CategoryWelcome

December Site Statistics

Hello, friends.

Just a quick update with some site statistics. My site officially launched on December 6, 2010. As of December 31, 2010, my site had 1331 visitors from 76 different countries/territories according to the delightful Google Analytics.

My site had been viewed mostly by friends and acquaintances of mine in its early days. I promoted my new blog posts via my Twitter account (@russhollander), my Facebook page, and (later when I remembered it) my LinkedIn account. Feel free to add me on any of these social media platforms.

Then I published my “Why I Use Linux” post on Thursday December 30. Like all my posts, I scheduled it to appear online at 6AM, although it had been written the night before. Up to that point, my site had about 250 viewers from 4 countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. And based on Google Analytics, I could typically guess which of my friends or relations had been viewing my site based on what cities were represented in Google Analytics. For example, I have a friend living in Vancouver, BC. I’m pretty sure he was the one visitor from Vancouver, although I could have been wrong.

Around 9AM on Thursday, December 30 I submitted my blog post to one of my favorite Linux news sites: LXer.com. It was approved shortly thereafter, and the hits started rolling in. Even more exciting, people started commenting on my post, and I commented back. It was great to participate in the Linux community as an article publisher for a change, rather than an article reader as I normally am.

I’m really excited that such a large number of people from all over the world were interested enough in my article to follow the link, and I’m extremely grateful to the people that commented and shared the article via Twitter, Facebook, and other means. Thanks readers. I hope that in the future I will continue to write stuff worthy of your consumption.

I’m proud to say that more than 50% of my visitors are using Linux when they visit my site, although this isn’t surprising since so many of my visitors were coming to read an article about why I choose to use Linux. Firefox is the most popular browser choice out there, with Chrome (and its derivatives) coming in second. The Chrome statistics are slightly skewed though because I’ve done all my site administration using Chromium, so the Chrome numbers are inflated.

Operating System Statistics

Browser Choice Statistics

Thanks everyone for visiting and reading. This is very encouraging for someone new to the blogging scene. Now, if I could just coerce someone from North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Mississippi to visit my site, I would have visitor representation for all 50 US states.

Things to look forward to in January: posts about my upcoming trip to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, posts about my first day at my new job, and exciting/intriguing miscellany. As always, I appreciate your comments, so feel free to post them below.

Have a good one.

Driving to Las Vegas

As I mentioned in my previous Life Update post, I have the opportunity to go to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show is between January 6 and 9. In my insanity, I am considering driving out to Las Vegas rather than flying.

I didn’t book flights and hotels back in October when I got my CES tickets because I did not know what I would be doing in January. As fortune would have it, my new job starts on January 24, so I will be able to attend the show, but at this late date, flights are quite expensive. Not only that, I don’t like flying. I prefer driving whenever possible because when I’m driving, I feel like I have more control over my destiny. Nobody has to feel me up, I don’t have to go through any security features, and I can arrive and depart whenever I choose.

Another reason I want to drive is that I wanted to go on a Great Southern Road Trip after I graduated, but it was the middle of August, and that time of year is pretty hot in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. I also couldn’t work out the logistics because I was in the process of moving up to KC. This is an opportunity to make that road trip happen in temperatures much more pleasant in my mind.

I am considering three routes. According to Google Maps, the shortest route by total travel time to go through Colorado and Utah. I’m calling this the Northern Route. I’ll also have the misfortune of driving across the entire state of Kansas, which is not always enjoyable. What concerns me about this route is the Colorado portion. I’ve never traveled through Colorado in Winter, but I understand they get a little bit of snow over that way this time of year. The halfway point for this route is Vail, CO, and I’m sure a night at a motel in Vail won’t be expensive during skiing season (note the sarcasm).

Northern Route

The other two routes I have dubbed the Southern Route and the Middle Route, although the Middle Route isn’t that different from the Southern Route. Either way Tucumcari, NM is the halfway point. On the Southern route, I would drive down through Joplin, Tulsa, and over through Amarillo, TX. If I take the Middle route, I’d be going through Wichita and just catch the edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northern Texas. Even taking this route I’m sure I’ll have to face possible Winter difficulties while crossing the Rockies.

Southern Route

Middle Route

I think on the way out to Las Vegas, I’m going to take the Middle Route. On the return trip I may consider taking the Northern Route, but I have a feeling that January will not be the best time to attempt this. I’ll be driving my Jeep, which is “Trail Rated,” whatever that means, so I feel confident that I’ll be able to handle whatever the road throws at me other than blizzards. If any of the roads are closed that will obviously slow or halt my progress. As I said, I don’t really know what to expect driving through this part of the country this time of year.

Anybody with travel experience on any of these routes in Winter, or knowledge of what travel conditions are usually like, let me know. I’m looking forward to this adventure, I just hope that I can pull it off in the Winter months.

Life Update

I haven’t posted in a week or so, which means this is overdue.  I just wanted to put out an update of my activities from the last couple weeks.

Adventures in Temporary Employment

Back in September I applied to work a temporary data entry position with the staffing agency Penmac, which is headquartered in Springfield.  They ignored me and took no action until early December, when I was suddenly contacted and they said they wanted to get me started immediately.  I drove out to their office in Lee’s Summit, took the same computer proficiency exam that all Drury undergrad students have to pass, and then they sent me on my way.  A day later they called me up and had a job for me:  envelope stuffing at the Delinquent Taxes Collections Department at the Jackson County municipal courthouse.  I started on a Friday what was supposed to be a week-long assignment.  We had to mail out judgments to people telling them what they owed on their taxes.  It took about an hour and a half to put together one batch of 35 of these letters because of all the different things that had to check out and line up perfectly, and errors made things take even longer.  Nevertheless, we finished up all the letters by Wednesday the following week.

I guess they were fairly satisfied with my work, because they said they wanted to keep me around until Christmas.  Although the work was mind-numbing and an untrained monkey or other even less evolved primates could have handled most of the tasks, I was grateful for the opportunity to earn a little cash and have something to occupy my time as I waited to hear back from companies offering full time work.  Everyone I met working at the courthouse was really friendly, and I appreciated the opportunity to have something to do for a while.  I got into a nice routine of getting up at quarter after 5 every day, listening to the Adam Carolla podcast, and then driving downtown around 6:45.

The Quest for Employment

I went to the Drury to Drury Kansas City Christmas Party (or whatever they called it) and had a chance to re-connect with several friends from college who were now living in Kansas City.  It was a lot of fun, and I hope Drury to Drury KC keeps things going, because the community and alumni network is what really makes Drury an excellent school.

A couple of my friends work at Cerner in KC, and they said the company was looking to hire employees for the new year because the health care industry is really expanding right now, in part due to the new health care laws and other factors influencing the need for increased utilization of medical technology.  My friends sent in my resume and put in a good word for me, and I went onto Cerner’s career website and applied.  Before too long I was contacted by a recruiter.  I interviewed last Friday (12/17), and on Monday (12/20) I was offered a job.

I think I was almost over prepared for the interview.  I knew it was going to be Behavioral Questions-based, so I practiced up responses for that with a friend, and I read a lot of information about the company, including the 2009 annual report.  Cerner’s share price is up 25% since September.  I wish I had invested back then!  I went into the interview feeling confident and calm, and I left feeling nothing.  I did as well as I could possibly do, but due to the bad economy, I had been more used to not getting hired than getting hired.  Thank goodness that Cerner’s HR and I were both able to recognize a great opportunity when it presented itself!

I’m going to be starting at Cerner in January as a Velocity Business Consultant.  I’m really excited to begin work.  The first 11 weeks are training, so that should provide me with a solid base of knowledge to be able to do a good job from the get-go.

Going Where I Can Set My Soul on Fire

Thanks to an end of January start date at Cerner, I’m 90% certain that I’m going to be able to go to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which is taking place between January 6 and 9.  I’ve had tickets to the show since October (thanks to Glenn at MidwestGSM), but since my future has been so up in the air it wasn’t a guarantee that I would be able to attend.  I still have to buy airline tickets and make hotel reservations, which will undoubtedly be expensive at this late date.  Oh well.  I can’t wait to see all the new technologies unveiled.  I read somewhere that Windows 8 (or whatever they’re going to call it) might be revealed, as well as whatever Microsoft’s tablet operating system is going to be.

I think I’m going to use Allegiant airlines.  They fly out of Kansas City on Mondays and Fridays, so I think I’ll fly out Monday afternoon, and fly back Monday morning a week later, which will give me the Tuesday before the CES begins to explore Vegas.  I’m definitely stopping at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop of Pawn Stars fame.  I may try to drive out to Hoover Dam too.  I don’t have my whole itinerary lined up yet.

In Conclusion

It’s been an eventful couple weeks.  Let me know with your comments what I need to see and do while I’m in Las Vegas.  I’ve got a limited time frame where I won’t be at the CES, but I want to make good use of my down time while I’m out there.  I probably won’t do much gambling, but I want to play a couple hands of blackjack for sure.

Have a good one.

Kansas City vs. Springfield

After living in Springfield for 5 years, and having now lived in Kansas City for 3 months, I have observed a couple differences between the two towns. Maybe you have observed something different than me in either Springfield or Kansas City. This is what I’ve noticed. Allow me to elaborate categorically:

Traffic and Road System

It is often said that you can get anywhere in Springfield in 15 minutes. I generally found this to be true. Unfortunately, based on the distance traveled, sometimes 15 minutes seemed like a long time. I have found that you can get anywhere in Kansas City in about 30 minutes. I live in the Northland, and so I have to cross the Missouri river to get anywhere. Even so, I have found that thanks to the highway system in KC, I can get almost anywhere in 30 minutes or less.

The roads are one of Springfield’s greatest weaknesses, especially in North Springfield where I lived. They are the limiting factor that will keep Springfield from growing to a size approaching St. Louis or Kansas City, not that Springfield is trying to grow to that size. Springfield is basically a box with I44 to the North and West, Highway 60 to the South, and Highway 65 to the East. Most of the city is inside this box, with the exception of some sprawl to the East and South, which are graudally merging Nixa and Ozark into Springfield. Maybe Republic too. But the middle of town is only accessible through roads clogged with stoplights and other traffic jam-inducing features. It’s not terrible, but it is a limiting factor.

Kansas City features a Loop downtown with highways extending out into the metro area like spokes on a wheel. Thanks to the highway system, which is far from perfect, travel times over pretty good sized distances are greatly reduced.

Both towns are afflicted with reckless and unskilled drivers.

Diversity

Kansas City actually has some. Diversity in Springfield is pretty sparse, but it exists if you know where to look for it. Just because diversity is more prevalent in Kansas City doesn’t mean that perfect integration has been achieved. If you look click on this link (Race and Ethnicity Map of Kansas City), you can see how the different races/ethnicities are distributed throughout the city. The red dots represent white people, the blue dots represent black people, etc.

People

I guess people in Springfield are generally friendly. I have a hard time judging the town objectively since I was a part of it for so long. I guess what I’m saying is that Springfield is what I am used to, and I think the people there are pretty all right. I’ve been very pleased with how friendly people in Kansas City are. Almost everyone I have met has been very friendly and pleasant. It would be easy to move to a “big city” and expect people to be rude or impatient. This is certainly not the case in Kansas City.

Cosmetics/Asthetics

A friend of mine once described Springfield as an “ugly town.” I agree to a certain extent, but I think it might be more appropriate to say “town composed largely of suburbs and strip malls.” It’s hard to be known for your architectural majesty when there are few buildings with more than 3 floors.

Kansas City is very interesting architecturally. Firstly, the city features numerous buildings of the art deco style, which happens to be my favorite artistic and design style. Check out the Power and Light Building (not to be confused with the Power and Light District) for a great example. There are also many slick and shiny modern skyscrapers, and a Southwestern/Spanish motif around the Plaza.

So those are my observations. Did I miss something? What do you like or dislike about Kansas City or Springfield? Let me know.

Blog Post #2 – What I Have Been Up to Since August

I graduated from the Drury University MBA Program in August. This closed a big chapter in my life: the chapter dedicated to formal education as a first obligation. I may continue my education further in the future, but for now, formal education as the primary time use in my life is complete. I am transitioning from the education mindset to the work mindset. I also finished up my internship at SignalPoint Asset Management. Welcome to the real world.

After college I had to start making some tough choices about my immediate future. I decided to leave Springfield and move to Kansas City. Springfield is a great town, and I enjoyed my college years there, but I wanted a change of scenery and to live the city life for a little while. I also think that there are more employment opportunities in Kansas City than there are in Springfield, part of which is due to the fact that the KC metro area has a population about 10 times greater than the Springfield metro area.

A word about Springfield: in addition to having more Chinese restaurants, banks, and churches per capita than probably any other city in the world, that town must also be the entrepreneurship capital of the world. It is a great place to start a business, and many of the businesses in Springfield are entrepreneurial ventures.  To see some examples of Entrepreneurs in Springfield who also happen to be friends of mine and fellow graduates of the Drury MBA Program, check out 417 Marketing, Midwest GSM, and Faith and Finance.  For new college graduates, there are few openings at companies to begin a career, and high competition for those posts. Kansas City has more companies that offer entry-level positions, and this was a factor in my decision to move.

Living in Kansas City has been great so far. I’ve been able to reconnect with many friends from college, and I’ve made new friends and contacts as well. One of my favorite things about city life is the variety of activities available, including cultural venues like museums, entertainment venues like the Power and Light District or Westport, and architectural splendor. I’m particularly fond of the many art deco style buildings, such as the Power and Light Building.

I’ve been looking into several career opportunities since moving up here, and I hope to secure a job soon. I am eager to begin working. It has been nice to have a little extra free time lately though. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of reading, follow the news closely, learn new tricks on the computer. In addition to this personal website, I am working on another website project, both of which have contributed significantly to my knowledge of WordPress, web applications, and software in general.

Last Wednesday I attended my first KC Linux Users Group meeting (http://kclug.org). Ever since I started using Linux as a junior in college, I have wanted to learn from more experienced users and participate more actively in the Linux community. I definitely plan to attend their next meeting, which is on December 21. If you’re a Linux, Unix, or BSD user in the KC area, you should think about checking it out.

To close out this post, let me recommend that you consider switching from Windows or Macintosh to Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). Linux Mint is great for people new to Linux because it is intuitive includes Flash the proper codecs to play most media files right when installed. As soon as Mint Debian came out, I converted my desktop and laptop, and I will probably soon convert my netbook. Mint Debian is great because it is a rolling release and everything “just works” out of the box, as Mac users are fond of saying. Sometimes I use a distro like Fedora because I like the challenge and opportunity to fight my computer, but for day to day operations, I love Mint Debian. For more information on Mint Debian, follow this link (http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=1527).

Have a good one.

Blog Post #1 – RussellHollander.com Site Launch

Hello, and welcome to RussellHollander.com. Today is the official launch date of my official website. I’ll be using this website as an on-line resume, as well as a place for me to post information and insights on my interests, including technology, business, finance, economics, and entrepreneurship.

I’m excited to start this phase of my on-line presence, and I hope you find the content I will be producing to be interesting and useful.

You can follow me on Twitter @russhollander and become a fan on Facebook. At some point in the future I’ll be adding a YouTube channel and a podcast feature.

Thanks for visiting my site, and feel free to comment below or send feedback via my Contact page.

Have a good one.

Welcome to RussellHollander.com!

Welcome to the official website of Russell Hollander.  The site is currently under construction.  Please check back soon!

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