27 Things I Won’t Miss from my Job (and 5 Things I Will)

workI’m being laid off from my job next month, so I thought about what I will and won’t miss from it.

I won’t miss:

  1. Idiot coworkers
  2. Idiot customers
  3. Incompetent manager
  4. Jerkface department head
  5. Idiot temporary employees trashing the place
  6. Carl (there’s always a ‘Carl’)
  7. That guy that tries to justify the crappy things the company does
  8. Our crappy software
  9. Our crappy websites
  10. Our crappy apps
  11. Our crappy phone system
  12. Having to tell customer our crappy software doesn’t work because it was made in 1999.
  13. Having to tell customers our crappy websites, apps and phone system are down…again
  14. Having to tell idiot workers to do their jobs
  15. Telling idiot workers how to do the job they have been doing for years
  16. Workforce (mis)Management
  17. Waking up early
  18. Traffic
  19. Lousy parking
  20. Half-hour lunch
  21. Lousy places to eat in the area
  22. Timesheets
  23. 2% raises…when there ARE raises
  24. Shagnasty coffee
  25. Overpriced vending
  26. Having to bring my own coffee
  27. Insulting ‘contests’ from management

Things I will miss:

  1. The nice gal from Legal
  2. The ‘office mom’ (there’s always one!)
  3. The metalhead guy (there’s always one!)
  4. Money, but most importantly…
  5. Health Insurance!

Unwritten Anger

As I mentioned previously, I tend to carry a chip on writingmy shoulder at work, which can increase or decrease in size depending on the derp that is being thrown my way by customers, coworkers, and the company I work for.  I recently had an instance where working on a story during my lunch hour improved my mood and I felt happy throughout the remainder of the day.

It happened again.  I got worked up into a lather one morning thanks to a coworker who couldn’t follow simple directions.  I reached the point where I had to walk away from my desk because I wanted to hit something or someone.  Lunch couldn’t come too soon because doggone it, I needed a break.

I returned to my desk and lunchtime soon arrived without incident.  I tapped away on my tablet, looking for some mental respite from the day.  I had earbuds on and was listening to music in an attempt to blot out the office noise.  As is often the custom, I opened my ‘To Do’ directory and scrolled down the list of unfinished short stories, blog posts, podcast scripts, and book drafts for something to work on.  I opened up the short story that I had started before.  The words flew from my fingertips and I had a completed first draft by the time lunch was through.  As was the case before, I felt better after the fact.

It then occurred to me that I hadn’t written any fiction in quite a few days; I had been spending them formatting “Fuzzy Words” for publication and recording and editing podcasts.  I started to wonder: was I more easily upset because I hadn’t worked on any stories in a while?  Have I gone from ‘I like to write’ to ‘I need to write?”

92 Things I Noticed at Texas Furry Fiesta 2015

profu
Don’t spill the Chemical X!

Texas’ only furcon, Furry Fiesta, took place last weekend from Feb 20-22 and I had a ball.  So, without fur-ther ado:

    1. PRE-TRIP/THURSDAY: Never been on a 4-day trip that didn’t involve a tent before, time to upgrade my luggage.
    2. Nothing like that ‘did I forget to pack anything’ feeling, luckily there’s a Wally Martinez (Wal-Mart) near the hotel.
    3. Weight on Thursday morning: 267 Hope I don’t spend half the event pulling up my pants like at PAX South.
    4. Then again, that wouldn’t be so terrible 😉
    5. Thing I almost forgot #1-Nintendo 3DS, Thanks, Oscar!
    6. Thing I almost forgot #2-Cologne. Insert joke about ‘no female furries’ here
    7. Thing I almost forgot #3- Apparently my insurance card expired last October.  Oops!
    8. Thing I did forget #1: Ballcap for my Soos cosplay. Doh!
    9. Didn’t drink caffeine in purpose on the way up, finally had to succumb and stop at the Czech Stop for a soda.
    10. And some kolaches.  Mmm, good!
    11. New duffel bag has wheels…I feel so WHITE rolling it around.
    12. I was recognized by someone in the reg line and couldn’t figure out who it was until I heard his furry name.
    13. Felt honored to call Nuka “Doctor” for the first time.  Congrats!
    14. Room is on the 9th floor. Well, I did say I needed exercise XP
    15. Full-color conbook!  Is niiiice!
    16. A friend said the conbook was in color last year but I didn’t care because I didn’t have a story in it
    17. Yay, a fridge in the room…already stocked with overpriced items…BOO
    18. Karma FTL: Joked about the first guy in reg line being their guinea pig, then I ended up being the guinea pig when I upgraded to Super Sponsor.
    19. Prediction: Lots of angel dragons this year.
    20. Private joke: Wolfboy was denied chocolate chip waffles at Waffle House, dude just has bad luck with chocolate.
    21. Waffle House was great!  Now I have another place to stop at when I’m in Austin.
    22. Bad timing though, we bought a total of 15 people there and there were only 2 workers.
    23. They did an admirable job, though!
    24. FRIDAY: Had to get the genuine Waffle House experience the next morning after we swamped them on Thursday night.
    25. Bought a clip-on tie for a cosplay thinking it would be quicker, but it’s more trouble than a real one >.<
    26. Cap or ears with cosplay? Ears, of course.  Ignore #8
    27. It says something when Wally Martinez runs out of bags!
    28. Dafuzz is up with no trash cans on the first floor of the hotel?
    29. The magic is routinely being broken here. I has a sad.
    30. Feel funny hanging my ears on my rear view mirror like they’re fuzzy dice or something.
    31. Semi-retired my ears until I figure out a better way to wear them.
    32. “I’m sleepy” “Drink some coffee” “I don’t drink coffee” “There’s no better time to start!”
    33. Took a quick peek in the adult section of the art auction, funny how the quality of the art dropped a little.
    34. The Corral sends to be much improved this year.
    35. I gave away paper copies of one of my books to a few folks and it felt good, I hope the recipients enjoy them.
    36. Had to abandon my lanyard because my badge was blocking my shirt…oh no, I’ve become one of THOSE cosplayers
    37. Two researchers at the con means two surveys to do. I haven’t had this much homework to do since college!
    38. Obligatory work-related item: Saw a tech-sounding name on a building and the first thought that popped in my head was “Are they hiring?”
    39. Got bumped in the head by a fursuiter at the Bucktown Tiger performance but it was okay, he was padded.
    40. I kinda want to knee people that carry speakers playing music in the nards.
    41. Learned some photography stuff from a ‘fur-tographer’ 😀

      #41
      #41
    42. Heard someone use the phrase “home grown country boy.”  Is there any other kind?
    43. What is a fursuiter without a fursuit at a furry con? Very very sad.  Dude got better, though.
    44. Thing I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing: Tingle-styled zentai suit.  MY EYES
    45. Elevator-con didn’t happen for me, there were a few waits, but they were reasonable.  Kudos!
    46. SATURDAY: “I’m gonna dress as Professor Utonium” “Will you have three girls?” “No, but this is a con, they’ll be around” “Yeah but they won’t be girls” /facepaw
    47. When doing a panel, make it more about the topic, and less about you.
    48. Hell, at least have an outline.  The last time I went to a panel that was that bad it was held by teenagers.
    49. Heard a bird cawing outside, not sure if actual bird or attendee
    50. It says something when I sneeze in the hotel room and someone walking in the hall says “Bless you”
    51. New thing I’m not sure about: Someone had a friend do a badge of their ‘fruitsona.’
    52. Two people have referred to me as Uncle Kage. Not sure it’s complimentary
    53. After my camera battery conked out last year, I used my iPad mini to record the fursuit parade.
    54. …in landscape.  I didn’t want to be THAT guy again.
    55. Got to portray a not-very-nice executive during the voice over panel. That was easy.
    56. Nothing like that NOOOO moment when you realize your 3DS wifi has been off for the last few hours >.<
    57. Next time I think I’ll try a room at the hotel next door because reasons.
    58. Parking Idea: Paint one side of the parking barriers red so people know not to park next to them.
    59. Parking Idea #2: Take the back way through the overflow parking onto Quorum, much faster to get to Belt Line Road or the shopping center across the freeway
    60. Got fur-tobombed while getting my picture taken with a friend, lol
    61. Thing I forgot #2: Small ice chest to store/chill drinks
    62. Wore a lab coat for a costume on Saturday (see above) and kinda liked it, especially the pockets!
    63. SUNDAY:  Still no bags at Wal-Mart? Get it together, people!
    64. Awesome idea: Use cardboard priority mail envelopes from USPS for prints to keep them fresh and un-bent
    65. Boston Market’s 3-person meal could have easily fed 4 but SO GOOOD
    66. Whispered “I don’t read Gold Digger” to the Antarctic Press guy because Fred Perry was right there.
    67. I did buy (and enjoyed) two of his other comics and Furry Tales, though!
    68. Eyeball con: Some wag went around sticking googly eyes onto random things and apparently having pupils on fursuits is not cool anymore.
    69. I was right about the angel dragons, but the ‘no pupils for fursuits’ thing is a mite weird.
    70. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” got stuck in my head after hearing it during the jazz performance Saturday night
    71. That’s not a bad thing, BUT I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS >.<
    72. Whenever I see musicians play live, it makes me miss being in a band *sigh*
    73. Had an impromptu “Be Prepared” singing session in the car and realized I’d forgotten most of the words
    74. From Sunday afternoon afterwards the con was pretty cool, seemed like most of the hyperactive kids had left.
    75. MONDAY / POST-TRIP: Woke up Monday to see a layer of snow outside…CRAP
    76. Okay, ice. I’ve spent 99.999% of my life south of San Antonio and know not of such things 😛
    77. Got some neat “furries in the ice” pictures though!
    78. You don’t know which shoes are good for ice until you actualy have ICE
    79. Well at least I wasn’t wearing sandals.

      #78
      #79
    80. For being a small con, I didn’t see some folks on some days. Odd.
    81. Found a phone, how do we find the owner? Fursuit picture on the home screen of course!
    82. Drive home had a few harrowing moments at the start, but once we left Dallas things were fine.
    83. Still fuzzing cold, though; the Excelsior (my CR-V) still had ice on it when I got home.
    84. Took over 200 pictures during the con, holy cats!
    85. Bye bye, backpack, hello super-sponsor messenger bag.
    86. Not looking forward to seeing how many FA notifications I have pending.
    87. Or work emails for that matter.
    88. Aww #1: No calendar this year.
    89. Aww #2: Didn’t get to wear my “Do not feed the bears” shirt.
    90. Realization upon cleaning out backpack: I have way too many chargers and cables
    91. Weight on Tuesday morning: 268…so why are my pants so bleeping baggy?
    92. Saw a Krystal cosplayer and thought: “Hey, a place where Krystal CAN enjoy her sandwich!

Eww-buntu

wtflinux
Dafuq?

Well, that didn’t take long.  Within 24 hours of installing Ubuntu (see previous post) onto my laptop, I found myself reaching for my Windows 7 restore discs.  While wasn’t bad, it possessed one major flaw that kept it from staying on my laptop: it was horribly inefficient and significantly cut down its battery life.

I found that to be odd because one of the things I distinctly remembered about Linux was that it was efficient, but the fan on my laptop just wouldn’t stop spinning as I installed programs on it and got re-accustomed to the Ubuntu UI.  While doing so, I had forgotten how convenient it was to have multiple desktops.

Getting back to my main point, running Ubuntu reduced the laptop’s battery life from 4-5 hours on Windows to under 3…and that was with Wi-Fi turned off.  While  I was processing that unfortunate turn of events, my screen started to glitch.  This was a fresh install with all updates installed and barely any additional software on it.  As awful as Windows supposedly is, I’ve NEVER had something like that happen so quickly.  I have to say, I was very disappointed with the experience.

Already annoyed with the battery performance, I (metaphorically) flipped the table, opened the laptop’s DVD drive and inserted the first restore disc.

Ahh.  That new Windows smell!

RANDOM REVIEW: Windows 8

EATING MY PEAS

My Windows 8 Desktop
So Purdy…

I first gave Windows 8 a spin when the Developer Preview was released back in 2011.  As I have not purchased a new computer since then, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the final product, but judging from prevailing opinion as well as feedback from customers, it seemed that I wasn’t missing much.  As I work in tech support, I figured that I was going to have to support Windows 8 sooner or later, so I decided to eat my peas and installed Windows 8 on my laptop: a 14″ Toshiba P745-S4102 with 6MB of RAM.

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

The install went fairly well, but I made the mistake of not wiping the drive beforehand, so I had lots of icky bits left over from years of Windows 7 use.  I would open up my boot drive to find rouge directories sticking out their tongues at me in glee.  Obviously the thing to do was to delete them, so I got delete happy and of course, deleted an important directory.

So just like I did during my adventures with OS X, I had to start all over again.  I formatted the drive, reinstalled Windows 8, and was back in business.  Windows 8 seemed to be a little more happier after the second install, so lesson learned: always format the hard drive before dropping in a new OS.

THROWN FOR A LEARNING CURVE

Up until Windows 8 you could count on a few things like the Start Menu and Control Panel to be there.  No mas.  The Start Menu has been replaced by the Start Screen and other options are accessed by pulling up a ‘Charms Bar’ that is accessed by moving the mouse to either the upper or lower-right hand corner of the screen.  Moving the mouse to the lower-left hand corner reveals a shortcut to the Start Menu, and the upper-left corner pulls up the last program opened and a list of currently open programs if you move the pointer down from there.  The interface is not intuitive and poorly explained, you get zero help and are tossed into the Start Screen with nary a tooltip to help you.

A great example of how obtuse things are is the method for shutting down the computer:

  1. Bring up the Charms bar by moving the mouse to one of the right-hand corners…that is, assuming you know its there.
  2. Click ‘Settings’
  3. Click ‘Power’
  4. Click ‘Shut Down’ from the pop up menu.

Is it any wonder that people are upset about having to re-learn how to use their computer again?  Expect to stumble around Windows 8 for a while (I certainly did) until you learn its intricacies or say ‘screw it’ and download a Start Menu replacement.

APPY, APPY, APPY

Mess of tiles on Windows 8 Start Screen
…or not!

One of the big reasons Windows 8 has received so much grief was because of the removal of the apparently-beloved Start Menu.  I admittedly gave them static about this too, but having poked at it again, I now get what it is Microsoft had in mind when they removed it.

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have given us the concept of apps, or small programs that only do one thing or access a single service.  Like many of you, I’ve gotten accustomed to doing things via apps.  When done right, they’re great: you open up the app for whatever it is you want to do and take care of business instead of having to open up a browser, navigate to the website, login and all that.

Microsoft and Windows 8 want you to do everything in apps, and while I like this idea and would like to embrace it, the fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, the Windows 8 apps I have used have either fallen short of my expectations or just plain don’t exist.

The official Twitter app is one example.  I have multiple Twitter accounts, randomizer9 is my main one and I have one set up for The Rules of Tech Support.  The Twitter apps on my phone and iPad both allow me to switch back and forth between identities with a few taps, but the Windows 8 app only lets me login to one account, which reduces its usefulness.

Some apps just don’t exist.  The most glaring omissions for me are Facebook and Gmail, though I can set up the Mail client for use with GMail.  I’m also surprised that there isn’t a version of Office that uses the Metro interface.  Granted, I don’t use very many apps to begin with, so its not that big of a deal to me, but other folks who love apps might be disappointed in the selection, though it should get better with time.

THE DOCKING DESKTOP

Luckily, the desktop is still around and is accessed by clicking the Desktop tile.  While the Start Menu is persona non grata, much to the consternation of lots of folks (including myself) programs can be docked to the Taskbar just like in Windows 7.  I found myself docking each one after installing them.  This works pretty well for me and I haven’t really missed the Start Menu all that much, especially since discovering this handy list of Windows key shortcuts.

Unfortunately, installing legacy programs barfs icons all over the Start Screen just like it did before.  It is a little jarring to see the a nice purdy Metro Start Screen morph into icky tile-o-rama with a tap of the Page Down key.  The big problem with the Start Screen is that there is currently no good way to organize tiles that were installed by legacy programs.  Sure, you can move them around, but one of the nice things about Ye Olde Start Menu was that it kept things you didn’t need out of the way.  Hopefully the upcoming Windows 8.1 will resolve some of those issues, otherwise I’m not sure what I’m going to do once my Taskbar fills up with docked programs.

I have experienced no compatibility issues with older programs and hardware as of yet which is pretty darn lucky considering I still use Microsoft Money 2000 and WinAmp 2.9.

WHERE’S MY MEDIA CENTER?

I feel bad for Microsoft at times because even when they do things right they often don’t get credit for it or the Thing Done Right is completely ignored.  Windows Media Center is one of those things.  Media Center turns a TV-tuner equipped PC into a pretty decent PVR and can even stream TV from a PC to an Xbox 360, which is awesome.  It was created during the Windows XP days (remember Media Center PCs? Yeah, me neither) and came included with certain versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7.  It does not come with Windows 8.  If you want Media Center you now have to pay an extra $9.99 even if you have the Super Mega Deluxe Happy Version of Windows..  So much for doing it right.

 CONCLUSION

Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth you’ve probably heard, Windows 8 is not that bad.  Yes, it does have some annoying habits, such as the made-for-touch interface and missing Start Menu, but I have learned to live with those inconveniences.  That said, I understand why some people are upset: Windows users (such as myself) have grown accustomed to the Start button/menu being there for nearly twenty years.  For Microsoft to just yank that football away like Lucy does to Charlie Brown is just not right.  I know workarounds, but lots of folks either don’t or don’t want to go through the trouble/hassle.  Microsoft reached just a little too far ahead in that regard.

I understand what Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 8.  I even like the idea of doing everything quickly in apps instead of having to constantly go to the web browser.  Unfortunately, the apps either don’t measure up in terms of functionality or they just aren’t there, which means I end up constantly having to go back to the desktop, which defeats the whole point of the new interface.

The much-touted quick startup and shutdown is nice and my laptop appears to be performing as well as it did before, though, as with any new system, one should be leery of potential conflicts with old hardware and software.  I haven’t hit any snags yet in that department, but time will tell on that.

To wrap up: Windows 8 isn’t quite The Future just yet.  It takes steps in the right direction with its app-centric design but is hamstrung by sub-par apps that will have you going back to the desktop over and over again.  If you are one of these folks that just can’t live without the Start Menu, there are third party add-ons, but I can’t vouch for their usefulness or reliability.  Once you get over the steep learning curve, 8 isn’t all that bad, but it isn’t as great as it could have been, either.  The upcoming Windows 8.1 should make things better so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.  While I’ll be sticking with Windows 8 for the short-term, I won’t be tossing away my Windows 7 install disc anytime soon.

3 out of 5 tiles.

Minor Details

homeI don’t know when the light finally came on, but when it did, I’m pretty sure I did a facepalm. After weeks of negotiating prices, repairs, dates and all that yadda yadda yadda on the house I want to buy, I realized that I had overlooked one important little thing:

Appliances.

You know, those little things that make life more convenient: a refrigerator to store food in, a stove to cook that food on, and a washer and dryer to wash clothes that have gotten dirty after cooking and eating said food.  Since the disposition of the appliances is not in the home purchase contract, I could open up the door on Thursday to find the aforementioned modern conveniences waiting for me….or I’ll be making an emergency trip to Ye Olde Electronics or Department Store for a new refrigerator and stove.

It’s not as bad as it seems:   If there is no washer and dryer, then its back to hanging out with the freakos at the laundromat.  As far as the stove goes, I plan on replacing the it anyway because the home has an electric stove, something which I have learned to loathe during my many years of apartment living.  Things might get a little dicey without a refrigerator, though, because I really like cold sodas and dairy.

Oh well, just as long as they leave the hot water heater.  Then again, I’ve gone without hot water, too! 😉

38 Things I Noticed During Furry Fiesta 2013

I'm all ears!
I’m all ears!

For the second year in a row, I headed up to Addison for Texas’ one and only furry convention:  Furry Fiesta 2013: The Time Traveller’s Ball.  I had a wonderful time, and so without further ado:

  1. JUST TAKE THE TOLL ROAD around Austin, especially if you’re going northbound.
  2. Driving up was much more pleasant in my still-pretty-new Honda CR-V
  3. The con was made even more fun by the friends that went with me and the ones I met there!
  4. Artist Alley needs to be a little bigger and supervised.
  5. What? No Rock Band in the game room? Aw, I so wanted to do Power of Love…again and again.
  6. BuckHopper just barely got last year’s Voice Over panel uploaded before this year’s show because he was very very busy with work.
  7. Of course when you realize that his work involves videogames, the amount of sympathy you have for him might drop just a teensy bit.
  8. I think his Voice Recording Basics panel needed to be just a little bit more, well, basic.  My head was spinning near the end.
  9. I was a very sad bear just ten minutes before my panel started because nobody was there. *sniff*
  10. People then started to show up, and I became happy, and nervous!
  11. I burned through my prepared material in a half hour…need to rehearse next time
  12. Things went downhill fast during discussion when the subject of DRM and piracy came up…argh
  13. At dinner, the restaurant owner asks how we’re doing and notices the badges. Her: “Are you here for a convention?” Us: “Yeah!” Her: “What kind of convention is it?” AWKWARD SILENCE.
  14. Seriously, I have never seen nine adults (including me) simultaneously freeze like deer in the headlights.
  15. OH YEAH, ITS AN ART CONVENTION! :3
  16. Luckily, I remembered my ‘training’ the next day. Get some furry common sense, y’all!
  17. One guy trying to explain Furry Fiesta to an older person got “What? Fairy Fiesta?” as a reply. That explains a lot, actually.
  18. I’m not sure which made my attempt to record the fursuit parade worse: the lighting, my iPad mini, or the two rubes that stood next to me…seriously, I kept expecting to hear one playing a banjo and the other a jug.
  19. The Furry Psychology panel filled up quick, they should just give Dr. Nuka a video room next time, it’ll be like college but much less boring.
  20. If the International Anthropomorphic Research Project were to change the last word in their  name to something starting with “F” it would be I-ARF which would be pawsome!
  21. Got my first dose of con funk in AA when some nasty dude decided to sit next to me.  Ended up having to shoo him off later, too…jerk.
  22. Not sure which was better: acquiring a pair of bear ears to wear, or my friend Chris’ reaction to them.  “What the hell are those things?!”
  23. There were lots of Marty McFlys but one guy (a fursuiter no less) NAILED IT.  How?  He had a WALKMAN.  Everybody else GO HOME.
  24. There were lots of 4th Doctors, too 🙂
  25. While my panel went well, my attempts to sell berks in Artist Alley did not. *shrug*
  26. I guess I didn’t really need that Sales Tax ID after all, then.
  27. Speaking of AA: If you are going to be in AA read the rules on the wall and don’t whine like a petulant child when they don’t match your expectations.
  28. $3.75 for gas?  Makes me glad the Excelsior gets about 30MPG on the freeway even with 3 dudes with 3 days worth of luggage.
  29. Thanks for putting us in the ‘annoying kid’ section of IHOP, waiter.  *twitch*
  30. Either the con is short on staff or they were not very noticeable, because I don’t remember seeing very many staff members.
  31. One person in AA had an old school early digital camera that I used to take his picture with a fursuiter: a big chunky HP one that was the size and weight of a brick.
  32. Never mind the burgers (which are good) I want In-N-Out to come to San Antonio because the ‘well done’ fries are the BEST. THING. EVAR.
  33. Boston Market.  We also need them in San Antonio, too.
  34. Some friends call TFF ‘CircleCon’ because everything on the second floor is well, in a circle.
  35. Thing I forgot: Electric razor. The ol’ greymuzzle was showing by Sunday
  36. Every time I thought I was going to need/use my laptop, I didn’t because my iPad mini did the job. I may have crossed a threshold.
  37. Of course, just when I start to get familiar with the area around the hotel, they decide to move it next year.
  38. I’ll definitely have to take Thursday off next year…maybe Monday, too 🙂