Disney ‘Mystery’ Western Carribbean Cruise 2011

We have been looking forward to this vacation all year. This is our second cruise in as many years as last year was our first ever: a 4 day quick hop to Nassau, day at sea and ending on Disney’s ‘private island’ in the Bahamas: Castaway Cay. Staci definitely caught the ‘fever’ and we decided to try our luck on a longer, 7 day cruise. Since I was already coming to Orlando in October for a conference, we found a 7 day Western Caribbean itinerary after my conference ended. Seemed like good luck and it was towards the tail end of hurricane season, too. So we booked it! Our original itinerary looked like this:
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First Impressions: BlackBerry 9930

After recent (and frequent) fights  with my BlackBerry Tour 9630 (I am a Verizon subscriber), I started considering that it might be time to get a new phone.  I have been a BlackBerry fan since the days of the 8700 and will freely admit an addiction to BlackBerry Messenger for quick chats with my wife, Staci.  But recently, I have been experiencing slow performance, hourglasses and just HORRIBLE lag from my current 9630.  Mainly, my frustrations pretty much had me cursing at the phone and ready to throw it out the window.  Staci decided that she had enough of hearing me complain and told me just to go out and get a new phone.  For those that might know my wife- this is a big deal!

I have been due for an upgrade since my failed experiment with a Droid X last year.  I liked the Droid, but after months of horrible battery life and the fact that I just could NOT get used to using a touch screen for emails and texts.  After I couldn’t be reached for tragic family news because of the Droid’s dead battery (~6 hours of use), I switched back to the 9630.  Knowing that an iPhone isn’t in the cards (see ‘touch screen vs. my thumbs’), I was drawn to the new 9930.  I’ve been asking for RIM to release this model forever.  A gorgeous touch screen with that BlackBerry keyboard.  So, what do I think so far…

Keyboard: What can you say?  It’s a BlackBerry.  A great keyboard and actually larger than the one on my 9630.  To be honest, the larger keyboard is taking a bit to get used to- but that’s a GOOD thing!

Screen:  Best screen I’ve seen on a BlackBerry to date.  Bright and crisp. Feels like ‘Gorilla Glass’, but RIM calls it ‘Hardened Glass’.  Whatever it is, it feels like the glass on my iPad.  I’m still going to put a screen protector on it, since I’m kinda geeky like that!

Touchscreen: Listen, it’s a BlackBerry- not an iPad or iPhone.  I knew that I wasn’t going to get the most responsive touchscreen ever. But the fact that I can scroll up and down, select and click around without using the trackpad is GREAT!

The question I’ve been getting hasn’t been why the 9930?  That’s because those who know me, know the reasons why I’m sticking with a BlackBerry.  The questions have been about the ‘apps’.   I don’t need a whole lot of apps on my phone…I pretty much use it for Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, TripIt, BlackBerry Travel, BerryWeather and Google Maps. The one thing that I miss about my Droid X is the Google Navigation.  I can use VZ Navigator in a pinch, but Android’s free Google Navigation is great.

Why don’t I want more apps? Because I have an iPad (and an iPod Touch and a whole bunch of other gadgets).  If I want to Skype, FaceTime, play Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja- I’m good.  That’s why I’m perfectly happy with my BlackBerry- because it does what I need it to do and does it well.  It needs to first  and foremost: be a phone, then BBM with Staci and handle basic apps.  For everything else that needs  ‘apps’, I’ve got a better device along for the ride.  This setup works great for me!

Hurricane Irene- Running Diary

Well, here comes the rain! I think what I’m going to do is just update this post with my hurricane observations. Might not be too terribly scientific or accurate, but will give me something to do- other than watching the armageddon forecast from The Weather Channel.

Saturday- 1155
In North Jersey at my mom’s checking in on her and dropping Abby off for Camp Grandma. Regular old rain seems to have started, but Staci and I won’t start back to PA until we see the yellow bands on the radar around Delmarva.

Saturday- 1800
Made it back to PA. The New Jersey Turnpike had AWFUL rains and ponding, making for some treacherous driving conditions. Especially heavy rain and wind between exits 8 and 6. Glad to be home to ride out the storm. If that’s a small taste of what the eastern side is going to get- then its going to be a long night, even here.

Saturday- 1921
Rain has started falling more heavily now. Radar has more moderate bands of rain circling this way. Hopefully folks will heed the warnings and I won’t be called out tonight for preventable reasons.

Sunday- 1201
Well, made it through the night.  Wind was pretty bad, but not hurricane strength.  Power stayed on all night, didn’t even flicker.  Mingo Creek is definitely running high and fast and was likely at the top of the bridge overnight.  The sinkhole at Georgetowne Court reappeared as the water came over the banks and a big tree branch fell from in front of Bill & Kate’s house.  The sump pump at our neighbor’s house failed and they got about 2-3″ of water in their basement.  I lent them our ShopVac and dropped off some contractor trash bags.

Roads are still flooded and the rivers and creeks have yet to crest.  That’s what I’m keeping my eyes on.

Social Media and Me…and You and a billion other people

I recently attended an excellent SAP Mentor webinar regarding the impact and usage of social media.  We heard about SAP’s thoughts and strategies on social media and the Mentors were able to share theirs.  Then by chance,  the very next morning I was part of an email discussion at work about which social media sites people have joined and what kind of value they saw each bring to them.  I can’t help but how subjective these things really are.  Every individual is going to have their own thoughts on what they get out of each.  And that’s exactly is what is at the heart of the matter!  Each social media avenue can be used for a different purpose, depending on what you’re looking to get out of it.   For me, this is how I break it down:

Twitter
This seems to have become my main information hub.  I follow trends, look for news, track blogs and pretty much see what’s going on through Twitter.  But to be honest, I usually keep it limited to ‘work’ on here.  While I do find myself sharing personal ‘check-ins’, the occasional pithy comment or family news item; when I look at my followers/follows I see SAP Mentors, bloggers, influencers, ASUG-ers, techies and other SAP/BOBJ folks on here.  I realized that I’ve done this on purpose because…

Facebook
I hate to say it, but Facebook is for family and friends.  Pictures, stories and the relationships on here have been cultivated around the premise that my Facebook account is where I can connect with my Uncles in Florida and Washington State, cousins in Mexico and close friends spread amoungst the wind.  But there is a bit of overlap, though.  I have some people who are on both Twitter AND Facebook because not only are they colleagues, they’re friends.  That reminds me, I really do need to do some more reaching out in Facebook to friends from Twitter.  I am REALLY bad at searching for people and sending friend requests!

Here’s a Facebook example, I won’t engage in a conversation about BI4’s GA date on it.  I’ll rarely like a company page, unless it’s on a whim or having to do with something outside of work.  For example, one page I liked was Seagrave Fire Apparatus.  They have ZERO to do with BI4, but since I rely on their ladder truck to get me home safe to my family (non-work activity)- I liked their page.  BI4 comments will go to Twitter or…

SAP Community Network (SCN)
For me, the main blogging and news information portal for SAP-related news.  I blog on here and read blogs on here.  I am not as active on the Forums as I probably should be.  I consider SCN one of the main hubs for SAP/BOBJ information.  The SAP Mentors tend to centralize content on here (or link out to it) and even before I was a Mentor, I looked for their unvarnished views on products and technologies.  But I don’t think SCN is for…

Personal Blogs (you’re here already)
If I want to blog about my latest family vacation, post some birthday party pictures or review the newest gadget that my wife got mad at me for buying, I’ll post it here.  I would like to think that my personal blog kinda straddles the line between Facebook and Twitter.  Since it’s public, anyone can read it if they choose.  I am not limited to just SAP/BOBJ posts like on SCN or to only a selected list of people like Facebook.  Which bring us to…

Google+
Right now, G+ is limited to early adopters and has shown some promise.  I really do like the ‘Circles’ approach to life.  I can put people in my ‘SAP’ circle and when I want to make that comment about BI4, I can just limit the post to those folks who would be interested.  Or if I posted some birthday party pictures, I can limit that post to just my Family.  I think that this is a powerful feature and I suspect that others will likely roll out this kind of functionality at some point.  I do see promise in Google+.

LinkedIn
Now you’ve noticed no pithy ‘linking’ to LinkedIn in the blog.  That’s mainly because I don’t really use it as ‘social media’.  For me, it’s mainly a form of online resume and professional network documentation.  I have connected to folks that I want to stay in touch with professionally,  figuring out who works where and making sure that I have a professional appearance online.  Some folks really use the groups and other features of LinkedIn, but I find that they don’t really work for me too well.  So for now, I consider LinkedIn to be more of a placeholder than active social media experiment.

These are the main forms of social media that I utilize on a daily basis.  The moral of this story is that you should take the time to find the strategy that works best for YOU!  The amount of value that you will derive from these networks really depends on what you put into them.  If you want to just consume the information, good.  There’s plenty out there for you to find and read.  Want to start producing?  Go for it…but remember it takes time, effort and quality to start being heard.  Don’t be discouraged.  In today’s world, it seems that you are your own brand.  How you present your brand is up to you!

Easter-time…

Well, we ended up with a BEAUTIFUL afternoon for Easter.  The thunderstorms held off until the afternoon and the weather was perfect for an egg hunt.  Here are some egg hunt pictures and some bonus pics of when we got to watch Ms. Jenna a few weeks ago!

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Piano Recital

Well, it’s that time of the year. The first of two piano recitals for Abby has come and gone. She did great! Here’s a link to the video up in a MobileMe gallery:

http://bit.ly/hyEh4e

Keep an eye out for the invite to Performathon in May. Thanks!

Flower Show 2011

Another year, another great evening at the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s theme is ‘Paris’ and the Eiffel Tower replica that greeted you upon entering was neat. Abby really enjoyed the displays and Staci was able to do some research and put together ideas for the redo of our front landscaping. Good times were had by all!

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