Sunday, February 29, 2004

Tomorrow morning's plan

I still have to bring a monitor over to the office, and there's a couple of things I got at Home Depot this afternoon in the car already. I left the hand truck out there to make things easier.

Finally found a coat rack that would be suitable (and cheap!), but the Salem Target was out of them. I'll try Danvers on my way over in the morning - I'll just leave a little earlier to do it. The game plan is to get in by about 8:45 or so, then finish setting up things. I have to rig up my system for getting cabling up to the projector (I have a creative solution involving adhesive-backed plastic conduit and a Belkin powerstrip), finish setting up the client PCs, and call the desk manufacturer to get the missing part for the unfinished desk.

Then I have to try and start making money. After the last few days of working, I think that may be the easy part!

Gettin' stuff done

I'm at the office right now - I just took out all the mounds of trash and now I'm going to relax for a couple of minutes before I get to cleaning. There's a lot of miscellaneous schmutz on the carpet, and I need to dust all my office furniture.

I expect to be here another hour or two, then it's off to the library and home, in that order. Things are looking good here so far.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Almost done!

Today, Greg and I built all but one of the desks (there was a part missing from the unfinished one), assembled all the chairs, finished my office furniture, installed the window blinds (I goofed, and need longer ones for the doors), and set up the projector and screen. We also unpacked all the computers. Took a ton of trash down to the compactor in several trips. And we went out twice - once to pick up a whiteboard, chair mat, and some other little odds and ends I'd missed earlier and a second time for lunch. I made it home around 6.

Tomorrow I'm heading over there again just to clean up some more and to try and find a coat rack. It's the one thing I haven't been able to find yet. I'm also bringing over a couple of crates worth of books and the one monitor that we couldn't fit in the van today.

Monday I'm open for business.

Woo-hoo!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

T -1 (and counting...)

In today's developments...

I picked up the keys to the office mid-day today. Staples had tried to deliver my stuff yesterday, but I wasn't in yet (I'd told them that in the order - they goofed). However, someone from Cummings let them in to drop it all off. The rest will come tomorrow. Also, my corporate filing became official today, so I can now open a bank account. Handy.

As I'd mentioned, the Dell desktops are in my dining room. The laptop shipped today. Everything else is in my office upstairs here in the house. I still need to buy a network switch and a whiteboard.

Tomorrow, I head over first thing. I'll bring a book to occupy some time while I wait on deliveries and phone service. My friend Greg and I will be doing setup all day Saturday.

While I was out tonight (it's bowling night), I headed over to the mall in search of an end table. Found a decent one at Target. I'm debating a coffeemaker, and will probably get one as soon as some traing sessions are firmly on the schedule.

There will definitely be a couple of beers stashed in the minifridge. Because I'm the boss.

As of Monday, folks - call your friends and tell them that there's another good IT guy out there who's hung out a shingle! And then give them my web address and phone number. It's bidnesstime!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Happy 1 3/4 to you!

David is 21 months old today. It is also Luke's 2nd birthday as well. We sent him a present.

I finally got my insurance certificate today, so I will bring that over to Cummings a little later and pick up my keys. Besides that, the Dell desktops will supposedly arrive here today - 8 big boxes to stuff in the living room until the weekend. The laptop shipped today.
Other than that, I've been cleaning up some of the paperwork for things I've done so far, and finishing occupancy papers.

And resting a little, because things will get much more hectic shortly.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Today's tally

I went to Staples mid-day today and picked up an Epson CX6400 all-in-one fax/copier/scanner/printer for the new office. I set it up ahead of time, so I could make copies for my various rebates on gear I've bought so far. The current outstanding rebate tally (both business and personal) is:

$10 - Brother labelmaker
$20 - Epson CX6400
$25 (x2) - APC Back-UPS XS 1000
$20 - (x2) I/OMagic CD-RW/DVD drive
$200 - 3 new cell phones from Cingular (2x $50, 1x $100)
$25 - AcomData external FireWire/USB drive

Then, once I get the Dell desktops this week (they shipped over the weekend), there's a $100 rebate on each one of them - another $400 total.

I'm just a rebate fiend.

And insurance is now set - I had to use a specialty broker for the policy out of Texas, but the price was reasonable and I'll have my binder tomorrow afternoon.

Meaning I can get keys and move in right afterwards. Tonight, we're going out to order the furniture as well. Ideally I can get it Saturday, but I'll be there Friday as well for the phone and broadband install, so it'll be cool either way.

Busy, busy, busy!

An idea about how to deal with Nader

Go ahead. Donate money to his campaign. A penny at a time.

Because the cost of credit card processing and paperwork is far greater than the penny you give. Enough pennies could potentially bankrupt the delusional little weasel.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Here's an interesting exercise

Take a couple of the quotes from today's story announcing that Nader's going to run again:

"This country has more problems and injustices than it deserves"

"challenge this two-party duopoly"

"There's too much power and wealth in too few hands, they have taken over Washington."

"There is now a for-sale sign on most agencies and departments"

"Basically, it's question of both parties flunking"


Now, take those quotes and re-attribute them - to Lyndon LaRouche. The paranoid tone of his comments fits either of these two candidates equally, as far as I can tell.

Do they still sound like they fit? Nader has let his experience from 2000 push him over the deep end. He still clings to the notion that his previous candidacy didn't put Bush in power, and if it did (which he insists it didn't), then they deserved it, anyways. There's a huge gap between the modern Republican and Democratic parties, but Nader's too far down the path to senility to understand it. To him, anything short of ideological purity is unacceptable, so he'd just as soon as take everything down with him.

The difference is that this time, even most of his previous backers want no part of him. Public Citizen (the group he founded) is taking his name off their letterhead. The Greens have told him to go away. He'll make the ballot in fewer states, get less press coverage, and not be invited into the process at all. Good.

When he passes on someday, perhaps his brain should be examined for signs of BSE.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Another task complete

I was at the geek show up in New Hampshire today. Jane and David came along, but they took care of some stuff in the adjacent mall while I did my geek thing. I picked up two cheap Shuttle boxes to use as servers, both with SiS chipsets, 512MB RAM, Celery 2.4 processors, 80GB ATA-133 drives, and CD/DVD combo drives. Real small, quiet, and cheap.

Finished reading Mystic River tonight. Wow, that was dark. Probably the darkest book I've read in a long time.

But it was terrific. Even if I felt like taking a shower after I finished it.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Also in the news

Jane's family is out in Hawaii for a month's vacation right now. And as a nice goodie, her mom FedEx'd us a perishable box, containing...

A Lei.

Cool idea, and it arrived in wonderful condition. I took a couple of pictures of both Jane and Gracie wearing it. There's only one catch. It reeks.

Well, "reeks" probably isn't the right term, because it's not a foul odor. But it's such a strong floral smell, it's overwhelming. Beautiful to look at, though. It's hanging in the kitchen right now, draped over a fake plant.

Paperwork...

Reams of it. But I now have business cards and an EIN - one thing nice about Kinko's is that they give you the file they used to build your cards on a CD so you can easily have them re-done (or modified). I'm filling out all sorts of legal gobbledygook having to do with my lease, and I'm still waiting on my commercial policy to be finished so I can take the keys and move in. That's the most frustrating delay of all right now.

The other delay is that even though my business' incorporation papers are filed, completed and processed, it hasn't appeared in the state's database yet for lookup. So I can't open my bank account yet, either. Also, my rep at CDW was out sick today so I have to wait for Monday to order my laser printer and MS Office Open Licenses.

So here's the scorecard:
Complete - systems ordered, lease, projector, UPS, router, phone service, phone system, broadband circuit, business cards, incorporation (kinda - see above), signage, labeler.
In the works - Insurance, furniture, promotional flyer, projector screen.
Can't do until next week - Insurance, ordering support gear, delivery, setup.

Opening day is (hopefully) March 1st, and I'll be busting my hump from Friday on trying to make that happen. I have some friends helping me out with setup, and Jane is in charge of decoration.

David's napping right now after a furiously active morning. He's been getting more verbal lately (if that's even possible), and he's fond of running in circles until he gets dizzy. Gracie is also fully back to her usual self after her dental surgery a week and a half ago.

I think I need a nap.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Learning to stack

David's newest skill is block-stacking. He also likes to count when he does it.

Besides that, I ordered the training lab PC's today, and will be using Open License to put Office on them. It costs a little more than OEM licenses do, but gives me a lot more flexibility.

Monday, February 16, 2004

That's a little better

Jane's still a little under the weather, but at least we got some rest last night. That helped both of us a lot. David slept until almost 10 this morning (13 hours!), and was still a little punchy and moody when he woke up. I was upstairs, working on business card designs most of the morning while he and Jane were downstairs. Come lunchtime, he whined a lot over his meal.

Then I headed down around 1-ish to eat and entertain him. But by that time, he was staggering like a drunk. He started to crawl around me in circles, giggling while I got my lunch ready, and then he stood up to grab me, took one step forward, then toppled over sideways and clonked his noggin on the floor.

Needless to say, he was a little peturbed by that. I calmed him down and took him up for a nap, and after waking around 5 or so, he's finally back to normal.

Days without naps cause these problems for him while he catches up.

Meanwhile, I wound up designing a logo (it's pretty slick), and I brought the whole bundle over to Kinko's for printing. One day for the proof, and one additional day for the prints, so we're looking at Wednesday afternoon for cards. I'll adapt it for some letterhead after I move in.

The local Kinko's is in Peabody, in a strip mall I call Pop Culture Central. It has, from left to right, Starbucks, Newbury Comics, Blockbuster, and Kinko's. That satisfies virtually all the Gen X needs.

Newbury Comics is a wonderful example of how a business can adapt to changing times over an extended period. They started about 25 years ago as a comic book store, expanded into music with the CD revolution in the '80s, and now they focus on high-margin pop culture artifacts and collectibles. It's pretty much the Wal-Mart of alternative.

Blockbuster, of course, is still the market leader in delivering (pr0n-free) media as atoms (as opposed to bits), Starbucks dominates caffeine culture, and Kinko's moved up from a cut-rate callege copy shop to a national small-business focused service center. Quite the impressive little retail center, indeed.

My projector arrived today - the ceiling mount should come later in the week. It's a smaller unit (the Sharp PG-A10X) than I expected.

Tomorrow's project is to resolve the question of OEM vs. Open License for my PC's, which will help me decide which vendor to go with. Then I'll order the PC's.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Weekend fun

In business developments, I shopped for office furniture (I found the desks for the training lab), and bought a phone system and a UPS for the server. I also had to get another one for the house, because my oldest one died last night. Well, technically it was this past morning. At about 7AM.

Which really sucked because I had virtually no sleep yesterday - Jane's got a cough so it was my turn to up and head downstairs last night. I was not attacked by any cats, but I still couldn't sleep very well. I finally was up for good at around 6:30 in the morning, right when the first light lit up the living room. But I did doze off again after going upstairs (she was asleep so I slipped into bed), but then the aforementioned UPS failure woke me up again. After fixing that, I did get to sleep until almost 10, when the phone rang.

The day was mostly spent with our friends Mary and Greg, and their two kids. Then Greg and I left for awhile to go take care of an on-call work problem of his, and to go office furniture hunting. All the purchases I mentioned above were bought on that run. Afterwards, we all had dinner here - I cooked shrimp scampi (we made mac & cheese for the kids), and Mary was sous-chef. None of the kids napped at all today, so David went down hard around 8:45 tonight.

The new UPS, by the way, is a 1kVA unit. Nice.

Tomorrow is designated a rest day.

Meanwhile, I have a word of book advice. Normally, I'm a big fan of Kinky Friedman's mystery novels (featuring a detective who, not so coincidentally, is the Kinkster himself, with characters out of his real life). His latest looked promising, entitled Kill Two Birds and get Stoned. It does not star the Kinkster in the lead role. This one, however, I never really could get into, and I returned it to the library after only about 30 pages. It wasn't bad - it just wasn't what I'm looking for from said Kinkster.

I am now working on Mark Kurlansky's Salt, a history of mankind's involvement with said substance. I have two more on deck, which I will struggle to complete in the next week or so before business becomes my full-time concern once again.

And hopefully tonight the sleep thing will work out better. Wish me luck...

Friday, February 13, 2004

Startup steps

Yesterday, I met with a potential training customer and toured the office. It's almost built already. I also got a phone number for the office, and started shopping for broadband service.

Today, I went for another quote for insurance coverage (my regular agent will have something for me early next week), signed all my incorporation papers (I'm going as an S Corp), and ordered the projector for the training lab.

Next week, I'll get my tax ID (that can be assigned as soon as my incorporation papers come back from the state), open a business bank account, and start moving equipment in - which I can do as soon as I have an insurance binder.

On a nice note, my credit card took the precaution of calling me today to make sure that I was legitimately ordering the projector, which I appreciated on their part.

I'll go get business cards made this weekend, now that I have a phone number (soon to be posted on the website).

In our home life, Gracie wound up having 5 teeth extracted this past Monday, by the way. But she's in much better shape now, and the vet didn't go nutty with the bill - that helps, too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

On Traction

Why didn't Wes Clark get traction as a presidential candidate? I think there's a few reasons. First off, he was a first-time candidate (for anything), and he got a late start in the race. Clark's heyday came when John Kerry's campaign was at its low point - he was the "alternative military hero" that the Democrats appeared to need as a counterpoint to the then-inevitable Howard Dean. He showed a lack of polish at times, and got caught napping by the media on a couple of occasions, but was still the effective "un-Kerry". But then Kerry managed to take Iowa, and the whole thing changed. Mainly, it torpedoed Dean and put Kerry right back on top.

Once the air went out of Dean's candidacy, Clark's poll numbers in New Hampshire plummeted, and that was the ballgame. What's the point of having a candidate who's a "Kerry that can win" when the original Kerry seems to be winning just fine, thank you?

I still think highly of him as a future contender, and should the Dems fail to unseat Bush the Second, he'll probably be a top-tier candidate for 2008 (along with Edwards, if he manages to stay in the public eye).

So, here's what's up

I've decided to drop out of the rat race. And I'm doing that by building my own cage.

Specifically, I'm starting up my own IT consultancy and training service company. The name of the new company is JH Turiel & Associates (though initially, I'm the only Associate), and I've leased an office in the nearby Cummings Center in Beverly. I have a website, and will soon have a telephone there. The folks at Cummings Properties have begun construction in the space I leased, and my papers of incorporation are in the process of being filed.

The door opens March 1st - so I'll be pretty busy over the next few weeks. And I'm looking forward to working my tail off for no certain reward. Very much so.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Meanwhile, in my own career...

I hope to have an interesting announcement to make in this space soon - maybe as soon as tomorrow. Please stand by.

Pure, reeking wrongness

I won't name names, but my former employer struck a deal with another company that competed with them in one particular business area that they are no longer in. This deal allowed them to withdraw from that particular business area with some measure of dignity.

As part of the deal, all the (then) employees of my former employer were told that the company they made the deal with would be eager to hire many of my former co-workers - that in order to service the new business they would be adding staff, and people from my former employer would be given preference.

Well, it is almost nine months from the date of that announcement. Many people are gone from my former employer now. I know two people (total) who have had interviews with said company. How many of my former co-workers have been hired there?

None.

Was this obvious? Yes.

Do some companies lie? Only when they speak.

Did this affect me, personally? No. I was never a particular candidate for employment with them. They have had no open jobs suitable for me, though my resume had been sent over there anyway by my former boss.

But a lot of people I know, like, and respect had hopes of being able to continue their careers with the other company. And as far as I know, they've all gotten diddly.

That's just Wrong.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

One more milestone...

We picked up a booster seat for David today - and he used it at dinner tonight. It's Big Boy Chair time now! He did pretty well, considering it was his first time. Hopefully we'll be able to ditch the high chair before long.

We also picked up a potty, though it'll be awhile before he uses it. We just figured we'd get it in the house and put it in the bathroom - no harm in having it there, and when he's ready, he's ready.

Hey, ho - let's go!

My folks were up visiting earlier this week. Well, here's a quick story: whenever my parents see David, they've been trying to teach him to say "Grandma" and "Grandpa".

This time, he kinda got it. Except he says "Gamma" and "Gabba".

I figure he's saying "Gabba" because he's secretly a Ramones fan.

Gabba Gabba Hey!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Irony

I had a job interview a couple of weeks ago - but the job wasn't particularly appealing. I didn't go any further with them.

The irony is that tonight I was cleaning out the SpamAssassin auto-sorts, and guess what?

The employer sent a spam to Jane, using a third-party bulk mailer company that's a known spamhaus. I now feel pretty good about deciding not to be employed there.

Monday, February 02, 2004

One of those days

I went into town today to pay my (newly increased) property tax bill, figuring I'd get my updated assessment while I was there. So I parked at one of the downtown lots, fed the meter, and went to City Hall. Took care of business (grumble), went walking a little, and stopped at the smoke shop to buy the newspapers. I bought a $2 scratch ticket while I was there, and won my $2 back.

Then, because I had a little time to kill, wandered into a couple of other shops, and then cashed my ticket in for another ticket. Which lost, of course. So the hour was ending, and I went back to my car...

Which had just gotten ticketed for $10. My meter had run out literally about a minute earlier.

That sucks in still incomprehensible ways on multiple levels.

The good news is that I dodn't have to wait for MacOS X 10.3.3 - Safari 1.2 was released today, in addition to a new Java build (1.4.2). So that's a good thing. Still no proper support for self-signed certificates, though, but SSL performance seems much improved.

Best. Super. Bowl. Ever.

At least, for everyone who wasn't rooting for Carolina, and all the casual watchers. And I think it might have been pretty good to a lot of the Carolina fans, too. The only two moments I can think of that compare to this were the first Patriots win two years ago (though that wasn't as intense until the very end), and the year before that, when the Rams stopped the Titans on the 1-yard line as time expired. Last year was just an old-fashioned horse whipping.

But this one? Two powerhouse defensive teams playing smashmouth football for the first 27 minutes of the game, then all of a sudden they both ran out of defensive gas and turned into gunslingers. Virtually every score was answered by the other team, right until time ran out. Plenty of heart-in-the-throat moments for all the fans, and (to me, at least) the best team won in the end. It wouldn't have shocked me if Carolina pulled it out, though - it was just that kind of game.

Individual moments that stood out:

- After watching yesterday, I will get high-def service on my cable soon. Or at least by the next football season. The picture was that good. We had a conventional big screen TV at the party, and we had a couple of LCD projectors hooked up to a high-def signal coming in over-the-air. Rob rigged it all up, and set up a TiVo to delay the live feed on the cable system just enough to be in sync with the 3-second delay on the high-def signal. I watched pretty much the whole thing in 16:9, and it rocked.

- I missed The Great Nipple Flash. I was busy playing with David. Playing with David was a lot more fun than seeing Janet Jackson's stuff. Or the whole utterly forgettable halftime show. Or the equally forgettable pregame show.

- However, Beyonce's performance of the Anthem was spine-tingling. Wow. Even the party-goers were applauding. So was David.

- I missed most of the ads. I did see the Bud Light "fetch" ad, and it was a winner in my book.

- At the party we usually go to, the food gets better every year. This year the DIY soft tacos absolutely rocked.

- For the most part, David had a good time. We took him down to the basement (where the tots and babysitters were located) a couple of times and dropped him off - each time he lasted about 20-30 minutes before crying for us. At which point one of the babysitters would bring him back to us, improving his mood immensely.

- He enjoyed watching the game, too - applauding whenever everyone else clapped and generally having fun and carrying on. When the place went absolutely nuts at the end, though (as the winning field goal went through the posts), it got so loud that he started crying. Poor kid.

- The drive home from New Hampshire after the Super Bowl is always long. But after the Pats win, it seems somewhat shorter.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

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