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.

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....