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Subject:Ye cats, people!
Time:02:08 pm
Current Mood:depresseddepressed
At times, I really despair about the human race. Today's case in point, from an article about the current status of cleanup in Galveston after Hurricane Ike:

[Person] said he had tried three different times in the last 24 hours to get on the island. He said he waited in line for three hours before his final rejection Wednesday. "I don't understand this. You see those other people," [Person] said, waiving at utility workers and contractors being let on to the island. "They don't even live here, I live in Galveston."

Now, I can understand being upset and concerned about the status your home is in, after something like Ike. But ye cats, people! The mayor and other city officials have been evacuating even the people who stayed on the island because the infrastructure in Galveston can't support them. The utility workers and contractors this person is complaining about are the very people needed to get things back into condition for people like him to return.

What about this is so hard to understand?
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Subject:I just had to laugh...
Time:12:11 pm
Current Mood:geekygeeky
From Nine Characteristics of Free Software Users:

For the most part, the purely desktop user's sensibilities are not sapping the free software culture so much as being accommodated and isolated as a special case. Unless they are content to stay in their normal routines, within a year or two, desktop users will face some problem that they cannot solve without becoming either more adventurous or more in contact with the mainstream culture. When that happens, they will have taken the first steps away from being passive consumers and towards becoming the owners of their own machines.

Yes, all those poor deluded 'normal users' will soon find the True Path to understanding and mastering the machine. Uh-huh. I especially like the way he refers to a minority of computer gurus as 'the mainstream culture'.

I've been interested in computers since the late 70's. I lived vicariously through the pages of computer magazines of the time, until I could finally afford to buy my own. I watched as the 'business computer' shifted from custom-built S100 systems running CP/M to the IBM PC platform. And perhaps more to the point, I lived through the first great 'home computer' wave.

Back then, everyone involved with computers seemed to assume that the world was moving in the direction of understanding and working with the guts of the system. Magazine pages were filled with program listings in BASIC (with the occasional program in Pascal, Forth, LOGO, or other language). Everyone would learn to program - if this wasn't being stated explicitly, it was taken for granted. We were headed towards a Brave New Computing Culture.

Except that it didn't happen.

Some of those kids did learn to program their Atari 400s and Commodore 64's and TRS-80 CoCos and TI 99/4As. And some of that first generation of 'home computers' did become hobbyists' dream machines, and bridged into the wider world of computers. But an awful lot of them just got used to play games... and when people grew tired of them, they sat in the closet. The bubble burst. No true next generation. No legacy, beyond that minority of hobbyists that bloomed. The Dream of a great society, the general public, that learned to program - to get inside the machine to make it do what you wanted, to control it fully, to hack - was just that... a dream.

I believed in the Dream, back then. I don't any more. Computers didn't become widespread in society as a whole until they became usable without having to know how to program, or even learn much about the depths of the machine. Visicalc was the opening wedge, prepackaged business software for the IBM PC/MS-DOS platform the follow-on, and the GUI brought the flood.

So yes, I had to laugh when I read the conclusion I quoted above. Rather sadly, but I had to laugh. The public at large is not made of computer geeks, and it never will be. There are some good reasons for this; heck, I have to admit going that way myself. I don't have time to audition multiple competing very-similiar-but-tweaked-to-fit-[x] applications any more, or spend hours tweaking environment variables and pouring through preferences to get my system set up Just So. I don't have time to figure out badly-written man pages or interpret text-based config files. I don't mind being able to poke around when I have the leisure time, but when I want to use it I want to Just Use It, with no messing around. It's no fun having to open up and tinker under the hood when I want to be barreling down the interstate at 70 mph to see the Royal Gorge.
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Subject:Well, I'd had hopes...
Time:11:11 pm
Current Mood:rejectedrejected
Garmin has been one of my top prospects for job hunting since I got let go from my old job. (For those who don't know them, Garmin is one of the top two or three makers of Global Positioning Satellite systems in the world - not just the consumer-level car navigation systems, but naval and aeronautical as well.) They're close - their world HQ is literally a couple of miles from my house. According to a friend who knows folks there, they're hurting for people right now. But perhaps most important for me, they look like a place where I could really make an impact - after years of basically ignoring the Mac, they've started moving towards full support, so it sounds like a situation where my 20+ years of Mac experience might be really valuable.

Unfortunately, the kind of position I'd want to be filling isn't something that typically appears, at least as such, in the kind of job descriptions they've posted; they're typically fairly specific 'Level 2 IT Support' rather than the 'help build a Mac department' that I'd want to do. Still, if I'm going to have a chance at this, I figure I have to get a foot in the door somehow - if not at the interview stage, then by finding a more traditional position there and working my way up.

First time I applied to Garmin, for a generic IT support position back in July, never even heard back from them - which is probably the most frustrating thing to deal with, as you're facing a black hole and you have no idea whether anyone even read it.

Then this weekend, I found a listing for them that looked a lot more promising fit, both of interest and of skills - a 'consumer product technical writer' position. Even better, when I went through the online application, their questionnaire asked for specific skills I could point to: Journalism degree, experienced in using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign in a professional setting.

I was hopeful... until today, when I got a thank you for your application, 'We have carefully reviewed your qualifications and experience and are unable to offer you employment at this time.' Oh well. At least this time, they not only responded, they responded quickly, so I'm not left hanging for weeks. Better luck next time, I guess.
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Subject:!@#$!@# AT&T broadband
Time:08:33 am
Current Mood:frustratedfrustrated
Not Happy with AT&T at the moment.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided (what with all the time I've been spending out of town) that I would be better off switching my local phone service to cellular; I was tired of paying $80/month for the combo of local service, Long Distance, and DSL when I used the phone maybe a couple of hours a month - especially when at least a third of it was just 'dialtone' charges that I had to pay no matter how little I used the phone. When you combined that with the chance to snag an iPhone with little investment (bonus consulting job combined with price drop and special refurb unit) and spending a little less per month for greatly expanded capabilities, I couldn't resist.

Since everything was AT&T - my old phone service, my new wireless service, and the DSL service - I didn't think getting everything set up and working right would be a problem. Unfortunately, there was about a week's gap between when I put the order in (and the new phone started working for outgoing calls) and when the home number got switched to the new phone, and I had no idea when I'd need to do something about the DSL - and I didn't get any contact from AT&T on the DSL part of the service. So it just went off last Tuesday, while I was out of town. Fortunately, I found out fairly quickly, since I stopped being able to connect to hy home server, and went into a AT&T store in Wichita to see about getting it turned back on.

The local guy was pretty cool and did his best to help me, I think, but the earliest date he could confirm for me was October 1 - almost two weeks in the future - though he said he'd try to get it moved up, and would call me if he could. I called back Thursday to follow up, and again on Friday, and didn't get a call back either time. So today I tried calling the national AT&T number. @!#$!@#$!@#% After waiting on hold for 5-10 minutes, and explaining the situation three times, the rep finally said they couldn't help me and they'd have to transfer me to AT&T Wireless. Where I waited on hold for another five minutes and got disconnected. And the second person I talked to nearly made me burst a blood vessel when he said he couldn't find my order, and the order number I had checked out as a local phone service install here in Wichita. The third person I talked to finally was able to track down my order and my new account number, and while she couldn't speed up my order (still have to wait until next week to get service back) she did offer me a free month of service. So at least I'm no longer ready to kill someone, and with Mom coming down this weekend, I hopefully won't be missing it too much.
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Current Music:Music from the Right Stuff
Subject:Well, today was interesting...
Time:09:47 pm
Current Mood:quixoticquixotic
My Wichita client has been dealing with a sick daughter and visiting family the last couple of days, so the consulting life has been... rather odd. He's been rather distracted; I've managed to get some work done, including the commissions section and a start on the main accounting reports, but the main issue of the last couple of weeks has continued to hang fire because we haven't been able to sit down for the few hours of focused discussion needed to get over the hump. (The issue itself is rather a messy one, with customer contracts handled in a varying and inconsistent fashion depending on how they were sold, what time of the year they were sold, and what the renewal date was, making it very hard to handle it in a clean, consistent fashion.)

One thing that did happen that was a lot of fun was related to the visiting family, who happened to be an old Cessna 195 enthusiast. Cessna's world HQ is here in Wichita, so a Cessna 195 enthusiast group holds an annual fly-in at a small airport north of town. (And the Cessna president was even up there for a little while.) My client knew I loved old airplanes, so he dragged me along to meet his cousin, and even got him to fly the both of us around for a little while.

See pictures here.Collapse )

All in all, it's been a strange consulting gig at times, but a fun one, and my client is very good about not penalizing me when confusion and unplanned events on his end keep us from getting work done.
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Subject:Just a quick update...
Time:04:38 pm
Current Mood:pensivepensive
For those who hadn't heard yet, I got let go by my old company about a month and a half ago. It was an emotional shock at first, but to be honest my main feeling is relief.

In the last year and a half, since my old boss left, I'd been under an increasing amount of stress at the office. I was having to take on duties that had nothing to do with computer work - like city deliveries - because no one else wanted to do them, and I looked like the one doing the least important work. The end result was that I spent the morning doing invoicing and other management-clerical work, the afternoon doing deliveries, and having to squeeze all my old job responsibilities into the cracks in between. (And if you think there's something funny in a computer specialist doing deliveries, you're not the only one.) It was a situation that had grown intolerable, and about the only thing keeping me there was a residual loyalty to some of the people there - and not wanting to throw away an investment of fourteen years of my life. I had finally started looking at alternatives when the hammer fell, so at least all they ended up doing is jumping the gun on me.

Right now, I'm in pretty good shape financially; I had three weeks of paid vacation that I hadn't taken and was paid for, and my consulting client in Wichita has me on a fairly extended gig working on a major project we never really had time to start when I was working full-time. It's paying about the same as I was making weekly at my old job, so I'm good until it's finished, with a three week cushion to go job-hunting. I'm tempted to see if I can make a go at database design full-time, either independently or with a temp agency; the last month and a half is the happiest I've been in years, from a work standpoint. I've done some preliminary looking and most of the openings I've seen so far have been the IT equivalent of menial labor, with little or no creativity involved. (And on a side note, warning sign for an IT job description: 'Must be able to lift 35-50 pounds.')

Hopefully I'll have more time/energy to post here, now that my energy's no longer being sucked away.
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Current Music:Kronos Unveiled-Michael Giacchino-The Incredibles
Subject:Review: Doctor Who season finale, Doomsday
Time:09:17 pm
Current Mood:artisticartistic
And to get back into the swing of writing, here's a review I wrote for the final episode of the second season of the Doctor Who revival:

This was a pretty good episode. The problem is that last week's episode demanded a follow-up that was great, even epic; and while Doomsday tried, it wasn't able to make it. (I found it ironic watching the accompanying Confidential after writing this bit, and hearing the production staff use the same word - epic - without managing to achieve it.)

All the involved and spoiler-ish stuff behind the cut...Collapse )

I think the key phrase for this episode, for me, is 'entertaining in spite of itself.' In the end, it was still fun to watch, but there were too many points where the plot took very sloppy shortcuts to get a particular scene or a particular resolution, and only some top-notch work in the actual direction/production/performance was able to save the moment. (Which is probably why the epilogue failed for me; the performance wasn't able to carry off a plot/character moment that I disagreed with.) That's why the episode was also ultimately disappointing; if the same talent had been applied to ideas and plot points that had some thought and depth to them, this could have been a truly great episode. As it is, it couldn't live up to the promise of the prior episode, and that's a shame.
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Current Music:Dream Away-George Harrison-Time Bandits
Subject:So... long time running...
Time:09:14 pm
Current Mood:blahblah
Yeah, been a while. For a sample of what life's been like all too often lately - was sent out on city deliveries for work today, trying to get done and back in a hurry so I could do the normal Monday sales reporting today, so it didn't add to what's looking like a real busy Monday. I was thinking about the Wichita guy I do some consulting work for, figured that if he wanted to do some work this weekend he'd already have called, and called Dad and arranged to come up and visit him in Des Moines this weekend. Then at 4:16, Wichita guy called, needed to do some work yes after all, and would be out of town the next couple of weekends so couldn't do it then. Guess where I'm heading tomorrow morning?
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Subject:Yet another quizilla meme...
Time:12:26 am
Current Mood:tiredtired
The Dog
DOG - Your daemon may be a dog if you are loyal and
caring, and like to know what is expected of
you. You probably are very family oriented, and
have a small group of friends that you are very
close to, rather than a large group of
acquaintances. You dislike confrontation, but
you will stand up and fight for the people and
issues that you really care about. You may
prefer someone else to take the lead in a
situation, although you would rather take the
lead yourself than have the situation fall
apart. You probably enjoy routine and order,
but that doesn't mean you don't like to have
fun. If anything, your friends probably know
you for getting intense, child-like pleasure in
the small things in life.

What Is Your Daemon?
brought to you by Quizilla
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Current Music:Fire in the Hole-The Elders-The Best Crowd We've Ever Had
Time:08:21 pm
Current Mood:ditzyditzy
LiveJournal Username
Choose a Weapon:
Favourite Colour:
Manages to shot themselves in the leg:seangaffney
Gets ganged up on by everyone:rodney_m
Can't figure out how to use their weapon:shizukun
Looks like they are in the Matrix:arconius
Shoots randomly around the room:wombatlord
Stays at home and eats Ice Cream:genchaos
Number of bullets you fired:105
Chances that you survive the battle:
This Fun Quiz created by Melvin at BlogQuiz.Net
Sagittarius Horoscope at DailyHoroscopes.Biz

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[icon] From the Wandering Powerbook...
View:Recent Entries.
You're looking at the latest 10 entries.
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