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Archives for : May2011

Hotel Internet download speeds FTL

I’ve had remote work for my Cleveland client every night this week… and it has literally taken me 2 to 4 times LONGER (maybe even more?) than it would have if I had a decent connection. Here’s what I’m working with: Yeah, that’s a zero and then a dot. This was actually the best of 3 trials. Hey readers, you should run a test too, and post your ping/download/upload times. I’d really like to see how this bull-feces measures up.

Notice that my upload speed was more than twice better the download speed. Kind of ironic considering that I’ve never been closer to Silicon Valley than I am right now. Lunch on me for anybody who can show a worse ratio than what I have here. No cheating!

Working like this actually reminds me of my freshman year in college, many, many moons ago. Strapped for cash, I worked with a PC which was a hand-me-down from a friend-of-a-friend (-of-my-sister). It was a 200mhz Pentium Pro. I don’t remember how much RAM it had, but I’m certain it was something equally retarded. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense; I mean this machine was literally retarded.

Despite that, I did all of my homework on that box AND developed my first by-contract application on it. I’ll bet you’re thinking I used that money to build a new PC with a schforteen-teen terahertz 17 core processor, and then sold even MORE software with it!

…nope! I don’t honestly remember where that money went… Probably tuition or dorm-living costs. I didn’t have a car back then, so maybe it went towards that.

Or maybe it was hookers and blow. Hey, who keeps track of such things?! The money, I mean. Hookers and blow are tracked by pimps and drug dealers. Duh.


Another weekend down

I guess I didn’t get everything accomplished this weekend, but I did manage to fit a lot in.

I spent all day Friday working. Literally, all day, and night, and it was very productive. I estimated 3 weeks to do everything for that project, and I got most of it done on Friday. I should have very little to do next weekend with it, and as long as they don’t ask for more, I don’t think I’ll even need that third weekend!

On Saturday, the nephew and I had pictures at baseball, followed by a game. He seems less interested every week, but he does like to get out and play catch. I think he enjoys our warm-ups more than the games. He probably just needs something a little more stimulating.

Following the game was an introduction to the Ruby programming language. Overall, the talk was good, but it was difficult to determine who the target audience was. It seemed too basic (except for some points) for experienced programmers, and too technical for the not-yet-programmers. Josh (the guy running the show) surprised everyone with books (Eloquent Ruby), which was nice. I think a better supplement may have been an Intro to Ruby book. BUT, I’m betting he’s hoping to provide people with everything that they need, and that self-study won’t be necessary outside of the materials he’s providing (and has obviously put a lot of effort into).

After Ruby I got to play some doubles tennis, which is always nice. Seriously, anytime, call me, I’m down for some tennis. I’m terrible, but I love to play. Tennis was followed by some Yogurt Explosion (not bad, but not great), and shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond (where I saved $110 w/ a single %20 off coupon. Rock) and searching for a copy of the latest to-video Pirates movie (more on that later).

I spent most of the evening working on the control panel for Travis’s (my brother-in-law) arcade cabinet. I bought some $5 gamepads (with shipping) from the internets, and am attaching 2 RJ45 jacks to each. This will allow the arcade panel to easily plug into the controller, without compromising the functionality/usability of the controller. It will allow players to choose between the traditional arcade controls, or the gamepad – which is especially nice, because the panel only has 4 game buttons, while the gamepads are like playstation controllers. Sometime between midnight and 1am, I opted for a break and more social activities ¬†/ good times.

Some photos from the projects gallery:

As soon as I woke up Sunday, I started mowing the backyard. I didn’t get to it last week, so it had gotten pretty tall. I love my reel mower, but it doesn’t perform well on very tall grass. Sadly, I only got half of the lawn done, it’ll have to wait another week :-/

Last week I had cut down some branches, and was grateful for help. Dylan came outside, and after a while I asked if he wanted to help. He said yes immediately, and seemed happy to do it. Audrey helped too, and the three of us managed to get things done quickly. I wanted to say thanks, so I took them to see the new Pirates movie. Of course, I had to re-watch the previous movie first, because frankly, I didn’t remember what happened or how it ended. We got there in time for decent seats, and Audrey bought dessert.

Another weekend down. It wasn’t as terrible as I thought (mostly because of Friday’s diligence).

I just checked my email, and it seems there’s more work from my Cleveland client for me to do during the evening hours this week… Oy.

When it rains, it pours (but never where you want it)

It’s almost 8, which means my “weekend” is about to start. It’s dreary outside, and I just want to get back under the covers. Although I haven’t checked the forecast, I expected this kind of weather…

I’m underwhelmed in California, and overwhelmed in Wichita. How does that make sense? I’m supposed to be relaxing on the weekends, right? You know, enjoying myself, my family, my friends…

The project at work has yet to really kick off. I still worry that once it does, I’ll still feel underwhelmed.

Of course, that’s not the case on the weekends. When it comes to the weekends, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Normally my weekends are filled with family adventures, activities, and hobbies. But the next couple of weekends will be filled with work. Lame.

In 2008, I developed a project for a mental health firm in Wichita, and continued to support it and write minor changes/enhancements through 2009.

At some point they stopped using the system. A couple of weeks ago, I received an email stating that they wanted to use it again, but couldn’t connect (it’s a web-based application). The server was hosted on site, so I told them where to find it and make sure it was turned on (and to restart it if it was running). They couldn’t find the machine, so I met with them last Friday to discover that they had sold the hardware (with all of the software on it (not that anyone else would really want it))!

I’ve purchased new hardware (assembled) from Cybertron PC. I’ll pick it up, install the LAMP stack this weekend. After I finish making some of the requested changes, I’ll load my software on the box and bring it back. With any luck, I’ll have it done this weekend, but we’ll see… I really despise dragging out old code :-/

Oh, and to make things just a little bit better, United has altered some of their flight times. I’ll leave Wichita a little bit EARLIER and get in a little bit LATER, shaving even more time off my weekends and increasing my layovers. Awesome.

On the brightside, it’s good to be working. Plenty of Americans out there who are still looking for work. And at least I get to come home on the weekends (unlike my poor dad who’s stuck in Seattle, where I’m sure the weather is dreary). He called when I was mid-flight today and left a 40-second voicemail of silence. Dad, if you’re reading this, turn your freakin’ phone on so I can call you back!

The ____ Endowment Scholarship

In case you missed it…

I met with a representative of the WSU Foundation last week. We got to know each other and he explained some of the different options available for giving. One option he explained to me was endowment scholarships.

Basically, I’d give WSU a large sum of money (2011 minimum is $15k, 2012 minimum is $25k). WSU will invest that money for one year (after I finish paying it off (which I would have 5 years to do)), and then every year after that they use the returns on investment as scholarship money. The sum I donate is never awarded, so it never depletes… it would continue to fund scholarships FOREVER (presumably)! Plus, I could continue to add funds to my endowment (which would proportionally increase the scholarship amount).

Presently, these types of gifts return 4.25% (annually?), which seems pretty healthy to me (admittedly, I don’t really know much about money or investing…). The more I think about it though, I wonder if I should just invest the money myself and use the returns for a scholarship every year. This is appealing because $25k is, frankly, a lot of money. I trust that the WSU Foundation would handle it well, but I wonder if our ideals may divert over the course of the years.

For example, what if WSU closes their College of Education in 10 years. I don’t think I could just call them up and say, “Hey, you know that money I gave you? I want to give it to someone else now.”

So there’s plenty to consider still, but the ball is rolling at least :)

In case anyone is wondering, I officially have less than $14,000 left to pay on my educational loans. This puts me at under half of what I borrowed+interest.

What’s gonna work? Teeeaaamwork!

I’m pretty lucky that I get to travel and work with someone I know well, and have a good work history with. She and I managed to get positions with the same consulting firm. While that is mostly coincidental, it is probably no coincidence that we are now both assigned to the same client in San Leandro, California. It seems our mutual employer believes that we are probably a good team, and I have to agree. I think the other consultants are a little jealous of our dynamic.

Apparently, Oakland is the 5th most dangerous city in the US. So far, I’ve managed to avoid the goings-on of the Oakland underworld. However, that might change when we move from the Fairmont Hospital to the Highland Hospital. Apparently there’s a liquor store on the corner, where you can sometimes spot patients making purchases… still hooked up to their IV’s…

The weather has been pretty agreeable, the landscape is BEAUTIFUL, and we found a great Thai place! For whatever reason (American media), I expected people in California to be… prettier. With the little exposure to the Bay area I’ve had so far, I have to say that people in Kansas are prettier, on the average, than people around here. But they Bay area is MUCH, MUCH more diverse.

The work here so far has been slow. This client is implementing a full install of their Clinical and Financial systems… hence the 13-month assignment. The project is still VERY young (I have yet to see a project plan…) and somewhat unorganized. This is the third hospital system I’ve worked with, and it’s interesting to see some of the differences and similarities. One big difference here is that it’s a public hospital system, and there is ¬†significantly less funding…

Something else I’m not quite used to is that this client is looking for a “vanilla” install… Which is sorta the opposite of what I do. I specialize in specialization (I should put that on my business card!). I don’t think the project will be overwhelmingly boring, but I do worry that my skills may atrophy.

I haven’t said anything yet, because it’s still very early in the project, and anything can happen. However, I made this career choice so that I could make better use of my skills and abilities… I haven’t been able to do that so far with the Alameda County Medical Center, and I wonder if I ever will…

I did have the pleasure of giving a webcast for the Midwest Workflow Users Group. The rest of the group met in Ohio at 9am. I had the luxury of dialing in at 6am via the-worlds-slowest-internet-connection in my hotel room (I wonder… does anybody regulate the term “high speed internet”?). Despite being rushed and still a little sleepy, I think my presentations went well-enough, and I was shown a lot of gratitude, so that was nice :)