Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Here's A Transcript of the Chat.

I didn't use his real name (obviously). I terminated the chat because 1. He clearly didn't want to accept responsibility on GoDaddy's part that the problem was on their end.. He might actually have to do some work. 2. I had to reboot my gateway to prove it wasn't my network.

As of 7:55 CST, it's still down.

Down AGAIN.....

Once again, my website is DOWN!

WTF is wrong with GoDaddy! They have gone from being the best webhosting provider - back when Bob Parsons owned it - to a worthless piece of crap! Last Friday evening it went down, and it took 3 phone calls and a non-productive 'chat' with some idiot who didn't have a clue. "Well, it comes up for me," he said... Yeah, of course it does when you're on THE SAME NETWORK as your server, you moron.

They finally got it working Sunday night - for a while. Tuesday morning it was back down for a while, then it was back on line. Now today, Wednesday, it's down again. I called their tech support, and was basically told "The agent you talked to last time said the ticket shouldn't have been closed." No S##T, Sherlock! Apparently it's not down everywhere - he had me bring up a site called Geopeek, and the site seemed to come up in Singapore, India, Austrailia, and a few other places. It came up in California after a lengthy delay, and never appeared in Virginia. Or here.

I was told the server responsible is being 'blocked' by certain ISPs for some reason, and a "major update" was being rolled out tonight. Beyond that there was nothing they could do.

Well, there's something I can do... First is put out the word everywhere I can. GoDaddy has become extremely unreliable, and beyond the phone techs, completely unresponsive. I faxed a letter to their Phoenix headquarters Sunday afternoon. I have yet to get any kind of response.

I also just received an email from them asking me to take a short survey.... "So they can be sure I received the excellent service they are known for..." My responses on the survey did not reflect that. I'm sure that will make a difference....

Anyway, I'm going to be looking for a new provider very soon. It will be a giant PITA getting everything moved and configured, but I've had it with GoDaddy! For anyone reading this missive who is considering finding a GOOD hosting service, don't waste your time with GoDaddy. They USED to be good. Now they aren't worth the powder it would take to blow them to hell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On Again, Off Again...

I noticed my website was down again this morning. It seems to be back up now, but I'm getting tired of this nonsense. I'm seriously considering finding a new hosting provider. GoDaddy has really gone downhill since Parsons sold it off.

Taking a short break.... Another "fun" day at work.....

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Catching Up.... Again....

Well, once again I have let this blog lapse for a long time without any updates. So – again – it's time to play catch-up. So here we go…

First, I want to update you on what is been going on this weekend, and then we'll go back into a little more past history. It is now little after 8:30 on Sunday night, August 21. This is the first time since Friday night that I have been able to access my website. The website went down Friday night, and it has taken until just a little while ago for Go Daddy to get things working again. It took three phone calls to their so-called tech support, one useless chat episode with some clueless idiot that didn't have any idea what was going on, and numerous posts on Go Daddy's forum to finally get something accomplished. This is not the kind of service I received in the past from Go Daddy and right now I am seriously considering another web hosting service. We'll just see how it goes over the next few days and weeks. I'm paid up until 2018, but at this point. I'm not entirely sure I'll stay with Go Daddy. This whole episode is left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Now on to other things…

My job is still pretty much the same as it was last time I posted here. I'm still working on printers at Children's Mercy Hospital. I had mentioned several times to my manager that I was much happier working on copiers than on all these printers. I was told that a third person was going to be joining our team, and he would be taking over the printers and I could go back to working on copiers. But of course, that never happened. I find it rather interesting that I am expected to keep my word about things, but when it comes to the road running the other way, there seems to be no requirement to keep one's word. Yes, I realize that when you get paid to work for a man, you do what he asks you to do. But I guess my mistake is being somewhat old-fashioned in that when a man says he will do something he should keep his word. But that's all I am going to say on that.

For the most part, it's not too bad – I have a good work partner to work with, and as John Denver used to say, some days are diamond, some days are stone. I guess they balance out in the long run.

In other news, my old Acer laptop finally gave up the ghost on me a few months ago, and I decided to replace it with something a little bit more powerful, as I wanted to install and start using the new version of DAZ studio, version 4.9. It has a real world render engine based on the Nvidia IRay system, and I have to say it doesn't amazing job in creating a photoreal image. I will be posting a few of those images in the sidebar on this blog. Anyway, I ended up getting a pretty powerful laptop from Origin,and it runs DAZ Studio quite well - and the images are awesome!

I have finally finished chapter 5 in my Girls From T.N.A. story, and I am presently taking a short hiatus to learn some things about DAZ studio, and the new version of Photoshop, which is absolutely beyond amazing! I am working on a short trailer for chapter 6, which I hope to have online fairly soon, assuming my website is still working properly.

As I approach my next birthday – number 68 – I have to do some serious thinking about how much longer I want to work. Frankly, I would like to stop working and retire about two years ago LOL! Seriously though, I am putting some plans in place, but I'm not going to say a lot about that here, as anybody could be reading this blog. And I don't want certain people to get the wrong idea. My manager wants me to give him around six months notice before I decide to retire. He wants this time to be able to train somebody to take my place – it's interesting that it takes six months to train somebody to do what I do. If only my paycheck reflected that…

Well, in order to keep this from being any longer than it already is, I'll sign off for now. And once again I am going to seriously tried to keep this blog updated at least every weekend. Wish me luck!

That's it for now.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday 02-12-16

Well, here it is, 3 weeks after I said I was going to update weekly. Sigh..... Oh, well, I'm updating now, and will continue to endeavor to update at least weekly. Really. I promise.

Anyhow.... As they say "TGIF!!!" This has been a busy, busy week! Now, it's time for a bit of relaxation. I hope to get some artwork done this weekend - my Girls From T.N.A. series is now in Chapter 5, and is nearing Chapter 6 - which is going to be a wild ride. I'm working on a "trailer" right now that will include artwork (stills - I've not yet delved into animation), a bit of drone footage, even licensed music for the soundtrack.

I'll be posting more photos and artwork on this blog as well. I have a lot of other neat things planned - it's just a matter of shaking loose the time to do all this stuff! I need a 48-hour day...

Well, last week my old JVC stereo receiver/amp finally gave up the ghost. I can't complain, though - I paid $40 for it about 7 years ago on Ebay, so I think I got my money's worth out of it. It's hard to get a good component stereo receiver these days - the kind that has inputs for turntables, cassette recorders, AUX inputs - all that good stuff. Everything's "home theater" these days, and doesn't have all the inputs. Of course these days not many folks have cassette recorders or turntables (some don't even know what they are!).

I did manage to find a nice Sony receiver at Best Buy, and picked it up yesterday. It does have all the inputs I need, other than the phono input. But I have my turntable output going to a little mixer I bought years ago from DAK. I'm slowly digitizing all my old LPs.

I got a nice surprise today at work. After taking care of one of the MFPs (Multi Function Printer) at Children's Mercy South ER, their Resource Manager sent in a nice email..

It' always make you feel good when someone takes the time to give you a pat on the back. In the service industry, the daily fare usually consists of people who are anywhere between mildly irritated to "Where's my .44 Magnum" stressed out. This was a breath of fresh air. Now, let's see how that plays into the upcoming time for raises...

It's been miserably cold here for the last couple of weeks - not surprising for January-February. It's supposed to be in the 50s, and possibly hitting 70 next week. Hopefully the wind will die down a bit, too. It's been a few months since I've had the drones in the air. I think they're feeling neglected.

I'm going to wrap for now, but I'll be back probably over the weekend to post a few photos from the past few months. See ya later!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Getting Back On Track - Post 2

Okay, how do I start with an update after two years of absence on this blog? Actually I'm getting a little later start on this than I had intended. It's now 10 o'clock Sunday evening, so this probably won't be as lengthy as first anticipated. Which is probably a good thing for anyone reading this missive.

I guess the best place to start is concerning my job. When I finished my last entry two years ago, the position at Deluxe was just shutting down. My worries about being let go were unfounded, and Konica Minolta kept me on. I spent a short time – well about a year actually – in the field doing various copier calls, without really having a set territory. There were several special projects that I got involved in, but I was kind of being moved around from area to area.

Then about a year ago my field manager, Ron, called me in to let me know I would be assigned a position working with another technician – also named Ron – at the Children's Mercy Hospital, here in Kansas City. This is one of the top rated children's hospitals in the nation. In addition to several hundred multifunction copier/printer/scanner/fax machines, we would also be taking on repair and maintenance of somewhere between 1500 and 1900 HP printers. These printers are scattered throughout the area, at the main hospital and at several satellite clinics in the area.

It took about a year for this program to finally be put in place. My job would be to be the primary HP printer technician for all of these facilities. This was previously done by the hospital staff of IT technicians – in other words I would be doing the same job that 8 to 10 IT technicians were doing previously.

After a brief (two day) training period, I began working on the printers that the IT department had hot swapped. This was done in our tiny office at the hospital, which barely has room for two people. Then, at the beginning of November 2015, I was thrown full force into the position of running all over the hospital and all satellite locations to repair or hot swap these printers. My working hours also changed from 8 AM to 4:30 PM to 9 AM to 5:30 PM. I certainly don't like it as well as the earlier shift, but at least I'm not working three rotating shifts like I was at Deluxe.

To be completely honest, I am not nearly as happy as I was when I was just repairing the copiers at the hospital. I never get caught up, however it's a different environment than I'm used to with copiers. It doesn't really matter if there are 20 calls in my queue. What matters is the priority of the calls. For instance, if I get a STAT call, that means I have a response window of two hours – and that's not just get to the machine that's to get to the machine and have it fixed. Which basically means if it's outside the main hospital, I pretty much have to lug a replacement printer with me so I can do a hot swap.

As you can imagine I am pretty well run ragged most of the time. Fortunately the STAT calls only happen about two or three times a week. Last week was an exception, with two days of 5 to 6 stat calls each day. That was not fun.

Fortunately, my working partner, Ron is a good guy, a devout Christian, and is just a good person to work with. My field manager, also named Ron, is a good guy as well. Although he's usually extremely busy, he does back us up when needed, is easy to talk to, and has a good sense of humor. I wish I could say the same for some of the people at the hospital's IT department. There are a couple of guys who are good and easy to work with, and will go out of their way to help you. Their IT manager… Well, just let me put it this way… My mom always told me if you can't say something nice about somebody don't say anything at all. So I won't say anything at all. I suppose if the words arrogant and condescending are a nice way to describe somebody, then consider this being nice.

Beyond work, I've done quite a lot of changing here in the computer room. I had a bit of an inheritance from my dad, and used part of it for some upgrades. I got a couple new computers for my CG work, and also upgraded my photo gear. Last year I picked up a new Canon EOS 6D, and it is an awesome camera! I also have a couple other new cameras… Cameras that fly. I now have two drones, a DJI Phantom 2 Vision, and last March I picked up a DJI Inspire One. Both are fun to fly, but the Inspire is beyond awesome! It shoots 4K video, and 12 megapixel stills in both JPEG and RAW formats.

I've upgraded my version of Poser to Poser Pro 2014, which is probably the best version Smith Micro has come out with. They recently released Poser 11 which I also have, but I'm not nearly as happy with it. It seems quite unstable.

Another software upgrade I've invested in is the Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom package for photographers. It's $9.95 a month, or $119 a year. I'm not really big on software subscriptions, but this one is worth every penny – I highly recommend it!

A little over a year ago, I started on a project to build a series of computer tables that would wrap around the room in a U – shape. I finally completed this project a couple months ago and now have it installed. I really like the way it looks, rather than having the two old folding leg tables that I rescued from a dumpster on the south and west sides of the room, and a door supported by file cabinets on the north side. I still seem to have about the same amount of room but it is a bit of an improvement. And if I do say so myself, it looks pretty cool. I gave it a gray and dark red color scheme, and I think it looks pretty slick.

I also bought a radial arm saw, and a new router for the wood shop – which helped with this job a lot. I hope to do a lot more projects in the wood shop shortly.

There are still a lot of things I want to accomplish, among them is a badly needed update to my website. It's been basically in the same state for the better part of 10 years. And that's far too long. I want to update it to reflect more of the artwork I am doing now, and also some of my other decorative woodworking projects and things of that nature.

I am going to endeavor to broaden my horizons on the Internet, and become more active with things like my Facebook account. I'm still on Renderosity, and have also joined another great art website called the Fantasy Attic. There's a lot of great folks there – many of whom are also on Renderosity, and it's just a lot of fun. I've won a number of contests there with my artwork, which for some reason I seem unable to do on Renderosity. No matter, I'm having a lot of fun with both sites, and will probably start posting more on other sites like Deviant Art, RDNA, Red Bubble, and so on. I will also soon be opening the page on a website called Patreon. It's a website where you can actually have patrons who can contribute to their favorite creators, either on a per project basis, or monthly. This is something I definitely want to look into.

In the meantime, I'm also going to endeavor to update this blog at least once a week, probably on the weekends. For now I'm going to sign this rather lengthy entry off, and probably head for bed shortly since tomorrow is Monday and it's time to go back to work.

Now I'm going to say good night, I will see you later!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Getting Back On Track - Post 1

It's Friday, January 22, 2016. It has been 2 years since I've written anything here. That is about to change. It's time to get back on track, and move things into high gear. Massive catch-up coming this weekend. Don't touch that dial....

Sunday, January 19, 2014

As It Stands Now.....

This will be a lengthy entry – I have a lot to catch up on, so grab a cup of coffee, and a doughnut. Here we go…

In early spring of 2010 I was sitting in a parking lot drinking a frappe from McDonald's. The reason I was doing this was because the calls in my segment (segment 1 2 3 or low volume), were very few. I was doing well to get two or three calls a day. Most of the other guys were the same – I would call to see if anybody needed help, and most of the other guys were in the same situation. I was a little concerned that at some point some pencilneck in New Jersey would see the low numbers and decide that the company no longer needed me.

It was then that I got an email from my manager, Joe. The email asked if I had any interest in going into the production print area. Thinking that it might be a good idea, I called Joe and arranged to meet him, so we could talk about it. I assumed – correctly – that the position would involve working with the Kodak high-speed digital printers installed at a company called Deluxe Corp. Deluxe is involved in many aspects of the printing industry, but they are best known for printing bank checks. If your bank orders replacement checks through Deluxe (and most of them do), there is a good possibility they were printed on one of the machines I work on.   

Deluxe has three facilities at present for their check printing operations. One is in New Jersey, one is in California, and the largest and busiest facility is here in the Kansas City area, in Lenexa, Kansas.

During our conversation, Joe did confirm that the position was at Deluxe, and that at times it could be "challenging." That was quite an understatement. Challenging does not begin to describe the environment I was about to encounter. I was also informed that the position did involve some night shift work but, I was informed, it would be minimal. I would work both the early evening shift (2:30 PM to 10:30 PM), and night shift (10:30 PM to 6:30 AM). Each would last only a month, and I would only have to do this a couple times a year.

Nothing was ever mentioned – to the best of my memory – about working Saturdays or Sundays. Had mention been made that Deluxe likes to work weekends a lot, I would have turned down the position then and there. It's not that I would never be willing to work Saturday, but I feel like I work hard enough during the week that I deserve those two days at the end of the week to relax and do what I want to do. I know it's a foreign concept these days, but I work to live – I don't live to work.

At any rate, I accepted the position and in July, 2010, I went to Tampa Florida for a five-week training course on the Kodak digital printers.
Kodak Digimaster Printer

Upon my return in August 2010, I was immediately put on evening shift, and there I stayed for well over two months. The only silver lining to this is that I was working with a guy named Gary, who is not only extremely knowledgeable about these machines, but is just a great guy to work with.

However, I began to immediately realize what a hellstorm I had gotten myself into. We were constantly bombarded with calls, and there were several nights when we didn't even get to take our half hour lunch break. (We work a straight eight hour shift, so we don't get an hour for lunch. However we can take around a half an hour to gobble down a sandwich).

It was only after I sent an email to Joe and Stan (Stan was the branch service manager at that time), requesting a transfer back to my field service position, that I was taken off evening shift and allowed to work days for a while.
Deluxe Corp, Lenexa, Ks.
 Not long after that, the new shift schedule was implemented, and we began a rotation between all three shifts. After a few months of this one of our technicians, Jimmy, volunteered to stay permanently on night shift rather than rotate into a new shift every month. With Jimmy on nights permanently, a new schedule of rotation was implemented. We would now work two months on dayshift, two months on evening or mid-shift, and one month on night shift.

As new modifications were made to the printers, things got a little easier – the call rates seemed to ease up a bit, and it became not quite so stressful – at least on dayshift and especially on mid-shift. Night shift is a different story altogether. From the beginning, night shift has been populated with a crew that is – to put it mildly – considerably more needy than both of the other two shifts put together. On the entire night shift crew there are perhaps three people that rarely have problems.

The operators are shifted to different machines each week, so they are not constantly on the same machines. The three individuals mentioned above rarely have problems no matter what machines they are operating. Conversely there are about four individuals – two in particular – who have problems all night every night, no matter what machines they're assigned to. The floor managers – called production coordinators, or PCs – do not seem inclined to try to improve the situation in any way. Unlike the PCs on days or mid-shift, they will briefly look at the machines, then usually come to us with the issues. Yes, that is what we are there for. But the usual situation on night shift is that you are relentlessly pounded with call after call after call. By the time 6:30 AM arrives, you're so exhausted you can barely drive home to go to bed.

Fast-forward to early 2013...

For the past couple of years, Jimmy had been working night shift on a permanent basis. Jimmy is a great guy, and quite knowledgeable on the equipment. In my opinion, he did a really great job. A short stocky fellow from Chicago, he can sometimes seem a little rough around the edges, and if you don't quite know how to take him he can seem quite abrasive at times. There had been several incidents where operators or others on third shift had become offended at something Jimmy had said or done. After several incidents, the management at Deluxe demanded that Jimmy be removed.

With Jimmy now out of the rotation, our crew was down to seven technicians: Gary, Tommy, Fred, Ray, Danny, Kevin, and me. The shift rotation was changed accordingly – a month on days, a month on nights, and two weeks on mid-shift. Fred is permanently assigned to mid-shift, and Gary is permanently assigned to dayshift. This leaves the shift rotation to be shared by the remaining five of us.

Mid-shift is by far the easiest shift to work, as far as a less stressful environment is concerned. The PCs on mid-shift are great. They take care of approximately 90% of the issues which are normally easily solved either by the machine operators or the PCs. Dayshift is not quite so relaxed – for one thing all of the top level managers are there during the days, so of course the dayshift PCs want to keep the managers more or less happy. Night shift of course, continues to be a pain in the butt of epic proportions. As stated above not only is it the busiest shift in terms of machine problems (or more correctly machine operator problems), but of course the hours are a real killer.

In early autumn of 2013, we began to hear rumors that Konica Minolta was not going to renew the contract with Deluxe, and another company – Ricoh – would be coming in to take over the maintenance of Deluxe's printers.

It was only a few months ago that Joe, who has now been promoted to branch service manager, had told us "if anything ever happens with Deluxe, everyone who is working here will have a position in field service." However, now that something is "happening" with Deluxe, a different tune is being sung. Now the lyrics go something like: "Will I have homes for everybody? Probably not." Funny how things change…

When the formal announcement about the contract change was made, we were told that Ricoh would be talking to us, the technicians, regarding positions with them. These positions would, of course, continue to be doing the same thing – servicing the machines at Deluxe. Unlike with Konica Minolta, overtime (in other words working on the weekends) is mandatory with Ricoh. In speaking with some of the technicians at Ricoh – and with their service manager, Rusty, the picture quickly formed in my mind of what it would be like were I to jump ship.

Rusty had made mention of shift rotations of two months, to quarterly. The thought of spending three months on night shift almost made me nauseous. During my conversation with Rusty (who I knew by the way, from a former job with DeCoursey Business Systems), I indicated that after 3 1/2 years, my main goal was to get out of Deluxe and back to doing field service work.

By taking the safe route – or what I thought to be the safe route – 3 1/2 years ago, and accepting the position at Deluxe, my life has basically been turned upside down. I feel exhausted all the time, and especially while on the third shift I just do not feel good most of the time. I could have taken the "safe route" and indicated to Rusty that I was interested in joining their team, and staying on at Deluxe. I chose not to. I've had enough.

As things stand now, Gary has decided to take early retirement, and Ray and Tommy have decided to leave Konica Minolta, and join Ricoh's team at Deluxe. I wish them all well. That leaves Fred, Kevin, Danny, and me to hopefully stay on with Konica Minolta in a field service position. Will there be room for all of us? I don't know. No one at Konica Minolta seems to know, or frankly give a damn. Joe doesn't seem to know, or at least nothing has been said to any of us. At this point, I am on night shift until the contract ends on January 31. I have no idea if I will have a job come February, and nobody at my company seems to give a rat's ass. In my opinion, this is a really crappy way to treat people who have turned their lives basically upside down for anywhere from 2 to 5 years. But then I guess that's the Corporate America way, isn't it?

I'm hoping that Konica Minolta will have a position for me in field service, but if not, at 65 I don't want to work that many more years anyway – at least not for Corporate America. I may have to see what I can accomplish on my own. Financially speaking, we're in fairly good shape, and I would most likely get at least a couple months' severance pay.

That is the situation I am facing now. I will try to update a little more often in the future – I may wind up with plenty of time to do so. We shall see...