Words of Wisdom: Learn From Your Experiences

Whatever you are going through can serve you.

Learn from these opportunities, lead your life and help those around you.

How to fire an employee

Letting someone go, regardless of the reason, is never an easy task. You are making a decision that is going to have an impact on someone's life, maybe even affect their family. However, when you are responsible for a business, you have a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of that business. Would you rather have the business fail? That wouldn't help anyone.

I've had to recommend letting someone go. I gave her every opportunity to prove herself. I was never unkind about it and felt it important to be honest with her. So many poor managers, colleagues and even personal friends often find it difficult to be honest when dealing with another person's weaknesses to their face which leaves that person upset and wondering why they were treated that way. You would probably too if you were in their shoes.

About 5 years later, out of the blue, she stopped me on the street one day. I didn't remember her at first. We had only worked together for a short period of time, maybe a week. Then she proceeded to thank me for changing her life for the better and told me that my recommendation pushed her to go back to school for a year, learn the skills she really needed and that she was now successful, making more money and much happier with herself and her life. She had been hoping to bump into me again one day to thank me.

I've had a few other similar experiences over the course of my career. Once someone's mother even call me to express gratitude for changing the course of her son's life in a significant way -- a year after he stopped working for me. Again, this was out of the blue -- I had never met or spoke with her before. In this particular situation, I had managed to avoid reaching the point of having to fire him.

I guess I am very fortunate that these people always did something positive with the feedback I offered them. Some people will never take it well. They will blame you or anyone they can find but will never take responsibility. I am not sure that there is anything you can do to help that type of person because they don't want help, just opportunities to blame others.

The way things work out has a lot to do with the kind of manager you are and the relationship you've developed with them.

If the person was good but just not good enough for your specific requirements, it might help you feel better if you do something to help them find another job where they would be better qualified, or show them how to get the training they need. Remember though that you should limit yourself to helping them. Don't try to do anything for them. Their best can only emerge from within themselves. Help this person only if they want to help themselves.

Just be sure you've talked with them about their situation and try to get agreement on the best course of action. It can help if you can get them to see how they might not be a good fit for the role and your business requirements. Help them see things from your perspective and maybe ask them how they would handle it if they were in your shoes. Remind them that you would like to maintain a good relationship with them and potentially work with them again in the future when they have more experience. That should help prevent things from turning ugly. If they do get angry, you can rest assured that you did everything you could for this person.

Do your best and treat them with the dignity and respect you would hope someone would treat you. In the end, that is all anyone, including you and your employee, can do.

Hope something in all of this helps. Keep what makes sense to you in all this and forget the rest. Not everyone is ready for all of this advice. 

Best regards,

Michael Milette

Words of Wisdom: Dealing with a Bad Day

We all have bad days -- we are just human. We can also move forward using gratitude in the present and focus on a positive future

Words of Wisdom: Write Your Future

Your future need not reflect your past for it has yet to be written.

Each day is blank page waiting for your new life stories.

Words of Wisdom: Focus on your future

Why is your car's windshield so much bigger than its rear-view mirror?
Because it's more important to focus on your future than your past.

So you want to install Moodle, eh?

There is an increasing number of businesses who are looking at Moodle LMS to meet their training requirements for their employees and/or their customers as an alternative to commercial LMS. Open source is a very attractive alternative to pricey licensing of commercial products or alternatives that lock you into either a contract, a provider or technology -- or all of the above. Have you considered giving Moodle a try?

Moodle Quick and Simple

The simplest and quickest way to give Moodle a try is to install a stand-alone instance of Moodle is to install it on your local Windows computer. If all you want to do it try it out and demonstrate it to others, this might be a good alternative for you.

You don't really need any special kind of computer to install on a standalone instance of Moodle and can probably even get it going on your home computer. It may not be lightning fast but it will get you up and running in quickly.

These special packages are great because they include Apache, MySQL and PHP all pre-configured and ready to go. You just complete the installation process like any other application and go to http://localhost/ in your web browser. Some systems don't work right away because some other application is using port 80 and will either need to be disabled (like IIS on Windows) or require a small change to an application's settings (like Skype).

Be aware that, while this is perfect for stand-alone use, this setup should not be considered secure and is therefore not recommended for general access from other computers on the network.

When downloading Moodle, watch for the latest "MOODLE_XX_STABLE" or Current Release versions.

How long it takes to install really depends on your computer. I've had some installations take as much as an hour while installing Moodle others on computers that have an SSD drives will be ready to roll in less than 10 minutes.

To support your initiative, you can also post questions in the Moodle community forums. They even have one specifically for Installing and Upgrading Moodle.

Installing Moodle on a Linux or Windows Server

Assuming your server is actually configured property and has all of the required modules installed and activated (rare), installing Moodle doesn't take long at all. For someone who has never done it, it probably takes about an hour or two in order to follow the instructions as long as your server is one of the ones that has installation documentation available on the Moodle site:

Keep in mind that the Linux instructions may vary depending on what version of Linux you are using.

If you've never done this before, you might need some help in completing some of the installation instructions as they don't necessarily assume you are completely new to this type of task.

TIP: I highly recommend that you use GIT to copy the Moodle files onto the server. When done correctly, it can really simplifies the task of upgrading Moodle down the road.

Happy Moodling!

Michael Milette

What do I master in life

Time should be spent mastering any skill you are passionate about that will lead you to where you want to go in life, whether that is programming computers or something else.

If you are not sure where you want to go, spend your time trying as many new things (not drugs or illegal activities of course) and doing your best to be the best version of yourself until you find it. You are better and more capable that you think. Only commit to things that are meaningful to you and be kind to those you meet along the way.

You will find fulfilment in life in those opportunities that enable you to grow as a person -- learn, experience, appreciate and patience (LEAP), in your relationships and professionally, as well as in the ways you contribute to the lives of others.

It is through a regular practice of growth and contribution that you will be exposed to new and amazing opportunities in life… if you watch for them. Practice gratitude for who you are, what you have and what you can do every day.

Keep what is meaningful to you in all of this and save the rest of this advice for later in life when you are ready for it.

Best regards,

Michael Milette

How to add SSL / HTTPS to WampServer

With the importance of HTTPS for security and SEO (according to Google), you need a development environment that lets you run your site locally on https. Unfortunately, right out of the box, WampServer only includes a parts of what you need to get your local web server running over https://localhost.

In this article, we will go over the exact steps you can follow to get HTTPS / SSL working on your Wamp Server. These instructions assume that you are installing the 64-bit version of WampServer for Windows to your c: drive. If not, just replace c: with d:. You may also need to change the version number in some of the paths depending on when you downloaded Wamp Server.

How to use WAMP + SSL to open localhost over https:

  1. Download & install WampServer.
  2. Open a command prompt (WindowsKey + R > cmd > click OK) and enter the following commands.
    cd c:\wamp64\bin\apache\apache2.4.27\bin
    openssl genrsa -aes256 -out private.key 2048
    openssl rsa -in private.key -out private.key
    openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -sha1 -key private.key -out certificate.crt -days 36500 -config c:\wamp64\bin\apache\apache2.4.27\conf\openssl.cnf
    Note: You can pretty much answer the questions any way you want though real answers are best. The one question that really matters here is the FQDN. It should be: localhost
  3. Using a text editor like Notepad, open c:\wamp64\bin\apache\apache2.4.27\conf\httpd.conf and un-comment following 3 lines:
    LoadModule ssl_module modules/mod_ssl.so
    Include conf/extra/httpd-ssl.conf
    LoadModule socache_shmcb_module modules/mod_socache_shmcb.so
  4. Using a text editor like Notepad, open c:\wamp64\bin\apache\apache2.4.27\conf\extra\httpd-ssl.conf and apply the following changes:
    Below the line: <VirtualHost _default_:443>, check the following parameters to ensure they are configured correctly and not commented.
    -------------------------------------
    DocumentRoot "c:/wamp64/www"
    ServerName localhost:443
    ServerAdmin admin@example.com
    SSLSessionCache "shmcb:c:/wamp64/bin/apache/apache2.4.27/logs/ssl_scache(512000)"

    ErrorLog "c:/wamp64/bin/apache/apache2.4.27/logs/error.log"
    TransferLog "c:/wamp64/bin/apache/apache2.4.27/logs/access.log"
    SSLCertificateFile "c:/wamp64/bin/apache/apache2.4.27/conf/certificate.crt"
    SSLCertificateKeyFile "c:/wamp64/bin/apache/apache2.4.27/conf/private.key"
    -------------------------------------
  5. Save the file and close it.
  6. You are done. To check the validity of file, at the command prompt, enter:
    c:\wamp64\bin\apache\apache2.4.27\bin\httpd -t
    and then use your web browse to go to https://localhost/

From this point on, you should be able to start, stop and restart Wamp Server and SSL-HTTPS will continue to work.

Enjoy!

Michael Milette

Information Overload? Refill your bucket

Your brain needs time to process information it is absorbing. If you don't give it that space, it may lead to information overload where you start to feel overwhelmed all the time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and experiencing information overload, try balancing your lifestyle. Here are some ways to refill your bucket:

  • Get away -- Take some time (12 to 48 hours) away from work/school and technology.
  • Reconnect with nature -- Go hiking or camping in nature -- tech free style!
  • Break your day up -- Take more frequent (like 20+ of them) but shorter 1-2 minute breaks throughout your day.
  • Physical activity -- Exercise 60 minutes (minimum 20) at least 4-5 time per week.
  • Physiology affects how we feel -- Stand up straight in front of a mirror looking at yourself with the biggest possible smile for 20 minutes a day. You'll be amazed at what this can do for you in just three weeks.
  • Watch what you take in -- Cook and eat your own healthy meals with friends whenever possible. If your friends tend to eat junk, find new friends to eat with.
  • Meditate -- regularly to clear your mind.
  • Socialize -- Spend quality tech-free time with friends and family who love and care about you, not just for what you can for them. If your friends tend to bring you down, find new friends. You become physically and emotionally like the seven to eight people you hang around with the most.
  • Laugh and cry -- emotional outlets can be a wonderful way to help reduce overwhelm.
  • Rest -- Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Despite what some people think, sleep isn't a bank. You can't save it up for a rainy day. Your body will overrule any willpower you think you have over it if it feels abused. If you've ever been sick, you know what I mean.
  • Contribute -- Sharing what you learned with others will also help your brain process what you are learning and help it retain more. This can be one-on-one, in discussion groups or in front of an audience (public speaking). Find ways to apply what you learn. Start a project or contribute to someone elses project.
  • Stop smoking -- It will literally kill you and those around you. Same goes for recreational drugs.
  • Information dumps -- can be in the form of writing articles for a blog, a book or publication. You could even do a vlog on YouTube.
  • Gratitude -- keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3-5 new things you are grateful for each day. One of these should be about someone you care about. Share that one with person each day. On days when you have trouble coming up with things to be grateful for, read your gratitude journal.

You are not a machine. Stop treating your brain as if it were one.

If you are already feeling down since more than two weeks, see your doctor. The longer you feel that way, the longer it may take to feel better.

Hope you find this useful.

Best regards,

Michael Milette

Unemployed and looking for a job? Congratulations!

Congratulations on your new job! Think of it as contract work where you get paid when you are finish the job… which of course is to go shopping 7.5 hours a day for a new job! Make the most of this time to also learn and grow as a person and contribute by sharing what you learn with others. Many unlucky people feel that they are stuck in jobs they don't like for years. This is a real opportunity for you to lead others by example. You got this! 🙂

Tip: Check your local library or book store for a book called "Book yourself solid" by Michael Port. If you don't like reading and are perhaps more visual, there is an illustrated edition too. He makes the whole process of marketing yourself to targeted employers a lot easier and more pleasant.

Some people have come back to me and say "But Michael, I am not looking for clients, I want to be an employee!" This is a matter of perspective.

Think of yourself as a product and potential employers as potential clients. Is there really that much of a difference between a client who is an employer and multiple clients? Either way, you are working for the people who are paying you. When you start to see yourself as a product that you need to sell to clients, you start to change the way you think about presenting yourself and start to realize that blindly submitting your resume on a website or by email is the equivalent of receiving junk in your mailbox. It might work but most of it will end up in the recycle bin.

A big part of Book Yourself Solid is about developing relationships with people, learning about your business including finding out what clients are looking for. Only when you have understood your potential client's pains and needs can you effectively market yourself in a way that will be meaningful to them. Networking has multiple advantages. First, you get to speak with people who wouldn't even consider interviewing you. This gives them an opportunity to get to know you and you to know them. If you ask the right questions, you can learn about their business including when and where they will need someone like you in the future so that you can be in the right place and at the right time. By the time you apply for a job, you'll be so far ahead of other applicants because you will already have a relationship with the employer. In fact, they may even contact you instead of posting the job. Did you know that 80% of available jobs are never advertised? This is why.

The choice is yours. You can either be part of the 80% of people competing for the 20% of advertised jobs or you can be part of the 20% of people going after the 80% hidden job market.

By the way, if you are going to spend time looking for a job anyway, why not look for a job that you can really enjoy? It requires about the same amount of effort and you, and your new employer, will be so much happier.

I am not affiliated with Book Yourself Solid or Michael Port. I just really like his approach to developing long term relationships instead of trying to sell yourself. Developing genuine relationships feels much more comfortable and, in the long run, is much more effective. It is a good practice that I recommend even if you are employed.