Category: Random


Hello again everyone. It’s that time of year again when I…wait who am I kidding? What time of year? I post randomly, and we all know it.

I’m about to embark on a bit of a journey this year that is somewhat new and scary to me. I’m about to switch gears entirely and go back to school. I had always intended to go to college at some point and earn a degree. Somehow I kept getting sidetracked along the way. I had originally attempted to attend college 11 years ago when I was living in Ellensburg. At that point in my life I had far too many distractions and ended up having to drop. Shortly after that when I moved back to the Puget Sound region I ran into some more personal obstacles, of the family variety. No, I’m not referring to children, just family.

Fast forward a bit through some minor work here and there, a marriage and a divorce and I finally found myself taking a longer term position on a team at Microsoft. The problem was that although it was a “rock star” team, the pay was not all that much above minimum wage, and I wasn’t being paid for my overtime. Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea let me clear up a very fine point. The fact that I wasn’t being paid overtime was not the fault of the FTEs I worked with at Microsoft. No, that was solely an issue with the contract agency, who shall remain nameless since I don’t want more calls from lawyers. I wish that was a joke.

After well over a year on that team I had a choice to make. There was another team that wanted to make use of my skills, and they were offering to pay me nearly double what I was currently making, and even assured me that overtime would be properly paid. I was really happy and thought that this sounded amazing. That should have been my first warning sign.

I’ve learned that when things seem to be moving along a little too easily that something is coming up around the bend to surprise me. Sure enough right around the time that I was starting to transition between teams I started getting phone calls in the middle of the night. It was some kids calling to harass me because they had somehow managed to social engineer some of my contact details from various companies. This started a period of life where things were stressful for months on end. I had to notify law enforcement to carefully screen any calls they received about my home address as I knew some of the group involved in the calls. They were responsible for harassing others, and ‘swatting’ was a method that they loved to use to cause problems.

This led to some really hard times for me. I wasn’t able to focus nearly as well as I would have liked, and this led to issues both at home and at work. The quality of my work itself never suffered, but my ability to take criticism was definitely impaired. I ended up leaving the team I had transferred to, moved, and took a new position working on a different project. Then just over a month after I started the new positions that team was disbanded.

Since that point in time I have met someone who is truly amazing and has stuck by me through all of the hardships that we have had to endure. Money has been very tight, and finding work has become very difficult for me. It’s rare that I get calls, and far more rare that I land interviews. I had a position with one company that was basically canvassing for a well-known TV/Internet provider. It was basically bundling folks into deals. After months of work where I actually had a decent success rate they handed me a check for $18. I immediately dropped them since this was obviously not going to be sustainable.

I then went to work for another company where I was doing fundraising, actual legitimate fundraising, for various groups. I was doing well there, but was then offered a chance to work on another contracted project for Microsoft. I was ecstatic to be getting back to what I’ve known best. I jumped at it, and within 2 weeks I was unemployed again due to a bit of a legal entanglement related to the family issues I had mentioned form nearly a decade before. The past was finding another way to come back and haunt me.

That was nearly a year ago, and since then I’ve had less than a half-dozen interviews. I’ve put myself out there, and I’ve went for the work that I know I am best suited for. Out of all this time I’ve gotten just a handful of contacts, and it’s usually the same story I hear each time. It’s some variation on, “You’re over-qualified, and we cannot afford to hire someone who would leave us for a better position.” That is one of the most infuriating things that someone can hear that desperately needs work. In my opinion if I am qualified to do the job, and you’re willing to pay me fairly at a rate that we can both agree on, then I’m yours. I have only made a decision to the contrary of that position twice in my life. In one case it was to make a ton more money. In the other case it was to escape a job where you were on shaky ground every single day.

So starting this week I’m actually speaking to admissions at some schools. I’m figuring out which program will work out best for me, and seeking the best level of aid that I can find. It’s time to get out of the position I feel stuck in. I don’t want to be told I’m over-qualified for positions x, y, and z, but under-qualified for a, b, and c. That’s such a frustrating place to be, and I’m done being there. I’m going to be heads down working on things trying to go through school as quickly as possible. I’m hoping to be able to finish with an undergraduate degree, and then a masters within 5 years. I do plan on taking my first set of courses a little slowly so I can get back into the swing of things. However, once I’m back up to speed I fully intend to just dive in and get it done as quickly as possible.

I don’t know where this journey is going to take me, or what I will find along the way. However, I do know that regardless of the outcome I will be a better person for having gone back to school. I will have more knowledge to share, and a better ability to share it. I’m hoping that someday it leads me back to Microsoft, where I feel I belong. However, if someone else decides they want me more then I’m not going to turn it down. The work itself is what I want to enjoy, and if that means doing it somewhere else?

Well, I’m OK with that.

Hey everyone. This is going to be an audio update. Moving forward there will likely be more audio entries than articles for a while.

I haven’t given Podcasting a fair shake, and this feels like the time to do it.

If anyone knows a great free Podcast manager for WordPress please let me know.

Oh, and pointing out a good free Podcast suite would be awesome. I’m using Audacity for the moment since this preview is meant to be very rough.

http://www.rtoadm.com/PreludeToPodcast1.mp3

 

It all starts with this…

Life has been crazy the last few months. I’m back working at Microsoft, in a very different position than last time.  I’m working on an Xbox team, as opposed to working at MGS as a tester.  This is still a contracted position, but without a set end date, and I don’t have to take that 100-day break.

For this position I’ve had to move yet again, and have had to get used to living in Redmond again.  This time I’m in a much better location than before.  This place is much more central so getting around without a car is much easier.
I truly love the job I do, and the people I work with. It’s always nice to fit in with such an awesome group of people.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a place in my life where I’ve laughed and smiled so much.  There’s very much a family feel with this group.

So that’s what I’ve been up to and why I’ve ‘gone dark’ the last several months.

I’m hoping to post more often once I’ve got more of a routine going.  It will probably be more personal stuff than tech related stuff, but I’ll probably still sneak in the occasional post about new tech that I’ve acquired.
So I hope those that read my site are well, and always feel free to post comments.

To quote the great Dennis Miller, “Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here…”

However, I think that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing.

I’m of the opinion that in the last decade the quality of journalism in all forms, but especially tech journalism, has been in decline.  This seems to be related to the rise of the web journalist. I’m talking about the new form of instant gratification journalism that has less fact checking, and apparently little to no copy-editing either.

When did traditional media outlets decide that it’s fine to let articles be presented to the wide world without making sure they’re polished and have their facts in place?

Who decided this was a good idea?

Now I’m not going to name individual outlets here.  I will say that it’s ridiculous when a majority of their articles are replete with misspellings, grammar errors, and ‘facts’ that have no sourcing or do not properly credit the source.  The sites I refer to are not simple blogs, but big media sites that are often cited as the source material for other smaller sites.  When did responsible journalism fall out of fashion?

What happens when you call these journalists out on their sloppy reporting?  Often times it’s either met with silence, or with ridicule.  That’s right.  The community of posters, or often times even the article writers will show no respect for your attempt to give them constructive criticism.  The rally cry around these postings is often something like ‘grammar nazi’ or ‘go back to your cave troll’.  When did people become so ridiculous that they equate a critique to the killing of millions of Jewish people?

I know that when I receive a note from someone that is well written, noting a mistake, I’ll almost always thank the person and fix the error.  The only time this doesn’t apply is if it is worded rudely.  Then I’ll take the time to write them back and note that rudeness is not required, and then fix the error.

In fact I’ve had a managing editor at a well known tech site literally curse at me.  He couldn’t handle my critique of their site and how they handle their members. Instead of discussing the situation he decided to fire away.  I have to say that I’m personally tired of this type of behavior. It is irrational and irresponsible.

What do you think?

Links on the Site

I have something I want to be upfront about.

You may notice that I’m editing my earlier posts and that future posts will all include referrer links to Amazon.com.

I’m not making this huge and outrageous, but you’ll see that the links are underlined.  No funny ad pop-up’s or anything like that.  These are just plain old links.  The reason I’m doing this is pretty simple.  I can make money if people buy items through these links.  They aren’t going to some phishing site, they are direct links to Amazon, but they include my ID so I can get paid.

If you still don’t want to trust it, but want to buy the items then go ahead, I’ll never know ;).  I just figure this is a way to possibly make some spare cash on the side to help with living/hosting expenses.

Also I’ll never make a posting just to make money.  This blog is truly about my random thoughts, and you’ll notice that I didn’t kick through any links on this post since it’s just a notifier.  If in the course of a posting though I happen to mention a movie, or a book, then chances are I will link it to Amazon.  I’m doing this so people can enjoy things I enjoy and in doing so I also get money for pointing traffic their way.  Sounds fair don’t ya think?

This isn’t going to turn into one of those sites that has ads everywhere.  The only additional ‘ad’ you’ll see is the Amazon search bar up top right.  It pulls keywords off the page so the ads should always be in context and also includes my Amazon ID.  I’m doing this as low-key as possible so it doesn’t interfere with browsing speeds, or cause your kids to see Really Bad Things.™

Now according to Amazon I do have to tell you that I’m not a part of Amazon.com in any way, shape, or form.  This is just a cool program they have out there for people who run their own websites 🙂

So today I’m sitting in my non air-conditioned bedroom on the second floor of my house.  The place hits around the mid-90’s on a day when it’s only in the low-80’s outside.  I decide that I’m going to head to a local park where it’s heavily wooded, so it should be nice and cool.

Before I leave I decide I should grab a couple small items for my Kindle that I’ve been meaning to pick up anyways.  So I head over to grab a copy of Wil Wheaton’s ‘Just a Geek’ which I recommended in my Kindle post.  I’m hoping to have some laughs, and also some reflection which is what Wil does best.  I then figure I should take the time to actually go to all of his other books listings on Amazon and press the little ‘I’d like to read this book on Kindle’ link.  So from the ‘Just a Geek’ listing I click on Wil’s name so it’ll take me to his listing.

BLUESCREEN!

Bluescreen

Windows 7 has now shat itself.

I look and see it’s an error caused by a file named atihdmi.sys. Being fluent in geek parlance tells me this means that for some reason the click sound (Windows ‘clicks’ when you click a link…sort of redundant) being sent from Windows via the HDMI port on my video card to my TV (which is being used as a secondary monitor) just caused the whole system to just go splat.

See Wil, these are the sorts of things that happen when you don’t respect the Kindle.  I hope you’ve learned your lesson.

As for ATi, you’re next on my list, so I suggest you learn how to sleep with your eyes open.