.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

I Hate Linux

Monday, April 30, 2007

Word 2007 Image Test

Lets see how well this works…

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A good day and a thank you

Much to my surprise... today really shaped up to be a good day...

Early on I made a trip to the hardware store to buy some screws and as part of my change got a 1958 silver quarter, the metal of which is worth about $2.

What were these screws for? My air-conditioners (yes, plural (20,000 BTU combined baby!)), something I wouldn't be able to install on my own very easily, let alone with my hands being problematic and lucky for me, my old college buddy Dan (tdaxp) was coming up for a visit to day so I decided to put him to work and in return I made him fall in love with the Xbox 360 and the game Oblivion (something I'm borrowing from a friend and not very fond of).

Funny thing though... he thanked me for the exposure to my setup... only I don't know why I should be thanked as I basically encouraged him to spend a good chunk of change. Personally... I am quite angry with the man who was there when I bought my xbox, hdtv, car stereo, sub woofers and amp, and deer rifle (separate events) as he caused me to spend a great deal of money (Bad Chad, bad!) and am surprised that I'm getting off so easy from Dan... or perhaps I'll hear about it from Lady of tdaxp... that is of course unless Dan utilizes the 48-Hour Rule.

If anything I wish to thank him for the visit as well as the lunch and beer he bought, but also for the assistance with the AC's... which likely not be turned off until late August (excluding power outages).

While he was here we also went out to lunch at the Hillside Resort, a nice little place off of Lake Madison that he'd never been to before.

I also got some major props for my weight loss (more on that on Thursday).

Later in the day after a walk to go see our old stomping grounds of Dakota State University, he felt a need for a beer and of the 5 bars that make up the '4 corners' region of Madison, only one was open... and much to my surprise it was not so much a bar as it was a rather nice restaurant that I will have to try at one point (stupid diet).

To top it all off... I learned about one of the key arguments made by Justice Kennedy in the recent decision where the partial birth abortion ban was upheld... the potential side effects from regret after an (partial-birth) abortion being reason enough to allow the banning of partial birth abortions.

Agree with the ruling or not... all have got to agree that it is at least an interesting bit of linking.

Aside from getting to see a friend I haven't for a few months and hear some good news from his world related to his upcoming trip to China. That's right... he's agreed to side with Taiwan on the proposed torch route. Sadly he didn't go for my idea last year of running around Tiananmen Square with his girlfriend (aka Lady of tdaxp) with one of them dressed as a tank... something about it being treason for her.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Darn, they fixed it

One of the few perks of not having a full time job is you've got plenty of time to watch tv... and right now I've got the joint news conference between President Bush and Japans Prime Minister.

Why is this blog worthy? For a good 5 minutes the Japanese PM was talking, the voice of the translator was at exactly the same volume as the PM's.

The result? Neither could be understood.

It took a minute to start up the Media Center and have it start recording FNC and sadly by the time that happened, they'd gotten to the Q&A portion of the news conference and FNC had fixed the volume issue.

Crud, it would have made a lovely YouTube clip.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Crossword Cheatery

Am I the only one who thinks that it's cheating for someone to get help when working on a crossword puzzle?

I just got a call from my mom, "I know you can help me with this one... 'Enterprise crewman', 4 letters, ends in 'u' "

The answer... Sulu.

But again... isn't that cheating? You should see the help she tries to get from me when I'm visiting her house with the laptop.

Office 2007 Post Test

One of the perks of my part time training job is access to free software such as Windows Vista and Office 2007... after all, if I'm going to ever train people on such things I'd better know them myself pretty well... and at long last I got around to installing Office 2007 Enterprise and much to my surprise, it has blogging support.

So far it's a heck of a lot better than w.bloggar (which hasn't been updated to support Google's new API) and doesn't suck as much as Bloggers online WYSIWYG editor.

I like.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Games on the interview front - Part 1

After leaving my job of 3.75 years back in February I didn't think I'd have much down time (due to surgery) in terms of being able to work so decided to use the intervening time for some job hunting and interviews. Later, when it became clear that I wasn't going to be able to work just as soon as I wanted, I decided to quit looking but talk to those who wanted to talk to me.
In both of these categories I've had a number of interviews, some good, some bad, and all certainly memorable and some... worthy of tale... such as this one.

After seeing a job listing looking for a software engineer with my credentials on Monster, I applied for the job with the company DT whose home base was a near by town via their and after a few days received an email with some forms to fill out (background check authorizations, etc) and was asked to send them back just as soon as I could... which was about 10 minutes later.

Nearly a week and a half later, I got a call from someone at DT named M asking if I'd had a chance to fill out the forms yet. I'd told her that I did and had sent them back just minutes later at 9:21 am. It took her a few minutes, and she thanked me for it and said that they'd get back to me.

A good week later I did, got a call from a gentlemen we'll call D and asking me to come up in about a week for an interview with 6 different people. I agreed.

Funny thing about this call was I got it while on my way to another interview which to is tale worthy.

Come the day of the interview, I accidentally arrived a little early and brought a book to read while I waited in the lobby and when interview time came around I kept it with me... which turned out to be a pretty important decision in retrospect.

At the end of the 6th interview I was told that they had one more person they wanted me to talk with, J from HR who would have some follow-up questions for me... and was told by the last interviewer that if he couldn't find her he'd let me know.

20 minutes went by and there was no sign of J... being a little cramped and what not from the previous 3 hours of interviewing, I stepped out of the room for a moment to go to the bathroom and upon returning got back to waiting.

A full 45 minutes after the previous interviewer was last seen or heard from, I checked in with the front desk to see if I'd been forgotten... they couldn't explain it. J should be around... but was no where to be found and after a few more minutes of waiting with them to track her down, they told me to go home and that she'd call me.

So I did... and heard nothing.

If memory serves, this interview with D was on a Monday morning... and on the following Saturday afternoon (~1:30) I got a call from S in the D HR department, asking me to come back again for an interview with 4 new people.

It had seemed that while the 6 folks I spoke to on Monday had really thought well of me, they thought I'd be even better in a separate group they have, one that was not represented the first time around.

Being puzzled about repeats I asked about who I'd be meeting with and found there'd be no repeats... and that the mythical J would be the 4th and final person.

I agreed.

Come the following Wednesday when the interview was scheduled for, I showed up on time and interviews with the 3 tech people 1 at a time (which is the way D normally does their interviews). #1 had read my resume but brought neither it nor anything else with (ie nothing to take notes upon). #3 had not even read my resume and took a few notes and #2 had brought both the resume and something to right on and we had a great discussion.

All in all despite the unpreparedness of #1 and #3, I thought things went pretty well... and once getting done with #3 one of the receptionists came by to give me the programming test.

Programming test? I'd known it was going to be forced on me... but I had no idea just how trivial it was.

Call me crazy... but when you've got a few years of programming experience under your belt and a couple degrees in the subject... if you are going to give a programming test, at least have it have some meat to it. Don't ask me to write some code to sort oranges by size and color, nor write a set of classes that inherit from one another (ie automobile, motorcycle and car).

After receiving the test I'd asked about J and was told that she had gone home early ill and that she had some follow-up questions for me and would call me soon.

Really? I've heard that somewhere before.

Fast forward nearly a week and I did receive a call... not from J mind you but from D on the following Tuesday... asking me to come up for yet another round of interviews. That was about the time I ended things.

I'd told him that I'd been promised a call from J not once but twice, and given this poor communication and the sense that there were some games going on... even if not deliberate, I had no interest in continuing to pursue a job with them... and even mentioned that this was not the first time that similar stunts had been pulled (more on that later).

I purposely left the phone call with D in such a way so as to evoke a call back from someone higher... such as the mysterious J... who I began to suspect midway through didn't actually exist.

I never received such a thing... not that I really expected it. D was a bit of a timid person and had the sound of being an intern to him... so I figured it unlikely that he was listening as carefully as I was talking or taking notes of any other kind other than my new found lack of interest in any kind of job with DT... which did seem to surprise him.

I'd mentioned that this was not the first time that I'd encountered some shenanigans with D... it was back in 2002 that I learned about a hiring process of theirs that I later had confirmed by several other people who'd been treated similarly.

Back in 2002 I'd had an interview with them for a programming intern and was drove up there to talk to them about the job... only to find out that the job had already been filled and was told by the interviewer "but I still really wanted to meet you."

There was a lovely waste of gas.

The 'interview' went well enough... and was assured towards the end that if/when they have such a position open in the future, that they'd call me.

They did... sorta.

3 weeks later I received a job offer from them... not for a coding one mind you, but for one of their unskilled minimum wage manufacturing jobs that are normally filled by students from the local university. My understanding is that these jobs tend to have a pretty high rate of turnover given the lousy wages and mind-numbingly dull work.

How can they get away with it? Plenty of the local students need resume experience in the industry and are willing to put up with a few months of such a job. The obvious problem though is that with a decent turnover rate, they'd need to draw in as many as they can even if each only lasts a few months.

In the months and years afterwards, I'd heard similar stories from people who went up applying for job DT, but were instead offered a manufacturing job and while I cannot say for sure if this is an official policy of theirs, it does at least seem to be a pattern.

I got the call

Friday afternoon I received the much dreaded call from the Sanford Health system... wondering when I was going to pay my bill of $2,528.98 as I've paid nothing yet this year.

I told the person on the other line what was going on, the fact that I am not employed full time and the bill relates to the Dr's attempts to fix my hands, something which are not yet fixed and until they are, I will not be able to return to work.

I was told that they some forms that they would mail to me to fill out, the exact nature of which I could not gauge. I'd asked if there is an electronic version of the form (web or pdf) that I could fill out instead.

Only one problem... the one thing that hurts more than typing... is writing. I've never had an easy time clutching pens and pencils for any length of time, in college I had a professor who I think took a perverse pleasure in never letting me use a PC to do my tests (even when I'd suggest unplugging it from the network and allowing me only to run notepad to type).

Historical note on this professor… only once did he let me do the work on the PC... it was the final of the last class I had with him... and now, I'm trying to talk him into hiring me to teach at the university that he's now a dean at.

Much to my shock though, there are no electronic versions of this form and it was told that I'll just have to find someone to help me fill them out... I love how easy they make such things sound... but then I should be surprised as this is the same health system that after my visit to the doctor on Wednesday attempted to schedule me an appointment to see a rheumatologist... the soonest one could see me in the Sanford Health system (aka, the recipients of 'the gift') was in mid-June... and only after I suggested checking within the Avera Mckennan system (the competing hospital system in the area) did they check and find they could get me in there in mid-May. Still bad... but better.

So now... I'll spend a few days filling out the forms and see if they'll hold off on the threatening calls and letter (which I haven't really received yet).

It is kind of a shame I can't play the 'warranty' card and say: "Shouldn't I get some kind of rebate as I went into have a specific problem fixed... and if anything, I've got worse problems today than I did the day I went in for surgery."

Yes I know... this is part of the reason that medicine isn't a science and because of the countless variables involved, no guarantee is possible unless all factors can be accounted for and mitigated.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Go(ne) west young man

This is part two of my "typing a whole bunch of nonsense to test out how well my hands are working post" Please forgive any out of the ordinary nonsensical rantings that may be found here.

Despite having grown up traveling to Mitchell, SD to visit grandparents as well as beginning college in 1999 in Madison, SD and living there fulltime since 2003... up until last week when I went to Rapid City, SD to teach a class, the furthest west I'd ever been in this state was Huron (which is only a few miles further west than Mitchell).

Pathetic to say the least.

While out there I did make it a point to make some of the necessary stops and one of the key ones was seen on my way back home on Saturday after a long week, that stop, Wall Drug where I found a cashier and said "I'm sorry... but I have to ask the horrible questions... where is the free ice water? And where are the signs?"

She laughed and said "Those aren't the horrible questions, the horrible question I get all of the time is 'this is it?'"

If you aren't familiar with Wall Drug... you should be ashamed, it's hard to avoid bumper stickers and signs for it even in other countries.

The short version of Wall Drug is that back in 1931, a gentleman by the name of Ted Hustead purchased the drug store in Wall, South Dakota and in an effort to drive business from the local interstate, his wife had the brilliant idea of putting a sign along the road, "Free Ice Water."

The plan worked, brilliantly, and as a result Wall Drug is now a tourist destination that has a variety of stores within... a diner, western wear, traditional tourist/novelty items (ie shirts, hats, shot glasses, spoons, etc)... and still a fully stocked drug store.

If it wasn't for Wall Drug, the town of wall likely would have died long ago like so many other South Dakota towns have and continue to do... and for all of those tourists who say 'this is it?' I would just remind them of the signs they saw... most of them told you exactly what there was to see/get... free ice water.

Another stop I made while out west was to Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, two sights I'd only seen in pictures previously and had to see for myself... if for no other reason than to take some pictures of the Channel 9 Guy in front of them.

Being a person who has come to know the east river side of South Dakota pretty well, I found the west river area to be strange and confusing... the land isn't flat you see, there are all these hills... and mountains... roads go up and down at strange times and sometimes quite sharply... not the slow and graceful assents and descents that east river folks are accustomed to.

Most puzzling... was the level of green.

Growing up in Minneapolis I came to know green pretty well... you couldn't get away from huge numbers of trees and a buddy said that when he moved to Phoenix, all of the green was something ended up missing.

Similar comments were heard several years ago when a friend visited MN with me and she was shocked to see just how much green there was.

East River we have plenty of green as well... only most of it is agriculture or shelterbelts around farm houses... west river though I was shocked by the number of trees made up the Black Hills as well as puzzled by the sort as I hadn't seen any like em in years:

Pre-Class Anxiety II

Note that much of the following was actually written yesterday morning (4/18) and was unable to be posted until today.

With a Dr appointment scheduled for 3 some hours from now, I figured I should do something I've been avoiding a great deal of during the last 2 months since surgery... type like a mad man and once again in support of that, a series of nonsensical blog posts that while they may not look like much, are intended to abuse my hands a bit to test some limits while simultaneously discussing things I've been meaning to for a little while.

Now then... as some know I've been doing some part time training in the evenings and last week was sent out to Rapid City, SD to teach a 5 day long class. Prior to class starting I felt similarly to how I did just before the first class I taught back in November... general performance anxiety which quickly went away once the class got rolling.

Ordinarily when I (or just about anyone else) teaches a class, I prefer a bit of warning so that I can prepare... not so for this one.

The class was scheduled to start on April 9th and the first I heard about it was March 28th. While a week and a half sounds like plenty of time... it's not when the boss leaves you a message asking if you could go to rapid and teach the class... leaving no specifics other than to call him back... so I did. He didn't call me back.

A few days go by and the following Tuesday I'm in the office prepping for my evening mentored learning and am told the specifics on the class and find out that in order to be able to teach it, I must be certified in the area, something I was not at that time, so, I took a quick look at the two books that covered the two required tests, laughed and scheduled the two tests for the next two days, Wednesday and Thursday.

I passed the tests without any kind of problem and got to some official prepping for the course.

You'll note that I have not discussed what kind of classes these were or what kind of certification it was for... I plan never to add the cert to my resume as it has nothing to do with my career field nor would it only hurt me if I were to add it to my resume.

Aside from making good money while there, getting paid the IRS mileage reimbursement rate of 48.8 cents per mile isn't half bad either (~837 miles round trip), not to mention some per-diem for food and miscellaneous expenses.

Needless to say, I can't complain. Now is the waiting for the paycheck to be drawn up so that I can apply the thing in it's entirety to some of the credit card debt I've built up while being mostly unemployed.

Speaking of money and living... I do have to mention that I find it funny that with all of the social welfare programs the Democrats have been pushing for so long... as far as I can tell (I have been researching), I don't qualify for any of them either because I am too educated, expected to be back to work within the next 10 months (god I hope), and/or unable to immediately take any job.

Back on the subject of the class... it went quite well... however I was forced to talk rather fast (something I have no problem doing (other people sometimes have a hard time following)) due to the amount of content we had to get through in the allotted time and in the end my students seemed pretty happy with what they got out of it and I got good marks as well... biggest negative I got was regarding one of the students PC's that broke during a demonstration (I suspect she pushed the hard drive over the limit) and given I wasn't using the provided instructor PC (I was using my laptop instead for PowerPoint and other demonstrations) she had a new one very shortly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Death threats and double standards

In the midst's of a discussion on the VTech massacre, one blogger (who will not be linked to her) advocated the killing of Michelle Malkin by saying:

And later updated the post to make things sound a little more sarcastic, jaded sarcasm he called it.

Only one problem, even sarcastically advocating/wishing the death of another person tends to be a no no in our culture.

To add insult to injury, he further amended his post several times to try to explain his actions:

Funny thing about this is in a later post he is critical of a couple of other writers (1) (2) who asks the question of why no one in the classrooms rushed the shooter. A reasonable question that I think many have also wondered... only to the blogger who wished for harm against Michelle Malkin he said:

Ok... he's made a case for a standard, but shouldn't that also apply to him? Or are jokingly advocating someone's death not bad? Are these comments also acceptable in his eyes?

Oh right... they are all jokes aren't they? Funny... I thought what Don Imus said was a joke as well. Granted, it was a very bad one and in poor taste... but tell me then, what is the difference between Don Imus and this gentleman? Why are his poor jokes and comments in good taste while those of Don Imus and Michelle Malkin are not?

Seriously, if there's something I'm missing here I'd love to know what it is.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

24 + Ryanverse?

As entertaining this season of 24 has been... it seems to be getting a little repetitive and borrowing from previous seasons and last night I was beginning to wonder if they were going to copy a bit from the Tom Clancy book Executive Orders... I figured the scene would go something like this:

President Palmer: "Jack... I cannot express the gratitude of this nation or my own personal gratitude for your having saved this nation from certain destruction yet again... in recognition of this, made possible by the recent resignation of the Vice President"

Jack Bauer: "Mr. President... I... WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR! Put down your weapon! Chloe... I need a favor... Get Down! Tell me where the bomb is or I will kill your son. When I'm finished with you, you're gonna wish that you felt this good again... ... ok."

In the next scene we see Jack Bauer sworn in as Vice President, only to see yet another terrorist attack strike down President Palmer, causing Jack to almost immediately be sworn in as President... only to see the recently resigned Vice President jump into the room and proclaim: "Haha! This is all wrong for you see... I didn't actually resign... after all, if I did, where is my letter of resignation? All that you will find is a small pile of ash in the garbage can of the Oval Office... I mean um... I'm really the President."

Such a twist would be only slightly more ridiculous than the current season has been... and probably about as entertaining as we would once again get to see Jack Bauer this time save the world single handedly... this time why while using Air Force Once to fly around the Los Angelis area rather than wasting all of that time on surface streets... almost makes me wonder how many air strips there are in the area that could accommodate an 747 and a presidential motorcade.

While pitching this idea to a friend and checking a couple of tidbits to see how well my memory was, I learned that the Tom Clancy book Without Remorse is currently being made into a movie with Joaquin Phoenix playing Jack Bauer like badass John Clark.

I have no doubt that some may think the casting a good choice... however I am not one of them and when I think about it a single line hybrid line comes to mind:

What they did to you Pammy... It vexes me. I'm terribly vexed.