2016 blog review, 2017 blog goals

2016 completes my fourth year of blogging. As I’ve done in 2013, 2014, and 2015, here’s a look back on 2016 and what’s in store for 2017.

Overall, I’m fairly pleased. Just the fact that I’ve kept it at for longer than a month or two is more than can be said of 95% of the blogs that are started. I would like to post more, but I’m still working at becoming a more prolific writer. Believe me, it’s not a lack of topics that’s holding me back. I have a backlog of approximately 75 items. In other words, having something to write about it isn’t a problem. As those who know me can attest, I have (too) many opinions on way too many diverse topics.

Anyway, let’s get on with the 2016 state of the blog.

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Book review: The Big Short

The Big Short by Michael LewisWhen I was putting together my reading list for last year, the movie The Big Short was just hitting the theaters. It had a great cast which included Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, and Ryan Gosling. I had heard about the book and knew it was written by Michael Lewis. I had been wanting to read another one of his books ever since I read The Blind Side, which, by the way, is much, much better than the movie. Anyway, I wasn’t sold on adding it to my 2016 reading list until I read a post from Brad Feld where he raved about how well the movie portrayed the events of the book. It was a done deal after that, and it finally bubbled to the top of my list within the last month or so.

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The 8-team playoff

The college football bowl season, or what I like to call the “football silly season”, is underway. How silly are the games? Even star, NFL-caliber players are realizing that risking a future career in the NFL and their earning potential is not worth playing one more meaningless game.

What college football needs is more games with meaning. When I see NCAA president Mark Emmert say that he would like to see the college football playoff expand to eight teams, my quick response is, “So do I!” I’m so serious about my desire for an expanded playoff that I put together my proposed bracket based upon the final CFP rankings.

My proposed College Football Playoff bracket for 2016

Let’s look at all the reasons why an 8-team playoff makes sense.

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Book review: Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) - James S.A. CoreyDespite being my book recommendation nemesis, Amazon can come in quite handy sometimes. I was trying to figure out how I found out about the James S.A. Corey novel Leviathan Wakes. Luckily, Amazon archives all of your orders, so I was able to trace the purchase to May of last year. My best guess tells me that it came from either an Amazon Daily Deal or one of their email book list recommendations. Either way, being a science fiction novel, it fit neatly into one of my reading genres and, since I had already purchased it, I had it on my 2016 reading list.

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Amazon EC2: Upgrading from PHP 5.3 to PHP 5.6

Upgrading PHP and Apache on an Amazon EC2 instanceI launched my first Amazon instance in the middle of 2014. At the time, I installed the latest web server technology – PHP 5.3 and Apache 2.2. Since technology never stops moving forward, especially software, I figured it was time to move to newer PHP and Apache versions. In my case, I chose PHP 5.6 and Apache 2.4. Here are the steps I followed for the upgrade.

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Book review: UX Strategy – How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want

UX Strategy by Jamie LevyBetween my recreational, science fiction reads, I like reading books to brush up on product and business development, software development techniques, management and leadership skills, and business strategy. Strangely enough (tongue in cheek), the emails I get from Amazon are either full of sci-fi books or business books. Therefore, I was not surprised when UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want by Jamie Levy showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Since I work with clients on product development strategies, as well as potential product ideas for my business, UX Strategy looked like it had a lot of potential. The strong reviews on Amazon certainly didn’t hurt its cause, so I added it to my short list of books for 2016.

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Upgrading WampServer from version 2.2 to version 3.0

WampServerIn order to do web development, it’s a good idea to have a local development environment setup. I had setup WampServer on my PC a couple of years ago when I launched my personal WordPress site. It made it much easier to experiment with changes in the WordPress setup and try out different themes.

Recently, I decided to get back into playing around with WordPress and trying some other programming ideas. When I checked the WampServer site, I noticed that they had moved to version 3.0, while I was still on version 2.2. I figured it was time to upgrade. Here are the steps and resources I used to complete the upgrade.

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It’s Time to Drop the ‘Third Party’ Label

After this past election, in which the two party system failed us, it’s time we dropped the label of third-party for candidates who aren’t a democrat or republican. While I can’t say that I relate to Penn Jilette, he’s right. A vote for people representing parties other than democrats or republicans is not a wasted a vote. Plain and simple, it’s a vote.

What’s most disappointing is how the mainstream media, and even prominent figures, continue to label the other parties as “third” parties and a waste of effort. It was very disappointing to see Seth Godin, whose blog I follow, promote the two party system. It feels like we have all been brain-washed to believe that there should only be two candidates that we should consider for office which are put forth by the powers who be. I don’t get it, and I don’t like it.

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Book review: The Wayward Pines Trilogy

Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake CrouchEven though I have a reading list that has grown to out of control proportions of 150+ books strong, I’m always on the lookout for book recommendation sources. I have a few friends and blogs that have become trusted sources. There’s my ever present nemesis – the infamous Amazon recommendation engine. For my latest read, I decided to try a new recommendation source –  Gizmodo, one of the tech blogs that I follow. One of their must reads from a while back was Pines from the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. Since I follow the site primarily for tech gadget news, I was a little concerned about the potential quality of their book recommendations, but I figured it was worth at least a shot.

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The Two Party System Has Failed Us

The Two Party SystemThe 1992 election was the first presidential election that I voted in. That makes the 2016 election my seventh presidential election and, by far, the worst of the lot. A process that uses a system of primaries to narrow the field of candidates down to the two who are deemed most fit to serve as the President has failed us.

Before I continue, this post is not about any one candidate, as both candidates this year had their flaws. It is about the system. The system that we’ve put our faith in. The system that is supposed to put forward the two most highly qualified candidates for us to choose between.

How has the two party system failed us?

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