While growing up in Southern California I played four years of Little League Baseball. For me, nothing said baseball more than a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. A wooden Louisville Slugger, of course. It wasn’t as if we had a choice back then; in those days, a bat was only made out of wood.
I hadn’t really thought much about bats in recent years until my boss returned from Kentucky. He was visiting Louisville Slugger. He got to hold bats made for The Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth), Jackie (Jackie Robinson), and The Splendid Splinter (Ted Williams). Actually, Ted Williams was so great a hitter that he was also known as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.”
Dave, our marketing guru, is a lucky guy to be sure. Who doesn’t want to hold the bat of “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived” or the bat of “The Great Bambino” or the bat of Jackie, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball and who broke barriers in more fields than just baseball? But lucky us to be protecting the data of Louisville Slugger who made bats for all of those great hitters and continues to make bats for many of today’s great hitters.
Mozy backs up the data of the makers of the Louisville Slugger. That’s a win-win in my book.
The Louisville Slugger has been around a long time. Long enough for my dad to have used the bat, though not always for the right reasons. I remember him telling stories about growing up in San Francisco and knocking down advertising signs along Taraval all the way to the dunes with a bat as a youngster. I know, not the best reason for swinging a bat. But he redeemed himself long ago by becoming a rocket scientist and working closely with the Apollo Space Program. And teaching my brother and me the finer points of playing baseball and the proper use of a Louisville Slugger.
I still remember those batting fundamentals that my dad was always drilling into my head and my older brother’s head:
• The label goes up!
• Hands together—and line up the knuckles!
• Don’t break the wrists!
And, of course:
• Keep your eye on the ball!
Always keep your eye on the ball. That made such an impression on me that I can hear those words today as if I were hearing them for the first time. When I followed that rule and the others, and when I managed to hit the ball on the sweet spot on that wooden bat, the sound was enough to tell me that fielders were gonna be moving—and I’d better be hustling my way to first base.
Although memories tend to intensify our experiences from years ago—for better or for worse—I can remember that I was just an average ball player who never batted above .200. But I loved the game, and some of my choicest memories are playing catcher and feeling the sting of a fast ball popping in my glove, watching my brother pitch against future Hall of Famer Robin Yount, and knowing that my dad was logging stats in the announcer’s box.
Throughout my life, I have strived to “keep my eye” on life’s proverbial baseball. That has helped me to focus in spite of life’s distractions and disappointments. In some ways, I suppose I’ve succeeded from what I learned by focusing on those batting fundamentals, which for me really come down to three words: focus, focus, focus. If it’s important enough, you’ll focus on it. Looking back, playing baseball certainly taught me more about life than I ever could have appreciated as a youngster.
Say what you want about the financial benefits of the aluminum bat, but there’s nothing like the wood of a Louisville Slugger. And there’s nothing better than good memories, except making tomorrow’s memories today. So, keep your eye on the ball. Good things are bound to happen, including those few but wonderful moments when you hit one out of the park.
See why Louisville Slugger uses Mozy by EMC. http://mozy.com/product/testimonials/louisville-slugger
For more baseball, check out our infographic Social Media at the Old Ball game.
I remember it well, that electrifying experience of watching 22 plastic players vibrate on the field as my brother and I screamed at our players to do anything even remotely resembling what occurs in real gridiron football. If you were offense, you screamed even louder, wishing against all wishes, hoping against all hope that your team would make a coordinated and vibrated effort to move the ball closer to the end zone.
Truthfully, there wasn’t any coordination, but there was plenty of loud buzzing as your 11 team members vibrated wildly down the field—or up the field or across the field or in tight circles anywhere on the field, depending on the unpredictable characteristics of the shiny metal turf. Would there be a touchdown this time? Please, let there be a touchdown, just this once!
I’m talking about Electric Football. My brother and I were having fun with this game sometime in the mid-1960s, long enough ago that today’s gamers with their Madden NFL 15 or other digital football games might find it hard to imagine that little plastic men in undistinguishable uniforms could be propelled to glory by an electrical charge.
Although we had options like punting or kicking field goals, they were just as likely to fail as was the man with the little felt football that was on a vibrating path that hopefully ended in the promised land. The right promised land, that is.
And speaking of field goals, in Electric Football, each team included a plastic phenom with a catapult leg that was capable of “kicking” the puny pigskin through the goal posts, and even way beyond the boundaries of the stadium. But unless you were lucky or highly skilled with these kickers, the only play resembling an actual field goal would be my brother or me flicking a player through the goal posts out of frustration because the ball carrier vibrated up the field for a touchback when he should have vibrated down the field for a touchdown. I remember there being a lot of touchbacks, but far fewer than there were players just vibrating off the field as if they’d lost their desire to play.
Times have changed, of course. Mine and my brother’s Electric Football game is long gone (though you can still find versions of it for sale on eBay). Consider that early versions of Electric Football used solid-color plastic players to represent whatever team you favored. That worked great, as long as you didn’t mind an all-yellow team). Yesterday’s teams were comprised of 3D unknowns without statistics or college pedigree. Today’s games emulate the actions of professional athletes. In fact, Madden NFL 15 pulls game updates throughout the real NFL season and updates player ratings in the game.
But maybe times haven’t changed as much as technology has. Sure, with Madden NFL 15 games can be saved in the cloud and synced to other devices, but it’s still just a game. Win or lose, it can be a lot of fun. And it allows us to compete in a game whose outcome can never be fully predicted. Likewise, it allows us to keep things in perspective, unlike the old days when you could flick a player across the field and through the goalposts for an extra point.
Be sure to read Mozy’s blog next week. It will feature an infographic about the progression of the football video game. From plastic and metal to LED blips, to trackball to showboating and even late hits, we can still enjoy the game without turning on the TV.
You’ve heard it a thousand times before: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s because it’s true. A picture can often express emotion better than words. Just take a look at the winners from our recent Mozy Summer Photo Contest 2014.
Some of the photos made us smile, others made us laugh out loud, while others made us contemplate the wonders of nature. But all of them helped us to see the beauty that’s all around us.
After tallying the votes, we awarded one grand prize winner and three consolation prizes:
- Grand Prize: “Flying High” by Jackie Linder
- Consolation Prize winners:
- “Deep in the Canyon” by Rita Meistrell
- “Interested Observers” by Lauren Ward
- “Perfect Sunset” by Jenine Reed
Our grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift card. Each of our consolation prize winners will receive a $25 gift card. Congratulations to each of you!
Thanks to all of you for your submissions. And thanks to everyone for voting for your favorites. We’re already looking forward to our next photo contest, so keep taking great pictures of your favorite subjects!
We trust people who lie, in a roundabout way. Come again?
Recently, I read Ryan Holiday’s national bestselling book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.
Holiday claims he made his living by manipulating the media, by distorting the newstelling. He did that by manipulating, distorting and spreading half-truths, and creating and promoting rumors that he knew to be false and then letting them enter the public’s imagination through blogs and other sources. Once respectable media picked up on the story—even if only to link to the blog without confirming or denying the accuracy of the information—the public often assumed it must be true.
Holiday says he wrote this book “Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it.”
Now, Holiday wants people to understand how the media works.
If what Holiday writes is true, then all of us bloggers are manipulators to a certain degree. After all, we want to convince you of something—to do something, buy something, believe something, or even to not believe something.
According to Holiday, “Blogs must—economically and structurally—distort the news in order for the format to work. As businesses, blogs can see the world through no other lens. The format is the problem. Or the perfect opportunity, depending on how you look at it.”
What Holiday means is this: A blog writer has just a few seconds to hook the reader. The so-called “bounce rate” on blogs—the percentage of readers who leave the site without clicking any of the links—is very high. If we remember that the purpose of the blog is to promote an idea or sell a product or service, then a successful blog writer has to follow certain rules to decrease the bounce rate.
High on the list of rules to follow is to create a catchy headline. A great headline means that you are going to grab your readers’ attention, at least long enough for them to remain on the page and read the first line. Of course, the first line has to be catchy, too, if the reader is going to continue reading. And keep the paragraphs short. And always remember that readers are busy and have quite a few options when it comes to where they are going to spend their time reading. So the blog should not exceed a certain number of words.
I learned early in my career as a journalist that no matter how mundane or complex a topic may be, a good writer has to find an angle. For example, a famous actor becomes more interesting when the local newspaper highlights that he attended high school in town and was the one who spray painted something derogatory on the water tower at the edge of town the night before the homecoming game against the school’s biggest rival. Then you jump the story to page 4 because on page 5 there’s a full-page ad announcing a sale at the local department store. Good stories sell papers, and advertisers buy space so that readers will see their ads and ultimately buy their products or services.
As Holiday emphasizes, writers need to find not only the angle, but the click-driving headline or an eye-catching image in order to generate comments and click-throughs.
But it’s important to remember that there are many things worth reading, doing, buying, believing or not believing. The onus is on each of us to do the research. In other words, we need to study the issue; we need to do our homework; we need to avoid being manipulated. We need to make a genuine effort to figure out what’s accurate or inaccurate.
So how do you do that? For starters, figuring it out should involve more than simple Internet searches. It certainly involves more than just reading a blog or two. To be sure, technology has made our lives much easier. We have a number of tools right at our fingertips. Literally. But we have to do more. As one of my old journalism professors used to say: “Dig deep for the details!”
Getting down to the nitty-gritty—that which is essential, those specific details about why something is real or true or valid—may take more time and effort, but in the long run, truth is always worth finding. Trust me, I’m not lying.
I define my workspace as…
My preferred workspace is at home on the couch with my laptop in my lap and the TV on as background noise. I work best comfortable, with some distractions. In the office my workspace is my cubical with a 21.5 in screen; it is big and nice. I flip between three desktop spaces to stay organized and keep work separate from quick distractions when I need them for a mental break. I also use my huge white board for structuring projects before I create them.
A device I can’t live without….
I always tell myself that I could go tech-free for a while if I want to, but I am probably too attached to my phone. I get lost a lot when away from home because I have no sense of direction. Without my phone’s GPS, I would never make it anywhere new on time.
When I arrive at work, I typically start my day off by…
I start by marking my time in a Google doc, so I can know how many hours I have worked in the day/week. I don’t want to cheat the company or my wife! Then I check my emails for anything pressing. After that I try to get done anything I want done before standup, then lead standup because I am the scrum master.
My work routine is…
Come in and work on those things that everyone expects me to have done. When I have done that, I work on more exciting things, like tools to make my job easier, and making the automation we have better. I love that I can use my ideas to improve my job and the work of those around me.
I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …
Having something to listen to helps me to not lose focus. It depends on the day what I want to listen to. Some days it is audio books; some days it is music; some days it is just others in the cubical farm. I prefer audio books because I feel like that’s a better use of my time.
The best advice I can give a recent college graduate looking to do what I do is …
Believe in yourself and have ideas. Anyone can do most any job, but if you are able to innovate even on little things, everyone will like you. Don’t think just because you haven’t done much outside of classwork that you cannot contribute, because it will surprise you what you know.
Outside of work, I am passionate about …
People, programming, and baking. I love being around people; they give me the energy I need to be happy. I am not the best programmer; I am learning a lot every day, but it’s fun to know that I can make things that are useful for the world around me. I have cooled down from baking because I gained weight, in part because I have a job where I mostly sit, but I love the look of delicious things when they come out of the oven, and the faces on people when I share those delicious things.
My eating habits are …
Spastic. Before I was married and had someone to cook for, or for me, I lived off of chicken breasts and quesadillas. Now I get in more vegetables, and have a few recipes that work for meals, like chili, meatloaf, and the classic spaghetti and meatballs.
If I could be someone for a day, I would be …
This is a hard one. I would either be the best friend of Nikola Tesla so I could see him work from up close, or my wife so I could understand why she appreciates me so much.
The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …
My “secret sauce” is my belief that I can do anything. I know things can take a lot of work, but I truly believe if someone else can do something, I can do it too. Maybe not as fast or not as perfect, but I can do it. I can even do things that no one else has done before because I am original. I am not going to try everything in the world, but if I want something, I can reach that goal.
1818. When you think about cycling, you probably don’t think of 1818. But the velocipede—as that first two-wheeler was known—for all practical purposes was the first bicycle to hit the road. (Some might argue that the velocipede wasn’t the first bike because it didn’t have a drivetrain and riders had to push themselves forward with their feet. But take a look at a picture. The velocipede is a bike.) It was invented by Baron Karl Drais, who called his invention Laufmaschine or “running machine.”
Cycling has come a long way since the Laufmaschine. If the Baron were alive today, he would be astounded by how cycling has evolved. First, consider that the Laufmaschine was made from cherry wood, brass, and iron and weighed nearly 50 pounds (22.7 kg). No carbon fiber or lightweight alloys back then. Even so, Baron Drais must have been pretty proud that on his first ride he was able to cover 8 miles (13 km) in one hour. For comparison, the speed record on a modern bicycle is 83 mph (133 km/h), unless you’re racing down a volcano. That record is 102 mph (165 km/h) (it would have been faster had the volcano been erupting).
Next, consider that today’s modern racing machines in the Tour de France weigh 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Interestingly, these bicycles could weigh less. They are required to weigh at least 15 pounds. It’s not uncommon for riders to add dead weight to the frame to meet the minimum weight requirement. BTW, if you want lightweight and are not planning to race in the Tour de France, there is a road bike that weighs 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Got $45,000? (Yes, even your bank account will be lighter.)
But these days, it’s not just about the bike. It’s about getting the most out of the bike by adding high tech to the riding experience. The following are some of the ways technology can change the way you approach cycling and improve your performance.
Do you want to track your ride? You can with Strava. By using your iPhone, Android, or dedicated GPS device, you can analyze and quantify your ride. But Strava does more than just measure your performance; it’s designed to motivate you to seek continual improvement in how you ride. You do that by comparing your performance to past rides and other riders who have ridden the same route. If you’re faster than another rider, then you know you’re doing something well. If another rider is faster, then you’ve got some catching up to do. Which might motivate you to train harder to stay at the front of your imaginary peloton. But Strava is more than just about competition; it’s about camaraderie in the biking community. It’s kind of like riding with others who are not riding beside you.
If you like the idea of having a personal trainer but don’t want to pay for a personal trainer (the human kind), there’s the Garmin Edge 305. This GPS-enabled device attaches to your handlebars and automatically measures speed, distance, time, calories burned, altitude, climb and descent, and records all of this data to analyze later. If that weren’t enough, this personal trainer also includes a barometric altimeter to tell you the elevation. The Edge includes a heart rate monitor and a speed/cadence sensor. Clearly, this isn’t your father’s bicycle speedometer.
If you cycle, you know that eyewear is a must. But today’s glasses are more than just eye protection. Consider Recon’s cycling glasses. The Recon Jet glasses provide heads-up display for the serious cyclist. They’re kind of like sunglasses on steroids (but since we are talking about cycling, let’s be perfectly clear that we’re not talking about those kind of steroids) just for the cyclist. Recon’s on-board sensors provide speed, distance, elevation gain, and more. And they connect to your heart rate monitor, power meter, and cadence sensor. Talk about instant information in your face, literally.
Today’s cycling gear can make you look and feel pretty darn good. Carbon frame. Check. Form-fitting Lycra shorts and jersey. Check. Cool looking, multi-functioning glasses. Check. Aerodynamic helmet with catchy design. Check. Technology device to measure and analyze your progress. Check.
But let’s not get too serious about all of this high tech cycling gear. After all, no one says you can’t have a little fun, right? If you’re game and you’re willing to embrace a bit of LED low tech, consider adding rainbow Hokey Spokes to your modern Laufmaschine. Attach these blades with LED lights on your bicycle wheel spokes to brighten your image—and even display text. If the Baron could only see you now! Come to think of it, everyone will be able to see you now, at least at night.
Summer is in full swing in the northern hemisphere!
We know you take incredible photos and trust Mozy to keep them safe. To thank you for that trust we are happy to feature our 2014 Summer Photo Contest. Take a great shot, attach it to this blog post, and you could be the winner of one of three $25 gift cards, or the grand prize winner of a $50 gift card!
To submit your summer photo, please follow these steps:
- Make sure it is your own original work. No copycats!
- The photo should be appropriate for all ages.
- In the comments section below give your photo a title and then click on the photo icon below the text box () to upload your photo.
- You will also need to sign in to post. You can use your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, or Google login.
- Then just wait! Your photo will be reviewed and then posted.
Once it’s live, you may also want to share it with your friends and family. Photos that have more “likes” will certainly get our attention.
Photos will be judged on the following criteria:
- Has a distinct summer feel
- The “Aww” factor, as in “Aww, cute!” or “in awe” of the scene.
Entries must be submitted before August 18, 2014. Winners will be announced in the August newsletter and posted on this blog.
Good luck! We’re excited to see your amazing photography skills!
*Void where prohibited by law.
A few weeks ago I noticed one of those beautiful $20K motorcycles coasting down the street. Yes, with a rider on board, sort of. Let me explain. The bike was nearly impossible to miss—and hear: classic design, two-tone paint, plenty of chrome, and that unmistakable rumble. But it wasn’t any of those characteristics that held my attention; it was something completely unexpected and unrelated to the bike itself. With one hand on the left handgrip, the rider’s right hand was holding a smartphone and using his thumb to punch in numbers. I assume he was texting or using a GPS. You can’t easily talk on a cell phone with that kind of rumble. Granted, he was coasting down a hill and there wasn’t any oncoming traffic, but still, a motorcycle is best controlled with two hands on the bars. Besides, it’s only with two hands that a rider is able to manage the clutch, front brake, and throttle.
As a motorcycle rider myself, I wasn’t impressed. I have learned that if someone is behind the wheel of a car or is riding a motorcycle unsafely, they not only endanger themselves, they also endanger others on or near the road, be that another driver, motorcyclist, jogger, pedestrian, or cyclist.
Today, many states restrict the use of cellphones while operating a motor vehicle. In fact, some laws are so specific that they spell out the restrictions. For example, in some states cellphone use is banned while motor vehicle operators are traveling through school crossing zones. This and other laws are defined as “distracted driving laws.” Some states prohibit all drivers from using a handheld cell phone while driving. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking or texting. It’s a primary law and you can get pulled over for breaking it. Some states just ban novice drivers (that is, teenagers) from using a cell phone while driving. But really, anyone who drives distracted is a novice. An experienced driver should have learned that lesson long ago.
In case you’re interested in the distinction between primary and secondary laws when it comes to cell phones, a primary law means that an officer can ticket you for using a cell phone without any other traffic violation taking place; a secondary law means that an officer can issue you a ticket for using a cell phone only if you have been pulled over for another violation, such as speeding or coasting through a stop sign.
What are some of the results of using a cell phone while driving? If you consider this one fact, then it’s easy to see how quickly an accident can occur when you’re driving and texting: “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph (88.5 kph), that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field [about 91.5 meters] blindfolded,” according to one source. And it’s not just texting, it’s other related behavior. For example, talking on a cell phone or even listening to one increases your risk of causing an accident. Even reaching for a cell phone is considered distracted driving and increases your risk of being in an accident. The National Safety Council estimates that each year 1.6 million crashes involve drivers who are using cell phones and texting. In other words, one in four accidents is the result of using a cell phone while driving.
And if you think using a hands-free device makes it all right, you would be mistaken. Using a headset or hands-free device does not result in fewer accidents. You’re still multitasking while driving. You’re still driving distracted.
You might be familiar with Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and very funny guy Dave Barry, who wrote a number of newspaper columns during his career about what he called “driving stupid,” wherein he highlighted some of the crazy things people do while driving. I still vividly remember something I witnessed not long after reading one of his columns. Call it “fact is stranger than fiction” or “I never would have thought of doing that.” A woman was flossing her teeth while doing her best to steer her vehicle by using a very small percentage of the sides of her hands against the wheel. I can barely floss my teeth standing in front of a mirror. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I don’t think I would have believed that a driver would endanger not only herself but also endanger those driving near her for the sole purpose of cleaning her teeth. (Hey, why not just gargle while you’re at it?) You’ve probably seen other more common distractions as well, such as drinking coffee or soda from small to very large containers; shaving (fortunately—if there is a fortunately in this situation—shaving with an electric shaver and not with shaving cream and a razor); applying mascara or lipstick; eating burgers, donuts or other fast foods; or letting Fido rest his paws on the wheel so that his owner can pretend that Fido is pretending that he can drive the car. The list is probably endless.
A tool is only as smart as its user. The car will move if someone starts it and steps on the accelerator. A cell phone will function if it’s in someone’s hands and fingers are pressing buttons. But sometimes a car or a smartphone isn’t in the hands of a smart person. The bottom line: when you’re driving a motorized vehicle, drive the vehicle and focus on what you’re doing and where you’re going. If you need to use your phone, be smart about it and pull off to the side of the road. Or better yet, wait until you arrive at your destination. Sure, there are always “emergencies” or excuses to justify driving distracted, but by doing so you risk creating another emergency. And there’s no excuse for that.