Keeping Connected with FaceTime

In a little more than 24 hours I’ll be on a plane to go to work in Jersey City from Monday through Friday. This is one of the more painful aspects of my chosen career because of the heavy travel requirements and time away from home. Slowly but surely I have introduced a ton of iOS devices into my family so that now everyone has at least one. The one killer feature for me when I’ve been traveling over the past year has been FaceTime plus my3G. My family is young so seeing them is one of the bright spots in my day. I try to do FaceTime calls in the morning when my wife and daughter get up in the morning before I go to work so I’m in a decent mood for my first meeting. I remember before I had a daughter and before FaceTime that my wife and I barely spoke on the phone at all while I was traveling. We mostly did things by text message since it was unobtrusive and we were both normally distracted when we talked on the phone.

FaceTime has changed that a lot. Now I try and use it when I can with my wife when I travel because I also get to see my daughter too. I think them best feature is that it makes you focus on the person you’re talking to because they can see if you’re paying attention or not. I have even gotten on calls with my father in Hawaii and he appreciates the ability to see his grand daughter over thousands of miles like she is right there. While not really a new technology, FaceTime has tied you phone number and your device together. A lot of people also use Skype but they have to be on to make a call. Using FaceTime is as easy as picking up a phone for me but of course the person on the other side has to be using an iDevice too but since I only use this with family this is not a big deal to me.

One of the big reasons that I jailbreak my device is an app called My3G. This is a tweak I paid for t let me do FaceTime calls over my 3G connection rather than having to us wifi. Way back when I first got my iPhone 4S, iOS 5 only let you do FaceTime calls over wifi because it is a data hog. To get around this limitation I jailbroke my phone so I can FaceTime anywhere I have a 3G connection. This is especially useful in hotels because their wifi networks are weak and I probably wouldn’t be able to use FaceTime anyway. With the recent release of iOS 6, the carriers let people start using their 3G and 4G connections for FaceTime. The rub was that you had to be on a tiered data plan. For a person like me who is on an unlimited data plan, that’s a real deal breaker. I intend to keep my unlimited data plan and jailbreak my iPhone for as long as I can to even out my work/life balance.

There are others that I have used FaceTime with but they are all restricted due to wifi so sometimes it’s not the best way to contact someone which is why I just use it with my family. I just updated my Facebook app and its starting to off free voice calls in the US and Canada. I know the is also Google+ hangouts but no one save one person actually uses Google+. I’m glad that I was able to re-jailbreak my phone before I left to travel again, at least that keeps my FaceTime capability with my family intact while preserving my unlimited data plan.

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One Week to Go

In a little over one week I have to start traveling again for work. I’ve been on compensatory since December and I gotta say that I’ve loved it so far. I have enjoyed working from home and being able to spend time with my family since the holidays. I guess in the mean time I should take full advantage of my time with my wide and daughter while I’m home since I will only be able to see them on FaceTime in the mornings instead of continuously throughout the day. I’ll definitely miss the family meals and putting Elysia to bed at night. I will still have the weekends but I will miss doing it every night like I have been since I’ve been at home. Now I have to mentally prepare for going back on the road since I know that my time is short and local clients just don’t exist in Florida.

Luckily I have maintained my status on United and at Hilton for 2013. I just need to rebuild my status so that I can maintain or exceed my current levels into 2014. I don’t think that will be that difficult as long as I continuously travel for the next 8 months or so. With my current project I don’t think that will be a big issue.

The issue I have is that I will continue my travels to New Jersey for the foreseeable future. In not the biggest fan of Jersey (insert HEAVY sarcasm), but its what is going to pay the bills and I’ve me enough points and miles to go some place a little more exotic. I think a major trip in 2014 might be achievable I I can hoard my points to finally get my butt international. Maybe for the first trip we will try Europe and then the next one will be to Asia. By that time Elysia should be old enough to walk and talk better and can handle the long flight. I won’t be able to do the infant in arms thing but that’s fine by me.

I suppose I need to remember what it is I need to pack for work again. Bag I think I’ll just wing it next Sunday evening before I head off to Jersey again.

ITIL RCV Passed!

Today I passed my test so I can say I’m certified in ITIL Release, Control, and Validation. All last week I was in class so that I cold get enough hours so I could take my test today. Truthfully I could have taken the test on Friday afternoon but I wanted a little extra time to study. I am slowly but surely going towards getting my ITIL Expert certification but I don’t intend to try and get it this year. Along with my certification I get credits at work. I need to have a certain number of credits on a rolling 3 year basis and ITIL training is a good way to generate those credits.

I think I’m about 2 classes away from being able to sit for the final class before achieving ITIL Expert. There are two ways to get to Expert but I’ve been taking classes here and there so my route to Expert is a little unorthodox. No matter it fills up credit hours which is my primary goal.

The test this time around seemed harder than Service Design which I took a few weeks ago but at least this time I was able to pass it the first time around. I think I’ve hit upon a decent strategy for passing these things which is a combination of not waiting too long to take the test and also doing some intense studying so I memorize the material. As it happens there are always those little things that they decide to test you on that I don’t study and they always seem to ask those questions on the test. Needless to say for RCV I didn’t do as well as I was hoping but a pass is a pass and I have my certification.

I’ll be taking a break until next fall to take more classes in ITIL. What I really want most is to be able to get my Certified IT Asset Manager certification. I’ve been doing IT Asset Management since I started working and I happen to be pretty good at it so I might as well try and get certified in it. Although in the past I’ve struggled passing tests on topics where I have a lot of knowledge since my personal experiences get in the way of what the “book” answer is. But that’s for me to tackle next year. Unless something required comes up I’m not taking anymore optional training. My brain is full of stuff I may or may not use in the next year and I need the space in my head to fill it with family memories instead.

Netflix Original Content is Quite Good

This weekend I started watching House of Cards which is a Netflix exclusive show, much like Lilyhammer which I just finished a few months ago. I have to admit that the show is very good and in only 2 days I’ve already gone through 6 episodes which is a lot for me in only one weekend. I won’t delve into a review of the plot or acting since I’m not good at deciphering that sort of thing. There are tons of shows and movies that I consider awesome but that the general public probably thinks is trash.

Anyway, I think Netflix is on to a good model for the future. They remind me of when I started watching HBO for The Soprano’s. I was glad at the time that the community where I lived provided HBO but it would have been very compelling to pay for HBO to continue to watch The Soprano’s. I like the Netflix model a little better than HBO. They release entire seasons for their original content so I don’t have to wait to see the next episode like regular TV. I was able to get through Lilyhammer in a couple of weeks and I’m almost half way through House of Cards.

I hope that Netflix continues to generate great content like the first two shows they produced. That will definitely get more people on board with the service and they might even forget the silly notion they had a year ago of splitting the DVD and Streaming services and increasing the prices at the same time.