Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just a Test...

This is just a test....

I have IE 9 (beta) on my newly-rebuilt Win7 system, and Blogger doesn't like IE9 - which makes it tough to post anything. So I'm trying Firefox tonight....

I am anxiously awaiting news on the recovery procedure on my dysfunctional hard drive.... Hoping for the best....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Catching Up....

You know, every time I make a commitment to stay up-to-date on this blog, I end up getting buried when the poop hits the fan. One of these days, I'll learn to sit on the upwind side of the fan. It's a bit warmer, but it smells better...

To say the last couple of months have been stressful would be a little like saying water is wet. In addition to the situation with the very elderly and ill parents (her mom; my dad) steadily turning the last pages of their lives, there have been several things that have kept me occupied to say the least.

The first evening of July, we heard a loud crack – crack – THUD about midnight. When we checked out front, there were two giant branches that had fallen from our big old oak tree in the front yard, landing in the street. When I investigated, I found the whole inside of the tree was rotten. Though it broke my heart to have to lose the tree, I decided to have it removed, rather than risk falling on the house during the next storm.

Someone from a tree service had left a card on my mailbox a couple weeks before – after another branch had fallen from the tree – and I called him. He came out and looked at the tree, confirmed my fears about it being dangerous, and gave me a quote of $1300.00 to take down the tree and haul away all the wood. That was less than I expected so I said to go ahead with it. That was on Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, he called back and told me that he and another guy from their company had looked at the tree again, and now the price was going to be $1600.00. He said was going to be a big job, and they would need to rent a Bobcat, which would coast $200.00. It was still less than I expected to pay originally, so I said OK.

The following Saturday a crew showed up and began the process. During the cutting, they managed to drop one of the branches on the fence on the east side of the driveway. “I'll make it right – I've got a really good fence guy,” I was assured. They cut down as much as they could, and took a couple days off for Independence Day. A few days later a different crew showed up to cut the rest of the tree, and clean up the yard. With about 30 feet of three trunk still standing, I was informed that they could go no further because the tree was rotted inside and full of “mud” which would damage their equipment.

I asked the fellow in charge what the next step would be. I reminded him that I was paying 1600 dollars to have the WHOLE tree removed and hauled away. He graciously knocked 100 dollars off the price, and told me he would call another man who had special equipment to take down the rest of the tree at an additional cost of $250.00. I wanted the damn thing gone, and to be done with it so I told him to go ahead.

A few days later the first guy I called showed up to collect the now 1500.00. I asked about getting the rest of the tree taken out, and he said he would call and find out what was going on. The next Sunday, he showed up with a couple other guys with a stump grinder to take out the rest of the tree. It should be noted here that the only “special” equipment aside form the stump grinder was a bigger chain saw. They cut out the tree, then halfway through the job, I was informed that “This is a 350-dollar stump, but I'll take it out for an additional $150.00 – the 250 dollars now became 400 dollars.

Well, they cut up what was left of the tree, piled the wood in the yard, and told me that someone was coming by to pick up as much wood as they could (in other words a couple people looking for free firewood). One of the guys in this last crew said he'd drop by on Tuesday, and if any of it was left, he'd take it away. As I write this, it is still there. And the fence is still damaged. My phone calls to this company calls are routinely ignored.

So, what highly professional and ethical company did I hire for the tree removal? Glad you asked. Mid-State Inc. Got that? Mid-State, Inc. If you need a tree taken out, here's my recommendation: Hire ANYBODY but these guys. Next time I need a tree taken down, I'll rent a chainsaw and do it myself before I hire these losers again.

BTW, the BBB and the state attorney general's office will be getting copies of this little story as well.

Then, shortly after all this, somehow or another a trojan managed to slip past my anti-virus and trashed my main computer. I was able to connect the C: drive to another computer with a USB adapter. I scanned the drive, and was able to recover everything of importance from it. My second hard drive – the one with about 5 years' worth of artwork and other files was a different story. I could get nothing from this drive. Yeah, I know – I should have backed everything up. I always recommend that to other, but didn't follow my own advice. It's far too easy to say “I don't have time, now, I'll get around to it later.”

I have sent that drive off to a data recovery service – which will cost me about 750.00. You can bet your bippy I'll be doing a lot of backups from here on. $750.00 will buy a bunch of USB external drives – or blank DVDs.

As far as my job goes – It's been a year since I got back from my training in Florida. I'm still in the same position as part of a crew maintaining 20 big Kodak digital high-volume printers at a site that services the financial industry. It's still a pain in the butt, I'm still on rotating shifts, but at least I have a job. And I did get a pretty decent raise. So pain or not, I'll probably be there for a while – they insist on contiuing to give my Powerball money to other people, so I guess it'll be a while until I can retire. Bummer.

I've just rebuilt my main computer (which I was planning on doing – just not right away). I put in a better video card – a Gforce 9800GT – and a new SATA 1TB hard drive. I have the old 320gig IDE drive set up as the secondary drive right now, but I'll probably replace it with another SATA 1TB drive soon. I also upgraded the machine to Windows 7 Professional. The motherboard is capable of addressing up ot 32G of RAM, and I’ll be upgrading that as well. With the graphics apps I'm working with – and plan on adding later – I'll need as much power as I can get.

I just downloaded Vue 9 Pioneer, which is a free, introductory version of Vue. Once I figure out how to use it, I'll probably start upgrading it as well. If you've seen movies like Avatar, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2012, or any of the recent blockbusters filled with amazing special effects, you've seen some of the things Vue is capable of. The jungle scenes in Indiana Jones, and Avatar were done with Vue.

I am also, slowly, as time, family, and my insane schedule allows, updating my website with new content, new art, and hopefully soon, an on-line store. More later...

For now, this has been a long-winded entry to try and get somewhat caught up. I will once again attempt to keep up with this blog (just in case anyone actually reads it), but there may be times when I'm absent for a while.

For now, Rod is signing out!