Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter, The Electronic Life and Errant Explosions

The word of the week is inscrutable.

Apr 10 – Video Games and Life

This is amusing...

For some people, life is video games, and reality takes a second seat. I know for myself, when I first moved to Victoria, my online life was far better than offline. But I've never confused one for the other, or thought better of time spent in pixilated worlds rather than the variegated confusion of what I wake up to daily.

But, you can learn some things from video games, as it happens...

Strangely enough, I also this week came across the Strategy Guide To Life, which also predicates how life is like a video game - is someone out there trying to make a point?

If so, I could use an extra life at this point... or some gold coins!

Apr 11 – Blockhouses?

I love innovative housing ideas.

In fact, there's so many of them out there these days, that it's hard to tell which ones are viable and which are pipe dreams... and which might even be scams.

In my tiny house research, I run across quite a few 'neat' ideas that look great in concept but are rather lacking in execution. I like the prototype pictured below, which folds down to be transported in a standard shipping container:

Looks pretty cool, eh?

The company's website has a variety of designs, both residential and commercial, which I think is a good sign, though none are yet ready for sale. I'm less enthused by the fact that there's no actual pricing listed on the site, and that they list the warranty as only 1-year. Still, a rather cool concept, and one that looks fairly durable.

But: where do you put all your stuff when you have to pack things up?

Apr 12 – Slapped, Sorta...

I was reprimanded at work today.

It was about as light a wrist-slap as I've ever received... and it was for doing too good a job, oddly enough. We've been seriously short-staffed for the last couple of months, down 2 people from our normal complement of 7, and this week someone was on vacation, so with it being stupidly busy of late things just aren't getting done.

I've been trying anyway, and today I was told to stop.

Which is hard for me to hear, as in my head, it means I'm not doing my job, and people are waiting too long for answers they need. But that's not my decision to make, as people who make more than I do are ultimately responsible for how long it takes, not me, as it's not physically possible for me to work any harder. It's also telling that I've been in the same Admin position longer than anyone else, and everyone knows it.

Similar to my own Not Impressed face...

It's also a big sign that it's time to move on, like always - past time, really. I've noted that in past jobs, once the stress ratchets up to these kinds of levels, something's going to give, and in the past that was usually my patience with management to get their heads out from between their cheeks and do something. For MMart, it was simply for them to ignore the problem until staff burnout happened, and at Staples, it was to hammer home sales numbers until people's heads popped.

For my current workplace, it's simply a lack of staff all around, as there's no retention policies: people are free to leave as they choose, though in my case I haven't been able to find a better position... yet. I've got several applications in for some decent positions in other ministries that are far better paying than my entry-level job, so it's only a matter of time until one of my applications pays off.

In the meantime, I'm being rotated off the Admin front-line position next week, so I'll be far less stressed in dealing with people's stupidity.  That's even harder to take than the sheer volume of inquiries, and there were a few this week that made even my blood boil for a bit: never a good sign, though I had the thought that it's got to be hard being that dumb and trying to get through our modern life...

Apr 13 – Peak Smartphone?

I activated my new phone's SIM today.

Meaning my original OnePlus One is officially retired, and none too soon: between the random reboots and losing the cell signal multiple-times-a-day, its time is done. I've been using the LeEco Max2 for a few weeks now on Wifi only, and it's been great: fast, responsive, a gorgeous display, great battery life... everything I want.

I also think it's going to last me at least another 2-3 years.

It's funny that the upgrade cycle is around 2 years now, well-established by smartphone manufacturers and cell mobility companies, especially those in Canada whose contracts have dropped from 3 to 2 years to reflect the same.

Which is why I started buying my own phone, to avoid contracts.

Years ago, the only way to get a decently fast phone was on a contract, as they ran around $600 or more for a device that wouldn't stall doing anything more than email or text messages. My OnePlus One was the successor to my Samsung Galaxy SIII, which had been unable to keep up with my daily-use demands after only a year, so the OPO was a breath of fresh air and lasted me 2 years.

It's stunning to think of how quickly the market has changed in 5 years.

Some people think that we've reached 'Peak Smartphone' which is a curious concept: the price-vs-performance ratio has about peaked, and that's a good thing. It means that I went from paying $500 for my SIII, to $475 for my OPO, to $250 for my LeEco... and each has been at least twice as powerful as the previous. So in 2-3 years, I predict that I'll be upgrading to a phone that will likely cost less than $200 and will do all I need it to in a day, quickly and competently.

I'll leave the $1400 iPhones for other people with deeper pockets.

Apr 14 – The Last Jedi Trailer!

It's here! Our first glimpse of the next Star Wars film!

And... it's almost beat-for-beat the same as the trailer for The Force Awakens...

While the latest trailer suggests 'stick with what works' to me, I don't mind: they're making new Star Wars films, and I'm willing to overlook nitpicking by folks about marketing if the film itself is worth seeing. I'm also hoping that the creators of the upcoming film have listened to the criticism of The Force Awakens and are actively working to make the story as tight as possible.

The rest will follow from there.

Apr 15 – Scams

Well, looks like I got taken with a Kickstarter.

Along with 70,122 other people, that is, and there's little that any of us can do about it, as Kickstarter's not going to do much besides hand-wringing. Their policies are clear that there's no guarantees with backed projects... though I have to say, I don't think the 'buyer beware' clause should apply to scams.

Which is now what my $22 Kickstarter appears to be, according to some sources.

Seems that criminals with smarts and resources are flocking to crowdfunding, able to work the system to gather, in some cases, millions from unsuspecting backers though slick up-front campaign designs for what sound like good ideas.

Then the scam park kicks in.

The delivery date gets pushed back because of 'unforeseen problems' such as manufacturing defects, higher shipping costs, or whatever-excuse-sounds-best. There's many examples of crowdsourced projects that didn't complete, but not all that many of them qualify, in my opinion, as projects whose creators meant from the get-go to scam backers of their funds.

It hasn't soured me on continuing to back Kickstarters, as it has many other folks, but I'll sure as shootin' be triple-checking where my money's going to go from now on.

Apr 16 – Explosive Easter

I made something blow up today. But first, my PT-109 boat sailed for the first time:

It floats, looks great... and will be even better when I add a few details.

Heading over to my parent's place today for Easter dinner, I was all excited: I had a new TV stand with me, all set to attach it to the standless plasma they've been holding there for me since late 2017.

Unpacking the stand, I got everything ready and started assembling things, putting the base together in preparation to attach it to the TV when done. The instructions were awful: a single page, with 3 steps and no actual English instructions, but that's what you get when you pay $65, not twice that for retail.

Then the base exploded: tempered glass went everywhere:

That's a bedspread the box, and remains of the stand, are resting on...

Fortunately, the stand was parallel to me at the time, so I only received a small cut on my hand, and most of the glass shards went to the sides, not at me, or my eyes.

I have to say, there was no indication in the instructions that I should have been even more cautious than I was already in tightening the screws, or even HOW tight they should have been. After the initial shock, I was able to bandage my hand, and then clean up the mess in about an hour with my sister's help. It was surprising how many tiny shards, the size of matchheads, got everywhere; we had to use flashlights from many angles to find many of them, and the vacuum wouldn't pick some up due to their small surface area.

So, that's a bust - literally. After I calmed my frustration at this setback, I thought about what to do next, and I think I'm going to have a co-worker's hubby make me up a steel plate to weld the remaining top half of the stand to. It's still perfectly good, and I feel a steel base will better be able to hold the weight of an 80-lb plasma TV, rather than a tempered-glass base, rated as it was for that weight. But it means more months of delays before that can even be attempted... but hey, it means I don't have to worry about it, and can focus on my novel

Whatever. Easter dinner went smoothly from that point on, and I managed to pack away a deliciously large portion of it, compared to what I've been able to eat for the last few months - huzzah! And after dinner, my family( with my lady! )played 1.5 games of Dixit, which we all thoroughly enjoyed... score one for my lady for suggesting it for this evening. It really helped soothe my simmering annoyance at today's setback, and to just relax with my family. 

It's a late posting tonight, and I'm fortunate to still have Day 4 of my long weekend tomorrow to finish a few things, including some writing, that I've been trying to get to for the last few days. It's actually a short week, as Friday is my regular EDO, so it's like a mini-vacation for me this week...