Friday, August 31, 2007

Peace & Quiet, PLEASE....

Well, I just got home from my 10th session with my dad's computers this month. I think (hope) we made some progress. And I think (hope) maybe I'll be able to make it through the 3-day weekend with a little peace and quiet. I think I've earned it.

Of course, I no sooner got home than it was time for telephone tech support with Jo's mom. Little Josh, her great-grandson is spending the night with her (which she is delighted about). Josh is 4, and a neat little guy. Josh also brought his DVD of Ice Age to watch with great grandma. Grandma has a DVD player, but hasn't a clue how to use it. I think you probably have a picture of the situation I encountered as I walked in the door.

After 20 minutes of having her describe 2 remotes as I drew pictures of them on a scrap of paper, I was finally able to walk her through getting everything working. By now, Josh & grandma are, hopfully, enjoying the adventures of Manny, Sid, and Diego. And hopefully Rod can get through the night in peace.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

My One Night Off

Time for a quick post from what will be my only "night off" this week.

I had planned on having a bit of a break from my increasingly crushing schedule on Thursday and Friday nights, but it looks like Thursday will be my only night off. Friday I'll spend yet another evening with my dad's computer issues. It never ends. I am exhausted, discouraged, and about ready to just give up on having a life of my own. Between a very busy last several weeks at work, and constant demands for my time in the evenings, I'm about ready to collapse. Last night while wandering through the grocery store with Jo's mom, I nearly passed out just from exhaustion - my legs started feeling like rubber. And yet, if I don't just drop everything I'm doing and run to southtown or my dad's every time something comes up, I feel like I'm letting someone down. This is really beginning to suck.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know I am taking the Labor Day weekend off. If I don't I'm going to end up on my back in the hospital. Or worse.

Sorry for all the whining - I'm just very discouraged at the moment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Long Night

Just a quick update.

It was another loooooong night with my dad's computers tonight. I finished up installing all the stuff on his XP computer that I reloaded a week or so ago. Of course, it wanted to install about three million updates, and reboot after each one, so that took forever. Then getting his Epson CX6400 all-in-one to install was another battle. Finally got that installed, then it was his new version of Family Tree Maker He's heavily involved in geaneology research, and has amassed an amazing amount of information. Found out tonight that one of our direct decendents was Admiral George Dewey of "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley" fame.

Anyway, it took almost another hour to install FTM, then of course, it wanted to download and install updates. Finally got that all finished, and got home just in time to complete all my work stuff, then off to bed.

For tomorrow, I'm already fully booked with service calls, then when I get home, it's off to southtown to take Jo's mom to the grocery store.

I wouldn't know how to act if I had more than a few minutes to myself. Oh well......

"You may fire when you are ready, Gridley."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It Just Never Ends....

It's a little after 12 noon, and I'm sitting in Perkins in Liberty, Mo. I am preparing to inhale a quick lunch before heading out to my next call. It has been unusually busy today. I had two calls come in right at 5:00 yesterday, and another couple came in right at 8:00 this morning. By 8:05 I was already fully booked for the day. And, of course every customer seems to think they are my only customer.

Fortunately, a couple of them were quick & easy calls, for instance my second call of the day. It was called in as 'no power, machine completely down. Please come between 9:00 - 11:00.' I arrived a little after 9:00, and left about 5 minutes later. Strange, but I have found over all the years I've been doing field service that most modern office equipment seems to work a lot better when the main power switch is set to the 'on' position. Amazing how that works.

Tonight's schedule: First, we'll head out to southtown to take Jo's mom to Walmart to get some furnace filters. Then I'll install the filters. These don't just drop in like most filters. The design of this furnace/AC unit requires you to posses skills as a contortionist, or have rubber arms like that guy in Fantastic Four. Once we finally get home, I'll install a DVD/CD burner in my dad's computer that I just resurrected from its latest hissy-fit.

Tomorrow night, after a hurried supper, I'll be taking the computer back over to my dad's to get it all hooked up and configured with his DSL and home network, and install the remaining software he needs. If past experience is anything to go by, that should take at least a couple hours. Hopefully, I'll have enough time when I get home to check my e-mail, take a dump, and go to bed.

Looks like the soonest I can hope to have some time for myself might possibly be Friday. I'm hoping for a quiet weekend, but that's still a few days away - too far to plan for with the way things are going.

If anyone finds a few extra minutes running around without a home to call their own, please send them my way, willya?


Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Quiet Sunday (So Far…)

We had a nice breakfast at Bob Evans today, and it was actually semi-cool enough to do a little work in the backyard for a while. I cut up some branches that fell a couple weeks ago during a blustery night. This house is surrounded by trees, which I love, but it does result in always having a lot of “lumber” in the yard to clean up.

Once it started to warm up, I went back into the air conditioning, and cleaned up my workbench so I could start work on my dad’s ailing computer. I pulled the hard drive, and ran a virus scan and checked it for errors. The drive seems to be ok, I think Windows just got a corncob up its backside. It happens, even with XP. I wonder how Vista is…

Anyway, I’ll start recovering all his photos, Family Tree Maker files, and so on, then format and reload it. Thankfully, he was able to find his recovery CDs.

I’ve converted pretty much all the image galleries to the new Lightbox viewer. I hope you enjoy it. It will sure make adding images, and doing updates to the site a whole lot easier and less time consuming. And with all the demands on my time lately, that’s a biggie!

Hopefully, I’ll make it through the rest of the evening with no “little emergencies.”


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yet Another Relaxing Saturday

It’s good to get a day off to relax. One day I might.

Most of the morning and early afternoon was spent out in Olathe at a family function – our youngest great-nephew’s birthday party. It was fun, but of course there were plenty of excited squeals from the little ones. My head, my poor head.

We got home around 2:30 or so, and I decided to reorganize my parts stock for work, and update my inventory. So much fun. I was barely an hour into that when my nemesis – the phone – went off (they don’t ring so much anymore as ‘go off’). Yep. More computer problems at my dad’s. I finished up my inventory around 7:45, and headed over to my dad’s. After fighting with his E-Machine for over an hour, I decided to bring the damn thing home with me and see how much of his data I could rescue, then do a format / reload on it.

It’s now about 9:00 as I type this. Maybe I’ll have a couple hours to work on my website or whatever. God knows what exciting surprises Sunday has in store.

I would pay real money for a quiet weekend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Still Hot and Busy.....

Well, time to type a few quick lines, now that I have my ration of an hour or two to actually work on MY stuff.

We had our bi-monthly service meeting at work this morning. I have to get up a half-hour early in order to make the 40-mile drive to Lenexa and make it on time. After the meeting, I had to run back to North KC (another 35 miles) to a high-priority customer. After that, it was back to Lenexa (another 35 miles) for the Powerhouse Lunch with Sales that I thought was yesterday. At least they picked up the lunch tab. Then it was back to downtown Kansas City ( I hate pretty much every aspect of taking calls downtown), for another high-priority customer. It took a couple hours, but I got the machine running again, and the customer is happy. Yay. With all the extra-curricular activity today, I managed to get a whole two calls done today! Yay again.

After getting home, we had a few errands to run, then supper. After supper, I had about a half hour to work on my website before the phone rang. More computer problems at my dad's. Finally got back home a little after 9:00. I'll doink around with my computer, maybe get on-line for a few minutes, post this update, then head for bed so I can start all over again tomorrow. Maybe I'll have a few minutes to do something with my website tomorrow evening. Saturday is pretty well a write-off, as I'm booked with family stuff out in Olathe, then running more errands for Jo's mom.

This is pretty much typical of what passes as my life lately.

And people wonder why I don't want to spend the few spare moments I have to go look at their buddy's copier on Saturday??

The day wasn't without its share of high points, though. For instance, this afternoon when I got out of the van in the parking garage downtown, I noticed that there was a naked girl standing on the median in the middle of the street. I grabbed my camera (although she didn't look like she intended to leave anytime soon), and grabbed a shot. You can see it HERE.

Awwww, c'mon. Where's your sense of humor?


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday Update

It's mid-summer in the Midwest. That means it's HOT!!! It was 100 on Tuesday, 102 today, and it will be pretty much the same tomorrow. Man, I'm glad I'm not driving that Kia with no A/C like last summer!

Yesterday was Jolene's birthday so she celebrated with a visit to her mom's, and a new range for our kitchen. My dad took us out to V's Italian Restaurant tonight, which was great. I'm still full, and probably will be until sometime next week.

I am, once again, making some changes on the website. I'm going to implement a new viewer feature called Lightbox on all the gallery pages. I like it a lot for several reasons. First, instead of each image having its own separate page, the images will simply open in the viewer. The viewer simply pulls the image and opens it in a "layer" on top of the gallery page. This means you don't have to go back to the gallery page, or scroll to the thumbnail you clicked on last. You can either close the image, and click the next thumbnail, or simply click a "next" tab that is activated on the image by mouse movement. It will make the galleries a lot easier for me to update, since I don't have to create a new page for each image. I've already implemented it on the Blue Ridge Mall gallery as a test, and you can get a preview of it there. I'll be implementing it on all the galleries soon.

I've got a couple other neat features I'll be adding to the website soon. Stay tuned!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tonight's Forcast: Calm!

Things have calmed down a bit since my last entry, and I’ve actually had (gasp) some time to relax a bit and catch my breath! Jo’s mom is doing fine, and my dad’s computers are behaving themselves for now. I took that funky anti-spam software back to Microcenter, and they didn’t give me any static at all; they were happy to refund my money. They have earned my continued patronage!

I stumbled onto a website the other day that I found quite refreshing. I posted a link to one article already – the article about it not paying to be the “computer guy.” I’ve read some of the other things this young man has written, and I have to say I’m quite impressed. I highly recommend taking a look at Life Reboot.

In addition to lots of other interesting articles, he has some good tips on writing for one’s blog. One of his tips addressed something lots of bloggers – including myself – are guilty of: drawing attention to the infrequency of posts. I shan’t do this again! If it’s two weeks until I post again, so be it.

Well, they rearranged our territories at work again. The tech that worked the downtown area has been moved into another area, and a couple new techs have been assigned areas. My territory is pretty much the same, but there have been a couple changes. I won’t have St. Joseph (about 50 miles north of Kansas City), but I’ll be servicing Liberty and Excelsior Springs. I’ll also have a couple zip codes in the downtown area. I’m not real happy about the downtown part, but the lion’s share of downtown will go to Nate, one of our newer techs, and a hellova good guy. Nate likes downtown almost as much as I do. And I’d sooner have a root canal than take calls in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

For those not from the Midwest, let me tell you a little bit about downtown Kansas City. Like any large city, it’s full of one-way streets, overpriced parking lots and meters, tons of traffic – both vehicular and pedestrian - slow, lumbering buses, drunks panhandling for money (and getting an attitude when you don’t hand out), and…..

Construction. Massive construction. And the configuration of the already confusing traffic patterns changes on an almost hourly basis. In addition to all this, the numbers on most buildings downtown is either all of two inches tall, painted the same color as the building its on, or embossed into the edifice of the building. Trying to read addresses while dodging the aforementioned traffic and hordes of pedestrians all paying more attention to their cell phones than where they're walking will drive you absolutely mad!

I can’t even imagine doing field service in a city like New York, Chicago, or L.A. Oh, well, at least my company pays me back for expenses incurred during the day, such as parking.

It’s been hotter than hell the last week, and it doesn’t look like much relief is in the near future. It will be a good weekend to stay inside where the air conditioning lives. I’ve got a couple projects I want to start in my shop, and several I need to finish. And soon enough it will be fall once again, and cooler temperatures will prevail. We’re planning an actual vacation in October, although I’m not sure quite yet where we’ll end up going. We may just end up spinning a bottle in the driveway, and head off whichever direction it’s pointing when it stops!

For now, it’s about time to shut down, and head for bed.

Good night…

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Another "Relaxing" Evening...

Well, another “relaxing” night passes.

After arriving home from work, I ate a hurried supper, then it was back over to my dad’s to deal with his continuing computer problems. He’s getting a lot of SPAM, so I wanted to install a SPAM-blocker. He doesn’t need a package with the anti-virus, anti-spyware, pop-up blocker, etc, etc, for 50 bucks. He already has the virus, spyware and pop-up stuff from his DSL provider. CA used to put out a good spam blocker, but now it’s not available as a stand-alone application, only as part of a full package as mentioned above. I stopped by Microcenter last week, and spoke to one of the sales “professionals” about my needs. I got the impression that I’d left her in the dust after the first sentence. She finally came up with a box labeled “Defender Pro” for 13 bucks. It has all the aforementioned stuff, but the spam blocker could be installed separately. OK, I’ll try it.

Tonight, I tried to install it on my dad’s computer. It installed ok, then the fight began. First it wanted a registration key. Fine, it’s on the back of the CD jewel case. I typed it in, and got an error message: “This key has expired. Click HERE to get an updated key.” I clicked the link, and was directed to a webpage where I was informed that an updated key would cost an additional $13.99. My dad gave me his Discover card, and said go ahead. After the purchase, the new key was granted, and also sent via e-mail. I typed in the new key – the one we’d just spent an additional 14 bucks on. The same error message appeared. We’re now almost 30 bucks into this stupid thing, and it still wants more.

People, I haven’t got time for this nonsense.

What does this product look like? Glad you asked. Click HERE for a picture of this worthless piece of crap. Don’t buy it. It sucks.

I sent an e-mail to the company and told them the key they sent was worthless, to cancel the order, and credit the 13.99 back to my dad’s account.

By this time it was after 8:00, and I headed back home. I have a couple hours to relax before bed – I thought. Silly little me.

A half hour after getting home, the phone rang. I always cringe when the phone rings these days. It was Jo’s mom. She was having problems. She couldn’t stand or walk after getting out of bed. Time for another run to southtown. Oddly enough, by the time we drove 15 miles across town to her house, she was up on her feet, and doing allright. Amazing.

So now, Jo is staying in at her mom’s for the night.

This is beginning to suck.

Like I said in an earlier post – I don’t get a chance to do much photography anymore (or anything else besides work and handling incessant crises).

Sorry for the tone of this rant – I’m just a bit frustrated at the moment.

I Rest My Case.....

Again, I've been kept extremely busy the last couple of weeks, so I haven't posted much in the last few days. I'm posting a short entry now, as I'm about to head over to my Dad's to help him with his computers.

I was noodling around the internet, and found this article: "10 Reasons It Doesn't Pay To Be The Computer Guy."

I rest my case. Reading this article brings back a lot of memories - mostly bad ones.

I'll post more later.