New Lenovo Computer

As of last post, I restructured the ol’ house in consideration of the amount of programming/learning to program that I’ll be doing. I set up my desk again, and then I realized regarding the 8.33 year old computer that it wasn’t going to see me through any amount of work.

I had planned on buying a new computer for a long time now, and I was torn between buying a corporate computer (like HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, etc.) or building my own. The last 4 computers I’ve had (or got for family), I’ve built myself. It works great!

However, when it came down to it, I took the shortcut to get a computer with a good processor, good RAM, and decent set up. I could always upgrade that as time went buy (specifically a new case).

So, I had found a deal at Office Max regarding an I5 intel processor, and 12gb of RAM, pretty solid and decent. So I picked it up. I was planning on putting in my old power supply (500w) from the 8 year old computer, but no go. Apparently Lenovo has proprietary connectors between the mobo and the PSU. I didn’t know that. So I had a great power supply (to use an old GPU rather than the integrated graphics), but wasn’t able to hook it to the mobo. $8 later, I’ve got a converter on the way to go from the 20 pin to the 14 pin.

It’s really not that bad since I’m not planning this computer to be playing games…the integrated graphics might work just fine. But if I ever want to upgrade then I’ll need to do so.

Oh, and I forgot the amount of bloatware that comes with buying a corporate computer. I’ve spent the evening removing it and installing the necessary programs I usually get. Not really a bad way to spend a Saturday night, really…but still. Reminds me why I usually build my own comp.

But, on the other hand, MOBO = $100, Processor = $200, RAM = $150, OS = $100, DVD drive = $50, 1TB Hard Drive = $75, comes to $675. Got the computer on sale at Office Max for $450. Totally worth it. But I won’t be buying a Lenovo again, I tell you that.

Rearranging

Every fall, give or take, I feel the need to move around furniture in the rooms. Last fall, I moved my arcade games back into my bedroom, and took down my desk in order to have just the standing desk.

It worked well for teaching, grading, and the like. However, now I feel the need to switch things up again. I think I’ll be putting the desk back up, but in my bedroom (the view out the windows while working is great). I’m not entirely certain how I”ll do it yet, but with web design and FroydTech, LLC staring up great guns, I’ll need the desk to go with the standing desk.

I’d put the arcade games in the office room, but they’re heavy. Really heavy, and that floor isn’t cement, it’s wood. So that’s problematic. I’ve got to take out the ol’ measuring tape and see what can be seen.

Having a small house is interesting in that way…it takes some doing if you want to switch things around fully.

And I just realized how vapid this post is. *shrug* It’s something for me to look back on, I suppose. Rearranging things happens once or twice a year. Something to freshen up the ol’ routine.

And that, I think, is the most important thing when you work from home: keeping things from getting too stale will keep your mind from going crazy.

Done with Fallout 4

I can always tell when my time in a fallout game is about to be up…I usually get REALLY irritated by the radio stations and the companions getting in the way. Although, the second one didn’t happen in fallout 4 nearly as much, they did a good job of coding so it rarely happened that the companion got in the way of movement or sniper shots.

All said, I put in 6 days 6 hours and about 30 minutes. About 150 hours. I only actually got really involved in the story mode in the last 15 or so. The rest of it was exploring and leveling up the character. It is a really good game, but now it’s time to step back. That’s the problem with games like this, Skyrim, or Bioware games: they’re so good they become a huge time-suck. If I didn’t have anything better to do, it’d be fine…but I do.

So back to the “real” world tomorrow, which may be kind of long since I stayed up so late to finish up Fallout 4. But that’s ok. I forgive me.

Christmas Shopping

There’s a blessing and a curse to being done with the shopping this early in the season. The blessing is that you’re done. No having to worry about whether or not you’ve gotten the perfect gift, no worrying about having to brave the storefronts, none of those shenanigans at all. It’s fantatsic.

The curse, though, is making sure that all your stuff gets delivered from amazon, and that they’re charging appropriately. I may, next year, order one person’s gifts one day, the next day order another’s, and so on. Trying to go through the credit card invoice with the orders is all sorts of messed up. WHy’s that? It’s because Amazon doesn’t invoice per item or even per order total. I found that out today when I saw two charges for the exact same amount. It was only when doing the addition while waiting on hold with the help desk (who picked up RIGHT when I figured it out) that it all made sense.

So, for an order of three items, my credit card was invoiced four times. The credit card invoice doesn’t show which order these charges were for, and up until now I had been looking at either the order total or the item total. It worked for the first few orders, but then I ran into this one…with two charges of exactly the same price. I thought I’d been double charged for a single item (which I’d already received), so I was calling to get that sorted. But then I noticed that the big item on that order hadn’t been invoiced for its full amount, rather it had been broken into two. Very confusing for me. But, I figured it out, and I told the help desk person that everything was kosher! I didn’t even get to get all riled up. Oh well.

But also, my recommendation for Christmas shopping, is to do the 52 Week Savings Challenge each year. However, I do it a bit differently. I know there are a lot of suggestions to do the big deposits early in the year (to earn more interest), or some that do the little amount first so that they can get it rolling, or what-have-you. For me, though, especially working part time, it’s easier to save big amounts when possible, and then combine little amounts when I have the cash. What ends up happening each year (this is the third year I’ve done it) is that I’m done saving by about the end of October.

The majority of that money goes to christmas gifts, but the rest then goes to being able to afford to go out when friends are in town over the holidays. The amount of stress I used to have at Christmas time (and in the months afterwards to pay down credit cards) disappears. Plus, I don’t owe anything after the first of the year, so I can start out the year with no credit card bills.

The swing is that since I used my Amazon Points Credit card, and I do most of my christmas shopping at amazon, I can rack up a decent amount of free points to spend at amazon the rest of the year. Not huge by any means, but this year I should be able to rack up an extra $15-$20 of amazon points to spend. That ain’t nothin’. Plus, since I get to pay off the credit card right away, I don’t owe interest on any of the purchases.

I realize, though, that this plan can’t happen for everyone. But you may find if you can sock away christmas money at some times throughout the year, that even a little bit will help.

Good times, good times.

Slow draw down…

We’re literally about 1.5 weeks from the finals period at the end of the term. I’m slowly removing the books that I’ve brought to the office at school (since I don’t have a spring term class). Luckily I didn’t fill up the office with books. I learned from back in the day when I was a GA, I suppose. That was a hassle to deal with all of those books to bring home.

I’ve forgotten, due to the 10 or 12 week courses I teach online, how long these 16 week on-campus courses seem. I understand completely why students just start phoning it in after Thanksgiving…hell, I’m feeling like doing that myself. My motivation is busted.

On the other hand, I am kind of looking forward to the first time since 2001 where I do not have any classes as either student or as instructor. The last time I was this uninvolved with school was when I took a semester off to start a video game shop. That was good times. I guess I’m doing something similar now, as I don’t necessarily want to get involved with adjunct work online again. That was enough of a headache that I don’t want to relive it.

The expansion of FroydTech, LLC is the aim now. We’ll see if we can pay some bills.

Echo Chambers

I know I’ve posted about this before, but it bears repeating: whenever tragedy strikes, terrorism, or disaster, I find it necessary to quite social media for a couple weeks.

I do so because there will be no thoughtful discussion, just posts of memes pushing whatever ideological slant that people bring to the topic. While normally that’s not a problem for me, it becomes an issue when it is non-stop. That’s what it is after the planned parenthood shooting today. A monster shot a lot of people, and now it’s up to the echo chambers to re-entrench deeper.

It doesn’t matter your opinion on what caused it, what the problem was, what the solutions are: social media is an echo chamber for your opinions. It becomes a shouting match, should people disagree, with everyone piling on everybody else. It causes a lot of hurt feelings, it doesn’t move the discussion forward in any productive manner, and there are many MANY logical fallacies…y’know, whenever someone wants to think for themselves rather than posting/reposting clever sayings and images.

Consequently, in order to give myself peace of mind, I withdraw from the social networks. Knee-jerk reactions and entrenched/unchangeable/untenable argumentation is not something that’s for me. It causes me far more stress than is due. Because of that stress, in order to be productive (so I can do things like pay bills and taxes), I have to remove myself from that stressful situation.

It’s not good for anyone.

student surveys

Student surveys came back for that class mentioned in the last post. The standard plotting of the responses are interesting, even between answers. I’ve never had the even split like this before (roughly half positive, roughly half negative), though I’ve never team taught a course before.

But, like it is with any student feedback, I’ll ignore the positive and focus on the negative. It’s not really a healthy way to take criticism, I know, but it’s what I do.

power in the classroom

Something that I don’t think about that much any more is physical size in the classroom. I mean, why should I? I teach online! That inherently deconstructs one of the main ways a teacher has implied authority over a course. It’s not just size, but expected presence: you are at the front of the classroom. You are standing. Students are sitting.

Physically, the teacher is above the student.

I’m teaching an on campus honors course this term, and this has been bothering me a bit. I want to encourage discussion and debate, let them know that their opinions are valid even if I may disagree with them (we talked about stand up comedy today), and let the discussion flow organically that way. It’s not been happening nearly as much as I’d like, though they loosened up some with more recent and more known material.

I tend to wonder how much it has to do with my team teacher and me doing what teachers do: stand, and be toward the front of the class. It’s not just that I’m a bigger guy (I am), but the appearance is probably more prohibitive to viewing the discussion ground as “equal” than just my own size.

It leaves me to wonder, as this is likely going to be one of the last in-person classes I teach, how things may have been different had I either been sitting, or had the students been standing. Something to try next time, if there is one, I suppose.