast during the weekends. I fasted during the week to support my work associates and that was great.

Ramadan has also helped me trigger some changes in my life. I was stagnating in a few areas and I have started making some changes for the better….diet, finances, etc.

My main project from the last few months has also come to a close. I’m wrapping up small application adjustments today and tomorrow and then, I get to go back to our Pathfinder offices. I will still be on call for the client so they can pull me in anytime they need but, I will be working on other projects in the meantime.

Have a great week!

Woj

November 4th, 2004

Morning everyone,

Today, we’ll talk about the month of Ramadan fasting (…yes, I said a month). During Ramadan, Muslims fast everyday during daylight hours for an entire month.

As I told you before, I am fasting during Ramadan with my work associates and friends in the spirit of team unity and a show of support for them. From the standpoint of myself, an American fasting during Ramadan, I’ve found it to be very fun and interesting to say the least. It has also been very enlightening and challenging.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Atkins, I am calling the Ramadan fasting the “Ramadan Diet” for myself. I have enough excess around my midsection that I could use this month to an advantage. When people ask me how I’m doing with the fasting, I reply, “good…my body is feeding off my excess!” LOL

Ramadan fasting requires you to discipline yourself and not eat, drink, have sex, say bad words, or have unpure thoughts during daylight hours each day during the month. Ramadan goes by a Lunar calendar so, the hours of fasting change with each day. For example, yesterday, my fast started at 4:50 a.m. and I was able to eat dinner starting at 4:44 p.m. But, today, the fasting started at 4:51 a.m. and ends at 4:43 p.m.

Before the fasting started, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to hold out the whole month …or even a whole day. Now that I’ve been doing it for almost 3 weeks, I’m laughing at my earlier fears. My Muslim friend, Neji, told me at the beginning that if I have enough heart to pedal a bike 30 miles without training, then I should have enough heart to fast for the month. I thank him for his kind words. They meant a lot.

Anyway, I figured if a huge chunk of the world’s population can do this every year, then I can manage. So far, I’ve done great with it. It’s all about will power and control over yourself.

The other fun part about Ramadan is the fast breaking celebrations. We had a large one at the office yesterday which the guys called a group Iftar(see the links below for an explanation). We did it like a potluck dinner where everyone brings something to contribute. There were some amazing dishes served and it was very nice.

My friends have also been inviting me to break my fast with them in their homes. I’ve found a true sense of comaradery from my experience. I’ve also developed a better understanding of my friends and their different cultural backgrounds.

Enough rambling for now.

Catch you all later.

Woj

P.S. Here are some Ramadan links for more info…

Ramadan – The Month of Fasting

Ramadan Fasting