It's Been A While

My “place” on the web has been pretty quiet lately. Not surprisingly, visits to the site have gone down by quite a bit (except the everyday searches for Blackie Lawless’s daughter). The lack of posts here, one of the longest gaps in all the years I’ve kept the blog alive, is due to the software I use.

Years ago, after using FrontPage to manually update my site, I moved to RapidWeaver for Mac. I loved the software and recommended it to anyone that would listen to me.

After many problems with my RapidWeaver on this site, our daughter’s and our family podcast, it just became too much work to update the site. Then, the comment system used in the application, Haloscan, went out of business. The comments were moved to Echo but that service leaves a lot to be desired. It mixed up comments between this site and Makenzy’s and made it difficult to find out on what post comments were made.

I would prefer to use WordPress, a platform I have become much more comfortable. Being able to update via my iPhone and from any computer is very appealing. With 1000s of themes available and tons of custimization options, WordPress is my favorite blogging service.

Sadly, though, moving to WordPress will take a considerable amount of time and effort. I wish there was a magic wand to move this site to WP but there are some obstacles:

- is hosted on a Windows machine (my host’s, not mine) that won’t support WP - with my current hosting service, I have to move this domain to a Linux box (and boy, I’d love to) - I have more than 75,000 files / 300GB+ of data to pull down before moving - there is no utility to convert my blog posts to a format that I can import into WordPress

So, I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll move this site over to WordPress, but I am going to start writing more.

7th Son

J.C. Hutchins's first installment of the 7th Son trilogy, 7th Son: Descent, hit book stores recently.


I don't read much fiction. I prefer to get my fiction fix by watching movies. This book, however, is worth reading over and over again. J.C. Hutchins tried, unsucessfully, to get his story published before releasing it as a free podcast. I discovered his podcast just before his final book was released on audio. He took to the podosphere and used the power of the internet to spread the message about his book.

After amassing an enormous following to his podcast, publishers finally started to take notice. And now, 7th Son is in print!

The story starts with the brutal assisination of the President by a 4 year child. Readers quickly learn that there is an evil conspiracy consisting of clones and government officials with code phantom clearance.


J.C. is a masterful storyteller and 7th Son is the creepiest story I have ever read. The podcast version of the book is still available, check out the info here. You can also purchase a copy from your favorite bookstore, or from Amazon.

If you're in to sci-fi thrillers, this one will not dissapoint!

If you do pick up a copy, tell J.C. that Beta Clone #235 sent you.

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Stir Up Stockon

Andy continues to fan the fire he started last week. And it appears that his plan to #stir things up is gaining momentum. Local blogger, SlickDiaz, wrote a well thought out piece on his blog, Reclaiming the Title. Rod has not been silent on the matter, either. On Friday,Ian added his voice to the mix. What we have here is a handful of passionate Stocktonians, wanting to increase communication throughout our communities. How cool is that? Seriously. That is cool!

The What We have an opportunity to increase communication between city departments, elected officials and the people of Stockton. I don’t know if we’ve been at this point before. I don’t know if we are here now because of technology or because people are just becoming more energized. It is likely both. The web, with current services like Twitter and Facebook, give us the ability to interact with friends and family. It can also give us the ability to interact with our local government.

While I agree that most people don’t trust their elected officials, I do not believe that you need to trust someone to interact with them online. We need an easier way for citizens to get up-to-date information from local government and for these citizens to have tools with which to communicate with the city. Not everyone can (or wants to) attend city council meetings. Writing a letter, and even sending an e-mail, can be arduous. Using Facebook and Twitter is a simpler way.

The Who As it relates to social media consumption, I see three populations in Stockton. Andy, Slick, Rod, Ian and I are in one group - the “veterans”, for lack of a better term. In another group are those that have no access to a computer and may not own a cell phone. The third group is the one I will refer to as the “fringe”. This is the population that may already use the web to get news and may have even visited our city’s website (provided that they remember what the URL is). They may have delved into social media but only to have fun with their friends or keep tabs on their favorite American Idol contestant/judge/host.

The size of the fringe is not insignificant. I would argue that it is the biggest of the three groups. This is the group on which we should be focusing our energy.

We mustn’t forget about that second part of the population: those on the other side of the digital divide. We still need traditional communication channels for this group. We need the smart people in our community to come up with better ways to get this population engaged.

The How We need to reach the fringe. Not to sell them on Twitter or Facebook. Rather, we need to have an open dialog about new ways to communicate with the City. It is our job, as members of the veteran group, to help spread the word to the fringe.

We need to hold social-media town halls. Although I am very much a fan of meet-ups (can’t wait for our first Tweetup!), getting a bunch of veterans together won’t do much to get new participants involved. We can hold how-to sessions at local libraries. We can also do what we’re doing now, talk to our friends, family and neighbors. We can keep stirring it up.

In order to realize any success in this regard, the City of Stocktonmust officially jump into the mix. They need to start small and identify what departments are best suited for this new medium. The city cannot wait for “enough people” to be in the channel before ramping up their efforts.

To help the city along, the Record must dedicate some space to educating the community about social media. The Record’s managing editor, Dan Blount blogged a simple post recently. Writing about social networking sites, Mr. Blount added, “As the world expands, it continues to contract through the use of these media.” We need more than a quick blog entry. The Record has the power to get in front of a lot eyeballs. This cause could benefit from that power.

The Question What else can we do to increase and improve communication amongst the city and its citizens? What ideas do you have? Leave a comment or send an e-mail to

At the end of the day, Twitter and Facebook are awesome tools to start a conversation. We need more conversations in this city and we need more people in the conversation.

LinkedIn Does Not A Network Make


I had a conversation with Dawn tonight about “networking” and using LinkedIn. My wife, with her wonderful honesty, reminded me I have some pretty strong opinions about this subject. Our conversation reminded of me of my own axiom: just because you're on LinkedIn doesn't mean you're building your network or even "networking".

I have been on LinkedIn for a couple of years now and have found it to be a very helpful tool to keep track of all of the career movement out there. When I am looking to hire someone, or want to make a referral to a hiring manager or recruiter, LinkedIn is often the first place I visit. On many occasions, I have also been able to connect with people of whom I had lost track.


LinkedIn is a tool for gathering your contacts' info. It is not, however, the only one.  I use an application on my Mac that has proven to be a great tool for maintaining contact info.  Nothing high tech here. It's called Address Book and comes, with little fanfare, on every Mac.  For those on Windows machines, I guess you could use Outlook or build your own in Excel or Access. I maintain my address book with religious devotion. People are, after all, how and why the world works. I treasure my family, my friends, my colleagues and people in general. I keep up to date contact details and reach out to everyone I know every few months or so. It is a practice that has given me great joy through the years.

I take great pride in maintaing my personal and professional networks. Staying in contact with people has proven valuable many times. Add to that the fact that most would call me a pretty “social” person; I genuinely enjoy meeting and spending time with people. Every success I have had in my career is thanks to lessons I have learned from other people. Learning new things and growing starts with building and maintaining a strong network.

To help you build your network, here are my 5 tips for using LinkedIn:

1. Share your contact information. I am happy to share my work and personal e-mail addresses, work, home and cell phone numbers with anyone in my network. If you are not willing to share all of your contact details with someone, you have no business sending them an invite on LinkedIn.

2. Don’t discriminate. LinkedIn represents only a small percentage of what would be considered my professional network. I believe in building my professional network indiscriminately; I don’t just focus on those that are on LinkedIn, thus my reason for using Address Book. As a rule, I never send a “join LinkedIn” invite to people that I know that aren’t on LinkedIn. Chances are, they know about it already and I don’t need LinkedIn to stay in touch with them.

3. Personalize your introduction and invitation request. “Because you are a person I trust...” and “I'd like to add you to my professional network...” is code word for “You’re not important enough to me to take the time to write a personal note.” Okay, I admit, that’s a bit much, but is it really that hard to customize that message? If you get a link request from me I promise you’ll get a customized note, and my contact info!

4. Building meaningful relationships starts by adding value. Your professional network is not there for you to feed on. Look for ways you can contribute to others.  Check in with people, ask how you can help. Make meeting new people a priority. And please, when you do, stick your hand out and introduce yourself.

5. Stay in contact. My Mother, being in business for herself most of her life, planted the seeds for this practice early in my life. She taught me that staying in contact is the most important rule in building relationships. Make a point to reach out to your contacts regularly. My goal is to reach out to everyone every 3 months. Admittedly, I fall a little behind from time to time but would never dream of letting 6 months or more go without sending out a quick e-mail, phone call or card (yes, hand written cards rock). If you value your relationships, stay in contact. My trick: schedule time on your calendar to follow up. After years of doing this, it comes natural and the rewards are immense.

Networking, as a term, gets a bad rap. Building relationships is about sharing and adding value.

If you want to link with me, you know where to find me.


Joe The Plumber

Although our family website is not the place to discuss our political views, I did want to comment on tonight’s final Presidential debate. I watched the entire debate, just as I did the last two and the VP debate. The winner of this final debate? Joe the Plumber, of course! Here’s the video:

And here’s what some on Twitter are saying about Joe the Plumber:

100 Things?

Recently, on Dancing with Elephants, I heard about a man trying to whittle his personal belongings down to 100 items. Greg and Tonya asked their audience to write in with what 10 things they couldn’t live without. That got me thinking: as a self-professed, but improving, pack-rat, could there be only 10 things with which I couldn’t live? So, to start, I did a rough inventory of the Outback. For those of you that are new here, that’s the name of our home office / recording studio. Our first home had a separate room in the back yard, which was the whole reason I wanted to buy that house, that served as an office and studio. When my oldest brother, Ken, saw it he instantly christened it the Outback. On a somewhat unrelated note, it was also Ken that gave Emily the nickname she uses today, Emo, the day she was born. Back to the story. These days, the Outback is inside but still serves, in addition to a home office and recording studio, as my personal junk drawer. While I was up late recently I started counting and cataloging nearly everything in the Outback. Here’s what I came up with so far:

Picture 27 87 shot glasses 9 century patches 4 century pictures 3 shelves hanging 3 shelves waiting to be hung 1 Paul Stanley framed pictured (B&W) 8 misc framed pictures 1 Apple Store opening shirt in tube (Arden Fair) 34 Kiss CDs 2 Kiss albums 2 Kiss 8-tracks 1 picture of Blackie Lawless 1 Yamaha synthesizer 1 M-audio keyboard / MIDI controller 1 movie poster - Gore Vidal’s The Best Man 1 framed poster with hundreds of stickers from CDs and tapes 1 framed poster with 55 concert and game tickets 1 replica "flying disc" patent drawing, framed 118 magazines 1 television (I didn't realize this was still in here) 7 guitars 2 mandolins 1 bass 5 guitar cases 3 guitar pedals 6 microphones 1 guitar amp 1 bass amp 1 bottle of Kiss wine 1 Gene Simmons bottle topper 1 double deck tape player / recorder 127 books 239 cassette tapes 3 mic stands 1 complete set of the New Yorker magazine on DVD 27 pens 1 Rubik cube 1 wireless router 1 DSL modem 2 money clips 2 computer (PC) 1 monitor 1 PowerBook G4 1 iMac 1 iCurve 3 Mice 4 keyboards 1 tape dispenser 2 cameras 1 pack of blank DVDs 1 pack of black CDs 1 corded phone 1 printer 5 surge protectors 1 bobble head 7 post cards 4 trophies 2 desk calendars 1 Roland mixer 1 MOTU ultralite mixer 1 mic pre-amp 1 DV-AV switchbox 2 set studio monitors 1 desk 2 chairs 1 barstool 1 4-drawer cabinet 1 2-drawer file cabinet 1 calculator 1 scientific calculator 3 sets of headphones 1 Zoom portable recorder 1 iSight camera 6 sets of guitar/mandolin/bass strings 9 guitar cables 17 various audio cables 1 M-audio guitar pre-amp 5 power supply units for unknown devices 3 Lacie external hard drives 1 VCR 1 magnetic dart board 5 clip boards 3 Kiss comic books 10 3-drawer cassette tape holders 8 conference badges with lanyards 139 home movies on VCR tapes 2 hole punchers 1 Yamaha 4-track tape recorder 4 Kiss matchbox cars 1 Kiss toothbrush 3 rulers 14 notebooks 1 can of Mountain Dew from the middle east 1 miniature NFL helmet 1 picture frame with 10 pictures (1 pic at a time) 1 12-drawer plastic cabinet 1 2-drawer plastic cabinet 3 guitar stands 1 set of computer speakers 1 camera cable 2 iPod cables 1 iPhone cable and dock 1 whiteboard 4 boxes of thank you cards 2 mouse pads 2 decks of cards 2 letter openers 3 magnetic clips 7 keychains 9 owners manuals 3 various packs of KC Chiefs stickers 4 unused gift certificates 9 used Moleskine notebooks 2 unused Moleskine notebooks 238 business cards 1 pocket knife 2 name tags from previous jobs 19 various buttons and pins 4 bumper stickers 1 can of Copenhagen from 1991 2 cork boards 1 box of jewel cases 190 California lottery tickets from 1987-1990 1 wireless print server 1 KC Chiefs punch puppet 2 photo albums 1 camera tripod 2 shoe shine sets 1 ziplock bag with my hair from 1992 - the last time I had long hair 1 man purse (unused since 1989) 3 cell phone chargers 2 boxes of football cards 8 binders 1 homemade "Outback" sign 2 framed / autographed Nick Lowery portraits / paintings 1 scanner

1,430 items in the Outback alone. Of course, I have all of my CDs (which I haven’t touched in years) stowed away elsewhere, another collection of books, 23 Franklin Quest / Franklin Covey storage cases and other keepsakes in my bedroom. Then there’s the garage. Two road bikes, a mountain bike and of course, the penny farthing; tools, bike accessories... the list goes on and on.

What 10 material things could I not live without? That is a very difficult question to answer. If I had to name the top 10 things I couldn’t live without, I’d have to say:

PowerBook G4 iMac Acoustic guitar (probably the nylon string one) Electric guitar (Fender Stratocaster) Guitar amp Camera Yamaha synthesizer Zoom H2 Bose headphones Kiss Music From the Elder album

Of course, as much of a pack-rat as I am, this has actually been a good exercise for me. I have too much stuff; maybe it’s time for a purge. If you want to take any of the other 1,420 things off my hands, feel free to make me an offer -


What's all this Twitter about?

If you follow me on Twitter, feel free to ignore this entry; this information is not new to you. twitter

If you have no idea what Twitter is, please keep reading. Many friends, family and other readers to this site have asked what is all this Twitter about? Before we get started, let me just say that Twitter is not new. In fact, there were more than 14 million other people that discovered Twitter before me (courtesy of Twitterholic).

Wikipedia defines Twitter as, "... a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application..."

In short, Twitter is like text-messages you can follow online or via text message to your cell phone. The first person I started "following" on Twitter was David from the FredCast (the internet's premiere cycling podcast). With a quick text page of 'follow FredCast to 40404 I was getting text page updates from David. Besides getting updates on my cell phone, I can also go to the internet and read his updates there

I now find myself following a handful of my podcast friends, other cyclists, writers, technology gurus, the three leading presidential candidates, and a guy I went to high school with among others. Twitter loads especially easy on my iPhone so I check it often throughout the day.

I also track keywords in the public Twitter via text message. By sending a text message of 'track beckwith' to 40404 I get updates to my cell phone any time someone in the Twitterverse uses the word 'beckwith'. What else am I tracking?

The name of the company where I work. Because I work for a large corporation with millions of customers it is very interesting to see what the Twitterverse thinks of us. Mostly negative, some positive, but still a interesting angle on the voice of the customer.

Where I live, where I ride, where I work. I track Stockton, Lodi, Pleasanton, Livermore. I also track 580 and 205 which helps when there is a traffic issue.

Still confused? Well, don't be. The fine folks at Common Craft have done it again with a great video explanation of Twitter. Check it outhere. twitterinpecc

Also, in case you always wanted to know what a podcast was, Common Craft has a great video explanation of that, too. After you watch that, hop on over to Pizza Go Here and subscribe to our podcast.

So, now you know all about Twitter. Sign up and follow me. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

I Love Bad Grammar (When Someone Else Uses It)

I should clarify. I find humor in signs that display grammatical or spelling errors. I'm no Mignon Fogarty but I do recognize errors when they are blatant. So, today, while walking down the Miracle Mile, I got quite the chuckle when I saw a sign in the window of a salon that had this word in it. keeped

What exactly did the sign say? Click here to check out the rest of the picture on Flickr. While you're there, or should I say, while your their, check out the rest of the pictures posted in the Grammar Girl pool.