Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

More travel

Nice long trip coming up. So should be updating Tumblr and here with some good pictures and adventures I hope.

Looking forward to the R&R as well as the grind has been brutal lately. Trying to get ahead on my school work has been punishing as well, but worth it in the end to have some breathing room for a few days.

Will update either while on the road, or when back. In either event should have some more blogging coming

Meanwhile I have updated the doctoral area with more resources for those who find it useful

GamePolitics closes its doors

As a long time blogger I’ve seen a lot of sites go under for a variety of reasons. Some good, some bad, some life, some tragic.

Unfortunately, this past week GamePolitics, one of the only sites to attempt to address video games and political considerations in the last decade, has decided to close its doors as well.

Its sad really. The ongoing debate between video games, whats appropriate, what isn’t, whats sexist, whats misogynistic, and whats feminist is not going to go away anytime soon. If anything with trends such as #GamerGate, it is likely going to ramp up further. So having a voice in the realm such as with Game Politics was a good thing.

Sadly that voice has had to close their curtains at a time when rational discussion is sorely needed both now and in the future. Another story in the digital dust.

 

Chris Muir must be channeling me

On more than one occasion I’m asked how I can work in IT and want a home that is off grid, why do I not have Netflix, Hulu, etc. Why I don’t move where internet is faster, better, more reliable, with more data. Why I don’t have the latest geek gizmo, or smart phone. Why do I still blog on my old desk top PC.

The simple answer is IT is where I work as I have too much vested in it over the years to change. However, now I live to work, not work to live and I don’t have to take part in the system anymore if I don’t want too and I don’t.

I’m tired of instant video. I’m tired of instant access. Tired of the constant barrage of advertisements at my gas pump, at the check out line. I’m tired of folks using my purchase history to try to sell me something else via my Email. I’m tired of being pushed to buy something 24/7. Tired of hearing what the Kardashians did this week, what Beiber did last night, and what Hillary is doing tomorrow. I don’t care whose phone was hacked anymore. I’m tired of hearing about government officials who stay out of jail after breaking laws that you and I would never see daylight again.

I’m just tired. Of all of it.

Chris Muir of Day by Day, got it perfect with this one.

Down to the Wire by Chris Muir March 22, 2016

Down to the Wire by Chris Muir March 22, 2016

Tumblr

So I have been experimenting with Tumblr for a little while now. For fun I have added a widget off to the right, as you may be able to see, which will not only show you my Tumblr activity but if you click it will take you to my Tumblr site.

I confess to finding it mildly entertaining. The bigger facet it is it is simple easier to share pictures via that system than it is this one. That doesn’t mean I will stop putting pictures here.

Rather it means my more random, day-to-day picture taking will like end up there, while my written visualizations and etc will continue to be here.

All clear as mud I am sure. Meanwhile feel free to check it it out at The Prodigal Stranger.

New age lessons

We play video games with our kid.

We don’t play MMO games, but we do play video games. Largely they are Co-op and of a RPG nature. We three sit down and make it a point to have fun together but just as important to me is that in playing those games we try to listen to each other, work together, and communicate.

So this from Penny Arcade really struck a chord for me, because it has happened with us. Its the digital equivalent of staying the night in jail or cleaning up your room, and whats more is its happened making it all the more funny.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cat Skinning

Feh.

So my adventures in transcription for my research took a wheel in to the ditch. Turns out the new version I purchased cant be used for transcription. Go figure. Two pieces of the same software in a weeks time and neither of them do what I want despite what it says on the goddamn box.

But never fear. Improvisation is my middle name. Well not really but it will be tonight.

See the software won’t allow transcription, but it will allow dictation. So with the help of a shoe box, an Xbox 360 Rock Band microphone, and my digital audio recorder which can play MP3’s…..

  • I ported my interviews in to a MP3 format from WAV
  • Moved the files on to my digital recorder
  • Placed the recorder in to the shoe box with the microphone
  • Hooked the microphone up to my laptop
  • Closed the lid with just enough room to hit the recorder buttons
  • Then set Dragon to dictation mode and let the recorder do the work.

There were a couple of times the recorder out ran the word processor but over all it did what I needed it to do and turned 3 hours of transcription in to about 40 minutes of editing instead.

Its painful, but I will call it a win.

So Who is still kicking? Last Blogs standing

With The Armorer finally going dark there aren’t too many folks from the heydey of blogging still around.

 

So whose left?

Well John DuMond of Nobody Move is still writing, and doing so with much more regularity than myself. I’m a frequent lurker there and rarely comment but I still like his work, especially his true crime pieces.

Harvey too, is also still running over at Bad Example. Again I lurk but do not comment often. Mostly because I have a hard time finding time to do much more than quickly read any more with work and school.

Laughing Wolf has been much more creative than I posting quite regularly.

Stephen Sherman aka The Commissar still runs his Ace Pilots page, but his Politburo Diktat is long gone.

Teresa and Technicalities is still alive and kicking

Doc at DocInTheBox also posts occasionally.

T1G of Drunken Wisdom is another sporadic like myself.

EricSWG of StraightWhiteGuy also writes sporadically, and well as always when he does.

The Conservative UAW guy last posted in May.

Nidonemo is still active thankfully.

The Ministry of Minor Perfidy is another who has not posted since May

Slobokan has been silent since April

All of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers are gone save for myself.

With the exception of a few holdouts such as Blackfive, Grims Hall, This Aint Hell and Murdoc Online most of the old groups are gone.

Since I started writing online back in 1997 I have seen the web undergo a lot of social changes. From mIRC to OTC sites such as Tripod and Geocities, to the MySpace and Blog Heydeys.

All the folks I have listed above, for the vast majority I interact with via Facebook with regularity. They get tired of the spammers, the Chinese hackers, the internet drama, and the “Take this down or we’ll sue you!” crowd.

Its hard to blame them. I’ve been threatened with at least 4 lawsuits in over 15 years of writing on line. I’ve gotten more hate mail than I can shake a stick at. Its one reason I have rarely if ever used my real name online: the fact is there are just some plain old fashion sick people out there.

But I have also met some fabulous people, made great connections. Been introduced to some legends, and people who I consider friends today.

Blogs may be going to the way side, and one day it is entirely possible that this site too may go dark (though I have no immediate plans to do so) but until that time its much like digital cave drawings. People have evolved, maybe not for the better, but their digital social culture has definitely swung towards the instant gratification world of Facebook and G+. Even I use them.

But I can’t put down my keyboard, not entirely. I feel like if I do, a little piece of me might die with it.

Rip Van DirectSong II

After E-mail Direct Song, they sent me another kindly worded but useless E-mail.

We have just received a new shipment from the manufacturer and is now awaiting a signing session by the composer. Your order is near the top of the priority list so should be sent out on this shipment. Please keep a look out in your email for a confirmation and Tracking number

It sounds really important and special.

Except that same morning I received my CD.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy I got my disks, and I’m happy too that my wife enjoys the music.

But the customer service was, as demonstrated, beyond out of touch and horrific. So much so that they might as well not be engaged at all. Were my own company to employ such a method of customer service it would be on CNN by tomorrow morning.

I won’t be doing business with them again, but at least its good to know that I didn’t send my money to some mad Nigerian General by accident.

Rip Van DirectSong

They really should have their own fairy tale, because their customer service has obviously been asleep as long as the original.

Back in November of 2012 I ordered my Bride a copy of the Skyrim game music. We both like orchestration, and the music was good. DirectSong.com is the only place you can get it, as the company is owned by none other than the composer, and his brother.

It’s now April. And I still have not received  the CD’s.
Read the rest of this entry »

Epic fail by Microsoft (Or why form letters fail)

So as a Xbox Live holder I get all kinds of nifty (cough) E-mail from Microsoft trying to get me to use all of their (ahem) useful Xbox 360 applications.

In their defense if I lived in the middle of Detroit or Chicago I’m sure it would be. But I’m one of the millions who still do not have high speed internet, so all of this tripe is just that for me.

But that didn’t stop Microsoft from sending me a really neat E-mail that, thanks to my lack of use of their systems, becomes utterly hysterical when read (or at least it does in my twisted mind)

Read the rest of this entry »

Tower Climber Down: New Year, New focus, same old story

Not even days after the ProPublica/Frontline story aired a 31-year-old Austin, Tex. tower technician survived a 100-foot fall from a monopole in Southeast Austin on May 16 around 6:20 p.m..

A spokesperson for the Austin, Tex. Police Department has told Wireless Estimator that the 31-year-old tower technician who fell 100 feet off of a monopole was employed by Goodman Networks. They also said that the last report that they had was that Shad Lierley was in stable condition

Police say that 31-year-old Shad Lierley was working on the structure along with at least one other employee when he fell.

He was transported to University Medical Center at Brackenridge.

A spokesperson for the Austin Fire Department said that they and the city’s police department had been told by OSHA not to release any information regarding the incident.

Waverly Kennedy of OSHA’s Austin area office said he could not provide any details regarding the accident. Wireless Estimator has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with OSHA for all details regarding the incident that are able to be provided as well as a copy of all citations to the unnamed contractor, if the agency does find Lierley’s company at fault.

Damage to the waveguide bridge indicates that Lierley hit the structure when he fell. An unconfirmed news report stated that a second tower technician also suffered minor injuries to his hand.

Goodman Networks, Inc. of Plano is the identified turf vendor for the project, issued a stand down for all operations shortly after. The company manages many AT&T projects throughout the nation.

Their request for the immediate training required states that, “This bulletin is being issued as a reminder of the dangers involved in our industry and to remind all of our employees and contractor personnel of the importance of planning safety into every project.”

Goodman is requesting that the stand-down training must be completed by Tuesday.

“Many of our people are off today because they’ve requested it months ago so that they could enjoy a long weekend,” said one Midwest contractor. “With Monday being a holiday how do they expect us to get everybody together on Tuesday? We can’t.”

Another contractor registered concern that Goodman’s stand-down is going to affect schedules for all of the other projects they are committed to on Tuesday.

Stand-downs have been criticized by many in the industry as being reactive to client concerns rather than a proactive approach to safety.

The joint Frontline/ProPublica investigation identified that the fatalities on AT&T projects totaled 15 since 2003 – more than at the other three major carriers combined over the same period.

AT&T ordered a similar stand down in 2008, after two tower climbers died on its projects.

The company would not answer questions about the current stand down, issuing a statement similar to the one it has given ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” for previous stories saying that AT&T outsources tower work “to expert companies, many of which are large publicly traded firms with decades of experience.”

“Worker safety has always been a hallmark of AT&T,” the statement says.

I was part of that 2008 shut down, working out of Jackson TN and Nashville, TN at the time for AT&T. It is supposed to be a time of review, safety training, and thought on how we are doing our jobs. If it is successful in those goals or not is anybodies guess.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shad Lierley and his family.

 

Pro Publica/PBS Set to Air Cellular Investigation, again

A while back I mentioned I took part as a resource in a journalistic investigation regarding the cellular industry.

I have high hopes for its success in turning what was and is easily one of the most black market industries out there.

A lot of folks got pretty irate when they delayed the release.

It’s public television people, not prime time. Slots get moved, more information becomes available things get edited. Not to mention the nice lady from Pro Publica contacted me again, so I’m guessing they are doing some more background work for an additional. Whose to say. I might even use my real name. But I digress…

At any rate if you have a moment, or are just curious as to what it is I used to do, or are interested in seeing just how dangerous my and other cellular contractors jobs were, then look no further:

Watch Cell Tower Deaths Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

How to earn Employee Dedication

I have worked for some companies in my time who I regretted later.

Quite a few of them honestly.

Maybe I have an attitude, but after having spent almost ten years in the Army, being deployed all over the world and having sacrificed (literally) a marriage I felt I had paid my dues when it came to proving my dedication.

Not so.

Civilian employers, I quickly found, love labels.

As long as you are doing precisely what they want you to do, your dedicated.If that paths deviates even one iota, your slapped with the “not dedicated” label and more often than not, off you go.

About four years ago I was getting really burned out on this mentality of employers, the idea that employees are not worth investing in, and taking care of your employees (beyond just a paycheck) was a fantasy that I would never see accomplished. 15 years of bouncing from contract to contract and you quickly get to see the under belly of companies and their dirty dealings.

Thats not to say that every company I worked for was the poster child for poor civics. I had several companies who I enjoyed working for, but one thing or another pushed me on my way.  Some went out of business. Others changed their strategic direction. Some I decided we just didn’t fit. At least one my personal life intervened.

As a Project Manager, and a Field Manager, I did my damnedest to put my people first in all cases. I bumped heads with more than one company owner, supervisor and upper echelon member. I was ultimately fired for my efforts at one company. I have no regrets. I stood by my guns and made a decision on something I felt strongly about. Marcus Aurelius wrote “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” I kept my self respect, and ultimately lost some for some individuals whom I thought very highly of until that moment.

However, shortly after I was beginning to give up hope regarding ones ideology. At least one company made it their personal action to keep me from work. Such a lack of basic business ethics proved to me just how low a company would stoop to have their way, or no way at all.

And the circle continued.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cell Tower Deaths to take the Frontline

It’s been long over due.

Numerous website’s such as myself, Wireless Estimator and Tower Dogs have talked about the dangers for cell tower climbers time and again.

We’ve documented incidents, and been a grounds eye level view on things that have happened.

Not quite a year ago ProPublica contacted me to ask questions regarding the cellular industry. I sent a lot of E-mails out to my friends and blogging peers asking questions about them before I submitted to the questionnaire. I’ve been out of the cellular business almost two years now, but many of my friends are still in it, and it’s a industry that I spent over a decade working in. It’s a industry like no other, not all of those ways good.

I will tell you that I made a contribution to this.

No you won’t see me on TV.

I a great deal of time answering questions to the best of my ability regarding turf systems, contracts, time tables…all of them as anonymously as I could. Because frankly at the time my career was still at stake.

I don’t feel its at stake any more, as my new job has nothing to do with cellular communications. I also make no apologies for remaining anonymous in my contribution. It’s my life, my family, and my career. The world works a certain way in my experience, but feel free to invite me to your utopia once it materializes.

But I’ll tell you what I told ProPublica, and everyone else I have met, the same thing that I have said for years:  It is probably the most black market industry that I have ever been involved with in my life.

Watch the show when it comes out. Make your own decision.

Tower Climber Down: Final Fatality for 2011

Nick Rouskey, president, Broadcast Services Tower and Antennas, died tragically Dec. 26 when he was electrocuted while working on a cell tower in Bonita Springs, Fla. Rouskey was alone on the tower, Bonita Springs fire deputy chief Frank Giuliano said.

Rouskey, who had 20 years of experience repairing towers, was on the tower to replace a light, and was being assisted by his grandson, who was at the base.

Rescuers were dispatched to the scene at 4:40 p.m. and found him unresponsive 750 feet above the ground, according to Naples Daily News. A team of eight workers “untangled” Rouskey and lowered him to the ground. The rescue took five hours to complete.
A station engineer thought that he was changing out a beacon bulb at the time of the accident.

The guyed tower is set back behind Channel 30 Drive, along Old U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs.

The victim’s body reached ground at about 9:30 p.m., Giuliano said. Collier County rescuers were dispatched to the scene at about 4:40 p.m., joined by Bonita Springs fire responders, both county sheriff’s offices and other agencies.

A group of eight rescuers, including an Urban Search and Rescue team, worked to untangle the man and bring him down.

Officials cut power on the tower during the rescue mission for safety, having the FAA divert aircraft from the area.

They reached the technician about 7:30 p.m. Rescuers then discovered the man was dead.

“At that point it became a body recovery, as opposed to a rescue,” Giuliano said. “We slowed down and took our time.”

As they were preparing to climb the structure a sheriffs’ helicopter circled the tower and reported to rescuers that the man had been unresponsive for almost three hours.

medical examiners told family members that, according to an autopsy, Rouskey was electrocuted.

However, officials at District 21 Medical Examiner Rebecca Hamilton’s Office said they have not released findings and won’t issue a cause of death until results of lab tests are received.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation of the accidental death will not be completed until detectives receive reports from the medical examiner.

OSHA is also investigating the accident.

The 733-foot tower is owned by Super Towers Inc. of Manchester, Mass.

Rouskey, 61, lived in Cape Coral, Fla., where he and his wife, Kathleen, owned and operated Broadcast Services Tower and Antenna. He was a veteran of the Vietnam war and received a Bronze Star for his military service. He is survived by his wife, one son, Nick Rouskey; and two grandsons, Dylan and Ian; and other family members.

We grieve when these kind of events happen in our industry. The members of his family have our thoughts, prayers and condolences.

Blogsphere Updates, Blogging, and Facebook Timeline

Ok first some blogsphere updates

John of Nobody Move! has relocated, so if your like me and you have his old blogger website bookmarked, you might want to update your links. The new link is http://armedrobbery.wordpress.com/

The Armorer, while not posting as often as he used too, has not given up the ghost as it were.

Oh and yours truly has returned finally.

I finished my Bachelors degree, it is done. And I start my Masters program on January 17 of 2012. To say I’m pretty stoked is a understatement.

Also I’m “going dark” on my Facebook account. I’m currently trying to get all of my pictures I have uploaded over the years to it, downloaded to my computer. My Internet connection is not helping me in this sadly.  My original intent was to shut it down by Dec 21, but I am afraid I may not make it to that deadline.

Let me explain going Dark and why I set the 21st. On the 23rd Facebook is introducing what they call “Timeline“.

I gotta tell you, it makes me nervous and I’m not the only one. Whats more once everyone gets Timeline, there’s no going back. Whats more with the changes with this new Timeline schema keep in mind that Facebook has already had their hands slapped by the FTC for their lack of privacy as well as for specifically “unfair & deceptive practices”.

“There’s no act too small to record on your permanent record,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard who studies how the Internet affects society. “All of the mouse droppings that appear as we migrate around the Web will be saved.”

So Why go dark?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tower Climber has fatal 1,000 foot fall: Sixth fatality for 2011

Matthew D. Goodner, 30, of Ford Dodge, Iowa died on Wednesday October 12 in Newton, Mass, the sixth fatality of 2011 in tower related deaths.
Goodner was a contractor who was installing a safety ladder and performing routine maintenance for the tower owner, Boston-based American Tower Corp.  During the installation Goodner was working at approximately the 1,000 foot mark on the 1,253 foot guy-wire tower.

Goodner was a member of a veteran crew of three men, working for Ultimate Tower, a Texas-based company.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our contractors. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and co-workers during this difficult time. We are working closely with the relevant authorities and cooperating fully with all inquiries into the cause of this tragic accident,” said Matt Peterson, vice president of communications for ATC in a statement.

Peterson said the company suspended all work at the site pending a thorough review of the incident.

Although authorities have said the Goodner was at approximately 1,000 feet, Peterson said he had no information regarding the actual height.

Jessica Pastore, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said there were other tower technicians on the tower at the time of the incident, but none of them was injured.

The tower, used by both radio and television stations, is located on Chesnut Street in Newton, near Interstate 95.

American Tower issued a statement saying “We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our contractors. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and co-workers during this difficult time.

“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and co-operating fully with all inquiries into the cause of this tragic accident. We have suspended all work at this site pending a thorough review of this incident.”

Our thoughts go out to Mr Goodners family and friends as well as the crews of Ultimate tower at this time.

Retractable lanyards being recalled by 3M

From Wireless Estimator

Tower contractors are being requested to identify if they have any 3M retractable lanyards that are being recalled because some of the units do not properly achieve lock up during the user pre-inspection 3M retractable lanyards being recalledpull test on the webbing lifeline as required by the user instructions and OSHA.

An analysis of some of the GW-7 and GW-11 series self-retracting lanyards were returned to 3M and the company has identified that some of them do not work properly.

The models are: GW-7, GW-11, GW-7-0241A, GW-7-0241H, GW-11-0241A, GW-11-0241H, GW-11NS, DLGW-7, DLGW-7-0241A and DLGW-11-0241A.

The company is requesting that you stop the use of and quarantine all inventory of G series products and contact Ray Mann at 704-743-2406 for product return information.

Last July, Petzl America Inc. voluntarily recalled about 375,000 Scorpio and Absorbica shock-absorbing lanyards that have been sold since 2002. Some of the lanyards are missing a safety stitch on the attachment loop, which could cause the lanyard to separate from the climbing harness.

Radio Intercepts
  • photo from Tumblr

    milligan-vick:

    Halloween Witcher
    art by Nastya Kulakovskaya

    Candy as Yennefer
    Anna as Ciri
    Torie as Triss
    photo by me

    10/31/17

  • photo from Tumblr

    Tejuino a local traditional Guadalajara cocktail. Tastes like a liquid corn tortilla

    10/25/17

  • photo from Tumblr

    Another custom cocktail from LLaura of Hyatt Andares of Guadalajara
    This is a berry, mescal and vodka blend!

    10/17/17

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