I'm sitting in the Miami International airport with my wife, relaxing a bit after a fantastic RIAdventure cruise and waiting on our flight back to Nashville. I've also started the process of wading through nearly 1,000 e-mails and one in particular jumped out at me, a "welcome back" e-mail regarding the Adobe Community Experts program.

I'm really excited to begin my seventh year in this program (formerly Team Macromedia) and I want to thank Adobe, Rachel Luxemburg, Stacy Sisson, Ted Patrick, John Koch, and John Dowdell for allowing me to continue serving the community. The last six years have been amazing and I firmly believe this year will be no exception!

For more information on the Adobe Community Experts program click here. Or, if you want more info on the Adobe User Group program, click here.


My wife does most of our banking so I rarely have the need to visit our bank. But, I had a check I needed to deposit so I went by Suntrust on my way into the office yesterday. I was really surprised to be greeted by a boarded up customer service window and a small screen with a camera.

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It's not every day I come across a record that blends everything I desire in music into a synergistic presentation of perfection. Matter of fact, it only happens about every other year or so. The last time it happened was when I discovered How To Save a Life by The Fray (on iTunes, on Amazon). Yesterday, it happened again. I was working on a blog post and wanted some background music, so I headed over to iTunes to preview some tracks. I clicked around for 10 minutes or so and stumbled across the self-titled album by Thriving Ivory (on iTunes, on Amazon). After previewing the 30 second snippets of three tracks I was sold. I purchased the record for $5.99 and began the auditory journey of listening to each track. I was positively stunned.

Thriving Ivory began when singer Clayton Stroope and songwriter/piano player Scott Jason met while attending the University of California in Santa Barbara, CA. The duo later added three band members to solidify a quintet that took the college scene in Santa Barbara by storm. The band soon relocated to San Francisco where they continued to build their fan base and experience success.

In 2008 their United States exposure skyrocketed with increased radio play and over a million hits to their MySpace page. In fact, Angels on the Moon - the second track on their album - made it into the Top 30. What drew me in were Clayton Stroope's raw, unrelenting vocals. He sounds just as good during a hard-thumping rock riff as he does on the quietest ballad. And when you think you've heard all Stroope has to offer, the songs reveal a depth as surprising as it is pleasurable. The band manages to evoke just about every possible emotion from the listener. Scott Jason's enchanting piano draws you in where the drums and guitar build a perfect climax to Stroope's trembling vocals. Several of the bands songs have received acclaim including Angels on the Moon, and Twilight. The Los Angeles Symphony's string section even makes an appearance on Hey Lady, a track about the realities of love. Scott Jason describes Hey Lady as:

I think everybody has their own Hey Lady. You know, anybody whose ever jumped into the crazy sea of relationships and had to deal with the fact that they're attracted to the fantasy of what they don't have. And when they get it it's not so interesting as it was before they had it.

It's hard to find a favorite song on this record. Every one stands on it's own and yet becomes something more when heard as part of the entire album. I've been listening constantly for two days and am still hearing new things each time through. I've enjoyed it so much I want to let others in on the experience. I've loaded up my MP3 player with full versions of the tracks so you can check 'em out and hopefully buy the album for yourself. Simply click here to have a listen.


I've been using GPS devices in one way or another for several years but I've never owned one. Most of the ones I've used have come with car rentals or have belonged to friends. I've been thinking of buying my own for at least a year or two but have always managed to talk myself out of it. This year though, my wife and I decided to get one. As always I did a ton of research weighing desired features against available units and there pricing. I decided to get the Garmin Nuvi 760. What follows is a short list of the features I really like after having used my Nuvi for over a month. This list is by no means a comprehensive list of features and is in no particular order.

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This time next week my wife and I will be somewhere in the North Atlantic on our way to the Bahamas. It's been a couple of years since our last cruise so we're pretty excited for the chance to hit the seas again. The particular cruise we're going on is part of the RIAdventure social/tech gathering. I've always enjoyed hanging out with other programmers and tech folks at conferences, but the conference always occupies most of our time. This cruise is all about the social aspects but I'm sure there will be loads of conversations on ColdFusion, Flex, AIR, and rich Internet applications in general. When you get a bunch of geeks together you can be there will be lots of tech talk.

I believe there are upwards of 30 people going including Joshua Cyr, Dan Skaggs, Dan Wilson, Yancy Wharton, Jared Rypka-Hauer, and Todd Sharp. Since I'll be arriving a day before the ship sets sail, I thought it'd be nice to have dinner with anyone else that's already in Miami. If you're going to be in Miami on Sunday the 8th and you want to have dinner, give me a ring (just press the "Call Me" button in the right margin). Or, you can always leave a comment on this post or e-mail me.


Heading to the Big Easy

Posted by Aaron West at 10:50 AM in Dealerskins, ColdFusion, Personal

I'm attending the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) conference for the third time this year. Dealerskins has had a booth at NADA since before I started with the company and I've been able to work the booth three out of five NADAs over the years. This years conference is in New Orleans. I've only been to New Orleans once (Macromedia MAX conference, 2004) so it'll be good to go back and see the city again. I'm looking forward to talking with current and potential customers and getting to see all my colleagues from Dominion Enterprises. I'm also looking forward to showing off the results of all the hard work my team has been putting in over the last 12 months. We have some really awesome things to share that will energize current customers and entice new ones. If anyone is going to be at the conference, we'll be in Hall B, at booth #1021.

I'm gathering a few essentials this morning and packing my bags for an afternoon flight. I'll be in town from tonight until Monday morning. If anyone in the area wants to meet up leave a comment here, call my cell (you can call right from this page using the widget to the right), or hit me up on Twitter.


I posted a question to Twitter last week wondering if anyone knew of a site that would tell me how many tweets I post a day on average. Within minutes Andy Matthews (his site, his Twitter) recommended TweetStats. It took about 20 minutes for TweetStats to churn through my nearly 5,000 tweets and produce a graphical analysis of my activity. Since May of 2007 I've posted an average of 8.7 tweets a day, a number that seems kind of low to me. Perhaps more interesting than that are my lowest month of tweets - 55 in May 2007 and my highest month - 483 in May 2008.

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Update - Macbook Pro Versus Coffee

Posted by Aaron West at 11:50 AM in Personal, Mac

It's been several days since my Macbook Pro had coffee spilled on it and I still don't know how bad the damage is. I opened a service ticket with Mac Authority on Tuesday (January 6) and dropped off my laptop on Thursday evening.

I called Mac Authority Friday afternoon and the service guy (Tony) said there were 16 machines in front of me in the queue. He mentioned something about this being the busiest time they've ever seen in the service department. I asked him how long he thought it'd take to churn threw the queue and he said they might be able to get to my machine by Friday afternoon or evening.

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Sometimes when I'm sitting at my desk working, or driving around town, or doing something mindless like mowing the lawn, I think about things happening that would really suck. Sort of a deja vu kind of thing. I'm willing to bet you do this too. Perhaps you've seen misfortune thrust upon someone and you think: "Wow, glad that didn't happen to me." Well, one of those really sucky, really horrific things (to me) that I hoped would never happen, did.

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Following my recent post about The Bank of Time, Matt Williams posted the comment:

Yea, but who has 30 minutes to watch a talk on time management?

While Matt was being sarcastic his comment has a lot of backstory that I want to explore for a few minutes. I used to be one of those folks who always struggled to find the time to do the things I needed to do. I'd make excuses. I'd carry a bad attitude about the many things that weren't getting done. I'd overcommit and struggle to deliver. You see, I lacked an element of focus in my life. I opened myself up to anyone and everyone who wanted or needed something from and me and I genuinely wanted to accommodate them all.

I wasn't taking the time, to take the time.

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The Bank of Time

Posted by Aaron West at 3:09 PM in Productivity, Personal

I was watching Merlin Mann's Time and Attention Google Tech Talk (March, 2008) earlier where he talks about reshaping the stuff that comes at you to optimize your time, attention, and ultimately your results. Listening to him talk about renegotiating yourself and to whom you give your time and attention as well as redefining the culture of your team reminded me of The Bank of Time. I first heard The Bank of Time in 1996 while in college and it's something that stuck with me and has resonated throughout my life since.

The Bank of Time If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400, but carried over no balance from day to day, and allowed you to keep no cash in your account and every morning canceled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day, what would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!

Well, you have just such a bank and its name is Time. Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as a loss whatever of these you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries no balances. It allows no overdrafts. Each night it closes the record of the passing day. Each day it opens a new account with you. If you fail to use the day's deposit, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the morrow. You must live in the present - on today's deposit.

Invest it so you get the most in health, happiness, and success.

Are you drawing out every second of your day? What can you do to better manage your time and make the most of today? Ask yourself these questions and answer honestly. And if you want to learn a few tips to capitalize on your 86,400 seconds check out Mann's Time and Attention talk.


In just a few hours 2008 will come to a close and I'll ring in 2009 with my wife, son, and inlaws. This past year has brought some real challenges into my life many of which were unexpected. Fortunately, most of those challenges were met head on, were turned into opportunities, and then accomplishments. I played a major role in a very large datacenter migration project, one that involved months of planning and careful execution. That project, which migrated several thousand Web sites we host at Dealerskins was one of the most detailed, scary, and involved projects I've ever worked on. In the end it went very smooth. As they say, spend 80% of your time planning and 20% executing. Well, something like that anyhow.

There were several other major projects at work, some that took a matter of weeks and some that took over four months. During one part of the year I was managing over seven simultaneous projects involving four full-time Web developers, one DBA, two SQL Programmers, and one designer. It was super hard and I'm still learning while making a ton of mistakes. Many many thanks to the great folks that work with me at Dealerskins! It's been a pleasure working through the obstacles and challenges (and easy stuff).

Outside the office I was able to work on a few small consulting projects and create two new Web sites. The Nashville ColdFusion User Group site was a reincarnation of our previous site, and my wife and I launched a family blog at aaronandlindy.com. I continued to function as the user group manager for the NCFUG for the third full year.

During the last half of the year I had the pleasure of speaking at the BFlex conference in Bloomington Indiana, I wrote one article for the Fusion Authority Quarterly, and one article for the new magazine Flex Authority. Lastly, I served as an Adobe Community Expert for ColdFusion (Team Macromedia back in the day) for the sixth straight year.

I traveled to nine different cities spanning the east and west coasts of the United States including San Francisco, Cancun Mexico, and Norfolk VA. The year seemed incredibly busy to me but not when I compare it to other friends and developers (some who are both).

When I peer into my crystal ball I see 2009 being much the same as 2008. My travel kick starts again in a few weeks when I head to New Orleans for the NADA conference. Projects at work are more numerous than I've seen in a long time and we have plans to do some really great things for our customers (some of which have launched in the last two weeks).

On a personal front I plan to blog more, continue writing for magazines, and I hope to speak at more conferences next year. I also want to launch a new personal Web site, one that will replace trajiklyhip.com and trajiklyhip.com/blog. It's shaping up to be a fun and busy year.

To everyone who reads this I wish you and your family all the happiness and success you can stand. Happy New Year!!!


Yearly Blogging Stats

Posted by Aaron West at 11:08 AM in ColdFusion, Personal, Site News, Blogging

I took Ray Camden's lead and created a new BlogCFC stats page that allows me to display stats for the current year (year-to-date) or any previous years. You can pass a URL parameter called statsYear in order to filter by a specific year, or exclude the parameter to see the current year.

Looking through my blog stats over the past few years I was a bit suprised to see my blogging has tapered off since 2006. From 2002 through 2005 I posted 34 entries or less each year. In 2006 I ramped up quite a bit with 119 entries. 2007 saw a drop to 105 and this year I dropped even further to 89. My excuse? For one, having a child (late 2006) really threw off my evenings. It wasn't uncommon for me to come home and code for hours or write a few blog posts a week. Now, I spend most nights hanging out with my son. I also attribute my lack of blogging to the insane work hours I've kept. I took on a management role in 2006 that I thought was going to make my life less stressful. I was totally wrong. I find myself working 15-20 hours more a week and the type of work I'm doing is definitely more stressful. I've been twittering lately about my vacations encompassing hours and hours of work (examples here, here, here, and here). All of these things taken together mean I'm pooped at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is sit down and code or blog for hours.

In 2009 I need to find a way to cut the stress. This will not only allow me to blog more but also provide a better overall quality of life. To that end, my goal for 2009 is to increase my post percentage by 224% by posting 200 entries. This is an insane goal but I thrive on really difficult challenges.


During my commute to work this morning I began listening to TWiT episode 161 (click here if you have iTunes). In the first 27 minutes Leo Laporte, Jason Calacanis, and Andrew Horowitz talk about the current state of the economy and financial markets. They discuss whether you should be concerned about the economy, what you should do with your investments, how we got to where we are, and whether or not the government should get involved by issuing the bailout. It's a great listen from a few folks with tons of experience in our financial markets.

Jason Calacanis knows what it means to be an entrepreneur having started Weblogs Inc. (which he subsequently sold to AOL), serving as General Manager of the Netscape Web site, and more recently starting Mahalo - a human-powered search engine.

Andrew Horowitz is the author of The Disciplined Investor book and the host of the podcast (iTunes link) by the same name.

I found their thoughts and opinions to be informative and I encourage anyone interested in this topic to give the podcast a listen.


A few moments ago I spent an Audible credit on Al Gore's book Assault on Reason. After confirming my order Audible automatically began downloading part 1 and 2 of Gore's book. That wasn't anything unusual, but I admit I was surprised at the targeted user content displayed on the downloads page designed to guide me through the download process.

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