Sunday, 30 October 2016

Rain, RAM Relief, Robots and Rentals

The word of the week is thrifty.

Oct 24 – Slowly But Surely

Getting back to normal sure is taking its time.

I'm still being driven to work and dropped off at home, every day - my lady and my parents have been exceedingly kind to help me as I slowly get back on my feet. It's getting there, but so damn slowly... and I feel much weaker than I did 6 months ago, like I would wobble if I walked too far too fast, or carried too much.

So frustrating, but I hope there's an end in sight, because telling myself every Sunday that I'll walk to work and come Monday I can't... is, well, frustrating.

But, at least the day job's getting better as the new staff( 4 of them now! )are all getting into the swing of things, enough so that I'm mostly hands-off and doing my own thing all day long. I've been tasked( at my own suggestion )with creating a series of documents to assist new and old Admin staff alike with all sorts of things related to the various responsibilities the team has, and it's great. I can exercise my creative writing skills as well as my organizational abilities to condense scattered info sources into simple, easy-to-read documents that will make everyone's job easier... and I get to do it at my own pace, with no deadline.

Sure does make the leg-aches a little easier to take!

Oct 25 – Rentals On The Horizon

If we can only hold on for a few years...

The rental situation in Victoria looks to be improving, though at a rate comparable to my own recovery of late - still, any sign of improvement is a good one, and this is really heartening:

So, over 2500 rental units will come online( at best estimate )within the next 2 years, meaning a Whole Lotta Shuffling will be going on. As well, a ton of new condo units will be ready for sale, as building is booming here in Victoria, so there will also be the renters-nope-we're-now-buyers! crowd who will be moving up to ownership status - again, a good thing all around.

In another two years, I'll likely still be looking for a not-so-expensive rental, hopefully for two, by that point... but you never know where life will lead you. Heck, if I can afford it by that point, I'll get a place with 2 bedrooms so one can be used as an office/workspace/gaming room combined.

Heck, I'd take a third bedroom to use as a library, if I can afford the luxury by then. Who knows?

Oct 26 – Employment Maps

Here's something interesting...

It's an animated map of the last 26 years of employment rates across the USA, from 0%( lightest )to 10+%( darkest )year by year, state by state. What's interesting is seeing how it makes economic trends visible, in terms of how they affect people directly: job loss.

Watch for the 2008 spot, when darkness sweeps the land...

Oct 27 –  Gloomy Rain

The rainy season is here now, in Victoria.

Coincidentally, the shorter days are here as well and so the combination most days results in one color: gray. The sun doesn't rise until well past 7 AM and is now setting before 6 PM, so again there's not a whole lot of light coming in.

Usually as I was sitting at home after work, this quite often meant putting a pair of sunglasses or closing up the blinds, as the sun was a blinding searchlight blasting in through the windows during the late afternoon hours.

Now, with the changing seasons, I'd welcome that searchlight a little more often.

I'm doing what I can to make sure that I don't come down with a case of SAD( seasonal affective disorder ): I've got my sunlight spectrum lamp going at work all day. In the evenings, I make sure that I have some decent lights on in the room until the least 7 PM or so, when I start to tone things down to shift the spectrum of my devices screens to cut down on the intensive blue light content.

According to the weather predictions, there should be a very mild winter for Victoria, with very little chance of snow... and the last snow we had was two years ago for two days in December, so that's saying something.

Into each life a little rain must fall, as the saying goes, and I'm more than willing to put up with 5-6 rainy days a week it means that I don't have to slog through snow or ice or freezing cold as I go about my day.

Oct 28 – Work Fun!

It was our annual Halloween Spooktacular at work today!

About half the people in the office dressed up, which was about normal, and we had a fun time all day: Email trivia questions about Halloween with prizes for fastest answers, Boo-Grams given out for a mere $0.50 each to as many people as you wanted to buy for, contests for best costume in 3 categories... it was great!

I hauled out my USMC costume from earlier in 2016( literally, it was all in a giant plastic bag I slowly... hauled... into the office )which was a big hit. I wore the fatigues all day with an olive-coloured ballcap and, with my headset, I looked like a military communications tech, which was great. At the end of the day, I gave a demo at my desk of the M41A Nerf rifle, which a dozen people attended and all were well-impressed with how well the thing worked, though the ammo counter stopped resetting when removing the clip - damn!

By day's end, I was rather tired, but happy all the same, as it'd been a ton of fun despite being a solid-but-not-crazy workday. I'm most fortunate to work with a great group of people who enjoy each other's company, and today it really showed.

Oct 29 – PARTY time!

As I was pooped from yesterday, today I played catch-up, doing necessary chores, including putting together the last bits of my costume for this year - pics below!

I've always wanted to be a robot of some kind for Halloween, and for years I've had a latex mask that I've tried to come up with a costume for, but with no luck as it's just too hot and uncomfortable to wear. Even this year's mask wasn't great, as I couldn't see much at all out of it, but at least I could breathe and wear it for more than a 5-minute stretch.

In the evening, my lady and I attended a Halloween party!

Amazing decor - that's me on the far right, the costume didn't photograph well

It was the being hosted by a lady at work, and we were there for the third time... but not for too long. My legs were still bothering me, and after about 1.5 hours, it was just too crowded( over 60 people! )and too loud to take any longer, despite the fun atmosphere - the yard outside was just incredible:

All the same, we had a nice time while we were there, and most folks loved my costume, which had glowing red eyes, a robot-voice-changer and a staff with blinking fiber-optic strings inside a black mesh covering. I looked scary and futuristic and best of all, it'd only cost me about $40 total for the costume, as I'd re-used almost everything except the mask itself and the cheap voice-changer.

Go Frugal Halloween!

Oct 30 – ATE: Ask The Experts

My 'new' computer is just humming along!

There's only 2 things on my mind right now to add: better video card and RAM.
The first( video card )will have to wait until either a) a SUPER sale this coming month on Black Friday and Cyber Monday( which, for the last 2 years, have been massive disappointments in Canada, I must say )or b) sometime late in 2017 when the prices come down as new video cards hit the market in the usual cycle.

The second( RAM )was much easier: apparently I don't need to upgrade!

I wasn't sure if the 16gigs of RAM I have had since 2012 was fast enough to not be holding back my system; it's hard to tell with all the jargon out there on tech boards.

So, I went to the experts: I asked the folks on the Tom's Hardware Forums, and amazingly had 4 people answer within 30 minutes, which was astounding. Here's the answer that told me I was just fine with what I have currently in my PC:

So, I don't need to spend any more money on RAM: I'm good. Yay!!!!

And for those looking to upgrade their systems, here's a nice guide to putting together a modern gaming PC on a mere $500( albeit USD )budget. I like the article because it walks you through the reasoning behind the purchase of each component, in terms of future-proofing your build.

It should be a good week coming up, as I don't have much planned apart from just taking it easy with every step I take and stretching as I can to limber up for when I can walk unaided again - soon, I hope!