Journal

Spring 2005

Sunday, June 26th

I had a great time camping in Devil's Lake this past week. I drove up to 'Sconsin Saturday after going to a street fair with Erin, and Sunday morning we got on the road to Devil's Lake. We went hiking, boating, rock climbing, swimming, go-carting, played frisbee, did grilling and drinking, and got ice cream. It was a lot of fun.

Work kind of settled back into a heavy load when I got back and I was grateful that the weekend was only two days away. This weekend I did a lot of sleeping, nearly electrocuted myself in a shower of sparks while replacing a light switch, went to an art fair with Erin, watched some Carnivale, and went to a wine and cheese party thrown by some of Erin's friends.

Wednesday, June 15th

Last week was nuts. The image week in Bensenville was ultimately successful, though we encountered a lot of unexpected difficulties. Ghostcasting FAT32 images with spans from fragmented hard drives seems to be fraught with issues. We changed source computers, only to discover the new one had a bad hard drive. Late on Friday, two of the major focuses of the image build process were started over. I got out at midnight on Thursday, and Friday we were there until 1:30 in the morning. The week itself was good though. We went to Morton's Steakhouse on Tuesday. That was really good. In the interest of the project budget I asked everyone to lay off the Double Porterhouse.

The weekend was really good, though. Matt B came down Saturday and we accidentally went to Midsommarfest in Andersonville, and then the Map Room, where he got a $12 beer (apparently worth it). Sunday I went back to Mid Sommerfest to meet Erin. We got some coffee, then strolled around and watched a really unique cover band called Catfight.

This week I'm mostly trying to catch up on non-project stuff at work. It is kind of challenging trying to balance all of the things I've got going on. Mark is helping me with Act! recertification, I've been working on the internal team website (my first real ASP experience), and the standard image was finally rolled out. The image from last week is coming together, though there's a lot to do on the script. Hopefully I'll find some time to put into it on Friday, since tomorrow is our all IS meeting.

Monday was pretty cool, though. Jeff and I went to an HP-sponsored event by Wrigley Field. We went to a VIP room and had drinks while they asked Cubs trivia interspersed with irrelevant crap about Altiris. I got a baseball cap that actually doesn't look ridiculous on me. Then we went to a Wrigley rooftop and watched the Cubs get soundly crushed by the Marlins. We left before the game ended, since the outcome was pretty obvious by the fifth inning.

Friday, June 3rd

Last weekend I went to Michelle and Andy's wedding. Mike has some pics up on his page; I forgot my camera. It was a nice ceremony in Greendale, followed by a reception in Oak Creek. Memorial Day we got some good grilling on. I got to see a bunch of good friends and did some general hanging out and having fun.

This week work has been kind of nuts. I expected to be able to finish up my design document -my opus on proper Windows XP configuration- set up the lab, put together the changes for the final standard image from the beta on Wednesday, and then yesterday and today work with Joe from Cedar Rapids on the configuration scripts.

Instead, we ran into a bunch of department reorganization stuff, most of which didn't directly affect me but still took a chunk out of my time. In addition I had a few software certifications I had to throw together, and time just flew by the whole week. To top it off, just when I was getting set to send out the image, I discovered a couple of glitches that needed to be fixed, that wound up eating most of the day. So while Joe got the local script configuration piece done, the network based script is yet to be written since I was monkeying with the image all day. It didn't help that I knew they were really needing this image in Missouri, and that it was my fault they couldn't move forward on it. To be fair, I didn't get much notice form them and then I was in training last week, but even so it bugs me how long image development takes.

All of that will finally be swept away next week when we create the new image. The script from Joe and the design document that describes it all will make maintaining and revising the image a single, coherent process, at the same time eliminating all the policies and logon scripts. I'm really excited about it, though I dread all the application repackaging we have to do.

This weekend I'm heading down to Indiana to see my Mom and help her with some yard work. It's supposed to rain, so we'll see how that works out. We're also planning some shopping, so maybe we can time it right.

Wednesday, May 25th

Training is going all right. I've learned a decent amount about how Windows Installer is supposed to work. The trainer is really annoying though. He keeps saying "directory structure" instead of just "directory" or even "folder". He says "varable", and his voice just really bugs me. Did I mention he's incredibly boring? The drive is better than I expected, though, so it isn't all bad.

Sunday, May 22nd

Star Wars was a lot of fun. We set up a canopy in the parking lot and took turns waiting in line so we wouldn't lose our place. Yesterday I went mountain biking with Matt B. Today I'm mostly taking it easy, though I'm planning on a few things around the house and getting out and about, possibly walking over to the lake.

This week I'm in training, learning how to use Wise Studio to do repackaging. Having used SMS installer (which is essentially an earlier version), and a brief training session at ManageFusion last month, I expect it to be fairly mundane. I've heard from several people that have been through the training that it isn't the greatest. So long as it works better than InstallShield I'll be pleased. Unfortunately it's at the complete opposite side of town, so the drive is going to suck.

Wednesday, May 18th

I'm still battling with FreeBSD. It's like there's a highway nearby but I don't want to pay the toll, so I'm driving through the ghetto. I most recently got CommuniGate working, only to somehow lock myself out of it. I'll probably have to delete my settings and start over with it. LDAP is giving me bad vibes, but it's going down; there's no if about it.

I finished the first season of Alias, spending entirely too much time watching one episode immediately after another because of the stupid cliffhangers. The worst part is that I can see them coming a mile off, but that doesn't make it any better when it happens. I'm downloading season two, even though I know I could be spending my time better. I've got a real problem with that, and getting myself to spend free time wisely has always been a challenge.

Tonight is Star Wars night. I'm going up to 'Sconsin for the midnight showing with about fifteen people. I'm pretty sure I'll get what I expect: a lot of cool effects, badass Imperial death-bringing, but a decided lack of wise-cracking scoundrels.

Thursday, May 12th

As I mentioned previously, I've been working on my server because Windows was causing problems. If nothing else, using FreeBSD demonstrates what Microsoft has done right. With Windows Server, I am presented with a menu of things I can have my server do. When I choose one it not only installs the appropriate software but then guides me through setting it up. FreeBSD seems to revel in giving you unhelpful errors with no reason for the message, no option to go back and try again, and no guidance on how to fix it.

This time I'm not giving up, though. I've tried this thing too many times and given up, gone back to using Windows. I really want to learn something new, though. I really want to be a jack of all operating systems, and I think that ultimately I'll be better off if I can get this thing working the way I want it to. There is a tremendous amount to do, but if I can at least get the web administration working and the mail server installed, I can get to a useable state.

In other news I've been watching Alias. When it came out I assumed it was one of those cheesy shows that UPN airs on Sunday afternoons, like MutantX or Andromeda. It's actually pretty good, though. Escaflowne, on the other hand, has not managed to give me any reason to watch past the first episode. This weekend I'm going up to 'Sconsin to have some fun with the guys and hopefully get some LAN party on.

Sunday, May 8th

Thursday I went to a Sox game with people from work. They had gotten skybox tickets, so we got to live it up during an otherwise boring game (the Sox won 2-1, and all of the runs were walks). Mike, Barry, and Robert came down and we took the train. Thursday evening Mike stayed in town and we went to Sears so I could buy a grill. I put it together Friday night and grilled up some chicken. I'm looking forward to getting a lot of use out of it. Yesterday I went down to Indiana to help out my Mom with yard work, along with my sister and her husband.

Today I'm lazing about the house. I watched the first couple of episodes of Alias; so far so good. I need to work on the server, though, and I'm about to start that.

Sunday, May 1st

Where've I been? Friday evening I went up to Milwaukee to see the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with a whole bunch of people. After the movie a few of us went to a little Mexican restaurant and I started back. I started getting pretty drowsy on the drive home and pulled off the freeway, since I've had the experience of falling asleep while driving and don't intend to repeat it. I intended to recover my complete consciousness, but instead lost it completely for about an hour until a rap at the window from a cop woke me up.

He was nice enough, and directed me to a parking lot nearby, as well as a gas station where he recommended the coffee and doughnuts (smirk). I thanked him for the advice but instead continued home and got to bed not too much earlier than I normally wake up during the week.

Today and yesterday have been largely loafin' days. I've watched about half the first season of Deadwood, and managed to use the circular saw Mike lent me to cut a cat door in the laundry room door, so they can get to the litter box with the door shut. I also did some laundry and general cleaning.

A few minutes ago I realized that I missed the condo meeting that was tonight. I was planning on going, but I suppose that it isn't the worst thing in the world. They seem fairly intelligent, and most of them have had worse problems than me, so I'm sure they'll come up with a good plan. Henry, the replacement for the previous incompetent contractor, John, is supposed to take care of my punch list items tomorrow or Tuesday, and if that includes the garage, then I'll be happy.

Sunday, April 24th

Overall it's been a really good weekend. I finally got the Xbox fully up and running, and while there was some difficulty playing full dvd rips over the wireless connection, most of the videos work just fine. For the first time since I moved out of Stonegate, where I had the computer in the living room, I have the ability to play all of my media through the stereo and on the TV. I'm pretty pleased.

Friday night I got an unexpected call from Vanessa and we finally got a chance to go out again, then yesterday we went bowling, along with her sister and her sister's boyfriend. I had a good time, but my bowling game may actually have gotten worse; no easy task. I think it's just been too long. For the most part it's been a relaxing couple days, despite the weather being cold and me not getting out during the day as much as I would have liked.

Friday, April 22nd

Today was a good day, mostly because work was good. I presented my project to the IS leadership and with a minimum of interrogation it was approved! That means that all the work I've been doing on my project definition for the last month or two has been worthwhile. Later I received some positive feedback and appreciation for my efforts, and all of the myriad little things that popped up that weren't related to the project I think I dealt with really well. I feel on top of things at the moment and that I'm getting the hang of my job. That's encouraging, since I've felt at times overwhelmed by the steep learning curve. Despite work going well, I'm still really glad it's the weekend.

Tuesday, April 19th

This past weekend my Mom and sister came up to see my place and spend a little time in Chicago. We were doing a belated celebration of my Mom's birthday, and a very belated celebration of my sister's graduation. We drove around (and around) Evanston, ate dinner in Andersonville, and they headed back on Sunday morning.

My modded Xbox is coming along. I just need to get it to talk to my computer so I can access all of my media and I'll be rocking and rolling. I watched Fullmetal Alchemist, an anime that I wound up thoroughly enjoying, though the ending left some to be desired.

Work is ramping up toward the start of my project. I've gotten the basic plan worked out and now it's time to present it to the leaders to get it approved. It's really interesting the difference between what I'm doing now and what I did in my previous position. I've learned a lot already and I like the feeling of developing different skills instead of just honing the same ones. There's always more to learn, but it's good to explore new areas.

Saturday, April 9th

I'm back from Las Vegas, having failed to recover my losses with Roulette and in fact making them considerably worse. I have to conclude that poker may actually be the slowest way to lose money in Las Vegas after all. Overall though I had a fun time and Steve and I even made it back out to Red Rock Canyon, even though he was sick and wound up sitting in the car while I climbed up to the top and back. I forgot to take my camera so there won't be pictures this year.

Today it was back to work getting caught up on email and projects, plus another in a string of conversations with Mark about my web page and him wanting to be mentioned. Then I headed up to see Mike and Eriq for some good conversation over coffee before taking in a movie and returning home.

Tuesday, April 5th

This week I'm in Las Vegas. I came out over the weekend to discover that despite being the Entertainment Capitol of the World, it isn't nearly as much fun when you're by yourself. I managed to wear out my feet walking on the strip, and got pretty red sunning by the pool. Today some coworkers arrived to liven things up. After a dinner with some peers from another company, a few of us went to play poker.

Now, I've played a little poker with friends, but never for real money, and never at a casino. Worse, we were at the MGM Grand, since we're staying here. I don't like the MGM Grand, due to its incredible ability to never let me win. Also, it is enormous and arranged in such a way that you are always a half mile from where you want to be, the TV remote doesn't change channels down properly, and the crazy water faucet popped out of the wall when I tried to take a shower.

Anyway, my already low opinion of this place was reinforced when, after getting up about $20 in the first couple hands, I was slowly widdled to nothing, losing $39. I kept a chip as a memento. Short of implementing a Roulette theory in the next few days, this reverses my overall Vegas fortunes from positive $8 to negative $31. Clearly, I am a high roller.