Hi, I’m trying out the…

March 5, 2008

Hi, I’m trying out the new Jott service or it’s not very new, but anyway, I’m trying it out to got to the blog. I thought it could be a good solution for when you’re hiking and you want to go in touch with your friends via your blog, so I’m trying it out. Kinda disappointing, but it’s only just 30 seconds long now. listen

Powered by Jott


Post-Jott reflections:

So, that was interesting. I spoke quite quickly and didn’t really worry about pronunciation. Jott did an excellent job of transcribing, I think, except toward the end when it transcribed “get” as “go,” “that” as “but,” and “though” as “now.” I’m particularly impressed by Jott’s punctuation savvy. In my mind there was a comma between”service” and “or.” To be fair, however, when I go back and listen to the actual recording it’s clear that I made little to no indication of a pause between those two words.

Thirty seconds is actually a decent amount of time. I probably could have fit in a few more sentences. Now that I’ve conducted the first experiment I wonder if I could be more savvy in creating an appropriate post title. I’ll post again a bit later to see if I can finesse the first “sentence” of a Jott into being the post title.

Setting up Jott is incredibly easy; all you have to do is navigate to the website and enter your name, email address, phone number, and a password. Jott sends you a confirmation email (which happened almost instantaneously for me) that links back to the Jott website where you receive a simple tutorial on how to make your first Jott. Jotting is simple: call a toll-free number, tell Jott to whom you want to send a Jott, Jott confirms the recipient, and you start talking!

Jott allows you to communicated with anyone (even yourself) via SMS text, email, or blogs or other websites. To add to your list of recipients, you simply log on to your account at the Jott website, which features a clean, user-friendly interface. You can add people (essentially, cell phone numbers and email addresses), groups of people, or websites such as Twitter, WordPress, and even a Google Calendar. This way when Jott asks you “Who do you want to Jott” you can simply say “WordPress” or “Jack” and Jott will do the legwork for you. For now Jott is in beta testing so there is no charge for the service.

Another blogger recently posted a review of two other unique mobile voice communications services, Note2Self and SayNow. I haven’t tried out either of those services and don’t plan on it, since they don’t fit my needs for various reasons.

All in all, an elegant, impressive solution! I wouldn’t be surprised to see integration with a whole host of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in the future. I hope Jott’s creators find a way to increase the time limit and to permanently offer this service free-of-charge.


Sick day musings

January 15, 2008

So, my much-anticipated foray into the blogosphere was hampered by a variety of issues, including excessive amounts of work to surmount at my 9-5, a one and a half month visit by a very special person and said person’s equally wonderful dog, the usual malaise associated with the winter months, and a sudden desire to conquer that winter slump by spending at least 3 hours a day in the gym. None of these “issues” were bad in any way, but needless to say my mind was on other things.

Before I continue, I should mention a couple things. Back in November, I planned on writing the second post about the other reasons for starting this blog. Truth be told, I was gearing up for a succint, articulate declaration of my intent to hike the Appalachian Trail in 2008. What follows will be the somewhat deflated, far more nebulous version of this affirmation.

As I discussed with a colleague this fall, hiking the Appalachian Trail – heck, hiking any long-distance trail – is a life goal that I’ve been mulling over for at least ten years. If I had a top-ten list, this would rank in the top 5. In November I decided to begin setting this goal in motion. No more delays, no more excuses. This spring seemed like an ideal time to leave my current job, my finances are relatively stable, and I haven’t settled down (in many senses of the phrase). This resolution prompted a myriad of other questions, all of which added to my excitement: which trail? how fast? how light? when to start? scrupulous and precise planning, with mail drops and a plentiful bounce-box, or the fly-by-night, perhaps more expensive, style of in-town grocery shopping and drop-box scavenging? cell phone, pocketmail, camera, video camera, pda, or in-town libraries and pay phones? The sheer volume of decisions was exhilarating, overshadowed only by the intoxicating pleasure I experienced when I thought of actually hiking the trail, when all the decisions would (hopefully) be a lot more simple – dried mango versus dried apple, tarping in the cold rain versus sleeping in a stuffy, snore-filled shelter.

The obvious place to start was to tackle the first question, which would dictate my response to all others: which trail? After hiking Vermont’s Long Trail in 2005, I know what the crowds can be like on the AT. And it’s safe to say that I am in no way, shape or form, amused or intrigued by them. The drinking that goes on, the constant jockeying for shelter space, the prospect of seeing the same people upwards of 5 times a day as we yo-yo up the great green tunnel – all of this I could do without. Then again, after reading various blogs and guides, I can’t help but ask myself (because everyone asks for me) – am I really ready to overcome the emotional fatigue that, by all accounts, is a veritable reality of almost everyone’s trail experience? It seems that most people would argue that the AT is a better place to start than the PCT or CDT, because despite the snoring, the lack of solitude, the exposure to cell phone and pda use, companionship of any sort can become a vital weapon against emotional fatigue on the trail. This admission goes against my gut instinct about the depth and breadth of my own emotional and physical stamina, but, again, I can’t help but weigh the advice of the thousands of others who are piping up out there on the internet. So, with some reservation, I decided the AT would be a more sensible place to start. Because I live on the East Coast, there will be more people along the way to lend support, weekend companionship, and a bed, shower, and hot bath. There’s much to look forward to, including a retrace of part of my LT 2005 trip as well as a possible stopover at Farm and Wilderness, a wonderful camp near Killington. There are ways to avoid the crowds, and with milder terrain and weather than the PCT or the CDT, there’s a wider margin for success. Am I copping out? Given my own temperament, would a more independent and more geographically spectacular CDT or PCT hike be a better recipe for success? Perhaps, but there’s still a lot to be said for the AT – history, fun physical challenges like serious humidity, bugs, and the 4-state-one-day challenge of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (about 43 miles by most calculations). In any case, for now, that’s where my mind is about which trail.

What happened since then, you ask? Well, several important people in my life have advised me that perhaps I should wait and see if I’m given a promotion at work before I hop off the career bandwagon and onto the trail. Being able to write a title that actually reflects the level of responsibility that I’ve had for the past year or so, instead of the entry-level epithet that graces my current business cards, could prove invaluable in future job searches. And having witnessed the search process at my own place of employment several times in the past year, I can say with confidence that getting past the initial HR screening with my current title is a real concern, no matter what job I might apply to in the future. Once I land an interview, I’ll be fine – but it’s getting past the guard dogs that worries me.

So this is where I am right now – once again, weight career opportunities and life planning against a goal that will only become more difficult to achieve as time passes. Most days I’m tempted to jump off the bandwagon right now. But then again, I have to admit that I do enjoy things like health insurance, a salary, and an apartment to call my own.

Stay tuned, I’m only bound to get more confused as time goes on.

Hello world!

November 13, 2007

Welcome to my blog.  Well, first things first: the title of the default/sample post when I created this blog was just as it appears above – “Hello world!”  – and while I do intend to create many posts boasting creative and eye-catching titles, I felt it was apropos to retain the original default title.  For one, this is my first foray into blogging (beyond a brief, sophomoric attempt in college which I will never, ever try to emulate) and thus it’s only fitting to greet the world, or at least this limited (but also infinite) world of bloggers and blog-readers.  Is there a term for blog-readers?  Blogees? Spectators?  I digress already…

Secondly, when I was in college I took an introductory computer science course called “Hello World!” in which I learned, among other things, how to kick academic, social, and fiscal butt by employing an entrepreneurial spirit.  In the independent study that accompanied the seminar, I weasled my way into reading literature instead of writing complex computer programs, thus molding the course to my own real interests.  I learned PHP, CSS, and Javascript in order to present the culminating literature paper in an interactive, web-based format.  Going above and beyond the parameters of what was assigned prompted my teacher to offer me a paid summer research internship, and by the next fall I was designing web sites for a couple people.  While my technological expertise has gone by the wayside in the past couple years, my hope is that this blog will chronicle my attempt to recapture that entrepreneurial spirit.   Plus, I can’t help but mention that this blog is really a testing ground to see if I like WordPress better than other blogging resources.  So, “Hello, WordPress!”  You’re on the hotseat.

All title-musings aside, I hope this blog provides an opportunity for me to strengthen my sense of self and also to hone my writing skills.  If you have suggestions about the latter, please don’t hesitate to pipe up.  If you have suggestions about the former, well… find me in person and we can talk about it over coffee.