Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Polar Vortex, Polish Learning and WiFi troubleshooting

Learning the Language of my Ancestors:  So I wimped out today and decided to WFH.  On the one hand I feel guilty that I didn't suck it up and go into the office.  On the other hand, I do have the option to Work From Home and it just doesn't make a lot of sense for me to drive out to OBT in this cold, especially since I only have two meetings that are conf call only (no conference room was reserved).  Originally I was going to use the treadmill at the Office Gym after work to burn some calories and wait out traffic.  Since that isn't going to happen and since it is too cold to run outside if you don't have to, I'm going to use the treadmill in our basement for the first time.  Nightingale uses it quite often but I generally still run outside.

Whenever I work from home, I like to get something accomplished between conference calls.  At the minimum, I strive to go through an hour of Rosetta Stone.  I was off to a good start this month/year, have been side tracked last week because of the training course, and hope to get back on track.  IF I can make it through Lesson 1-3 twice, I will evaluate what I have learned.  If I feel that I have made any sort of forward progress in learning the language of my  ancestors.

Two problems, two fixes implemented:  With all the WiFi repeaters I have going in this house, it doesn't surprise me that I've had a couple of minor issues that are likely related.  issue #1 is that at least once a day, I lose connectivity between my iPad and the internet.  The solution seems to be restarting the WiFi repeater in the kitchen (via unplug/re-plug).  The other problem, which is perhaps indicative of the first, is that my work laptop detects an IP address conflict when I connect it to our home network.

With some Googling I found two separate solutions.  The first suggested that I hard-code the mac addresses of my WiFi repeaters into the modem bridging section.  There isn't a lot of information on this -- at least not during my 5 minute attempt -- but I did figure out and add the MAC addresses (which is a redundant term BTW) of the X and the Apple Airport Express.  While doing this it occurred to me that the AX doesn't seem to broadcast.  I checked the Apple community boards and sure enough, AX don't play nicely in non-Apple ecosystems.  It seems if you want to use them in a typical non-Apple network (for instance NetGear Router, Zoom Modem) you have to have a hard-wired connection.

And of course the only computer I had the AX software on is my netbook which has a very small screen.  This is important because in the configuration menu the Update button appears on the bottom of the form which falls below the menu bar.  Conventional methods of getting to this button didn't work because this particular netbook is running Windows 7 Home Edition which doesn't allow much flexibility for display manipulation.  Luckily I have a second monitor that I was able to connect and by outputting only to that monitor was I able to access the button.  Note to self: install the AX software on the new Win8 desktop, because nothing could possibly go wrong there right.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Been in Training Class all week

I'm in an ITIL training course trying to absorb some very complicated IT best practices concepts. 
 It's mostly been a game of Acronym Bingo.

The challenge is that a lot of the things we are discussing seem very similar.  Like the difference between Incident Management and Problem Management.  It's like taking an alien that hasn't seen earth fruit and instead of showing him a watermelon, apple and a banana, you show him an orange, a clementine and a tangerine and expect him to figure out the difference just on sight.

I did okay on the take home tests so I'm hoping with a little more luck I'll be able to pass the exam today.  The ironic thing is that we are at the same facility where I took an excellent course in communication back in 2011.  And our class is from 10-6 so I have been escaping the bad traffic that comes with in-limate weather in the Midwest.

Update:  I passed the test with a 70 %, which means I got 28 out of 40 if my math is correct.   For a class I was unable to spend a lot of time outside the classroom on, that's not bad.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Not so fun part about being a Reluctant Landlord

>My wife and I are what's known as Reluctant Landlords.  In addition to the house we own, we each have a condo that we bought before meeting each other that we are unable to sell because the market has been so bad these last few years.  Our only choice was to rent these units out until the market improves enough so that we can sell them without having to bring a large amount of money to the table.  We think we are almost there with my Albany Park condo, we are a long way to go with my wife's South Loop Condo. 

So here's the fun part of reluctant landlord life.  There is none!

Yesterday I get an email from Kesha, our condo association pres because apparently our fire alarm was making that noise it makes when the battery is low and it was driving her dog batty.  Our condo building consists of 14 units and we are a a self-managed association, which has it's advantages and it's drawbacks.  Kesha lives in the unit above my condo so anything going on in my unit can impact her and vice-versa. 

My tenant -- let's call her Irma --  sent a friend over and it turns out it was not the fire alarm but the CO detector.  The CO detector is hard wired into the electrical and she didn't feel comfortable disconnecting it.  I was en route to deal with it myself when I got an email from Irma stating that her
friend had disconnected the detector but it apparently needs replacing.  I was going to order her a new one but she said "I have had a headache during the past 5-6 days and it only occurs when I am in the apartment in the living room.  You may want to consider having the HVAC unit tested."

I learned, a little too late, that the gas company will come out for free and investigate.  However, if they find something you have to repair it immediately so you still end up calling someone.  With my luck, if i call them, they find something and I still have to call an independent HVAC repairman.  if I don't call them, the repairman will find nothing wrong.  Guess what happened?

The repairman found no evidence of a CO leak.  He did find a few things they recommended repairing liking cleaning the burner which is almost as expensive as replacing it, which eventually needs to be done.  I opted not to do that at this time.  Normally I would opt to fix it even at the inflated price he gave me.  However,  I'm cash strapped because we had a little flood back in May that I'm still paying for.  and two, I feel like I need to shop around and vette the price he gave me.  heck I might even be able to order the part and replace it myself.  or not.

Update:  I actually went over and replaced the CO detector myself.  I will probably have to replace the regular smoke detector as well and would have gone with a combo if the two units were not hard wired into the ceiling already.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This made my day

The following was in response to one of my comments on Eric Zorn's Change of Subject blog:

It was in response to GregJ comment which I cut and paste in my retort:

It made my day because while I've been reading Eric's blog for years, I'm not one of the established commenters and as such, I often feel like someone who has outgrown the kiddie table but is only reluctantly invited to eat with the grown ups and on a be seen and not heard basis.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What have you done for me lately

we use to be friends, a long time ago, but haven't heard from you lately.
--Dandy Warhols

So I tried to re-connect with a couple of old friends recently, with less than satisfactory results.  One was a friend from college who was in town with her family from St Louis.  We realized we were going to be within 2 miles of one another at the same time and explored meeting up for lunch.  Alas, it just wasn't going to happen.  She had to corral children and was running late and my free time between the two events on Saturday was in flux as well.  We promised to do a better job of planning something more definite the next time she is in town.

I reached out to another local friend to see about getting back a book I had loaned her many years ago.  It was a book that I kinda insisted that she read so the burden of getting it back was mine.  To be clear, I also wanted to catch up and maybe even re-connect.  However, I get the impression that she thought my out-of-the-blue contact was about hooking up.

It was funny during our text exchange one of the first things she said was "are you still married? if so, that is wonderful..."

Either she didn't have much faith in my ability to remain married or she lives in a world where people don't stay married long.  I suppose another possibility is that she was trying to head me off if I was trying to engage in some extracurricular activity (I wasn't) or if I was single and trying to explore something with her (again, not in this time continuum).

When I asked about the book she said that she had just seen it last week and thought of me.  Apparently not enough to initiation contact herself.  She did offer to drop the book off at my old condo or have me come over to her neck of the woods.  She lives in Andersonville and doesn't venture too far from the neighborhood.  She will go to Evanston and parts of Lakeview if she has to but prefers her little zone.

KH lived around the block from Monica

We worked out meeting at a nearby coffee shop.  Unfortunately, the window in which she was available collided with some of my scheduled conf calls.  It would have been tricky to make it all the way over there and then back for a con call (though one got canceled last minute).  My intention was not just to get the book back but also catch up and possibility re-establish contact.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be and that's a good thing.  KH is representative of a recurring theme I'm discovering among many of my so-called friends. They really don't want to put in the work to maintain a friendship, especially once they decide there isn't anything in it for them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

First Post of 2014

View from the bedroom window
Well the weather outside is frightful, or at least too dangerous to drive to work in.  At least if you have other options.  While I'm never confident in my employment status in Corporate America, I am lucky to have a job that lets me WFH in conditions like today.

So I requested to work from home today after being away from the office since December 20th.  Given how much trouble I had just getting from my garage to the Jewel down the street, it appears to have been the correct call.

I'm not a big New Year's Resolution kind of person.  One of the few shining moments from my mid-twenties was the ongoing resolution to be in a better place each year.  Be it physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually (I'm not sure if there really is a distinction among some of those,but why not). 

So then resolutions in no particular order.

Effort to learn Polish:  I plan to use my Rosetta Stone software for 1 hour/lesson per day when I WFH.  I  bought the software in 2009 thinking I would use it to finally learn Polish.  It had a six month money back guarantee but I didn't execute the guarantee because it was my lack of effort that prevented me from learning the language of my ancestors.

Facebook Posting:  It occurred to me a couple weeks ago.  What if you made a post and then went about your day, only to end up....dead.  That post would be the last communication from you to your friends, acquaintances and/or whomever you connect with on Social Media.  So while I'll concede that it is probably impossible to always post meaningful, gracious posts, I do resolve to attempt to post each status update as if it were my last. 

Health Front:  Nightingale and I need to lose some weight.  Therefore we are going to reduce/diminish our biggest source of calories: alcohol.  We need to drink less and workout more.  I did manage to run 702 miles last year which works out to about 60 miles a month.   It should be reasonable to do the same thing this year, perhaps increasing the mileage ever so slightly.

Run another Marathon:  So I really would like to run another marathon this year for no better reason than it's about time that I increment Number_of_Marathons from 22 to 23.  I'm just uncertain how the knees will hold up and if I can make the time to adequately train. I'd only want to run one if I had a reasonable chance of doing well instead of the run/walk I did for Detroit.

I'd also like it to be a marathon I haven't done before and somewhere that would be a nice vacation destination for Nightingale and perhaps others.  But some of my runner friends are considering races we've done before so those are on the table too.

That is just a F-ton of snow