Category Archives: General Ramblings

New Job, New City, New Apartment.

Well, the title of this blog entry pretty much explains what’s been happening over the past couple months and why I haven’t done anything with my blog.

The New Job

On September 13th, while I was still living in Stillwater, OK I got a call from a staffing agency based in Oklahoma City concerning my resume that they saw on JobsOK.com and asked if I would be interested in a temporary to permanent Help Desk position with a company in Oklahoma City that started the following Monday, the 17th, and they had to have an answer quick because the actual job did start on Monday as long as I passed some tests down at their office on Friday. Since it was more than I was making on Unemployment and more than I would be making at another place I had just scheduled an interview with on the same Monday that this job started, I said yes.

So, on Friday I went down to their office to take whatever this test was. Turns out it was a Windows 98 proficiency test and a 25wpm minimum typing test. I passed both of those. Think I only missed one of the Windows 98 questions which was pretty good considering I had not really used Windows 98 much in several years. Luckily, those brain/memory cells were still in tact. Green with Envy I think this was more a computer literacy test than anything since, as it turns out, the product I am supporting runs in Windows XP Professional.

I stayed with my folks in Edmond and started work on Monday at the actual company with the first couple weeks being in training. This was weird… I get a job without going through an interview. I guess a combination of my resume, test results, and the fact that this was a temp to perm position, they took the place of a formal interview. Of course I was nervous, excited, relieved and somewhat anxious about the new job which is only natural considering the number of unknowns at this point. What exactly would the job, company, workplace, and people be like? Of course, I researched the company on their website and so on before hand, but still there were some unanswered questions. Unfortunately, sometimes, you don’t really know how well a shoe fits until you’ve worn it for awhile. Now that it has been a couple months, the shoe is breaking in nicely. 😀 I will have to say that after 9 months of pseudo vacation, going back to work has been somewhat of shock to the system. LOL

New City, New Apartment

Man, moving really sucks! 😕 Because I wasn’t sure if the job would work out, I held off moving plans for at least a week or two (also at the advice of my parents). I think the thing that hit me immediately (which I knew to expect), was the large increase in the amount of driving I was doing and, thus, what I was spending on gas. It was 18 miles from my folk’s house in Edmond to my job. I was spending $45-$50 a week on gas. That adds up!! I was anxious to find an apartment somewhat closer to work. Without my asking, Dad decided to go apartment hunting for me during the week and then over the weekend we checked out the prospects. Given my past history of being robbed, any apartments in bad areas of town or of somewhat questionable appearance were of course not chosen, even if the rent was cheaper. Tip: when it comes to finding a suitable apartment, look at the vehicles in the parking lot. Are they pieces of crap, or later models? Anyway, I eventually settled on the apartment I did due to it’s proximity to work (8 miles away), being just off Hefner Parkway and next to a police station. In fact, there are actually a couple police cars in the parking lot. I also liked the fact that a washer and dryer came with the apartment! Holy smokes, it’s so much more convenient having your own washer and dryer LOL.

Anyway, I wound up paying for October’s rent at both the new apartment in Oklahoma City and my old one in Stillwater (that’s a chunk of change) as I knew it would take me that many weekends to get moved. So, every weekend in October was spent going back and forth to Stillwater to pack and move my stuff down. I do have to thank my folks for their help in this matter. Yeah, I could have probably elicited the help of friends; however, I felt it unfair as I had not helped a number of them in their recent moves. The first couple weekends in November were spent unpacking bags and boxes and getting the apartment set up… my computer system and Home Theater being the top priority of course (actually I managed to get them setup during the middle of October since they were the first things I moved out)! I still have stuff packed in plastic bins but mainly because the bookshelves that contained the items were thrown away. They were cheap pieces of crap that were falling apart. I have a feeling I’ll be getting some for Christmas. :mrgreen: Speaking of throwing things away, we also threw away my old box springs (and mattress later on), an end table (which I had bought for $5), a coffee table (that I had found in a dumpster), and these two bulky lamps I had.

I can now say that things are finally settling down somewhat and I’ve just about reestablished my comfort zone, so to speak. By that I mean where I go to the bank, the store, get gas, places to eat, and so on. I am also becoming more familiar with my job and what I need to know. The amount of information overload, steep learning curves, and mentally draining days are becoming less. Until I am hired on permanently and getting benefits, my comfort zone will remain incomplete; however, I am confident that day will come soon! Big Grin

I am now using Firefox! (and my observations)

Over time I have noticed the percentage of access on my sites with Firefox has been slowly increasing and has reached around 30%. That was even with me accessing it with Maxthon, an IE shell. So, I decided I would download Firefox and see how my sites looked with it and work with it enough to form my own opinion about it. One of the things I really liked about it “out-of-the-box” is the built-in spell checking that works on any form you type in. I then started to look around the Firefox Add-ons site to customize it to my liking to work as closely like Maxthon did functionally and feature wise, and even beyond. Some of these add-ons I’ve installed to help overcome issues I have come across.

Add-ons installed:

  1. Adblock Plus – adds the functionality of Maxthon’s Ad Hunter. I actually like the user interface of this one better.
  2. Add Bookmark Here 2 – puts an “Add Bookmark Here” option at the top of each Folder, to match what Maxthon could do.
  3. AI Roboform Toolbar for Firefox – was installed when I installed Roboform which I use to manage all my passwords..
  4. IE Tab – This is a real handy add-on. It let’s you swap the render engine on a tab back and forth between IE and Firefox (Gecko) and adds context menu items to open a link in an IE tab or external application. I am using this add-on to also get around some printing problems that Firefox has with some web pages. I can just swap the render engine (or open in an IE tab) which will then print the page using using the IE print preview and printing method.
  5. Live HTTP Headers – captures HTTP headers on fly as you browse, going to and from the server.
  6. Mouse Gestures – to match Maxthon’s mouse gesture feature which I use as a reflex now, and keep trying to use them in places they won’t work, such as normal IE.
  7. Print Preview – adds print preview and page setup options to the context menu and to the print button on the toolbar. A convenience modification.
  8. Tab Mix Plus, to add more control over what would cause a new tab to be created, such as from the address bar and search bar, again to match Maxthon’s ability.
  9. Web Developer – Adds many development tools.

With these installed, I will have to say that Firefox has exceeded my expectations and I like the way some of these additions work. The Web Developer and Live HTTP Headers are a real handy feature for getting at the nuts and bolts of web pages, which I do not have the ability with Maxthon. There are some other additions that look interesting as well.

Other than some rendering differences, there have only been two issues with Firefox:

  1. If you visit a site that has a favicon.ico with only a 32×32 image, then it seems to mess-up the bookmark’s appearance in the sidebar as it doesn’t resize it to fit like the others. The icon looks fine in the bookmark menu and toolbar, however. My blog here had such an icon. So, I just made a 16×16 icon instead.
  2. It doesn’t seem to handle printing as well as IE. The Shrink-to-fit option doesn’t work as well, the print preview looks somewhat amateurish in comparison, and it doesn’t even print some pages properly at all, such as my gallery. It actually fails to print and produces an error. I’ll see if I can find a fix or work-around, but this one is almost a deal breaker for using Firefox. Perhaps an add-on to use IE’s print feature instead.

As you’ll have noticed, I installed the IE Tab add-on as one work-around for printing. I also found this thread in the Firefox Support Forum, and it seems that using CTRL-A to select the whole page and then printing with the selection option chosen will print the page okay; however, this doesn’t work with print preview and will sometimes chop-off the right side of the page.

It is these printing issues/oddities with Firefox that makes me unable to recommend Firefox as a browser for novice users Sad, such as my parents; however, I most certainly would for more technically savvy users. In fact I have made Firefox my default browser now. One of the things Firefox does seem to handle better is WordPress’s post writing form. Green with Envy

I previously mentioned that there were some rendering differences which caused to me to modify some of my website’s pages; however, I will discuss that in a separate post Smile.

Happy 4th of July! (and some website updates to mention)

Happy Fourth of July!First, let me wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!! Yes.. the national day to blow stuff up!  🙂

Website Changes 
OK, within the past few days I have changed some of my webpages in addition to my NASCAR page.  I created a YouTube account and have made a few playlists. One of them is on the NASCAR page and another is a music video playlist on my Entertainment page. I have made some other playlists as well and I may place them elsewhere on the site. Depending on how many music videos I add, I may break the playlists down into Genres. Oh yeah, I have also added a NASCAR Nextel Cup headlines section to my NASCAR page as well.

Blog Changes
I have also made some modifications to my blog, which I am still playing around with.  If you are reading this at my blog site then you’ll notice on the right side of the main page that I have added a Google Reader Shared items (yeah I have a Google Reader account), NASCAR, and CNN news-feed widgets.

All for now, and, once again, everyone have a Happy and safe Fourth of July!

Parent’s wall phone working fine now, DSL installation complete!

Just thought I’d update that I was able to get the folks’ wall-phone working with the DSL filter. I had to take the phone apart and remove the sliding male connector on the back and cutting the wires going to it. I then cut a phone cord and stripped all the wires and spliced the like colored wires together. I was then able to plug this connector into the DSL filter plate and then attach the phone. Their DSL installation is now complete! 🙂

My folks finally have High-Speed Internet

After many years of 24K Dial-Up, my folks are finally on broadband.  Last week I ordered AT&T DSL for them and I set it up for them today (ok, technically yesterday since it’s 2:00am now).  They are using the lowest speed offering of 768 Kbps down/128 Kbps up.  Following is a speedtest result:

Something tells me the upload speed is more like the 384 KBps setting.  My mom is pretty much blown away by the improvement.  What’s even better, the cost is less than what the dial-up was! 🙂 The only thing left to do is figure a way to get the DSL filter for the wall-phone to work properly.  The female connector on the plate does not protude out far enough to make contact with the male connector on the back of the phone. 😕 Argh!!

Since they are now on broadband, I downloaded and installed all the Windows XP updates and IE7 on their system as well as the latest version of the JAVA runtime.