$#*&6′ prebuilt computers

So Froydtech bought a Lenovo the other day. It was a good price for a processor, ram, mobo, and dvd player. I figured I’d be upgrading it as I went on. Good thoughts, right?

It reinforced my disgust with pre-built computers. The past few computers I’ve built myself. This one? The last one I’ll buy pre-built.

Between the integrated graphics card drivers not working (and not being able to update them through the download FROM LENOVO’S SITE), to the proprietary motherboard power connector, it was a pain in the butt.

You can read all about it Upgrading a Lenovo H50 at Solvetechproblems.com

Been 14 years

But I’m an official business person again. Last time around I started up a sole-proprietorship to run a used video game store in Bemidji (loads of people told me it was a bad idea, ran it well for about 13 months, then closed the physical location…about a year later Gamestop opened up in town).

Today I started FroydTech, LLC. I plan on focusing on website support services such as troubleshooting, limited PHP programming, and analytics/SEO support and reporting. I do this already, for the most part, but figure it’s time to start something that can be an operating business eventually. It is all part time, doesn’t interfere with my teaching at all.

Moreover, it is a good foundation for future business endeavours having the LLC in place. I do not plan on advertising or to focus on business growth right now, but it’s in the cards.

Because my goal is to pay off my student loans and house by the time I’m 40…and $250k won’t just land in my lap without me working for it.

This concerns me, dude.

Out of all the tracking companies in all the world, I really do think UPS is one of the worst. I’ve had more packages lost through them, and their tracking updates are very poor. I’ve had a package, supposedly scheduled for delivery today, that hasn’t moved from the shipping center in Minneapolis since last night midnight.

Which means that they either forgot to scan it in, or they shipped it without scanning it, or they’ve sent it off to parts unknown. And I was really hoping to mess around with those headphones prior to the lectures going on tomorrow.

I’ve also heard horror stories (more recently) about UPS losing stuff being sent by Amazon. This is what concerns me. I want my stuff, but I want it to get here. If it was just like “processing at the MSP depot” or something like that I think I’d be ok with it not being here until tomorrow. But nope. The last thing on the tracking is arrived at, from 11pm last night.

All this concern suddenly made me think, as I was writing this, that I should be damn thankful that I don’t still live during the 80s and 90s…you know, where you had to wait 6-8 weeks for all orders, even catalog orders? Where you were stuck with whatever JC Penney’s, Sears, or Kmart stocked?

Yeah. Now I can worry about what I ordered on Saturday possibly not getting delivered until Thursday, and the item being shipped is something that I’d never be able to find otherwise.

That shot of reality made me a good deal less concerned, I’ll be honest. It is bizarre when posts change topics on you halfway through.

New headset…

My old Logitech Headset finally bit the dust. It was a clearchat USB headset, and it lasted for about 3 years through all the roadtrips and travel. Well, it went all staticy and the mic died out on it. I figured it would happen shortly, it had been cracked on the headset for the last couple months and the ear piece with mic would come unattached except for the cord on occasion.

So, I salute you, clearchat logitech plus. You served me well.

I had to go and buy another headset. It was a showdown between the Logitech H800 and the Plantronics 995.

Keith highly recommended the plantronics headset based on the quality in audio. I thought about it and was going to give it a try. However, I really wasn’t pleased with the way that their headset wouldn’t operate when charging. The more I read, the more that was going to be the deal breaker.

If the headset started dying during a lecture, then I wanted to be sure to be able to continue the lecture without switching out audio equipment (which forces, as I learned when my headset died this week, a person to close the browser down completely and get back in there…akin to a teacher having to walk out of a classroom during lecture). Plugging it in to charge would solve this problem.

Also, in reading the reviews, the last 4 months of reviews had more people praising the logitech for longevity than the plantronics. There were fewer negative reviews in those four months too. So, I went with the logitech.

The bonus as well is that the logitech can be bluetoothed up to my phone, which is a nice feature. I probably won’t use it too much, but it’s good that I’ve got the option.

So, yes. Ordered the logitech this morning, and I should have it on Wednesday. That holiday slows down the shipping times.

Btw, if you order from Amazon a lot for Christmas presents, and a few times throughout the year, I highly recommend springing for the Amazon Prime membership. It has saved me at least $100 each year in shipping, and since it only costs $80, it is well worth it.

Uff…catch up time.

So it’s been over a week since I last posted. In my defense things are starting to gear up for a busy summer. I’m excited.

First things first: I’ve recovered completely from the cough o’ death from earlier this month.

Second things: My presentation for the Kaplan General Education Conference on comparative mythology and Baldr has been finished up and is ready to go for half way through June.

Third thing: on the exact day that I’m to give my conference presentation, I’ll be starting my first day back to school as a student too. Another degree? Don’t mind if I do!

Fourth thing: I will be teaching a couple classes at BSU this summer. I’m excited to be back there, I have fond memories from when I was a grad assistant teaching these classes. Now I get to translate them to online set ups and see how they go.

Fifth thing: There are talks with Keith and Kuha for starting a sketch comedy show on Upstream.tv. Thinking about a six episode season to start with. We’ll see how it goes.

Sixth thing: My USB Logitech headsets gave up the ghost today, and it was a horrendous change from my normal talking/teaching set up. I will be looking into wireless ones for replacement.

Seventh thing: I played through the dragonborn DLC for skyrim. Much better than dawnguard. Not worth $20 though…luckily I got it on sale.

Eighth thing: I’m tired and going to sleep now. Deal with it.

Ninth thing: I’m a liar pants.

Tenth thing: now I’m telling the truth.

Widgets ‘n Twitter

So yesterday afternoon/evening was consumed by trying to figure out Twitter’s new widget install for a website. Turns out it’s great…so long as you don’t want to customize anything that twitter does.

So after deciding that sucked, I dove into the Twitter API programming and PHP to get that to work (since, y’know, twitter is nixing javascript support). It was a learning experience, fo’ sho’.

The biggest hurdle when doing most programming isn’t what most folks would expect. You talk to almost anyone who isn’t a programmer and they think it’s the connection between the systems (computer to website, website to database, etc.) that is the biggest hassle. That’s really not it. The biggest hassle is parsing the data.

Trying to get that data figured out appropriately while sifting through roughly 500 worthless websites was a bit of a challenge, but I got it done and finished.

That’s really the biggest problem with programming today, imo: it’s not the complicated programming language, it’s the sifting through all of the data that just sits out there without ever being updated. Google, get on that. Quit giving me stackoverflow results from deprecated programming over 5 years ago.

I’m just saying.

But in the end, I’ve got it working exactly how we wanted the code to work, polishing up the widget to input it into a wordpress install today, and overall pretty pleased with how it’s working.

All of that hassle was required because twitter doesn’t understand basic options that their users may like (for instance, total amount of tweets to display). Rather, they’re cracking down and REALLY pushing for a fascist system where only they control what people see. The internet as a democratizing force my ass…so long as people are beholden to these media dispersal giants (twitter, facebook, google, etc.) that don’t allow adjustments because there’s a line they want you to toe for the sake of “continuity” or “brand recongition” there will be no democratizing force.

Ok, I’m done now. Been a while since I was able to rant a bit.

Back to the schoolin’

Over the last few weeks or so, I’ve been seriously considering going back for another master’s degree. One might make a valid argument about how I’m already over-educated, or how much I would rather not spend my time writing papers and reading books, or how graduate degrees are stressful, or any number of logical arguments against going back.

However, I’m not (apparently) a logical person.

Also, this degree is “Free” (I’ve got to pay for books and the like) because one of the colleges I work at is covering tuition costs. As long as I can keep a B average, that is.

So I’m going to go back for a Masters of Science in Education in Instruction Technology with a specialization in Adult Learning/Higher Education.

It should take about a year and a half, a course every six weeks or so. I’ve been told to expect 15-20 hours of work per week (I have my doubts, I’ve played this game before), so life will get busier.

I’ve always been way more productive when I’ve been busy, though, it’s odd. Inanis the Hooded was written during my years at BSU when I was also in the Pacifica grad program (two grad programs at once…I don’t recommend it) while teaching there and working at the admissions desk at the hospital. For whatever reason, it seems that when I’m busier that I get more things done. Higher pressure to perform, maybe? Insane, maybe? Who knows.

School starts halfway through June, so it’ll be an adventure.

Franken will likely get my vote

I’ll admit that I was skeptical when he first ran. I thought “Oh great, another Ventura showboater” and promptly voted for the other guy.

I’ll also admit that I was wrong about Franken. The guy has lived up to what a senator should do: represent his home state and keep his head down while doing the work. He’s also one of the most tech-savvy folks in Congress (which is more and more necessary). This legislation, though, pretty much has decided me in favor of Franken:

Franken, Members of Senate Judiciary Committee Introduce Legislation To Restore Consumer Choice. Basically, the Library of Congress decided that folks can’t unlock their phones at the end of their contracts. In other words, say you were one of those unlucky saps who got an Iphone 5 on AT&T. At the end of your contract, you would not be able to take your Iphone 5 and use it on say Verizon’s network, or Virgin Mobile’s Network, or Sprint. You’d have to buy an entirely new Iphone 5 from them in order to continue to use that horrible device.

Obviously this type of thinking is very capitalist and very much in the favor of the corporations. Sure sure, I get that. Normally I would agree that the market should decide. And folks can decide with their dolla dolla bills, yo. However, considering that unlocking your phone could result in criminal penalties? That’s some straight up bullshit.

That’s why legislation like this is needed. Sure it could be seen that this is the government horning in on coprorations and telling them what to do (hell, when isn’t that the case?) but in this case the legislation protects the legal rights of the consumers to do what they want with the technology they’ve purchased…without fear of legal reprisal.

THAT’S what counts here. It’s also good to save consumers from price gouging from giant corporations, but it’s more the idea that you can use your device when you want to use it that I am in favor of. I also realize that this stance of probably voting for Franken will alienate a bunch of conservative friends of mine, but what can you do. I’d rather stand with someone who is doing something right (regardless of party) than vote a party line.

And I’ll vote for anyone who’s doing right, even if it’s a conservative (so stop cheering, democratic partiers).