Category Archives: Geek

Open House in the New Offices

Sometimes, it’s amazing how fast things can come together if you just go for it.

I’ve been thinking for a while that the IT office at work needed to have an open house so that people can come down, see our new digs, get the nickel tour of what we actually *do* all day. Since we finally got our new furniture last week, and actually got our floor mopped this week, I struck while the iron was hot.

Yesterday morning, I told the other guys that an open house was imminent, I sent out an e-mail to “everybody” inviting them over for tours and snacks, and then we put out a posh spread of geek food: Doritos, Oreos, chololate, and Dew. Life was good.

Rocket Man

I got home a couple nights ago, hopped out of the car, and as always, looked up to see what the night sky had in store. And there, right in front of me, was a thing.

It was a pretty bright-ish thing with a well-defined point on one side and a wispy cone-shaped tail on the other side. Naturally, I assumed this was the comet that everyone (he said, with his tongue in his cheek) is talking about. I went inside, got The Boy and The Wife out of the house into the cold dark and pointed out the thing, and we all made appropriate noises of excited awe.

Then, later that evening, when we got home from an emergency chocolate run, we looked up again, and the thing was gone. Huh, we said, that’s weird. You wouldn’t think a comet would just go away over the course of an hour. Perhaps there is haze.

But then The Wife, ever curious and Google-rific, did a little digging. “Uh, honey,” she said after a bit, “that wasn’t the comet. That was a rocket.” Apparently the comet-like thing we saw was the booster jettisoning extra propellant after its spy satellite payload reached orbit.

You see the damnedest things when you look up.

See what happens?

I spend seven hours in the car (not all at once, thank god) yesterday, ace my general exam, then spend all night dreaming of the collapse of society due to compromised computer networks and panicky people.

And now I’m cuckoo for coax, trying to figure out all the little details of my first couple homebrew antennas. I think there’s going to be a copper J-pole and a smallish variety of wire antennas (say, one end-fed longwire, a couple inverted-Vs, and maybe a dipole or two for the higher HF bands.

“General”ly messing about

This weekend, early, in fact, Saturday morning, I go to Tomahawk, WI, to take my General class ham radio license exam. Woot, and whatnot.

I’ve been seriously studying for about a month or so, and I think I’m ready to go. You can see if you’re ready to go (or what I’m getting myself into) by checking out these practice exams that are pulled right from the actual test question pool. I’ve been doing pretty well on those practice tests, so I think I’m ready for the big time.

This new license will give me a whole lot more privileges on the air. So far, I’ve been pretty much restricted to playing with VHF radios that are more-or-less line of sight rigs. A lot depends on antenna and amplifier setup, but with the radio in my car, I can reliably get a signal out between twenty and forty miles. With my new ticket in hand (and a new radio in the house!), I’ll have potentially world-wide communication ability in the HF (think shortwave, though that’s not technically correct) radio bands.

Just think: I’ll be able to ignore my chores while yakking with someone in Europe, Aisa, or the southern Pacific who’s also ignoring chores. Booya!

Also: Kevin, this means you no longer have an excuse to wait. Heck, I’ll even send you my manual if you promise to take the dang test already.

On the Road in Chicago

The Wife, The Boy and I went down into Confederate territory yesterday; all the way to Michigan Ave. in Chi-Town. I’m down here for a conference on designing web sites; gonna hear some of my heroes in the field tell me the way it is. The Wife and The Boy are headed for Millennium Park today to go get in some dancing and running around. Later, there’s a pool and hopefully some better sleep on the agenda.

Last night, after we got settled into the *tiny* hotel room on the 11th floor of the Marriott, The Boy was all “Go home now?” I was all like “I hear, you kiddo, but Daddy’s a masochist, so go to sleep, now.”

New blog in the links

Well, sorta. It will be once I get off my dead ass and get the links in my theme somewhere. But for now, check out “Brews you can use.” Chris is a funny, funny man. Sometimes. But he’s always poignant. And it doesn’t hurt that a) we went to school together, and b) he officially (as of now, when I started the damn thing) belongs to the “Geeks Who Can Kick Your Ass” club.

The look, still

While my new blog template looks pretty fab on any of my LCD screens (the laptop, the 19-inchers at work, the *22-inch-widescreen* at work [drool]), on an old CRT monitor, it looks like how a pile of bloated, rotting wildebeest corpses smells.

So. My quest is not yet over. In the meantime, if any of you poor souls are torturing yourselves by trying to make out text that is exactly one-tenth of one-percent lighter than the background of the page, my I humbly suggest you try reading from my RSS feed. At least, if you don’t want your eyebulbs (a story for another time) to explode. And let’s face it, vitreous humor has been known to stain Dockers (that’s why I’m a Carhart man).

The basics of RSS

Don’t know what this RSS malarkey is? Check it: basically, it’s a way to pull info from all your favorite sites (like this one, right?) into one place so you can read all the latest info without having to actually go from site to site to site to… You get the picture.

All you need is a (free) RSS feed aggregator, and a couple minutes to set things up. There are plenty of RSS client applications out there, but I’m a particular fan of Bloglines. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s online, so you can access it from any computer that has an Internet connection.

See? I really *am* good for something.