Chris Bigelow

Disparate thoughts and musings…

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Having trouble printing to a network printer from Vista or Windows 7?

So was I.  This summer I bought a laptop with Windows Vista 64 on it.   When I tried to connect to a printer on a networked PC (running XP) via the simple “Add a printer” command it didn’t work and I got the error below:

After much searching of Windows forums on the internet I found the following fix on Tech Support Guy (additional notes and screenshots mine):

  1. Select: Control Panel, Printers, Add Printer
  2. Choose Add Local Printer.
  3. Uncheck the box marked :Automatically detect my PnP printer (Vista only).
  4. Click Next
  5. Select Create a New Port and leave the default in the drop down selection as Local Port.
  6. Click Next
  7. Windows displays a small dialogue box asking a port name.
  8. Key in: \\<computer_name>\<printer_name> See note below.
  9. Click OK
  10. Windows will show a list of printer vendors and models.  The list looks just like the Windows Add Hardware Dialog.  Select your printer manufacturer and printer model from the list.  If your specific printer isn’t shown, you can click on Have Disk and browse to the folder where you have the unpacked drivers for your printer.

The above procedure worked like a champ for me.  More recently I upgraded the laptop to Win7 64.  I naively hoped that Microsoft had fixed this problem in Win7 but no such luck: I had the same issues I had with Vista.  Fortunately, the above workaround also did the trick on Win7 and I’m now happily printing to my Canon i850 attached to an old XP machine.

Life is, once again, good.

(Note: Click any image to enlarge – all images from Win7)

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Do You Back Up Your PC Data?

Backing up the data on your PC ranks right up there with getting a root canal.  Or so you’d think based upon how few people have a good backup system in place for their irreplaceable data.  Yet today, with so much of our lives in digital form, it’s more important than ever.

312621611_3799208e09This issue was brought sharply into focus for me on 15 October when I returned home from a meeting to find the screen of my eight week old laptop black with the ominous message: “No OS found”.  I tried numerous times to get it to boot but to no avail.  Diagnostics confirmed that the hard disk had failed.  I guess I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, as electronics typically will fail in the first 90 days or they’re good for years.  But my heart fell when I saw that message.  Why?  Because I had not yet backed up any of the data on my “new” laptop – I figured I had time to do that later.

Fortunately for me, I was able to start the laptop using a bootable Linux CD (from Knoppix).  And, though the laptop’s HD would no longer boot, it spun up and I was able to copy all of my data off onto another network computer (“and there was much rejoicing”).

I got lucky.  This time.  I should have had a backup system in place.  I do on my other PCs but had not yet set something up on the laptop.  Valuable life lesson learned.

Backing up data is not unlike saving for retirement: both are most successful if automated.  I use a simple system to do this: I have each PC on the network copy any new files to a different PC on the network every night using one of two free utilities: Abakt and Cobian Backup.  It’s simple and automatic.  Large media files I back up manually every so often to writeable CDs or DVDs.  I do the same with any downloaded software I wish to back up.

But what if you don’t have multiple computers or, even if you do, they are not networked together?  As I see it you have two decent options: utilize an online/internet backup service (PC Mag has a review of several here) or a removable external drive.  Several of the former services offer a free option with 5GB of storage; cost of the latter option has plummeted to where you can now pick up 640GB of external USB storage for about $70.  Spending a little more will typically buy you a drive with included, automatic backup software.  Trust me – automatic is good.

raid1One final backup option I’m partial to is a network attached storage (NAS) solution employing either RAID 1 or X-RAID® (to be fair, there are RAID solutions available for inside your PC but that gets much more complicated).  These RAID configurations write your data to two physical hard drives which are mirror images of each other.  When one of the drives fail (which it will do – drives are electromechanical devices with a lifespan of 3-5 years) you just replace the failed drive with a new one and the RAID software will mirror the data on the good drive onto the new one and you are back in business.  To insure the safety of your data if you go this route, you must either save all of your critical info only on this drive array OR you must use one of the previously discussed back up software programs to copy key data to the RAID system on a daily/nightly basis.

It has gotten so easy and inexpensive to automatically back up your data that there is no excuse to not have a system in place.  Don’t wait until it is too late.

3 Web Sites to Consult When Considering Relocation

moving-vanAccording to one blog, some 35 to 39 million (12%-14%) Americans move to new homes each year. Of those, about 4.7 million people move to different states each year. Relocating to a different state can be an intimidating proposition, for dozens of reasons. Today I’ll review some of the financial implications and some handy tools available on the internet to help you make an informed decision.

From a financial perspective, the two key things to think about are the differences in salary and cost of living between two areas. There are lots of salary data web sites that will provide data on what a particular job pays on average in a particular area. Note that there can be significant highs/lows either side of this average.

Avon-Whitsett ComparoOne great web site I have used to compare cost of living between two areas is Sperling’s BestPlaces. While providing a wealth of other information, this site let’s you compare the cost of living between where you live now and where you are considering moving to. Click on the “Cost of Living” tab and follow the prompts. This tool will tell you how much more (or less) expensive your destination city is, what the major driver is in the cost difference, and a table comparing a number of cost of living indexes between the two locations. Sperling’s also has data on schools, crime, and climate.

Another useful web site is City-Data. This site aggregates demographic, weather, census, and other data in one easy to use interface. Type in a potential relocation spot and you can find out just about anything about it. While City-Data does not have the direct cost of living comparison option that Sperling’s does, they have reams of data and a terrific, user supported forums section where you can ask questions or read previous questions/answers about a particular city or town. I’ve found the forums to be invaluable.

Browns Summit schoolsWhile salary and cost of living are key pieces of information to have when considering relocation, another critical factor for those with children is the quality of education available. If you need more education info than the two previously mentioned sites provide, I recommend that you check out Great Schools. One nice feature of this site is that it will compare the schools in your target city with others in surrounding cities to help you figure out which one(s) is (are) best.

Relocation might be stressful, but these tools will help you objectively evaluate your options and aid you in making the best choice for you and your family.

Radio Resume

I’ve never been big on self promotion.  Funny how things change when you’re in job search.  Not only have I learned to self promote now, but I’ve realized that I need to do so for the rest of my career (for some tips, read Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It).

Clear Channel RochesterThis week I thought I’d talk about my experience being on the radio.  Seven of the local Clear Channel radio stations have been running a promotion during the last few months called “Radio Resume”.  This is a free public service they initiated to help unemployed folks advertise their availability.

I learned of this promotion a few weeks before it started and immediately applied.  On 22 July I received a call from the WHAM general manager saying I’d been chosen and on 23 July they called to record my Radio Resume.

What’s a Radio Resume?  It’s a 30 second spot (5 second intro & 25 second pitch).  About 3-4 sentences.  It closes with a request to see your resume on the station’s web site, where all of the Radio Resume participants’ resumes (past and present) are hosted.

Last I checked the promotion was still going on so, if you are unemployed and live in the Rochester area, I recommend you consider applying.  The application process is simple – just enter why you feel you should be chosen – in 300 characters or less.  For those of you on Twitter or LinkedIn, that’s just over two tweets or status updates.

If you are fortunate enough to be called, here are my recommendations:

  • Repeat your name twice
  • Give your title or function
  • Tell the employer what value you will bring to them (this is WHY they hire you, right?)
  • Refer them to your resume on the radio station’s web site (call to action)

Things not to say (either because no one cares or you’re just wasting precious seconds):

  • When you were laid off (or how long)
  • Personal financial details (like bankruptcy or foreclosure)
  • Marital status, number of children, etc.

Write out what you want to say, bold the words you want to emphasize, and add hyphens anywhere you want to pause.  Then practice, practice, practice.  Time yourself.  Whittle it down to a punchy delivery of the bare essentials.  This is radio – your message is only as good as the delivery.  Oh wait!  Isn’t that true of all of your self-marketing materials?

Is a Radio Resume worth the effort?  Absolutely!  Worst case, people in your network will hear it and you will be top of mind with minimal effort on your part.  If they hear of a position that fits you they will remember (and think of) you.  Best case, it can lead to an interview and, possibly, employment.  I know of two people, including myself, that received interviews as a direct result of someone hearing their Radio Resume.

So stop sitting around reading blogs and go apply for a Radio Resume.  And best of luck!

Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It

Have you Googled yourself lately?

When my position was eliminated in February I Googled myself, because outplacement firms and career counselors all say that you want to know what references are on the web about yourself.  Fair enough.  There are two reasons for this (and, no, narcissism is not one of them): one, you want to be sure there is no negative or erroneous information posted about yourself and, two, you want to be “findable” (via positive references).

I was dismayed when I had to wade though the first six to eight pages of Google results before finding any reference to myself.  I think that singular reference was to my LinkedIn profile, as that was about my only web presence at the time.

In the wake of this realization I set out to raise my internet profile and make myself “findable” on Google.  My goal was to show up in the first page or two when someone searched for “Chris Bigelow”.  How did I go about doing this?  I started learning about Social Media and:

I also made it a point to cross reference all of my sites to each other using links.

How did it work out?  Well, I just now Googled “Chris Bigelow” and found my blog (fifth and sixth entries) and Google profile (“eleventh” entry/footer) on the first page of the search results.  On the second page I found my Twitter account (second entry) and a directory of all “Chris Bigelows” on LinkedIn (fifth entry) where, incidentally, I show up as the second directory entry.  That’s five times in the first two pages of results. Much better than my previous showing.

“Fine,” you say.  “So where is this all going?”  Over the course of my job search I have been contacted by numerous recruiters (both internal and external).  They have found me in a variety of ways on line: LinkedIn, Monster, Lynxster and CareerBuilder.

Last week, though, I experienced a first when I was contacted by a corporate recruiter who found me via Google.  And not by searching for “Chris Bigelow”, which was my original expectation behind increasing my web presence.  This recruiter found me by submitting a Boolean search string of attributes desired for a specific open position at that company.  I have to admit that it had never occurred to me that I could be found that way.  Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Later that evening, as a test, I entered the Boolean search string “engineer AND lean AND ‘powder coat’” into Google and didn’t I show up as the second and sixth entries on the first page of results.  Wow!  Powerful stuff.  The next day I was discussing this incident with a friend who is an independent recruiter and he said that the best, cutting-edge recruiters are now employing this technique.

In the fourteen years I spent at my last employer, the internet went from nascency to ubiquity and job search has changed dramatically because of it.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

Google Boolean search

Addendum, 28 August: This post has received a lot of comments, mostly on the LinkedIn groups where I posted a link to it.  While the feedback has been generally positive, I have had some cautionary feedback as well which I want to share.

As is true anywhere on the internet, you need to exercise caution when sharing personal information.  Since this runs counter to the whole concept of social media it creates an extremely delicate balancing act.  Making too much information public places you at an increased risk of ID theft, common burglary, and more; making too little information available reduces a potential employer’s ability to find you.

While the choice of how much information to share is strictly a personal one, I recommend that you do not share your home address or phone number.  You might take this a step further and list your location as simply the nearest metro area.  At the risk of stating the obvious, certainly don’t share your date of birth or social security number.  And by all means, don’t broadcast travel plans (“Hello – Mr. Burglar?  We’ll be in Cancun the week of January 7th…”).

Best of luck raising your visibility, but remember to be safe.

Tutorial: WordPress.com Text Widgets

My last post was about how to add social media buttons to your VisualCV.  I got positive feedback on it so I thought I would follow it up with a tutorial on the “text” widget in WordPress.com.  This widget may be the least understood and underrated widget available to WordPress.com bloggers.  I’m no expert but am happy to share what I have learned.

I’m going to assume you know something about widgets.  If not, go to “Appearance”, “Widgets” and poke around.  There are lots of useful widgets and my dashboard reports that, as of this moment, I am using 20 on this blog.  But today we will talk specifically about the text widget.  Eleven of the 20 widgets I am using are text widgets.

What some people may not realize is that, in addition to plain vanilla text, this widget also supports a limited amount of HTML code which makes it extremely useful.  To illustrate, when I was first setting up my blog I added a blogroll with links to various blogs I feel are worth reading.  I categorized them too.  Imagine my dismay when I realized that both the categories and blog names were automatically alphabetized and there seemd to be nothing I could do about it (short of playing games with the names themselves).

Enter the text widget.  First, I looked at the source code for my blog to see what the HTML code was for the blogroll.  Mind you, I knew no HTML prior to this.  I then copied and pasted this code into a new text widget.  By keeping the format calls intact the rendered widget looked just like a normal blogroll.  Except that now I could manually rearrange the code to list the blogs in any order I wished.  A small triumph, perhaps, but it made my day.  As an example, the HTML code for my “Career Blogs” widget is as follows:

[sourcecode language=’html’]
<ul class=’snap_preview xoxo blogroll’>
<li><a href=”http://corcodilos.com/blog/&#8221; title=”Nick Corcodilos: The insider’s edge on job search &amp; hiring™” target=”_blank”>Ask The Headhunter®</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://www.hannahmorgan.typepad.com/&#8221; title=”Career Sherpa: Guide for lifetime career navigation” target=”_blank”>Hannah Morgan</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://personalbrandingblog.com/&#8221; title=”Navigating YOU to future success!” target=”_blank”>Personal Branding Blog</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://sirlinkedalot.com/&#8221; title=”Insights on job search, hiring, networking and all things LinkedIn” target=”_blank”>Sir LinkedAlot – a recruiter’s insights</a></li>
<li><a href=”http://blog.spinstrategy.com/&#8221; title=”Tools for Intelligent Job Search” target=”_blank”>Spin Strategy™</a></li></ul>
[/sourcecode]

So far so good.  Each section of my blogroll is a separate text widget so I can order the sections any way I wish.  I then used the text widget to create my social media links, complete with custom buttons.  The code for that widget is as follows:

[sourcecode language=’html’]
<br><a href=”http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for LinkedIn profile”><img src=”http://www.linkedin.com/img/webpromo/btn_viewmy_160x25.gif&#8221; width=”170″ height=”27″ border=”0″ alt=”View Chris Bigelow’s profile on LinkedIn”></a>
<a href=”http://twitter.com/cbbigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for Twitter profile”><img src=”http://twitbuttons.com/buttons/siahdesign/twit1.gif&#8221; alt=”Twitter Button from twitbuttons.com” width=”170″></a>
<a href=”http://www.visualcv.com/chrisbigelow&#8221; title=”Christopher Bigelow’s VisualCV”>
<img src=”http://buttons.visualcv.com/visualcv_buttons/visualcv_button_without_head.jpg&#8221; width=”170″ border=”0″ alt=”Christopher Bigelow’s VisualCV”>
</a>
<a href=”http://www.google.com/profiles/C.B.Bigelow&#8221; title=”Click here for Google profile”><img src=”https://cbbigelow.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/google-chris-bigelow.gif&#8221; alt=”My Google Profile” width=”170″></a>
<a href=”http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Bigelow/734471596&#8243; title=”Click here for Facebook public profile”><img src=”https://cbbigelow.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/facebookwithlogo.jpg&#8221; alt=”My Facebook Profile” width=”170″></a>
<br><br>
[/sourcecode]

Everything in the fourth column of my blog and 60% of the third column is done with text widgets.  Poke around.  Play.  Discover.  And have some fun.

Clarification: To use my code you must remove the first and last lines of each example (the lines with the “sourcecode” tag in them).  These are required by WordPress.com for me to show you the code in my blog post – they have nothing to do with running it (actually, they are there specifically so it does not try to “run” in the body of the blog post).

Tutorial: VisualCV Social Media Buttons

VisualCV Social Media LinksLast week a friend of mine (we’ll call him David) asked me how I did the social media buttons on my VisualCV (click the VisualCV button to the right and look in the top, right corner), so I thought I’d put together a little tutorial.  I’m assuming you already have a VisualCV.  If not, go to http://www.visualcv.com, sign up for a free account, and follow the prompts to import your LinkedIn profile.  This is the fastest way to get up and running with all of your basic data.  From here you can tweak to your hearts content.  Don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet?  Shame on you.  My recommendation would be to create that first.

Once you have a VisualCV go into edit mode.  Your VisualCV consists of a “Main Column” and a “Sidebar”.  The edit menu area is split into two parts – one for each of these areas.  There are various sections you can add to the main column and sidebar.  We’re interested in adding a section to the sidebar called a “Portfolio”.  I put mine at the top of the sidebar where it is visible and convenient for folks to click through, but it can be located anywhere in either area (main or side).  Once you’ve added this section and positioned it (drag and drop to rearrange) we can start adding buttons.

Let me give a brief background note here: the portfolio section is intended to showcase things in your portfolio (duh!).  If you’re a graphic artist this makes sense.  But the area can be put to other uses.  I know a guy who has a photo of one of his patents shown in the portfolio area of his VisualCV.  The key feature of the images you place in your portfolio is that they are clickable hot links.   Typically, they link to a larger copy of the image so that folks can see it in more detail.  But they can just as easily link to external web sites, which is how the social media buttons work.

So now you have an empty portfolio section.  First things first: you need images to use for your buttons.  The easy way would be to right-click and “save image as” on mine.  The “My Website” button was created by my son, the Photoshop wizard, and then edited by me.  Buried deep in the LinkedIn site is a place to get buttons; you can find it at https://www.linkedin.com/profile?promoteProfile=.   My Twitter button came from http://www.twitbuttons.com/ where they have quite a collection so, if you don’t like mine, pick another.   I created my Google button by typing my name in the Google search box and then doing a rectangular screen grab in a roughly button shape (I may have had to do a little cropping afterwards to get it the way I wanted it).  I found the Facebook button by searching around via Google.

Once you have your buttons you need to upload them to VisualCV.  It may be easiest to do this one by one as you add each portfolio item to your new section.  Click the “Add a Portfolio Item” button at the bottom of the section.  I did not title each button as I think it looks cleaner, but that’s a personal taste thing (all I have is a single title for the section, and this you add by clicking on the title area of the overall portfolio section).  Add an individual item title or not as you see fit.

Next, click on the “Choose Portfolio Item” box with the “X” through it.VisualCV Choose Portfolio Item This will open a window with two tabs: “Upload” and “Portfolio”.  Your portfolio will most likely be empty save for the photo headshot you may have uploaded for the main column.  Click on the “Upload” tab, browse to your button image location and select it, add a descriptive title in the box, and hit the “Upload” button.  Only certain image formats, such as JPG, are supported – if you get an error your image is either too large or in an incompatible format.

Now that you’ve uploaded your button image you must select it in the “Portfolio” tab.  When you do, you are presented with some choices for the image’s “Click-Through Behavior.”  Click on “Link Image to a Website”, enter the URL address of your matching social media page, and click the “Add to Section” button.  If everything looks okay, click the “Save” button below your new portfolio item.

That’s it.  Repeat for any other buttons that you wish to add.