Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thoughts for 2017 - And The Last Straw….

It’s a new year - once again. And - once again - I am going to try and update this blog at least once a week. And I’ll start with this…..

Since March of 1981 - aside from an 8-year break working for Gateway Computers - I have been working in the service industry as a copier / printer technician. It has provided a living, has kept us in a house, a car, and with food to eat. Over the last 10 - 15 years, it has been fairly decent, pay-wise. With a few other positive things happening, I've been able to get our finances in a fairly comfortable position.

I’ve worked on everything from small desktop machines to giant high-volume Kodak printers used in the check printing industry. Presently I am working at a major children’s hospital in Kansas City where my company is a vendor of multi-function office equipment. My company has contracted with the hospital to service all the HP printers in the system. This covers somewhere between 1400 - 2000 printers. No one seems to know the actual count for sure.

I have been doing the same job as 5 to 9 of the hospital’s I.T. people were doing previously. As with any job of this nature, it has busy times and less busy times.  But there have always been periods where it would slow down, and I could get caught up, and catch my breath. Until now.

Since about mid October of 2016, the flood gates have not only been opened, but they’ve been ripped off their hinges. The calls have been coming in at 3 - 7 per hour. And it shows no signs of slowing down. When I left last Friday, I had 11 calls waiting. Monday I did 6 or 7 calls, but by the time I left, I had 14 calls waiting. Today, I did another 6. At present there are 15 waiting for me in the morning.

Most calls have a 48-hour response time, but there are two higher levels of priority. A ‘HIGH’ priority has an 8-hour window to have it resolved. Then there’s the ‘STAT’ call, which has to be resolved within a 2-hour window. For some reason, STATS come in either first thing in the morning, a half-hour before I leave, or most commonly, right at lunchtime. Virtually every day. And they’re usually because one of the cheap labels they use has peeled off and stuck somewhere inside the printer. And of course, every single user blames the printer and wants a new one.

I’ve been dealing with this, being polite, being professional, being as helpful and accommodating as possible. But today was the last straw.

After busting my ass all morning at one of the hospital’s satellite locations to get 3 printers all nice and pretty and working properly, I logged in to close the calls. There were 5 new calls - one of them a HIGH priority. As I had been instructed to do by my Field Manager, I emailed him to let him know how backed up things were, and to see if we could get some help.

An hour or so passed with no response, so when my teammate suggested lunch, I said ‘fine.’ As we were finishing our lunch, of course, a STAT call came in. At the same time, my teammate got an email from our manager, who had forwarded my earlier email to him, and asked if he could help. In an annoyed tone, my teammate asked “Did you really think this would help??” Truthfully, no, I didn’t. But it was what I was told to do. Seems my ability to do anything right for anyone at work has taken a permanent vacation. It’s time for me to follow suit.

At this point, I no longer really give a crap. I’m tired of busting my ass, and getting nothing but flak and crap from those around me. I’m tired of being treated like an idiot by customers and co-workers alike. Fuck it.

I’ve already got my Social Security started. I have a few medical issues that need taken care of while I still have something a little better than Medicare. Then sometime towards the end of 2017, I’m DONE! Without 8 hours of frustration and stupidity to manage, maybe I can find a way to make a buck doing something I actually enjoy. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tuesday 09-20-16

I'm just posting a short update today in between calls..

I think my coworker felt bad about asking me to take that STAT call yesterday morning after it turned into a major pain in the rear, so he treated me to lunch today. Things do tend to even out - at least some of the time.

We're planning on going out to dinner tonight when I get home, so I hope lunch has settled somewhat by then. If not, there's always the take-home boxes for later in the week! LOL

Hopefully I'll be able to get a bit more done on the upcoming Chapter 6 of the T.N.A. saga.

Well, back to work....

Monday, September 19, 2016

Update 09-19-16

Well, here it is Monday again… And today has certainly been – Monday. Today I came just about as close as I ever have to going Kylo Ren on somebody (for those of you who have not seen the latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, this would be the lightsaber equivalent of going postal… Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean).

As part of my company's, contractual obligations with Children's Mercy Hospital, we service anywhere from 1400 to 2000 HP printers at several locations around the area. We are obligated to service these printers from 7:00 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon. My coworker comes in at 7:00AM and leaves at 3:30PM. I come in from 9:00AM to 5:30PM. There is a specific reason for this shifted schedule. There are three basic levels of priority concerning servicing these printers. There is a normal or low priority in which you have anywhere from a couple of days to a week to get the issue resolved. Next up is a high priority, in which the problem has to be resolved within eight hours. The highest priority on the list is a STAT call, which has to be resolved within a two hour window. Note that I said resolved – not just looked at, but resolved.

This morning, just after 8:00 AM, an email came in on my company phone. There was a STAT call at the facility in Overland Park. At approximately 8:08 AM – as I was getting ready to leave for work – my phone rang. It was my coworker informing me I needed to head straight out to the Overland Park facility first thing. Now I may be looking at this in the wrong light, but it seems to me like the whole reason behind him going in two hours early is to take STAT calls that come in before 9 o'clock – not just pick up the phone and ask me to take them.

I could go into a whole lot of additional details, but I'll suffice it to say I was less than enthused about the situation. I was even more aggravated when I had to drive all the way back to the main hospital to pick up another printer to replace the one in Overland Park. Then, to add to my irritation, the printer I took with me did not work when I installed it. This entailed yet another trip back to the main hospital to pick up another printer. This little episode took me until 2 o'clock in the afternoon to get resolved – well outside of the two-hour window. And on top of that, about 140 miles of driving – and a 10 minute lunch. 

Anyway, now that I've started off with a big long negative epistle, I'll do a couple of quick updates on more positive things.

I did get my electrical problems all taken care of. The new circuit breaker arrived, and last weekend I replaced it. Everything is now working fine on that side of the house. I think I also mentioned in my last entry that I got the sound back on my main computer. I'm still thinking very seriously about replacing this old machine in the near future.

In other news, I'm still playing around with DAZ studio, and really enjoying the renders I'm getting. As I noted my last post, the render times seem to be quite long for a scene with any complication at all – as in several lights, a large scene with many props, or multiple figures. I love it, but I probably won't be doing any complicated T.N.A. renders with it. I'll stick to Poser for those.

Well, this is gone on long enough so I'll bring this entry to a close, and hopefully be in a better mood and post something a little bit more positive next time. Have a good week, everyone!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Update 09-05-16

Okay, after a bit of a break, it's time for another update. Obviously, my website is back up and working properly. It took Go Daddy several days to get their act together, and I was on the verge of telling them to stuff it and going ahead and finding another hosting service. But I'll stick with them for the time being – hopefully things will remain as stable as they've been the last couple weeks. With the website, I mean...

Otherwise, things have been pretty crazy lately. Last weekend, we had a lightning strike somewhere out back, and it took out a circuit breaker that controls the whole south side of the house. All the sockets on the front wall of the living room and kitchen are now out of commission. I checked the circuit breaker that controls that circuit, and it had activated. When I tried to push it back in, it just kept kicking back out. It's an older type of circuit breaker called a pushmatic, and they are not easy to find. I had to end up ordering one online. Hopefully, it will be here sometime this week, and hopefully the problem is actually the circuit breaker. If not, I guess I'll have to do more troubleshooting and see what shorted out.

In addition to that, for some screwy reason it also knocked out the sound on this computer. Strangely enough, I could still dictate with Dragon, but there just wasn't any sound. I even tried getting one of those little USB sound dongles from Micro Center – that didn't even work. Then today, my subscription to AVG antivirus had one day left before it expired. I had already made up my mind I wasn't going to renew it, and just use Microsoft security essentials which I have on a couple other computers, and it works fine.

After replacing AVG with Microsoft security essentials, for some reason, the sound came back. But the sound quality is not nearly as good as it used to be. There's lots of distortion, and I still think the lightning strike did some sort of damage. I'm wanting to replace this computer, anyway – it's several years old and has numerous problems. Once I replace it, I will probably rebuild it as a security computer and web cam server.

I've been doing some playing around with DAZ studio 4.9, and I'm really enjoying the renders I'm getting, although I've noticed it takes a long time to do a sizable render with any kind of detail. I just did one today at about 2500 pixels by 1400 or so pixels. There was one figure, an interior room prop, and three lights: a distant light to simulate moonlight, a point light in the ceiling, and a spotlight to the side. It took over seven hours to do that render! It looks awesome, but obviously I won't be using DAZ for some of my complicated scenes for the T.N.A. story.

Speaking of which, I've taken a short break to do some writing on chapter 6, and I'm also working on creating a short trailer for chapter 6. I'm hoping to start posting the first chapter 6, pages on or around October 1.

Well, here it is Monday already, and I'm sitting on the tail end of a three-day weekend… Why do they go so freaking fast? So it's back to work tomorrow fixing printers, and lugging them all over Children's Mercy Hospital.

For now, I'm gonna go ahead and sign off, but I'm still working on keeping this blog updated more often. See you next time!

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 does an 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.