Thursday, September 28, 2006

Money well spent

An actual question from a survey my boss has to take as part of a consultant/agency sponsored class:

How man years have you currently been employed at ...?
  • ...
  • more than 13 years but less than 15 years
  • more than 15 years but less than 17 years
  • ...

Now one can look at this a few different ways. If you deal strictly in years you can never be employed for 13, 15, or 17 years and either 14 or 16 years are your choices. If you look at it numerically then the ranges are 13 years, one day through 14 years, 365 days and 15 years, one day through 16 years, 365 days. Which pretty much screws you if you have worked exactly 15 years. If you whittle down to milliseconds, theoretically you could brain fart and avoid the exact 15 years, 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, 0 seconds, 0 milliseconds mark and slip unconsciously into the next range. Then again, how hard would it have been to say "more than 13 years but not more than 15 years", or if all you care about is years, "14"?

It just makes you upset that money got spent on something that some CONsultant probably had their kid throw together for them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

I was on contract at a client site in downtown Columbus. I was working on an AS/400 to Microsoft conversion project while listening to Howard Stern on my pocket AM/FM radio. They got the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. It pretty much all went downhill from there. The second plane hit, there were rumors of a bomb at the Mall of America, then rumors the Pentagon had been hit and then the horrifying collapse of the two towers. The freaks and perverts were now correspondents relaying information into the stunned group. I was one of two people in the entire area that had a radio and knew what was going on so I relayed bits and pieces to my colleagues. The World Trade Center was gone and the Pentagon was on fire.

I stayed at my cubicle glued to the radio until about noon or so when they broke off the radio and turned control over to the news. Someone managed to get Internet footage of the collapse which shocked us. I had to pee so bad by that time.

They began evacuating downtown Columbus around one or two. Folks with kids were free to leave. I stayed until about 4pm or so then drove home on mostly deserted roads. The footage on the news was shocking to say the least. I called my parents later in the evening. We discussed parallels with Pearl Harbor (something that I was knowledgeable with).

It is now the five year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. People will discuss the politics surrounding this day so I won't. It is a scary fact of life that even though the majority of the people on this planet are good people (stupid and annoying, but good) all it takes is the one in the millions with the right tools, components and drive to destroy a building, city or life as we know it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Windows XP activation woes

I had my first encounter with a "non-genuine" Windows XP activation today. Grouchette has a new computer, a Shuttle xPC with a AMD Sempron processor inside of it. I would have loved to install something other than Windows XP on it but she needs Microsoft products for school and had a student version she received as part of her education.

I installed the operating system and device drivers then used Autopatcher XP to get everything current, tweaked for performance, secured, etc. That was about two weeks ago (she is taking her time). When I went to activate the product, though, it said the copy of Windows XP had already been installed and activated. Just great.

I called Microsoft and got transferred to India. You can always tell when you get transferred overseas because you get a couple of funky tones followed by the line sounding like crap for a couple of moments then clearing up somewhat just as you get the recognizable accent asking you for your Id something-something.

To make a long story short I had to repeat a couple of times the machine I was activating was the only machine the copy of XP was installed on before getting a 36 digit verification code (after repeating a 36 digit code). I clicked next and was sent on my way. I asked (acting stupid) why I had to do this with a valid copy of XP. I only understood half of the response but it sounded like either my key was pirated b someone else or they made a mistake somewhere.

I'm thankful the process was almost painless. It could have been worse. I could have been arguing with a courteous Hindu for a half-hour without getting activated like someone at work ended up doing thanks to Windows Genuine Advantage.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Annual heresy

It is about time for my annual whining and complaining about organized religion in central Ohio. I won't be discussing the Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Christians, Protestants or the Episcopalians. I won't even be discussing the Buddhists, Muslims, or Hindus. Heck, I don't even have a beef with the Adventists, Jewish, Hari Krishnas, snake handlers or even Moonies. So what organized religion am I upset about?

Ohio State Buckeye Football

Yes, it's that time of year again when coverage from the local news media switch from covering East side shootings, gas prices, animals at the zoo giving birth, the weather, and just about anything else to covering what flavor of Kool-aid our starting tailback prefers on Wednesdays. There was a major collapse of a diamond mine in New Guinea, hundreds were buried alive, no Buckeye football players were in the mine or the country at the time of the disaster. It is to the point where it is transparent and sickening.

I refuse to watch the sports departments on the local stations anymore. Their job is to cover local and regional sporting events. Last Saturday (the Buckeye football season and home opener), all coverage was on the football game and other Big Ten football games (i.e. Michigan, etc.) with 10tv also covering the Ohio University game. There was not a single mention, much less coverage of, other sports news from the central Ohio area. On that Saturday the Columbus Crew (soccer team in Major League Soccer) did something they haven't done all season under a new coach, score more than a couple of goals to defeat an opponent. The Crew beat the New England Revolution (a team we have been a personal bitch for recently) 3-0 in front of a respectable home crowd. Not a single mention on all three networks. The NHL hockey franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets, lost their recent top pick Derick Brassard to injury during a junior club exhibition. He will miss rookie training camp with a dislocated shoulder. No information. Our minor league baseball team, the Columbus Clippers, defeated local rivals the Toledo Mudhens with a two-out, two-run homer to right field in the 12th inning (they ended the disappointing season by beating Toledo, forcing the Mudhens to possibly miss the playoffs). No coverage.

Would it have killed any of you sports dweebs to perhaps event mention any of these events in the final ten seconds of their broadcast instead of bantering with Elizabeth Scarborough while starting at her chest or stuffing your face with buffalo wings?

The sucking up to Buckeye football doesn't end with the local media, it extends into the service industry as well. Whether it is a server or fry cook, someone selling a book, or someone at a gas station punching lottery tickets for eight hours straight many of them appear to be asked to wear something "Buckeye" like a pin or shirt to show support. There is nothing wrong with honest, heartfelt support for a team but transparent ass-kissing to not alienate a segment just makes me ill. I feel lucky my workplace does not force me to support OSU football. Of course having a diverse group from Ohio University, Penn State, Michigan, Hocking Technical, Devry, Franklin University, Columbus State Community College, and Denver working around me helps a little bit.

It's not like I don't want to support the Buckeyes, I have since I was a kid watching Woody and Earl run the sidelines. The past number of years, though, coverage and promotion has simply become overpowering to me. It is like a plate of raw onions. Sure I like onions but I'd like something else as well. The Buckeyes are like too many air fresheners inside a hot car; they smell good but overwhelm you. They are a case of Schlitz when a 12 ounce Guinness would have been more palatable. They are too much cow bell.