Work 2008

It can't rain all the time...

There are few things more frustrating than when a needed Web-based service goes down either temporarily or permanently.

Right now, I'm attempting to do some work and a service that I rely on seems to be down. I can get to the login screen and enter my password, but then my browser sits there chugging through the login javascript for several minutes before returning an error message. I've tried nearly a dozen times now in multiple browsers (just in case) and nothing. And I know it's not my computer or Web connection as this is the computer I've always used with it and I can access pretty much anything else on the Web.

Currently, I have three projects that require me using this service. By the end of the day, that count is guaranteed to go up by one and another by tomorrow. This count could potentially increase more than that with other unforeseen events. Thursday is my big day when it comes to this service and, as you would expect, this is the day it goes kablooie on me.

Most people would tell you to have a secondary service ready to go as a backup. But that requires paying out extra cash for something that will wind up being used once or twice a year and then it would have to be configured to do what we want it to the way we want it to and, well, it would just take more time and money than it's worth.

I'm getting really sick of waiting around for this and not so much as a downtime message on their homepage.

Web (and its users)... sometimes I love you; other times, well...

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, I know my brief experience with Iowa was, well, sketchy, but damn, what has it done to deserve the heavenly pounding it's been taking lately?

First it was the tornado that pummeled Britt's hometown.

Then it was flooding that left approximately 1/3 of the state in tatters (and also drained a lake in Wisconsin... drained a lake! Have you ever heard anything more unreal?).

Next came a tornado that touched down in a Boy Scout camp killing four teens.

Then it was more rainfall.

I know I'm not the biggest Iowa fan in the world because of what my old roommates put me through in my brief time there, but dayamn! What in the holy hell can they possibly expect next? Locusts?

Take my breath away...

I'm not sure if I'm being targeted or not with this little tidbit. Let me know what you think.

All the bathrooms where I work are equipped with those automated air freshener dispersal units. A pretty cool device that makes the bathroom smell nice even after someone makes it smell, well, not so.

My concern arises in that it seems as though it always sends wafts of "freshness" into the atmosphere anytime I'm in there. I could just be washing my hands and nothing else and it'll go off. Whatever the case may be, though, it always puffs while I'm in there, without fail.

So, as you might expect, I begin to question if this thing works on a timer and I just always happen to be in there at the exact right moment or does it have some sort of smell sensor and it knows when the air is bad? Is this device trying to tell me something?

All I keep thinking is Top Gun... "Slider... * sniff sniff *... you stink."

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm starting to wish I was Scottish, because the appeal of owning and wearing a Utilikilt is truly growing on me even if the thought might terrify the rest of the world. You gotta watch the commercial on the homepage and just try to tell me it doesn't remind you of a colorized version of something you'd see in Clerks. Then go in and watch some of the fan-made commercials that they have archived. They're hilarious.

It's a small, small world...

Just as a note, last night with Avitable and Karl was fun. Sadly, babysitter issues kept Miss Britt from being able to join us. Babysitter issues in that Britt has probably now killed her.

We hung out and talked for a bit and then got dinner at Raglan's, an Irish pub in Downtown Disney. Good food, Guinness on tap, and Irish music. Hard to go wrong with that combination.

I'd like to thank both Avitable and Karl for coming out and tell Britt that we missed her.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Here are 10 things I've learned, or have been retaught, while down here in Florida...

  1. No matter how many times I repack, I'm always going to overpack.
  2. More hotels have laundry facilities than ever before; but finding time to use them is the trick.
  3. Disney can pack a lot of people into its parks... a lot. But, thankfully, they have the public transportation thing down to a science.
  4. It doesn't matter what odd night of the week you're going out; if it's in Disney, it's gonna be busy.
  5. Finding WiFi connections is easy; finding free ones, not so much. Seriously Disney, $195 for a 24-hour WiFi connection? Are you freaking kidding me? At home, I pay $195 for DSL service, but I get 10 months of it and the WiFi is free with my own hardware. And a hard-wired connection in my hotel room for the same amount of time is only $9.95. Am I really supposed to believe your WiFi is worth an additional $185.05? Guess I won't be able to get work done remotely.
    (thankfully, I just found out that my conference sponsors set up a free WiFi hotspot; I wonder how many people are going to glom onto this one?)
  6. I love vacationing, but 95% of hotel beds suck; this one is no different. Same goes with showers. The TSA needs to make allowances so that travelers can bring a pipe wrench and replacement shower head with them in their carry-on luggage and not be red-flagged at security checkpoints in airports. Hotel showers are no comparison to the comforts of home.
  7. Considering how entertainment minded Disney is, you'd think they'd have nicer TVs in the rooms than an old 15-inch tube with bad picture and sound. I know you're supposed to be out and about in the parks, but eventually you have to go back to your room, so make it worth our while.
  8. I am going to be soooo far behind on blog reading and comment replies when I get home that hari kiri might be a viable alternative.
  9. Conference check in takes 10 seconds, so why the hell did I show up at the beginning only to sit around for an hour afterward?
  10. If I hear "It's a Small World After All" one more time, someone will pay with their life.

I'm sure I'll learn more as time goes on. I'll keep you posted.

C is for cookie...

How about some snippets?

Oh hell. They arrived. The both dreaded and beloved Girl Scout cookies have been delivered to me. I, personally, haven't ordered Girl Scout cookies in years. Katie does from her coworkers usually. But I bought them this year from one of my coworkers. I bought two boxes of Thin Mints, one Trefoils, one Samoas, and one Lemon Chalet Cremes.

God help me and my gut.

One of my recent NIU photos was used in an article over at Chicagoist. I was pretty stoked about that considering there must be hundreds of photos tagged "Chicagoist" on a daily basis and yet they chose mine. I'm kinda pumped about that. Even if I don't get paid for it. I'm sure it was more for what was said than the photo itself as it's not the world's greatest picture. Color balance was a bit off due to the intensity of the sunlight. Oh well.

Hey Avitable! They did listen! Well, to some degree anyway.

Typepad now allows you to subscribe to comments. It's as simple as clicking on the little RSS feed icon above the comments to each post. Therein lies the catch... it's not a feed to my comments as a whole, but to the comments for each individual post. It's good if you have a particular post you want to track comments on or just to wait for my response (not that it matters since I reply by e-mail). The downside is that you could wind up with a bunch of different comment feeds in your reader for a single Typepad account that you dig on. I doubt anyone will actually use it, but the option is there.

One of my coworkers came in to my office today to ask for help. She was having trouble getting the memory card for our little point-and-shoot digital camera to fit in the card reader. She handed them to me. I looked at the card quickly and started to laugh. She had handed me the battery.

In her defense, the battery to this little camera was roughly the same size as a Compact Flash memory card, which we use in the bigger D-SLR. But it was still pretty hilarious.

A different coworker got a call today from a friend and they started talking politics. The person on the other end decided to try pulling her leg a little and told her that John McCain's middle name was Wayne. How cool would that be? John Wayne McCain. Awesome! It's not enough that McCain has that tough-as-nails persona defined by his ability to survive POW camp in Vietnam and also has a name very close to John McClane (Bruce Willis in Die Hard), but to throw the Wayne in there to summon visions of the Duke as well is just cool.

The reality of the situation, as I soon found out is that his name is John Sidney McCain III.

Once again, reality puts the kibosh on fantasy.

I'm blue, if I were green I would die...

It's been several months, but Katie thinks Bernard is finally making a return "appearance" in our house. And we think he's become a bit of a tech snob. In a good way, of course.

For the last month or so, I've had a laptop at home from work. I have it because I need Windows to run some programs and we don't yet have a Mac with an Intel processor so I can get Boot Camp and a copy of XP. So the Dell laptop has been my Band-Aid approach to remedying the situation.

On Sunday, I fired up the laptop to get some stuff done. Before I even reached the login screen, I received the dreaded BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) with what had to be the longest error message in the history of computing. Most BSoDs are just a couple lines of text that mean nothing to the average human other than "Oh crap, my computer's FUBARd!" All I remember from this message was something about a physical memory dump and I needed a restart. So I did.

The second go-round, it started and I logged in fine. Did a couple things, saved them, and then the whole system just spontaneously died. No BSoD, no warning, no nothing. Just died.

So I rebooted again. Right after I logged in, the viewable area of the screen collapsed to the upper 40% of the monitor and started racing back and forth sideways. It was like watching speedlines in anime.

Third time was the charm for me, so I shut it down and took it to the IT department yesterday morning. My tech guy checked it out for several hours, ran what he called "the most thorough diagnostic check I've ever performed in my life," and found nothing. No notes in the log files at all. Not one indication that the system had crashed or that there had been a BSoD or anything.

Katie is now convinced that we have created a monster; that Bernard has become a Mac freak because we leave our iMac on for him to play with when we're gone. And now he doesn't want anything else in our place. PCs not allowed, so he kills them. Hey, my Mac has spontaneously awoken from sleep in the middle of the night. I've seen it happen. Just wakes up for no reason whatsoever.

I guess we can add another bullet to the list... Mac owners are more likely to be found in the spirit world than PC users.

Hey, can't fault Bernard for having good taste.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Kristy Yamaguchi, Adam Carolla, Priscilla Presley, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Guttenberg, Marlee Matlin, Monica Seles, Penn Jillette, Jason Taylor, and a couple others. Hey, you had me at Yamaguchi. I'm tuning in!

The weather outside is frightful...

To everybody that wished me well yesterday, my sincere thanks. I do appreciate your concern and I wanted to let you know that I'm doing better. My side still hurts a bit and coughing/sneezing are still actions I'd prefer to avoid if at all possible. But, after nearly a million milligrams of ibuprofen and wearing IcyHot patches like a fashion accessory, I am doing better.

This is why I love blogging. Most of us have never met and yet we all give a damn.

So thank you all again.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Oh how I hated driving home from work yesterday. The snow was dumping on us and the roads were horrendous. I think my 40 minute commute was doubled. Literally. In all, I think we received probably close to eight or nine inches of snow at our house with more predicted throughout the weekend.

But it was funny, every hour, Katie would peak out the back door and stick a pencil in the snow to measure it. After the pencil disappeared entirely, she gave up.

Oh, and no snow angels. Not this time anyway.

Getting to work today was surprisingly easy. It took 10 minutes longer than normal, but that was still a lot less than I expected. The roads were really empty. But, then again, most schools were closed and I'm guessing a lot of parents stayed home. So only the truly insane morons were still making the commute in to work.

Oh wait...

But I do wonder about one thing... Why does it seem that snowstorms always occur on the way home from work as opposed to happening on the way to work? Why is that? When you want to get someplace, you can't. But, driving to work this morning, the snowfall was practically non-existent. Sure, the roads were still terrible overall, but I could at least get to where I needed to be.

Not where I wanted to be, mind you. Lord knows I could've handled a snowday spent at home in my pajamas huddled up with Katie and a big ol' mug of hot chocolate.

I can dream.