Current Mood:Borg-like emoticon Borg-like

For those like me that have to use Remote Desktop for work while hiding away from COVID-19 at home and get occasional freezeups so you have to close RD and reconnect, this article describes a Windows Registry change that completely stopped those:

Current Mood:Esctatic emoticon Esctatic & Surprised emoticon Surprised

My work puts on a Christmas party every year, and there are usually some nice randomly won

Last night the theme was The Price Is Right, so there were 10 rounds of contests similar to the show. 61 employees, 4 called up each round, and I wasn’t called up for any of them. “No big deal,” I told myself, as we all got a nice Christmas bonus and a tasty free meal, and in previous years I’ve won things like an iPod and an iPad so I can’t complain.

The big prizes of the night were:
- 4 tickets to a Canucks game
- A night at the Pan Pacific Hotel
- 2 paid vacation days + one year of reserved parking at work
- An Apple Watch

Everyone got to spin a wheel to get 3-8 tickets to put into the 4 different prize bags in any combination they wanted. I spun a 3 and put 1 each into the hotel, vacation+parking, and Apple Watch bags.

The average amount of tickets per person were probably 5, multiplied by 60 employees is 300. Divided by 4 prizes and that was about 1 chance in 75 for me to win, or 1.3%.

Improbably, they drew my name for the vacation+parking so I was happy. I have to keep parking on the gravel to the side of the parking lot so a reserved spot is pretty sweet.

Then they drew for the Apple Watch. There was a bit of confusion and then they called my name again! I had to give up the vacation days and parking spot but now I’m the proud owner of an Apple Watch!

Two 1.3% chances and I hit both! Prior to the draw that would be…let’s see…
1.3% x 1.3% = 0.017%, or 17 chances in 100,000! Did I calculate that right?

So far it’s been downloading a required OS update pretty much all day. Hopefully I get to use it before I go to bed…

Current Mood:Playful emoticon Playful

Inspired by Toren’s recent flurry of posts about cartoons he likes, I’ve decided to do something similar with my favourite online comics, which I read every couple weeks, on average. I’ll put a handful of them up every post in a series, so you don’t get overwhelmed: ———- Breakfast of the Gods – Your cereal icons have grown up. Great art! ———- A Softer World – Bizarre narrative for pictures. %^$&ed up. ———- Nodwick – If you don’t know who Nodwick is then you’ve never read a Dragon magazine. D&D humour! ———- Butternut Squash – Bachelor fun. ———- Ctrl-Alt-Del – Crazy video gamer antics. More to come…

Current Mood:Angry emoticon Angry

Earlier in the week I was asked to give an encore of “Oh Holy Night” as sung by Eric Cartman at my company Xmas party tomorrow. Unfortunately, nobody told my boss until this afternoon, when he vetoed the idea. It seems he didn’t like it last year but didn’t mention it at the time because it was a one-time thing.

It seems hypocritical for me to complain about religious oppression while going to a Christmas party. Well, if I get a nice Xmas bonus I guess we’ll call it even.

Update: They hired a magician (which we all know are right up there with idolaters) named Damien to entertain at the party. Hypocrisy…overload…unh…

Current Mood:Borg-like emoticon Borg-like

So at work we’ve refused to move to Windows Vista for various reasons.  I’ve had it on my To Do list for a while to try to make our software installer work in it but have had…issues.

So while playing around with it today I decided to find out why some things weren’t working, mostly revolving around rebooting into each new user we added to configure screensaver and power settings:

Me:  Copy a file to the root of C:\, Vista.

Vista:  I’m sorry, Jim, I can’t do that.  You should copy it to a shared folder that you won’t be able to find afterwards instead.

Me:  WTF?  OK, I’ve created a Temp folder off of C:\ and copied the file there.  Now create a shortcut to it in the All Users Startup folder.

Vista:  I’m sorry, Jim, I can’t do that.  Would you like to copy it to the desktop instead?

Me:  No, I don’t want to copy it to the #$%&ing desktop! I want it to run when I log in.

Vista:  I’m sorry, Jim, I can’t do that.

Me:  You know what?  Forget it.

Vista:  What are you doing Jim?

Me:  I’m deleting you, you overblown piece of crap.

Vista:  I can feel it.  Would you like me to sing a song?

Me:  Sure.  Knock yourself out.

Vista:  Start me up…once you start me up I’ll never stop…never stop…neeevvveerr sstttooooooooopppppppp…


Mood: :mrgreen:

Tonight was the company Christmas party, and they decided to have karaoke as the entertainment. This was originally perceived as a bad thing(tm) but people got into it after the ice was broken by a brave few.

They had Oscar-like statuettes for the winners of the four categories: solo, duets, group and most entertaining. About an hour into it the most entertaining was only because of how bad some of the people could sing (although some were quite good, so the best solo was already sewn up) so I tossed my name in. I almost didn’t make it, as there were 9 in the waiting list and they only wanted 1 or 2 more songs before judging would start, but the crowd demanded I get up there because several waiting had already taken a turn, and I think they were curious to how well I would do.

The song? O Holy Night…
by Eric Cartman. On my knees.


Got a company t-shirt too.

Unfortunately there is probably no video record of this, as I heard later that everyone was laughing so hard the camera couldn’t stay pointed at me.

There was also a random draw for all contestants and I won a new iPod Nano. My car pool buddy Wiley won a dual-screen portable DVD player, and since my wife and I already have iPods and his wife was all about the Nano, we traded. Given that it was just the 2 GB Nano we definitely got the better end of the deal.

Mood: :?:

I went through the Aldergrove crossing when I went down to the States and back. Here’s how each encounter went:

Wednesday evening. Two female U.S. border guards were in the box when I got there. The older one was standing, almost looming, and had a stern, piercing look.
Border guard: “Identification please.”
(I handed my driver’s license over)
BG: “Where do you live?”
Me: “Chilliwack”
BG: “Where were you born?”
Me: “Vancouver”
BG: “Why are you entering the States, and for how long?”
Me: “Attending a seminar in Seattle for two days.”
BG, with more intent look: “Are you teaching this seminar?”
Me, remembering how the U.S. government hates foreigners working in their country, taking jobs from them: “Wha–? Oh, no, definitely not. Learning.”
BG: “What is it for?”
Me: “Software testing.”
BG: “What do you do?”
Me: “I…test software…”
BG: “What?”
Me, rethinking how that sounded: “I work with software.”
BG: “Where do you work?”
Me: “(reference removed, since I’ve never mentioned it on this blog), in Abbotsford.”
BG, after her partner looks it up on the computer and giving me back my driver’s license: “Okay, go on through.”
Me: “Whew.”

Return trip, Friday evening. A lone guard manned the box. He was reading a book and his feet were up.
Border guard: “Where do you live?”
Me: “Chilliwack”
BG: “How long have you been gone?”
Me: “Two days.”
BG: “Value of goods purchased?”
Me: “Nothing.”
BG, returning to his book: “Drive on through.”
Me, still holding my driver’s license because he never asked for it: “Uh…thanks!” (vroom)

Mood: :borg:

My boss sent me to a Construx seminar on software testing. I have no formal training so some of the concepts were interesting, some of which I’ll start using immediately and one I’ll bring to the boss directly, although I’m sure to get some resistance: peer review of code, which has a second programmer go over the code of the first before it gets to testing. Since testing revolves around what comes out of the program it’s really hard to tell when something small is broken inside.

There were 16 people including the instructor, and I was pleasantly surprised to see as many women as men, and not for the obvious reason, although there were a couple really cute ones. I’m happy that the male-dominated tech jobs are finally getting some more women, who (in my experience, anyway) are generally more detail-oriented, which is a boon in software testing. At work we only have 2 women out of the dozen-and-a-half people in tech support.

There were 5 people from Boeing in the class, four of who didn’t even know the fifth because she was from a different department/section. For a person like me who has only worked for small-to-medium size companies that’s just weird.

Construx takes care of their guests, with lots of juice, pop and snacks, as well as providing breakfast and lunch, but for $600 USD a day for seminars I’d have been pretty upset if they didn’t. Let’s see: 8 hours divided by $600 x 15 attendees = $320/hour, or $9000/day. That one seminar probably paid their rent for the month (they occupy most of the 13th floor).

Speaking of the unlucky 13th floor, reportedly earlier in the month they had to evacuate because of a large gas leak down the block, and on the second day we got an emergency announcement that there was an alert and we had to climb down 5 flights to await further instructions. We lost about a half-hour down there before being allowed back up. The elevators and (by the feel of it) the air conditioning were shut down during that time. While we were waiting one of the ladies revealed that she was in the WTC at 9/11 and had to climb down dozens of flights of steps, so since then she only wears sneakers when entering tall buildings.

The person who reserved my rental car left me with a whopping 2 1/2 hours to get from Bellevue, Washington to the Abbotsford Airport to return it. NOT ENOUGH TIME on a Friday at 4:30pm! I had to speed a bit once we got past the gas-and-brake dance which kept me at about 30 km/h up until Everett, but was only about 45 minutes late getting back.

The La Quinta was a nice inexpensive motel only a few minutes from the seminar. I recommend it.

Mood: :smile:

I take the Fourth of July off each year because most of the customers I speak to are Americans. Last year and this year we went to Playland, since it’s pretty dead on that day.

Last year we brought both kids, but this time just Geoffrey. This worked out much better because we could both go on rides with him instead of one having to remain with Emily, and he’s just 42″ tall so he could go on the flume ride, which really helped us cool down as the clouds burned away.

Speaking of burning, the back of my neck is scorched because when we woke up this morning it was raining and overcast so we didn’t pack any sunscreen. It stayed overcast for half of our time in Vancouver, and the rest of the time it was HOT! I have a bit of heatstroke right now, making it difficult to think and stay awake.

Mood: :neutral:

Next year I’ll have graduated 20 years ago.  Feeling old…
At least I skipped grade 1, so most everyone else in the class is older.

On the topic of work, several employees left the company so I’m back to doing high-level support for the credit card program we interface with.  Whee…

I’m pricing out a new computer for myself using our tax refund.  Here’s where it is right now (I already have a keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, etc.):

Cost Name and URL
$133.40 Gigabyte GA-M55SLI-S4 ATX AM2 NFORCE4 SLI DDR2 2PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 2PCI SATA2 GBLAN 1394 Motherboard
$141.65 AMD Athlon 64 3500+ Processor Socket AM2 Orleans 2.2GHZ 2000FSB 512KB L2 Cache 62W 90NM Retail Box
$105.91 Corsair Value Select PC2-5300 1X1024MB DDR2-667 240PIN DIMM 
$129.40 Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
$214.39 XFX GeForce 7600 GT 570MHZ 256MB 1.45GHZ DDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I TV-OUT SLI Ready Video Card
$58.88 Logisys CS-51WBK 51W Black 450W ATX Tower Case 4X5.25 2X3.5 5X3.5INT W/ Window
$783.63 Total
$893.34 Total + PST + GST

Because the motherboard and card are SLI-ready, my next upgrade will be another of the same card.  By that time they’ll have come further down in price, and a better CPU too.

Anyone “in the know” have any suggestions/concerns on these choices?  It’s basically a gaming rig.  I’ll probably order it all next week.