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Archive for the ‘Computers and Internet’ Category

Bas-Relief

09/14/2016 Comments off

bas-relief

Mandelbulb 3D, Un-Retouched

New Code, New Controls and new randomness from a new machine (Intel i5-4590 Haswell CPU, GA-Z97X Motherboard, nVidia GTX750 graphics card) and this is the result… So much to learn…

Back into the Valley

09/12/2016 Comments off

back-into-the-valley

Mandelbulb 3D v 18, Un-Retouched

I’ve been away from the program for a while and things have changed a lot. Looks like I’m going to need to try to work into my schedule how to re-learn this program.

Just a speed render while listening to someone making a musical piece on Twitch.

Twenty-Three Years in the Field: Is it too late to change careers?

08/24/2016 Comments off

Entry 08/24/2016 01:57:57 PM – Mentat 1159

 

I don’t normally like to talk about work or the work necessary to networking myself into a new position in a new company.  Well, not publicly and not for years because honestly there’s only just so much whinging and hand-wringing that even I can put up with from the likes of me.  However, since starting the carousel of finding a job that I might like (once again), my tolerance of the contracting field has not only soured but definitely creates the wrong sort of ire whenever I think about it.  Looking back over the years, I can see the path in the sand on just how much the life as a contractor has changed from the time when I entered it and receiving offers hand-over-fist, to today where I’m fighting between the feelings of eye-rolling myself into a seizure to seriously slapping the ever living shit out of some of these bottom-feeders that storm my cell phone like it’s a game of capture the flag.  While I understand that perhaps they’re a necessary evil to getting your foot in the door of some of these places in the area — I would prefer to even use them sparingly to if ever at all.

The fact is, I despise all contracting companies since the late 90s.  Part of it has to do with the high level of turnaround you can have as a primary contact at the contracting agency.  A person that seems to have their act together quickly shuffles off to a better position leaving a vacuum at the desk they had been sitting in the week before.  With that power vacuum first came the lack of knowledge necessary to matching the contractor with the position, and then later with the Special Snowflake Syndrome that slowly came to inflict the younger work-force, it created the unfortunate necessity to lying to the contractor what sort of position they were filling at the company in question.

I remember the second aspect vividly during the first part of the 00s when I was still living in Atlanta, where a contract (short or long term temporary) was made to sound as glamorous as possible, only to discover within the first three hours of being at the job site was nothing like it was described over the phone as to the work and responsibilities that it would entail.  The one contract that I recall off the top of my head as an example had to do with the agency told me that it was an administrative sort of position that required filing and clerical skills for a department of ten.  It was billed as a Librarian sort of position that required to be filled while the person originally hired for the position was on maternity leave.  What it was, was filing claims in a closet about 15′ x 15′ (4.5 x 4.5 meters), in a hodgepodge of misshapen filing cabinets that looked like they were saved last minute from the trash compactor with each drawer stuffed with files in a haphazard manner and at least 5 – 10 Stick Ups in each.  Let me tell you — after an hour of opening and shutting those drawers my sense of smell was completely burned out.  A refusal to return to the position the next day, it took almost a week to recover my sense of smell without constantly smelling artificial lilac or lavender.  I think to this day, if I never smell Airwick Lilac or Lavender will be entirely too soon.

Moving north hasn’t been much better for the contracting circuit.  One of my first contracts involved me working with a 20 year veteran from the nursing field that was given the opportunity to change careers and low and behold was given the cushy desk job as an IT Manager over several IT-related departments in healthcare.  Interviewing with the woman — it was damned clear the woman was a Troglodyte.  She had the voice of someone that spent 20 or more years smoking that had just given it up.  While she seems fair on the surface and her idea of cross-training was sort of on the mark when it came to ensuring everyone on the helpdesk knew how to cover the desk during all contingencies; this great idea came to down in a crash and burn when that training would involve the same sort of schizophrenic and frenetic scheduling that nurses go through in a hospital.  Looks good in theory, but when you realize entry-level IT people make on average $15-17/hour as opposed to nurses that make $29-$36/hour; this was a catastrophically bad idea and sleep hours are seriously and severely being cut when you’re finding your work schedule for three days are 23:00 – 07:30 and then the next four would put you at 11:00 – 19:00…

Yeah…

In my 40s at the time, I’m not a spry just-starting-IT type…  Not to mention this isn’t the sort of thing I’d ever been used to — even when serving on-call — as I’m more than sure, I would bounce like a brick if I continued that sort of schedule.  And like it or not — even though I had to have my contracting agency step in to remind them I’m a fill-in (and not a full-time employee), the retribution that came for not being “cooperative” was in fact borderline harassment and denigrating.

I would like to say before I continue that not all of the contracts I’ve had have been progressively worse since the late 90s as there are some good contracts out there that I can say were not only enjoyable but thought provoking as well.  Working with the kids at Providence College, performing lessons for how to program in Access and SQL to someone that was on the verge of understanding OOL, opportunities to speak with people that remembered the times before NAFTA and so on…  The fact remains that it’s not looking much better now than it did 16 – 18 years ago.

It’s just…  it looks pretty damned bleak at the moment that even the closet optimist hidden deep inside is having a hard time trying to maintain a positive outlook through the current environment.  Let’s see if I can draw pictures in the last month alone that have dealt with that has either left me rolling my eyes so hard I about had a convulsion in the process.

I have received calls from places like Maryland (using a 617 Boston Area Code but the return call number started 410), New Jersey, Manhattan, NYC and Colorado, trying to find technicians to work for a company that has a negative reputation of underpaying and cutting the workforce in a way that prevents anyone working there from being able to claim unemployment benefits.  While I won’t mention the name of the company in question, I can tell you I had once interviewed for the position and couldn’t keep a poker face when I was told the starting salary was $7/hour less than the competition (that subsequently had more responsibilities for less pay).  When I was told I should be “thankful for being hired by this company…”  any semblance to a poker face was completely obliterated when I told him the starting pay at the three companies in competition against them was more offered to a janitor than a tech support specialist.

Yeah, they called me 10 minutes after that interview making up some excuse that the hiring manager had an emergency meeting and wouldn’t be available.  I never heard from that company again.  But that doesn’t stop the bottom-feeders in contracting agencies to contact me about the “opportunity”.

I received a call from another agency with a Metro-Boston area code that I remember submitting my resume (CV) to for a third shift position.  That resume fell into a black hole that a month later – I finally received the “we received your resume…  are you still looking for a job?  We have something in the Boston area…”

Uh, that was a month ago.  This type of call is a bait and switch.  No thanks, I don’t like companies that don’t have the decency to send an e-mail or make a quick call confirming that the position has been filled.

Then there’s the agency I used to work for prior to being hired full time.  Let’s talk about their tactics a moment, shall we?  First they call but don’t leave voicemail.  This usually occurs at least 3 – 8 times a week.  When they do leave voicemail on around the ninth time, it’s the sort of nattering on like they’re your best friend, “oh just touching base see how you’re doing…”

Uh…  Have I ever made an effort to call you since I was hired full time at Lifespan?  No.  Are any of you my friend?  No.  And given that I warned them of the mess that was being generated, which was blatantly ignored in an effort to kiss as much ass as you could to make the management happy by providing fresh bodies…  Well, I’m not going to be rushing back to work for a company that doesn’t listen to first-hand eye-witnessing…  That and let’s just say while this agency might be doing something legal, it isn’t remotely ethical…  And I’m not about to sacrifice my upstanding attitude for that approach to business.

I know that’s convoluted.  I wish I could say more, but the repercussions make me a bit…  edgy.

Finally comes the call I just got from Woburn, MA.  Seems that this agency is trying to get people to both companies with the notorious reputation of having extremely high turn around.  Told him about that and the fact that I’ve talked with ex-employees from both companies and they tell me the same stories…  Mass firing of employees before they can collect unemployment, burning out the contractor pool for years…

How do you know this? He asked

How many contracting agencies do you think have called and contacted me about job opportunities with them in the last ten years?  You’re the fortieth.  Do you think you have a chance to keeping their business?  Nope….  I refuse to work for those companies.

He stammered out some professional comments and got himself off the phone .

The fact is, they’re so bad they’re reaching out to agencies outside of their state because those in the state know they can’t get people back in there.

So the question I’m asking myself now is — it is too late to change careers and make macramé plant holders, selling them on the corner in front of City Hall?  Heh, then again, I’m not too sure it’s a good choice, given this news article recently.  If the Mayor’s Press Secretary was almost mugged — who’s to say I wouldn’t be…  again

With that, I need to wind down for the night.  Early day tomorrow as I have laundry to do and that means up at 04:00.  Until the next time.

The Throes of Summer

08/08/2016 Comments off

Entry 08/07/2016 05:00:00 AM – Mentat 1147

Having failed to take a nap for a second time this afternoon, when I shambled my ass out of bed a little while ago, it had dawned on me that I couldn’t for the life of me remember the last time I wrote a diary entry that would go out to the world.  The first question that came to mind was, “has it been that long?”  followed closely by the stampede of, “if I can’t remember, it must be that long…”  with, “nah, it couldn’t be…”, mixed with feelings that old age has begun to get the better of me, through the fleeting thought of Alzheimer scares.  It was promptly concluded with checking one of the two sites that I routing visit (though rarely post to) confirming it was almost three months since the last time I had the gumption to posting anything to the world.  Though you can tell by the numerical system I have traditionally used for my entries that it’s been a mere 59 entries since then.  Eh, I’m not surprised really.

Some of the events that have occurred since the last time I sat down to write includes some of the following insanity:

For Emancipation Day, I have deleted my account from Deviant Art.  The straw that broke the camel’s back on that was watching the management of a chat area I used to frequent either tripping over their tampon string or channeling the worst possible elements of Scorned Woman Syndrome.  I watched with horror as my perspective of the place transformed to a niche area for sanity and artistic good nature to exactly as it’s been laid out on the Encyclopedia Dramatica entry.  While it was a good 8 years there which I had been introduced to the site thanks to Damion — after that incident of ban-hammering people for the slightest transgressions — I felt it was long since time I moved on.  While I’m in a lull when it comes to fractal art at the moment, my art can typically be found on WordPress and Flickr where I continue to maintain my presence even if it’s a shadow of my former self.

Thanks largely to the media circus of the Presidential Elections here in my country, I’ve been avoiding sharing my opinion on any of the normal sites that I still frequent as well: namely Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  There have been times I’ve considered completely deleting my account from Facebook given my family and at least 1 friend has gone of their rockers and posting/re-sharing based on ad hominem feelings against the candidates.  And there have been more than a handful of times none of them have done any fact checking their re-shares, which is enough to get my knickers in a twist as I’m sitting there and having to perform the fact-checking necessary for peace of mind.  What’s funny is that I tend to either respond to completely superfluous wall-entries, or food if only to prove I’m still alive.

I think this dour attitude of mine started on Twitter when a former work-mate had been blasting tweets in a deluge fashion neither fact checking either, or worse, simply whinging for the sake of it, about government, about freedoms curtailed and even about first world problems.  There had been numerous times during his tweet spamming that I thought about commenting sharply in his direction, “…if you want change in government, become an activist…  don’t blast your woes in 140 characters hoping others will make those changes for you…”  Instead, I tried out the feature of Muting and have been happier with the clear lack of noise and friction from that part of the world.

Consequently I’ve been doing the same on Facebook with moderate success.  Still, the impulse to delete my account there exists even if it’s a bit quieter.

I have (once again) lost complete interest in television.  While I don’t tend to watch too much I think I’ve completed watching to the last series finale two shows since the beginning of the year:  Shadowhunters and The FlashDaredevil I gave up after episode 3 into the second season because while Jon Bernthal was believable in his role of Frank Castle (Punisher), there was something off-putting about the intensity.  I believe it had something to do with just how bloody angst-riddled the character was.  I never got back into Jessica Jones because every episode I watched of that, I felt like I needed a bath…  in Clorox… to get over the feeling of just how dirty I felt watching it.  Anything else, I stopped my re-watches to try to get back into the shows after a long hiatus from them…  All because of the amount of tropes I was catching in them snapping the back of my ability to suspend my disbelief with a sickening crack.

The biggest disappointment out of my television woes goes to Legends of Tomorrow having bailed on that show after the second episode.  While I was sort of looking forward to seeing Arthur Darvill again since his departure from Doctor Who, the reality distortions of him playing Rip Hunter — (ex-)Member of the Time Masters — were just too much for me to separate the juxtaposition from Time Lords and Doctor Who.  Well that and watching (Wentworth) Miller and (Dominic) Purcell being together since Prison Break also utterly distorted my ability to suspend disbelief as well.

Movies have suffered worse since March.  While I found myself morbidly enjoying Henry Rollins’ performance in He Never Died, remember liking the humor of Deadpool, and waiting patiently for Brenton Thwaites to being shirtless in Gods of Egypt (it didn’t happen); my interest in Allegiant disappeared within the first five minutes when the movie had to establish that the outside world announced those living in Chicago to come out of the walls (which never happened in the book).  Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice within 10 minutes where they had to retcon Affleck in the Metropolis destruction scenes from Man of Steel.  I shut that movie off when there Affleck is, squatting down giving the girl a hug and looking all angry at the fight between Zod and Superman that recalled this skit from Jack Whitehall.  Yep, I bailed faster than you can say, ‘off like a kelly-green, polyester prom dress…’ And as far as I can tell — there’s nothing on the horizon at the moment that I would want to see — and that’s not going to be changing in the months to come.

The deskside has been converted to Windows 10…  finally.  Two days before the deadline to boot.  I wanted to do a clean install on the system drive without taking up more space with the messy conversion from Windows 7.  I also wanted to confirm that with the Product Key I have for Windows 7 Ultimate would convert to Windows 10 Pro.  It did.  Well that and I wanted to ensure all the bugs I had experienced with Windows 10 on my laptop would have been completely smoothed out by the time I got it on the deskside.  With it, I still have more than one language pack loaded in (English and Japanese based on my experience with both), Bitlocker, and the Policy Editor for passwords and password control (among other features too numerous to mention based on Active Directory skills I’m familiar with).  Since installing Windows 10, I’ve also set the password locally (in spite of the mistake of installing an app from the Microsoft Store that had changed my login to my Hotmail account).  So we’ll see if the password change reminder is working correctly with Windows 10 as it stopped working in Windows 7 a long time ago.  Now all I have to do is get all the specialized words in the custom dictionary loaded back up…  Something that never made the backup from the old system to the new.  Eh, a small loss on the whole if I do say so myself.

My UPS of 8 years is beginning the slow process of dying the slow death and the battery is no longer working according to spec.  While I’m sure that I could get a replacement battery for the thing (and install it on my own), the fact is that at least 2 of the plugs in the back (on the surge suppressor side) have suffered damage of some sort or another and are no longer operating properly so, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  While the replacement UPS (same make and model) should be in sometime this week, I need to play extra-carefully running the PC and Air Conditioners in this house ensuring I neither brown-out or blow a fuse.  When the house has a brown-out and tries to draw power from the battery as a boost, it will shut down the UPS (and the computer) abruptly; pretty much the same as a blackout.  The alarms will sound, I will check to ensure it’s not a blown fuse and then I have to take 20 minutes to reset the UPS and then bring the PC back up.  Not fun.

Summer has been annoying here in the Tundras of New England.  There have been a few moments where the weather’s been beautiful for the summer months, there have been more times where the raging humidity has made it impossible for me to either sleep or exercise.  While it hasn’t been as bad as I remember living in the South more than a decade ago, as I’ve become acclimated to the weather of the north — there have been more than a few moments where I felt like I should be melting onto the sidewalk because the heat and humidity.  Since taking the medications for Hypertension, I swear I’ve become far more irritable with the high humidity than I used to be last year as I seem to want more comfortable temperatures around the house.  Hence the want for running the A/C whenever possible.  In fact, since I’ve become more used to taking these medicines and being more aware of the body changes, I could swear I can tell the difference between a Northern Thunderstorm and a Southern.   Northern storms are wet, cooler and don’t have half of the amount of heat and ambient humidity as they are in the south.

Because of this and the fact that I’m warned against prolonged exposure to strong direct sunlight, walking has become a more difficult now than during the Autumn through Spring Months.  Because of it, I’ve done my best to keeping busy when I can, and definitely adjusting my intake when I can’t.  I’ve slacked more than I should and while I’m not getting 10,000+ steps a day, I try my best to keeping as active as possible with the 250 steps/hour challenge currently being offered.  This has been making Moe pretty damned happy as he seems to like being picked up and  held over my shoulder as I walk around the house.  About the only thing he doesn’t seem to like is being in the rooms with A/C on.  Something about it being cooler than usual along with the noise that they make seems to be off-putting to him, so off to the un-air conditioned bedroom he goes during the day.  Doesn’t seem to mind the heat other than the occasional loneliness of me not being around so he’ll make his way out of there to check up on me.

And with that, I’ve covered everything — pretty much — for the last couple of months.  Off to meet the day as I always do..  On the bridge of the USS Retrospect fighting enemies of the Federation or being a Tenno checking out the Origin System of the Orokin.  I haven’t decided which as both entertain me more than television ever could.

Bubble Madness

04/28/2016 Comments off

 

JWildfire 2.56, Un-Retouched

I’m finding that I’m somewhere between excited-ish as well as disappointed with this render. Upbeat because it’s been almost 5 months since I last did anything with any of the programs I work with. Excited that this came out somewhere near to what the preview came out. disappointed because the render I had been working on crashed and I didn’t save the code prior to it’s rendering (it was a very lovely flower come globe motif).

Thanks to Fluidified on YouTube for inspiring me to give this one a go in spite of the previous crash as I listened to this when I was working on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvyWRevLG5I

Twisted Stars Marble

12/22/2015 Comments off

Twisted Stars Marble

JWildfire 2.56, un-Retouched

One of the more interesting aspects of JWildfire vs. Apophysis is how much more likely that JWildfire can work with/produce and render common objects into the original (random) render. This happened to have been a start, which I had warped – A la Mad Scientist Like – into a Marble.

What’s little time off without a heaping bowl of DRAMA?

11/27/2015 Comments off

x-x-everywhere-meme-generator-drama-drama-everywhere-ea7b40-1

(Thanks to a good acquaintance for inspiring me to post an update with a meme).

And on a more pleasant note — I would like to give a hearty thanks (read: Fuck you) to the boys and girls at ESET for keeping up with the holiday spirit I remember from 5 years ago by creating a virus definition download that:

1. Knackered websites like Hotmail, Amazon’s Order Page(s), YouTube, and Flickr (just to name a few off the top of my head) and render them in 1995 standards (i.e., no graphics whatsoever).

2. Had Netflix spit out an Error Code: M7083-2107 that prevented it for being shown on the desktop (and laptop).

3. This really bizarre error code in Outlook 2016 indicating the client couldn’t establish an SSL socket connection.

4. Gave me this even odder error message in Chrome when trying to pick up my pay stub from work telling me the SSL server was obsolete.

5 Also gave the consistent and non-stop error trying to load up Facebook Games by telling me “the Connection was reset” but Armor Games and the card game I play on I-Am-Bored.com loaded up without issue or incident.  And finally,

6. Giving me these really bizarre server time outs in games like STO making me think traffic was over-loaded because of the holiday.

Without all of this “fun”; I would have actually enjoyed my day off for Thanksgiving instead of spending 1/2 my day troubleshooting what was going on with my connection.

“Thanks!” He says dripping with post-caffeinated sarcasm.

And there might be a mini-novel coming along soon enough.  Stay tuned.