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Recently I was promoted, from my position of Sr Software Developer and team lead, to Director of Customer Experience, directing a team of 15 people at ClubReady, Inc. I have 4 software developers that work for me, and 11 customer support and training personnel. One thing I've noticed, not just at ClubReady, is that people often times have a hard time communicating with others, be that in person, or electronically. Over the years I've learned a thing or two about communicating, so I wanted to put together a list of ways to help people communicate better in your professional career.

I don't think I've always been a good communicator, so I do believe it is something that anyone can work at, and improve. As a kid, I was pretty shy, I didn't like getting up in front of people and speaking, and I clearly remember missing out on a holiday concert in preschool when I cried my eyes out because I didn't want to sing in front of a crowd. At some point though, that changed, I really don't know when that was? If I could attribute it to one thing, I guess it was likely my 6 years of band (saxophone) in middle/high school. In College I managed to be a DJ on the college radio station after interviewing for the program multiple times, though it wasn't really until after college that I started doing any public speaking.

This morning was an early morning for me and Jacqueline, I told mommy I would take morning duty so we got up just before 7 so that mommy could sleep in. We played in the play room for a while, then made our way to the office to watch some TV. We both fell asleep to Pawn Stars, and woke up to auction hunters, which is like a cross between Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Storage Wars.

Most of the rest of the day was spent cleaning up, unpacking and organizing more things. Jacqueline took a 3 hour nap during this process, convenient how she never seems to help out when we are unpacking!

We kept thinking it was going to rain, and planned to take a bike ride, and have a BBQ this afternoon. We managed to get both of those in, and it sounds like it has just started raining here in the past 15 minutes or so. I’ve got my new grill covered up, though I’m curious to see how well the cover works.

Here are some photos from today

IMG_2851IMG_2848The perfect Sunday afternoon with @JackHoney and @WeberGrillsAfternoon nap

Half Moon Bay must be crazy about recycling. We now have three (3) 65 gallon trash cans dedicated for recycling. We don’t have a service provided trash can, and we have a 96 gallon yard waste bin. Two of the recycling bins were delivered today. One was delivered on Tuesday. Hello? Why so much? I mean, I imagine we could actually use two, but three, no way in hell.

I’m going to have to call Allied Waste tomorrow and sort this mess out. I still have to get rid of all our boxes as well, hopefully I’ll get them posted on Craigslist tonight and get someone to come pick them up.

If you are looking to move, and are looking for movers. Take my advice, NEVER fill out a form on a website requesting a quote. You are far better off calling a company. Tell them you want a visual estimate done. Do NOT accept an estimate over the phone, without them looking at your stuff.

If you fill out a form online, be sure to use an email address you can throw away, and a phone number you can throw away as well. I thought I was filling out a form for a single moving company, I think it was Reliable, but it really just went into a pool and I had over 10 different companies emailing me, calling me, and being just down right annoying.

One company even went so far to tell me I DIDN’T want a visual inspection, it would only double the cost of my move. Really? So I told him, over and over, and finally he said he wouldn’t do a visual, so I said thanks and hung up. I checked out their Yelp ratings, holy carp, all single stars, all people complaining to never use them. Glad I ditched that one real quick.

We’re using MacyMovers.com, based on a recommendation of a friend. Hopefully it turns out okay!

On Monday August 21, 1995, I started college at what was then known as the University of Missouri – Rolla (UMR), now referred to as Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST). If I recall correctly I started at 7:30am with an Algebra/Trig class designed to speed freshmen into the math program if you didn’t test out of the class. Even though I had taken Calculus in High School I wasn’t successful at testing out. Today, May 14, 2011, I am done with college, not done in as I am not going anymore (I leave that option open) but done in as I have a college degree. Before I talk about that here are some stats.
So it was a year ago today, we signed the papers on our house in Parker Colorado. Our first home purchase, after making a big move from St. Louis Missouri, we had settled down in Parker. Six months later, the house was on the market, and a year later, here we are, in San Carlos California living in a totally different house.

So what was going to be a single big announcement, that I’ve been sitting on for a number of weeks now, recently got trumped. So before I talk about the first announcement, I’ll talk about the one that trumped it!

Natalie and I are having a baby! So far we’re only about 5 or 6 weeks in, with a tentative due date of 10/16/2010, though I am really hoping we can pop that kid out on 10/10/10! We are most definitely excited about this, though it wasn’t exactly planned, it definitely is something we look forward to. I keep telling her I want twin boys, and my good buddy Leigh over the pond suggest that if we do we name them Jack and Daniel, I love it!

Now, for the original announcement ;) We are moving to California! Years ago I left home. I went to Missouri. I went to school. I got a job. I changed jobs (a few times). I lived in Missouri for 14 years, my parents even lived there for a while, but to be honest, I never really considered it home, it was just where I was in life. Just over 6 months ago we moved to Colorado. We purchased our first home. We love it, but even Colorado still doesn’t quite feel like home, it does more so than Missouri ever did, but there is still something missing here. (We actually love Parker Colorado, and have the best neighbors ever, they are some of our closest friends.)

I’ve always thought of home as California. I went to high school (3 of 4 years anyways) in California. I left for college, and I always said I would go back if I could make things work out. Well things are working out. Natalie and I put the house on the market two weeks ago and we are moving to California! I won’t torture everyone in the way I did with our move to Colorado (think goingtocolorado.com) but I will try to keep friends and family who are interested up to date as things progress.

I can’t go into other details just yet, what I’ll be doing there, who I will be working for, but I can tell you that I start working in California on March 1st. I look forward to catching up with friends from high school and ages past, and Natalie looks forward to winters that don’t get below freezing constantly :)

If you are interested in purchasing a great house in Parker Colorado be sure to check out ours, it is for sale!

Five years ago today (1/29) I met my beautiful wife Natalie. We went out on our first date to Applebee’s in Ballwin Missouri. It was a Saturday, we had talked online a time or two, and on the phone this particular evening. We met up for a late dinner and ended up staying until they kicked us out.

Shortly there after we both took our Match.com profiles down (yes, we met thru Match.com).

I love you beautiful!

Over the years I’ve collected a lot of data, music, photos and documents mainly. Thousands and thousands of photos, thousand of music files, and not so many documents, but still important nonetheless. For the longest time I just kept them all stored on an external hard disk. This worked alright, until the disk starting having overheating issues, and my wife wanted to be able to access the photos and music from her computer.

Since we couldn’t decide who to tell first we decided to just blog the news. NATALIE AND I ARE HAVING A BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it’s Monday Tuesday morning and I just sent off my submission for the third chapter of our DotNetNuke book. Pat sent of his third chapter last week, he has one more to finish up, I have one and then we have one final chapter we are going to work on together as a closing/advanced topics section for the book. Our deadline is 2/20, I think we’ll be on target to get things finished up on time, if not on time a day or two late over that weekend. I’m looking forward to being “done” for a while, though I don’t imagine I will be slowing down anytime soon.

After the book chapters are all submitted I imagine we’ll start getting the chapters back from the editors with changes. I also will be registering for an online economics course so that I can get the last few credits I need to finish up my BS in Econ in time for our summer move.

Update: it looks like the publish date for the book has been pushed back to 6/22/09 according to Amazon.

So this weekend has flown by! It’s almost 1:30am on Monday morning and I am wrapping up writing another chapter for the book. I’m going to call it a night and try to finish up the remainder of the work tomorrow, I basically have to read/review the chapter and take screenshots and then I can submit it to the editor.

So what have I been up to this weekend? Well Friday night Natalie and I watched Wanted, an Angelina Jolie movie, I must say the movie wasn’t what we expected, I knew it would be silly, but this one was exceptionally hard to believe because of the stunts/effects.

Saturday my buddy Terec and I spent the day driving around MO and IL hunting Bald Eagles. Now, before you freak out, we were hunting them to take photos! We rented a very $$$ lens from a local camera shop and spent nearly 11 hours driving around trying to get great shots. I took way more photos than he did, at a rate of about 4 to 1, but I would say from the previews I’ve seen of his, he got way better photos than I did. I can however claim the closest/largest in flight shot as I had grabbed the big lens at one point in Pere Marquette park, just after that a Bald Eagle came soaring by.

Bald Eagle In Flight

I’ve only uploaded a few shots, you can see them over on Flickr.

After shooting all day we ended up back at my house, Nick came over and Natalie got back from her girl’s night out with her sister. We rocked out to Rockband2 for a few hours before I kicked the guys out and crashed for the evening. I slept in this morning and then headed off to the office to meet up with Pat and talk about the next two weeks of book work. We are coming up on our February 20th deadline quickly! We are anxious to be done with this first phase of writing, and looking forward to hopefully having something resembling downtime during the editing/reviewing process! We’ll see how that works out :D

No, this isn’t a hang over blog post. I’m here in Connecticut doing some super secret (not really) work and got to hang out with the cast of Mondays What Sunday Threw Up for dinner tonight.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not much of a podcast guy, I have tried in the past, but I like my music too much to listen to something else throughout the day. That might have to change now. As soon as I get home I’m going to add this to my podcasts on my Zune software to start syncing up the show. These guys are damn funny in person, the clip I heard from a show from a few years ago was even more funny, so I am going to have to give this a whirl. I question, when would I listen though? I’m concerned if I listen while driving down the road I might laugh myself off the road…

Thanks for dinner tonight guys, it was fun and I hope to see you all again!

So if you aren’t playing Mobwars on Facebook, I recommend you don’t get started, it is addicting! I’ve been helping friends out who have started to play, by giving them tips. If you start playing and need some advice, I’ll try to update this post over time with new tips. Here’s the one I started tonight.

When starting out one of the most important things to do is start growing your mob, and grow it big. When you start you’ll have a max size of 500 or so members, once you hit a certain level (75?) you can start adding more members, 2 per level as you increase in the game. The bigger your mob, the stronger you can be.

The basic idea here is you need a lot of facebook friends to be in your mob, well if your friends are like mine, many of them don’t want to play, so you won’t have a big mob. But here’s a way to increase your mob, and hopefully not increase your friends list, except temporarily. What we’ll do is quickly add a lot of friends, get them to join your mob, and then delete them from your friends list, they will stay in your mob.

First thing to do, create a new email address somewhere, tie it to your facebook account, something like mynewmobemail @ gmail.com or something. You’ll use this here later on, you can use your normal email address, but I recommend setting up a mobwars specific one.

Once you done that, join this group on Facebook, once joined go to this thread http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46792873184#/topic.php?uid=46792873184&topic=5507

You need to go to this thread, last page of the thread, copy the email addresses there, put your email in this list(the one you setup earlier) and reply to the thread with the full list of emails, plus yours. That way the next person who does this will also add you to their friends list.

Now that you have this list of email addresses, you need to invite all these people to be friends, you do this through the normal invite process that facebook provides. As more people start to add their email addresses to the thread they will start sending you requests as well, so you’ll continue to grow your mob. After while if you fill up your mob you might want to go back and reply to the thread again, but this time remove your email from the list of emails.

Once these friends start accepting your requests you can add them to your mob. The easiest way to do this is to visit their profile page and clicking on their “join my mob” link if they have the mobwars box on their profile. That is one important thing as well, make sure you have the mobwars box on your profile to make it easier for these people to add you.

Once you’ve requested to join someone’s mob you can then go back to your friends list (use the recently added option) and delete those people from your friends list. This all takes some work and patience, but it is the fastest way I’ve found to grow a mob.

Stay tuned for more mobwars tips from www.chrishammond.com

So last year I made it all the way through April with blogging at least once a day, and while it will look like I blogged on the 7th, the date for that post was really on the 6th. This is posting on the 8th, so, I made it 6 days before I missed a blog post :(

I guess I will have to try again NEXT year to blog every day of the year. I tell you, this week has been nuts, if you follow my twitter feed at all, I posted that I already have 33 hours in our time tracker, after just three days of work. I have a lot left to go, and another book deadline for next week, along with travelling out of town next week. It looks like it will be another busy weekend!

I am going to make time to see a movie with my wife, we’re going to go see Gran Torino on Friday night.

Well I went to school this evening and dropped a course. I realized I was going to be missing 8-10 classes in this course alone this fall due to all of the trips scheduled, so I figured I would take some of my load off and only have one course this fall, intermediate micro. I still have a course to finish up from this summer, before the end of the fall semester, and after all the conferences and traveling are done I will probably sign up for an online course. That will leave me two classes left next spring to finish up my BS in Economics.
Today marks the first day of classes at UMSL For the Fall 2008 Semester. I'm taking two economics courses this semester as well as finishing up a course from this summer. With class and all of my work trips coming up it is going to be a busy fall!
So I got a random email tonight, his words not mine, from a 21 year old Comp Sci student up in Wisconsin.

"I'm 21, a computer science major at a smaller private college in Wisconsin. I stumbled on your blog just by chance. I see that you're 31, a software developer, and (if I do say so myself) leading a pretty nice life.

I was just curious what kind of career path you took that led you to where you are today?"

Check out my full blog post to see my response.
Some of you might have noticed that I've added a new feature to my website. You can follow along with what I'm doing on the right side of the homepage where I've added my Twitter feed. That is of course assuming I update the feed frequently, which I am trying to do.
Wow, I can't believe the Thursday I am having. Hopefully some time in the future I can document why exactly this Thursday is so great, but right now I can't! All I can say is that today is going amazing so far!
So I guess I didn't need any practice going into the Atlanta Pro Solo next weekend (aka Doublecross). It was raining and windy this morning when I left the house, but I had every intention of running the event out at Gateway Raceway. I get out there and I see that there are no cones on the lot for a course, and it looks like people are leaving. Sure enough, the damn event was cancelled. I hung around the lot for 20-30 minutes to chat with the stragglers who were still there, and those who were showing up.
It's 12:25am on Wednesday April 30th, 2008, and I just realized I have failed. Through April 28th of this year I managed to blog here on ChrisHammond.com at least once per day, even if it was a tiny blog post I had managed to make at least that every day of the year. On the 29th of April, I failed to post a single blog here, I've failed. My goal was to make it all year long with at least one post per day here.
It really is about time for a new computer. I spent the day at home working on a paper and presentation that was due for class tonight, and about an hour before I needed to leave the computer went haywire. Hasn't been the same since. Unfortunately I think I need to reformat and reinstall Vista to get it all in working order again....