Working For Brilliant People

Years and years ago when I first got started in computing I worked for a start up medical device manufacturer. I was one of three computer technicians servicing the entire building. In the main building and the three surrounding locations housed close to two thousand users. It was a very fun job.

I had just finished working at Best Buy for eleven months and the contrast couldn't have been more stark. No one knew what time I punched in, coffee breaks were part of the job, as was having my own desk, computer and total freedom. All they wanted us to do was to fix computers. What a great way to earn a living.

When the help desk fielded a call that they couldn't solve on, they would open a trouble ticket for the techs and we would be dispatched out. Didn't matter who called, we went. The grounds keeper and the CEO both new me by name and where both comfortable with me logging on to their computer. In fact the only place that I wasn't comfortable was in the halls of the research and development department.

There is something about helping people who spent 10 years of their lives at college that is a bit intimidating.

"What do you do here?"

"We design inter-vascular delivery methods for nuclear isotopes to help treat cancer patients. The catheter based delivery methodology curtails a more invasive surgery and allows for a more strategic application to cancer cells. "

"Oh, well what seems to be the trouble with your computer?"

"I can't get this stupid paper clip off my Excel spreadsheet."

The day you realize that even brilliant people can be incapable of understanding simple tasks is the day you begin to comprehend the world a little bit better. All plumbers are aware of this, which is why they can charge $50 to tighten a PVC joint. For me, I had my epiphany that day.

I'm just passing it along.

Searching For Servants

During my recent vacation the wife and I stayed in the hotel from hell. The beds were twins, build out of rocks and the whole place was under construction. The construction crew started working at 7am. Needless to say, it was lovely. Regardless, one thing they did have was a proper vanity.

"So do you wish you had a vanity?"
"I've always wanted one, but whenever I sit in one I want a servant"
"Excuse me?"
"In the old movies women sat down and put on lipstick while someone else brushed their hair."
"That was like a hundred years ago. You know, before penicillin."
"Well," My wife mused, "If you're going to die young anyways at least you shouldn't have to brush your own hair."

She had a point. A servant would totally change the way you lived. I wonder when the custom fell out of style? I'm sure somewhere, someone still has a butler, hand maiden or nanny but they certainly don't travel in my circle of friends. I think I can get behind the idea of having someone on hand to deal with dirty diapers, ironing shirts and making dinner. As long as they aren't in the way. I would be uncomfortable with telling someone what to do, or having them help me with every little task. I cannot imagine letting someone help me get dressed in the morning. I mean I recall the first time I came eye to eye with the chap handing out soap in the restroom of the posh hotels.

It seems not everyone has my reservations. Patricia and I have a friend who for her own health will remain nameless. She was also musing on the idea of servants too. Sorta

"I wish I had a slave."
"Excuse me? " My wife interjects, "Don't you mean a servant?"
"Right a servant," She replied. Then after a long paused added, "Wait. Do I have to pay a servant?"
"Yes." Patricia responded.
"Then no, I meant a slave."

Certainly not a very popular viewpoint, but I suppose the notion of a free a servant has it's appeal. Personally I'm holding out for some crazy engineer to design the first humanoid robot and some rich philanthropist to give them away to all the geeks. Wouldn't that be awesome? I would have no qualms having a robot do my bidding, no matter how menial. As long as he didn't rust while washing the car. Hopefully that's closer than I can imagine.

Well... A guy can wish.

Rediscovering Atlantis

"Peter are you into Science Fiction?"
"Is a frogs butt water tight?"
"Uh.. I think so. Yes?"
"You better believe it!"
"What's your favorite science fiction show?"
"Five years ago I would have said Star Trek."
"StarGate. Without question."
"What, no more disgusting metaphors?"

Star Trek was a revolutionary show. It pushed the limits of science fiction and portrayed humanity at it's best. Star Trek is an amazing franchise, but it's still not as good as the StarGate universe.

StarGate is now. Right now, not 200 years in or future. In Star Trek folks have body suits, ray guns and transporters. In StarGate, the Airforce is in charge. Airman have real projectile weapons, cotton pants and camouflage hats. We discovered a technology made by someone else and go out looking for cool stuff. In the process we make enemies, friends and see lots of weird things. For me, it's such a great idea! We don't have to wait for a third world war or humanoid robots, all we need are guns, camo and some Egyptian artefacts!

The wife and I watched Atlantis on a whim. We liked it so much, we watched the previous 10 seasons of SG1. Now we are re-watching Atlantis with all the back story of SG1 under our belts. It makes a lot more sense this time through.

I love the geeky, neurotic lead scientist. He's brash, egotistical and suffers more conditions than a prenuptial agreement. I'm also fond of lead Airman. A cynical, driven, football loving guy willing to make all the hard choices. As far as the wife is consiered she's just in it for the lowbrow, fist wielding, treadlock sporting antics of the Pegaus galaxys own loveable Neanderthal. Whatever gets her to watch sci-fi is good with me.

So, my point? Atlantis has the grittiness of Firefly the humor of SG1 and the five years of solid episodic television. Is it perfect? What show is, but in my opinion, it's well worth your time. It certainly trumps the newest StarGate series. How about this? While waiting for the next great science fiction show to start up, do yourself a favor and check out Atlantis. Another little known gem of the sci-fi world.

Mac Bash

As many of you are aware, I'm a computer guy. As such I'm anti Mac. To be honest the Apple computers themselves are fine machines. It's the people that ruin them. It's hard to be a computer guy and hate a computer, I mean...

  • it the OS's fault that the users don't know what files are in their /etc directory?

  • it the processors fault that no one needs a quad core to sync an iPhone?

  • it the logo's fault that people will pay four times more for a computer than it's worth only to browse the web?

  • If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there can be no doubt. You're an Apple user. As I've said before I don't have an issue with the computer. Additionally I have Mac friends. I'm not trying to upset anyone, I just will never understand the reasoning. Most Apple users are also so smug.

    "Why pay that much for a computer?"
    "Because it's worth that much."

    "My Mac is user friendly"
    "There's only one button. How could it not be?"

    "My Macbook is incredibly thin"
    "Found a good use for that considering the extra grand you blew on it?"

    "I have a Mac because it's better at graphics"
    "How much graphics do you do on your Mac?"
    "Exactly. My computer can surf the web too."


    "My Mac is a neat clean, all in one box"
    "Like a TV with built in DVD. What happens when the DVD breaks?"

    "I can run Windows on my Mac"
    "So can I, and I paid 1/6 the price to do it"
    "But you can't run Mac OS"
    "Sure I can, it's called FreeBSD. It's free, you wouldn't understand"

    I think it was the iPad that put me over the edge. I mean, this should have been a bomb. It should have gone the way of Apple TV. It should be a boat anchor product for Apple. Jobs should be sinking in an ocean of his own absurdity over the iPad. There is no GOOD reason to buy one. It offers nothing that the iPhone and laptop didn't already do better. And YET.... and YET people are clamouring to purchase them. Why? Because it's Apple. That's it. Honestly?

    Your wish has be granted!

    I love a good side by side!

    iPad - Beta release...

    iMaxi carrying case.

    Welcoming all points of view... Even from the Apple fanboys! :)

    Your Inner Geek

    I sit here a bit tan from my trip. I'm not golden brown or anything, but I would say I definitely have color on my face and arms. Eight days in Southern California can do that for you. Most people would be fine with that. Geeks, as you are no doubt aware, are not like most people.

    The issue is this, I like looking geeky. Not gross, just a bit geeky. I shower, wear clean clothes, and always do my hair, but there is something off about me. I'm normal pretty pale, have crazy hair and have loads of 'geek wear' shirts. It's a culture thing. Geek culture is a thing that I've embraced for a over a decade. Growing up in the 90's, unlike the 70's, geeks are an accepted culture class. We aren't the broken spectacles and pocket protector crowd, we're the cynical computer fixers and troubleshooters. Funny t-shirts, anti-social to outsiders and a fear of eye contact.

    So now that the sun has betrayed me and my avatar is no longer relevant, I need to find my inner geek. So what makes someone truly a geek, not just in appearance but in substance.

  • Love of Technology
  • Without this you're just in it for the pay check. Money is good, but getting paid to be around what you love is even better!

  • Belief In Absolutes
  • If you don't have an opinion, you're not ready to wear the badge, "geek". I've witnessed thousands of geek stand-offs on everything from how to configure a router "properly" to which unix editor is the "right" one.

  • Caffeine
  • You can't maintain an Internet stand-off, if you're sleeping. Get up, get caffeinated, be right!

  • Humor
  • Humorless geeks are called 'dorks'. If you don't get the humor it's time turn in your wireless tablet and get on the managment fast track.

  • Semi-Social
  • Geeks are social, very much so. Just not so much outside our circles. I'll launch into a conversation with anyone about RPG's, network topology or technology. If you ask me about my favorite movie star, reality show or sports car, you will get feet shuffling and sidewards glances. I'm not anti-social, I just have nothing to say to you.

  • Cynicism
  • All interactions must first be viewed through the prism of cynicism. Yes it will always work, but it's always harder than you think it will be. Be safe, be cynical.

    What Am I Missing?

    Disneyland Vaction Post 1

    I've just returned from 6 days in Anaheim CA. There are tons of crazy stories that will spawn from this trip, but the first is just a picture. This one:

    While waiting in line for Indiana Jones for the first time, we happened upon a bit of impromptu art. A green army man (no doubt from Andy's Room) stuck up high in a crevice with a piece of spearmint chewing gum. As the wife and I were on a crusade to find all the strange stuff in the Magic Kingdom and this seemed to fit the bill, I snapped a shot.

    As it happens he was gone within 4 hours. Such is the fastidious nature of the park. Regardless. If you're the artist. You have been discovered. Kudos oh bored one!