Author Archives: coreyg

LinkedIn Privacy settings

I haven’t blogged in a bit but thought I’d do a quick post on changing how your profile will appear to other users on LinkedIn.
When you view a user’s LinkedIn profile, it captures this and displays it in a report to the user. If you’d like more anonymity when navigating through the site, do the following:

  1. Login to LinkedIn
  2. Click on your name in the top right corner and select “Settings”
  3. Click on the Profile tab towards the bottom of the screen
  4. Click on “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”
  5. From here you can have your name and company displayed to other users, just the Company, or be completely Anonymous

This was an unknown setting to me until I started digging into LinkedIn more and wanted to share it with everyone.

Thanksgiving

This has been a pretty crazy year on many levels but as I get towards the end of the year I reflect on a lot of things I’m thankful for. Here is my top 6 list:

  1. Top of the list is my wife, she is amazingly supportive and everyday I thank God she is in my life.
  2. Family has been very supportive this year. Both my family and my wife’s.
  3. Lucy my Golden Retriever, she’s sooo awesome!
  4. MindTouch, a great company to work for along with a great product to be associated with
  5. Essentials – I’m thankful for having the basic necessities that we take for granted like shelter and food
  6. Anyone reading this – Thank you for taking time to read my blog

I know I haven’t been writing often, but that is kinda how I roll. If you want more frequent updates definitely follow me on twitter: @coreygans

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

2011 R.E.C.S.S. open for nominations

The 2011 Recognition for Excellence in Customer Support and Service Awards are open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite agent/company by tweeting or filling out the form here: http://www.supportawards.org

The top agent will win an Xbox 360 Kinect bundle and the companies will win an award. Please help spread the word and nominate for different companies/agents as many times as you want.

Amazing road trip

I just got back from an amazing roadtrip. Here are the details of what we did:

Thursday Aug 4th
Left San Diego and headed towards Vegas. Did I mention it was Pam, myself and Lucy (our Golden Retriever). We arrived in Las Vegas around 1am and stayed at a La Quinta off the strip. The La Quinta was really nice, cheap and didn’t charge extra for dogs. We had to get up early to hit the road, so we didn’t do anything in Vegas at this time.

Friday Aug 5th
We left in the morning around 10am and headed towards Fruita, CO, which is right across the CO border. We made it there about 6/7pm and once again stayed at a La Quinta, good times. We grabbed some mongolian BBQ while there and took it easy. We had to leave early the next day to make it to Denver, CO to see Pam’s family so we didn’t do any sight seeing in Fruita.

Saturday Aug 6th
We made it to Denver around 2pm and checked into our Hotel VQ which is right next to the Bronco’s Stadium. Lucy met her cousin (Ani) for the first time. Ani is Pam’s brother’s black lab. They clicked right away and had a blast. We then went downtown as we had tickets to the Rockies vs Washington Nationals game. Before the game, Pam and I went to a bar called 1up. It is an arcade bar where they had a lot of vintage games and we happen to luck out and be there when Steve Wiebe was playing donkey kong. For those not familiar with him, he was the world record holder of Donkey Kong high score and was features in the Documentary King of Kong, which is an excelent movie. Here is a pic of Steve Wiebe and me. After hanging out at the 1up bar we went to the Rockies game. We had great seats on the 1st base line thanks to Pam’s brother, and it was a great game. I indulged myself by getting a pretzel with the cheese dip 🙂 After the game we went back to the hotel and chilled for the rest of the night.

Sunday Aug 7th
We woke up Sunday and packed up the car to head over to the Rocky Mountain National Park. We had a cabin right outside of the park entrance. The cabin was nice and allowed dogs. I was able to chill by a stream near our cabin and get caught up with work while enjoying the amazing views. Here is a pic from where I sat: After playing catchup Pam, myself and her Mom went out to dinner and a local road side diner. I had an excellent 14oz Prime rib with red potatoes and sweet potato fries. Needless to say I had a traditional meat and potatoes dinner. After dinner we went over to Pam’s brother’s camp site where we hung out and made Smores. It was a beautifully clear night and I was able to see every star. We then headed back to the cabin and called it a night.

Monday Aug 8th
Monday I had some time to myself to take in the scenic beauty around the cabin and clear my head. It was a nice unplugging moment. After that I went on a drive with Pam, her mom and Dad up into the Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw over 50 Elk, a Marmot, and amazing vistas as far as the eye could see. After the drive we reconnected with Pam’s bro and sis at the campsite and then got some fixins to grill out at the cabin, including Flank steak (I was craving it the whole time). We then hung out for a bit and called it a night.

Tuesday Aug 9th
We got up Tuesday and started to pack up to hit the road on our way back to San Diego. We got a great family pic in with the dogs and then took Pam’s sister to the airport so she could fly back. Pam and I made our way to Grand Junction, CO where we stayed the night at another La Quinta, did I mention that I like La Quinta 🙂 We ventured out for some food that night and I got a Little Caesar pizza(comfort food) and Pam got some Frozen Yogurt. It was a little bit of a veg night which is always good.

Wednesday Aug 10th
We woke up Wednesday and headed over to a Meadery, which is a winery where they supplement grapes for Honey. The Meadery name was Meadery of the Rockies and they had free tastings. We tried some of the wine and it was really tasty. We grabbed a couple of bottles to bring back. After that we went to the Colorado National Monument. We had grabbed an annual National Parks pass at Rocky Mountain National park and wanted to take advantage of the great parks along the way. The views were amazing as you can see from this pic: We spent about an hour there and then hit the road with the destination set for Flagstaff, AZ. We got into Flagstaff at almost exactly midnight. It was a long day of driving and we spent the night at a Travelodge Motel. It was really cheap and that was about all that it had going for it.

Thursday Aug 11th
Thursday we woke up early and hit the road. The first destination: The Grand Canyon. We made it to the Grand Canyon in a little under 2 hours and after seeing it, the name is very fitting. It truly is Grand! After the breathtaking views, we hopped back in the car. Next destination: The Hoover Dam. We made it to the Dam and took a couple of pics but didn’t linger too much. Did I mention that all of the spots we went to were pretty packed with tourists? We continued onto Vegas and spent the night at the La Quinta that we were at on the first night of the trip. We got settled in and then went out to Fremont Street and saw an amazing Doors tribute montage on the big screen over Fremont street. Lucy was a little freaked out so we didn’t stay long. I did have enough time to run into a casino and lose $1 on a slot machine, I wasn’t shooting for big wins 🙂 We then went back to the hotel and chilled for the rest of the night.

Friday Aug 12th
We woke up early Friday and hit the road on the way back to San Diego. We didn’t doddle on the way back and made it into town around 3pm. I then went and got a haircut, it was getting a little too crazy, and we settled back into our home. Lucy was sooo tired from the trip she came into the house and laid down on her bed. I’m happy to say a good nights sleep got her rejuvenated.

All in all this was an amazing road trip and in fact the longest road trip I’ve ever been on. If anything this got me more excited to continue travelling with Pam and Lucy. Who knows where we’ll go next?

Status checkin

Here is a summary of things going on:

  • It is less than 14 days to the start of the 3rd Annual SupportAwards. I’m excited about this year as it should prove to be a strong turn out for nominations and votes. We have some great sponsors this year too.
  • MindTouch just announced the release of contextual help. Ultimately it allows for help content from a hosted MindTouch TCS site to be surfaced within an application and automatically provide contextually relevant information based upon the page the help is being initiated from. Keep an eye out for demos and more information about this offering from MindTouch
  • I’ve been working on my car and getting it cleaned up and optimized. It is a blast driving the convertible and enjoy having a bit of a project to work on.

Other than that, I’ve been chugging along and keeping up with things.

Buying a car

I just recently bought a car and it was a fun experience as always. I ended up choosing a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible. I’ve never had a convertible and I have to say it is a blast to drive. Here is a pic of it:

While buying the car I had to put it through some tests to make sure it was worthy to be a vehicle of mine. The first test I did was to test the struts. Struts provide the smooth ride and if they aren’t in good shape the car will be bouncing a lot. A way to test the struts is to push down on the bumper and if it recovers right away, then that means the struts are good. If it bounces and then bounces again, that means the struts are most likely shot.

The next thing I checked were the tires to make sure they had enough wear on them along with making sure they weren’t wearing abnormally. This can point to an alignment issue, which is easily fixed. Next I look at the rotors to make sure they are in good shape and aren’t gouged. I check the strut boot to make sure it isn’t cracked and leaking at all.

I check under the hood and make sure there isn’t leaking any fluids, although it being an old car there is still the chance for the small leak. Then I run through all of the electrical to make sure it works. Check paint for dings or cover ups. This can be seen pretty easily. Take it for a test drive and make sure all of the components work along with ensuring that there aren’t any noises. I take a look under the car to check for rust (old habits from car buying in MN) and make sure that the exhaust pipes don’t have leaks/cracks. When you start the car, see if the exhaust is a blue’ish color, this means that the engine is burning oil and could be costly to fix, but at the same time is common in older/high mileage cars.

Check the age of the battery to see if it is the original. Check the brakes while driving to make sure they grab and that they aren’t squishy. Check the car on Edmunds.com to ensure there aren’t any recalls or gotchas about the car that could cause more expenses down the road. Also you’ll be able to get an estimate as to the value of the car.

There are additional items I check, but this is a quick and dirty list for anyone buying a car to add to their check list. I hope this is helpful to anyone who reads this.

Long time no post

It has been a long time since I’ve posted and in that time Lucy has grown to be around 20lbs, Pam started a new job, and we have a new roommate at our place.  I think one of the big reasons I haven’t been blogging as much is that I’ m not as much of a blogger as I used to be because of being busy at work along with some of my side projects.  Frankly I’m not that passionate about writing as I am about technology in general.  i.e. I’d rather spend time learning a programming language I’m not familiar with then write about random things.  Although that changes from time to time when I get the urge, as I am right now.  I do update my twitter more frequently though.  If you want to receive more updates from me, definitely follow me @coreygans

Other than that, just living life and having a blast.

LVTC still lives 🙂

Life as a Pet owner

This past weekend Pam and I got a golden retriever puppy named Lucy.  She is 8 weeks old and adorable.  It has been a long time since I’ve had a dog and there are a lot of things that are coming back to me as we train her.  There have been some frustrating moments like when she woke us up at 5am to poop all over her crate, but when you look at the following face it all goes away:

Installing Ubuntu Remix on EEEpc 900

I just got an EEEpc 900 off of eBay that had XP loaded on it.  It was pretty cheap ($179 with shipping and tax) and overall have pretty good specs including 1GB of RAM, 16GB SSD Hard Drive, built in Mic and 1.3MP camera.  The goal was to get this for when I’m traveling to decrease the weight and easier to pack.  Once I got it I got things ready to install Ubuntu Remix on it.  Here are the steps I took:

  1. Setup a USB installer as the netbook doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive on it.  I tried using the usb creator built in with the Ubuntu remix ISO but that didn’t work out so I used UNetBootin
  2. I got the Flash Drive setup and ran the installer and it worked out well, the touchpad didn’t work during the installation but I had a usb mouse and that allowed me to control and finish the installation
  3. Once I got it installed the wireless worked right away, the touchpad worked, when I closed the lid it went into standby properly

I need to get a new battery for it as it only came with a 4 cell and it seems to already be losing charge.  Otherwise the installation was easy and I’m really happy with it.

Support Plan Management Application

The support plan structure that we subscribe to at MindTouch includes 2 tiers of tickets.  The first tier is a System Maintenance ticket which are basic questions about how to use/install/configure MindTouch.  Then we have advanced tickets called METs (MindTouch Expert Tickets).  These allow for support for advanced functionality within MindTouch.

METs are a cornerstone to the support plans as far as one of the main differentiators.  With this in mind we needed an effective way to track and communicate to the customer their usage of these tickets.  This motivated me to create a PHP/AJAX application that surfaces the number of tickets used and how many are left.

The key functionality of this application relies on effectively categorizing tickets in a way that can be surfaced and counted.  We use ZenDesk for our helpdesk which has a pretty robust RESTful API.  I setup a workflow in ZenDesk that would automatically tag the ticket with an MET tag based upon the categorization of the ticket itself. Once this is done then the ticket will go through its normal cycle of resolution.  In the background nightly I have a PHP script that hits the ZenDesk API and queries based upon values from our database and the categorization in ZenDesk.  It then loops through all of the organizations and parses the total number of METs have been used during their support plan timeframe.

Once it receives this information it updates the database.  The information is then surfaced through a javascript widget that receives information from ZenDesk as to the user’s organization.

This helps the agents have a better idea of the customer’s support level along with providing useful information to the customer as to the status of their account.