Monthly Archives: January 2013

31 days of blogs

I made a personal commitment to post a blog post a day every day for the month of January and I made it to my goal – woo hoo!


Blogging isn’t easy
Blogging isn’t easy. It takes an amazing amount of time to decide on a subject, compose the blog post, paste the content into the WordPress window, and set up the various options and tags before publishing it. It’s not exactly a labor or love but it still consumes a significant amount of time to perform. But it’s also a fascinating process because I am seeing life through different eyes; constantly encountering different aspects of my day that cause to wonder if they are events worthy of a blog post that might be of interest to someone.


Next steps
I’ve made it through one continuous month of blogging so I am going to keep the ball rolling through February and see where that takes me.

Have you been following and reading my blog posts throughout the month? Comment below and let me know.


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:


Do you trust spam filters?

Do you trust your spam filters to work 100% of the time? Or do you spot-check some of the email that ends up in the spam folder to guard against incorrectly tagged messages?


Multiple email addresses = multiple spam folders
With my side business I have a couple of different email addresses that I use. I didn’t start out that way but over time the need for a couple of different email identities made sense. Multiple email addresses also helps to manage the different types of communications that come through from this blog, from Nerium™ International, responses from posts on and other sites through which I promote and sell NeriumAD, etc. Unfortunately, each email address has an associated spam folder; a sad reflection on the quantity of spam email that is generated worldwide in a day. Add a couple of personal email addresses to the mix and the corresponding numbers increase even more.


False positives
False positives are legitimate emails that are flagged inadvertently as spam. In my experience false positives are rarer than they once were as spam detecting capabilities have improved over the years. But automating processes to differentiate between legitimate email and spam is a difficult task and even the standard approaches used are not 100% foolproof. For example, marking an email as spam based on it containing certain keywords is a valid method but some of those keywords will also appear within legitimate emails that should not be blocked as spam.


Checking spam folders
One of my standard processes is to scan the spam folders of my email addresses maybe once every week to check for false positives. Even thought I trust the spam filters to do their job effectively I still like to do what is essentially a second check to verify for false positives.

Do you empty your spam folders without validating the contents or do you also check first for false positives first? Comment below and let me know.


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Depositing checks

I deposited 4 checks last Saturday night using my bank’s ATM and learned something interesting about one of the drawbacks of depositing multiple checks simultaneously.


Convenience of AM deposits
I love how convenient the ATM deposit process has become. Not having to fill out a deposit slip or place all of the checks together in an envelope was a huge leap forward but the ability to deposit multiple checks simultaneously makes the process even faster. Some ATMs even display images of the deposited checks onscreen so that you can instantly verify that the machine scanned the checks correctly while others print images of the checks on the deposit receipt. Given my schedule I appreciate the flexibility of after-hours banking at an ATM that provides many of the basic services offered during the bank’s normal business hours.


My bad handwriting started it all
I’ll be the first to admit that my handwriting skills have degenerated over the years – much of what I write nowadays is typed on some type of computer or smartphone keyboard. As a result, I rarely need to write any substantial content using a pen and paper (other than my signature, which doesn’t really count) and typically much of what I do write by hand includes personal notes and reminders. When writing personal checks I often use block capitals as they tend to be easier for others to read than the lowercase letters that I write. And so it was on Saturday afternoon when I wrote myself a personal check in order to transfer cash from one account to another. Ideally I should have both accounts linked so that I can transfer the funds electronically between them but doing so is a low priority.

At the bank ATM I deposited several checks, including the handwritten one, but didn’t pay sufficient attention to the verification screens that indicated the number of checks deposited and the accumulated balances of same. As a result, I was surprised to see that my total deposit was $100 short when I checked my account balance online the following day. Apparently the scanner had misread a “3” as a “2” on the handwritten check. Further, because I had deposited multiple checks simultaneously I had to delve deep into the details of the transaction to parse each check separately to determine here the error had occurred. When I called the bank’s customer service phone number, the customer service rep also had to delve into the details of the transactions to understand the issue and verify that I was not trying to pull a fast one on the bank, and then the claims specialist that I was transferred to also had to perform the same action. Talk about the devil being in the details!


My key learning
My key learning from this experience is this: deposit checks separately when using an ATM to make the deposit. Doing so will take a little longer but it’ll be faster to detect and address issues as they arise at the ATM than later when you have to call the bank’s customer service number, navigate their menu options, and explain the situation to a live person. Although I am pleased to say that the time I spent talking to, and being on hold with, my bank’s customer service and claims employees, was enjoyable.

What are your experiences with depositing checks at an ATM? Comment below and let me know.


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Do you unsubscribe?

Subscribing to an email distribution always sounds like a good idea at the time, but how many of us bother to reverse the decision later and unsubscribe?


Eliminating email clutter
In an average day it’s amazing how many email newsletters and other promotional content I receive in my various email accounts (yeah, I have several different email addresses for personal and business purposes). It’s also amazing how many times I delete said newsletters but fail to unsubscribe from them. Some, like the daily communications from Nerium™ International, are related to my business as an Independent Brand Partner with Nerium™ International and therefore of value but other email subscriptions have long outlived their usefulness. Eliminating email clutter goes far beyond merely deleting unneeded emails; it also includes unsubscribing from the distribution lists of those communications.


The joys of unsubscribing
The Unsubscribe option that typically resides hidden at the base of most mass email communications is akin to manufacturers’ mail-in rebates – the amount of work immediately involved is often enough to deter all but the most determined of us. On occasion I’ve mistakenly clicked the Manage your subscription option and come face-to-face with even more newsletters to which I can subscribe. Having to beat a hasty retreat from the Manage your subscription screen is often enough to remind me why attempting to unsubscribe from anything is fraught with danger at every turn.

Some unsubscribe options actually unsubscribe you immediately and without question, but most don’t give you up that easily. They may send you a confirmation email that you have to interact with in order to complete the unsubscribe action. You may need to reenter the email address that is to be unsubscribed even though you clicked the Unsubscribe link in the original email to begin with. You may get a popup that asks if you are sure that you want to unsubscribe and requires you to select a check box and click a Yes button before you are released. I’m sure that data exists showing how each additional step in the process can deter X number of people to cancel out of the unsubscribing process; companies wouldn’t make it so difficult for you to unsubscribe if there was no value in trying.


Focus on your reason for unsubscribing
The only sure way to stay focused and on task when attempting to unsubscribe from anything is to remember your reason for unsubscribing – namely less email clutter that you need to wade through and delete every day.

What unwanted and unread newsletters and email communications do you continuously delete rather than battle through the unsubscribing process? Comment below and let me know.


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Reading the fine print

Since most advertisements that we are bombarded with 24/7/365 include some form of fine print, disclaimer, or other clarifying and limiting information, it’s likely that we don’t bother taking notice anymore. But yesterday I read something in the fine print of a television commercial that both shocked me and blew me away.

Not an actual patient
The text “Not an actual patient” was the second sentence in the series of small print that appeared at the base of the television screen at the end of the commercial. The product itself was promoting a teeth-strengthening device and aimed squarely at adults. At the conclusion of the commercial the actress flashed a set of teeth that were flawless in their symmetry and coloring but the “Not an actual patient” text gnawed at me for quite some time. If she wasn’t an actual patient then her impressive teeth were not gained from using the product but presumably through other means, so what qualifies her to advertise the product? Why wasn’t an actual patient hired to play the role instead to showcase the true capabilities of the product?

Real people, real results
Nerium™ International is different; you will see the text “Real people, real results” throughout its website because it utilizes the real “before” and “after” pictures of real people to showcase what NeriumAD can will achieve for you. Real people that applied the product at night before bed and washed it off the next morning, as per the product’s usage instructions. No airbrushing applied or needed. Which is one of the reasons I am proud to be an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International; I don’t need to back up the product with any fine print when I can direct people to see for themselves what this product does every day.

Have you seen any recent advertising materials that included disconcerting fine print or product disclaimers? Comment below and let me know.

I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Today is Sandy’s birthday!

Today is my dog Sandy’s birthday! She turns 3 years old today.

Sandy on my bed on her 3rd birthday

Sandy on my bed this morning

From 10 months to 3 years
When Sandy and I first met she was around 10 months old. She was a rescue, and her name wasn’t my first choice, but it suited her coloring so I stuck with it. I was initially hesitant about bringing her into my home and becoming her pet parent because I had little experience beyond playing with other people’s pets while visiting but I was ready to take that step in my life, and she seemed to like me, so it seemed the right thing to do at the time. It was initially weird to come home each evening and be greeted by her and her brother (my roommate had become a pet parent less than a week before Sandy moved in and I was still getting used to that change) and add dog hugs, a potty break, dog dinner, and poop pick-up to my more usual evening routine. I laugh now when I remember standing outside waiting for both dogs to “go potty” before bedtime but then it was serious business – installing the dog door sometime later was definitely a good idea.

The first time I bathed her was an odd experience for both of us – the tub in my bathroom seemed like a logical choice but, after she jumped out while soaking wet, the shower became the next logical bathing location. I was a nervous wreck on our first vet visit but the staff at Family VetCare here in Chandler are very welcoming and engaging and our vet Dr Travis Wodiske is wonderful with dogs. I was a nervous wreck on our first visit to the local bark park – I wasn’t totally convinced that she would come to me when it was time to leave but she did. Our first walks together were less walks together and more her dragging me around the neighborhood on a leash. That was also how we navigated the PetSmart store each Saturday during basic training classes until I finally got a handle on how to establish myself as the dominant one in our relationship.

my bed on her 3rd birthday

Chilling out because it was cold and rainy this morning, which is unusual for the Chandler area

Sandy and I have come a long way together since our first meeting. I love that she lies on my bed at night and greets me first thing in the morning. I love how she thumps the floor with her paw and tail to indicate when she wants a tummy rub. I love how she occasionally spreads her food on the floor, even though it makes a mess. I love how she gnaws on a hard plastic toy when she gets really excited about something. I love how she runs outside when she hears an ambulance siren and howls in sync with it. I love how she came by just now to say hi before running outside again.

In the 2 years and 2 months that we have been together she has matured, I have matured and, while we’re not yet finishing each other’s sentences, I often know exactly what she is thinking. She’s a wonderful dog and I love her dearly. Happy birthday Sandy!

my bed on her 3rd birthday

Just chilling out this morning on my bed


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:


Secure security questions

In addition to setting a strong password, the account creation process often requires you to set security questions. If you forget your password and need the system to retrieve it, or allow you to reset it, you will be asked these questions to verify that you are who you say you are. While a great idea, and a valued additional level of security, you should set answers to these security questions that are not easily guessed by others.


Generating answers to security questions
A typical security question is “What is your favorite color?” Unfortunately, many people may know what your favorite color is, diluting the effectiveness of this security question. “On what street is your workplace located?” is also a common security question, and again easily answered by a myriad of people, including anyone in possession of your business card. So how do you answer security questions with answers that are not so easily determined?

The answer to that question is to get innovative. For example, if your favorite color is black, you could set the answer with the letters typed in reverse (i.e. kcalb), answer with your least favorite color instead, or enter a complete sentence as your answer like “My favorite color is black”. Obviously you will need to remember the answer that you set for the security question in case you encounter it at a later time, but at least the answer should help thwart all but the most determined password hacker.

How do you answer security questions like “What is your favorite airline?”. For this one, you could answer with a favorite airline that is now bankrupt or perhaps enter a foreign airline that you admire. Another option is to use the nickname or derogatory reference that you typically use for a particular airline, such as “The Worst Airline Ever” or “Flying Cattle Mart” for example. Or make up a fictitious airline name, so that someone attempting to hack your account would not be able to answer the security question correctly.


Set your own security questions
A third option is to enter your own security questions; increasingly more and more sites are using this format. Create security questions that are unique to you and allude to information that very few people would know about you. The more personal you create security question and answer combinations the harder it will be for a casual hacker to compromise your account.

What has been your experience with security questions on your accounts? What was the worst security question you ever encountered? Comment below and let me know.


I’m a Nerium™ Independent Brand Partner, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Are you using strong passwords?

Although my refrigerator doesn’t yet require a password for access, practically everything else does and they need to be far more secure than in the past. If you have been using the same password for all of your accounts, or you use a basic password like “password123” (which people apparently STILL use, for some strange reason), then you need to pay some attention to this post and implement its suggestions.

Creating strong passwords
Many websites requiring you to create a password for a new account are specifying and enforcing password rules. For example, you may be required to enter a password with a minimum number of letters and/or numbers, special characters (such as % or *), and avoid using consecutive characters or numbers. The underlying reason for these restrictions is that hackers and other criminals intent on breaking into your account and stealing the information contained therein have password-breaking software tools at their disposal that are far more powerful than they were several years ago. Passwords that are more complex in nature are far more difficult to break.

I won’t get into a discussion of the software algorithms required to break different types of passwords but consider the three examples below:

Example #1: Password123

Example #2: Passw0rd123

Example #3: Password!@#

All three passwords utilize the same number of characters, but notice that in examples 2 and 3, different characters have been introduced that actually make the password harder to break. In example #2 the “o” has been replaced with “0”, while in example #3 each number has been replaced with the equivalent symbol that appears on that number key. A password of PasswOrd!@# is even stronger yet.

Having said that, any derivation of “Password123” as a password is no longer sufficient so you need to step it up a little. An easy way to generate a strong password is to use a phrase as your password. For example, since I like to drink coffee, a possible password phrase could be “Chris likes to drink coffee”.

Make your strong passwords even stronger
A phrase as a password will make your life a little easier but the approach is not sufficiently ideal because, although it contains 23 characters, this phrase consists of all real words that can be found in any English language dictionary. Password-breaking software algorithms cycle through real words as they attempt to ascertain your password. But if I apply what we have learned from the discussion and examples above, I can modify some of the characters in the phrase and turn it into something like “Chr1$ L1ve$ T0 Dr1nk C0ffee”. This is a much stronger password because it features letters, numbers, and special characters, and does not include any real English language words.

Consistent conventions
The obvious caveat with using special characters in this manner is that you need to establish a convention for how you utilize special characters and numbers in your phrase passwords and then use that convention consistently. For example, using “$” for either “s” or ‘S”, use “1” for “i” or “I” and so on is a good convention to use. Avoid using different symbols for the same character in different phrase passwords; consistency with your naming convention is vital or you will quickly lose control and find yourself relying on the ubiquitous Forgot your password? function to gain access to your accounts.

Has this blog post helped you create more secure passwords? Comment below and let me know.

I’m a Nerium™ Independent Brand Partner, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

A dusk wedding

I hiked up the side of a mountain this afternoon to attend a friend’s wedding and learned a self lesson in remembering to trust myself.


The wedding location
Well, ok, so I didn’t exactly “hike” up the side of a mountain as much as drove up the winding road to the summit in a Dodge Ram 1500 truck, but that’s not important right now. The wedding took place at Dobbin’s Point on the top of South Mountain in Phoenix a little after 5pm as the sun was beginning to set in the distance. The two-lane road bends and twists in some unbelievable configurations and had to be shared with occasional bikers but, other than an occasional vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, the drive was enjoyable at 15-25mph.

The bride was radiant in white and the happy couple looked relaxed and very much in love as they shared their vows and exchanged rings. It was a beautiful setting and I felt honored to be in attendance.


Driving down the mountain
Driving back down the mountain was an interesting experience, especially given that the sun was now quite intent on setting. Although not quite on a par with the race against the setting sun scene at the conclusion of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, it was an interesting experience navigating the twists and turns with two other vehicles in close proximity behind me and heavy traffic now beginning their ascent. My mind flashed back to a road trip that I took with 3 friends many years ago that involved driving through similar snow-covered roads along the Colorado/New Mexico border in late winter; I remember expressing concern at my driving abilities under such conditions and one of them said something along the lines of “trust yourself and you’ll get through it ok”.


Do you trust you?
That memory spoke values to me tonight. I’ve been driving for almost 22 years now and trust my judgments and instincts. I’ve driven in foreign countries, up and down mountains, and in many different weather conditions. So I rolled down the window, paid attention to the road, ignored the vehicles behind me, and made it home safely.

At the end of the day, when the going gets tough and the tough are nowhere to be found, it will always be you alone against the world and you need to know that you can trust yourself. Self-doubt is natural and acts as a valued check against blind self-confidence, but you have to trust yourself or you will be paralyzed and incapable of taking the next step.

Do you trust yourself? Comment below and let me know.


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:

Why human glue fails

If you are unfamiliar with the expression human glue then this blog post may seen bizarre initially. But stick with it; you’ll be glad you did (and no, human glue is not a Soylent Green byproduct).


A definition of glue
One of the definitions of glue offered by is “a hard, impure, protein gelatin, obtained by boiling skins, hoofs, and other animal substances in water, that when melted or diluted is a strong adhesive”. Kinda makes you wonder who first decided to boil various animal parts to see what might result, and kinda makes you wish that you hadn’t eaten the stuff as a child.

However, for the purposes of this blog post, the site offers several alternative definitions, and the definition stub “to fix or attach firmly with or as if with glue” suffices nicely.


Human glue
Human glue is a term used frequently within the corporate environment to indicate that a particular process or sequence is dependent upon human interaction or involvement in order to work as designed. The human interaction or involvement element might include a particular group of employees updating a common spreadsheet with pertinent details, returning a form, subscribing to an email distribution, or any number of other activities. In each case, the human element aligns with the definition because it is acting as the glue that keeps the process assembled and working. If the human element fails then the process falls apart.


Human glue is unavoidable
Human glue is unavoidable in many instances unfortunately, and not always within the corporate environment. How many times in a week does something not happen in your life because “someone” was supposed to do something?

The issue of human glue came up in a discussion I had recently with a coworker at my full time job. We were discussing different ways of using our content management system (CMS) to single-source help content for multiple related projects but, regardless of the innovative methods that we came up with, there seemed to always be some element of human glue involved. Following that discussion I’ve continued to noodle the core requirement to see if I can come up with a fully automated process, but unfortunately the human glue element seems to be entrenched in the process.

Do you struggle with the human glue in your processes or have you been successful in eliminating it? Comment below and let me know.


Glue. (n.d.). In Retrieved from


I’m an Independent Brand Partner of Nerium™ International, I’m eliminating my wrinkles and fine lines effortlessly with NeriumAD, and you’ll always find great information about NeriumAD and Nerium™ International at my website:


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