Why A Mac?

So, why a Mac? Well, I’ve done a fair amount of thinking about this decision and have come to a few conclusions. I need to upgrade within the next two years. My current box, although still quite snappy, will continually become slower and slower as software and operating systems (Vista, in particular) become more processor and memory intensive.

First of all, I had to consider my options. I have three options really; Windows, Mac, or Linux. I know there are other operating systems out there but for my personal machine at home none of the other options make sense. Given these three options I first needed to identify what I really wanted. Part of me, at least the non-conformist in me, wants to buck Microsoft completely. Sorry to disappoint all you Linux apologists out there but Microsoft is and will continue to be a major force in the computing world for some time to come. There is no escaping Microsoft completely, especially if you’re coming from a Windows world and have already come to use some Windows-only software. Continue reading “Why A Mac?”

Consideration For A Mac

For the past 8 years I’ve been toying with the notion of switching from Windows to either Linux or Apple. I consistently dismissed the idea either because Linux wasn’t quite capable of supporting the switch or because Apples were just too damn expensive. Granted, Microsoft has made significant improvements in Windows stability (and even security) over the past several years so the impetus to switch isn’t quite what it was in the Windows 98/Me days. Windows XP was actually a pretty decent attempt at Unix by Microsoft, all things considered, but it’s still Microsoft at its base. Security sucked in XP and doesn’t seem to have improved drastically in Vista, unless you call nagging the end user to death security.

Speaking of Vista, that’s really what’s sparked this whole thing…again. My wife’s laptop decided to burn out its video card so rather than fixing it immediately we came across a good deal on a new Vista desktop for her. After we got it home we ended up replacing the printer (incompatible with Vista) and bought two new copies of Outlook. My scanner won’t work with Vista either, but that’s a bridge we’ll cross another day.

After spending some time getting her machine set up I realized one major thing: I’m really not that impressed with Vista. I really expected something big for an OS five years in the making and I was, well, underwhelmed by the whole thing. It’s slow as hell, at least on her system, and the interface just isn’t what I thought it would be. I expected something revolutionary and it just appeared that it got a decent facelift. Continue reading “Consideration For A Mac”

Big Brother is Watching

We have a pretty big problem here in St. Louis with people running red lights. I’ve always hoped we could do something about it and when I saw that the city was installing camera systems in order to nail red light runners I thought it would be a positive thing.

Now, however, I’m not so sure. I guess I always had a “Big Brother” fear about this type of “police enforcement” but I pushed it down hoping this was a step in the right direction and for the common good. I mistakenly thought that the city would only be concerned about people running red lights. I consider that to be extremely dangerous. Turns out they’re also interested in another type of “infraction”; turning right on red without coming to a complete stop first.

First off, I’m not saying I didn’t do it. I did. I often yield at a red light instead of completely stopping. Although it’s illegal, I don’t believe it’s necessarily dangerous; not any more dangerous than anything else associated with driving. I’ve also asked many other people if they do the same thing and they say they do. Still not justification, but it does shed a little light on the frequency. Basically this is the vehicular equivalent of jaywalking. Continue reading “Big Brother is Watching”

Holy Hanky!

I received the best letter ever today, one that I apparently have needed for some time but didn’t even know it. Turns out there’s this group called St. Matthew’s Churches in Oklahoma that knows me without even knowing my name. They’ve detected, through some kind of magic, that I need some direction in my life. They decided to loan me a letter with a bunch of cool stuff in it so I could get right to turning my miserable, useless life around and start obeying orders.

Envelope front

I flipped the envelope over to find even more good news:

Envelope back

Prophecies? Sealed prophecies? That’s Indiana Jones type stuff! And it also appeared that my time was running out since God’s divine power would only work for tonight and tomorrow night. I knew I was on to something good and I didn’t have time to waste so of course I decided to open it and peruse its contents.

Inside was a letter talking about handkerchiefs. They already had me at “sealed prophecy” so I read on: Continue reading “Holy Hanky!”

CPI: One Year Later

As I near the one year anniversary of my return to CPI, I’ve taken some time to reflect upon my life and my career now versus a year ago. Things had taken an apparent turn for the worst a little over a year ago when Maritz decided to cancel my contract with no explanation or consolation. Apparently that’s the way of things as a contractor working for a terrible company. Maritz was one of the best and one of the worst experiences of my working life. As a company I find it difficult to understand how they continue to operate; it was one of the most disorganized companies I’ve ever worked for.

When Maritz let me go I was floored. I literally felt sick. It was mid-December, we’d just moved into our new house, and we hadn’t even made the first house payment yet. We’d slightly over-extended ourselves when we moved but we did it believing that I would continue to be employed and we’d catch up again shortly. Unfortunately things didn’t work out that way.

After I was let go I spent a lot of time sitting around and wondering what I’d done wrong. I find it funny now that I seem to be quite valuable to CPI; whereas at Maritz I apparently had absolutely no value to them at all. I’ve worked for several companies throughout my life and I’ve never, ever been let go from a job. I’ve always received positive feedback from management and I’ve always succeeded in completing the tasks assigned to me. I’ve always felt like I was valuable to the companies I’ve worked for but for Maritz, this wasn’t the case. Ultimately I decided not to spend a lot of time doubting myself and to spend more time being positive and, above all else, finding a new job. As I found out, Maritz has a bad reputation for doing to a lot of other people exactly what they did to me. Continue reading “CPI: One Year Later”

A Month In and Everything’s Looking Good

So I’ve been back to CPI for a month now and things are still looking good. Two weeks into my return the ETL guy quit and I inherited the stuff he was working on. This is really a good thing, despite the extra work. I’m very psyched about the ETL tool they purchased and with my DataStage experience I think I’ll be productive much more quickly than if I didn’t have the experience. I’ll be working closely with sales data and then I’ll be working with the derived marketing data after that. I have a lot of experience with the marketing side of things and I’m looking forward to working very closely with them again. The good thing is that although I’m working with the same data as before I left I’m doing something completely different with it. Building this data warehouse is exactly what I wanted to do when I left CPI the first time and I’m very excited about having the opportunity to do it this time around. Continue reading “A Month In and Everything’s Looking Good”

Things Have Come Full Circle

The news is out and it’s official; I’m going back to CPI. I’m sure many people who know me will be surprised by this; I’m even a little surprised. There’s a long explanation and a short explanation for my decision but, in order to save everyone’s time, I’ll go with the short one: I still feel like my decision to leave was the right one given the circumstances but I’m also happy to be coming back again.

I guess things that used to really bother me just don’t bother me so much anymore. I’ve also found that it’s very difficult to find a company that doesn’t have problems of some kind. Often times you find that you just swap one problem for another. Von Hoffmann had their problems and Maritz had monumental problems; CPI has their own as well. I think things bottomed out at CPI and, with certain “personnel changes”, the path has been cleared for a better future. CPI is active again; new projects, new tools, and a more enterprise-centric mindset. Continue reading “Things Have Come Full Circle”

New at Steak ‘n Shake

I took this picture at the Steak ‘n Shake near the corner of Chippewa and Kingshighway last year. I’ve never seen this on the menu but it sounds like it might be good…or kinda scary.

Back on the market…again

Well, here I am again, back in the job market for the third time in a year. My stint at Maritz ended “unexpectedly” let’s say, so I’m searching for a job once again. I’m in talks with several companies and recruiting firms and I’ve got a few solid leads. It’s probably not prudent to mention these specifically right now; once things pan out and offers are accepted then I’ll divulge a bit more information. I’ll just say right now that I’m hoping I’ll soon be working in a familiar and comfortable environment again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things pan out the way I want them to. It’s looking more and more like my premature departure from Maritz might have just come at the perfect time. Who knows; maybe they did me a favor.

In the meantime I’ve have the opportunity to spend more time at home with Orson; this has an unexpected silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud. I’ve also had the opportunity to finish a significant amount of odd jobs around our new house during my time off so it hasn’t been all bad. Of course it still has caused a fair amount of stress around our house and I’m looking forward to getting back to work again so things can get back to normal.