Fate's Obligatory Update

Since starting the new gig, I’ve definitely found myself – slowly, but surely – having more energy. It helps that my current work environment is a lot more positive than the previous. Meanwhile, on the home front, the haunted house and family health concerns have taken over. Today, is the first in a long while, I’ve felt like I could sit back and breath.

I actually sat and played piano some. All that, and I still have a list of chores around the house. Even as ugly clouds hang over us, Fin and I have been fairly motivated lately. When we both were feeling down and out, we decided to start working from “the inside out” – taking the steps to reach our goals that were closest to us, as opposed to simply trying to hit them.

Changing my job was one of our first steps.

Now, we’re working a bit more on getting healthy, and I’m starting to think more and more about fixing this old house up to sell – or at a minimum, but nicer to live in. We’ve got a few cool experiments going now, and Fin may yet have a few blog posts to write.

There’s been a lot of news lately, but I’ve been lax on writing my “interesting news bits”. Given my general feelings anymore about the news, and people writing it, I’m not sure I’ll continue the series.

I’m tired of “news” for the sake of creating opinions that doesn’t lead people to think or actually do things. I’m tired of the continual attacks on various “cultures” deemed inferior by talking heads. In short, I’m tired of reading the opinions of others with no real backing or facts other than to spew forth their personal Utopian view for society. Or, to put it another way, news is dead, propaganda is all that seems to be around now.

And I’m tired of reading it.

I’m hopeful I’ll figure out a way to cut through some in favor of reporting on “cool things” going on out there. That’ll be my goal for next week. Until then, I’ve got some music to find and work around the house to get done.

— Fate

Missouri Election Info

While I’d like to avoid this becoming a super-political blog, Tuesday is election day and there are a few big-issues coming up for a vote. There’s not much going on with our State / County officials, but the Amendments are important.

If you’re voting on Tuesday, take some time to learn what’s up. These amendments all have some hidden agendas and funny business going on.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

Amendment #2

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age?

If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

Most press sources are endorsing this particular amendment. It’s very hard to not get the “for the children” element. That said, there are a few that have some arguments against.

Amendment #3

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

• require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;

• require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;

• require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts; and

• prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.

If any conservatives are out there, I’ll warn you – while the collective bargaining elements of this might sound good to you, I promise you’ll likely see a fairly immediate move to “Common Core“.

I’m not as rabidly anti-common-core as some of those tea party people out there, but as someone that’s spent a lot of time in classrooms, I hate standardize testing. I’ll be voting NO.

Amendment #6

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the election day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?

State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

Call me a traditionalist / snob, but I’m not generally a fan of week-long election cycles. That said, if you ARE a fan, it looks like this Amendment has a few provisos that would potentially kill early voting in MO for the foreseeable future.

Amendment #10

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governor’s decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?

State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

The KC Star calls this a “vindictive” amendment. I may not agree with the reasons it was created, but prefer strong legislative oversight.

Fate Plays IT…

Things have been a little bit dead around here. Mostly because Fin and I have been hugely distracted from other activities. My main PC was knocked out by a thunderstorm a few months back. Not long after, Fin’s mom lost her computer as well.

Apparently, 2014 wasn’t a good year for the SuburbanReject family’s electronics.

Hardware

Fin and I discussed things, and decided on building a new PC.

Parts Picture

 

At this point, I’ve FINALLY finished building / rebuilding / installing / reinstalling and tweaking the system. This was the first PC build I’ve done in a long while. I stopped using custom built PCs roughly 4 years ago, when I decided I had better things to do with my time. Not sure why, but my nerd took over again and I wanted to tweak and customize. For the nerds out there, PCPartsPicker is a fairly cool site that does a good job with organizing a build and finding good prices. I easily saved $200-300 off the retail costs of all these parts over the course of the build through a combination of careful shopping and using that site. I’ve posted the gory details / nerd porn over in a review and write-up at the same site.

Software, Software, Software

Given the death and rebuild of two computers, it seemed like a good team to evaluate software choices and find new / better solutions based on my previous tried and true solutions.

Backup Solutions

CrashPlan

I played with multiple different backup software solutions. Previously, my go-to has always been a simple clonezilla image of the post-install computer, and then attempting to burn regular DVD backups.

Loosing my last PC, I discovered that:

  • I don’t make backups nearly as often as I thought
  • Backups are worthless if you lose them

Currently, somewhere within 3 different family houses, there is a DVD binder with years worth of pictures and digital archives. This DVD binder is missing. I’ve been working through multiple old hard drives, saving off backups, and looking for new/old files and trying to restore my previous archive of my digital life.

At the same time, I’ve bought-in to the idea of backing up to the cloud. After looking at multiple vendors, I’ve landed on CrashPlan. It’s got a couple cool things going for it: cloud storage at a decent price and the ability to backup to personal cloud / other computers. The only real gripe I have is that they don’t really give a good method for whole-PC backup / restore. For that, I’ll keep using Clonezilla and burning to BlueRay BDR.

Anti-Virus

With Windows 8.1, I’ve been a little bit irritated at Microsoft’s Security Essentials package. Not to mention, there’s a lot of knowledgeable people advising against using just that. While I’m generally careful with browsing, I do leave a bit open to the internet (for remote access), and like the idea of at least a basic antivirus program.

After some experimentation and playing with trial software, I landed on BitDefender. There software gets good reviews for detecting malware and the system load is minimal compare to major free  antivirus programs.

I purchased the solution from Herman Street and saved a bit of cash. Transaction was smooth / easy.

Data Recovery

I’m not sure what sad circumstances caused it, but I’ve never seen a data drive quiet as toasted as I received from Fin’s Mom. At first, it appeared to be a lost cause. While physically fine, I’ve not seen the data on a drive so well and truly shredded before. After creating a mirror, I ran the volume through multiple data recovery tools, both free and commercial. Usually, testdisk can work some serious magic.

In the end, after trying multiple system recovery tools, including: Recover My Files, Restorer Ultimate, Recuva, and others I can’t remember, I found *one* just *one* that didn’t resort to raw signature based recovery: Stellar Phoenix.

Stellar’s software works for data recovery. While the UI looks like it’s designed by a two year old, the option selection sucks, and the whole thing feels *clunky*, it managed to process and restore gigs of lost family photos, tax records, and more. And that’s *without* going to the effort of raw data recover where you sort through endless files named Image0001.jpg, Image0002.jpg, many of which are browser thumbnails or mis-matched data.

So, if you have managed to toast a drive without killing the hardware, give it a shot.

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

I don’t make any promises on posting while Fin and I are working an extra job, but… at least I’ve got our computer situation sorted out this week. Next week? Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed nothing new dies.

 

 

 

Ambition, Drive, and Burn Out

It’s been a bit since I posted an actual update here. I set a goal to post regularly here at the beginning of the year. The weekly updates proved an easy way to do it.

Over the past few years, Fins shouted, repeatedly, that I was running myself into the ground. I didn’t realize it for a while, but 4 years ago I left a frustrating job for an even more stressful one. I wanted out of corporate America to do something more interesting. The opportunities for advancement seemed endless.

I’m not sure when the new gig took a turn for the worse. The first year or so centered around building and releasing a cool product. For the longest time, I’ve defined success in my profession as “getting products out the door”. When company tasked a team to build a new product, but failed to create an environment to build it, the end result was a slow, lingering, failure.

They’ve since tried to address several of the perceived root causes, but, I feel, in negative ways.

In the end, the new job proved both stressful and frustrating, and that was too much. I’ve left and gone back to corporate America. Funny enough, my current big company allows me to talk a bit about working there (with a few caveats). They do require me to add a disclaimer though.

The opinions of this blog are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions, business practices, plans, etc… of my employer.

I’ve changed it slightly from the HR mandated version on account of not actually acknowledging who they are here. If you figure it out, then there usual disclaimer applies. In any case, this blog isn’t about whizz-bang ultra cool electronic gadgets.

Fate & Fin are entering yet another “building year”, but with a renewed focus. The past several months have been hard for both of us. On the positive side, I spent some time analyzing whats important, where Fin and I want to go, and how we’re going to get there.

Fin has informed me that I’m not allowed to make any new big plans right now. So, I won’t promise to more interesting / better content here. However, I’m now working toward a new priority: getting healthy. I read multiple times about burnout, and never really figured it could impact so many different areas of my health the way it has. Until it did.

In the past I’ve had goals along the lines of ‘get up earlier’, ‘work out more’, ‘eat healthier’. Little did I realize that those goals would be difficult or impossible without asking why I feel a need to sleep in more, why do I have little desire to work out, and why do I crave constant junk food.

So, for the time being, I’m focused on… “being”.

— Fate

Lazy Sunday Listening

I bring you… The 80’s music video. I vaguely recall hearing about the rise of MTV throughout the 80s. My parents only had cable for a brief period, but I remember visiting friends and always being disappointed when the TV sat on the “music” station. Boring.

Of course now, I don’t know that calling it a “music” station even remotely works. 80s music videos had some crazy production values. And, I bring you 3 samples.


– Welcome to the 80s, says Judas Priest. Great song for air guitar says local police.


– Random Ninjas, what’s not to like?


– Before Miley… Madonna did controversy with a lot more class.

Of course, no discussion of the 80s is complete without the one and only…. Mind you, it’s a bit more viewing than listening given the length of the exposition…

Fate's Weekend Update v.13

Haunted House Season – West Bottoms haunted houses have opened up for all the horror fans out there.

Traffic Camera Lawsuit – Got a red light camera ticket in KC? There’s a settlement for you.

Vagina Cupcakes Uproar – While I once identified as a feminist the continual stupidity of “feminists” has me backing away from using the term at all. And… if a guy talked about teaching children to “please the penis”… Well, that’s more than a little pedo.

State Line Facts – Facts about the state line between KS and MO in KC.

Sachs Recordings – An interesting podcast on the inside of working at the Fed.

3d printed skin grafts – 3d printing advancing older technologies in new ways…

Microsoft threatens – In the midst of mass layoffs, Microsoft is threatening to move offices to Canada unless H1B visas expand.

Australian Surveillance – The US is not alone in wanting to watch your network traffic.

FBI doesn’t like privacy – Not surprising given their history. Watch for efforts to make  programmable / consumer encryption illegal…

Russia going to the moon – In 15 years, Russia will put another man on the moon.

Water is old – Apparently, older than the sun. Given the human body is 60% is water… We are all really old.

Enjoy the weekend, it’s nice out.

— Fate