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As of 11:00 PM-ish tomorrow...

... I'll be in Buffalo for the bridal shower! Woohoo!

Apr. 24th, 2008

Woah... two posts in a single day...

So, I'm working on Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron), and I must say I am impressed. My laptop installed without a hitch, and aside from having to be briefly connected via ethernet, everything seems to be in order. Broadcom Wi-Fi cards fun like that. But a quick download of the firmware, compilation of fwcutter, and we're wireless!

My only complaint - the update servers are painfully slow. Which figures, since everybody and their grandmother are upgrading (and therefore retrieving all the new packages for their old setups off the network). So, I've got the essentials installed and configured (Thunderbird, my plugins for the included Firefox 3 beta, etc) and I'll get the rest later.

Seven weeks is a long time...

... with no posts.

Things that are going on in my life right this moment:

1) littledee5 is still wonderful! It's been a bit of an adjustment learning to live together. We still have our moments from time to time, but overall, it's lovely. I love her more and more each day. Just yesterday, I took a side trip in the work van from our Prince William campus to her school to surprise her.

2) Work is getting more and more interesting. We're still processing a ton of surplus equipment. It's kind of like an easter egg hunt. Sometimes, I acquire some amazing machines, other times, it's all garbage. The printing system has been giving me headaches lately, but I think it's mostly a networking issue (which Network Engineering and Technology doesn't want to hear about, much less fix). I'm finding very little time to rotate my office furniture to make room for a new (to me) table.

3) The wedding is getting closer and closer. Thank you to everyone who have sent gifts. They will definitely be put to good use.

SIDENOTE: Next week, from May 1st - 4th, littledee5 and I will be swinging by Western New York for her bridal shower. We're driving up the 1st, and probably won't be in until late, but we're looking forward to seeing people again. So far, we have planned a trip to California Rollin', Mama Mia's pizza, and I'm looking forward to some Mighty Taco, Ted's and (possibly) smuggling some Sahlen's hot dogs to Virginia.

So, yes, I'm still alive and kicking!


PS - Ubuntu 8.04 LTS desktop and server is now available for download. Download, burn and enjoy. Can't wait to throw it on the lappy over the weekend!

I leave you with the Lord's prayer, l33tspeak style.

0ǔr   $¥$@dM!n,   \/\/|-|0   ©|-|!££$   !n   |-|34\/3|\|
ph34r3d   β3   7|-|¥   |\|@m3
†|-|ÿ   p\/\/n@g3   ©0|\/|3,   †|-|ÿ   $©r!p7$   b3   d0|\|3   !n   /earth   @$   i7   !$   i|\|   /heaven.
$33|)   u$   7h!5   |)@ÿ   oǔR   d@!£ÿ   R0|\/|$.
f0rG!\/3   u$   0ǔr   n00b   3xP£017$   @$   \/\/3   f0rG!\/3   $©r!P7   |<!dd!3$   7|-|@7   h@x0r   @Ga!|\|$7   u$.
R3\/34£   t0   u$   |\|07   Ζ3R0   |)@ÿ   \/u£|\|$,   βu7   $A\/3   u$   fR0|\/|   t3h   RIAA.
f0r   7|-|!|\|3   i$   t3h |\|37\/\/0R|<,   @|\|d   t3h rm -rf*,   @|\|d   @££   0ǔR   β@$3   @r3   β3£0|\|G   t0   j00,   f0R3\/3R   @|\|d   3\/3R.
4|\/|3|\|.

... or in regular, crappy text...

Our sysadmin, who chills in Heaven,
feared
be thy name.
Thy pwnage come, thy scripts be done in /earth as it is in /heaven.
Seed
us this day our daily ROMs.
Forgive us our n00b exploits as we forgive script kiddies that hax0r against us.
Reveal to us not 0 day vulns, but save us from RIAA.
For thine is the network, and the rm -rf /, and all our base are belong to you, forever and ever.
Amen.

As a part of our daily duties in Print Services, we replace toner cartridges in all our copiers. We do this for two reasons:
  1. The average office staffer would add the toner bottles incorrectly
  2. It allows our department to keep an eye on supplies, and allocate the proper amount based on usage.
So, I get a call that a copier needs toner. Since Mason (the other technical assistant) had to go to Arlington campus (which I did yesterday), I responded on foot. I get to the copier, remove the end cap on the toner bottle, and begin to shake. At some point, I hit the sealed end of the bottle with the heel of my hand, and was treated to a most spectacular toner explosion. The finishing unit on the machine was instantly black, and the stuff was floating everywhere.

Sidenote: this spill had "epic fail" written all over it. I seriously regret not having a digital camera (or even taking a photo with my cell) - it was impressive.

Anyone who has done work with toner spills will tell you - the stuff is so sensitive to heat, you can't really wipe it up very easily, as it will fuse to anything. You can't vacuum it up with a regular filtered vacuum cleaner, because the particles will pass through the filter and recirculate into the room.

I ended up closing the door on the copy room and leaving a note regarding the spill, and walked back across campus to our office to retrieve our toner vacuum - in which I discovered a vacuum hose that was more holes and leaks than usable hose. Despite the equipment, I made my best attempt to clean up the bulk of the mess, and removed as much as I could with paper towels soaked in cold water. And I got the thing pretty presentable.

I returned to the office, tail between my legs, and had a laugh about the whole situation. Then the call came that the same copier was "leaking toner all over the place". I discovered we had another (better) vacuum in the Johnson Center, so I trudged over to pick it up, stopped off at another toner service call (at which I managed to keep all the toner in the bottle this time) and returned with Bounty paper towels and a Xerox glass cleaner (of which it's only redeeming factor is that it is AMAZING at cleaning document glass, and just about everything else it touches).

Another hour of vacuuming, pulling the equipment apart component by component (because, of course, toner gets EVERYWHERE!) and cleaning with the chemical - I managed to get the machine completely clean.

Yeah, so that was my day today...

Verizon is teh suck

So, I began the rigmarole to convert my cell phone from a sub-account of my parents' family plan to my own family plan (with littledee5 as a secondary), and my God, is it a pain in the ass...

I called 611 and talked to a nice customer service associate who called my folks and "unlocked" my line (with their authorization) so I can make the move. She asked me if I wanted to talk to a certain department, basically so they can have me on tape accepting the terms of the new contract, and I declined, because we were going to drive to a local Verizon store to continue the transfer. Little did I know, the local stores can't access the northeastern computer systems (where my line is being stored), and the department who could handle it - closed at 5pm.

So my number is free to go, but I can't do anything else about it.

I did get to go food shopping for the first time. We set up a meal plan and a food list, and I went to Shopper's. I actually managed to get everything on the list (minus some philly cream cheese, oh well) and added some extra things. All in all, I ended up spending $177. Some of that was on things we didn't have at the house (like a meat thermometer, coffee, tea, etc), and others were things I wanted in addition to what we had listed. We got a lot of fresh veggies, frozen vegetables for meals, a rump roast.

Which brings me to tonight's activities: prepping raw vegetables. I got to use the food processor we received as an engagement gift to process green pepper and cucumbers, and broke apart some cauliflower and broccoli. So we have fresh raw vegetables, bag salad, apples and bananas, and all kinds of other goodies ready for the week ahead.

If there's one thing I've learned over these past few weeks: I SUCK at Dr. Mario 2-player. No matter what the stakes, even at 1/2 the level that littledee5 is at, I win a three-round contest 1 in every 30 attempts. If you ever want to bet me on anything, just play me in Dr. Mario. You'll win every time!

Officially a Virginian... almost...

So...

I am officially on the lease for the apartment. Which gives me my residency evidence for everything else.

However, I made a feeble attempt to register my car and change in my driver's license. Needless to say, I left work late on Wednesday, and stood in line outside the office until the doors closed - I was five people away from getting through. I took everybody's advice in attempting a mid-week visit, forgetting that it was the day after a major holiday. So, I'll be trying again later this week.

The new job is quite interesting. I have my own office (only took 10 years of working in higher education to get that...) and work in a department of 6 employees. I've been spending the first couple of weeks learning the campus, shadowing on service calls, and learning the support aspect of the position. I've started to read up on the printing server stuff, but I haven't been given access to it yet.

I have, however, proven myself to be an asset in our scavenging operation. We have a decent budget, but not much in the way of acquiring newer hardware for some of our swipe-card stations. I've been on trips to Central Receiving and the surplus equipment area more times than I can count, and so far, I've done pretty well. We've had some great luck, and managed to grab some decent hardware. In the process, I've been able to teach the other technical assistant a few things about hardware identification, how to quickly survey a machine for usable parts, etc. I've also discovered that if I ever need ANYTHING, it usually will take less than a week of checking surplus to find it. (I was going to buy a cheap pair of speakers for the office... sure enough, I found a set of Altec Lansing speakers in surplus on Friday).

We're anxiously awaiting the computer lab upgrades. As soon as that happens, we'll have access to some halfway decent, barely used machines. I'm hoping to grab enough to replace a dozen or so of our older swipe-card stations.

Other than that, the work fluctuates from day-to-day. There have been days that I spend the whole time at my desk reading documentation, testing new-to-us hardware, or whatever.  Other days, I may spend all but a half hour wandering the campus, either gathering page counts, responding to service calls, or trying to fix issues.

George Mason University Fairfax campus is beautiful, even with a quarter of it currently under construction. The best way I could describe it: very similar acreage to UB North Campus, with about twice as many buildings, 2 parking decks, and trees between the buildings. I did, however, go from paying $6.50/year for faculty/staff parking to $15/pay period ($180/yr). The campus is about 20 minutes from our apartment, about 45 minutes during rush hour. (I completely avoid the highways, but if there are accidents on I-66, my route gets clobbered with people trying to avoid them)  Our building,  Hanover Hall, is the community building for a residential complex called the D.U.C.C, and between the office and the closest faculty/staff lots is a myriad of new residential construction - a constantly changing labyrinth of closed sidewalks, temporary walkways. It's a new adventure every couple of days.

The hardest part about learning the campus has been the naming convention of the buildings. There are two student unions, named Student Union I and Student Union II (SUB I and SUB II). Most of the buildings are named after important individuals (Johnson Center, Finley Hall), and others are just "functional" (Science and Technology I, Science and Technology II, Mason Hall). However, because we have a state-licensed van at our disposal, we can pretty much park wherever we want. In fact, many of our main service buildings involve driving on sidewalks, parking in no-parking zones, etc. Lots of fun, but from what I understand,  more tedious when students are wandering around...

All in all, I feel great about this place! I miss everyone up in Buffalo, but my co-workers are so curious about how we handle the snow and cold weather, I get to talk about it all the time. (It was in the 20s this week, and they couldn't imagine how bad it was up north)

Miss you all, and I hope to see you all soon!

2007 in review

As I sit here watching the exploitation of Dick Clark post-stroke on ABC (and wondering how Ryan Fucking Seacrest became an executive producer), I can't help but reflect on how wonderful 2007 has been.

  • At the insistence of [info]littledee5, I transferred to Erie Community College in the Spring of 2007. As of this month, I have since graduated with a GPA of 3.911, an Associates in Computer Science and a Certificate in Web Network Technology.
  • I interviewed a few places and accepted a job at George Mason University in the Print Services department.
  • I moved to and became a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Good bye New York.
  • I was blessed with the most wonderful fiancee in the world. littledee5 is the love of my life, and I can't wait to make her my wife. Every day I grow to love her more and more.
I'll have more updates soon, I promise. Hopefully, I can keep everyone up-to-speed on our activities south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Happy New Year people!
Last Friday, I had a voicemail from HR at George Mason. The official offer has come in.

My official start date is December 17th, 2007. Yeah, that fast!

So, for everyone in the Buffalo area - we need to plan a get-together. If everything goes to plan, I'll be packing the U-Haul trailer on December 14th and leaving early on December 15th. 10 days....

10 days to finish all my school work and take my final exams (1 week early). 10 days to pack, organize, get rid of stuff, etc.  240 hours to tie up loose ends, say goodbyes. The THREE letters of resignation are in (I have to readjust 2 of them to reflect the 13th instead of the 14th - I need at least a full day to myself to pack :)

This is going to be the most extreme life change I've ever experienced. And, quite frankly - I'm scared. But my fear is surpassed by 1) my love for littledee5 and 2) the thrill of such a change.

All things said: I've been giving it a lot of thought, and there are so many things I'll miss about Buffalo.

My Family
We may have had our good and bad times, but I truly love my parents and my brothers. It will be tough not seeing them every day. They've supported me throughout this rollercoaster of an education.
My Friends
I must say, I have a wonderful network of friends here. Some have come and gone, but many of them are still here. My co-workers will be the hardest to leave. The School of Pharmacy has been my family for the last 9 years - both as a student assistant and a staff member. A great portion of my professional life has been spent in Cooke and Hochstetter. In much the same way, the employees of OfficeMax have become family too. I'll miss complaining about customers the most.
My Fraternity
Leaving your home chapter is always tough. I haven't had the opportunity to spend much time with the Epsilon Sigma brothers, but I will truly miss them. I wish them the best as they continue at the University at Buffalo.
Buffalo Food
Let's face it: Buffalo has some great food. I mean, where am I going to get some good Buffalo Wings in Northern VA? (The Anchor Bar and La Nova do mail-orders *grin*) Or Mighty Taco? Crap, I'm going to have to fly home to get some great sushi...
Actually Knowing My Way Around The City
'nuff said.
I'll be the first to admit that I was treading water at UB. The position had very little opportunity for advancement. I couldn't really progress in my pursuit for a B.S. This will give me the opportunities I've needed.

As more details arise, I'll continue to post things here. I'm pretty sure there will be a few get-togethers before I depart.

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

PS: I'm quite the goy this season. I decided to light the menorah I received last year, and as per littledee5's advice, have been lighting my candles a day ahead (I lit 1 on Monday (at 10PM), and 2 today..) At least I've been getting the order correct. I've been destroying the prayers, too. SURPRISE! My Hebrew pronunciation is not that good :p I ended up going to the Hanukkah entry on wikipedia to get phonetic pronunciations...

Greetings from Long Island...

PS: I love littledee5 with all my heart! I'm so glad I get to spend these special times with her and her family.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you had the opportunity to spend some time with people you love.

So, details about the job... I received unofficial notification for a job at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Once I hear from the Human Resources department this coming week, I'll know exactly what my schedule is going to be (as far as relocation).

My new job title will be "Technical Assistant", and I'll be working for the Print Services department. Basically, we support 145+ network-enabled printers across 3 of GMU's 5 campuses. Printer jams, clearing errors, etc. In addition, I'll be responsible for the administration of their student printing payment / allocation system, Pharos.

Their standard HR package includes 12 credit hours per year free-of-charge, health, dental, and retirement benefits. Plus, the department is a small, close-knit group, much like what I have now at the School of Pharmacy.

I'm extremely excited. However, I am still driving down to VA on Wednesday night to interview for another position - a contractor for the Navy. Pays a little bit better, the job seems easy enough (ColdFusion), and it would require a DoD Common Access Card (which does some of the early investigative work required for a Security Clearance).

(in fact, the guy called me for a technical interview - which I did while I was on the toilet [and littledee5 listening in from the next room over], and he's giving the interviewer a positive recommendation)

So I'm beyond excited!

As far as Thanksgiving is concerned.

I left Buffalo Wednesday night about an hour and a half late. I had the absolute WORST airport food experience ever - standing at a counter for 25 minutes waiting for a sandwich that was not to be made in the back, but was in the fridge 5 feet behind me. Not until the kitchen staff peeking out asked the girls 5 times what I was waiting for did I figure this out. And by then, my sandwich was fresh out. So, because all sandwiches at this place are ALMOST $7, I just grabbed the first thing that I saw, which was by far the worst panini I have ever choked down. I was so frustrated, I filled out the comment card AND called the 866 number to file a complaint. To add insult to injury, the airport had all of their electrical outlets mounted in the hallways (where there are no seats) - so I couldn't boot up my laptop to watch a DVD during the delay.

I did finish Stephen Colbert's book "I Am America (and so can you!)" - Hilarious. I then started reading the latest issue of MAKE magazine and Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry.

More to come later. We did Black Friday shopping this morning (at 5am) - alas, time for sleep

More later...

I HAVE AN UNOFFICIAL JOB OFFER! IN VIRGINIA! AT A UNIVERSITY!

w00t. T-minus 3 weeks? (crosses fingers)