word salad.

OR 2009

Last week I got the daunting task of attending the Outdoor Retailers Conference in downtown Salt Lake City. As you can imagine, for an outdoor enthusiast like myself, this was hell (kidding). Some of my favorite vendors included: Birkenstock, Life is Good, Salomon, Bogs, Dakine, Helly Hansen, Horny Toad, Marmot, Smith Optics, Tarma Designs, Timberland and Thule. I was also able to connect with several organizations and charities. I also couldn’t resist becoming a member of Leave No Trace, a nonprofit association committed to education and outdoor ethics. I didn’t leave empty handed; I managed to purchase both a dog toy from Katie’s Bumpers, and a hammock stand from Byer’s of Maine, in addition to the bagfuls of swag I got. I also got a prototype of a “GoGirl,” although I’ll let you look that one up for yourself!

It wasn’t all surfboards and camping gear though, our goal was to meet and greet potential users and clients. Although we got many leads and positive connections, it wasn’t quite as easy as we perceived. This was mainly due to the varying size of companies. Premium Services is ideal for businesses in any arena, whether it be for using it to train employees from a manufacturing standpoint or for state mandated or ethics courses. We kept running into the same issue; the companies were either a seven person operation, or a 700,000 person operation. Now, our target market is somewhere in between this spread. In a small company, training is as simple as yelling “Hey, don’t do that!” down the hall. In a bigger company they have a larger budget for Learning Management Systems, and most often have one in place. However, we did generate some leads and it was an excellent learning experience.

This week we are headed to OshKosh Wisconsin for AirVenture, which is coined as the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.” It’s a good thing I spent three days walking, and talking around the OR conference so I’m prepared for this week. We were excited to go live with the FAA courses and are incredibly lucky to have a partnership with them. I’m looking forward to having faces to put next to names and finding our place within the aviation community.


July 16, 2009, 6:28 pm
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We’ve changed our approach at LZ, and it’s paying off. After several weeks of pushing hard for Premium Services and running around like chickens with our heads cut off (who came up with that analogy?), we finally had a much needed re-group. In the re-group we decided to turn our tasks into a two week sprint with designated tasks assigned to individuals. I’m hitting the big stuff first, yesterday I published a course on the Swine Flu. If your curious you should take a look. There’s a lot of lengthy and scientific articles on the Internet about the Swine Flu, but I compiled an easy read with all the basic information you’d want to know.

In other news, my little Koda is getting so big!

dog pics 7-13-09 042

It seems like just yesterday she could fit in the palm of your hand! She is only about four weeks old, so I’ve got another four to go before I can to bring her home. If anyone knows how much I love animals, you better believe that she’s already got bones, toys, treats, and a bed waiting for her! I feel like this entry suddenly got exclamation point happy, that tends to happen when I’m talking about small, fuzzy things.

I’m considering bringing in some pictures of my cats to arrange on my desk. I was thinking that I could be the “Angela” of  the Office.


Why I Don’t Like Blackboard


When I was a student, the delegated LMS was Blackboard. Now, I know every system has its flaws; but how on earth did Blackboard become the Mecca of all online class material for colleges and universities? I know I’m not alone when I say quite frankly: I hated Blackboard. Here are a few reasons why:

  1.  I found its usability awkward. I’m pretty proficient when it comes to computers and the internet, but I always seemed to have to search around to find what I was looking for. It is rare I open up a webpage and feel bewildered.
  2.  This is probably my fault, but I was always doing things at the last minute in college. I missed several deadlines on account of the server always seeming to be down when I needed it.
  3. When the server was down, it was simply down. It wasn’t so they could add any helpful features or update their site. 
  4.  In some cases, using Blackboard in conjunction with a class seemed irrelevant and compulsory. Many of my professors detested Blackboard, and many didn’t really know how to use it or understand the purpose.
  5. On their website they claim: “Support: That’s our goal. To be here when you need help – easy to reach, with personal and knowledgeable support that helps you get questions answered.” It should actually read: “Support: We don’t really care, were busy. Not here when you need help-and hard to reach.”

Instead of updating their content or integrating new technologies, they just buy out their competitors. I don’t care about the benefits (there certainly are some), and I imagine it’s changed since I’ve graduated college-but a simple google search will conclude: I am not alone in my thoughts about Blackboard.

Cat Grooming 101
July 8, 2009, 9:58 pm
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If you have a job there’s a 99.9% chance that it causes you some kind of stress. I am allotting a marginal 0.1% for those rare people that could be standing in the eye of a hurricane, without so much as flinching. I know a few people who are actually like this, and I detest them like solely based on this fact.

I’ve been meaning to post a course to LearningZen for quite some time. I really had to sit down and think about what I had to contribute, what my area of “expertise” was. After a depressing hour I realized that courses like: “Cat Grooming 101,” and “How to Crotchet a Sock” would probably confirm to my co-workers that I was either a.) Really weird, b.) An eighty year old woman trapped in a twenty something body, or c.) Both. Then it occurred to me, “I know! I can become an expert on something.”

I spent the good part of my weekend pouring over website content and reading up about our little workplace friend: stress. The final product was this course on “Stress Management.” It focuses on stress in the workplace, but the tips and techniques for combating it could really be beneficial for any individual. It includes things you can do long-term to better your quality of life, as well as things you can do day-to-day in those ever popular moments of need.

In pimping myself I’d also like to mention the Blogging 101 course that my buddy Chris made. It’s a pretty general overview, as most “101’s” are, about the rules to live and die by in the blogosphere. He’s a rather seasoned blogger himself, you can find him in my blogroll, Thinking Out Loud.

In looking for a funny picture of someone grooming a cat to coincide with this entry I instead found this cat straight jacket for “easy grooming.” Pretty sure I would never be able to get either of my cats into this thing:


MJ Fix O’ the Day
July 7, 2009, 7:36 pm
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I figured that since you probably haven’t gotten your fix of Michael Jackson for the day (insert sarcasm here), I would provide you with the world’s greatest link. This link takes you to a virtual tour of what was MJ’s Neverland Ranch arcade. Now, I’m a player for the team “Jacko is Whacko” but I would seriously consider batting for the other side if I was allowed even an hour in this place.


Premium Services: Blast Off!


The date of July 6, 2009 has been looming in the future for the LearningZen team for quite some time now. There is a serious tone set in the office today; developers desperately pounding away on their keyboards, brows furrowed. The only noise I hear is the gentle whirring of modems and the almost inaudible mouse click.

Today is our launch date for premium services. I haven’t talked much about them in regards to the LZ site; we’ve been incredibly busy with other miscellaneous activities in conjunction with this. Premium services are a solution for companies, government agencies, or users who want their courses to be put behind a private portal. The initial package we’re offering is $4999 annually for unlimited access. When compared to most LMS systems, this is pennies. If you don’t believe me check out this entry on the Brandon Hall Research blog.

Another benefit is the power we give our customers; they have complete control of the content, and with the functionality of the site-you can be up and running in hours rather than days. LZ is streamlined for employee training or certification, but can also be used for general education purposes.

This is a big step for us; and we know that nothing happens effortlessly. We have worked hard and will continue to work hard on our premium services features. Many features have been developed (built in forums, discussions, messaging, ratings, and educator/student communication) and were anticipating our user’s reactions to implement future changes. The one value that is most important to us in being “available” to our customers. If you call us, you’re not going to get some half-brained operator who knows nothing about the product. In fact, there’s a good chance you could talk directly to me. On that note, I have far more important things to do in regards to premium services than post about it! Hope everyone had a great independence day!

July 1, 2009, 10:59 pm
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What exactly is the criterion for being a radio personality? Having talent, sharp wit, and an outgoing nature?

After a few months of careful analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that the criteria for being a radio personality is actually: 1.) Enjoying the sound of your own voice, 2.) Thinking you’re hilarious, and 3.) Not actually being hilarious at all.

Every morning on my way to work, I tune into 103.5, “The Arrow.” When the DJ’s aren’t bumbling like total morons, I’m rewarded with some marginal Classic Rock (it’s better than nothing.) Maybe I’m still relatively new here, but as far as radio stations that play the music I enjoy, it’s seems as though the pickings pretty slim. I am having an increasingly hard time lately because of “Jon and the Coach!” Every morning they regale their lucky listener’s with inane “you had to be there stories,” or jokes that are brutally beat until they’re rendered lifeless.

As with many things in life, Family Guy did this really great job parodying this phenomenon with a radio station personalities “Weenie and the Butt!”