Sunday, December 6, 2015

Adventures in telecommuting

I work in a 77-year-old building on the Texas Tech campus. To be fair, most of the buildings on campus are about that old, so it’s not like we got the worst digs in the joint (contrary to my crabbing about being stuck in a cubicle now after having a private office for about 12 years; why, no, I’m not bitter—why do you ask?).

Sometime in the 1950s, the electrical wiring in our building, Drane Hall, was updated.

Yeah, that was about 60 years ago.

With advances in technology come an increase in energy demands, so Tech has decided to boot us all out of Drane Hall for a few weeks while they shut the power off completely in order to replace Drane’s switching doodad(s) and other antiquated electrical stuff. And by “all” I mean all three floors full of people. I’m not sure how many people there are in the whole building, but our bunch number 75-80, and we don’t even take up all of one floor. And since Tech doesn’t want to just give us all three extra weeks of paid vacation (darn it) while the electricians are working in the building, we all have to be temporarily rehoused somewhere else on campus so we can continue working.

Most of my department will be stuffed into the basement of another building on campus, in three or four big rooms, 25 people or so per room, each in a spacious 4’ x 3’ cubicle. [shudder] But there’s just not enough space for all of us in that basement, so for a lucky, lucky few—my department, as it happens—Tech has deigned to get up off its insistence on “duty point*” and is allowing us to work at home.

Thank you God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, the Goddess, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster who has touched me with its noodly appendage, because I don’t think I could hack being stuck in a tiny cube in a windowless basement with 24 other people for three weeks. I have a wee problem with crowds and heat, and the combination of all those bodies, their computers, and their chatter would just do me in.

Last Thursday and Friday, we got instructions on how to get connected to our department’s network on campus (excellent, in case we need to download a file, because we can’t get back into Drane until the electrical work is done), and we all updated our home computers with the wherewithal to communicate with each other while working separately. (I get a lot of IMs and emails during the day asking how to do this or what to do in case of that, etc., not to mention the people who just pop into my cube to ask a question.) I’m also loaning my laptop to one of my fellow Production wonks who has a Mac at home, so I got that all set up with her passwords.

(Not that Macs are bad—my first computer was a Mac, and I’ve had several—or that they can’t interact with Windows documents, but owing to font and other software requirements, this is the path of least resistance.)

Monday and Tuesday, those moving to temporary cube farms will get boxes and labels for their computers and any books, files, etc. We’ll also get further instructions about parking and other logistics. Wednesday those who are moving will pack up; those who will be working at home will just unplug everything at the end of the day and collect all the stuff they need to take home. IT will transport computers to our lovely basement Thursday morning and by late Thursday afternoon, we hope to be back in business.

This is my first experience at telecommuting, and I’m really looking forward to it. I plan to telecommute after retirement, if I can get editing or proofreading work, so it’ll be good to see if I can focus on work while in my own house with two kitties to pet and a sister who likes to talk.

And to those of our bunch who will be moving into that basement for three weeks…I’m really sorry, guys.


* From Texas Tech University’s OP 70.06:

An employee must, during normal working hours, conduct university business only at the employee’s regular or assigned temporary duty point, unless the employee is traveling or has received prior written authorization from the chancellor or the president to perform work elsewhere. In no event shall an employee’s personal residence be deemed that employee’s regular or assigned temporary place of employment or duty point without the written approval of the chancellor or the president.

A request for exception should include the type of work to be performed, how the time and productivity will be monitored, how it meets the business needs of TTU to have this person work from home, and the duration for which the exception is being requested.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New (volunteer) job

I volunteer at the local library on Saturdays (well, not every Saturday, but a lot of them), as does Sister A. She also became treasurer of the Friends of the Library several months ago, so she's been working her head off whipping the treasurer's processes and records into shape. Recently, having heard a lot about the FOL's membership recordkeeping woes from A., I volunteered to put my name in the hat for membership director at the next election in April. Well, the current director isn't coming up to the mark, so to speak, so I started as "apprentice" today, which suits all parties just fine.

I didn't exactly cover myself with glory today, but in my own defense, I had the only computer with, of all things, an Ubuntu Linux operating system and a stinker of a spreadsheet program. That'll be remedied soon, I'm glad to say. (Linux is great fun for computer geeks, but really not the best choice for a business environment.) Other than that, I got confused on a couple of recordkeeping points and had to backtrack a few times. But I'll get the hang of it.

In addition to contributing more to the FOL than I have been, this is an opportunity to learn more about Excel. I've used the crap out of every other Microsoft Office app lo these many years, but have hardly any experience with Excel. It'll be nice to plug that hole. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pampas grass shade

The three pampas grasses in front of my bedroom window have gone bananas this year, thanks to all the extra rain we've had. This is my view from inside:

And here they are from the street:

I finally have some shade on my window!

While testing Picasa today, I happened to get a super-floofy photo of Minnie:

"Go away, Mom."

I was testing Picasa--and other programs--with regard to Windows 10, which I loaded on my home PC a couple of weeks ago. Overall appearance/impression: I like it. The Start button, which disappeared with Windows 8, is back in all its useful glory, plus the new MS browser, Edge, appears to be a big improvement over hoary old Internet Explorer, and I love that the stupidly named "Windows Explorer" (which used to be plain old File Manager) is now called "File Explorer", which sounds more like its function.

However, when I started working with my apps--Picasa, Photoshop, and some from Office 365 (which I'm trying out for a month)--I kept running into permission problems, even though I'm logged in as Administrator! Googling Windows 10 problems got me nowhere; it was only after I Googled "Picasa Windows 10" that I finally found a workaround. For Picasa and the Adobe programs, right-click over the shortcut, choose Properties, go to the Compatibility tab, & click the "Run this program as an administrator" box. For MS Office, you have to open the file location, right-click each app, choose Properties, click the Security tab, under "Group or user names" click Edit, select your Administrator self, then under "Permissions for Administrator" click the "Full Control" box. What a lot of rot. And every time you open the program, you still have to authorize the app to "make changes to your PC", so it's an extra couple of clicks. Real first-world problem. Whatever--at least I can save documents now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

V-E-T day

Well, I was going to put up a photo of Minnie with her new bald spot, but she got away from me before I could lure her inside. She probably thinks I'm going to grab her and stuff her in the cat carrier again, like I did earlier--right out of a nice nap, which was terribly rude of me. She got her rabies shot, though, and was an absolute champ while Dr. Stabby was using the small clipper on her mats. She sat still and let me and the vet tech scritch her cheeks and head (and I held her under the chest just enough to grab her quick if she showed the least sign of bolting). She has one spot about the size of a quarter where you can see her multicolored skin and a few other thin spots, but all those nasty mats are gone.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Feeling virtuous today

Getting out of one's own head and doing a good turn helps dissipate any gray clouds that might be fogging one's mind. This morning, after a long absence, I volunteered at the library, sorting books for the Friends of the Library sales in Sept.-Dec. I had stopped because I still work full-time (and I put in full, intense days every day) and I just wasn't getting enough rest on the weekend. But I'm on vacation this week and the FOL is terribly short of sorters, so I thought I'd pitch in. Now I'm tired and my feet hurt (especially my right heel--owwww!), but I feel good. Don't know what else I'll be doing this vacation, but I will do more sorting.

Another thing I'll be doing is taking my cat Minnie to the V-E-T for her annual shots. She also has some bad mats in her fur that have gotten beyond my ability to work out without risking life and limb, so she'll probably be coming back home with some shaved spots. All the other kitties will laugh at her, but at least those mats won't be pulling on her skin anymore (and neither will I).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

About that SCOTUS ruling Friday...

Happy Marriage Equality Day!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Can't seem to keep up

...with this blog. Lack of motivation. Ennui. Pick yer poison.

The vacation didn't go very well--I started feeling ill a few days into it and wound up coming home a day early. And I couldn't sleep on the stupid bed--one corner was busted, so the bed was canted at a weird angle, plus there was a plastic sheet or mattress pad buried somewhere in the bedding that I really should have ripped out the first night. Anyway, stomach crud cut it short.

I did meet this guy, though. Click the pic to see details.

I haven't seen a horny toad (horned lizard) in decades. I was lucky he stood still long enough for me to snap about three dozen photos of him (this one was the best).

I got a sorta-vacation after I got back home because I was out sick with the crud. It's gone now, whatever it was, mostly due to dietary changes, I think. I cut out orange juice and sodas (too acid). For a while, I left off milk products, too, even though they used to be my fix-it of choice, because they seemed to be making things worse. Doesn't make any sense, but there you are. Anyway, I don't down as much of that as I used to. More salads and less bad-for-me stuff = happier tummy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vacation planning

I've decided I need another vacation trip. This time, though, I'm not going to wear myself moving from place to place--I'm going to hole up in a cabin in Ruidoso, NM, for five days without distractions (no wifi!). I'm going to sleep, read, walk, take pictures, eat what and when I feel like, and start drawing again.

Here's the place: Fawn Ridge Cabin. I hope it's nice, cuz I'm a tired puppy. Here are few pix from the website:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dipping one's toe in the technological pool

One of the things I do at work is write instructions for doing all the other stuff I do at work. I'm not the only one doing said stuff, of course, and since people come & go, we need instructions for newbies. It also gives us a way to set stylistic standards for everyone in Production to follow.

But with all the software I've learned and written down to teach other people, I've never had occasion to learn anything about video. I'm one of maybe half a dozen people in the country who still don't have a smart phone and, thus, don't record video of whatever people with smart phones shoot video of.

(Which is not to say I wouldn't like to have a smart phone--I love gadgets!--but as little as I use my "dumb" phone for making calls, a smart phone would basically be a $60/month toy, and I really can't justify that.)

So, anyway, back to work, where I have an old sheet of instructions on how to get video ready to upload to our LMS (learning management system, for online courses). I emailed all my Production buds asking if anyone was into shooting & putting video on Facebook or whatever, but heard nothing back. So I did what I usually do when I want to learn something--fired up Google. I also got a copy of the user manual of my camera (which I hadn't really gone through yet, months after the purchase).

It's pretty dang easy: shoot your video, connect the camera to the computer, import the video into Windows Movie Maker (or iMovie, for you Mac mavens), save it, compress it for email (so it'll be a reasonable size for uploading), and hey-presto, you're done.

Which is a long-winded way of saying--here's my first video:

That's Sister A's cat, Sammi, volunteering as my guinea pig. (Hmm--it looks better on Facebook.)

And now I've got my instructions tweaked for the modern world.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Official Birthday

Today is Minnie and Sammi's official birthday. Minnie (calico) is 10 years old and Sammi (big gray girl) is 11 years old. Both ages are approximate, because they were both strays. They're both sweeties, but they don't get along AT ALL, not even after 4.5 years in the same house. But that's OK, they've each got their own human. Minnie is mine and Sammi belongs to Sister A. Oddly, though, Sammi does most of her napping in my room, not A's. There's no accounting for kitty behavior....

Minnie tries to sleep through the invasion of paparazzi.

Minnie matches our bamboo floors nicely.

Sammi asleep amid the stuffed critters on my dresser.
You can see part of her fluffy gray backside reflected in the mirror.

Sammi has appropriated Sister A's new chair for herself.