Sunday, 6 December 2015

Motion, Modern Marvels and an M41A

The word of the week is obfuscation.

Nov 30 – Motion

What to do…

I ask myself that sometimes, and let my mind wander around to find an answer. It’s a generalized question, one that comes up with some surprising things, depending on what’s going on in my life at the time.

Right now, the answers coming back are: more writing, and a work changeup.

The second answer indeed, was a surprise, considering how much I love where I work right now. The people I work with are wonderful( friendly, efficient, enthusiastic, intelligent… and more! )and I couldn’t ask for a better workspace setup, tucked into my own corner space, beholden to none: I see the spaces other clerks are required to occupy and I want to hug my desk…

But, I could be doing more, making more, with my experience and drive.

I’m not imagining that I need to move on: my co-workers and my office superiors continue to lavish praise on me, to the point where I’m becoming embarrassed every time they do so. Yet it’s genuine, their appreciation of my abilities, and so is their subtle nudging to apply for better positions within the government.

I’m not sure I’m ready for that step yet, but I need to be.

Government is all about movement: taking new positions, challenging yourself, learning and bettering your skills so as to move on to the next opportunity – always up, never sideways, so I hear. While the position I’m in right now seems cozy, it could all too easily become stagnant for me in a year or two, which I don’t want: I love the stability, but with such often comes boredom.

It’s a fine line, and I have to think about my writing, which is the main reason to keep my job as it is: do I want to be bored in some ways, so that my creativity shines at night, with the bonus of not being exhausted from an energy-draining higher-responsibility position?

There’s also my incipient GlowForge business to consider in 2016 too… *sigh* So much to think about!

Dec 1 – Modern Life

Have you ever met a time traveler?

If you did, how would you know? Would they tell you, or just smile and keep their secret?
What if you could see one… right now?

Meet Otis Johnson.

He recently returned to modern society, after spending 44 years of his life away from it all, behind bars. He’s 69 now, an old man compared to the youth of 25 who made a mistake… and we can see that while he’s come to grips with where his life choices took him, the modern world is another thing altogether:

Dec 2 – Homeless Help?

My city has a problem.

Well, more than a few( big and small )but apart from the lack of a sewage treatment plant of any kind, there’s a more human issue at stake… though the treatment of both problems is frighteningly similar: the homeless.

Shunned, ignored, maginialized but always in plain sight, Victoria has a homeless population that numbers in the hundreds. Despite shelters and social programs, many continue to live on the streets, camping in many of the city’s parks overnight, where they are rousted at 7am by police and told to move on.

Except for those in the park right behind the provincial courthouse.

A month and a bit ago, a few of the homeless discovered that the land, owned by the province, was not bound by city bylaws and they wouldn’t be asked to move on. Within a week, a dozen tents sprung up as word got around and to date, dozens of tents dot the grassy stretch of downtown land. I walk by the area every day on my way to and from work and for the most part, it’s quiet and well-organized. The neighbours in the area are wary and though there have been some complaints, police have yet to become involved to any degree. The province is aware, of course, of the camp, but again won’t intervene unless laws are being broken, which since the camp is apparently being self-managed by a ‘mayor’ and some others, seems less likely than you’d think.

The point is, they’re not hiding any more: the issue is plain to see, for anyone passing by. People everywhere in the city can see exactly how many homeless there are, without shelter, and ask themselves: what’s being done about it?

More on this in a later blog entry.

Dec 3 – M41A Win!

YES! Success!

I’ve been patiently searching for parts for the replica Aliens Nerf rifle I’m having built( by a Nerf expert in Toronto, no less )to allow it to look and sound as close to the real thing as possible. I’m aware that such things don’t come cheaply, but also aware that due to the popularity of the Aliens movies, there’s a small supply of ready-made materials out there, for those who know where to look. From forums to obscure websites and videos of finished fan M41A projects, it’s enough to know what’s possible and how much it will cost, depending on what you want.

Today, my patience paid off: I found a pair of ammo counters!

In the movies, the M41A has a glowing red LED ammo counter on the side, which counts down from 95 as shots are fired. Most prop-replica creators opt for a static LED counter, as it’s too much work to make it fully-functional( and reliable! )on top of all the other work needing to be done.

Unless you find someone who makes those counters( WARNING - the music is awful! ):

Which I did, a year ago… and I’ve patiently waited for his items to come on sale again, which happens every 3-4 months or so. He only makes a few, as a hobby, and sells them for extremely reasonable prices… they don’t do anything else, but they are designed JUST for M41A props!

I scored two of the LED’s, pre-programmed and ready to be wired up, for $30 CAN each –a steal! One is a spare, to be used in a future prop when funds allow… and I am so excited! It’s rare to find one of these counters for sale, anywhere, but my dedication was rewarded tonight in spades!

In a few month’s time, it will be all worth it – you’ll see it here first, in a video! Huzzah!

Dec 4 – Thoughts

The New York Times hasn’t run an editorial on it’s front page since 1920 – until today.

Have a read, and ponder:

I'm building a prop rifle from a scifi film, and it sickens me to think that people in the USA can so easily get the real thing for less than I'm paying overall for a non-working toy replica.

But hey, I don't live there, as I've been told a few times: they want to solve their own problems... yet so far, I've seen nothing but "thoughts and prayers" offered as solutions.

Dec 5 – Windows Weekend

Not a bad day, all in all: very productive!

A good part of the day was spent setting up my desktop for what amounts to a brain transplant: removing the old SSD main drive( where Windows 7 lives )and replacing it with a newer SSD of the same size I recently picked up for a flash-sale price( far less than the one it’s replacing! ). It’s a long process, relatively speaking, but less fraught with peril than trying the same thing ten years ago – even with backups, things Can Go Wrong.

The problem that has forced the upgrade is simple: part of Windows 7 is broken, so that I can’t run most software programs( like games )nor will it allow the PC to be upgraded to Windows 10.

Also: the ‘free’ upgrade to Windows 10 will expire on July 29, 2016, so that’s a buzzkill.

Since 2016 is looking to be a busy, busy year for me, I took it upon myself to fix things Sooner rather than Later – like, today sooner. I’ve been planning to do this for a while, but one thing has always been top priority: I would have to keep the old SSD drive intact for a while, until I was certain All Was Well with the new install and that there was no crippling oversight on my part.

So today, I formatted the new drive and installed Windows 7 on it, which didn’t take all that long. Then I hit the ‘Update’ button… which essentially took the rest of the day, with various resets as new Updates downloaded themselves. Since I didn’t manage to save a newer copy of Win7 anywhere on my system from years ago, I had to go the old-fashioned time-sucking Update route.

At least I had a laptop to use while the desktop was chuckling to itself all day today.

The Lighted Truck Parade tonight was a bit of a letdown, despite our having primo window seats: a perfect view of the road from inside La Taquisa, out of the cold and wet. The trucks started sailing past around 7:15pm… and I do mean sailing: they were going at a fair clip, probably 40kph, which was hardly a speed one could admire them at! There were many great displays, but it only took about 15 minutes, a far cry from the leisurely crawl I recall from years past when I saw them near Bear Mountain.

Of course, I was freezing cold and wet then and had to walk back up the mountain afterwards… so tonight’s bevvy of fast trucks was just fine, thanks!

Dec 6 – Mastery

Windows 10 on my desktop at last!

Well, mostly. My desktop updated itself last night while I slept, and I woke to a Windows 10 logon screen this morning. With some trepidation, I logged in and looked around… and all seems well!

Except that none of my programs are installed.

My choice to upgrade from a ‘clean’ install of Win7 means that I have to install all of my programs again, one by one… a mind-numbingly tedious task, exacerbated by the design of the Windows OS: thanks to the incredibly complicated Registry, where all program settings are stored, it’s impossible to install a new OS and transfer over all your programs easily these days. I’ve looked at various solutions, spoke to more than a few software companies and been told ‘Nope!’ every time. There’s at least a week or two of software installations looming ahead of me right now…

Needless to say, once things are set THIS time and working perfectly, I’m going to back up THAT image all over the place, so that I don’t have to go through all this again.

On the bright side: I managed to win a laserdisc player today, for a modest sum to boot!

The CLD-97 goes for a LOT more than I paid for my CLD-79!

And not just ANY player: it’s a Pioneer Elite, Model CLD-79, considered to be an excellent / Above Average player by those in the know in various laserdisc forums the world over. Normally, Elite models of any kind go for anywhere from $300-$1000 USD if they’re in solid working order, which this one is… yet only one person bid against me! I think I won perhaps because of two things: that the auction ended at 4pm PST( before dinner on a weekend )and that the other bidder was brand-new to eBay and wasn’t wise to my being able to bid at the last second – tadah!

I’m extremely pleased, as the Elite’s going to give me the best possible picture under the circumstances. While its price isn’t exactly on a level with a thrift-store buy, it’s head and shoulders above any such player in terms of quality: I daresay that the odds of finding such a player for the same price again are very unlikely, to say the least.

Happy, happy day!

Yep, I'm tired... it's been a busy weekend indeed, even with my day off on Friday, of which a too-large chunk was wasted on the phone talking to Telus. Turns out there's no provision for trading in my old tablet for a credit towards a new one, so scratch that plan - too bad I can't get my time back from talking to disinterested / un-knowledgeable reps. So frustrating to know what I want, to make it crystal clear... and still watch people run around looking for answers.