Category Archives: Work

shopping around

I’ve been quite a shop-a-holic recently. Not only that, I’ve managed to become quite a penny-pincher as well. Now you may not think that these two things go together, but read on…

Something I got into soon after I started work at ESI was conversating with a BellSouth Account Executive about our Voice and Data services at our Corporate office as well as across our 24 branches. After several weeks of back-and-forth questioning and answering, I signed three contracts at the tail end of last week with BellSouth on behalf of ESI. I guess this was my first major deal as an executive and it felt good to be able to execute what I did. Currently, our corporate office data connectivity comes in the form of a fractional T1 line (Dedicated Frame Relay 512Kbit line for all those who speak geek) and we’ve been paying just shy of a grand for it for about tow years or so I guess. Come to find out, now we can get a full T1 (Dedicated Frame Relay 1.54Mbit line for all those who speak geek) for $800/month. For those not math inclined, that’s three times the bandwidth for approximately 20% less cash each month. Nice move Justin, you just saved the company $2400/year. And it gets better. We’ve talked local voice lines and DSL service for branches that are in a BellSouth servicable area and long distance service for all branches and the grand savings comes to somewhere in the neighborhood of $2100/month on everything plus an initial credit of ~$2500 for switching voice lines back. Over the next 12 months that’s over $27,500 that ESI/ECI gets to keep in the bank. Whew.

On other shopping fronts, I’m in the market for a new digital camera for my family. The piece of junk Vivitar that I picked up on clearance at Kmart two years ago has seen it’s better days. I’m looking at 4MP Canon’s for the price/quality ratio and love both of the models.The A85 is leading the race at this point thanks to it’s non-anemic body size and ability to shoot AVI movies a little larger size. The other camera which I’m considering is the uber-sexy S410. It’s a good deal smaller and in the neighborhood of $100 more expensive than the A85, but in includes a rechargable battery pack that I know would more than pay for the difference in batteries in the course of six months or a year. Brandon got one of these about a year and a half or so ago and absolutely swears by it, so I’m gonna borrow his for a few days (maybe when I take my wife to Rascal Flatts?) and give it a test drive.

Finally, I’m starting to shop around for a better deal on a reseller’s hosting package. I ran some numbers and my personal site plus the reseller account I have are really just costing more than they should. I’ve sworn to Jim that I wouldn’t move my personal site away from his company, but I may have to renig on that. If I can find a reseller package that offers comparable features and a fair price to what I have now (on both accounts) PLUS shell access, it’s a done deal. The more I get into Linux at home and work, I want need crave SSH access to my web server. If nothing else – maybe Brandon and myself can co-lo a box somewhere. I’m wide open for suggestions people. Share your experiences on all hosting related matters please.

you did what?

I just got an email from Vonage that was a bit surprising. They’ve lowered the price of their unlimited calling plan that we’re signed up with. We’ve been paying $29.99/month for a few months now for unlimited nationwide calling, caller-id, call waiting, call waiting-id, call forwarding, voicemail, and even more stuff, but now it’s only going to be $24.99/month.

I can’t recall the last time a company contacted me to let me know my rate was going DOWN. I mean, at work earlier today, when *the company* finally called me back, they told me that a while back they had a pricing change and we could probably get a full T1 for what we’ve been paying for a 512K line. Three times the bandwidth for the same price and no one bothered to tell us? Sigh… where has all the customer service gone…

If anyone is interested in Vonage, let me know and I’ll get you a referral code thats good for a free month.

real service

I tried to talk to someone at *unnamed ISP here* this morning about ordering an additional block of IP’s for work. I was told that I would need to talk to *my* account executive about that. When I asked who that was, I was placed on hold while they found out. Five minutes later I was informed that I didn’t have a specific account exec and to call this number. I did and was promptly greeted by a kind voice after making a few choices in the automated phone system. I told her what I wanted and she placed me on hold. Five more minutes later, I was told that all account executives were in a sales meeting and that she would have to take a message and have someone call me back. So she did, and I’m still waiting two hours later.

I’m just a tad unnerved by the fact that no one can sell me anything because ALL of the SALES people are in a SALES meeting. Maybe next week they will discuss leaving one person out of the meeting to take calls?

wrapping it up

I’m finishing up my third week at my new job and I’m still having a blast. Not only do I really like what I do, I really enjoy (most of) the people that I work with. Everyone is different and you learn most of these differences rather quickly and that’s been interesting too.

On a similar note, Necessary Technologies got a little kick off this week and Brandon and I deployed practically a whole new network out at a local golf club. It only took about twice as long as we had planned and we spent most of the day just sitting on our hands waiting to be told what to do next by the stupid software company. I hate proprietary software companies because they know that people really rely on them for their product, but that’s a rant for another time. Head over to our site and get in touch with me if you have a need for any of the services we offer. No job too big and we can (or at least I will volunteer myself to) travel if the price is right.

fall fill-in

My life has been quite eventful since this post two weeks ago. I resigned from my job at Sherwin-Williams the day following that post for a lot of reasons. There was a little struggle between my manager and myself that I won’t bore you with all the details, but it turned out to be perfect timing for such a thing to happen. I’ve been wanting out of the paint store for a few months now, because I was starting to feel like it was holding me back and I was just way too complacent with my whole situation. I wasn’t getting rich there, but I wasn’t poor either. I made enough to live off of and have a few dollars left each month for fun things. But what it was starting to do to me mentally was not good. I do miss quite a few of the customers and the interaction that I had with them, but for the most part, I’m very glad to be out of retail.

So what have I been doing for two weeks? I hate to be so cliche, but honestly, I’ve started living in a dream world it seems. I started my new job the Monday after I had resigned on Friday. (See what I meant about perfect timing?) I now work for Employment Staffing, Inc. (aka ESI) and my “official” job title is “Information Technology Coordinator.” What do I do? Play. I go to work and get paid to do what I love – work with computers. For all of you out there who have something you’re passionate about and are stuck in a job that’s no where near what you want to do, I strongly urge you to find a way out and and go after your dream. I don’t want to sound like I’ve lost my mind, but I mean it. Do it. It’s such an incredible feeling to wake up in the morning and be excited about going to work. I don’t know that I ever felt that in my two plus years at S-W. I bet in the past two weeks, I’ve learned more new stuff about computers than I have in the past two years thanks to some teriffic OJT. The job is fairly random as far as the day-to-day operations are concerned, and Brandon and myself have a task list about a half-mile long that we want to accomplish, but it’s still so stress-free. It’s really just inexplicable to tell you how happy I am with my new job, but Bonnie will probably tell you that she’s sick of hearing me talk about it and that it’s sickening to see me so happy after working all day, even on the night or two that I’ve stayed in the office til 6:00 or 7:00. I also have the convenience to be able to perform a lot of my job duties from home and catch myself logging in remotely at the strangest hours just to check on “my babies” aka the servers. My office (how cool does that sound?) is absolutely huge, quite possibly the largest room in the building aside from the front reception area. It’s not all my space though. There’s a large table in there since it doubles as the conference room where all the higher-ups need to get together and have a “prayer meeting” if ya know what I mean. But anyway, enough about my job – I’ll save some stuff to bore you with later.

The other major event was pretty major for my entire family. My baby sister moved out of my parents’ house and into her first college dorm. She started her freshman year at Western Carolina University two weeks ago and it was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. My family means the absolute world to me and my Sissy growing up really sneaken up on me. I’m not really worried about her because I know she was raised in such a good environment. She’s a smart girl and won’t do anything stupid.

On a similar note, I’ve had a ton of support from a few people over the past few weeks that all of this was going on. During the stressful afternoon that I resigned from my job and the week prior to that, Bonnie was amazing. She listened to all of my complaining about work (which was a LOT), gave me advice that I needed to hear even though I didn’t necessarily like it, and most importantly, she was just there. She never questioned my thoughts or actions even once – not even for a split-second. That couple of days will probably flash in my mind in a few weeks when Pastor Stan is having me repeat “through the good times and bad” and I will be able to smile like crazy when I say “I do” because I already know that theres absolutely nothing we won’t be able to make it through. Bonnie, thanks so much – I love you!

My parents were a big help too even though they may not know it. I felt like what I was going through was extremely similar to the experience my Dad had back in April 2003 when he walked out from his 15 years as an S-W employee. I knew that he understood what I was feeling and going through. Now parents will be parents, and they both encouraged me not to do anything stupid like quit my job without another one to go to, but I already knew Brandon was working on getting me some hours on the clock at ESI, so I kinda ignored that part of their “support.” All in all, I think I made them proud of me when I got to explain the whole thing.

And finally theres Brandon. He had been using the phrase “waste of talent” or something simliar to that when I would talk to him about my troubles at S-W and how much I’d like out. That was a pretty good boost in confidence. There have been a few other times that he’s made reference to my so-called “talent” when it comes to computers and such, and theres nothing more meaningful to get a compliment like that from someone you have a lot of respect for and that boost of confidence helped me keep my head up and feel good about quitting my old job.

Well, there is the update on my life that I promised a few days ago. Maybe I won’t wait so long between “normal” posts next time and then it won’t be so long and boring for you. now returns you to your irregularly scheduled geeky posts.

live time

I finally made a few crucial edits and feel very comfortable pointing people over to Necessary Hosting for all web hosting needs and desires. A WordPress powered blog setup and hosted for $50 a year. Or theres one package that’s more suited for the do-it-yourself webmaster.

About the WordPress package: If you head over and send me a message from there within the next week or so and decide to sign up – I’ll throw in a one year .com/.net/.org domain name registration or discount the package $10 and let you do it yourself if you want. AND I’ll install one of the templates that is listed on Alex King’s site if you want. Just mention that “syntaxrox” in the comments and I’ll get you all taken care of.

initiate initiation

I’m getting initiated on all sorts of new stuff this week. Started working at ESI yesterday and got quite a bit of self-given OJT with the proprietary software and the way the network is setup at the moment. I’m in the process of rejoining all the workstations to the domain after the crash of the domain controller last week. What fun that is… having to copy over everyone’s user profile information, email, and desktop icons.

Also, I got the laptop today. It’s even in better shape and runs a bit faster than I expected. I guess I had low expectations though for a sub $100 computer. Not counting the battery and shipping charge, I should actually end up paying less than $100 for the computer, the wireless card I ordered last night and a PCMCIA Ethernet adapater if Bonnie can get me a steal on one of the ancient ones they have in the Campus Shop, rotting on the shelves. *crosses fingers*

Well, my lunch break is over and I haven’t even eaten. And now I have a very sweet and spoiled kitty on my lap who doesn’t want daddy to go back to work. Poor Pixel.

free time

Looks like I’m going to have quite a bit of free time on my hands the next few days, maybe even weeks for all I know. I just got off the phone about 20 minutes ago with my boss and I think I’m all but unemployed. The only reason I can’t say that I am is because I didn’t quit, and she didn’t fire me. It’s quite a complicated soap opera chain of events over the past few weeks, and I’m sure I’ll elaborate on more over the coming days.