In my recent post I mentioned that a talk I attended made me think about some things. During the talk the the speaker mentioned resources, those you have and those you don't and how it affects your job. This made me realize that for the first time in my professional career I have every material resource I want or need. If I need software I get it, servers I get it, tools I get it; as long as I have a good reason and it isn't outrageously expensive (even sometimes when it is) my boss gets it for me. The one resource I am missing though is time. Many times previously in my career I didn't have the equipment or the decision power to implement, but I often was sitting on my butt twidling my fingers at times. This has almost totally been reversed. This was an interesting revelation. It is nice to be challenged but there is a point where challenge becomes unhealthy stress, I don't think I am at that point since I still enjoy my job. Also my current craziness is only at this level for at most a month a year, the rest of the time it is a little more calm.
August 2004 Archives
I am currently listening to the digital audio version of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. On my way home last with my condition deteriorating I was listening to a chapter about viruses and white blood cells. One thing that really hit home was the fact that feeling sick is most often caused by your body shutting down non-essential things to allow the white blood cells to muster defenses. One of the side effects of this is that people often go to bed since they are tired. This helps reduce the spread of the illness, especially if like me you have slept alone for 99.5% of your life (not counting sleeping with parents as baby). Just something to think about.
Well I only managed 8 hours today, 10 AM to 6 PM. I slept in and it helped some. Still don't feel right yet, hopefully sooner than later. Still working this weekend. School starts Wednesday, so by the end of next weekend the madness should mostly be over.
Well yesterday I started sneezing and was a little tired at work. This morning about 9:30 AM I began to get achy. As I drove home tonight I turned of AC and I was still cold, however I was hot at same time. Right now I can barely move. Fun times. I think I have some Flu like thing. I know many of you will say that I am working too hard and that is why I am sick, however more work doesn't make more susceptible to Viral infection.
My roommate was nice enough to get me dinner from McDonald's. I know not great but better than the nothing I have the energy to procure myself.
Today Bob Evans (yes thats him) author of Family Matters talked to the staff of my school and others we in our surrounding area. It was thought provoking. When I have more energy and time I will comment more.
Well so far this week (since Monday):
Monday - 12
Tuesday - 13
Wednesday - 10.5 (getting tired, didn't want to start something at 6 PM)
Thursday - 10.5 (even worse feeling)
Friday - Probalby diminished in some respects.
Saturday - Yes
Sunday - Yes
Monday - 12 hours
Tuesday - 12 hours
Wednesday - 8 hours
Thursday - 6 hours (Car fixing restricted me)
Friday - 13 hours
Saturday - 7 hours
Sunday - 9 hours
Next week will probably be similar. Yeah. I am catching up, not caught up yet.
Well due to my car problems and amazing work schedule I didn't really work out directly. I did spend lots of time running around and moving computers. Especially on the weekend running up and down 7-8 flights of stairs repeatedly. Not great but it is something. Also didn't get to weigh in today, next week maybe.
Well the part I broke only cost $3.59, however the labor to install it was close to $100. The rear driver side tire went flat as well on way to dealership. They called me and told me that the tire was done for now as well. I told them to put the previously fixed flat and the spare on. I was about to buy new tires anyway so I just went ahead and did it. Saturday morning I had 4 new ones put on first thing before going to work. Hopefully this ordeal is done now.
At my school we have a really nice 37" Sharp Aquos HDTV LCD. We normally use it just to show a semi-static web page at 1368x768. We also had a Samsung SIR-T160 hooked up to for DirecTV and local HDTV. It blew up sometime this summer. People seem to enjoy watching the Olympics so I brought in my extra Toshiba DST-3000 reciever. I hooked it up and turned on NBC HD, which is running Olympics in HD 24 hours a day. People literally stop in their tracks when they see it, the picture is that beautiful. The TV has its sharpness, brightness and contrast too high to compete with the environment but even with that it is an amazing picture. People keep asking why it is so good, hopefully they can see what HDTV really is now.
It all started Saturday afternoon. I noticed my rear driver side tire was low. I went and pumped it up as well as the other three. Then on Sunday afternoon the front driver side tire was totally flat. After AVP I removed the tire and put on a spare. I took the tire to Merchant's Tire where I bought the four tires including road hazard warranty. I dropped it off right before closing on Sunday. As I have said earlier I have been working lots so I left early today (5:45 PM, after starting at 7:15 AM) to go pickup tire. They told me it would take 1.5 to 2 hours to mount it for me. I decided to take it home and mount it myself. I proceeded to take off the spare (full size). As I was doing this I found the problem in the rear tire, a screw in the tire. Didn't remove it yet. As I got ready to put the real tire back on I noticed the shop had put the tire on backwards. My tires are directional radials and have a rotation arrow. Rather than make things potentially worse I decided to put the spare back on. As I was tightening down the lugs the one of the screw/spokes that the lug tightens to broke off. YEAH! Now I get to go my dealership tomorrow morning and see what happens next. This will of course make me late for work and more behind. UGH!
I went and saw AVP this afternoon. It is what you expect most likely. It actually had a fairly good storyline. The action was amazing, watching a predator and an alien beat the crap out of eachother was pretty cool. If you liked the Aliens movie I would recommend it. Probably better if R, but still good.
As I was helping move the couch last night I noticed that Karen's roommates had gotten a new Mitsubishi RPTV and they had a new HDTV capable cable box. However as I was looking at it I realized the cable box and their DVD player were curiously hooked up. The cable box was hooked up using standard coax to the antenna input on TV. Not composite, s-video or component; coax ARGH!. Then the DVD player was hooked up to composite. As I looked at the cables they had all the right cables they were just all hooked up wrong. After the moving was done I went to work fixing their setup. First I hooked up the HDTV to component. They didn't have a DVI cable or I would have used that. I went to the only channel they had that was broadcasting HD at the time which was NBC. It was showing the loop of the opening ceremonies. Karen was immediately amazed at the difference. I then went in and turned down the contrast and brightness a bunch, they were both almost at max. I also went in and looked the convergence which was way out of whack. I spent 15 minutes or so doing a quick touchup (needs another 30-45 minutes of work). I then went on to the DVD player. Again I got it hooked up to component and switched the DVD player to progressive. I also had to again fix the brightness and contrast, also the convergence is per resolution on this TV and seemed almost as out of whack at 480P as 1080i was. It isn't as perfect as I would like but it is much better than it was. Maybe it will inspire them to get it to where it should be.
Now I know most of you have done similar things as this story I will relate. I know I did. With my first real paycheck I went to Best Buy and purchased a 27" Sony TV and VCR. As the Best Buy guy helped me out to my car his immediate reaction was "This isn't going to fit". At this point I had a Honda Accord and I was like, sure it will. Well it didn't, at least in the box, out of the box it just barely fit in my front seat. A year or so later I did it again with a sub woofer I wanted, you think I would have learned.
Back to the story at hand. My friend IMed yesterday evening. She said she had bought and L shaped couch futon bed thing from Ikea. It came in two boxes, one that filled the inside of her Element and the other on the roof rack. Once she got home she quickly realized she had no hopes of moving these boxes by herself. Also the remnants of hurricane Charley were coming through the area and soaking the boxes even though they were wrapped in plastic. She did not ask for my help, however since I had nothing better to do I offered to go and help. It took a couple of hours and help from a neighbor for one piece but we managed to get it into the house and put together. It was pretty cool once put together too.
Moral of the story, make sure what you buy fits in your vehicle and you have some hope of getting it into your house. Oh and just to prove I have somewhat learned my lesson. About 2 years ago I bought a set of speakers and had the forethought to call Jerry and get him and his Jeep to help me get them home.
One of the things that I spent a good portion of a day on last week was the installation of a new BlueCoat SG800-0B. This is a web-caching appliance to replace our rapidly aging W2K/ISA2K box. BlueCoat used to be known as Cacheflow and is basically the only surviving web caching appliance maker. There were two main reasons I got this particular product. First, was to get a better performing and easier to manage (eventually) web caching solution. Second, was to be able to have a transparent proxy that can do authentication and tracking. The transparency was important as it would allow our teachers and students to longer have to worry about enabling and disabling the proxy server on their laptops when they left our network. In researching this product I read the document available here about configuring the appliance for transparency. Everything looked good. I also spoke to BlueCoat sales and tech people about my planned install. Lastly, I had a consultant from the reseller we purchased from True North Solutions come out and install the box. Later in the week I was testing the box before I switched over to it in production. It was at this point that I realized the box was not properly passing HTTPS traffic. I called BlueCoat and was informed that this was normal in transparent mode, apparently the box can't handle HTTPS in that configuration. Additionally I was informed that I was mostly running in an unsupported configuration. As I had gone through the process of purchasing and installing this device the problem of HTTPS was never brought to my attention. At this point I have the box in production and I will continue to investigate the HTTPS problem. I am just a little annoyed that none of the people I talked to brought this up as a problem. It also reinforces that I should be installing most of this stuff myself and learning what I need to do it. I was hoping for once I could rely on outside help.
What does 10 + 12 + 12 + 13 + 13 = ? 60 Hours, that is the amount of time I was in the building working last week. This doesn't include working from home for several hours on weekend as well, nor the 2-3 daily commute. Ugh, long week. I am really to blame for it all. I hinged much of this summers work on Windows XP Service Pack 2. When SP2 got delayed a few weeks in the stretch run it caused all of my time tables to get severely condensed. What I usually do in 2-3 weeks in July, I was forced to do in 1 week in early August. I am actually only about 75% done, but I got done what was immediately needed. Hopefully by the end of next week I will be totally caught up. Wish me luck.
Well I just had my weekly weigh in, down 3 pounds. Not too bad. Pretty amazing considering I only worked out Monday and Tuesday and ate pretty much like crap. Just have to see if I can keep this up.
Football and HD are a good thing and this year there is lots of it. This year there is Monday Night Football every week on ABC, Sunday night football on ESPN, CBS is showing three games a week and FOX is showing three to six games a week. Add all this up and it is eight to eleven NFL games in HD per week, outstanding. I figure by next year all NFL games will be in HD which will be awesome. Can't wait for the regular season.
Well 10 hours yesterday and 12 hours today, it looks like my yearly late summer crunch time is truly upon me. Yipee.
My co-workers were able to finish every faculty machine we had on hand at the beginning of today by the end of the day. That caught us up fairly good after the delays of next week. Now I just need to get the rest of the images ready for students machines and desktops. At least I have no more major roadblocks other than time.
Well as I mentioned I started working out again for the first time in a while. To go along with this I figured I would weigh myself. The last time I had my weight written down that I could find was January of 03 so it has been 18 months or so. I am now 22 lbs heavier than then, ugh. I knew it wasn't great due to ill fitting shorts, just didn't realize how bad. Now the question is can I turn it around?
When you have to have a storage cabinet for your drinking paraphernalia is it too much. A drawer for the beer bong, a drawer for the beer pong kit of solo cups and ping pong balls and one for expansion. Is that too much? Well this is from a guy with 6 computers in his bedroom, so what can I say.
On Monday we began backing up and re-imaging faculty laptops. At that point acting on the best information I had I suggested we wait to finalize until Thursday for Windows XP Service Pack 2. Well Thursday came and went and nothing, so I was looking a little silly. I had luckily updated the images as much as possible minus SP2. My co-workers re-imaged all the machines with that version of the image just in case. Today at about 1:00 PM SP2 was released to Beta Testers such as myself. I found it shortly thereafter and began downloading. It stopped once and had to be restarted, the download app handled this perfectly. I luckily got in before "THE WORLD" started downloading and I got it fairly quickly. By about 3:30 PM I had it downloaded and extracted and ready to go. I updated 2 of 3 immediate need images and have them ready to go for Monday morning. The third will be done shortly thereafter. I can now sleep easily this weekend knowing that my predictions and timing weren't a total waste. Huzzah!
After a week and a half of not working out I returned to it this week. I started back up on Tuesday and continued through Friday. It took me a day or two to get back up to full force, hopefully I can continue the momentum.
Well it appears that my losing it was for a good cause. The third party apparently recommended to the parents to buy the model we suggest. In the end the student wins and that was my goal all along. Still not happy with my methods though.
Ok so today I totally lost it. I am more mad at myself than anything else, I am better professionally than the way I acted today. Before I explain what happened I want to give a bit of a back-story.
I really like my current job, probably as much or more than any other job I have had. One of the things I like about it is that I have a singular purpose. That purpose is to make the laptops and network work as best as possible for the students and faculty. Everything else is secondary. There is one reason I am there, to help in the education of students.
As I mentioned that entails the laptops. All students grades 7-12 have their own laptop, which they own and not the school. This means that they must purchase the laptop and then the school sets it up for them to work on the network. My boss and I agonize over which models and manufacturers to go with. Then my boss spends 2-3 months trying to get the cost as low as she can for the parents and students. I think we do a pretty good job of this, I am not saying we are perfect but many of the problems aren't directly our fault. Sometimes companies just make bad products.
During the buying process we have three types of parents. First, the parents that don't really know much about computers and just trust in our judgment to not steer them wrong. Second, the parents that know a little about technology and ask questions but don't really know what or why they are asking. Lastly, the parents that are tech savvy and either understand that we do our jobs well or do their own research to verify. The first and third type of parents are fine, it is the second group that causes me stress and heartburn.
After the buying process and once support begins we again have three types of reactions. First, those that are oblivious mostly and just go with the flow. Second, those who have never really dealt with tech support and think we do a horrible job. Lastly, those that have dealt with tech support in their own companies or directly with manufacturers and realize the amazing level of FREE support we offer. Again the first and third are ok, the first isn't great but ok. It is the middle type that turn into a vocal minority that again cause me stress.
I think that is enough back story, now I will get into today.
I got a request to call a "person" to talk about the details of our laptop program. This person was not a parent but rather a go between trying to act on behalf. The situation was further complicated since the divorced father didn't want to give the divorced mother any more than absolutely necessary for the daughter's computer. I field calls all the time from parents and sometimes intermediaries on how, why, what we do for our laptop program. Today I called back this person to try and help them out with information. This person fell into the middle category above, knew enough to question but not enough to understand. Also since the person was acting on behalf of the father they seemed immediately hostile toward me.
It started with the person quoting a price that was 33% higher than should be for our package for students. Then as the conversation went on the person kept saying things like the machine was too expensive and old technology. When I explained it was a tablet machine, the person had NO idea what that was. I tried to explain all the requirements and then what it means to buy outside of our program. Inside the program, (re)imaging, repairs and any other support is done free of cost. This is mostly because we know the machine and can efficiently support the machine. As I explained that if a machine was brought on campus outside of the program the machine would need to be imaged for a fee and made to work safely with our network.
All throughout the conversation the person had been implying and insinuating that myself and or the school is making profit of the laptop program. This couldn't be further from the truth, the laptop program as a whole is a huge cost for the school. Yes the school's budget comes from tuition however the laptop program is part of the school's philosophy. When I mentioned the fee for building an image (which takes about 8 hours per laptop model, whether there is one or 150 of them) the person said that what we were doing was "disgusting." I am not certain that is the exact word but it is similar, I can't remember because that is where I lost it. I started screaming at the person and I was so mad that I was shaking.
There is one thing that I take great pride in, that is my work and my integrity with regard to it. This person was insulting me, the work I do and the place I work. I just lost it. I can't believe this person was able to push my buttons that way but they did. I can't remember the last time I was that angry in a work environment, or how unprofessional I was. It was just the non-stop barrage of this persons tone and snide remarks about how I was doing this for my own gain or the school's. I know how hard my boss worked to get the price she did and how hard I and my co-workers work to make things as best as possible.
Oh and a side note since this person said we were ripping people of for imaging. Have you ever seen a company that just allowed any random computer on their corporate network. Also have you ever seen how hard it is to support 500 different models rather than 100 of 5 models? It isn't easy with only 5-10, it isn't possible with 100's of models. The environment becomes constant triage to just get the machines barely functional. If you talk to any of our teachers that have gone to school's that allow any laptop in they can vouch for the utter nightmare it creates.
I think that is enough justification for my being for one night. I was just hoping that by writing this out I could calm down and relax a bit. If you made it this far thanks for reading.