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....